I finally got around to seeing this first episode, and I’m undecided as to whether I’m going to be committing myself to the entire series just yet. The reason? I can see the beginnings of some massive drama, and when I say massive, I mean drama with a capital “D.” How do I know? The classic Korean-mother-in-law-is-a-witch plot device is central to the first episode. You’ll see what I mean. Read on/watch the episode, and then let me know what you think.
Video Link here.
Episode 1: The series begins with Chae Won (Eugene) preparing herself for a black-tie dinner event. As she deliberates over her choice of gown, she stops before a coral/pink evening gown that has flowers around the neck.
Later than evening, she arrives at the event with her husband but barely speaks a word to him. Obviously, they are not on good terms, a fact verified when the husband asks her to forgive his one drunken mistake. Hmm….
The evening is a company event–her mother-in-law’s company to be exact–and the dinner is in her honor. As the mother-in-law makes her speech, giving her employees the credit for her company’s success and recent award, she takes time to particularly thank her family–her beloved son and then her daughter. Each of the children are highlighted under spotlight, but when the spotlight shifts to the daughter-in-law, the mother-in-law gestures pretty obviously for the spotlight to be shut off and the daughter-in-law not acknowledged. Ouch.
Chae Won stoically accepts the slight, indicating that this is not the first time that her mother-in-law has pulled something like this. The abuse becomes more apparent during the reception when the mother-in-law accuses Chae Won of having no manners and trying to get drunk at a company formal event. When Chae Won tells her that she’s merely drinking the glass of wine that was pour for her to cheer the company’s success (basically her first glass), the mother-in-law snaps at her to know her place and go home early. After all, what good can she do at the event when she’s so uneducated and unpolished. *sigh* I’m already getting frustrated just revisiting the scene in my mind. 😛
Emotionally bruised, Chae Won agrees to leave and takes a quiet moment to collect herself in the bathroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she slowly unclasps the floral necklet of the evening gown and reveals a healing scar. Oh dear.
Changed into regular clothes, Chae Won goes to visit her grandparents and father instead of going home. There, she watches–unseen–as her grandfather and grandmother continue the four-generation-old business of rice noodles. She is soon discovered by her father and enjoys a warm evening back at her home. When questions of pregnancy and such arise, she quickly clarifies that she’s definitely not pregnant, a comment that goes unnoticed by her elders for the most part.
After the dinner with her family, she is driven home by her father, who warmly wishes her well. (I love their relationship.) Her father insists on her going inside first before he drives off, but when he eventually does (since he sits a bit to contemplate what type of life his daughter must have in that house that she doesn’t tell), Chae Won sneaks a peek out to watch her father drive away. Aw….
The comfort she received from her family, though, is quickly forgotten as her mother-in-law attempts to stir trouble between Chae Won and her husband. How? She hands Chae Won a dirty dress shirt, one that she grabbed from her son, and tells Chae Won to make sure she cleans her own husband’s clothes. That alone would be mean, but what makes it worse is that the mother-in-law deliberately plants a kiss on the shirt to make it seem as though her son is cheating on his wife. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you see it, Chae Won sees right through her plans. It’s pretty hard to miss when the mother-in-law is wearing the same lipstick color as the lip stain on the dress shirt.
Infuriated, the mother-in-law attacks Chae Won, grabbing her by the hair and throwing the bag of noodles her grandparents had sent over to the in-laws spilling to the floor. When her husband comes rushing downstairs, he rushes to his mother rather than comfort his wife, who remains kneeling on the floor in complete misery.
Meanwhile, her grandfather writes in his journal, wondering who will replace him in carrying on the 4-generation-old business.
The next day, Chae Won goes to see the doctor, who tells her that her scar is healing nicely. Then confirming my suspicions of domestic violence, the doctor encourages her to seek help so that she is not a victim of such abuse in the future. Numbly sitting on the bus as she returns home, she spies a caged bird and empathizes with the bird as it flutters around in the cage, desperate to fly free.
She then flashbacks to her various experiences with her mother-in-law: being told on her wedding day that her soon-to-be husband is going to tire of her in three months, the mother-in-law cutting up all the credit cards that Chae Won uses for groceries and the basic necessities, etc.
The most recent one, though, is of the mother-in-law showing Chae Won three photos of potential brides for her son. After all, it’s been three years and plenty of time for her son to start looking for a real bride, befitting his position in society. As Chae Won finally cracks under the pressure and talks back to her loathsome mother-in-law, her inebriated husband returns for the evening and then strikes her with a wine glass when she calls him a “Mama’s boy.”
Meanwhile, our leading man, Se Yoon, returns to Korea after being away for some time and is greeted by his first his mother at the airport and then later at home by his father…with a birthday cake. As Se Yoon blows out the candles, he briefly flashbacks to a car accident in which he loses the love of his life. Apparently, he left Korea to recover from his tragic loss. His parents seem relieved by his cheerful demeanor, completely unaware of his solemn mood once he’s alone in his bedroom.
Chae Won finally decides that she’s had enough of the mental and emotional abuse, especially with her husband’s well-known philandering and asks the mother-in-law for a divorce. Why? Chae Won explains that her husband will do whatever his mother decides, so she’s decided to side-step the middle man and tell her that she’ll finally give her the divorce. However, she plans to collect the alimony due to her, especially after the past three years that she’s had to endure.
Her husband overhears their conversation and tries to reason with her, but to no avail. Of course, the mother-in-law is not at all interested in saving her son’s marriage–rather, she did everything in her power to destroy it–and instead calls her attorney to discuss the ramifications of the divorce. His verdict? With the son’s known philandering and sometimes poor business decisions, he will lose all his credibility with the company board members if he adds divorce to his wrongdoings.
Concerned only for her son’s standing, the mother-in-law (I’m getting tired of writing that, so let’s just call her “wicked witch” or just “witch” for short) tricks Chae Won into entering a psychiatric hospital on the pretext that her husband got into an accident because he was so despondent over the upcoming divorce. Still concerned for her husband, she rushes into the hospital…without realizing that it’s a psychiatric hospital and that the witch has taken her cell phone so that she can’t contact anyone.
The episode concludes with Chae Won realizing that she’s just been committed to a mental hospital and trying desperately to tell the staff that there’s been a mistake.
Musings: Oh dear. There’s no mistake about it; the witch is wrecking all sorts of havoc. But unlike our infamous A Thousand Kisses, I’m hoping that the wicked people in this drama get everything that’s coming to them! Heh…I cannot wait for her comeuppance. And her weird Oedipal Complex with her son is just…creepy. Seriously, the son is so clueless that his mother is actively sabotaging his marriage, or perhaps he doesn’t really care to see it, content as he is with the status quo.
For the most part, I enjoyed the episode, especially the more light-hearted moments with the minor characters. The show does a solid job of counteracting the heavy melodrama of the main characters with the levity of the minor characters. It’s only the first episode, yet I’m already beginning to see the makings of lovelines between the minor characters as well as a plethora of conflicts for our two lead characters. It should be an interesting series to follow…if I decide to continue recapping.
Let me know if you’re interested in having me continue with this drama. Otherwise, I may just stick to recapping the Flower Boy Next Door series and perhaps just “nutshell” this one, which I’ve sort of done with this post…hmmm…haven’t I? Heh.
Anyhow, Chae Won and Se Yoon seem like a solid couple to watch. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to watch episode 2 soon. As for Episodes 3 and 4…we’ll just have to take it one episode at a time, won’t we? 😉
Have a great week, twinkles!