Ugly Duckling— Perfect Match: episode three

Not all arguments are equal. Most are just road expansions, speed pumps or signs of reconstruction” And while others are detours, some are road blocks, that lead to an impasse and eventual road closures. But ultimately, quarreling isn’t always bad. For squabbles teach us so many things about ourselves and other people, yet, like in everything, there is a proper way to deal with disagreements. When you are in a relationship it’s also good to know how your partner deals with conflict—- whether they pull punches, rehearse hurts, jab to inflict pain or cower in corners. However, the problem with arguing is that feelings and tempers flair in ways that aren’t the best reflection of ourselves and at times, reveal more about what lies beneath than we’d like.

I never believed Ning and Suea had a perfect relationship. Not just because a such thing doesn’t exist but because there were tiny hints from the beginning that had me believing they were both working with some very different fundamental reasons for being in their relationship and equally different reasons for staying together. And while I contend this fight was waged with ulterior motives, regardless of why it began, Ning and Suea, may seem to be having a confrontation over money but their issue goes beyond a general difference of opinion. In which case implies, not only is this not their first road block, it’s possible they have no more detours ahead and should prepare for some closings.

Ning is stunned by Suea’s response but contends he can always buy new shoes and even offers to pay for them herself. Which gets a scoff that he’d forgotten she was rich and has the luxury of embarrassment and purchasing gifts for men. Snidley, he takes her offer — “I’d love to be a kept man, for once.” At that Ning frowns and stomps away, leaving Bee and Ju dumbfounded. Suea looks after her but doesn’t follow. Instead, he turns to his onlookers, smiling he’s ready to eat, then offers Juu a ride with him (which she declines) and the three head on without her.

Juu picks out her vegetables which gets her a “mom” scolding from Bee, while Suea stabs at his food, still trying to wrap his mind around what happened with Ning. He asks Juu if she thinks he was wrong and Bee chimes in that Ning is just concerned about him. But when Suea counters her reaction was over the top, Bee has to agree Ning’s behavior was a little extra, suggesting maybe she’s PMSing. Juu side-eyes but adds that Ning just loves Suea. His shoes are old and worn and her upset was most likely over her concern he’d get injured. Ultimately, Ning just wants what’s best for him but it was Suea who made matters worse by getting angry and arguing with her. Suea thinks Juu is a little too optimistic but her words niggle at him. So when he inquires how he should fix things, Juu says simply— “Apologize. That’s the easy part.”

And right then, he calls Ning up and grovels, while Juu and Bee sit in dismay. Bee coos Suea is his type of guy; someone who may be gruff with everyone else but tender with the person he loves. Suea admits he is pretty cool and glances over at Juu noting the look in her eyes reveals she’s equally— “You’re falling for me, aren’t you?”

Aoi helps Juu move in to her new room, for her place is under repairs (indefinitely) and Suea pops his head out from next door to check on all the commotion. He’s glad she’s moving so close and introduces himself to Aoi, thinking she’s Juu’s mother. Aoi takes this opportunity to rattle off her relationship status (single. Single. SINGLE!) and he offers to help move the rest of her things inside.

Aoi hands him some water, fawning over him with compliments about his manners and physique, then commissions he look after Juu, which of course he’s glad to do. She questions his dating status, when Juu interjects his girlfriend lives next door and  Suea excuses himself awkwardly to get ready for work. When he’s gone Juu whines over her embarrassment, but Aoi’s not sorry. Suea’s too cute not to try to hook them up but when Juu insists he has a girlfriend, Aoi just replies— “They could breakup.” Juu, of course reminds about her face but Aoi thinks it’s healing well and shouldn’t be a factor. They get down to unpacking, then fuss over who should do the work. For Juu wants Aoi to rest, concerned about her recent back aches, baring to feeling bad for even needing to ask her for help. Aoi notes that in just a few weeks Juu has changed so much— “Before you would do nothing on your own, now you think of the smallest things. Even me.” This brings tears to her eyes and Juu comforts her with a meal and shopping date.

The two spend the day buying items for Juu’s new room, then stop for a bite to eat but before they order, Juu spies Ning walk in with a strange guy and immediately hides behind her menu. They sit at the next table and Juu overhears as Ning’s partner complains about his girlfriend (Ning) living with another man. He wants to get more consideration for his feelings, not understanding why she’s dragging things out. Since the other guy is a secret from her parents, it’s only a matter of time before she has to end things. Aoi calls out to Juu to order which gets Ning’s attention. Juu lowers her menu with a sheepish smile, then grabs Aoi saying they’ve already eaten. That night, Ju worries over whether to tell Suea what she knows.

At school, Nui is irritated with Prez Tui’s continuous texts calling her fat, but Bee eyes her finding it  suspicious Tui has her number in the first place. She grins that he asked, so she gave, when Theet shows up with her hands out collecting monies for their class jerseys. The jackets are $450bht a pop and Bee looks in his hollow wallet, then negotiates down to three payment installments, which she accepts and the two bicker about his abuse of power and her loan shark tendencies.

Juu finishes with her weekly dermatologist treatment and Bee remarks girls endure painful maintenance to be pretty. He needs to make a few stops and asks her to tag along and they end up at the video store. They’re greeted by a worker and Bee squeals when he sees it’s P’Suea. Juu isn’t as excited to see him and inquires why he’s there and he whispers he stealing for quick tuition cash but when she offers to pay so he won’t commit crimes, he chuckles at her gullibility. He suggests they eat together later, to which Bee croons he’d follow Suea anywhere, but Juu stays silent, then stiffens when Suea gives Ning a ring to see if she can join. Juu is clearly uncomfortable, at Ning’s decline to dinner (she’s staying overnight studying with friends) which Suea registers curiously. But when Bee beelines for toward gay porn, Juu lingers longer clearly with something on her mind but when Suea offers to help her find a video, she decides to just look around for something on her own instead.

Later, Suea finds her while he’s replacing some selections. Awkwardly, Juu wonders if he and Ning love one another. That’s a no-brainer for him but when she pries deeper, asking if he’d ever thought about cheating on Ning, he pauses, thinking she’s a Ning spy. However, she’s just curious, assuming his good looks have women flocking after him constantly. It’s true there are some girls, but no one pursues him seriously because he’s poor. But Suea thinks it’s better that way, believing it makes it easier to recognize the people that truly care for him based on who he is as a person; not his appearance. He goes on to encourage her to snatch up the guy who’s interested in her, for his a attraction is based on her attributes, not her looks.

At dinner, a new couple has formed and Bee teases Nui for changing her tune so quickly. That morning she was griping about Tui’s attentions, now she’s dating him. Suea is curious to how they got together and Prez confesses for him it was love at first sight. Juu confirms that his “fat” texts weren’t insults and he affirms it’s her size that drew his attention because she’s strong and firm and just his style. Tui wonders where Suea is heading next and when he says work, Tui jokes he’s saving for his wedding, but for Suea it’s all about tuition to which Juu inquires if his parents help support him. But confesses Suea doesn’t have parents. He grew up in a temple and fends for himself and assumes he now seems pitiable to her. But Juu surprises him by replying she finds him to be even more wonderful, believing she could never come as far as he has on her own and encourages him to stay strong and persevere.

Ning stops Juu as she takes out her laundry, to thank her for not telling Suea about what she witnessed, but it’s no biggie since it’s not Juu’s place to interfere. Then Ning confesses she’d wished Ju had told him to make things easier (for her). She explains she’s known P’Tot, whose always liked her, for a long time but has spent the last few years overseas in school. Now that he’s back and his feelings haven’t changed, he wants to be with her. And since their families are close and he treats her well and her parents look for her to marry him. This confuses Juu initially, citing that Suea seems to adore her but Ning clarifies that her parents don’t approve of Suea because of his status and background, believing he’ll never amount to anything. Simple put, Tot just has more going for him. Juu insists those ideas make no sense and defends Suea; who is hard-working and has done so much with his life, despite his upbringing. And Ning remarks that Juu must like Suea a lot but Juu redirects that she admires him and his strength, plus— “He’s a good person and you love him, right?” Ning hesitates but says she does, suggesting, though she may seem awful now, one day, Juu will understand how hard it to choose between your parents and your boyfriend and requests she keep her secret a little while longer.

Bee gathers his full payment for loan shark Theet, who shows up with a new bag and do. He hands over the payment in dollars and cents and she challenges the contents, clearly not wanting to take the time to count it all. Bee huffs that he may be poor but he isn’t a swindler, which seems to calm her and she saunters away. Just then, Ning calls Juu frantic, begging her to go to her room and clear out all Suea’s things. Her parents are set on making a visit and there can be no evidence they’re still together. Juu shoots her down, not wanting to get involved until Ning shares, her father once threatened to shoot Suea and she’s afraid of what may happen this time. So shocked and concerned Juu gives in, roping in Bee as well. She and Bee hurriedly collect all Suea’s things but not before Bee fondles Suea’s underwear and they both grimace at how messy the room is. Done, they retreat back to Juu’s room, until they realize they’d forgotten a framed couple pic. But as they close the door from retrieval, a smiling Ning with Tot and her parents in tow greet them.

Ning innocently asks if they’ve done as she requested and once she gets confirmation, Tot introduces himself as her boyfriend sending Bee’s head spinning. Separating, Ning shoos her visitors inside and Bee demands an explanation from Juu. He’s upset to find out Ning is seeing someone else, saying he hates those kinds of women but Juu is just concerned about Suea’s reaction whenever he finds out the truth. While saying goodbye to Bee, Suea sneaks up behind Juu, poking her sides, wondering if something’s up with Ning. But Juu isn’t in the mood to explain, which worries him all the more, accounting all his missed calls and tries to get upstairs to see her, but Juu pulls him away.

They drive to a bench close by and he asks for an explanation. But when Juu tells him about Ning’s parents, he just chuckles he doesn’t mind being found out and coyly states — “Guess I’ll just marry her.” Juu doesn’t find this cute and is more concerned he won’t live long enough, suggesting Ning’s parents have a right to feel as though he’s compromised their daughter. Suea smirks their relationship is consensual and Juu counters his cocky attitude explains why NIng’s parents don’t dislike him. With further thought, Suea decides to go and greet them properly but Juu stops him again, nagging that all her hard work will go to waste, so he thanks her and agrees to return late that night. But now that he’s not returning to the dorm, he wants to hang out with her, leaning to face her saying there’s something he wants to do more than anything right now. Too aware of his presence, Juu grunts she doesn’t want to do anything with him and decides to walk home alone but when he threatens to return to Ning’s she concedes. At that, Suea laughs and pats her head for being such an obedient puppy. They return late and part ways happy they dodged a bullet but Ju muses to herself that much like today, she plans to be there for him, whenever he needs her.ud#pm03_bench (15)

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

This was an episode full of foreshadowing and welp, I guess it’s right on time. From Aoi’s breakup statement, to Suea’s advice to Juu and then Ning’s comment about parents versus boyfriends, I think we are in for some interesting things in the next few episodes. The biggest issue in this episode however, is the uncloaking of Nu Ning. I personally never completely warmed to her (though I genuinely appreciated how she treated Juu and the gang in the beginning) so I was glad to have a valid reason for my reluctance to wholeheartedly like her. The way she treated Suea, basically from the first time we saw them together, gave me pause and the disagreement from the previous episode did nothing to dissipate my aversion to her. I tried to understand that being told constantly to “pick again,” “I don’t have money” or “I can’t afford that” could get tiresome very quickly, but even with that said, their row, seemed to come out of left field, for Suea, eventhough we know she was stewing before they even left campus. And I guess, therein lies my gravest issue. She seemed to be picking fights with him, so when we find out she has another lover, including her confession to Juu, all the pieces fit.Therefore, this episode, she digs her hole deeper, leaving me with no regrets in completely disliking practically everything about her.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to obey your parents or seeing reason in their rejection of your dating partner but what is wrong with everything Ning has done is that she has lied and plans to continue to do so. Not just to her parents or Suea (or Juu for that matter) but to herself as well. She has convinced herself that what she’s doing hasn’t been her active choice but rather a situation that was thrust upon her— which is a complete fabrication of reality. The story she told Juu was pretty basic and not some conundrum with an ambiguous answer or conclusion. She’s a willing participant in her two-timing, even going as far as to keep the other guy informed and at arms length in order to string both guys along.

There are plenty of things that disgust me about Ning but what I hated the most about her conversation with Juu was how she painted herself as an innocent party and wise older sister, insinuating that any ideas or opinions Juu may have were obsolete because she was young and inexperienced. For experience, nor age creates a monopoly on seeing a situation clearly and oft times it is someone with little experience who is honest enough to see how simple a situation truly is. If Ning loves Suea, she should seek to understand and choose him, regardless of what that means. Which of course is what makes Juu’s response to her excuses so endearing. In the small span of time she’s known him, Juu recognizes and values Suea, in ways Ning has not. I can’t say how Ning initially perceived Suea and it’s possible she found his hardworking nature admirable but I seriously doubt she ever respected him for it, which makes a world of difference. 

Every episode we see Suea and Juu make deep but subtle connections. They are able to talk easily with one another without many inhibitions because they have the platonic label of mentor-mentee, which gives them excuse to seek one another out and converse with little inhibitions. I always find their conversations interesting because there’s a teasing, flirtatious banter to them, yet all the while they are learning more and more about one another rather seamlessly. Which was very apparent in the video store and later on the bench. Even with Juu being very aware of Suea, her self-awareness is low, therefore, her reactions are always raw and sincere, with no hint of coyness. In the store, I couldn’t help but take note of Suea’s very wise and sincere philosophies on people and love and chuckled to myself at how quick he is to always call Juu naïve when he seems to be equally so when it comes to Ning. There were several tiny beats I loved this episode and most had to do with Suea; from him asking Juu for advice and taking it, noticing something was amiss in her demeanor— not once but twice and thanking her for helping with Ning, then wanting to spend the rest of the day with her.

I don’t think that Suea has any romantic feelings for Juu at the moment, because he’s completely devoted and loyal to Ning but I have no doubt his obvious interest in Juu will give him a soft place to fall when all of Ning’s lies trip him up. Juu, was the most endearing this episode, for she continues to grow up and thrive in that growth. She thinks of others before herself and respects the trials that others face. I still remember that spoiled, feckless girl from episode one but I truly believe being in Pitsanluk has afforded Juu the opportunity to become her truest self and it’s absolutely lovely to witness.

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