Navillera: Episode 5
Now our ballerino has decided on a course of action, he has to work hard to make his dream a reality. Our leads’ conflicting priorities give rise to some friction, but with a little kindness and some empathy they come to a compromise, and perhaps a better understanding of one another.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Even after pressuring Eun-ho into doing extra work for her on the side, the restaurant manager gave her a low grade on her final assessment which means that Eun-ho has failed to get a permanent position at the company. Eun-ho confronts her but the manager is unapologetic and Eun-ho runs out crying. Chae-rok goes after her but loses her in the street.
Deok-chul scolds the manager for using her position to take advantage of desperate young interns. He feels sorry for young people nowadays who are tricked by duplicitous people like her into believing that their hard work will pay off, and tells her that she should be ashamed of herself.
Later that day, Chae-rok runs into Eun-ho and she tells him that since middle school her life has felt like a treadmill — she keeps running but she can never seem to move forward. Chae-rok says he felt the same way for years. He played soccer because his father wanted him to, but then he watched someone perform ballet and knew that he wanted to soar at least once in his lifetime. He wanted to be happy, so he went for it.
Chae-rok asks Eun-ho what makes her happiest, and she doesn’t have an answer. He tells her she needs to start by figuring that out before she can decide what to do next. After they part, Chae-rok calls Deok-chul to let him know Eun-ho’s safe and heading home.
Seong-san and Ae-ran sit at home waiting for Eun-ho, having already heard from a friend that she failed the recruitment. When she gets home Seong-san immediately hands her a list of companies that are hiring and tells her that she has to get a job at one of them by the end of the year.
Eun-ho says that she can’t, and doesn’t want, to do this any longer; she’s giving up. Seong-san tells her not to be ridiculous, that this is just the beginning. She shoots back that he said the same thing about middle school and high school and college. Where’s the end? He asks her if this is all she’s got in her and she says that yes, actually it is, and as her father he should be able to tell that.
Eun-ho questions how well her parents actually know her. Do they know why she hates gimbap? She’s been going to cram schools since she was 5 and was always so busy that the only thing she had time to eat was gimbap while travelling in the car, and now gimbap makes her feel sick. Eun-ho cries that she felt like she was suffocating and her parents never even noticed. Ae-ran looks shocked and upset but Seong-san is unsympathetic and just tells her that everyone feels like that, she’s not special.
Eun-ho tells Seong-san that she worked as hard as she could to be like him but she still failed, so she’s going to stop trying. She asks him what makes him happiest and he just stares at her, uncomprehending. Eun-ho says that someone asked her that today and she couldn’t answer, but she’s going to find out. She goes to her room — ignoring her father as he shouts at her to come back — and Ae-ran goes after her, leaving Seong-san standing alone, looking frustrated and lost.
The next morning Hae-nam shows Deok-chul all the vitamins and supplements she’s bought for him. Ballet is going to be hard on his body, and it’s her job to keep him healthy. She fusses as he leaves without eating, and tells him to bring his ballet teacher home for a meal when things settle down.
Eun-ho’s at home looking back at her old photos and certificates when she gets a text from Chae-rok telling her that he’s rooting for her, whatever she chooses to do. She’s frustrated, still no closer to figuring out what makes her happiest. Deok-chul dropped her car off the night before and she goes downstairs to retrieve her keys from the mailbox but finds them missing.
Deok-chul’s outside, having borrowed the keys so he could wash her car — he explains that he wanted to support Eun-ho and this is the only thing he could think to do for her right now. Deok-chul reassures Eun-ho that it’s okay to fall sometimes and it’s not her fault, and then tells her he was proud of her for standing up for herself. He’s learned in life that everything passes eventually, and so will this.
Sori’s eating lunch when Seung-joo shows up and steals the other half of her sandwich. Glaring at him, she says that it was a bad idea to have the boys practice together.
Chae-rok practices a series of jumps and Seung-joo keeps making him start over, frustrated with him for rushing to the end and not focusing properly. Things are getting tense, and Sori interjects to tell Chae-rok that the video submission’s not due for another week so he’s got plenty of time left to practice yet. The other student tells him to watch his ankles and Chae-rok snaps back at him to mind his own business, before heading back to his starting position yet again.
While watching Sori’s student practice through the window, Chae-rok calls Deok-chul to cancel today’s lesson. He’s apologetic but Deok-chul says he understands that the competition is more important. Afterwards Deok-chul thinks about how his time’s running out, and decides to go to the studio anyway and practice alone.
Chae-rok runs through his routine yet again and Seung-joo tries to call it a day because he looks exhausted, but he insists on going again. Seung-joo complains to Sori about how stubborn Chae-rok is and she says he’s a perfectionist, just like his teacher.
Deok-chul’s at the studio alone, running through his barre exercises, when he sees Chae-rok’s orthopedist watching him through the window. He’s come to check on Chae-rok, who missed an appointment, but has noticed that Deok-chul’s hips are out of alignment and takes him back to his clinic for a check-up. The doctor advises against jumping as it’s putting stress on his joints, but Deok-chul’s frustrated that his body can’t keep up with him when he has so little time left and swears the doctor to secrecy.
At the ballet school, Chae-rok’s watching the recordings of his performance back, looking unsatisfied. He goes to the clinic to get his knee looked at, pushing past the doctor who tries to tell him he’s closed — and finds Deok-chul sleeping on an exam table. When he wakes, Chae-rok tells him to take it easy and invites him to watch a practice session the next morning, saying that Deok-chul can learn by watching too.
Back at the studio that evening, Chae-rok gets a call from a ballet student he’s friends with. He’s calling to say he’s going to enlist, since he doesn’t think he’s good enough to get a military exemption. He’ll decide afterwards if he still wants to continue with ballet, since they’ll all have to retire once they reach 30 anyway. The reminder that time is running out seems to get under Chae-rok’s skin.
As Deok-chul’s about to leave the house the next morning, excited to watch Chae-rok dance, he realises he doesn’t have his phone. Hae-nam calls it and finds it in the shoe cabinet, laughing at Deok-chul’s forgetfulness, but he seems troubled that he can’t remember putting it there.
Hae-nam visits Seong-sook at her real estate agency and explains that Deok-chul gave their car to Eun-ho so he could get more exercise to train for ballet. Seong-sook didn’t know she’d given Deok-chul her blessing and whines, but Hae-nam puts her foot down. Meanwhile, not having spoken to his parents since the argument, Seong-san is fishing for information about next month’s recruitment drive at his company over coffee with a colleague.
Eun-ho runs into Seong-gwan at the bar, and asks him if he ever regrets giving up on being a doctor. He says that still wears his surgery crocs so that every day he’ll be reminded of all the awful memories and remember why he left. When he quit he had no idea what he wanted to do, but he started thinking about the lives of patients that he’d lost and decided to make a documentary about them. Eun-ho asks him if he’s happy now and Seong-gwan says that he is.
Chae-rok runs through his routine at the studio and nobody other than Deok-chul looks happy. Chae-rok’s frustrated, the other dancers exchange glances, and Seung-joo looks concerned. As Bom and her partner dance next, Deok-chul starts to mimic their movements while Chae-rok stews.
Chae-rok skips lunch and Deok-chul asks him to watch as he tries to copy some of the moves he saw Bom’s partner do. In a bad mood, Chae-rok tells him to just stick to the basics but Deok-chul keeps badgering him about learning something more advanced until Chae-rok explodes. He shouts that he obviously has much bigger problems of his own at the moment, and that as his manager Deok-chul should be helping, not distracting him. He tells Deok-chul to go home and not come back until he’s called, before storming off in a huff.
Seung-joo pulls Deok-chul aside and tells him to quit and find another class if he wants to learn half-heartedly. He understands that Deok-chul’s impatient, but it takes years of practice to dance the way Chae-rok does and Deok-chul can’t just skip over the basics because he’s afraid he’s running out of time. Seung-joo tells Deok-chul that he only took him on to help Chae-rok, but if he doesn’t intend to learn properly then it’s a waste of Chae-rok’s time to teach him.
Deok-chul apologises and goes to sit in his front yard, lamenting his thoughtlessness. As she joins him Hae-nam mentions that Seong-san sits out there when things bother him too, and Deok-chul tells her that he feels like a fool for getting impatient and causing trouble for others. She tells him to slow down because he has all the time in the world, but he obviously disagrees.
Back at the studio, Seung-joo tells Sori that he does understand Deok-chul’s impatience, but that it’s important to have a solid base to build on. He likens it to the repetitive piano exercises he hated doing as a child: he realised years afterwards that they’re necessary in order to strengthen your hands enough to play difficult pieces later on. Chae-rok had to master the basics and so will Deok-chul.
Chae-rok ignores a call from his father while practicing. His jumps still aren’t improving and he’s growing increasingly frustrated, flinging his shoes into his locker. Seung-joo tells him Deok-chul’s sitting on the stairs refusing to come up and Chae-rok, annoyed, finds him watching ballet videos on his phone. Chae-rok told him not to come back to the studio, so Deok-chul thought he’d practice in the stairwell instead.
Chae-rok rolls his eyes and tells him to just take a few days off but Deok-chul interrupts him to say that he’s learning ballet seriously, not just for fun. He apologises being a nuisance to Chae-rok but tells him not to underestimate his commitment to ballet and leaves.
Seung-joo appears and tells Chae-rok that the competition doesn’t excuse the way he’s been acting lately. It’s not fair to take his frustration out on others. Chae-rok can’t know how Deok-chul feels about ballet, and shouldn’t just assume that it means less to him than to Chae-rok himself. He needs to apologise.
En route to Deok-chul’s house, Chae-rok gets a call from Eun-ho and instead goes to the park where Deok-chul’s demonstrating his ballet moves. Chae-rok teases him about his form and Deok-chul’s surprised he and Eun-ho are close enough to call each other, jokingly warning Eun-ho to be careful making friends with men. Chae-rok apologises to Deok-chul sincerely and invites him back to the studio. As they leave Deok-chul asks Chae-rok how his practice is going, and pats him on the back when he just sighs.
Chae-rok struggles over and over again to land a jump. His shoes are falling apart but he has no spares and his feet are bruised and bleeding. Deok-chul sees him almost in tears and puts a band-aid on Chae-rok’s battered foot, telling him that he’s worked hard.
We see a montage of Chae-rok attempting the jump again and again as Deok-chul watches on anxiously. Chae-rok stops and thinks about Deok-chul telling him to trust himself before pulling off a triple spin jump, landing it perfectly at last. Seung-joo smiles at them from his office as Deok-chul gives Chae-rok a thumbs-up, having recorded the whole performance.
It’s the day the Sevilla qualifiers will be announced, and Deok-chul’s brought an anxious Chae-rok home to distract him. Chae-rok and Hae-nam are charmed by each other, and he shyly submits to her fussing. After lunch Deok-chul brags about how good Chae-rok is at ballet and makes him demonstrate a spin for Hae-nam, who’s delighted. Chae-rok tells her that Deok-chul’s doing better at ballet than he expected, and she says that he talks about nothing but ballet and Chae-rok these days. She hasn’t seen Deok-chul this bright and excited for a long time, and offers to cook for Chae-rok anytime he wants to repay him for making Deok-chul so happy.
Although Chae-rok’s enjoying himself, he hasn’t quite been able to relax and keeps checking his phone to see if he’s had a message about the competition. Hae-nam notices his distraction and decides that he needs a nap, setting out bedding in Deok-chul’s office, and despite his protests that it’s the middle of the day, Chae-rok sleeps soundly.
There’s still no email from Sevilla when Chae-rok wakes in the early evening. He sees the newspaper cuttings about mature ballet dancers that Deok-chul’s stuck to the walls and flips through his open notebook on the desk, full of Deok-chul’s ballet notes and sketches from their lessons. Chae-rok opens the door to find dinner ready and waiting for him, and afterwards watches TV with Deok-chul and Hae-nam, looking like part of the family and seeming much more settled. It’s getting late and they invite him to stay the night but he declines.
As Deok-chul walks him to the end of the street, Chae-rok says that spending the day with him and Hae-nam reminded him of living with his parents. Deok-chul tells him to call his dad. He admits that he doesn’t understand their situation, but says that if Chae-rok is thinking about his dad or missing him, then he should call him.
Just then Chae-rok finally gets an email from the Sevilla competition: he’s been accepted. He immediately tells Deok-chul the good news, grinning ear to ear, and Deok-chul says he never doubted it.
Later that evening, standing on the studio roof and remembering Deok-chul’s words, Chae-rok calls his dad to tell him he passed the first round of a ballet competition. There’s a pause and Chae-rok is about to hang-up, when Moo-young asks if he’ll be able to watch it on TV. Chae-rok replies that it’ll be online, and after he ends the call Moo-young tells his friend that Chae-rok’s entered a competition and he’s proud of his son.
Deok-chul realises that Chae-rok’s left his jacket behind and decides to take it to him. Chae-rok heads downstairs and runs into Ho-bum, who looks like he’s been waiting for him.
I think trying to understand others is going to be a key theme of Navillera. The ego-centric Seong-san is the most obvious offender, having clashed with his brother, his father and his wife over their choices, but now his daughter’s life is also beginning to go in a direction that he disapproves of. I don’t think he’s malicious, I just think he’s so self-obsessed that it’s genuinely never occurred to him to look at a situation from someone else’s perspective. I’m sure that there’ll be more tears and arguments before he gets there, but hopefully this clash with Eun-ho will serve as a catalyst to make Seong-san take a step back and really consider the people he loves in their own right, rather than just how their actions affect him.
This episode was a good reminder that time isn’t just running out for Deok-chul, but for Chae-rok too. He has a very limited window of opportunity if he’s going to pursue ballet professionally and he’s beginning to feel it closing on him. I think both Deok-chul and Chae-rok had a little bit of a reality check. Deok-chul realised that his impatience is becoming a hindrance to himself and to Chae-rok, and Chae-rok learned to empathise with Deok-chul a little more. Seung-joo told him that he can’t presume to know the depths of Deok-chul’s feelings about ballet, but I think seeing the notebooks and clippings that Deok-chul’s been collecting, a testament to his years of silent yearning, really brought that home for Chae-rok. They both have their own goals and their own priorities, but I think they’re both realising that they’ll need to compromise if they’re going to make this partnership work for the both of them.
Now we’ve learned a little more about Chae-rok’s background, it’s easy to see the parallels between our two leads. Both Chae-rok and Deok-chul saw someone dancing ballet when they were young and were immediately struck by it — both of them say they wanted to soar — but they were forbidden from pursuing it by their fathers. That’s where their paths diverged: Deok-chul obeyed and Chae-rok didn’t. Chae-rok is who Deok-chul might have been, in another life. Seung-joo had to retire after an injury, and has chosen to nurture Chae-rok and train him to perform Seung-joo’s style of ballet on his behalf. I know that Deok-chul wants to soar himself and I hope that he fulfills that dream, but I do wonder if ultimately he may need to reconcile himself to soaring vicariously through Chae-rok’s ballet too.
Hae-nam was a delight this episode. Now she’s made her mind up to support him, it was lovely to see her throw herself into Deok-chul’s corner 100% — buying him vitamins, standing strong in the face of her children’s opposition and inviting his ballet teacher over for dinner. Deok-chul’s unrelenting steadiness and kindness shone when he comforted Eun-ho and Chae-rok, but Hae-nam’s sincerity and generosity tore down the remainder of Chae-rok’s walls and he was the most unguarded we’ve seen him so far during the scenes at Deok-chul’s house. Hae-nam enjoys being a mother, and Chae-rok seems to have triggered her maternal instincts. He had to grow up very quickly after the death of his mother and incarceration of his father, but he clearly feels comfortable enough in Hae-nam and Deok-chul’s home to show a softer, more vulnerable side of himself.
On a less happy note, Deok-chul forgetting where he put his phone down worries me a lot. This is my sunshine show and I don’t like the clouds looming on the horizon.