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On the Way to the Airport Episode 13 RECAP

 

Ah, if only those oblivious smiles could last. Su-ah and Do-woo are trying their best to start with a clean slate, but ignoring real life isn’t as easy as it first seems. As their marriages, friendships, and expectations rear their ugly heads, our couple struggles to hold onto the semblance of tranquility that they found on their quaint island. And as we all know, you can run, but you can’t hide from tears, vengeance, and confrontation in dramaland

EPISODE 13 RECAP

Do-woo and Su-ah arrive at the ocean with no one around them but the wind and the water. He gets out to help her out of the back of the truck, and they stay like that for a long while. Su-ah smiles, finally comfortable enough to say, “It’s good to see you, Do-woo.” Do-woo can’t tear his eyes away as he takes her hands in his: “It’s good to see you, Su-ah.”

Hyo-eun comes home from school with a potted plant, which was given to her for doing well in school. She ponders naming the plant “Annie,” shocking Su-ah momentarily into thinking she’s been caught, but Su-ah instead suggests naming it a simple and common name instead. Do-woo watches them walk home from his car, a warm smile on his face.

After Su-ah tucks Hyo-eun into bed, she’s surprised to see Do-woo waiting outside her house on his bike. When she hurries outside, he tells her to come see him in the morning, and she agrees.

The next morning, Do-woo twiddles his thumbs at Grandma’s gallery as he waits for Su-ah’s visit. Su-ah sees Hyo-eun off to school at the bus stop before walking to Do-woo’s, where he greets her outside with a smile.

Looking around the gallery at Grandma’s exhibited works, Su-ah recalls her conversation with Grandma. She and Do-woo marvel together at the idea that they’re sitting here now, and Su-ah says that she can’t imagine something more unbelievable. Do-woo warmly tells her that he’s certain that more unbelievable things are going to happen in the future.

Do-woo then asks if her husband is still seeing Mi-jin, but Su-ah quickly tells him that it was just a misunderstanding—they’re just coworkers and neighbors who sometimes have meals together. Do-woo is clearly unconvinced, so Su-ah changes the subject, questioning him about the gallery. Do-woo laughs as he asks how she managed to hold in so many questions, so she limits herself to one: “Did you come here alone?” Do-woo’s face falls, but he promises that he’ll be able to definitely answer that question in two days.

At that moment, he gets a phone call from someone before he looks to Su-ah: “Let’s go.”

The realtor is waiting at Su-ah’s house to officially close the purchase. Do-woo starts to take a look around, but Su-ah stops him in embarrassment, telling him that the house is a mess. He watches as she struggles to close the broken door, recalling her mention it in the texts she “sent” him.

Su-ah has to work at the airport today, and Do-woo waits in the kitchen as she gets ready. He asks suddenly why she cried before when they ran into each other in the café in Seoul, and she hesitates before answering: “I thought it was the last time I’d see you.” Do-woo asks if the man she was with was her husband, and she tells him that it was, but she wishes he hadn’t seen him. To Su-ah’s relief, Do-woo assures her that he didn’t see him that well.

Do-woo and Su-ah part ways in front of the house, and he tells her to look for changes about the house when she returns. As she leaves, he notes that she definitely was born and raised in Jeju—she seems to fit in perfectly. “In design, we have something called complements,” he says. “You and Jeju are perfect complements: You need Jeju, and Jeju needs you.”

At his words, Su-ah tells him she has a childish question: “What am I to you, Do-woo?” She recalls asking Jin-suk the same question and receiving his cold response that there was nothing left between them, and thus, he had nothing to say. In contrast, Do-woo thinks for a moment and tells her to ask him that question another time—he has so much to say, but he’d rather tell her at a time when she’s sad, so that his answer can cheer her up. Su-ah is already happy enough with that answer, and she leaves with a smile on her face.

Su-ah stops by Hyo-eun’s school to apologize for asking Hyo-eun to lie to Jin-suk. She promises to tell him the truth since she got them into this mess, reminding her that lying is bad, and that she should never lie about her feelings when she grows up—especially to herself. Hyo-eun is worried about Jin-suk’s reaction, but Su-ah tells her not to worry.

Do-woo calls Hye-won to tell her that he’s coming to Seoul tomorrow. Hye-won sadly notes how anxious he is to get their divorce over with, but he hangs up without a word. When Ji-eun arrives at the house for work, though, Hye-won is back to professional mode.

Hye-won shows Ji-eun around the house, preparing her for her future work with the elders, and has even prepared a notebook for Ji-eun full of tips for interacting with each of them individually. Ji-eun marvels at how much work she’s put into this, but Hye-won just notes that it’s easy to do since she cares.

Touched, Ji-eun notes that it turns out that Do-woo didn’t marry “just anyone,” making Hye-won smile. Ji-eun tells Hye-won to come work with her after this project, saying that she looks at merit before anything else.

At that moment, Hye-won receives a text from Ji-eun’s mom asking to meet. Ji-eun’s mom informs her that she did some investigating about Hye-won, and she now knows that she lied about raising Annie. She tells her that even though she wants to break all ties with Hye-won, she knows Do-woo would just come to her defense again.

Hye-won apologizes for her lies, but Ji-eun’s mom tells her that her apology is worthless to her—neither Grandma nor Annie are here to hear it. “Do-woo is the only one left to apologize to,” she warns. “Take care of it.” Later, sitting in her office, Hye-won grimly books an immediate flight to Jeju.

Grandma Young-sook receives a handwritten letter from Hyo-eun and laughs at her advanced Korean vocabulary. Suddenly finding it strange, however, she calls Su-ah and asks why an English-speaking international school would teach such words. Su-ah finally spills the beans that Hyo-eun doesn’t attend international school, but quickly assures Young-sook that Hyo-eun is much happier now at the local school.

Young-sook sighs in disappointment at Su-ah’s lie, and asks outright if Su-ah and Jin-suk are separating. Su-ah answers: “No! …Not yet.” Su-ah promises that she’ll tell Jin-suk the truth herself, and Young-sook scoffs that there’s no way she’ll interfere in their fight. “But Su-ah,” she adds seriously, “Lying like this and running away to Jeju-do won’t solve anything.” Refusing to get any more involved in other people’s problems, Young-sook hangs up and tells her to figure it out themselves.

Je-ah is at Mi-jin’s place for another home-cooked meal, complaining about his nosy mother. Mi-jin tells him she has a flight to catch, prompting Je-ah to ask if Jin-suk will be there, too. When he asks whether Mi-jin has apologized to Su-ah yet, she snaps at him, demanding why she’s the one who has to apologize. Je-ah starts to agree, but then wonders why Mi-jin couldn’t just have told Su-ah about their past relationship—they both know that Su-ah probably would have accepted it anyway. Mi-jin has no response.

When Su-ah gets off her shift at the airport, Kevin tracks her down and hands her his phone, telling her obliviously that Mi-jin wants to talk to her about something. Mi-jin tells Su-ah that she knows Do-woo is in Jeju with her, demanding to know what she’s doing there. Su-ah ignores her questions and hands the phone back to Kevin, but Mi-jin is insistent that she talk to Su-ah.

At that moment, Do-woo arrives at the airport to pick her up, just in time to see Su-ah take the phone. Both Kevin and Do-woo listen in on her conversation with Mi-jin as Su-ah asks how she knew about Do-woo. Mi-jin simply tells her that word gets around, and Su-ah agrees: “Just like word got around about you and Jin-suk spending the night together.”

Mi-jin demands to know what is going on between Su-ah and Do-woo, but Su-ah coldly fires back the same question about Mi-jin and Jin-suk. Exasperated, Mi-jin finally clarifies that they just spent the night talking, and nothing else. She says she feels guilty about just one thing—that her feelings had wavered when Jin-suk suggested that he and Mi-jin should go where their hearts led them. “I’m sorry for that,” Mi-jin spits out. “I’m sorry for being that pathetic.”

Su-ah finds Mi-jin’s apology oddly sudden, and Mi-jin laughs, since everyone told her to apologize. She tells her that it’s time for Su-ah to apologize too, and Su-ah agrees that she’ll send a mass apology. Mi-jin scoffs that she doesn’t even know Su-ah’s phone number anymore.

Su-ah asks why Mi-jin didn’t stop her from marrying Jin-suk. “You should have told me back then,” she cries. “You should have said that Park Jin-suk can’t live with a family, that he’ll hate me even for breathing and existing near him. You should have told me that he would cheat on me for the rest of my life. Why?! Why didn’t you tell me that?!”

Mi-jin just laughs that Su-ah was so crazy in love with Jin-suk that she wouldn’t have listened anyway. She demands to know if Su-ah is living well in Jeju, and even though her tone sounds smug at first, it quickly devolves into raw, teary concern. “I’m worried about you,” Mi-jin cries. “I know you must be struggling there, too self-conscious of other people’s opinions.” She tells her that she needs to take care of herself first before Do-woo, Hyo-eun, and Jin-suk.

At last, she apologizes for not warning Su-ah so long ago. Su-ah hangs up and hurries away to be alone without seeing Do-woo nearby, while Mi-jin cries to herself in her apartment.

Do-woo texts Su-ah to tell her that he’s going to Seoul to finish up his work. When Su-ah comes home, she smiles to see that her door has been fixed, and there’s a new bed all set up in her room. She melts into the pillows to take a long rest, thanks to Do-woo.

Jin-suk offers to drive Mi-jin to the airport, and she starts to refuse until he informs her that he just came back from Jeju. As they drive to the airport, he tells her that he managed to convince Su-ah that he and Mi-jin were just meal buddies. Mi-jin pounds her chest in frustration, telling him that Su-ah actually knows the truth about their relationship. Jin-suk is shocked, realizing how stupid he must have sounded lying to her.

He pulls over and orders her to get out. He snaps that he hasn’t done anything wrong, and that he isn’t afraid of getting in trouble from the airport, either. And then he adds: “There’s no way I’m breaking up with Choi Su-ah because of you, so don’t even dream of it!” As he drives off, he turns up the volume of the car radio to block out the sound of Mi-jin screaming after him. Mi-jin bites back tears, telling herself that she just needs to go to work—but then she calls her sunbae, begging for him to take her shift.

That sunbae turns out to be Hyun-joo’s husband, who hurries to fill in for Mi-jin on the crew. At the airport, Jin-suk silently notes Mi-jin’s absence.

Su-ah finds a job at a clementine orchard and spends the day harvesting baskets of fruit. Afterward, she heads to Do-woo’s gallery with a small basket of clementines, using the spare key under a potted plant. She cleans some dishes and tidies up before she leaves, passing right by Hye-won, who has just arrived on the island. They don’t notice each other as they pass, but Su-ah belatedly realizes that she accidentally brought the spare key with her and turns back to return it.

Hye-won is looking through the windows at Grandma’s works when she arrives. They don’t recognize each other, and when Hye-won comments that her favorites of Grandma’s works are inside, they smile warmly. Hye-won sighs to herself that the owner isn’t there, and Su-ah mentions that he went to Seoul. Checking her text messages, she realizes that it’s true.

Suddenly realizing who Su-ah is, Hye-won says hesitantly: “Hyo-eun’s… mom?” Su-ah turns, and Hye-won recalls the numerous times they met each other: at Hyun-woo’s restaurant, in front of Do-woo’s office, at Grandma’s house.

Trembling, she says: “You still don’t know who I am? I’m Do-woo’s wife.” As the realization hits, Su-ah looks away, asking shakily what she’s doing here. Hye-won tells her that she has every right to be here: this is her husband’s house, and her mother-in-law’s works are inside it. Unable to respond, Su-ah starts to turn to run away again, but Hye-won stops her with a foreboding tone: “You can’t leave. Open the door for me. You have the key, don’t you?”

Without a choice, Su-ah obeys. Hye-won watches her unlock the door in fury, and slaps her across the cheek: “How dare you open this door?” she hisses. She screams at Su-ah to leave, and Su-ah runs, trembling.

When she’s far enough away, Su-ah calls Mi-jin. Voice shaking, Su-ah tells her friend that she just met Do-woo’s wife. Mi-jin bolts upright, ordering her to take a deep breath.

Hye-won stumbles into the building as Do-woo arrives at Ji-eun’s mom’s office, where her assistant tells him that she doesn’t know Hye-won’s whereabouts. He tries calling, but she doesn’t answer.

Su-ah’s conversation with Mi-jin convinces her that if Mi-jin was brave enough to apologize, she has no excuse, either. She hurries back to Do-woo’s house and opens the door…

Meanwhile, Ji-eun is sharing drinks with Hyun-woo at his bar, sighing that she’d never imagined Do-woo would get a divorce. She muses that everyone she knows is making major life decisions now, and Hyun-woo notes dryly that they already had their rebellious stage when they were younger. At that moment, Do-woo storms in to ask about Hye-won, but Ji-eun doesn’t know where she is, either.

Su-ah calls Mi-jin again, and it turns out that Hye-won has disappeared without a trace. Mi-jin notes smugly that she’s the first person Su-ah could think of in a crisis, and promises that she’ll find out what happened.

So Mi-jin calls Ji-eun, who tells her that Do-woo came to Seoul to divorce Hye-won, much to Mi-jin’s shock. Ji-eun tries to keep the details of Do-woo’s divorce a secret, but Mi-jin makes an offer she can’t refuse: information on Hye-won’s whereabouts for information about Do-woo’s divorce. Ji-eun calls Do-woo to tell him that Hye-won met Su-ah in Jeju, but much to his chagrin, Hye-won still isn’t answering his calls.

The next day, Su-ah continues her job search when Hyo-eun brings in an unexpected visitor: Mi-jin. The three of them go out for an expensive meal, and Mi-jin explains that she’s using all her saved-up sick days at once to have one amazing vacation. They talk about the old days, and although there’s still a tension between them, they at least can’t deny their past friendship.

As they return home, Su-ah admits that she doesn’t really regret marrying Jin-suk—after all, if they hadn’t married, Hyo-eun wouldn’t exist. Mi-jin rolls her eyes at Su-ah’s bragging about her amazing daughter, and the three of them chase each other around the front yard, laughing.

Suk suggests reporting Hye-won missing to the police, but Do-woo knows she’s fine. Instead, Do-woo sighs to himself that he feels less confident now that he’s home again, and it’ll be bad if Hye-won returns to Seoul as well.

The next morning, Hye-won’s assistant receives a call and a package. She tells Do-woo that he’s been asked to deliver the package to the listed address. Suk is sure that it must be one of the craftsmen. When Do-woo arrives, however, he recognizes it as the apartment complex where he’d dropped Su-ah off before.

While waiting for the elevator, he finally receives a call from Hye-won. She tells him that the person upstairs is already waiting for him. When Do-woo asks who it is, she says simply: “He’s someone I’m thankful to. He’s the person who bought porridge for Grandma before she died.”

He’s shocked at those words, and when he steps out of the elevator, that someone opens the door: Jin-suk.

 
COMMENTS

Hello, confrontation! Once again, Airport has delivered a delicious slice of drama pie, and while I knew that this moment between Su-ah and Hye-won moment was long coming, I’m surprised at how delightfully conflicted it made me feel. By proxy, I’m on Su-ah’s side, but in light of Hye-won’s recent character development, it’s hard not to sympathize with her at least a little bit. Hye-won’s slap felt justified, and her line was perfectly delivered: “How dare you open this door?” Gosh. Even though I wish their meeting had been longer, I know that if I were in Su-ah’s shoes, I wouldn’t have anything to say to that, either.

Airport is just amazingly skilled at giving us these character moments. I don’t think there has been two consecutive episodes throughout these past thirteen hours that I’ve felt the same way about a single character: One moment, I have my doubts about Su-ah’s strengths, and then the next, she’s my girl-crush-heroine. One moment, Hye-won seems like the devil’s overpaid secretary with ashes for feelings; the next, my heart breaks for her. I love being continuously surprised by well-directed characters, and it almost always feels like their twists are perfectly in character, no matter how convoluted they are.

Admittedly, there is one distasteful exception to this point: Jin-suk. By now, he is so incomprehensible to me that I groan every time he appears onscreen. I honestly do think that he started out as a very believable and interesting character with a lot of narrative potential: someone who cared about his family but perhaps placed his values on the wrong ways to love. Then, even his affair with Joo-yeon was understandable, if despicable: He has issues maintaining his massive ego, and he finds validation in himself by seducing young, naïve girls. But now, his motivations and methods aren’t even interesting or entertaining—they’re flatly aggravating. His outburst at Mi-jin in the car this episode was too much for me because it felt like it came out of nowhere, and I’m convinced that the show has spent too much time trying to make us hate him (which we do, Airport, we promise!) and not enough time letting us into his head.

In that sense, I genuinely wish that Jin-suk would achieve the same kind of development that Mi-jin and even Hye-won now have; I don’t need him to become a “good” person or anything, but he seems to have achieved no change whatsoever, and anything new we find out about him is simply like peeling back another layer from a hopelessly rotting onion. If he continues to dig himself into this human mess of a dumpster pit, he’ll continue to be a poster boy of two-dimensional villainy. If we absolutely have to spend so much time with this despicable toxic stain, I wish that the show would instead investigate the reasons for his self-esteem issues, which I find much more interesting than his continued outright selfishness. Then again, we do have a few more episodes left, so I suppose it’s not too late to hold faith in the show, which hasn’t let me down yet.

In the same vein, I am so very glad that Mi-jin and Su-ah are rekindling their friendship—Mi-jin’s refreshing strength was one of my favorite parts of the early episodes, and having to hate her was kind of upsetting. Mi-jin and Su-ah’s phone conversation reminded them that friends always have each other’s backs through thick and thin, and there’s very little I love more than a strong female friendship, which tends to be so rare here in dramaland. With a few episodes to go, Mi-jin and Su-ah’s relationship promises to be one based on mistakes and forgiveness, and I’m certain that the show will have some valuable things to say.