The Third Charm: Episode 15
In its penultimate episode, The Third Charm continues its raging storm of grief and misery. The cold autumn tears our characters down, and with an even colder winter ahead, things are starting to look completely hopeless. Our characters can stand tall and persevere, but at the end of the day, they’re still not sure what to persevere towards.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Young-jae is in a pojangmacha, practically lifeless as she drinks soju. She picks up her phone and calls Joon-young, admitting that she had no one else to call. She starts crying as says that everyone ends up sick or leaving her.
“I’ll leave too,” she concludes. She struggles to stand, only to fall and knock her table over. She gets some nasty cuts on her hand and knee from the broken glass, but she doesn’t seem to care.
Joon-young, however, is freaking out as he hears the commotion over the phone. Someone takes Young-jae’s phone and gives Joon-young the location, making him bolt for the nearest taxi.
He reaches the pojangmacha and finds Young-jae passed out, bleeding pretty badly. He runs over to a pharmacy and comes back with some disinfectant and bandages. She’s conscious by then, and she weakly tells him that she can make it home by herself.
Joon-young watches her walk past, swaying, until she trips over her heels. He’s trying so hard not to intervene, but seeing her like that, he helps her stand and guides her all the way to her apartment.
Once they’re at her door, he hands her the bag of medicine. She takes it, revealing a long scar on her wrist. (Holy shit… I didn’t think the drama would go that far.) Alarmed, Joon-young tries to pull her wrist closer, but she panics and shuts the door in his face.
On both sides of the door, Joon-young and Young-jae are frozen where they are. Joon-young eventually exits the apartment complex, but he’s so shaken up that he has to sit down.
His phone rings and he sees that it’s Se-eun. When he answers, she asks if he’s at home. He hesitates before lying that he is. “I’m sorry,” Se-eun suddenly says. “I wanted to tell you that I was sorry.” She wishes him goodnight and hangs up.
Young-jae sits on her living room floor, looking at the scar on her wrist. Then, following routine, she switches on the TV to watch another home video. This one is where the framed photo came from, with her and Ho-chul playing with So-ri outside.
Seeing how happy they all were, carelessly laughing and fooling around, Young-jae bursts into tears all over again.
The next day, Joo-ran moves into the hospital to begin chemotherapy. She’s in a lot of pain, and food only makes her nauseous, so she mostly stays in bed.
She checks her phone and finds dozens of missed calls and texts. After reading one text from Noo-ri saying that she’s missed at the salon, she shuts the phone off.
Meanwhile, Joon-young is prepping for work when Young-jae’s scar comes to mind. He’s so lost in thought that he accidentally cuts his finger.
He bandages it up just as Se-eun comes in to deliver lunch and return his planner. She notes that their families will be meeting soon, and they agree that it doesn’t feel real. Since he still seems out of it, she asks if they should move to Portugal like he suggested. He doesn’t look too sure of the idea now, though.
Young-jae is woken up by the sound of her doorbell, and she’s surprised to find Soo-jae waiting outside. She wheels him into the apartment, and he takes the emptiness in with tears in his eyes. He chides her for living this way, saying she might as well move in with him, but she doesn’t answer.
Soo-jae tries to get some food in Young-jae and keeps the conversation casual by saying that he can’t reach Joo-ran. When Young-jae still doesn’t speak up, he gives up and decides to give her some real talk.
He mentions their mom and how she’d always say that he had to be the strong mountain of the family. But he admits that after his accident, he’d killed himself in his head hundreds of times.
A tear falls as Young-jae nods with understanding. Soo-jae continues that he read a book that said even the tiniest bit of faith could move a mountain. It reminded him of their mom and gave him the necessary faith to keep living.
“Young-jae,” he says. “I know it’s not easy. After all, it took me ten years.” After they finish their meal, Soo-jae settles into his scooter to leave. But before he can, Young-jae tells him that Joo-ran is actually sick.
We then cut to Joo-ran relaxing outside, where she notices many other patients smiling and chatting. She calls Young-jae and correctly guesses that she must be walking around in the sun somewhere.
When Young-jae asks how she’s doing, Joo-ran answers that being in this environment finally made her illness feel real. What she didn’t expect was for the other patients to not look sad.
And she thinks that’s the key. She thinks that these patients are able to let everything go because they accept that they’re sick. She removes her knitted hat and wonders if she should do that too—admitting she’s sick, admitting she wants a hug.
“This autumn of ours is very sentimental,” Joo-ran says, smiling. She tells Young-jae to stop wandering around looking sad and to go home. Young-jae says that she will and hangs up with a sigh.
Joo-ran’s smile falters, and she tries her best to reform it. She then gets up to head inside, stopping short when she realizes that there’s someone there to greet her: Soo-jae. She looks scared and ashamed as he wheels up to her.
Soo-jae presents her with a flower, saying that it symbolizes the depths of hardship. She starts to cry and though he’s emotional too, he merely compliments her new haircut. He calls her crying sexy and wipes the tears away, getting a small smile out of her. Oh, my heart. So sweet.
After work, Se-eun walks by a shoe store and is drawn to a particular pair of sophisticated-looking heels. She goes in to try them on, but the biggest size they have is too small for her. She’s disappointed but decides to buy them anyway. As she leaves, she gets a call from Joon-young and agrees to meet with him, her expression sad.
Ri-won and Sang-hyun join Mom and Dad’s shopping trip for the meeting with the in-laws. Dad takes in Sang-hyun’s stay-at-home-dad attire and suggests they buy something for him too.
Sang-hyun is hesitant to try on anything expensive but eventually gives in when Ri-won says that it’s been a while since he’s worn anything stylish.
That night, Se-eun meets Joon-young at the park by his restaurant. They sit together in silence until he says, “The heart really is something. I can’t seem to control it.” He reveals that he lied and that he was really with Young-jae last night.
Se-eun hangs her head and says that she’d feel better if he wasn’t such an honest person. “So right now,” she says, still not looking at him, “I really hate you.” Joon-young hangs his head as well, letting the silence seep back in.
Later, after parting with Se-eun, Joon-young treats the whole family at his restaurant. But since Dad isn’t a fan of the wine, Joon-young offers to bring beer. He buys the beer and sits outside the convenience store for a while, needing some alone time.
When he returns, he finds Ri-won standing outside and watching the family through the window. She tells him that she never saw the point in marriage, but her opinion often sways when she sees their parents and how happy they are.
Ri-won still doesn’t think marriage would be good for her and Sang-hyun but admits that her thinking could change over time. She’s glad that Joon-young is getting married, at least, which seems to make him feel worse.
The night goes on, and Dad gets thoroughly drunk. When the family piles into the car to leave, Dad clings onto his son and slurs how proud he is—not for Joon-young getting married, but for Joon-young taking huge steps by taking on responsibilities.
Mom tells Dad to stop being cheesy and shoves him into the car, lol. Joon-young smiles and waves goodbye as they drive off. Once they’re out of sight, he huffs, conflicted, and puts his face in his hands.
Se-eun calls her mom and wishes her and the family a safe trip when they drive up tomorrow. She hangs up, and her gaze goes to the heels that she bought earlier. She thinks back to last night, after she’d found Joon-young’s planner. She’d turned around to return it and caught him running down the street to catch a cab (after his phone call with Young-jae). Se-eun didn’t know what to think.
She’d stayed in her car for a long time until she finally called him. So when he lied about being at home, she’d already known. And she hung up before breaking into tears, narrating that it was her suspicion that made him lie. In the present, she lies in bed and stares at a picture of her and Joon-young, though her eyes gravitate back to those heels.
Young-jae arrives to her apartment complex and stops just outside, seeing someone waiting for her. We cut to her sitting on a bench with Joon-young, ready to spill about everything that’s happened.
“I couldn’t keep living… I couldn’t keep living, so I ran away to here,” she prefaces. “Sometimes it’s like it was yesterday, and other times, it’s like it was a long time ago.”
We flash back to So-ri’s accident and the anguish that ensued. After the funeral, Ho-chul had tried to give Young-jae space so they could both mourn. But it only drove Young-jae to alcohol.
One day, Ho-chul came home from work and found an almost empty bottle of liquor but no Young-jae. Thinking the worst, he searched the house and then ran out to search all of their usual spots, calling her phone and getting nothing. Finally, he went to So-ri’s grave, where, sure enough, Young-jae was sitting.
She’d mumbled that So-ri’s death was her fault, and Ho-chul had told her not to think that way. He took her home, and she eventually got sick with a fever. He urged her to eat and take her medicine, but she refused, saying she felt terrible for eating, for taking medicine, and for living. Because So-ri couldn’t; she was gone. Again, Ho-chul told her that it wasn’t her fault and that things would get better.
However, Young-jae tells Joon-young, things only got worse. She fell deeper into alcoholism, always staring at that framed family picture. Having had enough, Ho-chul grabbed the liquor bottle and the frame, angering her.
They got in a struggle as she demanded the frame back, only breaking apart when the frame hit the floor and shattered. They stared at the shards in shock until Ho-chul furiously blurted out, “Why didn’t you just buy her the damn cat?!” Ow, I really felt that.
He started to apologize, but when she looked up, he knew that the damage was already done. They sat apart from each other, Ho-chul dozing off and waking to see that she disappeared. He found their bathroom locked and panicked to hear nothing but running water. He broke in and his eyes widened at the sight in front of him.
Young-jae was taken to the hospital, and we see that her wrist is bandaged up. She looked up at a crying Ho-chul and expressed how sorry she felt now that they were out of the house.
But in that house, she couldn’t think about anything else. From the couch to the dining table to Ho-chul’s eyes, all she saw was So-ri. She ceased her own crying, having come to a decision: she wanted a divorce.
Joon-young silently listens as Young-jae concludes that despite her wanting to turn back time, she’s okay now. She still thinks about So-ri all the time, which drives her crazy, but she at least won’t run away from it.
Joon-young sheds a tear as she turns to him and says that he doesn’t have to worry about her. She has many people who worry for her like Soo-jae and Joo-ran, and if she thinks about them, she can live.
When Joon-young still doesn’t respond, she says, “I hope you live well. Sincerely.” Overwhelmed, he can only give her a small nod.
She gets up to go inside, and he stays where he is, thinking back to all the times he’d chided her for living poorly. Now that he knows what she’s gone through, his words and actions seem so harsh to him.
He runs into the apartment complex and grabs hold of Young-jae’s arm. They both have tears in their eyes as she faces him and says, “You’re giving me solace again. I don’t deserve it.”
They can’t stop crying, and they look as if they wish so badly that things were different. But Young-jae can only say that he needs to go.
He doesn’t want to but understands that he should. So, slowly, reluctantly, he lets go of her arm.
I’ve realized that when watching this drama, I am Joon-young in every situation. I feel worse for Se-eun every episode, and I feel so much worse for Young-jae every episode. I just feel worse for everybody. It doesn’t feel like we’re reaching the end of the drama because there’s still a lot to wrap up, yet there’s no sign of anything even beginning to wrap up. Joon-young and Se-eun’s engagement, in particular, is in most danger of not getting the proper resolution. I think we all know that they’re going to call it off at this point, and I’ve accepted that, but I don’t want any of it to be rushed. Their characters deserve better than that.
After all, this engagement doesn’t just involve Joon-young and Se-eun—it involves their families as well. Se-eun probably spent more time with Joon-young’s family than Joon-young himself. While he was in Portugal, she practically moved in with his folks, getting to know them and coming to love them. And though Joon-young didn’t do the same with her family, he still stepped into their lives as their daughter’s fiancé. There are a lot of feelings at stake here, and he’s well aware of it, if not completely terrified by it. He’s going to break a lot of hearts, subsequently breaking his own.
We didn’t get to hear much of Joon-young’s thoughts this episode, but I think it’s pretty clear. He knows that he can’t be there for Se-eun wholeheartedly, meaning he can’t be with her as a husband. It’s not fair to either of them to jump into a marriage when he’s unsure of his feelings. Yeah, it was bad timing for Young-jae to come back into town, but in a way, it was also good timing. If Joon-young came to these thoughts later on in marriage, it would’ve been all the more devastating. He’s cutting it close—the freaking day before the family meeting—but better he do something now than later.
I think Se-eun is a good character, in that she’s sweet and understanding but has her selfish moments like anybody else. She can tell that Joon-young’s heart is too full of Young-jae for her. Whether she knows why, I can’t say, but it’s enough to let her know that this relationship won’t work anymore. Joon-young is in a weird place because while his heart is full of Young-jae, it’s not dead-set on romancing her again. It’s not enough to garner a big reunion, but it’s too much to really move on. Essentially, his tie with her is too strong to cut, so he needs her in his life, and vice versa. Who knows, maybe they’ll stay as friends and this friendship will hinder the potential for other lovers. But if that’s what makes them content, if that is the future they want, then more power to them.
One thing I really wanted to note was the symbolism with the shoes. It’s been used a lot throughout the drama, starting with the couple shoes that Joon-young and Young-jae used to wear. After Young-jae’s career-changing photoshoot, she had to switch out of those shoes to wear her, I guess we can call them, “adulting” heels. There’s no doubt that she cherished her old shoes, but after some time, they weren’t the right style for her anymore. Things got complicated. Things changed. Because of that image, the scene with Se-eun and her heels have me wondering if it’s a similar thing. But instead of it being the right time to switch out her shoes, she’s trying to force it. They don’t fit quite right, but she wants to wear them anyway. (Thanks for the subtle hint, Show; I get it.) It’s not just Se-eun, though. Ho-chul tried his best to hold onto Young-jae and their marriage, but with their daughter gone, it was no use. Once again, things got complicated and things changed. And it wasn’t anyone’s fault; that’s just how life can be.