Have tried to make the recap more coherent instead of jumping from scene to scene, as is my wont. 😀
Screencaps credit to Luv.
KMM, the consummate conductor.
SONG OF THE DAY
Beethoven Virus OST – “들리나요” (Do you hear it) by Tae Yeon [ Download ]
We start off from last’s week’s shocker revelation: Gun Woo will not be playing in the concert because his superiors absolutely refuse to allow him a day off for the concert.
However, an entire solo has been allotted to him, and it’s no use moving it to someone else after two months of intense practice. Kang refuses to allow Gun Woo to back out, but the younger man goes home anyway.
After practice, Ru Mi visits Gun Woo with the reassurance that there are 5 candidates for the trumpet positions. What’s worrying her is Gun Woo’s general lackluster mood, as well as his abrupt abandonment of his conducting ambitions. Instead of giving a direct answer, Gun Woo steals a brochette from Ru Mi and munches on it.
He comments that it needs marinating in soju, which then segues into a monologue about how he had actually tried many different things when he was young and just out of the army. It wasn’t that he didn’t like being carefree and doing things on his own schedule, but rather that money always remained an issue.
To Gun Woo, things like the performance are not necessary. He does have a passion for conducting, but he would prefer to live an ordinary, quiet life (with a wife and 2.4 kids – middle-ageism is catching). It’s really a fear of trying and then failing, because Gun Woo thinks that afterwards, he won’t have anything to fall on.
A rather melancholy trumpet plays in the background as Gun Woo makes fun of himself for being so useless, even if ordinary life is already hard enough. Ru Mi is, as we all know, a very sympathetic kind of person, and immediately rushes to make him feel better. He hands the brochette back to her, and tells Ru Mi to leave.
Once inside his room, we see that Gun Woo is less decided than he says he is – the trumpet and police uniform are laid out side by side on his bed.
Another night, another practice, and of course, another obstacle to a good concert – Ru Mi’s fellow alumnae and senior is moving away with his company. It’s just a few days before the performance and Ru Mi’s headache just gets worse.
Park meets up with Gun Woo at a roadside eatery and tries to convince himself that moving away and withdrawing from the orchestra is the right thing to do. He fails, but alcohol does the job.
Meanwhile, the city’s music hall buzzes with the arrangements for the upcoming concert. Posters of Kang are placed everywhere, there is excitement in the air (and a general impression of doom, too, for the people who saw the preview).
Racking up points on the Drama Improbability Scale, Ru Mi bumps into Gun Woo in the street. He’s dressed (very sharply) in his official police uniform, while she’s got her performance clothes in a plastic cover. They stand at quite a distance from each other, and converse cordially. (JGS has gone back to the Angsty Silent Hero Standard.)
During the conversation, Ru Mi lies rather badly about having found another trumpeter, and moves the topic to him – is he sure he won’t regret not participating in the performance? Gun Woo looks pained but only mentions that her shoes don’t match.
We get a glimpse at all the orchestra members’ preparations for the concert.
Of particular note is Park’s distinct unhappiness at having to go with his company. He even yells at his well-meaning (and pregnant) wife for spending money unnecessarily on a new tux for the performance. (Dude, never unreasonably yell at a pregnant woman. She will cry, and then slap you to death.)
Hee Yun’s husband catches news from the corner veggie store about his wife’s whereabouts and runs off in fury. (And the trouble begins…)
At the performance centre, the two sisters complain that the entire audience seems to be composed of elementary school kids. Well, they have a right to, I mean, the mayor cut corners on the advertising with the intention to sabotage and now they can only rely on the schools to pull off a full house. (Which isn’t too smart of the mayor – his political future is rather dependent on the success of this performance, you’d think he would try to make everything work – though maybe he thinks people will forget about it, the way people often do.)
The other trumpeter, Bae Yong Gi, is having fun entertaining the kids down in the lobby. Ahh, little kids. How cute, and yet how fearsome in packs. Bae and the violin sisters wonder where both their ‘Kang maestros’ are…
Well, Gun Woo is back in traffic police uniform, and a very calm Kang approaches him, risking his life in the process of crossing the street with no regard for moving cars. (The man does not dodge or weave, he is confident that no car would dare to hit him. He may be right.)
Calm or not, the older man intends to put the fear of God/music into Gun Woo. He snarks about Gun Woo wasting his conducting lessons on directing traffic, and reminds him that the performance is at 6, and he is still expected to play the solo. I love KMM’s expression when he asks Gun Woo whether or not he is happy in his job – it’s the right mix of anticipation, disdain and fond exasperation.
When Gun Woo turns away to direct traffic, Kang questions his insistence on viewing conducting as an unattainable dream. If Gun Woo isn’t trying, then it only means that he doesn’t want it enough. You know, Kang really sounds like a father upbraiding his son for not having enough courage to go after what he wants in life. 😀
Kang goes above and beyond the usual duty of a conductor to convince Gun Woo to pursue conducting (really, it’s no skin off his nose if GW doesn’t) – he knows that Gun Woo will probably regret it for the rest of his life. With that, Kang leaves to see to the performance.
At the music hall, the mayor greets an assortment of distinguished guests and sits down. On the other side of the stage, Kang finds his inner peace and takes up his conductor’s baton with a reverent look. He hears the strains of cello from nearby and peeks into a practice room to see Hee Yun putting herself through a few bars that have been giving her trouble – and leaves her to practice.
Outside on the street, Gun Woo is dealing with his existential angst. Well, the traffic is going ignored – and predictably, minor disaster ensues.
The orchestra members gather in a small hall the minutes before the performance. Poor Ru Mi is going through migraines again and swallows what looks like her fourth bottle of painkillers as Bae notes that Hee Yun isn’t here.
Hee Yun is in a bathroom stall, trying to compose herself. When she realizes what time it is, she rushes out of the bathroom, only to come face to face with the hubby. Well, he drags her away in a fit of fury, while Bae unsuccessfully tries to free her.
He runs back to Ru Mi in the entryway of the music hall, who decides to let everyone enter anyway. Just then a sharp peal rings (I’m not sure if it’s the door or Ru Mi’s ears) and Ru Mi falls to the ground in the type of pain that usually induces the lead female to faint. (But she’s made of sterner stuff than that, even if her acting pales in comparison to KMM.)
On the stage, Ru Mi’s world dissolves in a monotone ringing, and then all sound gets muffled. Kang shakes hands with her, a traditional gesture of courtesy between the first violin and the conductor for all the hard work the other has put in. Kang notices something wrong, and Ru Mi tells him that she can’t hear anymore – he only nods, and resumes his place at the podium.
The beginning of the piece goes really well, but then Ru Mi begins to notice the others looking at her strangely. There’s a moment of being lost, and then she looks back at Kang, who draws her in and anchors her into the piece, guiding her through the playing. In a rather clever bit of sound-editing, we exchange perspectives from Ru Mi’s to Kang’s – first we feel her panic at being in a sea of silence, and then we have Kang’s voiceover cutting in with his typical common-sense instruction to follow his gestures.
(How do they communicate? I shall put it down to the holy union between a good conductor and his instrumentalist.)
It just goes to show how good Kang is, that he can make Ru Mi understand what to do in a situation like this. Ru Mi doesn’t really hear silence, as it is, it’s more of a really low note that thrums threateningly.
Other than that, the piece really is quite nice.
Far away, Gun Woo is in the middle of a chaotic mess of enraged drivers and one heck of a congested intersection. The beeping of the cars slowly morph into a rather tinny version of the piece the orchestra is playing – and he feels himself transported to a beautiful river. Gun Woo understands what this means, and drops his traffic baton. (Run, Forrest, run!)
Stress levels have gone down after the successful run through their first piece, and Ru Mi regains her hearing during Kang’s personal mike test (consists of calling her all sorts of names, hee).
The second piece begins, and Gun Woo is still running (goodbye, hat). Kang is in his element, directing a flawless-sounding orchestra.
During the interlude, everyone walks off for a small bout of refreshing and retuning. Gun Woo, to Kang’s annoyance, still hasn’t made an appearance. As he’s making a tour of the changing rooms, he notices Hee Yun’s abandoned cello case and remembers her rant of unhappiness. Kang asks for Ru Mi’s cellphone and calls Hee Yun.
We switch scenes to see a tearful Hee Yun being driven home by her wrathful husband. When she picks up the phone, Kang tells Hee Yun that she is to play the solo (um, which will involve a good amount of shuffling and alteration on the partition, or is this solo thing negotiable?) Anyhoo, due to a fortuitous distraction, Hee Yun is able to get off the car and start running back.
In order to wait for the soloist, Kang has shuffled the order of the pieces. The mayor is confuzzled, until Jung Myung Hwan explains the obvious – there’s a problem with the soloist.
Park, sitting in an army of cardboard boxes at his office, is glued to the internet broadcast of the concert. He notes also that the order has been shifted – just as his wife walks in and drags him off to the concert. (She knows that he is just itching to be there.) They make it in time for the end of the third piece.
Thing are going well on the orchestra side, but the little kids in the audience are getting restive, and finally erupt into noisy shrieking. Kang looks like he’s just on this side of restraining himself from killing the children.
(Before… and after…)
Well, the mess in the audience does play into Kang’s need to wait for his soloist(s). He plays ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman’ (aka ‘Twinkle twinkle, little star’) on the piano, and proceeds to entertain the children while subtly reminding them of the rules of behaviour in the music hall. (Well, as subtle as you can get with kids.)
Jung Myung Hwan laughs himself to death in the audience (the mayor is only bemused) – well, Jung probably has a right to be amused when the Kang he knows is usually so dour.
Hee Yun rushes up in time to get her cello and settle on the soloist position. Various members of the audience register their astonishment, because Hee Yun really isn’t the best of their orchestra. Yi Deun opines that Kang has gone crazy at last.
Her husband runs in after her and stands right under the stage threateningly. Hee Yun thinks of all the things she’s suffered and steels herself through the solo. Gun Woo runs in from the audience’s entrance, way too winded to be of any use even if he did arrive in time.
Yay! Hee Yun pulls the solo off flawlessly and receives a standing ovation.
(Sevenses takes a moment to soak up the happy.)
Gun Woo changes with the speed of light and makes his way to the stage after the second interlude. Kang makes a salutary speech as to why they chose to end with William Tell (only parts of the overture, not the entire thing :D). The instrumentalists are all pumped and ready, and what’s more, they know he has faith in them. They start off on the piece.
At the pivotal moment of silence before the final crescendo, everyone takes a moment to remind themselves to do well – this is where they always make a mistake. However, tonight it’s a success!
Another standing ovation, and even if Kang has his poker face on, he’s totally happy. Happy members of the orchestra are taking pictures in every available corner, with their family, friends etc. Gun Woo looks for his supervisor, but Ru Mi manages to nab him for a photo in the changing rooms.
During the exceptionally long posing, Gun Woo answers Ru Mi’s whispered query – he’s now completely without a job. He jokingly tells her that she’s responsible for him now, and holds onto her hand. (Sneaky.) Then he mentions that standing together like this makes them look like a married couple. (Headdesking ensues. Subtlety, thy name is not Kang Gun Woo.)
Ru Mi likes it, for all she pretends to be amused.
Kim Gab Yong, the elderly oboist, packs up his oboe and leaves without anyone noticing him. Hee Yun smiles sadly at the her fellow instrumentalists, surrounded by exclaiming friends and family, and goes out in the hallway to call her husband (he’s probably breathing fire by now).
But oh! Surprise! He’s waiting for her and cuts her apology short with a speech of his own. It seems that in the days she’s been gone, he has begun to finally appreciate what she has been doing for the family, and is willing to let this continue if she does her share of the housework.
Awww. They take a photo together in the empty hallway.
Outside, Park leaves with the rest of the audience, answering his daughter’s questions and absolutely refusing to go in and congratulate his erstwhile orchestra. He’s a rather unsubtle reminder of what Gun Woo could become (wife, kids, job 2.0) if he doesn’t follow what he loves: torn between two things and unable to enjoy either one.
Ru Mi is collecting partitions from the stands when she sits down and remembers Kang guiding her through the piece.
Tae Yeon’s ‘I’m a Fool‘ plays:
Kang is standing at the entrance to the stage, demanding his partitions. He changes his mind and asks her to mail them to New York. He’s planning to leave right away. Ru Mi gets all teary and asks if he can’t possibly stay for a while longer.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s secretary (he who is slyly supportive) grabs Gun Woo and asks him for Kang’s location, because there is Big News. Gun Woo himself is also looking for Kang, but for a different reason.
On the stage, Ru Mi does her puppy dog eyes, but Kang is obstinate and insists on knowing why he should stay longer in Korea. He demands twelve reasons and Ru Mi gives them to him – they’re all the same – in order to understand him better.
Even better for dramatic tension, Gun Woo walks in and relays the message from the mayor for a meeting. Kang callously asks Gun Woo to translate Ru Mi’s cryptic speech, which confuses Gun Woo. When they’re alone, Ru Mi changes the subject super fast and runs off to the celebration banquet.
The mayor is doing major damage control here, as the performance has impressed enough important people that he now wants to establish it as a permanent institution. He needs to be in the conductor’s good books for that to happen. Kang refuses. (What I want to know is, why is Jung there?) He cites a very busy schedule.
In the changing rooms, the orchestra breathlessly asks one question after another to the secretary, but it all hinges on whether or not Kang is willing to lead them.
Ru Mi calls Kang, knowing that he’d refuse, however, he turns the phone off without even answering. The mayor leaves, having to butter up to other people (the ones who give him money for this project, I bet).
Aha! Jung is there to talk Kang around to the idea. He mentions that the conditions for acceptance are very enticing: this orchestra comes with a lifetime contract, which means it would belong to Kang and Kang only.
It’s what Kang has wanted his entire life. Jung leaves, but Kang is still undecided. (It’s obvious that he really wants it.)
At the celebratory dinner, everyone is simmering with speculation over what Kang will decide. When Kang gets to the restaurant, everyone stands up and salutes him – and breaks into applause when he announces the intent to stay with the city’s orchestra.
The catch is, he intends to do it with professional instrumentalists. (Kang, when will you learn the power of the proletariat?)
– Well, that’s it, the Ru Mi – Gun Woo relationship is doomed. Kang gets both shmoopy love songs from the soundtrack, which means, well, you know what it means. Admittedly the second one is only the instrumental version (Hwan Hee) but still. That counts for a lot.
– Mr. Convenient plot device, hello and goodbye. I hope Ru Mi goes for a check-up anyway, because tinnitus followed by temporary deafness usually spells something worse lurking around. Or she doesn’t, you know, and this boomerangs back 10 episodes later to distress everyone.
– The beginning was really quite depressing. At one point I wanted to bash Gun Woo with the Rock of Awareness because it’s obvious he won’t be happy with policing after working with the orchestra, but he has to go all stubborn on us and create plot troubles.