So… that last scene…

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Flashback to adorable Young and Soo…because there’s no adorable below…

Something That Winter the Winds Blows is doing really, really well is keeping the pace up. I watched the last two episodes (12 and 13) on the edge of my seat, barely remembering to breath, and getting down right irate when a commercial break rudely interrupted. Because a whole lot of goings on were going on and I was invested. And then I got to the end of ep. 13 and… I’m confused.

Spoilers through ep. 13

I’m not doing anything like a recap in these reaction posts, so I’m assuming some general knowledge here. So when I say that Young’s awakening to her sexual interest in Soo stuck them both back into the mirror of back2mirror photo ScreenShot2013-03-21at124305PM1_zps6dee4657.png“I’m not sure of who I am, who you are, or where we stand with each other,” I trust you know what I’m talking about. They’d finally reached a comfortable place where they could lean on and trust each other, and Young’s confusion over her reaction to his kiss threw that all out the window.

(And when I say “they” I really mean Young alone. Because Soo has been fighting his attraction for her for a long, long time. And supplementing that energy and drive into saving her life. So he’d achieved a state of equilibrium — but I wouldn’t say he was comfortable there. Not really.)

And I thought that confusion was awesome for how it changed their dynamic and stuck Young into a state of flux even before she learned the truth about Soo. And then we had all the truths come tumbling out and Young took Wang to the ultimate mother-daughter event to dump her, and took Soo to the cabin that tore her family apart to dump him and then we got…
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…a forced hug. Followed by…
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…a forced kiss.

To the producers’ credit, there was no romantic music playing over this scene. No music at all actually. Just the sound of their breathing as they struggled. And it was definitely a struggle. You can see that in the body language.
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And I am confused. I’m not sure what to think about this. It does end with an ambiguous sort of relaxing…
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…and possibly Young kissing back (or maybe just not fighting it anymore?).
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And then we get close-ups of hands relaxing and Soo kind of pulls backs and frames Young with his shaking hands like he wants to protect her. Or maybe he’s shaking because he’s realized what he’s done and doesn’t feel he should touch her anymore? (I hope?)

Anyway. They kind of stand and breath for a long moment…
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…as the music kicks in. And they both look devastated as Young asks, “For us now… it’s really over?” And credits.

And I’m… not sure what I think about this. Young is furious at Soo for breaking her trust in several different ways (lying to her obviously, but also invading the sacred place of the secret room beneath the greenhouse) and after she asks him to explain he… breaks her trust again by forcing both a hug and a kiss on her?

For the first time in… ever(?) I’m giving Soo the stink-eye. I think he crossed a line here. I’m pretty sure Young will forgive him but… That was an uncool move.
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(I’m not quite giving the entire show the stink-eye. I appreciated that they didn’t give the scene any music. It was meant to be painful, not romantic. And I’m clinging hard to that “not romantic” thread.)


6 thoughts on “So… that last scene…

  1. Oh, Betsy, I debated just posting this long looong loooooong (mea culpa) ‘comment’ chez moi and then posting a link here, but that somehow did not feel right – this conversation did start over here. Sooo, if you think it too long, please do not hesitate to toss it in the bin and I’ll just post this link to the comment chez moi [I was determined to minimize typos]. Thank you for another wonderfully provocative topic. It inspired me to do some close reading which led me to some curious perspectives on our young couple and the pain of their relationship… – C
    Okay, on those final moments of ep. 13 I’m hitting the ground on high, super-subjective gear, so please bear with me. I get how that terrible struggle Oh Soo and Oh Young are locked in, initiated by his grabbing and kissing her against her will, can really provoke a feeling of revulsion toward him. And I know that in the heat of the moment people can unthinkingly do terrible things, even (and especially) to those they love. Perhaps there is no redemption for Oh Soo for that insistent imposition on Oh Young, regardless of whether she forgives him later or not.

    But I have come to love this battered character of a man and after the end of ep.13 and this post I want to consider a question I floated in our earlier discussion about moral viability of rooting for an ethically suspect character:

    Think about those times in your life when you have stood by someone even as you wondered whether you were just turning a blind eye to or — even worse — enabling moral and ethical indolence, or outright dangerous behaviour…

    I bring this up to affirm that I do not wish to justify Oh Soo’s obviously unwelcome embrace at the end of ep.13. I do, however, want to consider how it makes sense in terms of who and how these two souls are in the grander context of the story. Put simply, I enjoy a luxury Oh Young cannot, which is that I can try to understand why Oh Soo held on so tightly. I also think that in doing so, I can more readily accept Oh Young’s last interrogative words: “Now, for us, it is really over?”

    Oh Soo, smooth talker that he normally is, tends to becomes painfully inarticulate in emotionally charged situations. It is an observation often made about men generally – here it is dramatized with remarkable consistency where Oh Soo is concerned. Sometimes the circumstances have him forcefully stuttering, overwhelmed by the inability to just act (eg. confronting Secretary Wang in both eps 12 and 13); sometimes they have him trembling and unable to continue (his first verbal expression of love to Oh Young in the café; apologizing outside her door for that first kiss, begging to be close to her; video confessing his con and reiterating the truth about Oh Young’s real brother’s devotion); sometimes they have him just weeping wordlessly (hearing Oh Young’s words of forgiveness for the damaged, con man Oh Soo [for the first meaningful time in his life?]; in the hospital bed with Oh Young after news of a relapse; during that first kiss when hope of treatment is futile)… you catch my drift. The character is consistent on so many levels, including his inability to use words well while in acute emotional distress.

    But Oh Young needs words. Written or spoken, they make the world visible to her imagination and comprehensible to her intellect. A wonderfully poetic capsule of this is the brief exchange with Hee Sun when Oh Young asks about the color of sunlight. Hee Sun i somwhat stumped (“it’s just a bright color,” she says) in the way only a person who takes seeing sunlight for granted can be. However, Oh Young’s return is profoundly telling: “Bright is probably different from white. Right?” Her mode of seeing the world in her mind’s eye via verbal analogy and therefore understanding it in association with what she feels (the warm, welcome sun rays on her face) is here articulated in three concise lines. What follows this exchange may have initially seemed like a non-sequitur, but considered in the context of the end of e. 13, actually underscores how much words serve Oh Young’s fundamental need to understand her own experience of the world. Turning her face from the warmth of the sunlight and toward Hee Sun, she cautiously asks:

    “Hee Sun. Is it alright for a sister to like her brother?”

    I love that this question is immediately followed by the scene where Oh Soo tells Jin Sung that, although he was thrown away like trash in infancy, because of Oh Young, he now wants to live like a descent person for the first time in his life – to be a better man.

    Much later, after Oh Young is blindsided with the revelation detailing Oh Soo’s deception that he is her brother, and that her real brother is long dead, she quietly rages for a couple of days before taking him to the cabin and confronting him for an explanation:

    “Shall we talk about… the Oh Soo who was abandoned under a tree…? Was he, like you said, since birth, just trash?”

    She wants him to speak, to use words. He simply says, “Let’s stop it.” His deceit, her charade, the words. But she insists: “Let’s hear your excuses.” When they are not forthcoming, and he simply admits knowing that he hurt her, she severs what I think was her last hope of salvaging the wreck that is them, and they are heart-wrenching, her words:

    Rather than saying those words, if you had just told me that, when you were young, the wounds you received from being abandoned like trash, caused you to live like trash. And more so than a blind person like me, that you were in greater pain. Those words would have been more comforting. You, who knew I loved you, but still fooled me, if you had just told me that you didn’t get a kick out of tricking me, it would have been more comforting.

    Out of all the reasons why I can’t forgive you, the main one is that right now, I, upon discovering the death of my brother who I missed as much as I missed my mother, because of my anger toward you, I can’t even grieve. Loving a con man like you, let’s just blame it on my blindness… You fooled me good — all along.”

    And so we come full circle. The rift opened by that most terrible of the sins of malice (mens rea), the betrayal of trust, is definitively torn when he — unable to verbalize to her the remorse we so clearly see in his eyes, his body, his demeanor — cannot offer her the solace she has told him that she needs for the pain he is inflicting.

    The only way Oh Soo really knows how to express his love to Oh Young is by holding her. So many times we’ve seen him wrap his arms around her in joy and in pain, at play and at ease, offering protection, support, comfort… all on the foundation of mutual trust. I believe that when he grabs and holds her close, he means to say, “Whatever pain I have caused you, know that I do love you with by whole being, trash or not — I have staked my life on it and nothing else matters.” Of course she rejects that offer — it cannot mean what it did when she trusted him. I hear in that sad, violent kiss, the stuttering Oh, Soo: “Know that I do love you, body and soul.”

    Oh Young’s definitive rejection of that kiss, followed by her resignation in it (I don’t see acquiescence), coupled with his tremulous hesitant hands, all struck me as a truly beautiful and truly difficult (both in ethical terms) assertion of her will to no longer participate in prolonging their mutual suffering; in essence agreeing to his plea, “Let’s stop it.”

    But I want a happy ending! Why can’t love prevail, just this once? my inner Jane Bennet entreats. I think love has prevailed: for love of Oh Young, Oh Soo is a better man, and has been for quite some time — living his life for the sake of those he loves; for love of Oh Soo who showed (rather than told) her that the world could be a safe and joyful place full of beauty, Oh Young has unshackled herself from the psychological prison of her physiological condition and is free to live as she wishes. I don’t know whether these two will end up together. Everything about how the story has been told suggests to me that, barring some terrible impediment (writer’s strike, general production mayhem, etc.) both Oh Soo and Oh Young will find solace in the love that they discovered.

    • I’m greedy enough to want your words here, too. 🙂

      I agree with what you’ve said about Soo losing his words just as Young is needing those words more than ever. (I really love how you illustrate both that loss and that need.) I can understand his desperation and also his emotional… I think emptiness is the word I’m searching for. He is truly at a low, all his energies expended, nothing left. It’s that, coupled with the lack of romantic filtering (via music or mood lighting), that has me willing to wait for the full fallout that should occur in the next episode. It’s shocking behavior, and it’s meant to be shocking behavior.

      But… it is shocking behavior. It steps me back from Oh Soo. Which, as I think about it, is maybe not a bad thing. Because it means I’m not simply thinking towards Young, “Oh girl, get over it. Be happy he’s not your brother,” etc. It underlines that he broke her trust very deeply and intimately. And his attempt to “explain,” breaks that trust again. (It’s interesting that Young chose such an isolated spot for her confrontation. There’s an odd sort of trust-fall involved in that.) I’m not sure if it was the writer’s intention, but my sympathies are now firmly with Young. I still feel for Soo — but he’s crossed a line that for me means Young is the one who makes the final decision.

      And I’ll add, it’s a line he’s been teetering on for the past several days (drama-time). His coming this close to physically assaulting Secretary Wang, his actually assaulting that doctor… Both were attacks (or near attacks) against people we viewers weren’t all that adverse to seeing attacked — but it’s not ethical behavior. It’s not Soo being the good man he’s trying to be. So that when he attacks the person he actually cares about (to try and show the depth of his caring, I think, but in a way that’s backwards enough to become the opposite) it shows the danger he’s in. His grief could lose him the growth he’s experienced.

      So what I’m hoping for in the next episode is something that either pulls him back from the brink, or something that pushes him in even deeper so that we’re looking for a final redemptive move back into the light. (I think we’ve got time for either in this writer’s hands.) But, in either case, something that acknowledges the darkness of the brink he’s on. If that makes sense.

  2. With respect to Oh Young asserting her will to “Let’s stop it” with Oh Soo, I’d like to add this thought (consider it just before the final paragraph of the comment above:
    I am reminded of Jane Eyre’s reaction upon discovering, at her wedding to Mr. Rochester, that he had a wife, still living, at Thornfield — no less, and that the wife’s mind and spirit were broken and perverse beyond redemption. All this, and he still intended to have Jane’s hand in marriage, even if it meant defying God himself. Jane herself had agreed to accept his hand because her guileless love for Mr. Rochester, described in these spare words, was complete:

    My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol. Jane Eyre, Chapter 24

    I can’t know how Charlotte Brontë felt as she wrote those awful pages of Jane later sitting quietly by Mr. Rochester, emotionally spent, all hope of happiness surrendered as she gathered herself to leave him. She had to leave, not because she had ceased to love him, but rather because her love had only deepened with the new knowledge of his and his wife’s suffering. She could not simply ignore either to satisfy her own desire to be with the man she loved above all else in creation. It took me years to understand Jane’s willingness to leave the man who had become her whole world, her very “hope of heaven”. Jane’s decision simply perplexed me at age 11 old when first read the book. I was still puzzled when I read it again at 14 and 17 and just plain indignant at 20 on my umpteenth reading of this novel that I so loved. And then I happened to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics shortly after that. Suddenly the genius of Charlotte Brontë blinded me with its brilliance: her heroine, “poor, obscure, plain, and little” possessed a grand will and she could exert it to uphold highly demanding ethical principles that overweighed the impulses of individual desire. I see Oh Young’s rejection of Oh Soo’s inarticulate and (now) corrupted expression of love in a similar light: although she sees herself as weak because she is blind, she cannot overlook how deeply Oh Soo’s deception has soiled both her discovery of love (for him) and her memory of love (for her brother and her mother). Exerting her will against that perversion of beauty is one of the things that she can and does do.

    • Ah, Jane Eyre. 🙂 I hated that book in grade school, then came back to it in college and loved it. I’ll have to read it again someday and see how it strikes me now. (On a kind of, but not really, separate note: have you ever read the “Hark! A Vagrant!” comics?)

      I see Oh Young’s rejection of Oh Soo’s inarticulate and (now) corrupted expression of love in a similar light: although she sees herself as weak because she is blind, she cannot overlook how deeply Oh Soo’s deception has soiled both her discovery of love (for him) and her memory of love (for her brother and her mother).

      I loved, loved, loved how deeply the drama evoked the presence of Young’s real brother. By showing his picture, by having Soo assure Young that he was a good guy who loved her deeply it reminded the viewers of our brief time with him. So when Young says that she’s most angry that she can’t properly mourn for him because her feelings are now all tangled up in Soo… I remember wincing at that because it underlined how not simple the fix is going to be.

      And I really do appreciate that the drama hasn’t handwaved what this deception was — that it was hurtful and cruel. I’m hoping that acknowledgment translates into a real redemption, rather than one that’s all smoke and mirrors based on beautiful people being beautiful together.

  3. I just posted this on DB, and I thought you might find it interesting, too.

    I’ve been thinking about what you said about that forced embrace and about the very strong, negative feelings viewers have expressed about it and I daresay I think that these reactions are an important part of this story. How?

    From the beginning, this drama has been giving us quite a few difficult and complex ethical questions to think about by presenting us with a hero who perpetrates a terrible trust-violating fraud against our heroine grom the get-go and yet becomes sympathetic, even endearing. So it has been easy to let the ethical questions slide as we found reasons to champion our flawed Oh Soo.

    And then it occurred to me a couple of days ago that, despite the emotional difficulty it entails, the writer has stayed true to the initial challenges posed by this story: Oh Soo has to be held accountable, not just by Oh Young, but also by us, the viewers, for the terrible sin of violating trust stemming from the fraud he perpetrated.

    I think that in the poetic logic of the narrative, that shocking and repulsive kiss at the end of ep.13 episode effectively serves as an emotional wake up call, a reminder that nothing mitigates the violence of the fraud Oh Soo has persisted in perpetrating from the moment he decided to pose as her brother — not even the eventually genuine feelings that have been motivating him to stake his life on saving Oh Young’s life (from herself and from her illness). The complete discussion is too long to post on this thread, but you can see it here if you feel inclined to find out more.

    • Thanks for including the link! I’ve commented over there. 🙂

      Gosh, so much discussion has sprung from this drama and this scene. I love stories that do that.

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