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[Guest Review] "Secret Love Affair" Episodes 8-9

2014/05/30 | Permalink

I continue to highly recommend the series "Secret Love Affair".

The most recent* episodes I watched were the pair 8 & 9 that evolved in a natural, character driven manner. The ill matched, romantic pair had understandable forces pushing them together and apart. To me, the scenarios were mostly coherent and credible. However, I am still baffled by what might be the underlying motives of some of the key characters.

In the first of these episodes the female protagonist uses the young male to partially alleviate some of the unreasonable pressures imposed upon her from multiple sources. In the second the pair are shown to be purposely oblivious to the dangers imposed by their forthright pursuit of their liaison.

In episode 8 the female lead is shown to find no respite in any location, even her home, from insatiable demands placed upon her. This point is made when she returns late from a bruising day only to be told by her husband who is sitting unoccupied but insists she bring him a hot tea. Perhaps it is jealousy on my part, but I see only in his character the desire to take but unable to reciprocate. Moreover, despite their marriage being only one of connivance he takes the advantage of her talent as if it were his right and her responsibility.

In escaping this oppressive milieu she enlists her young protégé pianist. He serves his purpose well by driving her with no destination in silence or with music that allowed her to decompress. However, his motives for renting a room obviously used for quick illicit sexual encounters are problematic. Which is the way she interpreted it and thus abandoned him. However, her feelings are mixed and she fled in confusion.

Before continuing to the next episode, some major and minor characters should be reviewed due to their having both the potential out sized effects upon plot outcome and for some it happens immediately.  

I have been ignoring the husband, primarily due to my having disdain for him. Nonetheless, despite his flaws, which are many, he is not a person without talent. One need only remember where he saves the young, self taught pianist from the security people and potential consequences. That is, the husband recognizes real talent. Moreover, he does exhibits some empathy. His failures are many, e.g. he is not a good mentor, students are not attracted to study under him and he lacks the charm and wit to be a political player. He does have ambition, but lacks the skills to propel himself into a more favorable position unassisted. What I dislike about him most is his sense of male entitlement. Finally despite his good characteristics in knowledge of music, he still is a pygmy compared to his wife's talents. And again he requires her services to succeed, but he feels no need to even show a modicum of gratitude.

What is surprising to me is how quickly this character sensed his wife had romantic interest in his student. Perhaps by accident he confirmed they were at very least very good friends if not incipient lovers. I presume from his expression he thought the latter was already true. However, he does not act. This adds a great deal of tension, because the husband would be a major avenue towards disaster for the lead couple. The situation is unstable, despite having a marriage of connivance he is hurt. He seems torn by the desire to lash out in frustration, but is fundamentally dependent upon her for any hope of advancement stopping him from making a scene immediately.

Well the above was my impression, which I now see as mistaken.  The husband seems predisposed to forgo his opportunity for advancement even explicitly mentioning jettisoning his talented student. I can only speculate that the character might believe his domestic life will return to its previous more sedate state that was more to his liking. Indeed it is the appearance of a minor character that destined for oblivion that halts the husband's predisposition with this character's utter certainty this woman would not have an affair. I have difficulty assessing how seriously Koreans take these fortune tellers. But here, by my memory, this seer is mocked unmercifully with his pompous certitude when juxtaposed with scenes in episode 9 showing the affair moving towards to physical culmination. Indeed the husband hears at the student's door the intimate laughter of his wife and his supposed charge. To me the situation is on a knife edge and only this odd character holds the potential blow up in check. Nonetheless, I cannot see how the inevitable can be held off very long.

The erstwhile girlfriend of the male lead is by no means a minor character. Moreover, I presume she plays a major role in the destruction or at least one of those in this affair, which on its face does seem to be not a far fetched conjecture.  Furthermore, given her temperament she would be likely impervious to reason particularly when she is confronted with her presumed love of her life cavorting with a woman of apparent wealth and status well above what she could ever hope to attain. Her warranted jealously would leave her unhinged. Thus, even homicide is not an out of bounds result.

From the audience perspective, the girl friend is indeed just that a friend. However, from the perspective of a participant in a one sided relationship it is too easy to reassure oneself the obvious disinterest and brusque behaviour of the other party is a hoped, temporary aberration. Consider more extreme cases where the clichéd statement, that the cheated spouse is the last to know. I suspect this stems from the misplaced hope. The signals the duped spouse gets are real, but they insist on disbelief. Too often despite having been first to know become willfully blinded so they ignore the obvious. In extreme cases, even once knowing the cheated spouse will not make an issue, because showing they know will lead to an irrevocable breakup they wish to avoid. Thus, this character, the girlfriend, cannot be perceived either too harshly as being dense nor as being selfish individual thinking only of herself. Her friend lacked either the time, the honest intent or simply found it too convenient to disabuse her by telling her real status.

Finally I return to my complaint that the male lead's story has been inconsistent or purposely obscured. My point is made in episode 9. For a young person that has to work long hours, that devoted an inordinate amount of time to his self taught musical repertory and that had a full time girlfriend where did he get the sexual proficiency he puts so readily displays here? I was surprised how easily he picked his new found love and deposited her so willingly upon his bed.

I remain suspicious, though hooked on the story itself. In its current state the situation is on already too close to an explosion with only a temporary delay until the husband loses his external constraint. On the other side and more dangerous, or until his girlfriend grasps she is not his true love. Other than that, we have the covey of the corrupt waiting to heap scorn on any other target to divert attention from their own set of peccadilloes. It remains only a question of when, not if disaster befalls this couple.

This remains the best series I have been watching with "A New Leaf" being the only other contender.

* Episodes 1 -7 are reviewed in the comments section of the main page. Also the series has now been concluded at 16.


"Secret Love Affair" is directed by Ahn Pan-seok, written by Jeong Seong-joo and features Kim Hee-ae, Yoo Ah-in, Park Hyuk-kwon, Shim Hye-jin, Kim Hye-eun, Kim Yong-gun,...


Episode 8


Episode 9

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