After the first episode, I felt Que Sera Sera could go either of two ways — darker and more somber, or more upbeat. I have nothing against somber, sad dramas — I’m sure there are some very good ones — but I generally won’t watch them. I find enough to cry about in the happy, comedic kdramas; I don’t need to be hit over the head with tragedy!
Anyway, for my own sake, I’m happy to see QSS’s upswing into lighter territory. It’s still got that indie feel and pacing, which I’m happy about since that’s what I responded to in the first episode. There were lots of funny moments in Episode 2, but the comedy was in keeping with QSS’s aesthetic — not slapstick, not shticky, not jokey, but more situational.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Loveholic – “One Love.” This song isn’t related to the episode, aside from the fact that it’s another great, calm song by Loveholic. [ zShare download ]
Something I like about QSS is that they’ve done a really good job of setting up all four legs of this relationship square so that all permutations seem plausible. Not only that, but each twosome has established a very different dynamic from the others. For instance, Tae Joo has a very charged sexual tension with Hye Rin, while his vibe with Eun Soo is offbeat and quirky. Hye Rin’s relationship with Joon Hyuk, on the other hand, shows a vastly different side to her assertive nature — she’s ready to spit nails at Eric, but around Joon Hyuk, she’s softer, insecure.
Just as the series is growing on me, actress JUNG YOO MI, who plays Eun Soo, is really growing on me too. She’s not traditionally pretty, but she’s got a certain appeal to her; she’s perfect for this role as a gamine, woman-child character who piques Tae Joo’s interest because she’s a little off-kilter. From his point of view, she’s unpredictable, because she doesn’t play by the same rules he’s used to. I’m really glad they cast her when Yoon Eun Hye dropped out; I like Yoon Eun Hye, and she’s gorgeous and lively, but she’s not exactly a layered actress. I’ve only seen YEH in Goong — I did hear she was much improved in The Vineyard Man — but she seems to do well playing very cute characters, and as appealing as she is, you’re always aware of just how cute her character is, or is supposed to be. Jung Yoo Mi acts without that awareness; she’s engaging precisely because she’s not trying to be. In that way, she comes off as incredibly natural.
That quality also makes the unlikely pairing with Eric’s character that much more interesting, in my opinion. I was guilty of looking at early promo pictures and thinking Jung Yoo Mi’s plain-Jane looks weren’t going to mesh well with Eric’s pop-star charisma, but that imbalance is what keeps Eric’s Tae Joo — and us viewers — on his/our toes. Plus, squaring Hye Rin off against someone so different makes the contrast richer.
EPISODE 2 SUMMARY
This episode was a lot funnier, with some unexpected turns. I think it took some of the hard edges off the characters, specifically Tae Joo and Hye Rin, by showing us a lot more into their minds.
Picking up from the end of last episode, Tae Joo finds himself in an awkward position when he sees that Eun Soo is the maid brought in to clean up after drunk Hye Rin. He feels guilty of treating her so poorly the day before, but you can tell he’s not used to admitting wrongdoing, because he can barely get the words out. Later, when Eun Soo drops by to pick up her bag, he’s embarrassed at having looked through her bag, and can’t look her in the eye.
Eun Soo notices something’s missing from her bag — out of her “days of the week” underwear, Saturday is missing. Her sister Ji Soo wonders if Tae Joo’s a pervert. The next time they meet in the apartment elevator, things get awkward as Eun Soo pretends not to know Tae Joo. Ji Soo picks up on a vibe and tells Eun Soo that The Pervert seems interested in her. When Eun Soo says they must’ve misunderstood about him being a pervert, Ji Soo speculates that Eun Soo’s got a crush on Tae Joo. Which, of course, she denies.
Eun Soo once again pretends not to know Tae Joo when she comes across him in the street, and again in the apartment corridor.
Unfortunately, Eun Soo’s stuck locked out of her apartment because her sister forgot to leave her a key, and has gone away for an overnight work trip. Tae Joo sees her sitting in the hallway, wet and cold, and asks her if she’s planning to stay there all night. Since she has nowhere else to go, he offers his place to her.
Eun Soo: “Is it really okay that I stay here?”
Tae Joo: “There’s no other choice. I guess I’ll just have to put up with it.”
Eun Soo: “Not you, I meant me. Will I be okay?… since I’m a girl.”
Tae Joo: “A girl?”
Eun Soo: “So… for a girl to be in a single man’s home…”
Tae Joo: “Out. Get out!”
Although he doesn’t know how to be nice to her, he gives her medicine for her blistering heel and a blanket. She asks him why he flipped through her bag, and after a moment when Tae Joo seems to be afraid of answering, he tells her that he was looking for her contact information. She can’t bring herself to ask about her missing Saturday underwear, but does note that since he was trying to find her to return the bag, he’s really a nice guy underneath after all. Tae Joo looks pleased to hear it, like he’s quite proud of himself. It’s cute. I think Tae Joo’s much more at home dealing with aggressive women like Hye Rin, because he can push back freely, but with a person like Eun Soo, he’s at a complete loss how to treat her. He may be well-meaning, but rough in his treatment because he doesn’t know how to act.
In the morning, he finds Eun Soo still asleep on the couch and puts her in his bed. Which, of course, looks mighty suspicious when her sister sees her sleeping there.
Ji Soo: “The Pervert didn’t do anything weird to you, right?”
Eun Soo: “What?”
Ji Soo: “Saturday panties.”
Eun Soo: “He’s a nice guy.”
Ji Soo: “Eh?”
Eun Soo: “He’s not a pervert. He’s a nice guy!”
Meanwhile, Hye Rin is excited and happy to welcome SHIN JOON HYUK back to Korea from spending the last few years in the States. I may have missed the official explanation, but I believe he was raised as her older brother, but the two aren’t related. It’s clear she has feelings for him, but he keeps her at arm’s length.
Joon Hyuk goes back to the World Department Store, which Hye Rin’s father runs, and is ready to jump back into work, while Hye Rin goes to meet her event coordinators to plan her upcoming fashion show. She’s taken aback to realize it’s Tae Joo, but proceeds with business. The two speak in a quick back-and-forth banter reminiscent of those old-school screwball romances, which really works at building up their sexual tension. They spend most of the time verbally sparring, but you half-expect them to just start making out in the middle of an argument at any moment.
She does feel slightly abashed at her unseemly conduct the other night, although like Tae Joo, she has a hard time letting down her pride enough to actually admit it. She doesn’t remember the details of the night, but she pays him back for the hotel room by tossing a wad of cash at him.
“This’ll cover the motel fee. You didn’t have a headache when you awoke, right? I’m sure you slept comfortably, since you emptied your stomach the night before. The maid did suffer a bit cleaning up after you, and although that is their job, it’s a pretty unpleasant task. Smelly, too. So this is the maid’s tip. When you’re drunk, you’re pretty strong too. Since you grabbed onto me so tightly, some of the vomit splattered onto my clothes. This’ll be for my laundry fee and mental distress. Maybe that’s not enough. And this here is for my labor, carrying you around all night. But since I misbehaved toward you last time we were drinking, we’ll call that even.”
And he tosses back the rest to her.
Eun Soo finds a job at the department store and runs into Joon Hyuk, who’s buying a new phone. He seems annoyed at the disturbance, but she oohs and ahs over how pretty his selection is. And I think we’ll be seeing a lot happen at the World Department Store — with Joon Hyuk working there under Hye Rin’s father, Eun Soo working as a lower-level employee, and Tae Joo coming around to plan events for Hye Rin.
Tae Joo goes out to a club with his hyung, and we get to see more into his character as well. They “crash” an expensive club, and Tae Joo teaches his hyung his philosophy as they cruise for possible targets. In exchange for providing lovely, rich single ladies with a sweet romance, he can experience the thrill of touching fine things he can’t buy, driving fine cars that aren’t his. For him, it’s a trade-off of living a lifestyle beyond his personal means by cashing in on his pride. (What I find ironic, then, is how he was insulted when Hye Rin called him on that when they first met, and why his pride seems to assert itself strongly around her.)
In any case, this last sequence is where things get truly interesting, and bravo to the actors, because I could feel the agitation and tension in the air. At the dinner table, Hye Rin tells Joon Hyuk that she almost got married off. Joon Hyuk looks alarmed, until she explains that she ruined it on purpose. But when she explains the story she “made up” about living with a man in Italy, he looks alarmed again, and I wonder if the story’s true, and the man she lived with was him.
Hye Rin says that there’s no man who will accept her anymore, so he has to “take responsibility for her.” If you’ve seen a lot of kdramas, you’ll notice that phrase gets used a lot as a euphemism for marriage, many times of the shotgun variety. Hearing that, her parents are unsettled and agitated (and I wonder if they get the sense something has been going on between the two, but are too afraid to admit it). Joon Hyuk says yeah, he supposes he does have to take responsibility, which makes Hye Rin happy… until he clarifies, “Until I get married, that is. When you have a sister-in-law, she won’t like it if we’re so close. Even if we’re siblings, wives get jealous over things like that.”
Clearly NOT the response she was digging for, Hye Rin abruptly leaves the table.
In his room, Joon Hyuk stumbles across old photos of him and Hye Rin, and we segue into a lovely flashback of Joon Hyuk flying a plane. It’s a really beautiful sequence, and the song playing is Lee Seung Yeol’s (also spelled Yi Sung Yol) “Us” (“์ฐ๋ฆฌ๋”), and for the life of me I have been unable to find it anywhere. I’ve scoured everywhere and have gotten nuthin’, so I can only hope it’s a new song to be released on the OST. (Lee Seung Yeol also collaborated with Clazziquai on the theme song to My Name Is Kim Sam Soon; he makes great mellow and melancholy music.)
In any case, Joon Hyuk burns the photos.
Hye Rin comes in and asks why Joon Hyuk really left two years ago, so abruptly. He insists it was only for work, but she knows there’s another reason he’s not saying. She thinks her father forced him to leave after finding out that Hye Rin followed Joon Hyuk on a (business?) trip. She sees the half-burnt photos, and tells him, near tears:
“That’s the picture from back then, your first day piloting the plane… As I watched you take off, I was so scared. What if you got into an accident? But still, I was happy, because it was the day your dream came true. It wasn’t a big plane, but still, you’d become the pilot you’d wanted to be. Your face was so bright and happy, I designated that day as the happiest in my life.”
Joon Hyuk approaches, and she slaps him.
“Coward. You’re such a coward, oppa.”
And she slaps him again. And again. And shoves him… but he grabs her and then… OMO! Things just got a lot more interesting.