A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 13
Can a mother’s misguided fears keep our our couple apart? It doesn’t seem likely, but new restrictions definitely cut down on the cute cafe antics in favor of studying for upcoming exams. While some of our students hope to prove themselves to the people in their lives who expect more from them, our class president tries a different tactic as he maneuvers against his anxious mother and violent father.
EPISODE 13: “I Should Still Like You”
Soo-bin’s mom arrives just as Joon-woo comforts Soo-bin on his rooftop deck, and mom is further infuriated when Joon-woo blocks the slaps she means for her daughter. Mom sends Soo-bin home ahead of her, while she remains to talk to Joon-woo. Her first priority is to confirm that the young couple hasn’t slept together, and once she’s satisfied with Joon-woo’s negative answer, Mom demands that they stop dating, and Joon-woo nods yes, his head tucked low. With that settled, Mom drags a tearful Soo-bin home.
Joon-woo remains on the roof, slowly processing his pain and grief and the tears that keep threatening to fall. When he finally finds composure, he texts Soo-bin asking if she’s alright and encouraging her to apologize to her mom.
Soo-bin’s phone, however, has been confiscated by her mom, as well as her computer and any other devices she might use to communicate with friends or her boyfriend. Mom lays on the guilt trip thickly, telling Soo-bin that she can take her things back, if she wants her mom to quit her job and abandon her.
Soo-bin asks if it’s so wrong to date Joon-woo, and Mom promptly says that he’s not suitable for her. But Soo-bin astutely asks if Joon-woo was the problem, or if any boy would be an issue. Mom digs back into the guilt trip rather than answer, and Soo-bin almost gets the courage to call Mom out on her tactics before she gives in and retreats to her room.
Joon-woo tries to put on a bright smile when his mom video calls him later, but Mom can tell something is up. Joon-woo pretends it’s studying that has him so exhausted. Mom says that the restaurant is busy with all the renovations, but when she hangs up, the restaurant looks the same as it always did and Mom is the only one there.
Joon-woo has Soo-bin’s mom’s words in his head as he sends one last text goodnight to Soo-bin.
Soo-bin wakes to a surprise the next morning–her mom has arranged for her to have a hired driver escort her to school everyday, ensuring that Soo-bin has no opportunities to meet Joon-woo outside of class.
Meanwhile, Da-hwin continues to film her breakup vlog, even as her friends tease her. The girls spot Soo-bin and her escort, and watch as Joon-woo bikes by with barely a glance at the sequestered Soo-bin. Ro-mi catches on right away that Soo-bin’s mom has found them out.
Hwi-young also witnessed the scene, and he chases down Joon-woo to ask what his plan is. Joon-woo says that he can only just keep on liking Soo-bin.
Once inside the school Joon-woo and Soo-bin finally find a moment together, and Soo-bin explains the phone restrictions imposed on her as well. They both try to take the blame for the circumstances, and Joon-woo says that they should just focus on studying and stay cheerful. He tells her that he’ll always like her no matter how difficult things become.
And don’t worry, Soo-bin’s mom is trying to make it as difficult as she can. She visits Mr. Oh before class to demand that he keep Joon-woo and Soo-bin apart in class. Mr. Oh is pretty done with parents making demands of him though, and he’s soon shouting at Soo-bin’s mom that her child isn’t her property, and that school isn’t a prison with him as a guard. The two both apologize for losing their tempers.
Soo-bin’s mom almost runs into Joon-woo with Soo-bin on her way out, but Ro-mi intercedes and runs to cover for them. Joon-woo leaves Soo-bin in hiding while he goes forward to request that Soo-bin’s mom release Soo-bin from the tight observation. He promises not to see her even in school, but Mom says that it all depends on how Soo-bin behaves. Ro-mi does her best to comfort the distraught Soo-bin.
Oh-je listens to Joon-woo lament his predicament. Joon-woo wonders why he’s so stupid, but Oh-je says that Soo-bin isn’t stupid, and she likes him, so he can’t be stupid either. Oh-je smiles gleefully as he chants Soo-bin’s name at Joon-woo.
Soo-bin seeks comfort from her friends as well, and they all encourage her. They also notice that Chan-yeol seems down as well, and she admits that she has a crush on Mr. Oh. Everyone is flabbergasted, though they try to remain supportive of her (just not her ideal type, haha).
Mr. Oh returns to a classroom full of unhappy faces. He can’t take it, so he suggests the class head outside. On the green, he encourages them to lie back and just look at the sky for once.
Ki-tae finds Joon-woo later and finally apologizes for his scheming. It’s clear that Joon-woo is still hurting about what happened, but he accepts Ki-tae’s apology.
Ki-tae announces a mentoring program for the class, and Pil-sang manages to convince Ro-mi to be his mentor. Not only that, but Ro-mi promises that if he rises to at least 200th place in the school, she’ll watch a movie with him. Pil-sang asks what he’ll get if he makes it to 100th or above, and Ro-mi laughs that she might just date him then.
Da-hwin continues to vlog her breakup, even as Oh-je tries to press low-calorie foods on her so that she’ll start eating again.
And Sang-hoon approaches So-ye to ask for tickets to her dance club’s next recital. Ki-tae watches nearby, and Sang-hoon asks if Ki-tae’s alliance with Hwi-young is officially over. So-ye defends Ki-tae, much to his surprise.
Joon-woo thinks of all the good times he’s had so far with Soo-bin, even as he leaves the school alone. He passes Soo-bin by on his bike as her escort watches, but he hasn’t abandoned her. As Soo-bin’s car pulls into the street, Joon-woo reappears on his bike and pedals hard to catch up. Soo-bin’s hired escort isn’t a total monster though, and she can’t help but smile and slow a little as Joon-woo bikes alongside Soo-bin’s window before he finally pulls away.
After school, Mr. Oh manages to finally track down the former homeroom teacher, Mr. Kim. Mr. Oh thinks the teacher is the one who posted about Hwi-young online, but Mr. Kim denies it. After some pressing, however, Mr. Kim does admit to changing two answers on Hwi-young’s test at his parents’ request. Mr. Kim swears that not even Hwi-young knows, but Mr. Oh asks him to explain the situation so that Hwi-young’s life isn’t ruined by the rumors and the lurking truth in them.
Mr. Oh calls Ji-min to celebrate, but Ji-min cuts him off with news of her own. She tells Mr. Oh that she’s not sure if they can keep dating, since she doesn’t deserve someone like him.
Meanwhile, Joon-woo stops by an art institute to see what his prospects might be for art school. The advisor praises his drawings and suggests building a portfolio. Joon-woo worries about what a forced transfer might do for his college prospects, but the advisors suggests that some schools may not be as strict. Joon-woo asks for a price quote for classes. As he leaves, he can vividly imagine himself sitting in front of an easel, painting happily.
Mr. Oh drops by the convenience store, where he and Joon-woo share their grief over their turbulent love lives. Afterwards, Mr. Oh takes Joon-woo out for food. Joon-woo mentions that he’s not sure if Soo-bin’s mom will relent even if his grades improve, but Mr. Oh tells him to do it for himself, not for Soo-bin’s mom or anyone else’s expectations.
Hwi-young’s trying to study, but he’s still hounded by online messages suggesting his grades have been faked. He receives a threatening message that threatens to ruin his parents’ lives if he doesn’t come forward and confess.
Hwi-young goes for a rage run, and somehow the next morning he seems downright serene and focused at school. And it has nothing to do with Mr. Kim, because he seems to be a no-show even though Mr. Oh trusted him to come forward. Mr. Oh shoots him an email reminding him of his promise.
And now it’s time for a studying montage! All of the students hunker down to prepare for their next exam. Soo-bin’s cheered on by a cute note Joon-woo leaves on her locker, and even Pil-sang makes an effort. The day of the exam rolls around, and Joon-woo’s mom surprises him with an early morning breakfast (so much adorable bedhead, teehee).
Joon-woo’s worried about his mom who looks thin and pale, though she denies that anything’s wrong at the restaurant. Hmmm. Joon-woo doesn’t tell Mom about the issue with Soo-bin’s mom either, and so Joon-woo’s mom cheerily praises the woman.
With a ginseng drink from Soo-bin, Joon-woo’s off to take his exam. The students check their scores afterwards, and Joon-woo is delighted when he spots Soo-bin applying the perfume he bought for her. He’s even more pleased to see he did pretty well on his exam, and Soo-bin got a perfect score this time.
Hwi-young smiles and nods at everyone outside who congratulates him on another perfect score. He flips his test over, and all five questions on the last page are marked wrong. He calls his mother, and asks that she take care of it, just like last time. His mother frantically tries to call his father to ask for help.
Soo-bin’s mom is delighted to hear Soo-bin received a perfect score, and eagerly offers to take her out to eat, but then has to back out because she has a meeting. All the while, Joon-woo smiles and waves at Soo-bin. Soo-bin rushes out, however, when her friends run by with Da-hwin in their arms.
Chan-yeol reports to Oh-je that Da-hwin passed out, and he dashes to the nurse’s station. The girls leave him alone with Da-hwin, who wasn’t unconscious after all. She tells Oh-je that she doesn’t want to see him, and he finally breaks and tells Da-hwin that he broke up with her because he has feelings for a guy.
Da-hwin thinks to earlier when she caught Oh-je watching Hwi-young, and she voices the connection aloud. Oh-je doesn’t answer, only moves to take Da-hwin home. But before they make it out of the halls, someone shows Oh-je a message that has appeared in a group chat. Da-hwin’s eyes grow wide as she reads it, and she runs back to the nurse’s station and flings open the curtain next to her bed. There is another girl there, who must have overheard her conversation with Oh-je, and Da-hwin smacks the girl as she runs away. Da-hwin’s face falls as she sobs an apology to Oh-je, who folds her into a hug.
Joon-woo calls Oh-je to check on him, but he’s not sure what to say, so he focuses on Da-hwin. Oh-je tells him that he’ll talk to him later. Joon-woo gets a call from an unknown number after hanging up, and his eyes grow wide as the caller asks for him.
As Joon-woo leaves school, he hints to Soo-bin that he’s headed to their favorite cafe for an important meeting. While she watches him ride away, Hwi-young delivers a present to Soo-bin: a cell phone sneaked into her backpack (Hwi-young’s endless iPhones finally put to good use!)
Soo-bin tries to call Joon-woo from home, but the number is registered to Hwi-young so he doesn’t pick up. She tries a second time and Joon-woo does answer, but he promptly sets the phone aside as his father arrives.
Joon-woo smiles to see his dad, and says that he got the courage to reach out from his girlfriend so that he wouldn’t run away and have regrets. Dad admits that he was the type to run away, and then asks Joon-woo to never try to contact him again. Dad explains that he has a new life now, and he can’t have Joon-woo showing up to impact it.
Soo-bin hears the whole exchange over the phone, and she defies her escort and takes a taxi straight to the cafe. She arrives just as Joon-woo gathers his bike, and she calls out to him. But Joon-woo can only shake his head at her, as he turns to ride away.
Joon-woo gets a double-punch to his confidence in this episode. First Soo-bin’s mom’s concern about a possible pregnancy reminds him of how he was born. His mom and dad had him as a result of young love, and while Soo-bin has reassured him that there’s no shame in that, Soo-bin’s mother obviously sees him as a painful and sorry result of immature behavior. It’s not even that Joon-woo and Soo-bin are considering taking it to the next level, or thinking about kids. It becomes what Joon-woo represents to the world, and the risk that anyone takes when they try to fit love in with life.
I loved that they took their time with the scene just after, as Joon-woo struggles with all of the feelings that Soo-bin’s mom has inflicted on him. There aren’t any words or punches thrown at the walls, just a young man trying to breathe as he’s overwhelmed by emotions. It was such a big, somber moment. Joon-woo isn’t defeated, but he still gets the time to feel what he feels, and to be hurt.
And then he gets the second slap to the face when his own father seems ashamed to see him and unwilling to welcome him into his life. Joon-woo’s mom and Soo-bin see him as a happy result of a young couple, while his dad and Soo-bin’s mom see him as a mistake. Joon-woo’s dad basically tells Joon-woo that his existence can ruin lives.
And of course he’s not the only adult misbehaving. Soo-bin’s mom showing the absolute worst side of herself in this episode. Her guilt trips make my skin crawl. I’m glad that Soo-bin sees right through them, but it’s also painful to see that there’s little that she can do to protect herself from them or fight back.
Many of the adults are failing pretty hard, but the students are showing some real strength of character. Oh-je is an actual saint, right? He focused on Da-hwin rather than himself, and didn’t get angry at anyone when his truth was revealed to the entire school without his blessing. As much as I did not enjoy the way things went down, I appreciated both his stoic resolve to just keep moving, and Da-hwin’s immediate turn to defend him when she discovered what she had inadvertently set into motion. Da-hwin wanted some doting pity, especially after she felt so ignored in her relationship, but as soon as someone actually tried to hurt Oh-je, she regretted how her actions got them there.
Even Ro-mi showed some character as she stepped up to protect and comfort Soo-bin. How easily it could have been for to her just stand by and let things happen. But instead she showed that there are things more important to her than besting Soo-bin.
And Hwi-young finally starts to try to change things for himself. He does value friendship, he always has, but it’s been difficult for him to show it. Now he uses his steady supply of phones to help Soo-bin out, and I was so relieved. He finally gets that Soo-bin is a treasured friend, not property, and that means helping her out, not isolating her.
Hwi-young’s plan to drag the truth out of his parents feels so risky for him, but I’m still glad he’s forging ahead. I loved the expression on Hwi-young’s face when he finally decided to do something about his parents’ interference. He looked so calm, so collected, like he’s walking into an exam he’s been studying his whole life for. He’s got Mr. Oh in his corner, and may win a few friends back to his side before his fate needs to be decided.
- Premiere Watch: A Moment at Eighteen
- Shin Seung-ho plays the piano for A Moment at Eighteen
- Throwing away the old and bringing in the new in A Moment at Eighteen
- A warm encounter begins a first love story in A Moment at Eighteen
- New posters from youth drama A Moment at Eighteen
- Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo, and more attend A Moment at Eighteen script read
- Kang Ki-young, Moon Bin join Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo in JTBC youth drama