Resolution time. Everything (or almost everything) is wrapped up with a neat bow as we conclude Antoine.
Soo-hyun starts to self-blame for causing Hye-rim to walk out of his life, and his deep-dark-shadow of being abandoned by important women in his life (namely, his biological mum) comes back to haunt him.
Hye-rim announces that she is leaving Antoine café to help an unni with her café in Daejeon, and will not be returning. Soo-hyun is affected by the news, but pretends otherwise. He decides to bury himself in work instead. To stave off his loneliness, he decides to get a puppy, naming her…Hye-rim. (insert eye-roll)
The irony is while both of them ignore each other, they can’t help but miss each other. Yoo-rim, when she visits, gets her unni drunk…and Hye-rim paws all over her to grab Yoo-rim’s phone to text Soo-hyun. Luckily Yoo-rim has the right mind to stop her sis’ nonsense. Soo-hyun shows up the next day though, pretending to need Hye-rim’s help to close off Chairman Kim’s case. Hye-rim sees through his pretense, and shoos him off.
Chairman Kim, whom Soo-hyun finally treats for OCD, receives counseling and is able to resolve his family issues. He apologises to his daughter, and says that he clings to her because she is the last member of his family…and he is lonely. He gives her his blessing to get married. Chairman Kim’s daughter forgives her father and promises to visit even after she has married. Chairman Kim hosts a lavish lunch to thank Soo-hyun and Hye-rim, and can’t help but note the tension between the two.
Yoo-rim’s journalistic interview of Ji-ho wins an award. And she celebrates with him by locking lips in public, much to the embarrassment of Sung-chan who also happens to be in the same restaurant. At the award ceremony, Ji-ho proposes to Yoo-rim, but the lovebirds get a scolding from Hye-rim, who say they are not mentally nor financially prepared for marriage. Yoo-rim moves out of the house in anger.
Sung-chan, who has managed to cajole Prof Bae back from Jeju-do, starts to nag her to accept treatment for cancer. They visit the doctor together and learn that Prof Bae has a 30% chance of survival post-surgery. Sung-chan then uses Prof Bae’s bucket list where she has indicated she wants to travel to Alaska and Africa, pointing out that such countries have extreme temperatures and she needs to be healthy to visit. Prof Bae is at first resistant, but she finally caves. She agrees to the op…
Hye-rim manages to track down where Yoo-rim + Ji-ho have eloped to, and confronts them. In desperation Yoo-rim claims she is pregnant, and has “no choice” but to marry ASAP. Hye-rim is shocked, but is prepared to accept the marriage…unfortunately, Yoo-rim is forced to say the truth when Hye-rim tries to get her to visit a gynae for a checkup. The next time Yoo-rim and Ji-ho visit, they prepare a long proposal on how they will manage financially and domestically post-marriage. Convinced that they have thought it through, Hye-rim gives her permission.
Before admitting herself into hospital, Prof Bae tries to help Soo-hyun. She tells Hye-rim that part of Soo-hyun’s insistence to carry on the experiment has to do with his psychological defense mechanism to cope with his mother’s abandonment. Hye-rim agrees to move back. She reverts to her chirpy self, with the intention to “heal” Soo-hyun. Soo-hyun has already found out that the nice ahjumma who has been in consultation with him is his mum. He rejects her, and tells her not to look for him again.
The breaking point comes about when Soo-hyun meets up with his dad and Sung-chan for lunch. We see that Dad is an overbearing character, and while Sung-chan’s sunny personality allows him to brush off Dad’s “commands”, Soo-hyun takes them to heart. He argues with his dad, and walks off before finishing lunch. Sung-chan catches up with him, and tells him that Dad is prickly with him because he always take Dad’s comments the wrong way. Soo-hyun is peeved and ignores Sung-chan.
At a park with Hye-rim later, a scene where a little boy (obviously a step son from a prev marriage) is ticked off by a father for “not smiling” in the camera triggers Soo-hyun’s memories of being alienated by his step family. He decides to seek out his mum…only to overhear her talking sweetly to her own (new) family. Depressed, he stalks back to his clinic.
Hye-rim learns that Soo-hyun’s mum is returning to Busan, and tries to tell her of Soo-hyun’s issues on the phone…but is cut off due to poor connection. However, Mum hasn’t left yet. She is worried at the mention of Soo-hyun and has decided to postpone the trip. When Soo-hyun learns that Mum hasn’t dumped him again, he cracks and finally forgives her. Mum explains that she had tried to contact Soo-hyun via his dad all these years, but his dad and his lawyers have expressively forbidden any contact between her and her son. (evil) Without much money herself, Mum is unable to appeal against the Court’s decision to leave Soo-hyun with his dad.
The group decides to celebrate Soo-hyun’s birthday (sans Prof Bae), and for the first time in his life, Soo-hyun enjoys the birthday celebration (since birthdays usually remind him of his mum’s abandonment in the past). Finally learning to love, Soo-hyun completes Part III of the experiment himself. He invites Hye-rim to a concert…and before the programme starts, he gets on stage to declare his love for her.
I am fairly disappointed with Antoine. It started off as lighthearted, campy fun, with a bit of a cat-and-mouse element, as Soo-hyun and Hye-rim battle it out. Logic vs. Instinct. And for once, the female lead isn’t a sappy girl who gives in first and falls in love blindly, despite her obvious lower level of education compared with the male lead. Hye-rim had been a formidable foe for Soo-hyun, who totally belittled her abilities to read people, pooh-poohing her observation and deduction skills as hocus pocus “fortune telling”.
Antoine‘s narrative starts to unravel like a badly woven knit cardigan around its midpoint, when Hye-rim and Soo-hyun kinda admitted they really like each other, but don’t come out to say so. The skipping and dancing around the bush got really tiresome after a while, as Hye-rim refuses to come right out to say she knows about the experiment and Soo-hyun clams up whenever there’s a mention of “experiment”.
So what Antoine had to fall back on are very skimpy side storylines of Ji-ho/ Yoo-rim and Sung-chan/Prof Bae, which imo, are not very developed to engage us. The case-of-the-day(s)also start to lose their appeal, especially when they aren’t “difficult” to diagnose/ resolve to begin with and are usually short and don’t add much value to Antoine‘s narrative as a whole.