Melancholia — K-Drama Episode 5 Recap & Review

Breaking Point

Episode 5 of Melancholia begins with students and parents anxiously awaiting the results of the speech portion of the Mathematics Olympiad.

As the judges deliberate, Ye-rin pulls up a picture on her phone. It’s the one she took of Yoon-soo and Seung-yoo at the airport. She might be contemplating sharing it to sabotage Seung-yoo’s efforts.

She doesn’t need to worry, though. On stage, she’s awarded the presidential award—the most coveted award in the competition.

But the judges don’t stop there. For the first time in the history of this competition, they give out a special judges’ award. It goes to Seung-yoo—for his unique and creative presentation.

All Seung-yoo wants to do after the awards ceremony is show Yoon-soo how he solved her problem. She’s more concerned about his mental health.

He tells her about his friend from MIT, Jin-ho. He was Korean too, and the one person who helped Seung-yoo adjust to the new country.

One day in class, Jin-ho was illustrating a complex equation. He couldn’t finish it, so Seung-yoo took over and solved it differently.

With his solution, he unknowingly ruined years of Jin-ho’s work on his thesis. Later, he found his only friend had committed suicide.

Seung-yoo sobs in front of Yoon-soo, who does her best to comfort him. She assures him that Jin-ho likely did not resent him. He was simply too much in love with that particular problem.

Her fiancé interrupts them then. He’s angry with Yoon-soo for not answering her phone and for being with Seung-yoo. Later, he asks her to be careful. Seung-yoo obviously has feelings for her, and she doesn’t want rumours to be repeated.

Curiously, Yoon-soo saves pictures of Seung-yoo giving his speech to her computer. Is it pride for her student that leads her to do so, or could feelings be developing on her end as well?

Meanwhile, Min-joon gifts Ms. Noh with wine for her work on the competition. The wine has expensive jewels wrapped around it. He’s playing a dangerous game—with his wife sitting at the same table.

A TV station does a story on the high school due to its producing two winners. A not-so-favourable story comes out alongside it.

One reporter does a story on Ye-rin. She reveals that Ye-rin participated in a symposium with Professor Cha before the competition. Not only did her speech turn out very similar to the research Cha developed; but Cha was also one of the judges. The media suspects preferential treatment.

The news also cuts to an interview with Yoon-soo where she refused to talk about how she advised Ye-rin. Yoon-soo did not know she was being interviewed at the time.

Ye-rin’s schoolmates heckle her, but Yoon-soo wants to help her. She advises her to choose a path from now on that won’t hurt others. But Ye-rin retorts by saying none of what’s happened is her fault.

With midterms coming up, Ms. Noh refuses to help Ye-rin as she usually does. Ye-rin starts spiraling. Her mother catches her taking pills for ADHD, and they have an intense, screaming fight.

Ms. Noh has other things to worry about. She learns that it was her sister who leaked information about Ye-rin to the reporter. She confronts her, letting her know that the war between them for the Ahseong Foundation is not over.

Ye-rin is angry with Yoon-soo, thinking she has ruined her chances by encouraging Seung-yoo to compete with her. She tampers with the brakes on the teacher’s bike, leading Yoon-soo to crash.

When she hurts her ankle, Seung-yoo carries her to the nurse, inciting more gossip about the two of them.

When Yoon-soo finds out that Ye-rin caused her crash, she wants to help the student even more. She gives her a questionnaire that gauges learning anxiety.

Ye-rin ticks the box marked “very much” for each question. When she comes to the end of the questionnaire, she rips it up, crying.

She asks Seung-yoo why he must compete with her. He insists he’s not trying to hurt her. But he has to compete with her to become a better person.

Pushed to her breaking point, Ye-rin shows Ms. Noh the photo of Yoon-soo sleeping on Seung-yoo’s shoulder at the airport. 

At the end of this episode, Seung-yoo has his photos developed and asks to meet with Yoon-soo. On his way to see her, he gets a notification on his phone about her upcoming wedding to Seong-jae. His mood darkens instantly.

When he walks up to Yoon-soo, he says that she told him not to fall in love with any problem. He asks her what he is supposed to do if he can’t help it.

The Episode Review

Unexpectedly, Seung-yoo wins a special award! Truthfully, no good explanation was given for his special award. Still, the twist serves as a catalyst for a lot of this episode’s events—most interestingly, Ye-rin’s breakdown.

We finally receive a full picture of the tragedy from Seung-yoo’s past. It makes perfect sense for his present character and his hesitation to dive back into mathematics. Doesn’t your heart just break for what the 10-year-old went through?

We also get elaboration on the pressure Ye-rin endures. Woo Da-vi really shines in this role. Similarly to Lee Do-hyun as Seung-yoo, she normally has to maintain composure. But the panic that builds up in her in this episode is tangible.

I love the emphasis on Ye-rin this episode. She’s an important player, and show writers thoroughly explore her motivations and what leads to her breaking point. I think we’re getting closer to the pivotal flash-forward moment we saw in episode 1.

The plot thickens—as does drama and intrigue. To what lengths will Ms. Noh and her sister go to sabotage each other? Will Ms. Noh use Ye-rin’s picture against Yoon-soo? And will Yoon-soo also admit feelings for Seung-yoo? To the last two questions, let’s hope not.

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You can read our full season review of Melancholia here!

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