Mi Rae’s Choice: Episode 10

There’s much to cheer about in this episode as we see the fruits of what has otherwise been a rather exasperating shift in focus to the Shin-Mi Rae-Se Joo love triangle. Our leads finally stop dancing around the giant elephant in the room and both feelings and personal demons are confronted as everyone engages in a merry round of confessions and heart-to-heart talks. I do so love communication; don’t you?

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my enjoyment of this episode was also heightened by Ajumma’s lessened screen time – now that her dastardly schemes might finally present her with her desired result, it is interesting to see that she is more disconcerted than triumphant at her success. As Shin points out, what goes around comes around, and she would do well to realize why she’s left feeling so empty after running roughshod over everyone else out of selfishness.

EPISODE 10 RECAP

Shin stops at the sight of Se Joo sitting relaxed and laughing with Miranda and Mi Rae at the table, and with fortuitous timing, Shin’s contact messages him with his findings: Park Se Joo is Miranda’s grandson. Well, he’s had his suspicions for a while now, but having them confirmed is quite another matter and his gaze darkens.

As if sensing Shin’s presence, Se Joo turns his head and looks him full in the face… and the corner of his mouth quirks ever so slightly. The door closes with dramatic emphasis; the challenge is loud and clear in Se Joo’s triumphant gaze.

Ajumma actually looks apologetic and Shin’s about to grill her for more details, but there’s no need; Se Joo calls him, feigning coincidence. Se Joo can’t quite hide the gloating tone in his voice as he confirms his identity and even points out with amusement that Shin’s switched to jondaemal now – and you can’t really blame him, since Shin’s had brought this on himself with his arrogant mockery of Se Joo’s supposedly low status and lack of qualifications. This is basically Se Joo’s elaborate way of giving him the one-fingered salute and Shin can do little but swallow his anger.

At Ajumma, though, Shin is less angry than he is hurt and disappointed at what he felt was an over-the-top ploy to show him how he was ruined (Shin speculates that it must be because he pissed off his future boss and was blacklisted). Ajumma gives him her usual weepy excuses that she was obliged to go this far because he wouldn’t have believed her, and Shin hits the nail on the head when he accuses her that this is her constant fall-back – playing the blame game.

Dinner for Mi Rae and Se Joo is a rather uncomfortable affair, since Miranda is busy staring openly at Mi Rae instead of eating, heh. Mi Rae is genuinely admiring of Miranda, however (she finds her “impressive”), and Miranda not-so-subtly turns the topic to whether Mi Rae has given any thought to marrying comfortably into a chaebol family and perhaps casting aside her job since she’s long in the tooth anyway. (Good God, evidently diplomacy and Miranda have never been introduced.) Se Joo looks like he’s seriously tempted to kick his grandmother under the table.

In her endearingly honest way, Mi Rae replies that it’d be rather uncomfortable – wouldn’t a chaebol family come with so many restrictions that she wouldn’t be able to be free? (And this is why Se Joo likes you, though I also hope he’ll remember the part about wanting to be free later.) The idea that anyone could dislike being a chaebol madam is unbelievable for Miranda and Mi Rae asks bluntly, “Chairman, are you happy?” Surely she once had a dream other than marrying rich? Miranda’s shocked into silence and Se Joo gives a short laugh at the unfamiliar sight, ha.

Shin’s resentment towards Ajumma is pretty justified, particularly when he starts listing all the ways she’s wronged him – insulting him on air, saying weird things about him in front of Miranda, and so on. What on earth has he done to deserve her ire?

Ajumma says in her cryptic manner that there are things he doesn’t remember, and we finally see a revealing flashback to Shin and Mi Rae’s married life. It is worlds away from the blissful euphoria that surrounded them while they were dating; Mi Rae’s attempts to encourage Shin to find another job outside of the broadcasting station is coldly shoved aside and she’s left to run jobs while he drinks himself into oblivion at home. A particularly bad argument between Shin and Mi Rae in the streets is only halted by the audible sounds of a car crash – Shin dashes off-screen towards the accident while Mi Rae collapses to the ground, imprisoned by the haunting shrieks of the police sirens. Oh no, don’t tell me it really was Oppa?

In the present, Shin just wants to be left alone and offers some advice to Ajumma: “Whatever advantage you gain by stepping on other people… won’t last long. What goes around, comes around.” The words have an ominous ring to them.

All those years of regret clearly weighing on her, Ajumma tries one last time to convince Shin: “Your head… bow down, just this once.” He can’t hope to win against Se Joo, so he should let go of his pride just once and save his career. Shin tells her that he’ll take care of it himself and stalks off.

Miranda’s eagle eyes are speculative as she watches Mi Rae’s adorable exchange with Se Joo (she thinks there’s dirt on his face, but no, just a cute mole near his eye) and she gets right to the heart of the matter – does Mi Rae like Se Joo? Se Joo shifts uncomfortably and Mi Rae manages to stammer out, “No… He’s a friend. A friend.” Awkwarddddd.

Miranda shoots Se Joo a look and tries another tack with Mi Rae – is there someone she likes? Se Joo looks with alternative irritation at Miranda and curious expectance at Mi Rae, but her non-answer is clear: of course there is. An embarrassed flurry from Mi Rae ensues in an attempt to change the topic before Miranda can prod harder about who it is that she likes.

Mi Rae is pressed to accept a ride home in Miranda’s personal car and she’s duly ushered off before Se Joo turns back to Grandma… who tries to jab him in the stomach with her clutch because she’s annoyed that he’s fallen for someone who doesn’t even like him. LOL.

Se Joo actually likes the chase, though, and waves off Miranda’s complaints over Mi Rae’s naiveté with the question asked of her earlier – what was her original dream? Surely it can’t have been to be a chaebol? Miranda: “I’m sorry, but since I was young, I dreamt of becoming the Chairman’s wife. Why? I can’t do that?” HA.

Se Joo snorts: “As expected, my Grandma is truly impressive.” Two thumbs up.

Heh, this grandma-grandson duo is a riot.

As Se Joo strolls off easily, Miranda turns to ask Mr. Head of Security what his dream was; what did he want to be when he was a kid? “A person who discovered fossils. Dinosaurs…” Miranda sighs, lips pursed thoughtfully: “…What was mine?” Haha.

Yoo Kyung has leapfrogged all the other characters’ discoveries by going straight for Mi Rae’s diary and the contents leave her flabbergasted – she, not Mi Rae, was engaged to be married to Se Joo and Mi Rae had admitted that she was jealous at the sight of Yoo Kyung and Se Joo’s happiness. Sensing someone’s approach, Yoo Kyung rips out the back page and stuffs it into her pocket… just in time for Ajumma to appear at the doorway.

Ajumma’s alarm is countered by Yoo Kyung’s steady, controlled anger and Yoo Kyung doesn’t buy Ajumma’s attempts to dismiss the writing as her doodling in Mi Rae’s diary.

It’s only when she’s left that Yoo Kyung stumbles from the shock. She pulls out the ripped page from her pocket – it’s covered with Mi Rae’s lovesick musings about Shin bringing her flowers at the hospital after the car accident. Yoo Kyung doesn’t miss the connection to her own car accident on the same date.

Protective Oppa demands to know why Mi Rae arrived home so late (except it’s only 10:30pm, which… LOL), wanting to know whether it was Shin that she’d met. But no, it was Se Joo, and Mi Rae’s full of effervescent praise about him and his secret benefactor. Ha, she obviously enjoys dropping the bombshell on Oppa, who initially refuses to believe that it could have been Miranda.

Mi Rae’s really not suited to lying (her current self, anyway) and pretence that Miranda had advised her not to stay on the team is fairly transparent. Ha. Mi Rae insists that she’ll work hard to succeed, but Oppa’s world-weary realism cuts through Mi Rae’s blindingly idealistic outlook and exposes the flaws – she has no set goal beyond “working hard” to become sought after and isn’t even sure what type of writer she’d like to be.

The firm dose of reality brings Mi Rae back down to earth and forces her to think more seriously about her career goals. Working with Shin for the Morning Show has opened her eyes to possibilities beyond her original interest in variety shows, but what is she most interested in? Documentaries? On-site reports like the subway incident?

Shin and Se Joo run into each other at the lobby the next morning and Shin asks bluntly whether he should use polite speech with Se Joo from now on. Se Joo smiles easily; he’s just a VJ, so Shin should act comfortably. To his amusement, Shin immediately takes him at his word – he gives him a curt “Okay” and turns away without further acknowledgement. HAHA.

Yoo Kyung’s arrival at the team office is met by Writer Bae’s instant response that Se Joo is in the editing room. Ha, how often did she drop by surreptitiously to look for him? Cute.

She hangs around hesitantly until Writer Bae is called away, leaving Yoo Kyung to guard the office. Apparently that’s exactly what she’d been hoping for, because she dives towards Mi Rae’s belongings and retrieves her diary – it is clearly newer, and Yoo Kyung flips to the date of August 14th, where it was written that Mi Rae had almost had a car accident. Huh?

Yoo Kyung must have an incredible memory, because she mentally compares notes with Ajumma’s diary entries and notes all the discrepancies, such as Ajumma having actually written about being in the accident on August 14th. She takes a quick photo of Mi Rae’s diary and sends it off to a professor for handwriting comparison with the ripped page, adding that she’d like the ripped paper analysed for age. Smart.

At that moment, Oppa and PD Lee return with the news that the team is being considered for an award for their subway coverage. Oppa’s whinging over the amount of work they’ll need to gather supporting documents is halted when Yoo Kyung tells him that Mi Rae is off doing research. “What research?”

Mi Rae’s busy doing topic research for their new show, Pandora’s Box, and a headline about fake liquor catches her attention. Her police informant tells her about a bar in Cheongdamdong where the fake liquor is made and rues the fact that his age prevents him from going in himself with a hidden camera…

Next thing you know, Mi Rae is shopping for a hidden camera (she settles on a pair of dorky glasses, heh) and rounds it off with a new cellphone and hairstyle. (Aww, I was just getting used to her curly perm!) At the bar The Grace, she introduces herself in a creditable accent as country girl Kim Hee Joo, there to answer the kitchen assistant ad. Her employers appear to be mafia gang members, which… not good. This is a baaaad idea.

The next morning, Mi Rae turns up late for the team meeting and interrupts to ask whether she could share her idea first. Se Joo is the first to realize and react with alarm at her intent when she mentions filming the making of fake liquor with a hidden camera – she means to do the undercover work herself. Eek. Everyone’s speechless when she whips off her beanie to show off her new hairstyle in triumph; Se Joo’s concerned, Idiot PD Lee is excited and approving and Oppa… well, he’s furious.

In fact, he’s so angry that he tells PD Lee to do the job himself if he likes the idea so much, because his sister won’t be doing it. Idiot PD’s consternation is palpable, ha – he was bullying Mi Rae not so long ago. He makes a mad dash to ask Shin to intervene on his behalf, but Shin’s as alarmed at the news as Oppa and he strides off, leaving Idiot PD in the dust.

Mi Rae dismisses Oppa’s worries over her safety, but she has no reply when he criticizes her tendency to run headlong into everything without any set goals or plans. Putting her all into it isn’t good enough when she lacks purpose; she hasn’t even thought about the Pandora’s Box production theme and she already intends to go undercover.

That’s when Se Joo appears with the suggestion that they can adhere to the “hope” theme by first capturing viewer attention with the fake liquor before establishing that there is still hope through honest and law-abiding bars. Oppa is reluctantly won over when Se Joo adds that he’ll be there as Mi Rae’s guard at the bar and during commutes – Mi Rae shakes her head desperately, but Oppa’s more interested in whether Se Joo is a good fighter, ha.

Se Joo responds cheekily that he’s always won in fights against his foreign friends (well, he “humbly” admits to a few exceptions), not to mention he is a black belt 3rd dan in Taekwondo, 3rd dan in Hapkido, 4th dan Kumdo… Oh yes, can’t leave out the fencing! He did fencing, too.

LOL, he is totally bragging and loving it. Boys. And Oppa is thoroughly impressed – he throws an arm around Se Joo’s shoulders, all, “Really? You’re more reliable than I’d thought!” The two finalize the details in the manner of men shaking hands on a grand scheme and the bromantic exchange is chock full of gleeful chortling from both guys. It’s awesome. Mi Rae looks disgusted as Oppa basically hands her over to Se Joo right there, ha.

And that’s the friendly sight that Shin spots from a distance, of course. He calls Oppa with his concerns instead, but the latter hangs up on him after revealing that Se Joo will be there to protect Mi Rae.

Mi Rae’s claims of thorough preparation are instantly undercut that night at the bar when Se Joo asks her whether she knows how to film with the hidden camera… and she doesn’t have a clue. Pfft.

Her attempts are hesitant and shaky which produces unusable footage, but Se Joo is an excellent tutor and guides her along patiently. More importantly, the scene gives us Se Joo in dorky glasses, which is absolutely adorable. Hee.

The two are full of smiles when Se Joo drops her off at home later, but the minute he drives off, Mi Rae’s mind jumps unbidden to Shin changing the script of the Pandora’s Box pilot to deliver her ending narration. “How could he not call after that incident – not even once?

Little does she know that Shin is watching from where he’s parked his car right outside her house; while Mi Rae lingers outside with thoughts of him, Shin’s wonders with resignation whether she’s happy with Se Joo, glad that at least he’s there to protect her at the bar since he cannot. He watches until she turns into the house.

Ajumma only realizes now what a hole she’s dug herself into by approaching Miranda; Grandma wants more details on who Mi Rae likes and what will happen between her and Se Joo in the future. As a bonus, how about also “dreaming” to see which of her businesses will be the most profitable? LOL.

Miranda’s used to having her way and won’t take no for an answer, adding with a thinly veiled threat that Ajumma can pay her back the millions of won from her stay at Miranda’s private clinic if she chooses the path of non-compliance.

Guess who’s watching as Ajumma’s driven away from Miranda’s residence? Yoo Kyung has obviously tailed Ajumma and she notes with surprise that she’s not the only one – another car is also on the chase.

Nostalgia gives Ajumma pause when she’s driven through a tree-lined street and she asks to be dropped off there. Everywhere around her, she sees happier moments between her younger self and Shin in long-ago days when the two had been dating, heartbreakingly in love.

She traces her steps to a bar which evidently holds many memories for the couple, and where she had once sat with Shin, the camera pans to show Ajumma now sitting alone, locked in melancholic recollections of times gone past. A tear falls as she thinks of the current reality; Shin and Mi Rae’s relationship, fractured through her own manufactured misunderstandings.

At the doorway, Time Cop is looking on with pity clear on his face. Haha, and then Yoo Kyung stumbles down the stairs, takes in the situation with a confused look and interrupts his reverie with a prod: “Ajusshi… why are you following that Ajumma?” Time Cop panics and makes a run for it, HA. A hilariously pathetic chase scene ensues, in which the only thing made clear is that both Yoo Kyung and Time Cop needs to be gifted gym subscriptions this Christmas. Stat.

Time Cop briefly loses Yoo Kyung when he slips through a restaurant, but Yoo Kyung catches up in time to overhear his conversation with his boss – Time Cop whines and cries that he wants to quit because people in “this generation” are “too scary.” You poor baby.

Yoo Kyung’s reflection on this latest piece of information is interrupted by a call from her professor contact, who informs her that the handwriting is from the same person. At the same time, Oppa is on the phone voicing his frustration that the results of the DNA test are still unavailable.

Cut to Yoo Kyung sharing every detail with Se Joo – the diary is 25 years old, the handwriting is the same in both diaries and the written content is the same, up to August 14th – the day of the car accident. (I love that she’s telling him everything, given the general penchant of drama characters to take secrets to their graves rather than sharing. Sharing is caring!)

Se Joo is interested until Yoo Kyung concludes that Ajumma must be a time-traveller, at which point he does the natural thing: he starts laughing. Future? Ha. When he prompts offhandedly for further details on what was written in the diary, Yoo Kyung mumbles reluctantly that they get married… and Se Joo just laughs again in disbelief: “See? It doesn’t make sense.”

Ouuuchhh. What a way to have it reaffirmed (on top of being reduced to playing Cupid) that the guy you like hasn’t even considered you an option.

Se Joo brushes off Ajumma’s predictions as mere coincidence and admits that he’d worked with her because they shared similar goals – he wants to win Mi Rae’s affections and Ajumma wants the same. Yoo Kyung side-eyes him at that business-like mentality, concluding that he’d just used Ajumma. See, this is why she’s so good for him; she’s the first to call him out on it when he steps off the straight and narrow.

The discussion is cut off by raucous cheers and Se Joo and Yoo Kyung rush to the meeting room to find the rest of the team in full festive mode – they’ve won the GBU (Global Broadcasting Union) award for their subway coverage!

The team is gathered in Miranda’s office for the award presentation and one by one the key team members step up to receive their prizes… and of course Mi Rae, maknae writer that she is, is not included. Both Se Joo and Shin glance at her as she tries valiantly not to let the disappointment show on her face. (Randomly, what was with the painfully laboured French by the presenter?)

Instead, Writer Bae is the one who tackles the giant elephant in the room when they’re celebrating over cake afterwards – why were the full-time employees the only ones rewarded for the whole team’s hard work? She’d meant it as a joke, but woops, talk about a mood-killer.

Oppa breaks the silence taking out his own prize money and grabbing the same from Shin, (a very reluctant) PD Lee and Co. and announces to the expectant onlookers: “Let’s go on a trip with this. Overseas trip.” Yay!

Except PD Lee checks the money in the envelopes and counts… a total of 800,000 won (about $800). “We definitely can’t go.” LOL.

The overseas trip is out the window, but Oppa adds that it doesn’t mean they can’t have a membership training camp! Beaming smiles all around greet that particular suggestion.

The team enjoys themselves with fun and games during the bus trip, but then we cut away from the jovial mood in the bus to see a very sour Shin following along in his car. Alone. He grouches that they really took him at his word when he stated that he’ll travel solo. HA.

He continues to be a party-pooper when they decide on rooms – PD Lee suggests that Shin bunk with Oppa (a decision vehemently vetoed by both, ha) and Shin just grabs a room alone before anyone can suggest otherwise. So Oppa takes the next by himself, and PD Lee grabs the third, turning to Se Joo and the other two boys: “You guys can sleep in the car.” Haha, the other two guys hurry to butter him up while Se Joo tags along blankly.

Alone in his room later, Shin cuts a lonely figure in contrast to the sounds of laughter from the rest of the team playing games outside. The sight of him peering over the balcony and grumbling that they’re having so much fun that they haven’t even noticed that he’s missing is pretty sad. To add insult to injury, he spots Mi Rae happily high-fiving Se Joo after they win a game.

The next team game requires everyone to break into groups depending on what number Oppa calls, though, with the goal of deciding who does what chores. Really, it’s just an excuse for group hugs, isn’t it? Shin tries to play it cool and sit out, but inserts himself into the game with an absurd excuse in a not-so-subtle attempt to keep an eye on Mi Rae. Hee.

Shin’s unfortunately a step slow when the number “three” is called in the next round; Mi Rae turns towards him, but ends up bundled with Se Joo and Yoo Kyung instead. Se Joo, on the other hand, looks like he’s thoroughly enjoying himself, HA. Now this is a love triangle that I can get behind – Se Joo: Chick Magnet.

So instead of the girl of his dreams, Shin gets PD Lee hurling himself into his arms with an affectionate cry of “Kim Sunbaeeee!” HAHA. Shin twitches and motions him OFF.

Of course, choosing to go solo with the firewood-chopping duties means Shin is further cut off from the friendly banter as the rest of the team prepares for dinner at the lodge. Oppa smiles to see Mi Rae and Se Joo looking cosy while washing the vegetables together.

Mi Rae walks in on Shin mid-tantrum when she goes to retrieve charcoal – his attempts to chop firewood are tragic failures and he ends up tossing aside the axe to aim childish kicks at the woodpile, haha. There goes his last shreds of dignity.

Shin advices her in his gruff manner that her undercover mission is too dangerous, but Mi Rae rejects the idea of giving up. If she hadn’t been proactive in making use of her previous chances at YBS so far, what would have happened? What if she had never become a writer?

Shin wonders whether she’s talking about being destined to become a writer, but Mi Rae disagrees: “I don’t think there is such a thing as fate.” She muses that there are probably numerous Na Mi Raes in this world – a Mi Rae who gave up and stayed at the call center, a Mi Rae who married a man of her oppa’s choosing and even a Mi Rae who becomes a mother without ever attempting to do something for herself.

Thus she’s proud of herself for having at least chosen her own career: “That’s why I will continue doing this. Whatever I want, whatever I want to do, whoever I like…” She pauses, before resuming, “I’m going to choose what my heart tells me to do. It’d be nice if you could do that, too.” If Shin’s putting up a barrier between them for reasons other than dislike, then she hopes he’ll take a firmer stand.

Shin had been studiously avoiding her gaze, but the final part makes his head jerk up. He turns to watch her as she walks away.

Se Joo is rummaging in the dark bus for supplies when the ever-faithful Yoo Kyung pops up, torch in hand and ready with a half accusation that Mi Rae didn’t even think to offer him help in exchange for his constant aid. Se Joo just laughs it off, joking that it’s a good thing he has her to help him instead before turning to give her his daily Mi Rae report.

Ugh, poor Yoo Kyung – Se Joo’s usual ability to be quick on the uptake completely deserts him when it comes to relationship matters and he barrels on blithely with the latest exciting update – he’s introduced Mi Rae to Grandma as the girl he likes! Yoo Kyung’s face falls visibly as Se Joo continues enthusiastically and her voice is lifeless when she agrees to help him put in a good word for Mi Rae in front of granny.

The last straw arrives in the form of Se Joo’s additional request for her to call Mi Rae for him if she sees her on her way. That’s just too much for Yoo Kyung (who’s shown inhuman self-control so far, frankly) and she finally erupts: “Am I a cupid? Do I look that easy to you?” Confused, Se Joo quickly denies it – she’s a really good friend and the only one he can tell about Mi Rae…

He couldn’t have picked words that she wanted to hear less and the unshed tears are bright in her eyes as she confesses: “Why do I have to listen to those things? Those things… from someone I like? Did you really want to hear these words coming from my mouth? Didn’t you know… that I’ve been quite miserable enough?” A stunned Se Joo is left staring in the wake of her outburst as she tears out of the bus.

Se Joo is pensive and subdued at the dinner table as he and Yoo Kyung awkwardly avoid eye contact from their places opposite each other. Shin is similarly distracted as his eyes never leave Mi Rae’s face, while Mi Rae’s the only one who’s enjoying herself in banter with the rest of the team.

All four are lost in thought as the team sits around the bonfire afterwards, each recalling the words that left their minds in turmoil: Mi Rae reflects on Shin’s advice that she has to make her own decisions in life, Yoo Kyung hears Se Joo tell her again that he’s introduced Mi Rae to his grandmother while Se Joo broods over Yoo Kyung’s heartbroken confession, and Mi Rae’s pointed suggestion that he should be braver echoes within Shin’s mind.

When Oppa voices the suggestion that they should take turns to express what they feel about the program, Shin jumps at the chance to go first. But his confession has nothing to do with the program – instead, what he wants to say is, “I like Na Mi Rae.” Looking directly at Mi Rae, he adds, “How about you?”

What a way to end the merry session of big reveals.

THOUGHTS
Finally, we’ve reached the point where all our leads are (more or less) on the same page! Everyone knows how everyone else feels and we even have Yoo Kyung being proactive with digging out Ajumma’s secrets – lord knows we’ve needed this sort of game-changer to shake things up a bit.

The problem with the last four episodes is that any progress in the plot was obscured with the meandering love triangle. I could see clearly what the writer was driving at, but the dancing around because Shin and Mi Rae couldn’t come clean about their feelings slowed everything down to a grinding halt. Nothing could move forward until they’ve made their move, and even more exasperating was their tendency to react to external influences rather than taking action. Although Se Joo’s actions this week might have frustrated some viewers, I can’t really muster up the same irritation towards him because he and Yoo Kyung have been the real driving forces behind the plot progress so far. Se Joo taking an active role to win Mi Rae’s affections forces her to reassess her feelings (and decide that she loves Shin enough to take the risk) and also gives Shin a much-needed kick in the pants – left to their own devices, I’m not sure either one would have been pushed to confess.

Necessary though it was, my main complaint about this love triangle is that it had never really been a love triangle so much as it’s resembled the relationship between Earth (the OTP) and its an orbiting moon (Se Joo). The tides of change would not ebb and flow for the OTP without Se Joo, but his moon has no chance of ever getting any closer. And that’s damn frustrating to watch. I have fingers and toes crossed that we’ll see this not-really-a-love-triangle die a quick death next week, now that our characters have reached their all-important crossroads.

Love triangle aside, we saw our characters display both their best and worst this week, which is one of the things I love most about this show: the complex characters, all of whom make mistakes and are forced to come to terms with them. Se Joo’s was highlighted most this week (more on him separately), but we see some from everyone – Shin is still fighting to decide between his pride and what’s really important to him, Yoo Kyung engages in some snooping but has the guts to confess her feelings to Se Joo rather than suffering in noble silence as so many second leads are wont to do, and Se Joo is genuinely supportive of Mi Rae and offers her help in place of everyone else’s criticisms. More importantly, Mi Rae is finally shaking herself out of her funk and pulling herself together. HURRAH. I’ve experienced no end of frustration thanks to her virtual stasis, but she’s moving past the waffling and once again I see the Mi Rae that I liked and rooted for in the first two episodes – the Mi Rae who has incredible courage.

Speaking of Mi Raes, this episode gives us more food for thought on the time travel conundrum. Mi Rae was speaking metaphorically of “multiple Mi Raes” in the world, but combined with the writer’s little clue about the story being based on the theory of parallel universes, I suspect our question on whether there were multiple timelines has finally been answered: Yes.

This theory would explain the most glaring problem of why Ajumma remains unaffected by the havoc she’s wreaked in Mi Rae’s timeline and why she can meet Mi Rae without harming either of them. In essence, Ajumma jumped back into the past, but not into the past of her OWN timeline, but into Mi Rae’s parallel one. There are multiple parallel timelines in which there are constants, such as Mi Rae working at the call center and dreaming of becoming a writer, but each timeline can veer in different directions under the influence of external forces (such as Ajumma) or by the characters’ own decisions. In Mi Rae’s timeline, this switch in direction was set into motion by Ajumma’s arrival and snowballed as each character’s decisions affected those around them, causing further changes.

That brings us to the question of fate again, which Mi Rae also brought up in her conversation with Shin. Neither Se Joo nor Mi Rae believe in fate, and Shin believes that if there is such a thing, then it can be changed. I find the latter option most viable thus far: There are certain “fated events” or milestones if you will – the car crash (for Mi Rae), the trip to Jeju (for Yoo Kyung) and even the subway fire. All of these events can be and have been changed, however, and it suggests that other “events” like Shin being fired at work can also be changed.

These changes are seemingly due to Ajumma’s external interference, but what truly lies beneath the surface is the importance of individual decisions. Ajumma had advised Mi Rae to change lanes, but none of this would have happened if Mi Rae had not decided to do so. Similarly, Shin and Oppa would not have saved so many lives if they had not decided to act on Ajumma’s advice. The crux of the matter is that individual decisions are what it takes to change these “fated events,” even though there is no guarantee that the outcome will be a positive one.

The one unshakeable factor so far appears to be fated connections – events can be changed due to split-second decisions, but what about love? Perhaps the argument is that it isn’t so much fate as it is the question of who is right for each other; no matter how fate or Ajumma plays their games, Mi Rae can’t help falling in love with Shin because there are qualities that she admires in him and vice versa. The same applies for Yoo Kyung with Se Joo and it remains to be seen whether this is proven true with Se Joo as well. Will he right the balance?

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