Love & Marriage: Episode 3
Another cute episode. It had a few noticeable flaws, but so far Love & Marriage is doing a pretty good job of retaining a spirit of good ol’ fun.
It’s not too goofy, but it’s not too serious either, and Kim Min-hee is committing to her character. I mentioned previously that she reminded me of Jane Austen’s Emma, and I think that still holds; part of what’s fun about watching her is to see how misguided (yet well-intentioned) she can be, and how she manages to pick herself up each time she falls down. She’s a little clueless (har har), but so was Emma, and as long as she develops awareness along the way, I can enjoy the character.
SONG OF THE DAY
Shin Hye-sung – “Promise” [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
The best part of this first scene is watching the unflappable lawyer scuttling around his hotel room, thinking to leave a memo for Kang-hyun to read when she wakes from her drunken sleep, trying to leave the note in the most visible place so she won’t be alarmed or confused at finding herself in his hotel bed. It’s kind of one of those jokes that gets funnier the longer it goes on, with Hyun-soo shuffling around, moving furniture, thwarted every time he thinks he’s got it just right.
In the end, it doesn’t even matter. Kang-hyun is fast asleep, dreaming of happy times with Kyung-hwan, and her legs mimic the bicycling motion to correspond with her dream. Hyun-soo takes the room next door and stays up late working, but is bothered by the names she had drunkenly slurred at him (“Tattletale, two-faced, evil lawyer, womanizer”).
When he checks on Kang-hyun in the morning, she’s still “cycling” in her sleep. Her legs have gotten all tangled in the covers, so she grimaces as she tries to pedal through the tangles, and Hyun-soo gives her a helping hand — which is when she wakes up, startled to see him at the foot of her bed.
Following her immediate assumption that he’s trying to make a move, Hyun-soo gives her the explanatory memo(s), and Kang-hyun lets herself out in embarrassment. Unfortunately, she runs right back into him at the elevator.
Hyun-soo asks what she meant when she called him those names last night, and Kang-hyun hastily thinks up an excuse (since it’s rude to admit she WAS talking about him). She explains that drinking makes her badmouth her ex, to which Hyun-soo asks, “You said, ‘evil lawyer.’ Your ex-husband was a lawyer?” Kang-hyun sends him off, saying she was babbling nonsense, which is when they run into Chief Ryu (name Sung-ho) and his ex-wife.
Sung-ho and Hye-sun have obviously spent a much more pleasant night than Kang-hyun or Hyun-soo. The older couple assumes the younger couple were together romantically despite protests to the contrary, and so the foursome have a somewhat awkward breakfast together.
(Forgetting that Kang-hyun is present, Sung-ho talks of Hyun-soo’s personal life, lamenting his ill fortune — dead parents, deadbeat brother, unhappy marriage.)
Sung-ho hears of Kang-hyun’s previous job fiasco and flies into an uproar. Knowing that she was in the wrong to have hidden that from him, Kang-hyun begs for mercy, but some bad timing gets in her way. Just then, one of her clients comes in to cancel her membership in their service. Sung-ho fires her, but she convinces him to agree to let her prove herself. If she fails to prevent the client from canceling, she will leave the job.
The problem with the woman (aside from being divorced by her second husband after being caught cheating) is that she has told a little white lie about the reason for her divorce. Since the truth paints her in a bad light, she told her parents it was the hubby’s idea and they mutually filed for divorce — and her father stormed in on his workplace, humiliating him. Now the ex is suing her for defamation of character, and the woman is in no position to continue with the dating service.
Kang-hyun promises to do what she can to avert lawsuit. She will consult with their lawyer and get back to the woman, convincing her not to quit yet.
Kang-hyun takes the case to Hyun-soo, the company’s lawyer consultant, but spends most of her day waiting since he is constantly interrupted with other work. Finally, she can’t take it anymore and presents herself in his office late at night, demanding his attention. (She’s immediately mollified when she finds out he’s doing work for her firm pro bono.)
This conversation is the big weak point of the episode, although it contains some important points. After concluding that the divorcee client’s best bet for avoiding being sued is to sincerely apologize to her ex (they don’t think he’s really going to sue), she gets up to leave, and notices him reaching for a math textbook.
Hyun-soo explains that math is a hobby that helps him unwind, which she finds confusing. But he explains that in math, often problems need solving where the solution is evident. If you can’t solve the equation going forward, you can work backward from the answer (like Jeopardy!), which is an application he finds helpful in real life.
She notes, “This is the first time you’ve made a lengthy answer. Usually, you only speak what’s necessary.” He’s a little taken aback at that observation, and she adds that it must be because he likes the subject.
Kang-hyun then displays a little of what I like to think of as a uniquely female brand of, erm, money management: She looks at the clock and sees an hour has passed, and crows, “Yes! I made $300.” He asks what she means, and she answers that she’s used an hour of his time (he charges $150 per half-hour). His services are free to her; therefore she’s made $300. Keke. (I’ve also used this logic on occasion. It’s… not the most sound financial tactic.)
Hyun-soo drives Kang-hyun home, and receives an awkward phone call on the way. He looks askance at Kang-hyun as he answers the call from his ex-wife, who’s returning to Seoul next week and asks him to take care of their house, which she’s intending to sell.
After he hangs up, Kang-hyun notices that they seem friendly, and he answers, “I promised myself when we broke up that I’d make the effort to be good friends. But that just means it’s something that requires effort.”
Kang-hyun takes her cue from Hyun-soo and tries the same thing. Aiming for a clean break with Kyung-hwan, she calls him to work out a repayment plan for the money he gave her, and says, “Let’s try our best to be good friends.” (And then muses in a blissful, self-congratulatory way to her friends, “Aren’t I cool?”)
Hyun-soo meets with his former father-in-law, with whom he has a civil relationship, and his former mother-in-law, with whom he does not. She’s in the hospital (cancer), and refuses to speak to Hyun-soo or even look at him. This is a very short scene, but hints at bigger issues to come.
Kang-hyun’s mother calls her over to deliver some expensive tonic drinks to Kyung-hwan — it’s clear her family loves Kyung-hwan, and neither parent believes Kang-hyun when she says their breakup is permanent this time.
She tries to refuse the tonics, but her mother won’t have it. So Kang-hyun takes the drinks with her to a classmates’ reunion and gives them out there.
Although she’s been telling herself that she’s going to be mature about her breakup, things get hard to take when she steps away from the table and overhears her classmates talking about her breakup. To her face they were sympathetic, but behind their back they all agree that she’s difficult, and they would have dumped her far sooner.
It also hurts to hear them talk about Kyung-hwan’s new girlfriend, who is not only a fellow law student but another older woman (by four years) — in fact, she’s even older than Kang-hyun.
With the wound picked open again, Kang-hyun goes through her things and throws out everything related to Kyung-hwan in a flurry of hurt feelings. She angrily throws her couple ring into the trash bag, but when it rolls down the hill, she starts running after it. I guess there’s just something that feels wrong about throwing away jewelry that once meant something.
She tries to sell the ring, but it’s worth less than half its initial value. Plus, she doesn’t even have a certificate of proof for the diamond because she didn’t know to ask for one when she bought it. She muses glumly, “A love that’s over is only worth half its price. When I embark on love next time, am I supposed to ask for a certificate of proof?”
Instead, she gives the ring to a beggar and tells herself to learn from the experience and move on.
Kang-hyun’s advice to the divorcee has worked, so now the woman can resume her dating life. Since she’s attracted to bad boys who turn out to be bad husbands, Kang-hyun chooses a nice guy this time, which the divorcee is not keen on. But Kang-hyun gets the woman to promise dating the man at least three times before making a judgment (and watches his kid on the first date).
Luckily, all seems well, and before long, the couple is on their happy third date.
Because this can’t be a trendy drama without our four main players in as close proximity as possible, Kyung-hwan is brought into the same firm as Hyun-soo. Apparently his girlfriend is the niece of Hye-sun, which got him the position. When he’s introduced to Hyun-soo and Kang-hyun, Kyung-hwan stammers that he and Kang-hyun used to go to college together, but that they’re not very close.
When Hye-sun suggests the four of them have lunch together, Kyung-hwan makes an excuse to avoid the awkward encounter, so it’s a quiet lunch for two instead.
Stung by Kyung-hwan’s treatment of her — pretending as though they barely know each other — Kang-hyun is lost in thought all throughout lunch, distracted and silent. She can’t hide the tears that start to fall while she eats, which Hyun-soo notices but pretends not to out of respect for her privacy.
As they leave the restaurant, Kang-hyun wipes at her eyes, lamely saying that the mustard was too spicy. Hyun-soo walks ahead without her, and Kang-hyun thinks he must be ashamed to be seen with a crying woman.
Instead, he comes back bearing an ice cream cone, saying it will help alleviate the spiciness.
Later that afternoon, Kang-hyun relaxes on the rooftop, sunning her ring finger to rid it of the five-year-old tan line. She wills the line to fade: “Disappear, like the past…”
Hyun-soo receives some bad news about his brother. The man has not been found, but the signs point to suicide. In a stunned daze, Hyun-soo goes up to the rooftop chair to think, not even noticing Kang-hyun’s presence until he sits on her.
The two argue over their claim over the space — she’s personalized the space with her own things, while he hardly uses it even though the chair and umbrella are his. She asks what the law would say, and at his answer that neither has legal sway over the other, she interprets it to mean, “First come, first served!”
But she notices a backlog of calls on her phone, and gets on the phone with her irate boss. Sung-ho tells her that her divorcee client just canceled her account — and so did the man she was set up with. Kang-hyun is SO FIRED.
Like I said up above, Episode 3 had some obvious flaws which got in the way of its speedy momentum at times. But the problem wasn’t in the story, just execution, and the episode started well and ended decently. So if there was a lull somewhere, at least it was somewhere in the middle. A few conversations were badly written and dragged on way too long, but it’s a minor complaint.
I still liked this episode enough that as soon as I hit “publish,” I’m off to see Episode 4! Please be good.