The opening of this episode extends the basic morose sequence we had last time, as the fallout from Tae-seok's stay in the hospital is finalized, and the consequences come into effect. There isn't much more going on here than there was in the last episode. "Emergency Couple" is in the awkward place of trying to wring drama out of a character we don't actually know all that much about. The best that can be hoped for is interesting character interactions- but everyone acts about the way we'd expect them to at this point.
Much more interesting material abounds as the episode continues its discussions of the divorce themes. "Emergency Couple" has taken the apparently contraidctory position that divorced people are bad and somewhat damaged, yet still deserve basic sympathy. It's the main running thread that connects all the ex-relationships in this drama. And it fits surprisingly well.
Let's take Ji-hye. We don't know what happened with the father of her child. Ji-hye isn't really willing to let on much more than that the whole situation was a mistake. The implied possessiveness is rather difficult to ignore though. Yes, it was a mistake, but more importantly, it was her mistake. Ji-hye messed up. It doesn't matter how positive and assertive she is in the present. Ji-hye's mistake is a constantly lingering presence, and her most human moments always come when she's forced to acknowledge it.
However, this acknowledgment is in itself at least partially a choice- one that exists on similar terms to the mistake she made with Cheon-soo, which as yet has still not been clearly defined. It's pretty unmistakable that Ji-hye conflates the two events in her mind. Cheon-soo's harsh, critical attitude must be a sharp contrast to whatever sense of romance was powering this other failed relationship.
Textually speaking, this episode does not actually do much with Ji-hye. But the same thematic strings run parallel in all the other storylines- even the funeral procession. This is an excellent episode in terms of critical analysis, and it would damper a lot of fun were I to explain every possible interpretation for you. There's a lot of considerate discussion of relationships here, and even a few decent laughs. Don't worry about Yong-gyoo- his accident thankfully does not get into awkward territory. The overall depth of these arguments is dubious, but hey, it was enough to get me seriously thinking, so that's gotta be worth something.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[Hancinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 17"
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