Leap of Faith
Episode 4 of My Liberation Notes begins with us back in the countryside, but with Mr Gu joining Mi-Jeong and the parents for dinner. Her father, Yeom Je-Ho, has been praising Mr Gu’s work recently, which is pretty rare. The man never praises anyone other than Mi-Jeong, who’s his clear favourite out of the three kids.
After embarrassing her a little at the dinner table, Gu and Mi-Jeong are left to eat alone. Well, not for long anyway.
Gi-Jeong and Chang-Hee come bustling up to the house, ranting and raving. Apparently, Chang-Hee and Gi-Jeong both bumped into one another and the former cursed in Gi-Jeong’s face.
When the fight spills inside, Gi-Jeong throws a slipper but it misses her brother and clocks Mi-Jeong square in the side of the head. She thinks about hitting her back but instead, takes the slipper and throws it outside. It seems like she’s controlling her rage around Gu, which is evident from Chang-Hee’s chatter later on that night when he sits with Mr Gu, admitting that Mi-Jeong has a bad temper.
When the attention turns to Gu, he admits he ended up moving out into this secluded neighbourhood because he got off at the wrong stop. Whether this is true or not, we’ll have to wait and see.
At work the next day, he overhears a client berating Je-Ho, claiming he did a bad job and shutting the door in his face. Later on that afternoon, Gu heads over to confront him. When he drives back home, Mr Gu quite abruptly parks the truck, having obtained the money from their job and hands it over to Mi-Jeong’s parents. He then silently wanders back home with a bag full of alcohol.
Meanwhile, there’s trouble at Alpha Retail. Rumours have spread courtesy of A-Reum regarding the shop owners Chang-Hee is dealing with. He’s forced to play damage control.
Chang-Hee bemoans what’s happening, believing that she’s trying to stop him getting a promotion. However, when store owner Byeon Sang-Mi rings him later that night, he eventually takes the call but spends a good hour on the phone to her.
This is something that winds up his father, who believes Chang-Hee is wasting his time listening to her grievances. When Chang-Hee hits back, questioning his father about the life he’s made for himself, it clearly cuts deep and there’s clear tensions between them. Silently though, while Chang-Hee sits at the table eating, he changes the channel over to sports.
Word of The Liberation Club spreads across to all of Mi-Jeong’s colleagues. They want an explanation over exactly what they’re doing and what the club stands for. “Liberation. I’m going to break free from here.” She says boldly. Eventually Mi-Jeong heads back to her desk but it’s clear that she’s starting to think about her life in a very different way now.
That night, she heads over to Mr Gu’s place, wondering just why he’s so angry all the time. Eventually he retorts “to each one’s own” and refers to himself as a drunk. When he heads out for a walk though, we see flashes of Gu’s past, including Gu standing up and leaving the train for some reason. His life is every bit a mundane routine as the siblings, with his cycle of working and drinking, slowly killing himself, painful to watch play out.
Gi-Yeong is berated at work by Ms Lee, who points out that her weakness and struggling to breathe is as a result of her clothes being too tight. In order words, she claims she’s put on weight. It’s obviously a very rude thing to say and thankfully one of the other women jumps to Mi-Yeong’s aid.
Interestingly, after her “date” with Jin-U last episode, he approaches her and hands over 10 lottery tickets. She points out how tired she is and how she just wants to stop but Jin-U turns around and tells her that he’s found loving is a good way of combatting tiredness. On the way home, Gi-Yeong passes that same billboard about good things again and mutters to herself: “I want to be pretty.”
Well, part of that comes from showing up at a plastic surgery clinic, enquiring about whether she could get surgery or not. After a consultation, Gi-Jeong realizes that she recognizes the woman she’s talking to as Gyeong-Sun. They both went to the same girls’ school. Not only that, she also spotted her several weeks back at a barbecue place several weeks back when she was rude to Tae-Hoon.
They head outside together to that same restaurant, catching up, but Gi-Yeong is surprised to find out who her old friend’s younger brother is. It’s Tae-Hoon! She’s immediately smitten with him and even hands over her lottery tickets too, flirting lightly and promising to mooch off him if he wins. When he tells her to come to the restaurant again, Gi-Yeong finds himself deliberating over those words.
That night, Gu and Mi-Jeong both find comfort in thunderstorms. They both have the same reaction to lightning crackling over the sky. That’s not of fear or panic but a rational calmness.
The storm continues to rage on and it soon causes a blackout across the neighbourhood when a bolt crackles down and knocks out the generator. Mi-Jeong hurries over to Mr Gu’s, forcing him inside and demanding he take shelter. For herself though, she wanders back inside but yearns for a life with purpose, something she can cling to and make her feel like life is worth the grind.
As night turns to day, Mr Gu wakes up on the sofa to find his foot cut and the place a mess. He heads to the pharmacy, but in doing so finds Mi-Jeong’s father there, who offers to head out for a cold beer together. This essentially serves as a prelude to the main event, which happens to be farm work.
When Mi-Jeong’s hat goes flying off from a gust of wind, Mr Gu decides to make good on his promise to Mi-Jeong after all. He has a running head start and charges over the bridge, bad foot and all, to retrieve Mi-Jeong’s hat.
The Episode Review
My Liberation Notes is fast becoming one of the better shows this year. That’s quite a jump (no pun intended) from the tepid start this one made las week. Everything is given so much depth and time to breathe, Little touches, like Chang-Hee changing the channel to sports after a jewellery advert comes on following his fight with his pa, are great inclusions but easy to overlook.
The more obvious thematic bits of depth here stem from that jump. Given more context with the dialogue we missed from the “worship me” discourse between Mi-Jeong and Mr Gu, we see the latter finally take a leap of faith – quite literally – and break free from those shackles holding him back.
Whatever has happened in the past, it’s caused Gu to really think about his life in a different way and Mi-Jeong heading out in the rain to make sure he’s okay seems to have clicked something in his mind to actually make good on his promise and live for her, hoping to be a different person come the spring.
There’s a really nice storyline brewing with Gi-yeong here too. Given she’s so desperate to be accepted and find love, she could actually end up in a love triangle of her own, especially if her boss continues to spend time with her and take an interest. That, coupled with Tae-Hoon too, is setting up a really intriguing storyline between the trio that should be fascinating to watch.
Ultimately though, it’s the way these characters are written that make My Liberation Notes such a fascinating drama. Sure there are drawn out moments and tranquil parts of reflection in the fields, but the way everything is done intentionally – and with just the right amount of editing now – to help reflect on what’s happened, is making this a really fascinating watch. Roll on next week for more!