Thirty But Seventeen: Episodes 15-16
Just as Jennifer promised, time moves at it’s own pace, and just as it begins to pick up speed, both Woo-jin and Chan realize what’s at stake for them as the end of Seo-ri’s stay closes in. Roles reverse as Woo-jin starts to act like a responsible adult and Chan’s seventeen-year-old emotions reveal that he still has some growing to do.
EPISODE 15: “Variations on a mystery”
Seo-ri enters the previously locked storage room to retrieve a muddy Deok-gu. She tries to clean up the paw prints she discovers covering the books on the floor, and leans down to inspect the scattered papers, including the drawing Woo-jin completed of her when he was younger.
Jennifer stops Seo-ri before she sees the drawing to insist they follow Woo-jin’s rules and not look inside the storage room. Seo-ri obeys Jennifer’s stern command and Jennifer shuts the door behind them. Jennifer, how could you do this to us?!
Woo-jin arrives home late, but not late enough that Jennifer isn’t still awake. She stayed up to report the storage room invasion, but after seeing the contents of the room, Woo-jin’s not upset.
Woo-jin’s father surprises him with a late-night call to ask if the “matter” has been resolved. Woo-jin says that it has, but doesn’t make the connection that Seo-ri will soon be leaving until his father mentions closing on the sale of the house next week. Any protest that Woo-jin might have against the sale is silenced when his father mentions how difficult it’s become to maintain the house as he grows older.
Seo-ri scans ads for rooms for rent, but nothing looks good. She heads outside to gaze up at her tree, knowing he’ll be uprooted soon for the new construction. Woo-jin joins her outside, his thoughts on the sale of the house.
As honest as Jennifer, Seo-ri’s first thought is to admit Deok-gu and her invasion into the storage room, but again Woo-jin is unconcerned now that he thinks nothing is in there.
Seo-ri asks if it’s okay for her to take the painted stone from the tree with her, and Woo-jin nods yes. But as she heads inside, it hits him that she means to take it with her when she moves out.
In his room, Woo-jin gazes out of the skylight, snapping his tape measure, until an idea strikes him and he begins writing a list.
The next morning, Seo-ri walks with Hyun to work. Hyun laments that he forgot to pay his rent this month and Seo-ri expresses her own rental hunting woes. This makes Hyun think of fish for some reason, but Seo-ri has no idea what he means and suggests eating fish later.
At work, Woo-jin reviews his list he brainstormed the night before of possible solutions to keep Seo-ri living with him or close by. Hee-soo arrives at work with bungeoppang ice cream to share. The fish-shaped pastry reminds Hyun what he was trying to think of earlier—his cousin is looking for someone to stay at her apartment and look after her fish while she studies abroad. No rent necessary, all Seo-ri has to do is feed the fish.
Seo-ri eagerly accepts Hyun’s offer. Woo-jin stammers out a series of protests, but Hyun has a reassuring answer to all of his concerns.
The place seems perfect, Woo-jin covers by saying he wishes that he could move into it instead. Too bad for him, the apartment is women-only. Hee-soo can’t help but smile as she watches her long-time friend struggle to prevent Seo-ri from leaving his side while also not admitting how he feels.
Woo-jin gives Hyun a slightly-too-hard squeeze of the shoulders of thanks for helping out Seo-ri, and then heads to the roof with his list. The move seems so sudden to Woo-jin, and he crumples his list of ideas up and throws the paper in the waste bin.
Meanwhile, Chan has broken a new record as a single rower at practice. Coach reminds the team that they’ll be practicing at the site for the national competition next week, and Chan starts to feel victory close at hand. And victory means that he gets to confess to Seo-ri, and that happy realization has him running across the dock in delight while his friends look on confused.
When Chan gets home, however, Seo-ri smiles as she tells him about her plans to move out this weekend to her new apartment. Chan has forgotten how close they are to the end of the month, and what that meant for Seo-ri.
Chan spots his similarly despondent uncle in the backyard grumpily turning down the bungeoppang Hae-bum and Deok-soo have brought over. They offer a pastry to Chan as he approaches, but he too is in no mood to be reminded of fish, ha.
Chan intercepts Woo-jin and begs him to let Seo-ri stay with them at Chan’s family’s apartment. Chan starts to say that Seo-ri can’t be left to live alone, but he hesitates to reveal Seo-ri’s hospitalization to Woo-jin and drops it. Chan’s pleading lasts until they make it inside where Seo-ri, Jennifer, and Chan’s friends sit.
Chan blurts out the invitation to Seo-ri, but she declines. She tells them that she appreciates everything they’ve done but doesn’t want to impose further on them. When the boys suggest a farewell party, Seo-ri declines. To her, farewell parties are for real goodbyes, and she intends to visit with everyone as often as she can. While Seo-ri laughs and jokes, Woo-jin and Chan watch on, resigned and itchy, respectively.
Seo-ri plans her packing in her room with Deok-gu. Meanwhile, Woo-jin can’t sleep and finds himself outside, staring at the tree.
Jennifer joins him again, both of them admitting that they’re having a hard time sleeping tonight. Woo-jin brings up time again, this time expressing his wishes that it would slow down.
Jennifer adds some additional wisdom to her thoughts on time, and suggests that the difference between fond memories and regrets is how one chooses to appreciate the moments while they pass. Her sage advice given, Jennifer slaps her hands, claims mosquitos are out, and heads inside.
The next day, Seo-ri, Wo-jin, and Hyun grab snacks together for the meeting they are attending with the musical festival committee. Hyun’s car won’t start though, and the service garage reports the dead battery will take “a while” to fix (really?). Hyun stays behind to wait for his car, while Woo-jin and Seo-ri go ahead by train.
Seo-ri is excited to see cup ramyun so the pair grab some at the station. Seo-ri yelps when she discovers her ramyun is really spicy, and Woo-jin comments on her apparent inability to eat spicy foods. Woo-jin slurps up a big helping of noodles, and struggles to disguise how spicy it is for him as well. They grin and grouse as they tease each other goodnaturedly.
On the train, a group of students brings a smile to Seo-ri’s face as they sing together. Woo-jin asks why she’s staring, and Seo-ri says that she always wanted to experience things like this, even though she would have missed out while she was in Germany even if things hadn’t gone wrong for her.
Woo-jin starts to ask why Seo-ri didn’t make it to Germany, but he’s interrupted by the students, who offer him the microphone. Woo-jin declines, but Seo-ri is up for the challenge and contributes some verses, and the mic comes back to Woo-jin for some verses as well. Soon everyone in the train car is clapping and singing along, and Woo-jin’s question is forgotten.
As they deboard, one of the students gives Woo-jin a polaroid of Seo-ri and Woo-jin smiling and clapping together, the words, “I hope your love lasts” written at the bottom. Woo-jin grins broadly, and then tucks the photo hastily into his pocket when Seo-ri asks if he has something.
At the conference center, Woo-jin sends Seo-ri on to their room alone while he checks them in at reception. On her way, Seo-ri spots Tae-rin and bounces over to talk to her.
Tae-rin responds much more coldly to Seo-ri’s greeting than before, and finds a quick excuse to avoid talking to Seo-ri.
Once in the meeting room, Seo-ri spots a small mistake in Tae-rin’s presentation. She makes a sound as if to contribute, but then quickly quiets. The committee chairman insists that she share her thoughts, so Seo-ri explains that while most think that the composer of Toy Symphony was Haydn, it was actually Mozart’s father Leopold. The director is impressed, while Tae-rin fidgets with her cuticles.
Back at the house, Chan returns home just as Hyung-tae arrives to try to find Seo-ri. Chan remembers Seo-ri’s request to not report her to anyone from the hospital, so Chan lies to Hyung-tae and tells him that the mystery woman never returned.
Chan follows up by letting Hyung-tae know that the house will be demolished soon, so there’s no reason to keep coming back. Hyung-tae stares in disbelief.
Back at the conference center, Seo-ri spots another violinist performing in the lobby and approaches her. Seo-ri praises her performance, as well as her selection of strings with her instrument, and that’s enough to tip the woman off that Seo-ri might be a violinist herself.
The woman offers Seo-ri the opportunity to play, and Seo-ri begins to play Schumann’s Three Romances.
As Seo-ri plays, Tae-rin runs into her old conductor. As Seo-ri’s music fills the the lobby, the conductor recognizes the piece as the one Seo-ri used to audition back when she was young for his orchestra. He recalls how he enjoyed her playing during the competition and her earnest promise to do well when he offered her a spot as second violin.
Woo-jin also hears Seo-ri playing and watches her from afar. He remembers Seo-ri’s sadness after watching Tae-rin’s concert and her own wishes to be a professional violinist.
Seo-ri seems to be doing well, but her hands are still out of practice and they eventually falter. Seo-ri grimaces at the mistake and hands the violin back to the performer.
Seo-ri’s former conductor just misses Seo-ri as she walks away dejectedly. Tae-rin takes note of Seo-ri’s departure as the conductor returns to her. He asks if Tae-rin recalls the talented Seo-ri and wonders what happened to her.
Tae-rin recalls the days of the orchestra and overhearing two girls in the bathroom talking about how Seo-ri was a better performer, but Tae-rin won because she was more accurate and had more family connections. Returning to the conductor’s questions, Tae-rin replies that she doesn’t really remember a girl like Seo-ri.
Seo-ri sits outside on a bench, her eyes downcast. A car screeches to a halt in front of her, and inside is Woo-jin. He shouts at Seo-ri to tell Hee-soo that he went to a beach nearby, known to be refreshing. Seo-ri nods at him.
Woo-jin is determined to cheer Seo-ri up at this beach, so he drives around the circle driveway and returns, this time shouting for Seo-ri to also tell Hyun, if he asks, that he’s at a beach known to refresh you just by looking at it. He waits for Seo-ri to catch his hint this time, but she just nods again.
About to give up, Woo-jin begins to ask directly if she’ll come with him, and at the same time, Seo-ri asks if she can come with him. These two, cute.
On the road, Seo-ri is quiet, unexcited as they approach the beach.
EPISODE 16: “I want you to stay”
The beach must be really refreshing, as the previously sullen Seo-ri runs towards it with shouts of joy. Woo-jin smiles and joins in her cheers.
On the beach, Woo-jin finally gathers the courage to ask Seo-ri why she wasn’t able to keep playing the violin. Seo-ri answers without hesitation and tells him about her long-term stay in the hospital.
Woo-jin recalls each moment when Seo-ri appeared lost in time, and also times when he was less than understanding about her behavior. Seo-ri admits that she struggles to fit her actions with her age still. Woo-jin apologizes for the insensitive things he said to Seo-ri in the past when he didn’t understand her circumstances.
Seo-ri and Woo-jin sit on the beach together, his shirt wrapped around her waist, and they talk. Seo-ri asks if Woo-jin knows what an intermission is, like at a musical or a concert. Seo-ri says that she loved intermission as a kid because it always meant there was more to come. She says that she’s trying to think of her life now as an intermission, a brief pause along the way.
She tells him firmly that she wants to move on with her life without his help. She admits that she found Woo-jin’s list in the waste bin, and while she appreciates it, she wants to do things on her own. Seo-ri fears that if she doesn’t keep charging ahead into the future, she might give up and stop trying entirely.
This hits Woo-jin hard, as he confesses that he wasn’t able to stay as strong as Seo-ri. He tells her that when he was young, he did something that hurt a girl, and he withdrew from the world because of it. He struggles to share the details with her, and Seo-ri stops him gently. She reassures him that it’s okay to stop if it’s painful, and she appreciates him sharing his story with her.
On the ride back to the conference hotel, Woo-jin reassures Seo-ri that she is more adult than he’s ever been, so she doesn’t need to worry about not acting her age or struggling on her own. She smiles at the encouragement.
Back in the city, Chan is busy getting kicked out of Seo-ri’s future apartment building by security as he tries to scout it out. Ri-an is nearby to witness the scene, but doesn’t recognize Chan with his hoodie up.
In her hotel room, Seo-ri gazes out the window and spots Woo-jin out for a late-night coffee walk. As she watches him by the pool from her balcony, she recalls all the support he gave her that day, and she puts her hand to her heart as her feelings begin to shift and swell into something more.
Seo-ri breathes heavily, as if she intended to fog up a window in the cold. She flashes back to when she used to do this as a kid, and how once fogged up, she would draw a left-angled bracket on the glass. When her friends asked her what it was, she responded that she had drawn a crescendo.
In the present, Seo-ri draws an imaginary crescendo in the air, towards the direction of Woo-jin. Poolside, Woo-jin is also thinking about Seo-ri, and her determination to restart after her life’s intermission.
When Woo-jin returns home, Chan ambushes him at the door to demand that they take Seo-ri with them when they move out. Chan is finally prepared to tell Woo-jin why Seo-ri can’t live on her own, but Woo-jin cuts him off, telling him that he knows already.
Woo-jin has heard Seo-ri wishes, and he shares with Chan Seo-ri’s desire to move out on her own. He reminds Chan that Seo-ri is an adult, and that the best thing that they can do for her is to support her.
In bed, Chan stares at the photo of Seo-ri on his phone while tears spill over his cheeks. When Seo-ri knocks at the door to talk, Chan asks her to talk through the door, so that he can avoid her catching him crying. Seo-ri thanks him for being the first person to become her friend after she woke up. Chan continues to cry, barely able to divert the conversation by chiding Seo-ri for talking as though they’ll never see each other again.
In the morning, Chan’s friends are there to wish Seo-ri farewell and they tear up as she gets ready to leave. They’ve even brought her an electric fan. Chan, on the other hand, breezes down the stairs with an air of nonchalance. He tells the boys they’ll see Seo-ri again soon and pulls them out the door to practice.
Chan can’t keep up his ruse, so he immediately rushes back inside to give Seo-ri medicine for every potential ailment, pepper spray, a whistle, and reminders her to change her door lock code immediately when she arrives as the boys drag him out the door.
Jennifer sees Seo-ri off with a gift of all her favorite foods. Woo-jin insists on driving her to the new place, even as Seo-ri protests. Before she leaves, Seo-ri manages to hug Jennifer, and our robotic maid pats Seo-ri’s back in a return hug. Seo-ri has left a gift for Jennifer, a pair of house slippers, and Jennifer abandons her normal black sandals for the slippers.
Out at lunch, Deok-soo and Hae-bum find the meal coupons Seo-ri has tucked into their wallets. And Chan digs out the present she snuck into his gym bag as he lounges on a park bench: gloves to protect his hands while he rows. He lies back and admits, “My heart… hurts.”
In the car, Woo-jin gives Seo-ri some prints of photos he’s taken of the house and Deok-gu for when she feels lonely in her new place. She thanks him sincerely, for everything that he’s given her for the past month. She tells him that every moment has felt like a gift.
Woo-jin thanks her in return, for staying with Chan and him. Seo-ri is so touched by this gesture that she starts to tear up. She asks Woo-jin to drop her off before they reach the apartment, admitting to her tears, and Woo-jin watches as she walks away.
Woo-jin stops by the apartment though to drop off his card with the security guard. On the back wall, a sign warns residents to report the pictured man, with photos of Chan from the night he tried to sneak in, ha.
Seo-ri gets ready to enter her new apartment. Right before she does, she realizes that she forgot to give Woo-jin the present she selected for him. After their moment in the car, she thinks the present isn’t good enough anymore and shoves it in her skirt pocket.
Seo-ri enters the door passcode for her apartment… only to find a woman exiting the apartment. It turns out that Hyun’s cousin’s study abroad has been delayed by a semester. Oh no.
On the streets with all of her possessions, Seo-ri considers all of the moments when she insisted on leaving Woo-jin’s house. Returning to their house now seems impossible. She drags her cart over to the design company, but ducks away when she hears Woo-jin coming.
The pepper spray that Chan gifted her falls off the cart though, and Woo-jin puts it all together quickly. He darts out of the office in pursuit, but Seo-ri manages to evade him for a while. She walks all over the city with nowhere to go, but the heat begs her to stop and find some relief.
She does have the fan the boys gifted her, and luck also delivers her an outlet on the sidewalk. She plugs in right there and sits in front of her fan. Woo-jin joins her after a few moments, his own face sweaty from chasing her down.
Woo-jin expresses his frustration with Hyun for not telling anyone the apartment plan fell through and tells Seo-ri to just come home. They still have a few weeks left before the house sells, and she has nowhere to go.
Woo-jin says that he’s worried that the plants will wilt without her, and that Deok-gu will be sad without her, and then finally when she resists, he admits that he wants her to live at his house with him.
His bold confession has Seo-ri cranking up the fan to full blast to cool her hot cheeks. Woo-jin asks her to look at him, and then extends his hand and asks her to come live with him. Seo-ri looks at his hand for a moment before accepting it and allowing him to lift her to her feet.
On the walk back, Woo-jin says that Seo-ri can move to Chan’s family’s apartment if she hasn’t found a place by the end of the month. As they walk, Woo-jin spots a corner of the gift Seo-ri had planned to give him. And even though it says “ajusshi” on it, Seo-ri insists that it isn’t for him.
Chan thinks he must be delusional when he finds Seo-ri at home playing with Deok-gu like normal. When he realizes that she isn’t just in his imagination, he gives her a big hug, and the boys turn up to dance circles of happiness together.
Jennifer heads out, and Miss Yellow Shoes appears again. This time though, she calls out to Jennifer, by the name Hwang Mi-jung. The woman takes her sunglasses off and asks, “Do you recognize me?”
While at practice, Chan receives a call from his mom. She announces that she’s returned from Africa and will see Chan at home. He’s excited at first, until he remembers that Seo-ri is at his home right now.
Chan calls his uncle, and Woo-jin ditches the coffee he’s buying to hurry home as well. Woo-jin, Chan, and Chan’s mom race to the house, but it’s Mom who gets there first. Seo-ri answers the door. Seo-ri asks the stranger who she is, and Mom asks the same of her, just as Chan and Woo-jin both arrive home.
What a… delightful fake-out. I cannot believe the show managed to trick me into believing we’d actually separate this found-family unit. I should probably be mad about the emotional whiplash, but I’m not. If I can get the satisfaction of Seo-ri’s character growth and have a scenario where they still get to live together, I’ll take it.
Seo-ri moving out was such a natural, real progression. Even though the house they are in right now is perfect, and forced proximity living quarters are the best in dramas, the show was (almost) willing to let that perfection go for Seo-ri’s character growth.
Everything up to this point has been a brief gift of a moment for Seo-ri, and she knows it. She got a chance to live in her old house, see her old dog, and discover new friends along the way. Not everything has worked out, but this was truly a chance that Seo-ri took full advantage of. In Jennifer’s views on life, Seo-ri did everything that she could to look back on this with fond memories instead of regrets, so even though her house will be torn down, and things won’t be the same again, she has memories, captured in Woo-jin’s photos.
Do you think Seo-ri was deliberately dressed as Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz in these final scenes? The blue and white gingham dress might just be coincidence, but the themes of home and trying to make your way back, all while having to say goodbye to the friends you’ve met along the way, it seems too perfect to not be on purpose. I’ll miss you most of all, Scarecrow/Woo-jin.
Woo-jin’s been pushed as the developmentally stunted guy since the beginning, but when he was outside with Jennifer staring up at the tree, he seemed like such an old soul. He knows what he wants to happen, but he also feels the weight of knowing that Seo-ri doesn’t feel like she needs him as much as he feels like he needs her. He feels like he has to let her go, because asking her to stay would be selfish. For once, Chan is returned to the seventeen-year-old he truly is, begging his uncle to let Seo-ri stay, while Woo-jin stands strong as the reasonable adult.
This is the episode where roles start to switch. Chan has let his emotions take hold of him, and it’s Woo-jin who steps in to gently remind Chan that letting Seo-ri go is the best thing they can do to support her. While Chan’s desire to keep her close is entirely about protecting his own feelings, Woo-jin sees that he needs to look beyond himself and support Seo-ri’s determination to find her way to the adult she’s become while she was sleeping.
Also, those beach scenes. She’s wearing his shirt around her waist to sit on the ground! They don’t even make a big deal about it, it just happened naturally at some point. It seems so intimate, and then they share some of the darkest parts of their lives with one another. These two are so close to opening up and finally healing with each other.
I’ve been avoiding discussing Tae-rin too much, mostly because I’m still hopeful she can come around and not be hateful towards Seo-ri. Even though she’s turned cold, so far she hasn’t done anything cruel to her. Tae-rin is mostly caught up in her own feelings of doubt, so I’m hoping that Seo-ri can use her honest approach to life to win her over before things get too antagonistic.
I had started to suspect that Miss Yellow Shoes was after Jennifer last week, but even now that this seems certain, I’m still not so sure that this isn’t still related to Seo-ri and Woo-jin somehow. Everyone is so entangled with one another, I feel like just as much as this will show us more about Jennifer, it will reveal more about everyone.