The theme this episode is how to deal with the shattering of obviously hopeless dreams. The opening doesn't even have any real tension. We know that Dal-po is dreaming, he knows that he's dreaming, but gosh, wouldn't it just be wonderful if the first two episodes were only a mere hallucination? Unfortunately that's simply not how it works. And ultimately it's In-ha that bears the brunt of that, as she convinces herself that Cha-ok really is a loving mother who's been out of contact for justifiable work reasons.
This episode is really a good case study in how dramas can be compelling even if they're predictable. "Pinocchio" is still setting up the premise. It won't be until next episode that either Dal-po or In-ha are able to get down to any actual reporting. This whole time the drama's just been character building, and to decent effect. We know exactly where every one of these people stand in regards to greater motivation. For Dal-po to actually spell this out explicitly to Cha-ok thus comes off as quite satisfying.
Also, in stark contrast to the histrionics of the tragic backstory, the way this episode sells Cha-ok's journalistic attitude is actually reasonably persuasive. She quite literally lies or engages in some form of dishonesty all the time- just in the service of establishing the generally truthy of nature of news, but that's OK. At the same time, it's obvious malarkey. Consider Cha-ok's test at the job interview. It's an inherently false conflict that assumes there's only one way to get the job done- her way, and anyone who comes up with another plan must be doing it wrong.
Now this is a villain that deserves to face the full brunt of Dal-po's intellect. The guy certainly has his amusing moments working as a taxi driver, and Dal-po could probably very easily spend the rest of his life doing this work happily. But then, that's what makes the emotional argument here so compelling. Dal-po is willing to put himself at risk just to help In-ha out. And also get revenge against the woman who ruined his life but let's be honest here. Without the In-ha element, he wouldn't take the risk.
This all makes for a very strong statement on the value of family- and how that's determined by more than just biology. In-ha gets more meaningful support from Dal-po than she'll ever get from her mother. For that matter, In-ha gets more meaningful support from a complete stranger than she'll ever get from her mother. These are all very interesting themes- the only snag being the way the writing fits in a couple of improbable coincidences. But I can accept that as long as the story stays this compelling.
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] "Pinocchio" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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