“The Inconvenient Truth” continues to drag its feet and dance around the issue, much to its detriment.
This recap of Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 7, “The Inconvenient Truth”, contains spoilers.
The thing about all the technical aspects of a TV show – the performances, the production, the score and soundtrack, and so on, and so forth – is that you’re not really supposed to notice them. Those elements exist in service to a story. The point of acting is to be so convincing that you forget it’s even acting. Good writing sounds like natural speech. You get the idea. The reason I bring this up is that whenever I watch Thirty-Nine, I notice all these things. I know I’m watching fiction. And the reason for that, generally, is that the story isn’t pulling its weight.
Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 7 recap
This show has worthwhile themes that should be more impactful. It has characters brought to convincing life that should be more interesting and have more to do. But the elongated episodes leave too much empty space to fill, and the story doesn’t have anything to fill it with. So, we’re reiterating the same ideas and dynamics, and belaboring the point of Chan-young’s inevitable passing, the mystery of which was revealed so early that it feels like the show has played its hand before anyone put their chips down.
In other words, even though the show is striving to make you, it’s difficult to care.
Look at how the romantic scenes between Mi-jo and Seon-u here chafe against the overarching story of loss. Mi-jo’s panic disorder being exacerbated by Chan-young’s diagnosis is a worthwhile, relatable idea, but it’s trapped by this picturesque date-night setting and tone. Even Chan-young’s condition and details like her parents finding out share space with Jin-seok’s marital strife and such. You can see how the peripheral elements pull from the core – Mi-jo has to make a decision here about whether to go golfing with Seon-u or attend an audition with Chan-young – but it still feels too busy. The central core of the story isn’t being treated as that narrative pillar, but as one consideration among many.
There are other things to contend with too, including mysteries about Mi-jo’s parentage, whether Chan-young – who gets the role she auditions for – can get all her parts filmed before she dies, Seon-u’s family issues, Joo-hee starting work for Hyeon-jun, and So-won moving into the Onnuri Child Care Centre. It’s a lot, yet even so it doesn’t feel like enough to fill all the dead air. The balance between the three leads is getting a bit better, admittedly, and there’s decent development occurring for everyone, but not at a pace that is going to thrill anyone. Usually, the bigger developments are saved the second half of each week’s double-bill, so hopefully, the next episode can liven things up a bit, but thus far, especially after a week’s hiatus, Thirty-Nine isn’t exactly proving itself as a memorable slice-of-life drama.