Heart to Heart : The Show Ends with its Fourth Episode (2500 words)
Very often, dolamas have several endings. The best example I have being the first I ever watched: My Girfriend is a Gumiho. It tells the story of a nine-tailed fox who tries to find a man who would sacrifice himself for her. Of course, she falls in love with the guy and decides not to ask the ultimate sacrifice of him… and dies… but suddenly resurrect thanks to a far-fetched Deus Ex Machina for the final episode. Everything had been leading to the Gumiho’s death since the beginning and it felt a lot more logical. Simply, it was sad and we don’t like to be sad so the studio had prepared a happy ending. But truly, she dies.
At some point, when I watching Heart to Heart, I had the feeling that things were going too far. We’re told the story of an anthrophobic girl and her psychiatrist who lost a brother when he was younger and who entertains a very morbid relationship with his mother.
The things that we expect from this show are pretty simple:
- We want the anthrophobic girl to overcome her disease.
- We want the depressed guy to overcome the strange situation he is stuck in because of the death of his brother.
- We want them to understand that their actual love relations are unhealthy because of these personal problems they have.
- And we want them to find a healthy source of love in each other.
So, when we learn that Hong Do is responsible for Il Seok’s death, things seem to take a strange and not really necessary path. All the more so as we later learn that she isn’t responsible for the boy’s death but that Yi Seok’s parents are and decided to put the blame on the poor eight years old girl !
By the end of Heart to heart, as good as the show might be, I had the feeling that the ending I was looking for was long past and that I was now watching another show which could not find a happy one.
And indeed, the “real” ending of Hong Do and Yi Seok’s story is to be found at the end of the fourth episode. Yes, that early in the show; that’s where all the plots find a satisfying hopeful resolution.
Se Ro spends her life working on stuff because she doesn't allow herself to simply enjoy being alive.
Ko Se Ro: When Ko Se Ro brings dog poo to Doo Soo, it represents the fact that she will no longer need to please her brother (who is more like a father to her). Her real father has come back and she now can voice how much she doesn’t care about Il Seok’s death and her mother’s grief. Doo Soo here represents the guy who takes care of women who want to be heard (She witnessed him help the girl who runs naked as a sign of rebellion). But the guy who takes care of women is also her brother, the famous psychologist who has written a book which makes women crazy about him and who spent his life taken care of their mother instead of Se Ro. So, Se Ro’s subplot finds an ending in her not wanting to go on her brother’s grave and instead telling Doo Soo that he is full of shit.
Hong Do (Grand-Ma): Of course, Hong Do should put an end to her life as a grand-ma. In the fourth episode, she is late at work because she spent the night at Yi Seok’s. She reeks of alcohol, her head hurts and she is so worried that Sang Gyu might smell her breath that she stays at a distance from him that which makes him think that she infers that he smells bad. She gets fired. This is a proper ending to the “grand-ma” subplot as truly her story with the old man is a metaphor of an a-sexual love story. As long as Hong Do can’t have a sex-life, her love life can only be the one of a grand-ma. But as soon as she accepts that she wants to have sex (Why do you think she got drunk while eating with Yi Seok ?) her relationship with the Sang Gyu becomes nauseating to her. That’s a perfect closure as it is related to Hong Do’s evolution.
Hong Do fills Doo Soo's sack and provide him with a phallic object. I wonder what she is looking for.
Doo Soo: Doo Soo is the exact incarnation of the man who is not aware of the fact that women’s libido is autonomous. He honestly thinks that they are sleeping beauties who need to be seduced and as a consequence he is trying hard to be a prince charming. Hong Do and him are going in circles with Hong Do constantly bringing him food to create a reason for him to give her something back and Doo Soo thinking she is expressing some king of disinterested gratitude or admiration for his very self. But his blindness doesn’t mean that he isn’t looking for something. He too wants to have sex but on different terms, he wants Hong Do to be a secret lover. But that’s another story.
What matters is that in episode 4, Yi Seok confronts him and accuses him of behaving selfishly towards Hong Do by letting her hope for something that will never happen. Doo Soo visits Hong Do, finds her disguised as a Grand-ma and confesses that he is going to marry. He is all nice and polite and he doesn’t reject her violently, the thing is, if she hadn’t been disguised he might have talked differently. Seeing her like that he learning that she is incompatible with what he has in mind. So they part and they no reason to see each other again. Later in the episode we see Doo Soo’s future wife inviting herself at his place for some “ramen.” Hong Do comes and looks at the opaque window behind which Doo Soo is making love for the first time with a woman who is not afraid of taking the responsibility for the act.
As I said, Doo Soo doesn’t know about women’s sexuality, but more, he is ashamed of his. Detective Yang incarnates Doo Soo libido. Dirty, vulgar, dumb (he’s not actually) that’s how he perceives this side of himself. Doo Soo having sex for the first with a woman who feels good about it is a proper closure to the character’s curve of evolution. Moreover, Hong Do bids him farewell. “I shall never come here again.”
Hong Do: Since the beginning of the show, Hong Do has tried everything she could to have sex. That’s the reason why she is so in love with Doo Soo and brings him food. The problem is that she isn’t aware of the fact that her anthrophobia isn’t due to her libido. She is ashamed of her sexual desires but her trauma is not sexual. If she had managed to have sex with Doo Soo, she would have remained imprisoned in her phobia forever, which is exactly what the detective wants: to have a secret mistress in awe of him to whom he would be everything. Luckily Yi Seok is aware of the fact that there is more to Hong Do’s trouble than a simple shame of her libido. It’s a shame of desiring something as an individual. It’s a shame of not being her grand-mother.
Yi Seok shows several of his patients to Hong Do so that she can learn and evolve. The girl who runs around naked is in a similar situation as Hong Do. Hong Do wished she could have couple rings with her grand-mother just like this mother and daughter. Yi Seok makes her realise that two individuals cannot “merge” without having one swallowed by the other. Hong Do can realise that her relationship with her grand-mother could have been morbid. Then he realises than Hong Do is the grand-ma who works at his parents’ and he shows her the grand-mother who thinks her little boy is still alive because she cannot cope with the guilt of having lost him. He expects Hong Do to identify with the grand-mother and learn that no one should remain locked inside an imaginary debt to a dead person.
After these two experiences Hong Do manages to voice her pain and guilt, the most important is done. The problem is that she has had no life beyond her grand-mother or Doo Soo and Doo Soo has just rejected her and is losing his virginity in front of her eyes. That’s why when Yi Seok calls her she starts crying and squats, overwhelmed by emotion. This is not sadness, this is intense happiness and relief. If Yi Seok had not called she would certainly have committed suicide.
Eom Ki Chun: Yi Seok’s colleague isn’t very developed in the four first episodes of the show, she is very important still. When speaking about the old lady who believes her son to still be alive, Yi Seok tackles Ki Chun’s peculiar situation as a woman who didn’t have a mother. This is developed to underline the woman’s strong sensitivity to Yi Seok’s troubles. She too was deprived of the love of a mother.
In the last (fourth) episode when he leaves during a discussion because she told him he was part of the problem there is in his family, she simply states: “He’s going to come whenever he wants anyway.” Of course she is his psychiatrist but truly this is the attitude of a loving mother. At the end of their first conversation in episode 2, Yi Seok steals some sweats from her desk because Ki Chun scolded him for drinking. Again, her reaction is the one of a mother and Yi Seok’s behaviour is one of a child : “Who do you think you’re… Hey, don’t eat that. Give it to me. Who do you think you’re raising your voice to ?”
My point is, saying “he’s going to come back whenever he wants anyway” might look like the kind of statement which asks for a continuation. But truly, it doesn’t. Ki Chun’s (deliciously funny) introduction in the show is an In medias res. She is leaving an angry message on his phone that Yi Seok is listening too while actually walking to her office. He enters, she realises the uselessness of what she is doing and hangs up. This underlines that the first episode is only a parenthesis in their relationship, a very important one, but a parenthesis. Yi Seok couldn’t ask Ki Chun for help in this case but it doesn’t matter that she failed in anything. He had to go through what he was going through on his own because the solution was the appearance of someone who could love him for who he is and who was eligible as a potential sex partner. Ki Chun is not.
Yi Seok: In the story, the real challenge of Yi Seok is to find someone who would love him for who he truly is. Wu Yeon doesn’t. She is interested in the Il Seok persona, the famous charismatic psychiatrist. Yi Seok is first interested in Hong Do because she insults him (player, psycho, crook), she also calls him “weakness man.” He is relieved to find someone who sees through the lie that he is.
But he wishes Wu Yeon would be the one to do that because she is a substitute for his mother. He’d like to make her reject Il Seok and realise that truly she loves Yi Seok. To him it would be like making the demonstration that deep inside his mother should love him more than she loves Il Seok. He is incapable of receiving the love of a woman who is already ready to love him because it would mean rebelling against his mother and probably killing her.
Just like for Se Ro, the return of the father is a game changing element. Yi Seok’s learns that the sunflower he’s been bringing on his brother’s grave for twelve years actually represented his Dad. This solves his Oedipus complex and also makes him understand that his mother’s unconsolability lied on the father’s absence, not on the death of his brother. Yep, I know it is subversive. But it’s not the sole moment at which the show tackles the idea that parents should be allowed to survive their children’s death.
So, Yi Seok is put back in his place, he is not his mother’s man and never was. Their relationship was never entirely incestuous as they didn’t sleep together, but how surprising, that’s the sole thing he was capable of offering Wu Yeon. She reproaches him with not being able to see a woman cry or comfort her => which he does at the beginning of the show when a woman threatens of jumping off a rooftop. That’s why everything starts, Yi Seok is forced to acknowledge the existence of other woman than his mother, and that the collapse of Il Seok.
Also, a few seconds before he kisses Hong Do, he is finally able to talk about his brother’s death. He didn’t go on the boy’s grave but still had a thought for him.
He receives Hong Do’s love, the woman who despises his Il Seok persona, and Hong Do is able to follow her own desires more or less shamelessly.
Conclusion and episode 5:
So, at the end of episode 4 every single plot has found a resolution. There isn’t an element that should serve has a hook for the next episode to grab. On the contrary, the fifth episode represents a new start.
It is important to remember that a story is never about happiness but about what threatens it. So, the more you carry on, the more obstacles you will face. It is normal that the ending of the fourth episode of the show should be a lot more optimistic than the one of the sixteenth episode. And it is also very logical that the fifth episode should be a “worst-case-scenario.”
As everything is solved at the end of episode four, watching the fifth episode is to ask for unexpected problems to rise. And that’s exactly what the episode is.
Wu Yeon surprises Hong Do and Yi Seok in bed together and is shocked that he should have been able to do that with another woman. In the previous episode, their relationship was over. Yi Seok was ready to call it quits and Wu Yeon had announced her soon to be marriage. Her sudden appearance is believable, logical, possible but it didn’t need to happen. Her attitude didn’t need to be bluff.
Then, Yi Seok is forced to call Doo Soo again because he doesn’t have Hong Do’s phone number as she left his apartment in a hurry. Doo Soo understands that Yi Seok and Hong Do might have had sex, and as it was his belief that she was a-sexuated that made him leave her, he is back in the race. Moreover, we have a new flashback of their relationship in order to redefine their link and explain that Doo Soo won’t let go that easily. Fine, but this flashback didn’t exist in episode 4. The Doo Soo of the first four episodes isn’t the one that is given birth is episode 5. Plus, things could have been great with his fated-to-be wife, and he would now simply consider Hong Do as a friend.
And there’s Butler Byeong Yeol who looks for Grand-ma Hong Do and forces the young woman to go back to her habit of disguising herself.
Of course, our acts are not without consequences. Of course, splitting with Wu Yeon for Yi Seok or abandoning her life as a grand-ma shouldn’t be that easy. And yes, Yi Seok and Hong Do’s passionate evening was sudden and unexpected and it is not illogical that it should have some disagreeable consequences, but none of what happens in episode five needed to go so wrong. A choice is made of saying: “Things cannot go this easily.” But wait. They can, if you want them to.