The Third Charm: Episode 12
From Joon-young’s uplifting story, we move on to Young-jae’s heart-rending one. She’s gone through so much trauma growing up and in the past few years, but knowing her personality, she’s been hoarding it all inside. With no one to share it with and no place to vent, her life is looking awfully bleak. And to make things worse, fate continues to tear at her open wounds.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Joon-young keeps it professional as he serves his surprise guests, Young-jae and Ho-chul. Young-jae asks if he wants to sit down and join them, but he’d prefer to leave them alone as they eat their dessert.
Joon-young waits in a nearby park, still trying to gather his thoughts and emotions. Back in the restaurant, Young-jae and Ho-chul are just as stunned to have met Joon-young again. Ho-chul tries the egg tarts and comments that they taste even better than the ones she used to love.
Young-jae isn’t listening, though. Or, more specifically, it’s like she isn’t really there. She’s alarmingly quiet and subdued as Ho-chul makes conversation about the time she met his mother.
Ho-chul struggles to maintain his smile as he remembers everything he did just to win her love. He wonders how he could’ve been that persistent. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long,” Young-jae says wistfully, “but it also feels like a lot of time has passed.”
At home, Se-eun smiles at her shiny new engagement ring as she reminisces about falling for Joon-young. It was a mere crush at first, but she realized just how much she liked him when she found his desk empty at work.
Se-eun’s eyes fill with happy tears remembering Joon-young’s proposal and his apology for asking so late. She then calls her mom and excitedly announces that she’s getting married.
Joon-young returns to the restaurant when Young-jae and Ho-chul get ready to leave. They thank him for the meal, and Young-jae adds that being a chef suits him. There’s an awkward silence until she reminds Ho-chul that he’s going to be late. They say their goodbyes and head off, though Joon-young stops and turns back. As he watches the couple walk away, he slowly smiles and nods to himself with acceptance.
The couple walk to an apartment complex, the air still somewhat awkward. Ho-chul asks if Young-jae is okay living here all alone, but she doesn’t answer; she just tells him that he’s going to miss his flight.
He’s reluctant to leave, but seeing that she won’t budge, he gives her another sad smile and complies. She heads up to her apartment, and we see that it is mostly empty, save for a few boxes and a TV.
Sliding down to the floor, Young-jae remembers the rest of her conversation with Ho-chul, when he’d noted that tonight was their last meal together. He said that he was sorry but also grateful, making her look up for the first time. “It was difficult for the both of us,” she told him.
Young-jae finds her fridge empty, so she goes out to buy some beer. Walking back, she comes across an orange cat and kneels down to get a better look.
She narrates that divorce is difficult but easy at the same time. It’s been difficult doing things on her own, but she thinks that that will become easy too. All she can do is wait until her everyday life starts getting tedious.
Back in her apartment, she watches the TV in the dark, a pained smile on her face. Jesus, I’m afraid to find out what happened.
The next day, Young-jae visits Joo-ran’s salon and gets a warm welcome from all her former students. When she and Joo-ran lock eyes, they’re both teary and go in for a tight hug.
Joo-ran then points out their old student Noo-ri, who’d had a hard time as a beginner hair stylist. Now, she’s even stricter than Young-jae as she reprimands her own student.
However, Noo-ri is her old bubbly self the second she sees Young-jae. She sits Young-jae down and gets emotional, thinking she really must’ve made it if she gets to style her teacher’s hair.
Soo-jae is busy trying to cast the lead role for his next big project, and he’s strongly opposed to the young top star MJ taking on such a tough character. MJ begs Soo-jae for the part, having loved his debut film, but Soo-jae merely says that MJ is too naïve and drives off on his new scooter. Badass.
He joins Joo-ran and Young-jae at their old apartment, where he apparently lives alone now. He’s delighted to see his sister again and laughs when she mentions that he hasn’t changed at all. He throws Joo-ran under the bus, saying that her desperate dating attempts haven’t changed either. Young-jae smiles as Soo-jae and Joo-ran start bickering like an old married couple.
Se-eun joins Joon-young’s family in making marmalade, loving their enthusiasm for the engagement. Ri-won, however, thinks that the marriage is a bit risky considering that Se-eun and Joon-young’s relationship was mostly long-distance. Dad says that he has it covered; he told Se-eun all there is to know about Joon-young with baby photos and old report cards, ha.
Naturally, all this marriage talk gets Sang-hyun riled up. When he and Ri-won return to his apartment, he asks for the thousandth time when they’re going to get married. Ri-won starts talking in metaphors again, eventually agreeing to a civil marriage registration if it’ll get him to shut up.
But Sang-hyun doesn’t want to do it that way; he wants to wear a fancy tux to a big wedding service, where he can shout to the heavens that Ri-won is finally his. She rolls her eyes at that and walks out, leaving Sang-hyun frustrated yet again.
Joon-young walks Se-eun out to her car, and Se-eun admits that she would’ve gone crazy if he hadn’t proposed this year. But since she tends to keep everything to herself, she couldn’t say anything. Joon-young jokes that she had no trouble at all proclaiming her love for him at the airport, making them laugh.
After saying goodbye to Se-eun, Joon-young joins Dad outside to admire their persimmon tree. Dad says that they planted the tree when Joon-young was born and that it’s unbelievable how much time has passed since then. Despite his initial worries, he’s proud of both Joon-young and Ri-won for leading good lives with good partners.
Meanwhile, Joo-ran is already passed out drunk, while Soo-jae and Young-jae are sitting at their spot by the window. Having seen an article about Joon-young’s restaurant, Soo-jae vaguely says that a friend he often worried about is living very well these days.
“That makes me happy,” Soo-jae says with a smile. Young-jae blankly replies that she’s jealous of whoever this friend is.
Soo-jae quotes the film Forrest Gump, saying that life is like a box of chocolates. Since we never know what we’ll get in life, he says that it’s better that we don’t regret the choices we’ve made.
Young-jae doesn’t really react, so Soo-jae skips the film metaphors and says that it’s about time he help her out financially since she once did it for him. She appreciates him and Joo-ran, but she doesn’t want them to do that. At least, not yet.
Young-jae then asks Soo-jae if he’d ever date Joo-ran, and though he finds her charming and cute, he’s comfortable with the way things are now. Joo-ran starts talking in her sleep, and they turn and smile at her as she curses Soo-jae for not marrying her.
The next day, Young-jae is back in her small apartment. When she realizes that she doesn’t have any chopsticks for her cup ramen, she goes to the grocery store to pick some up, along with more junk food.
She exits the store and is shocked to witness a car nearly hitting a little boy. The sight triggers a memory—people crowding around a car, a distraught Young-jae dropping a cake, and an orange stuffed cat strewn on the ground. No. No way.
Young-jae immediately goes to the boy’s aid, and the owners of the car only step out to yell that the boy could’ve ruined the car. The owners start to drive away, but Young-jae furiously throws a drink at their bumper and makes them stop.
Next thing we know, Young-jae and the couple whose car got “ruined” are in the police station. The couple complain that Young-jae had no reason to be angry since she wasn’t the boy’s mother, and they wish to press charges.
Luckily, Officer Jung is there, and after recognizing Young-jae, he calls Joon-young to help her out. Joon-young is more than willing to come—Young-jae is no stranger, and it gives him the excuse to see Jung again.
After the couple finally agree to settle, they leave the station in a huff. Young-jae comes out right behind them, which gives Officer Jung his cue to leave the ex-lovers alone. Young-jae looks at Joon-young, embarrassed, and notes that they’re always seeing each other at the station. Instead of answering, he just offers to carry one of her shopping bags.
As they’re walking, Young-jae vents about the couple and how unacceptable it was for them to care more for a car than a person. Joon-young agrees, though he points out that not everyone has their mindset. He thought she’d seemed more mature when they met back in his restaurant, but now he sees that she hasn’t changed much.
He then notices all the junk food in her bag and asks what her husband would say, which is when the bag tears apart. They bend down to pick up the contents, staying silent until Young-jae states, “I got divorced.”
Her words make him freeze, though he snaps out of it to find a plastic bag. Once they gather everything, Joon-young says that she should eat a proper meal.
Elsewhere, Joo-ran cheers Soo-jae on as he participates in a wheelchair basketball game. Afterwards, she reveals that she might have menopause already. Since it has her feeling down, Soo-jae gives her a refreshing ride on his scooter.
Joon-young takes Young-jae to his restaurant and whips up a fancy meal just for her. He tells her that it was the main dish at the restaurant he used to work at, La Quincy. She looks up at that, asking if the restaurant was in Lisbon, Portugal.
She says that she used to live in Portugal too, in an area that Joon-young actually frequented. (Wow, that’s some powerful fate, even for a K-drama.) “How is it that we never ran into each other?” she wonders.
Fascinated by the coincidence, Joon-young asks if she ever went to a certain bakery; he’d learned how to make egg tarts there. At the mention of the bakery, Young-jae’s eyes glaze over, and she falls into another memory.
We see that Young-jae had walked by that bakery while holding her young daughter’s hand. Unbeknownst to her, she’d passed Joon-young on the street. Sometime later, she and Ho-chul had returned to their home, looking emotionally drained.
Ho-chul had smiled and promised to come back before giving her a half-hearted hug. She had been totally unresponsive, while he had trouble holding his tears back. When he left, she’d lain in bed all day, staring at her empty hand and crying.
In the present, Young-jae changes the subject and asks why Joon-young decided to become a chef. He explains that he’d been lonely and upset while in Portugal, but when he found the one-table restaurant and tried the food, he realized something.
“Food doesn’t just fill us up,” he says. “It can also warm our hearts and bring us solace.” He asks what she did while living in Portugal, and she only remembers drinking heavily and fighting with Ho-chul about it. She lies, however, that nothing much happened and that she did everything she wanted to do.
She’s curious if Joon-young has any plans of getting married, and he responds that he does. She congratulates him and he thanks her, both smiling sweetly, though their eyes are glistening with a tinge of sadness. The door then chimes and they turn to see a surprised Se-eun.
You guys, this drama is legitimately driving me crazy; I don’t understand how the writer keeps finding new ways to wring my heart. And Esom’s raw yet nuanced performance only makes it worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). It’s sad because it seems like Young-jae was genuinely happy with her little family in Portugal. Maybe things weren’t perfect or how she’d initially envisioned them, but it was a happy life nonetheless. Then life had to kick her down once again by taking her daughter away from her.
This is clearly too much for one person to handle. Young-jae lost both her parents at a young age. Her big brother/caretaker got into a terrible accident, making her the caretaker. The most passionate relationship she’d ever been in had fallen apart. And now this? Yeah, forget her reunion with Joon-young for a minute because she doesn’t need a boyfriend, she needs a therapist. I think Young-jae was showing signs of depression after Soo-jae’s incident, which could’ve played a part in her and Joon-young’s breakup, and those signs are more prominent now. This is a severely broken and damaged woman, and she needs some serious help.
I really wish the drama would explore this part of Young-jae, and it definitely could considering how realistic its characters and situations already are. (Though I fear that the topic of mental illness is still taboo.) Even if she doesn’t get professional help, she could still find something or someone to bring her solace, just as the culinary arts did for Joon-young. If that “someone” turns out to be Joon-young, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. From that last conversation in the restaurant, it’s clear that there’s still something between them. It’s not that there’s romantic interest there; it’s more like they care for each other and know each other in ways that their family and friends don’t.
Even so, Young-jae has always had trouble opening up to him. And the reason why it’s been so frustrating throughout the entire show is because Joon-young would be the perfect person for her to confide in. They took different roads in life and came out as different people, so it’s understandable that she lied about whatever happened in Portugal, but she can’t lie forever. She’s waiting for her life to be tedious when really she could be working towards a different kind of happiness. It looks like Ho-chul wasn’t able to provide it, and Joon-young is busy working on his own happiness. So while she’ll certainly need some help, the rebuilding of her life starts with her.
This episode didn’t change how I feel about Ho-chul being Young-jae’s (ex-)husband. His constant intrusion into Young-jae and Joon-young’s relationship was unacceptable from the beginning, and I think it was a bad decision on Young-jae’s part to pursue a relationship with him. I’m sure that their many similarities created a comfortable bond and eventually, a comfortable marriage, but it wasn’t strong enough in the long run. Either way, any marriage would be strained by the loss of a child. And for that, I do feel sympathy for Ho-chil; like Young-jae said, he suffered too.
I’m not looking forward to the drama that is sure to follow Se-eun’s discovery that Young-jae is back. Se-eun is a sweet girl, but there’s a lot of insecurity there, and it could easily turn into jealousy. The Third Charm has exceeded my expectations before, though, so there could be more surprises in store. Just… enough with the surprise traumatic pasts, okay? No matter what happens, I’d prefer that these characters each get their own deserved happy ending.