Closing – 4 Hopes for Mother

Between my late start and general life hectic-ness, it took me an extra six weeks to complete Mother, but I’m glad I finished it. Mother was a solid show, filled with a variety of women in different stages of life, economic class, and background. While I had various nitpicks throughout the show, I had few actual grievances with it. It’s time to look back at my four original hopes and compare them to what the show actually did.

  1. Ja-young’s abuse isn’t pinned on her single mother status. Aside from a few lines, the show was actually careful not to assign Ja-young’s abusive behavior to her single mother status. It really helped that Yeong-sin, Soo-jin, and Hong-hee were portrayed as good single mothers who were capable of living up to what the show had decided was its criteria for True Motherhood. Unfortunately for me, I actually sided against the show on that point. Ooops.
  2. The show tackles the social and cultural failures of preventing child abuse. I really liked the setup to Soo-jin’s decision to kidnap Hye-na. The show didn’t shy away from pointing out all the ways the school and the police failed to protect her, and it even got meta toward the end with Hyun-jin writing exposés about Hye-na’s case. If these systems hadn’t failed Hye-na so thoroughly, this show never would have happened.
  3. Hye-na is able to make decisions that are respected by Soo-jin. Soo-jin was amazing at this. I loved how often she checked in with/consulted Hye-na and explained things to her in an age-appropriate way. Honestly, the show gets full marks for this, especially since they also had Hye-na run off and do things on her own/in spite of what Soo-jin would have wanted for her. It felt like Hye-na had agency and that she was respected by Soo-jin.
  4. Soo-jin gets to explore both the good and the bad about motherhood. I don’t think Soo-jin had a whole lot of the bad, per se—most of the bad was directly related to her being on the run from the law—but with all the other mothers in the show, we got a long, hard look at some of motherhood’s more disappointing and/or unsavory aspects. I’m still ready and willing to pick a fight with the show over its True Motherhood conclusion, but I didn’t walk away from it thinking it would be all joy and rainbows, either.

So what did you think of the show? It’s going to end up high on my list for 2018, that’s for sure.

Mother, Episode 16 [END]

TL;DR: Good job on sticking the landing. (Also, warning for a mention of anorexia.)

It is always a pleasure when a drama gives us a thematically appropriate and emotionally satisfying ending. In many respects, this episode was a slower one because it took the time to establish the stakes for its two-year time skip and provided us with fitting endings for many of the secondary characters. It didn’t try to come up with any last minute-twists or inject artificial drama into the situation. Instead it centered its finale on the most important question: could Soo-jin and Hye-na ever be reunited as mother and daughter? Continue reading “Mother, Episode 16 [END]”

Mother, Episode 15

TL;DR: You’re going to need tissues for this one.

I spent the first half of this episode being horribly confused by the family dynamics. I must have missed some crucial information along the way because I spent all the episodes prior to this assuming that Yeong-sin had adopted all three of her daughters and that they all knew they were adopted. Looks like I guessed at the existence of birth secrets way too soon—and that also means that some of my interpretations about Yi-jin were wildly off-base. Sorry, Yi-jin. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 15”

Mother, Episode 14

TL;DR: …so what are we supposed to do with the last two episodes?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we haven’t been subjected to three entire episodes of courtroom drama, but I’m not exactly sure where we’re supposed to go from here. We got verdicts for both Ja-young and Soo-jin with all the requisite moralizing (more on that later), so that means the plot is basically wrapped up. I suppose we don’t yet have character resolutions for Hye-na and Soo-jin, though I’m concerned by Hye-na’s question at the end. Just what exactly are the terms of Soo-jin’s suspended sentence, and how much will she be willing to risk (again)? Continue reading “Mother, Episode 14”

Mother, Episode 13

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. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 13”

Mother, Episode 11

TL;DR: I really don’t care about your sad childhood.

(Note: This episode contains flashbacks to a suicide.)

Just in case you didn’t think that Ja-young and Seol-ak could get any worse, they raced each other to rock bottom in this episode. (Seol-ak won, of course, because he is a two-time child-killer, and Ja-young hasn’t yet murdered anyone.) Ja-young might have gotten a tiny bit weepy over the dark turn to Seol-ak’s plan to ransom Hye-na, but in the end she flat out told him that she didn’t want to know what he would do to Hye-na and that Hye-na could never come home. You lose all right to complain about how much pain you were in over the possible death of your child when you basically tell your boyfriend to murder that same daughter. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 11”

Mother, Episode 10

TL;DR: Should I be worried that we still have six episodes left and we’ve already hit this plot point?

In the middle of an episode that was mostly drawn-out tension of the asdfjk;l sort, it was wonderful to take the time for more than one mother to reaffirm her love for her daughter. Soo-jin’s race to find Hye-na was an obviously foreshadowed sequence, but that didn’t make it any less moving when it finally played out. I’m so happy that the two of them got to share a tearful embrace and that Hye-na finally has a parent who will chase after her instead of leaving her behind. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 10”

Mother, Episode 9

TL;DR: It’s always interesting when you run into the borders of your empathy.

I don’t like Ja-young. I think she’s rather vile, considering all the child abuse she engaged in or allowed. There’s no forgiveness for her for that, honestly, and I’m thrilled that this show gave Hye-na the opportunity to face Ja-young and tell her that she didn’t consider herself Ja-young’s child anymore. Hye-na loved her mother dearly and wanted nothing more than to be loved by her in return—and that wasn’t something Ja-young was capable of. I’m glad that Hye-na has made peace with her decision to learn to live without Ja-young. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 9”

Mother, Episode 8

TL;DR: We got our answers! \o/ ALSO, warning for domestic violence and talk of suicide in this episode.

Even though Hong-hee’s story was fairly easy to guess, that didn’t make it any less heartbreaking to listen to when she finally told it. A young, single mother, leaving her family behind when they disapproved of her choice to have her child, drifting from place to place and hardship to hardship until she found a man who treated her well—most of the time. It was so painful to hear her say that the beatings he gave her were the price of having a stable home and a normal life, and that what finally gave her the push she needed to try to leave was when he hurt Soo-jin. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 8”

Mother, Episode 6

TL;DR: So we didn’t get any answers, and things got worse.

It’s quite possible that the worst time to encounter your birth mother is when you’re on the run after having kidnapped a child. Soo-jin put on a very brave face this episode when there were others around her, but it’s clear that not knowing why Hong-hee gave her up has the power to wreck her. It was something she could push away 95% of the time when she had her regular life to live, but now that she’s constantly stressed about trying to escape the country with Hye-na and is trying to reconnect with Yeong-sin, the last thing she needed was the abrupt and painful reopening of a massive childhood wound. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 6”