Beethoven Virus: Episode 4
GRR. Did you know that some companies in China are adding fertilizer to their baby formula? I mean, I am not a nutritionist, but I’m pretty fucking sure that infants (or normal adults) are not meant to withstand pure nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium salts. It’s one thing when big companies knowingly coerce third world governments into distributing baby formula to the detriment of mothers who have no sources of clean water, but it’s another thing to coldheartedly put poison into food for babies – and then price them cheaply so more people will purchase your product.
If you live in China – check the packaging! Am off contemplating ways of tearing their throats out.
Anyway, ahem. PSA/rant over – the recap continueth.
For once, JGS acts his age.
SONG OF THE DAY
Soulzean – “이번 한번만” (Just this one time) [ Download ]
The mayor is suffering from the side-effects of drinking too much – he’s throwing up in the office, though it probably doesn’t help that he’s under tons of stress from the surprise revelations.
Ru Mi is sitting in his office – and the secretary gestures to her that they will both be lucky to keep their jobs. Kang arrives and frankly outlines what has been going on to the mayor – the loss of 3 billion (Korean, not USD) to the swindler as well as the blackmail attempt that took advantage of Beethoven’s sickness. Kang really isn’t very king to the mayor, though – he can’t abide idiots, I guess.
Kang enjoys seeing Ru Mi squirm under the mayor’s admonitions.
Just as Kang is about to leave, the mayor gets a call from Jung Myung Hwan, Kang’s erstwhile schoolmate and bitter rival (only in Kang’s head). The mayor looks like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Incensed that his rival is being called to as a substitute, Kang demands that they find another replacement (the idea being that this orchestra needs a conductor who will continue in much the same style).
However, the mayor has statistics on his side. (Oh, stats! How thou art deceitful.) Kang is acknowledged to be the perfect conductor by all his colleagues, but he’s never stayed with one orchestra for more than 6 months – his attitude and reputation of being an ‘orchestra killer’ also strike fear into the hearts of many an orchestra member. (Even if they are all highly qualified professionals.)
Ooh, and then the mayor tells him that the choice of conductor rests with them.
Ru Mi interjects that maybe this conductor Jung is the same type (lol, big mouth syndrome strikes again). But the mayor doesn’t care – in any case, it can’t get worse than the present situation.
Kang continues to be annoyed at being ranked inferior to Jung in the art of conducting. He eyes a teabag in an abandoned cup and picks it up, comparing Jung to the used teabag. Then he chews on it a while, commenting that there is still a certain fragrance to it. (Lol, the mayor’s eyes bug out to there.)
The conductor stands up and declares his intent to continue on as the maestro of this particular orchestra, and leaves. The mayor has already settled matters with Jung, however, and feels particularly annoyed that his universe is not running smoothly.
Ru Mi does things haphazardly, but she’s been around Kang long enough to recognize the style, and runs off to Kang – who is poking at the elevator buttons trying to make a dramatic exit. She leads him to the one that’s working, off behind a potted plant. He asks her to postpone the concert as much as possible (current timetable gives them 2 weeks).
Wow, Kang shuts Ru Mi out of the elevator and makes her run downstairs as well as contact all the members of the at the same time.
Once they’re all there, he gives them the most interesting pep talk I’ve heard in a while: You are all too kind, no, not kind, you have been stupid and slow. For your parents, your children, you have sacrificed yourselves! Well, now is the time to become selfish again.
Basically he wants them to give their all to the orchestra – but man, what a weird way to do it – talking the members down instead of making them feel loved and welcome. Kang gives people the choice of opting out. Park tentatively wants to go home, but Kang reveals that he’s locked the door and the only way any of them can exit is by climbing down the building.
He begins a period of intensive practice and it’s like boot camp schedule practicing for all them. During the first piece, the double bass, oboe and flute all have problems, which he identifies and corrects with one sentence. Behold their awe. (Yeah, I want to know why he didn’t bother before the threat of having Jung take his place.)
Kang has awesome powers of conduction, but the members of the orchestra are super intimidated by his fierce attitude and very very exacting standards. He leaves them off to practice for an hour, and seeks quiet in the side room, when Jung comes in, dreadlocked hair flying every way from Sunday.
Jung’s very childlike. He actually doesn’t want this post, because leading adults is very different from leading children (apparently on Sicily he created a ‘miraculous’ orchestra of children). For one thing, all of them have their own minds. And as Jung says, Kang sees his own way too firmly to be able to understand and empathize with the instrumentalists in his orchestra.
Back in the music hall, everyone’s practicing (my heart goes out to those poor instruments, esp the strings, the poor things). Gun Woo still hasn’t lost his ESP-like knowledge about how to improve the sound, though he refuses (to the distress of all the other members) to act as stand-in for the conductor anymore.
The two violin sisters flirt with him about their sounds – which annoys Ru Mi, because she’s trying to organize a run through the complete piece (no ulterior motive in breaking that one up. Nope. None at all.)
Jung is still talking on and on about how Kang’s conducting style creates very high levels of stress for the instrumentalists, and that amateurs don’t play well under pressure. Kang thinks he can do it, even if it kills the rest of the orchestra.
Under the threat of an impending Kang temper fit, Jung escapes.
Kang walks outside, listening to the orchestra practice – they sound super good, compared to earlier. Once again, Kang gives in to the urge to peek inside, and sees the orchestra practicing by itself. Ru Mi gets up to stop everyone in an awkward place, while Gun Woo talks them around the concept and atmosphere of the piece (yay research) – then everyone kids around about the proper sound made by a sheep.
The members are happy and kidding around with each other, they’re not stressed and definitely feel motivated to try to make it better, which is what Jung was trying to tell Kang earlier, “Make them happy, and you will get better results.” He realizes also that his own particular style just won’t cut it and walks away a thoughtful man.
HEE. I ♥ Kang.
When Gun Woo comes to get Kang – to see if they’ve improved or not, Kang is wearing an arm brace/sling. It looks like he broke his arm, but we know better. Gun Woo is all distressed and envisioning WW3 in his head, but when Kang tells him to conduct, he just looks panicked.
Kang tells him to nurture the orchestra as if he was a mother, to teach when needed and to encourage at other times.
In any case, his arm will ‘get better’ in two weeks, which is exactly in time for the concert, and everything should be fine. He just needs a substitute for these two weeks of practice. (Awww. Kang is such a stubborn snark.)
Gun Woo is over the moon (and worried at the same time) at being asked, and so his training (under the guise of being a puppet for Kang) begins.
Instead of picking apart the way the instrumentalists play, Kang delegates the sweet-talking and disciplining to Gun Woo, preferring to stay off to the side in his chair of comfort and giving heated directions to the younger man. He can tell Gun Woo has natural talent, but his posture totally goes to pieces when he gets into whatever that’s being played.
Still, the orchestra makes leaps and bounds.
The mayor wants to get rid of all the notices and stop the concert – but first his secretary resists, and then he bumps into a rival for the mayorship, who definitely puts a rest to his notions of canceling the concert. Yay for underhanded info-leaking by the secretary.
Lol, taking overreaction to a new realm, the mayor bursts into the music hall and demands that they continue with the concert no matter what. Luckily Kang is the one on the podium. To add insult to injury the mayor decides to sit in on their practice, much to everyone’s annoyance, and tries to make people listen to him. (Now we know that Kang’s top pet peeve, besides name-dropping Jung Myung Hwan, is trying to control ‘his’ orchestra.)
Wow. Kang uses the facts to his advantage and takes the mayor to task for daring to say that his orchestra members are not professional – nay – unqualified! He names Schubert, William Tell, Chopin, Schumann, Vivaldi and other well-known composers as an example of people who never achieved fame in their lifetimes because of the prejudice against inexperience.
To further embarrass the mayor for being a narrow-minded elitist (and doing a rapid 180 to his previous rants and spiels) – he narrates his own story of being impoverished – he had no money in high school so he snuck to his school at night to practice. In order to join a competition, he sold his bicycle and books but still ended up being disqualified. (He chokes up, so either he’s telling the truth or a heck of an actor.)
Ru Mi can’t stand the mayor condescending to Kang anymore, and stands up for him, but this only aggravates the mayor into firing her. Then Kang surprises everyone by telling her to sit back down – and forbids the mayor to interfere with his orchestra members. In a contest of wills between Kang and the mayor, dudes, the mayor is as jelly in the hands of a grubby five year old.
Funnily enough, according to the conductor, the right to look down on the musicians belongs to Kang alone, and no one else is allowed to be mean to them. (Such authority.)
The mayor refuses to apologize for intruding on the practice session and gives dictation to his secretary to the effects of making the conductor responsible for the success (or failure) of the concert. Ooh. Why don’t they break out the gauntlets and be done with it?
Well, not one to be outdone, Kang sallies with a question about whether the mayor has had a foot massage or not. Everyone is nonplussed until Kang makes the promise that he had a part-time job during grad school along these lines, and if the concert is not well-received, then he will spend the rest of his life giving the mayor foot massages.
In short: GTFO.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is dazzled by the awesomeness. (Dazzled!)
At night, Ru Mi is going over practice groups and events with Kang, who isn’t exactly softened, but at least nicer. One of the violinists sends a cute card full of internet speak to Kang, who is slightly miffed (and mystified) at the lack of honorifics – however, the card sincerely thanks him for being so awesome (her words, not mine) and he’s appeased.
Ru Mi asks Kang, all shy-like, if he really meant it when he said that the orchestra was his – because this means he recognizes them – and he confirms that indeed, the conductor and instrumentalists should be of the same mind. He also adds that in case the concert goes badly, she will be the one to give the mayor foot massages. (ROFLMAO, spoken in true Kang fashion.)
There is a Moment, and then Kang gets back to business. He accidentally reveals that his right hand is actually fine while flipping through the orchestra planner. Ru Mi grins.
She slyly compliments him, but then Kang totally objects to putting Gun Woo on the second solo. Speak of the devil! Gun Woo arrives, all agog that the date has been postponed for a week – it’s the day he starts work again. And because he was disciplined, not on vacation, pushing the date back is really difficult (well, if it were easy we’d have no plot).
The conductor gets up to face Gun Woo – to him, the choice is simple. Quit his job and play in the orchestra.
Ooh, Kang is disappointed in Gun Woo for his indecision, and tells Ru Mi to put Gun Woo as the first solo in the second part after all. He’s basically making it harder for Gun Woo to stop playing, since he knows the other guy has a thing about not letting others down.
Kang shouts at Gun Woo for a bit, and the younger one walks away, defeated. Ru Mi chases after him with a few words of encouragement, but Gun Woo’s not in the mood, I guess, and continues to walk.
Well, his boss is short of people, the (fictional) APEC summit being really near. The only way Gun Woo can be free that day is if he quits. His colleagues are having trouble believing the honest and helpful Gun Woo is the man standing in front of them…
*Sigh* Choices, choices.
Ru Mi is interviewing trumpeters again, and the snotty one from before is all smiles and pleading when he sees that the conductor is Kang Gun Woo. (Wow, such an attitude change! Well, at least it’s saving money.) Unfortunately, none of them can measure up to Gun Woo – plus, this guy is like the soul of the orchestra.
Kang is angry enough to tear his hair out at having trusted Gun Woo to carry the orchestra. Ru Mi apologizes some more, like a true shoujo heroine, taking all the blame on her own shoulders. She promises that if they do have a bad concert, then she will be the one to massage the mayor’s feet – for as long as he lives (in which case I think a few people can be inspired to assassinate him).
However, herr Kang assures her that as the person holding the baton, the performance will go smashingly. He also encourages her to hold her head up, using the rather amusing analogy that a rooster that is down cannot win its fight. (Reference to cockfighting.)
Kim tracks Yi Deun down – she’s working at a grocery store. He’s willing to pay her (and tells her that she’s better than the current flautist), but she’s playing hard to get and demanding that he apologize. (Um, when they find out she leaked the swindling – plot device aside – they’re going to be v. angry.)
He leaves the envelope on the counter – and Yi Deun opens it gleefully only to find a ticket for the concert inside. 😀 Wily.
Gun Woo is still trying to find his supervisor (the big honcho and not the sergeant), who seems to be using all his policing skillz to avoid him. Gun Woo really wants to play at the concert, and he seems to have made up his mind already – he just needs someone to nudge him along.
While making phone calls to potential trumpeters (ah, Ru Mi, your cellphone provider loves you), she hears Hee Yun being yelled at by her overbearing husband. He’s just being unreasonable, which would be okay if he thought she was cheating, but no, it’s just his control freak tendancies and misogyny rearing their heads at the same time. Also, he’s probably jealous that she has a full life outside of the family while he’s stuck with a bald pate.
Ru Mi confirms Mrs. Jung’s activities, which doesn’t calm the husband down, for reasons stated above. Well, everyone has a limit, you know, and Hee Yun screams right back at her husband. (Who’s a bit of a stereotype, but whatever rolls.)
It’s just not his month. Kang is quietly making notations on the sheet music when Hee Yun staggers in drunkenly, looking for Gun Woo (who has been MIA for the better part of two days now). Kang puts on his stern face, but the truth is he doesn’t know what to do, the poor socially maladjusted man.
Ru Mi runs around while Kang tries to handle Hee Yun hitting rock bottom. She calls Gun Woo, who refuses to answer, being hot on the stationary trail of his boss. A superior scolds him for treating his girlfriend so callously. LOL. If only he knew.
Hmm. Gun Woo’s pretty popular with his gruff and down-to-earth colleagues, who, one way or another, try to look out for him.
Meanwhile, Kang is having no success reaching the police to chase Hee Yun off. Trying to appease her, he tells her that calling her playing ‘dog crap’ was because her bowing, fingering and technique were all off – and yet if her sound wasn’t so stifled and melancholy, he would have stood for that. This sets her off on another tangent – the Saga of the Sadly Neglected Jung Hee Yun, Wife of An Overbearing Ogre, Mother of Ungrateful Children, and Dutiful Daughter-in-law.
And, of course, Callously Wronged by Her Conductor. Poor Kang. He looks like his head is going to explode into delightfully sharp pieces. He suggests that they talk this over when she’s sober, and beats a rapid retreat.
Ru Mi comes to Gun Woo’s house, only to find a much-tormented Kang who requests that she clean up the mess inside. (You can see the question marks pop into existence around Ru Mi’s head.)
Hee Yun is asleep on the floor, hugging her cello. She’s still not completely sober and this shows when Ru Mi unwisely calls Hee Yun’s rather worried husband, who’s totally willing to chalk this down to momentary insanity. Alas for him.
That night at practice, Gun Woo walks in and announces that he absolutely cannot play at the concert – Kang the elder is equally unwilling to back down and announces that if he ruins the concert by not being there, then he will have wasted everyone’s efforts for the past two months.
Gun Woo looks so miserable.
– You know, not a recap doesn’t go by that I accidentally type Sujini instead of Ru Mi. What is wrong with me?!?!?!
– Kang is the sort of man who expects a lot of other musicians because he himself has give so damn much to it. Cool points = +10^854897478238479231 for this episode, because I can.
– Hmm, so much action, and only the fourth episode. I hope they don’t end up triangulating their love in the last four episodes. That would be a serious let-down. ETA: after the preview, I’m rather afraid they’re going to do too much. Um, like, way to dump all the problems down at once. (Um, Hee Yun being dragged off by an irate husband, Kim’s Alzheimer’s finally manifesting, Yi Deun using her flute to play baseball with a metal post, Gun Woo not showing up and then sort of showing up, and uh, Ru Mi losing her hearing? All this before the concert, of course. Dude, let the plot breathe.)
– Many thanks to Luv, who continues to provide the wonderful screencaps.