While It's tempting to just write Hye-won off as being evil, I have trouble doing so because Hye-won's situation is very complex. And besides that, no one especially wants to confront a grieving mother, especially Do-woo, who is not Annie's biological father. But even if Hye-won's failings as a mother are defendable, her failures as a wife most certainly are not. Scene by scene, Do-woo continues to suffer and Hye-won simply obliviously refuses to so much as acknowledge him.
Contrast this to the even indirect contact Do-woo has with Soo-ah, a patient, steadfast woman who knows she should shake Do-woo but just can't bring herself to abandon a man in pain. And Do-woo, to his credit, brings more to Soo-ah's life than mere grief. The scene at Do-woo's studio is excellent because we very much get the impression that Do-woo is looking for excuses to show the beauty of the world to other people, it's just he never has the opportunity.
On a visual level "Road to the Airport" consistently contains some pretty amazing images of the Seoul skyline. Director Kim Cheol-gyoo has an excellent visual eye, and the soft sound design is no slouch either. The sensory universe of "Road to the Airport" is simultaneously beautiful and fragile. That the drama looked like this even before Annie's death is a testament to the production team's unity of vision. Do-woo's world is the same after Annie's death, it just has a radically different tinge.
In terms of plot Soo-ah realizes a generally irrelevant coincidence that unfairly wracks her with guilt. The contrast is the main sticking point here. While Soo-ah's emotional reactions are based in empathy Hye-won, who played a far more direct role in Annie's accident, straight up refuses to acknowledge any sense of culpability and has done her best to destroy any implicatory evidence. This even though it's painfully obvious that Do-woo has no interest in blaming anyone for what happened. He just wants to talk.
And that's what Do-woo wishes he had with Annie. A chance to seriously talk. The final sequence at the barn is very horrifying in this regard. Do-woo thought of himself as Annie's father, and so did she, yet it was paradoxically this very closeness that prevented Annie from opening up to him about her own existential crisis, lest she accidentally make him feel inadequate. The sequence is particularly awful because Do-woo knew her so well, that he could figure out this thought process from context alone. That's love for you- at its worst when so obviously unhelpful.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 4"
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