I’m back! Being overseas has its distinct advantage — I can take a break from blogging and seriously pay attention to watching. And omo…there’s plenty to watch from kdramaland these days. (kinda missed the dearth of shows in winter 2015) One show (out of the many new ones) which I caught is Madame Antoine.

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Main cast:

  • Han Ye-seul (from Birth of a Beauty) as Ko Hye-rim. Single mother (with a teenaged daughter who is currently studying overseas), she operates a fortune telling café named Madame Antoine (since she claims to be “gifted” with the spirit of said Madame). In actuality, she’s a charlatan with amazing Sherlockian skills to read people.
  • Sung-joon (from Hyde, Jekyll and Me) as Choi Soo-hyun. Renowned clinical psychologist who doesn’t believe in Love. He defines Love as a baseless emotion that can make rational beings irrational, and proves it by setting up unsuspecting women (as test subjects) with men. His clinic (for weird reason) is also called Madame Antoine.
  • Byun Hee-bong (from Grandpas Investigative Unit) as Chairman Kim. Hye-rim affectionately refers to him as the “grandpa who happens to be her landlord”, not knowing that he runs a large cosmetics company. Chairman Kim sponsors Soo-hyun to set up his clinic in Seoul, on the basis that Soo-hyun provides him with data on women’s psyche, so that it can help his business.

Synopsis:

Based on ep1 atm. Will provide weecaps asap, promise!

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We are introduced to Soo-hyun first, where he gives a talk on his latest results on his experiment. He has been setting up a lady in her 20s with 3 eligible bachelors, and although the test subject in question appears to like the young guy, she eventually chooses the more financially stable, older suitor. Soo-hyun concludes that Love only makes you do crazy things, but ultimately, practicality wins — especially with women. Soo-hyun claims that women do not “feel Love”, they only look at Love in a materialistic way.

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Back in Seoul, another of our character gets introduced while we see Soo-hyun making a grand re-entry into his home country (he has been practicing in the States, and is invited back to open his first Asian clinic in Korea by Chairman Kim). Our second lead character is Hye-rim, and we watch in semi-awe as she cleverly observes her clients and “predicts” their current situation. Hye-rim later learns that Soo-hyun’s clinic is opening above her fortune telling café, and will share the same name — Madame Antoine. Understandably, she views the new business as a threat.

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The 2 leads finally meet when one of Soo-hyun’s potential client ends up getting his fortune told by Hye-rim. The client/patient suffers from OCD, which is triggered by the death of his wife in a robbery gone wrong. He blames himself and Soo-hyun advises him to look to him for help. However, said client ends up drinking coffee at Hye-rim’s level one café, and after a short observation, she guesses that he must have lost his wife, and is guilty over it. She assures him that his wife is now well in Heaven and encourages him to be happy. When Soo-hyun learns that his business is snatched by a charlatan, he confronts Hye-rim, pretending to be a client himself.

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Interestingly, Hye-rim manages to crack open the thick layers of walls Soo-hyun built around himself. We learn that Soo-hyun has no memories of himself before 6 years old, but Hye-rim’s words about the fear of his mother abandoning him triggers a memory of young boy crying for his mum in a crowded amusement park. Annoyed (and flustered), Soo-hyun leaves with a warning to Hye-rim not to make a living by lying to people.

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The duo’s paths cross for good when Hye-rim’s savings are cheated and she has to turn to Chairman Kim for financial help. Soo-hyun warns Chairman Kim that Hye-rim (he calls her the habitual liar) will fake a story to get money from him. Hye-rim does that — but later regrets and owns up. Chairman Kim, who had been upset with Hye-rim’s lies is reassured again of Hye-rim’s kind nature with her confession. He agrees to help Hye-rim…

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…but on one condition. That both the fortune teller and the psychiatrist work hand in hand to consult cases. And he makes Hye-rim move in with Soo-hyun in the same apartment as well. (haha) The pair’s first case is a national gymnast, who suddenly has blurriness of vision during a competition.

Review:

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Sung-joon‘s role here is meant for us to hate. Really. As a clinical psychologist, his “studies” and “experiments” border (or should I say, cross over) to the unethical. He sets up innocent women (on the pretext of asking them to a “survey”, thereby getting their “agreement”) with men and makes them fall in love with the guy(s), only to have the suitor disappear and later revealing to the poor girl that she has been had. (what rubbish…) I wonder why the psychology circle hasn’t sack him.

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And while he pooh-poohs Hye-rim’s unscientific methods and the whole business of fortune telling, she ironically proves to be more empathetic yet more scientific than him. She observes people and asks questions that may sound innocuous (such as family background, etc) but ends up with a boatload of information given willingly or unwittingly by the participant. From there, she makes clever deductions on the state of mind of her client and “diagnoses” their fears correctly. Like how she sees that the man who suffers from OCD has hands that are too smooth and unwrinkled — she guesses he never does housework, yet he appears before her with a rumpled shirt and mismatched outfit. So she deduces his wife is absent…and by the way he continuously rubs his missing wedding band on the ring finger, she guesses (correctly) his wife has died, and he feels remorse.

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While the premise of Antoine is set on the OTP crossing swords (and later falling in love) with each other, I do like how the show sets up a mini case-of-the-day, and since the OTP has to now work together in their business(es), it’d be interesting to see their different takes on each case.

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