“A Thousand Nights Over and Over Again” continues to drag its way to a long overdue climax.
This recap of Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 9, “A Thousand Nights Over and Over Again”, contains spoilers.
At the risk of repeating myself, I have to reiterate a pretty crucial truth about Thirty-Nine – it’s far too long. And I know defining something like that can be a bit nebulous. Every bad show is too long, and no great show is long enough. But Thirty-Nine feels objectively too long, like every scene of every episode is extended just a few minutes longer than it ought to be. The effect is draining. There’s a lot going on here, and so little of it is interesting.
Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 9 recap
It’s all well-acted, though. That’s worth mentioning since it makes something like the opening scene depicting Mi-jo’s growth through the orphanage and into a loving adoptive family matter, especially in the context of going to see her birth mother in prison. This was last week’s cliffhanger, you’ll recall, and she rushes out with a faked stomachache so that she doesn’t have to put up with any more of her biological mother’s nonsense. It’s understandable.
But how relevant is it, really? The theme of parents is reiterated everywhere, from Mi-jo to Joo-hee to Chan-young, and while the context is different the underlying message is the same – your parents are those who raise and love you, and while everyone’s circumstances are different, what really matters is the love. This is a worthwhile theme, but is it so worthwhile we need to go over it in every episode?
This all leads into yet more drama with Seon-u and his father. If you recall, Mi-jo being an orphan is the point of contention in all this, and I’m left to wonder, as I always seem to, whether this is a show about Chan-young’s impending death or Mi-jo’s life. I suppose you can have both, but when one is so much better than the other, why bother? Every time Thirty-Nine allows itself to be a story about female friendship and impending loss, it nails that issue every time. The acting and the snappy writing and the believable camaraderie really sing in that context. And it’s within that context that you can see how the scene in which the girls steal a cake for Chan-young’s mother’s birthday really works – it’s the kind of slapstick-y thing, bad decisions for the right reasons, spurred on by a sense of not knowing how near the end is, that the show could have built its entire season around. There’s something so charming about the central trio drinking, laughing, and living that one can’t help but feel defeated by how much time is spent on Mi-jo’s birth mother, and Seon-u’s father, and Jin-seok, and all these other things that really pull away from the main drama and pad out a grimly overlong runtime.
Will tomorrow’s follow-up be any better? Probably not. But I suppose we can hope.