Episode 18 of A Love So Beautiful begins in the Summer of Twenty-One as Sol-I and Heon attend a medical school social. After a guy hits on Sol-I and a girl is about to confess to Heon, he whispers to Sol-I to save him. She dramatically fakes a stomach-ache and he says that he must take his ‘girlfriend’ home, causing a stir.
They walk hand-in-hand and Sol-I asks Heon to repeat the ‘girlfriend’ part. He confirms it to her delight but won’t explain when that happened. She’s beyond thrilled anyway.
Ha Young congratulates Sol-I for finally reaching her goal but isn’t impressed that all they’ve done is hold hands. She offers to help, starting with her clothes.
Out to dinner, Sol-I is wearing a shoulder-baring dress. Heon asks her to stay with him that evening and she freaks out. He clarifies that he means at the library.
Sitting on a bench that evening she slides away from him and he calls her back. She scoots next to him and he kisses her on the cheek. They both blush and giggle.
Ha-Young studies as Jin-Hwan watches. A guy approaches to ask for her number and Jin-Hwan scares him off. Then he finds several notes in her book, invitations and numbers from other guys. He gets upset but a kiss on the cheek fixes everything.
Dae-Sung is interviewed and then sent to a commercial photoshoot. His schedule is busy to pack things in before the season begins. A couple approach him to sign an autograph in between.
At the library, Heon is busily studying but Sol-I is bored. He gives her a book to read and turns the pages so she doesn’t have to remove her mittens. She cuddles against him as she reads and someone takes a photo.
The gang are eating together and another student approaches Heon with a school booklet displaying their photo on the cover. Sol-I pretends to be surprised but Heon doesn’t buy it. He smiles at her indulgently anyway.
Jin-Hwan is in the hospital and Heon runs to see him. He says he won’t tell Ha-Young that he’s there and asks Heon not to mention anything either.
Jin-Hwan breaks up with Ha-Young, saying they’re getting sick of each other. Ha Young is angry and he makes a swift exit.
Heon meets Sol-I, shielding her ears when girls meanly say she’s not good enough for him. He tells her about Jin-Hwan’s surgery, saying it’s risky. He suggests she inform Ha-Young.
At the hospital, they check out at a magazine interview starring Dae-Sung. Jin-Hwan talks about how cool he is and Heon is again covering Sol-I’s ears. Ha-Young joins them and scolds Jin-Hwan for keeping the surgery from her. Wearing both their couple rings, she tells him to survive.
Summer of Twenty-Five and Ha-Young is waiting in a hospital room. She sees Jin-Hwan outside in his hospital PJs playing with a bunch of kids. They make love hearts at each other.
Summer of Twenty-Six and Sol-I is wearing a puffy pink costume with a head passing out flyers. Heon brings her a cold drink and tells her to take a break while he hands them out for a bit. Sol-I notices that groups of girls are now coming to take pages from Heon and insists he put on the costume head.
The Episode Review
We’ve finally gotten where we want to be in A Love So Beautiful – at long last, they’re a couple – and why do I feel so disappointed? Whereas the drama has been emotionally tight up until two chapters ago, now it seems like they’ve dropped the ball and refuse to let our protagonists grow up.
I’m not saying they should be jumping into bed, but I just want them to experience their feelings rather than ride the edge of them, galloping on to the next event.
From age 23 to 26 in university, a lot happens emotionally. There’s so much possibility and evolution. The moments where Sol-I gets jealous or feels inadequate next to Heon – both his and her feelings do not see the light of day. In fact, they hardly talk about anything. Where’s all of Sol-I’s chatter?
For Ha-Young and Jin-Hwan – firstly, didn’t he get accepted into the same university as the others last episode? Now he’s so ill he can’t attend – and no one bothered to tell us? Or did something else happen? Either way, we’re uninformed. We don’t even know what’s wrong with him other than ‘heart’ problems from a few installments ago. Since Heon knows about it, there was a route to easily tell us something.
And how about Heon and Sol-I’s silly kiss on the cheek? In the Chinese original (episode 18) it was actually a sweet, proper kiss. And a funny and awkward conversation afterwards about the scientific difference between lip skin versus other skin. They’ve already had a first kiss so – why?
For the first time in the series, I believe, there’s so much happening there isn’t even time for a flashback. This is where the short format is letting us down, even though the episodes are only 10 minutes lighter than the original.
They’re stuffing in lots of pieces of narrative – zipping across years – but not giving the relationships ample time to develop. Where are all the feels? Because that is what we’re here for – to vicariously experience those connections.