Bubblegum 풍선껌 Episode 10
[Finding Lost Time]
Ri Hwan arranges for Ji Hoon to cover for him at the clinic. Mother/Aunt is awake from her long sleep and doesn’t recognize him. He removes his belongings from the house so she won’t be startled. Her Alzheimer’s is progressing quickly and no one knows quite what to expect. Aunt Princess is worried for everyone and observes that “one illness is making hardship for so many people.”
Overbearing Mother calls Yi Seul to tell her that she is headed to Ri Hwan’s office. Knowing that her mother will make a scene, Yi Seul dashes out to head her off. When Overbearing Mother arrives at the clinic she mistakes Ji Hoon for Ri Hwan (since they’ve never met in person). Their conversation is tangled as she talks about his grandfather, father, and mother. Ji Hoon, not knowing who she is or why she is there, assumes she is talking about his family. His answers don’t quite line up and they are both puzzled until she finally reads his name tag, realizes he is the wrong person, and storms out. This woman truly thinks the world revolves around her.
Yi Seul is too late to intercept her mother’s intrusion. She has tea with Ri Hwan and tries to clear up what happened. In addition, she confesses that she told Haeng Ah to break up with him since she can’t do anything for him. She says that she told Haeng Ah not to make him choose between his mother and her. Ri Hwan is calm but clearly upset. He excuses himself to leave, but she grabs onto his coat and doesn’t hold back. Yi Seul asks him to come to her side – that it is possible he would come to like her. Also, she reminds him that his mother won’t be a problem since she likes her. Yi Seul is playing with Ri Hwan’s emotions by pulling out the comparison card between her and Haeng Ah. It is a plea of desperation and Yi Seul knows it.
When Ye Seul gets back to her office, Overbearing Mother is waiting. Yi Seul won’t let her mother talk smack about Ri Hwan (as in his family and career not being up to par). She fights for him – for herself – that he is a good person and she has never fallen for anyone like she has for him. Overbearing Mother seems to have more cash-laden plans up her sleeve from the comment to her daughter to “leave it to her.” That’s scary.
Ri Hwan meets with Chief Doctor and reports on Mother/Aunt’s condition. She doesn’t recognize him and only asks for Haeng Ah. Chief Doctor is worried not only about Mother/Aunt but Ri Hwan as well. His expression is blank and his voice is flat. Chief Doctor is worried that Ri Hwan is not acknowledging the trauma. Sun Young has erased him from her memory. Ri Hwan takes that to mean she wishes he was never born. Chief Doctor wants Ri Hwan to get some treatment. He asks what advice Ri Hwan would give himself (as a doctor)? Ri Hwan replies to acknowledge it, talk about the hurt and pain, and cry and lean on someone. Chief Doctor asks if he has someone to lean on.
Ri Hwan shows up at Haeng Ah’s work unannounced. He just wanted to “lean” on her and asks if he can hold her. Haeng Ah wraps her arms around him and they embrace for a moment and then some. His voice-over wonders if they look like lovers who embrace for the last time, or lovers who can’t let go. There is a doom-y feeling in the atmosphere.
Mother/Aunt is obsessive over Haeng Ah and won’t let her out of her sight. She is demanding and unreasonable. Haeng Ah tries to accommodate her but it is tiring. She arranges for coverage at work. Mother/Aunt is confused and thinks Haeng Ah is sick when it’s her own medicine on the tray. Aunt Princess helps out the best she can, but she sees the strain it is taking on Haeng Ah.
Dong Il fills in for Haeng Ah at Black Radio. Se Young wraps up the live talk show. Dong Il is in a daze as he absent-mindedly recalls the previous evening’s conversation with Ji Hoon at a bar. They exchange relationship stories and, after wandering into “women problems” territory, come to realize they are both talking about one in the same woman – Tae Hee.
Haeng Ah discusses taking a leave with Dong Il. He offers to cover and doesn’t want her to worry about anything. He’s got some advice for her: put on some makeup, eat well, and don’t get drained from being a caregiver.
Ri Hwan is waiting for Haeng Ah outside when she gets home from work. When he asks if she’s eaten she tells him that he is the seventh or eighth person who has asked her that today. He is grateful to know that everyone is watching over her. Haeng Ah talks about a movie where a man with Alzheimer’s can’t remember anything but his wife’s name and that he really loves her. The man calls her name every day and asks her if he will marry her.
“Haeng Ah. Let’s get married. Like that?”
“Yes, just like that.”
“I love you. Like that?”
“Yes. Just like that. Every day.”
Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah re-enact the lines of the movie she loves.
From his second-floor balcony to her third-floor balcony Ri Hwan texts, “Haeng Ah.” She texts back, “Yes?” But that’s it. Unlike the movie, he doesn’t say anything more.
The next morning Mother/Aunt is frantic to know where Haeng Ah is. When Princess Aunt gets a hold of her, Mother/Aunt is desperate for Haeng Ah to find someone for her. She is someone in the Respiratory Internal Medicine Department who wears a white dress with black polka dots. Haeng Ah asks if Mother/Aunt knows her name or her age. Mother/Aunt is agitated and can’t calm down. Haeng Ah tells her she will go to the hospital to look for her.
Although she wants to be able to overcome her phobia and enters the hospital, Haeng Ah has to step back out to pull herself together. She cautiously maneuvers through the halls and makes her way to the Respiratory Internal Medicine Department. Her request at the nurses’ station is vague and, feeling burdensome, she steps away only to encounter a cart with bloody cloths. Haeng Ah can’t help herself and faints. At that moment Suk Joon calls and a nurse asks, “Do you know this woman?” He rushes to the hospital. Meanwhile, at the end of his busy day, Ri Hwan checks his phone and returns a call from Haeng Ah. Once again both guys run to her side; neither protected her. Suk Joon reluctantly leaves Haeng Ah in Ri Hwan’s care for her sake, but not before he warns him that perhaps Ri Hwan’s presence in her life isn’t so great after all. As he sits beside an unconscious Haeng Ah, he picks up Mother/Aunt’s call to her and listens to her ask, “where are you? why didn’t you pick up the phone? why didn’t you listen to me?” Ri Hwan realizes the heavy burden that Mother/Aunt’s condition is to Haeng Ah.
When Haeng Ah wakes up, Ri Hwan is by her side. She just wants to get out of there. He tells her to close her eyes and swoops her up and carries her out of the hospital.
Dedicated Haeng Ah doesn’t stop though; later that day as Ri Hwan sits by his mother’s bedside, she texts, “Do you know who Aunt knows who has a white dress with black polka dots?” As Mother/Aunt sleeps, he thumbs through a photo album.
When he sees an old picture of his mother wearing the white and black dress sitting next to Haeng Ah’s father he realizes it is her wedding dress of sorts. Mother/Aunt is looking for her younger self on a happy day (*sniff*). It breaks Ri Hwan’s heart. Later that day he tells Chief Doctor that he’s worried about his mother’s affected perspective and demands on Haeng Ah.
That night Ri Hwan plays with the remote control car from Haeng Ah’s father. He is thinking over what people have said to him recently. About the hardships of Mother/Aunt’s illness on everyone; about how Haeng Ah studied until her nose bled so as not to be an unemployed burden and worked hard to pay back her loans; about whether holding onto Haeng Ah and hurting together is the right thing to do, about whether he can really protect her. He wonders if he is being selfish and how everyone sees Haeng Ah suffering silently because of him. He wonders if everyone is right and if he is hurting Haeng Ah by holding onto her.
Ri Hwan and Mother/Aunt sit outside on a bench. Mother/Aunt converses lightly with him – her mind is back in the present and she recognizes him. He tells her that he won’t be seeing Haeng Ah anymore and asks if she will miss her. Mother/Aunt says she hasn’t seen Haeng Ah in a long time, why would she look for her? Holding back tears he tells Mother/Aunt that Haeng Ah has gone far away. Mother/Aunt is fine with what he is saying and asks why he looks like he is about to cry. He hugs Mother/Aunt to hide his tears. She mentions the goldfish they had back then: the big one died first so secretly bought another one and put it in. As soon as he saw it, she reminds him, he said it wasn’t the right fish. Somehow the story makes Ri Hwan cry harder.
Ri Hwan goes through the motions to put his new decision into action. He says his goodbyes to Uncle Gangster and kissin’ cousin Dong Hwa. The wall of family pictures shatters as he walks past. He even meets with Suk Joon. Although Ri Hwan doesn’t want him to be the one Haeng Ah is with, he concedes to him to let him be the one who watches over her. Suk Joon tells him to be well for Haeng Ah’s sake.
Finally, Ri Hwan waits for Haeng Ah in the dark at the playground. She asks why he is there. He gives her Chief Doctor’s card and tells her to meet with him and get treatment. She says she will when Mother/Aunt is better. He makes her promise that she’ll call the doctor tomorrow. A solemn and urgent Ri Hwan sets her firmly on the swing and lays it out straight: he’s moved her stuff out of the house and to her old apartment and that she is to forget him and Mother/Aunt and to live her life on her own. Haeng Ah doesn’t understand what he is saying. It is her greatest fear to lose them both. She asks if Mother/Aunt attempt suicide again. Ri Hwan wont’ look at her directly and tells her that’s not her real mother or even her aunt. He doesn’t stop there and tells her she was right, he can’t leave Mother/Aunt behind and hold her. The whole world is telling them to break up. He should have listened to her from the beginning and not gotten romantically involved. Now, they have to break up. It’s the only thing to do. Haeng Ah doesn’t want that she tells him, but more than that, she knows he doesn’t want that, either.
Ri Hwan doesn’t listen and won’t stop talking break up. He tells her he won’t be by her side, that he’s said his goodbyes at the restaurant, and that their worlds won’t cross anymore. As he leaves, she says she doesn’t want this and grabs his hand. He pries her hand away and leaves. She follows. His words say “don’t follow me” but his expression says that he is hurting badly. “Don’t come.” He has to tell her that several times. Ri Hwan looks as if he is about to fall apart. It’s an extreme Dong Wook melodrama moment.
Ri Hwan falls into the arms of Haeng Ah’s father. “Im sorry,” he cries on his shoulder. Father says, “It’s all right, my Ri Hwan.”
[Haeng Ah, I Love You.]
- Ri Hwan is in bad shape. Can’t he give himself a dose of his own Eastern Medicine? I can actually see how he believes this is the best thing, especially in the warped frame of mind he and his mother are in. It’s not that Haeng Ah is the problem, but he realizes that her position in their family is so burdensome to her that she will die trying to help. Taking care of his mother (and hers? On the playground, Ri Hwan said it was because she really was born his little sister; not sure about this yet) is too hard on Haeng Ah. Ri Hwan thinks he has been selfish and makes the rounds to apologize and disassociate himself with everyone in Haeng Ah’s world. He and Mother/Aunt will go it alone and he will take full responsibility.
- Aunt Princess sees the situation for what it is: that one illness is a hardship on so many. It has been hard enough all these years with Mother/Aunt’s shaky emotional and psychological state. Add to that unreliable memory spurts and fading from past to present due to Alzheimer’s, and no one quite knows how to handle her.
- Suk Joon tells Ri Hwan that Haeng Ah will land on her feet if [Ri Hwan] breaks up with her. Butt she will never break up first and will collapse under the weight of other’s demands. In fact, that’s what’s happening now, he reminds him. Even though Suk Joon wasn’t good to her, he is repentant and would take her back into his life again if she’d let him. He is wiling to wait. Now Ri Hwan is beginning to think that not being with him is a better option for her than staying with him. I hate it when people want to decide for others what is best and don’t even bother asking but act unilaterally “on their behalf and in their best interest.” Really?
- Was the last 10 minutes of this episode all in Ri Hwan’s mind? Chief Doctor is really worried for him. He is in such a zombie-like state that he may think he is acknowledging his feelings, but in reality he may be building walls to block them out.
- The bracelet has come to symbolize who “owns” Haeng Ah at any particular moment. It is a sign between Ri Hwan and Suk Joon, an unspoken “she’s yours, now” token; I don’t like that or the fact that neither has returned it to her.
- Or is Ri Hwan taking Haeng Ah away from the scene before Mother/Aunt harms Haeng Ah by making her “disappear” all together?
- So very mellow yellow, almost over the top. As a friend put it, soap opera-ish and very sudsy. I’ll say.