TL;DR: Teenage girls having healthy, supportive friendships is seriously one of my favorite things. Forget bromance—why can’t we have more of this in dramaland?
Seriously, though, I love Yoo-jin and So-hee (and their dedication to Seo-yeon) so much. They went from “totally sign us up for the trouble you are thinking about but haven’t planned” to “we will definitely try to do this likely impossible thing for you” to “we will still distribute your petitions for you even though we’re still kind of angry that you snapped at us.” Positive relationships between young women! They are a thing! They can happen, dammit! And it’s very cute they’ve got Joon-young and the-boy-whose-name-I-still-haven’t-caught in their little investigation team. The five of them are going to try to tackle the mystery of So-woo’s death together, and I heartily approve of them.
I also need to take a moment to praise Seo-yeon’s parents. They’ve consistently done what good parents do: prioritize the welfare of their kids. And even when Seo-yeon lost her temper at them and (rightly) pointed out that she isn’t wrong for having an opinion that differs from the adults, they took it well—and backed her up. Seo-yeon’s mother getting in the administration’s face about their attempts to blame Seo-yeon for Ms. Jung repeatedly slapping her? Oh, that was a thing of beauty. As was the fact that she and Seo-yeon had come up with a strategy for the meeting and rehearsed what So-yeon should say in order for her to get a shot at convening a school trial.
The kdrama landscape is littered with so many distant, dead, and/or demonic mothers that it is a breath of fresh air to watch a mother take her child seriously and be ready to claw people’s eyes out for her. Now, if only she had a name…
Seo-yeon was all-around amazing in this episode, particularly in her confrontation with Ms. Jung. While I still don’t think Seo-yeon should be taking on so much guilt for receiving the letter (she turned it straight over to the adults, which is exactly what the adults raised her to do), I can appreciate that she isn’t absolving herself of responsibility for the knowledge that letter gave her. Watching Seo-yeon keep her calm as she carefully laid out all the ways their school had failed So-woo and the rest of the student body was wonderful.
One of my favorite Seo-yeon moments was actually when she told her parents she wasn’t hiding because she was upset about being slapped—she was thinking. Seo-yeon is the heroine, so I haven’t ever doubted that she will discover the truth about So-woo’s death in the end, but that little line just reinforced how much time she spends thinking. Sure, she can lose her temper and act impulsively, but Seo-yeon is also dedicated to the truth and to discovering things on her own. She might have gotten upset when Ji-hoon barged in and trampled all over her setup for the school trial (by pointing out the things she didn’t think of) and then snapped at her friends, yet she also accepted the signatures they had gathered because she knows her pride isn’t the most important thing in this situation. I have faith that, when this investigation challenges her assumptions, she will take that moment to regroup and think about the best way, the right way, to proceed. Even if that means admitting her personal/investigative faults to the rest of the student body and other spectators.
Ji-hoon finally got up close and personal with the narrative in this episode, which was a welcome surprise. I’m intrigued by the implication that he and So-woo became friends when they were patients in the psychiatric ward. (I won’t hope they became boyfriends, mostly because dramaland has consistently disappointed me on that front, and I’m also ridiculously tired of Bury Your Gays.) I want to know how/why/when he became the Jeong-guk Watchman and whether or not he knows about “the incident” Kyung-moon mentioned to So-woo. I think it was pretty cool that the video of Seo-yeon’s confrontation with the head teacher is what spurred him into reaching out to her. I’m glad that strangers in-universe were just as moved by her courage as I was.
But my most important question is why Ji-hoon lied to Seo-yeon about knowing So-woo. Why would he need to keep their friendship secret? I guess, maybe, if he were going to get involved in the trial, it could be important that he be seen as an impartial participant, but his father already knows that he and So-woo were involved somehow. Was there something else going on that their friendship needed to be a secret?
Joo-ri’s (temporary) loss of her voice and rage-filled breakdown to being subpoenaed startled me. Even though Dong-hyun insisted that he had a separate alibi from Woo-hyuk on the night of So-woo’s death and Joo-ri keeps trying to pin the letter on Cho-rong, I can’t entirely discount Joo-ri’s testimony. If it’s true, will her embellishments make her entire testimony unreliable? Or is Dong-hyun breaking ranks and lying to protect himself?
There are a lot of good things going on in this show, and I’m glad I gave it a second chance. Here’s hoping episode four doesn’t make me regret picking up the show again.
By the Numbers
- Slaps: 3
- Shouting matches: 3
- Research montages: 1
- VIP EXO concert tickets up for grabs: 2
- Bechdel Test: 3 episodes passed