Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 6 recap – a carefully emotional episode

By Nathan Sartain
Published: September 14, 2022
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A well-performed, seamlessly executed episode packed with meaning.

This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 6 contains spoilers.

ACCESS: the reviews, news and features for Once Upon a Small Town.

In a tonal shift, episode six of Once Upon a Small Town was a rather powerful one. Full of reflections on life and death amongst other things, this well-acted chapter added a layer of depth to the usually breezy storytelling.

Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 6 recap

We begin with a flashback, watching as Ji-yul’s family skid away to avoid colliding with an animal. There, a man frantically struggles in a bid to rescue those who end up trapped in the car, as we cut back to the vet doing the same in the present. Smashing open the window, he manages to free Ja-young, while a look into the past again shows that Ji-yul underwent a mirroring tragedy in his youth, where it was actually the police officer who helped provide aid.

At the hospital, a solemn, reflective Ji-yul watches his friend rest. Then, Sang-hyeon arrives, worried by what could have happened, though curious as to why the vet is already here. “I just happened to be” is the response, drawing out a frail thank you from the peach farmer. In time, Ja-young wakes up, greeted by Sang-hyeon who asks if she is aware of her surroundings. Naturally, the popular resident is more concerned about Geun-mo, but her colleague is presumed to be alright given he is already walking around. Subsequently wondering how she got to the hospital, the police officer hears of Ji-yul’s selfless act of rescue.

After Ji-yul allows Ja-young to depart alongside Sang-hyeon, we cut to the police officer at home. There, she struggles to express her gratitude towards the vet over text, backtracking on whatever words she forms. Elsewhere, the two young men of the village do their own reflecting, each obviously affected by the day’s events in differing ways.

The next day, the recovering police officers ensure that they get right back to work, with Ja-young in particular going above and beyond when setting out to visit Pyeong-sik’s place. On her way there, she takes a quick pit stop at the veterinary hospital, only to discover that Ji-yul isn’t there.

Instead, donning a black suit and holding flowers, Ji-yul has headed to his parent’s resting place to pay his respects. Following that, Ja-young bumps into the vet on his ride home, kickstarting a mildly awkward, interrupted conversation based around yesterday’s events.

After Sang-hyeon drives along with the police officer, talking about life (as well as making another request for more thinking to be done about his confession), we cut to Ji-yul. Here, the vet is requested to euthanise a dying bull, one evidently suffering given it has stopped eating, and has deteriorating organs. Pyeong-sik, who believes the animal is like family, expresses that he wants to go through this process so that the bull’s death can be painless.

Next, a meeting involving both Huidong and Majeong over where a national singing contest should be held sees tensions rise between the two areas. Bickering over their suitable host venues, it soon turns petty, with each representative mentioning the respective “shabbiness” of the other village. Naturally, it all leads to a physical alteration, which increases in volatility when Mal-geum brings up the idea of Ja-young being spoilt because she has no parents.

Eventually, the police officer manages to simmer proceedings down by banging on the ceiling with a baton. With that being said, it doesn’t see an end to the bitterness, as Mal-geum begrudges Ja-young for always taking Huidong’s side despite the pity she takes on her, in addition to the fact her tax money also goes towards paying for the worker. As such, the comedic physicality soon resumes.

As Ji-yul talks with his Seoul colleague about the imminent euthanising of a bull, and his need to find an anaesthetic, a deflated Ja-young sits alone outside. Fortunately, Sang-hyeon arrives to provide some company, checking up on the well-being of his longtime friend. Nevertheless, the police officer just wants to be alone, so she goes to clear her head with a walk.

Following this, we watch Ji-yul euthanise the ailing bull while Pyeong-sik observes, thanking his trusted animal and wishing for it to return to him when reborn. “My wife could come back in some form, so let the three of us meet again and live happily together,” he says, before the vet completes the difficult work.

Later on, Ji-yul talks with the elder, who knows that the Seoul based doctor is missing his parents today. Reflecting on the part he played in looking after the vet after the tragedy when he was a boy, it allows for the two to share a poignant heart-to-heart about key moments in life, and those that have passed away. “As long as you don’t forget about someone you yearn to see, they will come to you as the rain or even as the wind,” Pyeong-sik states, sharing his mother’s wisdom.

Prior to his departure from Pyeong-sik’s house, Ji-yul is reminded of his past with Ja-young. “You were so adorable, playing together in secret back then,” the old man explains, making the vet suddenly realise just who the person he has become re-entangled with is.

The ending

In between flashback scenes showing the two’s past as youthful friends who did basically everything together, we watch as Ji-yul stands before Ja-young. For now though, we don’t hear any words, as the episode ends with the two looking into each other’s eyes.

What did you think of Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 6? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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