[Discuss Away!] Crash Course in Romance: Episodes 13-14

‘Crash Course in Romance’ episodes 13 and 14… let’s talk about it.

I write weekly posts about this drama after the airing of the 2 newest episodes and yet I feel like I never really have anything new to write or say about this drama. The things that I love about this drama I really love and enjoy and wished we had more of. Then the things that I don’t really care about or wished we had less of I continue to remain disinterested and careless about. While I will always appreciate and enjoy ‘Crash Course in Romance’ for all the feel-good, funny, and heartwarming moments that we’ve gotten so far, I also would be lying if I said that I wasn’t frustrated or disappointed with the latest turn of events that the drama has taken.

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of the final conflict that the drama chose to focus on in its third act. I just find the whole villain arc and story completely unnecessary and even distracting to this show. We never needed anyone to play a bad guy or the antagonist in this drama in the first place. If the drama was so desperate to include one, I wished it didn’t take up this much space or wasn’t the primary focus as the drama wraps up its run. It feels like I’m watching a completely different drama when it focuses on Dong-hui and his story. Whether it’s with his weapon or when he kidnaps Hae-yi and is the main reason for her car incident and coma, it feels as if I’m watching a crime drama of some sort. Heck, it even reminds me of Korean thriller movies I’ve watched before like ‘Midnight‘ or even ‘The Chaser.’ I guess I’m having a difficult time comprehending and accepting why the drama decided to include this storyline in the first place and why it would take up as much time as it has in the show. It was a little baffling and mind-boggling how secondary our main characters felt with the two latest episodes.

Episode 14 did a great job in capturing my thoughts and emotions about the drama the last few weeks. There were some scenes in the episode that was so emotional, touching, meaningful, and human. It made me cry; it made me tear up. The scene of Sun-jae and Geon-hoo on the rooftop of the school building was one of those scenes. They may be rivals in a way given that they both have feelings for Hae-yi. But they’re also friends to a certain extent and level. Geon-hoo was there for Sun-jae as he was thinking suicidal thoughts and experiencing emotions that drove him to his limits. And yes it got ugly and they fought each other, but Geon-hoo’s presence and company saved Sun-jae’s life. That was an example of a scene in episode 14 that I appreciated and enjoyed. I loved how the two boys have bonded and gotten to know each other better over time.

Then there’s also THE scene of Jae-woo and Yeong-ju hugging each other and talking things out at the banchan store after they had just returned from the hospital. There’s a couple of scenes that immediately come to my mind when I think about highlights in this drama and this scene right here definitely earns a spot on that list. It was just so so good and is a great example of what the drama’s biggest strength is: showcasing the strong and loving relationships that our characters have with each other. I can watch a whole drama of Haeng-seon and her family members and Chi-yeol just doing their own thing and living out their lives. I can watch 100 more episodes of scenes like this one where Yeong-ju and Jae-woo hug each other because Yeong-ju knows Jae-woo so well inside and out and knows that he was bottling his emotions inside. She knew him so well she offered her shoulder for him to lean on and cry it out. She offered him a safe space for him to express his emotions and worries because she understood how overwhelmed and frightened he was to have witnessed his niece in the hospital in a coma.

I didn’t even perceive this scene to be romantic in any way. Rather, I just viewed it as another scene of where the drama does what it does best which is showcase the beauty in the relationships that our characters have with each other. It also showcased the beauty in the characters themselves. Yeong-ju’s been that source of support and pillar for Haeng-seon and her family. She’s always there for them and this is another example of her being there again but this time for Jae-woo. As for Jae-woo, we haven’t seen a whole lot of him and his backstory in this drama unfortunately so it was really nice to see another side to his character and to also get a peek into his mind. It must have been concerning and stressful to see Hae-yi in a coma in the hospital and it wasn’t healthy to hold it in or to try to distract himself by keeping himself busy. I’m so glad that Jae-woo had Yeong-ju to lean on and I’m also glad that Yeong-ju was that reliable, kind, and genuine family friend she’s always been.

These two scenes in episode 14 made me realize how I felt about this drama the last few weeks and how I’ve sort of formed this love-hate relationship with the show. There’s definitely a lot more love than hate for the drama, of course, but I also get frustrated when I think about how much time is wasted on our characters because the drama’s too busy focusing on Dong-hui’s villain arc. The drama needed less of the crime and murder mystery component and instead should just have given viewers more of these heart-to-heart scenes between our characters. The drama could be giving us so much more and should be giving us so much more of Haeng-seon bonding with Hae-yi and Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol developing their relationship. I also would have liked to see more of Jae-woo and Yeong-ju and who they are as characters. The drama had a few other pieces available to work with and it’s such a shame that it didn’t grab onto those opportunities from the beginning.

Pushing aside the fact that the drama sort of went full crime-thriller mode on us with the whole kidnapping scene, transporting Hae-yi’s body in a shopping cart, and then chasing after her in a remote neighborhood at night, I don’t even know where to start with Hae-yi’s situation. My heart hurts for Hae-yi and for how she got injured and how she’s now hospitalized while in a coma. But at the same time, this is where my frustration with the show grows. I hate that Hae-yi was wasted in episode 14 and I get what the drama was doing. The drama put her character in a coma because if not, Hae-yi could have easily just revealed it to be Dong-hui in the end and of course that’d be too easy. So then, there were a bunch of different reasons listed as to how Hae-yi ended up in her current situation including because she was exhibiting suicidal tendencies and because she was stressed from her exams. She even left behind a suicide note (that was actually written by Dong-hui who was the one chasing after her that lead to the car incident).

There is where I get a bit frustrated and confused. What if the drama decided that Hae-yi was indeed suicidal and that the pressures of studying was the reasons for her hospitalization? Meaning the drama had hypothetical conflicts that they could have gone with as its final conflict in the third act but chose not to because it focused on Dong-hui instead. Hae-yi experiencing suicidal thoughts because of school? Hae-yi being completely overwhelmed and stressed because of school? Hae-yi feeling alone and as if she had no one there for her? Those were potential options to explore. Adding on, Hae-yi feeling guilty about the leaked exam? Hae-yi withdrawing from family nights and distancing herself from her family because of this guilt? Haeng-seon feeling concerned, doubtful, and guilty about her role as a mother because her daughter’s life is in danger? These were actual moments that happened the last few episodes that the drama could have chosen to expand on and dive deeper into. They were right there in front of the drama the whole time and the drama even brought up these situations as excuses to mask the real reason for Hae-yi’s hospitalization: Dong-hui. Why couldn’t the drama just focus on these issues and concerns regarding Hae-yi instead? To put it bluntly, I don’t believe Dong-hui is a character who the drama should be investing this much time and effort into.

The drama decided that taking the route where Hae-yi would be the main focus in its final act wouldn’t suffice and instead felt like making Dong-hui out to be a killer was the better idea. I might be in the minority here, but I would have actually liked to see more of Hae-yi. Whether it’s her struggling to balance school and studies with her personal life or whether it was the issue about the leaked exam, there were plenty of things to work with with her character. More focus on Hae-yi would mean more focus on Haeng-seon and I would have liked to see more of Haeng-seon’s conflicting thoughts as Hae-yi’s mother again because it only meant that she would do whatever she could to be the type of mom that Hae-yi needed. I also think this focus on Hae-yi and Haeng-seon towards the end of the drama would be a full-circle type of moment. We started off watching the two and the beginning of the end for the drama would also hone in on the mother-daughter pair.

I also think it’d make more sense narratively. The drama had been dedicating more time to Hae-yi’s character (like how she felt guilty about Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol so she revealed the truth to the world about Haeng-seon’s identity just so that Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol could be together). Why did the drama not just continue with what it had already been building and setting up with Hae-yi’s story? Why pull a 180 and remove her from the equation just to focus on this Dong-hui villain arc? I’m here for the familial moments and relationships and I think a continued focus on Hae-yi had the potential to give us more of that. But the drama once again put Dong-hui’s villain storyline as the main focus so we instead got an unconscious Hae-yi and a confused Haeng-seon who’s been gaslighted this entire time about her suspicions about Dong-hui.

I predicted a few weeks ago that Hae-yi’s biological mother/Haeng-seon’s sister would return and sure enough, Haeng-seon’s sister showed up in episode 14 (just riiiiight in time). I felt this sense of pride (for guessing correctly) but I also couldn’t help but feel.. frustration again. Along with Hae-yi’s story, this should have also been the main conflict in the third act of the drama: Hae-yi’s biological mother returning after suddenly disappearing for the majority of Hae-yi’s life should have been the final conflict as the show headed into its finale. We’ve witnessed Haeng-seon be the best mother she could be for Hae-yi. It wasn’t easy and there were times where the two miscommunicated or butt heads or had a hard time understanding each other. But as we saw over the course of the drama, their relationship began to improve and things got better and they were protecting each other and it felt like all was right in the world. Haeng-seon felt as if she was doing a good job in supporting Hae-yi. Nothing would surely shake that confidence up right? But issues popped up again at one point when Hae-yi referred to Haeng-seon as “aunt” and not as mom like she usually did.

So then that left the question – what would happen if Hae-yi’s biological mother was to return? How would Hae-yi react? Would Hae-yi’s mind and heart sway a little because a small part of her missed her biological mother even though she was abandoned at a very young age? Or would all of Haeng-seon’s efforts and time spent raising Hae-yi be appreciated where Hae-yi continued to acknowledge Haeng-seon as her mom? We do have 2 more episodes so it’s not like the drama can’t explore this sub-plot in its finale, but if it does, the drama wouldn’t be able to cover as much. It’s such a shame because this conflict between Haeng-seon and her sister would have been a really nice confirmation into sealing Haeng-seon and Hae-yi’s mother-daughter relationship. We know the two are mother and daughter and we’ve witnessed their relationship the last 14 episodes, but it’d be nice to see Hae-yi choose Haeng-seon as the one who is her mother. Haeng-seon may not have given birth to Hae-yi, but it’d be nice to see that we know and that they know that that factor doesn’t matter in their relationship. The drama could have dived even deeper into this situation as the final conflict in the third act, but noooo, it placed Dong-hui and his villain arc as the main focus in the drama and where we’re back to where we started all over again.

The ideas and concepts that I previously mentioned aligns with what one of my concerns about this drama has been which is the imbalance in tone and quality. It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make any sense. You had everything going for you with all the family content and substance which would have been more than enough to maintain and sustain the drama. A deeper dive into Hae-yi’s biological mother showing up AND Hae-yi’s situation with school and the leaked exam would have been just fine to start the beginning of the end for the drama. This could have then transitioned into focusing on the other family members as well as Chi-yeol and it would have all made sense narratively. But the show decided that it wanted to be more and I think it suffered from an issue that is pretty common with other dramas which is that it was trying to do too much and be too much.

‘Crash Course in Romance’ was perfectly fine with just focusing on Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol, Haeng-seon and her family (and Yeong-ju), the banchan store, and then Hae-yi’s friends and school life. I would have removed all the other storylines and sub-plots because they don’t provide as much value to the drama. What this drama does really well, it does REALLY well which is why I love it so much and why it’s so refreshing and comforting. But it makes me sad to think that all the other things that I don’t like about this drama is taking time and energy away from the things that I do like about this drama. It’s such a shame because ‘Crash Course in Romance’ is a great drama and it’s been so charming and heartwarming and feel-good and magical in a variety of ways. It pains me to even criticize the drama like I’ve done in this post because I’ve liked it so much. But it’s also been difficult for me to ignore all the other storylines and characters that the drama has spent way too much time on (than I would like) which then has impacted my thoughts and opinions on the show overall. To simply put it, my priorities and wants with the drama does not align with what the drama prioritizes and wants.

With the finale airing next weekend, it’ll be veryyy interesting to see how the drama wraps things up. Dong-hui will eventually get caught and hopefully punished for his actions, but will it all feel rushed? Will there be any cheap cop-outs or decisions that makes me feel “ehhh” and “blah” like how I’ve felt about a few things the past few weeks? As much as I want to keep my expectations high for the finale because that’s how much I’ve enjoyed ‘Crash Course in Romance’ and how much faith I’ve had in the drama to deliver since the beginning, I unfortunately think I’m going to have to temper my expectations heading into the finale.

One response to “[Discuss Away!] Crash Course in Romance: Episodes 13-14”

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