A fun, dainty offering that builds nicely to a dramatic climax.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 4 contains spoilers.
Much like in last week’s chapters, Once Upon a Small Town episode four maintains an enjoyable breeziness. There’s never anything too perplexing going on, the characters are all interesting enough, and the story is one that thrives in its village setting. Consistently engaging, this may be a drama with a noticeable ceiling, but it’s one happy to continue showing its charm.
Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 4 recap
After Ji-yul watches Ja-young warmly play with the “half-wild” dog (later named Nurungji) that was being treated at the hospital, he agrees that it’s time to find someone to adopt the canine. Of course, the police officer is happy to oblige here, offering to look after the pet she has grown attached to already. In return for the good deed, she will get the dog’s food and medicine free of charge. A quick flashback then confirms that this is not Ja-young’s first experience with a canine, as she once received Cloud from a friend back when they were young.
Later on, a reflective Ji-yul hears of Ja-young’s status as an “animal person,” with Yeong-suk stating that the police officer makes friends with them easily, in the same way she does with people. Then, when on his way back home, the vet is flustered by the appearance of his acquaintance, to the point he slightly stutters when discussing the fact he has eaten. With that being said, the two do get to spend a little time together on their way to a disturbance that has already been dealt with, which allows the pair to talk more openly. We hear that Ja-young embraces her busy life due to it meaning that she is useful, as well as the type of blessing she believes it would be to be able to see someone every time they were missed. Most importantly, though, it seems like the duo who were at odds with each other plenty of times have now accepted their friendship.
With the mood high, Sang-hyeon coincidentally interrupts the conversation while on his way to buy a mating disruptor. Still obviously somewhat jealous, the peach farmer asks if Ji-yul knows what such a thing is, before detailing its full effect once it’s established he does, although clearly this speech is a not-quite-subtle dig at the vet for interrupting Sang-hyeon’s advances towards Ja-young.
At the hospital, Ja-young rushes in to talk about Nurungji’s disappearance, evidently extremely worried. Fortunately, Ji-yul calms the police officer down when she starts to theorise about her pet hunting chickens, leading to a more rationalised search for the missing canine. Eventually, Nurungji is found, along with three puppies, and a larger dog named Boksil.
Sadly, Boksil pounces on Ji-yul, causing him to lose a contact lens, as well as scratch his arm. As such, he is made to head back into town by Ja-young, who insists that the wound is treated. On the way back, the canine relationship between Nurungji and Boksil is contextualised, while Ji-yul expresses his fascination in Ja-young’s ability to know so much about people, and be so friendly towards them. “I think of them as family,” the police officer replies, believing that the village really is that close to her.
Soon, Ji-yul gets a call from Se-ryeon that disrupts the warm chat, as he is told that the cow belonging to the Women’s Association President is struggling to give birth. What follows is a rather intense delivery, one full of compromise due to the vet’s diminished vision (until his glasses arrive) and the absence of a pully, but the calf is ultimately safely born thanks to the assistance of Ja-young. Relieved, Ji-yul is barely able to speak when subjected to compliments about his ability, though he does find the time to admit to that the kind words are helping him relax.
That night, the village parties at Se-ryeon’s house, taking Ji-yul by surprise. Nevertheless, the vet nervously unwinds alongside Ja-young before Sang-hyeon arrives, with the peach farmer continuing his obvious attempts at keeping the police officer close to him. Then, the Young Men’s Association president gets all the attention for his keen eating of meat, praised for the fact he is not “picky” with his food like Ji-yul, who had established his vegetarianism. The vet is well aware of the games Sang-hyeon is playing, however, emphasised by his lingering look of mild contempt.
In time, Se-ryeon’s special bush clover liquor is brought out to commemorate the happy occasion, a drink meant to have an interesting effect for men. When asked about this by Ja-young, Sang-hyeon’s response is that she must actually see him as a man, so he happily accepts a glass upon its offering. Following that, the peach farmer’s snide comments about the drink’s strength taunt Ji-yul into taking some of the liquor too, leading to a strangely tense back-and-forth of alcohol consumption.
At that point, Se-ryeon sees it fit to intervene, so invites Ja-young up to sing. It’s a nice performance, one that highlights the affection both Sang-hyeon and Ji-yul have towards the police officer with the way they watch her. Yet at the culmination of the song, when the attention turns to the “VIP” veterinarian, Ji-yul nervously leaves, only to be followed out by Ja-young. Under the pitch black sky, the police officer questions why Ji-yul looks so uneasy, then tries to change topics when discussing her intent to bring the puppies to the hospital the following day.
After trying to get out of helping Ja-young with the task of transporting the dogs, Ji-yul ends up awkwardly entangled with the police officer anyway, helping her when she falls, and unconsciously holding her hand to prevent it getting dirty from bike chain inspection. With an awkwardness in the air, a curious Sang-hyeon abruptly appears, labelling the veterinarian a lightweight because of his vehicle’s muddy condition. Provoked, Ji-yul smugly replies that the peach farmer must have been worried about something to leave the party and follow the pairing, an accusation admitted to.
When frustrated by subsequent comments that imply he may have been being shady in regard to what alcohol could do for him and Ja-young, Ji-yul departs, but not before commenting that it’ll be like leaving Sang-hyeon with a girlfriend. Then, the vet overhears the peach farmer genuinely confess his feelings to the police officer. “When I see you, I want to hold you and hug you,” Sang-hyeon says, no longer wishing for his friend to be too comfortable with him. Following a quick look at all three people’s immediate reactions to what’s been said, the episode ends.
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