The Inconvenient Truth
Episode 7 of Thirty Nine starts in the past with trouble brewing at Mi-Jo’s house. Her birth mother shows up out of nowhere, claiming she misses her daughter and wanted to stop by. Mi-Jo’s adoptive mother is not exactly happy, given what they’re currently going through, but doesn’t reveal the truth to Mi-Jo.
Fast forward to the present and Seon-U stops by to pick up Mi-Jo from the hospital. After the incident out in the street, she’s been kept in for monitoring. Seon-U takes her out to the wilderness, complete with a tent covered in lights. It’s actually a really beautiful setting and the pair end up having barbecue together.
When they do, Seon-u broaches the subject of Mi-Jo’s panic disorder. Mi-Jo admits that she suffers from this from time to time, and part of her sabbatical was to try and get this under control. The thing is, Chan-Young’s diagnosis has only exacerbated the problem, as Mi-Jo feels like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s also trying her best to live up to the promise of making sure Chan-Young is the happiest terminally ill person ever. For now though, it’s sweet potato time and Seon-U manages to put a smile on her face before they head to sleep.
Meanwhile, Jin-Seok lavishes praise on Chan-Young after a pleasant evening featuring Joo-Hee and the former’s mother. As they sit together, Jin-Seok reassures her that her parents probably don’t know about her terminal diagnosis, at least not yet anyway. Jin-Seok does drop off some things for Mi-Jo at her apartment on the way home, wanting to check up on her. When they finally do catch up, Mi-Jo admits that her heart sank when Jin-Seok’s wife showed up at the door and wanted everything to be perfect for Chan-Young. She chuckles and admits that she acted capriciously.
In the morning, Joo-Hee bumps into Hyeon-Jun on the way to work. She’s shy, but when they part ways Hyeon-Jun tries to contact her at work to catch up. Only, he learns that she’s quit her job. Funnily enough, she’s at the mall she was working in, just having a coffee to experience things on the other side for a change, as a customer. When she shows up at Hyeon-Jun’s bar later on that day, Hyeon-Jun chuckles about her earlier awkwardness and now understands why. Still, it doesn’t stop the other women showing up later on, eating dinner there together. As they talk, Joo-Hee admits that she’s now going to work at Hyeon-Jun’s part-time.
The attention soon turns to golf though, as Chan-Young continues to play matchmaker, suggesting they all go off and play golf, given that’s something Seon-U likes doing too. With the dates sorted, Seon-U remains dead-set on making Mi-Jo smile, as he later drops by some golf balls with encouraging messages on the side.
Chan-Young broaches the subject of Mi-Jo’s birth mother to her friend. She’s been asking around and, specifically, at the orphanage. She hasn’t found anything yet but will keep looking. Mi-Jo turns the attention over to Chan-Young though, urging her friend to write a bucket list of her own and do some things she wants to. So the next day, Chan-Young decides to audition for the movie rather than play an acting coach. When Mi-Jo finds out, she’s torn. She’s undecided whether to go and play golf with Seon-u or turn up at Chan-Young’s audition. Her friend urges Mi-Jo to pick Seon-u and have fun. Mi- Jo does just that but she continues to worry about Chan-Young.
Chan-Young manages to convince Jin-Seok to join her for her big afternoon. While he waits outside, she has her interview. While they talk, Chan-Young reflects back on a car accident she was involved in with Jin-Seok where they were struck by a white truck. Because of course it was a white truck!
After the interview, Chan-Young learns that she’s got the role but wants her scenes shot early given her terminal diagnosis. That way, she’ll get all of her filming done before she passes.
Meanwhile, So-Won decides to move back in to the orphanage and help look after the kids. She hasn’t told Seon-u yet but believes that he’ll prefer it if she’s living there. At the table, she hands over an envelope of her father’s money to the orphanage director. The director urges her to open up and admit what’s bothering her. It turns out the money So-Won has was from her father, who tried to buy her out and disown her completely. When Seon-u finds out later in the episode, he’s absolutely crushed.
After the day’s events, everyone gathers at Hyeon-Jun’s restaurant where Hye-Jin shows up late. Hye-Jin speaks to Hyeon-Jun outside, admitting she’s unhappy that he hasn’t taken up the role at the hotel and even guilt trips him, claiming if he really loved her then he’d take up the job.
After this hostile meeting, the dinner ends and they all part ways. Seon-u heads home with Jin-Seok, clutching her stomach in pain. Mi-Jo learns from her adoptive mother what’s happened to her birth mother, while Joo-Hee gently encourages Hyeon-Jun to sit and drink coffee with him to unwind.
However, Sun-Joo shows up to see Chan-Young’s parents and admits that their daughter is having an affair with her husband.
The Episode Review
The inconvenient truth finally comes out but this episode certainly takes its sweet time to reach that point. For much of this episode we retread familiar plot points, with the editing jumping haphazardly from one character to the next, throwing in flashbacks to more dramatic or comedic times, and struggling to really fill up the run-time with meaningful drama.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, everything here almost feels like a waiting game as we know Chan-Young is going to pass away but everything leading up to that is neither bittersweet, dramatic, comedic or particularly memorable. The themes themselves are good but without a central pillar to hold everything together, everything just peters out into mediocrity.
The acting is still good though and the soundtrack is at least compelling enough to stick with audibly but beyond that, Thirty Nine is certainly not a show to remember.