We often wonder a lot about what might have been, how our lives could have turned out if we did things a certain way or made a different choice at some point in time. However, it’s usually all for naught because we can’t escape the present with the past, and all we can really decide on (in as much as we are able to) is the future.
Friends to maybe lovers to nothing?
Last week’s cliffhanger was Chan-hyuk walking up to Eun-hee and looking like he’s about to kiss her. It was a beautiful build-up and even I, a staunch anti, was eager to see it. But I should have remembered that that’s a specialty of the show: departing from the obvious conclusion of the cliffhanger.
He walks up to her but she breaks the moment by swinging her bag at him. Her drunk ass is mad at him for not calling her after their big fight all those years ago. If they made up sooner, could they have dated? She fantasizes about him crowding her against the wall and kissing her but scrunches her face in disgust (or pretend disgust?). She shakes off the fantasy and concludes that even if they dated, they would end up fighting and breaking up. He chides her that she doesn’t like making relationships work because she thinks it’s a bother. He asks about Gun-joo and confirms that she ended it ,though there’s nothing to end. There’s a beautiful transition to the exact same moment in college along the wall. Chan-hyuk asks what they’re doing here at this hour. Eun-hee responds that it’s because they miss being in their 20’s. They rest on a bench and talk about how her dad changed when he lost his memory. In a random overture that happens when someone’s drunk, she confesses that she liked him when they were in their 20’s. She asks him if he ever felt the same way about her, even back then, but thinks he only ever considered her as a friend. He doesn’t respond and only gazes longingly at her.
Surprisingly, Gun-joo is still a character in this series. The same night, he’s reading through papers in the office. He emails Eun-hee using the pen pal email from a year ago. He tells her that he wanted to drive her car to her place but he knew it would make her uncomfortable. The following day, Eun-hee’s co-workers gossip about Gun-joo and Kyeong-ok until they arrive. Gun-joo meets with Eun-hee alone and he hands her a couple of children’s books, probably for Young-sik’s son. He has a request: he wants her to make time for him to clear the air after they publish the book. Eun-hee thanks Gun-joo for the children’s books, but admits that it makes her uncomfortable. He tells her not to make a big deal out of it.
She meets up with Chan-hyuk after and he tells her he’s learning to drive, as evidenced by shots of him in the driving school. She teases him about getting the license because he wants to go on dates. And we get another slow-motion moment where he looks in love with her. They laugh it off.
She goes to Chan-hyuk’s office for a conversation with her siblings (more on this later). She flashes back to their earlier conversation about his driving and what that means. Shaking that off, she calls him and he lets her know that Eun-joo is here. Seo-young leaves the office to avoid the awkwardness but runs into Eun-hee outside the office. Seo-young asks her if she really thinks that Chan-hyuk is a player because she teases him. Seo-young doesn’t think he’s a player, because he knows nothing about dating. When she finally leaves, she berates herself for saying what she said to Eun-hee and what she might think. And true enough, Eun-hee is mad because it seems like Chan-hyuk told Seo-young about her love life.
After the sibling meeting, Chan-hyuk asks her to grab a drink, knowing she’s upset, but she refuses. He wants to know why she’s acting strange but she tells him to comfort Ji-woo instead. She needs to organize her thoughts. At the end of her work day, Eun-hee remembers Seo-young’s words. She calls Chan-hyuk but chickens out, leaving for a team dinner with her officemates instead.
Seo-young’s guilty eventually leads her to fess up to Chan-hyuk about what she told Eun-hee. Realization dawns on his face as he sees what’s going on. Chan-hyuk texts her that he wants to talk but Eun-hee ignores him. Having no choice, he tells her that he’s heading to her office. He calls her and when she picks up, she says that she’s at a team dinner and to just tell her now what he wants to say. However, what he wants to tell her can’t be said over the phone and he makes his way to the restaurant.
At the team dinner, Gun-joo and Kyeong-ok arrive. Gun-joo seems to have built this reputation that he’s good at psychoanalyzing people. Their coworkers are grilling Gun-joo about Eun-hee’s personality and he gives such a sweet answer on the surface, but it’s actually about her being a people-pleaser. When they’re alone, Gun-joo tells Eun-hee that she doesn’t seem to have any ambition. Eun-hee counters that she’s fine being that way (“The world looks at people without ambition as if they’re pathetic.”).
She meets Chan-hyuk outside. He’s angry at her and insulted that she thinks he would tell Seo-young about her problems. He cuts ties with her, just like what she did to him all those years ago, and Eun-hee looks on in shock.
[I honestly hate that they’re dragging this out. They’re too old to keep burying their feelings and “making up and breaking up” over misunderstandings. Also, they should’ve just given Gun-joo a graceful exit (as graceful as it can be given the mess with Ha-ra) if they were going to do him dirty. I hate that they’re now making him an unlikable person just because they need to push Chan-hyuk and Eun-hee together.]
Take me back to the good old days
We move on to Sang-sik and Jin-sook’s issues.
Sang-sik confronts Jin-sook about Eun-joo’s father being at her wedding. She gets mad and throws a fruit at him. She claims that she was never in touch with him but he says that she saw them together. She wants him to describe what he saw. We flash back to the wedding: He felt that he didn’t fit in during the ceremony and he saw her smiling at someone, which he assumed was Eun-joo’s father. (WHAT KIND OF STUPID REASONING IS THIS. DOES HE THINK LIKE AN IDOL SHIPPER). Back to the present, she yells at him (rightfully so) and tells him she was busy tending to his crabby ass that day. She wishes that he had asked rather than letting it fester, and cries as she asks him if that was why he made her suffer even more after the wedding. She says there’s no point resolving their misunderstandings now since they’re over anyway. After Jin-sook leaves, a friend visits a drunk Sang-sik in the restaurant. He rambles that he’s a despicable person because he took Jin-sook for granted. He cries that he can’t forgive himself because he was the one who misunderstood.
At their apartment, Jin-sook isn’t using the master bedroom since Ji-woo said that she can’t claim it after kicking SS out. She and Eun-hee banter about Jin-sook letting Ji-woo get away with things because he’s the baby of the family. Eun-hee asks her if she’s not going to take care of Sang-sik anymore and she says she won’t. Eun-hee says that at least he didn’t have an affair. She starts asking about Eun-hee’s dating life but she exits from the conversation.
In his new home with Young-sik and his son, Eun-hee pays Sang-sik a visit. She gives them the books from Gun-joo and some kimchi from Jin-sook (that Jin-sook didn’t want to give them in the first place). Father and daughter have coffee outside and he asks her not to tell anyone of his situation (living in a cargo box), even if it’s temporary. He says that she’s just like her mother: soft on the outside but super strong. Eun-hee counters that Eun-joo is more like him, and that’s why she’ll disapprove when she learns about his living arrangement. She hasn’t called him, and he thinks Eun-joo is disappointed in him. Eun-hee says that they’re not disappointed about the accident, but about him keeping what happened from them. He didn’t want to tell them because if he went to jail, they’ll starve. She gives him a copy of the picture of him and Jin-sook when they got engaged. She shows him the footage of when he went hiking and he fell down. There was a part where he just sat down, staring at a flower. He jokes that he became 22 and he forgot what he was thinking. Eun-hee chides him for playing dumb and Sang-sik wants her to delete the video. When Eun-hee leaves, Sang-sik suddenly gets dizzy, which as we all know from K-dramas, is a bad sign.
Jin-sook is cleaning up Sang-sik’s stuff from home while Sang-sik is freshening up in his truck. He texts Jin-sook about a box of ginseng extract that he wants her to bring him but she refuses. He baits her by saying that he’ll tell her if he wanted to die on the mountain or not. They meet up in a cafe (there’s a short flashback of the night before when he was looking for date spots to meet her). She brings him his lunch boxes and it looks like they’re on a date. This was kinda cute. It’s reminiscent of their date when they were young. He tells her about his gardening activities and she sees his phone full of Young-sik’s son’s pictures. She cuts to the chase. He says that he honestly doesn’t remember if he wanted to die but she doesn’t believe him because he left all his stuff behind. Did they make him so miserable or meant so little to him that he wanted to die? He felt wronged after she told him she wanted to graduate from marriage, and that made him want to die. His family had no interest in him and thought he was a burden. But right on time, Eun-joo checked up on him and he was touched. He saw Jin-sook’s favorite flowers on the mountain and he lost his interest to die.
Blood brothers (and sisters)
Finally, let’s move to the queen, Eun-joo.
Tae-hyung and Eun-joo have breakfast and she tells him about the financial breakdown of their marriage. He tells her that his mother will fight her over this but Eun-joo wants her to bring it on, because his mother can’t always get what she wants. He thinks that she’ll eventually give up this fight, because she’s not spiteful by nature, unlike his mother. Watch me, says Eun-joo.
Ji-woo is being spammed by Eun-hee since he’s not responding and Eun-joo has something to say to both of them. He’s ignoring all of them because of he does not want to deal with the drama. Chan-hyuk tells him that he can’t rebel against his sisters because they took care of him when Sang-sik was hospitalized. Ji-woo asks him what Eun-hee did when she tried to live independently, but he’s unable to tell him because they weren’t talking at that time. He comes home to find Jin-sook sleeping on the couch, waiting for him. She wants to talk but he brushes her off.
Back at the cafe, Hyo-seok is still there and he wants to fix his friendship with Eun-joo, which I really like. Eun-joo calls Eun-hee and she wants to meet with her at Chan-hyuk’s office so that Ji=woo will be there. When they’ve cornered him, Eun-joo confronts Ji-woo about avoiding her calls, and plays the non-biological sister card, which grabs his attention. She calls him out for showing Jin-sook that he’s unhappy but not moving out. She tries to make him feel guilty by describing the life that Jin-sook had, how she was wary of rumors and was always cautious. She declares that she no longer sees SS as her father, and leaves them. Ji-woo feels bad but Eun-hee thinks Eun-joo will come back. She is soft-hearted even if she seems the opposite on the outside; she could never cut ties with them. She tells him to go home early and take care of their mother.
At home, Eun-joo is debating whether or not to call Sang-sik when he calls her. After deciding to meet up at her apartment, Eun-joo calls her mother and informs her that she plans to tell him what she knows. While waiting for Sang-sik to arrive, Eun-joo and Tae-hyung have a conversation about her father and how it feels like they talk more now than their entire marriage. Sang-sik enters their apartment and has a gift for Eun-joo, which makes her soften her gaze. After she tells him what she knows, he apologizes.
I realized after writing this recap just how much time the loveline between Eun-hee and Chan-hyuk takes up in the show. They even do all these montages and narrations about their “missed chances” and thoughts about each other. And I’ve already accepted that they’re end game, I just don’t appreciate dragging it out. Why can’t they just get together already and have them show how to navigate being new lovers after decades of being friends? Oh wait, that’s a story line that should be reserved for Ik-jun and Song-hwa. Also, poor Gun-joo that his character has to be assassinated to serve as a catalyst of Chan-hyuk and Eun-hee getting together.
Another thing that I find so difficult to get behind is all the misunderstandings between Sang-sik and Jin-sook. I know couples have that but they seem so small when you take a step back and what, they lived this way for decades?
Finally, the one thing I’m looking forward to is how Eun-joo will emerge triumphant from all this, because she will.
See you next episode!