No more secrets, just acceptance. It takes us 15 episodes to arrive here, at the message packed in this drama (and this episode in particular): Live with love, build your happiness on that, and make the most of the life you have while you have it. The message is universal and oft-heard, but still packs a punch when you see it lived out in characters you’ve grown attached to and rooted for over this many hours.
SONG OF THE DAY
Scent of a Woman OST – “Bucket List” [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Yeon-jae tells her mother about her cancer, and Mom’s initial reaction is denial. She insists that they march right over to the hospital to confirm that she was misdiagnosed, and the longer Yeon-jae resists, the louder she insists.
But finally the truth sinks in, and Mom screams and sobs. She’s calmer on the drive home, but now she’s taken on a worrying stoic silence, and goes to her room without saying a word to Yeon-jae.
Ji-wook drops by during lunch hour to see Yeon-jae, who tells him that she’s concerned about both Mom and Eun-seok. The latter name still gets a rise out of Ji-wook, who’s a little jealous, to her amusement, but it’s mostly for levity’s sake that he pouts. He pretends something’s on her face to lean in and deliver a surprise kiss, keeping up a cheerful face until Yeon-jae goes back inside.
Yeon-jae shows up at Eun-seok’s door again, and fills him in on telling Mom about her cancer. But since Mom hasn’t fully registered it yet, Yeon-jae asks Eun-seok to deliver the results of her upcoming treatment to Mom, to help her accept the truth. She adds, “Don’t quit being a doctor. You asked me to live. I will live. Until I die, I’ll live diligently.”
Mom thinks back to Yeon-jae’s behavior of the recent past, now that they make sense. She comes home and confronts her about how long she’s known, angry and hurt that Yeon-jae has kept it secret for over two months. It’s a tough position, because both women have a point: Yeon-jae was afraid her mother would take it badly, but on the other hand, now Mom feels foolish and horrible. Yeon-jae’s decision inadvertently turns her into the bad guy, the bad mother who carried on blithely while her daughter was dying.
Mom has accepted the cancer part of Yeon-jae’s condition but she still doesn’t accept the death sentence, and says that this is different from when Dad fell ill. Now there are new medicines and therapies, and all Yeon-jae needs is some surgery, some chemo, and she’ll be fine. Yeon-jae gently tells her mother that it’s no use, that she’s beyond surgery. “But I’m okay, Mom.”
Now it all sinks in, and Mom falls to the floor, beating the ground and crying about her poor daughter. Yeon-jae grabs her and holds her close.
She talks to Ji-wook in tears that night, and although he’d like to be with her, he abides by her wishes and doesn’t press the issue. When he asks about her treatment tomorrow, she tells him she’ll go with Mom, and he doesn’t argue.
Eun-seok still hasn’t returned to work, and his boss tells him he’ll have to make a decision about his future today: Either go to MD Anderson or resign, but he can’t stay home and remain in limbo. He returns to the hospital and contemplates his doctor’s coat as he remembers Yeon-jae’s words about him being her doctor. And so, he tells his boss that he won’t be going anywhere. Yay!
Mom goes to her husband’s grave, sighing that he ought to have thrown some heavenly weight around to prevent this fate for their daughter. She cries out her grief, feeling miserable, but stops herself to say, “But I should still live, shouldn’t I? Since I’m her mother.”
Yeon-jae heads to the hospital alone since Mom isn’t around to come with her, and brightens to see Eun-seok there. She tells him that her mother hasn’t yet come to terms with the news, but to her surprise Mom walks into the lobby, smiling now.
Mom sits with Eun-seok to hear about her condition, thanking him for taking care of Yeon-jae and saying she’s glad he’s the one treating her. Mom confides that she’d had a terrible time with her husband’s illness, unable to do anything but cry daily: “And I became a mother who couldn’t be a source of support. That hurts my heart.” She starts to break down and admits she’s scared now too, but gets a grip on her tears and says, “But I have to be strong, because I’m her mother, and she’s my daughter.”
Aw, I knew Mom had it in her — I’d hoped we’d all been underestimating her strength, which seemed likely because Mom has been surprising me with her awesomeness in recent episodes. It’s so gratifying to see her rise above her weakness.
After the consultation, Mom comes out, her composure back in place, hugs Yeon-jae, and tells her the results: Her condition hasn’t worsened since the last treatment.
Stroking Yeon-jae’s hair, Mom says, “You’ve suffered a lot” in a way that shows she’s willing to be that emotional bedrock now and share in the burden of being strong.
Ji-wook presents his business proposal to the company executives to expand the company. President Kim — always at odds with Ji-wook even on a good day — quibbles that he’s too busy dating to have given his work much thought, but Manager Noh says that the Wando tour was so well-received that it’s been awarded a prize from the ministry of culture and tourism. (He then gripes to his team that he’d never thought he’d take Ji-wook’s side, but sighs that he has to in order to make up for his treatment of Yeon-jae.)
Ji-wook gets a call that jolts him to full attention (his feet literally snap together), and meets with Mom at a cafe. She confirms that he knows about Yeon-jae’s cancer, asking if he ever considered breaking up with her. He says that he won’t break up because he loves her.
Touched, Mom holds out her hand and pats his. She thanks him.
She’s been ignoring Teacher Kim’s calls recently, but accepts one today and meets him at a restaurant. He’s worried at her lack of contact, and when Mom starts speaking, it has that ring of finality: She tells him she was happy to date him, but she has to end it now. She’s thankfully frank, telling him that Yeon-jae’s very sick, and it feels inappropriate for her to be off dating. She apologizes and thanks him for making her feel like a woman in her own right, not just another ajumma or Yeon-jae’s mother.
Ji-wook drops by the house to show off the award he got for his Wando package, which is cute in a little-boy way. He also has a gift, and presents her with a new phone — to match his. He calls her to demonstrate, and when her phone rings, the caller is named “Mine.” Aw. How’d he get his hands on my Lee Jung-jae couple phone?
Ji-wook also tells her he’s planning to take her and Mom to Jeju Island next weekend, since this must be hard on them and they deserve a nice break. Yeon-jae has been quiet for most of this conversation, but now she steps forward and hugs him while he’s still mid-sentence. He teases, “Thinking about it myself, I really am sweet.” Ha. And modest!
Enter Bad Chaebol Daddy, who worries over Sae-kyung’s disappointed hopes. He calls a meeting with Ji-wook, and Chairman Im is actually quite calm and reasonable this time; he says he won’t retaliate or otherwise injure the company over his relationship. Thank goodness for that, although I suppose the generosity of this gesture is rather tarnished by the previous retaliation attempts. However, he has a condition for this deal, and requests that Ji-wook and his girlfriend stay out of sight of Sae-kyung. He clarifies: “Leave this country.”
OH GOOD LORD. Scratch that whole reasonable part. He’s not even your own kid and you’re trying to send him abroad? Puh-lease. Ji-wook, if you entertain this cockamamie proposal for more than a second, I swear I’m throwing something at your head.
Chairman Im is actually offended when Ji-wook rejects this (phew!), as though Ji-wook’s the upstart for not agreeing to uproot himself and his girlfriend and skip on over to another country because some dude with a pissy daughter asked him to.
Sae-kyung enters the office to rein Dad in — I’ve never been so relieved to see her — and says that she and Ji-wook were never suited for each other. To make sure Dad backs off, she adds that she didn’t want Ji-wook so much as he’d pissed her off. Wait, so am I supposed to like her for this? Because my eyes, they seem to be rolling back into my head of their own accord.
Afterward, Ji-wook asks Sae-kyung why she helped him. I guess basic human decency is out of the question for these chaebols? Sae-kyung replies that he’s got it hard enough already, and that nobody was there to support her love, so she can imagine how he feels. She adds that this doesn’t mean she’s actively supporting Ji-wook and Yeon-jae’s relationship, which in my book is a relief; you really don’t want that sourpuss on your side, tainting you with her bad juju, do you?
Teacher Kim asks to meet with Yeon-jae, happy to see that she’s looking healthy, and tells her that he heard she’s ill. She asks him to help her mother through this, but he says that Mom broke things off. He understands why she chose that, but he assures Yeon-jae that he doesn’t mean to give up on her.
Yeon-jae takes Mom out for dinner (overriding Mom’s homemade menu of healthy foods), where Teacher Kim awaits them. Mom excuses herself and walks out, and Yeon-jae chases her out to tell her that she doesn’t have to give up dating because of her. She actually wants Mom to date and remarry.
Mom interprets things differently, and her hurt bubbles over again: When Yeon-jae chose to keep her condition a secret, she basically insinuated that she’s a useless mother, someone unable to be a source of support in her time of need. And now, she wants her to date on top of that?
Yeon-jae: “I want for you to be happy.” Mom: “How can I be happy? How do I have the right to be happy?! When my daughter’s on the verge of death, what’s the point in me being happy?”
Teacher Kim appears and takes Mom aside. He explains how Yeon-jae was the one who sought him out, asked forgiveness, and gave him Mom’s contact information, urging him in his suit. He muses that the older he gets, the more he feels that life isn’t a big, grand thing — and that happiness consists of the little things, like living with the ones you love.
He entreats her not to feel guilty: “Being with you doesn’t mean I’m taking you away from Yeon-jae. Think of it as adding one more person in this world to love and treasure her.”
That night, Mom comes into Yeon-jae’s room and opens her arms, telling her, “Come here.” Mom embraces her, breathes in a sigh, and smiles.
Mother and daughter visit Dad’s grave, joined by Teacher Kim, who pays his respects.
Eun-seok’s friend is surprised at his decision not to go to MD Anderson, and is hilariously put out that their boss didn’t recommend him to go in Eun-seok’s stead, instead choosing the doctor he hates the most. He calls Eun-seok crazy for passing up the opportunity.
Eun-seok asks how Malbok is doing, and his friend calls him “my lone companion” and affectionately describes one of his cute behaviors. It’s good news, since they’ve bonded; Eun-seok smiles and says, “That’s great. Wanna return him to me?” Haha.
Yeon-jae calls to ask Eun-seok if he’s going to the milonga dance night that evening. He hedges that he’s embarrassed, but agrees to go. She tells Mom she’s got a date with two men tonight, which makes me wonder if the two men know they’re sharing her.
She arrives at the studio and meets the others from her class, who haven’t seen her in a while and have moved on to the next level in her absence. As the dancing begins, Eun-seok arrives and leads Yeon-jae onto the dance floor. Ji-wook arrives in the middle of their dance and immediately pouts childishly, but smiles just as quickly.
After her dance, he teases her, reminding her that she promised not to dance with another man before his arrival, which had totally slipped her mind. Yeon-jae giggles, admitting she’d always wanted two men to fight over her, and both men retort in unison, “We’re not fighting.”
When she steps aside to chat with Veronica, the men ask each other to take good care of her — one as doctor, the other as boyfriend. Ji-wook asks if there are cases when patients live longer than expected, “like a miracle.” Eun-seok answers that they happen, but they’re rare.
I love the friendly vibe that has developed between the two men, where jealousy only plays a joking role — like when Ji-wook informs Eun-seok of their upcoming trip to Jeju Island, and pointedly asks if he’d like anything as a souvenir. Ha. Eun-seok just invites him for a drink upon their return.
Teacher Kim asks to speak with Yeon-jae, telling her of his intention to propose to her mother and asking her if that would be okay. Tearily, she nods and asks him to stay with her mother “for a long, long time.” Thus she takes a particular interest in making Mom look pretty for her date and urges her to stay out late. Ha, I just love the parent-child reversals in this show, and how cute Yeon-jae and her mother are now that they’re not at odds.
The older couple goes to a temple and makes wishes. Mom only has thoughts of Yeon-jae’s health, but Teacher Kim has two wishes: one is for Yeon-jae, and the other one is to be able to spend the rest of his life with Mom. Seeing her hesitantion, he tells her he’ll wait for her response.
Jeju Island. Mom marvels at the wonderful view, thrilled to be here, and asks how to thank Ji-wook for planning this. He replies that she can just dote on him forever, ha.
Mom asks how they’ll handle room assignments and Ji-wook promptly replies, “Of course, Yeon-jae and I will…” and then makes a show of deflating, “use separate rooms. I’ll use this room by myself. It’ll be so, so lonely. All alone.” Ha. He even sighs pathetically for added effect.
They go out to enjoy the day, taking photos and walking along the beach. Mom watches fondly as the couple frolics on the shore, and thanks Ji-wook again for the trip when he joins her. He suggests that they go on trips every weekend, but she tells him that he and Yeon-jae ought to go as a couple, since time is precious. It’s bittersweet, this relinquishing of her claim on her daughter, but also really touching.
Ji-wook softens that blow by telling Mom about how he’d wanted to move in together, but Yeon-jae had declined: “To her, Mom is number 1.” As proof, he shows Mom the cell phone photos he’d taken of Yeon-jae’s bucket list.
Mom flips through the photos, revealing a few more wishes that we haven’t seen before, like item 11, “Receive a proposal to make every woman in the world envious.” Item 12 is “Do volunteer work in my free time.” Item 13: “Get Mom remarried.”
That one is the one that breaks the dam and makes Mom cry, and quite possibly changes her mind.
Yeon-jae hunches over in pain that night, but she hides it from Mom as they get ready for bed. It’s only after Mom’s asleep that Yeon-jae heads to the outer room, curling up in pain. Ji-wook can’t fall asleep and hears something, and rushes to her side. He wants to take her to the hospital, but she shakes her head and shushes him, not wanting to wake Mom. She tells him it’ll pass, which indicates she’s used to these spells.
Unable to do anything else to help, Ji-wook takes her in his arms and holds her. In the morning, Mom wakes up in an empty bed and finds the two cuddling on the couch together, which brings a smile to her face.
Taking a morning walk, Mom watches older couples walking hand in hand, quite possibly thinking of her own future, when she’s surprised by the appearance of Teacher Kim. They look at each other in shock over the coincidence, and Teacher Kim explains that he comes here every weekend. Adorably, when she asks if that’s true, he admits that no, actually, Yeon-jae had tipped him off. Hee.
He joins their party, but Yeon-jae invents a transparent excuse about having plans with Ji-wook, giving the older couple an excuse to be alone. She hastens away with Ji-wook, leaving Mom sputtering and fooling no one.
Now it’s Mom’s turn to walk along the beach and receive flowers from her man, while Yeon-jae and Ji-wook have a date of their own. The quartet reconvenes for lunch, where the men operate the grill and Teacher Kim wonders if Ji-wook is finding the situation difficult, with Yeon-jae so sick.
Ji-wook answers no, because it would have been harder not having her with him. Teacher Kim can relate, ruefully telling him that he’s stumbled upon that realization quite young.
As the sun sets, Ji-wook and Yeon-jae sit on the beach, and she shows him the necklace she’s wearing, from their Okinawa beer-drinking outing. He asks, “You wanted to kiss me then, didn’t you?” She declines to answer, but her sheepish expression clearly reads, Busted!
He thanks her for being with him, just as the strains of “Por Una Cabeza” start playing on the outdoor speakers. It’s the tango anthem, and he looks mighty pleased with himself (he’d planned it, natch) as he leads her in a dance.
As the song ends, she tells him, “I love you.”
This was a quiet episode, but quite moving for the lack of angst. Actually, I’m relieved that they pulled back on that; when the bad chaebols made their appearance, I nearly blew a gasket at their ridiculous, smug entitlement issues until that was thankfully quelled. If that’s the last we see of Sae-kyung and Co., I will be ecstatic.
Being so used to the rhythm of kdrama series, I was expecting all this heartwarming development to end in some kind of crisis, like Yeon-jae falling into her final decline by the end of the episode. I was relieved when that didn’t happen (I’m anticipating tomorrow’s finale with equal anticipation and dread), and found that that actually makes the episode stand out more to me. More than any other episode, this one really highlights the drama’s whole purpose of showing us what it means to live, regardless of the certainty of death. Mom’s totally right when she cries that she can’t be happy when her daughter’s dying, but Yeon-jae has just as much of a point in urging Mom to think of the life that she’ll lead after she’s gone. As she tells Eun-seok, she’ll keep living until she dies — an obvious statement, except for the fact that it’s a concept that many living people seem to take for granted, such as Yeon-jae before her cancer diagnosis.
I like that we’re given an opportunity to let Mom rise to the occasion, rather than assuming the worst of her and not giving her the option. That’s what chafed with me when Yeon-jae kept hiding the truth (although I sympathized with her fear), because it was like she’d decided Mom was going to be a certain way, that her hysteria was a foregone conclusion. It’s nice to see how much she was wrong on that front, and that Mom got a chance to be the kind of mother she wished she could be the first time around when Dad was sick.
Oh god, tomorrow’s gonna be a doozy, isn’t it?
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 14
- 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