(Spoilers for 7 and 8 below…)
I love that when she’s hurting, Hye-won’s instinct is to run to Sun-jae. And I love how fully he’s there for her. His care and concern was so sweet and heartwarming when he noticed her bruises and head wound from Young-woo’s outburst. (I did not like that we flashed to a “danger” traffic-sign just before he noticed her injuries. I don’t want them to have any more troubles. Though… if it was just foreshadowing the argument and reveal that came later, I forgive it. Because that was some necessary falling out and led to wonderful things… but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
I love, love, love that the hotel room was the exact opposite of what Sun-jae was looking for, with its jacuzzi and… what do you call that thing? a sex chair? …and the naked-lady cutouts.
It highlighted the sleaziness usually associated with this sort of thing. (Later, it adds lurid color to the rumors that are beginning to fly around about how Sun-jae got into the school in the first place.)
And then Hye-won totally fled the scene! I felt for her panic. Abandoning Sun-jae was not cool, obviously. But she was at a low ebb at that point, running on instinct and fear. And it led to her and Sun-jae’s first couple fight, which I actually enjoyed seeing. Which might sound weird but it’s important, I think, how couples manage a fight.
I liked that they kept speaking to each other. Even if it was shouty, even if it was via text. Hye-won slipping the jacket through the door was hilariously childish, but she opened a dialogue when she texted him. I liked that they were honest. With Sun-jae that’s pretty much a given. But Hye-won’s honesty (I’m running away because you got that hotel room! Did you think I would just waltz on in!) pleasantly surprised me. And, in the end, it cleared things up so they were able to move forward. (Slowly. But there was movement.)
Which stood in stark contrast with Hye-won’s argument with Professor Kang. Hye-won was actually honest with him (Sun-jae rubbing off on her?) saying exactly why she was upset. But he was definitely not honest with her. Not only did he hide his real anxiety (that she’s stealing his student? or that she’ll get caught cheating?) he full on lied about his reason for being mad when he apologized. He wasn’t upset that he couldn’t help Hye-won, and of course she knows that. So they stay frozen in their play-acting. Civil, but dishonest and distant.
(A few other things from that scene: That “bring me tea,” thing. So much fury. Also, did Hye-won imply that they were both broke in their twenties? I’m sure she was — relatively, anyway. But I get the sense Professor Kang has always had a certain amount of wealth. Not to Young-woo’s level, but enough to be a snob about it.)
And then we finally get Sun-jae into his audition! Followed by the adorable jealousy scene where fellow-student Min-woo is going on and on about how cool Hye-won is as a teacher and Sun-jae totally stone-faces him. (Which was on par with kicking a puppy. I hope the two of them have a few more scenes together, actually.)
But it was also interesting how Professor Kang came on stage and said something about how Sun-jae played even better this time. I think he was implying that he and Sun-jae had been working on the piece together so he gets teacher-credit. And I think Sun-jae is picking up on those lies. (Maybe not the reason, though. Not yet, anyway.)
Meanwhile, Hye-won gets a face full of the ugliness that is her current job. She discusses extramarital affairs with the chairman. She puts up with Young-woo’s boy-toy acting an ass. She’s dressed down by Chairman Han because of the chairman’s extramarital affairs. She tries to bribe the one person in the whole mess who wasn’t all about the money and has that blow up in her face.
(I actually liked the restaurant ajumma. She was mean to Hye-won but she was brutally honest. And it was interesting how much power not wanting the money gave her. Hopefully there’s a lesson in that for Hye-won. Her words to Sun-jae later — that at the top of the food-chain is a demon whispering, “money will buy you anything” — tells me there was.)
And then, as the final cherry on the crap-cake that is her life, Hye-won is sneered at by Young-woo in front of Sun-jae. I was actually thrilled it happened story-wise, because I want Sun-jae to know Hye-won’s position. Otherwise, how can he save her? (Or, even better, help her save herself.) But emotionally, I ached for Hye-won. To be so exposed, so humiliated — the goddess revealed a slave… Worst day. Ever.
And then came episode 8: Best episode. Ever!
First came the “everybody go to Sun-jae’s apartment!” shenanigans. With Professor Kang winning the “creepiest creeper” award, Da-mi winning the “worst timing, ever” award, and Hye-won and Sun-jae winning the “most screwed, and not in a good way” couple award.
But I agree with Sun-jae — the fallout was good. Not that jealousy is a good thing. (Probably one of the most toxic things that can happen to a relationship.) But Hye-won went all out, honesty-wise, and it was hard. On both of them. Because the power of money is not a small thing. But then they had that lovely, long interlude where they listened to Rachmaninoff — and it was like they were both praying — and then they were able to go out and focus on the music.
By the way: I loved the stark contrast between Hye-won’s wardrobe when she first evaluated Sun-jae’s playing (crisp, mannish, button-down; hair back in a tight bun) and this next time (flowing, feminine, white shirt-dress; hair in a romantically loose up-do).
And I love, love, love that practice plays a huge part in Sun-jae’s ability. He has to work at being as good as he is and that’s what makes it real. For me, anyway.
It’s interesting that a big part of the honest conversation between Sun-jae and Hye-won comes from her dishonest online persona. I love the conversations that they have. (That Sun-jae was making her laugh after she’d been in such hopeless tears was lovely.) But I worry it’ll come back and bite Hye-won when Sun-jae finds out. She’s already made some slips, I think. Using phrases Sun-jae and his “tone-deaf hyung” have used — like goddess to slave. At some point Sun-jae will pick up on it. (I thought he was going to find out when she left her tablet behind while he had lunch. But apparently not.)
Professor Kang took an interesting turn. That visit to the fortune-teller was extremely interesting. I wonder how correct he’s supposed to have been in his readings? He got one big thing wrong, obviously. But I wonder if that was more a misinterpretation of what Hye-won defined as her “duty” rather than a full on mistake? If she’s shifted her sense of duty to Sun-jae, she’s not really cheating, is she? (Semantics, I know. But in this kind of thing, semantics can be important.)
But how fascinating that Professor Kang was more concerned about his connection with Sun-jae! I feel like he’d be willing for there to be an affair, as long as he can keep playing the role of Sun-jae’s teacher. I admit, I have yet to fully figure that man out. I halfway wonder if he’s gay, except he doesn’t seem interested in anyone sexually. Maybe money and reputation are his one true loves?
And then we’re treated to the best sex scene I’ve ever seen in a drama. That was such an awesome way to shoot it — focusing on the various, homey elements of Sun-jae’s apartment while we listen to Hye-won and Sun-jae have sex. It was impossibly intimate (their conversation! each confessing they have no skills — my heart!), and so, so warm and loving. And there was no “meaningful symbolism” to distract from what they were experiencing together. It took my breath away. (Also! Sun-jae totally backed me up about their hug after listening to Liszt! I’m not a perv, I’m observant!)
And then Hye-won teases him and Sun-jae says her name (K-dramas have totally sensitized me to lovers saying each other’s names) and she playfully kicks at him and he jokes about having a thing for feet (ooh! maybe he did read her tablet?!? eh — doesn’t matter, the story will tell itself they way it wants)
Love, love, love. And also a big bucket of trepidation. Because this is a high point and we’re not going to just hang out here (much as I’d love to). Hye-won is no longer in her twenties. Being a poor artist is no longer her path. Rumors are already afloat. Da-mi is circling in. They’ve miles yet, before their ending comes.
Oh, I hope, hope, hope it’s a happy one! A happy and together one. My want for that has settled in bone-deep now. Hye-won and Sun-jae are good together. Age-gap be damned. Oh, story — please, please, make it so.