Episode 4 of Racket Boys begins with a trip down memory lane. Hae-Kang was always an enthusiastic badminton player. Back in 2016 his team managed to finish up in the semi-finals but his classmates were less than enthused. However, when the baseball team show up, having finished fourth no less, they receive rapturous applause. This seems to be a turning point for Hae-Kang, solidifying his desire to be recognized for his talent and hard work.
In the present, the Racket Boys face a new dilemma as the team lose government funding and could well be disbanded. Little do they know but In-Sol’s father actually happens to be part of the council and his son is pretty good at badminton.
Given In-Sol’s desire to be the best and win against anyone, Yoon-Dan and Woo-Chan decide to try and recruit In-Sol to join their team. Eventually it falls on Hae-Kang’s reverse psychology to convince him, especially when he sketches out a shuttlecock.
Eventually though he shows up for training, with Heong-Jong convincing him to run 50 laps and to sprint the last 5. News of this spreads across the faculty, as Yoon does exactly what the councilman asks of him, pushing In-Sol to breaking point. He doesn’t actually want him involved in the sport but this back-breaking work is done as a way to discourage him.
The next day, our White Wolf receives good news from the admin office. They’ve been approved some funding in advance which means that they can compete at the next competition. It also doesn’t interfere with Yoon’s plans so he’ll definitely still get paid. Yoon has only booked two nights at their lodging too, believing the kids won’t get far in the competition.
All our badminton players shack up at the motel as they prepare for Coach Ra’s arrival and the obligatory team meal. After taking the toilet rolls and condoms out the room to make sure the boys “don’t waste their stamina”, they show up that night for food. It turns out Coach Ra has actually organized all this for them, and made sure it’s not spicy.
After, the guys and gals are called up to the rooftop for some more training. Hae-Kang joins them of course, but this time he’s encouraged to join; a far cry from his moments in 2016 where he was shunned. Still, he keeps up the hard exterior though and pretends like it doesn’t affect him. He’s still conflicted over the baseball of course, but the theme of friendship continues to blossom in this episode.
However, this friendship is tested the next day when the kids all get ready to go but a hungover Coach Yoon shows up smelling of booze and trying to drive them to the badminton competition. I know this is supposed to be a comedic moment but honestly it’s incredibly reckless to drive with Yoon presumably still under the influence.
Anyway, the kids arrive… at the wrong gymnasium. Hyeon-Jong has completely let them down. Although the judges are understanding (to an extent), Coach Fang is anything but. He questions the school’s integrity and dedication, especially given the antics.
As they drive back, Head Coach Bae questions Yoon’s commitment and his lack of faith with the kids. It’s a short-lived dialogue though, especially with the summer competition coming up.
In-Sol heads to the gym and starts doing laps without Coach Yoon around. However, In-Sol’s father arrives and tries to talk him out of badminton, believing he should focus his energy on a different sport like golf. In-Sol expresses his frustration in this, telling him he doesn’t even know what his son likes. In-Sol wants that sense of comradeship and to feel part of a group. He wants that sense of achievement of doing something without his father’s influence.
Hearing his son speak so passionately, the councilman leaves with a lot to think about. Unbeknownst to him, Hae-Kang happens to be “asleep” in the gym and hears it all. As he sits up, he promises In-Sol not to say anything.
With the funding now in doubt, Bae and Yoon discuss the budget and how the team could well be disbanded. However, a glass smashes in the corner of the room as Yong-Tae is shocked at what he’s heard and leaves, crushed. In fact, with In-Sol’s father cutting the funding it affects the kids and their enthusiasm later that night too, as they worry about what this means for their team.
The next day, Woo-Chan collapses on the floor and acts like he’s passed out. All of this is a birthday prank but it completely backfires when Yong-Tae winds up crying his eyes out and telling the team they’re his only family. As Hae-Kang heads out with the birthday cake, he watches as Woo-Chan sits back up and embraces his brother.
Meanwhile, Coach Yoon learns that Bae was the one who funded the competition and there’s no advance after all. Councilman Jeong will continue to support the budget though under the agreement of In-Sol quitting so he can get a big bonus.
The next day, In-Sol falls asleep during their lessons and can be heard audibly snoring throughout. After class, Hae-Kang learns he just scraped through his exams. It’s all thanks to In-Sol too, who, as it turns out, was never actually asked to tutor them. He volunteered to do so, which backs up his desire to be friends.
When In-Sol is encourages to join their team, Hae-Kang vouches for him and claims he asked him to join.
That evening, Hae-Kang hurries to Haenam hospital as he learns Hae-In has been rushed in as an emergency. It turns out she collapsed and the kids all worked together to carry her to the hospital rather than waiting for an ambulance. In the beds next to her, Hae-Kang finds the Racket Boys all asleep. It turns out Hae-In had an acute seizure but she’s okay now.
Over at Grandma Ome’s house, Hae-Kang decides to invite the other boys over to play games and enjoy the wifi. Now finally able to accept them as friends, the painful memories of the past fade away as our Racket Boys finally find themselves on the same page.
The Episode Review
The theme of friendship comes through strongly in this fourth episode as Hae-Kang’s painful past is explored in more detail.
The way Hae-Kang has managed to turn around and embrace these kids is a great bit of character development and it helps to reinforce the heartwarming ideas this sport drama has in abundance.
Each episode so far seems to be honing in on a different idea and next week’s theme could well be turning toward love and competitiveness. Still, this 75 minute chapter manages to capture the essence of friendship perfectly.
The way these kids selflessly help each other, while simultaneously allowing In-Sol to be part of their team at the end, really helps to build their character and ideas as a team. You can’t help but root for these kids and despite some pressure from Councilman Jeong, it seems like the Racket Boys are coming out fighting.
So far this sports drama has been really solid and the ending is certainly a heartwarming way to finish off what’s otherwise been another good chapter.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|