Drama Recaps
Triple: Episode 15
by | December 24, 2009 | 18 Comments

I admit I approached Triple recaps with a bit of a “Let’s get this over with, sigh” attitude, but rewatching this episode reminded me of all the little touches that I enjoyed about it. I’ve been meaning to finish off this drama for ages, and never entertained the idea of dropping it. (Whereas, in contrast, I had to actively throw up my hands in frustration with My Sweet Seoul and A Star’s Lover because I just couldn’t keep going.) I feel bad about the delay because Triple is such an inoffensive show, and there are things I quite like about it, but I do think there are some fundamental issues that hindered it from being more — more memorable, more substantial, just more.


Triple OST – “사랑은 지고 달빛은 빛나고” by Low-End Project [ Download ]

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EPISODE 15: “4 Minutes”

Haru’s knee starts to bother her again in practice, which makes her ponder the theme of the day: those key four minutes of a long program, the culmination of all the hard work a skater puts in. Can she handle it when it’s go time?

Su-in takes Haru to the hospital to get her knee checked out, and the answer doesn’t make her happy. Haru insists that she can handle the pain, going against the doctor’s suggestion that she undergo surgery. She asks Su-in not to tell Hwal, because he’ll be sure to push for the surgery.

The “go time” metaphor extends to the Bond Factory guys, who give their ad presentation in a competition against their former supervisor. Hwal leads the presentation, which uses as its theme a child being guided in the way of life by a father. (These ads are so precious that they’re a little embarrassing.) He wraps up, saying that Dad always made the wise, right decision: “So I’ll follow Dad and go with K Energy. Because we never know what happens.”

They win the K Energy account, and even manage a word of respect from their former boss.

That night, the Bond Factory family celebrates, and afterward, Hyun-tae, who’s in a great mood, calls Su-in to share about his good day.

He tells her, “I’m glad I could call you. I’m glad I could call and talk about my life, that I can hear your voice congratulating me. It’s nice.”

Their relationship has progressed to the point where, while they’re not explicitly dating or doing anything overtly romantic, they’re more comfortable with each other. Su-in’s guard is starting to come down, and that makes Hyun-tae more secure and happy. Now when they talk, often it’s Hyun-tae who keeps a respectful distance and Su-in who prolongs the interaction.

For instance, she’s eager to keep him on the phone, so she blurts out the first thing she can think — a lame joke. She grimaces in embarrassment afterward, but Hyun-tae laughs.

We add to the slices of happy home life with a scene between Hae-yoon and Sang-hee as he pricks her finger (because she has indigestion). The small gesture makes Sang-hee marvel that it’s nice to be part of a pair — there’s always someone to prick your finger when you’re sick and to be by your side.

Hwal and Haru have regained something of their old camaraderie. As often happens when Hwal stops thinking too hard about how he should act, he ends up having fun with Haru as they have a dishwashing fight. She has said a few times that she wishes she were born earlier so she would have known him for more of his life, but on the flipside, it also seems like she brings the kid in Hwal.

The Sang-hee and Hae-yoon relationship hits a bump when she takes a pregnancy test, which comes out positive. Immediately spooked, she brushes Hae-yoon off and heads to work, where she broods with Jae-wook (without disclosing the source of her dilemma). Life is already complicated enough!

Later, she asks Hae-yoon for some space for the night — she wants to spend the night alone and momentarily return to singlehood. This behavior naturally worries him, since he can’t understand why she’s suddenly acting so strangely. Hyun-tae tells him to beg forgiveness, but Hae-yoon can’t even see that he did anything wrong.

Haru had asked Su-in not to tell Hwal about her knee, but she feels it’s too important to keep secret, and calls him. Basically, Haru is facing a decisive moment in her career — if she gets surgery, it would put her out of commission for up to a year, which means her life as a competitive athlete is over.

Hwal tells Haru to get the surgery, and says that if she doesn’t, she won’t be able to go to Canada. Haru pleads with him — she can’t quit now. She’ll endure through the pain, but she has already rested for the past five years.

Unfortunately for adorable Poong-ho, it’s at this point that he arrives at the rink to witness this scene as Hwal comforts a saddened Haru. Just before he’d walks in, there’s a cute moment when he pulls up to the rink on his bicycle. Seeing Haru’s bike propped up on a tree next to Hwal’s car, he takes her bike and moves it next to his instead. But now he leaves silently, and as he heads out, he takes his bicycle and rides away. What remains (as in the image above) is a rather literal representation of the triangle between the three.

After having a night to wrestle with the issue on her own, Sang-hee tells the truth to Hae-yoon, that she’s pregnant. After getting over the initial shock, Hae-yoon is glad over the news, although conflicted over what to do. Sang-hee is afraid of what this means for her life, and theirs — up until now, she’s had the option of choosing to quit, whether it’s work, relationships, or whatnot. But being a parent isn’t something she can quit. Trying to alleviate her anxieties, Hae-yoon assures her not to worry.

Poong-ho finds Haru at the rink later, telling her wistfully that he wishes that she would approach him first just once. The lovely thing about Poong-ho is, even when he’s being honest about his dissatisfactions, he says them without recrimination and still provides Haru with a supportive sounding board as she wonders over her dilemma with her knee. What would she do if she can’t skate? She knows that Hwal isn’t going to let her go to Canada without the surgery.

Poong-ho answers philosophically that this could be the time for her to say bye, to figure she’s had a good run with all the years of enjoyment she’s put into it so far. But seeing that she’s not ready to let go just yet, he says with a sigh that she should take it as far as she is prepared to — she can say goodbye when she’s ready.

In a similar vein, Hwal also (half) concedes, telling Haru that they can reconsider things after her next competition. They’ll check with the doctor again, and she will keep up her physical therapy.

With Sang-hee still uncertain about her pregnancy, Hae-yoon cheers her up with some lighthearted joking. Is she afraid of breastfeeding? (No problem, he’ll beg neighborhood ajummas to nurse the baby.) Of letting her figure go? (She can afford to let herself go a little — having a perfect body is an inconvenience to others.)

His words do help her get over her fears, although she warns him that she’s not going to marry him. They’ll have the kid together, but that’s as far as she’s going to concede right now.

Su-in and Hyun-tae’s relationship takes another step forward when he drops by again, poised to jump the fence as usual, and Su-in opens the gate for him. He’s touched at the gesture, and even more so when she presents him with a gift — he had previously given her some freshly plucked berries when he’d gone on a solo trip to forget her. Instead of throwing out the fruit, as he had expected, she returns it to him in the form of jam. He’s surprised and moved at the meaning behind the gift.

He asks for a wish — which is then to grant her a wish. Su-in asks for him to cook her ramen, as he once did, and he makes good on that promise by taking her for a seaside outing so they can have ramen on the beach.

As they enjoy their day, Su-in wonders if it’s okay for her to be happy now, with him. (She’s still feeling uncertain and guilty since her recent split with Hwal.) Hyun-tae, for once, doesn’t push — instead, he says that he’s happy in the moment, and he’s not hoping for more. They can take their time.

When they arrive home, she again prolongs their goodbye, hugging him good night.

Later, they both settle in to sleep with their phones next to them. They trade short texts: “Good night.” “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep, what to do?” “You have to sleep so tomorrow will come.” “Go on and sleep.”

As Haru prepares for her competition, she finds the bracelet Poong-ho had given her as a good-luck charm. When she drops by the rink to see him, he’s overjoyed. He tells her with some disappointment that he won’t be able to see her upcoming competition, because he has an event of his own. She knows, which is why she’s here — she wants to wear his bracelet in place of having him there. That’s okay, right?

Poong-ho is touched by her question, and tells her good luck.

And then, competition day.

Haru: “When the music starts, the competition clock races on for four minutes, and you carry on until you’re out of breath. I can tell how those four minutes have passed, whether they’ve been filled with high praise or with disappointed tears. Those four minutes don’t come back. All I can do is race toward another four minutes.”


As I said, this is an inoffensive show, but it’s got a paradox: I don’t know why I find this drama so boring at times when it’s also so delightful at others. The music is wonderful and refreshing, there are some really cute characters (Poong-ho, Haru), and we have some strong performances (Lee Jung-jae) — so why is the overall drama actually less than the sum of its parts? Individual scenes make me smile, but they leave no impression whatsoever. Like drawing a picture in the sand.

The problem is, then, that it’s pleasant on the surface, but it doesn’t sprout any deep roots. I actually watched this episode recently to write this recap, and it wasn’t until I was done that I realized that I’d already seen the episode. Watching Triple is like watching neighbors live their lives — interesting for the moment, but then you turn away and live your own life and forget all about it for the rest of the day.

That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it doesn’t make for an exciting drama, certainly.


18 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. langdon813

    Hmm…somebody was in the mood for Lee Jung-jae, eh? 😀

    Triple really is the little drama that could…could have been so much MORE, you’re exactly right. This episode had a lot of lovely moments, and Hyun-tae no longer being such an insensitive stalker was a huge plus. Any scene with Poong-ho is always delightful.

    Thanks JB!

  2. bernadette

    not gonna lie, had to double check to make sure i read the title right(:

    i wish triple had been better. it wasnt a bad drama, by any means. (i think ‘inoffensive’ is a very fitting description, by the way.) i first started triple and i really liked how, to me, it seemed very natural and low-key, and it was a nice change of pace… but u don’t think there was enough story, or something. because somewhere along the way, i felt it dragging (perhaps just a me thing?) and i watched it for certain character interactions and not for the story as a whole. which is sad, because there were definitely parts of this drama i really enjoyed, but i don’t think its a drama i’ll really ever watch again. i mean, maybe somewhere down the road i might watch part of an episode here and there, but i don’t see myself re-watching the entire series or anything. uhhhhm. will now stop typing before this gets too ranty/ravey.

    thank you for the recap(: also, thanks for the song. i remember liking some of the music in the drama.

  3. Biscuit

    Wait? I thought twitter said no X-Mas recap? Or was that tomorrow? Sorry, I’m totally confused. One part of the world it’s today, the other it’s tomorrow. Curses time zones!

    But this was a completely shocking surprise!

    I suppose it’s so slice-of-life, that as much as we can rejoice at the realism of no cancer, evil step mother, or birth secrets… what exactly happens?

    It’s almost like a reality tv series… 1 hour of couples do their thing… in their lives… as if there was a camera following these people around.
    I do like the series We Got Married.. but… that’s way different… At least SOMETHING happens in each episode! Sang-Hee preggers wasn’t such a shocker… for me.

    There’s not much angst to keep me rolling or big cliffhangers, other than having a confused look at the way the relationships are going.

    It’s nice to watch to pass time is all I can say.

  4. Molly

    Wow, this is a great surprise! Thanks!

    Merry Christmas! 🙂

  5. sue

    I actually watched this episode recently to write this recap, and it wasn’t until I was done that I realized that I’d already seen the episode.

    lol. i already forgot this drama. kudos for you being able to remember what had happened in the previous episodes.

    i’m just here to look at screenshots of songjoongki 😀

  6. Kender

    Wow, I saw this and had to double check the date to make sure I hadn’t accidentally gone back in the archives or something. I totally thought you had finished this, haha..

    Oh Triple. The strongest feeling I have toward this drama is regret, I think. Regret that it didn’t make a stronger impression on me, that sort of thing. Because you’re right, there are individual elements of this drama that are so strong, but they just don’t seem to create the magic that other dramas with weaker elements have managed.

    Oh well. If nothing else, Triple introduced me to Song Joong-ki and Min Hyo-rin, and for that I’m grateful. (I hope MHR does another drama soon.. I really thought she did an excellent job with her role.)

    Merry Christmas, JB and everyone here!

  7. ockoala

    @ Biscuit

    Hee hee, JB meant that there would be no recap of Will it Snow For Christmas today (there was a new episode today), not that there would be no recap of another drama.

    Thanks for continuing, JB. Triple is one drama I watched and really found to be “just is” Until the ending, actually, which as much as it was reflective and in line with the drama, still pissed me off. We’re not there yet, so sorry for jumping the gun.

    I liked every scene with Poong-ho in this episode, that’s about it.

    Still, Lee Jung-gae, gah. Makes we want to suddenly re-watch An Affair or Il Mare.

  8. more

    I love the ost almost all the songs you posted of triple i have loved

  9. Molly

    @ Biscuit and ockoala

    Javabeans has a Twitter?! There’s no recap of Will it Snow tonight?!
    At least there’s Soompi to keep my curiosity satisfied. 😉

    I loved the Poong-ho moments too, and those were the ones I actually watched. It’s unfortunate that Triple wasn’t memorable, because like everyone said, it did touch on the thoughtful, insightful moments of life. I suppose it just didn’t have any zest to complement it.

  10. 10 Kgrl

    Wow, such dedication JB!

    I really was prepared to like this drama, CP having left such a great impression on me, and the fact that I really do enjoy the realistic, everyday humdrum rather than over-dramatic and illogical story-telling. Personally, I found Triple to be well-done in everything except the most crucial dept – character/relationship development. Or rather the over-emphasis of how fallible and selfish people are – and without even realizing it or properly gauging it.

    I was charmed in the beginning, even if the story lacked the bang of typical Kdramas, but the irritating habit of the drama to prolong human weaknesses really irked me – so much so that I could no longer appreciate all of its other attributes. The exciting thing was the discovery of adorable Poong Ho – he totally kept me going, and was the only character that I did not have issues with. How could I enjoy a drama that had me getting annoyed with multiple characters at the same time for the entire series? *sigh* We’re not ready for such “truth” in dramas. lols, at least I’m not.

  11. 11 algelic

    Yay! You’re going to finish this drama!

    I share your opinion. When I go back to watch some scenes of Triple, I get this warm feeling inside and smile… but won’t remember any of it the next day.

    What this drama needed was a more complex plot. Everyday life is nice and all… but it’s not memorable.

    I love all the actors. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in other dramas!

  12. 12 lilly

    That’s true triple is decent but this is a one-time watch for me.

  13. 13 claudia

    what about ‘over the rainbow’ he he

  14. 14 Sere

    interesting for the moment, but then you turn away and live your own life and forget all about it for the rest of the day.

    That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it doesn’t make for an exciting drama, certainly.

    Oh you hit the problem, imho. I really, really wanted to like this, and I did to some extent, but I watch dramas to feel good, to sort of forget about RL and “dream” about love stories, the kind that make you go awww and sigh indefinately, the kind you read in fairy tales, you know? And Triple failed in that. I totally get what the writer and the director wanted to do and I know it was supposed to be refreshing and new, but er, it didn’t feel that way? It felt like listening to a friend as they tell you about their love stories, which granted, it’s interesting, but it’s not, you know, entertaining? Fairytale-like? Gah, it pains me to say this cos there are some truly awesome scenes in this drama, but the overall impression is that…well, I can just look around and see “Triple” in RL.

    I’m kinda ashamed to admit I’m the sort of viewer who wants clichéd love stories and clichéd characters. I like to know where to stand when I watch dramas and movies.

    My disappointment with Triple stems also -maybe- from my expectations: too high, apparently, and too many. I was MUCH too excited for this and I’d been so for months before it aired so maybe that contributed to feel meh about the whole thing.

    The last blow was the finale, though. I was rooting for a certain pairing, even though I knew it probably wasn’t going to be, but clearly, the reasons I watch dramas *points above* were stronger than anything else and by the end of the finale, I was SO bitter and disappointed I couldn’t help, but feeling like I’d wasted 16 hours of my life. I just…I think I liked it Triple up to the finale…Actually, I think I liked it more than the average kdrama viewer, if the reactions to the eps I’ve read online were any indication to go by and yet, my fannish squee was sort of crushed in the last 10 minutes of the series and I was…blah. I can’t even. See, I’m STILL bitter about it. And that’s a first. I either like a drama or not, but I’ve never had such a strong reaction to it, never been bitter about an ending. 0.o

  15. 15 birdscout

    Thank you for your recap. I’m not such a newbie that I feel as if I “have” to finish a drama, as I used to. But for some reason, I did force myself to finish this one and I was very disappointed with the ending. As you stated in your “Comments”, this drama had a lot of lovely moments, but “the sum of its parts was less than the whole”.

    The bright spot:my first introduction to Lee Jung-jae and Song Joong-ki:)

  16. 16 hmi4

    Actually, the reason Triple became less pleasant for me to watch was because of the intense drama which sprouted. At first it was all sunshine and butterflies. Then bam, it got broodingly emo with the loves that couldn’t be. And I mean, COULDN’T BE. As in it got itself into something very unlikely and therefore it was unable to give the happy ever ending if it wants to stay true to itself. Another thing about Triple is that while it has diverse, interesting characters, none of them are remarkable (okay fine, maybe Poongho). They’re the realistic selfish kinds which earn sympathy but fail to earn admiration from the viewers. In retrospect I found Haru less lovable than I first did. I would’ve liked it for her to give it some more thoughts before she wreaks havoc on Hwal’s life. Judging from coach Nam’s reaction, I’m sure she was taught that it’s so very wrong for her to harbor that sort of feelings. So how come there was zero hesitation shown coming from her?
    It did have a plot; it was a coming of age story for Haru. It was laid out to be something simple, like memories in a scrapbook. No evil plottings, no tragic romance. But yet it started to use all those drama devices which disrupted the soundtrack quite a bit. I’d still recommend this drama nonetheless. Far superior to some of the other popular recent ones.

  17. 17 pabo ceo reom

    Ho hum to say the least..

  18. 18 sweetified cream

    Hey, do you think you can make a recap on full house ?

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