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Bittersweet Hell (Drama Hangout)

Welcome to the Drama Hangout for MBC’s black comedy suspense Bittersweet Hell, where Kim Hee-sun’s perfect life is soon shrouded in mystery, betrayal, and drama.

This is your place to binge and chat about the drama. You can also check out our First Impressions post.


Beware of spoilers! This thread is for discussing the entire series.

 

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The premise of this series is similar to the recently finished HIDE wherein the FL suddenly realizes that her family is corrupt, secretive and cruel. No Yeong-Won (Kim Hee-Seon) is taken in by the rich Choi family after her father’s suicide (caused by a false scandal that her FIL was a part.) She is taken into the Choi family as a teen and just like in HIDE, she is groomed to become the smart, respected and pillar of the family by marrying Choi’s son, Jae-Jin (Kim Nam-Hee). She becomes a successful psychologist and he becomes a successful doctor (who appears to struggle with blood/surgeries). He also appears to pattern is life after his dad in the affair department, cue colleague Dr. Oh. Her mother-in-law Hong Sa-Gang (Lee Hye-Young). is a writer of mystery books. She is a dark character bitter about her husband’s lifelong affairs and illusion of family bliss. When he is killed by a fortunate land slide, she becomes happy and giddy like a teenager.

But in the aftermath, No finds proof that her father was innocent of the alleged crimes that took his life. It sets up as a band of characters plotting No’s mental and physical breakdown as new patient, Lee Se-Ra (Yeon Woo), appears to be a home wrecker mistress. (This is a role that has typecast Yeon Woo). After her first session, No receives a dead bird and disturbing note about her family which suddenly puts her in path of doubt, anxiety and suspicion.

Again, current mystery shows seem to pack a ton of information in the first episode to overwhelm the viewer. Confusion of the FL is one thing; confusion of the viewer is another. As with this genre blueprint, everyone is a suspect with FL’s father death the trigger point for revenge.

Episode 2 puts Se-Ra as the point person on the destruction of the Choi family with the second target Jae-Jin who himself is possibly having an affair with Dr. Oh, Se-Ra or BF Tae-Oh. But No suspects her MIL for FIL death especially after their talk about keeping family secrets secret. Jae-Jin’s lies about a conference puts No into full investigation mode (as well as her MIL who calls upon her old cook friend who appears to have CIA style skills.) The cliffhanger around the diorama house that puts both No and MIL in same crime scene was more of a merging of investigative teams than actual suspicion in my mind. I suspect MIL is also getting direct threats to the family that she wants to stop.

Is Se-Ra the illegitimate daughter of late FIL who wants an inheritance? Is she the scorned lover of Jae-Jin seeking revenge (or take the place of No in family picture?) Is she a child of a patient that No failed to treat or died of suicide? Or is somehow related to Dr. Oh (as younger sister) who wants to erase her sister in order to gain her life? Or is she in partnership with No's greedy brother to wipe out the Choi family to gain the Choi fortune? Many questions with a lot of open answers.

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I am glad there is someone else watching the drama. I enjoyed reading your comment, many theories that might be true to some extent. Let's hope the show keeps the momentum and is a decent ride. See you next week.😊

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In episode 3, we get some more motivation insight but it is still clouded in secrets and manipulation. MIL refuses to report Dr. Oh’s injury at the vacation home because she is apparently under the delusion of protecting her “innocent” son who is having an affair. Apparently Oh has had a crush Dr. Choi since childhood as a family sponsored orphan. No is upset with the callousness of MIL but she goes along with it by taking Oh to MIL’s friend’s hospital. MIL then instills layers of a cover-up which leads to attempted comedy of getting “caught” in Oh’s apartment by Oh’s Barney Fife constable BF. Park continues to be MIL’s black knight cleaner. But things turn sour at the end of Episode 3 when the PI hired by FIL comes to bear with No’s husband’s affair proof with the Whistling Witch, Se-Na, who allegedly killed three men for insurance money. Somehow, I don’t really trust the narrative of the PI (he could be working with Se-Na.) What is more disturbing is creepy Tae-O pushing himself into Do-Hyun’s life choices.

It now gets us to the point where MIL and No need to cooperate to save everyone’s reputation. I also start to question the show’s continuity since No said she was booked for months, but now she has taken several days off from her patients. Likewise, her husband’s successful practice cannot just shut it doors on a whim with patients already booked. And Jae-Jin running away like he is guilty as hell makes him a childish coward.

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Se-na being just a red herring andTae-oh being the real villain is one plot twist that might save the drama from being just a repetitive show about a cheating husband and an obesessive mistress. Perhaps, Se-na and Tae-oh are connected as well. I agree with you that Tae-oh is creepy.
I hope we are up for more twists. But for now, Mrs Agatha Christie of Korea is keeping me hooked on along with her knight.

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Yes, I like the MIL and Park combo but MIL and No are "too smart" for their own good at reading people and their personal situations.

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In episode 4, MIL and No first manipulate others to get information on missing Jae Jin. Park’s nephew’s admission of secret video suspect was odd filler. Nosebleed cop becomes useful in reviewing a mountain of CCTV. MIL pieces some nostalgia of her son’s childhood to get them confirmed in the right direction. MIL admits she knew about the affair with Se-Na but she paid her off and thought it was over. There is a question in her mind that the affair has lasted 18 months so maybe it is not about the insurance money (which requires 2 year suicide exemption to expire). They join forces to head south and assemble their rag-tag team of Park and No’s useless brother. They ferry to an island where MIL learns she does not know her picky eating gourmet son is a mukbang pig. If the writer is telling us Jae Jin’s family really does not know him, well, that is obvious. It has been almost a week since he abandoned his family and medical practice. Likewise, No is about to do the same by canceling all her appointments to chase after her husband. Word of a suicide in the harbor has the family rush to the dock. The cliffhanger ending to shock us was when the retrieved rental car’s door opens and water and a black shape falls to the ground (it is an editing trick to make your mind fill-in an image of a body). There was an earlier moment that it appeared Jae Jin and Se-Na drove past them when they arrived at the island . . . but was that a mirage or wishful thinking? Perhaps, Jae Jin and Se-Na are truly running away from their lives and family. They may not be on the island anymore. The wild goose chase continues next week.

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In episode 5, we see flashbacks of No and her future husband, the prank engagement event, and their cute romantic moments. Again, the theme is not knowing a person’s real secrets. No finds out that her husband was an OR wreck, unable to cope with surgeries. Oh covered for him. No finds out that her husband drained their investment account to run away with Se-Na before faking his suicide. No receives a video from Se-Na confirming that her husband will finally be happy by faking his death. She comes to terms with his decision: he is now dead to her which makes her doting MIL mad. MIL cleverly defuses the media but the damage to No’s practice is large. MIL will continue the investigation, but it is clear that Se-Na has the perfect set up for killing off Choi - - he faked his death and disappeared so no one will be looking for his corpse. There was also a foreboding scene where son Do-Hyun races up to talk to student So-Yi who turns back to No in a sinister expression like Se-Na. Yikes, how many people are Se-Na’s crew to take down the Choi family?

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Episode 6 fills in the portrait of Se-Na’s life. It is hard to take everything she says as truth because it appears she fixate on putting herself in the place of others. We have the story of a neglected second child with violent, narcissistic tendencies. She claims her entire family died when she was young. Her fixation on the idea of a perfect family has drawn her into No’s family. There was the investigation of the death of one of her husbands (by camp fire) and her reason was that he ate her birthday cake without her blowing out the candle.

She is a quick witted liar who injured Oh to say to Choi that Oh was stalking and trying to kill her. And he dumbly believed her. Se-Na easily seduced Choi because of his own insecurities and suffocation by his family’s demands. No and MIL are only partially working together which is a bad thing. No has only focus on her son, who like his dad, is hiding secrets. The presence of Tutor Moon in son’s after school life (now including his girl crush) is screaming red flag for Do-Hyun’s future safety. When Moon is entering the family home as his own, it is creepy. Just as creepy as Oh trying on No’s clothes. It appears both those secondary characters want to take over the life of the Choi family. MIL used Oh to cover for her son’s fear-of-blood phobia to make him a successful doctor, but when Oh suggests divorce, MIL dismisses her from the clinic and her life. Add Oh as another scorned person to the suspect list.

When Se-Na baptizes Choi in the swimming pool, was it an attempt to kills disrupted by other pool guests or a prank to convince Choi that he can break away from his family? But then again, winding up back at the home late at night to burn family photos and dance around the fire with a goblin shadow, Se-Na has perfectly set up Choi for his own downfall as No suddenly drives at Choi with a manslaughter intent. Bingo! Se-Na gets the money and Choi is killed by his jealous wife . . . but how good is the PPL car brakes?

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I am caught up to ep 6 and can finally read your comments !

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Ok. I’m watching this. But I am on episode four. Squinting as I write this so I don’t accidentally see any spoilers.

I started this drama to see the beautiful and talented Jeong Geon Ju. Oh and I guess that description works for Kim Hee Seon as well.

The first two episodes seemed largely like déjà vu all over again. (Yeon-oo, girlfriend, how many times will you play this exact same role? It’s confusing me.)

However, Episode 3 was genuinely funny. And when kdrama-land’s perpetual villain Jung Woong In stepped out of the shadows in a deer-stalker hat, well, my cat does not appreciate squeals of laughter and vacated the couch. I hardly noticed as everything from that moment on was hilarious and delightful.

Now that I have committed to this, I will be paying far more attention to our leads fabulous wardrobes. Looking forward to it.

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Episode 4 continues very funny. Reminiscent of the humour in Decision to Leave.

Just when the whole corn guksu at a corn guksu place joke seemed to wear out, it got funny all over again. How did they get through the scene at the police station without snickering? I guess that is why they are the professionals.

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I am not expecting anything new or even unexpected with the plot, but I am enjoying the story telling.

Our boy Geon-joo has very little screen time but, like a mossy musky after shave, his Mr Ripley like presence lingers thoughout.

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While the show did not completely lose its playfulness, episodes 5-6 were not as funny as 3-4. About as serious a midsomer mystery. 

My reason for being (here, in this drama hangout) got a smidgen more screen time. Deliciously mysterious, our Geon Ju. After shave stronger than ever.

I am getting the sense that we may have an unreliable narrator. However, I am not one that likes to guess where a story is going. Just not my particular bag.

So far this is one of Chansung's more natural performances. He is always so engaging and personable in 2pm interviews. I feel like this has yet to be utilised in his acting roles. 7th grade civil servant was the closest but it was such a forgettable drama.

I get grumpy when the powers that be seem to feel that their visually blessed actors require face filters, but it is particularly galling when it is used on actresses hardly 30.  Really? Really? It's weird on instagram, weirder here.

And darling Ms Hong, I would also be unable to sleep in that slippery shiny red toga attire.  I haven't the energy to comment on all the clothes but that little number demanded attention.

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