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.