The Third Charm: Episode 9

Hey guys, just popping over to weigh in on The Third Charm, which I’m finding equally as frustrating as it is, well, charming. Our two leads continue to struggle when it comes to communication and jealousy, stubbornly holding onto something that may well have run its course. There’s no doubt they love each other deeply, but love that stands on shaky ground can only hold itself together for so long before it collapses.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Joon-young and Se-eun continue to chat amiably as they walk back downstairs to their hospital rooms. Se-eun feels guilty that she’s being released sooner than Joon-young (she only has a hurt ankle, versus his cracked ribs and head), but he sweetly tells her that it’s her responsibility to her coworkers to rest and recover properly.

Joon-young hobbles back to his room to find a subdued Young-jae waiting for him. He assures her that he’s fine, then tells her that he shared some of his white peaches with the female cop who was also hurt.

Young-jae also confesses that she saw Ho-chul tonight, but Joon-young says that he’s not jealous anymore. When Young-jae is oddly quiet, Joon-young looks worried, but neither of them brings up the subject again, and they both spend the night wide awake and preoccupied.

Joo-ran’s now-steady boyfriend Chul-nam somehow talks Joo-ran into dog-sitting Princess while he’s away at a competition. He says Princess is very low-maintenance, though she inexplicably requires more food, treats, and toys than a human toddler.

Chul-nam’s primary request is that Princess never be left alone, and Joo-ran has no defense against Chul-nam’s own puppy dog eyes. He sweetly thanks Joo-ran and leans in for several goodbye kisses and cuddles… with the dog. Joo-ran has to settle for a chaste wave.

And so, Princess gets the run of the salon while Joo-ran is working. There’s an upcoming volunteer event, and Joo-ran warns her employees and students that they’re all expected to attend, no exceptions. When Princess makes a mess on the floor, Joo-ran and Young-jae take her for a walk. Young-jae sulks while Joo-ran complains about little Princess’s fussy needs, and how she feels like she’s in a love triangle with a dog, heh.

Joon-young’s team visit him in the hospital to brief him on their progress in tracking down Snakehead (not much). They jokingly talk about Snakehead as if he’s a girl they like — how they miss him, want to hold his hand, lock him up so he can’t see other guys, etc. — but Joon-young isn’t paying attention.

Despite his insistence that he wasn’t jealous, he can’t stop thinking about how Young-jae said she saw Ho-chul last night. The guys notice, and he gasps that he’s not okay as he fights back tears.

Sang-hyun spends Ri-won’s entire shift watching her as she works, periodically changing seats just to appear busy. When the bar finally closes, he tries to talk to Ri-won, but he just squeaks, ends up yelling HEY at her, then looks terrified. Ha, he’s going to be useless now that he’s experiencing real emotions.

He finally locates enough words in his brain to string together an offer to feed Ri-won then drive her home. While she eats, Ri-won asks what his deal is today, and Sang-hyun weirdly yells at her for wandering around after dark. Ri-won argues that that’s when her shift ends, making Sang-hyun look sheepish, but he perks up adorably when she says the ramyun is delicious.

He tries to eat, but gets distracted by her reflection in the shiny table top, so he ends up just watching Ri-won eat and grinning like a gigantic goof. He drives her home, and this time Ri-won catches him staring as she leaves the car, so she confronts him about watching her all day.

Luckily for Sang-hyun, Ri-won thinks he’s heard that another bar offered her a job, and she warns him to keep taking care of his employees like he did today. After she goes inside, Sang-hyun breathes for the first time in hours and wonders why he suddenly likes Ri-won.

When one of his coworkers notes that Ho-chul looks scruffy and unkempt lately, it gives him an excuse to visit Young-jae’s salon. Overriding Young-jae’s objections, Joo-ran invites Ho-chul to participate in their upcoming volunteer weekend, and he accepts.

That evening, Joo-ran is unsuccessfully attempting to brush Princess’s teeth when Young-jae calls. She asks Young-jae why she sounds strange, but forgets all about her friend when Chul-nam calls to say that he didn’t win, and his flight was delayed. Joo-ran plays the supportive girlfriend, then hangs up to find herself standing in a Princess-made puddle.

She meets with Young-jae, who sighs heavily and tells her about Ho-chul’s sung confession. Joo-ran feels bad about inviting Ho-chul to their volunteer event, but Young-jae says that he’s her problem to deal with. She feels bad about hiding it from Joon-young, and even admits that she’s scared she’ll hide more from him in the future. Joo-ran tells Young-jae that she’s still young, and that it’s okay to follow where her heart leads.

Joo-ran arrives home to a nightmare — Princess, chowing down on an expensive pair of heels. She chases the little dog around the house, cursing up a storm and yelling, “Those heels are my princesses!” But worst of all, there’s Chul-nam standing in her kitchen shirtless, with the winning medal around his neck as a surprise.

He backs away from Joo-ran in horror, having heard every hateful thing she just screamed at his beloved dog. Chul-nam grabs Princess and backs out the door, calling Joo-ran an evil woman as Princess gives her a triumphant smirk.

Sang-hyun spends the night in Joon-young’s hospital room, where he waxes poetic over the first woman to ever console him, and the first woman who hasn’t fallen for him. He lists all of her bad habits as if they’re the cutest things ever, and eventually Joon-young takes him to the roof to talk.

He sighs that he feels bad for this woman, whoever she is, and Sang-hyun admits it’s someone he knows. By the way he’s swigging the brand of soju that So-hee endorses, Joon-young assumes he’s pining over So-hee, having dated her back in college.

Sang-hyun is too drunk to correct him and has to practically be carried back to Joon-young’s room, wailing that he misses “her.” Joon-young tosses his friend in bed and sighs that he misses his “her,” too.

Young-jae sits at home, remembering Joon-young’s drunken fear that she would leave him. She suddenly rushes out, while at the same time, Joon-young shrugs on his jacket and catches a taxi to her place.

Meanwhile, Soo-jae finishes his scenario and emails it off with seconds to spare. He answers the doorbell and finds Joon-young, still in his hospital jammies, looking for Young-jae. She’s at the hospital looking for him, and when they finally connect by phone, they’re both feeling emotionally vulnerable.

Young-jae waits for Joon-young to make his way back to the hospital, and when they see each other, they hesitate for a long, shy moment before meeting in the middle for a hug. They relocate to the roof, where Young-jae asks Joon-young guiltily if he’s ever hated her.

He says he hasn’t, because he loves her like crazy. They admit that they’ve missed each other, and everything seems fine again… for now.

Soo-jae goes along to the volunteer event, where he thanks Joo-ran for taking care of Young-jae and compliments her on how good she looks (I ship it!). Young-jae grows awkward when Ho-chul arrives, and he beelines for Soo-jae to introduce himself, but Soo-jae takes offense to Ho-chul calling him “hyung-nim” when they just met. Good for him.

Joon-young shows up just in time to catch the ferry, and Young-jae lights up to see him. They arrive at the island, where the stylists give the locals free haircuts, Ho-chul and his employees offer checkups, and Soo-jae and Joon-young hand out cups of coffee.

One older gentleman drives Young-jae and Joon-young to his home on his tractor, to give his housebound wife a haircut, and they’re both charmed by the lovely little house. Joon-young helps Young-jae where he can, piggybacking the man’s wife to a chair and watching proudly while she works.

The husband asks why Joon-young came to volunteer but doesn’t seem to be doing much, so Joon-young offers to take care of anything the man needs. The man hands him an ancient radio, asking if Joon-young can fix it, since listening to the radio is his wife’s favorite thing.

Joon-young works on the radio while Young-jae chatters to her customer that she used to dye her grandmother’s hair, and that seeing her grandmother happy with her hair is why she became a hairdresser. The husband and wife are thrilled with her new haircut, but poor Joon-young, not being terribly tech-savvy, ends up with a pile of confusing radio parts. He takes them with him, promising to fix the radio before they leave the island.

On the walk back, Joon-young stops to take some pictures of Young-jae with the pretty scenery. He lines up a shot, but then his smile fades, and he has to be reminded to take the picture.

As they resume walking, Joon-young says he’d like to live in a place like this, but Young-jae says places like this are only beautiful if you visit, and grow boring when you live there. Joon-young says that he’s happy to live in the city, so long as he’s with her, but the idea doesn’t make Young-jae smile.

Later, Young-jae plays with her coworkers on the beach, and Ho-chul approaches Joon-young to ask if he wants to go fishing. They move down the beach to a secluded area, and after a long stretch of silence, Ho-chul announces that he’s going to tell Young-jae that he has feelings for her.

Joon-young doesn’t answer, but he thinks that if Ho-chul feels the same for Young-jae as he does, then he’s probably in a lot of pain. But he also thinks that it doesn’t mean his own love and his pain are weaker.

Sang-hyun sits around the bar again, grinning to himself as he watches Ri-won serve customers. His gaze sharpens when a pair of hoobaes from her school come in and start talking about how all the guys in their year like her.

Ri-won retorts that romance is the most useless thing in the world, but her hoobaes just chuckle that that’s her charm. Sang-hyun is practically growling in frustration, and he retreats to the men’s room, so jealous he’s got an upset stomach.

While he’s in there, he hears Ri-won’s classmates come in, still talking about how she seems more approachable here than at school. They agree that she wouldn’t be working here if she had a boyfriend, so one of them decides to seduce her.

Sang-hyun freaks out and wonders if he’s being tested, and he exits the restroom in time to hear the guys asking Ri-won to hang out after her shift. She turns them down flat, but she does it with a flirtatious smile, which makes Sang-hyun grit his teeth. He tries to leave, but when one of her hoobaes asks Ri-won if she has a boyfriend, he can’t stand it anymore.

Just as Ri-won says that she isn’t dating anyone, Sang-hyun grabs her, whips her around, and kisses her right there in the middle of the bar. She stiffens in shock as Sang-hyun informs the guys that he’s her boyfriend.

Over on the beach, Ho-chul kisses up to Soo-jae by bringing him an entire plate of meat, making Soo-jae question his intentions. Young-jae excuses herself to go looking for Joon-young, leaving Ho-chul sitting alone.

Joo-ran drinks heavily, still mourning her failed relationship with Chul-nam. She yells and curses at a pair of island dogs who are attracted by the smell of food, and she wanders off to vomit. Suddenly a hand pats her back, and she sees that it’s Soo-jae, looking at her with sympathy, but no pity.

He tells Joo-ran that it’s not easy to forget someone you love, and invites her to watch a movie together when they get back home. He says that art can help heal a broken heart, which he knows from experience. Joo-ran listens intently as Soo-jae explains that artists put their own pain into their work and are healed when others experience it, and she agrees to go to a movie with him.

Young-jae finds Joon-young inside, working on the broken radio, and she asks why they don’t just buy the couple a new one. But Joon-young is determined to fix the old radio and make it like new again.

He urges Young-jae to go out and have fun, so she does, though she asks him to join them if he can’t fix the radio soon. Joon-young sends her off with a smile, but after she’s gone, a look of immense sadness crosses his face before he gets back to work on the radio.

Young-jae finds Ho-chul waiting for her on the beach, and he tells her that he’s selfish and he knows she has a boyfriend, but that she still makes his heart flutter. He says that he doesn’t want to collect more regrets, so he wants her to know his feelings for her.

Inside, Joon-young actually gets the ancient radio working. He runs outside with it, excited to show Young-jae, but the first thing he sees is her standing with Ho-chul. She turns away from Ho-chul and sees Joon-young there, his eyes filling with tears.

 
COMMENTS

As cute as Young-jae and Joon-young are when they’re together and everything is going well, I’m pretty much ready for this season of their relationship to end. Neither of them is ready for a serious commitment, mostly because they’re not trusting enough of each other to talk openly about their problems and concerns. There’s no doubt that they love each other deeply, and that it’s a very real type of love, but love isn’t enough to make a relationship work. They fight and make up, over and over, yet they never really talk about the problem or how to avoid it in the future, relying on nothing but love to fix things. But it’s not that simple, and Joon-young and Young-jae both have a lot of growing to do before they have the skills to turn their love into something strong enough to last.

I’m just gonna say it — I don’t like Doctor Third Wheel one tiny bit. He knows full well that Young-jae and Joon-young are together, yet he continually pursues Young-jae and defies Joon-young to his face, which are just jerk moves no matter how you look at it. I don’t care how much you like someone, if they’re taken, they’re taken. You don’t have the right to push your feelings on someone who doesn’t want them, so back off.

But even more than Ho-chul, I place the blame squarely on Young-jae for letting Ho-chul come between her and Joon-young… she knows that Joon-young can’t deal with the jealousy, yet she keeps hanging out with Ho-chul. Even when she declined to go to the wedding with him in Episode 7, when she ran into him anyway, she spent the whole rest of the day with him, just the two of them. That’s a date! In my mind, at that point Young-jae became a cheater (and that’s after I reluctantly forgave her for going to dinner with another man on her birthday, but only because Joon-young was being a jerk first). Later she accepted Ho-chul’s invitation to meet after dark and then lied to Joon-young about where she was. Even if Young-jae was there to let him down, an even better way to do that would be to, you know, stop accepting his invitations.

She’s led Ho-chul on by continuing to spend time with him instead of drawing a clear boundary, so even though I don’t think she’s interested, she’s letting him think there’s a chance. And just to be clear, I do think men and women can be friends and do things together alone, and not have it threaten an existing relationship — but not when one of the friends is actively trying to woo the other. And both halves of the couple have to be okay with it or someone is going to get hurt. Young-jae knows full well how Joon-young feels about Ho-chul, yet she chooses to do date-like activities with him anyway, lie about them, then act all innocent when Joon-young is upset. She’s not ready to be in a serious relationship if she can’t at least be honest.

I certainly don’t think Joon-young is perfect — far from it. He’s immature and reacts childishly when he’s upset, and he’s ridiculously stubborn even when he knows that his stubbornness is making the situation worse. He seems to look for things to be upset about and blows things way out of proportion, making a huge fight out of things that never should have been issues at all. But he’s also caring and thoughtful and attentive, and he nearly always puts Young-jae’s needs before his own. I just worry that he’s hanging onto Young-jae out of desperation more than because he’s happy in the relationship. The radio was a perfect example of their vastly different viewpoints… when it stopped working, Young-jae wanted to take the easy road and just upgrade to something shiny and new, while Joon-young dug in his heels and insisted on fixing the old one, even though it had clearly lost its usefulness and any repair would be temporary. I think that Young-jae will be the one to move on to the shiny new relationship because it’s easier than sticking around and doing the hard work, while Joon-young will try to keep fixing something that’s broken well beyond repair.

While Joon-young and Young-jae’s love story frustrates me to death, I still think of it as a wonderfully meaningful love story, and a lot of that is due to the performances being turned in by Seo Kang-joon and Esom. Esom is one of those actresses that, for me, is always a bit difficult to watch because her characters are a little too real (I mean that as a compliment!). She’s no different here, but I like how that quality of hers fits Young-jae’s personality so well. I don’t think that Young-jae is someone I would be friends with in real life, but I can also see why Joon-young loves her. And I continue to be incredibly impressed by Seo Kang-joon’s growth as an actor — to be honest, even after being blown away by his recent performance in Are You Human Too, I still worried that Esom would act circles around him, but he’s more than risen to the challenge. His portrayal of Joon-young is like trying to look at an open (emotional) wound — I don’t want to see his pain laid out for all to see, but I’m unable to look away.

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