TL;DR: I knew it had to happen, but that doesn’t make me any less upset about it.
With fewer and fewer places to hide, this episode felt remarkably claustrophobic. Perhaps because of this, the scenes between Soo-jin and Hye-na were especially raw. While Soo-jin held onto hope that they could escape the police search and make it to a boat, she also knew that there was a possibility her time with Hye-na was running out. The last scene at the hotel was particularly moving because Soo-jin was honest with Hye-na about their chances and about giving her the opportunity to decide to risk it all with her.
The parallels between Soo-jin and Hong-hee were actually really sweet. It didn’t come across as condemning the choice Hong-hee made—because now that she’s in the same place, Soo-jin can see why she made the choice to leave her at the orphanage. But since Soo-jin also remembers having no say in the decision, she knows this is one decision she should offer Hye-na. I loved that Soo-jin said she wanted everyone to know just how precious Hye-na was to her, and of course I melted when Hye-na said she loved her and Soo-jin said it back.
Also? Hye-na continues to be an extremely clever girl. Her quick thinking saved her and Soo-jin twice when Soo-jin momentarily froze, and I was very proud of her. I am consistently happy with the way the show has treated Hye-na with a mix of hard-earned experience, childlike hope and joy, and a desire for a loving family.
I’ve been pretty bemused throughout the drama by just how many people have being a-okay with aiding and abetting a child’s kidnapping, and this episode provided us with not one but two examples. Woo-gyeon and his father were thematically fitting choices for this episode. Woo-gyeon’s dead mother served as a stand-in for the impending doom that was headed for Soo-jin and Hye-na. It was very touching for Woo-gyeon to give advice to Hye-na and for his father to give advice to Soo-jin. Those two knew what it was like to run out of time with a loved one and wanted to help out Soo-jin and Hye-na. And, most touchingly, the father relaxed his righteous principles in order to buy Soo-jin and Hye-na just a little more time together. It was very sweet.
Also very sweet? Chang-geun’s rookie/partner/guy-whose-name-I-still-haven’t-learned. No joke, his suggestion that they could accidentally lose Hong-hee with no one being the wiser brought me to tears. Even though he has never directly interacted with Soo-jin or Hye-na, he has gotten a good look at Ja-young, Seol-ak, and their abuse of Hye-na. Is it so wrong to wish that a little girl finally has a mother who loves her enough to commit crimes to save her?
According to Chang-geun, yes. Yet even when he ordered Soo-jin and Hye-na torn apart so Soo-jin could be arrested, there was clear conflict on Chang-geun’s part. While technically he made the lawful decision, the question still remains whether or not he made a decision that he can live with. (Congrats on not disappointing me in that regard. I’m glad you fulfilled your legal obligations.) I hope Chang-geun sticks around for the rest of the show because I want to see whether or not he can.
I’m glad that Hyun-jin is doing her reporter best to go beyond the sensationalist headlines. Sure, she’s got personal motivation for it, but she’s being so thorough that it’s hard not to admire her. I wish we got to see more mentorship from her seniors and boss rather than just threatening to yank the story away from her. It’s good that she’s taken an off-screen peer’s advice to heart that it’s unlikely Hye-na was Seol-ak’s first abused child. If there’s anything that could sway public opinion in Soo-jin’s favor and get her a more lenient sentence, it’s the story that she saved Hye-na from a two-time child killer. And bravo to the first ex, who is willing to go on record about her son’s death, even if it means she might get pulled in for questioning.
I’m also pleased that we got to see Yeong-sin and Yi-jin reconcile. I forgave them both for a lot when Yeong-sin said she would have done everything the same for Yi-jin, had Yi-jin also been a child-kidnapping troublemaker. With any luck, that affirmation will be enough that Yi-jin can let go of her resentment toward Soo-jin and be a support for her during whatever comes next.
By the Numbers
- Cop cars: 6
- Lost teeth: 1
- Times I cried: 2
- Servings of pork belly: 10
- Bechdel Test: 13 episodes passed