The Third Charm: Episode 10
Remember when I said that we needed some major heartache to rattle our characters? Yeah, I take it all back. We have people getting burned left and right this episode, with the perpetrators being the one person they never wanted it from. A lot of damage is left to be dealt with, but there is still hope for healing. There is still hope for life to move on, and for life to present surprisingly better (and much healthier) opportunities.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
An excited Joon-young runs out to the beach to show Young-jae the fixed radio, only to stop at the sight of her talking to Ho-chul. She turns and sees him as well, shakily saying his name. She notices the radio in his hands and asks if he fixed it, to which he responds that he did. They just stand there, far apart, as Joon-young hangs his head and sheds a tear.
The next morning, the volunteer crew say their goodbyes to the locals. Joon-young returns the radio to the old man, who’s happy he’ll be able to cheer up his wife. He thanks Joon-young and encourages him and Young-jae to come back together some time.
On the boat ride home, Ho-chul is looking especially glum. Joon-young and Young-jae are no better, standing on opposite sides of the stern as they look out at the water.
Joon-young rests his head on his folded arms and narrates that he hated playing hide-and-seek as a kid. He’d feared that the other kids would never find him and that they would all go home without him. “Even now,” he continues, “I’m waiting to be found.”
He lies in bed that night, typing and deleting a bunch of texts to Young-jae. Finally, he gives up and calls her instead.
He asks her if she’s eaten, though that conversation doesn’t go anywhere. So they just say all the same things, trying to avoid anything other than casual talk. And when they run out of things to say completely, Joon-young reluctantly hangs up. He stares at his phone as Young-jae starts to cry.
Joon-young is still staring at his phone when Mom knocks on his door that morning. His folks are rushing to make it to work on time, but Joon-young stays where he is, his eyes full of tears as he scrolls through pictures of Young-jae. And later that day, he empties his car trunk to have it decorated at a store that specializes in love events. Oh no, don’t tell me…
Ho-chul is in a zombie-like state at work, lost in thought. He flashes back to that night on the beach when he’d expressed his feelings to Young-jae. We now see that she’d replied that she’d been swayed but not because of him. She apologized for not being able to accept his heart, which is when she’d turned to see Joon-young standing there.
Young-jae gets a text from Joon-young asking to meet up, and her expression immediately turns to one of dread. After work, she meets him in a quiet, cozy area outside. He’s nervous as he tries to ease into a question, but Young-jae interrupts him, insisting she needs to get something out first. I don’t think I can watch this; can I cop out?
She explains that she still loves him a lot, that he makes her laugh and that she’s always comfortable with him. She’s getting emotional as she says all this, making Joon-young try to cut in. But she has to say it: “Joon-young, let’s break up.”
He shakes his head, promising that he can do better, but Young-jae thinks that he’s always been good to her. So much so that she’s been feeling unbearably apologetic. She lets her tears fall as she says that it’s too hard for her now.
Joon-young tries to maintain a cheery voice and suggests they go to a café to continue this conversation. He runs over to the nearest café, stopping short when the lights go out. He stands there, trying so hard not to crumble, with Young-jae watching him.
“That’s right,” she narrates. “Love doesn’t change slowly, but in one moment. At first, you don’t realize it. Then you pretend that it hasn’t changed. You try so hard until it finally comes to an end.”
She watches as Joon-young runs all over the block, desperately searching for an open café. But no matter where he goes, each store has its light go out. Young-jae cries for him to stop, and something in her voice makes him listen.
Her narration continues that she doesn’t know when that one moment occurred, but she does know that the end has come. “Let’s stop this,” she says firmly. She then walks away, leaving Joon-young there, who’s still frozen in place as it all sinks in.
Some time passes, and Joo-ran gets ready to meet Soo-jae at the movie theater. She regrets agreeing to this when she was drunk, especially after sitting through what she thinks is a boring film.
Afterwards, Soo-jae waits for Joo-ran to use the ladies’ room. A woman walks into the lobby with her child in a stroller, and Soo-jae is shocked to see that it’s his ex-girlfriend Jung-eun. She’s just as shocked, and the two exchange awkward greetings.
Joo-ran comes out of the restroom and witnesses the whole thing, her expression softening as she realizes that this is a tense situation for Soo-jae.
Jung-eun’s husband then runs in and urges her to hurry into their theater. They walk past Soo-jae, though Jung-eun takes another look back. And with that, Soo-jae flashes back to seven years ago, sometime after his accident.
Jung-eun had willingly cared for Soo-jae in the hospital, and the two were still happy in love despite the hardship he’d just gone through. However, one night, Jung-eun was confronted by her sister, who had told her to stop living on false hope. Jung-eun argued that Soo-jae would get better, but the shakiness in her voice said otherwise. It cuts to Soo-jae sitting in the hall, listening as Jung-eun burst into tears.
From then on, Soo-jae started acting cold towards Jung-eun. He swiped his hospital food to the floor, frustrated further when Jung-eun bent down to clean it up. She ignored his remarks until he asked if she was scared that people would judge her for leaving him.
“Stop acting nice,” he said. “Go now.” And she did go, which put more work on Young-jae’s shoulders. Soo-jae was so heartbroken that he had to escape to the bathroom that night and drown out his sobbing by running the sink.
In the present, Soo-jae and Joo-ran go to a park (aw, she stayed with him). He tells her about everything he’s been doing since his accident, and noticing the sadness in her eyes, he assures her that the wheelchair hasn’t stopped his optimism.
Soo-jae listens to Joo-ran’s story too, understanding her desire to get married. He gives her consoling words, and in return, she tells him not to give up either, especially when it comes to dating.
Joon-young and his team are in the middle of a stakeout, protecting an old lover of Snakehead’s as she works. A big crowd goes into the shop, and Snakehead sneaks in with them to talk to his lover. She reacts badly, earning the attention of Officer Lee.
Panicking, Snakehead makes a run for it, with Joon-young’s team right behind him. They corner Snakehead and his lackeys and get ready to fight, but when Officer Lee opens Joon-young’s trunk to get their weapons, a banner with balloons floats out.
The banner reads “Young-jae, I can’t live without you. Will you marry me?” (And I don’t know if I want to cringe, laugh or cry.) Everyone is dumbfounded at the sight, and Officer Gong takes the opportunity to tackle Snakehead to the ground.
As Snakehead is questioned at the station, his lover comes in and cries that he should’ve just disappeared. Snakehead cries as well, apologizing for never being good enough for her. But he promises to do his time in jail and asks for her forgiveness.
His lover embraces him, and Joon-young watches the interaction sadly. Snakehead is then taken away, but he stops and turns to Joon-young. “Thanks for catching me,” he says, genuine. “And, hey, make sure you marry Young-jae.”
After drinking with his team, Joon-young stumbles home and notices a car parked outside. There’s a couple rolling around inside, making out, and oh shit, it’s Sang-hyun and Ri-won.
Sang-hyun’s eyes go wide when he sees Joon-young and he tries to explain, but Joon-young just drags him out of the car and punches him. He demands to know how Sang-hyun could do this to him, and Ri-won jumps between them, declaring that she likes Sang-hyun. Joon-young is stunned and asks, “What the hell are you saying?” LOL.
Sang-hyun’s wounds are bandaged up inside, and he confesses to Mom and Dad that he sincerely loves Ri-won. But Mom and Dad don’t really care since Ri-won is an adult, and they head on to bed. Sang-hyun and Ri-won act all cutesy, which Joon-young can’t seem to process.
More time passes until summer becomes fall. Se-eun gets the cast taken off her foot, and she gets a call from Officer Gong, who reveals that Snakehead’s capture is getting Joon-young a special award. Meanwhile, Ho-chul is still weighed down by Young-jae’s rejection. His friends can’t believe that any woman rejected him, and they’re surprised that it affected him this much.
Young-jae isn’t doing so well either, which Joo-ran easily picks up on. Joo-ran says that she understands more than anyone because when she was young, she was the same as Young-jae—she only cared about work and herself.
She warns Young-jae that she’ll eventually regret the decision to break up with Joon-young, but it’s something she has to deal with.
Tears fill Young-jae’s eyes, and she explains that she’s never been able to tell her story to others; it’s become a terrible habit. Her voice quivering, she wonders if talking to Joon-young about all of this would’ve made a difference.
She thinks Joon-young definitely would’ve understood her feelings, because that’s the kind of person he is, but she also thinks she still would’ve felt apologetic in the end.
Meanwhile, Sang-hyun and Ri-won are still going strong. Er, for now, at least. Sang-hyun gets jealous about her male classmates and starts talking about marriage. Ri-won is disappointed that he’s come to act like this.
For one, Ri-won doesn’t really believe in marriage, and considering Sang-hyun’s playboy history, she assumed he didn’t either. That’s why she liked him. At that, Sang-hyun’s face falls.
Joo-ran takes Soo-jae shopping, determined on a makeover to spice up his love life. He then gets a phone call and learns that his screenplay earned first place in the competition he submitted to. Joo-ran squeals with joy and hugs him, though she releases him when it gets awkward.
She takes Soo-jae home, and Young-jae sees them arrive from upstairs. Young-jae smiles for the first time in a long time, happy to see her friend and brother getting along nicely. When Soo-jae makes it inside, he starts to tell her the good news but thinks better of it and leaves her alone.
Joon-young is receiving his award today, and his parents couldn’t be any more proud. However, as Joon-young puts his uniform on, there’s more sadness in his eyes than usual. He goes to the empty station and stands by his desk, a small smile forming.
Joon-young is gone by the time his teammates arrive. Officer Lee notices that Joon-young’s desk is cleared out, save for an envelope. He shows the others that it’s a letter of resignation.
Instead of attending his ceremony, Joon-young stops by Young-jae’s hair salon. He stays in his car, watching her laugh with a client. Though he’s on the verge of crying again, he smiles to know that she’s okay.
Satisfied, Joon-young narrates that the summer of his twenty-seventh year ended, along with his beautiful love. He drives off just as Young-jae recognizes his car. She runs after the car, but it’s futile; she can’t reach him.
Joon-young’s narration continues that it hurts to think that he didn’t know any better and that he wasn’t good enough for Young-jae. He flashes back to every memory he’s had with her, from their first meeting on the subway all the way to their honeymoon phase.
Right now, he wishes that he could be like a tree that stays strong through harsh winds, like the sunlight on a cold day, and like the shade on a hot day. “To our twenty-seventh year that we’ll never get back,” he concludes, “goodbye.”
I am a broken vessel of a recapper. I expected this outcome—I hoped for this outcome—and it still broke me. The Third Charm isn’t a perfect show, not by a long shot, but the way it expresses the characters’ inner struggles hits me every time. It’s just so heartbreaking having to watch people care for each other so much but have no idea how to make things work. This was a quiet breakup compared to the last and compared to what I was expecting, but somehow, it’s ten times sadder. Because they tried so hard to hold on, to pretend that everything was okay. With Joon-young, those feelings were incredibly palpable; his fear of losing Young-jae, of her slipping through his grasp, was almost like a physical pain. I was in tears during that first phone call and they barely even spoke.
There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re head over heels in love, but when they’re constantly anxious, insecure and just downright sad, they’re not good for each other. Mentally or emotionally. They don’t satisfy each other’s needs, they can’t talk to each other, like, really talk to each other. It’s hard to accept, but Young-jae was right—this is too much for them. They’ve been so lost in each other that they’ve lost focus on who they are and what they want to do. They need to build themselves up again. Young-jae, I feel, is already well on her way, but Joon-young… Ah, this poor boy. I just don’t know what to do with him. After all of this, I’m afraid he might have some real self-worth issues.
On top of all that, they had to break out Soo-jae’s story with the ex? What, was this episode trying to kill me? I can only take one heartache at a time, you know. It sucks that Soo-jae had to pull out the Noble Idiot card, but in retrospect, it had to be done. Like Young-jae and Joon-young’s relationship, Soo-jae and Jung-eun’s got all tangled with guilt and pity and, yeah, false hope. With all of that in the way, it was difficult to see the foundation of love they established. They were hurting each other without meaning to, without realizing it, and it wasn’t doing either of them any good.
If things were different, could Soo-jae and Jung-eun still work? If she hadn’t gotten married, would they still have a chance? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter now, as Soo-jae probably knows. That part of his life is over, and Joo-ran is allowing other chances to come in. I think they could work as a couple, but right now, I really enjoy them as unlikely friends. They’re total opposites (go figure), and it oddly works to their advantage. Soo-jae needs a peppy cheerleader, and Joo-ran needs a thoughtful confidante. I would say that Sang-hyun and Ri-won are opposites too, though that dynamic seems a little more dangerous, in that it has far more potential to go downhill. Still, I’m looking forward to where this show will take them, as well as Soo-jae and Joo-ran. These characters needed some light in their lives, and I’m glad they’re finally getting it.
It must be hard for Young-jae and Joon-young to see all of these relationships blossoming when theirs just fell apart. There has to be a lot of “what if’s” in their heads, as Young-jae said, but again, this part of their lives is over. Summer is over. If they want to explore those “what if’s” in the fall or any other time in the future, they certainly can, but it’s best to leave them alone for now. They may be twenty-seven, but they still have plenty to learn about love and what it takes to nurture it. Even Joon-young’s parents have plenty to learn; it’s an ongoing process. In the meantime, they should start learning more about themselves. If they ever want to be together again, they need to be the best versions of themselves first.