I find that one thing that sets apart Eat 3 with its predecessors is its more sombre theme of lost youth…and the burden that comes with “adulthood”. We have 2 timelines very nicely juxtaposed with each other; the grimmer 2018 fades into the happier, more carefree days of 2004, where the objective of earning an income is to be able to go overseas to watch the World Cup live. (and not pay for bills…)
Even the love of food is not a constant in Eat 3. Ji-woo, who I see as the main protagonist that strings both past and present, is the one who has markedly lost her shine over the years. She was once a happy-go-lucky girl, who is “Koo Dae-young’s master”, has now faded into a Ji-woo who not only lost her taste for food (cereals 3x a day? really??) but also for life.
I suppose we can kinda foresee the slump happening for Ji-woo, even as early as in 2004’s timeline. She has always been the more sensitive and considerate one, as compared to her self-centred step sister Seo-yeon. Her habit of bottling emotions within herself, of not being frank about her own feelings, of not owning up to her negative emotions, likely coalesced into the Shadow Ji-woo of 2018. Ji-woo today is an automaton. She works, comes home, visits her ailing mum on weekends, repeat.
And…the very heavy issue of dementia; how it affects the caregivers — who are usually the sandwiched working adult. It is “lucky” that Ji-woo doesn’t have a family herself (i.e. husband with kids) to juggle on top of taking care of her mum (and getting bullied by an idiotic nursing home administrator). But it is also doubly stressful, since her sole income has to provide for a heavily dependent family member…and we have seen how difficult it is for Ji-woo to juggle work, financial commitments…and her mum, when mummy comes home temporarily to stay.
The cloud of negativity also falls on Dae-young too. We already know he has lost his girlfriend, Soo-ji, and he is still trying to come to grips with the loss. He isn’t ready to take off that ring yet, though he HAS been contemplating. In a way, this is also very much like the Dae-young in 2004. He sometimes fail to see what is right in front of him. Although he may initially see Ji-woo as a good buddy, then a kid sister…but from a bystander pov, his actions hint that he IS falling for her. And his friends have called him out on it. Even though he denies it (not-so-vehemently).
So while Eat 3 continues to parade its string of good food on screen, I sometimes find myself with a heartburn just watching them eat. Especially when the time line is in the current one, and we know that Reality is just getting ready to pounce back on screen the moment the food porn ends.