The pain and devastation keep right on coming in and everyone tries to keep their head above water. Hee Ja’s dementia continues to worsen and everyone prepares themselves for Nan Hee’s surgery. Wan tells Yeon Ha the latest development and apologizes for not being able to come anymore. And whilst Hee Ja comes out from her dementia haze, Nan Hee’s wheeled into a surgery that has us all clenching hands and praying like hell that she makes it.
Top 10 Moments:
- Dealing with it, with clenched teeth
That night, everyone’s lost in thoughts. From Wan who remembers all her promises to Yeon Ha about coming back, to Seong Jae who remembers happier times with Hee Ja, to Jung Ah who remembers how Hee Ja had accused her of being a terrible friend who was never there for her. Her thoughts are however are interrupted by Choong Nam who tells her that Nan Hee has cancer. On the other hand, Wan is on the phone with Min Ho to ask him how Hee Ja’s doing whilst Min Ho is concerned about how Nan Hee is doing. The two kids as they speak, spend the entire time looking at their mothers with Wan suggesting they endure it all, with their teeth clenched and Min Ho suggests that they do not cry about it. Min Ho ends the call when Hee Ja wakes and when she looks miserably at the door, saying that she wants to go outside, Min Ho insists that she can’t go outside, leaving Hee Ja to glare at the camera, which Min Ho turns around, and then stomp off to the bathroom where she undresses without a care that her son is looking. Wan in the meanwhile, spends the entire night watching her mother sleep.
2. Some friends are more important than husbands
Morning has Ssang Boon preparing a herbal brew to give to Nan Hee, all the whilst ignoring Young Won’s request that she eat the food she’s prepared for her. When Ssang Boon resists, Young Won gets mad pointing out that Nan Hee isn’t dying and what Ssang Boon is doing is putting even more pressure on Nan Hee, with her not having eaten for two days and all. When Ssang Boon tries to get Young Won to take some of the medicinal brew, Young Won gets mad pointing out that she has feelings too, leading Ssang Boon to grab the bowl of food and dig in. Over at Seok Gyun’s house, Jung Ah ignores all his attempts at conversation about him being happy that she’s healthy, when every other person is falling apart. When he points out that the living must live on, Jung Ah walks out of the house. It’s then up to Choong Nam to explain to Seok Gyun that Hee Ja had texted Jung Ah and asked her not to come over to her house. Seok Gyun is pissed, asking if Nan Hee and Hee Ja are more important than him and Choong Nam says that they are because, she and Jung Ah have known them longer than they’ve known Seok Gyun and they have shared their hearts as well. When she sits to have breakfast with Seok Gyun, she tells him that more than cooking and cleaning, Seok Gyun should learn to shut his mouth. Seok Gyun then adds the words to his list of things good husbands should do.
3. Everyone misses Hee Ja
Min Ho runs straight to Hee Ja’s house, panting as he explains that his car had broken down. Hee Ja’s grumpy, wondering why she can’t go to the hospital alone (and have you wander off again? No thank you). Min Ho simply smiles and asks her if she’s put on her adult diaper for the trip. Hee Ja stomps off to do just that (hahaha. I know it’s nothing like her usual character but angry Hee Ja is also kind of cute). At the hospital, Hee Ja’s quick to answer questions about her date of birth and her eldest son’s date of birth, who she’s convinced is now a teacher and working on some far off island. As for Min Ho’s date of birth? She draws a blank. She also doesn’t remember the hospital’s name although she does remember that she got an MRI a few moments prior. Whilst Min Ho’s in a class for those with relatives who have dementia, Jung Ah, who came to visit Hee Ja but met nobody at home, calls Hee Ja who’s grumpy at the fact that her doctor told her that she’s a fourth level senior citizen (code for dementia), when she knows she’s at fifth level. She also adds that her doctor told her not to get mad but hearing him say so is actually making her mad. She’s also not interested in talking to Jung Ah who she tells to get lost and Jung Ah tells her that she misses her and will come again. She is quick to also add that she will clean up before Hee Ja gets back home so Hee Ja shouldn’t think that a ghost’s done it (hope she remembers you telling her that Jung Ah). Even as Hee Ja’s hanging up, Seong Jae joins her to tell her that he’s missed her. Hee Ja’s convinced that everyone’s tortured about her and Seong Jae replies that it’s only a matter of time before he too has dementia. Hee Ja’s advice then is for him not to like her but Seong Jae tells her it’s not her decision. Hee Ja then tells him that she wants to live alone, meaning she has to follow Min Ho’s words until he’s convinced she can stay on her own. When Seong Jae calls her strong however, she grumbles that he’s only saying that because she’s sick (maybe it’s because it’s Hee Ja but I still find her utterly adorable).
4. Everyone tries to stay strong and Nan Hee learns that Wan and Yeon Ha are back together
Nan Hee gets a text from Il Woo asking to go see a movie. She’s not interested in going as he chose the Friday of her surgery. She decides not to fix another date as she’s not certain she would survive the surgery and Wan’s not pleased to hear the words (I’m not pleased either). Jung Ah then calls but all she does is stay silent and Nan Hee tells her to make sure to be at the hospital for her surgery. Jung Ah promises to be there, and hangs up to see Seok Gyun come bearing a bottle of dark beer and a promise to come and drive her to Hee Ja’s whenever Jung Ah needs him to. Next to call Nan Hee is Choong Nam who stays quiet throughout the entire call and isn’t able to say anything. When she finally does speak, she tells Nan Hee how well she’s doing in her practice exams and promises to learn English and take Nan Hee to Paris. The words have Nan Hee smiling and Choong Nam hangs up and fights her tears. When Young Won tells her that French that is the official language in Paris, Choong Nam states that she’ll learn it too. Needing reassurance, she points out that Young Won survived her cancer. Young Won replies that her’s was in the early stages whilst Nan Hee’s in the late stages. Wan is aware as well of her mother’s diagnosis and spends the day stocking up on as much pictures of Nan Hee she can take. When her question as to whether her mother and her father ever took a trip like the one she and Nan Hee are now on, gets replied with the Sook Hee reference, Wan excuses herself, leaving her phone behind. Nan Hee who notices that Wan got a call from Yeon Ha scrolls through Wan’s phone and smiles at the pictures of her and Wan. Her smile drops however when she sees recent pictures of Wan with Yeon Ha, although she doesn’t say anything. On their way back, she asks Wan if she’s back to dating Yeon Ha. Wan doesn’t reply so Nan Hee asks if Yeon Ha’s not dating anyone because of his legs. Wan laughs as she states that he’s still attractive with his legs. Nan Hee then asks if Yeon Ha’s still waiting for Wan, but Wan doesn’t answer.
5. Wishing they’ll stay with us forever
Back at her parents’ house, Wan spends the time cheering on her grandfather who’s finally learned the alphabet whilst Ssang Boon cooks a feast for her daughter. Nighttime has Nan Hee coming to massage In Bong’s legs as she asks him when he’d told their parents she has. In Bong replies that he’d told them that Nan Hee has liver problems and she has something small that would have to be removed to make her all better. Nan Hee’s pleased with the words and tells In Bong that she’ll be sure to survive. The words are more for herself than In Bong who stays quiet through her ministrations. That night, whilst the entire family sleeps, Nan Hee holds onto her mother whilst Wan holds onto her and we hear Wan in voiceover tell us that most parents think they love their children more than their children love them. She continues that that’s not the case and the one thing children are guilty of is that they assume that their parents will stay with them forever. The next morning, Nan Hee on her way back to the city and she tells Ssang Boon not to come to the hospital as seeing her there will make her cry. Ssang Boon agrees although she looks like she’s fighting tears she doesn’t want Nan Hee to see. When Nan Hee tells her to make her a meal when she gets back, Ssang Boon takes the opportunity to flee in search of the chicken she’ll make, ignoring when Nan Hee shouts after her that she won’t be back for another two weeks. Nan Hee turns to look at her father who looks sad, and then she walks away to Wan’s car. On their way, they run into In Bong who’s says nothing, just hands Nan Hee a folded sheet of paper and walks away. When Nan Hee unfurls it, she sees that her father’s written her name (Gah! This show’s going to kill me). Not willing to deal with the tears, she turns her anger on Hee Ja who’s the only one who hasn’t called and is on the verge of calling Hee Ja when Wan drops the news that Hee Ja herself is quite sick.
6. Nan Hee’s pain breaks through Hee Ja’s dementia haze
Back at home, Nan Hee’s snippy with Wan about her using honorifics in addressing her and Wan just smiles and keeps talking, wondering if Nan Hee wants her to drive her to Hee Ja’s place or if she would like to visit Hee Ja later. Nan Hee though is fixated on herself and the other aunties dying and Wan won’t hear it, meaning Wan is soon on her out, but she calls Young Won first to give Nan Hee a ride, overruling Nan Hee’s initial desire to take a cab to Hee Ja’s. At her home, Wan goes back to writing and takes a break to smile sadly at a picture of herself and Yeon Ha. Meanwhile, Nan Hee’s at Hee Ja’s place and Hee Ja’s still upset and resolute in rejecting all of Jung Ah’s calls. When Nan Hee teases Hee Ja about her not knowing that Hee Ja preferred her to Jung Ah, Hee Ja doesn’t reply. Wanting a response, she asks her if maybe Hee Ja would rather have not preferred to open the door for her and had only done so because Min Ho had opened the door. Hee Ja tells her to leave but Nan Hee’s not hurt by the words. Hee Ja then continues that Min Ho thinks of her as an invalid, deserving to be locked in and stays with her instead of being with his pregnant wife. Seeing the need to change the topic, Nan Hee tells Hee Ja that she has her cancer and that the tumor is very large. She adds that she’ll be getting surgery the next day and the words strike at Hee Ja who pulls her friend into a hug (gosh, I have no idea how many times I’ve cried whilst just watching this episode alone). All thoughts of her dementia are gone for the moment as Hee Ja rocks Nan Hee who cries as she says she’s happy that she’s with another sick person at the moment.
7. Nan Hee’s last supper feast
Wan’s explains what’s happening to Yeon Ha and tells him that she won’t be able to make it like she’d promised after all. When Yeon Ha replies that he understands because if his mother had told him that as well, he won’t be able to come either, Wan tells him to forget about her and date someone really pretty, but Yeon Ha sees through it all and tells Wan to cry it out. Wan doesn’t want to give in to her tears though and tells him that she has to work. Yeon Ha hangs up first and sighs at the weight of it all. Wan on the other hand, works the couple ring off her finger and sighs as well. Meanwhile, across town, Young Won has driven Nan Hee to come see Il Woo and suggests that her friend sleep with Il Woo that night (hahaha). Nan Hee’s scandalized at the suggestion but Young Won doesn’t care. Before Nan Hee can make her escape however, Il Woo comes to get her from the car and although she’s initially worried that they will be having sex, or that Il Woo will push her off a building (hahaha), they end up at a posh restaurant, drinking wine as they stare down at nighttime Seoul in all its beauty. Nan Hee mentions that she’s never been somewhere so posh and Il Woo says he’s never either, stating that when his wife had been alive, he couldn’t afford it. Now, he can. Nan Hee also admits to being able to afford it now as well, although she does point out that the money’s going to go to waste Il Woo then asks her for hand, stating that he wants to cheer her on so they can still see after her surgery. With that, he holds her hand as he wishes her good luck. He repeats the words again after walking Nan Hee to her house and Nan Hee soon finds herself promising to call him when she’s discharged (exactly Nan Hee. You have to have faith that you’ll pull through).
8. The night before D-Day
Whilst Yeon Ha is in Slovenia, looking miserable as he holds his own part of their couple rings, Wan is heading to the hospital with Nan Hee. And on the other side of town, Ha Nuel is riding in the ambulance about to have her baby and it drives Min Ho mad as he wants to be with his wife and stay with his mother as well. Hee Ja who is at first insistent on staying home alone finally relents and tells Min Ho to call whoever he wants to call to watch her, and then head over to the hospital to be with Ha Nuel. He makes it just as she goes into delivery and can only listen as Ha Nuel screams. Jung Ah though is outside Hee Ja’s gate but can’t get inside the house because the spare key is not at the usual hiding spot. And her calling Hee Ja doesn’t help matters at Hee Ja just tells her to check on her via the security cameras and then she hangs up. On the other hand, Wan is with Nan Hee at the hospital and they’re turning their last night before Nan Hee’s surgery into a bonding moment. Manwhile, Yeon Ha is at Slovenia, flashing back to all his moments with Wan, from her coming back to see him in Slovenia, to her holding him when he couldn’t draw after his accident, and even down to seeing her face after she’d told him the news about Nan Hee and her refusal not to give in to her tears. The memories then have him reaching for his phone as he places a call for help. Back in Korea, Min Ho’s the happy father of a newborn (awwwww) and he rushes home to see his mother, except he gets home to find that Hee Ja’s locked herself in the bathroom after peeing on herself. Jung Ah has him clean the floors and then leave, whilst she enters the bathroom. Inside, Hee Ja’s lost in her memories of her past and her dementia, but she finally comes back to her actual self and recognizes Jung Ah. After having been cleaned up, Hee Ja’s quiet and shamefaced about calling Jung Ah all those nasty names but Jung Ah doesn’t take it to mind. Instead, she asks Hee Ja what Hee Ja kept wandering to the church to pray about. Hee Ja replies that she was asking for forgiveness for being unaware and leading to the death of her firstborn child. When Jung Ah asks her if she prayed for her, Hee Ja answers that she did and Jung Ah apologizes for not having been there. Jung Ah then brings up Ha Nuel’s newborn baby and Hee Ja asks Jung Ah to convince Min Ho to return to his wife and let her live alone as it’s something she’s done before. But Jung Ah tearfully replies that Hee Ja used to be able to live alone and do everything by herself, but she can’t anymore. At the words, Hee Ja bursts into harsh and loud heart-wrenching sobs and all Jung Ah can do is comfort and hold her friend.
9. Holding the conversation until after the surgery
Nan Hee’s still awake at the hospital, reading from a book she finds very funny. When Wan doesn’t like the content, Nan Hee switches to telling her that she knows what her family wants. And she also knows what she herself wants: to stay beside Wan. When she starts to tell her about the possibility of her not surviving, Wan won’t hear it and instead hugs her mother and tells her not to say anything. When Nan Hee tries to speak anyway, Wan begs her to hold it in and that they would talk when Nan Hee comes out of her surgery. She tells Nan hee that she knows how hard it is to keep the words bottled and so she wants Nan Hee to use that as her motivation successfully coming out of her surgery. She begs Nan Hee not to tell her everything that is’s on her mind like this will be their last time together. Nan Hee finally agrees.
10. The surgery
Nan Hee gets prepped and is wheeled into surgery with Wan holding onto her mother’s hand for as long as she’s allowed to. She finally has to pull her hands out of Nan Hee when they cross the section of the hospital that she’s not allowed to get to and she goes to take her seat with the aunties, all of them anxiously waiting for news. Choong Nam and Young Won try to get Wan to take a break but she refuses to move. Finally Young Won leaves to take her drugs and Choong Nam follows her. It’s after they leave at the notification goes up that the surgery is complete. Immediately, Wan races through the hospital and as she gets to the bottom floor, where the OR’s located, she stops shocked, to see Yeon Ha (my heart. He came *even more tears*). She stands there for a long moment, looking at him and Yeon Ha’s smile starts to falter. Suddenly she picks up speed, and he smiles again, only for Wan to race right past her (what?) and head towards the OR, her mind focused on her mother. As Yeon Ha watches her run away, his smile drops.
Character I wanted to bitchslap:
Headache inducing moment:
Because nothing is as heartbreaking as waiting for news about someone you love being in surgery. The not being able to breathe or think; the overflowing of emotions and thoughts as you just vibrate in place, heart in your throat as you wait for news, any news. Saying that it will give a migraine is an understatement.
This episode’s a Negroni, with that hint of bitterness as we deal with all the pain and anguish that comes with the realization that everyone dies and soon the parents we’ve always taken for granted would someday be gone. But, it’s a masterful tale, done so brilliantly well that even as we cry, we do so because we’re so invested in Hee Ja, that little woman who loves her independence, and in Nan Hee, the strong woman who’s always lived for others and now might not have the chance to live for herself. To all the strong and complex women in Dear My Friends, I raise a glass. Nan Hee, we hope you come out of this one alive.