After a series of misunderstandings and arguments, Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) and Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) are now living together, along with Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se). This, naturally, will lead to opening up a Pandora’s box of tender romantic moments between them. The overarching theme of Episode 7 is cutting ties with past memories and feeling lighter as a result. As Moon-young and Kang-tae drop their guards around each other, we not only get some genuinely adorable and funny moments but also see them opening up to each other more and more.
Starting with tender moments, we’ve got an entire montage of Kang-tae holding Moon-young through a sleep paralysis episode and caring for her through a fever. He even skips work to take her on a long drive, and they end up on a date of sorts. Even though neither have acknowledged their feelings, it feels like the beginning of dating. The tender touches and flirtatious moments that happened in this episode were immensely satisfying after the angst of the first six episodes.
Of course, it’s not a Moon-young and Kang-tae date till they manage to get each other flustered by dropping truth bombs. Moon-young is fixated on Kang-tae’s lack of sexual experience, while he tells her that he didn’t want to run away from her like before, both momentarily stumping each other. Their date is interspersed with a montage of Jae-su (Kang Ki-doong) going on a hilarious monologue about Kang-tae abandoning him. He is a great character; I wish the script did more with him than just comic relief.
This episode gives us incredible gems of observations from Sang-tae oppa. Borrowing from Moon-young’s book titled “Spring Dog,” he worries over Kang-tae and tells him, “You whimper like a dog when you sleep. When you hurt physically, you cry. But the heart can lie, so when you’re hurting emotionally, you ache at night.” Once again, I was struck by how much Sang-tae notices about his little brother, and how much he cares. And while Kang-tae cares just as much, he clearly has more than one priority now, because it is Moon-young he thinks of when Sang-tae recounts the story.
We also head closer to resolving the mystery surrounding the death of Moon-young’s mother, but the road to that is paved with watching difficult scenes of Moon-young being abused as a child. One crucial scene is Moon-young’s mother forbidding her to cut her hair, a trauma that Moon-young still carries in the form of her long hair. She tries to chop off her long locks, and by extension her ties with her mother, but finds that she is unable to.
The death of Moon-young’s mother is also very suspicious—from her sudden disappearance, then being registered dead five years later, and dying without finishing the final book in her series. I’m not sure how Moon-young has processed the strangeness of her mother’s death, but if we are to trust her childhood flashbacks, it seems that she knows more than she has ever told anyone. Moon-young might be hiding a lot more trauma than we previously believed.
This seems like a mom special, because Kang-tae also has several revelations about his mother. Listening to Kang Eun-ja (incredibly well-acted cameo by Bae Hae-sun) regret the way she treated her daughter before her death, and her ensuing depression, he finds himself remembering his own mother. In a moment of brilliant acting by Kim Soo-hyun, Kang-tae wonders aloud to Jae-su if his mom ever regretted treating him poorly. Jae-su asks, “Do you want her to?” and Kang-tae says yes, before breaking down, probably thinking about how much pain Kang Eun-ja was in, and then says no. I was crying for a long time after this scene.
At the hospital, to everyone else’s surprise, the patients miss Moon-young’s literature classes. Despite her abrasive manner, it turns out that everyone had become a fan of her different and interesting takes on traditional fairytales. Kang-tae can’t help but be concerned for Moon-young, and discusses her nightmares with Dr. Oh, who connects them to her father.
In another surprising turn of events, it seems that the show is now trying to set up Nam Joo-ri and Manager Lee? What an unlikely couple. I don’t begrudge anyone their happy ending, but I don’t feel invested in this pairing at all, unless the writers are planning to make these characters more interesting in the future. If any side-character in this show could have an arc that would compel me, it would be Jae-su. Get him a love interest, writers! Please!
The episode ends on a high note for Moon-young, who comes face-to-face with a drunk Kang-tae, who is unrestrained and talkative, just the way she likes him. The banter between these two as Kang-tae teases Moon-young right back and makes jokes is hilarious. Adorably, he also hands Moon-young a doll named Mang-tae, named after him and Sang-tae, that he made to help with the latter’s nightmares and now thinks will help her.
Our own memories don’t always serve us well—and we realize this when the brothers talk about their mother. As an emotional Kang-tae clings to his hyung, Sang-tae reminds him how much his mother cared for him despite his own feelings of neglect. The flashbacks change—we see that although their mother focused more on Sang-tae, she never failed to make Kang-tae feel included. Kang-tae sobs while hugging his brother and whispers, “I miss mom.” I wasn’t expecting to cry twice during one episode but, alas.
Moon-young’s story, “Spring Dog,” is recounted at the final moment of catharsis—Moon-young finally gathering the courage to chop off her hair. Just like the dog that had been tied up for too long and forgotten how to cut itself free, Moon-young and Kang-tae have carried their past traumas for way too long. This scene is significant in more ways than one. First, juxtaposed with Moon-young’s father telling her that she will never escape her past, it signifies the choice she is making. Second, by asking Kang-tae to chop off the rest of her hair, she is opening herself to accepting help.
This, I feel, has been one of the most significant episodes so far. Our leads have taken the first steps towards opening their hearts up and learning to accept help. After a lifetime of being chained by their pasts, yearning to be free, it is in this moment that we see them choosing healing over familiar patterns. Although it will be a long journey, I can’t wait to see them progress more and find true happiness.