In the face of our ballerino-in-training’s unrelenting kindness and determination, a certain surly ballerino’s ice-cold heart is starting to thaw. Coming up against familial adversity and crises of faith, our leads start to inspire and push each other onwards.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
At the billiards hall, Ho-bum is spoiling for a fight with Chae-rok, but it won’t happen on Deok-chul’s watch. He rushes across the room and pulls the boys apart. Momentarily confused, Ho-bum asks who he is to butt in and he laughs to hear Deok-chul is Chae-rok’s manager.
Ho-bum asks Deok-chul if he’s aware that Chae-rok’s father went to prison for assault. He beat Ho-bum up and now Ho-bum blames him — and by extension Chae-rok — for ruining his life. Deok-chul states plainly that Chae-rok didn’t hit him and hasn’t done anything wrong, and Chae-rok stares at him wide-eyed.
Ho-bum stops them when they try to leave, mockingly saying that he’ll pay for the food if Chae-rok dances ballet on a billiards table. Deok-chul tries to pull them apart as they shove at each other.
Before things can escalate any further Deok-chul pushes between them, shouting that he’ll dance instead. In the moment of shocked silence that follows, he quickly issues a bet on a game of billiards: if Ho-bum wins Deok-chul will dance, if Deok-chul wins Ho-bum has to apologize to Chae-rok.
Deok-chul’s very good at billiards and Chae-rok looks on impressed as he beats Ho-bum easily. Ho-bum throws the money for the food on the table and stalks off, without apologizing.
On their way out of the building, Deok-chul claims to have lost his phone and sends Chae-rok on ahead while he goes back for it. He goes over to where Ho-bum’s eating and tells him that he’s misjudged the type of person Chae-rok is, and that he should leave him alone. “Chae-rok is going to soar like an eagle.” Ho-bum stares at him, stunned, while Chae-rok listens from the doorway, hidden from sight.
When Deok-chul goes outside it’s raining heavily, and he’s happy that Chae-rok waited for him. Chae-rok hands him his helmet and the only waterproof jacket they have, avoiding his eyes. Ho-bum watches from the window as they drive away together, vowing that he’ll break Chae-rok’s wings and stop him soaring.
As they ride back in the pouring rain, Chae-rok asks Deok-chul where he learned to play billiards. When Deok-chul says he used to go after work sometimes, Chae-rok mutters that he was way too good for a casual player, and Deok-chul’s pleased at the compliment. Chae-rok asks if he’s going to tattle on him to Seung-joo for doing deliveries, and Deok-chul replies that he already has. Chae-rok lets out an irritated roar as he drives on.
Seung-joo is at Sori’s place, playing the piano as she opens a bottle of wine. He’s frustrated about Chae-rok’s lack of focus and threatens to send him back to school. Sori laughs and reminds him that he’d once said he’d rather quit ballet than teach, when she’d asked him to take Bom on. After Seung-joo had been forced to retire due to injury he’d almost given up, but Sori says she understood why he changed his mind when she saw Chae-rok dance. Chae-rok does the kind of ballet Seung-joo always wanted to do. Even if Seung-joo can’t perform himself, he can nurture Chae-rok and bring that style of ballet into the world through him.
At the studio the next day, Chae-rok gets chewed out by Seung-joo for working another job. He questions Chae-rok’s commitment to ballet and tells him he needs to figure out his priorities. Bom and Anna try to intervene and Seung-joo snaps at them to stay out of it. Then Deok-chul starts to interrupt and Seung-joo reflexively shouts at him before realising who he’s speaking to and apologizing profusely. He goes into his office to get away from the spectators, Chae-rok muttering “traitor” at Deok-chul as he follows.
In his office, Seung-joo asks Chae-rok why he thinks he asked him to teach Deok-chul. He says that he couldn’t care less about whether Deok-chul learns ballet, he’s just using him to try and change Chae-rok, but if he’s not willing to change then it’s a waste of everyone’s time for Deok-chul to be there.
Deok-chul, standing outside the window, can hear what’s being said and looks a little hurt at Seung-joo’s dismissal of him and concerned at the prospect that he might be sent away. Chae-rok unenthusiastically promises to work harder and Seung-joo orders him to start evening practices, looking unconvinced.
Deok-chul and Chae-rok have lunch together at the cafe Deok-chul’s friend delivers for. Chae-rok says he doesn’t want a proper meal because he can’t jump when he’s full, and Deok-chul makes a note of it, offering to bring him a lunchbox if he gets hungry. Annoyed by the fussing, Chae-rok snaps at him to go home and stretch, before leaving without him.
Chae-rok goes to work at the restaurant after practice. Se-jong says that Ho-bum might come back — Chae-rok doesn’t mention that they’ve had another run-in already — and tells Chae-rok to be confident if he sees him again. Chae-rok remembers Deok-chul standing up for him and telling Ho-bum it wasn’t his fault, and looks conflicted.
Chae-rok opens a door for Eun-ho, who has her hands full, and she looks surprised at this uncharacteristic generosity. Later that evening, some customers show up to find that they have no reservation. Eun-ho didn’t write it down and is about to confess to the manager when Chae-rok says that it’s his mistake.
After her shift, Eun-ho runs into Chae-rok and asks him why he covered for her earlier. He says he’s just a part-timer and it doesn’t matter if he gets in a bit of trouble, unlike her. She’s about to apologize when he cuts across her to apologize first, telling her that he understands because he feels as passionately about ballet.
As Hae-nam nods off on the couch, Deok-chul sneaks off to the bathroom to wash his leotard, pretending he’s washing his socks when she catches him. He spends the evening practicing his stretches like Chae-rok told him to, confusing and irritating Hae-nam.
After work, Chae-rok goes back to the studio to practice. Seung-joo isn’t happy and makes him practice spins again and again. He’s so exhausted when he gets home that he falls straight into bed.
Deok-chul is up early jogging again. It’s going better than his first attempt — his fitness is improving. He calls Chae-rok to wake him but Chae-rok’s too ill to even grump at him. Deok-chul remembers Chae-rok giving him the jacket when it was raining and calls up Seung-joo to ask him for Chae-rok’s address. He’s interrupted a conversation between Seung-joo and Sori about upcoming plans to enter Chae-rok in a ballet competition, but he gets the information he needs.
Deok-chul turns up at Chae-rok’s apartment and invites himself inside, saying that he was worried since Chae-rok lives alone. Se-jong, wondering why Chae-rok wasn’t answering his messages, joins them and gets roped into helping Deok-chul make porridge — he offers to order in, but Deok-chul says it should be made with care. Chae-rok hides under the duvet grumbling about being left alone, but is pleasantly surprised by how good the porridge is.
Hae-nam visits Young-il’s campaign office to support him after he loses another election. She tells Seong-sook to use the money she sent her to pay back Seong-san, so he’ll leave her alone. Young-il comes over to tell them that he thinks he can’t get elected because of his level of education and he’s thinking of going to college. He mentions borrowing money from Seong-san for the tuition fees and Seong-sook asks her mother despairingly, sort of jokingly, for permission to get a divorce.
Feverish, Chae-rok dreams. We see flashes of Ho-bum kneeling before Chae-rok’s dad, LEE MOO-YOUNG (Jo Sung-ha), looking afraid. A row of teenage boys are down on their hands and knees as Moo-young hits Ho-bum with a baseball bat. Moo-young is taken away by the police as the boys watch on; Chae-rok running up as they drive away. Chae-rok pleads with Ho-bum to help his dad and Ho-bum punches him. A surgeon tells Chae-rok that his mother has passed away.
He wakes to find Deok-chul still there, having cleaned and done the laundry while Chae-rok was asleep. Deok-chul’s made him more porridge and plum tea and fusses over Chae-rok as he pushes him out the door. After he’s gone, Chae-rok looks distressed at the encouraging sticky notes Deok-chul left in his freshly stocked fridge and asks why Deok-chul is doing this to him.
Meanwhile, Moo-young stares at Chae-rok’s number on his phone. He hovers over the call button but doesn’t press it, then starts a text but doesn’t send it. He tells his friend that he’s taking a trip to Seoul.
Hae-nam’s Hwatu cards predict that joyful news will arrive, which she assumes means that Seong-gwan will go back to the hospital. She asks Deok-chul why he didn’t go with her to Young-il’s campaign meeting and he replies that he didn’t want to pressure him, which she sniffs at. Deok-chul leaves again, lying to Hae-nam that he’s going to meet a friend.
To Deok-chul’s surprise, Chae-rok’s already at the studio warming up when he gets there. He awkwardly tells Deok-chul that his plum tea helped a lot. Chae-rok supervises Deok-chul at the barre, guiding him through the positions gently and patiently. As he watches him, Chae-rok asks Deok-chul why he wants to do ballet if he knows it’s too late for him to become a dancer and Deok-chul replies that he wants to soar at least once in his lifetime.
In his office, Seong-joo tells Chae-rok that he wants him to perform at the Sevilla International Ballet Competition next year. He doesn’t care about winning, he just wants to present their style of ballet. Chae-rok refuses, saying that all the judges care about is technique.
Just then Sori arrives and immediately tears into Chae-rok, questioning his lack of ambition and his confidence in himself. She soon turns her attention to Seung-joo’s teaching method, accusing him of failing his student, and Chae-rok leaves the room as it turns into a full-blown argument between them. After he’s gone, Seung-joo and Sori grin at each other, congratulating themselves on their performance. Seung-joo asks what she meant during their “fight,” about why she asked him to teach Bom but Sori shrugs it off unconvincingly.
At home, Hae-nam finds Deok-chul’s leggings hanging up to dry in the lean-to. She remembers Deok-chul washing his “socks” secretly in the bathroom and when he gets home she confronts him. He comes clean to her about learning ballet and she’s very upset.
In angry disbelief, Hae-nam accuses him of acting like an old fool and behaving shamelessly, and — more importantly in her eyes — being an embarrassment to their children. Refusing to listen, she forbids him from doing ballet and cuts up his dance clothes before storming out, leaving a glassy-eyed Deok-chul holding the remnants of his leggings.
While paying his respects on his mother’s birthday, Chae-rok runs into Moo-young at the columbarium. They go for a meal and Chae-rok blows up at his father when asked how he’s doing. Moo-young hasn’t been in touch since he left prison and Chae-rok is hurt and convinced he doesn’t care about him. He says that his father should be able to tell that he obviously isn’t doing well, and leaves in tears.
Eun-ho is surprised to run into her uncle Seung-gwan at her favorite bar, although he points out that he’s the one who introduced her to the place. She’s there to work on some translations for her branch manager’s thesis that she’s been asked to do as a “favor.” Seung-gwan says she should report her but Eun-ho wants to wait until after she gets the job; she intends to pass with the highest grade. Seung–gwan sighs that she’s just like her father.
Meanwhile, Ae-ran has got the job and is due to start next week. With bad grace, Seong-san grudgingly gives her permission to work as long as she still fulfills her duties as a wife and mother. Unsurprisingly, Ae-ran is unimpressed with this declaration and insulted that he thinks she needs his permission to make her own decisions. Seong-san tells her to compromise with him and she retorts that he didn’t compromise with her 20 years ago when Eun-ho was born. She stalks off, telling him to pretend not to know her at work. Just then, Seong-san receives a notification that Seong-sook has transferred him the money she owed and he tries to call her and his mother, frustrated.
Deok-chul looks in on Hae-nam, who’s lying in bed in the dark with her back to him, and leaves the house. When Chae-rok arrives at the studio for evening practice he finds Deok-chul already there, lost in thought. He says that he had nowhere else to go, and Chae-rok invites him up to the roof to talk.
Deok-chul wasn’t expecting Hae-nam to get quite so upset when she found out about the ballet, but he’s going to keep doing it secretly if she doesn’t change her mind. He continues that people have stopped him dancing all his life, but he’s finally reached the point where he’s less scared of his family’s reaction than the possibility that soon, he won’t be physically capable of doing what he wants to do. What if, eventually he can’t even remember what it is he wants to do? The present is precious to him so he won’t hesitate.
The next morning Chae-rok asks Seung-joo to meet at a cafe and tells him that he’ll enter the Sevilla competition. He knows that Seung-joo wants him to join a foreign ballet company, and this is a great opportunity for him to get more experience. Moreover, Seung-joo performed at the Palais Garnier and he wants to do the same. Chae-rok then tells Seung-joo that although he might not be interested in Deok-chul learning ballet, Chae-rok is, leaving Seung-joo surprised and thoughtful.
Deok-chul is wearing sweats when Chae-rok gets to the studio, not yet having replaced the ballet clothes Hae-nam cut to pieces. He’s here secretly again today. Chae-rok takes a photo of Deok-chul in position at the barre and tells him to send it to his family and stop hiding. Chae-rok encourages him to be bold; he deserves to put himself first for once. Deok-chul shares the photo in the family chat. Ae-ran is in awe, but everyone else just looks stunned.
The cat’s finally out of the bag, and next episode we’ll get to see how Deok-chul’s family reacts to his ballet dreams. I’m glad that Ae-ran reacted positively, because I think that Deok-chul might need an ally and I hope that he and Ae-ran will be able to support each other. There are a lot of similarities between them: they both sacrificed their desires for their families, but now they’ve reached a time in their lives when they’re able to put themselves first, despite opposition. It’s an interesting contrast to Seong-gwan. He quit work at the hospital because he didn’t enjoy it, but he still doesn’t seem happy now. Perhaps he’ll be inspired by his father’s example.
Hae-nam’s reaction was more dramatic than I was expecting. I thought she’d be unhappy, but she was almost in tears. It was such an overreaction that it makes me wonder if there’s more to it. I hope so, it would be nice to see some more depth in her character.
I’ve been wondering about Hae-nam and Deok-chul’s relationship. There have been some scenes of them together at home in the evening, but they seem to lead reasonably separate lives. Before he took up ballet Deok-chul was spending his days alone and bored. His friend even recommended spending quality time with his wife but Deok-chul didn’t seem to seriously consider it. Now he’s spending most of his time at the studio or with Chae-rok, and Hae-nam barely seems to feel his absence. It would be nice to get some more insight into their marriage.
Chae-rok is starting to open up bit by bit. In the premiere he kept his misery tightly bottled up, refusing to even mention his father’s prison release to Seung-joo until he refused to teach him anymore, but on two separate occasions this episode — when confronting Ho-bum and Moo-young — his emotions boiled over and he said outright that he’s not okay. Now he’s admitted that to himself, he can hopefully start to make some changes.
I think part of the reason Chae-rok is so hostile to Deok-chul is because Deok-chul reminds him of his father — or rather the way his father used to be — and Chae-rok’s outburst at Moo-young shows how badly he was hurt by his actions. The matching sticky notes on the fridge link them together more explicitly, but Deok-chul’s an older man who tries to care for Chae-rok, worrying about his health and feeding him. Deok-chul stood up to Ho-bum for him, and unhesitatingly took Chae-rok’s side and absolved him of all blame for what happened in the past. Deok-chul’s proud of Chae-rok and believes in him, stating that he’s going to “soar like an eagle” as though it’s an immutable fact. Caring is a vulnerability and Chae-rok’s spent a lot of time fighting it, but this episode he seems to have finally given in and accepted that Deok-chul is someone that he can trust and rely on.
Chae-rok mentioned to Ho-bum that he has doubts about what he’s doing and about his future, but I’m not entirely sure what the underlying issue is. From what he said to Eun-ho, he still seems passionate about ballet. Does he lack confidence? Is it self-doubt? Is it all linked to his father? But the rooftop conversation with Deok-chul about how precious the present is and how he should act now because he may not actually be capable one day of doing what he wants seems to have given Chae-rok the push he needed. And in return Chae-rok gave Deok-chul the push he needed to confront his family. Now that they’re united, I think we can look forward to watching these two support and inspire each other to greater heights.
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