[Spoilers – re-watch episode 11]
I am now so sucked in, so invested, that I’m scared to have forgotten what I know about the drama on the whole. Am I about to be blindsided again? I can’t help myself – the character study is intricate, and episode 11 especially, hits me right in the gut. I find both Seol and Jung too deeply relatable and am projecting on them full speed ahead, myself an introverted only then oldest child, raised in a small and fragmented family.
When Seol finally erupts at the unfairness of treatment by her parents in comparison with her younger brother who has priority of resources as a male, it is one of the drama’s pinnacle moments.
I feel myself sit up a little, and lean in.
It feels good to watch someone not hold back with people anymore. Perhaps Eun Seol is learning herself, not to be passive aggressive, in part by seeking to understand Jung better and looking for a path forward. Uncharacteristically, she reaches out for her friends, but no one comes.
In Ho is looking for her, but she doesn’t think of him at all.
“Sometimes I, even I…”
And then, wow.
There is no way to capture this tender scene in still screen shots. They meet eyes. He says, “Seol” in the gentlest way. He is really like this with no one else… raw, unguarded.
So it matters more.
These are precious scenes. Without the outside world the two are well suited, good for one another. Of course, life does includes outside worlds, but for now, this innocent time together is intimate in the best way.
And for me, it becomes useless to try to keep not trusting this writer, who is handling the material so insightfully.
As a little aside, there is a scene the next day where Jung tends to Eun Seol, noticing a little rice stuck to the bottom of her jacket sleeve. After such assurances and exposures of fragility on both of their parts, this wordless communication comes across as, although also a way to ‘mark territory’, the truth of the situation.
I know, gestures in K-dramas can also be formulaic, as in anime – every series must have a car wreck and flu to recover from – but the familiar components don’t seem familiar here, or at least they didn’t to me.
They share this private, seemingly imperturbable space in the midst of ‘a crowd’.
We end, sadly, with Jung on the outskirts again, after unavoidedly sharing lunch with In Ho and his piano tutor also, stories of Seol’s family dynamics spilling out too comfortably. Eun Seol is still frightened of sharing the details of her troubles at school, or her friendship with In Ho, with Jung.
He already knows, but not because she tells him, which triggers memories of having been on the outskirts at home as well, where his father managed him, including by using other people like In Ho and In Ha, without consultation.
I like that the drama doesn’t paint the father as a terrible person; in some sense he is the picture of compassion in an altruistic, worldly sense. Yet he is not self-aware. He thinks of Jung as in need of special care, without seeing similar aspects of himself playing out in his son.