Written by Jung Hyun-jung & Jung Da-yeon
Directed by Park Shin-woo
There’s nothing more satisfying than experiencing the moment a television series really hits its stride, and so it is that Lovestruck in the City, which has been massively enjoyable up to this point, hits a home run and delivers its best run of episodes yet.
The seventh is really good and features a lot to unpack and explore, but the mini masterpiece the series really delivers on comes during the eighth episode which sees the series hit an emotional peak.
Hitting the halfway mark of its sixteen episode run, it makes sense that the series would start to shift gears a lot more around this point, and there’s a pleasing sense of the series delivering something of a game changer during the closing moments of its eighth chapter.
Writers Jung Hyun-jung and Jung Da-yeon deliver a gorgeously poignant exploration of memories that are not there anymore, the ones that are forgotten, in this case in a drunken haze that only seem like a dream in retrospect.
The series humorously touches on Jae-won’s drinking, with the revelation that his trip to the police station in the seventh episode is one of many that he has made, so much so that the officers he meets there think of him as a regular and have documented all seven of his trips to report the same theft of his cameras.
It’s very much fun and games until a suggestion of possible alcoholism raises its head and it’s from this point on that Lovestruck in the City gets not only more serious, but starts to hit emotional beats in the most mature way it has done so far.
This duo of episodes are still fun for the most part, and a lot of the best humour comes from the increasingly scary presence of Han Ji-eun as Oh Sun-young who gets many of the best moments of comedy this week, managing to simultaneously be funny and kind of frightening with her antics and attitudes towards romance and dating.
Under normal circumstances I would say she’s the MVP of these two episodes, but it’s the prolonged ‘dream’ scene in the eighth episode that pushes this week’s episode to new emotional heights.
It goes without saying that Ji Chang-wook and Kim Ji-won’s work here is mesmerising, emotional and there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Everything from the dreamy, snowy atmosphere, the performances and the writing is the series on the best form it has been and is an episode that will no doubt draw out a huge emotional response to anyone who has stuck with it so far.
Jae-won’s drunken melancholy and tear lined face is a side that we have never seen before, and while we’ve watched Seon-a put on a brave face and hide whatever emotions she is feeling, we finally see a breakdown of her façade in a genuinely heart-breaking way.
That Jae-won has no memory of this is perhaps the most devastating thing about the whole scene. The moment goes on for so long that you forget momentarily that what we’re watching is a flashback to something he cannot hold on to because he was so drunk when it happened that he has convinced himself that it was nothing but a dream.
Even the way its shot and filmed is different to the series’ other use of flashbacks. There’s no use of the more heightened filters that are frequently the visual indicator that we’re in the past, and instead the visual language is in keeping with the present-day sequences.
That Jae-won has actually reunited with the one person he has been trying to find all throughout the series and managed to do so but cannot in any way remember it is a delicious irony that the series runs with and gives Lovestruck a chance to deliver the best scene of the entire series.
It once again reiterates the theme and importance of memory throughout the show, but it now hits the lead character and the audience with a moment that he has no recollection of.
Tears are shed, emotions are laid bare and just when it seems that Jae-won is about to let go of the past for good, he encounters Seon-a again and with it an almighty cliffhanger that comes at the best and worst time. I’m livid I have to wait a week for the next episode.