Episode 3 of Melancholia picks up with Ahseong High’s maths competition that will determine their student representative for the Olympiad.
Seung-yoo makes it to the event at the last second. Although he is the most skilled at maths, he’s entering an unfair playing field. Teacher Mr. Han gave Ye-rin the list of essay questions for the competition to study beforehand.
When Seung-yoo and Ye-rin both receive perfect marks, Mr. Han and Yoon-soo argue over who should represent the school in the Olympiad. Mr. Han praises Ye-rin’s memorization skills, while Yoon-soo champions Seung-yoo, maintaining that mathematics is about creative and logical thinking.
Ms. Noh arranges it so that both Seung-yoo and Ye-rin are able to enter the Olympiad. As ever, she cleverly toes the line between actions that would look guilty and actions that look fair but are skewed toward her purposes. She tells Min-joon she’s planned for his daughter to take an internship with the AI Technology Research Centre. The centre will help Ye-rin prepare for the Olympiad, providing her with the upper hand.
She also reveals to him that her plans for Ahseong High are even greater than making it a specialized mathematics school. Her dream is for the school to be funded only by tuition and donations. She’d like it to be operated without support from the Ministry of Education, which would ultimately give her and the rich parents even greater control.
Interestingly, Principal Oh Jin-taek phones Ms. Noh’s sister to inform her that Yoon-soo will be the one helping Ye-rin and Seung-yoo prepare. We don’t know the connection between these two, but can assume that Ms. Noh’s sister has designs to stay one step ahead of her sister at all times.
When the school reveals the results of the competition, students learn that Seung-yoo is the same person as Min-jae, the 10-year-old maths prodigy.
Throughout the series, Seung-yoo’s mother Hee-seung has been embarrassed by her son’s school performance. Other parents like to rub this in, especially Ye-rin’s mother Hye-mi. But when the results of the competition come to light, Hee-seung gains new confidence and demands respect from the arrogant Hye-mi.
Around the same time, Yoon-soo reveals who made it into the maths club. Many of the students who received the highest scores in the competition didn’t qualify. That includes Gyu-yeong, whose mother is on the school board.
Yoon-soo informs everyone that she admitted students based on their creative means of solving problems. When students protest, led by Gyu-yeong, she concedes to let everyone have a chance at participating.
Several parents aren’t so happy about this, however. They petition for Yoon-soo’s removal as a teacher, but Ms. Noh assures them she has hired her for a reason.
Seung-yoo and Ye-rin have to prepare topics for the speech portion of the Olympiad. While Ye-rin waits to get inspiration from her internship, Seung-yoo borrows some books from Yoon-soo that previously belonged to her father.
When he finds notes in the books, Yoon-soo takes him to visit her father at a nursing home. His research inspires Seung-yoo’s idea for a speech topic.
Yoon-soo takes Seung-yoo to art exhibits to help him with his research. She invites Ye-rin along as well, but she declines. The two are alone until late at night as they ponder the ways in which life, art, and mathematics intersect.
While they’re out walking at night, Gyu-yeong sees them. Jealous of Seung-yoo’s sudden rise in status, he spreads a photoshopped picture of the student and teacher in a compromising position.
Although Ye-rin tells Gyu-yeong that he went too far, she still informs Ms. Noh of what he saw between Seung-yoo and Yoon-soo. Meanwhile, Seung-yoo and Gyu-yeong get into a fight over the picture.
Yoon-soo tries on wedding dresses with her fiancée and future mother-in-law. She learns about the picture in the middle of the appointment and has to leave early, disappointing both of them.
When she is back at the school, Gyu-yeong’s mother scolds her. Yoon-soo shows her the picture Gyu-yeong photoshopped, however. She warns her that she could show it to the news station, and it would be considered sexual harassment. Gyu-yeong’s mother then agrees to have her son apologize to both of them.
At the end of the episode, Yoon-soo speaks with Seung-yoo. She tells him violence is wrong, but that it’s right for him to be angry. She encourages him to not hide his true self.
He asks her if that’s truly okay, indicating that he’s not been allowed to express himself in the past.
We see a spark of change in a closing scene: Gyu-yeong asks Seung-yoo if he likes Yoon-soo. Thinking of their conversation, he clenches his fists in anger—but he doesn’t express violence.
The Episode Review
This episode continues to build on the antiparallel journeys of Seung-yoo and Ye-rin. While the pressure builds for Ye-rin, Seung-yoo is starting to grow in ways he previously never hoped for.
Most of that is thanks to Yoon-soo. Although the two are pushing boundaries with the amount of time they spend together outside of school, it’s clear that there’s no inappropriate intention on the teacher’s end. Their relationship progresses a lot in this episode, setting the stage for the accusation against Yoon-soo we know is coming.
Aside from a goofy scene between Seung-yoo and Ye-rin’s mothers, this is a really compelling instalment for the series. The drama intensifies!
Worryingly, Ms. Noh always seems to have something up her sleeve. What exactly does she have planned for the Olympiad? And how are Yoon-soo and Seung-yoo going to combat it?