Hye-rim, being a generally observant woman, has little trouble cutting to the center of Soo-hyeon's scheme. Unfortunately, while Hye-rim is able to identify Soo-hyeon as the source of all the weird stuff that happened last episode, she's genuinely at a loss as to why Soo-hyeon would engage in such bizarre activities. What's more, because Seung-chan (played by Jeong Jinwoon) and Ji-ho (played by Lee Joo-hyung) are somewhat more naturalistic in their approach, Hye-rim is completely incapable of grasping the big picture.
Now, at first blush it might seem like this is because Hye-rim's intelligence is being defined arbitrarily. But as "Madame Antoine" wears on, it becomes clear that Hye-rim chooses not to make logical connections because she doesn't want to. Ignoring the general implausibility of Soo-hyeon's petty revenge research, Hye-rim really does not get very much out of seeing the handsome men in her life in a paranoid light. So why bother?
The story element is a pretty dark one. In "Madame Antoine" romance is simultaneously the cure and the disease. Hye-rim got married young and had her heart broken so bad she doesn't even like to discuss the emotional fallout. When a situation comes up in regards to her daughter's living situation, Hye-rim is predictably hurt and battered by the apparent betrayal. But so what? Life has to go on. Hye-rim refuses to define herself in terms of past sorrow even as current events make her want to do so.
That puts most of the alleged romance in a really awkward place. If Hye-rim's pain is real, and Soo-hyeon's scheme is cynically manufactured, does it matter that Hye-rim feels better about herself in the short term even if in the long term she's going to feel terrible? What makes this especially puzzling in long perspective is that Hye-rim's fortunetelling is all about healing people with lies, while Soo-hyeon's psychology is all about torturing people with reality. The goals and the methods are at odds with each other.
Of course none of this is really new. While a new case is introduced we only get the most bare minimum in terms of exposition for the new high-profile patient before Soo-hyeon is off trying to seduce Hye-rim for all the wrong reasons. Which does make it funny when Soo-hyeon accosts Hye-rim for not working- I suspect he initially refused the new patient less out of concern for reputation and more because it would take precious time from his scheming budget. We'll have to wait until next time for a deeper look inside.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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