The going is a little slow for this show, presumably cos it will span a length of 20eps (instead of the usual 16eps miniseries). Thus the writers took their own sweet time to lead into the romance proper. The first half of the show was mainly spent on ER cases (though those cases do help to amplify character traits in our leads) and building up backgrounds.
We are now at the juncture where Chang-min realises that his love for Jin-hee is not completely dead and buried. He is taking steps to mend their relationship. While Jin-hee, on the other hand, is of two minds about it. In addition, she has a new suitor in the wing. Her supervisor, Cheon-soo. The typical K-drama love triangle, where based on K-drama laws, the lead will get the girl. But, justified — or not?
1. What went wrong?
The show seems to be pointing the finger at Chang-min’s mum as THE reason why the OTP marriage failed previously. Cos by portraying Chang-min regretting his divorce and deciding to woo Jin-hee back now, the show appears to do a mental leap over the possibility that the OTP previously had issues. After all, other than the first few episodes (maybe 2?) where Chang-min acts like an a*shole, in the following episodes, he comes across as pretty decent. And more so in the recent eps, when he is the first to realise that he still loves his ex-wife. (he really transforms into a doting boyfriend-hopeful) The show doesn’t (or hasn’t) also tell us upfront what went wrong with them in the past since it gives us only rosy pictures of their shared memories. So much so that the bag-slashing (was it a Chanel?), the aquarium-smashing in ep1 seem surreal and almost never happened.
Instead, Chang-min’s mum was set up more or less like a constant (relationship wrecker) in the show. From hearing her strident voice over the phone in ep1, and now her hysterical and over the top behaviours from her stay in the hospital, she is definitely a character that is meant to bear most (if not all) fault for the marriage failure. Yes, her character is totally unlikeable. And yes, she is the best representative of the horribly witchy mother-in-law which all (married) women fear. Similar to the typical step-mother role in a fairytale, she is cast in 2D and you want to stuff her in a bag and sink her with the Titanic.
The show also suggests that Chang-min’s earlier character “flaws” stem from his mum. Being the nice, filial son that he is (not a fault, btw), he inadvertently listens to her and is gradually polluted by her to view his marriage to Jin-hee as a 10-tonne shackle. During his marriage, his mother constantly nagged and reminded him of his “lost opportunities”. And I believe this amplified his unhappiness at being relegated to work as a pharmaceutical salesman and having to demean himself to entertain his juniors (and cougars) when he had a shot at being a surgeon. And thus the eventual blow-up.
So…mother (or mother-in-law) at fault. With this second try, Chang-min juz simply have to untie the apron string connecting him and his mother. Simple solution. But is the problem JUZ his mum?
The show hasn’t really flesh out the problems (if any) the OTP previously had. We only briefly see those issues in ep1. Chang-min, who is unable to withstand his losses in financial status and reputation after being cut off from his well-to-do family, blames Jin-hee for his problems. And Jin-hee has no backbone to call him out for his verbal bullying. Now that they are seemingly “on par” in terms of status (both are medical interns, both work in the same department)…nothing much else is revealed on why their marriage failed. I’d like to see those reasons, instead of a simple finger pointing at the mother-in-law as the external cause for the failure. Too neat, too convenient. And divorce is never neat and hardly convenient.
2. Are the wrongs righted? Can the relationship be repaired?
Yes, and only if the issues the OTP instrinsically have are laid out and resolved. I don’t really see MUCH resolution between the couple. Maybe cos the show hasn’t told us what their problems are in the first place. Though the show gives hints. In my first review, I had noted that Chang-min lacks sensitivity and Jin-hee, confidence. But then again, lacking in sensitivity and/or confidence does not necessarily translate to a marriage failure. They may form the basis for the OTP’s other (unrevealed) issues, or they may aggravate those same issues.
Up till ep11, we do see some forms of positive changes in Chang-min and Jin-hee. Chang-min finds out that he is not super competent after all when he clearly cannot put into practice what he learns in theory. In addition, we get a flashback to a similar past when he nearly misdiagnose an allergy case for an asthma attack. His ego gets pegged a few notches down further when Jin-hee doesn’t immediately reciprocates to his fervent renewed wooing.
Jin-hee too, gradually realises she is not 100% incompetent or “stupid”, and she begins to work herself out of the hole which Chang-min + mum (in-law) have dug for her, after having being at the receiving end of their verbal abuses for years during her marriage. With her direct superiors’ (Cheon-soo/ Ji-hye) encouragement, she begins to see herself as possessing the traits of a doctor, and a good one at that. The show also tells us that she already had the undiscovered potential — in the same flashback, she was the one who correctly diagnosed the allergy case, even though she was juz a nutritionist then.
Ok, I am willing to concede that in terms of addressing Jin-hee’s lack in confidence and Chang-min’s over abundance of it, the show has balanced the equation pretty well. We have witnessed pluses in Jin-hee’s abilities (leading to her being more sure of herself), and deductions in Chang-min’s ego (forcing him to tune in to Jin-hee’s needs instead of assuming he knows what’s best for her — remember a scene in ep1, where he changed Jin-hee’s prescriptions to the meds he was selling? presumptious).
However, I do hope that the show doesn’t think that balancing the characters’ flaws + strengths and making them equal is the solution to their relationship problem. Cos again, it’s juz too neat and unrealistic. (yeah, i know k-dramaland is never realistic, but this is stretching it and like the folks at Dramabeans say, sloppy writing)