Superdaddy Yeol: Episode 10
Looking your mortality in the face is never easy, and everyone has to face that abyss this hour. But as the probation period draws to a close, it’s also decision time for Mi-rae — an irony for the woman without a future. She has to force herself to look ahead and make a choice she can live with, at least until she dies, now equipped with the knowledge of how much she loves Yeol all over again.
The big questions remain, as ever, whether their tentative happiness can last and their makeshift family stay together, when the stakes are literally life and death.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
The prologue opens with Dad at Mom’s deathbed. She thanks him for staying alive, and entrusts him with protecting Yeol. In voiceover, he tells us that he was a bad husband and dad, but he’s glad for his second chance with Yeol. They’ve been able to share meals, have fun together, and he even shared a stage with his granddaughter, so he can die happy. But who will protect Yeol now?
Yeol tells Mi-rae he’s 100% sure about continuing their marriage for real, but Mi-rae says there’s something she has to tell him. Just spit it out for god’s sake! But she doesn’t get to, because Yeol gets a call.
Dad isn’t dead! But he’s in a coma. At the hospital, Woo-hyuk tells them the outlook isn’t good, and that Yeol should prepare himself. He adds that it seems like Dad got a shock that brought on a heart attack, and even if he regains consciousness, he hasn’t got long.
At Dad’s bedside, Yeol scolds him for collapsing. Dad gets agitated when Mi-rae appears, and Yeol reassures him he’s in good hands and can trust her. But Dad isn’t calmed.
Mi-rae she finds out from Dr. Choi that he had directed Dad to Woo-hyuk. He observes that it seemed like he had something to say to him. Mi-rae tries to find out if Woo-hyuk knows anything, and she wonders if Dad might have misunderstood their relationship after his drunken display at their house.
There’s a hubbub and Mi-rae and Woo-hyuk follow it to find Dad struggling to take off his respirator. Mi-rae realizes he wants to say something to her, but he passes out before he can. His heart rate plummets and Woo-hyuk begins CPR.
Yeol heads back home for Sa-rang, and finds her waiting outside. She greets him with a big wave, but he’s surprised that Mi-rae’s not back yet.
Ji-hye grills her mom for news on Yeol’s dad. She guesses Mi-rae must be there and resolves to go herself, but Mom puts her foot down and forbids her. Mi-rae is there as his family, she impresses, not as a doctor. Taking care of someone in a coma isn’t easy: Is Ji-hye prepared to do all of those things? Tending to their personal hygiene needs is only the start, she says. On top of that, you’re on high alert every moment because you don’t know when they’ll revive or when they’ll die.
Ji-hye weakly asserts that she could, but Mom isn’t finished. Liking a man is well and good, but to be able to do that much is only possible if you love with your heart and not just your eye — that’s real love. Ji-hye pettishly insists that she’d be better at it than Mi-rae, and Mom snaps at her to take care of her own mother first.
We see Mi-rae tenderly doing all the duties Dr. Hwang described, as she bathes and shaves Dad, and removes a bag of urine. Sa-rang is also at his side, a cheerful nurse, massaging his arms and performing A-Pink for him (off-key, of course).
But it’s a lot of effort, and Woo-hyuk catches Mi-rae drowsing. She resists leaving Dad’s bedside and Woo-hyuk loses his temper — can she really be taking care of someone else when she’s dying herself? She confesses that she thinks Dad has something to say to her.
Finally home, Mi-rae and Sa-rang have dinner together. Sa-rang wants to visit Grandpa and pities Yeol. Mom won’t make her pitiful like that, will she? She forbids her from becoming like Grandpa, and Mi-rae forces a smile in response.
Yeol bitterly asks unconscious Dad if he’s going to leave like Mom did. He did what he could for Dad, he argues, even giving him a daughter-in-law and pretty granddaughter. But he has an important pitch today which he has to go to, and with some kind of angry affection, he basically tells Dad not to die while he’s gone.
He meets Mi-rae in the car park and tells her it’s Hyun-woo’s test-pitch day, and his probation hangs on it. She thinks he should stay, especially after how he sent off his mom, which is a bit rich coming from you, lady. She’s touched his livewire and he erupts that this is different — mom was always by his side.
She catches his arm and says that even if Dad wasn’t by his side, he was always on his side. If he leaves, he’ll definitely regret it. Her insistence makes him angry: Did she forget that she was the reason he couldn’t be there for his mom’s last moments? But he immediately regrets it, and reins in his feelings. Instead, he says that Dad’s was always a rock he stumbled over. With that, he leaves.
Hyun-woo and his fellow players prepare for the test while the coaches talk. Both Coach Bang and Sang-hae are for putting the tests forward a few days in consideration of Yeol’s situation, but Ki-tae protests that rules are rules, but really, jerks are jerks.
Ki-tae demands a change in their deal — that whether Yeol fails or not, he doesn’t get put forward for section coach. Before they can say anything, Yeol’s voice cuts in in agreement — he doesn’t need to be section coach, as long as Coach honors his promise to put Hyun-woo in the starting line-up if he succeeds.
Approaching Hyun-woo in the locker room, Ki-tae sneers at him for going out to pitch when Yeol’s dad is critical in hospital. Of course he knows that the player has no idea what’s going on, but he’s a mean-spirited little poop-stirrer on a sabotage mission.
Upset, Hyun-woo immediately confronts Yeol: He said they were family, that he was his hyung. The fact that Yeol is there instead of with his dad makes him feel terrible. Aw, Hyun-woo, you marshmallow.
Yeol smiles at him. Putting his hands on the younger man’s shoulders, he says, “It’s because you’re family, and because I think of you as a little brother, that I couldn’t tell you.” What kind of hyung would stand in Hyun-woo’s way? And his dad would want him to do the same, he reassures him. He asks Hyun-woo to trust him and go for it, for his sake, “And for our dad’s sake.”
Dr. Jang (the hoobae doc who diagnosed Mi-rae) tells Woo-hyuk that Dad might wake up one more time, but the problem is Mi-rae overtaxing herself. Just then, Woo-hyuk discovers Ji-hye eavesdropping at the open door. It dawns on him that he saw Yeol’s dad outside his office the other night, when they had been discussing Mi-rae’s prognosis so frankly with the door open.
Yeol’s accusation of blame is on Mi-rae’s mind. At Dad’s bedside, she offers her confession. She calls herself selfish, shallow and a liar, and admits she used Yeol as she pleased while hiding her secret from him, to make him Sa-rang’s dad. “I have cancer,” she tells him. She’s in a lot of pain, and has no more than a few months left to live.
Dad reacts and the monitors beep. His hand reaches for hers and eyes still closed, he tells her, “Don’t cry.” She releases him from the oxygen mask so he can speak, and he tells her it’s not her fault — it’s destiny. He knows she’s dying, and that she sought Yeol out to be Sa-rang’s father.
Hyun-woo takes the mound, and coach and player share a nod. Ki-tae tells his batter to expect fast balls, but Hyun-woo surprises them with a controlled straight ball and scores a strike.
At the hospital, Ji-hye tags along with Woo-hyuk, who’s frantic with worry about Mi-rae, now that he suspects what dad overheard. Ji-hye bugs him and bugs him about what’s up with Mi-rae, until he snaps, and yells at her to ask for herself. But he immediately apologizes for his outburst, explaining how frustrated he is by his own helplessness, and leaves her gaping in the corridor.
Dad finally opens his eyes. He sympathizes that it must have been so hard for Mi-rae to live with Yeol every day while concealing her pain, and tells her she should stop hiding now, especially since at this last juncture, she’s become attached to him. Tears course silently down her face. Unknown to her, Ji-hye and Woo-hyuk silently look on.
Hyun-woo throws his second pitch, and it’s another straight ball, which the batter hits — all the way out of the ballpark. Hyun-woo breathes in relief, and his supporters cheer, while Ki-tae is increasingly put out.
Sitting outside, Ji-hye tells Mi-rae what her mom said about the kind of love it takes to care for the family of the man you love. Mi-rae smiles that it sounds just like Dr. Hwang to take her side over her daughter’s. Ji-hye asks her point-blank why everyone likes her — she doesn’t see what’s so special about her. She insists that she could do even better, but nobody believes in her, she pouts. Mi-rae doesn’t know why either, but she feels like she’s changed since she’s been living with Yeol.
Mi-rae smoothes the other girl’s hair, and says she’s like a flower in full-bloom. Those flowers invite butterflies with their scent, unlike the wilted flower which hides itself away. Ji-hye isn’t really following the conversation (neither am I), and Mi-rae asks her if she has the confidence to let her heart be overwhelmed with love. The conversation is cut short by an urgent Woo-hyuk calling her back in.
Hyun-woo takes strength from Yeol’s promise to be his family and to be on his side, and that guides his last throw: a slider, low and fast, striking out his opponent. The team cheers, and Yeol marches onto the field…and reams him for not throwing straight balls like he was told.
Uncowed, Hyun-woo steps closer and shows him the ball he won with: It’s the one Yeol wrote, “Ryu Hyun-woo, brother,” on. Smiling, he asks Yeol to keep on scolding him in the future, too, “Since you’re always on my side, hyungnim.”
Mi-rae calls, telling him that Dad’s time seems very close, and that he’s asking for him. He runs in at full-pelt after Hyun-woo drops him off. Sa-rang sits outside the ward quietly sobbing over grandpa, and he stops to reassure her with a hug. She sniffles that he should hurry in and say his goodbyes, “Because grandpa is your dad, Dad.” He looks so sad and proud of her at the same time.
But once inside, he’s at a loss, looking like he doesn’t know what to do. Mi-rae makes to leave them alone together, but on her way out, he takes her hand and she squeezes back. He should make peace with his dad, she encourages — he can do it. He blinks back tears and nods.
Outside, Mi-rae and Sa-rang cuddle, but Mi-rae is in bad shape, shivering and sweating. She makes the excuse of a stomach ache to find a bathroom.
Crying with pain, she throws up several times in the bathroom. This is wrenching to watch. She recalls Dr. Jang’s warning that once the painkillers stopped working, it would be hard to hide her condition. Looking at her stricken reflection, she asks Dad what she should do now.
Meanwhile, Dad revives and is glad to see Yeol’s face before he goes, and his son is prickly as usual (“Since when did you care about my face?”). But the goodbye commences, as Dad says sorry, but he’s not sorry, since he’s his dad. Although he didn’t act like a father should his whole life, he was his father nevertheless, and they spent the beginning of Yeol’s life — and now the end of his — together.
Yeol shakes his head, angry and sad that those words are just like him. Dad wheezes and his eyes roll back ominously. “I hate you…but I don’t hate you, Because you’re my dad,” Yeol says, eyes full. “Although I hated you every day, every day I longed for you, because you were the only one on my side. I hate you, but I don’t hate you,” he finishes, tears rolling down his face while he grips Dad’s hand.
Dad charges him to protect his family to the end — that’s the way to protect himself. Yeol nods. Dad’s breath rattles and no more intelligible words come out. His head lists, almost gently…and everything flatlines. Yeol looks on in disbelief, “Father?”
Mi-rae weakly makes it back to Sa-rang, and arrives in time to hear Yeol imploring Dad to wait. He sobs in earnest, and Mi-rae and Sa-rang pay silent vigil to his sorrow.
At team HQ, Coach Bang has good news for Yeol: It seems like his probation period could end with getting rehired, since he passed his evaluation with flying colors. Hyun-woo’s rehab was his crowning success. We find out it’s been 49 days since Dad died, and that Yeol’s just completed the 49th day memorial rites for him.
“Only good can happen now,” Coach Bang promises — as long as Yeol doesn’t wreck things by losing his temper, that is. He assures Coach that he’s reformed, now that he has a family to protect. Coach wonders when they’ll get to eat their post-wedding noodles, but Sang-hae butts in that they need celebratory drinks first, and takes the opportunity to call a team dinner.
They drink up rowdy toasts, and we can see that, happy and relaxed, Yeol and Hyun-woo are now much closer. Yeol pops out to try and get hold of Mi-rae. Ji-hye follows him out and tells him she left work early to go somewhere.
She asks if he’s going to marry Mi-rae officially, since the rehab period is over. He sidesteps the question by thanking her for her help and support during his probation — he’ll consider it a wedding gift, he says with a grin, and lopes away.
Dr. Jang gives Mi-rae (hello, new hair) the news that her cancer’s spreading — it’s gone to her liver now, but it’ll spread more. Mi-rae wonders at there being no miracle after all. Girl, if all you’re taking are painkillers, then no, of course there are no miracles, because even miracles do not work that way. You have to try SOMETHING. Dr. Jang says it’s not too late to start chemo, it’ll at least slow it down.
She leaves with a long face, which is how Woo-hyuk catches her. He jokingly scolds that she should put on her poker face if she doesn’t want to get caught and she smiles obediently — and then whips out a kick, which he dodges this time with a laugh. Aw, you’re learning.
He tells her that he just became an associate professor, and wants to take her out to celebrate. He jokes that his thesis was on how a single mom’s kicks increase immunity, lol. She’s proud of him, and they play-fight their way out.
She tells him over dinner that she has to end it with Yeol, since she can’t hide her illness anymore and doesn’t want to ruin his life. Woo-hyuk urges her to tell him the truth, but she argues that that would only hurt him. She’s going to leave him anyway (by dying), so what difference does it make? Woo-hyuk tells her to come to him, then — but he isn’t Yeol, who, she finally confesses, she likes 100%, “Not as a father, but as my man.”
At a florist’s shop, Yeol picks out a bouquet of lisianthus flowers, which symbolize a single, unchanging love.
Woo-hyuk drops Mi-rae off, and reminds her he’s there for her 24/7. She tells him to U-turn, and her double-meaning isn’t lost on him — he’ll turn when he’s sure it’s safe, he tells her. He implores her again to tell Yeol the truth. She’s barely a few steps away when she collapses, and Woo-hyuk is at her side in a flash, anxious.
She tries to send him on his way, but she can barely stand, and he practically holds her up. Yeol comes upon them, bouquet in hand, and misinterprets what he sees. He tosses away the flowers in anger, and storms away. She tries to follow, but the exertion drains her.
Yeol downs shots and argues that she can’t joke around like that with Woo-hyuk — the fake could, after all, become real. He tells her he wants to keep living with her even after their rehab period is over, “Okay?” …and the camera pans to an empty seat opposite him, lul.
He regrets chucking the flowers, and wishes he had a bit more form when it came to dating.
A familiar voice calls out, and Dad takes the seat opposite him, telling him that the best form with a woman is sincerity. Yeol shakes his head to rid himself of the apparition, and when he opens his eyes, Dad is gone.
Mi-rae clutches the discarded flowers. She asks Woo-hyuk how she can confess now, and sighs that it’s better to leave him now, so he doesn’t hurt later. But she doesn’t want to, she says in tears — she wants to live with him like this as long as she can, hiding it. She’s always been the bad, selfish one, she sobs, as if that’s why she deserves to suffer.
At his door, Yeol psyches himself to take Dad’s advice. But he stops dead at the sight of Mi-rae and Woo-hyuk cozying up together, feeding each other morsels.
She doesn’t even look up at his entrance, saying that Woo-hyuk is her precious hoobae, and Woo-hyuk adds that they even used to sleep in the same room.
In a rage, Yeol sweeps everything off the table and tells the other man to get out. Alone, he asks her if she really has feelings for that kid, and she calmly replies that their term is over so it’s not his business. That thing she had to tell him? “I still don’t like you, 100%. This rehabilitory marriage is now over,” she declares.
I’ve got to hand it to the show, because this takes real skill. How do you take a story that was finally on the up and derail it so heinously? Superdaddy keeps undermining itself like this. Every time it offers some good development, its next step is to undo it. I’m pretty angry at what just happened. But I can’t burn my bridges with it, since I have to come back next week, right? So let me try to be rational
unlike this show. There are two ways to look at it: Either we hold Mi-rae responsible (just when I was beginning to like you), or the writers, who’ve made her character rife with the kind of inconsistency that proves bad writing rather than a flawed person. Or both.
Her reasoning for leaving him now is, “It’s better to hurt him now rather than hurt him later, since he has to be hurt all the same.” She’s wrong, because the two hurts are very different. Dealing with the death of a person you love is not the same as dealing with their calculated betrayal. On the other hand, if she had said, “I have to leave him because I don’t want him to see me like this,” well, that I can believe in — same endpoint, different motive. It’s not the action itself that is the root of the problem, as with most of Mi-rae’s choices, but the reasoning behind it (similarly: why she didn’t join the clinical trial). It makes even less sense when her driving purpose is making a dad for Sa-rang. Now that she’s so much sicker, isn’t guaranteeing her daughter’s future even more urgent?
The basic requirement in keeping a viewer emotionally invested in a character is that they have to make relatable choices, ones that we can (to an extent, at least) understand, even if they’re poor ones. This is where Mi-rae constantly fails, as do the other major characters, although to a lesser degree. Then there’s the second half of the same problem — when one character strips away another’s agency and right to make their own choices, as Mi-rae does to Yeol. It’s up to Yeol whether he stays with her through her sickness, she doesn’t get to decide for him how much or whether he suffers. Again, this isn’t the same as Mi-rae deciding whether or not she wants him to be with her — that much is her choice. But it’s clear that she’s deciding to leave for his sake, not her own. And that’s not okay.
It’s hard to remain patient or optimistic as a viewer when the writer doesn’t respect their story or characters, and keeps taking cheap shortcuts in an attempt to wring a few moments of emotion. It’s a double shame this episode because the hour felt like it was just repeating many of the show’s earlier conflicts, sometimes blow-by-blow (i.e. Yeol’s misunderstanding with Mi-rae and Woo-hyuk vs. Mi-rae’s misunderstanding of Yeol and Ji-hye last episode), in a way that makes it feel recycled rather than clever and evocative.
Dad’s fate being dragged out over two episodes (or four, if you count the accident with Sa-rang) made it lose some its dramatic tension, because by then, we’re already inured to it. Ultimately, this isn’t real life, and it is a drama, which means we get to cut to the chase. I wish we could have had more detail on why Yeol and his father had such a complicated relationship, because there wasn’t an adequate explanation for the antipathy Yeol harbored towards him. It’s really just a testament to the actors’ skill that I still felt the moment.
This show does have certain strengths, especially in executing some of its key emotional beats. But the problem is that they often occur as isolated moments that don’t add up or contribute to the overall arc. The major emotional milestone this episode was, of course, Dad dying, and as a self-contained moment, it was accomplished and moving. The very real way it brought out Yeol’s warring emotions and the complexity of their relationship made it even sadder, and I think it hit exactly the tone and feels it aimed for, and it got me.
Similarly, the growing brotherhood between Yeol and Hyun-woo was lovely and understated, as is Yeol’s respect and care towards Sa-rang, and even his newly-found self-respect. To crown it all, even Mi-rae revealed a beautiful (and much needed) depth of character. As well as coping with her own worsening symptoms, her tender, tireless nursing of Dad seemed to show a truer, better Mi-rae, under the prickly and perfectionist exterior. Her vulnerability with Woo-hyuk (who’s also been a hero all episode) and her determination to stay with Yeol were big steps for her character. With all of those ingredients, there’s so much potential for it to go right, so why did it go so wrong? All that good overshadowed by that self-defeating ending!
Well, writing this has been therapeutic. I’m not mad anymore. I’m ready to believe Mi-rae will U-turn after a stint in Idiot City, so all we can do now is hold on until then, smelling salts at the ready.