It’s Okay To Not Be Okay Review: Episode 11

After Sang-tae’s (Oh Jung-se) meltdown threw their relationship out of balance, Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) and Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) try some new strategies. This episode sees them team up to bring Sang-tae to their side. We not only get their banter back, but things also get steamier between the lovebirds. Sang-tae has some growing up to do when it comes to his notions of family. In the process, he will have to deal with some lifelong traumas. Will Sang-tae be able to accept Moon-young as family? How much will the brothers’ relationship change in the process? Moon-young, Kang-tae, and Sang-tae have enough on their plate, but it looks someone is making things even more difficult for them behind the scenes. Is Moon-young’s mother actually alive, or are we about to be introduced to a completely new villain?

The episode begins with a suspenseful rendezvous between Moon-young and Park Ok-ran (Kang Ji-eun). We get some backstory on the mysterious woman—that she was a stage actress who developed a mental disorder while practicing her lines and always seemed to think she was preparing for a role. It’s a relief that Park Ok-ran turned out to not be related to Moon-young’s mother. But this means that she was being instigated by someone to provoke others, especially Sang-tae and Moon-young. One mystery solved and another one to go.

The secret behind Sang-tae’s trauma about butterflies finally comes out as Kang-tae tries to explain his hyung‘s fears to Moon-young. In light of this revelation, we are faced with a horrifying possibility about who the murderer of Sang-tae and Kang-tae’s mother can be. It’s possible that Moon-young is related to the murder, which is a genuinely devastating prospect. Our leads already have enough obstacles in the way of their love—this would make an already complicated situation worse. The only good thing is that Kang-tae officially asks Dr. Oh (Kim Chang-wan) to treat Sang-tae’s trauma, which might make the situation somewhat bearable.

Kang-tae tries to strike a balance between being there for his hyung and for Moon-young. I’m glad he seems to have discarded the idea that he can only fully be with one of them at a time. Together, Moon-young and Kang-tae manage to thaw Sang-tae’s aversion to accept Moon-young into their life. They deploy various strategies—from reminding him that he’s an adult who should know how to embrace others, to using his favorite stories like the “Ugly Duckling.” It helps that Moon-young throws herself into expressing how much she wants Sang-tae around. In earlier episodes, it had looked like she was only pretending to be interested in Sang-tae to keep Kang-tae around, but now, she genuinely seems to like Sang-tae.

I really like the fact that Moon-young and Sang-tae are developing a dynamic that is independent of Kang-tae. Even that dynamic is largely comprised of them bickering, it’s nice that even in the absence of Kang-tae, they have a relationship. Moon-young and Sang-tae’s banter mimics siblings much more than Sang-tae’s banter with Kang-tae. As the episode goes on, we start to notice similarities between the two—they get called alike by more than one person, love Kang-tae a lot, throw tantrums in the exact same way—by getting into bed and hiding under a blanket. In the end, it seems that what makes Sang-tae thaw is realizing how alone Moon-young is. His big sibling instinct kicks in and makes him want to take care of her.

Moon-young’s emotional growth is so much more apparent in this episode. In the face of threats, she is not impulsive or violent like before, but remembers to follow Kang-tae’s advice to count till three. While it’s great to watch her become calmer and more well-adjusted, I hope the show doesn’t completely retire the loud and brash woman we first fell in love with. This time, Moon-young learns in real-time how beneficial it is to follow Kang-tae’s advice, because as a direct result of dealing with the Park Ok-ran situation calmly, she gets to watch Kang-tae fuss over her and give her an unforgettable birthday gift.

This brings us to the highlight of the episode—the kiss! And oh, what a kiss it was. After ten episodes of push and pull, the most intense angst, we get a kiss that matches the intensity of the attraction between these two. I always forget that Kim Soo-hyun is an amazing kisser until I’m watching him do his thing in a new drama. The show makes sure I don’t forget it anytime soon by giving us a pretty long kissing scene in multiple angles. The only thing better than the kiss itself was watching both Moon-young and Kang-tae blush like teenagers after it. So cute!

After falling into a pit of guilt in the previous episode and pushing Moon-young away, Kang-tae shows promising character development in this one. He sees the issues in his equation with Sang-tae that is leading him to hurt Moon-young and tries to make some repairs. So we see the brothers’ relationship inch towards normal—starting with a verbal argument in which Kang-tae fights back instead of taking whatever hyung throws at him quietly. The fight culminates in physical blows, and going by how exhilarated and relieved Kang-tae looks after the fight, it’s safe to assume that this is first time he’s ever fought back. Quietly, in his own way, Kang-tae reclaims himself and refuses to be the one making all the sacrifices.

It’s a mark of Kang-tae’s inner strength how he manages to pull both himself and his brother out of a very toxic cycle. He looks lighter and happier than we’ve ever seen him. He also allows, for the first time, another person to care for him when he falls sick and Moon-young nurses him back to health. Both of Kang-tae’s relationships started out as unhealthy and co-dependent at the beginning. Now, they’re starting to show signs of becoming much healthier and happier. The more Sang-tae is reminded that he’s the older brother, the more he leans into the role, giving us some of the sweetest moments of this episode—pampering Kang-tae by taking him out for lunch and paying for him, giving him calls to ask if he’s eaten during his work shifts, and giving him allowance.

Overall, this episode is much lighter in tone than the previous one, with an overwhelming dose of funny, romantic, and heartwarming moments. However, the scene that stood out to me the most was the dream montage of Kang-tae in a school uniform. It says so much about Kang-tae—that his deepest desire is for a normal life with Sang-tae and Moon-young. He ends up smiling through the dream, mumbling “I like her so much,” which leads us to another moment that made me cry a lot—of Sang-tae studying his chart of human emotions to realize that his little brother is happy for probably the very first time. Sang-tae tears up, much more elegantly and subtly than I was crying while watching this scene.

I know danger lurks just around the corner for our trio, in the form of Moon-young’s evil mother or whoever is pretending to be her. But they are trying to, so hard to grow and heal and to be happy that I feel like physically jumping into the frame and whisking them away from any negativity. Fingers crossed that the coming episodes don’t test us too much.

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IndoorEnthusiast

Indoor Enthusiast (Esha) is a staff writer at Kdramapal. She is responsible for bringing all the latest happenings in Kdramaland to the readers of the site. You are likely to find her going on rants about how Ji Hae-soo from It's Okay That's Love and Sung Bora from Reply 1988 are the best heroines to grace our screens. Thrillers like Secret Forest, shows about female friendships, a la Age of Youth, and rom-coms with sprinklings of feminism, like Because This Life Is My First, hold a special place in her heart. She lives in India and spends all her free time reading books. Indoor Enthusiast can be reached at [email protected]