Woman of Dignity: Episode 1
Woman of Dignity has been a mystery since its promos were first revealed—is it a satirical look at makjang, or is it a pure water-to-the-face makjang in all its dramatic glory? This first episode plays it pretty straight, but I think we still have a chance to bring on the fun in future episodes.
FIRST EPISODE RECAP
On a stormy night, a figure dressed in black rushes through a hallway and hits a woman in the back of the head, causing a glass of wine crashing to the floor. Another blow to the head, and the woman, PARK BOK-JA (Kim Sun-ah) falls to the floor, eyes staring blankly ahead.
Police say that there was no DNA evidence found other than fingerprints from the family. In fact, the only suspects they have are members of the family, and everyone except for a woman named Woo Ah-jin is considered a suspect.
Speaking of WOO AH-JIN (Kim Hee-sun), we see her walking toward the police station, dressed all in black except for a pair of bright red heels.
As the police go over the evidence and suspects of the murder, they estimate that the murder occurred at 2:00 a.m., though they note that they didn’t receive a call until shortly after 9:00 a.m. in the morning.
Their list of suspects includes:
- AHN TAE-DONG, the deceased’s husband, who they believe has the clearest motivation to have murdered her;
- AHN JAE-GU, Ahn Tae-dong’s eldest son with a criminal record;
- AHN JAE-HEE, Ahn Tae-dong’s daughter, who lied to the police about being in the house when the murder occurred;
- and PARK JOO-MI, Ahn Tae-dong’s daughter-in-law, who has no alibi.
In the morgue, the detective and Ah-jin watch as the mortician sews up the wound in Park Bok-ja’s now-shaven head. The mortician declares that a concussion was the cause of death and explains that the morgue doesn’t have enough room to store the body, so Ah-jin is asked to make arrangements.
As Ah-jin leaves, the mortician asks the detective who he thinks is the killer. The detective replies that he was sure it was Ah-jin, but now he’s certain it’s not. Sounds like someone’s got a good alibi.
The detective and Ah-jin talk at his desk about Park Bok-ja, also known as Park Jeong, and how Ah-jin came to know her. Though Ah-jin’s statement indicated that she met Bok-ja for the first time while interviewing caregivers for her father-in-law, the detective says that Ah-jin met Bok-ja before then. Ah-jin’s eyes widen at this, and the detective asks if she really doesn’t remember.
In Ah-jin’s memory, we see a flash of Ah-jin at a window as she turned to see Bok-ja staring at her while dressed as a maid.
We return to the present, as Bok-ja’s body is cremated. In voiceover, Bok-ja narrates, “If I’m able to be reborn, I don’t want to be Park Bok-ja. I’d rather be the woman watching me turn to ash.” The fire flares, and we see it reflected in Ah-jin’s dark sunglasses as she watches Bok-ja’s cremation. We then see her taking Bok-ja’s ashes to the water to scatter them.
With the prelude over and the mystery introduced, we now jump back in time, and it’s Ah-jin’s turn to set the scene as we scan the city and various luxurious restaurants, hotels, and spas.
Ah-jin arrives at a café to find her wealthy friends gossiping over lunch, and takes special interest when CHA KI-OK (Yoo Seo-jin) mentions being introduced to a surgeon who can tattoo eyebrows.
They gasp when Ah-jin asks for his number, wondering if she’s interested in the procedure, but she clarifies that she wants it for her husband.
In flashback, we see that Ah-jin visited a fortune teller recently who told her that her husband would cheat on her. When Ah-jin asked what she should do, the fortune teller told her she should change his face, which would change his fortune.
But the fortune teller insisted that her husband was too handsome for plastic surgery, so she advised that Ah-jin instead make his eyebrows thicker, transforming them from “fox tails” to “silkworms.”
Another late arrival to their group, BAEK JOO-KYUNG (Oh Yeon-ah), interjects to chuckle at the ridiculous eyebrows story. Ki-ok jokes that all married men should have unibrows, and OH KYUNG-HEE (Jung Da-hye) asks her, “Are you so confident your husband would never cheat?” Ki-ok laughs and replies that it doesn’t really matter as long as she doesn’t find out about it.
Ah-jin gets them back on track to discuss the new math materials at their children’s school, and Joo-kyung shares that she’s using them at the after school institute she runs.
KIM HYO-JOO (Lee Hee-jin) leans into Joo-kyung, admonishing her for accepting kids who don’t pass the entrance exam at her institute. Snootily, Hyo-joo claims that by accepting those kids, mothers of a higher social status will avoid her school.
But Joo-kyung counters that she doesn’t want to discriminate against students just to make a profit—she wants to help the kids who really need it. Ah-jin praises her as a true educator, and they share a smile.
Ah-jin receives a call from HEO JIN-HEE (Choi Yoon-so), who is out running errands for Ah-jin. Jin-hee has made an appointment for Ah-jin to meet Park Bok-ja later, and she reports that Bok-ja is different from the others because she’s competent with a smartphone and sounded kind.
Ah-jin heads home to interview Park Bok-ja as a potential caregiver for her father-in-law. Unassuming and slouched in posture, Bok-ja notes that the design on Ah-jin’s teacups is from a Matisse painting, and Ah-jin is delighted that she knows so much about art.
Bok-ja asks if she studied art, and Ah-jin says that she studied fashion design. But funnily enough, for every preferred artist that Ah-jin has, Bok-ja prefers someone else.
Ah-jin is impressed with Bok-ja’s sincerity and offers her the job on the spot, starting the next day. Even when Bok-ja surprises her by asking if she can live in their house with them, claiming that it would make it easier for her to care for her father-in-law, Ah-jin is won over by her dedication and agrees.
Ah-jin shows her the room she’ll be staying in and offers to send a driver for her things later in the week. Bok-ja thanks her and leaves, but not before first mentioning just how pretty Ah-jin is.
Once outside the house, Bok-ja’s demeanor changes completely — she straightens up, and her face becomes hard as she walks away. “Everyone has a destiny, and that destiny is much crueler than what one may imagine,” she says in voiceover.
Ah-jin visits an art gallery where the curator congratulates Ah-jin on her great eye for art, since the last artist that Ah-jin supported rose to fame. Ah-jin asks about another artist she sees in a pamphlet for the gallery, Yoon Sung-hee, and whether she believes in her own work. The curator says that of course she does. “Isn’t that why you picked her too?” Ah-jin smiles.
We now head to a medical office, where we can hear screaming and a faint buzzing from one of the rooms. Ah-jin has gotten her husband, AHN JAE-SUK (Jung Sang-hoon) to the eyebrow-tattoo doctor. Ah-jin insists that it will make him successful, and despite his loud protests, the doctor resumes tattooing Jae-suk’s new silkworm brows.
The entire Ahn extended family has gathered for dinner. Suspect and daughter-in-law Park Joo-mi (Seo Jung-yeon) inquires after the new caregiver and suggests that they do a background check, but Ah-jin waves it off, mentioning that Bok-ja sent her resume via email.
I’m starting to suspect that the last few caregivers have been older, and Joo-mi confirms those suspicions with her reaction to hearing that Bok-ja is only 45-years-old: “Isn’t she too young?” Before anyone else can react, the family patriarch (and fellow suspect) Chairman Ahn Tae-dong interjects: “Is she pretty?”
The entire table looks at him while Ah-jin, speaking loudly so that he can hear her, reassures him that he’ll like her, but Chairman Ahn lets them know that he’ll fire her if he’s not impressed.
Jae-suk glowers at his father, but his father notices his new eyebrows. “Are you wearing makeup?” he asks, ha. Embarrassed, Jae-suk yells that they need to replace Chairman Ahn’s hearing aid, since he keeps getting louder.
Chairman Ahn suddenly announces that he needs to go to the bathroom, and both daughters-in-law dutifully stand to help, but Ah-jin makes it there first. This gets her a dark look from Joo-mi.
As Ah-jin and Jae-suk head home with their daughter, AHN JI-HOO, Jae-suk makes it known that he’s still bothered by his father’s insistence on having a pretty caregiver at his age, but Ah-jin isn’t fazed. She says that the caregiver even knows the artists Matisse and Kandinsky.
Obliviously, Jae-suk asks if those are names for dogs, or maybe new whiskey brands, and Ah-jin scoffs that they’re famous painters. “What does that have to do with caregiving?” her husband asks. Ah-jin retorts that it’s fine if he doesn’t know who those artists are, but his attitude about others knowing about it is ignorant.
He takes offense and tells her to take back what she said, but Ah-jin just quips back, “I never take back what I say. You should just forget what you heard.”
At her very modest one-room home, Bok-ja reads through some books on art history and digs into some instant ramyun. She gets a call from an unknown caller, and she warns whoever it is to keep their mouth shut.
As she ends that call, she gets a call from Ah-jin and instantly changes her demeanor and way of speaking to sound much meeker and more subservient. An oblivious Ah-jin asks her to bring a copy of her identification card (looks like she decided on the background check after all), and Bok-ja promises to bring it tomorrow. Once she hangs up, Bok-ja’s expression changes to back to one of annoyed impatience.
Thinking back to three months earlier, Bok-ja remembers seeing Ah-jin at a gym while her father-in-law worked with a personal trainer. Bok-ja was there dressed as a cleaning woman, and she later met up with the trainer, who seems to have been acting as a spy on her behalf.
She asked if the trainer suggested that Chairman Ahn get an in-home caregiver, and he replied that he mentioned it to him, and that he’d mention it to Ah-jin as well. (So she’s been meticulously planning this for a while.)
One of Ah-jin’s friends from lunch, Kyung-hee, sits at the mirror in a hotel room touching up her makeup. A man is adjusting his jacket and tie, and she stands and smacks his butt affectionately.
She heads to the door, and he stops to give her a good amount of money to buy “whatever she wants.” She says she’ll see him at the next outing, and they wink at each other.
In voiceover, Bok-ja says that she didn’t know that you could change your name without making the request in court, while noting that others can’t stand it if their names aren’t known. As evidence of that, we see Kim Hyo-joo eagerly snapping a selfie and loading it onto social media.
Bok-ja continues to reflect that some people even want to hide the names of their children, which is when we see Ki-ok, another lunch friend, not-so-eagerly waving at her son at his swimming lesson.
And finally, Bok-ja thinks about what it means to get married and be referred to only as someone’s mother, though she says that some people are lucky enough to be able to use their maiden names once in awhile. As she narrates, Ah-jin is escorted into a room of flight attendants — she’s a former flight attendant herself, there to give a speech, and she looks up with pride.
In the present, Ah-jin helps Chairman Ahn get into a car and asks the driver to take him to his doctor for a checkup. Chairman Ahn protests that he doesn’t want a shot, and Ah-jin yells (so that he can hear) that it’s just a check-up, no shots. Chairman Ahn accuses Ah-jin of trusting others too easily (some nice foreshadowing), but she just smiles and sends him off.
She returns a call to the gallery curator, who tells her that the artist Yoon Sung-hee wants to meet her. Ah-jin asks for the artist’s number and offers to call her.
Ah-jin meets the aforementioned Sung-hee at her apartment and offers to introduce her to her curator friend. Sung-hee asks if Ah-jin has children before offering to give her daughter art lessons. Ah-jin is not the type to pass up a new lesson for her daughter, and she readily agrees.
Ah-jin hangs her new piece of art on the wall, while Jae-suk laughs at it and calls it a cartoon. Ignoring him, Ah-jin reminds Jae-suk that he has a golf outing tomorrow.
Jae-suk says that he hates the group he plays with, but Ah-jin admonishes him to make friends and network. He asserts that he’ll easily beat them at golf, but Ah-jin reminds him that Kyung-hee’s husband was a professional golfer.
At the golf range, Jae-suk struggles to keep up with the others. The group includes the man from the hotel with Kyung-hee, JANG SUNG-SOO (Song Young-kyu), and it seems that he’s Ki-ok’s husband.
Kyung-hee’s lanky husband/former professional golfer KIM BONG-SHIK is present, as well as Hyo-joo’s more serious-looking husband, SEO MOON-TAK. But poor Jae-suk drives his ball out of bounds and grumbles as he goes to find it.
Meanwhile, the ladies are dressed extravagantly and giggling while they putt golf. Ah-jin suggests they all take a group lesson from Kyung-hee’s husband, and Ki-ok responds that people cheat on their husbands with their golf instructors. What if they ended up cheating with Bok-shik?
It’s super awkward for her to talk about about becoming Kyung-hee’s husband’s mistress right in front of Kyung-hee, and Ah-jin laughs off the uncomfortable joke. Kyung-hee asks Ki-ok if she’d like to switch husbands, and Ki-ok laughs, saying “Of course!” Kyung-hee’s response seems a little more serious, as she says that Ki-ok will regret it.
Jae-suk struggles to find his ball in the rough grass pit he hit it into. He reaches into his pocket and drops a new ball on the ground, claiming to have found his ball. However, one of his companions finds his real ball a few feet away and holds it out to him. Jae-suk tries to deny it, but no one seems convinced.
In the clubhouse, Ki-ok asks the women to raise their hands if they have a boyfriend on the side. No one raises their hand, though Kyung-hee tellingly keeps her eyes averted. But that’s when the men join them, and Ah-jin catches Kyung-hee and Jang Sung-soo, Ki-ok’s husband, sharing a look.
Meanwhile, at Chairman Ahn’s house, Bok-ja arrives with her bag only to be coldly greeted by daughter-in-law Joo-mi, who holds her hand out for Bok-ja’s identification card. But Bok-ja is only willing to give it to Ah-jin, and though she says it politely enough, it’s clear that this means war.
Bok-ja checks in on Chairman Ahn, who is snoring in bed. He wakes up as she approaches, and she bends down to help him sit up. As she does, she presses his face into her bosom, lingering there a few extra moments. Bok-ja knows the way to this man’s heart, it seems.
Joo-mi is shocked when she finds out that Bok-ja has already gone in to see Chairman Ahn, but Bok-ja disregards her. Bok-ja then announces that she plans to use Chairman Ahn’’s bathroom to stay close to him, but Joo-mi won’t allow it and tells her to use a bathroom upstairs (with the clear implication being that she’s a servant).
Said calmly and politely but no less cuttingly, Bok-ja notes that Joo-mi is different from Ah-jin and doesn’t seem as concerned for Chairman Ahn’s comfort. Wow, Bok-ja is not playing games.
Bok-ja tries to leave, but Joo-mi won’t let her have the last word. She yells at Bok-ja to remember her place, but Bok-ja just ignores her again and heads upstairs. The cook has been watching the exchange from afar and laughs at Joo-mi getting owned by the new hired help.
As she prepares food, the cook hears a shout from the hall and rushes to investigate, only to find Bok-ja lying on the floor by the steps, groaning. Joo-mi arrives and looks down on her, sneering with suspicion. Chairman Ahn also comes out in his wheelchair, demanding to know what’s going on, and Bok-ja weakly claims that she fell on her way back from the bathroom upstairs. (Gauntlet thrown.)
This revelation prompts Chairman Ahn to ask why she would go all the way upstairs when there’s a bathroom in his room, but Bok-ja just says meekly that a lowly worker like her can’t share a bathroom with their employer, giving Joo-mi a look. Chairman Ahn gets the meaning and yells at Joo-mi.
Personal assistant(?) Jin-hee drives Ah-jin’s daughter, Ji-hoo, to her new art lessons. Jin-hee laments that Ji-hoo takes too many lessons, and Ji-hoo compares her scrambled brain to the shall-not-be-named sandwich she’s eating in the backseat.
Artist Sung-hee greets them and asks how Jin-hee is related to Ji-hoo, and Jin-hee says that she’s like a manager for Ji-hoo’s activities. Sung-hee is surprised to hear of such an arrangement and doesn’t make an effort to hide her reaction.
Ah-jin and Jae-suk drive home, and Ah-jin asks about Jang Sung-soo (Ki-ok’s husband). All too happy to talk about the group, Jae-suk says that Sung-soo talks about himself too much, even though a flashback reveals that not to be true. He goes on to say that Kim Bong-shik (Kyung-hee’s husband) isn’t all there, and that Seo Moon-tak (Hyo-joo’s husband) openly confesses to having a girlfriend on the side.
Ah-jin returns to Jang Sung-soo, asking if he talked about having a girlfriend. Jae-suk says that he thinks he has one, because Sung-soo told him that he could get him medication to improve his performance in bed. When Ah-jin asks how that means he has a girlfriend, Jae-suk guffaws, “Why would he get that for his wife?”
Ah-jin receives a call from Jin-hee, who can’t pick up Ji-hoo from her art lessons. Instead, Ah-jin sends Jae-suk to pick up Ji-hoo while she goes to check in on Chairman Ahn.
At dinner, it’s just Chairman Ahn, Joo-mi, and her son. Chairman Ahn calls for Bok-ja and tells her to eat with them, but she demurs while shooting a pointed look at Joo-mi. Switching subjects, Bok-ja says she noticed that Chairman Ahn’’s bedsheet looked old, and despite Joo-mi’s protestations that they’re expensive sheets, Bok-ja insists on getting him a new set, adding that she can just use his old set.
Ah-jin appears in the dining room and asks how things are going, seemingly oblivious to the tension in the room. Joo-mi rolls her eyes when Bok-ja mentions hurting her back, and when Bok-ja returns to her room, Ah-jin asks Chairman Ahn if he likes her. He says that he’s unimpressed with her face, but agrees that she’s very kind. Ah-jin wants Joo-mi’s opinion as well, but Joo-mi insists that they need to have a private conversation.
Jae-suk arrives to pick up Ji-hoo, and both Jae-suk and Sung-hee feel an immediate attraction. She invites him inside for a meal while Ji-hoo finishes her art lesson.
Ah-jin sits down for that private conversation with Joo-mi. Joo-mi says that Bok-ja has a dark aura and insists that her sixth sense knows these things, and while Ah-jin seems reluctant, she says that if Joo-mi feels that badly about it, she’ll dismiss Bok-ja tomorrow.
Back at Sung-hee’s apartment, Sung-hee feeds Jae-suk ddukbokki and even wipes away sauce at the corner of his mouth with a tissue. She asks if Jae-suk likes art, so of course he lies and says that he loves it. But when she asks who his favorite artists are, he’s almost caught. He rallies and pulls out the names he learned recently: Matisse and Kandinsky.
Cryptically, we hear Bok-ja narrating over this scene: “My Matisse and Kandinsky were at their work in some other place.” We see her feeding persimmon to Chairman Ahn as her voiceover continues that that persimmon was her Matisse and Kandinsky (so, her work of art), and Chairman Ahn practically has hearts in his eyes — which is exactly what Bok-ja is aiming for.
As Jae-suk practically falls over Sung-hee’s work, he insists that people who compare it to cartoons are ignorant. (At least this shows that he listens to his wife?)
We return to the house to find Bok-ja eating some of the persimmon in her room, but she stops to look at herself in the mirror as she narrates, “I remember the silence before the storm.”
Cut to: Ah-jin unfolding a basic background check on Bok-ja. She looks thoughtful after reading it.
In bed that night, Jang Sung-soo receives a text from Kyung-hee and writes back to her, even with his wife asleep in bed next to him. Over this scene, Bok-ja narrates: “The sound of thunder can give you an odd sense of peace when you hear it from indoors, away from danger. But, the sound of thunder when you’re standing outside without an umbrella is the same as fear itself.”
As the camera cuts to Joo-mi and then Chairman Ahn before returning to Bok-ja, the narration continues, “That night… we were all standing outside. We just didn’t know it.” She smiles at her reflection as we cut to Ji-hoo taking an exam as the narration picks up again, “A life is made up of countless choices of tests. But… I’d always get the wrong answers. I wanted it to be the right answer this time.”
As we pan to see Jae-suk trying to brush up on his art history to impress Sung-hee, Bok-ja’s narration continues, “Just like how Ji-hoo’s father wishes that his Matisse and Kandinsky were right.”
The next day, Sung-hee meets with the art gallery curator and asks how Ah-jin met her husband. The curator shares that when Ah-jin was a flight attendant, she would model for the company’s posters, and Jae-suk fell for her after seeing one. The curator calls him goofy, and Sung-hee nods in agreement, but moments later, she receives a text from him thanking her for the ddukbokki and smiles. Uh oh.
Bok-ja picks out a new comforter for Chairman Ahn and stops at a restaurant to eat pig skin and drink soju alone. But she does smile in satisfaction to see Chairman Ahn calling her, because he wants her to go to his physical therapy session with him.
On the phone, she promises to head home, but once she hangs up, her face draws into a frown again. Instead of heading home, she calls someone named Bong-choong and postpones Chairman Ahn’s physical therapy until the next day. (Is this possibly the trainer at the gym she’s been gathering information with?) Rather than hurrying, Bok-ja orders more pig skin and soju.
Once home, she feeds the pig skin to Chairman Ahn and compliments him on his youthful appearance as she knowingly tells him that he needs to be able to do “everything that young men do.” Bok-ja smiles, recalling when the trainer at the gym told her that Chairman Ahn had been craving pig skin.
Ah-jin feeds her family a very different meal, including salad, yogurt, and a smoothie. Jae-suk wants to go over to meet the new caregiver, but Ah-jin tells him that she has to let her go because of Joo-mi.
Jae-suk protests that his sister-in-law can’t have that kind of power, considering her husband is a criminal. Ah-jin defends Joo-mi, but Jae-suk blames his brother’s behavior on Joo-mi’s negativity.
The husbands, minus Jae-suk, are back at the golf course. They warn each other not to share too much when he’s around, since he seems like a blabbermouth. The men then all ask each other if they have girlfriends on the side, laughing that it would be silly not to have one.
Joo-mi finds Bok-ja in the kitchen and can’t wait for Ah-jin to get there to fire her. She means to do it herself, but is interrupted when Chairman Ahn enters the room and professes that slept well after receiving new bedding from Bok-ja.
To add fuel to the fire, Bok-ja offers to hand wash his sheets from now on, and this is the breaking point for Joo-mi. But just as she starts to yell, Ah-jin appears, and Chairman Ahn compliments her on her good sense with people, even if she made a mistake with Jae-suk. (Ha!)
Joo-mi angrily watches Bok-ja serve breakfast, but Ah-jin leads her away. In voiceover, Bok-ja admits that she chose Ah-jin because she wasn’t vicious or cruel — she picked Ah-jin because she was the type to reach out and help a misfit like her.
In her office, Joo-mi recalls begging Chairman Ahn to forgive her husband for the very serious (murderous?) crime he committed. Chairman Ahn had stood tall while Joo-mi begged on her knees, but Chairman Ahn said that he would disown his son before he tries to kill him, too.
Joo-mi swore that it was an accident, but Chairman Ahn wouldn’t yield. While he said that he would take care of Joo-mi’s son, he made it clear that he was done with her husband/his son, and that Ah-jin would take care of family matters from then on.
Back in the present, Sung-hee receives a delivery from Jae-suk. Inside are tarts and a card reading: “I couldn’t find tarts as sweet as your smile.” (Is he trying to be funny, or is he just that lame?) She’s thrilled with the sentiment and calls to thank him. He asks her if she thought it was sweet, and she says that she couldn’t refuse. Jae-suk laughs heartily.
Bok-ja feeds a macaron to Chairman Ahn as he lies in bed. She finds a crumb stuck to his lip, wipes it away with her finger, and then eats it herself coyly.
He watches her, then allows his gaze to drift a little lower, toward her bosom. Bok-ja sees her opportunity and leans forward, kissing him gently. And just like that, he is officially smitten.
Ah-jin receives a call from Joo-kyung, who has good news: Ji-hoo was the only one in her class to get a perfect score on the math contest. Ah-jin is speechless with happiness, and she can’t help but cry.
In the house, Bok-ja leaves Chairman Ahn’s room as Joo-mi watches. In voiceover, Bok-ja narrates over Ah-jin’s joyful moment, “That sweetness that she felt may have been a gift from god. In my experience, just before god tests you to your limit, he gives you that kind of gift. He’s got a nasty style.”
As Bok-ja walks away from Joo-mi, she smiles to herself.
A big cast and lots of moving parts means that Episode 1 spends most of its time establishing those characters and their relationships to one another. Large casts are great for a murder mystery, but it also means that we don’t quite have our answer yet as to how much of this show will be satire and how much will be drama. That said, I like all of the main players so far and am willing to trust them to get us to a satisfying balance.
Ah-jin is an interesting target for Bok-ja. She seems naïve, and others see her as too trusting. And yet, Ah-jin is the authority in the Ahn household. Chairman Ahn doesn’t have faith his own sons, but he trusts Ah-jin to keep everything running. So when Ah-jin finally discovers Bok-ja’s scheming or Jae-suk’s infidelity, who will turn up–the naïve girl, or the competent head of the household? Considering Ah-jin’s cold demeanor at the police station in the opening, I’m confident that she won’t go down without a fight.
Right now, we’re supposed to root for Ah-jin. She’s kind, understanding, and cultured. She does, however, seem to be completely oblivious of a lifestyle outside of her Gangnam luxuries, and the show is unwilling to give her a pass for some of her behavior. Her sparse breakfast comes off as pretentious and unsatisfying when compared to the hearty meal her father-in-law eats in the previous scene, even if her family doesn’t complain about it. As we see more of this, I have a feeling my alliance might shift.
Bok-ja remains a mystery for now. In the drama vs. satire debate, Bok-ja stays firmly on the serious side. She’s sinister and syrupy in her efforts to win over the right people and turn them against those she wants out. Bok-ja and Joo-mi’s interactions in particular keep me invested in the plot, and I am living for both Kim Sun-ah and Seo Jung-yoon’s amazing facial expressions as they battle it out. I can’t decide who to root for—Bok-ja is obviously running a con, but Joo-mi’s haughty disdain is just asking for a little comeuppance.
Jae-suk might be my favorite element of this show so far. I know I should dislike him for his bumbling nature and his efforts to make a move on his daughter’s new art teacher, but I can’t help but smile at his weak efforts. And I’m not alone–Sung-hee seems absolutely taken with him too. Is it the eyebrow tattoos? Both Seong-hee and Ah-jin are way too good for him, and yet, I kind of love the way that he and Ah-jin interact with one another. He doesn’t get it, but she just zings him with awesome retorts. Kim Hee-sun really shines here and I enjoyed watching Jung Sang-hoon and her play off one another. There’s a good energy there.
Although we spent (and are likely still to spend) a decent amount of time setting up the intrigues of the full ensemble of characters, the focus for now is still firmly on our two leading ladies. Ah-jin and Bok-ja seem like very different people right now, but is it only about circumstances and opportunity? Will the scales even out, or tip to the other side?
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