THE SHORT VERDICT:
Navillera works out to be so many things; it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s a story of personal journey; of unlikely friendship; of family; of healing; of growth; of daring to dream your dreams, and it’s altogether uplifting and wholesome.
Our entire cast is excellent but the dual stand-outs for me, are Park In Hwan and Song Kang, who, individually and together, steal this show – and my heart – in deep and profound ways. On top of this, Show is confidently written, and wonderfully executed, plus, a wonderfully immersive OST works to lift the watch experience to a whole other level.
Affecting, inspiring and completely moving. A must-see.
THE LONG VERDICT:
I really feel like Navillera is a very special creature of a show.
First of all, there was no “settling in” period for me, with this one. I liked it a lot, and right away. With a good number of shows which manage to grab me quickly, it’s not unusual for there to be a struggle to keep my interest over the entire length of the story. Not with this one, my friends. The more I watched this show, the more I wanted to serve up my heart to it on a plate. Augh. The feels; they are not in short supply in this one.
This show is so tender, and so deep, and so bittersweet and so poignant, all in the same breath. It makes me think, and it makes me feel, and it’s such a precious experience that I don’t even mind when Show makes me cry.
Show is so gentle, and yet, it overcomes me so. ❤️
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it, as you read the review. I really enjoyed the OST as a whole, and listening to it now, I find that there are so many tracks that I love.
Here’s the quick spotlight on a handful that I love a little extra.
Track 1, My Day, is so gentle, laidback and and unhurriedly breezy; I find it very inviting.
Track 4, Heal You, strikes me as dreamy and breezy, and makes me feel like I’m floating on clouds, even as I sink into my dreams.
Track 6, A Scent Of The Dream, is so evocative and lovely, too. The cello gives it a rich, mellow flavor, even as the melody teases out the flavor of what it’s like to dream. This might actually be my favorite track on the album.
Track 10, The Day When The Snow Falls Gently, starts out light and easy, and then builds into this swelling of violin sounds, which is altogether lovely and stirring.
Track 11, A Journey To Myself, is so measured and contemplative. The cello sounds anchor it in such a sweetly melancholic way.
Track 14, With U, is beautiful too. Such rich cello sounds, and such a lovely orchestral sound, that swells with hope and possibility.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
I almost didn’t want to include this section, because it was so easy for me to love this show. But, just in case it might come in useful for you, here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of this one.
1. I’ve heard it said that Show might take a while to grow on you, particularly because the initial episodes can be rather melancholic. That said, I wanted to add that I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t deter my fast-growing affection for this show, like, at all.
There is melancholy, true, and there is a sense of heartache pulsing through our narrative, but – and I find this very key – Show’s touch is very gentle. Even when our characters are experiencing moments of sadness or angst, I can feel that they are in gentle, loving hands, and I have this assurance that they are on a path to better, brighter and more hopeful days. I really like that.
2. Sometimes, there is heartache in our story. There is no need to feel anxious about this, however, because Show does a remarkable thing, in how it manages to tease so much beauty from the heartache.
3. This story feels strongly slice-of-life, in that it feels quite ordinary and everyday in its story setting. However, Show does an amazing job at showing us what’s lyrical and beautiful, and also, what’s bittersweet and haunting, about the ordinary and everyday. This in itself feels deep and thoughtful.
4. I thought it might be helpful to mention that there is no romance in this. I also wanted to say, the main relationship between our two leads, is so engaging and compelling, that I’d take this over a run-of-the-mill romance any day.
STUFF I LOVED
General writing, handling and execution
I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention this, even though the general execution is done so unobtrusively and so elegantly, that you almost forget that there are multiple hands behind the scenes, bringing this story to life.
The writing is tender and confident, and I really appreciate how wholistic this story feels. It never feels like writer-nim is figuring out stuff along the way. This always felt like a whole story that was being presented in stages, in accordance to a greater roadmap, where everything had its own meaningful place.
Another thing I wanted to mention, is, I’m not sure if I can sufficiently put a finger on why, but a lot of this show felt more like a movie than a drama, to my eyes.
In part, it’s the emphasis on show, rather than tell, in our set-up, as Show works to give us a sense of our key characters and their respective contexts; in part, I think it’s in how the act of showing us their contexts feels like a collection of vignettes that we need to piece together to create a whole picture in our minds; perhaps, in part, it’s also the general quiet, restrained mood in which this is all done. There’s just something a little more.. mature and sophisticated in how our set-up is communicated, I feel, than the average kdrama.
At the same time, there’s also how large the music is, in our drama world. Every time we hear the ballet music play, it’s swirling, and assertive, and it takes over everything that’s on the screen. It feels quite epic and momentous, and that could also be adding to my sense, that Show is more cinematic than the average drama.
Everything comes together in a manner that feels organic and seamless, and I love and respect that very much.
Park In Hwan as Deok Chul
I have a pre-existing huge soft spot for Park In Hwan, because he was such a sweet dad in the second kdrama I ever watched, 2005’s Save Your Last Dance For Me, so I was primed to love Deok Chul as our protagonist. I just.. didn’t count on Show prying open my heart, and digging even deeper, so that I would consistently keep finding new reserves of love for Deok Chul, during the course of my watch.
I must say, Park In Hwan’s performance as Deok Chul is simply outstanding. From the many shades of subtle emotion that Deok Chul shows, to the physical demands of the ballet that Deok Chul learns, Park In Hwan does it all with such aplomb. I can only imagine how challenging this role must have been for Park In Hwan, not only in terms of performing the ballet moves, but also, in terms of having to deal with the delicate subject matter of human frailty, which must, I imagine, touch a nerve for someone of his maturity.
From beginning to end, Park In Hwan as Deok Chul had me by the heart, fully and unequivocally. Simply put, I could not love Deok Chul enough. ❤️
E1. I find myself growing fond of Deok Chul right away; he’s got such an amiable air about him. Plus, it’s also clear that he cares about his friends. When the other guys at the funeral wonder about why certain friends aren’t present, it’s Deok Chul who’s able to rattle off the reasons, off the top of his head.
The only reason he’s able to do that, is because he cares enough to keep track of everyone. And, it seems like Deok Chul is the only person who has enough compassion, to visit his friend Gyo Seok (Lee Young Suk) at the nursing home, who’s been abandoned even by his own family. Just in these things alone, it’s easy to see that Deok Chul has a big heart with a lot of love, and I already want him to overcome any and all obstacles, to achieve his ballet dreams.
I love how it’s clear to see that ballet truly moves Deok Chul, down to his very soul. The way the music from the practice studio stops him in his tracks, and the way he watches Chae Rok (Song Kang) rehearse, entranced, it’s as if he’s helpless against the pull of ballet. At the same time, there’s a distinct sense of wistfulness about him, as he watches.. it quickly becomes clear that watching and appreciating ballet isn’t enough to satisfy the desire of his soul. He wants to be able to submerge himself even more fully in the beauty of ballet, by dancing it.
I can understand why Deok Chul would have kept his ballet dreams under wraps all these years. After his father (Jung Jae Sung) had forbidden him to dance, I’m sure the pressures of life, and the need to provide for his family, easily pushed any thoughts of ballet to the back of his mind. And, it does seem like Deok Chul would have been willing to settle for watching on the sidelines, until Gyo Seok’s suicide jolts him to take hold of his dream, all over again.
E2. I just love how earnest and sincere Deok Chul is about wanting to learn ballet. Even though Chae Rok is completely prickly almost to the point of being hostile, Deok Chul never allows it to get him down. It’s almost as if he can’t hear Chae Rok’s rants and complaints because the beauty of ballet is too strong and is filling his mind to the exclusion of everything else.
Deok Chul is so dedicated in applying himself towards learning ballet, even when Chae Rok’s demands lean excessive. The way Deok Chul works so hard to pass Chae Rok’s “entrance exam” of holding the balancé position for a full minute, is very endearing, and completely inspiring. He encounters so many setbacks, and falls over so many times, but he just keeps on trying.
And in the midst of it all, Deok Chul finds time to visit his son Seong Gwan (Jo Bok Rae), and encourage him to just stick to his guns, and keep telling Mom (Na Moon Hee) that he’s happy now. That simple acceptance that Deok Chul shows, must feel like a balm to Seong Gwan’s soul, particularly if he feels rejected by Mom, for giving up his career as a doctor. Deok Chul says so little in this scene, but his love and acceptance for his son is so profound.
That scene of Deok Chul on D-Day, giving it his all, to hold the balancé position for the full minute that Chae Rok demands, is both nerve-racking and inspiring. Clearly, the one week of effort that he’s put in hasn’t quite been enough, but we see through flashback, just the kind of dogged persistence that Deok Chul’s lived by, even during his days as a mailman, and I can completely buy that Deok Chul’s desperation to do well, would fill up the gap between his goal and his physical ability. Deok Chul’s body may be weaker and more limited than he’d like, but it’s becoming clear that his mind and his passion are larger and more potent than Chae Rok could imagine.
E3. My heart broke when Hae Nam started cutting up Deok Chul’s ballet clothes with that pair of scissors. It felt like she was shredding his dreams into pieces, and I dearly wanted her to stop, because I imagined that each stab of her scissors was hurting Deok Chul’s soul. 💔
The thing that strikes me most in this moment, is how Deok Chul doesn’t respond with anger. Instead, he’s confused, and he sincerely tries to understand why his wife is so upset. I feel like many other people in Deok Chul’s position would react out of anger, if only as a reflex. How does Deok Chul remain so calm, even when his wife is trampling on his dreams, and ordering him not to even think about doing ballet anymore?
E4. The thing that strikes me most about Deok Chul, as all this angst goes on, is how accommodating and amiable he is, towards even the most belligerent family member. He doesn’t lose his temper or raise his voice even once, even though almost everyone’s working to sideline him in his own life. There’s something so precious about Deok Chul’s gentle spirit, where he seeks to comfort and console his family, even when they are at their worst.
And, when his wife reminds him of all the hardships their kids suffered while growing up, it’s heartbreaking to see how Deok Chul responds by telling her that he’ll quit ballet. It’s clear that Deok Chul does blame himself for not being a good enough provider, and perhaps that’s part of the reason why he suffers his children’s rants so patiently.
It’s so sad to see how Deok Chul becomes a shadow of himself, as he submits to his wife’s and children’s wishes to drop ballet. That faraway look that he regularly gets in his eyes, makes me think that his heart is at the ballet studio, even though his body may be hiking in the mountains with his family.
E4. That moment when Deok Chul bids Bungbung goodbye, as Eun Ho (Hong Seung Hee) drives away, is really poignant. “Thank you, Bungbung. Please take good care of Eun Ho.” Aw. That must be a strange feeling, to say goodbye to something that’s been a constant presence in your life for the past thirty years.
E5. I love the way Deok Chul steps in and very calmly and firmly tells off Eun Ho’s awful manager (Lee Cho A), “Is this what having a job at a big company does to you?” … “These young people are trying hard to secure a job. Do you think you have the right to take advantage of them and complain about “kids these days”?” … “You see, I’ve got nothing to say to young people these days. I feel sorry for them. We’ve told them to work hard, but hard work doesn’t always pay off. Not as long as someone like you holds on to what you’ve got. If you can’t root for them, at least don’t trample on them. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
So dignified, and so full of badassery. Awful Manager looks suitably humiliated, and I’m so glad that Eun Ho has Deok Chul on her side.
Deok Chul is such a sweetheart. I love the way he drives Bungbung home for Eun Ho, and then texts her about putting the car keys in the mailbox – and then comes over all over again, to clean and polish Bungbung, the very next day. Aw. I luff him. I also love his words of encouragement to Eun Ho, that in the grand scheme of things, it’s ok to fail once in a while; that it’s not her fault, and that it’s no big deal. So wise. I’m glad Deok Chul is there to give Eun Ho a sense of perspective.
E6. We’ve had tiny hints prior, that Deok Chul’s memory might be starting to fail him, and this episode, things get worse, with him first forgetting his wedding anniversary, and then getting disoriented and lost at the aquarium. Dang. Given his age, Deok Chul already doesn’t have a great deal of time to realize his ballet dreams, and now, with Alzheimer’s in the mix, he has even less time. Ack. This just makes everything 100x more heartbreaking. 💔😭
E7. The way Deok Chul stands in the ballet studio and looks around him the next morning, is so full of wistfulness. Now that I revisit the scene, knowing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, his look of wistfulness feels extra poignant. It feels like whatever time we might have thought he’d had, is now even shorter. And that look feels pregnant with sadness, quite possibly at the impending time when he’ll no longer be able to dance. 😭
I was glad to see Deok Chul remember to pick up the picture that Hae Nam had reminded him about, but I was quite gutted to realize that Deok Chul had asked for a separate photo of himself, which looks like it’s meant to be his funeral picture. Oof.
And then that scene, where we revisit Deok Chul writing in his notebook after getting lost in the aquarium, is so full of pathos. The way he reminds himself not to forget that he has Alzheimer’s, even though he still wants to continue with ballet, is so wistful and earnest at the same time.
The scene that really shreds my heart to pieces, though, is the flashback to when Deok Chul had just received his diagnosis from the doctor. The way he cries in the park, even as thinks back on his life, and wonders why things have to be this way when it’s such a beautiful day, just breaks my heart. Sob. 😭😭 Trust Deok Chul to even notice that it’s a beautiful sunny day, even as his life as he knows it, falls to pieces around him. 💔
I just want to reach into my screen to give Deok Chul a hug, and tell him everything’s going to be ok – while I grab writer-nim by the shoulders and demand – plead! – that Deok Chul be given a clean bill of health. I just can’t bear the thought of Deok Chul suffering or being sad, y’know? 🥺
E8. This episode, we find out that Deok Chul’s farther along in his Alzheimer’s than we might have first imagined, and it breaks my heart every time we see his eyes go vacant with confusion, when his memory blanks out. 😭
It’s heart-pinching stuff, to see how wistful Deok Chul gets, as he thinks upon his life and his family, during the routine set of questions from the doctor. I really feel like Deok Chul’s afraid to forget his family and the memories that he has with them, and yet this all feels quite inevitable, given his diagnosis and prognosis.
And then, when Deok Chul blanks out and becomes frozen to the spot in the middle of a busy walkway, it’s so heartbreaking to see the sense of lostness in his eyes. Beyond the confusion, there’s also fear. Guh. I so want to reach into my screen and hold his hand, and help him to feel better. 💔
E9. D’aww! Deok Chul sending in a song request for Eun Ho, to her radio show, and expressing such warmth, love and support, is the most precious thing. What a lovely grandpa he is, truly. I didn’t think I could love him more than I do, but I do. ❤️ I’m glad that Eun Ho gets to hear it, and that it touches her heart. And I do love the quiet glee that Deok Chul takes, in hearing his song request over the radio. He doesn’t tell anyone else about it, despite the pleasure he takes in it, and it just makes me feel all over again, just how modestly he loves.
E10. How sweetly diligent of Deok Chul, to keep on training and practicing on his own, even though Chae Rok’s made a clear stand that he thinks Deok Chul should quit and won’t teach him anymore. I just love – seriously LOVE – Deok Chul’s sweet, earnest spirit. He is so respectful of other people’s thoughts and feelings, and yet, is so resilient, in his own way. ❤️
That moment when Deok Chul reflects on his situation, alone in the dark, and says out loud, “Chae Rok-ah, I’m terrified as well,” is so affecting, seriously. I went from pretty ok, to all choked up, in just the 2 seconds that it took him to eke out those words. 😭 It hurts my heart, to realize that Deok Chul is probably even more afraid that anyone else who knows his secret. And yet, he’s trying his best to stay strong and soldier on. 💔
The fact that Deok Chul then goes to enquire about admitting himself into a care facility, shows how scared he is, of being a burden to his family. Particularly with how Hae Nam got hurt because he’d forgotten about the pot on the stove, I’m convinced that Deok Chul is taking this step because he doesn’t want to risk hurting Hae Nam again, even though he himself likely doesn’t actually want to live in a nursing home.
Song Kang as Chae Rok
First of all, I want to say that I’m extremely impressed with the fact that Song Kang studied ballet in order to prepare for this role. That’s no easy task, and to my untrained eyes, it he does a very solid job of the dancing required.
Of course, I do think that he has a body double for the more complicated dance shots, but there are enough shots which feature his face, to convince me that he’s learned more ballet than most people could learn, in the months that he’s spent studying it. Even his non-dancing posture, when he’s doing regular people things like walking and standing, strikes me as that of a ballerino, with shoulders squared and thrust out. Really well done, I say.
On top of that, Song Kang’s risen in my estimation an actor, with this role. Up till checking out this show, I’d thought of Song Kang as a promising actor, but still one who could use some additional layers to his acting. I’d thought that in this role, as with Sweet Home, the demands of the character played to his strengths. However, now having watched this whole show, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the shades of nuance and depth that he displays, in the character of Chae Rok.
Really nicely done, I say. 🤩
On a shallow note, I just wanted to mention that I find Song Kang’s physique quite.. startling, in this role. He’s so tall, that I sort of expected him to be really lanky and gangly. Instead, his shoulders are almost unreasonably broad, and he’s got so much lean muscle in all the right places, that he kind of.. looks like a cartoon caricature, or rather, a beautiful freak of nature, with the extreme “V-line” that his figure cuts. I found this quite fascinating, honestly, from beginning to end.
E2. I would definitely like to know more about what’s going on in Chae Rok’s mind, as he lives his life. The way he’s cold to Eun Ho at work feels unnecessary and rude, and even though he stands up to the unreasonable customer and helps her out, his actions feel like they’re coming from a place of impatience rather than compassion.
E4. I’m happy for Chae Rok, that he’s starting to take steps towards putting his dream first, like quitting his job at the restaurant so that he’ll have more practice time, and seriously preparing for the competition.
E4. I’m also proud of Chae Rok, for not allowing Ho Beom (Kim Kwon) to intimidate him, when they run into each other. Instead, he speaks up for himself, and even calls out Ho Beom for how he’s contributed to his own situation of being stuck in a rut. This is the most firmly assertive that I’ve seen Chae Rok, and I am proud of him for standing up to his bully and defending himself with the truth. I do worry about whether Ho Beom’s going to find new and worse ways of making Chae Rok’s life miserable, but I suppose that is a worry for another day. For today, I’m proud of Chae Rok.
E6. I really feel Chae Rok’s anger and frustration. He’s worked so hard to come this far, and now, just as he manages to make some headway in getting through to the next round of the competition, he gets hurt – and so randomly, too. That beat, where Chae Rok throws the pillow at his calendar, and then sinks back down on his bed, sobbing, while clutching his injured ankle, is so well done. I can hear the plaintiveness in his cries; there’s so much fear and worry in the timber of his voice, even as he struggles to hold onto hope. I thought Song Kang did a great job, with this scene.
E6. The whole arc where Chae Rok takes painkillers in order to keep practicing, even though he’s only just recovered and should be taking things easy, is a very believable one.
I can believe that Chae Rok is impatient to make up for lost time, and I absolutely believe that he’d choose to be blind to the risks of permanent damage. This is, as Teacher Ki (Kim Tae Hoon) puts it, the arrogance of youth. When you’re young you feel like your body’s invincible, and Chae Rok probably doesn’t think that anything bad will happen to him, if he pushes his body right now.
I’m glad that Teacher Ki eventually shares his own story with Chae Rok, so that Chae Rok can learn from Teacher Ki’s experience, and avoid making the same mistake. I do feel sorry for Teacher Ki, though. What a sad consequence to have to live with, for a moment’s pride and folly.
E7. Chae Rok’s struggle with his decision around the competition is understandable. For a long time, he’s looked upon the competition as his last chance to shine, especially since dancers typically retire early. Plus, he still hasn’t done his military service, which would take two years away from his dancing career, not to mention the setback that the two-year break would entail.
I’m glad that he chooses to talk with people about it, rather than keep things bottled up on the inside, as I’m sure he used to do. It’s good to see him talk with Teacher Eun (Yoon Ji Hye) about it, and more than that, I’m so happy to see him open up to Deok Chul about it.
E8. I can feel how troubled Chae Rok is, with Deok Chul’s secret that he’s accidentally stumbled on. And it makes sense that he would consider telling Eun Ho, since he already knows her.
Plus, it would make sense for Deok Chul to have someone else look out for him, from within the family. At the same time, I can understand Chae Rok’s hesitation. It’s not his secret to tell, and I’m glad that he recognizes that and respects that, despite his worry for Deok Chul.
E9. I can feel Chae Rok’s angst, as he struggles to keep Deok Chul’s secret for him, while worrying for his safety and wellbeing. It’s so clear that he invites himself over for dinner, purely because he’s worried about Deok Chul going home by himself, after blanking out like that. That’s such a caring and thoughtful thing to do, considering how awkward Chae Rok usually is, about imposing on others. And yet, here he is, calling Hae Nam and telling her that he’s craving stir-fried spicy pork, as if he’s her real grandson. Aw. That’s actually quite sweet. Yay for stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
E9. I’m proud of Chae Rok for apologizing to Ho Beom, and thanking him for calling about Deok Chul. That’s gotta be uncomfortable to do, especially considering the history of bullying between Ho Beom and Chae Rok. And yet, Chae Rok has the clarity to realize that this thing with Deok Chul is separate and more important than the baggage between him and Ho Beom. He’s grown so much, and it’s so heartening to see.
Deok Chul and Chae Rok together
Even though there are many meaningful relationships in our drama world, this one, between Deok Chul and Chae Rok, is hands down my favorite of them all.
From the moment we meet Deok Chul and Chae Rok in episode 1, I could feel in my bones, the huge potential for a symbiotic relationship between Deok Chul and Chae Rok. Chae Rok would be able to teach Deok Chul ballet, and help him achieve his dream, while Deok Chul would be able to share his earnest, clear-eyed passion for ballet with Chae Rok, who’s become quite jaded over time. And perhaps, just maybe, Deok Chul might become the father figure that Chae Rok is so clearly hungry for.
Just the thought of it made me happy. But Show went and surpassed my expectations, serving up a depth and beauty in this relationship, that I had not expected, nor had dared hope for. Show made me feel so many different feelings because of this relationship, and for that, I am deeply grateful.
I ❤️ Deok Chul and Chae Rok together forever, I do. 😍
E2. I am completely on board with the idea of Deok Chul being Chae Rok’s manager in exchange for Chae Rok teaching him ballet. It gives Deok Chul a legitimate way of paying back Chae Rok for his time and effort in teaching him, while also providing a bona fide reason for the Deok Chul and Chae Rok to spend time together and connect – as much as that isn’t something that Chae Rok actually wants right now.
It warms my heart so, to see that Deok Chul is so earnest about his role as Chae Rok’s manager, that he meticulously takes notes about Chae Rok’s activities, moods, likes and dislikes, and doggedly follows Chae Rok around, to eat with him and keep tabs on him, “because that’s what a manager does.”
The cherry on the cake, is how Deok Chul decides to give Chae Rok wake up calls every morning, because that’s what he’s seen managers do on TV. Tee hee. I love it. It’s like Deok Chul is loving on Chae Rok in the sweetest, most aggressive manner, and Chae Rok doesn’t know what to do about it, ha.
I’m guessing that even though Chae Rok’s standoffish and chafes at the way Deok Chul refuses to stop following him around like an earnest puppy, there’s a part of him that probably does like the feeling of not being alone, at least in this small way.
I mean, for the first time in a long time, Chae Rok’s actually got someone with him, who is there for him at the doctor’s office, keen to know his condition, and there for him in the bathroom, ready to hand him a pack of tissues when he’s run out of toilet paper. Deok Chul is basically inadvertently filling the role of surrogate father to Chae Rok, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Chae Rok becomes cognizant of the value that Deok Chul brings to his life.
E2. The burgeoning connection between Deok Chul and Chae Rok continues to be my favorite thing in this show, and the way Deok Chul twins with Chae Rok in terms of ballet outfits, is just super cute. 😍
It’s so endearing that Deok Chul immediately takes over the food delivery work for Chae Rok, as he earnestly explains that they can’t afford to risk the safety of a ballerino, since Chae Rok’s going to be a star. He’s such a dedicated sweetheart. I love that Deok Chul’s diligence is making Chae Rok question whether Deok Chul used to be an athlete. Yay Deok Chul.
E3. I love how Deok Chul comes to Chae Rok’s defense in such an all-in kind of way. When Ho Beom demands that Chae Rok dance on the billiard table, Deok Chul just throws himself in there and offers to dance himself – provided Ho Beom can beat him in a game of billiards first.
I love that twist, that Deok Chul turns out to be a skilled player, who effortlessly racks up a mountain of points and trounces Ho Beom, with a crowd of witnesses as insurance. I always automatically want to root for the underdog, and in this case, my heart almost burst with delight, at the idea that Ho Beom is effectively packed up and put in his place by the old man whom he’d dismissed as nothing.
Deok Chul’s earnestness is really the thing that gets me in the heart, though. He sincerely tries to reason with Ho Beom, pointing out, without a trace of anger in his voice, that it wasn’t Chae Rok who had beaten him up, and therefore it’s not Chae Rok’s fault.
And there’s how Deok Chul takes the trouble to go back and tell Ho Beom that Chae Rok’s going to soar, and to leave Chae Rok alone. I’m glad that Chae Rok overhears this, because I really want Chae Rok to open his heart to Deok Chul, who is so sincere and sweet. At the same time, I’m nervous at Bully’s muttered promise, that he will break Chae Rok’s wings. Eep. 😬
Chae Rok’s warming up to Deok Chul, slowly but surely, and it’s just very, very gratifying to witness the little signs that he’s inching his way towards accepting Deok Chul.
The first instance, of course, is how Chae Rok insists that Deok Chul wear the only raincoat that they have, while he goes without and rides in the rain. Clearly, this is a response to what he’d overheard Deok Chul say to Ho Beom. I feel like it’s been a long time since someone’s been on Chae Rok’s side so unequivocally, and I’m guessing that he’s not quite sure how to react. But it warms my heart to see that his first instinct is to show gratitude, by way of offering Deok Chul the raincoat.
I feel like having Deok Chul in his corner is perhaps having a subconscious effect on Chae Rok. We see that his thoughts are on Deok Chul’s conversation with Ho Beom, just before Chae Rok sees Eun Ho and adjusts his behavior toward her. I believe that this is also due to the conversation he’d had with Eun Ho before, but I also can’t help thinking that the juxtaposition of the flashback with his more considerate treatment of Eun Ho is supposed to mean something.
When Chae Rok falls sick from having been out in the rain, I love how Deok Chul basically bulldozes his way into Chae Rok’s apartment and takes care of him, almost against his will. It’s like Deok Chul’s breaking Chae Rok with kindness, and I am loving it.
We get to see glimpses of Chae Rok’s backstory via his fever dreams, and it seems that Chae Rok’s dad (Cho Seong Ha) had been the coach of a sports team, and Ho Beom had done something that had warranted punishment. Dad had meted out that punishment with a baseball bat, and things must have gotten out of hand, because the next thing we see is Dad getting arrested, and Ho Beom rejecting Chae Rok’s attempt at making contact, with violence. We also see that Chae Rok’s mom had died while Dad was in prison. Dang, that’s sad.
Poor Chae Rok. I can see why he feels like he’s all alone in the world. And I can imagine that, after having lived on his own for so long, and been with his loneliness for so long, how Chae Rok would feel strange and awkward, having Deok Chul come and love on him like this.
I like that Chae Rok’s heart is open enough, for him to be curious about why Deok Chul wants to learn ballet, and whether Deok Chul is serious about wanting to be on stage.
Deok Chul’s answer is so raw, as his eyes lose focus for a bit, and he answers, “I want to soar just once in my lifetime, before I die.” That feels like it comes from a deep, haunting place, and I already feel my heart squeeze with both hope and apprehension for Deok Chul. I want him to achieve his life’s dream, but that thought that he may not have a lot of time left, gives me a vague sense of dread.
E4. That’s so cute, that Deok Chul gets Chae Rok to drive Bungbung into town, so that he can give Bungbung to Eun Ho. Hee. I love the name of that car, Bungbung. Cute! 😆
The thing that I love most about this episode, is how we see Deok Chul and Chae Rok nudging each other in unexpected ways.
I love that scene on the rooftop, where Deok Chul talks to Chae Rok about the falling out with his wife.
“Chae Rok-ah, I’ve realized something after all these years. You only live once, not twice. When I was nine, my father didn’t allow me to dance. Now, my wife is trying to stop me. To be honest, that doesn’t scare me. What really scares me is that someday, I might not be able to do what I want or don’t even remember what I want to do anymore. That’s why this moment is precious to me. I’m not going to hesitate. I’m going to give it my all.”
I love that Deok Chul’s words seem to give Chae Rok the push that he needs, to agree to the Sevilla competition that Teacher Ki wants him to sign up for.
And then there’s how Chae Rok nudges Deok Chul to just bite the bullet and come out to his family about his love for ballet. When Deok Chul demurs, and wonders if it will worry and shock them, Chae Rok is the one who insistently reminds him of his passion and his desire to give it his all. Without Chae Rok’s push, I’m sure that Deok Chul would have never thought to reveal his ballet dreams to his family – not least with a photograph of him practicing, sent to the family chat group.
I feel quite inspired by this idea that Deok Chul and Chae Rok are already pushing each other to greater heights.
E4. What really gets me in the heart, is how Chae Rok misses Deok Chul’s presence in his life in such an acute manner. Even though it’s only been a relatively short period of time that they’ve spent together, Deok Chul’s clearly become a part of Chae Rok’s world.
I love all the little indications that Chae Rok’s concerned about Deok Chul. From the phone call to ask him why he’s not making his morning calls or showing up at the studio, to actually going to Deok Chul’s neighborhood, in hopes of being able to check on him, it’s clear that Chae Rok, for all his gruffness, does care about Deok Chul.
E5. Chae Rok’s so frustrated with the lack of progress despite his intense rehearsals, that he takes it out on Deok Chul. Aw. Poor Deok Chul. And Deok Chul, in his earnest way, tries to practice on his own, only to discover that his hips are out of alignment.
Sigh. I can imagine Deok Chul’s quandary. He’s in a hurry because with each passing day, age catches up with him a little more. Along with that, it seems like Deok Chul might be getting a bit forgetful as well, like the way he misplaces his phone. That’s not encouraging. At the same time, Chae Rok’s busy with his own training, and doesn’t seem to have the patience to teach him. I admire Deok Chul for keeping his good humor, and trying to be creative in finding his own ways to keep going, like practicing on his own, and watching performances on his own.
When Chae Rok loses his patience with Deok Chul because he finds Deok Chul sitting in the stairwell watching ballet videos instead of staying at home, I love what Deok Chul says to him. Without a trace of offense or self-righteousness for all the rudeness he’s received from Chae Rok, Deok Chul speaks his heart about ballet:
“Chae Rok-ah. I’m not doing this just to have a little fun. I’d never be able to enter a competition like you. I’d never even dare to imagine it. But I don’t want to dance half-heartedly. I’m not doing this as a hobby. I have my own goals. I apologize for pestering you. I was feeling impatient. But listen. You can scold me all you want if I can’t do my moves right. But don’t underestimate how I feel about ballet.”
Augh. So dignified, and so weighty. I love it.
I’m glad that Chae Rok takes it to heart, and apologizes like Teacher Ki tells him to. And I’m glad that he and Deok Chul make up so quickly, like there had never been any tension between them at all. I love that little detail, as they walk away from Eun Ho at the park, where we see Deok Chul put his hand on Chae Rok’s back. Such a matter-of-fact gesture of affection. I love it.
The other scene that I really love this episode, is how Deok Chul goes to a frustrated Chae Rok, silently puts a bandaid on the blister on Chae Rok’s foot, then warmly puts his hand on Chae Rok’s foot. That is so wonderfully tender. It’s only later that we see that Deok Chul follows up with these gentle words, “You work so hard. You’ll make it. Just trust yourself and keep going, Chae Rok-ah.”
I do think it’s these gentle words that propel Chae Rok to finally achieve the triple turn breakthrough that he’s been working so hard on.
It makes me happy that Deok Chul is right there when Chae Rok receives the notice that he’s passed the first round, so that he can be the first person that Chae Rok shares the news with. I imagine, though, that even if Deok Chul weren’t there in person, he’d likely be the first person Chae Rok would call, anyway.
E6. I’m so glad that Deok Chul finds Chae Rok when he does. Even though Ho Beom had looked like he was going to help Chae Rok, I think that emotionally and mentally, it’s helpful to Chae Rok to be taken care of by someone he likes and trusts, and right now, Ho Beom.. isn’t that.
Poor Deok Chul. I can understand why he might think that his words to Ho Beom at the billiard hall had contributed to Chae Rok’s injury, and I just don’t think that Deok Chul ought to blame himself. He’d spoken up for Chae Rok in good faith, and honestly, Ho Beom would’ve continued to seek Chae Rok out regardless, because he hasn’t dealt with the root of his unhappiness.
What a father’s heart, though, for Deok Chul to say so sincerely, that he should have gotten hurt instead. It makes no sense, and of course, no one should get hurt, but that’s just the kind of a thing a loving father would say, if his child got hurt.
I realize that even though Deok Chul himself feels that he doesn’t have much time in which to pursue his ballet dreams, he doesn’t hesitate to put Chae Rok first, now that Chae Rok’s injured. That’s so sweet and selfless of him; I can’t help but love him. He’s so earnest too, in the way that he continues to clean the ballet studio, and it’s touching, the way he tells Teacher Ki that he does it because it makes him happy. Aw.
I’m glad that Chae Rok thinks to resume lessons, even if he has to teach them while sitting down. And I do love how Chae Rok brushes it off as a way for him to keep active and not put on weight while recovering. He’s so gruff, but there’s definitely a lot of affection for Deok Chul that’s driving this.
I love that little beat, where we see Deok Chul and Chae Rok eating together, and as Chae Rok picks out the shredded carrot from his plate and drops the pieces on a side plate, Deok Chul picks up those shreds and eats them. All this, without them missing a beat in their conversation. That’s so cute, and such a warm, everyday expression of closeness. I love it.
E7. Even before Show confirms that diagnosis, it’s heavily hinted at, with Deok Chul getting lost at the aquarium. It’s heartwarming, though, to see how Chae Rok immediately drops everything and rushes to the aquarium to help look for Deok Chul. And, even though he’s technically still recovering from his injury, he runs around the aquarium, in his efforts to look for Deok Chul. Chae Rok may like to put on a gruff front, but he’s a lot more caring than he lets on, and he’s also clearly opened up his heart to Deok Chul.
And, even though he’s the one who’s just been found after getting lost, Deok Chul worries about Chae Rok, saying that Chae Rok doesn’t look well. Aw. These two care about each other so much. I love that.
I do admire Deok Chul for continuing to apply himself, despite his challenges. In fact, it feels like he’s practicing with twice as much earnestness, to make up for everything else that he might lack. And I’m glad to see that Chae Rok is moving Deok Chul’s lessons right along, by teaching him away from the barre. It’s just very inspiring, to see Deok Chul working so hard, despite the constraints of his body, and I love to see how Chae Rok chooses to be encouraging, firm yet patient, while teaching him.
I love Deok Chul’s personal sharing of his own experience with injury, and how he’d learned how to walk again, and ride his motorbike again, even though the doctors had been doubtful that he’d be able to do either. That’s powerful stuff, and I’m sure that Deok Chul’s sharing lends Chae Rok the courage that he needs, because the next thing we see, is Chae Rok seeking out Teacher Ki, to ask when the next competition is. Aw. That’s a good decision, Chae Rok.
Ahhh. I’m so glad that Teacher Ki takes Deok Chul and Chae Rok to visit the ballet academy, where they get to witness the lady dancing in her wheelchair. That is so graceful and whimsical, despite the wheelchair’s awkward bulk. And, I’m SO happy, that Deok Chul gets to perform in front of an audience.
He dances out of his love for ballet, just like Chae Rok encourages him to, and it is wonderfully, profoundly beautiful. Oh my heart. There is such poetry in Deok Chul’s movements, because he has so much love for ballet. I feel quite hypnotized, watching his performance. 🤩 And, I am so glad for him, that he gets this opportunity, AND has the courage to take it. ❤️
E8. It’s really touching, though, to see how Chae Rok becomes so intent on watching out for Deok Chul. His concern is so visceral, like it comes so naturally to him, to want to care for Deok Chul. I find that deeply moving.
I feel that Chae Rok’s decision to make Deok Chul’s lessons longer, is to maximize the progress that Deok Chul might be able to achieve, within the time that he has left. It possibly feels rather harsh on an older body, to demand more from it than it might feel ready to give, but I can feel that Chae Rok’s doing this for the sake of Deok Chul’s ballet dreams.
I love-love-love that scene of Deok Chul and Chae Rok going to the bathhouse together. Deok Chul is super cute in the way he indirectly wheedles Chae Rok into going, and Deok Chul’s exuberance, when he realizes that Chae Rok’s agreed to go, is so childlike and endearing. Love that, so much.
More than that, I love the heart-to-heart talk that they have, while Chae Rok is scrubbing Deok Chul’s back. It’s such a personal question that Chae Rok asks, not about Deok Chul, but about himself; could things get better between him and his dad, if they went to a bathhouse together? And what a personal answer Deok Chul gives, as well.
I love that instead of some kind of clichéd or trite answer, Deok Chul chooses to share such a personal, poignant memory of his own father; that dad had apologized to him for not allowing him to learn ballet, while Deok Chul had scrubbed his back. What a compassionate and lovely sentiment, that Chae Rok’s dad probably feels the same way, and just hasn’t been able to articulate it yet. I love Deok Chul, so much. ❤️
Also, what a cute touch, that when we see Deok Chul and Chae Rok leaving the bathhouse, Chae Rok really has two bottles of banana milk in his hands, just like Deok Chul had promised. Ahhh. I luff these two together. 😍
I love how easily Deok Chul shares his thoughts about snow with Chae Rok. I feel like these are fairly personal thoughts, since it involves Deok Chul’s past bitterness about his life, and yet, he tells everything to Chae Rok so comfortably. I really like that, and I also really like that insight, that depending on where we are in life, we often see things differently.
And what a nice note to end that thought on, that even though he might have grown to dislike snow in his adulthood, Deok Chul’s now grown to like snow again. It feels like he’s let go of his bitterness, in a way, and that’s really nice.
One of the things that moves me most this episode, is the way Chae Rok instinctively looks after Deok Chul. That scene where Chae Rok tails Deok Chul so that he can make sure Deok Chul gets home ok, is so touching. It’s so clear that Chae Rok is rooting for Deok Chul, like in the way he mutters the right direction under his breath, when Deok Chul hesitates. He wants Deok Chul to do well and succeed, and I find that as heartwarming as I find his protective gesture sweet.
Augh. Just as Chae Rok’s looking out for Deok Chul, Deok Chul’s been looking out for Chae Rok too. It’s so heartwarming to hear from the doc (Lee Hwang Ryong), that Deok Chul’s been talking to him everyday, checking to see if Chae Rok’s been to see him, and asking if there’s anything else he can do to help Chae Rok’s recovery. It’s so sweet, that these two care about each other so much, and express that care in such practical ways. ❤️
We can see Chae Rok’s concern for Deok Chul growing more urgent as we get deeper into our episode, and it feels organic to our story, because, as we’ve heard the doctor tell Deok Chul, his condition might take a sudden turn for the worse at any time. The urgency with which Chae Rok tells Teacher Ki that he ought to follow Deok Chul home, when Deok Chul fibs that he needs to stop by his house, is so palpable, and his frustration at not being able to do so, is very tangible as well.
I’m glad that Chae Rok’s still thinking of Deok Chul and actively looking for him, and I have to say, my heart froze for a bit, when Ho Beom and his gang are the ones to actually find Deok Chul. It appears that Ho Beom has no intention of harming Deok Chul, and simply wants to help him. However, his boys do come across as pretty rough, and my heart lurched to see Deok Chul being frightened of these big burly guys who’re manhandling him in their misguided effort of trying to find Deok Chul’s phone.
It’s such a poignant reveal, that that day, when Deok Chul had first seen Chae Rok dancing, he’d actually blanked out too, and it was the sight of Chae Rok dancing, that had inexplicably brought him to his senses.
It’s such a moving, beautiful sight, to see Chae Rok dance for Deok Chul right there and then, earnestly doing pirouettes, until Deok Chul comes back to himself. AUGH. This scene is so, so beautifully done.
I am so impressed with Song Kang, because even though I’ve assumed that all the more difficult dance scenes were filmed using a body double, in this scene, we can clearly see that it’s Song Kang dancing, and it’s so powerful, to be able to see Chae Rok’s earnest, pleading gaze, that’s trained right on Deok Chul, as he turns and turns, and turns again, hoping with each turn, that he would see a flicker of recognition in Deok Chul’s eyes.
What a wonderful, rewarding moment, when Deok Chul really does come to, and whispers Chae Rok’s name. “Chae Rok-ah.” AUGH. The most beautiful three syllables that must be such music to Chae Rok’s ears. Tears. 😭😭
E9. I’m really glad that Chae Rok decides to tell Seong Gwan about Deok Chul’s condition. It’s clear that he’s conflicted, and it’s also clear that he wouldn’t have said anything, if not for the fact that Seong Gwan was planning to go away for a long period of time, and therefore risk only coming back after Deok Chul’s condition has worsened. There’s such a strong sense of plaintiveness in Chae Rok’s gaze, as he struggles to get the words out to Seong Gwan; I feel like he’s absorbed a good chunk of Deok Chul’s pain as his own.
I appreciate that Chae Rok’s stance, is to protect Deok Chul and to protect his ballet dreams, while respecting his desire to keep his condition a secret. That’s honestly the best and most meaningful thing that he can do for Deok Chul.
Even though it’s probably illegal for Chae Rok to download a tracker to Deok Chul’s phone without Deok Chul’s knowledge or consent, it’s clear that he’s doing this out of concern for Deok Chul. It feels like he’s simply trying to make it easier for him to take care of Deok Chul, while Deok Chul continues to keep his secret to himself.
It does concern me that Chae Rok is pushing Deok Chul so hard on the ballet front; it worries me that Deok Chul’s body may not be able to keep up. However, I do understand Chae Rok’s sentiment. He understands that there is limited time for Deok Chul to train, and he also understands just how important this ballet dream is, to Deok Chul, and therefore he wants to do everything he can, to help Deok Chul achieve that dream in the time that he has left.
I also like what Deok Chul says to Chae Rok afterwards, when Chae Rok asks him why he hadn’t said anything to Hwang Hui (cameo by Seo In Guk) to correct him, “Because at least I know it’s not true. I don’t care what others say. And I won’t give up. I’m not such a weak person. I really love ballet. I want to do it really well.” I love that focus and self-confidence.
E9. Aw, Chae Rok getting Deok Chul a chance to audition for the gala, is so audacious and so thoughtful at the same time. It’s ludicrous from Teacher Ki’s point of view, and yet, that doesn’t stop Chae Rok for lobbying for it in earnest. And he does this, because he knows how much it would mean to Deok Chul. I love that.
Deok Chul immediately knowing in his bones, that he wants to pick Swan Lake as his audition piece, is really cute and endearing. The delight in his eyes shines so bright, even as Chae Rok’s dismayed by his choice. Hee.
E9. Ack. That closing scene, where Chae Rok finds Deok Chul sobbing in the bathroom, holding his head and willing himself to remember everything he’s forgotten, is utterly heartbreaking. Oof. My heart. I find it so hard to see Deok Chul’s condition deteriorating, and his struggles around that. 😭😭
E10. It’s so hard to see Deok Chul looking so lost and disorientated and in such distress in that bathroom stall, but it moves me, that he recognizes Chae Rok right away. It’s almost as if Chae Rok’s very presence helps to bring Deok Chul back to himself. The bond that’s formed between these two is turning out to be very profound.
Given all that’s happened, and the various scares that Deok Chul’s given Chae Rok, I can understand why Chae Rok would feel that it’s safer for Deok Chul to quit ballet, before something bad happens to him. That sense of responsibility that he feels for Deok Chul’s safety must be crippling, and he is, after all, so young. That’s way too heavy of a burden for him to bear, and I can understand how terrified he feels, of something going wrong, and having to live with the outcome.
At the same time, I can see that it’s really hard on Chae Rok, to make this decision. In the aftermath, when Deok Chul stops coming to the studio for lessons, Chae Rok looks so melancholic and downcast, like there’s a burden on his shoulders anyway, even though he’s supposedly put down the burden of Deok Chul’s safety while in his care.
That’s touching, really, to see that Chae Rok feels Deok Chul’s absence so acutely. There’s literally a hole in his life, now that Deok Chul isn’t there with him like before.
That moment when Deok Chul spots Chae Rok walking along the street near his house, and gets out to greet him, I’d expected Deok Chul to move to hug Chae Rok or something. But instead, he stops there, and dances for Chae Rok. GUH. This gave me legit chills, no lie.
It feels like, for the two of them, there’s another, deeper, richer language in which they communicate, and that language is dance. Chae Rok reaches deep into Deok Chul’s soul and consciousness when he dances, and here, in this moment, Deok Chul dances too, to speak directly to Chae Rok’s soul. My heart. It’s about to burst; it’s just a lot of emotion to take at one time. 😭
There’s such a quiet, dignified grace about Deok Chul, as he dances for Chae Rok; his movements speak so eloquently, of the effort that he’s been putting in, to keep on training even though classes have been suspended for a while.
I’m so glad and relieved that Deok Chul is able to tell Chae Rok that he’s terrified as well.
“Chae Rok-ah. I’m terrified as well. But still, I practiced every single day. Even though my memory may be failing, I wanted my body to remember like you once said. I didn’t skip a day.”
“Grandfather. Just do it.” … “You should just keep doing ballet.”
My tears. My heart. It’s all just so much. And I love it all, unreservedly. 😭❤️
Na Moon Hee as Hae Nam
Na Moon Hee is her usual fantastic self, as Deok Chul’s wife Hae Nam.
Without giving too much away, let me just say that Hae Nam surprised me with how much she ended up stealing my heart, given her character’s leanings, in the beginning of our story.
Hae Nam turned out to be one of our story’s key MVPs, and I love her for it.
E3. With Deok Chul’s enthusiasm and diligence around ballet, I felt extra gutted at Hae Nam’s reaction, when she finds out that he’s learning ballet. I can imagine why she’d feel this way, because ballet is something that’s typically associated with women more than men, and either way, the people who are associated with it are young.
I am guessing that there’s a lot of mortification and embarrassment in the thought that her husband is pursuing something so “frivolous” and “undignified” at his age.
E4. I feel so awful for Deok Chul, when Seong San walks in on him trying on his ballet clothes for the last time, and throws a fit. The things that Seong San says are so hurtful to a parent’s ears, and I’m so glad that Hae Nam steps in and tells Seong San off for speaking to his father like that.
“Why does our son’s success have to make us feel so small? Why does your father have to feel sorry when you’ve grown up so well?” On the one hand, I wanna say, “YES. You tell him, Mom,” and on the other hand, seeing Hae Nam cry so heartrendingly, I just wanna say, “Aw, Mommm.. Don’t cry.” 😭
I’m so glad that Mom gives Deok Chul her blessings to keep doing ballet if he wants to.
E5. Hae Nam is also turning out to be quite wonderful, now that she’s decided that she will support Deok Chul in his ballet dreams. The way she buys him vitamins and supplements and insists that he take them, and then tells him that she’d like to cook for his ballet teacher one day, is so sweet. These are such practical ways of showing her love and support.
E7. Hae Nam’s come such a long way; from refusing to allow Deok Chul to dance, she’s now defending his right to dance, and telling off her gossipy neighbor for saying derogatory things about his passion. She’s a dear heart. A spitfire dear heart, heh.
E8. I’m glad that Mom puts Seong San in his place, so that he doesn’t keep making snide remarks about ballet dancers having a lot of time on their hands. “Have some manners in front of the Teacher.” YES. I love how Mom automatically expects respect for Chae Rok, even though he’s younger than almost everyone else in the room.
E9. How cute, that Hae Nam starts to fuss over Deok Chul’s skincare, because he’s going to appear in a documentary. The sight of her putting that face mask on Deok Chul, is really sweet.
E10. What a heartbreaking, emotional reveal, that Hae Nam’s known for a while, that Deok Chul’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. That flashback to how she’d overheard Chae Rok’s conversation with Seong Gwan just hits me in the gut; her shock is so great, and her sorrow, so immediately deep and wrenching. Oof. That scene hit me hard, and Hae Nam’s visceral despair brought tears to my eyes. 😭
She’s such a hero, for deciding to step up and care for Deok Chul as his primary caregiver. The way she tells Seong Gwan not to try so hard, is so selflessly poignant. She doesn’t want to see her son give up his own life and priorities, in order to care for his father. And yet, that’s actually the scenario that I’d like to see.
E10. Ack. I was nervous the minute we saw Deok Chul put a pot of water to boil on the stove, because it felt like something was going to go wrong, especially with Deok Chul’s condition becoming more erratic. I’m relieved that Hae Nam’s injury isn’t serious (I mean, that incident could have literally set the whole house on fire!), and there’s no permanent damage done.
How thoughtful of Hae Nam, to prevent Seong Gwan from blaming Deok Chul for leaving the pot on, and how observant of Deok Chul, to realize that it was his fault, and apologize anyway.
Chae Rok as surrogate family
I love the idea of found families, so any and every instance Show served up, of Chae Rok being surrogate family to Deok Chul or vice versa, made me really happy. It felt so gratifying to witness Chae Rok gaining a family through Deok Chul, and likewise, to see Deok Chul and Hae Nam gaining a grandson.
So much love. ❤️
E5. How warm, wholesome and altogether lovely it is, to see Deok Chul and Hae Nam take Chae Rok in and shower him with familial warmth, the day he’s due to receive his competition results.
The way Hae Nam welcomes him so warmly, and takes his hand so gratefully, is wonderful, especially considering how much she’d been against the idea of Deok Chul learning ballet, before. I love that she not only feeds Chae Rok, but also prepares bedding for him, so that he can sleep, only to feed him again, once he wakes up. It’s the kind of stuff that makes my heart swell, and I imagine that it also makes Chae Rok’s heart swell, to be on the receiving end of such warmth.
E6. I’m glad that Hae Nam gets in on the act, of taking care of Chae Rok while he’s hurt. She provides just the perfect sort of surrogate grandmother loving that he needs, honestly. She’s so sweet, giving him bone broth, and buying him fresh fruit, so that he will eat well. More than that, her easy warm manner is so comforting.
E6. I’m relieved that Hae Nam manages to reach Chae Rok, when she can’t reach any of her own children. This surrogacy flows both ways now, which is a beautiful thing.
E8. I love that Chae Rok’s concern for Deok Chul ends up giving him unexpected side benefits, like the way he gets to enjoy a warm family meal, when he ends up outside Deok Chul’s house while looking for him, and gets invited inside for Seong Gwan’s birthday party.
I kinda love how, even though Chae Rok’s only formally meeting Deok Chul’s family for the first time at the party, each of Deok Chul’s children already has some kind of impression of him; Seong Suk (Kim Soo Jin) being able to place him as the person for whom Mom had set aside a bottle of citron jam is my favorite. It feels like Chae Rok’s a part of the family, even though he isn’t.
I love that Chae Rok is proud of Deok Chul too; it shows in the way he tells Deok Chul’s family about Deok Chul’s debut, and how he’d received applause from professional dancers, for his performance. Aw. It’s so great to see Deok Chul basking in his family’s excitement.
Jo Bok Rae as Seong Gwan
Seong Gwan totally snuck up on me, as a character. In the beginning, I just saw him as Deok Chul’s angsty youngest, who seemed to be in career limbo because of some emotional baggage. In Show’s final third, however, Seong Gwan kind of came out of nowhere, to become one of my favorite characters in this drama world.
Kudos to Jo Bok Rae; he does a wonderful job of making Seong Gwan come alive in the relatively short time in the spotlight that he’s given, and I now have a huge soft spot for him.
E9. Seong Gwan’s reaction to hearing Deok Chul’s diagnosis is understandable; the initial denial and the slow sinking in of the truth, is quite painful to witness. It feels like a sudden, rather rude sobering up, for him. He no longer has the luxury of wallowing in his own angst; suddenly, his father’s wellbeing is much more urgent.
I’m glad that he decides to marry his own documentary dreams, with his desire to protect his father, by making Deok Chul the subject of his documentary. That’s such a great decision, all around. Not only will this give Seong Gwan a lot of time with Deok Chul, it will be time that’s meaningful to them both, plus, this will also create memories, AND a record of those memories, for them both.
E9. That scene of Seong Gwan reading through Deok Chul’s notebook, and realizing the various experiences that Deok Chul’s had, and the things that are on Deok Chul’s heart, is heartwrenching to watch. He’s obviously shaken and overwhelmed (so well-played, by Jo Bok Rae), and I can feel that he still feels lost, but is trying to do his best for his father, in this moment.
The way Seong Gwan watches Deok Chul in the dance studio for the first time, feels quite surreal and magical; it feels like he’s seeing his father properly for the first time, and the truth is so pure, that it hypnotizes him. He’s not even looking through the camera viewfinder anymore; he’s simply.. entranced at the sight of his father earnestly pursuing his dream. ❤️ Beautiful.
I also love that scene where Deok Chul gifts Seong Gwan lined crocs, and tells Seong Gwan that it’s always bothered him to see Seong Gwan wearing those crocs even during the winter. Even though Seong Gwan declines to put the new crocs on for the moment, I’m glad for the open and honest conversation that they have. It’s high time that Seong Gwan share the burden that’s been on his shoulders all this time, and it feels meaningful that Deok Chul now has a fresh understanding of his son.
E10. How cute, to see Deok Chul working out in the park with Seong Gwan. I have to say, Seong Gwan really grew on me this episode, in an exponential way. From being simply Deok Chul’s gruff and reticent youngest son, this episode, I find him adorably endearing, in how he interacts with his parents, particularly Deok Chul.
There’s something very pure and little-boy about his gaze, when he’s interacting with his parents this episode, which I love.
That amused smile as he jogs behind Deok Chul; the look on his face when he realizes that Deok Chul’s beating him hollow in the body-weight presses; his slightly confused expression, when Deok Chul claims that the studio is leaking; it’s all very endearing to me.
I love Seong Gwan’s idea of living with his parents longer term, because in this last little while, I’ve felt that he comes alive, when living with them and interacting with them. Where before he’d mostly appeared borderline sullen, he now feels so much more lively and animated. I like him this way, and if living with his parents brings this out in him, isn’t that a good thing?
What a huge weight it is off Seong Gwan’s shoulders, to realize that he’s not carrying the weight of Deok Chul’s secret on his own anymore. His relieved tears feel so innocent and plaintive; I just want to reach into my screen and pat him on the shoulder, and tell him that he’s been doing a great job.
It’s an emotional experience watching everyone start to search for Deok Chul, but the thing that hits me most, is the way Seong Gwan sobs into the phone, when he reaches Seong San. The brothers may have a lot of angst between them, but when it comes to an emergency like this, Seong Gwan’s still the little brother, crying out to hyung for some kind of hope. It’s heartbreakingly poignant to witness. 😭
Chae Rok’s relationship with Dad
The treatment of Chae Rok’s relationship with his dad, is one of the highlights of my watch. I liked how restrained and understated – and therefore how realistic – it feels, to watch the slow healing of this relationship, even without the use of a lot of words.
And I love how Show manages to imbue this recovering relationship with so much emotion and heart, even while keeping everything subtle and low-key. I rooted for the healing of this relationship, so much.
E1. The situation between Chae Rok and his father seems complicated. The fact that Chae Rok struggles with whether or not to meet his father upon his release, is very telling.
On the one hand, it feels like he doesn’t think it’s worth it, which is why he goes to the audition instead of the prison on his father’s day of release, and yet, on the other hand, he seems to really want a connection with his father, judging from the way he forsakes the audition he’s been preparing so hard for, in order to go to the prison.
How disappointing for him, that he doesn’t get to see his father, and only finds out later via a very brief phone call, that Dad’s already left for Daecheon for a job. Poor Chae Rok. He clearly wants more from his father, but Dad is clearly withholding more.
E2. Even though Chae Rok’s so gruff and grumpy on the surface, it’s becoming clear that he really does desire his father’s approval. That scene of him writing a post-it note to himself, and pasting it on the fridge, along with other notes that his father had written, is so poignant. Poor Chae Rok, I feel bad for him that he’s all alone, and is self-soothing by creating pretend-notes from his dad. 💔
E3. During that scene where Chae Rok’s sitting across from his dad and he’s eating the soup rice so studiously, his internal conflict feels so palpable to me. On the one hand, he desperately wants a connection with his father. And on the other hand, he’s so hurt that his father is keeping a distance from him, that he can’t bring himself to forgive his father, or even accept Dad’s small efforts of connection.
E5. How lovely, that Deok Chul encourages Chae Rok to call his dad. It’s like Deok Chul knows how Chae Rok longs for his father, even without Chae Rok having to say anything. And I’m glad that Chae Rok receives enough of a bolster from Deok Chul’s words, to actually give Dad that call. The words are muted, and there is a lot that’s left unsaid, but it’s progress, and I believe that both father and son can feel a positive shift in their relationship. Excellent progress.
E9. I love the scenes that we get, of Dad visiting Chae Rok. It’s so.. healing, to see father and son eating together. They don’t say a lot whole lot, but it’s enough. Chae Rok knows that Dad cares about him, and Dad knows that Chae Rok likes him and misses him enough, to want to go to the bathhouse with him. This feels like the beginning of new chapter in their relationship, and it feels like it’s full of promise. I’m also really glad that Chae Rok manages to tell Dad that he enjoyed the dinner that Dad brought.
STUFF I LIKED
Hong Seung Hee as Eun Ho
I ended up liking Eun Ho quite well, as a character. From a pretty timid person who bottled up her anxiety and frustration, she makes significant steps to become more courageous and kind, and I liked that. I liked even more, that her personal journey is closely affected by both Deok Chul and Chae Rok.
E4. I feel really bad for Eun Ho, who’s being screwed over by her manager. It’s hard to be in Eun Ho’s position. When the manager asks for that favor from Eun Ho, to work on her thesis for her, Eun Ho is placed in an understandably difficult situation. She doesn’t want to say yes, because it’s not right of her manager to ask this, but she feels that she can’t say no, because she is at the mercy of the manager.
And now that she’s put in all this extra work to help the manager with her thesis, Wily Manager gives her a bad performance grade, which she feels that she doesn’t deserve. And this entire confrontation is out there for everyone, including Deok Chul and Chae Rok to see, too. Dang.
E5. Even though it sucks for Eun Ho to have such an awful manager, like Deok Chul, I’m glad that she speaks up for herself and doesn’t take it lying down. I can imagine how humiliated Eun Ho must feel, in this moment, and so it makes sense that she runs off, when she realizes that Deok Chul and Chae Rok are there, and have heard everything.
I feel bad for Eun Ho that she gets yelled at by Seong Sam the minute she gets home, because Dad had heard from his friend, that she hadn’t made the cut. Gah, that’s hard. I don’t exactly blame Seong San (more on that later), even though the stuff that comes out of his mouth are the last things that Eun Ho needs to hear.
I’m glad that Eun Ho is making a stand for herself with her parents, even though it’s a hard thing for her to do. She’s finding her strength and courage, to look for the life that she wants, on her own terms, and I’m happy for her.
That moment when Eun Ho has that conversation with Seong Gwan at the bar, is good food for thought. Even though Seong Gwan is determined not to go back to medicine, it’s poignant to realize that he has to remind himself daily, of why he quit in the first place. It’s a good reality check, that even though you might find your passion and realize what it is that you want in life, it can still be hard to leave the rat race behind.
Chae Rok’s friendship with Eun Ho
The friendship between Chae Rok and Eun Ho isn’t a very big presence in our story, but I appreciated the unexpected kinship that they find in each other, as young people in search of meaning and purpose in their lives.
They don’t see each other very much, but the conversations that they have turn out to be important and pivotal, and I found their connection understated but meaningful.
E2. Chae Rok’s words to Eun Ho, telling her that she’s trying too hard, feel cold and judgmental as well. I’m glad that Eun Ho gives him a piece of her mind, if only to give him something to think about. It seems that Chae Rok’s only able to see his own situation and frustrations, right now. From what he says to Se Jong, it seems that to Chae Rok’s eyes, Eun Ho’s privileged and has loads more options in life. Perhaps his hostility towards her is a form of resentment, for the lack of privilege and options in his own life?
E3. How empathetic of Chae Rok, to take the blame for Eun Ho’s oversight, because he’d put himself in her shoes, and realized that he wouldn’t want to give up ballet just because someone tells him to, just like how Eun Ho doesn’t want to give up her job to do something else like he’d said she should. I like that we are getting to see more of Chae Rok’s softer underbelly. I’m liking this softer underbelly a lot, even though all we’re getting right now are mere glimpses.
E4. It’s quite cute that Eun Ho and Chae Rok are now personally connected, through Deok Chul. I wonder if they really will become friends, like Deok Chul urges.
E5. I’m glad that Chae Rok goes after Eun Ho when she runs off, and even though he loses her at first, that he eventually does run into her, and they end up having such an important conversation.
It’s like the unlikely meeting of kindred spirits, because they both understand the feeling, of running as if they’re on a treadmill, but never actually getting anywhere. I’m glad that Eun Ho asks Chae Rok about how he found his passion in ballet, and I’m also happy that Chae Rok encourages Eun Ho to find the thing that makes her happiest. It’s not a quick fix, certainly, but this is important food for thought, and it’s a great step in the right direction.
On a slight tangent, I feel like this conversation is good for Chae Rok too. There’s a sense of wonder and tenderness about him, as he talks about his feelings for ballet, and I feel like this is important for him too, to be reminded of why he’s on the path that he is, despite the frustrations and uncertainty that come with it.
E6. Tee hee. Deok Chul is so resourceful. I love that he gets Eun Ho to drive Chae Rok around in Bungbung, while he’s in a cast. Not only does it give Eun Ho something meaningful to do, while she continues her search to find the career that would make her happy, it also makes things easier for Chae Rok.
E6. It’s nice to see that Chae Rok is the first to ask Eun Ho how her search is going, even though it’s been a while since they had that conversation. I like that Eun Ho is honest in her answer, telling Chae Rok that it isn’t easy, but that she had enjoyed how bright and blue the sky was, on her way home. It’s a small thing that many people might feel is too insignificant to share, and I’m glad that Eun Ho shares it, so matter-of-factly. I feel like she and Chae Rok are becoming more comfortable with each other, and I’d like for them to be friends.
Kim Hyun Mok as Se Jong
I just wanted to give Se Jong a shout-out, because even though we don’t see very much of him, he’s a really good friend to Chae Rok. I love how he’s always in Chae Rok’s corner, rooting for him, and defending him, even though he and Chae Rok are so different in every way.
[SPOILER] My favorite Se Jong moment has to be the time in episode 6 when he gets all worked up over Chae Rok’s injury, just like a bestie would, and then seeks out Ho Beom to hit him back for Chae Rok, even though he knows that he’ll get beaten up for it. That’s some kind of fierce loyalty. Plus, I also love how he brings back a present for Deok Chul from his trip. He’s such a good egg. [END SPOILER]
Lee Hwa Ryong as Dr. Oh
I just wanted to give Doc a mention, because I felt that he added a lot of heart to our story, even though he’s a minor character who consistently stays on the sidelines. I love how earnest he is, and how passionate he becomes about helping Deok Chul and Chae Rok. Also, how cute is he, the way he preens with pride, at being called their team doctor? 😆
STUFF THAT WORKED OUT TO OK [ie, CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS THAT GREW ON ME]
I literally found nothing and no one to dislike in this drama world, because Show just does that good of a job at humanizing everyone. I might have started out disliking some things, but Show eventually got me to come around. These are those things.
Jung Hae Kyun as Seong San
Seong San was one of the hardest sells for me, as a character, in that when we start our story, he already comes across as fussy, petty and unlikable.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well Show pulled back his layers, to reveal his true self on the underneath, complete with his own emotional baggage and wounds. I ended up warming to him quite a bit, and I’m glad that we got to witness his journey as well, even though it was on the sidelines.
E2. I’m starting to dislike Seong San. I guess I’d disliked him on first impression, since he’d been such an ass at Deok Chul’s birthday celebration. But this thing about him getting all depressed and upset at his wife (Shin Eun Jung) interviewing for a job at his company, is too much.
It’s especially galling, to realize that she’d worked there 20 years ago, and is simply looking to continue working there. It seems that Seong San feels she’s encroaching on his territory? Or.. does Seong San perhaps have something to hide? Hrm..
E5. When I said that I don’t actually blame Seong San for what he said to Eun Ho, what I mean is, Seong San’s subscribed to the idea that corporate success is the path to personal success, and he honestly can’t see any other way to do well in life. And as a father, he wants his daughter to do well, and he will push her if that’s what it takes.
It’s a very Asian parent thing to do, and I’ve experienced my fair share of being pushed by my parents, while growing up. Even though his behavior is harsh and difficult to watch, I believe that Seong San sincerely thinks that he’s acting in Eun Ho’s best interests. He’s just too blinded and too angry to actually notice that he’s doing more harm than good.
E6. I’m glad we get that scene where Seong San goes back to his parents’ home to get the bone broth. Even though Ae Ran had to push him to go, he’s not a total prick when he gets there, unlike what I’d expected. Instead, he apologizes to Hae Nam and they make up, and then, as he’s driving off, he stops the car and gets out, when he sees Deok Chul walking down the road.
I mean, given the generally strained relationship between them, I’d expected Seong San to drive past without stopping. After all, Deok Chul probably wouldn’t even notice, and it is the easier thing to do. But Seong San stops the car and says a few awkward conciliatory words to his father.
It’s nice to see things smoothed out between Deok Chul and Seong San, and I’m heartened to see that Seong San pauses to look at his dad’s retreating back, and that this brings tears to his eyes. I feel like Hae Nam’s talking to has done Seong San some good, and has helped him see his father through a refreshed perspective. It’s a small but significant step in the right direction, I feel.
E9. As much as I don’t care so much for Seong San as a character, it does seem like he cares for his little brother, at least more than I’d expected him to. The way he calls Mom to ask if anything’s up with Seong Gwan lately, is such a hyung-like thing to do.
I do wonder what’s up with Seong San, since Ae Ran talks about him working later and later these days. I feel like this will be a mirroring of how Deok Chul wants to protect his family from the bad news of his illness; there’s going to be something negative in Seong San’s life, isn’t there, that he will try to keep from his family, for fear of worrying them?
E10. Seong San’s not having an easy time at work at all, and it appears that things haven’t been easy for a while. He just doesn’t tell his family about it, which is something that strikes me as being similar to Deok Chul. They don’t tell their families, not because they don’t think their families are important; they don’t tell their families, so as not to worry them.
I’m glad that Seong San is able to find Deok Chul, with Chae Rok’s help, and I’m relieved that Seong San doesn’t start yelling the minute he sees Deok Chul. Instead, we get tears and hugs, as Seong San cries and asks why Dad has to be the one to get sick. 😭
“Father. No matter how much you age, you’ll always be my big pillar. You must never forget that. Ever.”
Augh. That is the most heartfelt thing I’ve ever heard Seong San say, and it makes my heart full to hear it. I’m so glad that he manages to say this to Deok Chul.
Deok Chul’s family as a whole
To be clear, Deok Chul’s family isn’t awful; it’s just that there are times, particularly in the early stretch of our show, where their collective attitudes rubbed me the wrong way. Of course, Show has that all straightened out by the end of our story, but I thought it would be important to at least touch on what had bothered me, in the beginning.
E4. This episode, we deal with quite a bit of angsty fallout, with Deok Chul’s family reacting to his ballet coming out, and it’s not pretty.
It is really upsetting to see how entitled some of the kids’ reactions are, when they realize that Dad is learning ballet. The biggest offender is Seong San, who keeps going on about how much he hates that Dad is learning ballet, like that is reason enough for Dad to drop ballet. Yes, Seong San, the entire world revolves around you, and only you. Your dad is taking up ballet because he has a grudge against you, and just wants to upset you. Ugh. 🙄 I’m pleased that Ae Ran proceeds to ignore him at work, the next day.
To a neutral third party observer, the family meeting, where everyone takes a vote on whether Dad should drop ballet, does land very weirdly. Logically, whether Dad drops ballet or not shouldn’t be up to them, and yet, that’s exactly how most of the kids – with the exception of Seong Gwan – plays it.
I have to remind myself that this is plausibly a situation that happens in real life, where the personal opinion and desire of the elderly parent is overlooked, because, like is so often the case in society at large, the elderly become more and more invisible with age, in the larger scheme of things. This is a sobering reminder that we ought to have more consideration and empathy for the older folks in our lives.
I’m glad that Deok Chul’s daughter-in-law Ae Ran supports his desire to do ballet, and takes time out to sit with him, so that he won’t feel so alone, while everyone else is arguing over whether he should drop ballet.
Kim Tae Hoon as Teacher Ki
Teacher Ki remains a bit of an enigma for a good stretch of our story; he’s mostly pleasant, but he’s also prickly and demanding, and most notably, he is guarded. It isn’t until our story’s second half, that we learn more about Teacher Ki’s backstory, which definitely helps to add context and color to help us understand him better.
I didn’t have specific feelings for Teacher Ki, but I was heartened to see that his time with Deok Chul and Chae Rok had a positive and deep-reaching impact on him.
E7. I am so relieved that Teacher Ki opens up to Chae Rok and shares his personal story, so that Chae Rok might learn from his mistakes. It’s a very poignant backstory, and I can only imagine the regret that Teacher Ki has to live with, since his reckless decision to dance while injured, literally ended his career with a single performance.
How agonizing it must be, to lose your life’s dream, because of one stupid decision. That must be really difficult to share, especially given Teacher Ki’s slightly aloof personality, and I’m glad that he chooses to share with Chae Rok, nonetheless.
E8. It’s touching to see that Teacher Ki has been moved by watching Deok Chul dance. As his ex-wife So Ri points out, the whole reason Teacher Ki had made that visit to the dance academy the last time, was all for Deok Chul’s sake. I’m so proud of Deok Chul, for being able to move a heart as jaded as Teacher Ki’s.
So Ri and Teacher Ki together
When I realized that Teacher Ki and So Ri were a divorced ex-couple, I found their connection extra fascinating, for how unconventional it was. I wasn’t especially invested in their relationship, and I would have been happy either way, whether Show decided to reunite them or not. Importantly, Show does allow for some growth and healing between them, and I feel that that’s most important.
E3. Teacher Ki and So Ri sure seem to have a cordial relationship, for a divorced couple. I mean, he seems to seek her out at every opportunity. When he’s perplexed, he calls her. When he’s excited about something, he calls her too. That says a lot, I think, about how he feels about her. I’m curious to know what happened between them.
E9. Teacher Ki and So Ri seem to understand each other really well, and they appear to spend a fair amount of time together, and talk to each other about key things. And yet, there appears to be no love lost between them; they seem perfectly happy to be divorced from each other, and appear low-key exasperated with each other on a fairly regular basis. And, So Ri knows just which of Teacher Ki’s buttons to press, in order to get him to agree to things, and he allows her to press those buttons. It’s quite fascinating, really.
Kim Kwon as Ho Beom
Ho Beom was THE hardest sell for me, as a character, which should come as no surprise, since when we first meet him, he’s basically the person who’s unrelentless about making Chae Rok’s life extra miserable. And yet, Show works its magic, in the way that it teases out Ho Beom’s context and layers, and by the end of our story, I find myself rooting for Ho Beom, to have better days, and a new hope in life. Show has some definite skillz, for sure.
Credit to Kim Kwon, too, whom I’ve never seen in this kind of belligerent space; I’d only ever seen him be all clean-cut and straitlaced, in 2019’s He is Psychometric, and yet, I completely believed him as our resident angry bully.
E6. Intention counts for a lot in my books, and the fact that Ho Beom looks shocked and scared when Chae Rok starts falling down the stairs, tells me that he hadn’t actually meant to hurt Chae Rok – or at least, not that much.
Ho Beom is still a bully, and what he’s doing is not acceptable or good in any way, but I do feel like I can understand him better than at first. He’s so disillusioned with his own life, and so angry at the world, that he reaches for someone to take it out on, and Chae Rok is a convenient target, because of what had happened with Chae Rok’s dad in the past. It’s a victim mentality for sure, and I hope that Ho Beom will become a stronger person who doesn’t blame others for the state of his life.
I so appreciate Deok Chul, for taking the trouble to seek out Ho Beom, not to berate him, but to share his own story, and tell Ho Beom that he understands how he feels. “I couldn’t take it. It was none of their fault, but I was so twisted inside that I took it the wrong way.”
Judging from the tears in Ho Beom’s eyes, this moment is important and worthwhile, even though he remains rough and dismissive with his words. I feel like this is the first time Ho Beom feels seen and heard, and understood, and I’m hoping that this is the beginning of change, for him.
E8. To Ho Beom’s credit, he calls Chae Rok to tell him that he’s found Deok Chul, which causes Chae Rok to come running. That’s the single best thing that Ho Beom’s done so far, and I feel ready to forgive him for everything, because he’s essentially making it possible for Chae Rok to save Deok Chul, in this moment.
E9. It feels like Ho Beom’s slowly starting to see through the fog of his own self-pity, as he considers the incident with Deok Chul. I hope so, anyway. He’s still gruff about everything, so I’m curious to get a solid indication of how he really feels about everything right now.
E10. The conversation that Chae Rok’s dad has with Ho Beom isn’t an easy one, but I appreciate that Dad gets the most important things said; that he’s sorry and it’s all on him, and that Ho Beom had talent, and has the choice to start over, if he wants.
Ho Beom doesn’t take it very well, at least at first, but given that these are tough things to hear, and have to do with something huge in his life, I don’t blame him. Importantly, it’s good to see Ho Beom actually come around to the idea, and start to run again. Many baby steps will take you far, Ho Beom.
E10. Aw, trust Deok Chul to share his lunch with Ho Beom at the park, AND encourage Ho Beom by sharing his own life perspective. Deok Chul manages to be a good influence just by being himself. I love how clear-eyed, cheerful and guileless Deok Chul is, while eating and talking with Ho Beom. There is no trace of any ill feelings, even though the two have had run-ins, and Ho Beom is kind of responsible for Chae Rok’s injury. That lack of grudge-keeping must feel so refreshing to Ho Beom, even though he appears weirded out and unsure of what to think.
I love that Deok Chul tells Ho Beom that he can soar as well. That sobered, thoughtful look in Ho Beom’s eyes, as Deok Chul’s words sink in, feels significant, and I feel like in this moment, Deok Chul’s contributed significantly to changing Ho Beom’s life.
THEMES / IDEAS
1. The idea of found family, and how those familial bonds can be just as deep as those of a blood family.
2. Make the most of what you have.
3. Be grateful for what you have.
4. The idea that we tend to treasure the things around us more, when we realize that we might soon lose them.
5. You can’t help wanting to protect the people you care about.
6. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.
7. Everyone deserves to dream.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
What an emotional episode this turned out to be. Show’s completely gathered me by the heartstrings by now, and even though I’m a little wary of the potential pain, I’m also readily serving up my heart to Show on a plate. Yes, Show, take my poor, tender, raw little heart; I am a little scared, but my trust in your ability to make it worthwhile, is greater than my fear of the pain. 😭
The moment when Deok Chul arrives home in Seong San’s car, is so subtly beautiful. Deok Chul’s gaze tells us eloquently just how sorry he is, for making Hae Nam worry, and Hae Nam’s gentle welcome, simply telling him to come inside, is so quietly accepting.
When Deok Chul starts to apologize to Hae Nam, I love that Hae Nam reminds him of his retirement day, when he’d told her that half the credit for his years of service goes to her; I love how she now tells him that half of his ballet dream is hers too. What a long way Hae Nam has come, from refusing to support Deok Chul’s ballet endeavors, to now requesting that he promise to fulfill his ballet dreams. Augh. That’s touching.
It’s high time that all the siblings become aware of Deok Chul’s condition, and given what an upsetting piece of news this is, I can understand the heightened emotion in the room.
I do appreciate Seong San stepping up in his Big Brother shoes and saying that he’ll take care of Deok Chul, if Deok Chul needs taking care of, and I also love Yeong Il’s statement, that he’s Deok Chul’s child too, but I am really glad that Eun Ho speaks up on this one. She makes so much sense, that Deok Chul should be the one with the most say in this; that just because he’s sick, doesn’t mean that he’s incapacitated.
This is the sorriest I’ve felt for Seong San through this entire watch; poor guy’s got a lot on his mind right now. Not only are things falling apart at work, where his boss is trying to make him the scapegoat of a huge scandal, he’s just found out that his father is suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s a lot. I’m glad that Ae Ran and Deok Chul are so supportive of him. I love that together, they give Seong San the assurance and confidence that he can step out and do whatever he feels he needs to do.
In particular, I love Deok Chul’s gift of the baseball mitt. It brings back so many feelings and memories for Seong San, and underscores the point, that Deok Chul always knew, and never forgot. He may not have been able to give Seong San everything that he’d wanted, growing up, but his heart was always with Seong San, and it’s still with Seong San now. I love that. 🥲 And I’m so glad that Seong San feels strengthened enough, to quit his job and hold his head high, telling his shady boss that he will speak the truth, when he’s questioned by auditors or investigators alike. You go, dude.
I also really like the sense of perspective that Deok Chul gives Ho Beom, when he runs into him at the park; that there’s no such thing as being completely ready; that there’s merit to just diving in, and then getting better over time. Such wise words, honestly, and so true. It’s great to see that Ho Beom takes this advice on board, and actually starts going for tryouts. I love that Deok Chul is literally changing the lives of the people around him, just by being himself. ❤️
Ahh. I love that beat, where Eun Ho sends Deok Chul a return dedication on the radio. Her message is so lovely.
“My grandpa does ballet. To be honest, I wasn’t interested at first. I thought it was strange to take up something new at 70, not to mention ballet. The whole family was against the idea and I thought he’d give up in no time. But he proved us all wrong. My grandpa is still doing ballet to this day. When you want something with all your heart, you shine brighter than anyone. My grandpa taught me that. ‘Grandpa. I’d love to see you dance on stage. I’ll be waiting. Keep it up until then, Grandpa.'”
This is so warm and loving, and I feel like it’s just the encouragement that Deok Chul needs, as he continues to prepare for his audition. Also, I do think that having a tangible way to express her love and support, gives Eun Ho comfort as well.
I really love what Chae Rok says to Deok Chul, after getting him to promise to text him every 20 minutes, while he’s on his daily commute home, “I’ll promise something, too. Even if you don’t remember me, I’ll remember you. I’ll recognize you. I won’t let go of your hand. As long as you are with me and recognize me, I’ll teach you ballet anytime.”
That’s beautiful, and such a painful promise to make, really, since Chae Rok is essentially promising to remember enough for the both of them. 😭
It’s wonderful to see Deok Chul dance with his whole heart, during the audition, and it’s just as wonderful, to know that Chae Rok and Seong Gwan are there, to witness this momentous occasion; to feel the feels, and memorize the emotion. It almost feels like a bonus, really, that Deok Chul gets picked for the gala, because his audition performance feels like a precious gift in itself. ❤️
While it worries me, like it worries Chae Rok, that neither Chae Rok nor Seong Gwan will be able to stay with Deok Chul during his practices for the gala, it does feel vicariously empowering, to see Deok Chul being independent and holding his own among the other dancers.
I’m glad that we get to see that conversation between Teacher Ki and So Ri, where he tells her he’s sorry for not taking her pain into account, all these years, and thanks her for sticking with him. It’s great that watching Chae Rok and Deok Chul together, has given him such an important insight, of how two people can have each other’s back. This is a huge step, for someone as proud as Teacher Ki, and I love the idea, that he’s learned this lesson from the most unexpected and humblest of teachers.
I love Teacher Ki’s idea of Deok Chul dancing a duet with Chae Rok; it feels like such a meaningful thing to do, particularly since Chae Rok’s the one who’s made it possible for Deok Chul to dance, these past months. I love even more, that when Deok Chul expresses hesitance at burdening Chae Rok further, Chae Rok is earnest, as he tells Deok Chul that he’s doing it for himself. Aw. That’s sweet. And I believe him, too. I do believe that dancing with Deok Chul will have a life-giving, filling sort of effect, on Chae Rok’s soul.
Even though I really like Chae Rok’s gesture, of offering his gala tickets to Deok Chul, I’m even more touched that Deok Chul can immediately see how Chae Rok can use those tickets himself. It’s so great to see Chae Rok visit Dad at his school, and, from making a half-hearted statement about it being ok if Dad can’t make it, catch himself, and change that to actually speaking his heart, and telling Dad that he would really like it, if Dad comes to the performance. Aw. I love that, and Dad is clearly happy about it too. ❤️
What a healing moment it is, when Dad gives Chae Rok a money envelope, saying that he’s sorry that he couldn’t have been there for Chae Rok all these years. I love that Chae Rok refuses to allow Dad to wallow in regret, and simply tells Dad that he can be there, from now on. Ahh, the healing. I love it.
I also really appreciate the glimpses of potential healing that we see, between Chae Rok and Ho Beom, when Chae Rok passes him a gala ticket, along with the gift of shoes that Dad sends. That’s so gracious of Chae Rok, honestly, considering how Ho Beom had tortured and terrorized him before. I’m proud of Chae Rok, for being the bigger man.
The last arc of this episode was really hard to watch; the moment the light flickered out, and Deok Chul’s memory flickered out alongside it, my heart sank. It was heartbreaking to see Deok Chul feel so lost, even though he’s literally sitting outside his own home.
That scene, of Deok Chul and Hae Nam sitting side by side on the couch, as he finally tells her that he’s sick, and apologizes, and she tells him it’s ok, and they then both cry together, side by side, is just so heartbreaking. 💔 There’s such a deep sense of heartache, as they confront the futility of the situation.
And then, what a whopper of a shock, that Deok Chul doesn’t even remember Hae Nam the next morning, which is the morning of the gala. Ack. Please come to yourself, Deok Chul.. You can do it, I believe in you. 😭
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Augh. So many feels from this finale; I feel like my heart’s about to burst, literally. I feel like Show’s completely surpassed my expectations for its finale. And this, when I already had high expectations for it. 😭
I had every expectation that Deok Chul would manage to dance during the gala, but it was still heart-in-my-throat, tears-behind-my-eyeballs emotional to watch, as Hae Nam and Seong Gwan reel from the realization that he’d blanked out so much, then rush him to the doctor, then decide to take him to the dance studio, in hopes of jogging his memory.
Through it all, I feel so much for Hae Nam. This is horrifying for her, as the person closest to Deok Chul, and yet, she’s the one who believes in him enough, to make the many decisions, big and small, that allow him to even have a chance to perform.
From suggesting to Seong Gwan that they take him to the studio, to signaling Seong Gwan to just give Deok Chul a bit of time and space, while he handles the barre in his hands, to deciding that they should go to the performance venue, even though Deok Chul says that he can’t remember his dance routine, Hae Nam drives it all. If Hae Nam hadn’t made any of these decisions, they wouldn’t even have been there to have that conversation with Chae Rok. I love Hae Nam so much, for choosing to believe in Deok Chul, and love him, and respect his dream, and advocate for his dream, even when things looked so bleak. ❤️
I love Chae Rok just as much, for choosing to believe in Deok Chul, and in their training, even though Deok Chul’s mental state doesn’t appear encouraging. I appreciate this even more, because Chae Rok’s clearly not completely certain that things will go smoothly – you can see the uncertainty in his eyes – and yet, he understands how important Deok Chul’s dream is, and therefore, he’s willing to take the risk, if it means giving Deok Chul a chance to realize his dream. That empathy, and that choice to stand by Deok Chul, is so moving to me. ❤️
That little detail, that Chae Rok prepares a gift of new ballet shoes for Deok Chul, and writes on them, “The man who will soar; Sim Deok Chul” is so beautiful to me. Chae Rok just gets Deok Chul’s dream, at such a soul level, that it makes me tear up just thinking about it.
It’s an absolutely transcendent experience, watching Deok Chul and Chae Rok dancing together, and in so doing, fulfilling Deok Chul’s life’s dream, that had felt like such an impossibility at the start. Chae Rok’s earnest declaration, that Deok Chul’s body would remember, even if his mind forgets, proves true, as Deok Chul performs with Chae Rok, just like they’d rehearsed.
It’s utterly moving and magical to behold, and I’m tearing up, right along with everyone else in the audience. Notably, even Ho Beom has tears glistening in his eyes, as he watches. 🥲
I’d had it in my head that this performance would be the climax of the finale; that we would likely end our story, on this exact note, but Show has other, better ideas, for which I am very grateful.
I’m glad that we get to see how life carries on for Deok Chul and Chae Rok, after the performance.
It’s really nice to see Deok Chul’s entire family gathers to celebrate his achievement. Everyone is excited and the atmosphere is warm; this feels like such a turnaround, from that first family gathering that we saw at the beginning of our story, where everything had felt so cold and strained. I appreciate Deok Chul’s announcement that he’s decided to move to a nursing home, and I also appreciate how it’s Seong Suk’s private, tearful plea, where she talks about how Deok Chul had taught her and cared for her while she was growing up, and how she’d now like to care for him similarly, that changes his mind.
It warmed my heart to see Deok Chul leaning into his manager duties again, and giving Chae Rok morning calls again, and taking down little notes about Chae Rok’s mood and condition in his notebook again; these all feel so precious, now that we know that their time together is limited.
How special, that Seong Gwan gathers the whole family – and wears a suit! – for the occasion of showing them the documentary that he’s made about Deok Chul. That’s so great, that he’s completed his documentary, and Deok Chul’s able to watch it and relive his ballet dreams, with his family in full support.
And how significant, that the experience of being with Deok Chul through this, has given Seong Gwan the inspiration and impetus to return to the hospital. Where before he’d felt jaded and disillusioned, now he’s filled with compassion and purpose, to help give patients that most precious thing that they dearly want and need: time. That’s such a meaningful way to wrap up Seong Gwan’s arc, which had appeared somewhat random in the beginning, but which now feels like a perfect complement to Deok Chul’s own journey.
I’m also glad to see Eun Ho tell Chae Rok that she’s found the thing that makes her happy, and I love the fact that she doesn’t even need to spell it out; Chae Rok immediately knows what the “it” is, that she’s talking about.
It’s so bittersweet to see everyone gather at the airport to see Chae Rok off; I’m happy that he’s off to pursue his ballet dreams, but the idea of him going forward alone, is full of pathos.
And then, that moment, when Deok Chul runs after Chae Rok, to get one last look at him, murmuring that he mustn’t forget Chae Rok’s face, made me completely tear up. That hug. It fills my heart, and also breaks it. Deok Chul’s crying; Chae Rok’s crying; I’m crying. Sob. 😭
I hadn’t realized that Chae Rok would be away for 3 years, after leaving like that for the competition, but it makes sense on hindsight, that if he’d done well at the competition, he would have likely stayed on, to further his career.
Even though I’m not usually big on time skips at the end of dramas, it’s actually kind of nice to see how everyone in our drama world is doing, after the time skip.
Deok Chul’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, but he’s in good spirits and living at home, and Hae Nam’s got a good handle on how to manage his habit of going out to deliver “mail” to his neighborhood, by making those letters apology ones, explaining to whomever receives the letters, that her husband is a little sick, and to please call her – and then enticing him home with promises of ice cream. Aw. That’s sweet.
It’s good to see that So Ri’s accepted Teacher Ki’s proposal, and they’re now managing a ballet company together, and that Teacher Ki’s much more open to receiving students who don’t fit the typical ballet mold. Eun Ho’s doing well at work, as is Ae Ran; Seong San’s gotten into a new baseball management career; Se Jong and Ho Beom play on the same team now, and even get along.
Most significant of all, is the fact that Chae Rok’s become a big ballet star now, and Dad’s got a whole bunch of glowing articles stuck to the refrigerator. Aw. This is such a quiet proud dad moment; I love it.
Deok Chul’s been asking when it’s going to snow, and today, the day that Chae Rok’s due to come over for dinner, now that he’s back in Korea, it starts to snow. How lovely; that’s two things that Deok Chul likes, right there.
I thought my heart was full at watching Deok Chul and Chae Rok perform together on stage, but it feels even fuller, in this moment, as their eyes meet across the railway tracks. Even though Deok Chul hasn’t been lucid much, all it takes is for Chae Rok to call out, “Grandpa, I’m here,” and do his ballet bow, for Deok Chul to answer, “Did you soar?” To Chae Rok’s tearful, silent nod, Deok Chul smiles tearfully, and then does his own ballerino bow, in response.
How utterly moving, that Deok Chul instinctively remembers Chae Rok, even though most of his other memories have faded. How perfect, that they speak to each other, in the language of dreams and ballet.
I love how that idea, that the sight of Chae Rok dancing somehow has the effect of bringing Deok Chul back to himself, is still relevant in this moment, even though Deok Chul’s Alzheimer’s has progressed.
I believe that the bonds of kinship between Deok Chul and Chae Rok will remain forever etched in their hearts, and I’d like to think that they will be able to continue connecting, through the magic that ballet has, for Deok Chul.
I love that little snippet that we get at the end, as the credits start rolling, of Deok Chul taking a moment to talk to himself into Seong Gwan’s camera, in between training with Chae Rok. “Deok Chul-ah. Even if you lose your memory entirely, I truly hope you’ll remember this one thing. Don’t forget that you used to do ballet, and that you had a dream. Okay?”
You’ve done it, Deok Chul-ah. You’ve continued to remember, through it all. I am so, so proud of you, and I know Chae Rok is, too. ❤️😭❤️😭❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Tender, moving, inspiring and altogether beautiful.
FINAL GRADE: A+
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Navillera, is Move To Heaven. I’ve taken an initial peek, and Show seems really promising so far! 😄
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