Thousand Day Promise: Episode 8
The scenarios aren’t amusing, but these characters crack me up. Who would’ve thought a wedding cancellation would be funny? At a certain point, you have to step back and marvel at the way the rich folks in this drama think; it’s like you’re watching people from another planet, I swear.
That said, could we please return the focus to Seo-yeon and her oppa and dongseng, please? They’re the heart of this drama, and without them front and center, the drama starts to feel distant and amusing rather than moving.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung-gi – “어디라도” (Wherever) [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
In the morning, Moon-kwon asks why Seo-yeon was so late getting in last night. Rather than telling him she was with Ji-hyung, she lies that she took her time at the public bath. His reactions always kill me, with his struggle to maintain a brave face so evident in his expressions, never quite able to hide his fear.
Meanwhile, the rich people are in crisis mode. Ji-hyung’s parents are in quiet panic because it’s wedding day and there’s no sign of the groom, who didn’t come home last night. Dad heaps the blame on that hussy Ji-hyung was seeing, but interestingly, Mom is much more sympathetic to her, saying that it’s not her fault, and that Ji-hyung is responsible for this on his own. Dad’s all, “You think she’s right for dating a man who’s marrying someone else?” Mom returns, “And what about the guy who’s engaged to one person and dating another?”
I knew she felt a measure of respect for Seo-yeon after meeting her, but I didn’t think she’d be that understanding.
Dad turns this around on Mom, blaming her for not raising Ji-hyung right. He argues that he barely sees Ji-hyung a half-hour per week, so whose fault must it be? Wow. You’re using your negligent fathering as an argument for why you’re right in this scenario? Then Dad declares that there are tons of men out there just waiting to see him fail, and now he has to give them that satisfaction because of one measly woman? Ha, I knew this was all about you, but nice of you to put it in such clear terms, Daddy Dearest. Good lord, you people are amazing. And not in the good way.
Mom bursts out, “Stop saying me, me, me, me!” She argues that Ji-hyung has thought of both families before making his decision, and asks for some understanding. Okay, I take that back; Mom’s a little bit awesome. But Dad just shouts, “Why should I do that?!” Uh, because you’re a grown-ass man who should strive for maturity?
Mom tells Dad calmly to give up, because there’s nothing they can do. She wants to start alerting family while it’s still early, who’d be traveling for no reason. Dad stubbornly says that it’s only 8 am; they have until 1 pm. Right. Just enough time for you to adopt a religion and pray for a miracle, I take it?
Hyang-gi’s mom calls to confirm that the wedding is off, and to scream off Ji-hyung’s mom’s ear in discontent. In her mind, anybody who’s not reacting as loudly as she is must not be taking this seriously. Oy, well that volume = sincerity argument explains a lot about you. I’m amused at how the situation is entirely flipped on the bride’s side, with the mother flipping out and demanding somebody’s head on a stick, while Dad reasons that there’s nothing the groom’s parents can do to force their son.
The hour of truth for this family is 10 am, which also amuses me, with all these arbitrary deadlines flying around. Declaring that waiting till 10 when they already know it’s fruitless “would be a comedy,” Mom declares that the wedding is canceled.
Even with all this railing, the parents harbor hope; when Hyang-gi comes to talk to them, they eagerly guess, “He showed up.” But no, that’s not the reason, and Hyang-gi tells her parents it’s really not happening. He sent a text this morning, and it’s over. Accepting the situation, the dads confer and decide to break the news to wedding guests together.
Ji-hyung thinks back to last night with Seo-yeon, who had urged him to go home and beg for forgiveness. She’d been driven to tears as she made that her “last request” of him — go back, get married, and don’t let Seo-yeon be a burden to him. Neither does she want to show her deteriorating self to him.
Jae-min still wants Seo-yeon to get treatment, but she replies that it’s not really treatment. She even teases him about forgetting something she asked him yesterday, making Jae-min worry, “You really don’t remember?” She smiles, “Just kidding.” Man, I get the desire for some gallows humor, but that’s just mean.
She tells Oppa that she met Ji-hyung last night and used all the harsh words in her arsenal to persuade him to let go and get married. Jae-min says he doesn’t think Ji-hyung will change his mind, though, saying that men are a lot more cowardly than women suppose — so if he overcame that fear to call off the wedding, he must mean to stick with it.
She feeling sure that her words had an effect, but just then a mutual friend calls Jae-min to tell him of the cancellation. The news is out and now everyone’s spreading the word.
Stunned, Seo-yeon borrows Jae-min’s phone to call Ji-hyung, but stops short because she can’t remember the number. Oppa urges her to think calmly and let it come back to her, but she can’t, so he engages the call for her. No answer. “Because he thinks it’s me,” Jae-min tells her.
Upset, she storms off, but when she looks around the neighborhood, she doesn’t recognize any of the buildings.
Seo-yeon asks Jae-min where they are, and he tells her they’re on the way home. Even so, even though she should know exactly where she is, she looks around with confused eyes. It takes a moment, but she remembers and makes it home. She ransacks her room for her phone, calling Ji-hyung right away. He picks up.
Angrily, she accuses him of adding to her burdens when she’s already in over her head with her own. She calls him names — rocks-for-brains, empty-head — and he hangs up.
Jae-min comes by to check on her, and Seo-yeon looks at him with frightened eyes, admitting she still can’t think of the number, that she got lost and is scared to death. She cries for herself and for the brother she’ll leave behind, and Jae-min comforts her.
Ji-hyung’s mother makes phone calls, downplaying the crisis to relatives and saying that the couple has had incompatability issues for a while. Hyang-gi’s mother is impressively calm as well on her own set of calls, explaining that she’d love to rip Ji-hyung to shreds and reveal the reasons for the split, but out of deference to Hyang-gi and the other family’s reputation, she’s keeping mum. Ha, I love that her version of being quiet basically announces that Ji-hyung is at fault, while letting her seem generous with the offer to let it go.
She gets a new call as soon as she hangs up the first one, and bitches at her ringing phone about all these inconsiderate people who are pretending to be concerned just to sate their curiosity. Hyang-gi’s father asks the housekeeper to take away her phone, and Mom adds, “Flush it down the toilet while you’re at it.” She’s serious, too, which is what makes it funny; she tells Dad to get her a new number asap.
Mom announces that they’ll go on a family trip to Europe, since it’ll be embarrassing showing their faces in public for the time being. Hyang-gi would prefer to stay at home, and Dad steps in to say that they can stay, but it’s better for mother and daughter to leave the house separately. His reasoning: Mom’s hovering is going to make things worse on Hyang-gi. Heh.
Mom protests at having nobody to go out with, and Dad tells her, “I’ll send you a secretary, one you can pester all you like.” Haha. Dad cracks me up.
The calls get overwhelming, so both families leave them unaswered. In the groom’s household, both parents stand in silence ignoring the rings. In the bride’s house, Mom storms from phone to phone with a pair of scissors, cutting the line. Why is this so funny?
At Aunt’s house, dinner is chicken, cooked whole, with Aunt tearing up the body to divvy up among her family. She sets aside the legs for Seo-yeon and Moon-kwon, who are on their way, and Myung-hee protests since her default setting is dissatisfaction. Aunt tells her she can have the neck that she likes so much, and the wings, and the breasts, but now that the legs have been reserved for Seo-yeon, that’s the only thing Myung-hee wants. Did this woman never graduate from the junior high school mindset?
So when Moon-kwon joins them without his sister, distracting Aunt momentarily with her worry about Seo-yeon’s lingering cold, Myung-hee sneaks a leg off the plate and helps herself. Ha.
Aunt is eager for Seo-yeon to join them because she has news: She’s found a great mat-seon blind date for her, a real catch. Not about to concede anything nice to her cousin, Myung-hee snipes that he sounds too good to be true, so it’s probably a scam.
Jae-min tells his mother not to push, since Seo-yeon’s not the type to marry a mat-seon date. Myung-hee chimes in, saying that they have to let her marry her own choice so that later on, even when she complains about wanting to shoot the guy with a silent gun, they can toss it back in her face and tell her that it was her decision. At that, Myung-hee’s husband looks up and asks how many times she’s shot him with that imaginary gun, and she retorts, “More than a dozen!”
Ji-hyung finally comes home, telling his mother again that he’s sorry. She tells him to go see his father, and to not talk back but just accept whatever Dad says. Which seems like a needless concern to me; hey lady, have you met your son? Has he ever talked back in the history of ever?
Ji-hyung kneels before his father, who asks if he intends to marry the other woman now. Ji-hyung answers yes.
Calmly, without even looking at his son, Dad tells Ji-hyung how it’s going to be: Go upstairs, pack your bags, leave the car. Move out of the officetel. Return the investment Dad put into Ji-hyung’s architecture firm within a week. End of story.
Damn, that’s cold. It’s pretty much what I think Ji-hyung should do regardless, but it’s harsh to have even that decision taken away and made a punishment.
Dad: “Get out.”
Ji-hyung: “I’m sorry for disappointing you. I can’t even ask you to understand me.”
Dad: “Get out.”
Ji-hyung: “I should have dealt with this earlier. I was foolish.”
Dad: “Get out.”
There’s one thing in particular that Ji-hyung’s mother can’t understand; after meeting Seo-yeon, she believes that they ended things and that Seo-yeon told Ji-hyung to go ahead with the wedding. However, most women would be thrilled to hear the man called the wedding off, and yet that’s not the case here. Does Seo-yeon even love him back, or is he in this delusion solo?
Ji-hyung says that Seo-yeon wasn’t up to the ordeal she’d have to endure to be his wife, and that’s why they had their affair despite knowing he’d have to marry someone else. Mom just sighs that she doesn’t understand youngsters these days.
When Ji-hyung explains that Dad has kicked him out, Mom finally shows emotion. Shocked, she tries to convince him that he can stay and just avoid Dad’s path until he’s gotten over it. Ji-hyung says he deserves to be kicked out, and that it’s better this way.
Mom confronts her husband, who argues that he doesn’t have to treat Ji-hyung like a son if Ji-hyung doesn’t treat him like a father. Uh, is that what it said on the Daddy pamphlet they gave you when he was born? Because I’m pretty sure kinship extends beyond a mere “He doesn’t treat me like a dad!”
Dad says this will ruin his lifelong relationship with President Noh, and that he can’t harbor his son in his home and then marry him off to someone else. He couldn’t do that to President Noh. Mom says that Dad has resigned his position at the hospital, and that’s enough: “We are not that family’s slaves.” How can he kick out his own son for fear of their wrath?
Ji-hyung says his goodbyes (his aunt, cutely, cheers him on for making a “courageous” decision) and Mom lends him her car and tells him to stay in the officetel, which is technically hers. She offers to give the office investment that Dad is revoking, and sends him off with a hug.
Getting lost must have really spooked Seo-yeon, because she takes out her wardrobe and puts slips of paper in the pockets, which list her name, address, and the numbers for Moon-kwon and Jae-min. Okay, that is easily the most heartbreaking thing in this episode.
Hyang-gi calls, and Ji-hyung picks up, to her relief. She tells him she’s working at being okay, and that she recognizes that their feelings for each other were different. Therefore hating him for not returning her affections would be childish; she says neither party is at fault. (Except…you know…that whole cheating thing…)
That’s pretty mature, which I suppose is a relief given that the parents are sorely lacking on that score. Even if her reaction does gloss over the craptastic way he handled everything.
Seo-yeon clears away her uneaten ramyun dinner, experiencing a moment of fear when she looks through multiple drawers before finding plastic bags. Moon-kwon comes home bearing chicken porridge from Aunt’s house, and there’s another fleeting moment of fear when she asks, “Did I ask you to bring me some?”
Moon-kwon keeps up his gentle, cheery face until he tries to convince her to take her medication, only to have her decline again. He bursts out about her getting lost, and that does it. She turns on her brother, accusing the men in her life of talking freely behind her back, practically announcing her condition to the world.
Moon-kwon cries, “You’re sick, and when you’re sick, you need to take your medicine! Do you think we talk because we enjoy it? Jae-min hyung and I are worried to death!” She fumes, “What you feel is only worry — do you feel the desperation I feel? Do you feel as hopeless as I do? Are you as scared?!”
Huddling into a fetal position on her bed, Seo-yeon tells herself over and over to calm down, because losing it will only make her condition worse.
A very long scene in the architect’s office boils down to tell us: Ji-hyung is looking for his own apartment. An equally long scene in the publisher’s office boils down to tell us: Seo-yeon has a “dentist” appointment today.
Hyang-gi’s mother checks into the hospital due to emotional strain, although she seems just fine to me. Certainly none of the strength has left her speech, that’s for sure. It seems to be her go-to cure for stress — and why not, when it’s her hospital? All the benefits of a spa stay, with the sympathy of a hospital visit!
Ji-hyung’s mother comes by with flowers, and Hyang-gi’s mother talks to her crossly: “You’re fine, and that makes me even madder!” Her anger doesn’t seem to be the sticking kind, though, and she grudgingly invites her friend to sit. She explains telling her husband not to accept Ji-hyung’s father’s resignation, saying that it’s childish to let a broken engagement wreck two lifelong friendships. Wow, is she actually being reasonable?
Ji-hyung’s mother says the gossip doesn’t bother her, although she is aware of a rumor that’s making the rounds about Ji-hyung cheating. Neither mother is that concerned with it, figuring it’s the work of overactive imaginations, and Hyang-gi’s mother reminds Ji-hyung’s mother about getting her son checked out. Since, you know, she suspects he’s having trouble in the sexual performance arena. (Hyang-gi mumbles, “That’s not true, Mom,” and Mom shoots back, “Don’t butt in when the adults are talking.” Haha.)
Seo-yeon undergoes a CT scan to confirm whether the results will show anything different. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same diagnosis. She has stuck with her first doctor after all, figuring that with her disease it’s better to stay with the familiar. Today she finally comes to that point: “Now I have to accept it.”
The doctor asks what’s happened since the last visit, and she explains that there are little things at work that crop up, and that her ex-boyfriend gave up his wedding. Then, while walking home she’d failed to recognize her surroundings.
The doctor urges her to start medication, explaining how her condition will worsen. In stark contrast to the last time he asks her to accept her situation, this time she answers readily, “Yes, doctor.” It’s enough of a change that the doctor calls Jae-min to warn that depression is one thing to watch out for.
As she walks out, she acknowledges that she’s past the confirmation stage, and now she is an Alzheimer’s patient who is “daily growing dumber.”
Her voice is resigned as she thinks that this is just her lot in life, and she has to accept it. “Ahh, but just the thought makes me feel pathetic. If not for Moon-kwon, I could just end it now.”
Seo-yeon takes photos of her walk home, then delivers the camera to Moon-kwon. She wants him to assemble the photos into a step-by-step (literally) map from the bus stop to their front door. Poor Moon-kwon accepts this all with a smile, though the strain seems taxing on his sensitive nature.
She thinks to herself, “I have forgotten his name now, but those eyes, those lips — they’re in my heart. Even when the wind blows and the rain falls, I can’t forget the shadowy night outside the window.”
I’ll be honest; this week’s episodes were pretty boring. Once Ji-hyung found out the truth of Seo-yeon’s illness, I expected some kind of shift in his attitude, but his resistance is of the quiet, firm kind. A valid personality trait for a person, but rather anticlimactic for the setup, I thought.
But I don’t think that’s the main problem I’m sensing. The thing about this show is that the conflict isn’t really changing from episode to episode. It’s the same predicament throughout, and what we’re doing is following Seo-yeon’s reaction to it. The acting is extremely compelling, and Su Ae is utterly commanding, but as far as story goes there’s not a lot going on.
It also means that I think I’m becoming inured to the whole Alzheimer’s storyline, which might be why I found this episode funny, rather than moving or sorrowful. We knew from the very start (even before Episode 1, thanks to promos and blurbs) that she would slowly start to forget him, so none of this is surprising. It’s actually to the show’s credit that it has been as engaging thus far given that it’s fairly predictable, but aside from the strong acting performances, I’m not really moved by the story anymore.
So in the absence of plot, it’s the small interactions, the sharp dialogue, and the smart writing that carry the show. We have plenty of that, which is what’s keeping my interest engaged. But I hope something actually starts happening, because if all we’re going to be getting is a slow-motion account of Seo-yeon falling deeper into her dementia, no matter how marvelous the acting, it’s just gonna bum me out.