I think Episode 6 was the best episode so far, although I haven’t seen 7 yet so I can’t speak to this week’s episodes. Dramas that have “themed” episodes can go either way, because if a writer takes the theme too far, it can be overbearing in forcing the events to match the theme. I thought The World They Live In often erred too much on that side of excess. On the other hand, I’m liking the way the skating-related themes are being drawn to Triple‘s plot, which draw certain parallels but haven’t (yet) gone too far in making those connections.
SONG OF THE DAY
Biuret – “하루는” (A Day / haru neun). The “haru” in this title is also Haru’s name in the drama, as she explains in this episode. [ Download ]
EPISODE 6: “Jump”
The theme for today’s episode is “jump,” as Haru explains that it’s important to attempt a jump, but more important to do so safely and beautifully. Don’t think of falling, and reach for the highest.
Without any advertising work to do, Hae-yoon spends a lot of time at Sang-hee’s. Their relationship has settled into a comfortable groove — that is, until Jae-wook drops by and asks if he can crash at the bar. At Sang-hee’s easy consent, Hae-yoon looks at her incredulously and asks, “Are you crazy?”
Meanwhile, Hwal and Hyun-tae hang around at the office doing nothing. When Hwal leaves to pick up Haru from the rink, Hyun-tae voices the concern they’ve all been skirting: “How long do you think we can hold out like this?”
Su-in hands Haru a CD and tells her to familiarize herself with it — it’s music for her big competition. Listening to it in the car ride home, Haru starts to mentally choreograph her program. She’s a little startled when Hwal corrects one of her ideas, surprised he knows skating terms so well, but on the whole is pleased to think, “You studied because of me, right?”
That brings out his gruffness again (he’s not comfortable with the idea of bonding) and he ejects the CD. (Unfazed, she puts it back in.)
Hae-yoon is thrilllllled when Haru calls him oppa, and he repeats it over and over happily. (The reason he’s pleased is different than the reason Poong-ho loved being called oppa; while Poong-ho’s interest is romantic, Hae-yoon’s pleasure derives from the fact that the alternative is being called “ajusshi,” and “oppa” makes him seem younger.) Too bad Hwal ruins his enjoyment by commenting that the pair of them look like father and daughter, to which Hae-yoon retorts that he’s an oppa, not an appa (father).
Hae-yoon asks Haru (casually) what she thinks of Sang-hee letting Jae-wook stay at her place, and is gratified that Haru also thinks it’s weird — it validates that he’s not being out of line for having trouble with it.
Su-in anticipates her date with Hwal with nervous excitement, and the evening goes off uneventfully, if a bit awkwardly. For instance, she tries to tell a funny story but the atmosphere is forced and it doesn’t go off smoothly. It’s a little cute when she asks hopefully, “Are you maybe really having tons of fun but pretending not to?” At least Hwal laughs at that.
She wonders if things were this awkward the first time they met, and is pleased at his answer: “I don’t know, when I first saw you I was so nervous the only thing I could hear was my heart pounding.”
Hae-yoon was already unhappy with Jae-wook staying at Sang-hee’s bar, but was under the impression it was only temporary and is displeased to see he’s still there; he finds Jae-wook’s toothbrush in the bathroom, alongside his own and Sang-hee’s. He shows it to Sang-hee, and is frustrated when her only reaction is to the interesting color. (Hae-yoo’s reaction isn’t just because Jae-wook is staying over but also because Sang-hee sees nothing odd about the arrangement; moreover, she doesn’t understand why he would have problems with it.)
Losing his temper, he demands, “How understanding do I have to be?” He starts to yell, then cuts himself off. He throws the toothbrush aside and walks out.
At skating practice, both girls are having a bad day: Haru keeps falling, while Su-in pesters Hye-jin to smile and show some emotion in her skating. This leads to an air of frustration, which is broken when Hyun-tae suddenly shows up on the ice, stumbling and sliding, here for beginners’ classes.
Haru welcomes him with her usual warmth, but Su-in is annoyed since she knows this is because of her. Typical of Hyun-tae, he isn’t deterred at her cool response and tells her that his persistence is part of his appeal.
Afterward, Hyun-tae takes Haru home, and as they’re getting ready to take off on his motorcycle, Poong-ho rides by on his bicycle and does a double-take. Immediately threatened, he demands to know how “this jerk” is and wonders if this is the guy she had told him she liked. Haru just rolls her eyes at his childishness, and the two drive off together. Alarmed, Poong-ho pedals furiously after them and arrives at the house much later, sweating and out of breath. Muttering his dissatisfaction all the while, Poong-ho jumps the fence and heads inside, where he sees Hyun-tae again and starts to shout accusingly. But at Hae-yoon’s authoritative bearing, Poong-ho shrinks back, mindful of his elders. (HE. IS. SO. CUTE.)
A little calmer now, Poong-ho introduces himself as Haru’s boyfriend (to her irritation), and asks who the guys are. They don’t look like brothers — are they uncles? (Hae-yoon is chagrined to be bumped out of the oppa class and relegated to the older generation once again.)
The guys find Poong-ho and his youthful ardor entertaining, and Hyun-tae has some fun at his expense, introducing himself as Haru’s husband. Poong-ho gapes disbelievingly while Hyun-tae continues with the joke, introducing Hae-yoon as Haru’s ex-husband. Haru’s a little young, but she’s mature for her age, and they all live together as a cool modern family of sorts. Lastly, Hwal is identified as Haru’s brother — her younger brother, who despite his appearances is still a teenager.
Poong-ho is gullible enough to buy the first two, and only gets that they’re pulling his leg with the third explanation. But by the time he leaves, he’s back to being cheerful (now that these potential threats to his suit have been mitigated). He announces his intentions, asking, “Hyungnim! Could I be Haru’s first husband eventually?” Hwal tells him to go to the army first, then they’ll talk, which is a way of pointing out how young they still are.
The anniversary of Haru’s mother’s death is approaching, so her father tells her to go to pay her respects this year with Hwal. (All these years, he’s taken Haru to her mother’s grave, but now that she has Hwal, it’s more appropriate for her to go with him.)
Haru tries to broach the subject of visiting their parents’ graves, but senses Hwal won’t be receptive and stops herself. Instead, Hwal asks about her training, and she tells him that her initial intentions were to focus only on skating, but now that she’s improving and experiencing more, she’s also getting more ambitious. With his trademark bluntness, Hwal replies, “If you want to do those things, just do it, what’s the problem?”
To Haru, it’s not that simple — people don’t automatically get everything they want — but his philosophy has a nice ring of truth to it, and she takes it to heart.
Once more, skating practice is not going well — Su-in is frustrated with her skaters again — when Hyun-tae shows up for his lesson. This time, he steps onto the ice and imitates Su-in’s shrill nagging, pointing out how useless it is to angrily demand someone to smile, but doing it with enough good-natured cheer that the girls laugh at his imitation. He tells the girls that their coach means well, but reminds them to smile, buoying the serious atmosphere.
After practice, Su-in decides to take a different approach to Hye-jin (and improving her surliness) by asking her to come in an hour early the next day to teach the beginners’ class. Naturally, her overbearing stage mother balks at this, but Su-in tells Hye-jin to think it over.
Hwal’s birthday is approaching, and Haru enlists Hae-yoon’s help in planning a party. Hae-yoon tells her that Hwal hasn’t celebrated the day in five years, because their parents died the following day and darkened the memory. Still, Haru insists on a small celebration, and pores through some of the middle school photos depicting the three guys and Sang-hee as teenagers.
While they’re going over some ideas, Hwal enters the room, sending the two co-conspirators into a hurry to cover up their planning materials. HA! at Hae-yoon’s idea of a casual playing-it-cool pose:
Lovelorn Hyun-tae is having trouble sleeping, so he arrives (unnanounced, of course) that night in Su-in’s yard with a sleeping bag. He ignores Su-in’s protests and tells her good night, zipping up the bag to sleep.
Honestly, it’s a good thing Yoon Kye-sang is so cute, because his character is being pretty ridiculous — it’s one thing to feel infatuation with a person (hey, who hasn’t been there?), but quite another to be stalking them daily and literally trespassing on their property.
The next day at practice, Hye-jin is smiling happily for once, after teaching the younger class. Not only was it fun engaging with the youngsters, for some reason it’s also helped loosen her tight shoulder, which had been bothering her. (The point of the exercise was to get Hye-jin out of her grim mood and skating more freely, laughing more, so in that respect this experiment has been a resounding success.)
Haru asks Hye-jin, who’s still much more advanced than she is, whether there’s anything about her skating that gives her trouble. For Haru, the spiral is the easiest, so Hye-jin tells her to give it a try, then pushes her to hold her leg higher, higher, higher, until Haru falls to the ice. Using this as an example, Hye-jin says that even the easy tasks are difficult.
As for the Bond Factory: With work nonexistent, Hwal hits upon a new idea, spawned by seeing a collection of cheap flyers stuck onto his car window. He remembers what their old boss said he did when he started their former firm, Koryeo — he went around and looked at the flyers put out by businesses, then used those as a starting point to offer his own services. The guys are not enthusiastic — this kind of work is scraping the bottom of the barrel — but Hwal pushes on.
Thus Hwal approaches a restaurant owner, offering ideas for improving upon their previous advertisements, and their revised product earns the owner’s approval. It’s a small job, but at least it’s work.
He also takes a meeting with the Bok Man Chicken president, hoping to lure him into a television ad campaign. He’s not optimistic, since they know the guy is stingy and resistant to fancy campaigns, but Hwal takes an assertive approach and shows a competitor’s television ad. It rankles the president, because the ad spot earned his competition good business, but he gripes that the ad isn’t even that good. Hwal commiserates, saying that he understands how frustrating it is to see bad work earn success for a rival. The president takes well to Hwal’s no-nonsense, straightforward approach.
Then, it’s skating competition day. In more adorableness, Poong-ho enlists his friends to help cheer on Haru with a sign that says “Lee Haru ♥ Ji Poong-ho.” (LOL. It would be cute enough if the sign were backward — Poong-ho loves Haru — but the fact that he put it the other way makes it funnier. Oh, youthful confidence.)
Haru competes in the last group of skaters (ostensibly in the most skilled group), and fights her considerable nerves as she steps onto the ice, skating to the program that she (and Hwal) designed. Her jumps are clean, and she’s worked hard on her elements — even her spiral is higher than before — and ends the program to much approval and applause.
Hye-jin is next, and Haru wishes her good luck. They still bicker back and forth, but they’ve reached a certain level of respect, and Hye-jin has seen Haru’s impressive program. While Hye-jin has been skating better, when she steps onto the ice, she falls on two jumps and stumbles on another, and when she finishes her program, she knows how badly she’s screwed up. Furthermore, everyone’s startled — Haru had always been the wild card between the two of them, and if someone were to have problems, one would have expected it to be Haru, not Hye-jin.
Haru wins the gold medal, which she regards with awe, but her mood is subdued because it’s mixed with sorriness at Hye-jin’s unexpected bad performance. Su-in congratulates her on a job well done, and Hye-jin’s mother overhears, bursting out angrily that she hadn’t been coaching Hye-jin properly and that she will be changing coaches immediately.
Haru approaches the car hesitantly to talk to a devastated Hye-jin, but Hye-jin doesn’t say anything and closes the door in tears.
Unexpectedly, the guys are called in by the Bok Man Chicken president, and they all wonder nervously what the occasion is. They fear it’s bad news, particularly when the president starts off by complaining of the rival’s ad, which kept him awake all night. Therefore, he tells them they’d better do a good job and at least be better than the competition, and the guys take a moment to realize that they’ve just scored a television ad. As they walk out, they marvel at this turn — it’s been a long time since they’ve worked on a television ad, which is much more creatively interesting and satisfying work than printing out coupons and flyers.
The president even loads them up with boxes of chicken to take home as a gift — and it’s then that Hyun-tae and Hae-yoon (reacting to the word “gift”) realize something. They exchange looks, hand over their piles of boxes to Hwal, and make a quick getaway, telling Hwal to share the chicken with whomever and that they’ll see him at home.
This leaves Hwal bewildered, and he doesn’t understand their sudden departure until he arrives at home. The lights are all off, as he tries to flick them on, he is led inside to where a large projection screen is set up.
When he sees the screen, it starts playing a slideshow of old photos of Hwal from middle school, and a recording of Haru’s voice kicks in:
Haru’s recording: “See, oppa — it’s really interesting that I could see a side of you I didn’t know. The oppa back then seems like my friend, and also like my younger brother. Teenage Shin Hwal, Jo Hae-yoon, Jang Hyun-tae, Kang Sang-hee — I like it. But why were you born so early? It would have been nice if you were born a little later. Then I could talk with the oppa in these pictures and we could have hung out together. Too bad. Thanks for letting me stay with you. Happy birthday, oppa.”
When the slideshow ends, Haru pops up from her hiding place and wishes him happy birthday: “From now on, I’ll help celebrate the birthday you lost because of me.”
Then the guys emerge from their hiding places with a cake and sing him happy birthday, and this leads to a cake fight (smearing frosting on each others’ faces) and general conviviality.
When Sang-hee shows up to join the party, Hae-yoon ignores her, still upset about Jae-wook. Even when she tells him that Jae-wook found a new place to stay, he remains cool. Understanding that he’s still angry, Sang-hee talks to him tentatively, hoping for a truce or an opening. Instead, Hae-yoon tells her that they don’t suit each other — they may be okay dating, but “it’ll be difficult for us to develop into anything more.”
Sang-hee asks hesitantly, “Did I make a mistake?” He tells her flatly, “You didn’t make a mistake. It was my mistake for thinking you could change.”
Sang-hee keeps up a cheerful front with the other guys but makes an early exit. When Hwal gets a text message from Su-in, he also cuts out early, breaking up the party just as they’re cutting the cake.
After leaving, Sang-hee gets drunk and calls Hae-yoon from a street bench just outside a restaurant, slurring her apologies and asking him to pick her up. Hae-yoon battles indecision for a moment before he heads out to get her, but he’s not quick enough, because Jae-wook gets there first. Sang-hee hadn’t called him, but he says that Hae-yoon won’t be able to make it, and carries Sang-hee home.
Hwal arrives at Su-in’s place, where she greets him with birthday cupcakes. As he blows out the candles, Su-in looks outside to see Hyun-tae arriving in front of her house on his motorcycle. Hyun-tae sees the cozy scene inside, then turns around and leaves glumly. Su-in doesn’t react either, and while Hwal pretends he doesn’t notice, he has heard the sound and knows what’s just happened.
Therefore, when he comes home, he’s frustrated with Hyun-tae. He tells him, “Things are still complicated with me and Choi Su-in, so don’t get involved too.” Plus, he advises Hyun-tae to sleep at home, not in someone’s front yard, indicating he was aware of that as well.
Hwal heads to his room, still frustrated, where he sees a slice of cake left by Haru. She’s also left her skating medal with a note telling him she won first place; she’s a national skater now.
Perhaps this is a reminder, or just the prodding he needs, because Hwal eats the cake, then wakes Haru up to go visit their parents.
As they drive, Hwal thanks her for the party but tells her she doesn’t have to do that again. Haru answers, “I think I understand how you feel. I thought when five years passed, I wouldn’t be sad. But I keep thinking of Mom, every day. June is your least favorite month of the year too, isn’t it?”
When she asks where he went earlier, he replies, “My girlfriend.” At first she thinks he’s joking, but when she realizes he’s telling the truth, Haru grows sulky and refuses to look at him. (Her bubbly nature is too strong for that to last long, however, and she cheers up again in no time.)
The gravesite is a fair distance away, so Hwal pulls over for a nap break. Haru muses about their names, saying that she was named Haru (a day) because it took a whole day for her to be born. What does Hwal mean?, she wonders. (He doesn’t know and tells her to go to sleep.)
As he settles back in his seat and closes his eyes, Haru looks at him, tracing her finger in the air over his hand and face until he feels her presence and tells her to cut it out. He opens his eyes to see Haru looking at him intently, which gives him an odd feeling, so he turns away to face the door instead. His discomfort grows, so finally he gets out of the car for some air.
In the morning, they arrive at the cemetery and make their greetings to their parents, leaving flowers and cleaning off the headstone. Haru sees that their names are printed together on the marker and wonders (wistfully?), “Why am I your sister?”
They head back for home after their visit, and Haru’s narration ties in the episode’s theme to the latest developments. She recalls a book she once saw that said that falling has wings, which always struck her as a curious thing:
Haru’s narration: “Why would you fall when you have wings? But today, I suddenly wanted wings. Wings to let me fly high, strong wings to take me far away…”
The next day before practice, Su-in gives Haru good news: She has been granted a spot, alongside Hye-jin, in the upcoming Eurasian competition. Haru basks in the thrill while Su-in heads off to the office for a moment, until her attention is diverted by Su-in’s ringing phone. Curiously, she peers at the front display, which shows a photo with Su-in and Hwal and the descriptor, “My husband.”
Curious and surprised, Haru picks up the phone, just as her narration wraps up:
Haru’s narration: “…Even if I fall at some point.”
Part of my satisfaction with this episode is in how well the theme plays in particularly nicely — “jump” in the context of skating is extrapolated to play on falling, as in love (or at least infatuation). That image comes into clarity in the last several scenes, when Haru looks up at the sky out the car window while narrating about falling, wondering why she and Hwal are in a sibling relationship, and then feeling that *koong* feeling of falling hard when she sees Su-in’s phone and realizing what that means.
On that note, Lee Jung-jae is doing such a good job as Hwal. I love Kang Ji-hwan, but I have to admit that I can’t see him doing a better job than Lee Jung-jae, who does that reluctant gruff guy so heartwarmingly well. I suppose Kang Ji-hwan may be able to pull it off — he IS a good actor, and as a good actor perhaps he’d do fine acting against type — but I keep seeing him as too cute to pull off perpetually grumpy. And I love Lee Jung-jae anyway, so I’m happy.
I was thinking of how much I adore the Haru & Poong-ho developing romance, and wondered why it comes off as sweet and endearing when I have so little patience for the Su-in and Hyun-tae storyline, which is developing along similar lines. In both cases, you have the guy falling for the girl right away; he announces his interest and persists despite the girl’s relative disinterest, and generally acts like an adorable pest. But Poong-ho doesn’t bother me at all, and I’m heartily rooting for him and Haru. I think it’s because Haru tolerates Poong-ho and doesn’t seem entirely turned off by his affections — she doesn’t like him in the same way, but she smiles in amusement, for instance, when he brings out his cheering party at her skating competition. Or when she laughs along with Hyun-tae’s invented story about how they’re married.
In contrast, Su-in is clearly not interested and is still in love with her husband. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t like Hyun-tae at this point, because if she did we’d hate her for having feelings for someone else while pursuing a reconciliation with Hwal. But she doesn’t have the same affectionate exasperation for Hyun-tae that Haru does for Poong-ho, so Hyun-tae seems like a creepy stalker who is incapable of respecting a woman’s wishes — or, worse yet, disregards them. They seem like an ill fit, and I think this is a writing problem more than an acting one, even though Lee Hana continues to bore me with her blandness. (She’s capable of more, and had a brief flash of likability in her date with Hwal, when she chattered in nervous giddiness. I want to see more of that cute, personable Su-in, not the dour one whose expressions are stuck in the range of “mild disapproval” and “mild disinterest.”)