A tense rivalry begins to develop as the complexities of matchmaking for Korea’s elite become more and more apparent.
This recap of Remarriage & Desires season 1, episode 2 contains spoilers.
The opening scenes of this second episode give a good sense of where Remarriage & Desires is heading thematically — in the direction of revenge! After their unfortunate encounter at the end of the premiere, Hye-seung and Yoo-hui are separated, with the former being taken for a very demeaning consultation in which she’s informed that because of her age, her divorcee status, and her daughter, she isn’t exactly desirable and can only really associate with the lowest of Rex’s clients. She’s incensed, obviously, in part because this is just flat-out insulting, but also because she has now realized that Yoo-hui has considerably more status than her, even after setting up, ruining, and ultimately indirectly killing her husband. This won’t do!
Remarriage & Desires season 1, episode 2 recap
But what’s the solution? As Yoo-hui smugly says when the two women cross paths outside again, trying to dig up dirt on her probably won’t end well for Hye-seung, and whatever Nam-sik might have claimed, general sentiment still seems to be that he’s the “disgusting rapist” Yoo-hui described him as. But we’re starting to see some unexpected contours to Yoo-hui. In the previous episode, we saw a snippet of her drinking a can of Heineken and stating aloud that Nam-sik’s attempts to marry her are what led to his death, and here we see her express something resembling… remorse?
Of course, privilege is relative. Even though Hye-seung feels inadequate next to Yoo-hui, Yoo-hui is basically nothing among Rex’s clientele, to the extent that she can’t even get Ms. Choi to meet with her. She’s getting desperate because she knows that Hye-seung is out to get her, and Hye-seung seems to have an advantage in Ms. Choi’s… perhaps “interest” is the best word. She tells Ms. Choi outright that she has someone she’s competing with and that she wants to ruin, maybe even kill, and Ms. Choi’s advice is, predictably, that she should become wealthy in order to do it. But how?
These two women continue to think about and threaten one another as the battle lines are drawn. Hye-seung’s weapon of choice is Yoo-hui’s questionable past, while Yoo-hui can still expose Nam-sik to ruin Hye-seung’s life and career further. But the threat of mutually assured destruction makes both hesitant to move on the other. And, as ever, it’s around Rex that all this revolves, since both plan to use the matchmaking service to put themselves in more powerful positions.
Speaking of which, we really start to see that influence here. We see politicians asking Ms. Choi how they can ensure their daughters marry into dynasties (invest in her appearance is her advice, brutally.) We’re also introduced to Ae-ran, an influential woman in her own right who wants Rex to marry her daughter off into a powerful family so that she can enact some measure of revenge for slights that we’re not entirely privy to just yet. But she requires Rex generally, and Ms. Choi specifically, to make this happen.
Rex is a bit less ridiculous here because the episode focuses more on humanizing and rationalizing Ms. Choi. Masks and human chess boards are one thing, but seeing her behind the scenes cracks more of a window into her psyche. Ae-ran wants to bribe her with a residential development deal on land that is presently restricted, and Ms. Choi sees an opportunity in taking a 50% stake in the company that’ll be doing the development if restrictions are rescinded and her father is able to build there.
Tensions also heighten between Hye-seung and Yoo-hui when the latter finesses the former a new work project that she’s also involved in, bringing the two of them closer together than ever. Remarriage & Desires runs the risk of getting a bit too melodramatic for its own good whenever these two interact, but the rivalry at least makes for a decent amount of tension and intrigue. Yoo-hui also hands Ms. Choi a smoking gun by revealing to her that she’s the illegitimate daughter of Congressman Son Pil-young, which is even more leverage.
Faced with so many options, Ms. Choi decides that instead of simply matching people up, Rex will instead host an anonymous masquerade ball so that everyone can compete on a level playing field. This is relevant thematically since how often do these people get to enter into relationships that aren’t predicated on their fortune and status, and it’s also a good excuse to show off some of the show’s rather striking production design and camera work. Oh, and of course, Hye-seung and Yoo-hui both find themselves there, competing for the attention of a man they both know only as Zeus. Should be fun.