Nevertheless: Episode 9 Open Thread
Our heroine might have thought she was suffering enough already, but it turns out untangling yourself from a complicated relationship is a complicated process. Between trying to understand her own heart, dealing with her two suitors, and wrestling with her art, it seems our butterfly might have just hit her nadir.
EPISODE 9 WEECAP
Is it wrong to say that I want this drama to end badly? After Na-bi and Jae-un first acted on their impulses, there’s been nothing but uneasiness and opacity between them. We have had an entire drama of them dancing around each other — Na-bi delicately refusing him, and Jae-un persisting. Na-bi struggles to subdue her attraction to The Wrong Guy, and we’ve gone along with her for the ride. Some have enjoyed it; some have not. But now, in our penultimate episode, we might finally be leaning into something decisive.
We may never know what Jae-un truly meant by his butterfly one-liner to Na-bi because when Episode 9 opens, we have shifted to the next scene. The two are inside sitting at the bar where they first met, and we have an excruciatingly long scene of listening to them talk while we look at their backs. It’s meant to help us feel the coldness and disconnect between them (and contrast with their first encounter there). It does that, but it also removes us emotionally to the point where it almost feels like we’re just hearing them read off lines. It’s the opposite approach to the scene we’ll get at the episode’s end (more on that later), which goes 10/10 on emotions and drama.
As Do-hyuk continues to keep up his relationship with Na-bi, Jae-un starts to feel threatened. Whether this is because he truly cares for her, or just because he knows he’s losing his grip on her — well, we may never know that either, because we so rarely see inside Jae-un.
But this week’s episode just might be the exception. I noted two specific moments where we heard from Jae-un via the authenticity of his inner monologue. Once when he was telling himself that Na-bi was lying about something; the other was the closing line of the episode where he tells himself, “I lost Na-bi for good.”
I was so pleased to get some insight on Jae-un that I might have gotten a little too excited about it. We still know so little. Are these thoughts of his a part of his gameplay, or are they the genuine words of his heart? Does he truly want Na-bi, or is this just the first time his master plan is falling apart around him?
A threatened Jae-un means he must turn on the charm again, and for every centimeter that Do-hyuk moves forward, Jae-un feels he has to take a mile. In the landmark scene of the episode, Jae-un is clinging around Na-bi with this promise to collect his stuff from her apartment. He’s content to wait at the door for her to bring it down to him — until he sees Do-hyuk around the corner. He makes an excuse to go in with her, just for the pleasure of torturing Do-hyuk. Ugh, Potato Boy’s face when they disappear behind the door.
That scene might have made me loathe Jae-un all over again, but really, the bulk of this episode did a great job of making us think that maybe, just maybe he’s changing his ways. Jae-un is always watching Na-bi, lingering around her, absorbing her disappointments, witnessing her lowpoints, and the intensity on his face does give us reason for pause. He seems to be feeling for her — or, at the very least, he’s conscious of her emotional state. When he tries to get sexy with her again in her apartment and asks her to date him, it feels like he might be turning the corner.
This brings me back to my opening point: I really, truly want an unhappy ending for this story. I do not want this to be a story about the goody two-shoes that transformed the heart of the bad boy. I do not even want them to part ways amicably. I kinda want some serious mayhem and crimes of passion — but perhaps where we land at the end of the episode is the best we are going to get.
Jae-un is sitting in the pouring rain waiting for Na-bi to get home. Their exchange quickly turns combative, and as ugly as it is, it’s refreshing in that it’s one of the few times they’ve actually communicated. Jae-un admits he went into her apartment that night because he saw Do-hyuk. Jae-un also admits that he asked Na-bi to date because he thought that’s what she wanted to hear. It’s ugly and it’s revealing. Na-bi leaves in tears; Jae-un stands unhappily (and photogenically) in the rain. It’s their final interaction of the episode.
With all that drama out of the way, our other couples fare far better this week. The cohabitation hijinks between our T.A.s continues, and these two are so wholesome and adorable. I expect them to be a couple by the end of the show next week. Similarly, Sol and Ji-wan embark on the new phase of their relationship. A heart-to-heart between Na-bi and Ji-wan finally gives Ji-wan the confidence she needs to move forward, and when she confesses to Sol, it’s like Sol has transformed into a new woman.
Finally, there’s Bit-na and Kyu-hyun, the couple that’s long been a foil for Na-bi and Jae-un. Despite more awkward editing and camera angles, I was pretty satisfied with the cuteness of their re-coupling. I don’t like Bit-na anymore than I did before, but I believe that Kyu-hyun does, so that works for me. Again, I wish his presence was permitted in the drama a bit more; his conversions with Jae-un provide an insight we need on Jae-un that we don’t get elsewhere. Even though the lines were still being delivered, it’s remarkably hard to get behind them when they’re coming from a blurry shape in the foreground.
A few final thoughts as we head into the drama’s final week. As much as I’m ready to pick up this drama and chuck it out the window, the most gratifying moment for me was where Nabi admits that she’s in the position she’s in because of a choice that she made. Telling Jae-un point blank that she regrets their relationship might have been the stronger moment for the plot, but the fact that she is taking ownership for her actions made me like her more than I thought I could. She’s seemed so constantly overcome and swept away by circumstances that this was a refreshingly grounding moment for her.
Also, I’m glad to see a little more focus on Na-bi’s art this week. Her stalemate is meant to translate into her personal life and be a metaphor for that, but really, I’m just glad to see these art students doing art! We haven’t seen them in the studio for a while, and I’m beginning to wonder why they’re spending all that tuition money. What does Jae-un make (besides tacky butterfly bracelets) that earns him so many raving reviews? What is Bit-na doing with all those high heels? What about Sol, Ji-wan, Kyu-hyun, and the rest? I would like to see everyone’s final projects lined up next week for a full critique. Please and thank you.