Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 10 recap – “He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper”

March 24, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
K-Drama, Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
2

Summary

“He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper” is perhaps the worst episode of the season thus far, or at least the one most replete with the ongoing problems.

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2

Summary

“He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper” is perhaps the worst episode of the season thus far, or at least the one most replete with the ongoing problems.

This recap of Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 10, “He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper”, contains spoilers.


All throughout Thirty-Nine I’ve been complaining about the same things, and I feel like “He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper” is where they all come together into one agonizing hour-and-a-bit of frictionless drama. The underlying feeling is of everything coming undone, of the subplots exposing themselves as a waste of time, all the shared space between focal characters feeling frayed and thin. All throughout the show has had a problem with deciding who and what it wants to be about, and never has that been clearer.

Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 10 recap

Following on from the previous episode, stealing from the shop has made the girls minor local celebrities, their actions lauded for their relatable altruism. Who among us, after all, wouldn’t smash a window and commit theft to please our dying friend? It raises a bigger question: How much is too much when it comes to making a fuss about someone? Like, at what point do the grand gestures get a bit embarrassing? Perhaps more importantly, at what point does someone’s nice, friendly behavior constitute patronizing sympathy? How do you know when someone’s being genuine?

Admittedly I’m giving the show more credit than it strictly deserves here by speculating on all these ideas and themes when it really cares more about, say, some strange man who claims to know Mi-jo’s birth mother. This, by the way, is the most drama this episode provides, and it’s so thoroughly disconnected from what is ostensibly the main point of the show that it’s hard not to audibly sigh about it. Spending time on all this – he’s owed money, as all shifty dudes tend to be – just feels like such a waste.

Joo-hee seems to be the only person talking much sense since she considers herself something of a third wheel, and the show has treated her this way all throughout. Her anxiety about her relationship with Mi-jo suffering when Chan-young is no longer around is a pretty legitimate worry, in all honesty. If the show had been more focused, it could have dug into this idea more. Either way, nothing in this episode really dispels the idea, at least not in a meaningful, lasting way.

Meaningful and lasting are two words that, unfortunately, simply cannot be applied to Thirty-Nine. Its ripe premise has been thoroughly underused across a string of painfully lengthy and bizarrely empty episodes that have reiterated the same clutch of ideas and wasted almost all their time on dull tangential subplots that take focus away from the core. I honestly can’t tell if Mi-jo and Chan-young third-wheeling Joo-hee at the end here is supposed to be intentional irony or is just a colossal oversight, and the fact I can’t tell is worrying. If the show itself can’t take its character drama seriously, why am I being expected to?

Honestly, folks, I’ll be happy when this one is over and done with.

You can stream Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 10, “He Who Dances Must Pay the Piper”, exclusively on Netflix.

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