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Soo Hyun (Sung Joon) receives a text from Hye Rim (Han Ye Seul) directing him to his office. There, Hye Rim has written loving assessments about him on the two way mirror. Soo Hyun smiles, and recalls all the ways that Hye Rim has shown that she cares for him.
Soo Hyun feels compelled to inform the Chairman (Byun Hee Bong) that he must cease his experiment, because of an inherent flaw in his hypothesis that women cannot truly love. The Chairman is upset by this news since he has invested financially in Soo Hyun’s research. The Chairman calls up Hye Rim to counsel Soo Hyun, unaware that she is the reason that the experiment is being halted.
Hye Rim decides to proceed with a counselling session with Soo Hyun in order to confront him about his lack of emotion over his reunion with his biological mother. Soo Hyun responds by lording his academic knowledge over her.
Yoo Rim (Hwang Seung Eon) and Ji Ho (Lee Joo Hyung) discover that they left important belongings behind while running away from home, and they cannot afford to buy replacements. Yoo Rim decides to sneak back into Hye Rim’s apartment to fetch them.
On her way into the apartment, Yoo Rim runs into Seung Chan (Jinwoon) who promptly informs Hye Rim. Hye Rim is about to confront Yoo Rim, but Seung Chan suggests that it would be more productive to tail her sister. Thus, Hye Rim is able to walk in on Yoo Rim and Ji Ho’s love nest and smack them with a pillow.
Yoo Rim and Ji Ho kneel before Hye Rim as she lectures them about the pitfalls of marrying too soon, but the couple have counter arguments for every point. Hye Rim decides to sever ties with her sister, and Ji Ho looks alarmed. However, it is nothing compared to look on Hye Rim’s face when Yoo Rim lies about being pregnant, and thereby necessitating a shotgun wedding. Hye Rim resorts to smacking both of them then reiterates her decision to cut them from her life. When Yoo Rim chases after Hye Rim to plead for her blessing to marry, Hye Rim will only agree to discuss the matter when Yoo Rim returns home.
Seung Chan tries to convince Mi Ran (Jang Mi Hee) to be optimistic and proactive in fighting her cancer. To prove how hopeless her situation is, Mi Ran takes Seung Chan along to the doctor who reports that the cancer has spread to her liver. She will have to undergo chemotherapy in addition to radioactive treatment and surgery, and still, her chance of survival is 30%. Mi Ran is not willing to take on an expected 10 years of treatment, because if she were to survive, she would be too old to complete her bucket list. Seung Chan cannot even share his worries about Mi Ran with anyone else, because Mi Ran has threatened to return to Jeju Island if there is even speculation about her health.
Hye Rim asks for Seung Chan’s help in accessing a memento belonging to Soo Hyun that will give her insight into his psychological scars. They search through Soo Hyun’s closet, and Hye Rim is unimpressed to find a photo of Soo Hyun with his ex-girlfriend, Clare.
Hye Rim freely admits to trespassing in Soo Hyun’s home when she angrily confronts him about evidence she found of an ongoing relationship with Clare. Soo Hyun is able to smoothly explain away every piece of evidence, though Hye Rim continues to look skeptical.
Mi Ran asks Seung Chan to book her flight tickets to Alaska, and Seung Chan proceeds to buy tickets for both of them. Mi Ran is pleased that Seung Chan will be joining her, until he starts pointing out how Mi Ran will be unable to meet the physical challenges of her trips. Mi Ran stands firm on her decision not to undergo cancer treatment, and is ready to go to Alaska without Seung Chan.
Yoo Rim comes home with Ji Ho, and Hye Rim is clearly concerned about her sister’s pregnancy to the point where she has already scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN for her. Hye Rim is dragging Yoo Rim to the appointment when they both take a tumble on the stairs. Hye Rim orders Seung Chan to call an ambulance, and Yoo Rim is forced to admit that she is not pregnant. Hye Rim starts to laugh as she walks away like a person who has lost her mind.
Soo Hyun is sitting at a table with a grim expression on his face when Seung Chan arrives at the restaurant with their father. Soo Hyun’s father orders food for him without asking, reprimands him for not getting Seung Chan a better job, then belittles his career choice. When the old man derisively attributes Soo Hyun’s silence to his biological mother, Soo Hyun finally speaks his mind about his father’s haughtiness, selfishness and greed before leaving.
Seung Chan chases after Soo Hyun to take issue with his treatment of their aging father. Soo Hyun dismisses Seung Chan since he was the favoured child. Seung Chan points out that he and his mother tried their best to reach out to Soo Hyun, but he only pushed them away. He blames Soo Hyun for causing division in their family.
When Soo Hyun returns home, he receives a text from his biological mother, Yeon Hui, begging for forgiveness. Feeling guilty about how their last meeting went, Soo Hyun goes to find Yeon Hui at her hotel. He spots her in the lobby and is about to approach her when he overhears her on the phone, cheerfully doting on her son in the US. Soo Hyun ends up walking away without making his presence known.
Hye Rim consults with Mi Ran about how to tackle the problem that is Soo Hyun. Mi Ran recommends that Hye Rim force Soo Hyun to become an active participant in his problems rather than a remote spectator.
Hye Rim decides to take Soo Hyun to the site of the family portrait that she had previously presented to him. He remembers how his father had lost his temper and cursed him for not looking sufficiently happy for the camera, then left him behind at the playground. Hye Rim encourages Soo Hyun to comfort the crying boy, and Soo Hyun is on the verge of tears as he holds his younger self.
Seung Chan begins a campaign of agreeably planning the trip to Alaska for Mi Ran then muttering, within earshot, about her being incapable of keeping up. Mi Ran finally confronts him and Seung Chan pleads for her to get treatment so that they have 20 or more years together as opposed to six months. Seung Chan’s persistence pays off as Mi Ran adds getting surgery to her bucket list.
Yoo Rim and Ji Ho kneel down before Hye Rim in the middle of her café and present a detailed financial strategy for the next 10 years. They hope to marry within three years, which is still too soon for Hye Rim’s liking. Still, Hye Rim finally relents by grumpily asking when their respective parents will meet. Yoo Rim and Ji Ho are ecstatic to receive Hye Rim’s approval.
Seung Chan apologizes to Soo Hyun about his harsh words at the restaurant, conceding that their father has always been hard on him. Later, he, Ji Ho, Yoo Rim and Hye Rim celebrate Soo Hyun’s birthday with cake. Soo Hyun is stiff and formal until Hye Rim smears cake on his face. The party descends into a food fight.
That night, Hye Rim receives a call from Yeon Hui confirming that today is Soo Hyun’s birthday. Hye Rim remembers how Soo Hyun was affected by never having received a visit from his mother on his birthday after she left. She is begging Yeon Hui not to go when the line cuts off, and they are unable to reconnect with each other.
Hye Rim rushes off to intercept Yeon Hui who has already checked out of her hotel by the time Hye Rim arrives. Fortunately, Yeon Hui returns, curious to know what Hye Rim wanted to say about Soo Hyun.
Soo Hyun is reading in bed and about to attempt to sleep when someone rings his door bell. He opens the door to find Yeon Hui waiting outside. Yeon Hui wishes him a happy birthday, and Soo Hyun breaks down as he reminds her that she had promised to visit him on his birthday. Though Yeon Hui was powerless against his father’s lawyer, Soo Hyun insists that she should have fought to take him with her, instead of leaving him alone with his father’s new family while Yeon Hui also started a new family of her own. Yeon Hui promises to be by his side from now on, and tearfully apologizes. They sob into each other’s arms.
A dejected Mi Ran begins chemotherapy with Seung Chan at her bedside. When she turns down Seung Chan’s proposal that they watch movies together, he puts on a lip sync performance of Queen’s “I Was Born to Love You” that makes Mi Ran laugh. I guess a 2AM song would not have been rousing enough.
Hye Rim finds out from Ji Ho that Soo Hyun is planning to work all night with his ex-girlfriend, Clare. Hye Rim proceeds to have dinner with the Chairman who wonders why she is dating a jerk like Soo Hyun. Hye Rim brings up Clare, and asks the Chairman for advice on how to get rid of her. Hye Rim is dismayed when the Chairman simply tells her that love will find a way.
Hye Rim returns to the office to see Soo Hyun about to take Clare to the airport. Soo Hyun tries to explain, but she freaks out then storms upstairs where she dissolves into tears in Yoo Rim’s arms over fear of losing Soo Hyun.
Soo Hyun sits at his desk contemplating his the final task of his experiment. Meanwhile, Hye Rim decides to get an exact copy of the sunglasses that Soo Hyun had given her and she had broken in anger.
Hye Rim returns to find a movie ticket waiting for her. She angrily declares that she will not fall for Soo Hyun’s tricks again, yet ends up at the theatre anyway. She is confused when both of the seats beside her are taken up by strangers.
The lights go down, and Hye Rim is surprised to see Soo Hyun appear before the screen to give the audience the usual spiel regarding movie viewing etiquette. Then, Soo Hyun announces that the woman in Hye Rim’s seat is the most important person to him, because she saved him. Hye Rim shrinks down in her seat as the rest of the audience turn to look at her. When Soo Hyun declares his love for her and beckons for her to come up, the audience applauds and hoots their approval. Hye Rim hurriedly pulls Soo Hyun off the stage.
Outside the theatre, Hye Rim asks if Soo Hyun has lost his mind. Soo Hyun explains that he has just completed Task 3 in his experiment in her place. Thus, he proves that he has completely fallen for her. Hye Rim is dismayed that Soo Hyun’s damn experiment will haunt her until the end. Fortunately, Soo Hyun chooses to end the show with a swoonworthy kiss.
This was quite the episode to end “Madame Antoine” with, because it managed to make me care about all the characters, even Soo Hyun and Hye Rim. After 15 episodes of nonsense, I still cried watching Soo Hyun finally reconcile with his mother, and I was as enthusiastic as the movie audience when Soo Hyun publicly declared his love for Hye Rim.
It does make me think that the director and writer missed an opportunity to make “Madame Antoine” a better drama. If they had stayed away from petty mind games, and focused on Soo Hyun’s family drama, and Hye Rim’s straight forward approach to rehabilitating Soo Hyun, then the drama would have connected more deeply on an emotional level.
I do appreciate that they did not do a time skip in order to create pat endings that confirm whether Mi Ran’s cancer treatments are successful and Seung Chan travels with her, or give Ji Ho and Yoo Rim a happy wedding.
More to come in our Series Review!
One final thought: it pains me to admit that Sung Joon’s sad face and charm offensive in the final scenes have suckered me into considering watching him in another drama. Here, you tell me this doesn’t help ease the pain of watching him in “Madame Antoine”.
Madame Antoine (마담 앙트완)
I know all about sibling rivalry caused by favoritism from a parent – first hand. I totally get that the horrible father treats Soo Hyun the way he does because of Soo Hyun’s mother. But I can’t figure out why the dad allows Seung Chan (the younger, less responsible brother) to order his own food but not Soon Hyun. Even in the worst case scenario of how he was treated growing up, that’s crazy. Soon Hyun is at least 35 years old!
I’m also left very curious about what was the actual truth – Soo Hyun says he was also not treated well by Seung Chan’s mom, although the flashbacks we were shown seemed otherwise. Although, I suppose I can just think that is Soo Hyun’s “truth” because that’s his perception.
I think the father picking Soo Hyun’s food was either just a dick move or the writer’s attempt to show what a jerk he is. Otherwise, it made no sense. And, Soo Hyun’s perception of the past is suspect. Theses are just some of the topics that were neglected in favour of more petty bickering between Soo Hyun and Hye Rim. Thanks for highlighting them.
I thought it was to show case how little Dad cares about Soo Hyun’s wants or needs. I surmised that Dad has always ordered Soo Hyun’s food while Seung Chan asserted his will at some point and started ordering his food. Soo Huyn never did this because, I think, he was still hoping for some love from his dad so he didn’t rebel at all except when it comes to his career choice. Although I am not sure whether that was a rebellion either. I would guess dad would have disapproved and belittled him no matter what he did so it didn’t really matter which career he selected.
So to me it made sense. That dinner scene was the FIRST time Soo Hyun ever rebelled against his father.
When it comes to Seung Chan’s mom, we have only Soo Hyun’s word and one flash back scene. She was nice in that scene but it isn’t enough to prove she was nice all the time. If I would have to guess, I would say she tried to connect with little Soo Hyun and treat him well at the beginning. However, Soo Hyun was, for understandable reasons, unreceptive and possibly even hostile at occasions. Had she had support of Soo Hyun’s father, this could have been overcome by time, but Dad only made the situation worse and probably discouraged his wife’s efforts to befriend little Soo Hyun. So, at the end, she might’ve have just given up and left Soo Hyun to his own devices. Based on the flashback I don’t think she treated him badly, exactly, but probably she ended up being rather indifferent which from the point of view of a child often is seen like bad treatment.
I feel like this series was a monumental waste of time. I waited for the leads to become likable but it never happened. I realize that sometimes endings don’t wrap everything up with a neat bow, but this one felt so unfinished. Hye Rim bounced between being vengeful and affectionate so much that I can’t even tell if she truly loves Soo Hyun. And I’m not confident about Soo Hyun’s feelings either, but I suppose we can thank his father for him being so messed up. I do feel sorry for him, no matter how nice his brother and stepmother may have been to him. If they did nothing and said nothing while his father treated him that way I can see why he felt distant from the entire family.
Thanks for the recaps!
It’s too bad this series went the way of so many of its predecessors–started out strong then fizzled into a bit of a mess.
I ended up loving his drama. Well, not the whole drama, to be honest as it had so, SO many weaknesses and some were plainly insulting. Like, Soo Hyun’s scientific experiment which was as scientific as trying to determine weather based on the behaviour of one individual snail (Finnish custom). Also, I do agree with Pallas in that neither of the leads were very likeable although I ended up liking Hye Rim less. First of all, cutting your own sister out because she wants to marry young? What the h*ll, lady?? Yes, marrying a person you have dated for few days/weeks is silly and I would also call it a mistake but since when it is cool to throw your loved ones away because they do mistakes? That was darn cruel. And how she toyed with Soo Hyun was a way too cruel for me to accept and forgive, too. I do not deny him deserving it but there was one crucial difference between their actions: Soo Hyun never set out to deliberately hurt and humiliate Hye Rim to destroy her emotionally. Yes, she was hurt and yes, it was his fault and he’s a dick for doing that. But I do feel like deliberate motive to hurt makes a person more scary. I would not date Hye Rim.
(Also, the said lady breaks into Soo Hyun’s personal stuff and then has the audacity to interrogate HIM like he had done something wrong! I would have kicked her out of my life had she touched my personal stuff. Geesh.)
And now that I’m ranting, I’m going to rant about Seung Chan, too. He was lost to me in a moment when he put all the blame of bad family relations on the shoulders of Soo Hyun. For crying out loud, Soo Hyun was a CHILD. It was not his responsibility to make a good family. Blaming Soo Hyun was horrible and the off handed apology was almost as insulting. It showed Seung Chan didn’t really understand the gravity of his accusation. Ugh. I hated that it wasn’t properly resolved but most things in this show were not.
Which brings me to the biggest issue of them all… treatment of psychological problems. Oh. My. God. This was SO poorly done I wanted to scream. Basically, show’s idea of “fixing” mental issues was “find the source, make ppl realise it, say sorry = problem solved!” No. NO. NONONO. This is such a horrible portrayal of treating mental issues I was literally screaming at the screen when Hye Rim was “treating” Soo Hyun.
So, uh, I did say I ended up loving something about this drama. That one scene where Soo Hyun finally confronted his mother about leaving him – oh boy. I almost never cry when watching dramas but that scene made me dissolve into pool of tears. I’ve always found Sung Joon cute but have doubted somewhat his acting abilities so having him nailing the scene down so spectacularly surprised me in all positive ways.
Soo Hyun has been a major jerk and yet I cannot help but feel for him. I connect with characters who are intensely lonely like Soo Hyun. I just want to go there, hug him and tell it’s going to be ok. My poor Soo Hyun. FEEEEELS!
Sorry, this was long.
@Arawn – I agree with the majority of what you’ve said, BUT, as to Hye Rim’s butting in regarding the younger sister’s marriage – 2 things:
1) Hye Rim is the “mother” here as it seems there is a really big age gap and Hye Rim provides for Baby Sis financially (she lives with her, room and board)
2) This is Korean culture
Of course, my American sensibilities say “that is crazy and too harsh and manipulative” but it’s the expected, responsible norm for South Korea.
P.S. @ Arawn – isn’t it funny how we recognize all the weak parts of Kdramas and can still love (most) of them?
I do understand Hye-rim taking the role of a mother and I can definitely see where she’s coming from. Also, I do know how much power parents still wield over their children’s romantic relationships in Korea so Hye-rim’s strong stance against the marriage does not surprise me nor do I see that in itself particularly harsh considering cultural situation. My problem is her immediate gut reaction of dumping the sis when she doesn’t yield to Hye-rim’s wishes at once. I mean, how long does Hye-rim even try to convince her sister and voice her disapproval before she announces cutting all ties? Like five minutes? THAT is darn harsh. I could buy it if she had tried several times during a longer period of time but Hye-rim’s just like “NO marriage!! What, you don’t listen now when I yell at you? Ok, then, bye forever!”
In my opinion, that is crazy even for a Korean parent.
But yeah, I do second your comment about Korean dramas. I don’t even really watch Western dramas anymore. 😀