The Mary Stayed Out All Night (Marry Me, Mary!) Roller Coaster has finally come to a complete stop, ladies and the occasional gentleman. This was one wild ride, and I feel mentally drained from the combination of the crazy on top of the mind-boggling.
Watching a live drama has its drawbacks, one of which is the inability to predict the trajectory of the drama journey. M3 encapsulates the worst feeling that can befall of fan of any live drama – when the writing, directing, or acting goes into the crapper, your guts get yanked out of you and you feel like shit.
I know that legions of folks have already jumped off M3 prior to its second half, but for those of us who stuck around for one reason or another (okay, one reason only, the amazing Geun-Geun once in a lifetime coupling), it becomes an internal struggle to find the silver lining.
When I watched episode 15 and 16 together, it created a bookend of sorts, taking the drama into wholly unpalatable insane territories before coming in for a safe landing. I can’t deny that the second half had been losing steam for me, rather quickly to be honest, and only the desire to see where the drama took Mu Gyul and Mae Ri (and finish the recaps) did I stick around.
I don’t regret it, but my heart was no longer thumping wildly week to week, building up momentum for an awesome ending that I knew was surely never to come. Surprisingly, the actual ending (the final sequence of events) was completely lovely and reflected the mood and affection of the magical chemistry between the OTP. It was a shame that neither writer 1 nor writer 2 understood or could deliver the script that was worthy of this very rare collaborative opportunity between the two top-acting K-stars of the same generation.
In the business world, there is a phrase called “I2E”, which is shorthand for “idea-to-execution.” A good strategy requires both a solid idea coupled with a well-thought out and well-implemented execution of said idea. Neither could succeed without the other. A drama is much the same way – a great idea needs proper execution to become a successful drama.
M3 failed wholly on the execution portion in my mind. No one knew how to execute this thing. By haphazardly stacking random plot points and throwaways scenes one on top of the other, the drama never had traction, finally getting eaten alive by a rush to find plot when there was never any.
We had lovely characters (Mu Gyul and Mae Ri), intriguing (on paper) second leads (Seo Jun and Jung In), and a pretty wacky but fun concept (double marriages with careers and futures on the line). Except for the Mae Ri and Mu Gyul part, nothing else was properly developed. In the end, it devoured even the characters of Mae Ri and Mu Gyul, turning them temporarily into caricatures forced to act out an emotion that never rang true to their early incarnations.
That was upsetting to watch, seeing characters I love acting in ways I couldn’t accept. Thankfully, episode 16 managed to wrangle an ending that I do appreciate, even if Mu Gyul had to run all over Seoul to get there. M3 might really be qualitatively one of the worst written dramas I’ve ever watched, but I choose to continue to love it because I accept that what made me happy came with the aforementioned shortcomings.
Episode 15 Recap:
The episode opens not with the frozen hug tableau but moments later. Jung In opens up the ring box to find Mae Ri’s ring’s inside. Mu Gyul is storming down the street while Mae Ri runs after him, pleading with him to listen to her. She tries to explain that she was resolving things with Jung In, but he won’t listen to her reasons. He asks her what type of resolving her situation with Jung In she was doing in the middle of an embrace. He walks away from her, needing time alone to stew in this sudden onslaught of anger and jealousy.
Mae Ri heads back to Mu Gyul’s apartment, finding it still empty. She gets a call, hoping that its Mu Gyul, but its their friends who have gathered together to celebrate the holiday. They invite her out, but she declines, saying that she has to wait for Mu Gyul. They can tell that her voice sounds off, and worry that the couple had a fight.
Mu Gyul takes the bus home, and he’s recognized by the other passengers who not-so-subtlely take pictures of him, which leads him to get off the bus. Mae Ri looks around the apartment, spying the curtain that she tied back with a heart shaped tie, leading her to recall Mu Gyul asking flirtatiously for his present to be curtain removal surgery.
She turns around when she hears him come home. He ignores her, but she pleasantly tries to pretend everything is going to be okay. She continues to explain herself, that she asked Jung In for a divorce. Except Mu Gyul refuses to process a single word she says, allowing his own hurt to overwhelm Mae Ri’s sincerity and honesty. He blows up at her – telling her that he’s sold out his musical style for her (WTF!?! Kang Mu Gyul, your lack of logic blows my mind since you made the choice to sign with JI Entertainment yourself).
He asks her what Jung In means to her, and accuses her of being a stranger to him today. He asks her to leave, telling her that he needs some time alone. Mae Ri leaves, and my sanity goes with her. This entire sequence of events (from the hug to this moment) makes ZERO sense. None whatsoever. Not in terms of logic, character consistency, or even plot development.
One single back hug is enough for Mu Gyul to doubt Mae Ri? I refuse to swallow this bag of baloney the writer concocted purely for angst and conflict. It was not like he caught Mae Ri hugging Jung In, which would be a whole nother bag of tricks. Her allowance of his hug may be hard to stomach from a jealousy perspective, but nowhere warrants the level of pissed-off-martyr syndrome Mu Gyul is acting out. All courtesy of the writer’s pen. Sigh.
Mu Gyul sits down, finally noticing the things that Mae Ri prepared. He’s in such a snit that he just rips the decorations off the wall. Mu Gyul’s mom sees the wedding invitations for Jung In and Mae Ri’s marriage, and she runs off to tell Mu Gyul. Mu Gyul at least has the decency and semblance of his normal brain back, and defends Mae Ri as not a two-timing golddigger to his mom.
Mu Gyul tells his mom to move out of Mae Ri’s house because he already paid back the ring. She calls Mae Ri’s dad to gloat, and throws in a dig about him selling his daughter off. Mae Ri comes home, and her dad can tell that something is wrong. Mae Ri tells her dad that she asked Jung In for a divorce, which makes her dad upset again. She finally loses her temper at her dad, asking him to please not start this discussion again today, she is bone tired and wants to rest.
Mae Ri goes back to her room and blinks back her tears. Jung In sits in his darkened bedroom, deep in thought. Poor Jung In. I really do love the potential his character has, and how much charisma Kim Jae Wook imbues his flimsy construct of a character with. The next morning, Mu Gyul goes to confront Jung In at work.
He accuses Jung In of having a game plan from the start – having Mae Ri try on wedding dresses, passing out wedding invitations, Jung In was clearly planning to forcefully have this wedding one way or another. Jung In candidly tells Mu Gyul that the wedding preparation is purely his father’s work. When Mu Gyul asks Jung In whether he loves Mae Ri, Jung In hesitates for a moment, and replies that he cannot deny it.
Mu Gyul’s face freezes while Jung In asks him not to misunderstand Mae Ri, who only went to see Jung In at his behest. Jung In hands Mu Gyul his upcoming schedule, and Mu Gyul quits and walks out. Mae Ri leaves the house the next morning, and has a rational conversation with her father. Loser daddy asks her to seriously consider marrying Jung In, since love and marriage are different things in reality and he just wants her to be happy.
Mae Ri goes to the bookstore, her refuge in times of emotional turmoil. Jung In joins her, but sits a few stacks away without alerting her to his presence. Mae Ri turns around and sees him, but he’s called away due to the office being unable to find Mu Gyul for his upcoming performance engagements. Mr. Sulky Rocker is off playing angry guitar with his band mates looking on.
His electric guitar strings are pulled, as Jung In finds his rival and star asset. He accuses Mu Gyul of being irresponsible (and might I add – unreasonable, self-absorbed, and immature – but this is only the episode 15 incarnation of Mu Gyul, and not my impression of his character for the first 14 episodes). Jung In thinks that if Mae Ri likes a guy as irresponsible of Mu Gyul, then perhaps he really has a chance with her?
Jung In tells Mu Gyul that he cannot hand Mae Ri over to a guy like Mu Gyul, which leads the latter to question what right Jung In has any right to dictate where Mae Ri goes. Jung In asks Mu Gyul to consider what he needs to do in order for Jung In to decide to give up Mae Ri. Ooh, gauntlet thrown. Too bad it has such little emotional impact at this stage. All of the writer’s attempts at emotional conflict ring false and lacks any real tension.
The friends plan to bring Mu Gyul and Mae Ri together so they can resolve their issues. Mu Gyul arrives first and sees the romantical gestures strewn around, easily guessing the true reason he was asked to come. He turns around and leaves, running into Mae Ri right outside the restaurant. She tries to talk with him, but he shuts her down cold. Kang Mu Gyul, you are such an ass of the first order.
Mu Gyul goes home and kicks a box on the ground, and out spills the hair conditioner Mae Ri bought as a present for him. Seo Jun calls Mu Gyul out for a drink, telling him that she covered for his absence today. She realizes that Mu Gyul is in a shitty mood and wonders if he had a fight with Jung In. She encourages him to attend the company work shop tomorrow.
Mae Ri has been asked to attend the work shop as well. When she arrives at the bus, all the company employees have received wedding invitations and acknowledge her as their boss’ fiancée. They urge the couple to sit together, and take pictures of them. Jung In falls asleep on the bus and his head repeatedly rests on Mae Ri’s shoulder despite her attempts to move it back.
Mu Gyul is at home sulking. Gee, what else is new today? Seo Jun is with the band mates, and call Mu Gyul to urge him to attend the work shop. He refuses. Seo Jun confronts Mae Ri at the work shop, and accuses her of continuing to hurt Mu Gyul and making his life difficult from the moment he met her. She asks Mae Ri to end it with Mu Gyul.
Mae Ri walks off and heads up the mountain for a walk. By the way, I am coining a new phrase today. Henceforth, every time a drama writer makes a character do something pointless and random to create plot angst, I will call that plot device “X goes up a mountain.” Jung In sees Mae Ri and follows her mountain trek, which allows Mae Ri to reflect back on her memories with Mu Gyul.
When she gets to the top of the mountain, she takes a deep breath and screams out words that really she needs to yell into Kang Mu Gyul’s ears and not into thin air. She tells him that she is sorry, for making his life so difficult. The fake marriage, the living together, it was all because of her. She wants to live happily together with him, but perhaps she is asking for too much. She apologizes again, and crouches down sobbing.
Jung In watches her declaration and breakdown, and his look registers a man who has made a decision and is happy about it. He helps her up, and they walk back down the mountain. Seo Jun calls Mu Gyul to tell him that Mae Ri and Jung In have been missing for a few hours now, likely lost in the mountains. Seo Jun wonders if it’s because of what she said to Mae Ri. No, it’s because of what the writer wants to do for plot’s sake.
Mu Gyul cabs it to the work shop retreat, and joins in the search party. Mae Ri and Jung In are lost but calmly making their way back in the dark. Mae Ri trips and Jung In grabs her as they roll down an incline and his head strikes a rock. Jung In is out cold and Mae Ri calls around for help.
Mu Gyul arrives and starts his own search, finding Mae Ri huddled over Jung In, trying to keep him warm. Lovely way to pour more fire on the Mu Gyul-Mae Ri misunderstanding angst, writer-shhi! (*psst, I hate you*).
Jung In is unconscious in the hospital and Mae Ri is watching over him. Mu Gyul is at the hospital and watches Mae Ri leave Jung In’s hospital room but doesn’t approach her. He goes home, and his mom has made stew for him to eat.
It tastes terrible, but Mu Gyul eats its regardless, stabbing at the food and thinking back at his time eating the same but delicious food with Mae Ri. He swallows the tears with the food, and my heart hurts for what the stupid writer is doing by making Mu Gyul unnecessarily angsty.
Seo Jun and the rest of JI Entertainment is doing their best to keep the drama production going and make sure no one jumps ship. Mu Gyul asks Seo Jun to dissolve his contract with JI Entertainment, and even she is sick and tired of his attitude. She accuses him rightfully of bailing. What upset her about their failed relationship is that Mu Gyul didn’t even confirm his suspicions before dumping her. She asks Mu Gyul not to so the same thing to Mae Ri. Seo Jun as the sole voice of reason? This episode has officially entered the Twilight Zone of M3 territory.
Turns out that Jung In should be awake, but no one can understand why he’s still unconscious. My guess? Because Kim Jae Wook is refusing to act out his scenes anymore, hence he was put into a coma. I would if I were him. And if Mu Gyul goes abroad in the next scene, we’ll all know why that happened. Bonus points if Mae Ri has full facial reconstructive surgery and the entire episode 16 is played by another actress because Moon Geun Young has quit. The dedication and professionalism of the M3 cast is truly commendable.
Mu Gyul has come to see Mae Ri at the hospital. Not to resolve his misunderstanding, that would be too quick and painless. He first apologizes for ignoring her and being so pigheaded. But he has come to give her an ultimatum. Either Jung In or himself, and Mae Ri must choose right now. As opposed to later in the day or when the other dude who risked his life to save her is not teetering on death’s door.
She explains that she feels terrible about what happened to Jung In, and can’t just abandon him at the hospital. Yes, that would be called human kindness and sensitivity, which Mae Ri has by the truckload. Therefore, Mae Ri is unable to answer his dumb trick question, and Mu Gyul turns and stalks off. Hey Kang Mu Gyul, I hope I see the real you back in episode 16, as opposed to the Bizarro world version of you.
Episode 16 Recap:
After Mu Gyul storms off, Mae Ri gets a call that Jung In has awoken. Woah, so this whole convo would have been moot had either of them taken a bathroom break before running into each other? Oh drama writer, you have truly outdone yourself in constructing utterly meaningless plot contrivances yet again.
Mae Ri runs back to Jung In’s hospital room, where the formerly unconscious one is looking so wan and gorgeous laying on that bed. I’ll be your nursemaid, Jung In! He asks to speak with Mae Ri privately. Back at the apartment, Mu Gyul is taking down all of the knick knacks that belong to Mae Ri. Wow, for a laid back dude, you sure do purge really fast.
Jung In speaks with his father, and asks once again whether this wedding is really necessary. He says the bride is not ready, and devil daddy says that she will be ready after the wedding. His thinking resembles logic as much as France is in the shape of a boot. Jung In confesses that he does love Mae Ri, which is why he wants her to be happy. Hallelujah, finally somebody understands what loving another person means.
Jung In worries that if he marries Mae Ri, she will not be happy, and they will end up even more unfortunate than devil daddy and Jung In’s mom’s unfortunate marriage. Devil daddy refuses to behave like a rational human being, and persists in the wedding.
Mae Ri runs to Mu Gyul’s apartment, telling him that THIS is her answer. He drops everything and grabs her for a body embrace, thanking her for coming. Even though it’s late, they wish each other a Merry Christmas.
You know the drama is rushed for time when the very next second Mu Gyul gets a call from Jung In to come and see him in the hospital. A reconciliation that calls for a make-out session is thereby thwarted. Damn you, writer who refuses to give me boating!
Devil daddy calls loser daddy to inform him in the same breath that Jung In is awake and the wedding is imminent. Even loser daddy is taken aback by this rush to the altar. Jung In thanks Mu Gyul for coming, telling him that he plans to go through with the wedding. But this will be Jung In’s way of having a honorable rivalry with Mu Gyul for Mae Ri. Mu Gyul doesn’t quite understand the circular logic, but Jung In tells him that he is being sincere.
Mae Ri is called home to prepare for the wedding. Loser daddy tells her that her mom married for love but was unable to be happy and live a long life. He wants his daughter to not have the same fate befall her.
Mu Gyul is at the apartment playing the guitar when Mae Ri texts him. She asks for three days to resolve things with Jung In, and asks him to trust her. He agrees, and they plan to meet at the playground in three days time.
Mae Ri and Jung In prepare for their wedding. Mu Gyul is oblivious to the impending nuptials and is at the playground performing when the friends find him and tell him to go stop the wedding. He’s initially incredulous but finally runs off through the snowy Seoul streets to play the part of the “I object” boyfriend.
Except when he arrives and takes one look at Mae Ri standing at the altar with Jung In, giving him a soft smile, his heart crumples and he leaves. When Mu Gyul’s eye fill with tears as his guts gets torn out of him, Jang Geun Seok’s acting is pitch perfect in the littlest of details. Mu Gyul’s early departure means that he misses the real show.
During the exchange of vows, Jung In speaks up that he cannot marry Mae Ri. The marriage was arranged by their parents, but they have chosen another path for themselves.
They walk off hand-in-hand to the outraged glances of devil daddy and the concerned looks of loser daddy. I wish this moment had more impact and oomph, but M3 has pretty much killed all momentum and subtlety with all its plot circles that I’m just relieved this forced marriage plot is finally over.
Mae Ri changes out of her wedding dress and heads out to find Mu Gyul. Jung In can only see her run off to find Mu Gyul, knowing that he is doing the right thing for all three of them, but only he ends up with the short end of the stick.
Mu Gyul goes home and wallows in his misery by crawling into bed. Seo Jun comes to rouse him, and gets a “get out of here” for her effort. She’s calmly informs him that the wedding was dramatically called off by the two participants, who not only didn’t get married, actually ended up signing divorce papers.
Jung In goes to discuss the aborted wedding with devil daddy, and reveals that he knows the insistence that Mae Ri wed Jung In is solely to satisfy devil daddy’s transferred desire to fulfill his own unrequited love of Mae Ri’s mother. Loser daddy happens to overhear this conversation, and that puts an end to any of his desire to have his daughter marry Jung In.
Mu Gyul runs to the playground to find Mae Ri waiting for him at the slide. He apologizes to her – telling her that it wasn’t she whom he did not trust, it was himself.
They tearfully hug, and head back to the apartment to warm up. Mae Ri confesses that Jung In concocted the dramatic wedding present as a way for Mae Ri and Mu Gyul to publicly be together. Otherwise everyone will think Mae Ri is cheating on Jung In.
Mu Gyul smiles, and ask Mae Ri to close her eyes. She teasingly asks whether he’s planning to trick her again, but complies nonetheless. Mu Gyul takes out the cat necklace he bought for her, and she’s delighted to receive the gift, giving her boyfriend a kiss on the cheek.
I love the return of affectionate Mu Gyul and Mae Ri, which just reinforces yet again how manufactured the conflict has been for the last episode and a half to keep these two apart for reasons that are contrary to the relationship they have developed.
Mae Ri leaves the next morning, having fixed breakfast for a still sleeping Mu Gyul. I refuse to believe these two didn’t sleep together last night. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Mae Ri goes home and her dad has finally stopped insisting that his daughter marry a rich guy she’s barely known, and is finally accepting responsibility and awareness of a disaster averted by the aborted wedding. She calls Mu Gyul, and expresses worry about Jung In’s situation. Mu Gyul teases her about her concern for her ex-husband in front of her boyfriend.
Jung In gets kicked out of the house, and he goes to sleep and work at the office. It’s so uncomfortable that he decides to invite himself to move in with Mu Gyul. His spacious office vs Mu Gyul’s basement garage apartment? Whatever, who am I to look an irrational gift horse in the mouth. Commence Jung In-Mu Gyul roommate hijinks.
Actually, it’s more of a low key rivals/colleagues/pseudo-friends dynamic. Jung In doesn’t want to sleep on the sofa, because he can only sleep on a bed. He suggests a curtain dividing the bed, and is shot down by Mu Gyul who uses the same words back to Jung In – my house, my rules. Jung In grudgingly complies.
Jung In ends up playing manager to Mu Gyul, as they drive the rickety van to all the engagements, bickering along the way. Jung In also has to help ward off screaming fans. I would totally be pawing at both guys. When they get home, Mae Ri is surprised to see Jung In, and both are rather awkward around each other. She offers for Jung In to eat dinner with them.
At the office, Seo Jun wonders why Jung In let Mae Ri go. Isn’t loving someone holding on to them. Perhaps Jung In wants success more than love, and holding onto Mu Gyul as a meal ticket is more profitable. Jung In replies that he just want to be independent, in love and in his career. It’s time he stepped away from his father’s dictates. Bravo, Jung In!
Mae Ri sees Mu Gyul’s performance on TV, and notes that he’s too skinny. She resolves to go catch a chicken, which she then makes samgaetang (ginseng chicken soup) for all three of them to eat.
She gives Mu Gyul her drumstick, and when Jung In looks on a tad enviously, Mu Gyul gives him a date from his bowl. Jung In then offers Mu Gyul some kimchee, which he declines, and then Jung In hilariously dumps a saucer of salt into Mu Gyul’s chicken soup while Mu Gyul hisses at him.
Afterward dinner, Mae Ri is reading on the swing, Mu Gyul is playing darts, and Jung In is checking the news on his tablet. Jung In gets a call that Wonderful Day is a success, and both congratulate Jung In. The boys shake hands.
A bus passes by with a Wonderful Day poster on its side. Mae Ri and Jung In’s divorce decree is approved by the courts. The gang host a party to celebrate their divorce.
One year later, and Mae Ri is filming a couple discussing love and marriage, and the couple get into a fight on camera. Mae Ri walks away from the screaming couple, as she voiceovers, wondering whether a couple in love has only marriage as a happy ending. She has been using this topic to write a script, which is keeping her exceedingly busy.
She looks up and sees Jung In standing there, and damn the boy looks FINE! Jung In tells her that his dad is back in the country, and is doing much better, and has asked about her. Looks like father-son have reconciled. A guy calling Mae Ri sunbae comes over and wonders who Jung In is. Both confirm that Jung In is Mae Ri’s ex-husband.
At first the guy doesn’t believe her, and finally says that he won’t let Mae Ri’s divorced status influence him. He has written a song for her. Mae Ri smiles and says she’s got quite a few songs written for her. Jung In also smiles, noting that musicians seem to like Mae Ri a lot.
Mu Gyul is sitting in the park singing “I Will Promise You”. Mae Ri walks up to him, hidden in the crowd watching him perform. She voiceovers that they are the same. They have broken up twelve times, and this is their thirteenth time getting back together. The only difference is that Mu Gyul now has lots of self-confidence.
They are sitting in the same apartment, which Mae Ri complains is too hot because Mu Gyul can now afford heat and keeps running the heat. Seo Jun is now an even more famous actress, still difficult to work with, but has developed a reputation for being loyal.
Mu Gyul and Mae Ri walk arm in arm through the streets of Hongdae, chatting and sharing one set of ear phones. Mu Gyul is wearing the exact same outfit he wore in episode 1 (so poignant, and might I add that Jang Geun Seok looks wonderful).
They laugh and smile, and Mae Ri voiceovers that they are just twenty-somethings, standing at the crossroads of their life, choosing to make a new choice. Mu Gyul leans in to kiss Mae Ri on the cheek, and the camera freezes on that very moment.
Thoughts of Mine:
Watching the last two epiosdes of M3 left me emotionally drained, on top of my jet lag and general vacation fatigue. It wasn’t emotionally drained in a good way either, which happens when you watch a drama ending so meaningful that you feel like a part your heart was constricted by the feelings of either happiness or sadness, depending on the ending. M3 left me lethargic and wanting the drama to be over, my enthusiasm limping to the finish line the same way to drama did.
But watching the actors, especially Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young, gamely soldier on, delivering their final scenes with their usual level of technique and enthusiasm, cheered me back up. When the story sucks, but the acting is sublime, I simply must raise my own game. If the actors can deliver M3 to the end, then I, too, can deliver a recap worthy of the Geun-Geun’s performances as Mae Ri and Mu Gyul! That was my vow going into this recap.
Episode 15 was a giant mess of the first order, and the less that is said about it is better for everyone all around. Nothing happened that was worth analyzing, since it was all empty plot with no depth. Episode 16, on the other hand, had the trademarks of an early M3 episode. It had great character interactions, funny interludes, and moments of genuine emotional connection with the viewers.
As a whole, the final two episodes of M3 was serviceable, which is more than I had expected, but less than I had hoped. This leaves me with no choice but to declare M3 a poorly made rom-com, having all the right ingrediants but lacking a competent chef to prepare the dish. At most I will remember M3 fondly for giving me Mae Ri and Mu Gyul, but I can’t muster up the desire to re-watch anytime soon.
This in no way dimishes how much I LOVE both Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young’s performances in this drama, their characters individually and together, and their unbelievable chemistry with each other. It was truly magical for me to watch, and I will never regret being so taken with M3 during its airing.
Did I mention that I loved the final moments of the ending? The last 10 minutes? That was more than I had hoped for, almost it belonged to a much more sophisticated drama and somehow accidentally wandered onto the set of M3. I was expecting a wedding of Mu Gyul and Mae Ri, to tie back to episode 1. It would have been conventional, but I never thought M3 was ever unconventional.
Except the real ending, of Mu Gyul and Mae Ri dating, breaking up, in love, in fights, pursuing the careers of their choosing, walking along the streets of Hongdae – that was just a poignantly sweet conclusion. It wasn’t an open ending for me, because they are together, choosing of their own free will to be in love, make a relationship work, and walk their life’s journey side by side.
If M3 used marriage for anything, it’s to show that it can’t be forced, and being married doesn’t mean happiness, security, or longevity. Mae Ri and Mu Gyul are HAPPY at the end of the drama, and so am I. I want to just forget episode 15, the kidnapping, the pawned ring, the unlocked doors, the running from dear old dad, forget all of the things that really marred my enjoyment of spending time with my favorite couple of the year.
Kim Jae Wook needs, nay, is absolutely due, for a leading man role next. Both Kim Jae Wook (for Bad Guy) and Yoo Ah In (for Sungkyunkwan Scandal) were my two breakout stars of 2010 (Jung So Min as well, but she already got her leading lady role in the same year as her breakout supporting role). Just like after Hong Gil Dong and Beethoven Virus, Jang Geun Seok was clearly due for his big break – Kim Jae Wook gamely played the wonderful second lead in M3 with as much charisma as he could muster for such an unevenly written role, and he’s definitely ready to get the girl now.
Acting is just like every other occupation out there. Not every project is a winner, not every performance is a keeper. Sometimes it’s easier to shine in a low-rated uneven drama, which allows the actor’s talent to rise to the occasion. For the record, M3 was my favorite performance from both Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young, even though this drama was neither’s best drama acting performance by a long shot (that would be Hwang Jin Yi for the former, and Painter of the Wind for the latter).
I credit my love of both of them in M3 to the fact that they acted opposite each other, creating not just acting excellence in portraying their characters, but that something extra called couple chemistry. This is what I will always remember M3 for. It really was a shame that the drama was such a dreadful mess. Both are so talented and well-regarded by the industry that this is barely a blip in their careers, and hardly something to bemoan other than as a wasted opportunity.
M3 is the second K-drama that I have recapped, and I hate to leave it on such a down note. I choose to commemorate this drama for the things that I did love about it, starting from the acting chemistry as mentioned above. I did love certain scenes, though in hindsight each moment was really stand alone and didn’t mesh into a complete picture as a whole because the plot was so disjointed.
As a rom-com, M3 did in fact make me feel rommy and commy at times, and recollections of those moments still make my heart flutter and my grin giddy. My fave romantic scenes from M3, in no particular order: (1) Mu Gyul and Mae Ri’s first meeting when they get drunk, stagger outside, he gives her a kale bouquet, and a kiss on her Harry Potter scar, (2) their date to the beach which ended up at the campsite and he teaches her the guitar, (3) when Mu Gyul wears the sweater Mae Ri knitted and they meet up at the ice-skating rink, (4) when Mu Gyul dedicates the song and calls out his love for his Merry Christmas, and (5) the handcuffed alley kiss.
I also laughed a lot during the early episodes of M3, none more so than the scene when Mae Ri walks in on Mu Gyul in Jung In’s bed. That moment was truly immortalized in my mind as what could have been with M3, all that tension and possibilities never tapped into. After writing this recap, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not bitter as either a drama viewer or a fan of Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young.
There are good times and bad times, things that go well and thing that go wrong. It’s how we choose to move on and learn from it that makes us stronger. I find that the perseverance of the actors in M3 in soldiering on and making the best of a sinking ship really touched me, and left a stronger impression than if the drama has been an okay production with solid but not exceptional results.
I bid a fond farewell to M3, a drama that I will always remember for the things that I loved about it. It was a pleasure to recap M3 for all the fans of said drama, and I hope the next drama I choose to recap turns out to be less of a trainwreck. But I think that it’ll be a long time coming before another OTP resonates so strongly with me (and so immediately – I fell in love with Mae Ri and Mu Gyul in their first scene together), and that is how special Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young’s first drama collaboration was for me to watch.