“Something I Had Never Thought Of” shows some cracks in the foundations by lingering a little, though she show’s strong emotional core is still very much present.
This recap of Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 3, “Something I Had Never Thought Of”, contains spoilers.
After last week’s downbeat, dagger-in-the-heart revelation about Chan-young, one can’t help but feel as if “Something I Had Never Thought Of” shows some cracks in the show’s foundations. Understandably, it revolves around the characters grappling internally and externally with Chan-young’s diagnosis, even though there’s still an element of mystery around it, but the overlong episode runtimes are beginning to feel a bit ponderous as if the show is delaying the inevitable rather than really developing in all that time.
Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 3 recap
It’s obvious that the show is playing for maximum drama, and I respect the fact that it’s eschewing the more obvious workplace romance tropes that k-drama is so very fond of. But I could certainly do without how on-the-nose some of these scenes are; the irony of a funeral discussion that determines Chan-young will live the longest, but it feels like an especially obvious way of hammering a point home.
But I’m a fan of Mi-jo’s drinking and emotional outbursts. They’re not good for anyone, obviously, but they feel like the legitimate behavior of someone confronted with the prospect of losing a close friend and not knowing how to deal with it. Because Thirty-Nine is so rooted in the perspectives of its central characters, it’s easy to overlook someone like, say, Sun-joo as an antagonist, even if she has a point. But for Mi-jo to act out, to be erratic and unstable, that’s welcomely to-the-point characterization. It shows her as flawed, vulnerable, pained – all the emotions you’d expect from someone in her position.
Because of this, though, I think the romantic elements fall by the wayside somewhat. In showing its cards so early, Thirty-Nine has become about grief, even though the loss hasn’t actually happened yet. Seon-u is a nice guy, perhaps to an extent that doesn’t even ring true, but it’s hard to feel like he and Mi-jo’s relationship should be getting much focus. Likewise, whatever’s going on with Chan-young, Jin-seok, and Sun-joo feels a bit too soapy and melodramatic for me, whatever implications there are about Jin-seok’s leverage over his wife and who his heart really belongs to.
There’s a worthwhile theme in Thirty-Nine episode 3 though, obviously, which is that Mi-jo can’t bring herself to tell Chan-young her diagnosis, and instead lashes out at someone else. The episode’s about grappling with and deciding to confront a harsh truth – to take the baby steps necessary (telling Seon-u first, for instance) to build up to the big moment. In sharing the news, Mi-jo makes it a little more real. And in making it more real, the importance of sharing it with Chan-young becomes even more paramount.
“Something I Had Never Thought Of” is building, inevitably, to the late moment in which Mi-jo can no longer continue to hide her secret, and one assumes tomorrow’s episode will be about the ramifications of the confession, despite it not being a total one just yet. There’s doubtlessly some real heartbreak on the horizon, but I can’t help worrying that the show is going to linger over it so long that it saps some of the emotional power. I respect the show for taking such a heavy turn so early, and I think this period of contemplation and toing and froing was necessary, but there’s a chance Thirty-Nine might slightly outstay its welcome.
But we’ll wait and see.