LOL, and I mean that literally: this was a laugh-out-loud episode, with a number of unexpectedly quirky-funny moments.
A lot happened to move our stories along and close a few loops. I know that Conflict is at the heart of Drama, but I always cringe when my characters go through hell even though I know it’s necessary for story development. But there’s nothing wrong with the Love & Marriage school of thought, which is that conflict may include pain, but does not need to revel in it. You can have character development without Tragedy and OMG TEH HURTINGS.
SONG OF THE DAY
Brown Eyes – “가지마 가지마” (Don’t go, don’t go). You don’t even know how much this song made me burst into a giggle fit when it was used this episode. [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Kang-hyun leads her mother into the church, and presents her with a recommitment ceremony and a white wedding dress. Dad greets Mom sheepishly — he wasn’t in on the plan, but like Kang-hyun, he’d like another try to make this marriage work.
No dice. Mom walks out and tells Hyun-soo (who’s waiting by the car) to proceed to the courthouse so that they can get the divorce under way.
Kang-hyun hasn’t exchanged words with Hyun-soo, although she does shoot him a glare when Mom orders him to leave for the courthouse. Feeling obligated to his client (but looking regretfully at the wedding photo of Kang-hyun’s parents), Hyun-soo drives off.
A little while later, Kang-hyun trudges back into the church to admit defeat. She starts to tell the minister that the ceremony is off, only to be interrupted by a startling sight: her father leading out her mother, dressed in the wedding dress.
Kang-hyun doesn’t know what brought about this change, but she’s thrilled. Not only has Mom somehow decided against the divorce, she actually looks happy.
But first, they need another witness. Kyung-hwan was supposed to be here, but he’s being held up by his law professor and is doing his best to hurry. The minister heads outside to call in a backup, but sees Hyun-soo waiting and calls him inside to act as witness.
After the ceremony, Kang-hyun asks Hyun-soo what happened to bring about this change of heart. In a flashback, we see Mom looking sadly at her wedding photograph as they drive away from the church. Sensing her misgivings, Hyun-soo pulls over. He persuades her to read Dad’s response to her divorce conditions, which she hadn’t read for fear her resolve would weaken.
The note says that Dad hadn’t known she was serious about divorce, nor had he realized she’d still felt the lingering effect and mistrust from their past troubles. After she left home, she’d looked happy for the first time in years, and he thought, “Everything is my fault. If you can be happy without me, I’ll have to let go of you. Therefore, I’ve agreed to your wishes. Like you said, life is short.”
But if she can forgive him, he promises to live the rest of his life to make her happy. The letter ends with a bittersweet, “I’d rather part with you at the funeral home, not the courthouse.”
Kang-hyun apologizes to Hyun-soo for thinking only of herself, and he apologizes for not seeing the case from the perspective of the divorcees. She also feels sorry for deciding to break up so suddenly — she’d been so confused, she wanted to give up in frustration.
Hyun-soo recounts the story of the Gordian knot, in which Alexander the Great faced a tangled knot that was impossible to unfurl — so he sliced it. Therefore, Hyun-soo explains, sometimes the most complicated problems are solved with the simplest solutions
Kang-hyun admits, “I missed you, enough to cry,” and he responds in a shaky voice, “Me too. A lot.”
Kyung-hwan comes running up just in time to witness the kiss . Unfortunately, the couple is also spotted by Kang-hyun’s parents, emerging from the church.
(This is the Brown Eyes song posted above, which plays in the following sequence.)
In a hilariously exaggerated slow-motion sequence, Mom drags Kang-hyun away from Hyun-soo while Kang-hyun cries out in protest. Hyun-soo looks at her in worry, but he can’t go to her because Dad is delivering a scold.
The song blares, “Don’t go, don’t go, don’t goooooooo….”
In the car ride home, Kang-hyun’s parents tell her they oppose her dating Hyun-soo. For one, he’s divorced. And he was actually going to divorce his girlfriend’s parents! How cold-hearted! Plus, they want Kyung-hwan to be their son-in-law. Kang-hyun begs her dad to take her side, but her father exercises his newfound outlook on life: “I’m on Mom’s side now.” (Mom beams in pride.)
Hyun-soo’s Big Bro (name: Hyun-sung) visits him at work to strike a deal: If Hyun-soo breaks up with Hwa-young, Hyun-sung will quit gambling. That’s an easy promise to make since Hyun-soo’s not getting back with Hwa-young, which Hyun-sung is thrilled to hear.
However, Hyun-sung isn’t sure he can trust his brother to keep his word, so he spies the office across the hall and wanders into Last Love. (He wants to join as a client, but I think he’s just using it as an excuse to come by and keep an eye on Hyun-soo.)
(The Last Love employees smell trouble with Hyun-sung, so they do their best to convince him not to enroll, naming an exorbitant enrollment fee to get him to leave.)
As he exits, he runs into Kang-hyun, who demands he pay her back for the money he took at the racetrack. Then she recalls that it’s in her best interest to get along with Hyun-soo’s brother. (See: relationship “chart” at top.) Wanting to make a good impression, she even lets him take cab fare from her, with a grimace.
Hyun-soo takes Kang-hyun out for a late-night date, and they stop for ramen and eat by the lake. Kang-hyun receives a call from Mom, but since she doesn’t want to talk in front of Hyun-soo (the conversation will probably involve a lot of Hyun-soo bashing), she lies and says she’s at home and hurriedly hangs up.
Hyun-soo doesn’t make an issue of the call, although we can be pretty certain he guessed the gist. And then, Kang-hyun’s suspicious mother calls Hyun-soo. Kang-hyun tells him not to answer.
Mom and Dad have a bad feeling about this… They imagine Hyun-soo as a wolf pursuing their “sheep” daughter, and are alarmed at the thought, “What if they slip up, like we did?” The refer, of course, to pregnancy.
In an effort to pull Kang-hyun away from Hyun-soo, they call in Kyung-hwan to conspire with him — and since he wants to win Kang-hyun back, he’s fully onboard.
At the lake, it starts to rain, and they huddle together under an umbrella. All googly-eyed with romance, they compare this outing to their last time fishing. Kang-hyun thinks that was when she started liking him, and asks when he started liking her. Hyun-soo thinks it over: “When I said what I did about us sharing the same misery, I think I’d already started to like you. I think that’s why I wanted to make the excuse that I didn’t.” Hyun-soo says he’s sorry for disappointing her, saying he’s never really done this dating/romance thing properly.
She remembers his confession (and the kiss) at the elephant pen, and he admits that while she was in the bathroom (*snort* what a lovely image to conjure in this moment), all the feelings he’d been holding back came rushing up. Affectionately, Kang-hyun calls him a total adolescent.
Now it’s fishing-for-compliments time (fitting, given their locale?), and she asks what he likes about her. She’s wilts a little upon remembering that on their first meeting, he’d said his ideal woman was someone he could respect, and that’s not her. Hyun-soo contradicts her, saying she’s someone he can respect — he’s never met someone so passionate. She doesn’t fear failure, challenges herself, and she warms him. “To me, you’re a wonderful new world.”
They return to the car to wait out the rain. Holding hands, Kang-hyun asks Hyun-soo to sing for her, so he hums while she closes her eyes for a doze.
Hyun-soo drops her off in front of her apartment in the morning, where her parents are waiting. (Her friends attempt to make warning gestures behind the parents’ backs.)
Kang-hyun is chased through the neighborhood by an angry Mom and Dad, and although we don’t see her capture, we can be sure it happens because Mom calls into work, saying she’s “sick.”
Hyun-soo discovers this at lunch with Sung-ho — Kang-hyun hasn’t answered his calls because Mom has confiscated her phone — and he worries that she’s really sick.
Sung-ho, meanwhile, is in the doldrums over his failed attempt to win Hye-sun back. Turns out that things are going really well with her boyfriend, who’s an older widower with children in their twenties — in fact, his older child (a daughter) is a mere 12 years younger than Hye-sun. But age isn’t the issue, since Hye-sun is comfortable with him, and they’re thinking of marriage.
Also with marriage on the mind are Kang-hyun’s parents, who ambush Kang-hyun at a fancy lunch which turns out to be a formal introduction between the bride’s and groom’s families — i.e., Kang-hyun’s and Kyung-hwan’s.
Kang-hyun takes Kyung-hwan aside to berate him for keeping the lie going. She has no intention of marrying him. Kyung-hwan pleads with her to play nice — the least she could do is fake it for today in front of his parents, since he faked it for her cousin’s wedding.
Reluctantly, Kang-hyun consents to this — and doesn’t see that Hwa-young has witnessed the scene from afar.
When Kang-hyun gets her phone back, she sees the list of worried messages from Hyun-soo: “Are you sick?” “Are you very sick?” and then, “Are you still sick?”
Hyun-soo takes Kang-hyun on a date to eat “the most delicious popcorn in the world,” which turns out to be at a drive-in movie. Kang-hyun tells him cheerfully that whatever she eats with him is the best tasting in the world, and he returns the sentiment.
Thinking of something her friends said (about wondering where Hyun-soo stands on marriage), Kang-hyun asks how he feels about it. Hyun-soo admits that he’s more careful after having failed once, and feels that she might be hurt by gossip if they reveal their relationship too early. He suggests they earn her parents’ approval first, then go public to their co-workers.
To everyone’s surprise, Hyun-sung comes back to Last Love to enroll himself and his brother in their services. The Last Love employees had thought they’d gotten rid of him with their exorbitant enrollment quote, but Hyun-sung arrives with cash.
Kang-hyun is given the task of turning him down, since he doesn’t meet their requirements for applicants. (If the “quality” of their membership pool isn’t reliably high, the other members will be unhappy and quit.) Hyun-sung gets offended, but Kang-hyun assures him that she’s on his side. He wonders why she would be, so she lets him in on the relationship secret.
Immediately, Hyun-sung is opposed to Kang-hyun dating his brother because she’s too kooky and eccentric. He drags Kang-hyun with him and barges into Hyun-soo’s office to confront him.
Hyun-soo listens to them bicker back and forth before cutting them off forcefully. His outburst is a bit startling, until he stands and bows in apology… to his client!
Properly abashed for interrupting a client consultation, Hyun-sung and Kang-hyun wait in the stairwell and chat. Kang-hyun asks what Hyun-soo was like as a child, smiling to hear that his justice-seeking traits had early roots (even as a kid, Hyun-soo used to intervene with adults to smooth over matters).
I like Kang-hyun’s attitude toward Hyun-sung — on one hand, she knows he’s a shifty character and has been conned out of money by him, so she’s wary of trusting him blindly. On the other hand, she’s comfortable enough to treat him with a familiar joshing tone, and doesn’t hesitate to tell him (without rancor) that she doesn’t take kindly to how Big Bro doesn’t think she’s good enough for Hyun-soo. After all, she’s quite a successful couple manager, you know.
Hyun-sung scoffs — if she’s so great, why’d she reject to take him on as a client? Kang-hyun seizes the opening: She’ll prove her skills to Hyun-sung by setting him up with a successful match. In return, if she’s successful, he has to give his approval of her relationship with Hyun-soo. The idea appeals to Hyun-sung, and he tentatively agrees.
Hyun-soo arrives as they’re finalizing their contract, and immediately Kang-hyun and Hyun-sung cover up what they’re doing. (It’s not that they’re doing anything wrong, but it’s their little side deal, like an inside joke.) When Hyun-soo asks what’s going on, they (badly) lie and say it’s nothing.
I love how Hyun-soo gets shifty-eyed in the third screencap, suddenly on his guard as if to say, What’s going on? They’re awfully chummy. Should I be scared? Do. Not. Like.
Later, Kang-hyun asks Hyun-soo about his brother’s love life, trying to glean useful details. We learn that Hyun-sung had divorced because he’d married too hastily, and had been busy supporting Hyun-soo through law exams. The wife grew tired of their tough straits, Hyun-sung’s business failed, he fell into gambling, and she left him. Even now, Hyun-soo feels sorry to her, feeling guilt for his part in the failed relationship. Kang-hyun wonders if his brother might straighten out if he met the right woman, and Hyun-soo agrees that this is also his hope.
Matchmaking plan: Kang-hyun brings Hyun-sung to a speed-dating event. Hyun-sung is too cute, because he starts out nervous and eager to please, but he’s awkward and stiff and misses opportunities to connect with his dates. By the end of the night, the women are openly disgusted with him, and faced with frustration, he blows up and storms out.
Kang-hyun calms him down and gives him pointers, and he promises to do better next time. (He’s adorable as he uncertainly wonders if he ought to have showcased his humor more, because he’d forgotten that he’s a pretty good comedian.)
On the downside, Hyun-soo’s poor showing adversely affects the company, since the other members call to complain. When Kang-hyun finds Hyun-soo’s profile in their client database, she learns that Hyun-sung had enrolled his brother merely as a perfunctory gesture, but after the speed-dating fiasco, they processed Hyun-soo’s application — because Hyun-soo’s appealing profile was the only thing that countered the negative effects of his brother’s, and kept members from leaving.
After seeing Kang-hyun with Kyung-hwan at the restaurant, Hwa-young has been worried for Hyun-soo, and confronts Kang-hyun. Her normally placid demeanor goes hard as she takes Kang-hyun to task for doing something that would hurt Hyun-soo, and Kang-hyun is thoroughly abashed at her own actions. She promises to come clean to Hyun-soo, and Hwa-young asks Kang-hyun in a softer tone not to hurt him.
Kang-hyun realizes she was wrong (1) to have gone along with Kyung-hwan’s claim that they were dating, and (2) for keeping the truth from Hyun-soo because she was worried it would bother him. She calls him to confess immediately, but he’s about to walk into a meeting and tells her he’ll get back to her.
Hyun-soo has been called by Kang-hyun’s parents, who express their disapproval of the match. And despite the unfairness of the situation, I admit that from their point of view, the argument makes sense. He’s still in regular contact with his ex-wife, his brother is a troublemaker, he’s divorced, and on top of that, he was her mother’s divorce attorney and knows too much of their dirty laundry.
Plus, they have a future son-in-law they both like: “If you really love her, you’ll let her go.” Mom asks him to break up with Kang-hyun immediately. This may not be a deterrent for some couples, but parental disapproval is Hyun-soo’s big insecurity — Hwa-young’s parents disapproved and he felt that burden keenly.
Kang-hyun drops by to see Hyun-soo after his meeting, teasing him in a lighthearted tone, but he’s burdened by her parents’ words. Hyun-soo struggles with his dilemma while Kang-hyun turns to exit, saying she’ll see him later.
Hyun-soo makes up his mind and calls her back. He tells her that there’ll be no need to meet later, because he feels uncomfortable in this relationship. She’d previously asked for his opinion on marriage, and he now decides he’s not open to it.
Stunned, Kang-hyun walks out in a daze and is spotted by Kyung-hwan, who is being thrown a party to celebrate the end of his temporary employment (he’s been a sort of provisional lawyer, who hasn’t yet passed the bar). He follows Kang-hyun outside and, sensing her mood, asks if it has to do with Hyun-soo. Kyung-hwan chides her for not being realistic — after all, her parents were clearly opposed, and she knows what they’re like. They’re the type to interfere and tell Hyun-soo to back off behind her back.
That rings a bell. Kang-hyun asks if he really thinks so, and Kyung-hwan laughs that he wouldn’t be surprised if they’d already done so.
Suddenly energized, Kang-hyun spins around and walks back to Hyun-soo’s office, now knowing that her parents were behind Hyun-soo’s sudden change of heart.
Kang-hyun grabs his hand and tells him, “Let’s solve our problem. Let’s go cut our Gordian knot.”
She drags him back to the party where his colleagues are gathered, and announces, “Everyone! We’re dating again. Please wish us well!”
After a moment of surprised silence, Kyung-hwan faces Hyun-soo and glares at him — and then slumps in defeat and walks away. The lawyers give a round of applause for the couple.
Welling up with emotion, Hyun-soo leads Kang-hyun into the hall for some privacy (like that’ll happen) and grabs her in a hug. It’s kind of moving how much her gesture means to him, that she saw through the ruse and didn’t give up on him.
Of course, her co-workers walk in on the scene, and Hyun-soo makes the announcement this time: “Everyone, we’re dating. Please be understanding.”
I am SO GLAD they didn’t drag out this “misunderstanding” and let parental opposition be the story for the home stretch of this series (a la My Girl). Yes, it’s a real obstacle and it’s believable — but it’s also super familiar, and we don’t need to spend any more time than we did agonizing over it.
A couple days ago, I posted about Sean and Jung Hye-young‘s ridiculously romantic coupledom, and the feeling I get from watching them is the same kind I get from Love & Marriage. Yes, it’s over-the-top sometimes and gooey and so sugary-sweet you almost want to gag — but somehow it still stirs the giddy romance-loving optimist part of me, not the realist-cynic that normally presides. And you can’t fault a drama for much when it makes you feel so damn happy for its characters, no matter the somewhat clunky dialogue or the lack of Major Drama (which I don’t don’t consider a necessarily bad thing, as I mentioned above).
That’s why Love & Marriage ends up in those categories of dramas where my “objective”(-ish) score would probably be a lot harsher than my “enjoyment level” score. But that’s okay, because I like those dramas much better than their opposites — the “high-quality” ones that don’t entertain or move me.
- Love & Marriage: Episode 12
- Love & Marriage: Episode 11
- Love & Marriage: Episode 10
- Love & Marriage: Episode 9
- Love & Marriage: Episode 8
- Love & Marriage: Episode 7
- Love & Marriage: Episode 6
- Love & Marriage: Episode 5
- Love & Marriage: Episode 4
- Love & Marriage: Episode 3
- Love & Marriage: Episode 2
- Love & Marriage: Episode 1