Three Dads, One Mom: Episode 3
I wasn’t sure I’d be continuing to cover Three Dads, One Mom (and I’m still not convinced), but I had time to watch it tonight with its competition postponing its episodes for the day. (The drama received a hefty ratings bump as well, nearly tripling from its very low premiere numbers of approx 5% to somewhere in the 14% vicinity. The true test will be seeing if the upward bump sticks, or was a mere blip because of a lack of counterprogramming.)
I think I’ve also narrowed down my issues to the drama. Sorry to say, his name is Jo Hyun Jae. That’s not the only aspect that gives me pause, but it is the most prominent. I don’t hate him — I want to like him, really — and the problem isn’t that he’s a bad actor and incapable of better. It’s precisely that he IS capable of doing better that makes it seem more glaring that he’s kinda phoning it in. I know it’s just a simple romantic comedy, but Jae Hee and Shin Sung Rok are playing equally simple characters and yet they’re throwing themselves into their roles with gusto. Jo Hyun Jae seems to be coasting along.
Eugene, on the other hand, may not be the world’s most skilled actress, but she’s cute as a button and her slight overacting seems to fit with the drama, so I’m not too bothered. Yet.
SONG OF THE DAY
Three Dads, One Mom OST – “Everything” by Eve [ Download ]
[I guess we should be happy enough that the episode aired tonight that we have to put up with election-related info taking up the bottom portion of the picture throughout the episode.]
The three friends argue over whether it’s their place to tell Na Young about the baby’s parentage. Their stances fall in line with what we know about their characters: Kwang Hee (Jae Hee) wants to absolve himself of responsibility and ignore the issue; Kyung Tae (Shin Sung Rok) wants to tell Na Young and take on full fatherly duties; and Su Hyun (Jo Hyun Jae) first thinks it’s best to butt out (do you know how much a baby costs?), then agrees that if someone tells her, it should be anybody but him. Because he and Na Young don’t get along.
My theory is that Su Hyun has always been attracted to her but shoved his feelings aside because of the myriad complications that would pose: (1) She was his friend’s girlfriend, then wife (2) it was easier to pretend he hated her to avoid her and (3) even if they were free to date, she doesn’t fit into his ideal of a rich alliance, so he may have envied Sung Min for his happiness while at the same time sneering at him for not choosing wealth. I admit that might be overanalyzing the issue, but it makes sense to me.
Su Hyun instead fixates on the rich daughter of one of his clients, an art gallery curator whom he’s never actually spoken to, but whom he’s seen several times at her father’s office.
Meanwhile, the guys try to tell Na Young the truth and plan to use Sung Min’s DVD message to break the news. But she’s so overwhelmed at seeing him onscreen that they don’t have much of a chance to broach the topic. So the guys go home, reverting to their initial stances. While Kwang Hee and Su Hyun choose to avoid the issue out of fear and laziness (they argue that a baby would be costly and a bigger headache than they’re prepared for), Kyung Tae is disgusted at his friends for their selfish point of view.
Aw, Kyung Tae — you get the sense that he’d really love family life and be content with anyone who’d be happy to have him. It’s starting to bug me that he’s the butt of everyone’s comments (e.g., “Oh no, what if the baby resembles HIM?”) and supposedly the least worthy catch of the bunch, because frankly he’s the only real man in this drama so far. (I’ll take you!) To be fair, the other two never asked for this situation, and Sung Min had promised against exactly this kind of responsibility. Plus their sperm was used without consent. It’s just that Kyung Tae, in contrast, is being so lovely about it. Su Hyun and Kwang Hee have potential, but they’re not there yet.
Na Young goes through her finances and finds that there’s a large chunk (approx $3,000) that’s unaccounted for. It’s the money Sung Min had taken to her father to bail him out of trouble when he died in the accident. Furthermore, she hears from Sung Min’s boss that he didn’t go on a business trip as he’d told her, but took vacation leave instead. She doesn’t immediately jump to the “Bastard was cheating on me??!” conclusion, but she is bothered and asks Kyung Tae about it. But the guys have no clue.
It also means she needs to start looking for work, which proves difficult because people are unwilling to hire a six-months-pregnant woman. She does land a job selling children’s educational books door to door, although she has to lie at the interview and say she’s not pregnant, she’s just fat! Because as we all know, pregnancy is something we can hide forever.
She makes a new friend, a slightly older woman and another book saleswoman named Jumi. Jumi’s with Na Young when she collapses from the strain of lugging around heavy books all day.
The three friends rush to Na Young’s bedside, feeling guilty to realize their earlier selfishness is responsible for her condition. Notably (throughout the episode) Su Hyun displays flashes of uncharacteristic fervor, berating Na Young for putting herself in danger, insisting she rest, etc., which has the guys trading looks as if to say, “What’s with him all of a sudden?” But they are boys and therefore dense to the signs of budding lurve, even the unwanted kind.
The guys watch a recording of baby Ha Sun’s ultrasound, and proceed to fall in love with the little tyke. All of a sudden the baby seems very real to them, and they marvel at the heartbeat and moving body.
With newfound determination (and yes, some resignation over what this is costing them, both in money and effort), the three vow to collectively become the baby’s daddy. They’ll split the chores and the costs evenly three ways, and do their best to help raise him/her. But, they agree, they must not tell Na Young about that tricky sperm issue. Of course, keeping that a secret makes their decision a little stickier because in her eyes, the guys have no reason to bear so much responsibility for her and her baby. (Each time she mentions it, they nervously laugh, “We’re just like a dad to the baby! Because we’re like Sung Min’s brothers, that is.”)
And just as they’d systematically undergone that regimen to nurture their sperm in the previous episodes, now they tackle prenatal care and baby prep. Kwang Hee sells his beloved motorcycle and asks his delighted mother about foods good for pregnant women. (The mother happily misconstrues his meaning and assumes he’s had a little “accident,” but assures him that’s okay! As long as that means he’s settling down…) Mama’s-boy Kyung Tae does the same. Kyung Tae’s strange behavior and recurring pregnancy questions put his female cop colleague on alert, since she’s got her eye on him. Good eye, says I, even if she IS a little wacko. (Although the jealous cop girl isn’t as crazy as Kwang Hee’s cougar-ish manhwa editor — who was just as crazy playing the hilarious pie-selling psycho ex-wife in Dal Ja’s Spring.)
The guys finish making the crib and rocking horse that Sung Min had left incomplete, and prepare a cheerful homecoming for Na Young, who’s moved to tears at the gesture. There’s a rare moment of genuine emotion (the drama tends to skew broad and jokey) when the guys find a recording device — one of those that allows a parent to record a message and hold it to the pregnant belly for the baby to hear. They listen to Sung Min singing the beginning of a lullaby on the recorder, who stops when he’s interrupted by a phone call. Solemnly, the three dads finish singing the lullaby for him.
They even accompany Na Young to lamaze classes, where each in turn undergoes the particular torture of performing calisthenics while encased in a baby-sized faux stomach/shield/armor. Su Hyun is first to encounter this particular humiliation, and vows irritably not to go back. Naturally, once one has suffered, he is not satisfied until his best friends have shared in his torment, so Su Hyun doesn’t warn Kwang Hee, who goes next. Who doesn’t warn Kyung Tae, who goes last.
Na Young does feel that their constant attention and care is perhaps excessive, but she’s grateful and doesn’t refuse the help. At one point, Na Young comments to Su Hyun that they’re going above and beyond the call of duty, to which Su Hyun replies (echoing her former words, spoken in annoyance) that this much is a given compared to how much she’d done for them (cooking, cleaning, laundry). Somewhat abashed to hear her words repeated back to her, Na Young asks if her comments had really stuck with him, thus starting to thaw the coldness between them.
The guys get into the hang of things, buying her food and a foot massager and thinking of new ways to help. Su Hyun grits his teeth at the cost and buys her expensive pears, although not without reminding her of how very expensive they are. We know, Su Hyun, we know. Kyung Tae, bless him, even develops a mild case of sympathetic pregnancy, experiencing some unexpected morning sickness. His extreme commitment to his role leads us to an obvious and silly sequence where he rushes out of the police station to handle an emergency, prompting his co-worker to call for backup, only to discover his “emergency” was Na Young’s food craving. (Which we then learn is actually Kwang Hee’s food craving. Kwang Hee defends himself: “Would he have bought the food if I said it was me who wanted to eat it?”)
Na Young’s baby starts kicking, and Kyung Tae bashfully asks if he can feel her stomach. Su Hyun feigns disinterest (although he totally wants to feel the kicking too), but Kwang Hee grabs his hand too and the three dads all feel the kicking in amazement. The baby obliges its (her? I think) fathers — and cutely refers to them all as “my dads” in the plural — first in amusement at the dads’ reaction, and then in annoyance because one of them is copping a feel on her butt.
And then, Na Young goes into labor. (Which nobody handles well.)