Noh ‘Captain Asshat’ Shi-hoon, you are under arrest for being self-absorbed, for failing to notice that your girlfriend is very unhappy, and for sucking all the fun and joy out of a scene with nothing but your name. For these crimes, you are hereby written out of Witch’s Romance. God, I wish.
Witch’s Romance‘s episodes 9-12 are a shift from being plot-driven to being character-driven. Yes, things happen to progress the plot forward, but most of the screen time is devoted to the relationship between Captain Asshat and Ji-yeon, and how that affects poor Dong-ha. Over these four episodes, Ji-yeon and Shi-hoon get together, get engaged, set a date, and break up, and little else of significance happens. These episodes are filled with introspection, doubt, and analysis of the choice faced by Ji-yeon: security or risk.
Ji-yeon’s willingness to resume any relationship with the man who abandoned her six years ago is at first puzzling. She’s angry, and has every right to be. He has just as much, if not more, blame in the whole fiasco than anyone else. The fact that his assistant lied to her about his coma doesn’t excuse Shi-hoon’s failure to reach out after he woke up. I mean, if I woke up after two months and was told I’d been dumped by my fiancé, I’d give them a call. If nothing else, they’d need a good verbal smackdown for being so heartless.
Even when Ji-yeon confronts him about his failure to communicate though anything but a very public photo exhibition, Shi-hoon gives no answers. He never explains why he didn’t attempt to contact her; he never even apologizes. He simply points out that if Ji-yeon is angry, then she still cares about him. Ji-yeon acknowledges this as true, and from there, the two re-kindle their relationship. Uh, Captain, Ji-yeon still caring about you doesn’t mean you did nothing wrong.
It’s afterwards, though, that her willingness to get back together begins to make sense. Ji-yeon doesn’t just have 6 years of bad memories; they have 10 years of good ones. 10 years of being utterly happy is a very hard thing to forget, especially if the pain following was the result of a cruel misunderstanding. From Ji-yeon’s perspective, being with Shi-hoon is a virtual guarantee of happiness, and that is tempting. All they have to do is fall into their old rhythms and voila! One perfect future to share.
On the other hand, Ji-yeon sees Dong-ha as a risk. He’s an equally temping risk, but a risk none the same. She doesn’t have the same long history with Dong-ha that she has with Captain Asshat. She sees his youth as attractive and flattering, but believes that same youth will drive Dong-ha to leave her for a younger, more age-appropriate girl. Ji-yeon knows they have chemistry, both physical and mental, but to her, she’s looking at two roads to the same place. Why take the option more likely to hurt her on the way to happiness?
But while Ji-yeon may be able to fool herself into believing she’s happy, she can’t fool anyone else. It’s beyond obvious to her friends, family, and coworkers that she’s just going through the motions with Shi-hoon.
She ignores Shi-hoon’s texts, but spends all day trying to get one from Dong-ha. She dwells on him, on their shared moments, while Shi-hoon is barely a passing thought. She gets drunk and ends up at Dong-ha’s place, in his bed. Even when Shi-hoon proposes, Ji-yeon is apathetic at best. She tells no one, and when people start noticing her ring, she tries to change the subject as fast as possible. And the worst thing about this? Captain Asshat doesn’t notice. At all.
He fails to register that Ji-yeon has no opinion on anything. Not wine, not food, not when or where to get married. She’s just there, a puppet agreeing to everything he says, and Captain Asshat is so wrapped up in himself that he fails to notice he’s the only one who’s interested.
Meanwhile, Dong-ha is — to be polite — a heartbroken mess. He drinks to forget Ji-yeon, he quits Trouble Maker to forget Ji-yeon, he moves out to forget Ji-yeon. He is in the horrible position of watching the women he loves become more and more dissatisfied, yet being too afraid to take a risk on him. There is nothing he can do but wish Ji-yeon well, and that is clearly tearing him apart. It just gets worse as Ji-yeon become more aware of her own unhappiness, seeking him out for stability that she can’t get from Shi-hoon.
Somehow, Shi-hoon manages to remove his skull from his rectum long enough to see that Dong-ha and Ji-yeon are very, very close; much closer than he’d like. Following incident after incident of Ji-yeon’s and Dong-ha’s relationship, Shi-hoon somehow manages to be a decent person, and realized that memories are not something you can build a life on, and calls off their wedding. Praise the lord!
The absolute worst thing about this arc isn’t that Ji-yeon actually tried to get back with a self-absorbed dick. She needed that, if only to get the closure denied previously. It wasn’t watching Dong-ha wallow in pain, because we all know he’s going to get the girl in the end. It’s that this whole shebang is melodrama. Good melodrama, but still. Witch’s Romance is supposed to be a romantic comedy.
Literally everything that isn’t related to Shi-hoon is light-hearted and funny. Bestie Na-rae is pregnant and it’s hilarious. Ji-yeon’s mother and boss are flirting heavily, Ji-yeon is desperate to stop it, and it’s hilarious. Soo-chul, Eun-chae, and fellow writer Ri-ji are in a love triangle, and it’s hilarious. However, anytime Shi-hoon is onscreen or even mentioned, all the fun and humor just flees the screen. Noh Shi-hoon, you are hereby dubbed Captain Asshat, Knight of Misery and Angst.
Witch’s Romance is still good, and I will keep watching, but I’m really hoping that Shi-hoon’s desicion to call off the wedding will allow for a return to the bubbly sexiness of the first few episodes. Thoughts, readers?
(Images via tvN)