In the aftermath of Sang-tae’s (Oh Jung-se) meltdown and abandonment issues, the Moon brothers endeavour to repair their relationship. Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) and Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) also struggle to make sense of their relationship—does being together mean leaving Sang-tae behind? Or can they find a way to make him feel included? Kang-tae has had a rude awakening just as he was beginning to allow himself to pursue happiness with Moon-young. Will he be able to climb out of this fresh new pit of guilt? And if he can’t, where does that leave Moon-young, who has come to depend on him?
Sang-tae’s breakdown is so intense that he is given sedatives and placed in the hospital’s solitary ward. Consumed with guilt and worry, Kang-tae paces outside. The brothers spend much of the episode tip-toeing around each other—Sang-tae avoiding Kang-tae out of guilt and anger and Kang-tae patiently waiting for his brother to let him in again. It’s to the extent that Dr. Oh (Kim Chang-wan) refers to them as trapped ghosts. He comforts Kang-tae by comparing their relationship to playing a three-legged race. Kang-tae thinks it implies that they are holding each other back, but Dr. Oh says that as long as one of them stays strong no one will fall down. This sounds like a possible prediction for the resolution between the brothers.
The revelation about the brothers’ past causes a commotion at OK Hospital, with many defending Kang-tae and some trash-talking him. Park Ok-ran (Kang Ji-eun) is strangely invested in the fact that Kang-tae might have tried to kill Sang-tae as a child, even slipping Sang-tae a book by Moon-young’s mother with the same premise. Meanwhile, Moon-young’s father (Lee Eol) once again mentions wanting to kill Moon-young and for some reason, no one questions him further. I liked that Kang-tae spoke up for Moon-young and told her father that she’s not a monster. My two favorite characters at the hospital are Dr. Oh and Joo-ri’s mother Soon-duk (Kim Mi-kyung), who are both unfailingly kind to the Moon brothers.
Kang-tae’s depression at disappointing his hyung is so intense that even Moon-young’s attempts to cheer him up are unsuccessful. But Kang-tae’s guilt is so intense that he jumps right into telling her she should have let him die, back then. Ouch, that’s got to hurt. He implies that taking care of Sang-tae means that he can’t be with Moon-young. It’s a little alarming how often Kang-tae wishes he was dead or seems to only consider the two extremes of either abandoning his hyung or Moon-young, without factoring in his own happiness. He refers to the happy moments he spent with Moon-young as “an impossible dream,” which just shows how fleeting and unattainable he considers the idea of happiness.
And so Kang-tae tries to return to his life before he met Moon-young. He attempts to focus all his energy on work and Sang-tae but can’t help missing her. Even Jae-su (Kang Ki-doong), who is usually vocal about his dislike for Moon-young, notices how sad he is without her. Meanwhile, Moon-young has gone from someone who couldn’t cry to crying easily when Kang-tae cuts her off. In the midst of the tension and the brothers moving out of her home, Moon-young’s birthday rolls around. It is a mark of her character’s remarkable growth that she decides to take up Joo-ri’s mom up on her dinner offer and ask for seaweed soup. She even tries making up with Sang-tae by telling him the story of the boy who cried wolf and urging him to believe in Kang-tae’s devotion.
I still think that the side characters in this show could use better writing, but I noticed a promising buildup that has the potential for good emotional pay-off. In the backdrop of Moon-young, Kang-tae, and Sang-tae’s journey, there are lots of characters making connections with each other—like Manager Lee (Kim Joo-hun) and Joo-ri (Park Gyu-young), Jae-su and Manager Lee, Seung-jae (Park Jin-joo) and Joo-ri. While Joo-ri’s mom’s equation with the brothers is my favorite, Joo-ri and Moon-young’s relationship is showing potential for mend, too. Manager Lee keeps surprising me with his depth. In this episode, it is he who helps Moon-young realize that she is missing the brothers now that she’s gotten used to having them around.
As for Sang-tae, despite the accusations he levelled at his brother, he seems aware that their mother was neglectful of Kang-tae. He is hurt and scared of being left but understands where those sentiments spur from. I think this show does a really good job of portraying Sang-tae’s emotional intelligence without reducing him to a one-dimensional character. After missing each other for days, the brothers finally reunite at home. It’s such a heartbreaking scene—Kang-tae apologizing and Sang-tae hugging his little brother while muttering “don’t abandon me.” In this moment, both brothers bare their deepest insecurities and hold each other.
The reunion scene turns from heartwarming to toxic real quick when Sang-tae suddenly announces, “Moon Kang-tae belongs to Moon Sang-tae.” I’m not sure if we are meant to take this statement seriously, because later, it looked like Sang-tae was talking to his new plushie. But Kang-tae gets this resigned, defeated look in his eyes and even agrees with hyung, which just about broke my heart. The brothers are going to need to learn how to care for each other without slipping into toxic co-dependency, but something about this scene told me that it’s going to take a while to get there.
This was not the happiest episode overall, but it ends on an even scarier note when Park Ok-ran escapes from the hospital and lands up at Moon-young’s door. Her fascination with both Moon-young and the brothers was already suspicious, but visiting Moon-young on her birthday is borderline scary. Does she really have a connection to Moon-young’s mother? Is she trying to hurt Moon-young? And if she is, will Kang-tae make it in time to protect Moon-young? I hope he does, and this is what spurs their relationship to get back on the sweet track. I need some romance without the angst, show!
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