A dramatic chapter that centers around the Asian Games fallout.
This recap of Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 7 contains spoilers. You can check out our recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.
We start in the present, with Min-chae receiving a gift from her father, who we presume is away working as he cannot return home due to quarantine. The young girl is frustrated at first, as it’s a ballet dress and she has quit, but soon changes her tune and helps her mother with painting. There, they have a deep talk about whether or not Min-chae should be quitting ballet, based around improvements being made after hitting a wall, and not on a constant upwards trend.
Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 7 recap
Following that, we flash back to 1990, and see young Hee-do being accompanied to a fencing club by her father. He softly talks through the basic starting rules, and then we return to 1999, where we left off at the Asian Games fencing finals. It’s an intense match in the opening section, and Yi-jin happens to notice that the foreigner he guided to a restaurant the prior night is actually the final’s referee. At 3-1 in Yu-rim’s favour, we flit back to the French fencing club, before returning to hear coach Yang shower her mentee with compliments.
As Hee-do picks up pace, we move back to the backstory with her father, skipping to his funeral after he inspired Hee-do on a hospital bed with the same pep talk she passed on to Min-chae. We see how much fencing means to Hee-do here too, and how she’s always strived to improve and honour her promise to win a gold medal for her late father.
When the match’s climax arrives, more motivation for Hee-do is built as she remembers the adversity she had to overcome, and a gripping finale ensues. It’s occasionally breathtaking, especially after Yu-rim’s broken sword seems to mar her confidence, before the intensity turns into jubilation when Hee-do claims the medal, overturning a 14-12 deficit to do so. When celebrating, she turns to Yi-jin, who she spots tearing up.
However, Yu-rim begins to insist that she was faster in the deciding point, which would have seen her end up with the win. As such, we begin to see conspiracies take shape (as well as coach Yang’s genuine appeal for video reviews), with the press feigning interest in the post-match interview, and the media receiving appeals to focus on the gold medalist Olympian, protecting her over the alleged “bad call.” Even the press conference following the game ended up being aired live, taking the leading spot on television coverage and usurping Hee-do’s otherwise euphoric win.
After the press conference, where Hee-do was antagonised bitterly by the press, Yu-rim chooses to continue to argue, claiming to be the victim and angrily stating that she simply cannot accept a bad call. But Hee-do is firm in her reasoning, believing that she had her medal stolen by Yu-rim, as her pettiness resulted in a loss of honour. When the coach then attempts to chastise them both, the two leave, both clearly upset.
Soon, we see just how much this ordeal has shaken Hee-do, who wishes to take anxiety medicine, but she leaves the pharmacy after seeing her own mother report on the alleged officiating mistake. At the newsroom, Yi-jin takes issue with his colleague over UBS’ reporting on the controversy, but ends up scolded for his affiliation with Hee-do.
A little later on, Yi-jin emotionally discusses the situation with Hee-do, trying to get her to understand the gravity of the fact she abandoned the national team without notice. It has no effect, though, as she is too saddened to care about the fact she’s in a random town, and believes that running away is the best option. Despite warning, Yi-jin does still follow her down a long empty road, attempting to comfort the fencer, but failing. The two then end up running through several fencing simulations, all of which show Hee-do’s point that the athlete will always know if they are faster or not.
There’s more reluctance from Hee-do in going back to the national team, yet she does accept when Yi-jin cashes in his wish. We don’t see the immediate aftermath, however, as the journalist instantly pursues the referee who made the controversial call. When he is found, Mr. Smith appears happy to see Yi-jin, but soon looks frustrated, and departs when an interview request is brought forward.
When Hee-do returns to the national team, the coach angrily shouts at her (and Yu-rim), requesting they both leave the training centre, stating that they will be disciplined. Ergo, the pairing have to return home, Hee-do finding herself in hiding as she cannot bear to have to face the public, and Yu-rim confiding in her father about the anguish she currently feels. It’s evident the two are victims in different ways, as well as the fact that both could have dealt with the situation more maturely.
After a touching flashback which shows a bit more of Hee-do’s relationship with her father, we cut back to Yi-jin’s pursuit of Mr. Smith, and witness the lengths he has went to (gift giving) to try and secure what could be a vital interview. When the journalist explains the full context behind what the Korean public are saying, the referee does seem keen to clear his name.
Like before, we don’t see an immediate resolution, as instead we reach the meeting between Ji-woong and Yu-rim. The young man gives her a “gold medal in beauty,” which is nice if not cheesy, but there is definitely an air of awkwardness present over the Asian Games ordeal amidst the flirting. When we return to Hee-do, she solemnly approaches her house, somewhat hesitant to enter after recalling her mother’s reporting. So she doesn’t, instead choosing to go into a restaurant and spend some time alone. It ends up being an emotional event though, as Yi-jin’s exclusive interview with Mr. Smith seems to prove some of her innocence, and the old men on the neighbouring table comfort her impartially. “You were amazing during the match yesterday,” one says before eagerly congratulating her.
Surprisingly, the episode ends on a far less tense note. Hee-do, in her bid to escape staying at home, goes to Seung-wan’s hideout for the night, only to find herself locked in by the guard. Concerned about the toilet situation, she rushes to call Yi-jin, who assembles Seung-wan and Ji-woong to help put the escape plan into action. There’s a comedic part here in which Ji-woong gains respect for his elder upon realising he was in the band club, but nothing else too important. When the episode ends though, the agitation returns, as Hee-do is faced with Yi-jin as an old tape of his, where he gives love to and receives love from a woman called Da-eun, plays out.