As Twitter user @joonscactus mentioned and thousands agreed, Crash Course in Romance might as well be called "Crash Course in Therapy," especially after episode 14 was released on February 26, 2023.
Crash Course in Romance is a refreshing romcom about a middle-aged couple - a popular math teacher, Choi Chi-yeol, and a Banchan (meaning side dish) restaurant owner and mother, Nam Haeng-seon.
However, the second half of Crash Course in Romance has shifted from the rom-com side to a darker concept. The reason behind Dong-hui doting on Chi-yeol and his transformation from a nice kid to a traumatized adult is also explored in episode 14 of Crash Course in Romance.
Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of su*cide and depression. Reader's discretion is advised.
Episode 14 of Crash Course in Romance sees Dong-hui kidnaping Hae-e, letting his guard down with Chi-yeol, and the return of Hae-e’s real mom
Crash Course in Romance episode 14 opens up by taking viewers a few hours before Hae-e’s fatal accident. After Chi-yeol delays his plans for the first time, Dong-hui stands outside Haeng-seon’s house late at night with his slingshot being aimed at the restaurant owner. However, he hears a sound, the origin of which turns out to be Hae-e.
The latter sees Dong-hui’s face clearly and witnesses that he was going to kill her mother. The next scene shows a nonchalant Dong-hui walking by through a dark alley with a shopping trolley covered in plastic and Hae-e unconscious inside.
Hae-e later wakes up inside Dong-hui’s house with tape over her mouth and her hands and legs bound. She frees herself with Dong-hui’s favorite pen (one with the brown-orange ink) and gets some ink on her palm. Dong-hui returns and is distracted after snatching Ha-e’s phone and turning it off.
In a moment of rush, Hae-e pushes him and runs outside the house. She seems to have connected the dots of Dong-hui being the serial killer as she saw his room plastered with Chi-yeol’s articles. In the cat-and-mouse chase, Hae-e runs in the middle of the road and gets hit by a car. Dong-hui writes a su*cide note on her phone, wipes it to clean any fingerprints, and drops it on the ground.
Back at home, a call informs Haeng-seon, Jae-woo, and Chi-yeol of Hae-e’s accident. They rush to the hospital where Hae-e undergoes an operation. Young-joo joins them later. Haeng-seon and Jae-woo are heartbroken. As Chi-yeol comforts Jae-woo and asks him to muster the courage to support Haeng-seon, the latter breaks down in tears in Young-joo’s arms. After the operation, doctors reveal that Hae-e is under a coma.
Police officials tell Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol that Hae-e purposely ran in front of the car and showed her the note on her phone. However, the couple are in firm denial. Haeng-seon points out that Hae-e never addressed Jae-woo as “Uncle Jae-woo” (as written in the note) but only as “Uncle.” She also notices the ink on her palms and requests the police to reinvestigate.
Additionally, in probably the most annoying Crash Course in Romance twist, Hae-e's biological mom, Haeng-son's sister, returns dressed up as a tacky celebrity. She begins claiming ownership of Hae-e and blames Haeng-son, who raised Hae-e for nearly a decade, for her daughter's current health condition.
News about Hae-e’s su*cide spreads far. Sun-jae starts blaming himself and his mother. Su-a hears her mother talking about Hae-e being mentally weak and lashes out at her screaming that it could have been her. At this point, Su-a’s mother finally understands that her daughter needs mental care.
Elsewhere, despite Chi-yeol telling Dong-hui to cancel the upcoming math camp, the latter takes charge without informing the director and continues the preparations. At the hospital, the director calls Chi-yeol to discuss the math camp and ends up exposing Dong-hui’s lies.
When Chi-yeol confronts Dong-hui, the former remains calm and respectful but the latter loses his cool. Dong-hui tells the math teacher that he was better off when he prioritized his professional life and continued working while taking IV drips. He blames Haeng-seon for making him sway.
Chi-yeol retaliates by saying that his previous life was an empty can and one he doesn’t want to return to. He says that Haeng-seon and her family are as important to him as his work. Dong-hui, in a fit of rage, shows his real intentions. His outburst becomes the last straw for Chi-yeol, who ends up calling it quits with him.
Elsewhere, detectives investigating Jin I-sang’s murder call Chi-yeol for questioning. He learns that he is the only connecting point between all the murders and that the serial killer has a calloused index finger. He is also reminded of Jeong Su-hyeon, the student who died by su*cide years ago, and her brother, Jeong Seong-hyeon.
After Chi-yeol gives up working with him, Dong-hui is angry at himself and the teacher. A flashback shows him, as the kid Seong-hyun, witnessing his mother treating his sister terribly. He later becomes a witness to Su-hyeon jumping off the balcony. As he later finds her diary, where she wrote that Chi-yeol was the only reliable adult in her life, Seong-hyun is deeply influenced by his sister's words.
Even at Su-hyeon’s funeral, Seong-hyun’s mother screams at him to go home and study. Here, he meets Chi-yeol for the first time there. At home, Seong-hyun’s mother locks him outside on the cold balcony after he falls asleep for some time while trying to study. The mother returns, yells at him again, and tries fixing something while standing on a wooden stool.
It is then implied that in anger, Seong-hyun pushed his mother, which is how he ends up at the court. However, the judges ruled the case not guilty as there was barely any evidence against him. Through illegal methods, he changes his name to Ji Dong-hui and joins the Pride Academy to stay beside the only adult he trusts and wants to protect - Choi Chi-yeol.
Back in the present, Chi-yeol notices the same brown-orange ink on Dong-hui’s math camp notes. To uncover the truth, Chi-yeol apologizes to Dong-hui and says he might have overreacted. He tells him to work with him again and extends his hand for a handshake. In an instant, Chi-yeol notices the texture of the calloused index finger. He then follows Dong-hui with the most heartbreaking expression to find out his address.
Meanwhile, Sun-jae feels guilty and believes Hae-e took a drastic step because of him. He goes to the school’s terrace and attempts to jump off but is saved by his enemy-turned-friend, Geon-hu, after which he comes clean to the homeroom teacher about the leaked midterm paper. Su-a's mother calls a mental health professional to help with her daughter's violent stress-related outbursts.
Up until now, Crash Course in Romance's writers have made it abundantly clear that Chi-yeol has enough reasons to suspect Dong-hui's support. Although viewers already knew the serial killer's identity from previous episodes, they now wait to see Chi-yeol's unfortunate but inevitable heartbreak at the revelation.
What to expect from the upcoming episode of Crash Course in Romance?
The K-drama has shifted from the rom-com genre to tackle deeper issues with a murder mystery in the second half. The preview of Crash Course in Romance episode 15 shows Chi-yeol in Dong-hui's room, where he confirms his suspicions. Dong-hui is also seen trying to remove Hae-e's oxygen mask to kill her.
Crash Course in Romance also continues topping the most buzzworthy show list and earning double-digit viewership ratings. The show is heading to its finale, with its last two episodes, 15 and 16, scheduled for release on March 4 and 5, respectively. Crash Course in Romance promises more heartbreak, betrayal, love, and justice in the upcoming episodes.