[This track above really is another gem to add to That Winter‘s heart-tugging OSTs thus far, and to Taeyeon’s ever-growing list of beautiful OST contributions (as a soloist).]
This show. It so easily prompts me to write on this blog; over the past few weeks, on multiple occasions, I have posted on this blog based on my impulse to immediately react and express my thoughts on latest episodes of That Winter, the Wind Blows. With more emerging and growing revelations, deception, and feelings, the most recent episode (11), like many others, continued to fulfill my expectations for the series. It’s hard to describe what exactly makes That Winter so great, but I really hold the conviction that this drama will be one that stands out when it comes time to reflect on the year in Korean dramas.
Unlike others, I feel that That Winter really does a good job of making the viewers well-invested in the drama by making characters other than the two leads people to sympathize with; That Winter makes a point about making the secondary characters (and even the antagonists), like Secretary Wang and Jo Moochul more than just “bad guys,” even as there are quite noticeably characters who annoyingly seem to have no purpose (Lee Myungho, Jin Sora, Park Jinsung’s sister, etc..) in the story. Those outside of the protagonist or “good guys” circle can be more than just “black” or “white,” and very importantly, the worse “bad guys” are never so “bad” to the extent that you easily hate them, as the drama implies that there is more than meets the eye. That Winter does a good job of convincing us to wait for the next revelations to come before jumping to conclusions about certain characters. Even though we don’t see much character development in the antagonists, at least we seem some depth: their actions have some justification even if their logic is skewed, and at times we receive hints that make us wonder whether or not we have mis-perceived or misjudged them based on our protagonists’ perceptions. We’re left with that ambiguity that suggests that the antagonists aren’t really antagonists – they see and understand the protagonists at times and are affected by them. The antagonists in That Winter aren’t flat characters who just constantly butt heads with the protagonists and foil all of their plans. And although they may not be the most loveable characters and have noticeable character flaws, that aspect makes them strikingly similar to the protagonists that we love and are well-invested in.
And for some of my personal highlights from the episode (just to name a few):
1. The parallels between Soo’s previous actions and Young’s actions in this episode – for once, seeing Young cautious of being so close to Soo and jealous of him spending time with other girls as he was of her; the indication of her confusion in treating Soo like a brother or a lover, and her growing recognition of her unusual lover-like attachment to him.
2. She’s awake! Finally, the clues that are dropped that confirm Oh Soo’s conman identity to Secretary Wang, Lawyer Jang, and more; but part of what makes That Winter so interesting week after week is that it doesn’t just stop at that kind of surprise in an episode; it leaves a strong impression on us viewers in other plot movement as well. This episode really left a lasting impression with Soo’s completely unambiguous conveyance of romance to Young through a kiss on the lips. While previously, Soo had barely (but successfully) avoided kissing an asleep Young on the lips, the one time when he cannot resist the temptation to really meets her lips, her eyes flutter open as she is indeed awake this time.
We can only wonder what her response will be – will she hide her knowledge of the kiss from Soo, will she think he’s committing incest, will she start to realize that he’s not actually her brother, and whenever she does realize his identity, what will happen after that….(this last scene was practically yelling, Tune in to next week’s episode to find out!)
3. Bromance. Seeing Jinsung’s stubborn, but heartbreaking loyalty towards Soo even as the latter continues to push him away by physically hurting him. And Jinsung’s demonstration of his own vulnerability in shedding whatever tough-guy image he may have in earnestly telling Soo not to leave him.
4. Young making snowman figures of Soo that have long bodies and noses that are Pinocchio-size in length.
5. (actually from episode 10) Previously, Young had told Soo that when she had cancer when she was young, those who tried to comfort her would tell her that she had to be strong to endure surgery and chemotherapy, when what she really wanted to hear was,
안괜찮아도 돼, 울어도 돼. / You don’t have to be okay; it’s okay to cry.
Upon confirming that her tumor had relapsed:
Young: Even when I was six, people were like that: “You just need to have surgery; you just need to do chemotherapy 20 times.*As long as it won’t relapse.” Words are so easy.
Soo (quoting her earlier words): Young-ah, you don’t have to be okay; [do you] want to cry?
Perhaps a reason why some melodramas are such masterpieces over dramas of other genres is that if they contain good writing (and actors), they are set up in such a way that you feel so emotionally attached to characters and their desires; early on, they are able to present characters in such a way that you so easily sympathize with, pity, love, become frustrated with, and occasionally hate them; consequently, when the largest conflicts or struggles kick in, they really seem like big deals to you, the viewer, and you (or I, in this case) cannot draw yourself away from the drama as you have already invested time and emotions into it.
*can also be phrased as “[It’s fine] as long as you have surgery; [it’s fine] as long as you do chemotherapy 20 times.“