What’s making your quarantine livable? Are you reaching for high drama, or fluffy comfort watches? (Or both?)
Here’s what we started, finished, dropped, or kept watching this week. What did you catch up on this weekend?
(Note: We’ll mention some plot details, but will try to keep major spoilers to minimum.)
When the Weather is Fine [11-12]
How much do I love this week’s exploration of the real story around Hae-won’s father’s death, and the way the drama so skilfully weaved together the past and the present as we finally found out more about Myung-yeo’s past, and learned more about why she’s made the choices she has in the last ten years. Episode 11 was devastating in its exploration of domestic violence, grief, denial, guilt, and the sacrifices we make for those we love—and the ones they make for us in return. Myung-yeo has always been a prickly ball of snark covering a heart that loves deeply, and the shock of what happened to their family ten years ago has only exacerbated both those tendencies.
I also love the theme of silence and multiple narratives that was especially strong this week: there are so many things we don’t tell even the people closest to us, quiet and unknown things people do for each other, or actions we take that we feel unable to explain. It’s not necessarily the best way to deal with life, but it’s very real and relateable. There are so many situations, especially when life hits you with the brutally hard stuff, when words seem both insufficient and inaccessible. Eun-seob tends to take that to the extreme, but Hae-won’s entire family does it too. And then on the other hand you have Hwi and Jang-woo, who are literally the release of tension that I need to keep watching this show full of people who never say the thing. Their unselfconscious honesty is such a great foil to other characters who hold on to their stoic silences as though they’re the only thing keeping their heads above water (to be fair, maybe they are). Can we send all the residents of this village to therapy?
Oh and one last thing: Bo-young is asking for a swift kick in the behind. I really hope someone serves it to her in the next episode.
Every piece of this drama works in perfect concert with the rest: the writing, directing, acting, music, casting—but none of it would add up to the electric, mesmerizing experience that is Hyena without Kim Hye-soo and Joo Ji-hoon at its center as Geum-ja and Hee-jae. Now that they’re sort-of working together, their dynamic at the firm and with their Team H coworkers is great—how much do I love Hee-jae overwhelming Ji-eun with his earnestly passionate gazes for Geum-ja?—but the real stuff is when these two are alone, and they drop all their guards and speak with devastating honesty.
It’s telling (and not exactly healthy) that they tend to need liquid courage to get beyond the petty bickering, but it’s also clear that as much as Geum-ja might try to resist Hee-jae’s melty confessions, they only ever really confide in each other. Geum-ja always says that the secret to her success is that she trusts no one, but she’s explicitly told Hee-jae that she trusts him as her colleague, and implied as such by spilling her painful past to him in that intense encounter after her father’s skin-crawling visit.
I NEEDED TIME TO RECOVER FROM THAT SCENE, Y’ALL. And then to watch it again. And again.
I think that’s my favourite conversation between them so far. (The Supply Closet Scene is a close second.) And Hee-jae, of course, is always completely transparent and vulnerable when it comes to Geum-ja. Joo Ji-hoon is so good at laying out the many ways Hee-jae feels for her on his face. His petty jealousy, and Geum-ja’s impatience for it, during the Kevin Jung case was funny, but then again when he’s clearly struggling with his conscience over the tax bill, she’s the only one who sees it. And they always seem to seek each other out in their lowest moments.
More even than the (FANTASTIC!) romantic sparks between these two, it’s fascinating to see the back-and-forth between this woman who finds it impossible and dangerous to be anything but insincere, and this man who finds himself wanting to be more sincere the longer he knows her. And how they see each other so clearly, flaws and all, and yet continue to be drawn to this explosive connection anyway. I did wonder about the strength and persistence of his feelings after discovering her true identity, especially since she’s a completely different person than the one he initially fell in love with, but I buy it. Maybe if he met Jung Geum-ja first, he would have kept his distance because she makes a…strong first impression, but once he was already entangled with her, I think he found himself shocked by how stimulating, attractive, frustrating, and fun he finds his every interaction with her.
My only reservation about this show is that halfway through Episode 12, Geum-ja is still so hardcore committed to protecting clients despite the egregiousness of this latest case—especially considering she was the one who convinced this woman to stay in an abusive relationship that led to her death—that I’m losing my ability to be on her side. I do have faith that this drama knows where it’s going and will lead us to a satisfying ending, but I don’t know anymore how much I’m actually rooting for these two to get together, now that Hee-jae looks like his conscience is slowly and painfully trying to awaken. Then again, in Hyena, anything could happen in four episodes.
Hospital Playlist 
I appreciate the laid-back, slice-of-life pace of this show, which is one of its many charms, but I do wish this director wasn’t quite so trigger-happy on the cuts in emotional moments. I know this is one of the ways this team avoids getting too weighed down by sentiment, but I sometimes wish they’d let a scene develop for a few more moments before moving on to the next scene (or the next season). I loved that scene at the end between Jun-wan and Ik-soon, but it was given hardly any buildup, and coasted mostly on Jung Kyung-ho’s ability to sell literally any emotion. I needed more than a second of him going to visit her and a few fond looks to feel the full payoff of this moment—and don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board with this ship. I just feel like the impulse to catch the viewer off guard is once again slightly compromising the quality of this team’s storytelling the way it did in the Reply series. Thankfully there’s no guess-the-husband game here, but I feel like there’s a similar desire here to surprise the viewer that often works to great effect, as in our often-false first impressions about characters and cases, but can tend to punch the air out of the figurative emotional balloon before it can even fully inflate. (Okay, that was a laboured analogy, but you know what I mean.)
Speaking of labour, I love Seok-hyung and I was deeply enraged on his behalf this week—the nerve of that woman to show up and say those things to him! It seems like they’re setting up Eyeshadow Resident Min-ha as romantic endgame for him though, and I reaaaally don’t like her for him. Nothing I’ve seen about her so far makes we want to root for her, especially to get together with Seok-hyung who is already dealing with so much, and has had his heart trampled on plenty already..
That reveal about Song-hwa at the end had my heart sinking. She’s absolutely my favourite character (though Ik-joon is a close second) and although I love and relate to her instinct to handle things on her own, I hope she’ll reach out to her friends for support. You know they’d do anything for her, and right now she needs all the ride-or-die loyalty she can get.
When the Weather is Fine [11-12]
At last, the story begins to move again! And with such shocking clarity of purpose that you can’t help but suspect the writers of tricking us a bit with the slow as molasses episodes preceding these. Weather had always been indulgent with its pacing, but it seemed to grind to a halt as we got stuck in the muddy, unclear waters of Eun-seob’s reservations. For a boy surrounded by people who care for him desperately, he sure likes repeating how “beautiful things always go away” a lot.
But finally, we see his life from a few different perspectives. We see why he holds himself apart, even as he’s surrounded by warm friends. We see why Jang-woo was startled to find out that his friend was dating someone who meant to leave soon. We see why his family was so uncertain about their rights on him. We see why he found it so hard to express his emotions freely, why he guarded his heart so closely. And we almost jump up clapping when Hwi rips through every one of his excuses and calls him an idiot.
Also, a little distance away from the grand drama of Eun-seob’s abandonment issues, we find out a little more about Imo and what made her stop writing books. Plot threads laid out carelessly ages back suddenly snap into a tightly woven tapestry, and we’re left feeling a little breathless at the revelations.
And finally – be still my heart – we got all the adorable sweetness of Eun-seob and Hae-won’s initial courtship back and made much more intense by the openness of their feelings for each other. Just watch the scene where Hae-won makes Eun-seob drop his books. Twice!