Flowers For My Life: Episode 8
PEOPLE, WATCH THIS SHOW.
That is all.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Gina – “차인 싸이코” (rejected psycho) [ zShare download ]
I know some people say they’re reading my recaps instead of watching the show, and that’s hugely flattering. But I’d like to at least try to persuade you to watch this show as well, because there’s so much more to this drama. The atmosphere, the tone, the gorgeous scenery, the lovely choice of directing, the music… Not just the conversations, but the pauses in between, the moving silences. And in case that all sounds too heavy and “serious,” also the wonderful dry humor.
I know a lot of people are waiting for subs, so of course it’s not like you’re actively choosing not to watch… I guess I’m just saying, if you have the time and the taste for a meaningful, witty and funny drama, please keep this on the radar until the subs are available.
This episode is another example of striking that balance of allowing the different subplots to resonate with the same overall theme. But they don’t hit you over the head and say, “THIS IS THE THEME FOR TODAY.” The intertwining of stories is moving for its subtlety. Plus, we had a lot of movement in the relationships and the direction of the plot to come.
EPISODE 8 SUMMARY
Ho Sang, who mustered up his courage at the end of Episode 7 to tell Hana that he has to leave, opens the coffin to see that she’d fallen asleep. He’s disappointed, because it was hard enough saying the words for the first time.
But once the lid is closed, Hana opens her eyes — she heard, but didn’t know how to face his confession, so pretended to fall asleep. She worries over what to do if Ho Sang really decides to leave. She considers trying to cry and beg, but then remembers, “Right, I can’t cry.”
But you know who has no problem crying? Ho Sang, who watches a TV program about a man living with terminal cancer. Even the studly Mr. Sexy wipes a few tears away. Hana walks in and turns off the program, appalled that Ho Sang, being terminally ill himself, is watching such a morbid program.
But when Ho Sang talks about how seeing that man’s struggle makes him feel embarrassed for being so healthy himself, Hana realizes that Ho Sang is doesn’t know about his own illness. She’d thought all this time that he was putting on a brave front, but now she sees he’s truly unaware. Ho Sang mentions he’s been feeling funny recently, but brushes it aside as nothing special. Now Hana’s dilemma is whether she should tell Ho Sang what she knows.
She asks everyone in rhetorical terms if they would want to know if they were dying. Her mother wouldn’t want to know (“Knowing doesn’t make it better”), but her father would want the time to prepare himself and get things in order. Eun Tak thinks that knowing he was dying would make living worse. He might prefer to end things himself and save the illness the trouble. Pil Gu says he’d run away, because he wouldn’t want to put his family through that pain and have to see their faces of pity.
Madam Gong visits Hana’s mother to ask for a favor. Her daughter, who’s lived most of her life abroad, is suddenly coming to see her for the first time in years. The catch is, Madam Gong fibbed that she was living well — remarried to a nice man, with stepchildren. She knows she’s not in the position to ask for a favor, but she doesn’t know who else to ask. Hana’s mother is vehemently opposed to lending her family out, although Hana’s father is more understanding, saying it must really be important for her to have even asked.
On his way to Seoul with Hana for a funeral-service-related seminar, Ho Sang has a brief chat with Eun Tak, and wishes him a belated birthday. Eun Tak’s surprised to know that Hana mentioned it, prompting Ho Sang to boast, “Of course. Hana has no secrets from me. She reports everything in such detail, it’s so tiring.” Eun Tak, not particularly excited to hear this, tells him, “What’s the point in her telling you everything? You don’t understand any of it.”
Eun Tak’s strong defense of Hana causes Ho Sang to wonder, “Do you have feelings for Hana?” (Literally, he asks if Eun Tak sees Hana with ulterior motives, but he’s basically asking if he likes her.) Eun Tak looks him square in the eye: “Yes. So treat her well, if you don’t want to regret losing her to some other guy.” Ho Sang warns him that if Eun Tak’s not sincere, if he’s just playing around, he won’t stand for it.
Ho Sang and Hana go to the conference in Seoul, where they run into their funeral parlor competition. While listening to the presentation, Ho Sang vents his dislike for the smarmy guys by flicking bottlecaps at them, and eventually he and Hana run out early, as the guys attempt to give chase.
They go to a cafe, where Hana uses the topic of funerals to ask Ho Sang how he’d want his death handled. Would he want to prepare for his passing in advance? At first, Ho Sang says yes, he’d like to meet the people he wants to see and prepare his heart properly. Hana seems disappointed to hear that, but then Ho Sang muses in the opposite direction: “Then again, my entire life, I’ve never really prepared for anything, so I wonder if death would be any different. Just living like I am now, encountering things and going with the flow, all the way to the end… That’s more like me.”
Hana presses for clarification — which does he really prefer? — explaining that she wants to know since she’ll be the one by his side for the rest of their lives ayway. Ho Sang says he doesn’t know where he’ll be in one year; he’s not in a position to take her along forever. He’ll only hurt her, and he knows he can’t make her happy. Hana gets upset, saying there are more important things than worrying over making her happy. She tells him not to worry about other people, just take care of himself. Upset, Hana gets up to go to the bathroom, where she locks herself in a stall to think.
Worried when Hana doesn’t return, Ho Sang thinks she wandered outside and goes looking for her, getting caught in the rain. Hana comes back to the table to see him gone, and both wander in the rain, looking for the other.
To warm up, they go to the sauna, where they sit side-by-side and have the cutest awkward footplay ever. They spend the rest of the afternoon playing games, relaxing, and hanging out.
Madam Gong tries to persuade Hana’s mother to go along with her plan, because her daughter’s arriving that day, but Hana’s mother rebuffs her coolly and decisively. She’s offended, but at the same time feels pity for Madam Gong, who goes to the bus station alone to greet her daughter.
When her daughter Su Hee arrives, eager to meet everybody, Madam Gong says the rest of the family had to go up to Seoul, and were terribly disappointed to miss seeing her. Su Hee’s visibly disappointed — she’d brought gifts, and was looking forward to meeting everybody. Madam Gong is disappointed to disappoint her, but just then, Hana and Ho Sang arrive at the terminal, calling her “Mom,” saying they were so eager to see Su Hee they rushed down from Seoul.
Hana’s mother had felt so bad that she rushed Hana and Ho Sang to the bus station and told them to go along with the plan. Su Hee’s thrilled to meet her new family, and momentarily catches Ho Sang off-guard by calling him “brother-in-law” (because her mother had told her that Hana was married). As they leave the station, they see Hana’s mother standing outside, who gives Madam Gong an encouraging wave. Madam Gong gives her a grateful smile in return.
Madam Gong spends the night with her daughter, while Hana’s mother spends the night at Madam Gong’s tearoom. Hana’s father surprises her by arriving late at night to see his wife in a sweet gesture, which relieves me greatly as to the whole flirting-with-infidelity storyline they had going. It just could’ve been so cliched, but they skirted that trap nicely. It shows that no matter how much Hana’s father likes the flattery, he doesn’t truly mean to be unfaithful. He just likes a little ego-puffing and attention.
Hana: “If it’s for the sake of someone you value, is it really okay not to tell the truth?” Ho Sang says it could be better not to say it if the truth will just hurt that person. Hana thinks: “Then I want to keep acting like I don’t know. It might be cowardly, but I don’t want to be the one to cause him despair.”
Ho Sang tells Hana, “I’m a really lucky guy to have come here, to have met such good people as your parents. They’re people who can accept anyone as family, like they did with me. I won’t be able to forget it.”
The next day, Madam Gong sends off her daughter with a wave and some tears. She goes to talk to Hana’s mother, and genuinely thanks her for helping: “I’m not very envious of anyone in this world, but I was envious of you. That’s why when I talked to my daughter, even without realizing it myself, I described my life like yours.”
She assures Hana’s mother that she doesn’t have any designs on her husband. “Having run this tearoom for twenty years, do you know what’s changed? I don’t see men as men, but as sons. That’s why I dote on them, and spoil them. You still see your husband as a man, don’t you? That’s why I’m envious of you. You don’t have to try so hard like I do to exude femininity, you live as a woman for real.”
A local festival housing a haunted house exhibit borrows supplies from the funeral parlor, and while delivering the materials, Ho Sang, Hana and Eun Tak get roped into helping by dressing up as ghosts. It’s ridiculous, but hysterical to see them dressed up, especially since Eun Tak is the prettiest. Ho Sang, on the other hand, looks rather grotesque. As is the idea.
During a lull between visitors, Ho Sang and Hana talk, and it’s a testament that they can look like this and still have the scene’s emotional impact come through. Ho Sang tells Hana he’s made up his mind to leave; it’s time for him to go. Hana tries to bargain with him to stay, telling him she won’t bother him, she won’t say anything even if he sees Nam Kyung everyday, she won’t bug him to marry her. Ho Sang feels too guilty accepting her parents’ kindness, knowing they see him as a future son-in-law. The best thing he can do for everyone is to leave, even though he doesn’t want to.
I love this second shot. Wordless, simple imagery. It’s perfect.
Ho Sang tags along with Hana’s father to the public baths, where he scrubs his back for him, telling him that he never got to scrub his own father’s back. (Back-scrubbing is a sign of friendship and/or intimacy, a kind of male-bonding social practice.) Because Ho Sang had older brothers, they always scrubbed their father’s back (he was too little to do a proper job), but his father passed away before he had the chance. He also makes Hana’s mother happy by complimenting her singing, which everyone else finds awful and grating. Ho Sang manages to be both flattering but sincere at the same time. I think that’s part of Cha Tae Hyun’s appeal — his genuineness.
But this is all part of Ho Sang preparing to leave. In one last conversation with Eun Tak, they reminisce over how they once fought over who would NOT have to deal with Hana. He asks what Eun Tak thinks of Hana, and the response is a terse, “I think she’s a woman who’d be wasted on someone like you.” Ho Sang takes it in stride, admitting his intention to leave. He asks Eun Tak to take care of Hana, but Eun Tak responds with distaste at his irresponsibility.
When Ho Sang tells Hana he’s leaving the next day, Hana accepts it without fighting. She doesn’t want to cling and cause him to hate her. “If you start disliking me now, it would upset me too much. But don’t go too far away. Go somewhere I can find you whenever I need. Like you go running when Nam Kyung calls you, if I call, you have to come running to me. If you feel sick, contact me. You have to call me the very first, okay?”
Hana does little things to prepare for Ho Sang’s departure. Wordlessly, she prepares his tonic medicine, folds his clothes, shines his shoes. I never thought I’d get so choked up watching somebody shine shoes before.
Ho Sang leaves the next morning, and Hana hears his car start and rushes out to see him drive off. Ho Sang sees her in his rearview mirror, growing smaller as he drives away.
As Ho Sang sits by the water, looking at this seashell arrangement spelling out “HANA,” he gets a call from Nam Kyung, who heard from Hana that he left. Worried for him, Nam Kyung insists he at least drop by her place for now. She won’t be home until the next morning, so she hands him her keys and tells him to rest. Despite his protests, she tells him she’s his friend — he wouldn’t let her just go if their situations were reversed.
Ho Sang arrives at Nam Kyung’s place, where he gets a text message from Hana which says, “Are you okay? You’ve gone for less than a day but it seems like a year.”
Ho Sang thinks: “Nothing had changed. I was pitiful before, and I was pitiful then too. But that night, everything seemed vague and vast, and I found myself staying huddled over.” He lies down, breathing heavily, starting to feel ill…