That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 15
It’s always the ones you love that hurt you the most, and after a few episodes of emotional decline, this was the episode that turned the experience sour. While not singlehandedly negating what I’ve enjoyed about this show, this episode did manage to cram everything everything I didn’t like about this show into one package. Is it good? Is it bad? I don’t know if even *I* know, because I’m still confused about my feelings and half of the characters’ feelings. But from a plain ol’ user experience: It wasn’t fun for me.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Boss Man ensures Jin-sung’s involvement in the Rigged Game by going straight to him, claiming that he can’t trust Soo if Jin-sung doesn’t participate. Our resident loyal friend agrees on the condition that Soo doesn’t find out.
But Boss Man’s nefarious plans for him don’t end there, since he also has Jin-sung’s materialistic sister under his control.
Soo drives Hee-sun to a drinking spot on a scooter, the anguish on their faces evident since they can’t help but be reminded of Hee-joo’s death (while Soo is also reminded of his last scooter-drive with Young). They barely exchange words once they reach their destination, and choose to serve each other hefty glasses of soju instead.
Lawyer Jang tells an expressionless Young that Soo didn’t take the money, concluding that “Oh Soo must have really liked you.” He tries his best to make her happy now that he’s all she’s got, but he does grow suspicious when Young declares that she’ll be pushing the surgery back a day.
It seems like she’s lying when she reassures him that she’s not thinking of backing out, but the fact that she urges him to take another (albeit short-term) job offer should raise some red flags.
Now that they’re loosened up with a bit of alcohol, Hee-sun asks Soo why he didn’t take Young’s money. “Are you trying to look cool by risking your life?” she asks. “Do you or do you not know know the effort I put in to save your life?”
Soo nods. He knows. This causes Hee-sun to become even more confused as she tries to figure out his aim – he could have taken the money and walked away, but instead he’s returning to his old life of gambling and conning. Does that somehow redeem him? “If you’re trash, then you’re trash. If you’re a thug, live like a thug. Stop confusing me.”
His amused facade breaks a little when he admits, that yes, he should act like a thug if he is one, but he fell in love.
Soo: “Hee-sun. When I left that house, I left with dignity. Because I love her. Because she loves me too. In order to see me someday, she will live. So even if we’re apart right now… At least one time, even by chance, we will meet. Believing that, I was able to leave that house not only with dignity, but with arrogance. I didn’t even say that I was sorry. But, Young saw that side of me and told me… that she loved me.”
Words become harder for him to say as he fights back tears, especially when he tells Hee-sun that Young said she was happy, all while looking lonely. It breaks his heart to know that he hurt her, as he all but ignores Hee-sun while chastising himself through a barely-contained meltdown: “I should have just conned her. I shouldn’t have made her fall in love with a guy like me.”
Our star-crossed lovers try working out their mental anguish through exercise, though Soo breaks first and calls her. Young thinks about it with the same vapid expression she’s grown fond of and ignores the call.
Hee-sun worries for Jin-sung with the big game approaching, even though he reassures her that no one but Moo-chul could beat the dream team combo that he and his hyung make, and Moo-chul isn’t playing.
She reluctantly agrees to let him go through with it, but warns him that it’s the last time. Jin-sung kisses her on the cheek: “After this is over, let’s go to the countryside.” Oh no. Ohhhhhh no. Moments like these make my stomach sink, because you just know something bad is going to happen to Jin-sung. (Please let me be wrong. Please let me be wrong.)
Soo’s definitely suspicious that Jin-sung would so readily agree to stay out of the game, but he can’t fight Jin-sung’s megawatt “I told you to trust me!” smile. Noooo no no. *already looking for a corner to cry in*
Secretary Wang relegates herself to watching her parents from afar, smiling all the while.
Likewise, it’s nice to see Young smile again when she finds out that Lawyer Jang invited all her coffee shop friends to breakfast, with the eldest responsible for the meal. She uses the happy atmosphere to pressure Lawyer Jang into accepting that other job/case, reassuring him that she’ll be taken care of in her absence when the Coffee Shop Trio volunteers to watch over her.
He finally agrees, but only on the condition that he’ll be back before her surgery.
We find a bewildered Soo at the hospital, since he was unaware that Young pushed her surgery till the next day. Dr. Sun-hee hesitates before asking him if he knows about Moo-chul’s condition, but zips it once she realizes that Soo has no idea.
Moo-chul’s lackey comes to ask Sun-hee for painkillers on her brother’s behalf, though she rejects that request and the other – for her to give his regards to their parents. She knows he’s preparing to die and refuses to be complicit while he ties up loose ends.
Young still isn’t picking up Soo’s calls, so he writes her a text instead to ask if it’s okay for him to contact her every now and then. In the end, he chickens out of sending it.
Soo perks up when he hears the familiar clickety-clack of a white cane, and is dismayed when the wielder isn’t Young. Still, he helps the blind girl to her bus, and chooses to stay with her to protect her when the bus driver gives her a hard time.
It just so happens that her stop is near the visually impaired center Young volunteers at, and Young happens to be at the bus stop with Mi-ra and the rest of the group. Soo stares at her through the bus window while she remains unaware, and soon enough, the bus starts moving.
Soo makes the bus come to an emergency stop so he can go running after Young, landing him in the same restaurant with her and her group while he watches from another table.
Stalking is nothing new in dramaland, but Soo is seriously the saddest stalker ever. He’s even smiling like he’s that happy just to be breathing the same air as her, even if she has no idea he’s there.
Next on the agenda involves following Young in a taxi, just so he can catch a glimpse of her through their car windows. This is both pathetic and touching all at once, and I don’t know which of those I’m feeling more.
Mi-ra ends up spotting him and tells Young, and her first reaction is to ask how he looked. Mi-ra doesn’t really know how to describe his expression, but he sure didn’t look like he had a hope in his head and a song in his heart.
Moo-chul shows up at Hee-sun’s place looking like he’s seen better days. Hee-sun wins some serious points for finally calling Moo-chul out on acting like the most pitiful bastard in the world when he only lost a one-sided love – she lost her sister, her parents lost a daughter.
When she openly admits that she can’t understand him, Moo-chul all but mutters, “That’s why I’m going to try and understand myself.” He knows he’s not the only guy to have lost his girl, or to have been dumped, or to have endured a life of poverty. Hee-sun applauds all these as positive steps toward maturity.
Moo-chul falters a bit in pain, and we know why. “I was only trying my best to live,” he explains, and it sounds suspiciously like he’s learned something from Soo. He tries to explain why her that her sister’s death affected him so much, mostly because she was the only ray of light in his otherwise bleak existence.
“If I were to be born again, I wouldn’t live like this,” he adds. “But I can’t help the fact that this is the end for me. Hee-sun, even if everyone in the world curses me, I want to understand that I lived like this because I was dumb and simple. Because if I didn’t even understand myself… I’d be too pitiful.”
She knows something’s up and asks him if he’s sick, but it would be unbecoming of any drama character to ever admit to an illness.
Ah, but there’s a twist to Moo-chul’s story, as we find out from one of his minions – apparently Moo-chul is the only reason why Jin-sung and Soo are still alive, and he’s been protecting them from Boss Man all this time. Weirdly enough… I can totally buy that.
Gangster Wannabe seems to buy it too, and stalks behind a visibly ill Moo-chul as he waits for a chance to strike.
Soo convinces a group of gamblers into Boss Man’s high-stakes game, giving into their demands to make sure the game is fair. (Even though everyone knows Boss Man rigs his games.) Soo wins them over by pretending to be on their side, so that he’ll act like a double agent and take Boss Man out (monetarily), which would benefit all his rival gamblers.
But by the way Soo drops his smile out of their sight, it’s hard to know if he was telling the truth.
Young has found a new human pillow in the form of Mi-ra, though she doesn’t seem that comforted and gets up to make a call.
Meanwhile, Secretary Wang punches an I-miss-you letter in Braille to Young, only to be interrupted by her call. She picks up the phone with desperate concern, causing Young to feel guilty – she would’ve felt better if Wang was angry to get a call from the daughter who kicked her out.
“Are you scared about tomorrow’s surgery?” Secretary Wang asks.
“A little,” Young admits, adding that she knows Secretary Wang hasn’t been spending her days at a home she’s not welcome in. Wang tears up at her concern and wishes her well for her surgery, and they hang up without any hard feelings. Young’s eyes grow red with tears. All right, I’ve about had enough of this “I’m fighting the feels” face. Just let it OUT already.
Young wanders into Soo’s room in her loneliness and imagines him there smiling and talking with her like always. It’s not really clear whether these are memories of him or just her wishful thinking, but she’s happy to crawl into his bed and imagine him lying beside her as Imaginary Soo leads her fingers along the edges of a pop-up version of The Little Prince like he’s reading her a lullaby.
They’re at the part in the story where the prince calls out into a desolate landscape only to hear his echo return. “Why are all fairy tales sad?” Imaginary Soo asks, sending Young over the edge. She stifles her sobs while lying in his bed.
Lawyer Jang calls Young to tell her that the case is taking him longer than expected, though he plans to meet her at the hospital that night before her surgery in the morning. Young acts like everything is fine… but something’s fishy.
She lies to Mi-ra about Lawyer Jang returning sooner in order to get out from under her watch, though she does so with concern for Mi-ra’s job interview and a necklace gift. What is she trying to do?
Young secretly calls the hospital to delay her check-in until 9pm, because hospitals are just glorified hotels. Her last human obstacle is the maid.
Soo arrives at the hospital during the time Young is supposed to arrive, only to find out the time’s been moved. (Is she just trying to avoid him? What is she trying to accomplish?!)
The maid gets disposed of with the same lie, that Lawyer Jang will be there any minute to take care of her. Oddly enough, Young is having all her Braille books thrown away, claiming to those in the house that she won’t need them after the surgery. Which we can all translate as: Lies.
Young goes to the greenhouse once she’s finally alone, and cries when she finds that Soo re-planted the lamb’s ear she’d tossed in a tantrum.
Meanwhile, Soo waits for her at the hospital and hangs up on Moo-chul once he sees the maid bring Young’s things, but not the girl herself. Moo-chul downs painkillers to fight his increasingly-severe bouts of stomach cancer.
Lawyer Jang’s calls to Young go unheeded, as she throws the keys to the greenhouse room into the garden to hide them. Mi-ra gets a call from Lawyer Jang and starts running back toward the house. Auuuugh, this is getting frustrating.
Hee-sun sees Jin-sung off as he heads to the hospital, surprisingly chipper about getting to go into the operating room just to take care of his hyung’s girlfriend. Why are all his smiles making me nervous now? This show is going to be responsible for my ruined nails.
Soo and Sun-hee are left to worry at the hospital when Young is a no-show, though he thankfully gets a call from the missing person herself as she sits in her big, empty house.
He answers it carefully and talks like he’s easing her away from a cliff, which if he knows her well enough, is probably the metaphorical case. It’s like he knows she’s this close to skipping out on her operation, and he doesn’t want to scare her away.
The thing is, she’s already scared away, and admits as much after he catches her lying that she’s already at the hospital when she’s NOT. She tells him that it’ll all be okay since Lawyer Jang is there to pick her up, just when Sun-hee gets a call from him saying that he can’t get ahold of Young. Gah. All the LIES.
Soo starts panicking and running as he all but begs Young to listen to the tape he left her in the secret greenhouse room that explains everything, not knowing that she threw the keys away. Dude, just TELL HER NOW.
To his credit, he does try to get her to listen, but she coolly cuts him off: “I have nothing more to hear from you. I told you, I understand you.”
Soo desperately tries to get her to stay on the line so he can say what he needs, only to be met with a dead line. She’s hung up on him.
And because no one in Seoul can hail a godforsaken cab, Moo-chul comes to Soo’s rescue with the only working car around, completely hopped up on painkillers. Fun.
Young heads to the kitchen, going straight for the knives.
But wait, Moo-chul hasn’t come to the rescue after all, since he gets out of his car only to kick and punch Soo. Soo tries the pacifist route for a few jabs before he turns on him in a rage, screaming, “Young is in danger! If I don’t go right now, Young will… Young will…”
Moo-chul ekes out how good he thought Soo and Young looked together, all aglow with true love. “I always wondered if there was such a thing as love in this world. Love does exist. Just like the time when I first met you, I wanted to say goodbye to you.” And he hands over… something?
Moo-chul starts shuffling away, looking like he’s going to fall over and die any second. And… Soo just takes his car and leaves him there, with the promise that he’ll call back later. Um. Couldn’t you have just thrown him in the car with you?
Headlights engulf Moo-chul from behind, and he’s met with a knife to the gut the second he turns around. It’s Gangster Wannabe, finally cashing in on that revenge card.
Soo keeps trying to call Young as he speeds toward her house. We hear him in voiceover, “I had this to say to Young: ‘I’m sorry. I love you. It’s not over for us. Let’s meet again.”
We find Young running a suicide bath. Soo’s voiceover continues: “‘Even if it’s coincidence, for once, I sincerely hope I’ll see you.’ Although I couldn’t say all those things, because it seemed like an excuse.”
Young holds her wrist under the water stream and takes a knife to it as Soo sprints toward the house, calling her name.
“I had to say that one thing to Young… That in this hurtful world, I once thought that life was nothing. If it’s gone, it’s gone – that’s all I thought life amounted to.”
As he runs into the house, Young’s blood drips into the tub.
“But you, Young, became the last reason for me to live like a human being. Could I become the same to you? In this empty world, could I not become your last reason to live?”
Soo finally bursts into the bathroom to find Young draped over the tub, one wrist cut open and bleeding.
He desperately pulls her into his arms, calling her name to try and bring her back from the brink.
The Good: I didn’t see the suicide twist coming.
The Bad: I didn’t see the suicide twist coming BECAUSE I THOUGHT WE’D BEEN OVER THIS ALREADY.
When Young started suspiciously lying to get some alone time, I felt frustrated. When she shut down and shut out any hope I had of comprehending her thought process, I felt angry. When Moo-chul had an existential crisis before he got carjacked and stabbed, I started to feel an eerie sense of calm wash over me, so that by the time we got to Young and the knives and the bathtub and the slit wrists, I’d already run the emotional gamut between anger, confusion, and frustration to transcend into that mystical and unwelcoming land of Not Caring.
Honestly, I didn’t expect this show to jump the shark so thoroughly, but here we are, at the bookend that’s supposed to reel us back in after two episodes void of any real forward development or an overall sense of purpose. Yes, people moved on screen and said words, but once we reached the point where Young decided (AGAIN) that life’s not worth living, all the filler in-between suddenly felt meaningless. And it’s not like the words that were said had any part in helping our understanding of her when she spoke 75% lies and 25% incomprehensible half-truths-open-to-interpretation.
In the end, we can only guess at what led Young to this point, and while I’m sure any and all theories could carry equal validity (she never stopped being suicidal, just kidding she did, she was never suicidal in the first place, just kidding she was, she meant it when she told Soo she wanted to live, just kidding she didn’t, she grew and matured as a character and didn’t regress, just kidding that never happened), I just can’t understand Young, The Character. I’ve tried to, because she did have plenty of valid reasons to be sad and miserable despite how keenly she understands her circumstances, BUT, having a character with a death wish and an extremely good poker face is surprisingly the antithesis of entertainment. It’s not the suicide attempt itself that’s the deal-breaker for me, it’s that feeling that we’ve spent fifteen episodes just to come back and retread the same old ground in bloodier packaging.
When it comes down to it, I have just ONE requirement to jump on board a character’s journey: They have to care.
That’s it. That’s all. Everyone gets a few get out of jail free cards when it comes to lapses in judgment, but Young’s character arc was predicated upon her willingness to live/die, without ever convincing me (until now) that she truly wanted one more than the other. And it gets old after a while to have every other character care fifty times more than she does, always treading on eggshells around her lest she be spooked by the shadow of her will to live, thus damning her and everyone around her to six more weeks of suicidal winter.
*POST-RAGE APATHY QUIT*
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 14
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 13
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 12
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 11
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 10
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 9
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 8
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 7
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 6
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 5
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 4
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 3
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 2
- That Winter, The Wind Blows: Episode 1