Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1 & 2 notes on Love In Contract, because I’m enjoying it very well, 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! ❤️
E1. I had such high hopes that this one would be good, that I was almost afraid to press “play” on episode 1, you guys.
Which means that I ought to take my high expectations into account, while talking about this opening episode. Because, the higher your expectations, the higher your chances are, of being disappointed, yes?
The truth is, this first episode wasn’t as grabby as I would want, in a perfect world.
In a perfect world – or at least, in a perfect drama – I’d feel immediately interested and intrigued, and be invested right away, in terms of wanting to know what happens next.
That.. is not quite my experience with this episode.
HOWEVER. On the upside, Show is roughly in the region where I’d like it to be, despite not hitting the exact notes I was hoping for, so I’m actually feeling hopeful, that Show just needs a bit of time to get settled, before getting really good.
For example, I’m hugely relieved that Show isn’t leaning into the Funny, or the Manic, or the Quirky, in order to try to make an impression, like so many other rom-coms tend to do.
Those tend to feel try-hard to me, more than anything else, and.. I don’t tend to take to those very much. 😅
So, one of my biggest concerns about this show, was that it would try to do some or all of that, and that I would back away really fast,
Happily, Show isn’t like that at all, and even has a fair bit of that thoughtful vibe that I was drawn to, in one of its later trailers.
That thoughtful vibe still hasn’t grabbed me, though, but I’m hoping that with a bit more time, and a bit more context, that I’ll be nicely invested, soon enough.
Right now, I’m intrigued by Sang Eun, who’s made being a fake wife a career, for the last 13 years.
Clearly, it does have its perks, judging from the fact that she can afford to give such large amounts of money to the mysterious Ms. Yoo, and can still afford a holiday home and a second car.
At the same time, we do get the sense that Sang Eun isn’t happy, and she even says that she’s been sending that money to Ms. Yoo, as vengeance, for the last 13 years.
We still don’t quite know what had happened back then, other than the fragments of information that we get this episode.
What we do know, is that Sang Eun had behaved badly in order to get out of a political marriage, and Ms. Yoo – who appears to have been the household manager or similar – had been ready to sever ties with her because of it.
There’s been no mention of any parent in Sang Eun’s life, and she does appear to be extra sensitive about parental relationships (I’m thinking of her refusal to play someone’s mom), so I’m guessing that she’d lost her (apparently rich) parents at a young age, and had been entrusted to Ms. Yoo’s care.
So.. perhaps the political marriage had been Ms. Yoo’s way to secure Sang Eun’s comfortable future, and without it, Sang Eun’s out of inherited wealth..?
At least, that’s the rough hypothesis that I’ve come up with, with the bits and pieces that Show is giving us, this episode.
So far, I like Sang Eun well enough, though I’m not yet fully in love with her as our female lead.
It’s clear that Sang Eun’s hiding some pretty far-reaching emotional wounds, as she lives her polished role-playing life.
Sometimes, she does come across as a bit detached, probably because of that.
At the same time, we also see that she’s got heart, and will extend herself to help someone else, out of sympathy – like how she’d married (and divorced) Gwang Nam, and then became his legit friend and roommate, long after the contract was over.
And so, she’s not just about business.
Which also appears to be the case with Ji Ho, her very long-time, very reticent client.
As a professional, there’s nothing stopping Sang Eun from just coming out and telling Ji Ho that she’s retiring, and therefore needs to end their contract.
But, she keeps putting it off and coming up with excuses which lean pretty lame (because he made salmon steak, which is her favorite, for example), so that she can delay the inevitable, just a little longer.
Even if Sang Eun doesn’t admit it – and perhaps she’s not even cognizant of it – I’d say that there’s something that makes her reluctant to say goodbye to Ji Ho.
And, although Show is throwing us a few “hints” about Ji Ho maybe being some kind of stalker or serial killer, I think those are red herrings more than anything else, to do with his probable social phobia, for which he’s undergoing group counseling.
My drama gut says that perhaps Ji Ho’s reason for engaging Sang Eun’s services in the first place, is because he likes her, and just didn’t know how else to approach her.
And perhaps he’s so socially awkward and shy, that just having dinner with her three times a week, has been enough for him?
But.. that doesn’t quite explain where we end the episode, where he asks for a divorce.
There’s zero context for that, and I’m curious to find out why he’s suddenly broaching divorce, when he’s appeared perfectly content to keep the status quo.
Last but not least, I’m not at all surprised that Sang Eun turns out to be Hae Jin’s long-lost first love.
At least Show confirms that with the overlapping flashbacks, and the confirmation that Sang Eun’s name had used to be Jamie?
That’s better than dragging it out and then pretending like it’s a big reveal?
All in all, this was a reasonably solid opening episode, even though there was nothing here that blew my socks off.
Here’s hoping that Show, its story and its characters, will really start to pop for me, in our coming episodes! 🤞🏻
E2. So far, I do think that Show is shaping up with a decent amount of promise, so color me cautiously optimistic, going forward. 😅
This episode, we get more information about our key characters, to varying degrees, and that does help the picture of our story world solidify in my head, a little bit. That helps me feel like I’m getting my bearings – even if we’re not 100% there yet.
Somewhere between last episode and this, my brain reached for the possibility that perhaps the reason Ms. Yoo told Sang Eun that Sang Eun can stop sending her money because she doesn’t need it anymore, that Ms. Yoo might be terminally ill.
We still don’t know if she’s terminally ill, but it sure looks like it could be a possibility, judging from the way we see Ms. Yoo organize her affairs this episode, and then almost hang herself – with a short note to Mr. Choi, to ask him to give the bankbook to Sang Eun.
It sure looks like it could be a terminal illness that’s driving her actions, but.. it might also just be that Ms. Yoo is tired of living and just wants to end it all?
It’s hard to say, at this point, but it does add a layer of poignance to our story, to know that she doesn’t think she will live for long, and that even though she’d acted distant from Sang Eun and pretended to have used the money for herself, she’d saved the money that Sang Eun had given her – with the apparent sole purpose of giving it all back to her, someday.
This layer of poignance definitely extends to Sang Eun’s backstory, even though we are still pretty unclear about the details.
At least, it does make me feel rather sorry for Sang Eun, that she’s lived with so much resentment towards Ms. Yoo all these years, even though it looks like Ms. Yoo cares for her much more than she thinks.
On that note, it does feel like there’s a distinct note of loneliness coming through, with Sang Eun.
Even though she’s not technically alone, because she lives with Gwang Nam, she still has that aura of isolation about her, I feel like.
Maybe that’s why she’s so reluctant to let go of her contract with Ji Ho?
And, I do think that Gwang Nam hits a raw nerve with her, when he surmises that she’s upset, not because she’s embarrassed about being dumped, but because she’s sad about being abandoned.
It sure feels like Sang Eun has abandonment issues, that we don’t fully understand yet.
I’m sure of that has to do with Ms. Yoo, with whom she cut ties 13 years ago, but I’m guessing that a lot of it also has to do with her parents, whom we know nothing about, so far.
How ironic, then, that it turns out that the whole reason Ji Ho brings up the divorce in the first place, is because he’d happened to have seen her ticket to Canada, and had figured out that this was the best thing he could do for her.
Gosh, all that angst on Sang Eun’s part, when all Ji Ho had tried to do, was make the break-up easier on her, by making it such that she didn’t have to broach the subject first.
On a related note, I do feel like the more we see of Sang Eun, the more we see how she loses her cool, when her emotions are involved.
I mean, just look at the way she insists on completing the contract with Ji Ho, and insists on doing all the cooking, when there’s really no reason that she do either of those things.
Plus, Sang Eun’s even dreaming about Ji Ho, this episode, with Dream Ji Ho coming to her rescue at a nightclub, with fancy fight moves, and a casual use of the term 여보 (yeobo) to address her, while saying that he’s hungry and they should go get something to eat.
This basically signals hidden feelings for Ji Ho, doesn’t it, even if those feelings are hidden from Sang Eun herself? 😁
We still don’t know what Ji Ho does for a living, and he’s so reticent about it, even when Sang Eun asks him about it, point-blank.
Based on the little snippets of him that we’ve seen, I’m guessing that he’s in the business of investigating violent crimes? And perhaps he doesn’t like to talk about it?
Whatever it is, I’m preeeetty sure that Ji Ho’s not a psychopath, like Hae Jin’s thinking. 😅
Speaking of whom, it’s not surprising to me, that Hae Jin is from a chaebol family, since we’ve already seen that flashback where Sang Eun had refused to marry into the Kangjin Group.
But, I am mildly amused to see how clueless he is, in having signed on for a movie that’s a blatant critique of his family, ha.
I guess that tells us just the sort of character he’s going to be, eh?
It’s a rather pleasant surprise that Hae Jin’s warmly welcomed by his Hyung, rather than taken to task for his blunder, but.. perhaps Hyung’s actually counting on Hae Jin to be the black sheep of the family, and stay in their father’s bad graces?
Maybe that’s why he’s being nice to Hae Jin? Or.. maybe I’ve just watched too many makjangs? 😅
Back on topic, I think I must have been mistaken, in my guess that Ji Ho had made that contract with Sang Eun, because he’d already known who she was, and liked her.
This episode, it looks more like he’d met her for the first time when they’d met for the signing of the contract, and then it looks like he’d grown fond of her, over time.
He certainly looks hyper-aware of her, in the flashbacks that we see from his perspective, which I do like the idea of, very much. 🤩
I’d buy that, and I’d also buy that because Ji Ho is so stoic all the time, Sang Eun hasn’t picked up on his affection for her, all this time, either.
But now, Ji Ho’s actually stepping out of his comfort zone, and calling Sang Eun 여보 (yeobo) in front of Hae Jin, and saying that he’s hungry – oooh. Could we then say that Sang Eun’s dream is coming true, literally? 😁
Well then. I guess Ji Ho’s not going to divorce Sang Eun after all?
*This show is being covered on the VIP Early Access (US$15) 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 10 notes are already available. Just look for the tag “Love In Contract” or click here.
Episodes 11 & 12 notes will be out on Monday, 31 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!
Update: You can now check out my Patreon update post for November, which is here!
I’m glad you’re covering this drama! It’s a polarizing one for sure. Our podcast team is split: two of us love it, one dropped after the first two episodes and one is reluctantly watching/bordering on a hate watch. Comments online are similarly split.
So at least to me episode 1 was a great start. Episode 2+3 a big let down which made me almost drop it but it gets good again in episode 4. ^^