Triple is ending this week, and while I’ve enjoyed watching it, I’m finding that I’m in no rush to finish it. I think it’s because it feels like this series has been treading water for a while now. Yes, I understand that it’s a less-plot-driven, more slice-of-life sort of drama, but slice-of-life dramas still have to go somewhere. This meandering is both Triple‘s charm and its weakness; on one hand, it IS refreshing to watch relationships unfold without necessarily knowing exactly how the ending will turn out. On the downside, however, this is still a television series on a broadcast station that relies on the attention of its audience to stay afloat.
SONG OF THE DAY
Sung Shi-kyung – “Baby You Are Beautiful” [ Download ]
EPISODE 11: “Skating”
After Hwal bursts in on a sleeping Haru, he leaves, driving home in confusion over his own behavior. He ignores Haru’s call, leaving her to wonder what he meant when he asked, “What are you?”
Hwal remains distracted at home, only half-listening as Su-in presents him with a new shirt and tie. She has decided to make more of an effort being wifely, and this is one of those wifely gestures. He thanks her, but it’s clear his attention is diverted elsewhere.
Sang-hee looks at Hae-yoon’s toothbrush, missing him now that they’ve broken up. When she calls, he answers only after a moment of hesitation. Sang-hee tries to engage him in light conversation, asking if he’s going to come by to brush his teeth, but he’s not having it: “Just use that to clean the toilet.” When Sang-hee calls back, he turns off his phone.
But, of course, it’s not as easy blocking out his feelings as it is blocking her calls. Hae-yoon gets drunk outside Sang-hee’s store and noisily calls her outside. His feelings are all a-jumble with hurt at her rejection, irritation at her call, anger with himself for giving in.
He demands, “Are you playing with me?” and takes her to task for calling about a toothbrush after they’ve gone days without talking — does she really expect him to answer happily? Isn’t she tired of going from friend to lover and back again? He’s sick of it.
Hae-yoon: “How am I different from Jae-wook to you? Because we slept together? That’s easy for you. Don’t you sleep with a person and act like it didn’t happen? That’s what you do.”
Sang-hee: “Do you think I slept with you so easily? Do you think I didn’t think hard about it?”
Hae-yoon: “So why don’t you tell me that?!”
Sang-hee: “Because I dislike doing that. I hate being serious, it’s pathetic!”
Hae-yoon: “What we’re doing now is even more pathetic. That’s why we’ve come to this. If we don’t become more serious, we can’t grow any closer.”
This is a nicely played scene — I’ve liked the light, joking way they’ve carried out their relationship, but Hae-yoon’s right in that they can’t only be light and joking all the time.
In an effort to get over Su-in, Hyun-tae has gone on a solo camping trip, and even goes so far as to delete her messages from his phone.
He has continued to send cheerful notes to Su-in’s mother (unbeknownst to Su-in), which bring a smile to Mom’s face. Mom admits to Su-in that even though she often disliked Hyun-tae’s behavior, she does feel grateful to him for making her feel less lonely.
On his way back, he drops by Su-in’s house, surprising her. As Hyun-tae has backed off, the resulting dynamic has changed between them, softened. Now Su-in isn’t upset to see him, but strikes me as almost wistful. (It’s probably significant to note that this conversation is the first time Hyun-tae drops the formal joendaemal way of speaking and talks to her in the familiar banmal.)
Hyun-tae says that she must have thought he was crazy before, “But it was easier for me to be seen as a crazy person.” She replies, “To be honest, I was afraid that I might get swayed over to you. But I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.”
Hyun-tae says he’s going to put his feelings behind him, and leaves her with a last gift (flowers and a jar of berries from his trip). Su-in is touched at the gesture and watches him go a little… sadly?
Poong-ho comes upon Haru and Hye-jin as they’re running the stairs and tags along like an eager puppy. Hye-jin snarks at Poong-ho and puts down his athletic prowess (saying the only reason he has a gold medal is because he was part of a team), and even though we know she is half-joking, Poong-ho’s face falls. But Haru defends him, and I LOVE how Poong-ho immediately perks up, happiness restored.
Haru continues training, keeping an anxious eye on her watch. Finally, she can’t take it and rushes out early, wanting to get home before Hwal leaves so she can ask what he meant the night before.
She’s in time to find him working in his room, although he ignores her (or tries to). Haru assures him, “I’m not hoping for anything big. I’m happy just having a fun time with you. … What you said yesterday, what does it mean? You touched my head as you said it. Doesn’t that mean you like me?”
Hwal doesn’t want to admit it but says grudgingly, “For a moment, I thought you were pretty and cute.” However, that’s as far as he’s willing to go: “I don’t like you, so don’t mistake things.” Despite that last part, Haru is uplifted by his choice of words, cheered to know he found her pretty.
Hwal apologizes to Su-in for dragging his feet on the marriage registration, acknowledging that he should have taken care of it right away. But Su-in has a different view now — they don’t have to register right away. She feels they got back together because they wanted to return to their happier past. If they both try really hard, they can return to that state, so they can register once they’ve achieved that.
It’s a nice compromise to them both, relieving some of the pressure while keeping both of them happy. Unfortunately, their mood is interrupted by a phone call bearing bad news.
Su-in’s mother has died, and everyone arrives at the funeral to pay their respects, including Hyun-tae, Haru, and Hae-yoon. (Sang-hee has been informed, but she tells Hyun-tae she can’t make it, since she’s come down with an illness. She doesn’t tell him that it’s a late case of the measles, and that she’s shut down her store and sent Jae-wook away until she recovers.)
It’s a little startling to see how hard Hyun-tae takes the news, even though it’s understandable since he spent a lot of time cheering Mom up. I don’t mean he’s NOT entitled to grief, but it’s just jarring given that his reaction is even stronger than the woman’s daughter, or son-in-law.
Upon returning home, Haru confesses to Hae-yoon that it was strange to see Hwal at the funeral with Su-in — she felt left out of the loop while Hwal and Su-in seemed to understand each other silently. Hae-yoon reminds her, “That’s why they’re married.”
Haru asks, “Why didn’t I know that till now? I was a fool.” Hae-yoon says consolingly, “This is how we mature.” But he concedes, “It can be nice being a fool.”
Hae-yoon finds Sang-hee at the bar, where she’s shut herself for the duration of her bout with measles. She asks if he finds her gross with the blotches on her face, recalling all the times Hae-yoon has seen her looking less than her best. She wonders how he could have accepted all that from her.
Dryly, Hae-yoon says, “That stuff isn’t the least bit difficult. What’s difficult is you not accepting me.” He apologizes for speaking harshly to her before, “But I don’t want to be that guy anymore. I can’t hang around waiting for you anymore.”
Sang-hee tries to explain, “I don’t dislike you. I just dislike marriage. You want a Kang Sang-hee to make a family with. All I want is you.” That’s true, but Hae-yoon points out that the reverse is also true: “You’re the same. Don’t you want a Jo Hae-yoon who doesn’t want marriage?”
At an impasse, they sit in frustrated silence.
Hyun-tae finally removes the basketball hoop from Su-in’s yard as a goodbye gesture, then tells Hwal that he’s taken care of his feelings for Su-in. (He doesn’t mean he’s over her yet, but that he’s decided to get over her, if that distinction makes sense.)
Hyun-tae: “I should apologize to you, shouldn’t I? If I were you, what would have happened? If you liked my wife and followed her around, what would I have done? I would have hated you a lot too. But if I were you, I would have asked at least once how you felt, and how much you were agonizing over your thoughts. But you just saw me as a crazy, immature guy.”
Just when Hyun-tae is coming around, I HATE HIM EVEN MORE. Way to make this all about YOU! You’re the freaky stalker, and yet you point the finger at the person hurt by your pushiness?
But Hwal is more mature than I am, because he says, “If I didn’t see you as a crazy, immature guy, wouldn’t it have been difficult for me too?” I take this as a generous response, because it suggests that Hwal made Hyun-tae into the bad guy so he could cope with the situation better.
Hwal asks, “It’s over, right?” Hyun-tae nods.
After being without Hae-yoon’s company for a while, Sang-hee wonders to Jae-wook, “Can I live without seeing Jo-kun?” Jae-wook says wisely, “With you worrying like this, I bet you won’t be able to break up with him.”
To her credit, she tries to work out a compromise. She admits that she’s afraid of marriage, because it brings added responsibility and greater pain if they break up.
Sang-hee: “That’s what I’m afraid of. But I must love you a lot. I hate to lose you.”
Hae-yoon: “What do I have to do?”
Sang-hee: “You want to marry, and I don’t. But we like each other.”
Hae-yoon: “What is it you want to say?”
Sang-hee: “Let’s live together. While we live together, you can try to convince me, and I’ll try to persuade you. What do you think?”
Haru comes home with ice cream, which she tentatively gives to Hwal. (Attached to the packaging is a post-it note with a drawing of a heart.) Again, their conversation ends with frustration and uncomfortable feelings on both sides, so she comes back a bit later to try again.
Hwal: “What is it you want? Are you hoping I’ll get a divorce?”
Haru: “No. I just want to talk to you, laugh, and spend time together. That’s all.”
Hwal: “That’s all? So you want to hurt Su-in and break up our marriage?”
She shakes her head no, and Hwal says, “I’m seriously sick of this. Stop harassing me. If you’re going to be like this, it’s better that we live separately.”
But later, when Su-in goes through the laundry, she finds the post-it note with Haru’s heart on it. Su-in thinks the note is cute, but is startled at his response — he takes it and crumples it.
Haru confides in Poong-ho, wondering why she’s feeling the way she is:
Haru: “I can’t do this. Poong-ho, do you know this saying? They say that even if two people like each other, when things get hard, they might still break up. I think he’s having a really difficult time because of me. I should make things easier for him, shouldn’t it?”
Poong-ho guesses that the person in question is one of her oppas, and she says that it’s Hwal — but “I want to stop now.” Poong-ho sympathises, “It’ll be hard for you. Haru, lean on me,” and lends her his shoulder.
Given the tone of their last conversation, Hwal is surprised when Haru approaches him again to ask a favor: She has decided to stop liking him, and requests one last day to spend together.
So Hwal agrees to go along with Haru’s wishes for the day, and they share a comfortable, relaxed vibe even as the activities are all vaguely date-like things, like eating at a restaurant, street browsing, wearing matching T-shirts, and walking through the park together.
They end the day on a rooftop overlooking a scenic view of the city. Haru thanks Hwal for agreeing to the day together, because she wanted to say goodbye to her feelings for him. She says, “It might not happen right away, but I’ll try really hard to be like a real oppa-dongsaeng relationship.”
Hwal’s mood has been easier today than in all their recent encounters, and he admits, “Being with you, I had fun and laughed a lot. I’ll try to be nicer, too.”
Haru’s cheer lasts until they arrive home and she gets out of the car. She says she had a fun time today and adds, “Let’s have fun next time too.” It’s likely those are empty words to keep the tone light as she heads inside the house, because when Hwal calls to her, she keeps her face turned away because she’s already crying.
Hwal gets out of the car and sees her face, wanting to comfort her somehow but unsure what to do. Haru tells him, “Goodbye, oppa” and rushes away, fighting tears.
To be honest, everything about the Su-in and Hyun-tae relationship feels wrong, wrong, wrong — but for the sake of fairness, I’m going to try to be objective for a moment. It’s just that I don’t understand any of the motivations there, particularly with Hyun-tae. The thing is, if Hyun-tae were a selfish bastard, I don’t think I’d have such a hard time understanding him — it would be easy to hate and dismiss him. But he’s being presented as someone we’re supposed to feel sorry for, and that rankles, because what we’re seeing doesn’t support that. I’m not buying it.
I see that Su-in is slowly warming up to Hyun-tae, but she’s determined not to act on it, as she explains when she tells him that she doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice. That strikes me as very telling, because one shouldn’t want to cheat on one’s husband regardless of past mistakes, right? I get the sense that Su-in’s determination to make her marriage work is more about her need to absolve her own guilt — she has been given a second chance and she’s going to make sure she can do everything to make it right, so as to mitigate the pain caused by her initial infidelity. Her refusal of Hyun-tae almost doesn’t even have anything to do with Hyun-tae himself; it’s about never repeating her mistake.
But Hwal isn’t making things easy for her, is he? I’m sure he wants his marriage to work, but he made his decision to get back together based on external factors (Hyun-tae’s hovering, Haru’s declarations), which means they reunited for the wrong reasons. As a result, he’s rushed into the situation and now he feels uncomfortable with the actual marriage part of his marriage. This we see in his reluctance to sign the registration form, as well as when he chooses not to wear the clothing Su-in buys him. (On the other hand, he dons the matching T-shirts with Haru on their day out.)
It’s becoming apparent that Hwal and Su-in have been fooling themselves about their true feelings. I’ve said all along that I don’t see Hwal and Haru working out in the long run, and I still stand by that, but that doesn’t mean he can’t feel conflicted about his feelings for her. He and Su-in have stuck to their guns despite persistent people trying to change their minds, which is why they both find themselves a little sad when that attention gets taken away. Both Haru and Hyun-tae make the decision to back off, and I think now that Hwal and Su-in don’t have anyone to fight, they’re left facing their real feelings.
I liked this scene between Poong-ho and Haru, because it shows how far these two have come. I really like how, despite Poong-ho’s romantic feelings for Haru, he doesn’t push her. It’s a lesson that Haru herself has not learned (well), nor has Hyun-tae, because Poong-ho has let Haru have her space and not pressured her. As a result, they’ve arrived at this comfortable friendship, able to be together easily, both of them knowing where they stand with each other. This platonic dynamic is probably not what Poong-ho ultimately wants, but at least he’s able to comfort Haru when she needs it instead of being the cause for her troubles.