It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Episode 3
After years of being away from home, our writer returns to retrieve the man who slipped through her fingers. And while she has no problem confronting him, it’s an entirely different story with the ghosts of her past. It’s a tough time for both leads, as they realize that their fears may be eating them up more than they thought.
EPISODE 3: “Sleeping witch”
Moon-young reunites with Kang-tae at OK Hospital, telling him she came because she missed him. On the staircase behind them, Joo-ri sees them together and gets a worried look on her face.
The couple go outside to talk, and Moon-young stands a little too close for Kang-tae’s comfort. “I’m just amazed,” she says. “You grew up well.” He asks if she knows him, and she simply says she’d like to get to know him better. Unamused, he then asks what she wants, knowing she’ll only leave once she gets it.
She smiles and answers that she wants him. He’s pretty and when she sees something pretty, like shoes or clothes, she needs to have it. She’ll do anything, whether she has to pay, steal, or take it by force. Before Kang-tae can respond (not that he could, after a line like that), Nurse Park calls Moon-young inside.
Moon-young meets with the hospital’s director OH JI-WANG (Kim Chang-wan), who wants to catch her up on her father’s condition. Director Oh is very much a straight shooter, saying that mental disorders accompanied by brain tumors are much harder to treat and that her father’s symptoms are particularly bad. Nurse Park tries to sugarcoat his words, but it’s unnecessary since Moon-young shows zero concern.
Director Oh brings up the hospital’s therapy program, which consists of many different classes — all except for literature. He was hoping Moon-young would come teach twice a week, maybe even spend time with her father. In the patients’ room, as Kang-tae is putting Go Dae-hwan to bed, another patient mentions that Dae-hwan’s pretty daughter arrived. Kang-tae takes in this information, as well as the scars on Dae-hwan’s hands.
Later, Kang-tae is changing in the locker room when Moon-young barges in all smiles and all eyes on his abs. Kang-tae pushes Moon-young out of the room, which is when Joo-ri passes by and sees them together yet again.
Once the girls are alone, Joo-ri asks what kind of relationship Moon-young has with Kang-tae. “That’s something I never understood,” Moon-young says. “How can you define a relationship in just one word?” It’s a relationship that’s been very close to death, that’s led them to surprise each other, but it’d be cliche to call all of this destiny.
By the time Kang-tae comes out, through with his shift, Moon-young is waiting for him in her car. She badgers him to get in so they can have dinner together, and irritated, he says that she won’t get through to him that easy. That’s fine with her; she says him playing hard to get will be more fun. But for now, she decides to leave him alone.
Night falls, and we see Moon-young driving down a winding path. She glances up at her rearview mirror, startled when she sees a woman in the backseat. But when she looks back, there’s no one there. She’s spooked once again when she nearly hits a deer, and she uh… has a screaming match with it to make it go away. Pfft.
Kang-tae and Joo-ri run into each other in their neighborhood, and on their walk home, Joo-ri mentions that she thought he’d be eating dinner with Moon-young. Kang-tae assures her that they’re not that close and that he’d rather spend his only mealtime outside of work with his brother.
Meanwhile, Moon-young finally makes it to her destination — the now dark, decrepit mansion that she once lived in. We hear Sang-in narrate, as he’s talking to Seung-jae in his office, that Moon-young’s father built the mansion to celebrate her birth, and in the middle of the forest so her mother could write.
Moon-young enters the mansion, and it almost seems to breathe back into life. She finds her old bedroom and plops onto her covered bed, muttering that she’s starving. Transition to Kang-tae, Sang-tae, Jae-soo, Joo-ri, and Joo-ri’s mom (Kim Mi-kyung) eating samgyupsal on the roof of their apartment building.
Joo-ri’s mom is beaming, happy to have three young men in her building who provide rent. She looks especially happy to have Kang-tae, giving him extra rice. Hm, guess Mama’s picked herself a son-in-law.
Back at the mansion, Moon-young is freezing in bed, and just behind her, we see that someone (or something) wrote “Welcome” on the window. A voice narrates the story of Sleeping Beauty, a princess cursed to sleep for many years. And as the voice continues, watery footprints lead up the staircase, towards Moon-young’s room.
Moon-young jerks awake and finds herself staring at a floating figure right above her. “This fairy tale,” the woman says, “tells you that you can never escape your destiny.” Moon-young is frozen in place, tears pricking her eyes, as the woman comes closer and closer, soon lying right next to her.
“The prince’s kiss.” The woman caresses Moon-young’s face. “I suppose he could break the curse. But don’t get your hopes too high. Because I’m going to kill that prince.” Moon-young then sees her younger self, staring into a lake, as that same woman sinks and begs for her to save her.
Moon-young jerks awake for real this time, shaken by her dream. She starts to sob when she hears a different voice behind her — Kang-tae. She imagines him cupping her face and telling her not to cry, making her smile. But in reality, we see that she’s calming herself down by doing the Butterfly Hug Method alone.
The next morning, Sang-in calls Moon-young to figure out some kind of game plan against her scandal. Moon-young tells him to use her father as an excuse, to say that she had to retire in order to care for him. And Sang-in is right on board, thinking this will make her fans want her to come back.
At OK Hospital, a new VIP patient is checked in (cameo by, eeee, Kwak Dong-yeon!). Kwon Gi-do is the son of an assemblyman, and he seems to be quite friendly with Director Oh and Nurse Park already. Apparently, he has manic syndrome, and he comes every spring due to his episodes.
Soon, Gi-do is stripping down in his room, showing off to the camera, and good lord, the bar covering him up. He gets well-acquainted with Kang-tae, revealing what got him in trouble this time — spending 20 million won at a nightclub and running off into the street, yes, naked. And we see the whole ordeal in hilarious detail.
Jae-soo gets his new restaurant, a pizza place, set up, where he also has Sang-tae drawing caricatures for customers. Sang-tae is worried Kang-tae will be mad, as they’re lying to him about Sang-tae going to school. But Jae-soo reminds him that he needs the money.
Moon-young holds her first literature class at OK, with Kang-tae and another caregiver keeping watch. She asks the patients what a fairy tale is, dismissing a man who answers “me marrying IU” (haha). Serious, she says that it’s, “A cruel fantasy that illustrates the brutality and violence of this world in a paradoxical manner.”
Moreover, a fairy tale isn’t something that gives people hopes and dreams, but a stimulant that makes them face reality. Once they wake up from their dreams and see life for what it is, they’ll be happy. Moon-young smirks at Kang-tae, who watches her incredulously.
In the break room, Joo-ri learns from Nurse Park that Moon-young is here to stay. Nurse Park could tell Moon-young couldn’t care less about her father, so she assumes Director Oh was right in thinking she’s only here because she wants something.
Cut to Moon-young looking at said something, Kang-tae. It’s after class, and Kang-tae is asking her if she really believes in what she said about fairy tales. She does, and she thinks that he needs to accept that he’s not satisfied; she can see desire in his eyes.
As Kang-tae walks off, Moon-young notes that he’s being cold when he was so warm to her last night. He turns back to ask what she’s talking about, and she explains that she dreamt of him holding her. She hilariously reenacts it and admits that she’s horny.
They’re in the main lobby, so Kang-tae tells her to lower her voice. But then she loudly asks, “Want to sleep with me?” He pushes her out of there as fast as he can — it’s almost a reflex now — but everyone’s already heard.
Now alone, Kang-tae gets Moon-young up against a wall and reminds her that he doesn’t have time for her games. So what, she says, if he had the time, he’d be playing along? She suggests he stop living a boring life and start having some fun; she knows he wants to.
He snaps that she doesn’t know him, and she calls him a hypocrite. He backs off as if she slapped him, and she wonders why he seems so hurt by the word. After all, everyone can be a hypocrite, living with hatred and not admitting to it. She leaves him with that, heading back into the hall.
Moon-young’s smile disappears, as she notices her father in a wheelchair up ahead. Her father cries out in fear, earning a nurse’s attention, but Moon-young walks on by without a second glance.
Sang-tae comes by to meet up with Kang-tae, but he wanders off when he catches a glimpse of Moon-young walking away. Before he can catch up with her, Kang-tae finds him and guides him back inside for a session with Director Oh.
At first, Sang-tae is nervous around Director Oh, but he loosens up when he’s asked about his toy dinosaur. Director Oh takes him and Kang-tae to a huge blank wall by the stairwell and asks that he create a mural of the hospital’s view.
Kang-tae isn’t so sure about this, but Director Oh insists, “This is my prescription for him.” To their surprise, Sang-tae is more than happy to do it, as long as he’s paid, of course. Hee.
That night, at home, Kang-tae sees Sang-tae stashing some money away in a secret box. He asks what his hyung is saving up for, and Sang-tae shows him a folded up ad for a camping car.
Sang-tae says that with a camping car, they won’t have to move every year. They won’t have to worry about the butterfly or about the landlord bothering Kang-tae. Moved by the sentiment, Kang-tae hugs him and reassures him, “I don’t need a house, car, or money. All I need is you, really. You’re my everything.”
The next day, the caregivers shake their heads seeing Gi-do’s assemblyman father on TV promising his audience to get rid of the mental hospitals. Speaking of whom, Gi-do makes a grand escape the second no one’s watching.
Gi-do reaches the parking lot, when Moon-young’s car stops in front of him. Gi-do does his signature move — flashing her — which doesn’t faze her one bit. Knowing Kang-tae should be on his way, she invites Gi-do to go on a joyride.
While Joo-ri is driving Kang-tae to work, they get the call that Gi-do escaped and that Moon-young took him. They see Moon-young’s car speeding toward them, Gi-do whooping out the sunroof. Kang-tae has Joo-ri stop her car, and he gets out into the middle of the street, making himself a barrier. Ack!
Kang-tae yells for Moon-young to stop, as does Gi-do once he realizes Moon-young is speeding up. She’s racing toward him, smiling with intent, and then hitting the breaks. The car stops a few feet from him, and he doesn’t even flinch. Joo-ri, however, falls to the ground, calling Moon-young crazy.
Moon-young rolls down her window and tells Kang-tae, “You’re not running away. Or avoiding me. I’m impressed.” She urges him to get in and join them, but he just yells at her to get out. She wonders why he’s always worried about her, and frustrated, he says that she makes him worry.
To that, she points out that he could ignore her. As if tempting him, she hits the gas again and zooms away. He takes Joo-ri’s car and chases after them, all the way into town. They make quite the mess, getting the police on their tail and wrecking up an outdoor market.
Passing Assemblyman Kwon’s election campaign, Gi-do goes up to the sunroof again and warns people not to vote for his dad. And (whether this is intentional or not), Moon-young stops the car at the center of the campaign and suggests they have some fun here. Without hesitation, Gi-do sprints for the stage.
Gi-do announces to everyone that he’s Assemblyman Kwon’s youngest son and the mentally ill one in the family, and his dad collapses in shock. Kang-tae finally appears, running over, but stops short as Gi-do’s speech turns emotional:
“I was the only stupid one in my family. But that’s not my fault. I was just born a little dumb. [Dad] hit me because I didn’t get good grades, he looked down on me because I couldn’t understand properly, he locked me up for causing trouble. I mean, I’m also his child. But he treated me like I was invisible. I just wanted his attention.”
Gi-do’s eyes have been filling with tears this entire time, but he grins again and cries that he’s gone crazy for real. His dad’s men hurry on stage to grab him, and he flails about as he dodges them.
Kang-tae is so captivated by the sight that he barely notices Moon-young approaching him and standing next to him. He’s imagining himself as Gi-do, smiling ear to ear and jumping around without a care in the world.
Moon-young breaks his trance, saying Gi-do sure is having fun. And Kang-tae quietly wonders if he should just give in and have fun with her. She turns to him, looking surprised, and then slowly smiles.
Before, when we saw Gi-do’s memory of being chased out of the nightclub, he was actually running around the hospital, reenacting it all. Kang-tae was following and watching with a sweet smile as Gi-do announced to the patients that the “drinks” were on him.
Gi-do then headed into the gym, onto the treadmill, to “run away” from his dad’s men. He eventually jumped down, the excitement draining from his face, as he concluded that he ended up back here, in the hospital. Seeing Gi-do’s spirit diminish so quickly, Kang-tae’s face fell as well.
Okay, if I’m crying now, in only Episode 3, I am doomed. After Gi-do’s colorful entrance, I did not expect the drama to turn that around and make it emotional. But I guess I should’ve known, this being Kwak Dong-yeon, who’s always been able to make me laugh and cry within the same five minutes. To be honest, I was hesitant to fully enjoy the drama’s humor, which has been surprisingly constant. I was worried the comedy would make fun of the characters with mental illness, turn them into stereotypes, and I’m relieved to see that that’s not the case. The arc for patient Mr. Kim, from the premiere, fell kind of flat for me, but Gi-do’s arc hit right where it hurts. The way his behavior was edited was funny (the bars, y’all, the bars), but after hearing his speech, his actions now seem sad. It made him less a character and more a person — a person who had issues and wanted to be accepted regardless.
We’re still early in, but I would really love it if the drama went therapy-forward. I think we’re already going down that route, and that’s great, but I don’t want the drama to just dip its toes and come out — I want that deep dive. Therapy can be surprising, for people with all different kinds, and all different levels, of worries and fears and trauma. Everyone can benefit from it, even if the only reason is to have someone to chat with. Yet if someone needs therapy, there’s this stigma that there’s something wrong with them. Which, okay, let’s be real, nobody’s perfect, just as Moon-young pointed out. I don’t think Kang-tae believes that he’s perfect, but I do think he’s acting okay when he’s not (roll credits). It’s understandable, since he had to take on a parent role at a young age, but he can’t just ignore his own mental health.
Moon-young has an extreme way of thinking (an extreme way of everything, really), but she’s right in saying that bottling things up can make people sick. Kang-tae is a strong person, and strong people can break. They can let loose, they can complain. I read a comment in the last recap, saying our couple truly is the perfect match, and I really liked the explanation. It said that Moon-young can help Kang-tae lose control and that he can help her maintain control, bringing balance. And since I like metaphors, I think of them as each other’s anchors. She’s the anchor that will set him free, encouraging him to live, and he’s the anchor that will make sure she doesn’t float away. She’s been the one pushing the relationship so far, to the point where it reads as toxic, so it’ll be interesting seeing where this ending will lead us, now that he wants to go all in.
In turn, I wonder if Moon-young will do the same and allow Kang-tae to take care of her. I want to talk about that dream sequence, and not just because it was creepy and gorgeous as hell. (Did anyone else think of the Bent-Neck Lady from The Haunting of Hill House?) I don’t think there are any paranormal elements, per say, but there’s no doubt that the ghost of Moon-young’s mother is all too real for her. I don’t want to jump to conclusions just yet, but it looks like Moon-young might’ve watched her mother die when she could’ve saved her. We know that her mother must’ve fed her thoughts of being cursed or being a monster, and the more you hear something, the more you believe it. Moon-young never received love, never gave it, never felt it, because she never knew how. Can people with her disorder technically feel love? I don’t know. Can anyone, besides those with the disorder, really know?
Anyway, it was the part immediately after, with dream Kang-tae consoling her, that got to me. On the surface level, she wants him for purely selfish reasons, and below that, the reason is most likely that she wants him to accept and love her. Still selfish, maybe, but we can all be a little selfish sometimes, right? I think she just needs proof that not everything she touches gets destroyed. And he was beginning to show her that by standing his ground in the street. He may be intimidated by her, and she may push him away, but I have a feeling he’ll always bounce back.
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