31

Mad for Each Other: Episodes 10-13 (Series Review)

Things get intense in the final portion of our story! For all the progress our characters have made, they still have some demons to face, and battles to fight, before we reach the end of our tale. Their trust in each other is put to the test, and it’s quite the ride.

 
EPISODES 10-13 REVIEW

After ending our last review with Hwi-oh and Min-kyung’s adorable agreement and partnership, the two get even more comfortable with each other. Comfort leads to cuteness, and cuteness leads to romance. And, as mentioned in the Episode 4-9 review, Hwi-oh and Min-kyung are such a great fit that it’s a joy to watch them together.

When they finally hook up and become an official couple in Episode 10, it feels like just the right timing in the story. We’ve seen how they need each other, and how they balance each other — and the metaphor of the emergency whistle is one of the best mechanisms the story uses to show us this. Hwi-oh is the protector, and Min-kyung has a way to feel safe. But it’s too soon for the story to end, right? More closure required. And in drama, that usually means putting people to the test.

The return of the exes turns out to be our couples’ biggest test, and even though this looks very different for each of them, both reappearances start a chain reaction of chaos that continues through the final episodes.

We didn’t know much about Hwi-oh’s past before this, romantic or otherwise, but despite being tropey, I liked the return of his ex-lover. It fit the narrative quite well for me: Hwi-oh was abandoned by the woman he loved. It makes sense that the anger from that situation, and his lack of control over it, later came out in unfortunate ways in his emotions and his professional life.

His ex’s appearance is also an important part of Hwi-oh’s moving on. I would argue that between getting closure from that scenario, and falling in love with Min-kyung (and the therapy of course), he’s well on his path to healing. So when he finally gets the letter from his psychiatrist saying he’s ready to return to work, it feels like the right time.

The downside of this returning ex, of course, is the impact it has on Min-kyung. She’s shattered by this woman’s re-appearance (and taunting behavior), and Min-kyung is still so vulnerable at this point as to have her confidence in herself and others flattened in a matter of moments.

Hwi-oh might try to set it to rights later, but this doesn’t go well. It goes horribly actually. It’s a superbly written and acted exchange, mostly because we have such strong psychological insight on each of our characters at this point that we know what each is thinking, and the anger (Hwi-oh) or terror (Min-kyung) they are trying to keep at bay.

Their whole interaction here goes through such a sequence of raw emotions, from Min-kyung’s upsetness, to Hwi-oh trying to comfort her, to that horrible moment where she/we realize he doesn’t fully believe her and the whole thing turns absolutely cold.

This fight, and ostensible breakup, comes at an awful time, because it’s just when Min-kyung’s ex returns. Min-kyung ices Hwi-oh out when she incidentally needs him the most, but to his credit, Hwi-oh second guesses himself and looks into her case. From seeing that she was right about Howi, to seeing the horrible case file from her assault for the first time (aghhh!) — I love the shift we see in him here.

Then the plot gets wild! I actually never expected Min-kyung’s ex to circle back into the story in the flesh, never mind as a deranged lunatic that drugs and kidnaps her. Unlikely? Maybe, but the story uses this for such great effect — and for the final confrontation that Min-kyung needed to be able to let go — that I was on board. This drama sells its characters so well, that every piece of the plot that explodes and then comes together feels purposeful.

There’s a lot that our drama has to wrap up in its final two episodes — tearing down everything that was so carefully built, and then showing how it’s put together again. We see Min-kyung trying to be strong on her own, and bravely facing her assaulter. We see Hwi-oh turn into the very best kind of wild man — at one point literally hanging on by his fingers to the hood of her kidnapper’s car while he drives at top speed — in order to rescue Min-kyung. We see how much they care for each other, but we also know there is much healing that still needs to happen.

The two might come to an understanding, but Hwi-oh and Min-kyung have a longer road ahead of them, and each encounter is complex. Their stories and motives weave so well together that I almost don’t mind how long it takes them to reach their conclusion — and when we do get there, it’s full of such deep-hearted happiness that it’s hard not to smile with them.

So how do we sum up Mad for Each Other? It’s a drama that’s a bit hard to pin down — refreshingly so. It delivered on the craziness, but also gave us this psychological acuity the likes of which I haven’t seen in a drama for a while (or at least, one that felt this realistic). Perhaps that’s why the drama was so good — it was able to give us a story full of the zany and cute, but it also delivered the emotional depth that many rom-coms lack.

It’s possible to criticize Mad For Each Other, surely, whether it’s with the wild string of plot choices in the final quarter, or the lack of exposition around Hwi-oh facing his demons as overtly as Min-kyung did hers. However, I can’t really linger on this, or any other minor complaints, because between the details of the storytelling, and the depth it cultivated, I found this a really satisfying story. It also ended on a really nice note. The story doesn’t try to erase the fact that we’re all a bit bruised, and that life leaves its marks on us. Instead, it embraces that reality, and delivers an ending that’s warm and hopeful — one that assures us that people can heal and find balance in their lives in spite of their scars. Now that’s what I call a happy ending.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , ,

31

Required fields are marked *

My boyfriend and I love this drama! Great chemistry, tight writing, relevant subject matter (mental health), cute OST (Happy Anding hahaha).. and it was never boring! I feel it was too short, and the ending was kinda rushed. (Where did she go?) But the leads got together in the end, and that's good enough for me.

Mad is the only drama I've seen where the male lead RUNS AFTER the truck. I'm tired of trucks of doom, and this was refreshing. Also, hero putting a stop to her noble idiocy is good, too.

15
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

I assume she went to Mongolia because she was learning the language and had said she wanted to go there.

Or, maybe she pulled a Ji-ho and stayed at hostel not too far away and maybe learned how to bake a cake.

13
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

maybe she pulled a Ji-ho

😂😂😂

"She went to Mongolia" can be Dramabean code for "she took a break and came back."

6
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I cannot tell you how much I want to "go to Mongolia," myself.

Actually, I really would like to go to Mongolia someday. When @leetennant and I do our Trans Siberian rail trip, this will happen.

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Is definitely happening and a detour to Taiwan beforehand for dumplings and bubble tea.

4

❤️ I'm planning to work "I'm going to Mongolia" into every future irl conversation possible.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

We all should aspire to go to Mongolia.

3

My favorite part was where love didn't cure their mental health issues. Seriously though, it was refreshing to watch a drama that neither demonized or minimized the effects of trauma and/or mental illness. There was also a pretty good representation of non-gender conformity, even if there was a little bit of ookiness about names being used incorrectly, but baby steps are better than no steps or worse. The dog was cute, the leads were fully faceted and well acted, and I quite liked them both even though Hwi-oh was yelled too much for my taste. I could have done without Min-kyung making that terrible decision to have coffee with the ex, but well, sometimes we do things that are dumb and dangerous especially when a writer wants to set up a certain kind of situation.

Overall, I liked this drama. I liked that it was short and not overly padded with unnecessary stuff and side stories and more angst and noble idiocy than needed, but mostly I liked that it really made a good show of the effects that trauma, gossip, biases, poverty, and societal pressures can have on individuals in many different ways.

18
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree that the drama is short but still so good and to the point and touched so many important and sensitive topics in a good way.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

I never fast-forward through a drama but did through the ex-boyfriend scenes. This isn't a criticism of the drama, it made me care enough and be invested in the characters to the point where I had to avert my eyes at some scenes. Now that I know how it ends I can screw up my courage and revisit episode 10 again.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I did too! I couldn't watch the CCTV footage of the ex brutully assaulted her. It was very well written and directed though.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I really liked this drama overall. I was pleased that they weren’t magically cured but still ended up together.

One of the things I didn’t like so much was the convenience store worker youtuber arc. Because I know singing is her real life main job I mostly just found it distracting from the story. Maybe if I didn’t know that it would have worked better?

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I can’t rave about this drama enough. The second half of this show hurt so bad but so good (reminiscent of I’m not a robot so that’s great in my books).

Their plight felt real and heartbreaking. With her deeply rooted trust issues I could see why Min Kyung struggled to accept Hwi Oh and commit to another relationship but I’m so glad that Hwi Oh fought till the end to get her to change her mind. They’re not perfect characters but that’s what makes me root for them and sigh in relief that they found their happy ending together ♥️

13
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I was 100% drawn into this drama until the last episode, when the plot fell apart. Why didn't Hwi-oh ever tell her she was right about Yang? Why did she reconcile with him in the hospital, then take the noble idiocy route? Why would Hwi-oh apparently assaulting someone be what changed her mind? Why the time skip? Ugh, just too many whys for one episode. They should have wrapped up Yang and the vindictive ex in ep 12, and given ep 13 to healing and reconciliation, not to mention wrapping up with the neighborhood friends and the moms. So after a strong beginning and a strong middle, I was disappointed in the poorly thought-out ending. Criminals and hospital stays stole the time that should have been spent on what this drama did best - finding that sweet spot between laughing and crying with our quirky leads.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree that most dramas stuff a lot of plot into the last episode. The last episode of Flower of Evil was extraordinary for the breathing room it gave its characters to process what happened to them before finally reconnecting.

I think you nailed what made Mad for Each Other so special. I cherished its thoughtful and sensitive approach to difficult topics along with "that sweet spot between laughing and crying with our quirky leads."

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved this drama. This is my first time seeing oh yeon seo (I tried odyssey but dropped after the first couple of epis, didn’t like it) and jung woo seriously in anything (haven’t been able to muster up the courage to watch reply 1994 knowing I will not be able to move on from yys not getting the girl) but know from snippets that they are great actors. Of course they owned their roles in this drama. But what surprised me was how much storytelling could be done in less than an hour! And very effectively so! This was soo refreshing!!!

10
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

But what surprised me was how much storytelling could be done in less than an hour!

When I was growing up, dramas were about 43 min. (plus commercials) and comedies were about 21 min. (plus commercials). Nurse Jackie was the first drama I ever saw in 30-min. format. I was astonished you tell so much story in half an hour.

Mad for Each Other efficient storytelling was so refreshing! I support the idea of dramas having the time they need to tell their stories—which includes shorter dramas. A lot of stories just don't fit the current (bloated) economic model of hour-long (or more) 16+ episodes.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

"This hothead who's always beating people up just wants to be with the crazy woman who had an affair with a married man!"

Whoa. This was raw. This is one of the best confessions in the dramaland romance genre, a la, "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her."

There were no more secrets between these two, no more reveals, no more shame or even a cultivated veneer of a restrained and proper public behavior. The best confession tell the simplest truth with false and devastating facts as if to say, “Even if it’s not a reality for the rest of humanity, it *is* a reality between the two of us, and this is what true love is.”

In Notting Hill, Anna wouldn’t be considered *just* a girl in any of the universes imaginable. She is a world-class star with all the baggage attached. Will is not *just* a boy — he’s a mature man burned by love in his past, and refusing to get hurt (especially in the eye of the public) again. But what Anna says is this: listen, the *others* might see us this way, but we, as lovers, create our own universe, our own understanding, our own contract, even if it’s raw and painful and devastating but certainly unfathomable to the rest of the universe.

Similarly, Hwi-Oh is not *just* a bully and Min-Kyung is not *just* a home-wrecker. This might be a reality constructed by others, but between the two of them, it’s a painful lie, with even higher stakes than in Notting Hills. It’s as if Hwi-Oh says, “Even if we believe that ourselves, even if we buy into this reality, I still want to be with you.” It’s especially poignant (and quite telling by Min-Kyung’s momentarily discombobulate reaction) because it’s precisely Min-Kyung who doesn’t trust herself, doesn’t believe herself, who questions her own reality.

This whole drama featured such an amazing writing. So many raw and vulnerable moments between our OTP that could have been deconstructed! And I could go hours about mental health issues that we could have all discussed, had the drama aired on prime tv slot with conventional 16 episode structure. But alas! This is how a tender, raw romance, including a very witty comedy should be.

15
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, this is one of the best examples of "I love you despite..." instead of "I love you because...". It's REAL, loving acceptance, regardless of their flaws. And I agree with you on the writing.

I love that they see similarities in each other that led them to say they are the normal ones, and the rest are crazy. Their issues gave them a different kind of connection that they can't find in other people.

8
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh this was one of my favorite moments of the drama. As someone who struggled with mental issues myself in the past, I can tell that one of the processes one must undergo in the recovery is to stop blaming and devaluing yourself for you own deep scars and mental disturbances. When someone labeled me “crazy”, I accepted it because all evidence indeed pointed to me being “crazy”. But I slowly realized I must not take in this abuse and allow it to impede my recovery. Mine were predictable and very human reactions to the events I was going through. I had a right to express them. I especially had a right to have a non-judgemental safe space to express the reactions that I couldn’t control. Indeed who’s crazier, the “normal” crowd ostracizing and bullying the “crazy” or the “crazy” who cannot often control their reactions and many of whom (believe me) just want to get better and healthy again?

6
reply

Required fields are marked *

I didn't expect to like the drama as much as I did; I was all in. It was a step in the right direction in many ways, and I appreciated that every character - even the secondary ones - were very human in that they made assumptions and did things based on them that weren't always right, but also showed a capacity to learn and change. I like that love didn't heal MK and HO, and also that despite them ending the story together, they didn't 'save' each other.

I, too, would have liked a less-packed finale episode, but overall in some ways the messiness of it was reflective of the reality of our OTP. Life isn't linear. But if we keep going, we get there in the end. Or, true to the OST, our 'and' - a happy 'anding' is a nice way to leave our characters.

12
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I didn't expected to like this drama neither but I love it so much now that it's over! I watched it because of the auto play trailer on Netflix and then couldn't stop. I think if it's longer, it would have been exhausting. The abuse from the exboyfriend was really hard to watch, I'm not sure if I can stomach more of that storyline. And because it was short, the story is so much more intense and enjoyable

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

This was a cute drama. I'm glad I watched it!!!

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hwi Oh and Min Kyung have the BEST I Love You confession scene in the history of all Kdramas. Don't @ me. It's the truth. Proof is in the scene itself.

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Just what a gem. I thought the final episode went a touch over the top with Hwi-oh throwing himself onto the car and the CGI and it could have used another 10 minutes to let the episode breathe a bit, but it, nevertheless, landed a thoughtful, happy ending. The drama started off with the 2 characters alone, but we end the drama with a whole village - Hwi-oh's cop friends (including the one who was injured before the start of the drama), the women's group, and part-timer+Samantha.

The drama did a great job at showing our duo's struggle and how therapy and love don't necessarily cure them. There will be relapses and moments when they doubt themselves and each other because of that. But they will work on it.

The whole part where Min-kyung's trauma resurfaced was heartbreaking and beautifully acted. And given how creepy and abusive her ex was and how he went after her dog, tried to break into her apartment, and then drugged her in broad daylight at a cafe...those paranoid and OCD behaviors don't seem so out of place. And it never occurred me that one could get roofied during the day in a cafe. How scary!

A great, fulfilling story told in less than half the length of the usual kdrama miniseries. I'm not sure how korea does ratings with web dramas on kakao, but I hope this drama was considered a success!

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I would have missed this lovely series had it not been for Dramabeans. My negative reaction to the trailer was the inverse of how deeply I love Mad for Each Other. The series did so many things right that my memory has already edited out the ridiculous car scene from the final episode.

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I rolled my eyes and forgave the show because it did so much else right.

6
reply

Required fields are marked *

This has to be one of my favorite dramas in a long while. Like a bunch of other posts, I thought the 30 min format really helped the story stay tight and focused without (too many) random stray threads that don't help the story. Reminded me in some ways of it's okay to not be okay but without the crazy mama arc that I thought really hurt that series. Very little of that filler here and I think having to pack a story into a limited amount of time really helped the writers stay focused. Awesome writing, terrific acting, and of course, wonderful recaps and reviews from missvictrix (Thank You!).

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Loved the series and the review that put my emotions to pen. Thank you MISSVICTRIX! This one was truly different,: perfectly blending comedy and reality with a not all is healed, but hopeful ending! The half hour installments were an added plus for me. I wish I could have lingered in the happy ending a little longer, but it was still very satisfying. That whistle certainly became an intricate part of the plot, at the end it gave me YES surge and fist bump! Loved the performances of all the actors and actresses and their characters! Oh and like some of the other posted comments "where did she go to get somewhat better to be able to return,...Mongolia?"

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved this show a lot, although the final episode was pretty rushed and a bit confusing. In particular, who was the guy Hwi-Oh had in a headlock at the end? He seemed to be someone of significance, because Min-Kyung was walking away from Hwi-Oh forever before Hwi-Oh attacked the guy, and showed her his photos online. That made all the difference to her for some reason.

Also, as someone else pointed out, she reconciled with him at the hospital, and then she suddenly moves out and intends not to see him again. Hwi-oh comes home all excited and happy and she's gone. What happened? Show never explains it. But then she reverses herself because he says he'll go around beating people up unless she stays with him. I mean, what?

But I probably shouldn't nitpick, because the rest of the show was marvelous. I still give it a 9, although I thought it was a 10 or 11 before the last episode.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I have a question though, the scene where they went to the cinema and were watching a movie. I think starred by Ha Ji Won, what movie is that? I don’t think I have seen that

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *