It’s Okay To Not Be Okay Review: Episode 12

The theme of this episode is family and in more ways than one. Our favorite trio Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji), Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), and Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se) start becoming a family in the truest sense of the word. In fact, Moon-young and Sang-tae get along so well that even Kang-tae feels left out. There is sibling banter, lots of bickering, and doing things together. This is the good part. And then there’s the sad part—that the biggest traumas in their lives might be related to each other. New facts about the murder of Kang-tae and Sang-tae’s mother threatens to pit their histories against each other. The bond is still fresh, will it survive under the weight of this revelation?

Moon-young and Sang-tae’s bond is starting to become adorable. They bicker as equals, not shy to roast each other. Moon-young respects Sang-tae’s talent but doesn’t cut him slack either—she gives him strict criticism as well as pushes him to improve. As for Sang-tae, Moon-young’s no-bullshit attitude actually ends up teaching him a lot—especially during their portrait session, when she asks him to just be himself and we see Sang-tae’s self-consciousness melt away. Moon-young has grown too; she tries to carry out the promises made to Sang-tae even in Kang-tae’s absence. I’m genuinely delighted at these dynamics and how right they feel.

Meanwhile, Moon-young and Kang-tae’s banter just keeps getting better. Their interactions range from tender to comedy gold, and this is honestly all I need in my K-drama couple. In this episode, there is talk of kids in the middle of a supermarket, as well as them trying to date while living in the same house as Sang-tae. The mood then switches, to them talking about happy endings and later, about Moon-young’s childhood when she is drunk. As Moon-young and Kang-tae become closer, we see her opening up to him about her past. She tells him about how she used to hate her house because of the many awful things that happened there, but with Kang-tae and Sang-tae living with her, she has begun to like the house.

We get closer to resolving the two mysteries at the heart of the show—that of Kang-tae and Sang-tae’s mother and the disappearance/death of Moon-young’s mother. Dr. Oh (Kim Chang-wan) sheds some light on the latter, revealing that Moon-young’s father both hated and feared his wife. Later, Kang-tae happens to overhear a bit of the old man’s confession about attacking his wife. Seriously, does no one in the show think that Moon-young’s father’s confessions about his wife need to be reported to the cops?

This time, the episode-specific arc revolves around the hospital’s oldest patient—Kan Pil-wong (Kim Ki-cheon). The character’s backstory featuring PTSD and being drafted off to war when he was just twenty made it one of the most heart-wrenching arcs in the show yet. It was perhaps the grimmest and most blatant reminder of how much the past can chain a person. As if the backstory wasn’t enough to break my heart, the fact that it’s Sang-tae who helps Kan Pil-wong through his meltdown was double whammy. Sang-tae uses the same jacket-over-head technique to block senses that Kang-tae has used with him multiple times and saves the old man from being overwhelmed. Kan Pil-wong leaves Sang-tae with wise words about not letting his past control him, which forces Sang-tae to decide to confront his trauma about butterflies.

Sang-tae goes through crucial personal growth in this episode. I think he has shown the most courage and experienced some of the best character growth in the series so far. From relinquishing control over his brother to accepting Moon-young and now, finally, making a conscious choice to face his lifelong trauma. This leads him to reliving the night of his mother’s death and recounting his memory for the first time. And it’s a lot worse than I could have imagined. Sang-tae actually saw his mother get murdered by a woman and remembers many details from the time—like the woman’s voice, her threat to him, and the exact design of the butterfly brooch she was wearing. Unfortunately, and shockingly, it’s looking like the murderer of Kang-tae’s mom is related to Moon-young.

Kang-tae connects the threatening message Park Ok-ran left at Moon-young’s house to Sang-tae’s account of their mother’s murder. The possibility of Moon-young’s family being involved in the murder devastates him and leads to all sorts of complicated thoughts about destiny and happy endings. I understand Kang-tae’s anger and heartbreak—just when he thought he could give happiness a chance, he is dealt another blow. This revelation introduces awkwardness between him and Moon-young—while she tries to be nice and considerate, he keeps his anger inside and ends up lashing out at her. I’m glad that Kang-tae opens up to Dr. Oh at least, although right now, I’m finding it difficult to trust anyone at the hospital.

Manager Lee (Kim Joo-hun) and Joo-ri’s (Park Gyu-young) arc has finally become a little more interesting to me. It is in large part all thanks to Joo-ri’s mom (Kim Mi-kyung), because she’s so sweet and encouraging that it’s difficult not to become invested. It’s also sweet to see Joo-ri get over her unrequited love and start liking Manager Lee, to the extent of being jealous of him going on blind dates. The show also gives us a peek into another unlikely alliance—that between Moon-young and Jae-su. If the writers had worked on it, I think Moon-young and Jae-su could have become a hilarious dynamic, but I have no hopes of that happening this late in the show. Still, I’m glad to be given a glimpse of what could have been.

Despite the hope of settling in with their found family, things are far from rosy for our leads. Moon-young, especially, is in for a rude shock in light of the revelations of this episode. She hits a roadblock when Kang-tae becomes mad at her. Kang-tae, for his part, is trying to hold things together as best as he can. But how long can he protect his newfound family from the the secret of their twisted past? This episode hinted that Moon-young is still not completely free of her mother’s influence, and I’m dreading her finding out. How will our favorite new family make their way out of this situation?

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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]