What is not to love about Kitchen Scholar? Every episode warms our hearts and makes us anticipate the next hurdle. We are very close to our climax- the inevitable truth about Cha-aim’s identity- and whether the ending will satisfy our avid dedication to this series. What I would say though, is that the romance between Mr. Tum and Cha-aim is so gradual and believable and the character developments for our core cast is well done.
Starting with Mr. Tum, it took one episode (Ep 8)- which is a few days in the lakorn world- for Mr. Tum to decide to throw caution and society’s disapproval to the wind. At first he is a little depressed that he is in love- with a maid to boot- and tries to make her jealous by flirting with Ms. Aon in Chiang Mai, whom he considers as a sister. But it took a risky reminder that life is short and he didn’t want any harm to come to her, that he is propelled to confess his feelings. It doesn’t matter that she is a maid or has questionable moral behaviors, he loves her, accepts her, and is willing to make his family accept her too. If we learn anything about Mr. Tum in these last few episodes, it is that he is a good and decent hero, and a true romantic. Just to reveal his feelings, he contrived to bring Cha-aim to his family’s beach house to get her alone. But even being stranded alone on an island due to a harsh storm, he still couldn’t utter the words. Will he finally find the gumption to profess his love for her? How will he react to the pending revelation that she’s really not a maid, but someone who is absolutely suitable for him? Can he overlook her lies, especially when he promises to persecute anyone who lies to him? Let’s hope he won’t be noble, heh.
Even though he tries to stick to her like glue, Pong is the saddest fellow in this lakorn. Think about it, even though Cha-aim hasn’t reciprocated her feelings for him, she never denied his love. Moreover, one can assume she is leading him on. She tells her parents that he’s just a good friend and that she hasn’t thought that long and hard about who will be her future husband. Pong, as a boyfriend who doesn’t want to lose his girl, attempts any mean necessary to keep her. So I don’t blame him, even though his attempts always backfire. What is sad though is that he is using Ms. Aon as a means to keep Cha-aim. He thinks that if he could hook Mr. Tum and Aon up, Cha-aim will be his. He doesn’t realize that he is worst than Cha-aim: even though she is masquerading as a maid, she never ever plays with people’s emotions. At least with her, what you see is what you get. But at the end of the day, Pong has grown closer to Ms. Aon through his charade and doesn’t realize she is falling for him.
Which brings us to Gubgib’s character, Ms. Aon and I must say that I love her honesty and refreshing attitude, even if she tends to screech a little much. You always know where you stand with her. She is clueless at best, which could be blamed on her mother, who has forced her hand on everything, and in essence took her ability to think independently. But despite that, she is beginning to realize her own emotions (for Pong) and learn that you can’t force someone to love you, no matter how hard you try- as she has been trying to get Mr. Tum to fall for her- just so she could win her mother’s approval for once. Hopefully we get to see Ms. Aon mature and be able to think on her own- well, for the next three episodes anyway. This lakorn is way too short for my liking.
As far as parenting skills, both Khun Cheun and Khun Phi are lacking in that area. It takes a 21 yr old maid to make them aware of their neglect of their parents. To this day they haven’t realized how neglectful they are with their own daughters. How sad. Khun Phi is interested in only researching for his nephew. He’s terrified of his wife and has a laissez faire attitude towards his daughter. Khun Cheun on the other hand is too busy with her social events to discipline her kids or give her kids enough attention to ensure their psychological health is as well as their physical. Like Cha-aim says, people need more than a roof over their heads. They need attention and love. Hopefully this is what the parents will learn.
The person in need of the most self realization though, is Amika or Cha-aim. The obtuse girl is so blindsided by her need to win this competition that she practically does everything to achieve it. Despite that, I like her. She is learning so much about people and life in general by impersonating a maid. She is willing to help others and make others realize what they can’t see. In a way, her presence changed the household. But the biggest question and concern is, has she been changed? Is she going through her own revelations? We know that she keeps thinking about Mr. Tum, that she only considers Pong as a good, close friend and that she has grown to adore the family she takes care of. But as of yet, I haven’t seen a huge character development for her, hopefully we get more of that in the climax. Maybe she just needs time to sort out her feelings? Or perhaps some sort of catalyst will force her to reveal her feelings for Mr. Tum?
The Kitchen Scholar has performed better than I’ve ever imagined. If they continue to make us smile, provide abundant Cha-aim-Mr.Tum scenes, and tie up important questions and show character depth, I could not be more happy. As it stands, this lakorn has already made its way to my heart and I can wholeheartedly say, hats off to Thong Production. For those skeptical of Kim and Mark pairing, I’m sure this lakorn can change your mind.
Now let’s sit back, relax, and watch the final three episodes this weekend. Someone pass the popcorn!
*pic credit to Asianfuse Forum