Saner and I are without our Saya today, because she’s off doing important and busy things, but we have plenty to say about the penultimate week of 18 Again between the two of us. We’ve got revelations, long-awaited conversations, and confessions galore. Much of it was lovely, but there were aspects that drove us to make lists of things that upset us (me) or things we wished to see instead (Saner). But we have faith that Dae-young will clean up his messes in finale week, and we’ll get all the cuteness and squee that we know this show can deliver! And as always, 18 Again never fails to get us in the heart and make us cry happy tears. Also Da-jung ❤
Anisa: I really was hoping I would LOVE these episodes but I’m sad to say this is not the total reversal from last week I was hoping for. Although we did get some much-needed forward movement! What did you think, Saner?
Saner: This week was muuuuuuch better than last week since we got Dae-young cooling his 18-year-old heels in the hot pursuit of a woman who saw him purely as her son’s friend… but my wishlist had two things on it for this week: More Yoon Sang-Hyun and (you’ll never hear me say this again) more basketball.
Anisa: Oh you know I didn’t even think about basketball, but you’re so right. I am happy that Dae-young finally confessed to Da-jung, but I spent the entirety of Episode 13—which had some great moments otherwise—with the sinking realization, They’re going to drag this reveal to the end of the hour, aren’t they. And then they did the same thing in 14 with her not believing him until the very end. My sister popped in to start watching with me and my mom on Episode 13, and she was throwing pillows in frustration.
Saner: Part of the problem (and again, this is a rare complaint in K-drama world) is that they’ve made Da-jung SO dang awesome that seeing her go through the wringer at work and in other ways makes me think, “Er, Dae-young, you really need to step your game up.” Umbrellas and kisses are good ‘n’ all but that’s not the reason your marriage failed. Would have been nice to see him work on some of those, I dunno, other issues? 😅
Anisa: 100%. In fact, umbrellas and kisses are actively working against him at this point, because he’s making the woman he loves doubt her own instincts and morality, and kind of hate herself… for what? Because you’re too chicken to tell her the truth?
Saner: YES! I felt that her apologising at the beginning of Episode 13 was like watching one of your best friends get gaslit—she was apologising for the kiss he initiated and anything she might’ve done (what, like exist?!) to lead him on to make him think his actions were okay.
I literally made this face 😱
Anisa: SAME. I haaaaaated that. Him putting the moves on her without revealing his identity puts them in this really icky power dynamic that both makes her feel like she’s abusing him, and weirdly puts all the power in his hands. It hurts even more to see Da-jung gaslit because she is always so forthright with everyone. It’s the most basic level of respect for her.
Besides, at this point Dae-young’s lie is hurting not just Da-jung, but:
- Shi-ah, who really just wants to see and hug her dad—that bankbook should have come from Dae-young, not Woo-young
- Shi-woo, who is being warned away from playing with his only friend
- Deok-jin, who had almost won Hye-in’s heart and now has apparently been driven to mad Iron Man-breaking raptures
- Ae-rin, who is put in the awful position of keeping one friend’s secret at the expense of another friend
I’m sorry, Saner. This show has driven me to list-making.
Saner: Ahhhhhh! List away. When Shi-woo admitted that Woo-young is his only friend, I nearly wept. What’s he going to do when Dae-young goes back?! 😭
Anisa: Both kids making me cry this week 😭
Saner: I know. And Deok-jin—totally forgot to comment on the fact he gave Hye-in the reality stone which allows the user to distort and manipulate the fabric of reality to their will and the geeky romance levels between that gift and him encouraging Hye-in’s self-acceptance make me SQUEE.
Anisa: They were SO CUTE in that moment at the end of Episodes 12! I love how unapologetically nerdy this show lets them be. And then Dae-young ruined it with Creepy No-Consent Kiss #2.
Saner: CNCKs—killing all your hopes and dreams since Avengers: Endgame.
Anisa: 😂 😂 😂
Saner: Ae-rin was SUCH a good friend at the reunion—I’m starting to get fed up of people ratting on Da-jung for stupid reasons that are twenty years old so that felt like catharrrrsis.
Anisa: YES! I cheered when she yelled at them and threw her business cards in their faces, for when they’ll inevitably need divorce lawyers HAHA.
Saner: “You said you wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t have money, with his dumpster-like face!” #dead #WhereCanIGetMeAFriendLikeThat? 😂
Anisa: Ae-rin is serious friend goals. The relationship between her and Da-jung is one of the best in the drama.
Saner: I love how much Ae-rin and Da-jung love each other. When Ae-rin suggested they go paragliding, I reeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted Da-jung to accept because…otherwise, what else is different about her since we started this drama!? Live a little Da-jung-ssi!
Anisa: Totally. She’s come a long way in achieving her dream, but she’s still busting her butt as hard as she has since we first met her. She needs some fun and lightness!
All the relationships and characters have honestly been so good up until this point, but this week I really felt the stretch on the writer’s part to make this drama last sixteen hours, even more than last week. And that makes me sad, because there were still some really great character moments (saving those for highlights!). But it did a disservice to Dae-young as we’ve known him so far to see him acting in ways that hurt his family, solely to drag out the reveal. I’m a broken record at this point, but: twelves episodes would have been the perfect length.
Saner: To be fair, I could happily watch Ae-rin strut around looking glorious in various shades of colour for sixteen episodes. I just felt that narratively, the angst was always: “Will he choose basketball, his third love, over his (ex)-wife?” because that’s the big kicker and the chance he’s been given. Unfortunately, someone has mistaken this for “How can he woo his (ex)-wife in his 18-year-old body?”
Anisa: Oooh you know what, I take back what I said. 90% because of Ae-rin’s suits, but also, you’ve pinpointed the exact problem. See, the drama made me completely forget about that dreams vs. family conflict! They could have absolutely used some of this time to explore that in a complex and meaningful way.
Saner: Yeah, I totally expected to see a few more episodes of him and his team playing, him getting better and being acknowledged heavily, Da-jung getting more and more suspicious as she attends more games and, er, more Shi-woo and Ja-sung bonding time so I could leave feeling sure Shi-woo had integrated into a team of his own and could stand on his own two feet without Woo-young.
Er, yeah, I had a wishlist of things I expected to see in this drama—is that so wrong? 😂
Anisa: More Shi-woo and Ja-sung time! 😭 I’m completely on board with that wishlist. Honestly, just more of the kids at school would have been amazing. We barely spent any time with them this week, other than Shi-ah’s suitors’ shenanigans. With the major exception of finally finding out the dream she’s been working at the convenience store to support, and her blowout with Da-jung.
Saner: Okay, I have to confess that I love seeing Da-jung and Shi-ah spar with each other—although separately, it’s easy for me to draw comparisons of similarity between the two, when they disagree, it’s great for me to see how Da-jung’s history especially colours their interactions. LOVED that Shi-ah knew exactly what she wanted to do too in the future—and when she reeled off all her research and the various branches of make-up artistry she could go into, I went “Oh YEAH!”
Anisa: That was a great moment. You make an excellent point about Da-jung’s own deferred dreams and how they frame her view of Shi-ah’s future and opportunities, given the workplace sexism Da-jung has been battling her entire career. And the way they argue is so realistic to mothers and teenage daughters.
I’ve always loved that Shi-ah and Shi-woo have their distinct characters and ways of interacting with their parents; they aren’t just The Twins. So Shi-ah is like a snapping turtle with an adorable soft underbelly she rarely shows anyone, whereas Shi-woo is a llama—quiet, reserved and timid, but fiercely loyal with a steady, strong core. (Er, did my animal metaphors get away from me?) And it plays out in how they each interact with their mom and dad.
Saner: Oh my goodness yes! I was JUST thinking of Shi-ah as a type of Ferrero Rocher type shape (crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside) and then Shi-woo as those nougat type sweets with an almost steel core!
Anisa: Hahaha perfect chocolate analogies!
Saner: A chocolate fiend can only hide for so long. Even Shi-woo’s reveal of his bullying to Da-jung (which I completely forgot she still didn’t know about) was very much in character. Not for pity or trying to guilt her but just quietly and firmly making his case to stay Woo-young’s friend.
Anisa: Yes. I love how this writer builds character, and that’s one thing that has stayed consistent. Same with Shi-ah turning into a blubbering mess when she finally read all those bank book entries.
Saner: Even up to just the year before. To be fair, I was right there blubbing with her 😭😭😭
Anisa: There were no dry eyes in my house.
Saner: That was an unexpected reveal to me. As well as Ji-ho’s feelings—both concerning her and her dad but I CRACKED UP HARD at the end of episode 14 though.
Anisa: That was such a surprising and HILARIOUS moment!
Saner: A brilliant way to add a lil bit of tension into Shi-ah and Ji-ho’s budding relationship—when he realises that the guy he previously thought of as romantic competition actually bears a really, REALLY strong resemblance to his girlfriend’s dad….heh heh. *rubs hands in anticipation*
Anisa: I’m looking forward to him backpedaling hard as he goes from “I hate this guy” to desperately hoping for Dad’s approval (and of course there’s the element of him totally hero-worshiping Dae-young since childhood).
Saner: It was the narrative twist I didn’t see coming and I’m so here to watch how it plays out. I’m still laughing thinking about his facial expression in that scene.
Anisa: Me too! Speaking of narrative twists we didn’t see coming though… Dae-young was involved in Ji-hoon’s brother’s accident? WUT.
Saner: *sigh* I’m so convinced he did something heroic and that’ll make Ji-hoon back off Da-jung but also step forward into their family because when this writer makes people bond, it works SO well. And I still want Ji-hoon to be part of the family, as well as Seo-young. We genuinely don’t have time to work through “Is Dae-young a killer or not?” WE ALREADY KNOW HE’S NOT SHOW, JUST GIMME THE BROMANCE ALREADY!
Anisa: I really hope that’s the case, because for a second I was getting guilty vibes from Dae-young. But it’s probably just (another) fake-out, given this show’s track record. Of both fake-outs and squishy marshmallow-ness. I also want them to adopt Ji-hoon in some way, if only so someone can finally tell him that his niece really loves him but does NOT want to call him Dad. He’s a GEM of a man, but adorably clueless about emotional cues.
Saner: It’s fine, I’m going to adjust his family registry so it says Hong Ji-hoon—he’s part of the family now! And Seo-young can kinda be like parenting 2.0/the niece that they never had but clearly always wanted.
Anisa: I need this in my life.
Saner: Also, imagine her interactions with Shi-ah and Shi-woo. If she starts referring to Shi-woo as “Oppa”, I may melt into the floor and never recover.
Anisa: Ahhhhh I’m already mush, how cute would that beeeee 🥺
Saner: And then indignant Ji-hoon in the background. GAH, please make it happen, Show!
Anisa: *sends prayers above*
Saner: *sneaks to borrow Deok-jin’s reality stone*
Anisa: Fantasies aside, should we get into our favorite actual moments this week?
Saner: Oo, yes please! Da-jung saving Kwon Yumi’s butt (literally?) and not giving a flip who saw her.
Anisa: My hero. Dae-young taking the day off to take his former mother-in-law to the bus station, and making her cry with red bean buns. *wipes eyes*
Saner: I mean, I’m often sad and hungry but that was new level, watching her weep on the bus. And the double meaning of him going to “see his mum off”… *sniffs*
Anisa: Ahhhhh I know, that line totally got me in the heart! 😭
Saner: Ja-sung protecting Shi-ah and Ji-ho even at the possible sake of his pride. 😭
Anisa: Poor Ja-sungie. I lub him.
Saner: So much. Seriously. Ja-sung, you don’t need a girl! Just some more self-love and a lotta, lotta bromance!
Anisa: Also to drink some more non-alcoholic beer with Dae-young Ajusshi giving him kind but firm advice.
Saner: Yes please. Is it weird that I also kinda liked Da-jung being cold to Dae-young before the reconciliation? You put down those boundaries lady!
Anisa: Not weird! I love a woman who firmly lets everyone know when they’ve crossed a line. And in that vein, I felt deeply proud of her when she quietly reprimanded that rookie PD from the divorce program for not having the courtesy to tell her in advance that they changed the MC.
Saner: Oh my goodness, yessssssss. Considering how mortifying it must be to find out you’re being replaced the same time as everyone else, she let him know but in a dignified manner that was simply beyond reproach.
Anisa: Da-jung is SUCH a class act.
Saner: Seriously. I feel like this is going to end a certain way again…
Anisa: Us fangirling over Da-jung? A great way to end any conversation. 😉 And I have faith that Da-jung will make Dae-young work just enough for her good graces next week, and we’ll get exactly the happy ending we need.
Saner: Basically—we’re counting on Da-jung!
Anisa: Always. ❤️
2 thoughts on “18 Again: Episodes 13-14 Review”
Love this analysis as usual! I always learned new things when I read your review 🙂 What you said about the drama failing to deliver the promised conflict of Dae-young choosing his dream vs his old life was spot on, and very insightful. For some reason I had almost forgot that this was the original premise! Very early on, we saw Dae-young almost instantly forgot about his young life, and started helping his kids instead. Then we saw in a flashback that he gave up his dream again for his family, almost without hesitation, even if that led to his drinking later. The premise was about regret: Dae-young regretting not being able to achieve his dream, and Da-jung regretting telling Dae-young about the pregnancy and feeling responsible about his life. Yet almost instantly, Dae-young didn’t feel conflicted at all about not pursuing his dream (or at least we weren’t privy to this particular internal conflict).
I do think it was a missed opportunity for a much more interesting conflict, although I suppose Dae-young as a character has been consistent throughout. For that conflict to work, we would need a very different character, who maybe needed a LOT more growth than Dae-young, someone who we would realistically believe would give up being a dad to pursue his dream. In exchange, we got super Dad Dae-young and all of his awesome moments. Maybe this is why while I was disappointed we didn’t get what was promised, I was still very happy with what we saw. It’s an interesting writing challenge for sure.
Can’t wait to see the final eps review!
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Sorry for seeing this late! That’s an interesting point you make about Dae-young being too perfect. I do think we got enough of his disappointing behaviour early on to make me believe that he got some organic character growth, but I do still wish they had taken more time to address his dreams vs. family conflict, even if I was very happy with how they wrapped up finale week. I would have preferred it to the shenanigans we got in 13-14. 😉