A Couple’s World: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Our heroine has endured an unthinkable betrayal, but now that the pure shock is wearing off, she’s starting to fight back. Though our heroine struggles while choosing the next path to take, this week she makes some bold choices that have (and will have) some important repercussions.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
The big bomb of a reveal might have gone off in Episode 1, but I have to say, the aftermath has been just as riveting. We left off last week with (vile husband) Tae-oh running off to his mistress when he hears about her pregnancy, and there really is no end to the shamelessness of this guy.
I think his unending deceit is the thing that Sun-woo has the most trouble wrapping her mind around. For instance, the night after he runs out with the pregnancy news, Sun-woo asks him if he was able to resolve his issue. And then she listens to his lies. It happens again and again, but she keeps testing him, hoping for a different result. To make matters worse, she has to pretend ignorance so that he doesn’t realize she knows — it’s a layer of deceit upon deceit, but it’s what she needs to do to win.
Sun-woo is getting pressure from all sides. Her “friend” Myung-sook questions her secret-reveal of the pregnancy. Her divorce attorney, who seems to be just advising her at this point, is a pretty straight-shooter. He tells her she needs solid evidence (and goes as graphic as to say photos of them in bed together) if she wants to keep her assets, and custody of her son, after this divorce. It’s a lot for Sun-woo to handle, and this isn’t the first time we see her nauseated and dizzy at the thought of her husband and Da-kyung having sex (can’t blame her!) — but still, she’s determined to win on her terms.
But that’s not the end of the pressures on Sun-woo this week. Her hospitalized mother-in-law has apparently surmised what has been going on. But, rather than be sympathetic to Sun-woo and blame her skunk of a son, she first discounts the affair (“Men will return if you leave them be”), later begs/guilt trips Sun-woo into forgiving Tae-oh for their son’s sake, and finally, blames Sun-woo herself. All of these tactics are pretty horrible.
Something that A Couple’s World is doing really well is creating a stage where its story, and characters, are polarizing and elicit strong reactions. Rather than exploring the gray space around relationships and infidelities (as VIP did, for example), this drama is just plowing through with its black and white world. This makes it more “fun,” if you will, because we as the audience are allowed to have these big, emotional, and pretty predictable reactions to characters and circumstances without judgement.
In other words, the dramatic world of this show lets us say things like, “I’m glad his mother died” or “I want to strangle Da-kyung” (and I do) or “I wish Sun-woo had stabbed him with those scissors — things we really don’t (readily) say or admit to in real life. This, like it or not, is the territory of makjang.
And on that note, I wasn’t sorry when his mother died. And I wasn’t sorry to see how upset he was, either. In fact, the drama uses his mother’s death to push Tae-oh even further into the realm of despicability. When Sun-woo goes to look for him after he’s left the building, she sees him making out with Da-kyung in her car… to the song he played when he proposed to Sun-woo so many years ago.
Again and again, Sun-woo is confronted by this double standard that it’s not only okay for men to cheat, but that it’s normal, common, and forgivable. Sun-woo is pressured to react this way about her own husband, but there’s also an interesting subplot where she diagnoses one of her patients with an STD and tells her that her husband is cheating. This woman has the opposite reaction as Sun-woo, though, and wants to keep her relationship intact, and she rationalizes that sex is just a “bodily function” for men. I highly object to this whole argument on so many levels, but this drama, if anything, wants us to experience all of this pitch-building pressure right next to Sun-woo.
Thus being, what we are really starting to see this week (already) is the huge emotional toll this is taking on Sun-woo. Every bit of it is completely warranted, but I do worry about her. She has no one to talk to, as her “friends” have either been lying to her for months, or they’re double agents that are still helping out her husband (I hate Myung-sook so much), orrrrr they have super duper ulterior motives like Je-hyuk.
That whole storyline did not go according to my liking at all — but I think I was expecting a love that this drama isn’t interested in delivering. Neighbor/friend who has pined from you from afar and is now here to emotionally support you while remaining faithful to his wife? No. Man who sees the woman he has long desired in a vulnerable position and uses it to get her in bed? Yes.
Still, Sun-woo is sharp. And the longer she lives under these conditions, the smarter she is getting. She torments Da-kyung whenever she gets the chance, she sleeps with Je-hyuk in order to get control of her household’s finances again, and she’s really charging ahead with her evidence collection with the help of Hyun-seo (one of the only other redeeming characters in this show right now).
Another thing that A Couple’s World is really bringing out beautifully is the psychological tension that results when a person is pushed to his/her limit. It’s a huge theme in the Greek tragedy to which this story is a nod (more to come on that later), but in the meantime, I’m kinda worried about Sun-woo. She’s already starting to do some crazy stuff to get her revenge on Tae-oh — and I don’t think we’ve even seen a glimpse of how far she’s willing to go.