[Discuss Away!] Strangers Again: Episodes 9-10

Oooooh, the latest episodes to ‘Strangers Again’ was by far the most conflicting watch I’ve had with this drama. The past 4 weeks has been relatively smooth and enjoyable; there’s been a good mix of humor and familial and parental relationships and workplace drama/comedy and all that good stuff. But as we get a little closer towards the end of the show, situations that require huge (and potentially life-changing) decision-making also grows and the stakes just get higher and higher. Where will our characters go from here?

Episodes 9 and 10 made me feel so conflicted all the way through (especially ep 10). And it wasn’t because they weren’t good. Episodes 9 and 10 was still enjoyable to watch. But it was more so the content and progression in sub-plots and relationships that made me feel conflicted. I liked seeing Ha-ra and Eun-beom back together again and navigating a complicated situation as ex-lovers to lovers and both wanting to make up for all the lost time in between their divorce. They’re in the process of reloading their relationship and sharing that information with their parents. How do they tell each other’s family that they’re seeing each other again and rekindling a relationship that was lost for a certain amount of time? It was interesting to watch Eun-beom’s Mom’s reaction to the news compared to Ha-ra’s Mom’s reaction and yet it also made sense. Eun-beom’s Mom cared more about having a grandkid while Ha-ra’s Mom was angry for her daughter and Eun-beom’s lie about having a (fake) affair just so he could divorce Ha-ra. I think there’s a part in both parents who want the best for their kids, but their reactions also showed a side of selfishness where they didn’t take into consideration how their kids felt. They wanted their relationship to fulfill their own void or wants.

‘Strangers Again’ picked up on Si-wook and Bi-Chwi’s relationship with the latest episodes after a short hiatus and it came at a crucial time where Bi-Chwi was pregnant with Si-wook’s baby. Their story in the latest two episodes was the one where I felt the most conflicted. She didn’t want the baby and didn’t feel as if she was prepared for it; he was willing to take responsibility for the kid and marry Bi-Chwi as a result. In the end, Bi-Chwi and Si-wook decided to keep the baby and reached a compromise where he would stay home to take care of the baby and the house while Bi-Chwi would be the breadwinner and continue her dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer.

I think the drama was able to tread a very fine line regarding pregnancy and abortion with an outcome that also felt the safest: Bi-Chwi will still get to work and pursue her dreams while Si-wook got what he wanted which was responsibility for the baby and an opportunity to preserve their family. In the end, things sort of worked out for the two, but at the same time, I also can’t help but sympathize for Bi-Chwi. Her decision to keep the baby was ultimately hers in the end, but I also didn’t feel all that great and confident with the way that she reached that decision. She wasn’t forced to keep the baby and nobody pressured her into thinking that, but I wonder if she made that final decision due to how Si-wook was treating her or if it was because it was what she wanted. It’s good that they communicated right away on how they felt about their situation (instead of waiting and dragging things out more than it needed to), but Si-wook was very much all about taking care of the baby from the start. Then he sent Bi-Chwi a box full of items for her mental and physical health and also a support letter in regards to her decision. Maybe Bi-Chwi decided to keep the baby after all because Si-wook’s actions reassured any doubts or second guesses she had. And seeing how persistent and confident he was in their situation, that made her re-think everything.

But at the same time, a situation like this is life-changing. It will impact Bi-Chwi and Si-wook for the rest of their lives. Can they make things work? Will they be able to foster a healthy relationship and domestic environment for their baby? And I think (and hope) the two will be able to raise their baby just fine when that time arrives, but a part of me also wonders how much love and mutual feelings also play a part in this. Bi-Chwi and Si-wook obviously had a thing for each other (which is how they ended up where they are), but they weren’t in an actual romantic relationship with each other and they weren’t as expressive and direct with any feelings they might have had for each other. We also saw the two bicker throughout the show and they’re complete opposites. Heck, I’m not even completely sure Bi-Chwi was in love with Si-wook. But do they need to be in love in order to be parents? Or will the love come at a later time once Bi-Chwi appreciates and learns more about Si-wook through this whole process?

But there’s also another aspect to their relationship that I appreciate which are the roles that Bi-Chwi and Si-wook will take on as parents. She will be the breadwinner and he’ll be the stay-at-home dad and housekeeper. Gender roles and traditional societal expectations has shown that it’s usually the female in the relationship who is expected to take care of the baby, sacrifice their career for their role to be a mom, and also do all the housekeeping as well as take care of their husband. Meanwhile, the husband will continue to work and make the money and be the breadwinner for the family. I like that Bi-Chwi and Si-wook’s relationship is the opposite and breaks those stereotypical gender roles that is still prevalent to this day. I also like that Si-wook is content and happy with this decision; he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it and he enjoys the reality of staying home to take care of the family and baby. I think that’s what the drama needed to do to stay on the safe side of things, but that’s also the silver lining (if there is any) with Bi-Chwi and Si-wook’s situation.

This then leads to Ha-ra and Eun-beom’s complicated relationship where it seemed as if things were going well between them rekindling their feelings and affection only to hit the same bump that they did the first time around: children. Eun-beom doesn’t want children while Ha-ra does. Ha-ra strikes up a plan with Eun-beom’s Mom to get him to change his mind; Eun-beom suffered a traumatic event as a child with his younger sister’s tragic death that lead to his decision to not want children. I think I get where they’re each coming from and this is another situation where the drama is treading a very thin and fine line (and a potential make it or break it deal for me as a viewer), but I wonder where the drama is going to go with this. We saw that it was primarily Eun-beom who always accommodated Ha-ra in their relationship the first time around. Even if it might have been small things like cleaning up after they eat or watching movies or taking on the AC over night, it was always him who had to give up what he wanted to accommodate Ha-ra. And it seemed repetitive. It seemed like it was a constant thing in their earlier marriage. In the end, he learned he wasn’t ready for that marriage life and he also didn’t want kids. Will history repeat itself this second time around where Eun-beom will eventually give in to Ha-ra again and her wants of having children/family? Or will Ha-ra meet Eun-beom in the middle? Or will she return those feelings and accommodate Eun-beom this time around?

I think Eun-beom communicating his reason for not wanting kids to Ha-ra earlier on in their relationship would have been helpful. I’m not sure if it would have completely saved their marriage and if anything, it would have just delayed the divorce. But it was something that Ha-ra had no clue or idea about until just recently. With that being said, I do want to see some more character growth and development from Ha-ra in regards to her actions towards Eun-beom. I don’t think Ha-ra is a frustrating character and I don’t despise her or find her annoying by any means. I like that she’s flawed and that she makes mistakes and might do things that are unpopular. But at the same time, I also want to see growth and development from her. I want to see her learn from her mistakes in the past and use those experiences to make better ones in the present. I liked that Ha-ra was listening to other people’s advice and stories on parenthood and why they had children; I think that’s an example of that character growth and development that I was referring to. But then her going behind Eun-beom’s back to come up with a plan with his mom to get him to change his mind was an example of her taking a step back. Again, I understand that she wasn’t aware of Eun-beom’s reason for not wanting children when she came up with that plan, but I also wonder why she just didn’t ask him herself. Or if she could have just dug into the situation herself and do some investigating on her own.

This misunderstanding between Eun-beom and Ha-ra brings me to my next point which is that you don’t really know someone even if you think you do. Ha-ra thought she knew Eun-beom well because they had been married once and they’re seeing each other again so she thinks she knows him inside and out. But as we saw with his honest confession about not wanting children, there were still sides and details to Eun-beom that Ha-ra had no idea about. She didn’t know that he had lost his younger sister when he was just a child and that his mother blamed him for the death. So while Ha-ra and Eun-beom may have married each other and do know each other quite well, there are also new things that they’re learning about each other everyday and every time they meet. They are still new things to discover and learn about each other and that’s both the beauty and pain of it all. Learning new details about a person you thought you knew so well or were familiar with can hurt, but at the same time, it can also be used to elevate your relationship even further to new heights. It’ll only make your relationship stronger.

It’s unknown as to what decision Eun-beom and Ha-ra will make regarding having children and starting a family, but it won’t be an easy one. What will the two give up in order to compromise and meet in the middle? Or will they decide that maybe love and feelings just isn’t enough and it’s better off that they conclude their relationship because their differences in opinions is misaligned? Whatever it is, I just hope they make the decision that they feel is the best for themselves and each other.

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