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Mother, Episode 3

TL;DR: Well, I’m glad that there’s one genuinely good mother figure in this show. (Also, this episode contains a mention of animal cruelty/death.)

I’m really glad we had the opportunity this episode to see that there was a period in Soo-jin’s childhood that was really good. I’ve seen a lot of fictional orphanages portrayed as hellholes, so it was lovely to see little moments of Soo-jin’s life with Sister Glara. Subtitlers, are you sure it’s not Clara? Between her (still unknown) biological mother and her adoptive mother, Yeong-sin, Soo-jin had a slice of happiness. One fond enough that she apparently wrote Glara, if infrequently, over the years, and that she thought to turn to Glara for momentary refuge. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 3”

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Mother, Episode 2

TL;DR: Turns out kidnapping a child is more difficult than anticipated.

Soo-jin’s letter to Ye-eun was a great way to kick off this episode. Even though episode one was all about showing us why Hye-na’s home life was so awful, episode two made Soo-jin’s thought process clear: she’s far more worried about Hye-na returning home than her being arrested for kidnapping. And the fact that she took the time to copy the audio recordings and photographs of Hye-na’s injuries means that she is sincerely worried that if she gets caught, Hye-na will be returned to Ja-young. That package also functions as a failsafe for her, that if she has exhausted all hope of escaping the country, Ye-eun will be given the truth of what happened and can decide whether or not to report it all to the police.

(I was particularly fond of the line about how Soo-jin though that she and Ye-eun could have been great friends if they’d met under other circumstances.) Continue reading “Mother, Episode 2”

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Mother, Episode 1

TL;DR: This show is not for the faint of heart.

I think it would be best if I started out listing the trigger warnings for this episode: child neglect, domestic violence, child abuse (both physical and emotional), child sexual abuse (implied), murder of a child (described), bullying, and animal cruelty/death (described). There are also PTSD flashbacks to yet more child abuse and also a lot of scenes where the system fails to protect a vulnerable child. If you’re ready to handle that, then we can continue. If you’re not, then I would strongly suggest skipping this drama. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 1”

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Closing – 4 Hopes for Just Between Lovers

I finally finished Just Between Lovers, so it’s time to look back and see whether or not the show fulfilled my hopes and dreams. (Spoiler alert: It did, in so many lovely ways.)

Kang-doo is not an asshole to Moon-soo. He could be prickly and blunt and sometimes said things she needed to hear but didn’t want to, but otherwise he spent the rest of the show making heart eyes at her and convinced he wasn’t good enough for her. Kang-doo never talked shit about her job or her trauma or her family or her, and it’s so easy to fall head-over-heels for a guy who is head-over-heels in love with someone else. As Moon-soo said, he was always on her side, and that’s something I will forever be happy about.

Kang-doo actually has something of substance to offer Moon-soo. It only took a few episodes to realize that Kang-doo was entirely willing to do his fair share of the emotional labor in their relationship, and it was wonderful. He cared about her and wanted her to be happy, just as much as she wanted him to be happy. Kang-doo proved himself worthy of Moon-soo’s love, and I felt like they were an evenly matched couple.

Moon-soo gets to have relationships with other women. Her mother was a major (and frequently negative) force in her life, but it was usually clear that they loved one another. On top of that, Moon-soo’s friend, Wan-jin, was always ready to fight people for her and to encourage Moon-soo to do this whole love and dating thing. We even got a cute, almost-mentorship between her and So-mi, though that should have been fleshed out much more.

Moon-soo is respected at her work. Except for that one team lead who insinuated she was getting her jobs based on sex appeal as opposed to talent, everyone in the office respected Moon-soo and her abilities. And Moon-soo shut down that team lead quite easily, so that was refreshing. I’m extremely happy that she was able to flex her design muscles with the memorial park.

So what did you think? Did Just Between Lovers fulfill your expectations? Let me know!

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 16 [END]

TL;DR: It is immensely satisfying when a show wraps up nicely. Good job, everyone.

It is a wonderful thing when a show does not betray your trust. Just Between Lovers always remembered that Moon-soo, Kang-doo, and their happiness were the most important elements of the drama, and this final episode showcased them at their best. The drama was a lovely exploration of grief, healing, forgiveness, and love—and how, sometimes, the best thing to do is to move on. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 16 [END]”

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 15

TL;DR: It was obvious ages ago that we were heading in this direction, yet I’m still upset because all of these characters are upset.

The thing that struck me the most in this episode is how very easily Moon-soo and Kang-doo’s relationship could have become toxic. In a lesser production’s hands, it likely would have. Moon-soo has kept a suffocating grip on her own guilt and trauma, to the point that she is intimately familiar with self-loathing. If she hadn’t asked Sung-jae to meet her at the mall, if she hadn’t crawled through that small section of rubble first, if she could have taken better care of her mother, if, if, if— She has shouldered all this pain on her own, mostly in silence, for years, and every time she learns more about what happened or comes closer to one of her many breaking points, she has new reasons to despise herself. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 15”

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 14

TL;DR: I am very excited for all of the ladies who got some this episode.

But before I can squeal over that, I actually need to address the shoe that finally dropped this episode: Sung-jae. The flashbacks in this episode finally put the mall collapse in vague chronological order for us. Moon-soo and Kang-doo found each other on day one or two; Moon-soo was rescued on day three; Sung-jae and Kang-doo found each other on day three, four, or five; Sung-jae died on day three, four, or five; Kang-doo started talking to Sung-jae’s corpse on day five; and Kang-doo was rescued on day seven. By this count, Kang-doo may have spent more time underground with Sung-jae(/the Sung-jae in his head) than he did with Moon-soo. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 14”

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 13

TL;DR: So many people having so many messy feelings in this episode.

Things finally blew up in Moon-soo’s family, which is both heartbreaking and a much-needed release. I’m glad that her parents got to yell at each other for the ways they each handled their grief (terribly) and let loose on the resentments that had been festering inside each of them. Right now I think that Moon-soo’s dad is right—it’s far too late for him and Moon-soo’s mother to recover their relationship in the three episodes we have left. I’m still holding out for a cordial relationship between them, but that’s the best probable outcome. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 13”

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 12

TL;DR: I’m going to pretend I didn’t see the preview and just bask in the cute instead.

One of the things Just Between Lovers has always done well is the way it shows the quiet moments of connection between Moon-soo and Kang-doo. I absolutely adored the moment when Moon-soo pulled her hand away so she could wrap her arms around Kang-doo and he could finally cry, and how he returned that moment of caring when he saw she was drifting off and he caught her. It was great their evening together ended after Moon-soo said that as long as he was nice to her, she can stay. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 12”

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Just Between Lovers, Episode 11

TL;DR: Fare thee well, Sook-hee. Be sure to cuss us out so we recognize you on the other side.

It isn’t often that I applaud a show for how it killed off a female character, but consider me impressed. Normally female characters are killed off in the first or (if we’re being generous) second episode, with little time to build anything resembling a personality. They are sacrificial dolls created solely to level up a hero’s angst, kick off a roaring rampage of revenge, and/or begin a tireless pursuit of justice. They’re defined primarily by their relationship to the hero—rarely do they get a history, family/friends, profession, etc.—and their deaths are portrayed in the most dramatic way possible.

(Dear thrillers/procedurals, it’s never a surprise when you kill a woman. I love you, but get a new trope, please, or I swear to god—) Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 11”