BY HanCinema | Sep 22, 2016 04:50 AM EDT
Soo-ah (played by Kim Ha-neul) is a flight attendant. This is not a profession well-suited for family life, but through technology, Soo-ah tries to maintain a close relationship to her daughter Hyo-eun (played by Kim Hwan-hee), who goes to an international school in Malaysia. There, Hyo-eun shares a room with her best friend Annie (played by Park Seo-yeon), who in turn stays in touch with her architect father Do-woo (played by Lee Sang-yoon) through the use of technology.
In media, flight attendants are usually portrayed as exceptionally glamorous, and there is some precedent for that. Consider Soo-ah's supervisor Mi-jin (played by Choi Yeo-jin), a cool, tough flight attendant who takes advantage of the constantly transient nature or airline work to enjoy an active club life. For Mi-jin, this is an ideal lifestyle. But for Soo-ah, the enforced distance between family members is taxing.
Ironically enough Soo-ah never really catches on to this until near the end of the episode, when she very stupidly reveals some bad news to Hyo-eun by accident. Up until that moment, it's been obvious to the viewer that Soo-ah's life is sweet, sad, and illusory, but Soo-ah herself has genuinely believed that she has been on top of everything in spite of of her physical distance from Hyo-eun. Soo-ah's professionalism clouds her personal judgment.
Do-woo has the same problem. His relationship to Annie has similar emotional depth to Soo-ah's relationship with Hyo-eun. The way Do-woo uses technology as best he can to satisfy Annie's desires is sweet and charming. Yet as is the case with Hyo-eun, the whole reason Annie is in Malaysia in the first place has less to do with education and more with convenience. The exact circumstance behind this arrangement, however, remains unknown as the first episode closes out with Soo-ah and Do-woo meeting each other in the wake of tragedy.
The best term I can think of to describe "Road to the Airport" is sad wonder. The visuals in this drama are excellent, yet time and again there's this oddly lonely quality. The only time anyone ever seems to talk to each other is either through some gizmo or in some sort of highly professional context. The result is that even when characters are expressing love, there's this odd disconnected quality that even the wonder of the sky at daybreak can't erase. It's a perfect backdrop for melodrama, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
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