Chocolate returns this week with an hour of…not very much. Beyond a few snippets of plot development and foreshadowing, there really isn’t a whole lot here worth getting excited about. It is a little disappointing if I’m honest, especially given how invested I currently am with this one, but in a way it does feel like it’s needed after the heavy few weeks we’ve had with this one.
We begin episode 9 of Chocolate in Summer 1995, with Lee Jun and Lee Kang as kids, witnessing the tragedy of the department store collapsing on TV. Tears stream down his face as his family take an apathetic view to the tragedy, enjoying their life of luxury. It’s here he also vows to not eat any chocolate and instead sits scoffing down rice and other food as a way of filling the void in his stomach.
This brings us back to the present, with Kang conflicted over his feelings for Cha-Young. As he sits with Yong-Seol, she tells him he’s done well to change the public perception of the hospice and offers him the position running it. Only, his Mother is none too happy with this as she watches from afar and attempts in vain to phone Seung-Hun, who refuses to pick up.
While Cha-Young mistakes someone in an astronaut mask for Ji-Yong, back at the hospice the others try to adjust to life there without the charismatic young boy. Kang heads back to his office and finds a tray of food waiting for him while in the kitchen, Seon-Ae despairs as she struggles to remember what the dish was she was cooking. Cha-Young gently tries to remind her but it unfortunately doesn’t work, and she rushes out the room in a fit of frustration.
However, Seon-Ae charges back in soon after and realizes the missing ingredient in Clam porridge is…yep, you guessed it – clams. A faint glimmer of happiness warms the room, helped along further by Lee Jun who appears to have sent a parcel full of hand-crafted trays for her. Kang meanwhile, deliberates over what to do regarding the job offer and outside he comes face to face with Cha-Young. As a white sheet blankets them both, after taking it off they stare up at the roof and see Lee Jun, who happens to be doing community service at the hospice. This sees him take to the kitchen, where Cha teaches him how to peel anchovies properly.
When he’s done with the small fish, he heads outside and speaks to Kang regarding the proposition of taking control of the hospice. It appears Kang may have plans to disband the establishment, which Lee Jun takes offense to and challenges his brother, telling him he’ll stop him no matter what. Their basketball game turns into a fight and as they wrestle, flashes of the past come to the foreground as we see the two brothers fighting as kids too. However, Director Kwon arrives and breaks their fight up before things get really out of hand.
While Lee Jun is patched up by Director Kwon, Kang stands silently outside and admits that it’s his fate to fight his brother. As he heads outside, he sees Lee Jun holding an umbrella for Cha-Young and getting close to her, where pangs of jealousy may well be washing over him. It’s enough for Kang to ride behind him in the car as he drives Cha-Young home, honking his horn constantly.
Lee Jun pulls the car over and tells Cha just how evil and wicked his brother really is but before he can get a chance to explain further, Cha-Young leaves the car and walks off as Kang cuts off the distraught father of Ye-Sol, who rings regarding the hospice. Seemingly not seeing Cha-Young approach the car, he drives away.
While Jun continues his grueling community service, Cha-Young heads out for a scheduled lunch with Min-Yong where he tells Cha that Kang has the Zika virus. He doesn’t, of course, but it does lead to a charming and sweet few moments between the duo, including a wry smile that crosses his lips as he drives Cha back to the hospice. As she steps out the car, Kang holds the crane she made and thinks back to their tender moments together where the episode ends.
Chocolate is one of my favourite Korean dramas at the moment but this episode really didn’t do anything to drive the plot forward. Aside from a couple of flashbacks early on and the reveal that Kang may be taking over the family business, everything else during the hour really felt like a deep breath before plunging into more dramatic territory.
I guess in a way this is needed for a show as heavy as this one, and after Ji-Yong’s death last time out, the series did need this time-out period a little. Having said that, the lighthearted tone and general nothingness going on does feel like a bit of a waste of an hour. There’s enough here to keep you watching of course and I’m sure tomorrow’s episode will get us back up to speed again, but in the meantime episode 9 feels a little too much like filler for my liking.