Que Sera Sera: Episode 11
I generally like using funny screencaps, or at least face shots, as my introductory image, but for some reason, this one stuck out to me today.
So in contrast, here’s a happy song. It’s not that today’s episode is wrenching emotionally, or even sad. It’s more realistic with a slight bent of melancholy. Because of the realism. But I mean this all in a good way. This episode feels like, as Hye Rin tells Eun Soo (about something else, of course): “It’s not coincidental so much as it’s inevitable.”
SONG OF THE DAY
Blue Sorbet – “Satisfy Me” — I’d heard of this group last year and tried to find more of their music, to no avail. I didn’t know why there was so little available about them, until I saw that their first album was just released this week. [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 11 SUMMARY
Eun Soo hears Tae Joo’s announcement — that he’s going to marry Hye Rin — in a way that seems surprised and yet not at all surprised: “So in the end, it comes down to this.”
Eun Soo: “Well, it would be hard to turn down becoming the son-in-law to a business tycoon (chaebol).”
Tae Joo: “I’m sorry, for being someone who can only amount to this.”
Eun Soo: “What’s there to be sorry about? This is just the extent of your love for me. And, I’ve learned that my life is one without a future. So I’ll find a future… fine. Have a nice life.”
With that, Eun Soo leaves Tae Joo at the table.
…and comes home to do some house chores. Over the sink, though, she breaks down into sobs, and the director denies us a close-up as Eun Soo cries out her pain in the corner.
Hye Rin confirms to Joon Hyuk that she and Tae Joo are marrying. Joon Hyuk can’t believe it, but Hye Rin tells him to accept it (and stop calling Tae Joo “that guy” or “that punk”), because they’re going to become one big happy family. Maybe light on the happy.
Hye Rin and Tae Joo visit her parents again, this time seeming more coupley than in the past. When Hye Rin’s mother insists upon a formal engagement (Hye Rin just wants to go ahead with wedding plans), they’re about to get into another argument when Tae Joo cuts in and tells Hye Rin to do as her mother wants; it’s not that big a deal for her to have an engagement party even if she doesn’t want to. Hye Rin gives in, and her mother says with mock-disgust that her daughter is impossible — being so stubborn with her mother, but yielding completely with one word from her fiance. But Hye Rin notes that she can tell her mother likes Tae Joo too, judging from the way she’s already addressing him as “son-in-law.”
Despite everything that’s happened, I think Hye Rin and Tae Joo make some sense as a couple, and I kinda like them together — he can handle her in a way that nobody else seems to know how to, not even Joon Hyuk. Her parents also acknowledge Tae Joo’s skills — and if any of this had come about naturally, who knows, maybe they could’ve had a decent shot.
Hye Rin: “I’m so glad you came back.”
Now that Hye Rin has fallen for him genuinely, she’s relinquished some (all?) of her control. Since Hye Rin just wants to be happy, she isn’t pushing Tae Joo around so much, and the power has shifted in their relationship completely the other way. (And it surely won’t last long. It can’t.)
Back at his own apartment, Tae Joo sees his basketball and is reminded of the past, like when he tried to avoid Eun Soo after their elevator kiss:
…while Eun Soo simultaneously also recalls their other memories together…
And because they’re trying to rip our hearts out, the song “Two Hands” plays (file posted in Episode 8 summary) as Eun Soo remembers how they held hands in bed, as the song narrates:
“Don’t go, don’t let go of these two hands that hold you…”
“So I can treasure you forever,
don’t let go of my hands…
Little by little, I feel myself moving toward you,
Hold onto my two hands…”
Tae Joo cries, knowing fully what he’s giving up yet giving it up anyway.
When her mother asks why Tae Joo isn’t around these days, Eun Soo tells her they broke up. Her mother: “But you said you loved each other! You were even talking about marriage! That man seemed to really care about you. Wasn’t that so?” Eun Soo: “I guess not.”
Their conversation is interrupted by the apartment owner, who’s arrived without notice to show the place to prospective new tenants. Taking that as their cue that they’re being kicked out, Eun Soo tries to find a new apartment, but can’t find anything in their budget. They’ll have to look in another neighborhood for something they can afford.
Joon Hyuk tells Eun Soo that she can come back to the department store as a regular employee. It’s nice to see that his bitterness has faded, and he’s back to his nicer self. He asks if she’s all right about Tae Joo’s upcoming marriage, and she says yes.
Eun Soo: “Because I followed my heart all the way through, I can’t regret anything. It’s like you said. Thinking, ‘Ah, this is where our fate ends’ seems to be the right answer. It’s not so difficult. I can handle it.”
His hyung calls him an awful bastard, changing his mind so suddenly.
Tae Joo: “There’s a difference between merely looking at items through a store window, and being able to have everything. I didn’t even think I could have this in my dreams. But the opportunity came, and I’m not letting it go.”
Hyung: “Were you always like this? You weren’t exactly thoughtful of others, but you weren’t inhuman.”
Tae Joo: “You’re right, I am an awful bastard. Was I ever a good bastard?”
Tae Joo then asks for a favor — no matter how horrible a person he is, his hyung has to do it, because Tae Joo has nobody else to ask.
Hye Rin enters the company as a director in the MD section (buying), while Tae Joo’s been promoted to VP of the sales planning team.
Tae Joo: “I think we’ll be seeing each other more, even if we don’t want to.”
Joon Hyuk: “Well, I can’t stand the sight of you, so make sure to stay away.”
(more accurately, make sure to “get lost” or “screw off”)
Hye Rin looks over her new team roster to see Eun Soo’s name. She appeals to Joon Hyuk to have Eun Soo transferred, but Joon Hyuk merely asks, with scorn: “Did you come to this company to work, or play? Are you going to involve your personal feelings in work?” This was the company’s decision, not something she can just change according to her whim.
Joon Hyuk is called by his company superior, whose name seems to be simply Mr. Choi although I may have missed it earlier. Joon Hyuk doesn’t want to drive a wedge into his relationship with President Cha, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude, and asks Mr. Choi to stop before he starts anything. He’s the one who’s been sending Joon Hyuk those photos, hoping to jog Joon Hyuk’s memory.
To that, Mr. Choi says: “You were there at the scene when your father had his accident. You shouldn’t feel indebted to President Cha. I’ve always thought that was the reason he took you in. That day, your father was to meet the supervisor at that location, but he got into an accident. You may not know what you saw that day, but one thing’s for certain. It gave you a shock severe enough to cause you to forget that entire day.”
Joon Hyuk stumbles out in a daze, putting the pieces together, and arrives outside Eun Soo’s door. Drunk and distressed, he envelops her in a hug, asking her stay that way, just for a moment. Right now, he hates the world — he finds it horrible and awful, and it angers him.
Joon Hyuk: “Aren’t you angry? Don’t you find it maddening and unfair?”
Eun Soo: “What are you talking about?”
Joon Hyuk: “Come to me, Eun Soo.”
Eun Soo: “Why are you doing this?”
Joon Hyuk: “Let’s pretend what took place in Singapore didn’t happen. Let’s think of it as a bad dream. Nothing’s changed between us.”
Eun Soo: “How can we pretend something that happened didn’t? And I—”
Joon Hyuk: “—love Kang Tae Joo?”
Eun Soo: “You’re very drunk. Please go home.”
Joon Hyuk: “You were using me from the start, anyway. I knew, but went along with it. So… keep using me. Being used by others is something I’m used to.”
(Rip out my heart, Lee Kyu Han, why don’t you?)
Eun Soo doesn’t want to discuss this, and leaves him out in the hall.
The next day, Joon Hyuk gives Eun Soo the heads-up that she’ll be working on Hye Rin’s team, and asks if she’s okay. If she really wants, it may be possible to transfer her. But Eun Soo assures him that won’t be necessary. She’d been interested in being a fashion MD from the start, and this is a great career opportunity. “You told me before that working here isn’t a joke. I just want to focus on my work.”
Joon Hyuk also apologizes for his behavior the night before — but not for his words. “I wanted to lean on you. You were the only person I could think of. I’m sorry for being drunk and acting that way. But I was speaking the truth.”
Eun Soo hurriedly interrupts and gets up to leave… but then turns to face him: “I know you meant what you said. But… I’ve already hurt you too much to accept. Don’t give your heart to someone like me.”
Since she couldn’t get Joon Hyuk to do it, Hye Rin brings Eun Soo in to tell her to change departments, especially since Eun Soo herself finds it uncomfortable.
Eun Soo: “How many people in this world can only work comfortably? I’m not in that position.”
Hye Rin: “Are you saying you’re fine working with me?”
Eun Soo: “No, but not to the extent that I’d give up a job I like. And given our positions, I doubt we’ll see each other much anyway.”
Hye Rin: “The more I look at you, you’re really something. I wasn’t intending on saying this much, but since the topic’s been brought up, I’ll ask you one thing. Did you absolutely have to work at this department store? Even with Joon Hyuk and Tae Joo here?”
Eun Soo: “There was nothing I could do. I have to make a living. But Director Cha, you might not understand that.”
I get the feeling Hye Rin is both impressed and bothered by her statements. At lunch, she wonders why Eun Soo stubbornly refuses to transfer. She dislikes that they’ve all become entangled together (…and who started the tangling, missy?).
Tae Joo tells her to leave it alone. If Hye Rin finds the situation difficult as the daughter of the company owner, it’s that much harder for Eun Soo. “If she says she’s fine, then you should act like you’re even better.” Tae Joo tells her he’s already made his decision to be with her, but Hye Rin can’t help feeling uneasy.
Tae Joo’s hyung tries to persuade Eun Soo’s mother to do something, which is not specified here. Eun Soo’s mother resists, saying Eun Soo has always forgiven her foolish mother for all the stupid things she’s done in the past — but she wouldn’t forgive her for this. She can’t do it. But the hyung tells her mother that’s why they’ll keep it a secret.
At the office, Eun Soo attempts to be polite and (distantly) friendly. Tae Joo inquires how her work’s going (not bad, she’s still training as a new employee), how Ji Soo’s doing (much better), and how her mother is, before Eun Soo tells him nicely but firmly, “Supervisor Kang. Thank you for your concern, but please refrain from personal questions. They make me feel a bit uncomfortable.”
Tae Joo exits on his floor, but pauses for a moment before turning around, and rushing to catch the doors before they close —
Tae Joo: “Then don’t smile like that when you talk to me.”
Eun Soo: “Why not?”
Tae Joo: “I don’t like it.”
Eun Soo: “In training for new employees, we were instructed that employees should always smile at customers.”
And then, Eun Soo says at the last minute, just as the doors close on her words (in a stroke of timing brilliance) —
Eun Soo: “Oh, and congratulations on your promotion.”
Mr. Choi tells Joon Hyuk he wants to bring him on his side. Joon Hyuk asks what exactly it is he wants him to do. Mr. Choi says that it’s not quite appropriate to defy President Cha openly, but first he wants Joon Hyuk to earn the support of the board of directors.Joon Hyuk may only be the CEO in name, but if he helps Mr. Choi, he’ll make World Department Store truly Joon Hyuk’s.
Joon Hyuk asks Eun Soo out to dinner, using the story that everyone else forgot his birthday to persuade her. Eun Soo apologizes for not getting him a present, but Joon Hyuk assures her there was no need; he’d lied to get her to come out on a date with him. He normally doesn’t bother with birthdays, and the last one he had was 17 years ago. His father cooked him the traditional seaweed soup that morning, which tasted awful. Later that day, he died in the accident, and Joon Hyuk never cared to celebrate after that. “I never thought I’d talk about this. I thought talking about it would be too painful, but strangely, telling you feels safe.”
As they walk home, Joon Hyuk recalls the last time they walked like this — the night he told her that if she just closed her eyes and denied the truth to herself, over and over, things would get better. “I’ll take those words back. I’ve found it doesn’t work for some things. No matter how much I tell myself to let go of you, it doesn’t work. Eun Soo, you’re that kind of person to me.”
Joon Hyuk: “Please stay by my side. Even if you don’t love me, as long as you don’t hate me, stay with me.”
Eun Soo: “I don’t know why you…”
Joon Hyuk: “It feels warm. You’re the first person to ever make me feel warm inside. So just having you next to me makes me feel like my body will melt away. It’s the first time I’ve wanted to lean on someone. I’ve always thought I was a strong person. Maybe it’s because of you, maybe not, but lately I keep faltering. I wish someone would take hold of me, so I don’t stumble. Eun Soo, hold onto me. I love you.”
Eun Soo goes to pay Ji Soo’s hospital fees (an amount just over $4,000), only to find that they’ve been paid. And now we can be fairly certain that this was the favor Tae Joo asked of his hyung, the thing he had to convince Eun Soo’s mother to agree to.
(Despite the gesture, I really don’t believe that Tae Joo chose to marry Hye Rin specifically so he could do this. He is SO not that noble. I’m sure Tae Joo could have scraped up that amount somehow without Hye Rin, if he truly wanted. I see this as more of a “one last parting gift and consolation prize” gesture — since Tae Joo can’t do any more for her, he can at least do this.)
Eun Soo asks her mother how she got the money, and her mother uneasily lies, saying that the owner of the hair salon where she works heard about Ji Soo and took pity. Since Eun Soo’s mother was such a loyal employee, she lent her the money.
Ji Soo asks Eun Soo what really happened with Tae Joo. They were so crazy about each other… How can they just end things so suddenly? Ji Soo says Eun Soo’s been dumped really thoroughly this time. Eun Soo: “It makes me feel bad when you say it like that. Let’s just say I let him go. If he likes her more, what can I do?” Ji Soo wonders why Eun Soo seems so fine about it all — it’s so different from the last time she was dumped — and Eun Soo tells her she’s come to her senses.
Eun Soo: “I used to think love was something really remarkable. But I’ve found it’s nothing special. It’s so unstable.”
Ji Soo: “So what are you trying to say?”
Eun Soo: “In a word, it’s all a lie.”
Delivering a presentation for bringing her designer clothing brand (Chat Chat) into the department store, Hye Rin experiences what it’s like not to be treated with favoritism when Joon Hyuk criticizes her proposal as being underprepared. Tae Joo comes to Hye Rin’s aid, offering possible ways to make her proposal viable, and Joon Hyuk accepts his ideas as good. Afterward, she asks how he can be so harsh when it’s her first presentation, and Joon Hyuk says that’s the kind of treatment all other employees get — next time, she should be prepared. And he also explains that he’ll be late for their dinner meeting…
…to which he arrives, with Eun Soo.
At everyone’s surprise, Joon Hyuk introduces Eun Soo as the woman he’d mentioned before, the woman he’s been seeing.
Regarding Tae Joo’s decision to go back to Hye Rin… There are a lot of ways to interpret it, and you can probably tell from my summary that I’m not inclined to cut Tae Joo any slack for acting out of noble generosity. Oh, he may want to help Eun Soo and give her money for her sister’s bills, but he’s still taking the easy way out, and his priority is still himself.
Here’s how I see it: Ignorance is bliss. Tae Joo used to be perfectly content, living out shallow romances and having lots of fun. He expressed his life motto to Hye Rin in Episode 4: “Life is short. Have fun before you die.” (His variation of “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.”) Not knowing what he was missing — genuine love — he felt no shame in that lifestyle. So now that he’s faced with the possibility of losing material comfort for the sake of love, he’s trying to convince himself he can go back to the way it was. Love may be great, but in his life, he’s much more familiar with hedonistic, selfish pleasure — and no matter how great love seems now, it must seem awfully intimidating to give up the lifestyle he’s known his entire life for the suggestion of something great. Neither side gives guarantees, but at least he knows what he’s in for when he picks Hye Rin.
It’s like that one story I heard, which I don’t even like and is probably overused (which means you may have all heard it too). I forget the context, but the crux of the story is thus: A man crawls along in the desert, dying of thirst. He comes upon a well, beside which is one bottle of water, with a note. The note says, “There’s unlimited water below — but the pump needs to be wet down with water first. You must pour this entire bottle of water down this well, but in return, you can draw up all the water you desire.” If you don’t trust the note, you can drink the one measly cupful of water in the bottle, trusting in what’s in front of you rather than what is promised you. But if you do so, you’re denied the rest.
Okay, it’s a fairly cheesy story, and pretty pedantic too. But the point is: Which would you choose? Myself, I don’t know. But I sure know which one Tae Joo picked. But — and this is what Tae Joo has yet to learn — some things aren’t reversible. Just like you can’t un-know something you know, you can’t experience love, then pretend you didn’t. That love affects you, and if you turn your back on it for other things, you do so knowing what you’ve given up.
—oh, and I mean none of this condemningly, of Tae Joo. I feel like Que Sera Sera is really about Tae Joo, and no matter how charming or lovely Eun Soo is, she’s still there as a part of his story. The director’s done such a wonderful job of getting us all in the characters’ heads, that I don’t feel I can judge any of them. Not until the story’s over, at least. Because we’re there with Tae Joo as he makes these horribly misguided decisions, I can’t hate him.
Initially, I was a bit nonplussed at the latest developments, wondering if we were going around in a circle in these relationships in territory we’ve already traveled. I wasn’t sure if I was fully behind these movements, because we’ve come so far that I didn’t want a repeat of the old fake/misunderstood/jealousy routine.
But I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think what we’re seeing now is the same thing as before, chiefly for two reasons: (1) This time, the feelings are real. They’re all laid out on the table for everyone to see. Everyone knows who loves whom, who wants whom, who’s trying to get over whom… In the first half of the series, each relationship had varying levels of transparency — people were fooling others, and fooling themselves. But that was QSS version 1.0. We’re now entering QSS version 2.0, where (2) These four are therefore making their decisions with their eyes wide open, with full knowledge of what they’re doing. That’s almost scarier. Oh boy, are they in for a big fall or what?