Somebody commented (sorry, I forget who) in a previous post that this is a drama whose flavor gets lost in the retelling, and to an extent I’ve got to agree. Well, all dramas lose something in the recapping process — there’s no way mere words can equal acting, filming, music, and mood — but Triple is one of those that is especially dependent on execution. Like an indie movie. So I hope you’d judge this drama for what it is after you’ve seen it — it really is much better that way.

SONG OF THE DAY

Lucite Tokki – “기다리는 하루” (Awaited Day) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 8: “Injury”

Episode 8 opens with the theme of the day, as Haru narrates that one injury can lose an athlete her career, or require a long recovery period before she can jump again.

An injured Haru is taken to the hospital. Hwal bursts in and has to be told to leave the room while Haru is under examination; Haru keeps her face averted. He waits anxiously outside with Su-in and Hyun-tae for the results.

This collision of physical and mental pain has her directing her emotional outburst at Hwal: Hyun-tae offers to drive Su-in’s car back so the others can go together, but Haru pulls back and says she’d rather go with Hyun-tae. Hwal knows that Haru’s reaction is because of her feelings for him, but he doesn’t have the patience for her protests and picks her up to put her inside the car.

I think there were comments that blamed Haru for acting immaturely here, but I don’t know, I sympathize quite strongly with her. She’s an eighteen-year-old girl (which would make her seventeen by Western standards) who has just been injured, is scared that she’ll never skate again, and is being treated like a child by the person she likes (ostensibly her first love).

I find Haru’s reaction really realistic, to the extent where I was a bit angry with Hwal for putting her into the car — he knows Haru has feelings for him and that alone should make physical contact a particularly touchy issue, pardon the pun. She’s feeling raw and vulnerable, and Hwal just picks her up and deposits her in the car. (A guy who forcibly exerts his wishes without regard for the girl’s feelings would infuriate me.)

Hyun-tae is the odd one out in this situation, having less of a claim to either Haru or Su-in, and therefore he comes home separately. As he mopes, Hae-yoon seems to take a sympathetic line… until he pantses (pants?) him, yanking down his sweats and telling him to get his act together. HA. Thank goodness Hae-yoon isn’t just The Voice, but also the Voice of Reason.

Back at the hospital, Su-in and Hwal speak with the doctor and are told that Haru has had a weak knee ever since the car accident five years ago. Haru has never shown signs of pain, and Hwal frustratedly says that she should have spoken up if she was hurting. Su-in blames herself, thinking that Haru was particularly stressed out over the music glitch.

When they tell Haru her diagnosis — it’s mostly inflammation and she is prescribed rest — she perks up because she doesn’t think it’s serious. She wants to head back to practice immediately, which sparks Hwal’s temper because he feels she’s being foolish and stubborn.

During the drive home, Su-in makes an attempt at a friendly gesture by suggesting they all go out to eat. Haru turns her down, preferring to go home; her resentment is left unspoken but fills the air with tension.

In contrast, Haru brightens to her normal upbeat self when greeting Hae-yoon and Hyun-tae. While Hwal is partly to blame for Haru’s coolness to him, I think he feels left out by the slight — as though he had taken her sunny attitude for granted and now misses it. Not that he’d ever admit that.

But once in her own room, Haru takes down her Euro-Asia skating poster and lets herself cry.

Hye-jin surprises Su-in by showing up unannounced at her house and asking her to be her coach again. If Su-in agrees, Hye-jin is sure she can persuade her mother to agree. The request takes Su-in by surprise and she asks, “Didn’t you hate training with me?”

Hye-jin had done well at the competition without Su-in, but she feels the difference with a new coach and replies, “You’re right, I was really annoyed and I hated you a lot, but I don’t think there’s anyone who’s as good as you. So much that it’s embarrassing. Please make me into a much better skater than I am now.”

The next morning, Hae-yoon goes looking for Haru to announce breakfast, but finds that she’s gone. She has gone to the ice rink alone, and skates around the empty rink.

When she comes home, she finds Hyun-tae in the yard and wonders how he’s handling the fact that the person he likes likes someone else: “Don’t you want to split them apart?” He says yes, but advises her not to give her coach a hard time, even if she’s hurting.

She jokes that Hyun-tae’s a fool, and he concedes, “Well, people in love are fools. Haru, you’re a fool.” Haru teases back, “Oppa, you’re a fool too.”

Hae-yoon chides her gently for leaving the house without notice. Hwal is less gentle; he glowers and scolds her, saying that she worried them by slipping away. Haru retorts, “Since when did you worry like that?”

This sparks a more serious argument, and he yells that she’s not supposed to skate. Defiantly, she throws back at him the words he’d once said to her: “It’s none of your business so butt out.”

(Again, I can see where some might see Haru as a brat here, but I cheered her on in this exchange.)

Haru continues to ignore the recommendation to rest and shows up at the ice rink again, surprising Su-in and Hye-jin. Frustrated with her stubbornness, Su-in pulls her aside and instructs her to keep off the ice until she gives her consent. Haru protests — she’s fine, so why can’t she skate?

Haru seems shaken when Su-in tells her heatedly that she might put herself at risk for good, but she gets on the ice anyway (with tears in her eyes).

Unable to get through to Haru, Su-in calls Hwal, who is in a celebratory meeting with the Bok Man Chicken president. Tonight is the premiere of their commercial, and they have gathered in the office to watch it during the 9pm news hour. Hwal hesitates when he sees the call, but this is an important moment and he puts the phone away.

Su-in tries Hyun-tae next, who steps aside to take the call. Hearing the problem, he excuses himself from the gathering and heads over to the rink, where he assures Su-in that he’ll get Haru off the ice.

The guys face a problem when the ad doesn’t air in the news hour, so Hwal assures them that they must have meant the ad would show in the post-news slot. So they wait another hour, but still no ad airs. Hae-yoon gets on the phone to see what happened, but the president exhibits his indignation by pouring a bottle of beer over Hwal’s head.

Hyun-tae’s method of getting Haru off the ice is hardly subtle, but therein lies its effectiveness. He falls purposely, exaggerating his groans of pain. Hyun-tae tells Haru sympathetically that he understands that she’s pushed herself into a corner with her pride and can’t back down now, even though she wants to. After all, she’s been on the ice for hours, and she must be tired.

He leans in and says conspiratorially, “In times like this, just pretend you’re beat. Watch.” Then Hyun-tae makes a big show of saying he wants to continue skating, making it seem like Haru is insisting that he stop because he’s hurt. He pretends that Haru is steering him off the ice and then “concedes” that they can both stop because he’s not up for it.

When they arrive home that night, Hyun-tae tells Hwal, “You should answer your phone.” Then he reconsiders, “No, don’t.”

Hwal looks at his call log, finding it full of missed calls from Su-in, and calls back. She explains what happened, and asks him not to get upset with Hyun-tae since he helped.

Although Haru and Hyun-tae don’t have any romantic chemistry going on, I really like their interactions together, since they seem to understand each other. Take this scene when Hyun-tae shows Haru a mock presentation of her skating career on the blackboard, tracing the trajectory of her injuries.

When the graph is done, it resembles a skate, and he asks, “Do you remember every moment when you hit the very bottom?” (She answers no.) He continues, “Aren’t you just one moment in that graph now?” It’s a nice way of getting his point across as he reminds her that her injuries are just one moment, but that it’s important to take care of herself now.

Haru goes to Su-in, but rather than treating her with surliness like last time, now she is contrite as she admits that she was afraid when she fell. She’d worked so hard to resume her skating that she feared that if she stopped, even for a short while, she might not be able to find her way back.

Su-in suggests that Haru take a break to be with her family for a while. Haru says, “I was punished. I think that’s why I was hurt. I destroyed that CD. I’m sorry.” Su-in is baffled at why Haru would do that, but Haru keeps her head down regretfully.

Having failed in their last attempt to show their chicken ad, the Bond Factory guys again convene in the Bok Man president’s office to screen the finished product. The mood is tense as they anxiously await the president’s reaction, which is — thankfully! — pleased. He thanks them for a job well done, and they sigh in relief.

In a good mood from that success, Hae-yoon goes to Sang-hee’s bar, where Jae-wook (a hockey player) makes him think of Haru. He asks, “When athletes get injured, do they get depressed? Do they suddenly get angry or upset, like they’d want to die?” Jae-wook responds that he’d rather get revenge than die, which amuses Hae-yoon.

Feeling generous, Hae-yoon tells Jae-wook to move back in, knowing he’s roaming around without a permanent place to live. Jae-wook declines, saying he prefers the jimjilbang (public sauna), but Hae-yoon chides him for being foolish and tells him to move back. Sang-hee looks at him, touched at his thoughtfulness because she wanted to say the same thing but had been holding back.

And then she wonders, “Wait. This is my place, so why do I have to get your permission?” She turns to Jae-wook and tells him, “Sleep here, with MY permission.” It’s cute.

That night, Haru looks past the closet separating her room from Hwal’s and calls over tentatively, “Can I go over to you?” It’s nice how such a simple statement carries a clear double meaning, which you can read in Hwal’s (amusingly) alarmed expression.

Haru makes her way to his room, and when she stops in front of him, she raises a hand to his face. Uncomfortable, he holds her hand to pull it away, and she asks, “What should I do? Can I really go?” She’s referring to the suggestion to go back down to her father’s house, and Hwal advises her to take some time to recover and work things over in her mind (as in, to get over her feelings for him).

She’s not sure she can get over her feelings and says, “Words like ‘You’ll forget in time’ or ‘Later on, you’ll be able to talk about this with a smile’ all seem like a lie.” Still, she’s going to give it a try because she agrees to return home tomorrow. Haru hugs him and apologizes for acting like a brat.

The next morning, Haru leaves the house, driven by Hae-yoon who jokingly tells her that if she doesn’t return, he’ll kidnap her back. As she goes, Hwal calls Haru’s father to let him know that Haru has had a minor injury and is on her way down for a temporary stay.

I like that Hwal calls from Haru’s empty room, and that he feels her absence but can’t quite bring himself to see her off with friendliness like Hae-yoon or Hyun-tae. They’ve always been the affectionate big brothers to her so they can tease her now, but Hwal has difficulty overcoming his own gruff nature. (And Lee Jung-jae does such a great job showing that conflict naturally within the character.)

Back after winning the gold medal, Poong-ho bursts into the rink looking for Haru, only to hear that she’s been injured and went back to her father’s house. Alarmed, he pesters Hye-jin for details, causing her to snap in annoyance, “If you want to know, ask her yourself!”

He does just that, making his way to Haru’s family home, and the adorable thing is how he keeps his gold medal out even though it’s raining and he’s wearing a plastic parka.

It’s also hilarious how quickly and eagerly Poong-ho prostrates himself on the floor as he greets Haru’s father and Coach Nam, then joins them for dinner (keeping the medal on). When asked about it, he puts it on Haru and announces that it’s a gift for her, since he promised to win it on her behalf.

The adults laugh in amusement as Poong-ho continues in his childlike courtship. He says things like, “Promise me that you won’t ever get hurt again, and I promise not to leave your side ever again.” Haru’s reaction is to point out that he can’t go to overseas meets anymore, then, and he corrects her: “No, I’ll take you with me in my bag.”

Haru may not be happy to see Poong-ho, but let it be noted that her protests are fairly weak. (While she used to shove him aside in annoyance, now her reaction is more like an eye-roll.)

He prods her, “Tell me the truth, you’re glad I’m here, right?” He sets out their schedule for the next day, starting with a morning jog and training session. As promised, he wakes Haru up early (with Wal) and drags her along for a jog.

I admit the editing is pretty abrupt as the puppy runs into the street just as an incoming truck screeches to a halt. Shaken, they rush over, and Poong-ho keeps Haru away from the sight — his solemn reaction scares her and tells her everything she needs to know.

Hyun-tae drops by the rink, this time to let her know that Haru has gone home. While I wouldn’t say she’s glad to see him, at least by now she’s no longer upset at his constant appearances, and she feels grateful for his help in managing Haru.

Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from the hospital that sends her into a panic over her mother’s health. Hyun-tae guesses the nature of the call and offers a ride on his motorcycle — it’s rush hour, so car traffic will be bad.

She arrives at the hospital to find that her mother has lost consciousness and is hooked up to a respirator. Su-in calls Hwal in tears, and he agrees to come out right away. All the while, Hyun-tae keeps a respectful distance, quietly offering her a seat and a drink.

(I think the point is that Hyun-tae is always there, anticipating her needs while Hwal is far away. When Hwal decided — however reluctantly — not to pick up her phone call, Hyun-tae answered his phone and came out to save the day. I don’t think the point has been handled particularly skillfully, though, because it’s not like Hwal is away out of disinterest or lack of concern — the circumstances have just placed Hyun-tae closer.)

Following the car accident, Poong-ho and Haru dig a grave in the backyard and give Wal a funeral. (I wonder if this is a symbolic gesture for her feelings for Hwal?)

Poong-ho apologizes for dragging her along on the run, while Haru says she’d like to meet Wal again in the next life. She wonders sadly, “Am I not supposed to like someone? If I like something, why does it leave so quickly?”

Poong-ho guesses (not that it’s much of a guess), “You like somebody, don’t you? And you’re having a hard time because of that?”

He pulls her to him in a hug. Haru balks at first, but she makes no move to push him away or leave as he continues:

Poong-ho: “It doesn’t matter to me who you like. Right now is what’s most important to me. I want to do everything without regrets. I won’t give up on you. Don’t talk about next lives or the next chance or whatever. What’s most important to you right now is skating. Focus on skating. I’ll protect you.”

Now that Sang-hee’s relationship with Hae-yoon is on solid ground, she wants to make some kind of gesture, and asks Jae-wook what guys like. His fantasy involves a woman waking him up and cooing that breakfast is ready, dressed as Catwoman; imo it’s kind of lame, but it’s worth it to see Sang-hee dressed (kind of) as a cat that night, sneaking to Hae-yoon’s room by way of the roof. She grunts and awkwardly makes her way into the room, which is cute for its unromantic-ness.

And then, when she drops inside the window, it’s the wrong room. HAHA. She’s climbed into Haru’s empty room, so she creeps along until she enters Hae-yoon’s.

She wakes him up, and as he mutters groggily, she announces cheerily, “Jo-kun! This is a dream.”

While he’s still grumpily waking up, she kisses his forehead and tells him, “You’ve been upset a lot because of me, but I’m so thankful that you were patient and stayed with me. Who else would put up with me? Let’s live happily for a long, long time. Jo-kun, you’re the best.”

At that, he has to burst out laughing. A little while later, he looks over at her while she’s sound asleep, and thanks her for putting up with his temper. He asks, knowing she can’t hear, “Should we live together?”

When Su-in’s mother wakes up, she speaks alone with Hwal for a moment, telling him that he’s the only person Su-in has. She asks him to be accepting of Su-in and to stay with her.

(Dying mother’s deathbed request = not burdensome, no not at ALL!)

That evening, as Hwal walks around deep in thought, he takes out Haru’s trampoline on a whim and starts to jump on it. His phone rings, and he answers — it’s Haru.

She tells him, “Like you said, I’ve worked things out. I’m only going to think about skating now. Can I come back to Seoul?”

It’s my inference that Hwal is relieved that (1) Haru is speaking to him normally again, and (2) that she’s returning, but with his reticent nature he doesn’t tell her that. He answers that she can do whatever she wants because it doesn’t matter to him, but his words have no bite to them, so Haru understands that he’s okay with it.

Haru’s narration: “When you pass through a dark, difficult tunnel, the most important attitude to have is composure. Get rid of impatience, and when you’re facing difficult moments, at some point the end of the tunnel will appear. And if you’re a little lucky, you might be able to see a beautiful clear sky.”

 
COMMENTS

I must confess that the level of disgust leveled by some at the Haru-Hwal storyline has me perplexed. Maybe I don’t feel that disgust because it has never been my opinion that these two are being paired together for an eventual relationship. I say this without knowing any particular spoilers, but based on Lee Jung-jae’s comments in a recent interview, I really don’t think the series is going there.

Even if they did go there, I’m not against the pairing, age gap be damned. I just don’t think it will happen. For one, the romantic feelings are entirely on Haru’s side — and who among us has not felt an adolescent crush on somebody much older? One of my first celebrity crushes was in fact on Lee Jung-jae, soon followed by Keanu Reeves back in his Speed days (hey, he was hot) — and he was probably more than double my age at that point. For that matter, how many of the fans who have actor-crushes on Kang Ji-hwan (32) or Song Seung-heon (32) or Jang Dong-gun (37) or Lee Byung-heon (39) are in their teens? Is that creepy too, or just part of teenage emotions?

Triple is laying out Haru’s feelings for Hwal, not pushing us to accept them as right or wrong. I find it similar to Jung Il-woo and Seo Min-jung in High Kick — he was the rebellious high school student, she was his sweet, well-meaning teacher — and no way that was going to happen, but I thrilled at every development just the same. It also has shades of the pseudo-romantic connection in Lost in Translation or Beautiful Girls — at best, there may be romance in the moment but not a realistic future.

As to the other charge, that Haru is behaving like a brat — well, she is. But I don’t find her any less likable for it, and actually identify with her a lot. Maybe I feel a bias because I think I’d react in a similar way, but I can see things from her point of view. She’s not blaming Hwal for not liking her back — she’s trying to figure out how to deal with her feelings and feels hurt when Hwal (inadvertently, or unknowingly) disregards her for someone else. She’s trying to keep to herself and Hwal doesn’t let her (with his hot temper, he’s the type to confront), and it’s when he pushes her that she acts out. If he’d left her alone, she’d brood quietly, out of his way.

When she does snap at him — like when she retorts for him to mind his own business — I think she has a legitimate point. Hwal has treated her like a dispensable being, and we see that he’s growing fond of her but he isn’t willing to admit it just yet, so in that respect he has been taking her cheerfulness and attention for granted. (By “taking for granted” I’m referring to the way Haru looks after Hwal, not just in doing house chores but in the way she goes out of her way to be solicitous and thoughtful.)

Despite all this, I don’t dislike Hwal, and I think he’s caught in a truly difficult spot. I appreciate that Hwal is put into an awkward position, because he doesn’t want to encourage her feelings, but he also doesn’t want to hurt her unduly with a harsh rejection. Yet while this is all initiated by Haru, I don’t see the conflict as purely the result of a bratty girl throwing a silly tantrum, either. It’s more complicated than that, as is the case with messy human emotions.

 
RELATED POSTS