Mad for Each Other: Episodes 4-9 (Series review)
What a fun little drama this has become! It gives me what I want in the zany rom-com department, but there’s an emotional depth here that continues to impress. As we dig into the middle half of Mad for Each Other, we learn more about our characters, and watch how their relationship evolves.
EPISODES 4-9 REVIEW
The middle chunk of our drama is about getting to know each of our main characters separately, and then together, because no matter how hard he tries, Hwi-oh can’t seem to get Min-kyung out of his hair.
Soon, though, that struggle to avoid one another becomes an impulse to be in each other’s company, and these two quickly become known throughout their apartment complex as always hanging out together.
But first, more fighting! Min-kyung is distraught and frantic when the dog she rescued disappears, and Hwi-oh brushes her off. But, because he’s basically got the softest heart around, pretty soon he’s using his investigative skills and the complex’s CCTV footage to find her dog for her.
This incident gives both Hwi-oh and Min-kyung a bit more insight on each other — perhaps the other is not as crazy as they think? But just when we think they might find an understanding, or at least lessen their antagonism, there’s more crazy.
Even though Hwi-oh has been temporarily dismissed from his job, his determination to catch the drug dealer known as “Yang,” has not subsided. When Hwi-oh pretends to be a woman online and sets up an op to catch him, he heads to the apartment’s crossdresser for help (points for how this drama pulls its tangents and details together so well).
Hwi-oh is more than a little ridiculous in his sequins and stilettos, and the operation doesn’t get far — unless you’re counting Min-kyung running into him on the street and freaking out, thinking he’s the flasher that’s running wild. These two wind up at the police station again, and it’s at this point that we realize not only how well-known Hwi-oh is as a cop, but that despite his issues, he’s well liked and respected.
Min-kyung finally turns the corner when she sees Hwi-oh in action — her fear of him turns into awe as she watches him chase and pin down the actual flasher. He’s tough and uncompromising. It’s clear how he earned his nickname at the precinct.
Min-kyung’s perspective of Hwi-oh is slowly shifting, and we see the same happen for Hwi-oh. He might be a total hothead, but he’s so very observant and aware of what’s going on around him. He picks up on Min-kyung’s terror when the elevator opens to reveal a man in a black helmet, visor down; he jumps in to play her boyfriend and protect her during the elevator ride.
Creepy helmet man turns out to be a loving father play-acting for his kids, and it’s a perfect example of how Mad for Each Other uses these tense emotional moments to bring our characters closer together, but then also undercuts them with humor and hijinks. It’s entertaining and fun to watch, but there’s also something very affecting in these moments.
Perhaps it’s because for a few moments, the story invites us into Min-kyung’s world. They do this so, so well. Min-kyung never seems like a stereotype. Instead, we see her vulnerabilities, those moments when panic sets in, the ways that certain fears are triggered and how she reacts. There’s a surprising amount of insight in the way the story handles Min-kyung; it feels extraordinarily personal, and even relatable, whether you’ve been there yourself or not.
The drama does a nice job showing us why Min-kyung behaves the way she does, and where her anxiety and paranoia came from. After being played by a married man, and humiliated and abused, she doesn’t know how to cope with the fear and pain. So, she turns it inwards. She blames herself.
Min-kyung eventually erodes her own trust in herself so much that she can convince herself of anything — that she knew he was married (she didn’t), or that she didn’t turn the stove off (she did). Hats off to this great writing. It makes us feel for, and with, Min-kyung. We see how her mind gets away from her in an effort to protect herself. It’s so well portrayed that you feel it in the pit of your stomach in certain moments.
As Hwi-oh learns her story, he not only becomes empathetic towards her, but also protective. We see this with the elevator scene, but also in several other situations — he lets her take his old sneakers so she can make it look like she doesn’t live alone. He teaches her self-defense moves. He gives her a whistle to blow in case of an emergency.
Hwi-oh might have his own healing to do, but at this portion in our story, he really serves as an anchor for Min-kyung. He makes her feel safe. His fire keeps her from drowning in her own mind. He also gives her a new perspective on life, which is shown so nicely in the scene where he buys her sunglasses with rose-colored lenses to replace her black ones.
For all the depths that this drama is able to plumb, it also keeps up its humor and hijinks, so we never get stuck in the moments of darkness or psychosis for too long. And our couple has so many cute moments, and so much bonding, hilarity, and growing attraction, that it’s hard to sum it all up except to say how fun it is to watch.
What ties it all together, though, is how these two just accept each other at face value. They know each others’ struggles and flaws, but rather than judgement, they wind up helping each other — intentionally, or not.
Hwi-oh finds someone that needs his protection, and she becomes an anchor for his righteous anger, while Min-kyung needs someone who’s pure-hearted and willing to do anything to keep her safe. Because Hwi-oh understands Min-kyung’s vulnerabilities, he’s able to build her up. And seeing Min-kyung open up again gives Hwi-oh someone to be a hero for.
Their blossoming romance works on so many levels.Though they’re both damaged souls, the story never lingers on it, and instead, their romance is full of sweetness and hope. So, in Episode 9, when the two come to an agreement to be on each others’ sides no matter what — and seal it with a handshake, and many photographs of said handshake — it’s as satisfying as it gets.