can we miss each other…

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On The Way To The Airport continues to mesmerise me with its subtlety and depth, and clever weaving of character, communication and emotion. I’m still not shipping Soo Ah and Do Woo but I’m feeling all they are feeling as they irresistibly drawn to each other, dangerously hovering on the edge of, well, adultery. But the wealth of emotion Soo Ah and Do Woo are experiencing has such a realistic element to it that you can’t help but wonder just when…and how they would cross the line of no return. I guess it starts when you start lying, hiding and sneaking around, terrified someone would find out or see you. Lee Sang Yoon and Kim Ha Neul are dishing out such strongly emotive portrayals that you cant help but want to find out how far they will let their feelings lead them.

SA and DW return home after spending that winsome day together, but both are filled with thoughts with their time together, thoughts of the other. Earlier on their way back, they had agreed to meet each other again casually.

DW’s mom prepares a present for SA, instructing her son to pass the gift to the person who take care of her granddaughter’s belongings. So DW texts SA, and asks to see her for a bit. SA, who is currently staying at her mother-in-law’s place, tries to tamper down her excitement and informs the older woman she’s going out for a breath of fresh air.

DW is parked outside the apartment but SA doesn’t acknowledge his presence immediately. She nonchalantly strolls away from the apartment and DW, though perplexed, trails her in his car. This is oddly hilarious. When SA decides she is far enough from prying eyes, she gingerly approaches DW’s car.

He hands her the present and she snatches her hand back, stating she can’t take the present now as her mother-in-law would be suspicious if she returned with it. She suggests he pass her the present another time and he agrees. She looks so suffocated and jumpy that DW asks her to go for a ride – even a quick one would ease her stuffiness. SA, realising she just agreed to see him again, abruptly changes her tune and grabs the present, saying she’ll take it now since she doesn’t think they would meet again. OUCH. It’s like an invisible slap to DW’s face and he curtly concurs.

He drives off and SA looks after him longingly. This causes him to stop the car as he stares at her looking at him from the mirror. He does look as if he wants to turn back since SA continues to stare at his car with almost naïve hopefulness. She is hoping he would turn back – but DW decides not to and drives away, leaving a disappointed SA in the dust. SA runs off into the open, and stops breathlessly at an outdoor terrace. She forlornly asks Annie whether is it okay to continue meeting her dad.

SA can’t catch a break as her daughter gives her a hard time, too. She impulsively decides to seek DW at his workshop, which is above the bar where she and Mi Jin (MJ) had been before. She calls MJ for the address, lying that she wants to have a drink there with a friend. She arrives at the place, but can’t summon the courage to walk in, and chastises herself for being so foolish. But Hyun Woo (HW), owner of the bar and DW’s friend, spots her through the window.

DW is with his friend/co-worker, and HW informs them that there is someone outside who is here to see either of them. DW heads to the terrace and instantly recognises SA’s silhouette as she walks away from the bar dejectedly. He promptly chases his companion out and yells for HW. We see that HW goes after SA and invites her back to the bar. DW quickly cleans up his workshop, to the amusement of his companion. She leaves but bumps into SA on her way out. HW tells her to go up the stairs where DW is waiting.

SA nervously climbs up the stairs and is met midway by DW. They gaze at each other, so much said in those few seconds, a riot of emotions felt in those seconds. They enter his workshop and while SA is awkward, DW is warm and friendly. SA rattles off about her bad day and confesses his presence somehow makes her feel better. They stare at each other again, with DW assuring her with a quiet smile that he is happy that she came.

Unfortunately, his wife, Hye Won (HWN), decides to drop by the workshop. HW stalls her and quickly calls DW. I love what he says to DW – that he doesn’t know whether he is doing the right thing or over-reacting but his wife is here to see him. Well, it matters since DW grabs SA’s hands and tells her she can stop by his workshop any time she feels she needs a breather. BUT his wife is here and she needs to head to the bar. That is, they need to pretend that SA isn’t here to see DW.

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SA stumbles down the stairs, wracked with nervous guilt, and HW stalls HWN until SA is safely seated at the bar, posing as a customer. SA is all stiff as she overhears HWN chatting to DW, and you can so tell it is dawning on SA that something is just so wrong with the whole scenario.

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HWN wants to take away a beer but HW says he’s out of beer. SA crazily offers HWN hers (WTH???????), and DW and HW looks as if they think SA has lost her marbles. This allows both women to have a glimpse of each other. HWN and DW head out, as SA contemplates what she had just done. HW calmly gives her a stronger drink and walks away, so that SA can sort out her thoughts alone.

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HW and SA have a rather honest chat, and HW advises SA not to forget what just happened – I guess he means the absurdity and wrongness of the situation. SA says she will always keep in mind what happened and leaves. DW doubles back to the workshop and calls SA on his way back, asking her to see her. SA replies that she won’t ever forget how she felt then – scared and sad.

HW warns DW not to cheat on his wife, giving him a laundry list of reasons. DW just sighs heavily, knowing how he feels yet not knowing what to do. SA returns to the workshop to pick up her present and explores the space with interest. HW texts DW, who is at Annie’s memorial service, that SA is at his workshop. DW calls SA, who swears she is leaving. He tells her to raise the blinds and she does – and is mesmerised by a picturesque view of Seoul. They keep on chatting, and SA comments she is contented just chatting with – and not meeting – him forever. HA. DW doesn’t seem as enthused with the idea as she is.

SA sees a picture of DW’s mother’s handiwork with a familiar -looking jade bauble. She realises the girl she had bumped into at the airport was Annie, and Annie had died right after that. Shaken and guilty, she leaves the workshop. DW returns in time to see her but she leaves without a word. She doesn’t take his call either. SA blames herself, thinking if she had stopped Annie that day, she would not have died.

DW discovers something about Annie’s birth father. SA sits at the spot in the airport where she and DW had sat the other time, waiting for him to come even though she knows he wouldn’t. DW calls SA,who figures he must be feeling just like her, waiting for the other to no avail.

DW says he wants to meet her – and he misses her. SA clutches her mobile phone in a death grip, startled at his directness but feeling the same.

It’s bizarre how time flies when I watch this drama even though the pace is so measured and leisurely. I guess it is because the story is well-written and organised, that is comes off as steady rather than slow. There’s something about the cinematography that reels me in effortlessly – the watercolour-like hues and texture paint a vivid background to the characters’ constant contemplative moods, adding depth and layers to the overall product.

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