It’s Okay To Not Be Okay Review: Episode 8

We’re already halfway through It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, and this episode marks the perfect clean break between the first and second halves. New relationships are blossoming, and with it, new rivalries. Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) has spent much of his life single-mindedly focused on his brother’s care, at the cost of his own needs. Now, finally, his priorities are shifting, with ample help from Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji). Will Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se) be able to deal with the divide in Kang-tae’s love and attention? Have Moon-young and Kang-tae ironed out their differences, or will Sang-tae cause tensions between them? Will Moon-young manage to fit into the brothers’ life, or will she drive a wedge between them? The plot is only thickening.

Post her very emotional haircut in the last episode, Moon-young is a revelation. When we first met her, she barely smiled, was unable to cry, and constantly emitted a cold aura. Now that she has cut her metaphorical ties to her abusive mother, Moon-young smiles freely, jokes more, her vibe feels lighter, and she even swaps out her bold-colored outfits for softer and fluffier fabrics. In some ways, she looks closer to the innocent, unmarred-by-trauma-and-abuse version of herself. Kang-tae notices this, too, and falls a bit more for her in this episode, spending several moments staring at her when he thinks she isn’t looking.

This episode gives us a sneak peek into Moon-young attempting to fit into the life the Moon brothers have built together. The resulting dynamics are both hilarious and concerning. We start off by Sang-tae bluntly stating that he doesn’t like Moon-young’s new hair, much to her consternation. They have breakfast together, and Moon-young repeatedly asks Kang-tae to feed her. Sang-tae notices, probably for the first time, how much attention Moon-young pays to his brother. Later, the trio visit a restaurant Kang-tae and Sang-tae used to frequent with their mother. When Kang-tae gets emotional at the memory of his mother, it’s Moon-young and Sang-tae who team up to make him laugh.

As adorable as this dynamic is, it is not without worries. Sang-tae has begun noting that Moon-young is much more enthusiastic about getting closer to his brother than to him. The two also have a major fight involving blood and bruises about the doll Mang-tae, with Sang-tae yelling that Mang-tae is his while Moon-young shrieks that Kang-tae gave it to her. Poor Kang-tae has to break up the fight using his strictest mom voice. At this point, I can’t tell if Sang-tae is feeling confusion or jealousy, and if it’s the latter, who it’s directed towards—whether he’s jealous of Kang-tae who is getting all of Moon-young’s attention or vice versa. Either way, Sang-tae is starting to realize he’s a third wheel in Moon-young and Kang-tae’s relationship.

At the hospital, Moon-young’s father’s seizures get worse. He keeps hearing the song he associates with Moon-young’s mother and seems terrified at the prospect of his dead wife returning from the dead. It’s easy to suspect from Moon-young’s flashbacks and her father’s behavior that he might have been the one to harm her mother, but his terror reveals that if it was murder, it might have more to it that we can guess right now. A fellow patient called Park Ok-ran, who is always seen reading books by Moon-young’s mother, also seems to know something about the case.

Suddenly, the show seems to have developed a secondary romance arc between Manager Lee (Kim Joo-hun) and Joo-ri (Park Gyu-young). This has honestly come out of nowhere, probably in a bid to make the viewers be more invested in the side characters. After one drunken encounter with her, Manager Lee has fallen head over heels for Joo-ri and even moves into her mother’s house, with Joo-ri’s mom (Kim Mi-kyung) even encouraging the two. This development feels too sudden, and I don’t feel invested in the couple at all, but I’m hoping that will change.

The biggest development in this episode has been in Kang-tae’s feelings towards Moon-young. Instead of passively playing into her games, this time, he actively involves himself in her life. From negotiating with Dr. Oh (Kim Chang-wan) to restart Moon-young’s literature class to being loudly jealous when Moon-young bumps into a male fan and gets a bit too close to him, Kang-tae has come a long way from wanting to ignore her existence. There are soft moments here, too, like him holding Moon-young’s hand as she sleeps. My only hope is that this is enough to give us a long overdue confession scene in the next episode.

For now, we have arrived as close to a confession as we could by the end of this episode. Kang-tae has been actively participating in Moon-young’s life throughout the episode, but it reaches the highest point during Moon-young’s class, when she is talking about “Beauty and the Beast.” Moon-young, in her trademark dismissive style, doesn’t believe the message of love in the story. When one of the patients—Ah-reum—peaks of Belle’s love transforming the Beast and his wounded personality, Moon-young reconsiders her perspective for the first time. She thinks of Kang-tae, while Kang-tae thinks of her.

In the end, all hell breaks loose—Ah-reum’s violent ex-husband visits her at the hospital and ends up hitting Moon-young, who steps in to protect Ah-reum. To everyone’s surprise, and mine too, Kang-tae not only protects Moon-young but also hits the guy. From repressing his instincts and teaching others calming exercises, he somehow ends up punching a man, all for Moon-young’s sake. It obviously results in unpleasant repercussions—like getting suspended without pay—but instead of being stressed about it, Kang-tae looks happier than we’ve ever seen him look. His life going out of order seems to have the effect of cutting off his metaphorical chains, and he rushes to Moon-young as if floating on air, excitedly asking her to go on a trip. This spontaneous, giggling Kang-tae is my favorite Kang-tae, and I want to see more of him in the next episode!

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Indoor Enthusiast

Indoor Enthusiast (Esha) is a staff writer at Kdramapal. 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 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]