Early Access: Little Women Episodes 1 & 2

Hi everyone!

Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1 & 2 notes on Little Women, because I’m nicely intrigued by it, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗

These are my episode 1 & 2 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).

I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️

Episode notes:

E1. Well, let me start by saying that I am nicely intrigued by what I’ve seen so far.

To be honest, coming into this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

On the one hand, Show had been promoted as a modern retelling of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott.

On the other hand, the more I learned about this show, as more promo materials got released, the more it didn’t seem anything like the supposed source material.

One episode in, I’m coming to the conclusion that certain relatively smallish aspects are likely to have been inspired by the novel, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Like, we have the fact that a bunch of sisters are at the center of our story, though Show has three, while the novel has four.

And, I get the impression that the three sisters in our story, are inspired to some extent, by the sisters in the novel.

For example, youngest sister In Hye is good at art, just like youngest sister Amy in the novel.

And, eldest sister In Joo is on the more outspoken, tomboyish side of things, kinda like second sister Jo, in the novel.

Our middle sister In Kyung, who’s spent time being a companion to a rich relative, reminds me (again) of second sister Jo, in the novel, who’d done something similar as well.

Oh, and of course, the sisters from both the drama and the novel come from poor families – and I think that’s about where the similarities end.

Which means you absolutely don’t need to know anything about the novel, to enjoy this show, but, if you do know the novel, then you might find it a bit of a thrill to identify bits of inspiration like these.

I thought this was a very solid opening episode, in that I find myself already engaged with our characters, while having a reasonable understanding of their context.

Unlike the novel, Mom is as far from a model parent as you could imagine, and I felt the disappointment, horror and disgust of In Joo and In Kyung, when they realize that Mom’s run away with the money the two of them had scraped together for In Hye’s field trip to Europe.

There’s something about that, that makes me root for these two unnies even more fiercely, because they’ve had to deal with such an unhelpful and aggravating parent. Mom doesn’t just not make things easier; she really does make things worse.

The fact that our two unnies have had to grow up under such a parent already makes my sympathize with them. The fact that they’re so determined to give their baby sister the best, even though they themselves have had to go without, really hits me in the heart.

There’s no “we suffered so you should suffer too” sort of mindset going on; they want to give Baby Sis what they couldn’t have themselves, and that’s just the most selfless, loving thing.

Their determination to still give In Hye that gift, even after Mom’s stolen it, is also very touching to me, because it’s clear that when they make that promise, they don’t actually have the money, but are both determined to get the money somehow, so that In Hye won’t have to be disappointed.

It’s a lot to deal with, to be sure, and because of that, I’m not even that surprised that In Kyung has developed an alcohol dependency; she probably needed that in order to cope.

Aside from that, she appears to have a lot of potential when it comes to work, judging from the way she analyzes the case, when instructed to.

It’s just quite unfortunate that she has an alcohol dependency, which interferes with her work, and which results in her suspension this episode.

For the record, I don’t think it’s wrong for her to be disciplined for this, because you certainly shouldn’t be drinking at work. But I do feel sympathy for her, because it looks like she’d struggled to cope, and that’s how she’d started taking regular sips of alcohol to begin with.

Of course, besides the unnies’ love for their sister, there’s a layer of pride at work too, as we see from the way In Joo refuses to let In Hye take money for helping her classmate with her art.

She doesn’t want people to look on In Hye as some kind of disadvantaged child – and it’s implied that she herself had been looked upon as a disadvantaged child; a beggar, as she puts it.

Based on what we see in terms of the social dynamics at work, there seems to be at least some truth in In Joo’s assertion that this is basically a vicious cycle, that starts in pity, but ends with disgust.

The way In Joo’s an outcast at work because of her poor background, seems to back up that thought.

The way that In Joo’s friend Hwa Young is an outcast, for essentially the same reason, seems to back up that thought too.

This episode, Hwa Young is arguably our most cryptic character.

As we get deeper into the episode, Show drops more and more intriguing tidbits about Hwa Young, that suggest that there’s way more to her than meets the eye.

Like the way she talks about being poor, but has savings to lend In Joo, and expensive shoes to wear to a fancy restaurant, where the staff appear to recognize her.

And then there’s the way she gets In Joo to sign that application for the bookkeeping software that she’s developed. The fact that she has In Joo sign as the main applicant implies that she’d had plans to not be around, by the time the result of the application was out.

By the end of the episode, we learn enough to piece together that Hwa Young had decided to steal from the company’s illegal slush fund, because it was illegal money anyway, that couldn’t be easily reported lost.

The impression I get, is that her decision to steal, had possibly been driven, in part at least, by the fact that the world at large treated her as an outcast.

Like, this was her way of getting back at them all, so to speak?

And while it does look like she’d been depressed and entertaining thoughts of suicide for some time, it looks like her suicide at this point in time, hadn’t been the plan, and had been the result of getting caught for embezzlement, by Director Shin (Oh Jung Se! 🤩)

I do think that Hwa Young had been genuinely fond of In Joo, for the reason she’d stated; that In Joo had shown her sincere care during her mother’s funeral.

Getting things in place, so that In Joo would get to enjoy the money that Hwa Young had stockpiled, seems to have been Hwa Young’s way of showing her gratitude.

And it becomes clear that In Joo’s affection and loyalty is real and true as well, given the way she makes a public stand for Hwa Young, to stop all the gossip, and has that resignation letter ready, long before she discovers that bag of money that Hwa Young’s left for her.

I think it says a lot, that In Joo would quit her job, in order to stand in solidarity with Hwa Young, who’s dead, when she herself is basically living in poverty. It’s not like she can easily afford to lose that job, or that it’s that easy to find another one, right?

But she does it anyway, because that’s where her heart is.

Because of this, it almost feels like a reward for her loyalty, when she finally finds that bag of money that Hwa Young’s left for her.

And, it feels poignant, that the note that Hwa Young leaves her, not only thanks her for having been good to her, but also, tells her to live in that apartment with nice windows that she’s always dreamed of, for her and her sisters.

This isn’t about greed, really, it’s about fulfilling dreams which had heretofore looked completely impossible. It’s about understanding and solidarity.

Which, I believe, is why In Joo breaks down in tears, in response. It’s viscerally moving stuff, isn’t it?

..It’s just complicated by the fact that this is stolen money, and therefore, In Joo could get into a Very Precarious Situation, if she were to use it.

It’s an excellent cliffhanger for episode 1, because now I’m really curious to see how In Joo chooses to respond to all this, in episode 2.

E2. Woah. What a whirlwind of an episode.

I basically feel like someone took my intrigue from episode 1, and then stepped on the accelerator (kinda like in both of this episode’s car accidents), and my level of intrigue and interest, has just shot over the edge, a little like our closing scene this episode. 😅

I also feel like the watch experience is a little like what we see in the blackbox footage, where we actually experience Kim Cheol Seong’s car spinning out of control and crashing.

Not that the watch experience has crashed and burned; that’s not what I mean at all.

It’s just.. at some point, I realized that I didn’t quite know which way was up anymore. But in a good way – unlike that car crash. 😅

And right now, as I type this, I still don’t feel like I know which way is up. Which, I think, is evidence of what a good job Show is doing, at weaving this intriguing tale.

Through this entire episode, Show builds this circumstantial evidence that Director Shin is the one behind not only Hwa Young’s death, but also, the death of her predecessor, Yang Hyang Sook.

The sequence of events suggested by the text messages exchanged between him and Hwa Young; the fact that Hwa Young and Yang Hyang Sook had both appeared to commit suicide, while both wearing red stilettos which had been gifts from him.

It does come together to strongly suggest that Director Shin had set them both up to die, so that he could benefit from their alleged embezzlement.

Plus, he does give off pretty shady vibes, especially during the scene where he gets wayyy too up close and personal with In Joo for comfort, which comes off as both gross and intimidating.

In this scene, he made my skin crawl so dang much, and yet, he was also so magnetic, that I couldn’t look away.

At the same time, there’s that hint, that grows stronger over the course of the episode, that there’s someone else in the picture, with Show zooming in on that signature orchid, at each death scene.

The way Director Shin freaks out at the sight of that orchid at Hwa Young’s apartment, and immediately makes a hurried exit, indicates that he knows what that orchid means, and very likely also knows who that orchid represents.

That’s very likely why he decides to go to jail for 5 years, like we see at the end of the episode; he probably concluded that jail was the safest place for him to be, if he didn’t want to be a victim of these orchid deaths.

But.. he dies anyway, because it looks like Orchid Assassin moves faster than Director Shin had anticipated.

..Which, of course, begs the question of who Orchid Assassin might be.

Right now, my spidey senses are pointing at Park Jae Sang, because he’s the one who would benefit most from Kim Cheol Seong’s death, and the burying of the Bobae Savings Bank case, alongside.

If that’s true, then has Park Jae Sang been systematically benefiting from all these “suicides” of these bookkeepers, and then pocketing the billions of won that they’ve allegedly embezzled? Is that how he’s grown his wealth, over the years?

And if THAT’S true, then just how in the world is Park Jae Sang so well-informed of what every one of these people is up to, so that he knows exactly when they need to be offed?

I’m definitely curious to find out.

Of course, there are other clues that intrigue me.

For example, the idea that Hwa Young had plastic surgery before her death. This seems like a pretty bizarre thing to do, which makes me wonder if this is a red herring.

Like, perhaps Hwa Young had staged this, in order to fake her own death?

I mean. I would like that a lot better than the version of events where she’s been killed by the Orchid Assassin, but made to look like she’d committed suicide because she’d been caught embezzling funds by Director Shin.

So many possibilities! Which just makes this show all the more intriguing, I feel.

Through it all, Show is also doing a nice job of fleshing out our main characters and their relationships.

So far, I really like the relationship between In Joo and In Kyung.

These two unnies are so different in personality and sensibility, but it’s clear that they care for each other a lot, and would do everything in their power, to be there for each other.

For example, I like the way In Kyung is so honest with In Joo, in telling her about her suspension from work. She’s bluntly honest about the reason for her suspension, and doesn’t try to sugarcoat it.

And there’s also the way In Joo reacts, all worked up and upset, and swearing up and down that she will do everything to help, and so to just tell her, if In Kyung needs anything.

I’m actually quite intrigued by In Kyung as a character.

She appears soft and tender at first glance, not only in the way that she speaks and carries herself, but also, in the way she reflexively empathizes so hard, with the people in the stories that she covers.

That empathy is why she’d started drinking in the first place; so that she would be able to numb the pain, and wear a poker face while covering those stories.

I feel like that says a lot about her personality, that repeated exposure isn’t the thing that numbs her to these people’s pain; only alcohol does the job.

At the same time, there’s a steeliness about her, which almost feels at odds with that softness.

Like the way she doesn’t flinch when talking about her suspension, both with In Joo and Rich Aunt.

And the way she presses in and continues to give her respects at Kim Cheol Seong’s funeral, even while his family members kick up a fuss and try to chase her away.

She’s like velvet and steel, at the same time, which makes her a very interesting personality.

As for In Joo, even though she immediately gives me somewhat “tough defiant girl” sort of vibes, there’s also a softness about her, which I also find intriguing.

Where in In Kyung’s case, her softness comes to the fore first, with In Joo, her defiance comes through first, like in the way she stands up for Hwa Young to the rest of the colleagues, and in the way she puts in her resignation, even when she doesn’t have another job on hand.

And, it also shows in the way she lays down her conditions to Director Shin, in agreeing to work with him to reveal the truth about Hwa Young. He’s much more senior, but that doesn’t stop her from making it a condition, that he not refer to Hwa Young as a thieving bitch.

Plus, she’s sharp and methodical, when it comes to going through Hwa Young’s things, and sifting through everything to find information that isn’t immediately obvious.

Also, she figures out that the pair of fancy shoes that Hwa Young had said she’d bought for herself, were actually a gift from Director Shin.

I like how smart she is.

On a tangent, SQUEE!! Song Joong Ki as a sales rep at that fancy shoe store is oddly perfect. 🤩

Back on topic, the softness in In Joo comes through, as a deeper layer, like when she shows that she’s nervous and scared, or when she tells Choi Do Il that she’d thought that they could be friends.

There’s a fragility that shows through in her quiet moments on her own, like the tears sheening in her eyes, as she downs a beer, and thinks about things.

And it also shows through in that scene with Director Shin, when she doesn’t do more than squirm, even though he’s majorly overstepping the boundaries of her personal space.

As for Choi Do Il, I’m still making up my mind on what to think about him.

Sometimes, he strikes me as a pretty decent guy, like when he listens to In Joo’s findings about Hwa Young, and goes through the evidence that she finds. That’s not his primary focus, but he shows an interest and an open mind about what she has to say, and that feels nice.

On the other hand, he’s coldly matter-of-fact, about how he’s only interested in money, and that money is the most sacred thing, in life.

The fact that he would overlook a very probable murder, in favor of finding money, makes me think that he could very well throw In Joo under the bus with a smile, if it were for the sake of money. 😅

Meaning, I think it would be best to not trust him too much, at least for now.

Jong Ho, on the other hand, seems like a harmless, genial, trustworthy sort of presence, and Kang Hoon makes him quite a perfect puppy dog, who’s clearly been crushing on In Kyung for a long time.

As for In Hye, I do wonder whether she’d known that her painting of Hyo Rin, would be submitted as a self-portrait by Hyo Rin, at the competition. Did she accept payment to be Hyo Rin’s.. ghost artist?

I honestly don’t know what to make of In Hye just yet. She seems so fiercely private, with a very strong desire to be independent, and not be a burden to her sisters.

That fierce desire makes me wonder if she’d dip into the wrong side of the law, in order to achieve her goals – like in agreeing for her work to be submitted in Hyo Rin’s name, for example.

Last but certainly not least, how worrisome, that In Joo’s received a pair of red stilettos, in Director Shin’s name.

Sure, Director Shin dies a pretty shocking and sudden death at the end of the episode, so if he’d really sent those shoes, then that threat is gone.

But.. what if he hadn’t sent those shoes, and they’d been sent in his name, by the Orchid Assassin..? Eep. 😬

*This show is being covered on the Early Access Plus (US$10) Tier on Patreon*

To view episode 1 & 2 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!

You can find my Patreon page here, where episodes 1 through 8 notes are already available. Just look for the tag “Little Women” or click here.

Episodes 9 & 10 notes will be out on Tuesday, 4 October 2022! I hope you’ll consider joining us!

It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️

PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for October, which you can find here!

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11 months ago

Buckle up – it’s a wild ride. You don’t need to know anything about the American novel “Little Women.” So far excellent through 10 episodes. No particular lens needed IMO other than its a drama Korean style.

Consumers Gasman
Consumers Gasman
11 months ago

started off promising, went off the rails in episode three for me, lazy writing, unbelievable actions of older sisters, asylum episode and way sister left embarrassing to watch, have tried to finish many times, no luck so far

11 months ago

Love your review ! I agree with everything you said here! It’s is literally the best show , I am sitting on the edge of my seat every episode ! I am glued and can’t wait til the next Week episode . It’s soooo good and a little creepy at the same time haha!

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
11 months ago

This show is best viewed through the morality tale/Gothic novel lens.

11 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Thanks Snow Flower! I just watched episode 1-2, was wondering if it would be mystery-thriller or makjang OTT soap. Gothic novel is a pretty useful lens, though I confess I’m not super familiar with the conventions of the genre! Would “Jane Eyre” and The Woman in Black” count as Gothic novels?

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
11 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Jane Eyre has some Gothic elements (secrets from the past, etc.). I have seen a movie version of The Woman In Black, but so far Little Women does not have any supernatural elements. Gothic novels tend to have plots that are both mysterious and sensational, so LW fits in the genre. The drama does have both mystery/thriller and makjang vibes.