Our Beloved Summer takes its time getting to the point as ever, but it builds to a powerful emotional climax.
This recap of Our Beloved Summer season 1, episode 11, “Our Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days”, contains spoilers.
Another week, another episode of Our Beloved Summer that pulls out all the stops in its climax in the hopes that we’ll forgive it for being languid elsewhere. The first episodes in each week’s double bill tend to work this way, admittedly, but given we’re over halfway through the series now, it feels like there’s much more on the line here. And while the big climax of “Our Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days” isn’t as showy as the whole kissing in the rain thing, it’s an intense, beautifully-acted, and more convincingly dramatic sequence that is probably on balance the best individual scene in the show thus far.
Our Beloved Summer season 1, episode 11 recap
But, as ever, it takes a while to get there. We pick up where we left off, with Ung still stinging from having discovered Ji-ung’s treasure trove of Yeon-su footage, and news of Ung’s apparent relationship with NJ having leaked to the press. NJ’s agency isn’t interested in disputing the rumors – for once – since Ung is good for her image, even though they aren’t actually dating, which isn’t the worst news for the two of them but isn’t exactly thrilling for Yeon-su.
Let me be the first to say that I don’t buy the supposed love triangle here, nor do I particularly consider it a love square, even though I’m on record saying that Ji-ung is a much more viable love rival for Ung than NJ is for Yeon-su. Even when Yeon-su stumbles on NJ herself, there’s no real drama to the conversation and no real sense that anything might actually become of Ung and NJ, especially given this episode’s ending. Without any viability in this subplot, though, you have to question the point of NJ’s entire inclusion, though I appreciated the inclusion of her agency being tactical with the dating rumors, not even considering taking the truth – or her actual feelings – into account. I’m reminded of that absolutely insane BLACKPINK documentary, also on Netflix.
The thing is, Our Beloved Summer has spent its entire runtime building up the idea that both Yeon-su and Ung are still in love with one another, and always have been, and gradually they’re coming to realize and admit this. There’s enough of a story there that it doesn’t need the complications provided by NJ and Ji-ung, the former especially. They already started the story estranged. The whole point is them finding their way back to each other, and the bookending prologues and epilogues have made the circumstances surrounding their original break-up quite clear. It was a mistake. Yeon-su realized this last week, and this week, Ung – also in the proximity of Yeon-su’s grandmother, as it happens, she’s like a walking truth serum – realizes that he is still in love with Yeon-su.
This isn’t a revelation to the audience, and it probably isn’t to Ung either, but it facilitates that final scene of Our Beloved Summer episode 11 in which Yeon-su finds Ung eating alone and joins him. For once, she asks him to be frank about how he feels. She even leads the way, explaining that she can’t be friends with him, intimating that she wants to be more than that. Then Ung confesses that he misses her, and has always missed her, and wants her to love him and continue loving him. Written down it sounds faintly ridiculous, but in execution, it’s quite stirring. Both Yeon-su and Ung are convincingly brought to tears. Freed from any artifice, it’s a legitimately moving conversation.
The epilogue, too, is stirring, with Ung recounting how his father abandoned him in the street. It’s the emotional cherry on top of an episode that determinedly pulled the audience’s heartstrings, and where tomorrow’s outing might go is anyone’s guess. Pack the tissues, just in case.