Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I had to have Shin Se Gi headline our post today, because this shot is so dark and haunting, plus, this set of episodes is still very much Shin Se Gi’s stage. 🤩
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question.
We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
This is still Shin Se Gi’s episode, and I really enjoyed that. I like that we explore the pathos of what it means to be Shin Se Gi, and that Show takes a sympathetic approach to Shin Se Gi, as a tragic sort of character.
Right away, I’m struck by the look on Shin Se Gi’s face, as he seeks out Ri Jin, and offers to give her Seung Jin Group, if she’d just agree not to kill him. That whole bad boy persona, overlaid with desperation and sadness, and he literally looks like he’s kinda-sorta bracing on the inside, because he might get hit in the face, at any moment. 😭
Oof. This really made my heart go out to him.
And, judging from the tear that falls down Ri Jin’s cheek, this sight of Shin Se Gi, being so vulnerable through his bad boy spikes, makes her heart go out to him too.
The thing is, I want Ri Jin to show understanding and compassion to Se Gi.
I find that I do want her to go with him, like he asks, and so, when Ri On puts the brakes on that and drags Ri Jin inside the house, I feel peeved at Ri On for being so bossy and brusque, and I also feel really sorry for Shin Se Gi, because in that moment, he looks like he’s a little kid at school who’s just been made the outcast, with everyone else leaving him behind. 💔
Although I really wished that Ri Jin would just bop Ri On on the head when he drags her around like that, I appreciate that her more gentle approach, where she explains to him, in her heartfelt way, that she feels like she’s part of the game, and partly responsible, and wants to follow through on the decision that she’d made, works better.
Now, instead of being controlling and belligerent about it, Ri On’s actually loosening his grip on Ri Jin, and giving her the space to do what she feels she needs to do.
That’s a definite improvement, since I have not enjoyed watching him get all controlling and bossy.
The scene where Ri Jin talks to Se Gi, and tells him that he can sleep on her shoulder, is one of my favorites, so far.
I like Ri Jin’s voiceover, where she concludes that Se Gi’s a wounded piece of Do Hyun, who’s dropped off and been neglected, and who needs to be embraced and cared for the most.
This resonates with me a great deal, because isn’t it the case, that Se Gi represents the most painful part of Do Hyun’s life, and isn’t it also the case, that the part of our person that’s most wounded, requires the most care?
I really like this change in perspective, because all this time, just about everyone has been looking on Se Gi as a troublesome presence who is not welcome, because of the havoc that he wreaks when he’s around.
But now, Ri Jin’s choosing to look upon him with kindness and compassion, and recognizing that his pain needs to be addressed, and treated with a caring, healing touch.
It’s also really touching, to see how Se Gi himself responds to Ri Jin, when she’s being gentle with him, and acknowledging his perspectives as valid.
I really love this screenshot of Shin Se Gi; amid the bad boy vibes, you can clearly see a sense of comfort, and a tiny hint of contentment, from Ri Jin’s demonstration of acceptance. I really like that.
Even though the way Ri Jin cajoles Se Gi into going in to work is played for comedy, I do like the way she acknowledges that Se Gi’s world is as valid as Do Hyun’s world, and I also like that she encourages him to learn how to respect Do Hyun’s space, and assures him that she will ask Do Hyun to do the same for him.
On a side note, I was really quite pleased when Ri Jin yells back at Se Gi’s claim that Do Hyun’s stolen her from him, “I’m not yours yet!”
HA. Yes, that’s very true, and I’m glad that she’s so emphatic in telling Se Gi so. This is one time that I absolutely did not mind Ri Jin’s shouty tendencies.
Honestly, every time Ri Jin acknowledges Se Gi’s right to his own space this episode, I felt glad for it. So even the little detail, where Se Gi refuses to wear his hair like Do Hyun usually does, and Ri Jin knows not to push him on this, was a highlight to me.
And then, when Se Gi deals with the J.I. deal in his own way, and offers J.I. a part in the movie, even though that wasn’t Ki Joon’s brief, I’m actually glad that Ri Jin catches herself, and acknowledges that Se Gi really did abide by the various requests she’d made of him: he hadn’t gotten angry, he hadn’t used violence, and he’d gone to work so as not to harm Do Hyun’s reputation.
I’m so glad that she tells him, “You did a good job” and “It must have been hard, thank you for not getting mad. Thank you for keeping your promise.”
These are such important words for Se Gi to hear, especially when all these years, he’s been told the opposite, that he just keeps making a mess, and Do Hyun has to keep cleaning up his messes.
The way her gentle tone and warm words of acknowledgment just defuses all of his frustrations, feels quite liberating to witness, honestly. This feels healthy and needful, and it just.. makes me glad.
It might seem like a smallish thing, but I felt the same, when Ri Jin stops herself from referring to Se Gi’s money as “Do Hyun’s money,” and instead, acknowledges that it’s his money too.
Se Gi’s so broken, and I feel like all these various acknowledgements, work like little applications of healing balm to his soul.
We get two developments at the end of the episode, and both feel pretty important.
First, Ri Jin finds Ri On’s collection of data on Do Hyun and Seung Jin Group. Yes, that’s very fishy, alright, especially considering his vehement instruction to her, not to mention Do Hyun or Seung Jin Group to their parents.
I do wonder whether Ri On will tell her the truth, now that she’s confronting him about it.
Second, and more dramatically, the memory, that there had been another child in the basement with him, appears to leak from Se Gi to Do Hyun (so perhaps he really is sharing his pain with Do Hyun, like Ri Jin had encouraged him to), as he declares to Gran that Dad should have saved the other child instead of him.
That sounds like a wish from Yo Seob, actually, where Do Hyun would have rather died in the fire. That’s sad.
Along with the realization that there had been another child with him, comes the realization that the person who had been abusing him (them?) in that basement, had been none other than Dad himself. Dang.
The way Do Hyun instinctively starts cowering before Dad, and apologizing for not doing better, is so tragic. 😭
And, the fact that the thing that appears to trigger Do Hyun’s regression, is the same drumming finger motion that is Shin Se Gi’s signature, is very intriguing. Did Shin Se Gi’s signature move come from Dad?
We finally get what feels like a full story – or at least, we are told enough, to figure out the full story – and it’s really sad.
I think the saddest thing, is that Dad probably didn’t even think he was abusing Do Hyun; he probably thought that he was disciplining Do Hyun for his own good – so that Do Hyun would do better at stuff, like playing the piano.
That’s pretty thought-provoking, I feel, because there are lots of parents who think they are pushing their kids for their own good, who don’t actually realize the psychological damage they might be doing to their children.
The thing that is even more disturbing, is that Dad appears to have taken to beating the other child (whom we find out later is definitely Ri Jin), in order to keep Do Hyun in check.
Gah. That’s ghastly.
No wonder Do Hyun felt so terrified of making any mistakes; it’s because he wouldn’t be the one to pay for it – his playmate would. That shot of little Do Hyun shielding little Ri Jin’s body with his own, is so tragic. 😭
No wonder they both became so messed up.
Plus, it looks like the basement was a place where Dad habitually kept both kids, because they’d both been born out of wedlock. That’s another layer of tragic, to our story. 💔
That being said, it seems that Dad didn’t hate Do Hyun per se, since he did risk his life to save Do Hyun from the fire in the basement.
It’s a lot to process, and I can see why young Do Hyun had trouble dealing with all this, which is where Shin Se Gi came in. Shin Se Gi had literally been created, to help Do Hyun deal with his pain.
No wonder Shin Se Gi retains all the memories, and no wonder he’s so damaged and angry.
I really felt for Do Hyun in that scene in the taxi, where he hallucinates that the driver is his father. Gah. The way he scrambles helplessly to get out of the car, and then proceeds to actually throw up on the side of the road, says so much about how deep-seated his fear and pain is. 😭
That’s just so heartbreaking.
At this point, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate Ji Sung’s acting, this episode.
I mean, he’s been brilliant from the start, delivering so many distinct personalities, but this episode, where we’re starting to see shades of overlap between Do Hyun and Se Gi, I feel it showcases his range and control even more.
We see Do Hyun dressed as Se Gi, guyliner and all, and yet, the vibe is completely different than when he’s Shin Se Gi.
And then later, we see Do Hyun gaining shades of Shin Se Gi, as he increases a little bit, in swag and confidence, and it’s this amazing hybrid that’s different from original Do Hyun and also different from Se Gi himself.
It’s so impressive to witness, seriously. 🤩
I really do enjoy this idea, that the way forward for Do Hyun, is to reclaim the parts of himself that went into creating Se Gi.
After all, Se Gi is part of Do Hyun, and has always been. It’s just that Do Hyun’s shut off that part of himself, from his main personality, and that’s created a handicap of sorts, where he’s too nice a guy, and too much of a pushover.
I love the idea of Do Hyun reclaiming that edgy strength, and incorporating it into himself.
This way, Se Gi doesn’t die; he just finds a place to belong, where he won’t have to fight with Do Hyun for air time, because they’ll be one. Again, I don’t know how this fits with actual psychiatry; I just like the idea, narratively speaking.
It’s pretty great, that Ri Jin’s instrumental in nudging Do Hyun along, in closing the gap between himself and Se Gi, from wardrobe, to his sense of confidence in general.
Honestly, one of my favorite moments in the entire episode, is when Do Hyun hits back (verbally) at Ki Joon, when Ki Joon grabs him by the collar and tries to intimidate him into leaving Chae Yeon alone.
The way Do Hyun looks Ki Joon right in the eye and casually bites out, “That’s how little confidence you have? Even if I acted out a little.. If you’re confident in your relationship, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.. I don’t have any lingering feelings towards Chae Yeon anymore. I won’t have any in the future, either. So don’t take it out on me.”
SO. GOOD. Ahhhh! 🤩
In a slightly different but kinda similar vein, I was also very pleased with the way Ri Jin answers Chae Yeon, when Chae Yeon confronts her about Do Hyun, and says that perhaps Do Hyun’s using Ri Jin to provoke Chae Yeon.
Ri Jin’s remark, “I thought you were getting engaged to President Cha Ki Joon,” is just polite enough, while also being pointed enough to be low-key savage, and I have to love the subtle discombobulation, on Chae Yeon’s part.
Pfft. Yes, let’s remind Ms. Holier Than Thou that she’s engaged to be married to someone else, and really shouldn’t be obsessing over Do Hyun!
I question Professor Seok’s professionalism, since he just reveals everything about Do Hyun’s condition to Chairman Gran, even without knowing whether he has Do Hyun’s permission, but no biggie, since we’ve long established that the psychiatry in this show is not meant to be realistic in the least.
What I like about this development, is that Do Hyun stands firm, and refuses to leave for America like Chairman Gran instructs.
He stands there, and tells Gran, with tears in his eyes, but without a waver in his voice, that he’s not a monster, but is simply himself, and he’s going to stay in Korea and find his lost memories.
Past Do Hyun would have never done this, but new-and-growing Do Hyun does, and I can’t help but feel proud of him. And, I can’t help feeling that Se Gi would be proud of him too.
Fangurl – I cried when Do Hyun was in the cab. That was so sad. Shin Se Gi has always been my favorite personality in this drama and your explanation above was so good. Shin Se Gi – the bad boy with a heart.
When Hwang Jung Eum is given the right script and direction no one does ‘good vibes’ like her. When she is not directed to screech she is able to emote such kindness, love and concern in such an earnest way. I usually watch anything she is in because I just love her and this sweetness comes across in each one, even if only for a few scenes.
phl1rxd, thank you! I think I’ve been the lone HJE apologist on here but haven’t been able to adequately enunciate why….which you have done beautifully and accurately.I’ll come out and say it: whatever may be imperfect about this show lies at the feet of the writers and producers more so than the cast.
Thanks for carrying the torch on this one, kfangurl. Your commentary and interpretations are, as always, spot-on and help with my enjoyment of the show.
The show does take these neck-snapping turns from drama to comedy and, as you and Ele have noted, it is definitely turning a shade of dark. I’ve adjusted my personal lens to see the different alters of Do Hyun from a metaphorical perspective than a medical one. We all have different aspects to our personas and in Do Hyun’s case those have been artificially separated; Ri Jin’s approach to acknowledge the legitimacy of and unify these various alters is both humane and pragmatic (within the concept of the show) and, from a metaphorical view, is thought-provoking insofar as we all need to come to peace with the various versions of ourselves. We’ve already seen how a little Shin Se Gi is pretty useful in the business world that a version of Do Hyun that integrates all of his alters will, indeed, be pretty cool.
The comedy is still pretty hit and miss, but there were a few bits that I thought were hilarious, such as the fight between Ri Jin and Ri On that segued into a 2-second little rap bit and the hilarious rapper get-up that the one company toady got into to sync w/ Se Gi. On the other hand, the RJ/RO revisiting their childhood “galactic savior” shtick was just cringy.
Plenty of tragedy to go around, but for now I’m just focusing on how sad it is that Ri Jin seems to be the only one in her family who is unaware of her background (do the parents know that Ri On knows?).
Finally, I just realized this week where I recognize Ryu Dong-ryong from – “Misaeng”. He has got this playing this competent businessman with an edge of ambivalence down to a tee.
Thank you for such thoughtful commentary, kfangurl. Sigh, I so loved seeing Shin Se Gi being all hard-as and then all soft-as and under the gentle handling of Ri Jin. She does pretty darn well, doesn’t she? I feel especially impressed now, given we know she’s clearly had a childhood of suffering too. Maybe that’s why she’s so good with Do Hyun / Se Gi because she knows them – albeit, she’s blanked it out.
And, gah 😭 how perfectly awful was Dad’s treatment of them? It hurt to watch the truly terrible manipulation of his own son by hurting Ri Jin so that he’d “do better”. Anyone would lose there sense of self, to be forced to witness / literally cause such brutality. Not punishment, this goes way beyond any parental punishment. It’s pure evil. Oh, and I hate Dad is evil as I’m very fond of the actor, Ahn Nae-sang – who just about pops up in every kdrama going! I love his gentleness, but he often seems to play less than pleasant characters…
Well, we knew Se Gi had met Ri Jin before, and now we know when and probably how as this is the year Do Hyun doesn’t remember. The year where he lived with Ri Jin is the year his mind shattered into fragments. I’ve a feeling that the torture Shin Se Gi has been through (the part of Do Hyun that defied his father? I hope so!) is going to make it even harder for Ri Jin to shut away – or whatever shaky psychiatry they’re going with. I’m super-worried for Ri Jin. Am guessing at some point, she’s going to remember the way Do Hyun’s dad hurt her… 😨 Is Do Hyun going to end up having to heal her as much as she’s healing him?
This is complicated – and very dark. It’s actually gone much darker than I imagined at the start. But I’m enjoying it. Oh, and I am still infatuated with Shin Se Gi and his guy-liner 😍
For me, this was when the show went from good to great. For all the reasons you mention.
Although I’m not rewatching it at the moment, I recall vividly how wonderfully they convey a shifting impression of Shin Se Gi, from simple bad-boy to something far more complex and vulnerable. And how Ri Jin learns to balance her interactions with each of the personalities, knowing that each is distinct and yet each is also simply different parts of the same person.
I can’t say more since I’m not sure what has not yet aired, but this is great drama.