Episode 11 of Thirty Nine starts with Chan-Young and Joo-Hee singing karaoke. After berating her friends for their effort, Mi-Jo ends up wrestling with the others over the microphone. And then we’re back to the present.
Specifically, we catch up with Mi-Jo visiting her mum in prison again. She berates her birthmother for not being there and abandoning her to the orphanage and her heart-breaking fate.
Mi-Jo demands she not bother contacting her ever again and to call off the creditors too. Mi-Jo’s birth mother has the audacity to call Mi-Jo cold-hearted but she bites back, claiming that her adoptive parents are her real parents. This is Mi-Jo’s way of gaining closure and it concludes this chapter on a high. At least for her anyway. As she walks with Seon-U, they listen to the latter’s playlist of mellow songs.
However, overlapping that are scenes of Chan-Young struggling and wincing in bed, making for a rather conflicting set of emotions. In the morning though, Chan-Young’s mother heads in and notices a contract for the memorial hall. This is, of course, bringing a realization about her daughter’s upcoming death. Her mum is not happy about Chan-Young wasting time doing this, believing she should be making the most of what she has left in her life.
This same contract is then brought before her friends, as Mi-Jo and Joo-Hee both look over the details. However, Mi-Jo speaks up and mentions how difficult this must be for her mum, especially as she’s just severed ties with her own birth mother. Chan-Young’s story is overshadowed for now though (story of the season right?) as Mi-Jo heads into work to see her sister, promising that this chapter in her life – the one involving “that woman” (her birth mum) – is now over and she’s not seeing her again,
Seon-u eventually meets back up with Mi-jo’s father who gives him his blessing and hopes that he won’t let his dad’s harsh words interfere with how he feels about Mi-Jo. As they sit together talking, they eventually eat ribs, joking about how Mi-Jo’s mum never wants to cook that at home.
Meanwhile, Chan-Young joins her parents out for food too but things are awkward, especially as Chan-Young realizes her parents are rushing though their food.
At the same time, So-Won starts playing the piano again and upon learning she actually does love the craft (and not just because her adoptive father urged her to hone her skills) she’s decided to join the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Seon-u is delighted when he finds out. So much so in fact that he comes rushing over to Mi-Jo’s and hugs her tightly, claiming she’s the reason why So-Won has made it.
Remember last episode Joo-Hee had problems with Chan-Young and Mi-Jo together and leaving her out of everything? Yeah us too. Anyway, Mi-jo heads over to Chan-Young’s place that night and the pair end up on a drive together. There, Chan-Young admits she’s taken her funeral photo but she’s not happy about her not being able to smile. Mi-Jo is uncomfortable with the direction this chat is going, especially when Chan-Young admits that it’s hard being the happiest terminal ill person.
Chan-Young is starting to feel worse now, and her issues are resulting in her needing painkillers most of the time just to keep going. Chan-Young admits she’s had a good life up until now. “You and Jin-Seok. I’m grateful.” She says, as it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Joo-Hee has no part of this friendship, at least not if Chan-Young’s bit of dialogue there is anything to go by.
Chan-Young contemplates giving some money to Mi-Jo for her upcoming marriage but after dropping her off, Mi-Jo heads over to see Joo-Hee at her apartment. There, she vents to her about how Chan-Young took a photo of herself for her funeral.
It’s a very brief scene though, as we cut to the next day with Chan-Young. She’s incredulous over Jin-Seok asking to register their marriage. However, their conversation is broken up by Joo-Hee ringing.
Joo-Hee encourages Chan-Young and Mi-Jo out so she can take a picture of them both together. And just to emphasize how she’s a third wheel, Joo-Hee happily takes photos of Chan-Young and Mi-Jo. When they eventually head back home, Joo-Hee contemplates her next career move and decides that she’s going to focus on nail art.
The attention here though turns on Jeong’s Kitchen, with Mi-Jo managing to convince everyone to get involved to sort a kitchen renovation out. Hyeon-Jun shows up and isn’t happy he wasn’t consulted.
After handing over some porridge for Chan-Young, he gets involved with the others, helping to fix the place up. They also have a big meal together but as fate would have it, it begins snowing afterwards. So naturally the gang all get involved and begin singing karaoke. When Mi-Jo stands up and begins singing “About Romance”, she struggles to compose herself and hold back the tears.
The Episode Review
Thirty Nine has been a mess of show, and part of that comes from the conflicting feelings we’re getting from our trio of characters. I’m all for melodramas and weepy shows but this one is neither. It’s flatlining its way to the finish line and butchering the characters in the process.
The whole Joo-Hee scene last episode amounted to absolutely nothing as, despite making it clear she didn’t want to be a third wheel and left out of this friendship… she’s left out of this friendship.
I’m perhaps more shocked about it because that scene shows an awareness from the writers that Joo-Hee hasn’t had a bigger role in this story. There’s definitely room here to explore the dynamic in three-way friendships, and Thirty Nine could have been a really deep, thoughtful expression of how hard it is to juggle two best friends.
But no, instead Thirty Nine just brushes that off and goes right back to square one. Even the scene later on this episode, with Joo-Hee snapping photos while Mi-Jo and Chan-Young exchange glances and begin whispering, feels so disingenuous and I was actually uncomfortable watching it. Joo-Hee deserves better as her concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
However, there will be some who disagree with me and that’s absolutely fine of course! I’m happy for those who have enjoyed this one but beyond the star power and decent soundtrack, this show has been a bit of a mess.