Episode 2 left us at Cha Sik and Yoo Seul deciding to team up for the piano competition.
A lot weighed heavily on a win: Cha Sik would get to prove he’s a music maestro’s son (heh) and it would determine Yoo Seul’s future as a pianist.
This means a lot of practice time for our dynamic duo. Yoo Seul initially starts off encouraging – like a teacher should – but frustration loosens her razor-sharp tongue and soon enough, she’s cursing at him.
But one can only take so much abuse and he eventually breaks down and quits. Other than being hilarious to the audience, it also means that we get to see a cute scene where Cha Sik inhales helium and apologizes in a high-pitched voice. Yoo Seul tries to remain stoic but no one is immune to this adorable boy’s charms.
But in all seriousness, how adorable was this scene? Of course, part of it is because she likes him but it was cute how she couldn’t maintain a stern face and broke into laughter. Super adorable.
And I think another reason she couldn’t help but laugh was that despite her frustration, she loves playing with him. It’s the first time her mother had seen her smile as she played the piano.
Thus in a span of three months, these two become partners who fight and laugh during their practices and despite realizing that they still have a long way to go, Yoo Seul fiercely defends her partner whenever anyone criticizes him. Who else loved how she was bragging about him one minute…
Then threatening him the next? Cute! She’d stood up to Jin Mok and declared that she couldn’t be humilated but it was her biggest fear and I loved how Cha Sik alleviated it with his reassurance.
Both of our boys are plagued with a lack of self-confidence. We have Cha Sik who has to learn to play a certain section of their performance piece at a seemingly impossible high pace and Jin Mok who’s always lacked it.
This episode is about characters learning what’s truly important.
Seeing her daughter smile with Cha Sik after her outburst from last week’s episode gave Yoo Seul’s mother a new perspective on things. She used a beautiful analogy of a mother going thirsty after giving up all her water to her child. Unfortunately, this child is cloaked in a comfy blanket that becomes heavy upon getting soaked. In the end, the mother is thirsty while the daughter is burdened by the load. Brilliant.
Cha Sik is burdened by his inability to live up to Yoo Seul’s expectations particularly because it’s tied to her future. He asks Jin Mok for help and as expected, her “enemy” refuses, stating that it’s in his best interest that Yoo Seul quits which our bubbly boy doesn’t buy because he’d hurt himself defending her three months ago. Yup! Apparently, our boy has been wearing this band-aid for three months.
What kind of cut was it?
Cha Sik’s lack of confidence turns him into a ghost, keeping our girl hanging. I’m actually not sure what this sequence was meant to establish other than to show how much Yoo Seul had grown to like and believe in him. When he doesn’t show up to practice or contact her for a few days, she texts a warning to him that if he doesn’t meet her by a certain time, their collaboration is done. But even after she has a fit when he doesn’t make the deadline, she can’t bring herself to give up on him.
And of course, he shows up, despite not yet achieving his goal, as does Jin Mok. I wish there’d been more clarification on Jin Mok’s motivation because all we’d seen was his father put him down and commend him for giving up on piano, him watching our duo practice along with overhearing his classmates praise them and state that he’s in a slump. I feel like nothing led us to this scene of him showing up to practice and taking Cha Sik’s place. Cha Sik had begged him to help him improve but why would that lead him to do this? Was he simply buying him time?
However, I think it was great for his character development especially as without her innate bias against him, Yoo Seul listened to his performance more objectively and showered him with effusive praise. It was all he needed to hear because despite their rivalry, he clearly respects her talent and values her opinion. Thus, when his self-esteem is at its lowest, her praise is beautiful music to his ears. Aww.
It’s performance day and everything falls into place.
We have Cha Sik who’s been inspired by his father to become a great pianist. He’s also a guy racked with self-doubt because he still hasn’t reached his goal of performing at a higher pace.
His “father” shows up, tells him that he’s not his son and shatters the little hope he has. He meets with Yoo Seul who assures him that they will definitely win the competition as long as he plays as well as he did the previous night so he does the only thing he can- he gets Jin Mok to replace him.
And when he protests that he hasn’t memorized the music, Yoo Seul’s mom volunteers to be his page turner. She’s been trying her best to stay out of her daughter’s piano career but can’t resist helping her achieve her goal of winning the competition.
I’m of two minds here and I’m not even talking about the deception taking place.
We were introduced to Cha Sik, a kid who could beat the national record when pushed. It was unrealistic but it set a precedence for what we expected him to achieve. So it was disappointing that he didn’t get good enough to perform with her (on stage) but I liked how realistic it was.
It also tackles his fatal flaw – needing an outside influence to soar. Be it pole vaulting or music, he needed some outside stimulus to force him to reach great heights. So while he was mad at his mom for lying to him about his father, the audience can’t blame her because it shows how well she knows him. He was depressed and even contemplated suicide upon learning that he would have to give up pole vaulting so she desperately provided him with new inspiration, which to me, makes her a great mother.
She dresses it as not believing that she was good enough to inspire him and he angrily responds by playing the piece to show her what her son can do. Which is the push he needs to play well enough to duet with Yoo Seul.
And with that, a duet becomes a trio and we hear all three leads play magnificently together. It’s contrived but thematically perfect.
We get our true enemies (Jin Mok and Yoo Seul’s mom) working together, our surface enemies (Jin Mok and Yoo Seul) performing a duet and the man who made it happen playing a solo for the mom who needs to know she’s his role model.
At the end of the day, our characters have learned a simple lesson – follow your passion. Don’t set yourself up for failure by putting yourself under immense pressure to achieve an impossible goal and instead, do things because you love them.
Jin Mok finally achieves greatness when he stops attempting to be a genius and allows himself to enjoy playing the piano. It’s a great character moment for him when he tells his father that less than best is fine with him as long as he’s doing what he loves.
Yoo Seul finds joy in playing the piano when she strips herself of her mother’s expectations. Cha Sik’s mom learns that she’s great enough to inspire her son while Yoo Seul’s finally understands that a daughter’s smile is more valuable than a cabinet full of trophies. It’s a huge moment for her to see that one of her daughter’s happiest moments is shared with the guy she used to ask her to sabotage.
And he finally gets the acknowledgement he craved for as a kid.
I’m, however, not clear on Cha Sik’s journey. I know that both Jin Mok and Yoo Seul will keep playing the piano but I don’t know what his future holds.
Will he stick with piano? Will he do something else? Will he ever outgrow needing an external drive to achieve lofty goals? I haven’t the faintest clue.
Despite that, I really enjoyed this finale and the show as a whole. It was great to see these three kids come together to attain greatness.
I know that Yoo Seul hasn’t been blind long but wasn’t it a little ridiculous how she could never sense another person’s presence? Be it her mom when she was sneaking out at night or Jin Mok when he took Cha Sik’s place.
I didn’t like how Cha Sik fooled her at the end but I’m sure it won’t last long and she probably discovered the ruse right after the performance. I would have enjoyed seeing the aftermath of that and watching her and Jin Mok interact with each other on friendlier terms.
I didn’t get my romance but as the Beatles say, “All you need is love” of which there was plenty of in the finale. And that’s all I need to be a happy camper.
Till next time!