Triple: Episode 12
It’s funny how I’ve actually enjoyed watching the individual episodes of Triple — and found myself smiling through a few scenes in this one, for example — but in the larger context, it all kind of blurs together. How can something be pleasant and yet also dull? Or be refreshing and yet fail to make any sort of lasting impression? It’s a curious contradiction.
SONG OF THE DAY
Triple OST – Zitten – “Because” [ Download ]
EPISODE 12: “Spin”
The metaphor of this episode is “spinning,” as Haru explains in voiceover. Often people ask how she feels when she stops spinning, and her reply is, “I’m okay.” Still, she thinks, “Sometimes I want to answer, ‘Actually, I’m feeling completely dizzy.'”
Following Haru’s farewell date with Hwal, she wonders how to act around him now. She rehearses casual greetings in the mirror, only to be overheard by Hyun-tae, who has slept in the bathtub.
Haru admits that she’s practicing how to act normal around Hwal, which is a feeling Hyun-tae can commiserate with, since he’s going through similar withdrawal pangs. They’ve both decided to give up on their feelings for Hwal and Su-in, but are not finding it terribly easy. As expected, when Haru does see Hwal, it’s awkward.
Things are likewise strained between Hyun-tae and Su-in. Haru gets a ride from Hyun-tae that morning, and he sticks to his resolve to not approach Su-in. In fact, it’s Su-in who seems to want to talk, and she makes a move as though to say hello. Hyun-tae drives by without acknowledging her, which isn’t the reception she was expecting.
Poong-ho greets Haru with more food, knowing that she’s been feeling down. This is his way of cheering her up, and he’s happily surprised when Haru shares the sandwich with him. (Breakthrough! Of course, he has to push his luck by asking her to feed him.)
Haru thanks Poong-ho for comforting her before, but has to honestly admit that she doesn’t see him as more than a friend. His attention to her is making her feel sorry for not feeling the same way. Although Poong-ho is disappointed to hear this, he doesn’t let it get him too down, replying that this is enough for now.
Haru’s injury is healed now, but for some reason she’s having trouble with her jumps — her body isn’t responding the way it used to. Su-in checks Haru’s weight and notes that she’s gaining weight, which explains why she’s having difficulty.
Haru broaches the subject of training in Canada, wondering what it’s like. Su-in asks if Haru want to train abroad, but Haru answers that it’s just something she’s thinking about.
With their relationship still undefined, Hae-yoon comes to see Sang-hee and asks, “If I don’t want to live together, what’ll you do?” Why does she have the sudden desire to live together? Sang-hee thinks for a moment, then responds:
Sang-hee: “Do you remember when my mother died? School was over and I was walking home in a daze, and you came running up and took my hand. Do you remember what you said? ‘Let’s run.’ As I held your hand and ran home, I was trembling. I fet sorry to my mother, but for a moment I forgot that she had died. I even remember the blue shirt you were wearing then. Why did I tremble back then? Take my hand now and let’s run. Let’s try living together. I’ve lived alone for so long that it’s awkward for me. Help me practice, okay?”
When Su-in drops Haru off after practice, she hesitates to come in. Haru figures it’s because she doesn’t want to see Hyun-tae, and offers to bring Hwal out to see her — but as Haru heads inside the house, Su-in approaches Hyun-tae at his basketball hoop.
Far from being reluctant to see him, once again Su-in is the one who wants to engage in conversation. She asks, “Are we not supposed to talk now?” Hyun-tae replies curtly, “Let’s act as though we didn’t see each other.”
But though he is cool toward Su-in, Hyun-tae admits later to Hae-yoon that he was happy to see her. Despite his determination to get over her, “When she talked to me, I was afraid she would stop talking.” He knows this is not a good way to get over her, and jokingly tells Hae-yoon, “Just kill me.”
Hwal comes home that night after having drinks with his former boss, and he and Su-in rest comfortably together for a while. There’s a nice romantic vibe between them, but Hwal breaks the moment first and heads off. Later, when they go to bed, he turns away from her.
Su-in brings up Haru’s mention of training in Canada, thinking it’s a decent idea, and tells Hwal to think it over. He takes it in, but isn’t exactly thrilled.
The next morning, Hwal drops Su-in off at the rink, and she tells him to clear tomorrow for her — she has a really nice surprise planned. As he drives away, he sees Haru and Poong-ho arriving together, and stops to talk to them.
Poong-ho senses the weird tension in the air and asks straight-out, “You’re the guy Haru likes, right?” Mortified, Haru tries to stop Poong-ho, but he grabs hold of her hand tightly and says — with a hint of false concern, it seems — “It must have been difficult for you. But you know, that happens when you’re her age. She’s over it now, so please don’t worry too much. I’ll look after her, so leave it to me.”
I’m pretty sure that Poong-ho senses that there’s more to Haru and Hwal’s relationship than a one-sided crush on Haru’s part, but Hwal isn’t ready to admit that to himself, much less to Poong-ho. Therefore, he has to contain his reaction, and forces a smile to wish Poong-ho well with Haru.
Su-in’s surprise for Hwal turns out to be their one-year anniversary. She goes shopping to prepare for dinner that night — but once again, she thinks of Hyun-tae, remembering the last gift he’d given her.
When she sees him at the grocery store, he helps her picked up dropped groceries but doesn’t linger to chat. Again, she finds herself feeling disappointed at his quick exit, as though wishing he would speak to her.
When Haru hears from Su-in that it’s her anniversary today, her mood deflates — even though she decided to get over Hwal, she can’t help feeling a letdown at the reminder of his marriage. Poong-ho can tell something’s up and pesters Haru to confide in him, not accepting her brush-off that she’s busy trying to lose the weight she recently gained.
She eventually admits that she felt strange hearing about Hwal’s anniversary, which spurs an idea with Poong-ho. He instructs Haru to expect him later; he’ll be by to pick her up.
When he arrives at the house, Hwal watches from his office; it doesn’t sit well with him, but he can’t really react. Poong-ho promises to bring Haru back safely, and the two head off.
His planned activity takes them back to the ice rink. Not exactly a grand gesture, but there’s a purpose behind it. Haru dons a pair of speed skates provided by Poong-ho, commenting that it feels odd because of the longer blades, and Poong-ho (so wise, for one so young) gives her some advice: she may be worried about her recent weight gain, but instead of only fixating on losing the weight, she should try to adjust, the way she adjusts to skating on longer blades.
Then he teaches her the basics of short-track skating. After a while, Haru’s mood has lightened, and she admits that she feels better, thanking Poong-ho for cheering her up. He tells her, “It’s because the rink doesn’t betray us. It’s always waiting for me whenever I come.”
Poong-ho has one last surprise, which he shows Haru on their way out. He’s formed the number “189” on the ice using pink glowsticks, and tells her that today is their 189-day anniversary.
As with the other Poong-ho-isms, this sweet gesture contains another gem of wisdom — it’s his way of commemorating their first meeting, but also his way of downplaying Hwal’s anniversary. He says that a one-year anniversary is no big deal — and hey, they’ll have theirs in no time.
Poong-ho: “One year, two years, three years — is that so important? What’s important is just being together, like we are now.”
Haru: “When I first saw you, I thought, ‘Can you believe that guy?’ But now, I feel comfortable with you. You’re a really good person. You like it when I call you oppa, right? Should I call you oppa?”
Poong-ho: “No. I don’t want to be called the same oppa as your other oppas. Just call me Poong-ho.”
All the while, Hwal works late — or rather, he stays at the house using work as an excuse to wait up for Haru. Su-in, expecting Hwal home for dinner, waits up for him with her cake and special preparations, growing more dispirited the later it gets.
When Su-in calls, Hwal tells her to eat dinner without him, not aware that it’s their anniversary. She urges him to come home soon, and he makes noncommittal excuses for why he’ll be late.
When Haru finally returns home, it’s past 11. Annoyed, Hwal scolds Haru for staying out so long. The air is tense, and after Poong-ho leaves, Haru tells Hwal that the reason she thought of training in Canada is because she can’t just get over him all at once. It occurred to her that it might help to get far away.
That seems to mollify him, and as they cook some late-night ramen together, their friendly mood returns. Hwal asks what Haru’s dream is — how far does she want to take her skating goals? Haru answers that it used to be to skate at an impressive gala show, but now, “My wish is to keep skating for the rest of my life.”
Hwal’s wish would be to watch the sea spanning the horizon, all day long. Thinking of that imagery, Haru amends her wish: “I’d like to skate all day long on that horizon, with the sea frozen over.” It’s a cute way of melding their visions.
But thank goodness for Hae-yoon and Sang-hee, who inject some fun into an otherwise plodding episode.
After thinking things over, Hae-yoon agrees to Sang-hee’s proposal to live together, and to commemorate the occasion, they decide to go on a honeymoon. It’s really more of a staycation, as they close Sang-hee’s bar and dress it up as a vacation getaway.
During a game of “What if” that entails thinking of what they’d do with large sums of money, Sang-hee proposes a scenario as she holds Hae-yoon’s hand and slides a ring on his finger. She asks, “If someone put a ring on your finger and told you, ‘I love you and thank you,’ what would you do?”
Hae-yoon marvels at the ring, speechless, as Sang-hee thanks him for agreeing to compromise by living together. Instead of a wedding ring, this is his we’re-living-together ring. It’s adorable, and although they have agreed (for now) not to marry, you get the sense that they’re taking this seriously as though it were a marriage. It’s just that Sang-hee has a mental block with that terminology, so they’re choosing to call it something else — but the emotions are all there between them.
Hwal finally comes home to see that Su-in has been waiting the whole time. She’s angry and hurt; he was supposed to come by 6pm and now it’s midnight. (Since she had told him to reserve the next day, I think Hwal felt he could skip dinner tonight, not realizing it was a special occasion.) Hwal feels bad but reminds her that he did tell her to eat without him.
But that’s not the point; she asks accusingly why he’s pushing her aside like this: “You sleep with your back turned. You don’t call to say you’ll be late. You don’t keep your promises. And you even forgot our wedding anniversary. And that’s not neglecting me?”
At that, Hwal realizes it’s their anniversary and immediately feels horrible for forgetting. He tries to apologize though he knows it’s not good enough; Su-in says in frustration that she’s always staring at his back.
The next day, Haru overhears a curt phone conversation that Su-in has with Hwal, and asks if Su-in is okay. She feels bad, explaining that it was because she came home late, and Hwal must have been worried about her.
This is news to Su-in, who asks, surprised, whether he always wait up for her. Haru senses that she may have inadvertently stirred up trouble, so she tries to take back her words and waves it off uneasily.
Hwal brings Su-in flowers and sits down to talk, again apologizing for forgetting their anniversary. Su-in asks, “What am I to you? Am I not even as important as Haru? Why didn’t I know that you were late yesterday because of her? Why don’t you tell me things like that honestly? Are they a secret?”
He protests, “Why bring someone into it who has nothing to do with us?” Yet Su-in senses something odd in his reaction and asks, almost afraid to know the answer, “Do you like Haru?” Hwal would like to reject that as ridiculous but he can’t answer, and Su-in notices, “Your expression is really strange.” She asks, “Why are you with me? Are you even happy?”
This frustrates Hwal, because it’s not realistic of her to hope that things will return to the way they used to be. Shooting for happiness is pretty ambitious when he’s just trying to make things work — he promised he would try. Can’t she wait it out and see how things go?
Su-in answers, “If you’re like this even when you’re trying, does that mean this won’t work even if we try?”
Haru’s theme of the day kicks in, picking up the topic of dizziness. She offers a few options in dealing with dizziness, such as spinning in the opposite direction, or sitting down in that spot, or fainting and waking up. As Hyun-tae thinks sadly of Su-in, as Hae-yoon and Sang-hee pack to move in together, and as Hwal sits down a while later to talk with Su-in, Haru’s voiceover notes,
Haru: “And when none of these methods work, there’s one last method. Just staggering along.”
Both calmer now, Hwal agrees with Su-in’s comments: “It’s not that we should try to go back to the past. I think we have to start over from the beginning.”
Su-in asks: “Isn’t our biggest problem that we aren’t close anymore?”
He agrees. With teary eyes, Su-in admits that she’ll miss him. And Hwal moves out.
I guess this is the transition episode, where Su-in starts to care more about Hyun-tae, and Hwal about Haru, although both people do it on an unconscious level. I think it came about four episodes too late, however, so instead of thinking that it’s nice that Hyun-tae’s feelings finally start getting reciprocated, I was vastly annoyed at Su-in for being so insensitive. After all they’ve gone through, and how strenuously she’s objected to Hyun-tae’s courtship (which I agreed with entirely), can’t she respect that he’s backing off, with great personal difficulty? Now she just looks fickle and uncaring.
I suppose Hwal is in a similar boat, but Lee Jung-jae is doing such a fantastic job showing the complexities of his character that he’s a lot less annoying that Su-in. (Lee Hana has been so much better in other roles, but it’s like she has entirely forgotten how to emote, or show facial expression, all throughout this drama. If you take all of her screencaps and line them up, you’ll see that her range of expression is extremely limited, regardless of what Su-in is supposed to be feeling. This is irritating.) I find Hwal’s behavior a little frustrating, but because I can see his struggle, I’m more willing to cut him some slack.
It’s too bad that it’s probably impossible to gauge a drama’s pacing from the outset, before the producers begin filming, because sometimes the problem with a drama isn’t that a certain aspect sucks, but that the pacing is ill-suited to the story it is telling. We’ve all seen great, exciting dramas peter out toward the end, or take a downturn when extended, or try to cram too much into a final stretch of episodes when writers realized they were running out of time.
I say that because I think Triple would have been so much better as a 12-episode series. Or heck, even 10. The director has a charming touch and a great ear for music (or, perhaps more accurately, great taste in music directors), the actors are pretty good, and the tone is light and refreshing. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough story for 16 episodes, and I think we’ve been suffering from that for a while.