Air City: Episode 9
As an episode on its own, Episode 9 wasn’t bad. It was cute, and there were fun moments between the characters. As a part of the series as a whole, however, I find it odd and out of place. I just don’t know what they’re going for anymore with the overall series. Is it a thriller, is it action, is it romance? It should choose, because although it has elements of all of those, it’s doing a poor job mixing them together.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Younha – “Audition (Time 2 Rock)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 SUMMARY
On the flight back to Korea, Ji Sung wakes at the flight attendant’s alarmed reaction. She points to his bleeding side injury, but Ji Sung waves her off. And that just pisses me off. I hate these dramatic fake-outs — what a cheat of a cliffhanger ending. Anyway, Ji Sung presents himself to his bureau chief, who angrily punches him in the stomach for disobeying orders.
Ha Joon gets a slightly different reception, being called heroic by supervisor Min, and despite his humble protests, Ye Won speaks up for him and says he was really cool in Hong Kong.
Do Kyung’s surprised to get a message from Yi Kyung, who has moved into her apartment while she was gone. Sure, why not? I don’t know about you all, but I always move into places inhabited by other people without them knowing about it while they’re out of the country, and then announce it in a text message upon their arrival. Is there another way to do it?
Back at work, Do Kyung is reprimanded for her foolishness carrying someone else’s luggage, and as a result takes a temporary cut in salary. Everyone worries over how she’ll react to the harsh punishment, but to their surprise, she throws herself into her work, taking it upon herself to obsess about the airport’s cleanliness. She inspects the water treatment plant, the incinerator, the terminal, etc., which wears out Manager Noh. Do Kyung thanks Ha Joon for coming to her aid in Hong Kong.
Do Kyung’s last stop is the hospital, where she chats with Irritating Dr. Lady Myung Woo, and tells her that Ji Sung went to Hong Kong and was injured. She doesn’t know the details, just that Ji Sung hasn’t gone home yet. Myung Woo thanks her for the info, and goes to the bureau chief to ask about Ji Sung’s whereabouts. She’s directed to a nearby island, which carries a special meaning for her/them. From the reaction of the lodgings proprietor, it seems they used to be frequent visitors.
Myung Woo tends to a sleeping Ji Sung, setting up her handy-dandy travel IV kit and seeing to his stitched-up wound. She spends the night watching over him. In the morning, waiting for her boat to arrive, Ji Sung asks why she never married. After she tossed him aside, she should’ve either married or become a (much more) impressive doctor, so he wonders what happened.
She tells him, “Ji Sung, stop hating me now. I’m being punished enough as it is. When I think of the hateful words I said back then, I hate myself. I wonder why I said such horrible things when I didn’t even mean them. I must’ve thought I could end things cleanly that way.” Ji Sung asks if he’d let her go because of words that she didn’t even mean, but she corrects him: “I chose the separation. I hope you won’t be hurt anymore because of me.” She wants him to return to the Ji Sung from before, who laughed a lot, sang well, and joked around. With that, Myung Woo leaves and Ji Sung stays.
Back in Incheon, supervisor Min tells Do Kyung he’s sending her along on an employee retreat. She asks why, and he answers that he knows she’s not close with the other employees, and this is a chance to bond.
Ye Won is thrilled to be called out for drinks by Ha Joon, although she deflects when he tries to ask where Ji Sung is. They’re interrupted by Nan Young, asking if he’d respond the same if she was the one who was wrongly accused of drug smuggling. She asserts her claim on him over Ye Won, who in turn calls her an ajumma. The two women stare each other down, forcing Ha Joon to interfere and insist that they stop. He’s interested in someone else, so there’s no point liking him.
(I’d find his romantic entanglements so much more interesting if only Lee Jin Wook didn’t look like everyone’s kid brother. He’s cute, for sure, but I find it hard to believe he’s supposed to be the same age as Do Kyung and older than Ye Won.)
The employees arrive at the island for their retreat, surprised to see Ji Sung there. Apparently Ha Joon was the only one who knew Ji Sung would be there, and he admits to Do Kyung that he chose the location because he was curious to see how Ji Sung would be coping.
But seeing him there in person, he’s unsure if he made a mistake. Particularly when he buys a hat to replace the one Do Kyung lost on the ferry ride, but is beaten to the punch by Ji Sung, who offers his own.
In any case, everyone enjoys themselves, and Do Kyung watches as Ji Sung laughs along with the others. (Ha Joon’s pretty adorable singing, too.)
Do Kyung is distracted by work when her boss calls her and asks for her to email a report back, and Nan Young takes the opportunity to mislead her by giving her the wrong boat departure time. She tells the others that Do Kyung returned early because she had work to do, thus resulting in Do Kyung being left behind.
Nan Young feels guilty, and on the ferry back, admits to Ha Joon that she lied — Do Kyung is still back on the island. She (seemingly honestly) says that for some reason, she wanted to help Do Kyung and Ji Sung along by forcing them together. Ha Joon’s furious, but he can’t do anything about it, since their ferry is the last for the day.
Meanwhile, after Ji Sung and Do Kyung get over the initial alarm at being left behind, Ji Sung laughs, remembering his own parents. He says this is a ploy his father used: “‘The trains stopped running… The boats are gone… Let’s just hold hands and sleep.’ That’s how I was born.” They laugh together, as Ji Sung playfully wonders, “Hm. What’ll we do now, just the two of us?”
The answer, of course, is fishing.
Ji Sung instructs her how to prepare bait on the hook, but Do Kyung knowingly says, “This isn’t the first time for you, is it, coming to night-fish with a woman?”
She asks what made him go to Hong Kong, and he answers that he’s not sure himself. Maybe it’s his need to avenge his friend, maybe it’s his inborn fighting nature. “Or maybe it was because of you.” He’s about to continue, but she cuts him short, saying she knows what he’s going to say: “You’re a good woman, but I just don’t have space in my heart for another woman.” It’s a polite rejection that she understands — she’s experienced enough to know that.
Walking along the pier, Do Kyung asks if he’s going to leave the airport now, and he says if he stays, he’ll just bump into Myung Woo more. He has to leave. Do Kyung tells him, “Don’t run away. You did that before. You went to Cairo to run away, didn’t you? Did that solve your problem? People have to pick themselves up where they fell in order to stand.” He says he doesn’t have the confidence anymore, and she asks, “Then if you have to run away, why don’t you come to me?”
The next morning, Do Kyung responds to Ji Sung’s awkwardness by teasing him for being old-fashioned, saying she grew up in France and it’s not that big a deal. He says he’s sorry, he can’t help it, and she answers, “That’s why I like you. You’re the guy who has to catch the bad guy even if that turns the airport upside-down. You can’t ever date two women at once, and it takes you more than three years to forget a woman you’ve broken up with. I knew that’s the kind of person you were from the start.”
He suggests going for breakfast together, but she makes her casual goodbye with a handshake. She turns to leave, just as a police car comes by looking for Ji Sung. He’s been called into action by his chief.
Making a hasty return to Incheon, Do Kyung looks worriedly up at the skies as they approach the harbor (Incheon is both a harbor and home to the international airport, located just outside of Seoul). She tells Ji Sung there are no planes flying overhead — something’s strange.
By itself, I suppose Episode 9 was decent enough. There was some character development, and some advancement in the romance department. I suspect that alone is enough to appease many fans. But I still find it lacking, because there was very little fluidity coming out of the previous story run. The first four episodes were all about Charlie, the stolen weapons technology, Ji Sung motivated by his friend’s killer. It was good. After a weird disjointed filler episode about birds and a North Korean defector, the next three episodes were about Do Kyung being accused of drug smuggling, and people running amok in Hong Kong who had no business running amok in Hong Kong. Whatever.
But now we have another weird disjointed filler episode about Do Kyung getting preoccupied cleaning the airport and Ji Sung recuperating and Do Kyung and Ji Sung meeting on an island and… meh. I suspect we’re about to get another three- or four-episode story run and the writers are just really awful at transitions.
First off, given that the first half of the series was super-high-stakes, life-or-death stuff, such a mundane story here feels weird, especially coming out of a (supposedly) intense string of events. I like the smaller moments between the airport personnel, and the lulls of calmness between various aiport crises, but that’s when it’s interspersed between the high-stakes action stuff, not occupying an entire episode. It makes me wonder, You guys were SO BUSY and SO IMPORTANT to the airport’s welfare, and the series made it seem like you were the ONLY THINGS keeping the airport safe in the face of imminent disaster after imminent disaster… and now you’re ALL just going to mosey on over to some island for employee bonding camp? WTF?
And where’s the emotional payoff now that Ji Sung has caught Wang Wei? Aren’t they going to address this at all? I remember the intensity and barely-contained fury of a man possessed to do nothing else until he caught his friend’s killer. It was cool. He finally accomplishes that, and we don’t get one single mention of how Ji Sung copes with the aftermath. I’m really annoyed by that, because that’s a huge part of Ji Sung’s character work, and they’re just going to ignore it?
And are they just giving up on the idea of having any sort of meaningful conflict and/or tension between Yi Kyung and Do Kyung? Honestly, little sis swallows 21 years of bitterness and hurt over a measly bird painting and all of a sudden wants to move in and set up house together with big sis? Arrrrrgh.
You know what I’d do?
Still hurt from her inability to grow closer to her little sister, who remains cold and indifferent to her attempts to make up, Do Kyung finds comfort in Ji Sung, who’s single-minded in his determination to capture Wang Wei. It’s a union for the wrong reasons — consolation and distraction — but still, they find comfort in each other’s company.
Ji Sung finds out through some faraway contacts that his dead friend Young Jae was onto something deeper, darker, and more dangerous than Ji Sung had imagined. It’s not something he can take down on his own. But he’s got some crazed death wish, so he persists, doing his work at the airport during the day, while working his way into the crime syndicate’s seamy underbelly at night on his own time, which both fuels his drive but drains his energies. Until, that is, the day he makes a huge breakthrough — but is forced to make a choice: he’ll get valuable information but he’s got to sell out Do Kyung to do it. He needs to use her access to the airport to aid the crime syndicate in the hopes that it’ll help him bring them down. He hesitates for a brief moment, but he does it.
His actions get Do Kyung in trouble for misusing her authority, and she takes the punishment silently, refusing to give Ji Sung’s involvement up, thinking he wouldn’t have betrayed her. She’s shocked to find out the truth. Ji Sung is more afflicted with guilt than he thought — he’d rationalized that everything is for the greater good, for avenging Young Jae’s death. But strangely, he’s increasingly bothered by his choice, and he tries to apologize to Do Kyung. By then, she’s done with him, betrayed and hurt.
So Ji Sung tries to make it work with Annoying Lady Doctor, who’s more than happy to have him back. But things aren’t like they used to be, even though both try to go back to the way things were before, when they were happy. They both realize they can’t live in the past, and Ji Sung realizes he’s chasing a futile goal, because no matter what he does, Young Jae isn’t coming back.
When Yi Kyung is abroad on a flight, she gets caught in the crossfire of the crime groups that Ji Sung’s working to bring down, and he finds himself faced with another choice — his last chance to avenge his friend or help Yi Kyung. This time, he doesn’t hesitate and he rushes to save Yi Kyung, givig up his last connection to his friend’s case. His sacrifice touches Do Kyung, and also enables the sisters to reunite. After all, Yi Kyung realizes that if she meant so much to her sister that her sister’s ex-lover gave up something to save her, her sister must really love her. As the series comes to a close, Do Kyung and Ji Sung embark on a fresh start together. Insert airplane imagery to solidify metaphor. The end.
That’s the action-y, high-stakes version. I’d go in a different direction if I chose to go instead for lower-key character drama. But if you’re going to mix genres, please do it well — you have to integrate themes and emotions, not just plot. Otherwise you get a mixed-up jumble of jigsaw pieces to two different puzzles — no matter how well you assemble the pieces, there’s no way the two puzzles will fit together perfectly.