Chocolate: Episode 5
Things are starting to settle down, with our tragic pair finally living in the same place. Neither are all that excited to be working together, as they’re both walking reminders of their painful pasts, but at least a lot of the anger has subsided for our neurosurgeon. And the more he learns about our chef, the more he realizes that maybe he didn’t know her so well after all.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
After Kang finds Cha-young huddled in his office closet, she falls into his arms and passes out. Kang gets her over to a bed and hooks her up to an IV, wondering to himself why she was mumbling about someone being “trapped there.” Cha-young’s ajumma friend (whose name is Seon-ae) comes rushing in, worried, and Kang is surprised to learn that Cha-young is a chef at the hospice.
Later, Cha-young wakes up to Nurse HA YOUNG-SHIL (Yeom Hye-ran), who informs her that the new doctor found her. Young-shil whispers that the new doctor is like a perfect sculpture, like Michelangelo’s David (ha). Some nurses and patients are holding a welcome party for “David” as they speak.
Kang is looking extremely uncomfortable as he’s presented with a Choco Pie cake and welcomed with applause. Little Ji-yong wants to blow the candle out, but his brother Min-yong does it for him, upsetting him. As the boys run out, their girl friend Ye-sol mutters that Min-yong is just looking out for the ill Ji-yong.
An older patient introduces herself as Suk-ja, and her guardian asks that Kang cure her disease. When Suk-ja waves the comment off, saying it’s not his job to cure her, Ye-sol speaks up: “But he’s a doctor. Why can’t he cure diseases?” After a beat of awkward silence, Kang thanks them for the party and gets up to leave.
“Then what about my mom?” Ye-sol continues. “You can’t cure her?” Kang leaves without answering, reaching the hall just as an unexpecting Cha-young does.
The two lock eyes for a tense moment, neither saying a word. Then Kang merely walks past and escapes to his office. Cha-young stays frozen, the emotions flooding in as she realizes that Kang is the new doctor “David.”
Outside, Joon pulls up to the hospice and stares at Kang’s car, remembering their confrontation about his surgery. Joon then heads over to a pottery shop, where he slaves away making bowls. Unsatisfied, he ends up smashing every one.
The next day, Joon travels to a hospital in Gyeonggi Province and watches from afar as a man helps wheelchaired (and possibly blind?) woman into a car. He wears a pained expression as the couple drives off. Hmm.
Meanwhile, Kang drops by his family’s home to ask that they reconsider his transfer; he’s a surgeon, he insists, not a hospice doctor. “A good-for-nothing surgeon who can’t even use his arm?” Grandma coldly asks.
She apologizes for making a mistake and for ever thinking he could’ve lived up to his father. Kang snaps that he’s not going to run away like his father, nor die like his mother. To that, Grandma decides to test him.
She has the housekeeper put out a bowl of beans and orders Kang to move the beans to a separate bowl. But at this point, his hand tremors are so bad that he can barely pick up one bean. Grandma suggests he find a new career, and his aunt and uncle have the audacity to smile.
Kang returns to the hospice in time to see a new patient arrive — the woman that Joon had been watching. The woman’s guardian hugs Min-sung’s father (who we’ll refer to as Director Kwon from now on), making him tear up. Once they’re alone, Kang hands Director Kwon a handkerchief. Kwon stresses that he’s totally not crying and then explains that the guardian is the woman’s husband (cameo by Lee Moo-saeng), as well as Kwon’s former student.
He cries that he even officiated the couple’s wedding, and then, like the sweet man he is, he turns the conversation over to Kang and asks if his hand is okay. He says that Min-sung would’ve been heartbroken, as he’d always bragged about how amazing Kang was. This comes as a surprise to Kang, who’d always thought that Min-sung hated he was a doctor.
Later, Tae-hyun is lingering by Kang’s car, taking pictures with it and posting them to social media, pretending it’s his. Cha-young catches him and tells him to stop his nonsense and run on back to their mother.
Tae-hyun whines that since their mom got a new boyfriend, she pretty much abandoned him. Cha-young shouts that she wishes she could toss him in a dumpster and abandon him too, but Tae-hyun just smiles and jokes that he’s not even recyclable.
Cha-young is still grumbling about her brother while she’s out picking vegetables. All of a sudden, a grandpa comes up and smacks her with his cane. He wants her to join him for jjajangmyeon again. When she asks for a rain check, he throws back, “There is no tomorrow for me. What will you do if I die tomorrow?”
Cut to: Cha-young and Grandpa in his favorite Chinese restaurant. Grandpa asks why she doesn’t like jjajangmyeon, assuming it’s because she can’t cook it herself. Offended, Cha-young takes a bite of his food and states that she could make something sooo much better… Only to trail off when the owner gives her the stink eye, lol.
Afterwards, Grandpa panics when he realizes he left the hat his son gave him at the restaurant. Cha-young offers to go back and get it, but as soon as she walks off, a motorbike loses control and accidentally knocks Grandpa to the ground.
Though Grandpa passes out from shock, he’s okay apart from some minor scrapes. Back at the hospice, as Kang patches Grandpa up, he scolds Cha-young for taking a patient outside when she’s not medical staff. Still a bit shaken, Cha-young apologizes and promises to never go out with Grandpa again.
However, Grandpa’s not having it — he’s adamant on getting his daily jjajangmyeon. When Kang forbids him from leaving the hospice, poor Grandpa turns to Cha-young, looking like he’s about to cry.
Cha-young follows Kang out the room and begs for an exception; she promises to watch Grandpa really carefully next time. Kang interrupts, saying, “I don’t care why you’re here, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t cause any trouble [until I leave].”
Kang then leaves Cha-young to tend to another patient. A woman is going into anaphylactic shock, most likely from an allergic reaction to the shrimp in her lunch. Hearing this, Cha-young panics and rushes over to the kitchen.
Nurse Young-shil stops Cha-young from going inside, as Director Kwon is already in there chewing Seon-ae out. Seon-ae quietly says that she’ll apologize to the patient, to which Kwon yells, “You think you can apologize and ask for forgiveness after killing someone?”
Sighing, Kwon states that he heard she has Alzheimer’s. Seon-ae insists that she’s been fine until now and that she doesn’t even remember putting shrimp in the patient’s dish. That’s exactly Kwon’s point, which is why he wants her and the other chefs out.
Back in the patient’s room, Kang calls for intubation to restore her breathing. He holds the tube, trying to control the shaking of his hand, while the nurses all stare nervously. He harnesses all the concentration he has to pull off the procedure.
Cha-young comforts Seon-ae, who can only pray that Kang saves the patient. Cha-young then asks their co-worker Gyeong-soo what the patient ate — seasoned cabbage — and takes a bite. After some thought, she asks Seon-ae to make her bibimbap, as a sort of last meal before leaving.
As it turns out, the patient is the little girl Ye-sol’s mother. As soon as she’s stable, Director Kwon nearly collapses from relief. Young-shil notices this and uses this chance to ask that he let the chefs off the hook.
Kwon scoffs that he can cook for the patients himself, and Young-shil’s whole demeanor changes. “What, are you going to cook them ramen noodles?” she asks, dropping the honorifics. Besides, she continues, how could he treat Seon-ae that way when she used to be his wife? Oh dang.
Meanwhile, Seon-ae prepares the seasoned cabbage bibimbap, with Cha-young watching her every move. Finally, Cha-young says, “You didn’t make the seasoned cabbage that Ye-sol’s mom ate, did you?”
She noticed that the side dish Ye-sol’s mom ate had the pickled shrimp in it, while Seon-ae’s cabbage only had soybean paste. And that’s why Seon-ae doesn’t remember making the food — it wasn’t her.
Co-worker Gyeong-soo gets all worked up, saying they should stop talking about it and leave already. (The lady doth protest too much, methinks.) Suspicious now, Seon-ae tastes the shrimp cabbage and recognizes it as Gyeong-su’s recipe.
Angry, Gyeong-soo admits that, yes, she made the dish, and that she messed up because she’d been working hard for a pathetic salary. She doesn’t understand why they have to cook with so many restrictions when Seon-ae had a perfectly good restaurant business before.
Gyeong-soo whips off her apron, seething that they can continue acting like angels while she cooks the way she wants. Seon-ae lets her leave, agreeing that she did work hard all this time. She sadly tells Cha-young to leave if she wants, too. But, of course, Cha-young stays.
Out in the hall, Ye-sol approaches Kang with a box of chocolates and thanks him for saving her mom. Kang takes one look at the box and tells her, “I don’t eat chocolate.” She asks if he’s on a diet, and avoiding the question, he asks for her ring lollipop instead. Ha, cute.
Cha-young works on dinner all by herself, and Seon-ae stands in the back, afraid to touch anything. Cha-young reminds her that the shrimp incident wasn’t her fault, and if she does make a mistake, Cha-young will be sure to catch it. Though Seon-ae’s still worried, she puts on a smile and joins Cha-young in handing out the patients’ meals.
Director Kwon eats in his office (still angry with the chefs), with Kang as company. Kang asks when he’ll be hiring new chefs, and Kwon sighs, saying that no one would want to work for such low pay. On top of that, it’s possible that the hospice will shut down soon. “When this hospice is gone, where will you go?” he asks Kang.
That night, Kang works on some hand exercises using a computer program. Though it looks awfully painful for him, he pushes through with Grandma’s harsh words ringing in his head.
The following day, Cha-young grabs some Quiznos PPL for lunch and returns to the hospice, finding Joon in the parking lot. She follows his gaze to that same female patient, who’s listening to her husband read a book.
Cha-young says hello, and Joon seems completely out of it as he asks what she’s doing there. Upon hearing that she works there, he hands her a gift bag and asks that she pass it along to patient Kim Hee-joo. “It’s something I promised to give her,” he explains.
Joon also asks for Cha-young to text him if Kim Hee-joo passes away. Cha-young marvels at the handmade plate inside and asks how he knows the patient. Glancing back at Hee-joo, he answers that she taught him pottery and that he secretly liked her for a long time.
Cha-young is still thinking about Joon while working, and she jumps when she feels a familiar tap on her shoulder. It’s Grandpa wanting to get jjajangmyeon just one last time. She sighs that she can’t get into any more trouble, making him walk off annoyed.
Grandpa wanders off and finds Tae-hyun taking pictures with Kang’s car again. He interrupts the guy’s vanity to ask if he’ll accompany him to the Chinese restaurant. Tae-hyun refuses over and over again, losing it when Grandpa smacks him with his cane.
Tae-hyun rambles on that Grandpa needs to come to his senses, that he eats at that restaurant every day because his son told him he’d come and pick him up there. “You can wait all you want, but he’ll never come,” Tae-hyun says. “Why do you think he abandoned you in the first place?”
Tae-hyun needs to shut up right about now, but he goes on that no one would come back for an old man like Grandpa, especially his jerk of a son. That angers Grandpa more than anything, and he hits Tae-hyun with his cane repeatedly. Cha-young sees what’s happening and immediately covers her brother.
As Grandpa hits the siblings, Kang shows up, having forgotten his phone in the car. Grandpa then collapses, and both Kang and Cha-young rush over to him in concern.
Ye-sol and Min-yong are in the lounge, showing off Quiznos again and hoping Grandpa recovers. Jin-yong shows up and is hurt to see that his big bro is eating the sandwich he originally gave to Ye-sol. Oh, these kids.
In his room, Grandpa is looking really weak. Director Kwon and Young-shil tell him that the Chinese restaurant is closed but that they left a note in case his son were to show up. Grandpa nods, exhausted, and asks Kwon to take him to the restaurant tomorrow. Kwon pinky promises, making Grandpa beam.
In another room, Kang faces Tae-hyun, who’s shocked to see that he’s the guy from Greece. Kang is equally surprised to learn that Tae-hyun is Cha-young’s brother, not boyfriend. When Kang tends to Tae-hyun’s wounds and he whines like a baby, Kang tells him, “Your sister got a lot more hurt than you did.”
Despite Cha-young being hurt, she works hard in the kitchen to make Grandpa some fancy jjajangmyeon. But when she brings the food over to Grandpa’s room, Kang stops her. She tries to get past but freezes when Director Kwon comes out.
“I don’t think he’ll like that,” Kwon says, referring to the food. “I think he liked the jjajangmyeon from the restaurant he was waiting for his son the best.” Kwon gets choked up, as does Cha-young, revealing that their beloved patient passed on.
Cha-young later visits the Chinese restaurant to pick up Grandpa’s hat, running into Kang. She starts to leave, when Kang calmly asks, “Do you want to eat jjajangmyeon with me?”
The two sit down, and Kang orders not two, but three orders of jjajangmyeon. He places the third bowl next to Grandpa’s hat, which aww. Cha-young smiles and asks the owner for a bottle of Grandpa’s favorite alcohol. As they eat their food and down their drinks, it begins to rain outside. They stare out the window, and we transition to a much happier picture of them — with Grandpa.
As the three laugh in this imaginary scenario, Grandpa narrates, “Director, if my children ever show up and start crying because of me, tell them that I was okay. That the jjajangmyeon was so good that I actually enjoyed waiting for them.” Most importantly, he carries no resentment towards them and wants them to know that he’ll pray for them even after he dies.
With the surprise truck of doom behind us, we’re back on track with the quiet melancholy that was introduced in the premiere episode. Maybe, after four episodes, the drama’s finally caught on that our heroes don’t need any more near-death experiences. (Kang’s had three now, and Cha-young two. Give ’em a break.) And now that we’ve gone through tragic backstory after tragic backstory, the real story can finally start. I’m loving the hospice atmosphere so much better than Geosung Hospital already. Having the kids, the nurses, and Min-sung’s sweet father there, it’s a great change for Kang. And it warms my heart to know that Cha-young and Seon-ae became such great friends that they decided to work at the hospice full-time together. There are a lot of fun dynamics here, which I hope are further explored.
I’m especially interested in Director Kwon and Seon-ae and what happened there. Does this mean that Seon-ae is actually Min-sung’s mother? I remember Min-sung telling Cha-young that he wasn’t well fed growing up, so was he referring to his parents’ divorce? Or is there more to it? In hindsight, Kang didn’t even recognize Seon-ae when they met. And I’d assume he would’ve known his best friend’s mother… Obviously, with the way Director Kwon treated her, there’s still some hostility in that relationship. I look forward to following this storyline, as well as Seon-ae’s journey with Alzheimer’s. Another storyline I look forward to is this new one with Joon and Kim Hee-joo. Joon was already an interesting character, but with a one-sided love thrown in, it adds another layer. The crabby cousin may not be so heartless after all.
What I like is that it was Cha-young who witnessed Joon at his most vulnerable. Their interactions have been played for comedy thus far (like the lunch box scene and the fake amnesia scene), so it was nice to see them have a more serious conversation. A surprisingly open conversation, too. I’m beginning to get this feeling — with Cha-young knowing the softer sides of both Joon and Kang, could she eventually be the bridge between them? Could Cha-young get these two to be friends? Please be so!
Cha-young has known for a while that Kang isn’t the same smiley boy who fed her when they were kids, as she’s experienced his coldness firsthand. But now that things have calmed down and we’ve had one misunderstanding (Tae-hyun being the boyfriend) cleared, some of that coldness has faded. He hasn’t exactly warmed up to her yet, but that’s sure to happen with time. He can say he doesn’t care about her all he wants; his actions will always say otherwise. The way he stopped her outside Grandpa’s room seemed like more of a protective thing than anything else. I’d like to think that the hospice’s positive environment is bringing those instincts out.
Still, a hospice is a hospice, meaning our characters will have to deal with a lot of painful stories, a lot of painful deaths. The grandpa’s passing and final words were sad enough, and as we get to know even more patients, that sadness is gonna keep rolling in. It makes me nervous getting to know characters like Ji-yong and Ye-sol’s mom — I don’t want to lose them when I’m still falling in love with them. I guess it’s a compliment to the drama for making me care for so many characters in so little time. (*sobs* I still miss you, Min-sung-ah.) I’ll have to prepare my heart for the many black-and-white end credit tributes to come.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won begin a romantic journey in Greece for JTBC’s Chocolate
- First teaser for JTBC’s Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Jang Seung-jo confirms JTBC drama Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang up for JTBC melo Chocolate