Nevertheless: Episode 2 Open Thread
While everything (and everyone) is telling our heroine that she should keep a distance from her new suitor, she can’t seem to deny her attraction. Or rather, she fights with herself against that attraction the entire episode, in a string of push-and-pull scenarios that feel alarmingly realistic.
EPISODE 2 WEECAP
The cherry blossom kiss that seemed about to happen at the end of our episode last week was interrupted by the ever-poorly-timed phone call, and Na-bi and Jae-un part without a kiss, but with heaps more tension between them.
As we venture into more of the story, we see more of Na-bi and Jae-un’s classmates, and the drama feels more full with this body of characters taking up more space in the story. Na-bi’s closest friend is OH BIT-NA (Yang Hye-ji), an edgy girl with a haircut I can’t decide if I love or hate.
But is this girl really a good friend? She spends the first half of the episode trying to convince Na-bi that Jae-un is a player and she should stay away… but then when she sees/feels what is between them when they’re together, she seems to change her course and is playfully encouraging.
Poor Na-bi doesn’t really need the encouragement, because she’s overpowered by Jae-un at every turn, even when she knows better. Their chemistry is ridiculous (how did they cast this drama!), and while Jae-un has a lot of question marks hovering around him, it’s not hard to see why Na-bi can’t seem to keep her head on straight around him.
Jae-un’s marked interest was one thing, but his propensity to touch Na-bi is another thing entirely, and it’s as if each time she falls deeper under his spell. In fact, there has probably been more skinship in this drama than in all of our 2021 drama combined — and that’s thanks to all the shoulder touching, head patting, lip brushing, waist holding, and more. And let’s not forget when Jae-un takes Na-bi’s wrists and gently pulls her arms around his neck.
But I’m torn on Jae-un. While I can see the swooniness for sure, and feel it at times, too, I’m also losing patience for him. In real life, he would have gotten an elbow in the stomach at this point. He’s all games — the meaningful glances and skinship and phone calls and inordinate attention don’t feel like a guy who’s smitten, but one who has set a master plan in motion. And the fact that Na-bi half notices this makes it all the more disturbing.
Na-bi goes back and forth all episode long between melting in his presence, and trying to distance herself and ice him out, even just a little bit. This happens on repeat, in a way that’s not at all repetitive, but instead incredibly true to life on how it works when you’re neck-deep in a crush and trying to decide what the other person is really feeling. The drama’s strongest example of this is about halfway through the episode, when Na-bi has a racy dream (hello 19 rating) where Jae-un turns up at her door and the two go at it in intimate detail. (Is this a K-drama I’m watching?!)
The morning after this dream, Na-bi is embarrassed by her own desires and shrinks back from Jae-un when he approaches her in class. Then, that same morning, she gets her period mid-class, and has to slip out and try to go home and change before the situation gets worse.
Before she gets far, Jae-un follows her out, and intuitive being that he is, understands what’s wrong right away, and gives her his shirt to tie around her waist. I might have wanted to slap him for most of the scenes leading up to this one, but yeah, who can deny this gesture? Na-bi sure can’t.
It only gets worse when Na-bi goes out drinking with a group of friends, solely because Jae-un is supposed to be there. Her ups and downs continue, feeling the tension of the room alter when he walks in, but at the same time seeing how he treats the other girls there; Na-bi remains in her hellish limbo.
The thing that makes this internal tension for Na-bi compelling is the direct contrast between her narration, which seems to exist outside of (or after) the story we are watching. For instance, during the drinks and game of spin the bottle (ugh), narrator Na-bi says that night was the perfect opportunity for her to put her feelings to rest. But instead… well, we see how it plays out. Even though Na-bi knows that Jae-un was just fooling around with another girl moments before, she kisses him, and he kisses her back. And with that, narrator Na-bi tells us, the gates of hell were opened.
Everything about this drama is not a K-drama, but I can’t tell if I’m refreshed by this, or about to click my heels three times and wish myself back to the much safer, happier world of My Roommate is a Gumiho. The only things that remind me that this is a K-drama are: the fantastic sets (particularly Na-bi’s apartment), and the overt PPL in this episode (I counted four instances, but I’m sure I missed some).
While I’m finding the drama really well-executed — from the cinematography to the all-too-realistic scenarios, I also don’t leave it feeling very good. We know Na-bi is in for it big time. Like a
moth butterfly to the flame our heroine doth go.
But a step beyond that, it’s the story that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Am I too old to care about the flirtations and sexual exploration amongst college students? Or is it just the uneasy tone this drama takes, leaving us breathless one second, and then a little queasy the next. Surely that’s the intention, so whether I’m enjoying the story or not, I can’t say this “hyper-real” genre isn’t working.