This episode cleared up a lot of confusion regarding just what happened 21 years ago, and how badly Dohyun and Rijin’s lives were destroyed but was largely filler in terms of our leads taking action to secure their present
I’m just going to put this out of the way right now. If Chaeyeon tries/forces Dohyun into a contract marriage or whatever, I’m going to have a cow. Firstly, because it’s silly way of raising tension and sloppy writing to boot. This show has demonstrated anything but that so far, so I hope it doesn’t break its winning strea. Secondly, if Dohyun agrees to it (seeing that he said he was slowly going to make Seungjin his, this episode), I’m going to murder him and chuck this show in the rubbish pile, and only watch the final episode. I don’t care if it’s for Seungjin or ‘finding the truth’ or whatever, Dohyun and Segi the Magnificent can find the truth all by themselves and don’t need to ‘protect Seungjin’ in order to get it. Both are rightly repulsed by having to protect the Seungjin family as well and therefore shouldn’t bother with doing so, even for noble reasons. And just who does Chaeyeon think she is to appeal to Evil Grandma for her ‘permission’. Dohyun’s permission is what you need, girl. See I would feel sorry for her seeing how Segi played his cards well and has her confused, but seriously I’d run as far away as possible from a man who keeps flip-flopping like that and keeps warning you to stay away from him. How about you do just that? Just go away and live your life, leave Dohyun alone.
With that out of the way, I had a suspicion during episode 16 when I saw Rijin with her phone that there would be some sort of video message, but seeing that it didn’t make an appearance within Dohyun’s post-breakup sorrow, I thought I was reading too much into it. I’m glad to see that she had the courage to freely profess her love for Dohyun, while he shies away repeatedly not knowing what to do.
Ri On had the right idea (despite poor execution) in this episode. It is slightly hypocritical for him to point out just how much the others are hurting when it’s arguably his fault that it got this far. But frankly, as I can’t think of a way he would ever have broken the news that she was abused to her, I’m willing to cut him quite a bit of slack. Rijin needed a distraction, and he was willing to be as painfully cruel as he needed to be to get her out of her shell (exactly what he did when they were 7 years old). Rijin knows this, and has never failed to understand his small kindnesses and the depth of his love for her, hence the absolutely beautiful wordless exchange between the two. Ri On may unfortunately relegated to second lead status, the Oppa that will always just be the Oppa, but he doesn’t let that stop him from being the damn best oppa ever, and both Rijin (and Yona!) know and love that.
I love guessing right, and that my theory in all the alters being some manifestation of real people that Dohyun had known is accurate, makes me really happy. We know now the identity of the original Perry Park, Dohyun’s dad, as he was before he turned hard and cold and let revenge and his father’s constant belittling get to his mind. I’m a bit disappointed that Segi isn’t Dohyun’s really name but ah well, I’ll take what I can get. I wonder who Yona and Yosub are based on now and if we’ll ever see the mysterious Mr. X though, time is running out and I can’t wait to see where this show goes.
What this episode truly established during those flashbacks is that there wasn’t just one person responsible for what happen 21 years ago. This reminds of Secret (Ji Sung and Hwang Jungeum ‘s previous drama) in which there wasn’t just one reason that Minhyuk’s lover died. Kudos to Ji Sung and Hwang Jungeum for picking such multifaceted and brilliant projects once more. Cha Joon Pyo, Dohyun’s father wasn’t simply an animal, a bad guy who did bad things for the sole purpose of being bad. He shares an eerie similarity with Kang Doyoung from the just as brilliantly written Liar Game in that both are a product of their surroundings, and were unable to cope with being any less loved than they felt they should have been. We see how Joon Pyo’s coddling mother, blind to her child’s faults, created an inferiority complex within him, as he ventured into the outside world and failed to measure to the standards he thought he could scale. How Joon Pyo’s father made things worse by constantly comparing him to Soyeon, how Soyeon shunned him for another (the heart wants what it wants right?), and how he walked away from it all to a more peaceful life. I actually respect him for having the courage to do that, and pitied him all the more during that bright happy conversation with young Dohyun, because we know exactly how his future turned out. Even in his new life, ambition and greed kept pursuing him, this time in the form of his new wife, who’s selfishness led to him having to enter the Cha household once more, and discover that his old wife is passing around a child who isn’t his own as his heir. After years of feeling inferior, he finally cracks and we all know what happened next. It’s amazing just how much would have been solved if he’d been loved and raised properly. I can understand why he did what he did to poor Dohyun and RIjin but I can’t ever forgive or condone what he did. Because two broken lives remain in the wake of those awful months 21 years ago, and we have yet to see if they’ll heal.
The child actors here are magnificent. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so moved and horrified by the childhood parts of a Kdrama. The requisite not-so-great acting in part of child actors has been a given for most, and I’ve never had much problem with it seeing that these are kids after all. But that movement Segi emerged from within little Dohyun’s body will never leave my mind. That child emanated such a dangerous, frightening aura I though I’d popped into a horror film. Props to you kid, here’s seeing you go far in the future.
Rijin, Rijin, Rijin, I feel for you so much. It’s bad enough finding just how awful things were for you but I love how appreciative she was for the blessings born out of that curse, specifically her induction into the wonderful, wonderful Oh family. But even in her despair – gosh I love this girl – she never forgot that while she buried those memories and lived surrounded by love for the following 21 years, Dohyun never did. His guilt never left him free, and his family – if you can call that assortment of bigoted, disgusting individuals a family – cared nothing for him past their own ambition. Rijin knows that he’s lost the last bit of himself that he could have held onto. All those sweet, happy declarations of “I am Cha Dohyun” are now incredibly painful for both. For her, as she knows it isn’t true, and for him, as he sees it as yet another part of her that was brutally stolen away. That’s not to say that she makes his pain her own, and is discarding hers entirely, she has questions, she’s haunted by the influx of memories, and she needs to work past them with Dohyun as he promised he’d do. The secrets are all out in the open (excluding the vital one of Dohyun’s DID that most still don’t know) so Dohyun needs to stop hiding and be the first to extend his hand this time around.
I adore Dohyun but he did irritate me slightly this episode. As level upon level of guilt comes crashing down upon Dohyun, leaving him drowning in its wake, one thing is very, very clear. Segi was right. Dohyun isn’t really that capable of handling the truth. I’d even say that he’s weaker now than he was a few episodes ago. Back then, he had Rijin’s love to anchor him, her repeatedly telling him that he’s not a monster, he’s worthy of love, and the brightness she brought to his life. Now he doesn’t even felt like he has the right to look at her, to hold out his hand when she’s hurting. Which is what she desperately needs. So he huddles up in his little corner at home, hurting, aching, burning with rage, and unable to do anything about it. He’s locked in his own despair, but can’t think of a single way of gaining revenge. He has the strength to face Evil Grandma and hold his ground alright, but further memories send him over the edge. To bring back the analogy from episodes 6,7 and 8, the monster is in his castle once more and this time he has no plans of ever leaving, he’s not even sure he can if he wanted to. This is where Segi the Magnificent differs drastically, he knows what he wants and he’ll go after it regardless of what happens. I normally don’t condone that consequence-ignoring sort of behaviour but this is what Dohyun needs now more than ever, and he’s not capable of doing it. Dohyun seems to be aware of this on some level, hence why he doesn’t fight Segi the Magnificent this time, letting him take over.
And just who does Shin Segi the Magnificent go to but the person who needs him the most, Rijin. I can’t help but notice that whenever Rijin’s taken away, by her well-meaning brother, by Dohyun’s scheming mother, Segi always comes out in full force prepared to do battle to get her back. He always goes up to her and stretches out his hand while Dohyun sits in sorrow and waits for her to do so.
See this is why I love Segi the sexy man-boy so much, there’s none of this suffering guilt all alone business. I understand that abuse is a ridiculously difficult thing to get over and that the guilt likely isn’t going to go away easily, but as I said before Dohyun and Rijin need each other NOW. This separation isn’t doing much for them. Ri On’s distracting her which is wonderful but she needs to face up to those memories and for that she needs to link hands with the fellow sufferer who was tormented along with her.
Segi gets this and goes after her, and honestly if I couldn’t fall more in love with the man, I’d swear I already did. I’m not surprised that Segi was the one who set the fire, and was born during such a dark and horrible point in Dohyun’s life (ironically Segi means New Century, which was on the box of matches he used to set the fire. Really nice juxtaposition of dark and light there show). Dohyun snapped at that party 21 years ago, just like his father did, but something different came of it. The violent entity that arose wasn’t there to maim but protect.
And protect Rijin he will, as the preview showed, from a blast from his past, from Seungjin and from anything and everything that tries to prevent him from being with the one he loves, Healer style. And you can bet that Rijin’s going to do the same for him.
Shin Segi the Magnificent, I adore you. Don’t ever leave. (Please don’t let ep 18 be his funeral/farewell episode, I don’t want to say good-bye. Ever)