Familiar Wife: Episode 5
The more time Joo-hyuk spends with Woo-jin, the more he remembers about the good moments they’ve spent together. And the more he recalls about how it felt to fall for her, the more he feels regret for what he’s done. This episode is all about the past, but not the miserable past Joo-hyuk ran away from… it’s about the good times he and Woo-jin forgot as they went through life, and whether or not it’s possible to get them back.
EPISODE 5: “Like how it felt back then.”
Woo-jin finds Joo-hyuk outside her house, and she asks him if they’ve met before. He’s trying to think of a way to answer when her mother joins them and chirps happily, “Son-in-Law Cha!” She’s so excited to see him, and she asks why he hasn’t visited in a while as Woo-jin tries to tell her that Joo-hyuk isn’t her husband.
Mom insists on pulling Joo-hyuk inside, to Woo-jin’s mortification, and he’s stunned at how much the house still looks like he remembers. Mom tells him that she keeps dreaming about him, so she made his favorite mustard leaf kimchi. She runs to the kitchen, and Woo-jin apologizes and explains that this is what she meant by her mother being unwell.
Joo-hyuk just watches Mom, looking like he might cry, as Woo-jin says that Mom has Alzheimer’s. Woo-jin urges Joo-hyuk to leave while Mom is distracted, and outside, he grabs her arm to ask when Mom got so sick. He lets go when he realizes that he’s touching Woo-jin familiarly.
Woo-jin says that Mom started getting forgetful a year ago, and that it’s gotten worse as time goes on. She tells Joo-hyuk how Mom confuses the past and the present, and leaves the house unaccompanied, but she says that it’s not that serious yet.
Changing the subject, she asks if it’s really a coincidence that Joo-hyuk was at her house tonight. He grumbles a denial, then Mom comes out again to grab him in a big, warm hug and give him a container of kimchi.
As he goes, Joo-hyuk wonders if Mom really remembers him, or if it’s just her dementia making it seem so. He also wonders how he never noticed her getting sick, and he only now realizes that Woo-jin had tried to tell him she was worried, but Joo-hyuk had blown her off.
He arrives home to find Hye-won waiting for him with a sour look on her face, angry that he hasn’t been picking up her calls after their fight. Joo-hyuk fibs that the kimchi is from the owner of the restaurant where they had dinner, and Hye-won complains that they can easily get kimchi at the department store.
Joo-hyuk dutifully apologizes for getting mad at Hye-won, but she petulantly threatens to divorce him if he does it again.
Woo-jin has a hard time getting Mom to settle down for bed, because Mom keeps telling her to go home to Joo-hyuk. She insists that Joo-hyuk is her son-in-law, even when Woo-jin explains that he’s just an assistant manager at her new job. Woo-jin asks if Mom likes him, and Mom says he’s her favorite person in the world.
Mom starts to nod off, but she sleepily tells Woo-jin to be good to Joo-hyuk, because he was the only one they could rely on after her dad died. She talks about how he tutored Woo-jin for free and would come over to change their lightbulbs, but Woo-jin just mutters that Mom’s good at making up real-sounding stories.
The next day, the bank is held up at gunpoint by two men hiding their faces behind bandannas. They order the women to lay on the floor as Manager Byun tells them they can have whatever they want.
They toss a bag at Hwan and tell him to fill it with cash, which he does, but he makes the mistake of mentioning that most of the money is in the vault. The robbers ask who’s in charge of the vault, and Woo-jin raises her hand… to ask to go to the bathroom. LOL.
One of the robbers points his gun at Woo-jin’s face and asks if she thinks this is a joke, but she swears that she really just needs to go. The distraction gives Hwan a chance to push the emergency call button, and soon the police are on their way.
The SWAT team swarms the bank and subdues the robbers… and Branch Manager Cha announces that the simulation is over. Wait, that wasn’t real? I’d wondered where Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo were — they were the robbers!
There’s an evaluation based on everyone’s performance afterward. Woo-jin is criticized for antagonizing the robbers, and she explains that she was buying time for someone to hit the emergency button. Hwan is proud of himself for taking advantage of the opening Woo-jin created, but Manager Byun reminds him that he also told the thieves to rob the vault, ha.
Manager Byun says that Hwan could have been seen pushing the button and made the robbers start shooting. Woo-jin argues that if robbers know the policy is to push the button after they leave, it might make them more willing to rob a bank. Branch Manager Cha says that in a dangerous situation, safety comes first.
He hands out some information on voice phishers, since one has been hitting banks in the nearby area lately. As they start the day, the Direct Banking team members wonder how they would react to a real robbery, but Jong-hoo assures them that in his seven years in a bank, nothing dangerous has ever happened.
Woo-jin pulls Joo-hyuk into the break room to give him an herbal supplement she brought for a hangover and to thank him for his kindness to her mother. Joo-hyuk asks if Mom is being seen by a doctor and taking medicine, and Woo-jin confirms that the medicine slows down the memory loss. He tells her that a friend’s friend’s sister-in-law is an expert in the field and may be able to help, if she likes.
Hye-won is at the gym when the cute student (whose name is HYUN-SOO) recognizes her and says he’s a member, too. She politely sends him off to exercise, but she keeps sneaking glances at him until he returns to help her. She jumps like she’s been shocked when Hyun-soo touches her shoulders to help her with her form, and he invites her to have that meal he still owes her.
She’s surprised to see that Hyun-soo drives a fancy sports car, and he explains that his father is a self-made man and has promised to give the car to him when he graduates. Hye-won mentions his girlfriend, but he says they broke up because she was too obsessive.
After work, Branch Manager Cha heads off to a meeting with the CEO of a big corporation about a loan, promising to hand it off to Joo-hyuk as a reward for saving the loan they almost lost with Hye-won’s father’s company. Jong-hoo invites Woo-jin to have dinner with him, but she says tonight isn’t good and offers to take him out soon.
Joo-hyuk leaves work so fast that Jong-hoo assumes he misses his wife, but in reality he trails Woo-jin on her way home. She bikes slowly tonight, so Joo-hyuk thinks she’s tired and wonders if he should offer her a ride. He tells himself that it’s harmless to offer a colleague a ride when they’re going the same direction, then talks himself out of it.
But he slams on the brakes when Woo-jin takes a fall, and he runs over to her when he sees her limping. It gives him an excuse to offer her that ride, and he reaches into the glove box for bandages, making Woo-jin remark that this would be a romantic scene if it were a movie.
She asks whether it’s true that bank branches keep specific cash on hand to give over in case of a robbery. Joo-hyuk confirms that it’s part of a bank’s expenses, but Woo-jin think it’s just incentive for someone to rob the bank if they know there’s cash set aside for that. The idea of actually getting robbed makes Woo-jin seem excited, so Joo-hyuk warns her to do nothing if it ever happens.
Meanwhile, Hye-won has the student take her home after they eat. He pouts that she wouldn’t let him buy her dinner, and says that his being younger than her doesn’t mean he’s a child. He offers to train her at the gym every day, grabbing her phone to exchange numbers, and he leaves Hye-won bouncing her shoulders happily at the attention.
Joo-hyuk drops Woo-jin off at a convenience store to pick up ice cream for Mom on her way home. As he drives away, Joo-eun runs by on a jog, and she asks if the guy who just left was Woo-jin’s date. Woo-jin says regretfully that he’s just her married coworker, so Joo-eun offers to introduce Woo-jin to her husband’s friend.
Later, Joo-eun tells Sang-shik that Joo-hyuk should have married someone like Woo-jin. Sang-shik counters that marriage and children can turn a normal person into a monster, then he wisely insists that Joo-eun isn’t like that at all when she asks if he’s talking about her, heh. He jokes that she never changes, then tells her that she’s sexy when she’s angry and suggests they go make Joon a little brother or sister.
Hye-won makes Joo-hyuk a perfunctory reheated department-store dinner, claiming that she ate with some colleagues. She hides a text from Hyun-soo asking if she’s sore from working out, and when she slips away to read it, Joo-hyuk grabs the kimchi from Woo-jin’s mother and chows down.
He gives Hye-won a ride to work in the morning, and she finds herself sitting on Woo-jin’s broken nametag. Yikes. Joo-hyuk anxiously explains that he just gave a coworker a ride, and Hye-won doesn’t get a chance to get mad because she gets a “good morning” text from Hyun-soo. Ha, they’re both so nervous.
Jong-hoo arrives at work early and uses the excuse of making coffee to look for Woo-jin in the break room. The Direct Banking ladies discuss which of them he’s flirting with, both of them obviously crushing on him.
Woo-jin is doing some in-place exercises in the break room, explaining that it’s so she can eat a lot later in the day. Jong-hoo asks why she doesn’t drink coffee, and she says she just doesn’t like the taste. She catches Jong-hoo looking at her oddly, and he jokes that he’s making sure she’s not an alien (because of the funny faces she makes).
She heads back to her desk a bit later to find her now-repaired nametag by her keyboard. She asks around, but nobody saw who put it there. She impresses Branch Manager Cha by knowing the answer to his nerdy joke, then Branch Manager Cha tells Joo-hyuk that he landed that big loan last night.
Joo-hyuk heads out to take the loan paperwork to the company’s CEO, and on his way, he spots a suspicious-looking guy in a motorcycle helmet looking nervously through the bank windows. While meeting with the CEO, he overhears that a composite sketch of the voice phisher has been released, and the guy is wearing a helmet even in the sketch.
Joo-hyuk tells himself that wearing a helmet doesn’t mean the guy he saw was the phisher, but he can’t stop thinking about how Woo-jin impulsively distracted him during the mock robbery. He races back to the bank just as the helmeted guy takes a number in the bank lobby.
Joo-hyuk sees the guy reaching into his pocket as he’s being called to Woo-jin’s desk, and, thinking he has a gun, Joo-hyuk tackles him to the floor. But it’s just a bottle of breath spray, and Branch Manager Cha sheepishly explains that they’re all on edge due to the voice phisher as Joo-hyuk apologizes profusely.
At the same time, Woo-jin serves an older lady who seems anxious to close her savings account, while behind her, a man stands… holding a motorcycle helmet. Woo-jin warns that she’ll lose a lot of money if she closes the account before it matures in two months, but the lady insists on getting her money in cash.
Woo-jin asks if the man with her is her son, noticing that he has what looks like a gun handle sticking out of his pocket. She gives the woman the forms to fill out, and when Joo-hyuk walks by, she blinks at him furiously, then sticks her finger up her nose (a “signal” she joked about the night before).
Joo-hyuk suddenly realizes what’s happening, and he disappears around the corner as Woo-jin continues to stall, counting the money several times and purposely fumbling with the bag. Annoyed, the phisher grabs the cash, but he turns to find Joo-hyuk behind him and gets a faceful of tear gas. Woo-jin and Joo-hyuk cough and celebrate as the security guard apprehends the phisher.
After Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin make their statements at the police station, Branch Manager Cha gives them permission to head home early. They squeal together over an article that’s already out about the thwarted robbery before Joo-hyuk remembers he’s not supposed to be this friendly.
He criticizes Woo-jin for putting herself at risk, but she argues that she was trying to protect the lady’s savings. Joo-hyuk grumbles that she’s always brash in such situations, making Woo-jin wonder how he knows such a thing about her. She offers to buy him a meal as thanks for saving her life, and takes him to her favorite ddukbokki place.
She doesn’t know that he’s been there with her before, early in their relationship. They’d sat at this very table, and Woo-jin had written their names on the wall, with a heart between them. Of course, the names aren’t there in this timeline, but Joo-hyuk smiles (a bit sadly) when Woo-jin eats her tonkatsu all in one piece like she did in the old timeline.
Woo-jin asks Joo-hyuk to speak banmal with her like he does with the other Direct Banking ladies, which makes him uncomfortable at first, but he can’t think of a good reason to refuse her. He orders Woo-jin’s favorite strawberry shaved ice dessert, again impressing her with his supposed intuition into what she likes.
It’s raining when they’re ready to leave, and Woo-jin spots an empty planter by the door. They hold it over their heads and make a run for the bus stop, laughing together at their theft and the carefree way they feel in the moment.
Joo-hyuk watches Woo-jin as she smiles up into the sky, another memory coming to him. She’d once found him nodding off while he studied in the library, and she’d been excited to be meeting a friend, who was treating her to a buffet on her birthday. Woo-jin had said she only came to see Joo-hyuk and bring him a drink, then bounced off.
It had been raining when he left the library, and Woo-jin had run over to hide under his jacket. She said she’d been on her way to her friend’s party when it had started to rain, so she’d come back to bring him an umbrella, thoughtlessly forgetting to get under it herself.
Looking at her now, Joo-hyuk thinks, “Yes, maybe that was when my heart first fluttered for you.” Woo-jin catches the wistful expression on his face, but he says it’s nothing.
They make it back to the car, and Woo-jin gets a call that her mom got out of the house alone again. They get to Woo-jin’s house to find Mom trying to take a taxi to see her dad, but she eagerly jumps out of the taxi when she spots Joo-hyuk. Woo-jin tries to stop Mom from inviting Joo-hyuk home for dinner, saying he already ate, but he fibs that he’s starving just to get Mom to cook for him.
Mom is difficult when Woo-jin tries to encourage her to eat, but she happily eats when Joo-hyuk loads her spoon with fish. Woo-jin remarks that Mom sure likes men lately, but Mom says he’s not “men,” he’s Son-in-Law-Cha. Joo-hyuk looks touched and calls her “mother-in-law,” eating heartily even though he’s already full.
When Woo-jin walks him out, he says that it was nice to have a home-cooked meal. Woo-jin thanks him for going along with Mom’s delusion that he’s her son-in-law, but Joo-hyuk asks her to stop apologizing, because it makes him feel even guiltier.
He asks if it’s hard for her to have her mother like this, but Woo-jin says it’s not hard at all, because Mom is her “medical team” — she listens to her, vents with her, and comforts her. She heard a psychiatrist on the radio say once that people without such support teams are the ones who come to see him, and Woo-jin jokes that Mom keeps her from needing counseling.
As he drives away, Joo-hyuk looks at Woo-jin in his rearview mirror and thinks, “Woo-jin is still smiling. Does she remember how she hated this road? She didn’t like that it was a one-way street… She likes roads and human relationships to be two-way. Saying we should never be one-way in our relationship, she smiled brightly, like now.”
He thinks about how they got married and started fighting, and he wonders which one of them forgot their promise to be two-way — or if it was both of them.
That night, Woo-jin dreams about her mystery husband, but this time she sees his face… Joo-hyuk’s face. She hears his voice calling her name, and when she wakes up, she thinks that his voice sounded familiar.
In the morning, everyone at the bank is talking about how famous they are online after catching the voice phisher. Woo-jin heads to the storage room, and Jong-hoo makes an excuse to follow her and ask her questions about what foods she likes. He segues into what style of man she prefers, and she says she likes the casual type.
Towards the end of the day, Team Leader Jang realizes that she forgot to make some customer calls, complaining that she has to go to her college reunion. The Direct Banking ladies grit their teeth and offer to stay, and Manager Byun objects to Team Leader Jang leaving while her subordinates do her job. He brags that his team finished their tasks and lets them go early (lol, Hwan can’t run out the door fast enough).
Team Leader Jang also leaves, and Hye-jong and Hyang-sook complain that they both had appointments, too. Woo-jin negotiates for early lunch all next week in exchange for making all the calls herself. Joo-hyuk worries about leaving Woo-jin at the bank alone, but he leaves as well.
His father calls him as he’s driving home, to thank him for the allowance he sent. Joo-hyuk asks to talk to his mother, but she grumpily says she’s busy making kimbap (his parents run a kimbap restaurant). After he hangs up, Joo-hyuk’s dad asks his mom how long she plans to sulk about their recent fight with Hye-won.
Thinking of his mom’s kimbap reminds Joo-hyuk that Woo-jin is always hungry. He heads back to the bank with some kimbap, practicing a speech about how he just happened to have extra, but her desk is empty. He follows a pair of voices to the break room, to find Jong-hoo presenting Woo-jin with kimbap, watching her eat like he’s completely besotted.
Not only that, but instead of fibbing about the food like Joo-hyuk planned to do, Jong-hoo openly admits that he specifically got the kimbap for Woo-jin. She praises him for being such a gentleman, but he says he’s not just being gentlemanly. Looking her right in the eye, he tells her, “I’m showing my interest.”
He even confesses that he changed into casual clothes to impress her, and tells her again that he’s interested in her. As Joo-hyuk watches, unseen, from the doorway, Jong-hoo asks Woo-jin if she would go on a date with him.
It was a punch to the gut to see Joo-hyuk learn, in this alternate timeline, that Woo-jin’s mother has dementia. It’s obvious that he loves Woo-jin’s mom very much, and the realization that she’s so ill, combined with how clearly she remembers him despite the changes he’s enacted, really seemed to affect Joo-hyuk. I had forgotten that Woo-jin never told him about Mom’s dementia in the original timeline, so the knowledge that this has been going on for a yeaar and he never knew is only adding to his growing guilt over throwing that life away. It’s also another symptom of how Woo-jin didn’t trust Joo-hyuk enough to confide in him, and although I still don’t hold Joo-hyuk completely responsible for the breakdown of their marriage, something made Woo-jin feel he wasn’t a safe person to talk to about the painful things in her life.
Speaking of Mom, it’s an interesting storytelling mechanism to have her be the one person who speaks for Joo-hyuk’s good side. She’s an unreliable narrator, both with having dementia and with her memories surfacing in the “wrong” timeline, yet she’s the one who defends Joo-hyuk’s good points. She remembers him being there for her and Woo-jin when her father died, how kind and generous and reliable he was, and she describes him as her “favorite person in the world.” It’s an interesting way of giving the audience a glimpse into what makes Joo-hyuk a good person — just when we’ve been convinced that he’s thoroughly selfish, self-centered, and thoughtless, here comes Mom to remind us that although he may be all those things, they aren’t the sum of who he is. Joo-hyuk has a lot of good qualities, too, such as generosity, loyalty, and a sunny personality. They may not always show themselves, and they certainly didn’t when he made the stupid choice to change his past (though I still maintain that he made the choice impulsively and wouldn’t have done so if he’d really thought about the consequences). But Joo-hyuk is fundamentally a good person, he just needs to be a more deliberately good person.
It was an imteresting moment when Woo-jin told Joo-hyuk that her mother is her support system that keeps her from needing counseling. That’s very true, that the people in our lives who are there for us keep us mentally and emotionally stable, but it highlights again that in the original timeline, Joo-hyuk wasn’t that person for Woo-jin. Marrying her took her away from her mother in a way, but Joo-hyuk didn’t then step up and become that support system for Woo-jin, which is likely a big reason she became so miserable. She didn’t even trust him enough to tell him that Mom was sick, for an entire year, which just proves that he wasn’t a safe place for her to confide her worries and concerns.
I had expected this drama to show Joo-hyuk regretting his decision to erase his marriage with Woo-jin when he saw how much happier and healthier she is in the timeline where they didn’t get married, and that’s definitely happening, but something else seems to be happening that I didn’t expect — he’s falling for Woo-jin again. It makes sense, because she’s so much more like the girl he fell for in the first place, so it’s natural that he would feel himself drawn to her bright personality and carefree spirit. But you can also see the sadness Joo-hyuk is feeling as he realizes that something killed that part of her in the original timeline, and I’m not looking forward to the moment he finally understands that he contributed a great deal to that. I don’t blame Joo-hyuk entirely for Woo-jin’s drastic change, because his carelessness and inattention was never malicious, he just never thought about it enough to realize that he was leaving Woo-jin to feel responsible for everything. But it’s clear that she regretted marrying him, and mourned what that decision forced her to give up.
It’s really telling that the moments Joo-hyuk is remembering from his and Woo-jin’s past aren’t the big dramatic moments, like say, the day he confessed, or their wedding day. He’s remembering the small beats in time, like when she visited him just because, and skipped her party to bring him an umbrella. It’s those moments that are easy to lose as life gets complicated, but which all add up to falling in love with someone, and it’s those moments that he and Woo-jin forgot as the drudgeries of life piled up on them and made them unhappy with each other. So I think it’s really important that those are the moments Joo-hyuk is being reminded of now, because they’re showing him that that happy, cheerful girl is still there, and maybe they will give him hope that he can go back to his original timeline and find her again.