I think this episode may have dehydrated me, with all the tears I shed. But in contrast to the last several episodes, I loved all the tearful moments in this episode, which were peppered with warmth and tons of heart. It’s probably my favorite Scent episode in quite a while, maybe overall.
The reason I found the last few episodes duller than usual and trying to my patience was because they felt empty and manipulative — lots of strings being pulled but no emotion behind them. This episode, on the other hand, brings us back to what the drama had done so well: drawing out moments of connection between people, playing up a small detail that turns out to carry tremendous emotional impact, and doing it in a way that moves you.
SONG OF THE DAY
Yellow Monsters – “끝인사” (Goodbye) [ Download ]
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Chairman Kang tells Yeon-jae he knows “everything,” so when Mom pops out and wonders who the visitor is, Yeon-jae hurriedly asks him to speak outside, before he gives away her condition.
He turns his scorn on her in full force — she’s shameless and selfish, and did she ever think about the people she’d be leaving behind? How could she leave Ji-wook to certain heartbreak? She’s tearful and apologetic, but doesn’t waver in her conviction as she tells him that she and Ji-wook can’t, and won’t, break up.
Yeon-jae sinks down to her knees right there on the sidewalk, but Dad is unmoved, telling her that Ji-wook quit the office to spend more time her. Yeon-jae says she’ll convince him to go back to work, and do what she can to make sure he can be happy after she dies. Dad tells her to return Ji-wook to the way things were, “or I won’t forgive you.” Oh, boo hoo. I’d say his forgiveness is a goal she can leave off her bucket list.
When she comes back home, Mom pounces, wanting the story. Yeon-jae lies that he’s just the company chairman asking about work, but Mom can be pretty sharp when she wants to be, and guesses that he’s Ji-wook’s father and opposes the match.
Mom tells Yeon-jae to not let his opposition cow her into giving up her man, and says that the children always win over their parents in this situation — it’s how she married Yeon-jae’s father despite fierce opposition. Ha, she really is opposite mom. She has a minor gripe of Ji-wook, though, saying he should’ve made sure to nip this in the bud before Dad came seeking out the girlfriend.
Sae-kyung drinks alone at a bar, thinking of Yeon-jae and her cancer, and shows up at Ji-wook’s door. He tells her sternly not to come by anymore, and she slaps him. (Again?! Now it just seems perverse that she got in such a snit over being slapped when it seems to be her response to everything.)
Sae-kyung accuses him of making a laughingstock of her, of letting her think she could work it out with him while he was off in his grand love with someone else. She scoffs that she can just wait, since it won’t be long till that woman dies. Yeeeeesh. Ji-wook orders her out, saying he’s disappointed in Sae-kyung.
Crying, Sae-kyung says, “I hate her.” She says it in the way that children say they hate mommy when they can’t have what they want — a helpless sort of frustration. Ji-wook sighs, more pitying than upset now.
Ji-wook takes Yeon-jae to see a house, announcing that he intends to move into it — with her. Seeing her nonplussed reaction, he asks if she doesn’t like it, and she replies that she doesn’t. (He says, “Uh-oh” in a way that makes me suspect he may have already bought it…)
She takes him somewhere else, and Ji-wook finds himself completely out of his element as Yeon-jae volunteers at a day care. He struggles to change a diaper, talking to himself to psych himself into doing it, and awkwardly comforts a crying baby.
Yeon-jae watches him with amusement at first, but seeing him ease into the role of caretaker gets her emotional. When the manager lady compliments them and says they look like a family, he sends her a big grin.
Mom nervously gets ready for her date and greets Teacher Kim shyly. Her cantankerous landlord yells at her as she’s leaving, griping about old folks going on ridiculous dates, and Teacher Kim steps in with a smile to smooth things over.
After day care duty is over, Ji-wook asks if she really disliked that house. She tells him that his father told her he quit his job, and although she assures him that Dad didn’t say anything terribly bad (“What do I have to be scared of?”) she urges him to go back to work.
He says time is precious. She agrees, but adds that there’s another person in her life: Mom. She wants to spend a little more time with her under normal circumstances, before having to live like a cancer patient. She asks him to spend his time “as normal” as well, because she’s happy right now.
Eun-seok is still raising Malbok, but with his transfer to M.D. Anderson looming, he asks his friend to take in the dog. When the friend figures it’ll be easy enough to keep the dog in the yard, Eun-seok hesitates, saying the dog’s used to being indoors, and it might get cold in the winter. Ha, he’s gotten attached despite himself.
Eun-seok runs into Hee-joo in the hallway, who introduces him to her mother, who promptly embarrasses her by commenting that he’s just as handsome as Hee-joo said. Ha. She cringes in mortification and ushers Mom away, but Eun-seok smiles.
Yeon-jae tells Mom that she’ll be bringing Ji-wook over tonight to meet her, which causes Mom to flip out at the lack of preparation time. Off to the supermarket it is.
Mom’s reception is surprisingly cool, though, which causes the couple to shoot puzzled looks at each other. The reason becomes clear when she asks Ji-wook whether he’ll be able to win over his father (implying their marriage), and he replies that he’ll work things out. He eats uneasily, as though expecting attack at any moment.
Yeon-jae finds Mom crying after Ji-wook leaves, but Mom explains that it’s because she’s happy that her daughter found such a great man. Yeon-jae asks why she treated him so coolly, and Mom says that if she acted too eager, “He might not realize how valuable you are.” Awwww, now that gets me right in that heartspace. For all the cliches this drama has piled on about meddling rich chaebols, it sure has a fascinating, unpredictable Mom.
Ji-wook goes home unsure of his standing with Mom, and asks a friend for advice on impressing her. So the next day, he shows up to the store where Mom works, saying he’s here to buy some clothes. Mom assists him with a smile, and he agrees to buy her recommendation — and asks for sizes to fit her and Yeon-jae.
Yeon-jae’s happy that her mother has met someone, and tells a photo of her father that after he died, she was there for Mom, but after she dies, she wants Mom to have someone else to be with her.
Mom shows Yeon-jae the jackets that “Ji-wook-ie” bought for them, thrilled at his lovely manners. Yeon-jae tells her mother that she has to go somewhere for a few days, lying that it’s for a work-related matter. Mom picks up on her awkwardness, but jumps to the other conclusion — that Yeon-jae is slipping away with Ji-wook, as she must have done all those other times she said she was away for work.
Ji-wook goes along with this story, picking Yeon-jae up on the day of her treatment, though he asks how much longer she’s going to keep this a secret. Yeon-jae tells him that Mom’s so happy, she’s loath to ruin that for her.
Chairman Im hears about “the ridiculous rumors” surrounding Ji-wook, and asks Sae-kyung about them. She wonders why after all this, she still can’t let go of Ji-wook. Isn’t that my line?
As Ji-wook drops Yeon-jae off at the hospital, she urges him to go back to the office. He tells her that she’s the most important person to him right now, above his job. She replies that she feels the same, but that he’s not the only person in her life — she has her mother, her friends, and things she wants to do. “I don’t want for me to be the only thing in your life. If you come to me after giving up your job and your father, I’ll be too uncomfortable with that.”
He leaves her with a hug, which goes witnessed by Eun-seok and Hee-joo, the latter of whom is shocked to realize that Yeon-jae has a boyfriend — and that Eun-seok likes her anyway.
So when Yeon-jae chats with her mother and offers them pastries as a gift, Hee-joo is uncharacteristically quiet and rejects the offering, leaving the room in a huff.
Yeon-jae finds her outside and prods her jokingly, asking, “Why has your love cooled?” Ha, it’s cute, and annoying in the way that older siblings don’t take younger siblings’ feelings totally seriously. Hee-joo says she’s mad about Yeon-jae hurting Eun-seok’s feelings, revealing that he likes her.
Startled, Yeon-jae says that’s not true, but can’t shake those words when she consults with Eun-seok about her treatment. It makes her distant with him, to his puzzlement.
Sae-kyung goes to the hospital and sees Yeon-jae sitting outside, hooked up to her IV. Despite intending to speak with her, she tears up and turns back — at least she has a tiny shred of decency not to inflict herself upon a terminal cancer patient during chemo. I’m not willing to concede much more, but I’ll give her that much.
Hee-joo loves having her mother with her in the hospital, and the two are affectionate and cuddly with each other — a sight that gives Yeon-jae a pang.
Meanwhile, Ji-wook thinks over Yeon-jae’s words, and returns to the office, telling his father that it’s what she wants him to do. Dad’s unimpressed, tossing out the “If she told you to die” question, to which Ji-wook replies that he would die, if she wanted: “But she wouldn’t want it, because she wants me to be happy.” Ah, touché.
Dad tells him to prepare to leave for the States, but Ji-wook replies firmly that he won’t leave her, and that Dad had best give in quickly, as they don’t have much time left.
The cancer team looks at scans of a patient’s tumor, startled at the rapid change in condition. Eun-seok takes Hee-joo’s mother aside, and despite his gentle smile, it tips Hee-joo off right away that news is bad.
Eun-seok tells Mom the news regretfully, and Hee-joo finds him sitting outside in a glum mood. She confides that she’s the reason Yeon-jae has cooled toward him, explaining that Yeon-jae must be feeling uncomfortable now that Hee-joo has told her of Eun-seok’s feelings.
Hee-joo winces, expecting him to blow up at her, but instead he just smiles ruefully: “That’s good. I feel lighter.” It had weighed on his mind, and he’d felt it was time to come clean anyway.
Hee-joo says that makes her feel worse, and that it would be better if he got angry at her. He teases, “If I got angry, you’d fall for me even more.” She giggles, and it’s sweet.
He tells her to put her webtoon back online if she wants, since it was her dream to be a manhwa writer. She asks him for one favor: a tango.
He can’t refuse her that, so they take their places right then and there, and he leads her in the steps.
Halfway through, she slips her hand out of his grasp and turns into his chest, and he holds her as she cries and smiles. It’s amazing how the tango scenes are even more moving than love scenes in this drama, saying so much in such a short sequence.
Yeon-jae chats with Hee-joo’s mother, who asks why she’s alone during treatments. Yeon-jae explains that while she has a mother, she hasn’t managed to tell her about her condition yet.
Hee-joo’s mother entreats her to consider it from her mother’s perspective, saying that it’ll be painful to know that her daughter was enduring all this alone without telling her.
Upon her discharge, Hee-joo says her goodbyes to Yeon-jae and boasts, “I danced with Dr. Eun-seok!” Yeon-jae says with mock disappointment that he was supposed to like her, and Hee-joo reminds Yeon-jae that she’s got her boyfriend: “Dr. Eun-seok is mine!” With that, they make up for their earlier tiff, and while Yeon-jae talks about seeing her for the next round of treatments, there’s a little extra meaning in Hee-joo’s words today, a finality to her goodbye.
Eun-seok drops in on Yeon-jae and returns her old book to her with a smile, telling her that he should have returned it years ago. Then he delivers Malbok to his friend and gives him instructions on how to take care of him. But a call sends him running back to the hospital, where Hee-joo suffers from hemoperitoneum, an accumulation of blood between the internal organs that requires surgery.
Hee-joo opens her eyes and holds out her hand, which he clutches tightly. But her vitals fail before she can get into surgery, and she dies right there in the emergency room bed. There’s a horrible moment between her death and Eun-seok’s realization of it, because he’s so caught up trying to revive her that it’s Mom who indicates that it’s over.
Eun-seok staggers dumbly through the halls and cries, collapsing in a darkened corridor.
Yeon-jae hears the news from a nurse, and finds Hee-joo’s mother in the mortuary section of the hospital. She finds Eun-seok some time later, still sitting in the hallway, and reaches out a comforting hand.
He breaks down in sobs as he asks her, “Please live. I don’t hope for anything else. But Yeon-jae-ah, I beg you to live.” Oh god, can’t type, tears are clouding my vision.
The next day, she finds Eun-seok’s office empty. His friend happens by and tells her that Eun-seok didn’t come to work today, and that he’s been acting strange lately, with his talk of regretting choosing his specialty and now Hee-joo’s death. He also tells her that Eun-seok was selected to go to M.D. Anderson, but is worried that he may let that opportunity slip by again.
Yeon-jae is discharged, and runs into Hee-joo’s mother on her way out, who tells her that she was told of Hee-joo’s worsened condition before her collapse. That gave her some time to prepare herself, and while she hadn’t told Hee-joo, she’d known anyway. Mom asks Yeon-jae to tell Eun-seok that Hee-joo had put her webtoon back online.
When Yeon-jae sees Ji-wook waiting for her by his car to pick her up, she’s overcome with emotion and hugs him tight. She asks him to take her somewhere, and arrives at Eun-seok’s door. He’s sitting inside amidst packed belongings, and ignores her for a several long moments before finally opening the door.
Yeon-jae tells him that Hee-joo’s webtoon is back up, and that her mother had asked him to take a look.
He opens up his laptop and reads her latest entry, which brings him to tears:
“I have happy news to share with all of you who have shown your love for my webtoon. Ah~! Today, I danced the tango with Dr. Eun-seok. My heart felt so warm and cozy. All the things I called him — king bastard, mean devil — cancel, cancel! Dr. Eun-seok smiling looked totally cool! Soooo touching. Hoping that he’ll smile lots to other patients, Hee-joo’s hospital days are, as of today, over. Hee-joo has been really, really happy all this time, and will be happy from here onward too. So, everybody, including Dr. Eun-seok, be happy!”
Yeon-jae’s especially quiet on the drive back, and Ji-wook guesses that something happened at the hospital. She tells him, “I’ll have to tell my mother. Will you cheer me on?” He nods and takes her hand.
Yeon-jae comes home to a chipper Mom, who declares that even though she’s terribly curious about her daughter’s getaway with Ji-wook, she will refrain from prying, because she’s a Mom who respects privacy.
Yeon-jae asks her mother what she would most like to do with her, and thus they end up on the Han River ferry. Yeon-jae’s surprised at this mundane activity, but Mom reminds her how she’d once said she wanted to ride it because she’d never been on it before. So they’d planned to ride the ferry, only Mom had gotten a stomachache and they’d had to go home, and Yeon-jae had been irritated. Mom had felt guilty and told herself to come back someday, and now feels light-hearted to have fulfilled that intention.
Afterward, they sit on the banks of the river (ack! The river of doom makes its reappearance) and Yeon-jae asks, “You know I love you a lot, right?” Mom’s smile fades, picking up on the shift in mood, and Yeon-jae works up to her confession: “I…I…have cancer. I’m sorry, Mom.”
Ah, and Scent of a Woman is back. What I love about this episode is that all the emotional ups and downs resonated with me and made an impact, whereas all the Daddy chaebol and fiancee chaebol nonsense put the characters into all this turmoil but left me feeling nothing. Aside from annoyance, that is.
What’s doubly great is that the emotional throughlines worked through each story thread in an organic way, in a way that felt natural and realistic with the characters. Hee-joo dying was a surprise on one level in that we didn’t see it coming, but not a surprise in that all of the events leading to it, and then following it, paid off in ways that were true to everybody. Eun-seok has been feeling more in touch with his patients, and his own emotions, and been letting more of his true sensitive nature come out over the course of the series…so when his adoring puppy-dog patient dies, it’s absolutely devastating.
Perhaps the old Eun-seok would have thrown a few things in private and then repressed his sadness, but this Eun-seok is heartbreakingly vulnerable, and it plays into his fears for Yeon-jae as well. It was painful to watch Yeon-jae beg her doctor to save her life in a previous episode, but watching her doctor beg her to live? That gutted me.
I also appreciate the way that the stories have dovetailed to create the moment of Yeon-jae’s confession to her mother. Despite feeling that she ought to have told Mom way before, I can see how she’d been too scared to ruin their brief happiness, and loved seeing how all these things have finally given her the push she needed to confide in her. Now that we’ve seen her screw up the courage to tell her the truth, I’m vastly relieved that Mom didn’t find out the truth accidentally, or through somebody else’s hand. This is one thing Yeon-jae really needed to come to terms with, because although Yeon-jae has had time to deal with her diagnosis, I don’t think that she was ready to fully accept it until she was ready to tell Mom, either.
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 13
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 12
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 11
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 10
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 9
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 8
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 7
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 6
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 5
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 4
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 3
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 2
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 1