Maybe it’s a case of Lost in Translation, but I really don’t see the “slyness” or “cunning-ness” of Ae-ra in Sly. Pettiness, yes. Childish vindictiveness, (resounding) yes. But cunning gold digger? No, no and no.
I really enjoy Sly far far more than Emergency Couple. Since I am catching both, and both are about divorces/ making up after a divorce, it’s natural I will start comparing them. So far, even though Sly is only mid-way through the series (as opposed to Emergency, which is rounding up in another 2 weeks or so), the plot, characterisations and interactions between characters are more intriguing than Emergency.
Why so? Probably cos Sly is a pretty realistic protrayal of a marriage gone bad due to extenuating circumstances. It is quite obvious even after the breakup that Ae-ra and Jung-woo still harbour some form of affection for each other. And I am not talking about the current — but rather, right after the breakup. Jung-woo, obviously, was heartbroken and he tried to plead with Ae-ra to not go ahead with the court proceedings. Ae-ra too (in a flashback later) was very upset and had secretly trailed, sobbing, behind Jung-woo even after she had told him harshly to juz “disappear quietly” and “not bother her anymore”. This is unlike Jing-hee and Chang-min’s explosive fallout, where they practically rip through their furniture and also their respect for each other. And that is why I am so rooting for Ae-ra and Jung-woo to reunite, whereas I’m quite blase about Jing-hee and Chang-min’s relationship.
The biggest impediment, in my opinion, to Ae-ra and Jung-woo rekindling their love for each other is Ae-ra’s reason for the divorce and her keeping it a secret. Maybe it’s blame and spite at Jung-woo, or maybe it’s shame and guilt directed at herself for losing their precious baby, but Ae-ra chooses not to tell Jung-woo that they had and lost a child. And Jung-woo, being the really principaled (and fairly stick-in-the-mud guy), wrongly forms the opinion that Ae-ra is a fair-weather wife who will only hang around him when he is prosperous and dump him when he is in a rough patch.
Since the majority of k-drama viewers are likely women, it is unsurprising we get to see Ae-ra in a more sympathetic light. Either Jung-woo has an impaired memory, is highly myopic or both, he somehow doesn’t remember that Ae-ra contributed to the household by holding onto multiple jobs during the four years he was struggling to get his start-up on track. Thus, I find it super unfair he brushes her efforts off as “nothing” and declares in front of her colleagues that she (or “her friend”) is “a liar”.
At the moment, the plot seems to be setting up the miscarriage revelation as Jung-woo’s tip-over to “forgiving” Ae-ra, a mechanism which I don’t really like. First off, why does Jung-woo even need to “forgive” her? The show has set me up to see Ae-ra as having done her fair share in financially supporting her ex-husband, but Jung-woo…not really. So far, the images that stuck to me are Ae-ra struggling to cold-sell insurance, getting her arm burnt on a hotpan while waitressing in a restaurant and collapsing in pain when selling coats in winter. Contrast those images with Jung-woo pathetically curled up on the sofa in his small office, trying to enter their basement home, having his dinner taken away by Ae-ra and later receiving a money pack from his dad. Unless I have blocked them out, I don’t recall seeing him in scenes meeting his so-called “investors” and trying to get business — those only appear after he becomes successful. Thus, I am already skewed towards Ae-ra; having that miscarriage revelation in order for Jung-woo to see her point is quite ridiculous. I basically want him to admit that he is wrong in dismissing Ae-ra’s previous efforts and grovel even without the knowledge of her miscarriage.
Well, from ep9, the “grovelling” or making up has kinda started. Jung-woo, in a rather round-about way, has come to realise he still loves Ae-ra. The turning point for Jung-woo’s change is the funeral of his father, maybe it made him realise that he can’t pin all the blame to his ex-wife and conveniently forgets he also has to shoulder part of the fault for his failed marriage. Although he doesn’t admit it openly to himself or others (Secretary Gil and Yeo-jin), it is quite obvious to all that he is warming up towards Ae-ra.
I love it when he orders her to meet him, then purposely mock-tease her to get a reaction out from her. Very much like a pair of old married couple who grumbles non-stop that their other half is soooo.. annoying, but still loves him/her. And thanks to Jung-woo’s one-track mind, once he settles on something (whether unconsciously or consciously), he sticks with it to the end. Thus, even though he guesses that Yeo-jin likes him, he keeps her very much at arm’s length while zero-ing in on Ae-ra and trying to break her up with Seung-hyun.
I am happily looking forward for more antics and hilarity now that Jung-woo is on the path to mend his relationship with Ae-ra, and come ep10, Seung-hyun too, will know the reason why Ae-ra seems to care (too much) for their CEO. I’d also love to see more of Joo Sang-wook acting un-cool — a refreshing change from all that frowny, suave roles he play in Ten and Good Doctor.