Like I said, Episode 13 marked the darkest point in the series, which in the big picture isn’t even terribly dark, but it did sink Last Scandal into a pensive mood for an episode. But the producers certainly know where their success lies, and are quick to inject some humor and levity back into the storyline once the characters have some time to react to the issues of the previous installment.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung Chul – “안녕이라고 말하지마” (Don’t say goodbye). There’s something about Last Scandal that makes me nostalgic for old-school kpop music, which is probably because I first heard of Choi Jin Shil around the time I encountered K-pop culture as a kid. Lee Seung Chul is one of the all-time greats, writing, composing and performing live when most kpop was manufactured and processed and lip-synched (well, I guess some things don’t really change). Anyway, I love this song and its simple lyrics, which start, “Don’t make a sound, our love will fly away / Don’t move, our love will weaken / Don’t say a word, our love will be overheard / Don’t come near, our love will move farther away,” and continues in that vein. [ Download ]
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Jae Bin’s been having a pretty hard time adapting to the idea of his (stolen) fatherhood, which causes him to overreact with Sun Hee. She does her best to cheer him up, returning the favor for all the times he was there when she was going through her issues, but it doesn’t work. Jae Bin tells her she’s fired.
After a moment, Sun Hee brushes away her tears and asks him if he really means it. He answers yes, and she stiffens in resolve, accepting his decision. But she wants to know why. Jae Bin: “I don’t like seeing you. It bothers me to have you hanging around all the time. It’s annoying.” Hurt, Sun Hee tells him she’ll move out: “But if you’re kind to me one more time, you’re dead.”
In the morning, Sun Hee ignores Jae Bin, who knows this is what he asked for but doesn’t like it all the same. Jae Bin has told Dong Hwa that he asked Sun Hee to move out, but Dong Hwa politely acts as though leaving was her choice. He offers to help her find a new place, and though Sun Hee turns down his offer, Dong Hwa’s guilt makes him insist on helping; he tells her he doesn’t wish to be known as the employer who kicked out someone with no place to turn.
Sun Hee agrees to meet Dong Hwa at the office later that day, where she runs into Yoo Shik. Yoo Shik is his usual cluelessly smug self, thinking he’s got the upper hand with the Jang brothers. He’s been digging into Jae Bin’s past and knows his name is Dong Chul, and talks with bravado.
Sun Hee regards Yoo Shik with distaste and resignation, and when he pricks her temper, she slaps him upside the head. Yoo Shik can’t believe her nerve and blusters back, so she kicks him. She tells him she’s got nothing to lose so he’d better not mess with her any further, and leaves Yoo Shik to wonder bewilderedly at her newfound assertiveness.
Dong Hwa has taken the liberty of searching out suitable homes, including a loan to set her up in her new place. Sun Hee’s surprised at his generosity, agreeing to accept his assistance as long as she gets to pick the place — you can tell she doesn’t like being indebted, so if she’s going to take help, she’s at least going to take humble lodging somewhere that’s not extravagant.
She picks a rooftop location (notice how in kdramas the money-strapped always live in rooftop apartments?), and the Jangs wish the new tenants luck in their new home.
Jae Bin awakens late in the morning to see that while he was sleeping, Sun Hee has moved out. Despite being the one to tell her to move, he clearly didn’t mean it, nor did he think she’d act so swiftly.
Jae Bin takes Hoon to dinner to have The Talk. Dong Hwa would rather he take it slowly, but Jae Bin wants to get it over with, feeling he’s wasted too much time already.
Jae Bin takes the straightforward approach and tells Hoon the truth, who follows the initial disbelief with confusion and anger. When Jae Bin checks later that evening, Hoon is gone. Dong Hwa blames Jae Bin for shocking Hoon instead of going gradually as he’d suggested, and Jae Bin feels the consequences of his bad judgment — in his haste to claim his son, he wasn’t appropriately considerate of Hoon’s feelings.
Thankfully, the brothers soon get a call from Sun Hee telling them that Hoon is at her house. He’s unresponsive and withdrawn, and the ladies aren’t quite sure how to act.
Dong Hwa arrives alone, and tells Hoon quietly that no matter whose son he may be biologically, he loves him most in the world.
This is a great scene, and makes it really hard to hate Dong Hwa’s actions even though I think what he did was tantamount to kidnapping, and certainly fraud. I know there’s the argument that it was best for all parties, and that Jae Bin wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility, but one person can’t decide that for another person. He took away Jae Bin’s choice, and in so doing he committed not only a moral wrong but a crime. But, when taking the perspective that the past is done and cannot be reversed, Dong Hwa’s left in a really lonely position, not only bearing the guilt for hurting his brother and adopted son, but also having his own fatherhood taken away.
The ladies talk outside to give father and son some privacy, and Jimin speculates that the adults must have done something really bad to Hoon for such a happy kid to run away from home. Jimin says that adults often hurt kids without knowing, and Sun Hee tells her daughter something I’m sure ajummas and moms across the land greatly appreciate hearing:
Sun Hee: “Jimin, there’s something I really want to tell you, that adults are people too. We make mistakes and regret things too. But kids think grown-ups can’t do that. You guys say, ‘Why are moms like that? Why do dads to that?’ Don’t you? … But you know, I’m living my life for the first time, too. First times are like that — you wander and stumble because you’re unsure. So don’t be hurt when your mom does something wrong, but think, ‘It’s her first time too.’ Can you think that and forgive me?”
Dong Hwa finds Jae Bin alone in Sun Hee’s empty quarters, and lets him know that it seemed best to let Hoon spend the night at Sun Hee’s. Jae Bin is unresponsive (reacting much like Hoon, in fact):
Dong Hwa: “I’ve always been envious of you, because there are things I can think over a hundred times but can’t accomplish through actions. But you’re someone who can make things happen according to his thoughts. So don’t hide, and solve this in your usual way.”
That pep talk certainly makes an impression, because the next day Jae Bin is back in true form — he buys a ton of housewarming items (food, household necessities) and appears at Sun Hee’s place. He’s as confident and pushy as he was before their recent conflict, and announces that he needs to stay with Sun Hee because he’s avoiding the press in another of his pesky scandals. (They resume their casual bickering, but she’s obviously glad to see him and relieved that his moodiness has passed.)
Na Yoon calls Sun Hee over for a chat wherein she asserts her proprietary claim on Jae Bin. She reveals that Hoon is their child, and asks for Sun Hee’s “help” — by stepping aside. She wants to reclaim her place by Jae Bin’s side without Sun Hee’s interference, but Sun Hee’s more shocked at Na Yoon’s misplaced priorities. Why is Na Yoon more concerned with pushing her competition away than with the feelings of the man and child she abandoned? How can she leave and return on a whim and expect them to welcome her back?
Sun Hee refuses to concede to Na Yoon’s demand and leaves.
Jae Bin makes himself at home, but the tables are turned now that he can’t threaten her with firing or order her around. So he offers to pay her for doing his laundry, and she perks up at the promise of money. He lazily watches her wash; both obviously enjoy being in each other’s company. Too cute.
In a hilarious bit, Sun Hee’s former neighbor friend drops by and flips out to see Jae Bin napping outside. The ajumma takes advantage of Jae Bin’s feigned sleep to marvel at his good looks — and totally feel him up, groping him freely.
Dinner that night is awkward, with Hoon still feeling upset and Jae Bin attempting to make things better, until Sun Hee gives the two a chance to bond by assigning them to dishwashing duty. Maybe she’s learned from her own interactions with Jae Bin, but whatever the reason, the chore has the two of them resuming their usual bickering relationship in no time.
Jae Bin: “Sun Hee, is there anything you want to ask me?”
Sun Hee: “Like what?”
Jae Bin: “Why I acted like that to you, why I’m here now. Aren’t you curious?”
Sun Hee: “I already know.”
Jae Bin: “How?”
Sun Hee: “I just know. You’re transparent.”
In the morning, Jae Bin takes the kids to school while Sun Hee sees them off. Dong Hwa — who spent the night working at the office, now that he has no family waiting for him at home — drops by Sun Hee’s place to see the cozy scene wistfully (though he seems glad to see everyone looking so happy).
Na Yoon has followed Dong Hwa from the office in curiosity, and has a far stronger reaction.
She accuses Dong Hwa of purposely lying to her about Jae Bin and Hoon’s whereabouts to steal Hoon away from her. Feeling threatened that Sun Hee’s taking her place as the maternal figure, Na Yoon overreacts: She calls a press conference, presumably to reveal the whole truth about her relationship to Jae Bin and Hoon.
It’s her desperate bid to regain control over the situation, but more likely it’ll backfire on everyone, and Dong Hwa knows it. It would result in a big blow to Jae Bin’s career, since their past together would reveal his true age, and therefore all the lies about his identity.
Dong Hwa considers the options, and thinks back to how Jae Bin seemed so happy with Sun Hee. He calls Jae Bin and asks him one simple question: “Are you happy now?”
Jae Bin answers, “Yes, I’m happy.” Dong Hwa tells him that Na Yoon’s about to do something, but this time, he won’t be able to spin the situation — Jae Bin will have to handle it himself.
Dong Hwa: “Jang Dong Chul. I thought living as Song Jae Bin made you happy, but if that’s not true, this might be your last chance. The choice is yours.”
Dong Hwa arrives at Na Yoon’s suite as she’s readying for her press conference, trying one last time to persuade her not to go through with it: “There are people I must protect. If my actions hurt you, I’m sorry.” And he shocks her by kneeling at her feet.
Dong Hwa: “Please. Na Yoon, let’s end this now.”
You get the sense that Na Yoon never thought she’d get an apology or an honest plea from him — and deliberates whether to yield or to continue outside to greet the media.
Although Dong Hwa hasn’t told Jae Bin the details, Jae Bin understands the implication of his question. He returns to Sun Hee’s place — she’s in a teasing mood, he’s grave and serious — and wrestles with his decision. After a long silent spell:
Jae Bin: “I’m on my way to discarding Song Jae Bin. Will you come with me?”
Sun Hee: “What do you mean?”
Jae Bin: “Answer by the time I count to ten.”
Jae Bin makes his way up to the rooftop, counting until he’s in front of her. He extends his hand…
Way to leave us hanging, right?
Episode 14 is one of my favorites because it crystallizes the relationships and makes everyone re-evaluate what’s important to themselves in an honest way. Without excuses, without pretensions, without hiding behind their fears. It also does so in a way that capitalizes on the gradual build of the past few episodes, making this moment of truth seem both inevitable and natural. But not SO inevitable that we aren’t all nervously hoping for the best and fearing that we don’t get it. And that’s what makes a great romantic comedy for me, because the Happily Ever After is never a true question; the story just has to feel interesting and believable on the way to that foregone conclusion.
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 13
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 12
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 11
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 10
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 9
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 8
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episode 7
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episodes 5 & 6
- The Last Scandal of My Life: Episodes 1-4