For all Soo-hyeon's ominous voiceovers, it turns out that he doesn't really know what to do at this point with his hopelessly flawed study. I'm not sure, by the way, why the lynchpin for all this is a very specifically designed video. I always assumed that the clip we saw from the first episode was that woman's own personal spontaneous declaration of love, not the outcome of a very awkward sounding request. Even if Hye-rim wasn't familiar with the previous experiment Soo-hyeon discusses the request in a way that always sounds really suspicious.
Luckily, outside of the opener and closer there's relatively little about the dreaded experiment as the plot quickly jumps around from random subplots. I'm surprised at how many there are really- a main love story, two secondary love stories, Soo-hyeon's experiment, Yoo-rim's experiment, the invesigation into Soo-hyeon's experiment, Soo-hyeon's mom, the backstory trauma in Moon-gon's family...I might be forgetting a few.
The sheer quantity of plots this episode makes for better viewing than normal, because some of these stories are so horribly underdeveloped that there really isn't anything to do except have the characters goof off in short scenes. Yoo-rim's homework for Ji-ho, while predictably stupid, does offer up some funny visuals. And the whole trip to the grocery store was also really cute. It also made me wonder how Seung-chan could not have a girlfriend, if he just treats all his lady friends like this.
The negative of this is that there's not really any point to any of the individual plots, nor is there any central theme unifying them all. The sum of "Madame Antoine" is much less than its parts. Take the dinner with the speakerphone. In a decent Drama Special, a scene like that would be the lynchpin exposing how playfulness and dishonesty do not mix. Yet here all that happens is that one of "Madame Antoine"'s best stories gets blown to pieces because Hye-rim was acting kind of dumb.
Admittedly, I could be charitable here and suggest that perhaps Soo-hyeon's crushed spirits at the end of the episode reflect the same general sentiment. Soo-hyeon's so obsessed with the experiment that he acts stupid, forgetting that his original motivation of revenge really does not apply anymore. But then where does that get us? We've already got Ji-ho begging for forgiveness, and he's a much easier character to sympathize with on account of his rudeness being unintentional. With Soo-hyeon, it's literal science, and it's hard to feel bad for him.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 13"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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