Thirty-Nine: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
In the wake of the tragic news, our clinic director struggles to cope and her strange behavior begins worrying those around her. Her almost-beau steps up to the plate and does his best to console and support her as she tries to figure out how to break the tragic news to her friends. Meanwhile, our cosmetics counter manager gets closer to her neighborhood restaurant owner.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Before picking up where we left off last week, we get a retroactively sad flashback where the trio talks lightheartedly about who will hold their funerals and decide that Chan-young will live longest. Then, we’re back to Mi-jo stumbling out of Jin-seok’s office.
Sun-woo makes me like him even more this week with his gentle care in the wake of Mi-jo’s concerning meltdown. He follows her out because she’s obviously not okay and in no state to drive safely. She wants to see Chan-young, so he drives her there without question.
Sohn Ye-jin does a great job conveying Mi-jo’s shock and pain through her dead-eyed stare and volatile emotions. She goes from numbness to rage after she arrives at Chan-young’s and overhears Jin-seok’s wife KANG SUN-JOO (Song Min-ji) berating Chan-young for her relationship with Jin-seok. When Sun-joo makes a comment about Chan-young needing to live well in her remaining years, Mi-jo physically attacks her.
Needless to say, everyone around Mi-jo is concerned for her at this point with her out-of-character behavior and soulless eyes. She insists she’s fine which is an obvious lie. It’s Sun-woo who manages to get the truth out of her the next day and does what he can to support her emotionally while she figures out how to tell Chan-young.
I find it disconcerting that, for some reason, the duty for telling Chan-young about her terminal illness falls to Mi-jo rather than Chan-young’s doctor. And why was she told before Chan-young anyway? She’s not even a family member!
Regardless, knowing the truth, it’s hard to watch Chan-young happily visiting her parents and talking about how she’ll care for them when they get old. When Mi-jo finally does tell her, Chan-young takes it in stride. Chan-young did order a CT scan, so she seemed to know something might be up. She stays calm even when her doctor tells her she has a less than 1% chance of survival.
One note on filming style – what is with the jerky camera work? It was particularly noticeable during the scene when Mi-jo tells Chan-young about her diagnosis. That should’ve been a very emotional scene, but I was so distracted by the shaking camera that it lessened the impact. I even checked to see if it was my computer. There are some artsy tendencies in the filming, so maybe it’s an attempt at flair gone awry.
Moving on, Chan-young and Mi-jo once again butt heads, but this time it’s because Chan-young decides she won’t get chemo. She chooses to live her estimated six months as normally as possible rather than spend them in a hospital, especially since chemo would only buy her an extra six months.
Meanwhile, Joo-hee is obliviously having a streak of good luck. Her mom, who had cancer but has been in remission, got a clean bill of health. Adding to her good mood, Joo-hee even won about $7,000 in the lottery.
There’s an odd sense of detachment with Joo-hee’s character, as if she’s in another drama. She feels like a side character, which has been bugging me. She hasn’t gotten nearly the depth and attention Mi-jo and Chan-young have, but I started to think that might be intentional.
When Mi-jo and Chan-young meet up with Joo-hee after the hospital appointment, she knows something’s up. Joo-hee calls them out for always keeping her out of the loop and is annoyed that others treat her like she’s fragile. I hope this signals that she’ll get her own time to shine and won’t be forever relegated to the sidelines.
After learning the truth, Joo-hee ends up bonding with Hyun-joon over drinks at his restaurant after hours. Despite her drunken scene at his restaurant nights prior – apparently, Joo-hee has a habit of getting overly drunk – he’s still friendly with her, and they decide to be each other’s neighborhood confidants.
She tells him about Chan-young, and he tells her about his relationship troubles. Honestly, I like their strange friendship and don’t know that I want the drama to couple them off. It probably will, but we’ll see.
Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, Jin-seok chooses now to ask his wife for a divorce. He’s finally had enough, especially after she starts causing more problems. She pressed charges against Mi-jo for the assault, although Jin-seok gets her to drop them with some ominous threats about knowing something.
It turns out, that something is quite huge. The entire reason Jin-seok married Sun-joo was that she got pregnant, but he later discovered the child isn’t biologically his. Even knowing the truth, he’s kept quiet for years. In fact, Jin-seok only stayed married to Sun-joo because he doesn’t trust her to raise their son – she’s apparently not a great mom.
I have to admit, Jin-seok won major points with me this week. Not saying his behavior towards Chan-young wasn’t selfish, but his love and dedication toward his kid make me think he’s not all bad. He’s even planning to fight for custody in the divorce.
He tells Chan-young the truth about his son and that he’s getting a divorce. She can’t believe the timing and begs him to reconsider, telling him about her diagnosis. Jin-seok completely breaks down in grief, and they hold each other while they cry.
In the following days, Mi-jo drives Chan-young crazy by following her everywhere – driving her places, making her meals, calling her all the time. Joo-hee, in a sweet yet horrifying move, rips up her winning lottery ticket in the hopes of passing her luck to Chan-young.
Although Mi-jo has a really hard time accepting Chan-young’s decision to forgo treatment, she finally comes around when she’s convinced it’s what Chan-young truly wants. And then she goes all in. Mi-jo announces that she’s not going to the States. Instead, she’s using her sabbatical to make Chan-young the happiest terminally ill patient ever by ensuring she gets to do everything she’s ever wanted to do.
I’m so glad the drama isn’t taking the depressing, wallow-in-despair route. It looks like we’re instead in for sad-yet-uplifting with our trio deciding to live in the moment and enjoy their time together while it lasts.
One side plot I haven’t mentioned yet but becomes relevant has to do with Sun-woo’s sister KIM SO-WON (Ahn So-hee). She didn’t handle their mother’s death well and has distanced herself. When she left the States and settled in Korea, Sun-woo followed soon after out of worry.
Sun-woo discovers that she’s been lying to him about teaching piano and is actually working at a hostess bar. He storms into her job, dragging her out of the room while she’s on duty, but she refuses to leave with him. (Not how to handle that, sir.)
Mi-jo, Chan-young, and Joo-hee happen to pass by and see him getting thrown out of the club. The episode ends with Mi-jo locking eyes with Sun-woo and noting his tear-stricken face. It looks like it might be Mi-jo’s turn to do the comforting and offer Sun-woo a shoulder to cry on this time.