A joyous start that sets the stage for what is to come without much fanfare.
This recap of K-Drama Netflix series Once Upon a Small Town Season 1 Episode 1 contains spoilers.
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Once upon a time there was a small town season 1, episode 1 recap
We start with a veterinary checkup on a dog named Mr. Walnut, who has brachycephalic syndrome. The appointment is constantly interrupted by the sounds of the doctor’s phone, but he perseveres, labeling the interruption spam while explaining the need for the snorting animal to have a throat exam.
When Ji-yul manages to get to her phone, she ends up running from her workplace, nervously trying to communicate with her grandfather while driving. He then arrives at the old man’s house and asks on the phone if he has reported any accidents in Huidong, clearly worried about what might have happened. In the background, the police wait, ready to pounce on the vet they think might be robbing the house.
Unfortunately for Ji-yul, he is inadvertently knocked out by an overeager cop before the situation is properly cleared up, leading to an impromptu visit to the hospital. However, when he is awake, the vet hears the truth, that his elderly relative went on a cruise and that the ominous “not much time left” message was just a reference to his grandfather’s imminent departure. Later, upon receiving the keys to the house as well as the hospital (Ji-yul’s grandfather is the director), the vet is suddenly informed that he will be left in charge of the only veterinary care center in the village while Ji-yul’s relatives he are out.
On the way back to Ji-yul’s temporary address, Ja-young’s gesture of taking her to the vet doesn’t quite go as planned. She ends up, when she is distracted, stunning Sang-hyeon into falling into a sea of mud, staining the young man’s new shirt to the point that he needs a heavy wash. However, the ride proves worthwhile, as a technical stop at Mr. Cho’s address shows the need to treat a captured “wild” dog for injuries it sustained.
Afterwards, Ja-young and Ji-yul argue over the canine’s rights, with the former believing that he should be sent to a shelter once treated, while the latter disagrees with her belief that such a thing would only lead to death. euthanasia of the animal. . Irritated, Mr. Cho soon throws his two cents in as well, stating that the dog will only return if released, disappointed that the vet is not looking at his chickens as per his initial request.
Over time, Ji-yul expresses her wish to take the dog to the hospital temporarily, to at least check if it is microchipped. He then leaves, warning his acquaintance from the police not to go easy on Mr. Cho just because he is his neighbor.
In the veterinary setting, it is revealed that the canine avoided a fracture, but Ji-yul quickly changes her focus to something else. Noticing the looks Ja-young gave him, he wonders if there’s something she needs to say, and hears that she does, though she’d rather not vocalize it.
When a problem involving a goat arises, which means an increase in work for Ji-yul, he signals that it’s time for her to go home. Unfortunately for the vet, he is informed that this is a hospital with its workers always on call, so the luxuries of getting off work will be in short supply for months to come. “Around here, you go where and when you are called,” adds his new colleague, somewhat surprising the man accustomed to living in Seoul.
While attempting a shortcut on the way to where he is needed, Ji-yul questions why the police are always called in case of animal emergencies, and is told that this is the “quickest fix”. Thoughts on these words are not allowed, however, as before long the vet suffers the same fate as Sang-hyeon and falls into a quagmire. As such, Ji-yul is required to do some dirty work when he takes on the goat injured by a live wire.
Later, Ji-yul finally arrives at his temporary home, even more disheveled than when we lost him. It’s clearly been a tough day at work, but the worker can’t relax any more thanks to an unannounced visit from three middle-aged women. The president of the Huidong Women’s Association, Jang Se-ryeon, is one of the guests, who presents the vet with side dishes along with a message not to confuse his life in Seoul with the one he will experience here.
As the Women’s Association leaves, Se-ryeon imparts one more piece of wisdom: “If you say you don’t need something, we’ll give it to you. If you say yes, we give you more than you need.” That is the layout of the land, something that will have to be learned by the fresh-faced doctor in the capital.
Alone, Ji-yul gets a chance to read the note left by her grandfather. It turns out that the old man wanted to belatedly make his wife of 50 years come true by traveling the world, as a way to pay for the hardships he had faced living through the death of his children. Naturally, the young vet seems to be sympathetic, as evidenced by his nightly visit to the hospital to care for the animals there.
On a walk, Ji-yul sees Ja-young swimming in the river, an episode that ends with a look of recognition between the two.
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