“It’s Okay To Lose”
Episode 3 of Racket Boys returns to our badminton team as Jae-Seok buys them all noodles to apologize. After the initial radio silence, he explains away his actions and the boys forgive him.
Hae-Kang however, remains determined to work his way up the ranks. After beating Jae-Seok (who’s ranked the fifth best) he wants to defeat the other four – including his arch nemesis Gil Sun-Gyun.
On the way back from the competition though, Hae-Kang is stopped by his old baseball coach. He buys him food and encourages him to play again. Of course, Hae-Kang jumps at the opportunity to hang up the racket and shuttlecock.
Back home, he finds the group all sitting together playing games. However, Se-Yoon receives a call from her Mum and answers it elsewhere.
It turns out Se-Yoon is struggling with the expectations thrust upon her, which isn’t helped given she hasn’t lost a game since fifth grade. Coach Ra however, grilled her pretty hard but everyone else just seems to lavish praise of her.
In order to show their support, Han-Sol encourages them all to send on a pep video to help her with the upcoming competitions.
Hae-Kang notices the pressure too, especially when Se-Yoon goes to sleep early in the evening. When Yeong-Ja returns home though, he storms into his room and slams the door shut.
He’s not happy with Yeong-Ja and continues to ignore her too, eventually admitting that her lack of parenting is exactly why he’s not happy with her.
This is especially true when it comes to Hae-In, as it starts to hit home how little she’s spent with them over the years. In following her dreams, she lost sight of Hae-In and Hae-Kang’s upbringing, with pictures of the family noticably missing Yeong-Ja. She admits that it’s difficult for her, as this estranged Mother/Son relationship continues.
Hyeon-Jong eventually sits with him during an absolutely gorgeous sunset (honestly, what a view! Props to the production crew for finding such a picturesque location) and discusses Yeong-Ja’s decision.
Back then, she became the best player but she gave up the Olympics and retired because she fell pregnant and didn’t want to risk a miscarriage.
When she was hounded by a journalist, she bashed him completely, making sure no articles were released, while admitting she made the choice for herself. She even went on to admit it’s the best decision she’s made – better than winning the Olympics.
In the morning, Se-Yoon is interviewed about her upcoming competition in New Zealand. Mr Kim starts asking questions about her gender and eventually Coach Ra stops the interview early.
The rest of the players however, are hung up on the upcoming evaluation. There’s only three positions for the singles matches and four players – someone is going to be heartbroken.
While the singles matches continue in Korea, a rift starts to grow between Woo-Chan and Yong-Tae over the evaluations.
With Woo-Chan coming up short, it seems like he’s really annoyed at the outcome. Only, he’s actually not! As we soon find out, he’s fine with Yong-Tae playing and simply acted up because of his Father’s lack of enthusiasm before. This frustration and anxiousness essentially caused his original outburst.
In New Zealand, Se-Yoon shows up late but she’s eventually completely ignored and blanked in the team meeting as the team make their plans for her. They all reassure Se-Yoon though, telling her she’s going to win and deciding there’s nothing else left to teach her.
As all the pep videos are sent over, Se-Yoon watches them all… including Hae-Kang’s. His message feels so much more heartfelt too, apologizing for the jump roping and misunderstandings in the past. He even tells her it’s okay to lose.
This is a message she needs to hear and something that allows her to let all the emotion out.
The match then begins and my god what an entrance! It’s like something out of WWE as sparks fly and the crowds cheer her arrival. Anyway, the match ends with Se-Yoon taking the win. She looks at the screen and does the Floss- which is exactly what Hae-Kang’s dance was.
After returning from New Zealand, Hae-Kang and Se-Yoon greet each other in the kitchen. There, Se-Yoon reveals a time Yeong-Ja was beaming- and that came from Hae-Kang being made the MVP at school.
With the pair having patched up their differences, they decide to head out and have something to eat.
When Hae-Kang returns, he claims to be sick but he’s obviously faking it. His cover is blown when he asks Yeong-Ja whether she’s ever bashed anyone.
Meanwhile, Se-Yoon takes Hae-Kang’s advice and messages her Mother, telling her she’s eating and asking if she’s done the same. It’s a really touching moment, and one that helps to build their relationship.
In the morning, Jung In-Sol heads over to coach the kids and help raise their average score. Only, as soon as Jeong-Ya and Hyeon-Jong leave, they start messing about again.
Another knock at the door however, brings the city couple over with a crockpot. As the couple walk away, they can hear the cheers from the street as the kids open the lid to reveal a whole stack of burgers.
Not long after, the group head out and start taking pictures, with In-Sol encouraged to join them all. Hae-Kang however, is beaming and it’s not because of baseball. As we flashback to that meeting with the baseball coach again, it turns out Hae-Kang has decided to hold off from going back, wanting to wait until the summer before making his choice.
The Episode Review
This Monday-Tuesday sport drama continues to deliver feel-good vibes as Racket Boys absolutely nails its tone and themes.
There’s a lot of ideas around healing in this and the ties between characters work beautifully to portray more of a slice of life feel.
I’m not sure if it’s just me but the scenes between Se-Yoon and Hae-Kang feel very reminiscent of the story between Jung-Hwan and Duk-Sun in Reply 1988.
There’s a good understanding between them and that feeds into the heartfelt message which feels the most realistic out of all the other characters who delivered a message to Se-Yoon.
Understanding more about Coach Ra’s sacrifice is a nice touch too, including how much she’s actually cared for both Hae-Kang and Hae-In all this time. Racket Boys does a great job bringing this to life in a realistic way, leaving room for them both to heal and grow over time.
Ultimately though, Racket Boys has the perfect blend of drama, laughs and thought provoking ideas, making it a real smash on the court. Let’s hope the rest of the episodes follow suit!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|