Another cute episode with a lot of cute scenes. I think Triple is starting to settle into its groove — it’s not all the way there yet, but storylines are starting to flow a little more, I think. It’s also a pleasure to watch a drama that is refreshing and breezy, with a little bit of conflict but not a huge melodramatic dose of angst. If you want the antithesis of “makjang” — those dramas with exaggerated, overwrought, convoluted plots — Triple would be it.
SONG OF THE DAY
Corinne Bailey Rae – “Call Me When You Get This.” I don’t know yet if I’m going to compile a list of Triple songs, but this one was used in a scene toward the end. The reason I may not is that so far, the music has been very pleasing, but not necessarily integral to the story. At least, not in the way that music was so key in Coffee Prince or Soulmate. But it’s still early, so there may be time for that to come. [ Download ]
EPISODE 5: “Warm up”
The episode’s theme of “warm up” leads us into the opening scene: An athlete can use the warm-up time to prepare for actual competition, but in real life, you can’t prepare for the big shocks.
We start at the confrontation that ended the previous episode, as Hwal approaches Hyun-tae outside the hospital. The atmosphere is subdued; Hyun-tae already knows about the marriage, and wonders, “How can you get married in secret? Is it a joke to you?” Hwal takes his unsentimental approach: “Nothing would change by talking about it.”
Hyun-tae tells Hwal to handle the matter as he wants, and he’ll pretend not to know. When he gets up to leave, Hwal suggests a drink, but Hyun-tae’s not up for drinking with him tonight.
Hwal heads off to get drunk at Sang-hee’s bar instead, where he wonders if he should get a divorce (this answers one question for those of us wondering at the state of his marriage — they’re separated, but still legally married). Sang-hee gapes in shock to hear that Haru’s coach is his wife, particularly since that’s the woman Hyun-tae has a crush on.
At the hospital, Su-in feels the need to explain to her mother why Hwal dropped by, since she’s never confided the story of their breakup. She says it’s her fault, but her mother has already guessed that Su-in did something to hurt him; she urges Su-in to beg his forgiveness, since he’s a good man.
After leaving, Hyun-tae returns to the hospital and calls Su-in out. She thinks that since the truth is out in the open now, he should understand clearly why they can’t be involved, and why they shouldn’t even be talking like this. (I don’t read her position to mean that it’s inappropriate for a woman to talk with her husband’s friend, but more of a reminder that both of their loyalties should be stronger with Hwal than with each other.)
Hyun-tae has recovered some of his good humor and hands her some flowers (picked, not bought) and chats lightly with her. This confuses Su-in — shouldn’t he have gotten the point already? Hyun-tae, on the other hand, isn’t exactly flirting with her — okay, he is, but it’s as though he likes her so much that he’s like an eager dog unwilling to think about the problems and just wants to enjoy the moment.
In the morning, Hwal is severely hungover, to the point that he has trouble picking up food with his chopsticks. Haru sees him fumble, and hesitantly puts some food into his bowl (like she’s expecting him to scold her). (He gives up on the chopsticks and goes for a spoon instead.) Since he accepts her offering, Haru tries again, putting more food in his bowl. Normally Hwal might bark at her gruffly, but today he’s feeling sick and accepts her help, which makes her happy.
After breakfast, the guys get to work. Or at least, they try to. Hyun-tae meets with the president of the Bok Man Chicken company, for whom he had done a very small flyer ad, against his own judgment. (He and Hae-yoon keep the flyer a secret from Hwal, who looks down on flyers as beneath them.) The president likes Hyun-tae’s ad, but he isn’t really after aggressive promotion and only requests really small things. It’s a far cry from the big campaigns they’re used to working on.
Feeling chagrined, Hyun-tae blows off some steam by playing basketball with the hoop he set up in Su-in’s front yard. She threatens (weakly) to call the police, and tries to shoo him off. Her protests go ignored, and Hyun-tae replies cheerfully that he’s merely here because he had a down day and wanted to see her and play some basketball.
Actor Song Joong-ki continues to be absolutely adorable as Poong-ho. This time, Poong-ho makes all the young skaters cry by decorating Haru’s locker with photos of himself that are cut and pasted to spell out “HARU,” and one large photo in the shape of a heart. He’s plastered the inside with more photos of himself, and waits outside for her to emerge.
Haru’s too preoccupied with other news to register him at first, because Coach Su-in has just told her to apply to compete at the national level. Poong-ho tells her not to worry, that she’ll make it and then they’ll both be national athletes. When she chides him for messing with her locker, he tells her that those are her “guardian angels” — “Since I can’t always be there to watch over you.” (He then skips off in a great mood, slips, and falls down. LOL.)
We get another cute scene that evening, when Sang-hee drops by with dinner for the guys. Not realizing that the two ladies haven’t been introduced yet, the guys don’t notice that Haru is growing increasingly unhappy with the way Sang-hee is so easy with them — but that isn’t anything compared to how Haru pouts when Hwal walks into the room. She watches as Sang-hee whispers into Hwal’s ear and talks to him affectionately and does not like it, no no not at all.
Sang-hee is on a mission to bridge the conflict between Hwal and Hyun-tae, although she doesn’t say anything outwardly since she’s not supposed to know about Hwal and Su-in’s marriage. Plus, the others are still unaware. But she makes them toast and drink to friendship, which they do a little reluctantly.
It’s hilarious how Hae-yoon doesn’t like Sang-hee being attentive to Hyun-tae (which she does out of pity, for being in love with a married woman). Meanwhile, Haru dislikes when she’s attentive to Hwal, because she feels left out and possessive of someone else looking after HER oppa.
The next morning, Haru takes particular care with her clothing and puts on (way too much) makeup in a bid to appear more like a woman to Hwal. The guys have no idea why Haru giggles and attempts to flirt (badly) with Hwal over breakfast, and gape in bewilderment. Eventually she has to give up, unsuccessful.
One more surprise is in store for the household when Haru’s father and Coach Nam arrive unannounced. It sure doesn’t make Dad happy to discover that three single men are living in the household with his daugther, one of whom likes looking at pictures of scantily clad women (Hyun-tae). He looks disapprovingly at the connecting door between Hwal’s and Haru’s rooms, and balks at her doing the household’s laundry and cooking.
Haru takes the visitors with her to the ice rink, and her entry is immediately greeted by a suspended basket of food, lowered to her from above by Poong-ho. He urges her to take it, since he spent so much time making it, although she bats it away in annoyance.
The instant he hears Haru call to her father, he hurries to make his greeting and drops to make a formal bow — which is hilaaaarious since he bows from the second floor. Gaaah, Poong-ho is too cute.
He also introduces himself enthusiastically as Haru’s boyfriend — earning him a glare from her — and offers them the contents of the basket while they watch Haru skate. Even Coach Nam can see right away how much she’s improved in the past few months.
That’s one of the arguments in favor of keeping Haru here, although she senses that her father’s objections are growing and tries to smooth over his possible complaints. However, at the end of the day, he’s made his assessment and decides that Haru should move out into a rented room.
Almost everyone speaks up immediately to try to convince him otherwise; Hae-yoon and Hyun-tae assure Dad that they see her as a younger sister and look after her. Haru appeals to Hwal, asking him to speak up for her — but he agrees with her father. Rubbing salt into that wound is the very brusque (almost rude) way he addresses Haru’s father (there are clearly lingering issues there) and says that he never wanted to take her in the first place, and that he thinks she should move into a rented room.
Not only is Haru hurt by his curtness, Hae-yoon is displeased with him, too. Of the three roommates, he’s the one who tries to convince Dad to change his mind and is most upset with this turn of events.
Trying to be extra-solicitous, Hae-yoon offers his room to the visitors, and heads off to stay with Sang-hee at the bar until they leave. He has a guarded reaction to Sang-hee’s new helper, the hockey player Jae-wook from a previous episode, and while I wouldn’t call Hae-yoon’s behavior possessive, there’s definitely a little masculine power assertion here. (Jae-wook refers to Hae-yoon as Sang-hee’s boyfriend, so I would say he’s probably got a harmless crush on her but isn’t going to try anything sneaky.)
Oh! And Lee Seon-kyun sings. *swoon*
Hae-yoon does his work from Sang-hee’s place while the other guys work out of their headquarters, and all of them set out to bring in new clients. As mentioned, Hyun-tae hasn’t fared well with the chicken man, while Hwal and Hae-yoon are rebuffed by the contacts they try to meet with. They’re not asking for specific campaigns, but trying to talk with companies they have worked with in the past to see if they can lure them away. Unfortunately, most of them are fine sticking with their former ad agency, Koryeo.
When Haru has difficulty hanging the curtains in the kitchen and asks for Hwal’s help, he brushes her off and says he’ll do it later. Still hurt by Hwal’s eagerness to get rid of her, Haru asks, “Are you really okay with me going?” He looks a little uncomfortable with the question, but at his non-response, she concludes, “You really must not care whether I stay or go.”
He feels a pang of compunction after she leaves. Coming out into the hallway, he sees Haru still struggling with the curtain and steps in to help. As he does, he feels how hot she is and realizes she’s burning with fever — she’d been gradually growing sick all episode long, but had ignored it because she was insistent on continuing to train for her next competition.
Hwal gives her medicine and tends to her fever, staying by her bed while she sleeps. A while later, as he changes her washcloth, Hwal chides that she’s always causing trouble and giving him a headache. The bite is out of his voice, but Haru takes it at face value and says, “That’s harsh.”
Haru: “To me, you’re a rope from heaven. But to you, I must be useless. Because of you I could skate, you say nice things to me, you gave me a room to sleep in. You’re a rope I’m thankful for — if you were me, would you have let go? Are you a rotten rope? Is that why?”
Hwal: “If I were you… I’d hold on even to a rotten rope.”
He says that last bit with a hint of a smile. Haru thanks him, and he leaves her to sleep.
Outside, Hwal comes face to face with Haru’s father, who has gotten up to pace outside in the night air. Hwal tells him Haru’s sick, and directs him up to her room.
In the morning, Haru is better, and she again asks her father if she can stay behind. It seems like he’s already made up his mind to relent, and when he and Coach Nam leave, it’s to go home rather than apartment-hunting. Dad tells Haru to take care, and the guys send them off.
It’s back to work for the Bond Factory men, and contrary to Hwal’s insistence earlier that they not go back to their old companies begging for work, he’s pretty desperate. He had warned Hae-yoon and Hyun-tae not to do that, but finds himself meeting with his old boss at Koryeo to ask if they can take on some of their work, sort of in a hand-me-down capacity. Unfortunately, ad agencies are facing tough times, and the answer is no.
On his way out, he runs into Hae-yoon, who’s on his way in… and both men are a little abashed to be caught doing something they promised not to do.
Meanwhile, Hyun-tae again heads over to see Su-in, catching her as she’s up on her roof to retrieve a ball for some neighborhood kids. He climbs the ladder before she has a chance to get down, purposely kicking it away to leave them stranded on the roof.
Su-in is alarmed to be stuck there, but Hyun-tae settles back in a leisurely pose, enjoying the day. They stay up there for a while — I’d guess a few hours — until finally, Hyun-tae is ready to get back on solid ground. He jokes that he’ll jump off the roof — which prompts her to reflexively grab him back — but then actually does jump down.
Once on the ground, he opens his arms and urges Su-in to jump into them, assuring her that he’ll catch her. She prods him to get the ladder instead.
Back at home, Hwal comes upon Haru in the hallway while she’s kneeling with the puppy, and surprises her by tucking back a strand of hair behind her ear with his finger. He tells her, “Hold onto that rotten rope” — his way of making amends.
Haru giggles softly as she dances around with her puppy, singsonging, “Wal, we’re not getting kicked out!”
Hyun-tae’s behavior all episode long suggests that he’s going back and forth between clinging to Su-in and trying to let her go. This time it’s a little bit of both — he follows her around as he notes what she does over the course of her day, but keeps out of sight and at a distance.
At the end of the day, as he watches from outside her house, Hyun-tae thinks: “She moves in time with my watch. That’s good enough. No, it’s not. Let’s be honest. The good thing is being together.”
However, when Su-in next opens her door, it’s Hwal sitting there, not Hyun-tae. Immediately, she’s relieved and happy, telling him she had a feeling she’d find someone on the other side that she wanted to see.
You get the sense that Hwal is feeling conflicted, both wanting to see her and upset for wanting to see her. It appears the former has won out, at least for now, because he asks her to make some time for him on the weekend. He says, “I don’t know either why we don’t divorce. I’ll call you on the weekend.” With that, he heads off, leaving Su-in smiling with happiness.
Once again, as the episode wraps, Haru’s voiceover ties in the theme of today’s episode:
Haru’s narration: “The last time I can inspect myself is six minutes before competing.”
Poong-ho stops her, and says seriously, “Let’s go steady.”
After a beat, Haru answers simply, “I’m sorry, there’s someone I like.” His smile fades as she walks away, but her mood is upbeat:
Haru’s narration: “Warm-up is over — now is the start. I’m shaking.”
(Song Joong-ki = So. Cute.)
I realized while writing this recap that Triple is somewhat difficult to recap properly because mere summary doesn’t capture mood. While I’ve enjoyed writing about ti, I can’t help but feel the recaps are missing something, and I think it’s the drama’s atmosphere, its sense of pacing. When summarized in recap form, some scenes can seem like they were pointless, because they’re slice-of-life rather than plot-driving. I don’t think the scenes are actually pointless, but it’s that they sometimes end without a definitive period on the interaction. They lie there, in the process of development, like the relationships they represent. I enjoy this aspect in the watching, but it’s a little harder to appreciate in the re-telling. (In my opinion.)
As much as I’m enjoying this drama, I have to admit when something strikes me as a flaw, and I think it’s the construction of the Hyun-tae/Su-in romance. You know when you see a character in a scene, and he may only say a few lines but you already know who he is? Some actors and characters can do this well. When I say “you know who he is,” I don’t mean we know everything about the character — but at least the personality feels real. There’s a reality and a presence that makes that character relatable; you can believe that once they leave the scene, they continue to live out their lives.
Hyun-tae and Su-in perplex me, in that I have no idea what their “continued lives” would be like. I get a better sense of Hyun-tae, but both are still leaving me hanging in the emotion department. Why exactly does Hyun-tae like Su-in, other than that he thinks she’s pretty? I don’t think a person has to be able to list the reasons he/she finds someone appealing, but I should at least believe the connection in the context of the drama, and I don’t really understand this one. I kind of feel like Lee Hana and Yoon Kye-sang are only living out the characters in their scenes, rather than making them real people. What do they believe, what do they want, who are they outside of their interactions? I … hope the drama addresses this, because I want to see Yoon Kye-sang do what I know he’s capable of doing!