Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 15
Almost at the end! *Sniff* Finale week is upon us, and it definitely starts to feel like we’re heading into the final stretch as we prepare to say goodbye to these characters and take a look back at how far they’ve come.
The downside is that the feeling is a bit bittersweet, and I’ve come to love everyone so much that I’ll be sad to not have any more of them to watch. The happier flipside to that, though, is that we gear up for some major payoffs as the big threads come together, ready for their happy finale.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto in D major – I: Allegro moderato [ Download ]
LESSON 15 RECAP
Under Nae-il’s direction, Yoo-jin falls into a hypnotic state and revisits the source of his trauma. As he relates the experience of being in the turbulent plane, we see that it’s not just a bad accident that has caused his phobia, but a deeper-rooted guilt over not being able to save the grandpa who dropped his heart medication. Nae-il tells him that it wasn’t his fault, and that he doesn’t have to be afraid or guilt-stricken anymore, and that he will be able to take planes again.
When the alarm rings to awaken him, Yoo-jin finds himself alone in his room and we hear Nae-il’s instructions again in voiceover. It suggests that Yoo-jin recalls hearing them in his hypnosis, but he doesn’t think too much of it now, just figuring that she’s been saying strange things lately.
Shi-won comes upon Il-lac in a practice room, playing the violin with completely healthy arms. He admits to her that he’d lied about his arm to give the soloist part to her, since they all know that she would have won the part in a fair vote, but now he’s changed his mind—he can’t give up the solo. “I know I’m not as good as you,” he says, “but I want to do a good job. I’ll work hard.”
He braces himself when Shi-won reaches over as though to hit him, but she just flicks his forehead lightly and tells him he’s a dummy for not listening when she told him he had every right to the solo. And then she hugs him and thanks him.
Yoon-hoo stops Yoo-jin to challenge him for his recent actions—namely, intimidating the orchestra with video of their rivals, and for not informing them that they’d be filmed in rehearsal. He points out that Yoo-jin would be the most hurt by everything.
Yoo-jin asks if it he’d be getting too ahead of himself to say he did it because he had faith in them. It’s a cryptic way to answer and confuses Yoon-hoo, although we can see that Yoo-jiun’s mind flashes back to the Rachmaninoff concert, when he’d dropped his baton and was encouraged by his members to continue on.
For now, though, the orchestra struggles; half of them don’t show up for rehearsal, given their precarious position with the school. The board will be voting on their future tomorrow, and some musicians been urged to leave. Il-lac steps up and takes the reins, and the remaining members rally together to convince the others to stick together.
Yoon-hoo observes with an air of confusion, or perhaps it’s weariness, and asks why they don’t quit. He says they’ve all done as much as they can—aren’t they all tired of this all?
With no rehearsals on the books, Yoo-jin has the day free and Nae-il pesters him to spend it with her. He cringes as her repeated use of his “our Nae-il” slip of the tongue, and she pokes at him to give her six hours of his day and promises to never use “our Nae-il” with him if he does.
That’s incentive enough, and Yoo-jin sets his phone alarm to six hours. They start out at a movie, where she teases him for looking just like Jo Jung-seok (it’s My Love, My Bride), which he scoffs at huffily. Then she makes him hold her purse while she goes to the ladies’ room, and he finds himself cringing in embarrassment to stand with the other boyfriends carrying purses. He tries to insist that he’s not like them, but I’m thinking he should just be glad he didn’t have to carry the bright pink one.
Then he wins a stuffed animal in a claw machine, only to be thoroughly outdone by Nae-il, HA. She insists on giving him her scarf because it’s cold, and they both freeze when they find themselves within lip-touching range, suddenly nervous and tensed up with awareness.
I love that it’s Nae-il who relaxes first, while Yoo-jin is the one seized with confusion, because it’s about time, buddy. Kiss, kiss, kiss!
Annnnd then his clock alarm rings, breaking the spell. Booooo!
So they head home and to their separate doors, and Nae-il offers up some reassuring words about how everything will be okay with the orchestra. He’s still rattled from the not-kiss and takes refuge inside, not seeing that Nae-il is getting a little wistful and talking about things as though they’re about to end. Was today a goodbye date?
After Yoo-jin heads inside, he wonders to himself, “Is it that she got prettier, or that she looks prettier?”
Board members arrive on campus next day to decide on the orchestra’s fate. Yoo-jin heads to the rehearsal room, a bit nervous as he gathers his nerves before opening the door… and finds only an empty room. Oh no, they didn’t show?
Yoon-hoo appears to ask whether he truly hadn’t anticipated that this might happen—did he think everyone would hang in there in the midst of all these obstacles? Yoo-jin replies that he didn’t think this would be the outcome, admitting that it’s quite deflating. And truly, he hasn’t come up with an alternative plan, because he really did think the members would come through.
Still, he’s not down and out, and supposes that they’ll have to start over from the beginning. If the worst-case scenario is that the orchestra’s rehearsal space and official status are revoked, well, they’ve dealt with that before. It might be an interesting experience practicing in the lobby, he muses.
Yoon-hoo sighs that Yoo-jin’s no fun this way, saying, “I hadn’t understood why everyone I like likes you…” It sounds like he means he understands now, but he cuts himself off to inform Yoo-jin that everybody’s gathered outside the faculty conference room. Ah, so were you just testing him for his reaction?
The board members head to their meeting, and find the entire orchestra gathered outside the building. They aren’t there to block them or do anything active, but their united presence sends a message—and one of the board leaders smiles with satisfaction to see the display of solidarity. The board members are all parents and relatives of students, and note that it’s quite unusual to see those independent-minded students standing with their friends. After graduation they’ll be back to their solo paths, and this may be the last chance they have to take part in this kind of collective experience together.
Yoo-jin comes running up in time to see his orchestra gathered there and steps up to look at them with pride.
Yoo-jin’s narration: “In an orchestra, dozens of instruments gather to make one sound. No, dozens of people gather to make a melody. Violin, viola, contrabass, trumpet—when they play their parts from each of their seats, Mozart sounds like Mozart, and Tchaikovsky sounds like Tchaikovsky. One by one, they must guard their places and play together to complete the music.”
Now alone in the rehearsal room, Yoon-hoo thinks back to yesterday, when he had asked the orchestra whether it was better for them to quit. Il-lac had replied right away, saying, “Then what about our conductor? That’s not the way. We have someone believing in us. We can’t let go of that hand just because we’re tired.”
Yoon-hoo had looked almost upset to hear it—not upset at them for remaining positive, but as though this answer has dealt him a blow.
The decision is made, and it’s good news. The orchestra survives, and celebrates in a collective show of glee. (Adorably, Min-hee and Su-min make it a point to shove their way between Il-lac and Shi-won, frowning on them when they try to sneak in some couple moments—this is orchestra time!)
Nae-il puts in her last day of working at the cafe, having declined Mom’s offer to keep playing there. She gives Min-hee all of her carefully accumulated food coupons and sounds wistful about not getting to see her much anymore—she’s talking like it’s for good, but Min-hee doesn’t pick up on it, thinking she’s just referring to the end of her cafe gig. Nae-il wraps her up in a huge bear hug, looking emotional.
Next, Nae-il drops by to see Streseman, assuring him that she’s not going to try to prevent Yoo-jin from going abroad. To the contrary, she asks Streseman to make sure that he does go, and to insist if Yoo-jin balks for any reason. She returns the watch as well, and leaves his office wiping at her tears.
She runs right into Yoon-hoo, who notes that she’s crying and moves to wipe the tears, though she gets to them before he can. He guesses that he’s not going to like to hear what she wants to say, but she has to say it today, and thanks him for liking her piano-playing, and also for liking her.
Yoon-hoo recognizes that she’s finally addressing their relationship openly, and doing that marks her official rejection. He says ruefully that he would have been okay to leave it open-ended so he could be tortured by hope, but Nae-il smiles through her tears and tells him that she couldn’t do that—she’s an expert in one-sided loving: “It hurts too much.”
He agrees, “It does hurt.” But he wonders why it seems that she’s hurting more than he is, and asks if she’s truly okay. I’m guessing she isn’t, but she insists cheerily that he needn’t worry.
Yoon-hoo meets with Streseman regarding his conducting plans, and although he’s decided to embrace that path, he notes that he isn’t Streseman’s official pupil—Yoo-jin is still the only one who has that title. Streseman says that Yoon-hoo has the ability to do very well in conducting, but expresses his one concern: that Yoon-hoo may be hindered by pride, which only allows him to accept those whose talents he acknowledges. If anybody can break him out of that, Streseman says, then he would be a better teacher for Yoon-hoo.
Teacher Do is thrilled to hear that Nae-il has received an invitation to participate in an international competition, enabled by special recommendation of Teacher Yoon. But he can’t locate Nae-il to tell her, because she has turned her cell phone off.
Her friends make the same discovery, and Yoon-hoo finds no answer at home, either. When he brings it to the others’ attention, they start piecing together Nae-il’s strange behavior as of late, and share their concern with Yoo-jin.
At first he waves it aside as unnecessary concern, but when he finds that her door code has been changed, he starts to worry as well. He heads out to scour the town and search any places she might be, while the others do the same. It’s all to no avail, because her phone remains off all night and she’s nowhere to be seen.
Just as Il-lac suggests filing a report with the police, Nae-il finally resurfaces with a call to Min-hee. She explains going home to Jeju, and Min-hee does her best to drag out the phone call as long as possible so that Yoo-jin can get there. When he arrives, he snatches the phone and barks into it, “What are you doing?!”
Shocked, Nae-il goes silent and hangs up on him, to everyone’s astonishment. It’s cute how the other friends scold Yoo-jin for prompting her to cut the call, leaving him to say lamely, “All I did was raise my voice…” But he keeps Min-hee’s phone just in case.
Nae-il is subdued enough with her family that they find her mood curious. They accept her explanation that her vacation started early, then tell her happily of a kindergarten that just opened nearby, which means she can get a job there and stay close to home. She just excuses herself quietly, leaving them wondering what’s wrong.
Teacher Do tracks Yoo-jin down to inform him of Nae-il’s competition, whose application deadline is nearing. Yoo-jin takes the form and calls Nae-il yet again, leaving a voicemail to inform her about the chance she has to win funding to study abroad if she wins the competition.
Still unaware of his own hypnosis breakthrough, he says ruefully that she might earn her trip faster than him, and he adds that he’s starting therapy with his doctor again, because he’s willing to try anything.
“So if we go together…” he starts to say, only he stops himself and just asks when she’ll be back. “The dummies miss you a lot,” he adds. “And I also…” But he cuts himself off again.
Then Min-hee’s phone rings with a call from Nae-il, and he hurriedly warns her not to hang up, informing her of the competition and her deadline in two days, which is the day of the orchestra’s performance. Saying that he won’t ask for an explanation for her departure, Yoo-jin just asks her to come back.
But she says no, even when he presses her about her future riding on this chance. When she says that she’s sick of everything, he considers those words and asks carefully whether she really means it—because if she truly does, he won’t pester her about it anymore. “Are you going to give up on piano, and school, and me?”
Nae-il takes a moment to gather herself, then says that she will. She clearly doesn’t mean it emotionally—she doesn’t appear ready to let go of any of those things she holds dear—but it’s the decision she’s made, and she says the words firmly. He accepts her answer dully and as promised, doesn’t pursue it. He ends the call.
So when Yoon-hoo stops him to ask for Min-hee’s phone back, he hands it over readily. Yoon-hoo presses him about Nae-il’s return, and Yoo-jin just tells him to do whatever he wants. He takes one last look at the application, and rips it up and tosses it in the trash.
The day of the orchestra’s competition arrives, and Streseman finds him to give him the watch Nae-il had returned. He wonders what she meant by insisting that Streseman take him away no matter what, asking if it’s some kind of secret between them. Yoo-jin, still feeling the sting of her giving up, just says it doesn’t matter and heads inside to prepare.
But he toys with that watch all the while, and doesn’t argue when Yoon-hoo drops by to tell him that he’ll prepare a taxi to take him to the airport right after the concert. Yoon-hoo notices the watch and comments that he’d wondered at her interest in hypnosis: “But I see now that it was yours.”
That comment makes him think to his session with the doctor, who had noted that it shouldn’t be possible to be hypnotized without knowing it: “But maybe if you were in a situation where you could accept it without any resistance…”
So he thinks of Nae-il’s words while he was hypnotized, putting the pieces together: Did she think she was curing him so he could study abroad? “That’s just like her,” he says with a smile.
Time for the performance. There’s a bit of nervousness in the air when it takes Yoo-jin a while to join the orchestra, but he and Il-lac take their places before anxious audience, and begin the concert.
As they play, Yoo-jin thinks of the significance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, which had been initially met with negative response when the work was premiered, only to be appreciated later for being the beautiful composition that it is. It’s just like his friends, he notes, who’d been dogged for being the bottom-rate students and are now recognized as better than initially judged.
He also makes the wise observation, “It isn’t my orchestra. It’s the orchestra I am playing with.”
Il-lac plays beautifully, and when the concerto comes to its triumphant close, silence hangs in the air before the audience rises to its feet in an enthusiastic standing ovation.
There’s a distinct air of finality as Yoo-jin thinks, “Now, I have completed what I had to do.” Time to move on?
Shi-won congratulates Il-lac for a job well done, assuring him that he was awesome. She teases that she’d liked him at first because he was cute, but now likes him even more, and he teases back that she’s in danger if she falls any more in love with him. They’re so cute I could just gag, which is pretty much the reaction that Min-hee and Su-min have, simultaneously envious and disgusted. Ah, friends.
Yoon-hoo finds Yoo-jin after the concert, prepared with Nae-il’s application form and Yoo-jin’s plane ticket to Jeju Island. Yoo-jin eyes that with some trepidation, though he doesn’t betray it to Yoon-hoo as they take the taxi to the airport.
Once inside the terminal, however, Yoo-jin starts looking ill, and thinks to himself that he can’t do it. Yoon-hoo presses him to hurry, then sees him faltering and snatches the application, ready to go to Jeju himself if Yoo-jin can’t manage it. That’s enough to get Yoo-jin to snatch the application back and assert himself, and he heads onward alone.
But the closer he gets to the gate, the greater his panic attack grows in intensity. His steps falter and he breaks out into a cold sweat, breathing hard and even turning back at one point.
Meanwhile in Jeju, Nae-il calls Min-hee and hears that the Rising Stars didn’t lose to their rivals in the competition, and tentatively asks about Yoo-jin. Min-hee replies that she doesn’t know where he went, and that he won’t even speak of Nae-il these days.
She deflates a bit, accepting that he’s upset at her (or worse, indifferent), not seeing the car that pulls into the parking lot. She just tells Min-hee ruefully that she’d thought it would be a simple matter to win her competition and go abroad with Yoo-jin. But now she regrets leaving, since she could have sent him off while remaining in Seoul. She could have worked hard on her own piano while talking with him about his studies, and seeing Master Viera again.
Her back to him, Nae-il doesn’t see as Yoo-jin finds her in the park, beelining for her and swooping her up in a back-hug, catching her completely by surprise. “I came to get you, Nae-il-ah,” he tells her.
Awww, what a sweet ending. Scratch that, what a sweet episode, all around. First of all, the orchestra rallying together has always been a theme throughout the series, but I appreciate that each time the stakes and conflict are just a little bit different. It’s fitting that this final challenge is something that comes from within, and therefore the solution also rests with the Rising Stars themselves. It’s Yoo-jin who leads them to the discovery, as befits his role as conductor and leader, but it’s up to them to decide how to dig themselves out of the hole they made for themselves.
Yoon-hoo accuses Yoo-jin of hurting himself more than anybody else, but as Streseman notes, Yoon-hoo’s thinking is still stuck in a mode that prevents his progress. Namely, he thinks pessimistically, of cutting his losses rather than bringing everyone up. There’s a “it’s not worth it” bent to his attitude, which explains his defeated response to the latest setback. So it’s completely in character for the scrappy S Orchestra members to not just pick themselves up, but to also not even consider defeat as their end. They have a fundamentally different way of approaching the problem—it’s a starting point, not the end—and I think it’s fair to credit Yoo-jin for harboring that attitude in them. Which is why it’s nice to see that when the orchestra makes their silent appeal to the board, they’ve won over the A Orchestra members to their side, rather than the reverse.
I loved the orchestra’s show of solidarity, even if they weren’t actively arguing or pleading their case or doing something. Their spirit of unity was sincere and loud enough to move the board members—plus, it takes the question of their future away from whether they “deserve” to have an orchestra or whether they’ve “lost” the privilege due to their media snafu, and instead to what the orchestra gives them. The board members recognize that the orchestra provides these students with lessons and experiences that enrich their lives, and that has value. It’s lovely to see that kind of message come through.
I felt for Nae-il, although I’ll admit to being momentarily confused as to why she felt the need to leave. And I don’t read her departure as a temporary retreat to collect her thoughts but as the start to a permanent change in life direction, given the way she speaks of it. She says she’ll return to Seoul after Yoo-jin has left to “wrap things up” there, and appears to be considering taking up that teaching job in Jeju that her mother pointed her toward.
It’s perhaps a dramatic decision in light of one failed competition, but the more I think on it, the more I can see why she’d think this way. She noted previously that doing more competitions wouldn’t solve her problem, because the entire world of piano competition—and therefore the future she was pursuing—is hostile to people like her, and unwilling to accept her kind of talents. The problem here was never that she lacked the funding to go abroad or a slot in a foreign university, because those chances are always out there. It’s a more fundamental problem of feeling like the world refuses to have her in it, while knowing that it’s the world that Yoo-jin would thrive in.
In that sense, I see Nae-il as the anti-Do-kyung, she who decided that if she couldn’t be the best, she would just date the best. Because being unsuited for the world of professional classical musician doesn’t mean Nae-il has to give up on a future with Yoo-jin, of course; it’s a bit extreme to give it such an all-or-nothing approach. But just as she decides she wants to be a part of that world, it’s that world that rejects her. Yoo-jin had pushed her to try competitions, and there was perhaps a question of whether she was pursuing it for his sake (as in, purely to be with him) or for her own. I think her response now is proof enough that she does want it for herself, and the big crushing irony is that once everyone is willing to back off and stop pushing her and she has the chance to be a kindergarten teacher, that’s not what she wants anymore.
Thankfully, Yoo-jin is one to give up with one word. Huzzah! Now, if only we could just hypnotize him into embracing his kissy nature…
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 14
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 13
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 12
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 11
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 10
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 9
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 8
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 7
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 6
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 5
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 4
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 3
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 2
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Classical music song list
- Cantabile Tomorrow: Episode 1