Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Secret Love Affair - Finale - Ep 16

It's been a week since this episode aired, and it's taken me this long to be able to sit down and write about it. On first viewing, as the traumatic events unfolded and piled up, the disagreement, the prosecutor, the trial, the prison, I felt pretty sick inside. But as I rewatch today, I can see that it fits and that it's a good ending.

The drama is book-ended by mahjong. The group from episode one plays together again and Dean Min says, "Oh the luck isn't with me tonight." The Chairman replies," Where is luck, you just read the opponents wrong." Which is about as good a summary of the dean as you could want. Hye-won wins the game again saying, "I'd hate to die a dog's death," meaning a meaningless death. CEO Daughter says they thought Hye-won was a dog but she's a tiger.

Hye-won waits for Seon-jae outside his apartment. When he comes he is curt and tries again to get her to give up her schemes. She says she can win and he says she can't. Seon-jae texts Tone-deaf hyung to invite him to a quintet recital. Hye-won tells him to bring his goddess, but he says he doesn't want to talk about it. She looks disturbed. He didn't invite her.

20:22 - Dvorak's Piano Quintet No 2 in A Major. The quintet play their good-bye performance. They are all quitting school, including Seon-jae. Students crowd in to listen and are backed-up out into the hall.

Even though we don't see hands on the piano, his movements and expressions fit so well and are so good. After SLA ended I watched one and about a third episodes of Beethoven Virus just because it is about music, and couldn't stand it. Of course we know most shows have bad fake musicians and the reason we are watching this one is because of the piano playing in the preview, but SLA has really spoiled us and set the bar high.

Hye-won sits mulling things over at her desk, gets up and goes out. She barely opens Mme Han's office door, slides in, runs her hand over the big desk chair, then calls Mme Han to tell her the chairwoman's chair doesn't suit her very well. She goes home and wanders around alone, seeing Seon-jae everywhere: at the door when he first came to audition, at the piano, at the dining table. She knows Seon-jae is letting go and makes a decision.

She heads for the prosecutor's office, stopping off first at Seon-jae's to explain. She asks for tea and he has a new kind someone gave him. She explains what she's up to and comments she'll remember this moment with the tea. He tells her to remember it with her body and they kiss. The next thing you see is them sleeping, wrapped together with their heads and arms sticking out over the quilt. 

At the prosecutor's office she hands over the red thumb drive, explaining that it contains Mme Han's files, those for the Chairman's money-laundering company, and the record of his payoffs to SIL Lawyer. She is giving the prosecutors enough evidence to put them in jail. Mme Han turns herself in because she doesn't like to get picked up by the cops. Ha. That means she has been picked up before.

45:18 - Chopin's Nocturne No. 1 Op. 62.
Prof. Jo plays this for Seon-jae, telling him to learn it and play it in competition. There is a small competition he can practice on before he goes to the big one in Italy. It will keep him busy and he can earn prize money.

In court Hye-won testifies that she did illegal things for money and prestige, but one day someone showing devotion to her by doing such a simple thing as wiping the floor for her to sit on made her realize what she had given up to get the things she had gained. This statement is kind of a surprise, because that scene was commented on a lot at the time. He was shown from behind. Everyone noticed his butt, and thought that's what she was thinking about. So humm. It didn't come across. 

47:56 - Mozart's Rondo in A Minor - Seon-jae plays for Da-mi and Jang-ho, who were at court with him.

Interior of the cell block. Five women are sleeping on the floor of a cell. Hye-won is snoring so they hold her down and cut her hair as an initiation of sorts. She is taken aback but doesn't fight it. Her hair, which was once kept so smooth and under control, is now not only down but cut ragged. She has let go of her need to control and connive and is now taking life as it comes.

Seon-jae comes to visit. He is startled by her hair, but at her calm acceptance he puts on a good face and is cheerful for her. He has passed the Busoni finals, so it's been a little time. She says she is thankful to him for helping her to change her life, but he doesn't have to wait for her; he can forget her. He replies that after all they have been through, they should at least try to be together, whether it turns out to be one year or ten. Otherwise it would be a waste. And, he adds, she is a little pretty too. 

1:05:54 - Mozart's Rondo in A Minor. Seon-jae starts every day playing this, with the handkerchief Hye-won gave him sitting on the piano.

The prison yard. She is sitting in the sunshine, by the chain-link fence. So different from all the dark and the shadows and the little bits of light peeking in through the blinds.Those perforated partitions we've been peering at her through all this time were a kind of jail bars, although she didn't realize it.

Seon-jae's apartment. Carrying a big backpack and pulling a small suitcase, he puts on his shoes by the door and says, "I'm going and I'll be back." He's on his way to the competition.

Hye-won sits by the fence again, enjoying the sun, looking out on the countryside, the distant mountains, and even the weeds. We remember Seon-jae saying he was like a weed and didn't need anything fancy. In a way, seeing out into the real world, she is free already.

This was a good show. It's so layered and rich and has so much going on. It fooled us in that instead of being a slightly racy story of a love affair with a little classical piano for bait, it turned out to be a story of redemption. A sophisticated woman mired in a dark world of graft becomes aware of what she has done to herself and turns towards the ray of light that is Seon-jae and his beautiful music. It would have been nice to see their reunion, but we know it is coming.

Thank you to the hard-working subbers at Viki, the people at Koala's Playground and others who did recaps, the SLA Jukebox people on Sikseekland, and the fans at Soompi who did analysis galore that enhanced so much the enjoyment of this drama.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Secret Love Affair - Along the Way - Ep 15

Seon-jae and Hye-won walk the downtown streets hand in hand. Seon-jae says it is something he has been wanting to do. "Aren't you scared?" she asks. "Of what?" he returns, because you can't arrest anyone for that. Someone commented on a blog that they looked out their apartment window and saw this scene being filmed, Seon-jae and Hye-won kissing on the sidewalk in front of passers-by. Korea getting a little dose of PDA.  It's very sweet.
11:30 - Mozart Rondo in A Minor, K. 511
Seon-jae practices at home, a melancholy piece that Mozart wrote when one of his friends died.

Hye-won sets out a laptop and tablet in her study for the prosecutors to find, and dressed in black, sneaks ala Jason Bourne out to the Han River to furtively slide two more into the water. The next morning as she and Hubs are eating breakfast, the prosecutors arrive and go over the house looking for evidence. Hubs goes to Dean Min for advice and is told that you have to sue for divorce before you can charge your spouse with adultery. Really, he didn't know that already? Everybody on all the blogs did.

22:00 and again at 25:36 and 27:38 - Dvorak Quintet

The quintet are practicing when Mean Cello Teacher comes and asks Seon-jae why he is playing with these trash, and if he has heard yet. He asks the other students, "That's your dean? Youch," He goes out to call Hye-won and find out what he should have heard, but she comes on her own and wants to hear the practice.

Seon-jae goes with Hye-won down to the parking garage and gives her his house key. He hollers out at any watchers around, and you can actually see the shadows of the watchers against the far wall haha.  She goes to his apartment, gets her phone out of a drawer, eats, falls asleep on his bed, and wakes up to find him watching her. Eep! Shades of Edward in Twilight. Creepy.

The Hubs with policemen come to cart them off to the police station. Hye-won calls SIL lawyer. CEO Daughter gets a call and heads off to see the show. Hye-won and SIL talk in the hall. She says she'll give him Mme Han's and Chairman's files if he helps her. He says if Mme Han is on the list of people to investigate, sure. He gets the case closed. The whole thing was probably planned by Hye-won in order to get the divorce. I'll bet she's not counting on SIL as an ally either.

59:50 -  the Dvorak quintet
1:03:46- we go out listening to the quintet.

Next comes the finale. I had an idea that Hye-won would do something clever so she could run the school in a way to benefit the students. Having seen episode 16 now, I see it didn't turn out that way. There is a different kind of ending. It doesn't answer all our questions and it's not all sweetness and light, but Hye-won does what she needs to do.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Secret Love Affair - Along the Way - Episode 14

We start with Seon-jae hiding out in the piano room from the going-away party for Prof. Jo's student, Min-woo, and asking the TA to get his own clothes for him.  He's so nervous he can hardly talk. The Hubs acting all possessive and putting his arm around Hye-won is more than he can take.

3:40 - Min-woo improvises a jazz version of Swan Lake.

14:19 - Min Woo plays the Twinkle Variations by Mozart that Seon-jae played in Episode 1.  He soups it up and makes it fancier. The Hubs gets drunk and tells Seon-jae to play.

17:00 - Seon-jae plays Twinkle. He improvises too, going from sad minor to loud crashing dissonant versions. We've seen before that he communicates better with music than talk. He's gotten Hye-won to stick around when she was leaving, and he's quieted the complaints of Da-mi and Jang-ho. Now he gets through to Hye-won how bad all this is. These variations were composed by the man who plays Prof. Jo, who is a famous pianist. Wearing a toupee.

I don't generally like drunk scenes, of which there are too many in Korean dramas. But this one is really good. Hubs does an unnerving and convincing job. 

Yoo Ah-in does a great crying scene outside on the sidewalk, but IMO Kim Soo-hyun still holds the honors from You From the Star. (I told you we were connoisseurs.)

Hubs invites Hye-won out to dinner to talk her into going to jail. My biggest question was why do they take so long showing the opening of the wine bottle? Trust a friend from Soompi to suggest that since this scene is intercut with the quintet practicing and eating, it points up the fake, pretentious life they are leading.

This time the quintet is working on the sad second movement, which is a kind of folksong called a  dumka. Dvorak used folk songs that lamented the unfairness of the aristocracy as a rebellion and a cry for liberty. It fits the situation of the students pretty well.

Dvorak's Piano quintet No. 2 in A Major

Hubs talks about Brahms falling in love with Schumann's wife, Clara. It parallels their situation.

Half the fun of watching a drama as it airs is hearing all the theories of where it's going. Some think Hye-won will turn state's evidence and accuse the people who are after her. Some think she has already talked to the police. Someone thinks that she is in cahoots with the chairman to  pin everything on Mme Han and the SIL in order to get CEO Daughter out of trouble. Someone thinks she'll go to jail and Seon-jae will go to Germany. Someone thinks the Hubs will OD on all his pills. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Secret Love Affair - Along the Way - Ep. 13

Just a little background info: Korean law says that adultery is a criminal offense and only a spouse can bring charges. They have to have proof, and they have to have started divorce proceedings. The penalty is up to two years in jail, which is usually suspended.

Hye-won meets Seon-jae at a friend's pottery studio. She plans to pretend to get along well with Hubs and wants Seon-jae to go along. He's distressed and tearfully asks her why she just can't leave the whole mess. She asks if he would still like her if she were a nobody and didn't have money to spend to look beautiful. He claims he wouldn't care about that because he is a weed.

She goes home and copies files from a black USB drive to a red one. They are the financial data of the arts center, the Chairman's company, and Mme Han. Thanks to someone on Soompi who read that for us. She saves the red one in her hidden safe. We've seen it before but couldn't tell what she was putting in it.

Here's our comic relief for the episode: Seon-jae and the TA are walking across campus when NRG comes along and asks him, "How would you like to go out with me?" He just tells her, "How would  you like to get lost?" Haha.

The TA says cello girl is having it rough in school ever since she filed a complaint about her faulty instrument, and is thinking about dropping out. Seon-jae decides to help her by playing a duet with her, but while he is running through the music she texts some other friends to come. The Saint-Saens sonata is very difficult and Rachmaninoff said it was the best cello piece ever written. The fact that she can play it means that she is a good cellist.

43:28 - Saint-Saens Cello Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32

They are in the same boat as she is, dropped by advisers and not allowed to be in performance class, but still required to play the music or flunk out. He practices their piece with them, which is a Dvork quintet. They are shown playing the first and third movements, which are rather cheerful. The people in the quintet are actual music students and are doing their own playing.

46:02 - Dvorak's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81

The dean arranges a publicity interview. Hubs makes Seon-jae change clothes because his own aren't classy enough. They sit together for pictures with Hye-won and Seon-jae looking awkward and Hubs happy as a clam. It looks like a college kid with his parents. I haven't been too bothered by the age difference, but this picture creeped me out. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Secret Love Affair - Along the Way - Ep 12

The Husband tells Hye-won to stop seeing Seon-jae and he'll forgive her, but he won't agree to a divorce. She tells him to look at the news. He gets out his phone, and sees an article that the Chairman was arrested 41 days ago. (This is according to a post on Soompi, but you can see the number 41 by his thumb when he looks at his phone.) Last episode Hye-won decided to lay low for awhile, so it's been that long since the lovers have seen each other.

At school, Cello girl asks Seon-jae to do a duet sometime and he says uh, sure. Then Nasty Rich Girl comes along and tries to talk to him and he leaves hurriedly in an allergic fit.  Her skirt is w-a-y too short and she has to cover up the gap with her purse when she sits lol. Seon-jae goes home to practice.

20:25 - Brahms Six Pieces for Piano Op. 118 No. 2, Intermezzo in A Major

When he goes downstairs to the cafe under his house, it is dark. He is surprised to find Hye-won there eating.  The next we see, they are on a bus out of town, winding up at a native-style inn. He asks if she's hungry. She answers, "Yes, there must be a hungry ghost inside me." Someone on Soompi said that is a common Korean expression for explaining unusual appetite. They talk about a music app he just put on their phones and listen to an old favorite of hers:

35:55 - Billy Joel's Piano Man

The lyrics are about people who have dreams that will never come true and HW really identifies with that and rocks out.

Morning view of the ryokan, surrounded by trees. Later they fix lunch in the ryokan group kitchen, which has a big window with a view of the trees. That's probably the first window with a view in this whole show. He tells her that he has sent his concert DVDs to a bunch of places and applied for school. Good job. He's proactive. They sit on the porch in the sunshine, he outside, she inside, and hold hands while they look at the trees and make plans. People have remarked that this represents he's in the light and she's in the dark, but open to a change.

When she gets home, hubs says they need to talk -- instead of asking where she was or about the affair, he asks her if she is joining with Prof Jo to send Seon-jae abroad. Oh man. That's what he cares about.

Well well well. Things are getting tight for our lovers. They ought to fess up and get married. In this show, there is only one marriage that is not dysfunctional, and that is Prof. and Mrs. Jo's. Is it just plain luck to have a good marriage? Who's responsible if it is not? How do the reasons for getting married in the first place factor in? Why did Hye-won and the Hubs get married anyway? They don't seem fond of each other at all.