Dear My Friends: Episode 4
Hee-ja and Jung-ah take center stage as they deal with the aftermath of their accident. They struggle with their consciences as they try to figure out what to do next, inadvertently dragging Wan into it with them. Despite the bulk of the episode surrounding these two aunties, the other characters have their moment in the spotlight, reminding us that there are still many more stories yet to be fully explored.
EPISODE 4 RECAP — “Please, I’m begging you, don’t act like you know us.”
Jung-ah and Hee-ja’s merry road trip is cut short when they hit something in the road. Both women are shaken as the wonder what — or whom — they hit. Jung-ah gets out of the car to see and collapses to the ground once she realizes that it is, indeed, a person. Hee-ja creeps closer to investigate, but when she sees lights in the fog coming towards them, she hurries Jung-ah back to the car.
The women are silent as they make their surprisingly uneventful way down the road. When an ambulance drives by, lights and siren blaring as it makes its way to the scene of the crime, Jung-ah can no longer handle the stress and pulls over, unable to drive any more.
Wan and Yun-ha are in the midst of one of their video calls, and she tells him that she likes him. She hesitates a moment before adding that she misses his legs, but she thought she shouldn’t say anything, worried it might hurt him. He asks her when she misses his legs the most, and she admits it’s every time she thinks of him.
In a flashback, pre-accident Yun-ha playfully wrestles with Wan on their shared bed. At the town square, they laugh and dance to the music of a street band. Wan continues to confess that she misses when they talked, laughed, jumped, and ran. But she also likes him as he is now, too. Yun-ha admits that things were better back then, but he smiles as he says it’s much better now that they can talk about it. They can talk about his legs and their memories. While it’s upsetting he can’t walk, it’d be even more upsetting if they had to forget about their past together.
He adds that he still loves her. He’s not pressuring her to come back — he just wants her know that he still cares. Wan doesn’t respond, and he jokingly counts down until the next change of topic, when she suddenly says that she still loves him.
Despite her confession, he knows that she can’t come back to him. Even so, she loves him. He gently touches the computer screen where her face is, as close as they can be in this moment. Then he brings up Dong-jin. Aaah, why would you do that and ruin the moment?
He knows that she’ll just avoid the question, and she pointedly proves it by calling Dong-jin, asking him if he’s close by. She tells Dong-jin that she’s talking to Yun-ha, wondering if he’s jealous. But Dong-jin reminds her that he’s a married man, so there’s no point in being jealous.
He arrives at her apartment, and is just entering her passcode when Nan-hee appears. She’s surprised that he knows the passcode, and he tells her that Wan texted to him so he could enter without disturbing her while she’s working. Nan-hee tells him to go ahead — but it’s only so she can see the passcode for herself. Pfft.
Wan’s not exactly thrilled to see Mom enter with Dong-jin, but when Mom hears Yun-ha call out from the computer, she happily goes over to chat with him. She marvels that it’s been so long since she’s seen him — over five years since she visited Wan in Slovenia. She asks him why he didn’t marry Wan (oh, mothers…), and he says it’s because Wan doesn’t like younger men and he got tired of begging her.
Mom is still in match-maker mode when Wan kicks her off the computer, but Yun-ha also wants to say “hi” to Dong-jin. He asks him how his wife and kids are, and Dong-jin’s face falls. It’s at that point Wan finally shuts off the feed. Wan asks if Dong-jin wants to grab a beer, but he says he’ll just take the manuscript she was working on and leave. That suits Mom just fine, since she doesn’t approve of Wan going out for a drink with a married man. She tells him he should bring his family back to Korea and he politely agrees as he exits.
Mom wonders if Dong-jin is still the playboy that he was in college. Apparently, Wan and he used to date back then, but she broke up with him because he cheated on her, or so Mom affirms. Wan just wants to know if she’s leaving now, and Mom grumbles that her daughter has time for a drink with Dong-jin but can’t even spare a moment to talk with her.
Now alone in her apartment, Wan tries to get back to work. But Hee-ja and Jung-ah keep calling. Finally she answers her phone, surprised that Hee-ja is using Jung-ah’s phone. Hee-ja begs Wan to come and pick them up since Jung-ah can’t drive any more. Wan grumps that the aunties should call their own children, instead of counting on her to drop everything and take care of them.
Hee-ja says that none of their kids are answering, and tell her that if it’s such a problem, then she shouldn’t come. They’ll just freeze in the cold. Gee, thanks, auntie-guilt. Suk-gyun also tries calling Jung-ah, but she refuses to answer. He thinks she’s just being especially stubborn, and he falls asleep unconcerned.
Wan is eventually worn down by her aunties, and even though she whines about them not leaving her alone and what could have possessed them to go out at this time of night, she still gets dressed to go and rescue them.
Nan-hee is at her mother’s, and while she tends the fire, she grumbles to an invisible Young-won that if, perhaps, it happened like she said it did back then, then why is she still friends with Sook-hee? This is one grudge she refuses to give up.
When Granny and her husband join Nan-hee, Granny’s annoyed that he won’t stay in his room and persists in following her wherever he goes. Nan-hee points out that her father is just trying to apologize for all the years he pursued other women instead of her. Granny doesn’t seem to mind his attention too much as she carefully feeds him some of her potato and tries to test him on his knowledge of the Korean alphabet (since, due to an accident, he no longer has the mental abilities he used to). Nan-hee says out that Granny should accept his forgiveness and not have regrets like she did after her husband died.
Nan-hee calls Young-won, who’s between filming scenes, demanding to know why she’s still friends with Sook-hee. Wearily, Young-won tells her to stop by when she’s not working and they can talk then. She ignores other phone calls from Nan-hee and Hee-ja as she settles in her van to rest, asking her manager to get them to postpone her next few scenes because she doesn’t feel very good.
Annoyed, Wan drives Hee-ja and Jung-ah home, demanding to know why they decided to drive to the nursing home in the middle of the night in the first place. Do they think they can just order her around whenever they want, but not bother their precious children? Is she just a slave to them?
But the aunties are silent in the backseat, staring out their respective windows. Wan notices their uncharacteristic silence, assuming that it’s due to old-age exhaustion. She takes Hee-ja home first, but both aunties get out of the car and enter the house, not even giving a glance back at Wan. She grumbles at how ungrateful they are as she slides the car key under the gate.
Jung-ah is still dazed, so Hee-ja is the one who readies the blankets for her and then snuggles in next to her, asking if she needs anything to eat or drink. But then she suddenly realizes something, and springs out of bed, throwing on her jacket as she mutters, “Blood, blood, blood,” under her breath.
She grabs a flashlight and heads outside while a confused Jung-ah follows, but then she gasps when Hee-ja reveals the bloodstain on the front of the car, previously unseen in the dark. Jung-ah retrieves some rags from the trunk while Hee-ja gets the hose, and between them they scrub off the blood.
A whistle catches their attention and they pause their late-night car detailing only to see the friendly Mark Smith on his way home. He pleasantly greets the ladies and Hee-ja reassures Jung-ah that he doesn’t know Korean, so there’s no way he can report them even if he wanted to. Pffft. They hurriedly finish their clean-up job and Jung-ah drives away while Hee-ja tells her bewildered neighbor to go home.
In the morning, Jung-ah prepares breakfast, but she keeps flashing back to the accident last night, the memories of which unsettle her. She imagines herself being locked up in jail, and as she walks down the hallway, she sees through the windowed bars of jail cell her mother in the nursing home, dying.
Suk-gyun asserts his authority by asking if Jung-ah can just come and go whenever she pleases — why didn’t she go to one of her friends’ houses this morning instead, or do they hate having her around, too? Finally Jung-ah loses it as Suk-gyun continues to insult her, and she throws the entire bowl of kimchi at him. She stomps over the couch and flops down on it. Stunned, Suk-gyun asks she’s gone crazy, and she just throws a pillow at him, asking him what he’ll do about it if she has.
Hee-ja is also trying to get her nerves under control, repeating a mantra to “just act normal.” But when the phone suddenly rings, she suddenly jumps sending her lipstick across her cheek instead of her lips. It’s Choong-nam, asking what they should do. Hee-ja thinks she’s talking about the hit-and-run last night, but Choong-nam is actually talking about Gi-ja, who keeps pestering her with questions about what really happened with Hee-ja’s husband.
Once Hee-ja realizes that this isn’t about what happened last night, she just yells at Choong-nam to tell her everything is true and she can report to her to the police if she wants! Amazed after Hee-ja hangs up on her, Choong-nam sees Dong-jin walking by just then and she flags him down. But then she realizes he doesn’t know who she is, even though she knows he’s the married man who likes Wan.
As Wan gathers her clothes from the night before, she notices blood on her pants. She cleans it up, confused about how it got there. She also realizes that she left her phone in Jung-ah’s car. She has to deal with grumpypants Suk-gyun to retrieve it but after she does, she bumps into the exact same spot on the car she did last night — at the same height where that mysterious blood stain appeared on her pants.
She carefully inspects the car, but there’s not sign of blood on the fender. Wan looks closer, noting some traces in the hubcap. Remembering how rattled the aunties were last night, Wan begins to realize something isn’t right.
At church, Hee-ja confesses to a priest who looks like he’s fresh out of seminary, telling him that she killed someone. She confesses to every detail of the crime, and the baby-faced priest does his best to contain his astonishment as he encourages her to perhaps confess to one of the more experienced priests who would be better equipped to handle it.
But Hee-ja’s content, realizing she already has her answer — God is forgiving and He’s still with her every moment, no matter what. She tells the priest to pray for the victim instead. And to eat more, because he looks little thin. Pfft.
As she leaves the church, Seung-jae enters, gently grabbing her by the arm. But she walks on, ignoring him. Baby-faced priest asks if Seung-jae is still a legal advisor.
Suk-gyun eats dinner and laughs at the comedy sketches on the television. Jung-ah sits with her back to him, staring ahead, unseeing. He’s amusing himself at the thought that Hee-ja and Seung-jae slept together when they were younger, and Jung-ah leaves the room to answer her phone. Or, rather, not answer it, once she sees it’s from Hee-ja.
She switches on the TV in time to catch the news, and the reporter describes a merciless hit-and-run that happened last night. It isn’t Jung-ah and Hee-ja’s hit-and-run, but its enough for Jung-ah to have her terrifying flashbacks. In the morning, as she walks to her daughter’s apartment, Jung-ah tells Hee-ja that she’s not okay. Hee-ja says that it’s really her fault because she told her to step on the gas, but Jung-ah points out she was the one driving, so she’s the criminal.
Hee-ja tries to compose letters to her children, but she can’t think of anything to say that she hasn’t already told them. She sets out a can of food for the kitties outside her home, and then bumps into Seung-jae. He firmly tells her that she knows who he is, she knows that he’s a lawyer, and he knows what happened that night. He hands her his card, telling her to call him or he’ll just continue to show up.
In a voice-over, Wan says that after the accident, Hee-ja realized many things. She realized that she was just lonely and that she didn’t really want to die. Instead, she was grateful she could live to see the outside world. She also realized that her children were just fine without her, and that God would be with her, wherever she went. Taking on the blame for Jung-ah made her happy because it eased Jung-ah’s pain and saved their friendship.
Wan admits she didn’t understand it, and wonders if, when she’s Hee-ja’s age, she’ll begin to understand then, too.
Min-ho is treating Hee-ja to a movie date, and it’s cute how his wife teases him that since he’s out with another women, so he shouldn’t come home tonight. When he asks why his mother chose an animated film, she says she’s the one paying, so she can watch whatever she wants.
She falls asleep during the movie, and as he gently rests her head on his shoulder, he sees the cotton candy in her lap. It reminds him of time when she would take him to the amusement park when he was a kid and buy him the same sweet treat. Wan tells us that Min-ho realized in that moment that his mother could just melt away like the way cotton candy melts in his mouth. Which is why he sat with her through four showings of the movie, just so he could hold onto her a little longer.
Jung-ah is busy making kimchi for Soon-young, who tells her she’s done enough for the day so she can just leave. But Jung-ah throws down her knife, asking why she treats her mother worse than a maid. She’s always hiding in her room or sleeping — she hasn’t been able to see her daughter’s face properly for weeks.
When Soon-young just yells at her to get out, Jung-ah yells that she will as soon as she cleans up, and angrily dumps out the bowl of kimchi. In her irritated state, she doesn’t even notice that her shoes are mismatched — one of them must be Soon-young’s. After her mother is gone, Soon-young hastily fills a suitcase with clothes and jewelry.
Jung-ah ignores messages from her other daughters, complaining that she’s late and ruining their household plans. She also gets a call from her mother’s nursing home, informing her that Jung-ah’s mother doesn’t have much time left. Perhaps a month at most. Jung-ah vaguely agrees that she should visit soon.
Soon-young surprises Young-won by showing up at her office, but Young-won is delighted to see another of her “nieces.” She’s also surprised when Soon-young asks for money. She’s not begging, though, as she pulls out the fancy pieces of jewelry, explaining they’re worth a few thousand, at least.
When Young-won asks for her account number, Soon-young urgently says it has to be in cash. Young-won senses something isn’t right, and as she reaches out to gently pull Soon-young’s hair back from her face, the younger woman recoils, carefully hiding the bruises.
Wan’s at the publisher’s office, trying to finish her translation project. But the new environment isn’t helping her focus, either, as she keeps thinking about the aunties that night. She googles the intersection Hee-ja told her, but there’s no news reports of an accident. Whew. Then Wan searches for another intersection close to that one, only to find reports of the hit-and-run.
She drives out there to see for herself, noticing the banner asking for any witnesses for the crime. The chalk outline and the blood stains from the body are still on the road, and Wan fully realizes what happened that night. It’s confirmed when she sees Jung-ah sitting by the side of the road, lost in thought.
Driving back to Seoul, Jung-ah quietly says that she thinks an old man got into a car accident there. But at least it wasn’t a young adult or a child, right? Wan suggests getting a cup of tea, but the despondent Jung-ah says she doesn’t want to. As Wan babbles on, Jung-ah just tells her to be quiet.
Once she arrives at her home, Jung-ah takes the bloody rags out of the trunk of the car and continues walking, ignoring her husband’s shouts asking why she’s not coming inside. Wan also releases some pent up road rage to help her deal with the frustration of her aunties. In a voice-over, Wan informs us that at the moment she was angry at them, they had already decided to turn themselves in.
Hee-ja tries to convince Jung-ah that she’ll take the full blame, but Jung-ah insists that they go together. As Hee-ja slips one of her crucifixes into her purse, Wan tells us that Hee-ja didn’t have any matters to take care of before they turned themselves in.
They stop for a cup of tea before they go to the station, and for the briefest moment, it feels like it could be like old times. Wan continues her voice-over, informing us that Jung-ah originally decided to never turn herself in. What was the harm in hitting an old man who was soon to die? Her life, with her cold-hearted daughters, selfish husband, and dying mother was more pitiable than that old man’s life.
But that was before Wan drove her back to the city, and as she looked at herself in the rearview mirror, she realized that she is an old lady herself. Would she deserve to be killed on the street? No, she decided, which is when the guilt took over.
As the aunties drink their tea, Hee-ja tells her that at the police station, they’ll say that she did it — unlike Jung-ah, she has nothing to lose. They order another cup of tea, determined to enjoy the hot beverage for as long as possible to make up for their cold and unfortunate lives.
They call Wan, letting her know they’re on the way to the police station, telling her they’re sorry and they wish her well. Memories of how she would complain about always having to look after them rush through her mind as she hurries to find them. She realizes that her aunties aren’t shameless after all — they’ve struggled to survive for over seventy years, and she regrets pretending to know everything as she criticized them.
She’s too late, though. By the time she arrives at the cafe, they are already gone. Wan tells us that if she had been there with them, instead of tea, she would have given Hee-ja red wine and Jung-ah her favorite dark beer.
At the police station, finding strength and reassurance as they hold hands, the aunties confess their crime.
Oh, my aunties! The “Thelma and Louise” couple have been my favorite since the beginning, so this was a hard episode to watch. While the trauma of being responsible for a hit-and-run can’t be underestimated, it still hurts to see the vibrant Jung-ah so dispirited. But how amazing was it to watch the delicate Hee-ja suddenly step forward and become a fierce protector of her friend.
From what we’ve seen so far, it seems like Jung-ah has been the one always watching out for Hee-ja and taking care of her, shielding her from any difficulties or bad news. But now it’s time for Hee-ja to be the strong friend, to carry the burden and make life easier for her friend. From the moment she instinctively tried to offer Jung-ah a hard candy right after the initial accident, to when she realized that the blood on the car would be a giveaway, to deciding that it would be better for her to shoulder the blame, I loved watching her step up and take control of the situation.
While I don’t want either of the aunties to go to jail — their adventure was only just beginning! — Hee-ja’s peace in realizing that, while her family and friends would miss her, she was not needed in anyone’s life like Jung-ah is needed was incredibly touching. Her simple confidence in her faith and the gift she was bestowing on her friend made what could be a terrifying moment utterly beautiful. Their friendship is one of my favorite relationships on the show — the kind of close friendship that sometimes you can only dream about, the bosom buddy who will be with you until the end, no matter what. The kind of friendship that only grows stronger through the years, outlasting spouses and children, impervious to what life may throw at it. So long as they can hold hands, they can survive anything.
Despite these two taking up most of the screen-time (and my heart), the other aunties had their small-but-important moments. I love that at her age, Choong-nam is getting her GED and feeling no shame or remorse, considering herself to be on the same level as the rest of the students (and complaining when they won’t let her copy their homework). I’m hopeful that Jung-ah’s daughter is finally trying to escape her abusive husband, and it seems like Young-won is the auntie the children feel comfortable going to if they need something but don’t want to let their parents know about it. Although, I am worried that Young-won’s exhaustion will be something more in the end — to be fair, if there was ever a drama where I’d willingly accept a cancer plot, it would be this one, since it would at least be statistically accurate. Then there’s Nan-hee — would she tease Yun-ha about not marrying her daughter if she knew the truth about his legs?
The minor characters also deserve some love. Lee Kwang-soo is utterly fantastic so far. I mostly know him in roles that seem to be similar to his joking and abrasive Running Man character, so when I first heard about his cameo, I thought it would be more of the same. Instead, it’s been a treat to watch him play a more quiet, gentle type. The scene in the movie theater was so exquisitely tender, and probably my favorite moment of the episode. He was able to portray with such subtlety the gamut of emotions one experiences as one realizes that the person one used to idolize and look up to, is actually fragile and delicate and may not be around forever.
But let us hope that they will be around for a little while longer. I won’t rest happy until Jung-ah finally gets to see the world with her best friend by her side.
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