I now officially love Que Sera Sera. It took me a little longer to warm up to than some other recent favorites, but it was worth the extra consideration. QSS is fresh, charming, funny, and thoughtful.

SONG OF THE DAY

Yi Sung Yol – “Us” (이승열 – “우리는”) (This is the song used in Episode 2 in the flashback of Joon Hyuk flying the plane. Lovely song.) [ zShare download ]

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COMMENTS

The show is really warming up, and Jung Yoo Mi continues to be endearing. It’s really refreshing, also, to see the girl take interest in the male(s) first, and be willing to admit that she might be interested. Eun Soo doesn’t outright say that she is, but she doesn’t exhibit that coyness (nae-sung) that kdrama heroines are so prone to exercising, which can be cute sometimes, but often irritating as well.

Furthermore, Eun Soo seems to be interested in both Tae Joo and Joon Hyuk, which I find very realistic — love isn’t something that is found in the first instant you meet someone. Instead, her curiosity has been piqued, and with each encounter finds herself wondering if the guy is worth liking further. In that way, attraction and love aren’t romanticized. Neither of her potential interests are given the idealized Prince Charming treatment, either — she doesn’t even know yet if she likes either man, but she’s willing to admit to herself that she could.

They’ve also explained the relationship between Joon Hyuk and Hye Rin, whose hurdle is not a pseudo-sibling thing at all but more of a social-class issue. We usually see kdramas explore the relationship between a rich male and poor female — thus enabling the man to swoop to the girl’s rescue — but this allows the reverse to play out, which poses a less-explored dynamic.

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EPISODE 3 RECAP

Joon Hyuk and Hye Rin are busily making out when the maid knocks on the door and ruins the mood. After she leaves, Joon Hyuk gathers himself and tells her:

Joon Hyuk: “We really can’t do this…
I’ve never seen you as simply a younger sister figure. Hye Rin, you’re an attractive woman, enough to make it hard for any guy to leave you alone.”
Hye Rin: “What are you saying?”
Joon Hyuk: “But just because my feelings are wavering doesn’t mean it’s love.”
Hye Rin: “So you mean you did that only because your feelings wavered for a moment? Is that something you can tell a woman you’ve just kissed?”
Joon Hyuk: “Did you see how that woman [the maid] just looked at us? It was like she was disgusted that a servant’s son would touch the precious daughter of the house.
It makes me feel dirty…. I’m sorry. I made a huge mistake. Let’s pretend today didn’t happen.”
Hye Rin: “Oppa, don’t do this to me. Don’t, please…
It’s me, Hye Rin. I love you… I love you so much.”

But Joon Hyuk pushes her aside.

Hye Rin: “You feel dirty? Is your pride that important? Fine, live like that. Do you think you’ll change from being a servant’s son? If you keep thinking of yourself like that, you won’t ever be anything else.”

Hye Rin leaves in near-tears, and Joon Hyuk stews in his own frustration.

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Eun Soo and Tae Joo meet again in the elevator (there are a lot of elevator scenes in this series so far), and Eun Soo thanks him for the last time they met, when he let her sleep in his apartment. She also asks him about the woman in the motel — is she his girlfriend? She was really pretty. He said he’s not such a jerk that he’d take a drunk girlfriend to a motel and just leave her there alone. Eun Soo studies Tae Joo’s face and wonders if they’ve met previously — she keeps having the feeling she’s seen him before.

Eun Soo: “You think so too, right? Right?”
Tae Joo: “That’s the case for all good-looking men. Our faces look distinctive. You see a lot of guys like me on TV, don’t you? But don’t go falling for me because of that.”

(How meta. Eric, TV, get it?)

In the corridor, Tae Joo is practically tackled by his ex-girlfriend, the woman from Episode 1 who tried to give him her sports car as a parting gift. Eun Soo’s innocent eyes are shocked to see them making out in the hall and watches, transfixed at the sight, until Tae Joo tells her to stop staring. Eun Soo goes in her apartment, in a daze, and tells her sister, “I feel so strange.”

As for the ex, she’s come to Tae Joo wanting his help in getting her revenge upon her fiance, who was cheating on her with another woman. Tae Joo reminds her that, uh, they were going around his back too, but she says at least they didn’t get caught.

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Hye Rin’s mother asks Hye Rin what her conversation with Joon Hyuk was all about at the dinner table. Hye Rin tells her forthrightly that it’s just what it looked like — she was proposing to Joon Hyuk and he refused. Her mother scolds Hye Rin for her inappropriate behavior, telling her that Joon Hyuk will not do. He’s lived with them in the house but he’s no different from a servant. The thought that Hye Rin would want to be with him makes her feel dirty and disgusted; she doesn’t even want anything to do with him anymore.

In the preview last week, when the impression was still that Joon Hyuk might be an adopted sibling or something a little closer to the dreaded incest taboo, her mother’s reaction seemed reasonable. But in this context, seeing that Joon Hyuk is merely an employee who’s been taken in as a special favorite of Hye Rin’s father, it really exposes Hye Rin’s mother for being the bigoted snob she is. Hye Rin, to her credit, essentially says the same thing (I knew Hye Rin was a smart girl — lol!) and tells her mother, “Is this how you’ve thought of him, living together all this while?” She’s disappointed in her mother.

At World Department Store, Hye Rin’s father introduces Joon Hyuk as a new supervisor (he’s spent the last year or two in the States). (If you have keen ears, you may have picked out the song playing over the PA system as Joon Hyuk is shown around by an assistant: KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See.”) [ zShare download ]

Also at the department store is Eun Soo, who’s working as a low-level perfume spritzer. There may be a more official sounding title, but that’s essentially what she does. I love her in the pink fuzzy headband because it makes her look like a harmless, clueless alien, which is what she is. She has what Koreans would call a lack of “noonchi” — or awareness, i.e., the ability to know how one is being perceived.

Eun Soo has difficulty with a broken cargo cart and asks Joon Hyuk for help. And in a classic case showing her noonchi-deficiency, she doesn’t find it odd at all to ask the handsomely dressed stranger to help her carry merchandise. Furthermore, she doesn’t realize he’s an employee of the department store and merely notes that they met here last time; he must come to this department store a lot. He doesn’t seem to recognize her, though, and she says, “Ah, I’m rather ordinary-looking, so I guess you don’t remember me from last time.”

Eun Soo chatters on, not seemingly bothered by the fact that he looks like he’s pretending not to hear her. Joon Hyuk deposits her boxes at her work table and leaves without a word — not rudely, but he’s brusque and busy.

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Hye Rin’s mother comes to see Joon Hyuk and sternly talks to him regarding Hye Rin. They took in an orphan because they felt sorry for him, and now he has the nerve to fall for Hye Rin? She cannot allow her daughter to be associated with him, and wants him to move out immediately. She produces a form for an apartment, because she can’t abide him being under the same roof as her daughter for one more night. Joon Hyuk tells her that he already understands all this; he’d intended on moving out on his own anyway. He will move out soon, of his own accord, and he doesn’t want to take her help. Until he finds a place, she need not be concerned about Hye Rin because he’ll be staying at work.

Hye Rin’s mother isn’t satisfied, and needles him, “How much do you even remember of you father? Do you know how he died?” Joon Hyuk, confused, says, “I heard he died in a car accident.” She snaps, “Did you see that with your own eyes?!” Joon Hyuk is startled at the implication, and chases her out to ask what she meant. But perhaps realizing she let slip more than she ought to, Hye Rin’s mother backtracks and tells him he must have misunderstood her. Nothing strange happened. But his suspicions have been aroused…

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Tae Joo’s ex slips him a hotel key at her own wedding, saying her real revenge will be to spend her first night married with Tae Joo, reminding him he promised to “help.” I’m not quite clear on how this is revenge. And also whether she thinks her husband will notice his wife is absent on their wedding night?? Well, if the point was to highlight how some people have perverted the modern concept of marriage, they have succeeded.

Tae Joo congratulates the groom, and hands the perplexed guy the key. He informs the groom that the bride seemed want to spend her wedding night in a different room and asked for a switch; but surely it won’t do to switch the grooms too, right? The groom picks up on the insinuation and punches Tae Joo, and the two scuffle as wedding guests pull them apart.

Hye Rin watches from the sidelines, and offers Tae Joo a ride — she was there as a guest of the groom. He’s usually not so excitable; what did Tae Joo say to anger him so much? He says he merely handed over the key given to him by the bride, and Hye Rin comments that Tae Joo more morally upright than she took him for. She asks if he loved her, and Tae Joo says yes. (That surprises me, as they were only dating for three months and Tae Joo has his whole lifestyle of dating rich women for entertainment. I’m not sure if we’re to take his simple answer as being straightforward or not.)

In any case, they end their conversation with more quick back-and-forth repartee:

Hye Rin: “If that woman said she’d throw everything and choose you, what would you do?”
Tae Joo: “That would never happen.”
Hye Rin: “But what if?”
Tae Joo: “I’d say no.”
Hye Rin: “Why?”
Tae Joo: “I don’t like women who’ve thrown everything away, I like women who have everything.”

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That night, Tae Joo is woken up in the middle of the night by frantic pounding on the door. He’s irritated to see Eun Soo there in agitation, because something’s wrong with their pipes and water is leaking everywhere. It won’t stop and she needs him to help. He grumpily dismisses her, telling her to call security or the landlord. He seems to feel some remorse (though not enough to go help her), because he calls the guard’s station and alerts them to a leak problem in Eun Soo’s apartment.

After a midnight run to the convenience store, he’s surprised to see Eun Soo and Ji Soo being loaded into a police squad car. He has no idea what’s wrong, and Eun Soo can only shoot him an angry-disappointed-hurt look before she’s carted away.

At the police station, Eun Soo and Ji Soo are busted for illegally staying in someone else’s apartment. They’re being harangued by the police officer, which is made worse when the actual owner arrives and demands to know why they’re staying in her place. With the shock and stress, Ji Soo collapses, and is taken to the hospital. When Ji Soo awakes, she insists she’s fine — she just forgot to take her medication — but Eun Soo insists she rest.

The next day, Tae Joo jokes to Eun Soo about it, but she’s in no mood for levity. She heard from the guard that Tae Joo was the one who reported her to the police. He defends himself, saying he didn’t know she was squatting; he’d called the guard thinking he was helping her out. She accuses him of being responsible for Ji Soo’s collapse from the shock, which succeeds in making him feel guilty.

So Tae Joo drops by Eun Soo’s place later to see her trying to clean up the water mess herself. His pangs of guilt prompt him to ask about her sister; she was joking, right? He’s so wonderfully uncomfortable, trying to act like he doesn’t feel bad about his part in it, and awkwardly defends himself for not helping. He’s really bad with manual work — he can’t fix anything, so he thought it would be better to call someone for help. He didn’t know her situation. She tells him she doesn’t blame him.

Eun Soo: “It’s our fault for going into someone else’s home.”
Tae Joo: “That’s right. So you understand.”
Eun Soo: “But still, my feelings were hurt. The water suddenly started overflowing, and I couldn’t think of anyone but you. You’re the only person I know in Seoul. I just… thought you would help.”

Eun Joo sees Tae Joo looking uncomfortable.

Eun Soo: “Ajusshi… is your conscience by any chance feeling guilty?”
Tae Joo: “Feeling guilty? No.”

Eun Soo looks disappointed. Then:

Tae Joo: “A little.”

So Tae Joo borrows his hyung’s car to pick up Ji Soo from the hospital, and they have a odd and funny conversation in the car. Ji Soo is quite up-front and frank, in an interesting way. She has much more awareness than Eun Soo, but they both have a similar way of expressing themselves so plainly so as to throw everyone else off-guard. Ji Soo tells him she was faking her condition so the apartment owner would take pity and go easy on them. “So don’t look at me with pity. It makes you look sleazy.” Tae Joo asks if she thinks he was feeling pity, and Ji Soo looks at him again and says, “I guess you just look sleazy normally.”

Tae Joo asks why she ran away from home in the first place, and Ji Soo says she was an outsider at school. He asks why, and she says, matter-of-factly, “I have long legs, a slender body, and a pretty face. That’s enough to be hated.” He asks about Eun Soo, and Ji Soo describes her as “Kongji,” who’s the hard-working main character in the Korean Cinderella folktale of Kongji & Patji (the stepsister). That makes Ji Soo the Patji. He comments that Eun Soo’s had a hard life, and brings up another famous folktale, this time of Shim Chung, who was a pious daughter who sacrificed her life to save her blind father (and was rescued by a sea god). Ji Soo makes a crack about Tae Joo getting his folktales mixed up and not being very good at classic literature, and Tae Joo tells her she’s got a smart mouth.

You can see Tae Joo is just going to be driven batty by these two exasperating sisters. I cannot wait! It’s such fun to see him off-balance around them.

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Hye Rin goes to see Joon Hyuk in the small, sad-looking room he’s taken in the department store. He tells her, “You’re a really valuable person to me. I was taken in and treated like one of the family, but still, without you, I would have had a hard time. But Hye Rin… Let’s just stop here.”

And Hye Rin simply says: “Let’s sleep together.”

Eun Soo’s working in the stockroom, and tries to find her way out of the basement, and witnesses the scene. She sees the two kissing, and then Joon Hyuk puts a stop to it: “I’ve just now realized something important. The real reason I can’t be with you… It’s because I don’t even feel bad about my feelings for you anymore.”

He leaves Hye Rin to burst into tears alone, and runs into Eun Soo on his way out.

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Eun Soo runs into Tae Joo out on the street and they have dinner together. She asks how his girlfriend is, and he tells her she got married. She notes that he doesn’t look sad, and he says he’s the type to get rid of his feelings cleanly.

Eun Soo: “Are you a player?”
Tae Joo: “What do you consider a player?”
Eun Soo: “Dating this woman, that woman, left and right.”
Tae Joo: “I date one woman, then the next, then the next.”
Eun Soo: “What’s the difference?”
Tae Joo: “Think whatever you like.”
Eun Soo: “Then, you’ve probably kissed a lot.”

Eun Soo goes on to say men are hard to understand. She was sure that other guy (Joon Hyuk) was looking at her with potential interest, but then he goes and kisses another woman. Tae Joo clearly sees how innocent she is, and assumes she’s never been kissed or dated. She takes affront and says he’s wrong, of course she has experience. He teases her, knowing she’s lying, saying how it’s good to hear — it would’ve been too pathetic if he was right.

In the apartment elevator, Eun Soo says how it’s so shameless how couples everywhere are so public in their kissing and affection. (“Is this America??” Hehe.) Tae Joo says men don’t actually like kissing, they like other stuff more. Eun Soo naively asks what that is, and Tae Joo uncomfortably tries to evade the answer, and changes the subject.

The elevator suddenly stops, and Eun Soo is thrown into Tae Joo… and seeing her awkward reaction to touching him, Tae Joo decides to try something out. He grabs her, and slowly tries to kiss her.

Eun Soo squeezes her eyes shut, and Tae Joo tells her to stop clenching her lips together, then kisses her for real.


His mood turns jokey as he tells her he knew she was lying about having lots of kissing experience.

But Eun Soo surprises him:

Eun Soo: “That was fun.”
Tae Joo: “What?”
Eun Soo: “It’s fun. Want to do it again?”