You see this picture up top? This is exactly how we feel after these episodes. So do not expect squees and such from Team Feels this week okay? Y’all been warned.
And most importantly, we’ve expanded Team Feels! Everyone, please welcome the fabulous Vanessa into the fold. You might have read her comments on our previous check-ins so she did this to herself, really. How could we not recruit her after epic commentary like that?
Usual disclaimers apply: We spoil to glory, there is profanity, and we get real serious.
If you missed last week’s commentary on Episodes 11 – 12, visit Sarah’s blog.
TALKING IN CODE
Vanessa: First off, can I say how much I’m loving the abundance of veiled conversations/code talk in these two episodes (13 in particular)? You have Teacher yammering on at Moon-shik about the family of bears, and then Myung-hee asking Moon-shik why he’s always trying to “keep her asleep”. Obviously this harks back to Moon-ho’s early conversation with her about the dilemma of “waking” a room full of sleeping people versus allowing them to remain blissfully ignorant of harsh, dangerous truths. But there’s also a sort of chilling implication that Moon-shik has been deliberately drugging her to keep her cut off from the world and from information she deserves to know. Her being unaware of Moon-ho’s job change was sort of an “oh shit you’re really out of the loop aren’t you” moment.
Sarah: I really didn’t understand earlier on how sinister that whole situation is. I mean, here you’ve got Moon Shik. He’s supposed to love her and want to be with her, but he keeps her unconscious most of the time. I can’t help but wonder if for him it was always more about possessing her than being with her. Just another one of those instances where I wish this drama had a little bit more backstory. We are left to assume so much for ourselves. But yeah, Moon Shik is a psychopath.
Vanessa: And then we have Young-shin and Jung-hoo playing this adorable, heartbreaking game of I-Know-You-Know-That-I-Know-That-We-Both-Know. Somehow speaking of the Healer in the third person allows them to be more honest with each other, I think, rather than if they had spilled everything out in the open and tried to untangle the mess, when there are still so many emotions to process (for Young-shin especially).
DDee: That scene in the hospital when he wakes up destroyed me. It’s like the air got sucked out of the room and filled up with FEELINGS. The way they stood there in the long pregnant silence just looking at each other with tears in their eyes. And this is probably the moment when I truly, deeply fell in love with Young Shin because instead of giving in to her confusion or hurt, she says the thing that allows them both to make it out of that room in one piece. After everything, she just wants to see him again and he’s so grateful to her for saying that. Park Min Young knocked this scene out of the park.
Vanessa: But my favourite code-speak scene has got to be Mom and Jung-hoo at the restaurant. They both know this is playacting, Mom knows Jung-hoo is doing this for her own safety; sitting there saying cold, cutting things that he doesn’t mean. But it’s too much for Mom, because how afraid would she have been, all these years, that this is what Jung-hoo really feels and thinks about her? It’s her own guilt speaking to her face at this point, and when she says “I’m sorry, Jung-hoo”, she means it. It’s real. And when he shakes his head back at her, and mouths “Don’t cry”, he means it just as much. He’s so kind, so earnest and determined to let her know she has nothing to apologize for, it wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t love him hard enough or fiercely enough to save them both from the world, from people and circumstances far more powerful than their little family.
Just a couple of days ago we were wondering how Mom and Jung-hoo’s reconciliation would have gone down, and I was surprised to see Jung-hoo so young when it happened. But I was even more (pleasantly) surprised to see that it was mom’s New Husband who desperately tried to bridge that gap and kickstart some form of healing for mother and son. And then we have poor baby angel Jung-hoo who couldn’t stay bitter and resentful in the face of his mother’s tears. It’s all so much sadder now, knowing that New Husband would likely be open to having Jung-hoo become an extension of his family, but the nature of Jung-hoo’s life and work is such that he has been the one setting all these boundaries with his mother (don’t keep my phone number, no personal questions about what I do with my life, no calls or lunches unless I contact you first). And mom is too guilty and too grateful for whatever scraps of time she gets to spend with her son that she doesn’t dare ask for more. But they still love each other so much, and oh god.
DDee: Oh god that restaurant convo. Just the way she was crying her heart out, and when he mouths “Don’t cry” because he can’t stand to see her in tears, like I just can’t. And just to twist the knife in deeper they put him on a swing all by himself. I didn’t feel the need for bringing out New Husband though. That felt like the show trying to make her more sympathetic, when it matters enough that Jung Hoo loves her and doesn’t blame her for what she did, and that she never stopped loving him.
Sarah: Ok, I think I can do this now. I think. Because all I can think right now is, “Oh God, my poor baby bears.” I don’t think people are going to like me much this week, because I’m finding my usual flippant style has gone. I don’t know what happened between the ninth episode and this last one, but I find myself legitimately grieving. In the whole first half of the drama I wanted the story of the first generation to be as strong as that of Jung Hoo and Young Shin. And now that Teacher is gone, all I keep thinking is how much I wish I had gotten to know him better, you know? I’m grieving for him like he was a real person, but the kind of person you meet in the last stages of their life, when it’s too late to hear all of their all their stories. I didn’t know I loved him until, like you said, he started talking about the mommy bears, daddy bears and baby bears. Because all of the sudden it hit me how fiercely he loved Jung Hoo, Ji Ahn and Moon Ho, and how much he loved his friends that Moon Shik destroyed.
I wish so much that he had been more a part of the story from the beginning. But if for nothing else than his dying wish, his video love letter to Jung Hoo, he will forever be one of my favorite characters. This is also my favorite “code speak” moment so far, just for the fact that with his last breaths, Teacher sent a message of hope and happiness to the only two people in the world who would ever understand. The only family he had left.
DDee: I got spoiled with Teacher’s death so I sorta watched everything unfold almost as if like, I was disbelieving. Because up until this point, the most I knew about him was that he abandoned JH too, and I didn’t know how much they meant to each other. And I’m usually really sceptical about drama deaths and watching the show pile on pain after pain, it was starting to feel too much you know, and I really wondered if killing him was just a way to send Jung Hoo into a tailspin just so he could become a raging mass of manpain. But the cynical side of me shut up the moment I saw Ahjumma’s face. And just, I was stunned by the weight of that silence which told me everything he meant to her and his last words to Jung Hoo told me everything Jung Hoo meant to him.
I mean there are just so MANY QUESTIONS I have about him, and since he is so crucial to Jung Hoo’s story as the man who raised him, I too really wish the show had told us more about him earlier and I think the show would’ve been better for it. And it’s through his death that the show has taken on another depth of meaning that I really hope the show follows through on.
Sarah: Which brings me to Ahjumma. For so long I wanted to know how she knew the Cyber Detective and how Jo Min Ja became Healer’s Ahjumma. But I didn’t know it was gonna hurt me like this. Because they couldn’t just be like, “Oh, she’s just some spinster that likes to hack stuff.” No. They had to make her a grieving mother who abandoned the Law and hid herself away from the world because she couldn’t handle the guilt of not being with her little boy in his dying moments. Never having been a mother, I have no idea what that grief must be like. But there is something brilliant about Kim Mi Kyung. I’m telling you this woman is made of magic. She doesn’t have to say anything. She knows exactly how to make every thought and feeling her character has run across her face, so she can sit in absolute stillness and you know everything you need to know. She is the kind of actor Ji Chang Wook will be in 20 years.
All of this to say that I loved Ahjumma, but I didn’t truly understand her relationship with Jung Hoo until I saw her lose her son. Everything she has is invested in protecting Healer, because she couldn’t protect her son. She became his adoptive mother when Teacher handed him over into her care, and what perhaps started as transferring onto him her protective instinct for her own son has turned into a real parent/child relationship that neither one would or could admit to themselves, much less put into words. It’s the reason why she showed Jung Hoo Teacher’s last wish but so gently refused to let Jung Hoo watch him die. It’s the reason she offered him a new life. It’s the reason she had to be sure that Young Shin was worthy of her second son. And it’s the reason Jung Hoo needed to say her name before he cut off completely from life. It’s like Teacher said. She was Jung Hoo’s life line. And I think in a way Jung Hoo was hers.
DDee: I can’t. I just can’t…
Ahjumma made her adoptive son her life’s work, so she could always be there for him, so she would never again have to choose between the things that she loves most.
Sarah: And yet, Teacher and Ahjumma are not the only adoptive parents in this story. We also got an incredibly heart-rending scene between Young Shin and her dad. I keep going back to that thing with the bears. And it seems so apt here, because when her dad found her, she was very much like a frightened, abused baby animal. And like a frightened, abused baby animal, he had to be gentle with her, patient with her, and wait for her to reach for him. I was so struck by the depth of love that he has for her, that he showed her simply by waiting. Not gonna lie here, I shed a tear or two. And then she went and laid her head on his shoulder and I was gone.
DDee: I loved this scene too, and it was what I was needing from the show because he is such a central presence in Young Shin’s life and is responsible for how far she’s come, but we’ve only seen hints of that. He tells her about patience, and it’s exactly what she decides to do with Jung Hoo, so instead of her usual upfront manner she tells Jung Hoo she will wait and will do for him what her father did for her. And I’m also reminded about what Jung Hoo did for her in the lift when he offered her his hand and let her grab hold. Love is always there you just have to trust, reach out and grab it. TEARS.
Vanessa: I’d just like to add how much I love that there’s been more emphasis on the found families trope again this week. This entire show could have coasted by on some snazzy action scenes and pretty leads, but they’ve gone far and beyond that, because the families, you guys. The families. Jung-hoo finding his mother. Young-shin finding Jung-hoo. Dad waiting for Young-shin, no matter how long it might take him. Jung-hoo just wanting to call out to “Ahjumma” right before he disconnects from the world. The idea that family isn’t limited to birth and blood, but also includes the people who will step up and do right by you when nobody else will even give you a chance, the people who will never leave, the people who are your anchors, your islands, your sanctuaries.
MATCHING SWEATERS A.K.A SARAH’S FAVOURITE FETISH
Sarah: Let’s just bite the bullet here and talk about what happens when these two wear matching sweaters. Back to Coordi-Noona and her magic skills. After spending a whole day pointedly NOT TALKING ABOUT IT and Young Shin torturing Jung Hoo in the cutest, most passive way possible, these two somehow end up alone in a dark room, wearing matching sweaters. Strikingly similar get-ups, I might add, to those they were wearing the first time they kissed. This scene was so intense, so charged with romantic tension, it very well might rival the hand-holding scene. Because in this one, Young Shin is confident that he wants her. She has no problem letting him know that she wants him just as much. And they are so close, it would be easy to give in to that tension. The air is twice as charged because they can look at each other. They can speak to each other, but until the very last moments, they aren’t touching. Because Young Shin is still hurting, she holds onto her pride and holds out for better.
And this scene brings to mind one thing about this show that is so lacking in other dramas. Kisses are great and everything, but in this show it is the little intimacies that mean everything. The touch of hands and brushing of bodies means everything, because Jung Hoo has gone so long without a loving touch.
DDee: OMG your words are making me swoon! And did you notice when she was about to walk away he grabs her hand and then HE walks around to face her instead of turning her around like a typical male lead would do? And then he very carefully and slowly releases her arm back down her side. Just another example of how he always accommodates her.
Also, I know we say this each week that everything Ji Chang Wook’s feeling is written on his face, but I think this week he’s taken it to another level with his body. The way he buries his head into her shoulder is pure surrender, the way he curls into her when they were in bed like a lost child, and just the way his body seems always to orientate towards her. A lot of actors, for good reason, hold back on the skinship, but with him, in this role, he is so in the moment, body, mind and soul, that it makes me think that this boy has definitely been in love before. Or it might just be he’s just really good actor. It’s also his vulnerability, fragility, and the way he brings a gentle energy to his physicality that really refreshing to see in K-drama.
Vanessa: Hear hear re: Ji Chang-wook’s physicality! His body language has been one of my favourite things about the show since the birth of Park Bong-soo (I’m going to miss the hell out of him). Just the way all three versions of him sort of bend and curl to fit her? I love it. The way he stands and moves around her is so deliberately done to be accommodating to Young-shin, and it’s very much un-hyper-masculine body language. I also want to throw in some appreciation for JCW’s voice at this point, because vocal delivery can really make or break both comedic and dramatic scenes. The way his voice cracks and chokes with anger or grief or desperation? Oof. And a very special shout-out to that flat, bitter, humourless fake laugh of his while watching Moon-ho and Young-shin joking around at Moon-ho’s apartment (“Ha. Ha ha. Ha”).
Sarah: And I’m just going to go ahead and say this here, because I don’t know a more appropriate place to put it. It just occurred to me why the matching sweaters are so important, and why they are always winter white. Our baby bears are polar bears. Alone they are cold and desperate in a barren landscape. They have to cling to each other to stay warm, just as they did when Young Shin held Jung Hoo in his room. He wasn’t just cold because he doesn’t have central heating. The coldness of his body is symptomatic of the fact that he has gone so long without being held, without having anyone to hold onto. Like the white teddy bears that fell from his mother’s basket, the baby bears were thrown out into a world they were too young to understand.
Vanessa: I’m so glad you brought up the teddy bears because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were supposed to mean (and they were falling in slow motion and everything, so it had to be super meaningful, am I right?) and I didn’t make the connection between them and Teacher’s bear family analogy. Great point on the matching sweaters (baby polar bears!), and of course by the end of episode 14 we’ve progressed from matching sweaters to Young-shin literally raiding Jung-hoo’s closet and wearing his clothes (matching grey, this time).
THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE
DDee: I can’t talk about this whole sequence easily because the emotions are so raw. I’m so invested in these characters because their stories resonate with me so deeply, and these actors have brought them so vividly to life that everything they feel I feel too.
I’ve done everything that Jung Hoo did here, and watching him unravel takes me right back to that place where there was nothing left to say and do, nothing more to feel, and the only way to cope with the crushing emptiness was to shut down and hide. I too closed off the world, didn’t leave my house and slept for days because I was just done. DONE. I didn’t have the strength. And if it wasn’t for the Young Shins of my life to lend me their strength, I would still be in that place.
And I know why he treated her the way he did when she showed up, because the last thing you want to see when you are riddled with guilt and self-loathing is someone who is everything you are not–strong and whole and filled with love you feel unworthy to receive.
And so when he challenges her, Young Shin, the bright shining guardian angel, the one who always knows the right thing to say to him, just cuts right to heart of it and drops the TRUTH: “If you make me leave, you will cry for the rest of your life.” And because she knows about loss, she tells him he would never hurt her enough to make her leave. And because that’s what he is most afraid of in this world, all it takes now is for her to reach out and hold him to let him believe, and he just completely falls apart. It was just…. I just have no words.
And then the kiss. I’ll just come out and say it, I thought it wasn’t the right time for it. I wish she let him cry it out and just held on to him as he sobbed his pain away because that’s what he really needed to do. Though the kiss itself was swoonworthy, the circumstances that led up to it were so painful that I couldn’t get my squee on.
Cos I had hopes for their first real kiss, see. I really wanted their first real kiss to be after Jung Hoo had copped to the truth about who he is and who she is. She knows parts of the truth but I mean, she doesn’t even know his real name! I want him to push through his fear just like Young Shin would do, and take the risk and be vulnerable enough to tell her straight up. I wanted him to be shaking so bad that he can hardly say the words. And I wanted Young Shin to be there next to him just listening deeply, openly, and radiating love and support. And then after taking it all in, she’d hold his hand tightly and say thank you for telling me, and then kiss him tenderly.
In any case, I can’t complain about this kiss itself, only that it cut off right when it was getting good (PD-nim, you need to have a talk with your editor).
I think Young Shin deserves the truth and it would also be the best way for Jung Hoo to honour teacher’s last words to him. And I think they’re both ready. So I really really hope that Jung Hoo does this in the next episode because it’s about time he came clean and I want him to be the man Moon Ho isn’t.
Vanessa: We’re definitely an emotionally compromised bunch here, after these two episodes. And Ddee, thank you so much for sharing such a painfully personal time in your life – I can see how that would make watching and processing this show so difficult, yet hopefully all the more meaningful and rewarding in the end.
I too, couldn’t get into that last kiss as much as I would have liked to. I think a good cry and cuddle is what that boy needed at the time. There’s still so much left to reveal! There’s so much that Young-shin needs to know, so many conversations and confrontations to be had. Although I do appreciate that the kiss was set against the backdrop of Jung-hoo’s pacific dream island – Young-shin is sort of his island, after all. She will break into his fortress with a goddamn hairpin, she will go to him, she will wake him up, she will anchor him, and she will not leave.
And I think the poignancy of what Young-shin does is highlighted by how many times we see Jung-hoo alone or isolated throughout the episode – on the swings by himself after meeting his mother, crumbling to the ground by himself in the morgue. Seo Jung-hoo is used to being left behind, the Healer is used to living and working by himself. That abandoned, old-as-balls factory he lives in – which is in no way fit to be lived in, btw – is like a huge, hulking physical embodiment of how cut off he is from the world (both by circumstance and by choice). But it’s also arguably the one place where he is always entirely himself. So to have Young-shin physically break and pick her way to the heart of that building, to unlock symbolic doors and find metaphorical entrances? Beautiful. That she goes right in and digs her heels and announces that she has no intention of leaving? Even better.
Sarah: You two have already some such a beautiful job of writing about the end scene of Episode 14 that I don’t feel like there is very much I need to add. One thing I did want to say is that I agree with DDee in her very poignant and personal description of grief. Which I so much appreciate by the way. Make a girl want to hug you. Sheesh. When you are hurting and weak and despairing, sometimes you don’t want someone to step in and tell you it will all be ok. When you feel like everything is falling apart, you don’t want to see someone who seems to have it all together.
But I also think there was something else going on in this scene that really didn’t have anything to do with Young Shin. It didn’t hit me until I watched the scene again, and I saw what made Jung Hoo finally try and shove her out the door. She was on the phone with her Dad trying to figure out how to cook the dried pollack. I think he was reminded of when Teacher made him the seaweed soup for his birthday. All the time he’s been alone, he’s been hiding from his grief, afraid to face it. And now, completely unknowingly, Young Shin brought all that pain right back to him. She reminded him of what he lost. And on top of that, she has all of the normalcy he has always wanted and never had.
DDee: Yeah, absolutely! Family and shit. Here’s what he’s thinking when he sees her doing that: “I can’t be around you right now cos you’re everything I don’t have, can’t have, in my life, you’re everything I just lost, and you’re going to leave too so just get the hell out.” He’s angry, not at her but at what she represents.
KIM MOON HO A.K.A DILL WEED
DDee: Which brings me to Moon Ho. I have two words for him: FUCK YOU. My precious baby bears are hurting and I blame him. Like, if he had just tried harder, done something, anything, then maybe Teacher wouldn’t have been killed. I wouldn’t care if his silence and his denial and his waffling just hurt himself because then I’d just pity him. But his inaction harms others and shit is getting real and I’m incredulous that it’s taken this long and another dead body for him to finally wake up about Evil Moon Shik.
And yet he still won’t tell Young Shin the truth! But he acts like he’s doing her a favour by giving her Myung Hee’s phone number, like he deserves a fucking medal. He thinks himself powerless but those are just excuses he tells himself in order to keep spinning in circles since he lacks the courage to do what needs to be done. Does he really think leaving Myung Hee in that gilded cage is better for her? Seriously?? So another Evil will take Evil’s place he says? Newsflash, asshole: the world is never short of Evils, but that doesn’t mean you stop chipping away at the block.
As hard as it was to watch Jung Ho spiral out of control I did appreciate that he wanted to bash Moon Ho’s face in. Because who the hell is he to tell Jung Hoo to cry? No, Mr-Complicit does not get to tell him what to do or what to feel.
God I loved it when Min Jae called him out to his face. Just the way he dares show up hankering after some sympathy and she’s like talk to the hand, motherfucker. His falsity is so galling and I’m so done with his mind games. And MIN JAE IS A QUEEN and she deserves better than him, and I wish she was Young Shin’s mentor instead of him.
Vanessa: Kim Moon-ho. God it’s like I get increasingly frustrated with him and conflicted about him every week. I’m okay with him being not-so-easy-to-like and flawed beyond belief; the endless waffling and indecision is certainly something I can relate to, but he doesn’t get a pass when he’s arguably the one person in this whole inter-generational web of lies and tragedy who has the most knowledge – and therefore the most power – to change things. For somebody who tells us he is trying to atone for the sin of silence, he sure isn’t doing a whole lot of talking when it comes to the people and the things that really matter.
Min-jae calling him out and generally telling him to please knock it off already with that shit-eating grin, that glibness, the evasiveness, the almost smug righteousness he seems to hide behind, was immensely satisfying. And I believed him in that scene more than I have ever believed anything he’s said or done during the course of the show – that admittance of his fear and how pitifully lonely he is. I initially thought a tragic arc might be overdoing it for Moon-ho, and I figure the writers might not go for another major character death after Teacher (rest in peace). But at the rate Moon-ho is going, The Ultimate Sacrifice may just be what it takes to redeem him in my eyes at least. (Note that at this stage, I don’t think Moon-ho is a poorly-written character – I’m just immensely frustrated with him and the decisions he has made so far).
Sarah: Does anyone else get the feeling that this guy has no respect for women whatsoever? It doesn’t even matter which one. Not only is he completely patronizing to Min Jae (let’s face it, the way he talks to her borders on sexual harassment.) He is complicit in keeping Myung Hee drugged up and completely in the dark until literally five minutes ago. He has devoted his whole life to stalking Young Shin and keeping her in his sight without telling her ANYTHING about her past or what he knows about her mother. Like, oh I don’t know. Who her mother IS. Not to mention the fact that he has weaseled his way into every cranny of her life and convinced himself he is her protector. It wouldn’t occur to him for one minute that Young Shin can take care of herself. He has made no effort to get to know her. He has turned her into a possession to be kept locked away, the same way Moon Shik has stripped everything away from Myung Hee. Thank God for Min Jae ripping him a new one. Where was this strong woman the whole rest of the show?
Vanessa: You’re absolutely right, I was not a fan of the way he interacted with Min-jae in the early episodes; I mean, this lady is your boss and you being her ex-boyfriend does not give you a pass to speak to her the way that you do, or flirt your way into doing things that would get her in trouble. “He has made no effort to get to know her”. This. This, if even possible, infuriates me more than his saviour complex. In his eyes Young-shin isn’t a person in her own right. At best, she is an idealized version of Ji-ahn powered by Moon-ho’s guilt and nostalgia, at worst she is a pawn or a prize in the mind war against his brother. I thought he had a moment of self-awareness last week when Jung-hoo called him out and he came to realize how similar he truly is to Moon-shik, even if he has spent the better part of his life under the assumption that he was more righteous, more noble than his brother.
We were debating a little bit about whether or not we’re being too harsh on Moon-ho. I can see where young Moon-ho is coming from; a lot of the shit that went down must have happened when he was still a kid, and he may have chosen to keep his mouth shut out of fear of losing Moon-shik (his only family and primary parental figure at that point). And the longer you keep a secret, the harder it becomes to find the right reason or the right time to reveal it. But I feel like this doesn’t excuse adult Moon-ho and the decisions he has made (or not made) at this stage. He needs to step it up next week, big time.
Vanessa: And on a side note: when will people start being nice to Minion/Dae Young?? I know Jung-hoo was in a very sensitive emotional state this week, but he got pretty rough with Minion there a couple of times. And even before that he’s been incredibly dismissive of her. She’s a tough kid and all, but she admires her hyung so much and goes through all this thankless shit for him, y’know? I just want Jung-hoo to show her some love before all this wraps up. I’m still holding out for a Minion origin story as well, even just a sliver of one.
Sarah: One of the things I have loved so much about Jung Hoo is his essential kindness and gentleness. The only times he becomes violent or hostile are when he is faced with danger or with someone who has done harm to someone else. All except for Minion. Their relationship has never been a warm one, and it doesn’t have to be. I can sort of understand how annoying it might be to have a little subordinate buzzing around you wanting attention when you’re trying to get things DONE. But no matter how much he may dislike her, how much pain he was in both physically and emotionally after he left the hospital, there was absolutely no excuse for almost breaking her arm and repeatedly shoving her face into the steering wheel of that car.
It’s always painful to find out that your hero has feet of clay. But this scene was so completely at variance with the Jung Hoo that we have come to know that I didn’t really know what to do. Well, to be honest I did. When I saw him rough up Minion I was ready to jump in that screen and mess him up good. I was out for blood. And what made it all the more confusing was that there was a scene earlier in the show when he beat the crap out of the film producer for hitting women. He had a whole monologue about it for Heaven’s sake. Who was this man? I think that whoever decided to add this scene in was trying to make the point that something in Jung Hoo had broken. But I think that this method left Jung Hoo behind completely. And even for just a few minutes it made me hate him.
DDee: RIGHT??! It was the manpain. UGH. But he manhandled Young Shin too in the very first episode and scared her shitless so I’d say we’ve seen him be rough towards women.
Vanessa: See, I was trying to be generous about the initial violence towards Young-shin there, because a lot of the characterization in the pilot especially is somewhat inconsistent with what we see later on. But after you see a gentle, respectful Jung-hoo who is enraged and disgusted by violence against women go ahead and treat his subordinate the way that he does? It was very, very disturbing and uncomfortable to watch.
DDee: I didn’t like seeing Jung Hoo like this too, and at first I thought it at odds with everything we know about him, but then, I thought about the way he grabs Young Shin’s arm in the Fortress of Solitude when he first wakes up. It’s the first time we’ve seen him treat her that way, and she feels it too, cos she asks “It that the real you?” and says he scares her. And the thing is, he can’t deny that it is him, only it’s a side she’s never seen before, a side he’s never shown her but that we the audience already know because we’ve seen him be violent. My point is, it’s ALL him, and it’s great that I’m forced to grapple with the fact that the hero I love has the capacity to be a total shit in away I find abhorrent.
Sarah: With all of our many rage moments and heartbreaks this week, I know that all of us feel that these two episodes were incredibly strong. Throughout the whole series, I know that this is the most emotional I have ever been. And I think it’s because finally the bits and pieces are coming together, and the drama is transcending the action and romance and becoming something deeper. I find myself squealing and getting weepy over the growing family relationships even more than I did over Jung Hoo and Young Shin’s romance. And I hope that in the remaining few episodes (!!!) the drama stays on track and gives us a fulfilling ending. And hey, if Young Shin kicks Moon Ho squarely in the balls and Minion gets to knock Jung Hoo around a little bit along the way, so much the better.
DDee: Remember the days when the show was all just about the OTP? Kinda miss ’em cos I can’t with the sad feels. We didn’t even make one sleazy joke about Ji Chang Wook’s body and I gave you guys the best opening for it! What is wrong with us?
Vanessa: I miss OTP shenanigans too! But like Sarah, I must say I’m far more invested in the family dynamics of the show at this stage. I love that the older generation are actually part of the main plot and/or huge influences in the lives and upbringing of our leads. And as much as I may enjoy talking shit about Moon-ho, I appreciate that he isn’t restricted to the parameters of traditional second male lead – he has a role to play, his own arc to complete, is flawed almost to a fault, and doesn’t exist purely as a foil to the first male lead or as romantic rival. You do you, Moon-ho (but I’m WATCHING you, bro). All in all, fourteen strong episodes in a row is no mean feat, especially for a show that I assumed was never going to be anything more then a cheesy, superficial time-waster.