A seamlessly written episode that combines vehemence with flurries of comedy and character development to create a uniquely entertaining cocktail.
This recap of the K-Drama Netflix series Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 5 contains spoilers.
Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 5 recap
We begin with the tender parting scene of Hee-do and Yi-jin, one laced with well wishes and happy thoughts of what had occurred in the fencing gym that night. Yi-jin wishes his friend luck for the fencing tryout she has, and encourages the athlete to remember the words that managed to touch her. “I’m going to take in all of your support,” Hee-do replies, smiling as she states that the pairing should become great together. After stating that she is one of a kind, Yi-jin recomposes himself, sees his friend off, and even manages to collect the sword he used earlier as a souvenir of their memory-filled occasion.
When Hee-do heads up to her house, she is greeted outside the door by her mother, who begins to poke around for information on Yi-jin. However, it’s far from a cute scene, as the tensions around the parent’s lack of faith in her daughter re-emerge, particularly around the student’s national team tryouts. At that moment, we jump back to the present, where we see Min-chae’s newfound respect for Hee-do’s work ethic appear, as well as her mother’s training log. It threads nicely into the backdrop for the national team tryouts, where Hee-do vows to coach Yang that she will not lose.
Elsewhere, Yi-hyun confronts his bullies after he is hit by a baseball, evidently enjoying his current power over his former tormentors. Happy because of his luck, he calls his older brother, wishing for him to have the same fortunes. Following that, Yi-jin stares at the sword he was gifted, and verbalises his wishes for Hee-do to have a lucky day too.
Back to the Hwaseong national team tryouts, Hee-do trusts that she has worked harder than her opposition, and that it will only be natural for her to soon be able to represent her country. It’s an optimistic tale, which only makes the interwoven scenes of Yi-hyun being antagonised by the people looking for their debts to be settled, and judged by his peers, appear all the more harsh. As Hee-do bests her opponent, we’re left with a lingering question of what comes of the debt collector’s quest for repayment, with the last shot one that sees Yi-jin barge into one of the men in the hopes of protecting his younger sibling.
Meanwhile, Jae-kyung hears of her daughter’s success in the bustling newsroom, walking away with tempered pride thanks to the knowledge she’s gained that Hee-do is in the tryout final. Then, we cut to a coach Yang pep talk, where she reminds her student not to get flustered, and that once again her inexperience may come in handy. The ensuing bout is gripping, with her adversaries’s pre-warned underhanded tactics feeling genuinely enraging, and the eventual win for the protagonist something that is inarguably a feel-good moment. With that being said, the expressionless Yu-rim, who appeared concerned by her contemporaries’ performance whenever the camera cut towards her, is clearly something to keep an eye on.
Next, we see flashes of celebrations from several angles. First, the restrained joy of Jae-kyung, then of the youthful pride present in Ji-woong and Seung-wan (made complete with an enthused mother who couldn’t quite believe two members of the fencing national team were catching loaches in her house not long ago), before we’re shown the excitement of coach Yang and Hee-do herself. In the midst of this, Hee-do does try and share her news with Yi-jin, but she realises that she doesn’t know his page number, and so just leaves a vacant message on the payphone and skips into the restaurant to eat. Here, Yu-rim is cold once more to the new national team member, which only results in the latter confidently waving away the delayed bathroom congratulations.
The next day, Hee-do sprints to the rental store, hoping to catch Yi-jin and share the good news with him. However, he has quit his job there, and can’t be found at his house either. Even a worried Yu-rim can’t track the former student down, but her frantic actions appear to negatively impact Ji-woong, who seems upset that he may harbour deep, potentially one-sided feelings for the gold medalist. Shortly after, we discover that Yi-jin had moved out that morning because of something “urgent,” with everyone from Seung-wan to Hee-do left deflated. Outside, some faint signs of bonding between Yu-rim and Hee-do appear to form, with the former forgetting her prickliness when she gives her rival the page number for the missing Yi-jin.
At her house, we see that Yi-jin had gifted Hee-do her desired blue fencing sword, whilst we also become privy to the knowledge that he was aware of her success. Then, we cut to Yi-jin himself, who is travelling in a cramped van on the way to Pohang with his brother and another man. We then get the context about his situation; that his father is a financial criminal who set up a profitless company in Yi-hyun’s name, that his younger sibling was told not to contact anyone from Seoul anymore, and that the pair must return home to avoid the creditors.
When the siblings do greet their mother, she immediately cries, distraught over missing her husband, and grateful that she can see her children again. Over dinner, a proposal that Yi-hyun will finish high-school at the alleged “hick town,” and that Yi-jin will stay at the house for the time being is put forward, and is swiftly agreed upon.
During a visit to the broadcasting club, Hee-do borrows some of Yi-jin’s recordings for motivation at the national team camp, and shares with Seung-wan her faith that Yi-jin will have made the right choice in moving away. Elsewhere, Hee-do gets a new picture taken, and moans at her mother for scolding her in spite of her success. “I’m here to make other people congratulate you,” Jae-kyung says back, before they humorously reject a joint picture.
Now, Hee-do is tasked with sharing a room with Yu-rim at the national team camp, with the gold medalist resuming her abruptness. However, there is some comedy amongst the two, particularly revolving around snoring. Meanwhile, we discover that Yi-jin had been left a touching, encouraging message from Hee-do at a payphone, leaving him teary-eyed and moved.
The next day, Ji-woong ignores Yu-rim in a bid to get revenge over her actions when she did the same to him, but the fencer soon apologises and looks to patch things up with her crush. There, she also explains why she cares about Yi-jin so much to Ji-woong, who soon realises the error of his ways, and decides to share embarrassing secrets to get even.
Three months later, we observe Hee-do’s training progress. It’s made her somewhat unwell, the intensity of it all, and she is subsequently hospitalised. The coach, rather than caring, favours warning her about passing on her cold to Yu-rim first.
Sadly, Yi-hyun pretends not to know Yi-jin when out with his friends, even going to the extreme length of buying food from him as if they were strangers. It understandably depresses the older sibling, who later asks whether Yi-hyun is ashamed of the fact that he moves fish now, rather than drives a sports car. “You’re embarrassing,” the high-school student says tearily, putting down the hard labour that his brother does, and the poverty they live in. The two get frank with each other, and both evidently end up upset by their confrontation.
After the fight, Yi-jin and his uncle have a heart-to-heart, with the former student admitting that he wanted to run away because of his repeated failures, and that he may have used his brother as an excuse. “I’m a real loser,” he says, staring at his empty soju glass. In a bid to receive comfort, Yi-jin heads towards a payphone, and listens to Hee-do’s message of encouragement again and again.
Following another hard shift, Yi-jin fixates on the TV, learning of Yu-rim’s victory at the Presidential Cup Fencing Competition, but feeling the most emotional sort of pride at Hee-do’s third-place finish. In a callback to their faucet hijinks, he then heads towards a remote place to repeat it alone, sentimentally recalling his friend’s happy-go-lucky attitude. In that moment, we see Hee-do is doing the exact same where she is, with the exact same wishfulness too. With shared frames, a dream sequence of the two running away from the authorities interlocked, and a return message from Yi-jin to Hee-do confessing how he has missed her and will soon return (before Full House volume 15 to be precise), the episode ends, seamlessly emotional in its understated resonance.
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