[Discuss Away!] The Good Bad Mother: Episodes 3-4

Patience – something I’m definitely going to need and to practice if I continue to watch this drama. I know that might come as a huge surprise to some of you who might be enjoying ‘The Good Bad Mother’ which is understandable, but there’s just something about this drama that isn’t working for me. I can’t seem to like it as much as I want to and I’m debating whether I should keep trying or give it up. I’m honestly not really sure what to make of this drama or how to describe it.

‘The Good Bad Mother’ is such an interesting drama because it has potential to be even better but it seems as if it’s just sort of floating for now. I’m waiting for something to happen but it doesn’t do nearly enough to keep me engaged and entertained. I feel conflicted about Young-soon as a character. I want the drama to dig deeper into Kang-ho and show us his perspective of life and how he feels about his relationship with his mother. I’m confused as to why Mr. Song and Mr. Oh continue to get as much screen time as they do with each passing episode. The drama hasn’t quite been able to balance everything that’s been happening in a way where it feels connected and related. There are two completely different things going on in the drama: one focused on Young-soon and Kang-ho’s story and then the other on the villains. And I understand why Mr. Oh and Mr. Song are still active characters in the drama and what their relation to Kang-ho and Young-soon is but I would be lying if I said that their scenes weren’t distracting and uninteresting to me.

In episode 3, we watched as Young-soon took care of Kang-ho who thankfully survived after the tragic car accident. He ended up suffering from retrograde amnesia where his only memories are of his childhood and his behaviors and actions are like that of a seven-year old. Kang-ho then returns home to live with his mom where he begins the process to recovery. It’s not as easy for either him or Young-soon who struggles to take care of a hurt Kang-ho at home all by herself. Kang-ho at first refused to eat and he didn’t say a word and he showed no reaction to his mom. There was a specific scene in episode 3 that saved the episode for me which was when the Village Head and Sam-sik’s dad visited Young-soon to give her some movies and words of encouragement. Though Young-soon appreciated the gifts, she also cried her heart out at this moment and became vulnerable in front of the two guys. She had tried so hard to be so strong but it was tough for her to keep it up and she was struggling inside. So the two men sat down next to Young-soon and reminded her of the strength and resilience that she possessed as a mom; they reminded her that she was irreplaceable and that she should stay strong. It’s okay if she didn’t feel comfortable relying on her neighbors for help. But if the time was to come, they were available to help and they would support her if that was what she wanted and chose.

I’m not entirely in love with everything in every episode but there’s always at least one scene that saves the episode for me and this scene was that scene for me in episode 3. There were so many good lessons and messages conveyed in this scene alone such as how it’s okay to ask for help or how it’s okay to not always have it together. Young-soon felt as if she couldn’t “look weak” in front of her neighbors or as if she had to be strong because she didn’t want to ask her neighbors for help. But she broke down because she was struggling in actuality and she was facing difficulties taking care of an injured Kang-ho. Therefore, I thought she was so brave to be so honest and vulnerable in front of her neighbors and I loved our neighbors for staying by her side and comforting her. The neighbors are definitely one of the bright spots about this drama and this scene proved to me once again why that is.

The other scene in episode 3 that stood out to me was the scene when Kang-ho and Young-soon finally confronted each other and Young-soon learned the reason as to why her son wasn’t eating or reacting in bed. At one point, she got so frustrated that she shoved rice into Kang-ho’s mouth in an effort to make him eat. But it was also in this moment that Kang-ho finally spoke his first words and he repeated the same exact phrase that his mother used to tell him as a kid: “You get sleepy when you’re full. And if you get sleepy, you won’t be able to study.” Kang-ho’s childhood memories of his mom are traumatic and depressing and it made sense that these were the first words he mentioned to his mom after his accident. These words and this type of behavior was all that he remembered of his mom; his mom’s angry and toxic behavior felt familiar to him which was why he finally responded to her when she acted that way towards him. Young-soon realized how hurtful and brutal she was towards Kang-ho and she apologized to him. She reassured him that he could eat and that he didn’t have to worry about studying. So they both cried and made up and Kang-ho felt safe enough to be with his mom.

I watched this scene thinking that things would get better between the two and that Young-soon’s behavior as a mom would improve. Now that Young-soon had reunited with her son, she had a second chance at repairing her relationship with her son. She was aware of how much he resented her and despised her for how she treated him growing up. So now that they were living together again and his memories consisted only of his traumatic childhood memories, maybe she would improve and grow as a mother to not repeat history. This scene gave me hope that Young-soon would change. But it only took 10 minutes later within the same episode for Young-soon to return back to being a frustrating character when she used her old strategies and methods in getting Kang-ho to react the way that she wanted. She purposely didn’t feed him as a way to “motivate” him to recover faster physically. She wanted him to be able to move his hands and use his hands to feed himself so she prepared food for him and then took it away after a certain amount of time until he made progress. And sure enough, by the end of the episode, Kang-ho made so much progress that he was able to somehow start feeding himself.

I’m so conflicted on how to feel about Young-soon because I want the best for her and I want her to have a healthy relationship with Kang-ho. But at the same time, I don’t feel as if I have as many reasons to root for her as much as I want to or as much as the drama wants me to. And this goes back to my initial concern that I had with ‘The Good Bad Mother’ which was that it was too fast-paced for me and didn’t do enough showing. The same issues appeared again in episodes three and four where it went from 0 to 100 and instead of showing us the details and nuances of certain situations, it had a tendency to show us several different examples in a compilation and then move on to the next big thing or issue. I want the drama to take its time because I want to root for Young-soon and I want her to feel happy with where she is in her life. So scenes like the one where she and Kang-ho cried and hugged each other to the ones where she purposely took food away from Kang-ho made me confused as to what type of character she was supposed to be. In a way, it feels as if the drama is taking its title a little too literally when it doesn’t have to be that way. When Young-soon took Kang-ho’s food away to “motivate” him to flex his hand and to get his hands moving again, I think I would have been a little bit more understanding if he wasn’t trying in the first place or if he was still ignoring Young-soon. But that wasn’t the case because Kang-ho actually was trying to get better and he was trying to flex his hands and he was trying to feed himself. It’s just that his body wasn’t listening and following him and that his mind and body wasn’t on the same page just yet. There was only so much he could do about the speed of his recovery process. So I wasn’t the biggest fan of Young-soon’s tactics and the “tough love” that she showed Kang-ho. I don’t think it was fair for Kang-ho.

My conflicting thoughts and feelings for Young-soon continued into episode 4 when she took her anger out on Kang-ho after learning the truth about the type of person and prosecutor he was. She returned to Seoul to grab his belongings and in the process interacted with individuals who revealed to her the type of person that her son was as a prosecutor. He took bribes and money and wasn’t a good person at all. I liked watching Young-soon go through the stages of anger and denial and it’s a good thing she eventually learned what type of prosecutor Kang-ho was. But at the same time, I didn’t approve of the way she took it out on Kang-ho and beat him up during their confrontation. Again, it’s a situation that’s unfair for Kang-ho because it’s not Prosecutor Kang-ho who’s at home with Young-soon. This version of Kang-ho after the accident is the equivalent of a 7-year old Kang-ho so Young-soon can’t take it out on Kang-ho because it’s not Prosecutor Kang-ho who’s in that body (if that makes any sense). And again, I thought that Young-soon wouldn’t want her son to hate her again so she’d act differently towards him and treat him better. But she sort of resorted to her old ways of beating him and yelling at him.

While taking her anger out on Kang-ho, she mentioned how she raised him to be a better person and how she expected him to be better and had done all these things for him. She was disappointed in how he turned out. My issue with this is that Young-soon tends to focus on herself a lot which was a reason as to why her relationship with Kang-ho deteriorated. For Young-soon, it’s always “me me me.” She did these things for Kang-ho, she raised him as a single mother, she was so harsh on him because she wanted him to have a better life than her. But I think Young-soon should also consider her son’s perspective and feelings as well and listen to what it is that he wants. She also needs to reflect on herself and why her own son resented her or why her son wanted to cut off their relationship. In a way, there’s a sense of entitlement from Young-soon towards Kang-ho and I’m hoping that she grows and improves as a mother. We’re only 4 episodes into the drama so maybe this development will happen (hopefully sooner than later) and maybe I want a little bit too much too soon. But I’d like at least some hints or clues that this development will happen and I haven’t seen much so far.

I’m curious as to what direction the drama will take us with Young-soon and Kang-ho’s relationship. As with many relationships, they go through bad times in their relationships and then also experience some good times. But perhaps what I want to know even more is how Young-soon will be in later episodes. Is Young-soon’s characterization as a “bad” and “good” mother just going to be her thing throughout this drama and this is just who she’s going to be? Or will she maybe learn to love her son the way that he wants to be loved and also meet him where he’s at? ‘The Good Bad Mother’ is not the type of drama that I thought it was going to be and I wished that it wouldn’t move so fast. The drama could drastically improve by learning to take its time and give us more insight into each of our characters. Young-soon’s been a bit frustrating for me so far but I think I would be a bit more understanding if the drama gave us additional details into her emotions and experiences. The same could be said for Kang-ho who I also want to know more about. It was refreshing to watch the flashback scenes of him and Mi-joo in episode 4 before they separated because it was nice to see him in a different light and to see a side of him where he wasn’t subject to the toxic and harsh treatment of his mother. Unfortunately, there’s a bit more “bad” than “good” in ‘The Good Bad Mother’ but I’m hoping the bad won’t outweigh the good for long and that the good aspects about this drama will increase overtime.

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