Melancholia -- Episodes 11 - 16 (Finale) : Greed, & the Mathematics of Love
It's crazy that even four years later, everybody was still threatened and jealous of a potential relationship between Yoon Soo and Baek Seung Yoo. It's like their lives revolved around them. And what's even crazier is that they deluded themselves into believing they have the right to interfere in their lives forever, and take what they wanted because it was always theirs. They didn't even think they were doing anything wrong -- that to me was the worst part. They were all stuck in their own ignorant delusions and didn't even realize they were drowning in the suffering they created.
Greed, selfishness, and jealousy were always at the helm of this story, but at its core it was about unconditional love, the kind neither Ye Rin, her parents, Noh Yeon Woo, nor No Jung Ah ever experienced, let alone understood or accepted that love must be unconditional, selfless, accepting, forgiving, and infinite. Ye Rin, her parents, the Nohs, lived their lives seeking acceptance without truly accepting or even loving themselves, thinking that as long as they did what other people said and would love them. And every time they couldn't live up to expectations, they feared the love and acceptance would be taken away from them. It's why their kind of love was conditional, selfish, unforgiving, and restrictive. They didn't know any other way. And it's why their present wasn't any different than their past.
Unlike them, Yoon Soo and Seung Yoo understand and accept the complexity, but beauty, of this thing that is love, the kind that can be mathematically proven as true or false through its pattern. From its ups and downs to its depth and shallowness, and even the form it takes. I love Seung Yoo's calm fierceness and resolve in the face of the ugliness around him. And I love how this drama uses the slow but effective science of mathematics as proof of pure love, while unmasking the ugliness that surrounds it.
I admit I was hoping Yoon Soo was laying low for four years, because she was working to uncover Noh Jung Ah's corruption. But not only was that not the case, she's back to the timid naive school teacher, who easily fell into the trap Jung Ah laid out. The same goes for Seung Yoo. I wanted her to boldly step into her nemesis’s space, looking confident and determined not to back down, but rather they are both caught again in Ye Rin and Jung Ah's egotistical games.
I never appreciated Noh Jung Ah, but at least she was consistent in her blind pursuits. Noh Yeon Woo, on the other hand, I never liked from the beginning and liked even less as the drama progressed for coveting what was never hers. As for Ye Rin, I cared even less to understand her, let alone know what drove her, especially as an adult. She was a victim of her own making. But what they all had in common, including Ye Rin's parents, was that they pretended the people they hurt were bad, it justified their evilness and lessened their guilt. They let their ambitions blind them of what was truly important. Even Seung Yoo's father was guilty of that. I don't think there is anything worse than evil being done in the name of good, other than of course good people letting it happen.
I know everybody from Seung Yoo's father to Yoon Soo were trying to do what's best for him, but it still didn't give them the right to assume they know what's best, especially since he's made it crystal clear time and time again what he wants. I wanted to hug Seung Yoo for the pain and letdowns, and wished he knew Yoon Soo wasn't trivializing his love for her because he wasn't good enough or because she didn't love him. It's just that she'd failed for the longest time to notice that he loved her more than he loved mathematics.
As for Ye Rin, it was pleasant to see her finally realize the difference between getting what she wanted and what she deserved. It's sad, but true, the saying that not everybody gets what they deserve, just as not everyone deserves what they get. The Nohs and even Ye Rin's parents were good examples of that. They never appreciated what they had or deserved, because they were too focused on what they wanted.
They say, as punishment is to the evil act, so is reward to a good act. Now no evil deed ever goes unpunished. Sometimes it might take a long time, but if one is patient enough, they just might see it bring itself down. I always knew Ji Na was going to be her mother's undoing. It's not that Noh Jung Ah consistently and meticulously believed and was enabled to do and act however she wanted to get what she wanted, but that she was okay doing it at the cost of her own daughter. I think she is the first high class (if one can even call her that) mother in K-drama that's indiscriminately trampled over everyone's child, including her own -- there is nothing worse than a parent who can be everything to everyone else except a mother or father to her child.
I liked how Yoon Soo and Baek Seung Yoo's relationship gradually changed and evolved from that first time they met as a teacher/student and later as adults, keeping the essence of what attracted them at the core of what their relationship was about. Rather than just drifting away with the pain that many of those around them, even those of loved them, put them through. In a way, they were the cornerstone of this story, in how they didn't let their painful past break them, even if it somehow shaped them. As people say, pain makes one stronger, tears make them braver, heartbreak wiser, so one should always thank their past for leading them to a better future. But most of all, I love that Melancholia wasn't a drama about vengeance, but about righting wrongs and bringing awareness to the fact that just because people are different doesn't mean they are wrong or bad. It just means it's different, and that's perfectly okay.
Thank you to Im Soo Jung and Lee Do Hyun, the writer, director and the rest of the cast, for taking us on this somewhat melancholic journey that showed us that people always reap what they sow. But for me, the focus was the sower and the seed, not just the bad soil. My takeaway from this drama is that children are shaped by what their parents teach them, and Noh Jung Ah and Noh Yeon Woo were shaped by how their father pitted them against each other, having them compete for his love and his favor, rather than sowing the seed of love, leadership and equality. There is no rule that says more than one person can't lead an empire. As it's been said repeatedly, there is strength in numbers. And despite this drama not being just about the Nohs, their relationship, and what their father sowed, is what set the path to this melancholia that cruelly impacted so many others along the way. Simply, sow love to reap love from which everything flows. Watch episodes here.