It’s Okay To Not Be Okay Review: Episode 13

So far, much of the show’s focus has been on individual journeys of trauma and healing. Slowly, the focus seems to be moving towards family. Much of this episode revolves around the theme of birth families vs. found families as our characters try to deal with the scars left by their parents, with the help of newfound friends. We also get more insight into Moon-young’s (Seo Ye-ji) childhood and the death of her mother. A secret that Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) has been trying to keep from Moon-young comes out, and no one is sure if Moon-young will be able to deal with the aftermath.

At the center of this episode are two very similar stories about childhood abuse—one of them Moon-young’s and the other Yoo Sun-hae’s (Joo In-young), who is a patient at OK Hospital. These stories answer a question Moon-young asks: are all parents automatically forgiven before they die? I might have said yes, but after watching the stories play out during the course of the episode, I don’t think I have a definite answer. Watching Moon-young’s and Sun-hae’s childhoods full of neglect and abuse, the viewer is forced to reconsider their perspective on forgiveness. Interestingly, unlike many other shows, It’s Okay To Not Be Okay does not place forgiveness on a pedestal. Sometimes, it’s better to hold on to the anger instead.

Moon-young is informed early on in the episode that her father doesn’t have much time left. Many around her, including Kang-tae and Joo-ri, try to get her to visit her father once before he dies, but she stands her ground and repeats that she has nothing to say to her father. Initially, she comes across as stubborn and callous, but later revelations help us understand her stance that sometimes, the one who turns a blind eye to abuse is worse than the abuser themselves. This is apparent in Sun-hae’s case as well, especially when she expresses her feelings of betrayal to her estranged father.

After a brief lull, we are back to really good episode-specific arcs set in OK Hospital. Sun-hae’s story of developing a dissociative identity disorder because of the abuse she suffers at the hands of her mother was quite difficult to watch. Kang-tae finds himself trying to understand Moon-young’s feelings about her father through Sun-hae, and as he helps her stand up to her father, he understands why Moon-young refuses to see her father for one last time.

On his deathbed, Moon-young’s father makes some startling confessions. We finally get our suspicions surrounding the killer of Kang-tae’s mother confirmed, as well as her reasons for doing it. Just as it turned out in the case of Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se) watching his mother be killed, Moon-young’s case is more horrifying that I was expecting. She, too, is a witness to her own mother’s murder at the hands of her father. What’s worse is that she has to deal with the aftermath too, all alone, at such a small age. Previously, I had liked the idea of Moon-young and Sang-tae being alike, but I could never have imagined that their life trajectories would mimic each other like this.

Strangely enough, it is not Kang-tae Moon-young opens up to about her father, but Joo-ri. She recounts how the only positive memory she has of her father is the one time he read her a fairytale. It tells us a lot about the child in her, that despite a lifetime of hurt and neglect, she still remembers the one happy memory with her father. Abused children, most of all, are just hungry for love. The only good thing about this situation is that Moon-young has a good support system around her now—Kang-tae and Sang-tae to accompany her to the funeral and Joo-ri for drinks. After her father’s death, Moon-young seems to feel lighter and begins to entertain the idea of selling her house and making a new beginning with her new family.

As for our favorite new family, they settle more and more into a routine. They have a family portrait now, which is the cutest thing of all time. I love how their equation with Sang-tae is sometimes like two parents taking care of their kid, and sometimes like two younger siblings being cared for by their older sibling. The dynamics between the three of them continue to be the best thing about this show. Moon-young and Sang-tae’s bickering about their work collaboration is both hilarious and insightful. There’s also a moment of Sang-tae teasing Kang-tae about Moon-young, which is very surprising and all the more delightful for it.

Kang-tae finds himself extra worried for Moon-young and Sang-tae’s safety after the revelation about the butterfly killer. He also has a major emotional breakthrough in this episode and turns from a passive caregiver and victim of his circumstances to someone who is consciously making the choice to protect his family. Moon-young is just happy to be cared for, but Kang-tae’s words and actions feel loaded with meaning because he knows a secret she doesn’t. For the most part, Sang-tae’s arc remains positive, focusing on his growth and worry about caring for his two siblings. Yes, two!

Manager Lee (Kim Joo-hun) and Joo-ri’s (Park Gyu-young) romance is also heating up, with Joo-ri’s mom (Kim Mi-kyung) now going full steam ahead in encouraging him to woo her daughter. With inside tips coming straight from the mom, even the awkward Manager Lee can’t go wrong. For once, even Seung-jae is helping him out. It has the desired effect of getting Joo-ri interested enough that she waits for his calls and gets jealous of his blind date who looks like Song Hye-kyo. A surprising new friendship seems to be developing between Seung-jae (Park Jin-joo) and Sang-tae. Seung-jae genuinely thinks Sang-tae is cool and has great insights about art.

Just when it feels like old scars are being forgotten, the secret Kang-tae has been trying to keep from Moon-young and Sang-tae comes to light. Just like that, the quiet peace they had developed falls apart—with Moon-young devastated at being the cause of the brothers’ suffering all these years and Sang-tae terrified. The episode ends with yet another shocking revelation about the killer—who turns out to be Head Nurse Park Haeng-ja (Jang Young-nam), who is apparently Moon-young’s mother, the famous novelist Do Hui-jae. She even has the butterfly brooch that the killer was wearing and is dressed exactly like Moon-young’s mother. WHAT! This plot twist has come out of nowhere, and I cannot wait to find out more.

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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]