Not Others: Episodes 9-10
More focus on what it means to be a family this week as another relative rolls into the picture. With Dad trying to understand his place between all the women in his life, he’s forced to make some tough choices. And our killer plotline comes to a close as our two cute cops cozy up in front of the evidence.
We ended with a cliffhanger last week as Jin-hong entered his apartment to find Eun-mi and another woman trying to rip the hair from each other’s heads. We learn this week that the other woman is Jin-hong’s sister, PARK JI-EUN (Woo Mi-hwa) — the one who was supposed to be Eun-mi’s friend in high school before their falling out over Jin-hong. Now, they’ve picked up their beef right where they left off.
When Jin-hong is forced to choose between the two women, he tells Ji-eun not to come over without calling and tells Eun-mi that he wants to spend his life with her. (Aww, it makes me so sad that these two missed out on thirty years together.) Eun-mi, ever immature, makes faces at Ji-eun when Jin-hong chooses her over his sister.
But all of this leads us back to our theme about what it means to be family when Jin-hee runs into Ji-eun and learns she was Mom’s “friend” in high school. Jin-hee is well-mannered and friendly and starts calling Ji-eun “aunt,” just like she calls Mi-jung, not realizing it’s her literal aunt. Ji-eun is so impressed that Jin-hee is polite and “looks just like Jin-hong” that she takes a genuine interest in her newly discovered niece.
When Jin-hee finds out the truth about Ji-eun (after mistakenly thinking Jin-hong was cheating on her mother), she feels conflicted about how to address her. Eun-mi downplays the whole thing, telling her to just call her ahjumma, but Jin-hee is a perfectionist and wants to follow the right “rules” when it comes to addressing family. Mom and daughter have different philosophies about rule-following, and it’s obvious that Jin-hee’s desire to be a perfect rule-follower is a reaction to her mom being a constant rule-breaker.
Interestingly, Jin-hee doesn’t seem to have these same confused feelings about Jin-hong. Although, he’s showing signs that he wants to treat her like a daughter. He respects the fact that Eun-mi claims Jin-hee as her own (not his) since she raised her alone, but he consistently tries to show care for Jin-hee too. Every time he does, though, Eun-mi shuts it down and gets annoyed with him.
Jin-hong expresses his confusion by telling Eun-mi that they’re not strangers and they’re not family – they’re something in between (and this explains the English title, Not Others). He asks if the three can try living together, but Eun-mi vetoes that without hesitation. She wants to keep living with Jin-hee the way they always have.
Things come to a head when Jin-hee tells Eun-mi to go stay with Ahjussi for a while. Eun-mi has broken their one household rule: no bringing men home to sleep with. Jin-hee is really upset to find Jin-hong at their apartment in the morning (even though it looks like he slept in a separate room) and wants Eun-mi to stay at his place and not the other way around. Eun-mi doesn’t want to leave, prompting Jin-hee to say, “You don’t want to be uncomfortable, but you don’t care about my discomfort?” And I feel like she’s just summed up their entire relationship.
Eun-mi ends up going to Jin-hong’s spacious, way-too-big-for-one-person apartment but later in the night he wakes and she’s gone. This is especially problematic because unbeknownst to Eun-mi the killer is still on the loose and out to get her. It turns out that the guy they arrested last week was a separate stalker (their quiet neighborhood is just chock full of them apparently) and Jin-hee and Jae-won have been secretly trying to find the real culprit on their own, since the case is officially closed.
As they’re working so hard on the case, we finally get the development between Jin-hee and Jae-won that I’ve been waiting for – and the slow, slow pace has paid off. All the animosity is gone by now but it feels totally natural because we’ve seen them working together little by little. This week, they get closer (literally) as they sort through evidence on their time off, and end up leaning on each other for a nap on the bus one late night.
The scene I particularly loved that showed their closeness is one where they’re at Jae-won’s house going through CCTV footage and Jin-hee hops on the couch behind where he’s sitting on the floor. She’s going to sleep for an hour while he keeps at the computer screen and they just look so cozy and comfortable together. He covers her with a blanket, but then they both sneak peaks when the other isn’t looking. The whole thing feels really organic and while I thought nothing was happening these past few weeks, now I understand the choice to keep this in the background simmering until the right moment.
We end this week with a much bigger cliffhanger when Eun-mi is stabbed in the stomach and left for dead. Gulp. We learn that the real killer is an acquaintance of Eun-mi and Jin-hee who works at the internet café near their apartment. I saw this coming since about Week 2 with his backward cap and big smile, but Eun-mi did not suspect a thing. She thinks nothing of it when she follows this friendly face down a deserted alley and into an abandoned basement.
At the same time, Jin-hee and Jae-won have learned that all their colleagues at the police station had figured out what they were up to and secretly gone about helping them. When everyone puts their findings together and they start working as a team, they solve the case and are hot on the killer’s trail by the time he attacks Eun-mi. They catch him as he’s running away from the crime scene, but find Eun-mi inside in bad condition.
At the hospital, Eun-mi is rushed to emergency surgery as Jin-hee and Jin-hong cry outside the door. We see images of Eun-mi’s life, as if it’s flashing before her eyes, as she grows up with an abusive father, meets Jin-hong and falls in love, finds family in Mi-jung, and finally lives with Jin-hee all these years – with arguments and mistakes but also love and devotion. It looks like a tear is forming in her eye and we end not knowing how she’ll fare.
I continue to like this drama and I was surprised by two things this week. First, the killer plotline ended up serving the story nicely. It’s used to bring Jin-hee and Jae-won closer together and also to reaffirm their family-like relationship with their police team. And it also gives us a cliffhanger with Eun-mi in a hospital bed while Jin-hee and Jin-hong are waiting outside. With Mom out for the count (for the moment), these two might actually have a chance to see how they really feel about each other without her interference. As much as I find killer-on-the-loose storylines contrived, it’s at least a good use of the contrivance when it serves multiple functions at once. Here, it ended up forcing the story where it needed to go on at least three different threads. Plus, I like these characters so much that I’m willing to overlook a lot.
The second thing that surprised me was how well it worked to keep Jin-hee and Jae-won in the background and then subtly cinch them together. It had been feeling to me like the show forgot about them as we dealt with Mom and Dad and I wasn’t sure if it their story would go anywhere at all. But it came off so natural this week that I wondered why I even questioned it.
I also really like that we’re keeping with the central questions about family. What does it mean to be family? Is it about blood? Or the people who have been there for you when you needed them? Jin-hong says, “You can’t be entitled just because you share blood.” He and Jin-hee are walking a delicate line and there aren’t any rules of proper conduct – they have to make them up as they go along. With most of the threads tied up this week, I’m eager to see how dad and daughter will get along, and whether or not our trio can move forward in a way that will make them “not others” anymore.
- Premiere Watch: Not Others
- Jeon Hye-jin and Sooyoung are a chaotic duo in Not Others
- Flying underwear and Park Sung-hoon in ENA’s Strangers
- Sooyoung becomes Jeon Hye-jin’s daughter in ENA’s Strangers
- News bites: June 8, 2023
- News bites: March 9, 2023
- The Glory: Part 2 (Review)
- Yoon Park answers Sooyoung’s famail in MBC’s Please Send a Fan Letter
- Oh Jung-se comes to save his nephew in first teaser for Uncle