There’s usually one noteworthy episode that marks the turning point in a drama, and for Love & Marriage, this was it.
There’s a difference between an “OMG, romantic, sweet, kissy ooh!” squee, and an “Aww, yeah, The Drama has kicked in” squee. For the first eight episodes, it’s been the former: a light, fluffy romantic buildup that’s very enjoyable to watch, but which remained dramatically uncomplicated. The developments between the main couple have been adorable, but now we get the latter scenario where everything gets a little messy. In a good way.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lucite Tokki – “수요일 (Piano lesson)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After Kang-hyun cashes in her winning ticket, Hyun-soo’s brother has the nerve to ask for a cut, since he gave her the winning numbers. She knows he gave her fake numbers, but hands over a few bills anyway. He plucks the larger stash from her hand (giving her a sad consolation prize — a pile of sunflower seeds), and leaves Kang-hyun gaping in shock.
Hyun-soo finds Kang-hyun sputtering at the guy’s outrageous behavior. But the pile of sunflower seeds in her hand triggers his hunch, and he darts off looking for his brother.
Unsuccessful, he and Kang-hyun sit in the now-empty arena, and he explains what this was all about. Hyun-soo describes his brother as a pseudo-father figure who’d given up his own youth to raise Hyun-soo after their parents died. Without his brother, Hyun-soo wouldn’t have been able to go to college or become a lawyer.
Kang-hyun listens sympathetically, but tells him matter-of-factly, “If you want to stop these complications from messing up your life, cut ties with him.” Not knowing that this is a sore point with Hyun-soo — her words are similar to Hwa-young’s sentiments — Hyun-soo’s temper flares: “I can’t do that. I’m indebted to him for life!”
He realizes he’s lost his temper and remembers how Hwa-young used to say that they only ever fought over his brother. It looks like he’s going to apologize, but Kang-hyun surprises him by saying, “Then there’s nothing else to do — I’ll help you find him. I suppose family relationships are given to us by a higher power, so people can’t just cut ties of their own accord. You struggled alone for all this while, so now we can search together.”
Hyun-soo is completely surprised, but touched by Kang-hyun’s response. He’d thought she would be like Hwa-young, who’d never been this supportive. She’d always prodded him to let go of his brother.
Kang-hyun is bothered by a niggling worry, though, after hearing about Hyun-soo’s intention to travel to South America. She wonders if he still intends to go — and if so, would he go without her? (“Will he still want to leave even when I’m here?”)
Hwa-young, who’s been staying at a resort hotel, speeds to the hospital after getting a message about her mother’s deteriorating health. Wracked with guilt, Hwa-young agrees to be set up with prospective husbands. She breaks down to see the signs of her mother’s worsening condition, shedding tears as her mother whispers hoarsely, “I love you.”
The Last Love office hears that the Love & Peace law firm is heading out to a weekend MT (“membership training,” but it’s really just an excuse for a mini-break on company money). Sung-ho always tags along when Hye-sun’s company goes on their MTs, so the Last Love folks assume they’ll be going, too. Unfortunately, Sung-ho’s feeling moody because Hye-sun’s dating someone new, which keeeels him — and he snaps that they won’t go. MT = OFF.
Everyone else accepts that the mini-break won’t happen, but Kang-hyun sees the chance to spend the weekend with her new boyfriend slipping away, and decides she MUST convince Sung-ho in favor of the MT.
She hounds him all the way to the bathroom, where Hyun-soo hears her chanting “MT! MT!” with amusement. He emerges from the restroom before Sung-ho, and it’s too cute how they take a quick moment to hold hands. Also cute is how swiftly Hyun-soo jumps away to avoid being seen when Sung-ho walks out.
Kang-hyun knows how to sway Sung-ho, and that is to appeal to his jealousy: “Boss, what if your wife remarries before you do?” The thought makes Sung-ho wail in protest, so she tells him, conspiratorially, that this overnight MT is the perfect chance to win Hye-sun over. They’ll have one night and two days with lots of opportunities to interact, with alcohol to mellow the mood.
Kang-hyun promises to act as Sung-ho’s couple manager and help him out. Therefore MT = ON.
Kang-hyun suggests to Hyun-soo that the weekend trip will be the perfect opportunity to go public with their relationship. The idea has merit, but neither of them has told their exes about their relationship yet, which means they still have to sneak around.
Hyun-soo promises to try to tell Hwa-young before the weekend, and she likewise agrees to tell Kyung-hwan.
Hyun-soo then surprises her with an additional chair, which he presents with a flourish. He tells her cheerfully that now they can BOTH sit together comfortably, and doesn’t notice how his separate chairs deal is NOT Kang-hyun’s idea of comfortable.
When Hyun-soo leaves, Kang-hyun scowls at the other chair and kicks it over. She yells, “HEY! It’s your fault I can’t sit on his lap anymore!” (Kang-hyun messes with the second chair’s screws, sabotaging it for future use. Too cute.)
The Last Love MT hits a snag when they attempt to check in to the resort. Because of the divorce, Sung-ho no longer is listed as a member (or relative to a member, since he used to gain access through Hye-sun) — and without membership, there’s no way he can afford the resort. (MT = OFF?)
With no other choice, they wait for Hye-sun to arrive so they can use her membership card. All the while, Kang-hyun is busily texting back and forth with Hyun-soo, who’s wrapping up a work meeting. He has his own complications — his divorcee client tries to make another pass at him, and when she fails, she gives him a wedding invitation (adding, “When I get divorced this time, I’ll come to you!”).
On his way out, Hyun-soo spies Hwa-young in the hotel cafe on a series of (bad) blind dates. He considers talking to her about Kang-hyun, but the timing is bad since she’s busy. Instead, he heads over to the resort, eager to see Kang-hyun.
Hye-sun arrives and hands Sung-ho her membership card (MT = back ON), but Sung-ho is immediately jealous because she’s been driven by another man. I’m not sure if this is the new guy she’s dating, but that’s the assumption Sung-ho jumps to, and in a fit of petulance, he throws her card on the ground. He won’t use her stinkin’ membership card! MT = OFF!
Kang-hyun swoops into action to get Sung-ho back onboard. She points out that he’s seen the new boyfriend — “Can you handle seeing her marrying that man?” Sung-ho is at a total loss — he wants to stick around, but he doesn’t have membership and he won’t crawl back to Hye-sun after rejecting her help.
Kang-hyun asks, does he have any other relative with membership? Sung-ho brightens: Hwa-young!
Kang-hyun doesn’t love the idea of bringing Hwa-young into this, but the idea is already out and Sung-ho makes the call. MT = ON.
While they wait, the employees suggest preparing some food, and send their newest employees — Kang-hyun and Kyung-hwan — to the supermarket. This affords Kang-hyun the perfect moment to tell Kyung-hwan she’s dating Hyun-soo, but he’s interrupted by a text message insisting he go online immediately.
In a bid to get the kids back together, Kang-hyun’s father has posted a message on Kyung-hwan’s mini-homepage, urging them to reconcile. He even includes a parable of the man who couldn’t cross to the afterlife because he’d abandoned his first wife (no doubt an old wives’ tale meant to keep husbands from straying). When Kang-hyun calls her father to yell at him, it’s cute how he apologizes in that totally fake-apologetic, I’m-not-really-sorry tone. (Plus, Kang-hyun’s parents are united for once in their determination to reunite the kids.)
The damage is done: his peeved girlfriend has seen the post. Kyung-hwan blames Kang-hyun for not telling her parents the truth earlier as he wanted, and remains glued to his cell phone for the rest of the night (his girlfriend won’t take his calls).
Kang-hyun feels sorry, too, but at Kyung-hwan’s continued griping, she grabs his neck to throttle him as she yells, “It’s your fault for driving my father to this!”
And just then, Hyun-soo walks in with Hwa-young. (They haven’t come together, but arrived at the same time.) Embarrassed, Kang-hyun and Kyung-hwan hurriedly board the elevator, leaving the other two behind to wait for the next one.
Thus they’re seen by the other lawyers, who misinterpret the sight to mean that Hyun-soo and Hwa-young are back together. Overhearing the gossip, Kang-hyun tamps down the urge to contradict them, dying to reveal that SHE is his girlfriend.
After Hyun-soo greets everyone, he sneaks off to find Kang-hyun. She pushes him into the bathroom to tell him that she hasn’t told Kyung-hwan about them yet, and hears that he hasn’t told Hwa-young, either. And then, they take advantage of their momentary privacy…
Side note: I’m actually gratified that this drama is letting its characters enjoy their makeout sessions, because in most dramas, The Kiss is often blown out of proportion to represent some huge, momentous occasion — it’s always got to be a symbol, or declaration of love. Or, in the opposite instance, between adulterous couples. But you know, sometimes it’s just plain fun. And with two good-looking, single young professionals dating, why not let them have their fun?
Kang-hyun and Hyun-soo keep their distance, partly on purpose to avoid raising suspicions and partly because they don’t get the chance to be together — he’s seated by Sung-ho, and she finds herself with Kyung-hwan.
Still, when everyone comments on Kang-hyun (and Kyung-hwan’s) poor cooking, Hyun-soo defends it, earning a smile from her.
Both firms combine for some post-meal games, and Kang-hyun puts her matchmaking skill to work for Sung-ho. She prods Hye-sun into his company, and a general fun time is had by all.
Hwa-young, watching from her room upstairs, looks down on Kang-hyun acting chummy with Hyun-soo, and picks up on their vibe. I think she knows something!
Hwa-young joins the group for dinner and is paired off with Hyun-soo, leaving Kang-hyun at the far end of the table again, sitting near Kyung-hwan. She and Hyun-soo manage to trade secret smiles every now and again, but when she sees him being particularly attentive toward his ex-wife, she feels left out and forlorn. She turns her attention to Kyung-hwan instead, and out of habit, she looks after him as he eats (handing him a drink, filling his plate). It’s one of those gestures born of familiarity, but naturally this is when Hyun-soo looks up and watches with a hint of… pensiveness?
After dinner, Hyun-soo has a moment with Hwa-young and starts to tell her about his relationship… but I actually think Hwa-young senses it and purposely interrupts. (It’s not obvious that she knows, but in my opinion, she’s manipulating the scene under the cloak of feigned ignorance.) She tells him she’s in a great mood after having been so worried about her mother, and walks off without giving him a chance to speak.
Sung-ho (along with everyone else) decides that Hyun-soo and Hwa-young should get back together, so he prods them to open up the karaoke session after dinner. Both stand there uncomfortably while the music plays, missing their cue, until Hwa-young starts singing. Although singing together doesn’t necessarily mean anything, this type of ballad isn’t exactly the sort of thing you want to sing to your ex while your girlfriend watches, so Hyun-soo remains frozen, not wanting to sing. Kang-hyun catches his eye and gives him an “it’s okay, go ahead” nod, and, feeling relieved, he starts to sing.
It’s not like Kang-hyun believes Hyun-soo’s in love with his ex, but this isn’t something she loves watching, so she slips outside. Kyung-hwan, whose girlfriend has finally returned his call, is not having a happy conversation with her. Finally he bursts out, “Fine, then let’s break up!”
Kang-hyun asks if he’s really breaking up, and he glares, saying, “Yeah, thanks to you! Happy?”
When they return to karaoke, Drunk Sung-ho is doing a terrible job keeping the party atmosphere going. He forces Kyung-hwan and Kang-hyun to sing and bring up the mood, which they do, engaging everyone into joining them. (Hyun-soo doesn’t seem jealous by her interactions with Kyung-hwan, instead smiling along as he watches her sing.)
Time for the next step in the Sung-ho Matchmaking Plan: the Truth Game. In a hilarious maneuver, Kang-hyun spins a bottle on the ground, which lands on Sung-ho with a bit of cheating, then asks what made him fall in love with Hye-sun.
He names her attributes, citing her beauty, intelligence, skills, etc. Hye-sun isn’t impressed, rolling her eyes at his flattery, but it’s a pleased type of eye-rolling. Like the kind of “Oh, stop it” a girl says when she really means, “Keep going. Did I tell you to stop? Oh, right, I did. Well, you should know when I don’t mean it!”
Sung-ho teases Hwa-young about being a difficult princess, then turns to Kang-hyun and tells her, “You’d be a great girlfriend, but you’re lousy wife material.” She balks, asking why, and he concedes, “You’re pretty and stylish and a lot of fun. You’re good to date. But you’d be tiring to marry — it wouldn’t last long.”
Kyung-hwan bursts out laughing: “He’s right!” This sours her mood, until she receives a text message from Hyun-soo (he’s sitting nearby, but not with her). It reads, “You’re a good woman to date and to marry.”
The game continues and people get drunker — with Sung-ho faking his drunkenness, per Kang-hyun’s instructions. When Hye-sun leaves the room, Sung-ho stumbles out after her, leaning on her and falling to the ground. In exasperation, Hye-sun helps him to his room — and Kang-hyun sneaks after them to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their doorknob.
When she returns to the group, a drunk Hwa-young is slurring out her “truth” admission. When asked how they met, Hyun-soo confirms that they were initially set up by Sung-ho. But Hwa-young contradicts him, saying that their marriage was actually a love match for her. She’d seen him in her (judge) father’s photo album of law students. She’d then asked her father and Sung-ho to set her up with him.
Hearing Hwa-young talk as though she still loves Hyun-soo makes Kang-hyun feel even worse — and Kyung-hwan, who’s been clocking her reactions all night, notices.
Hwa-young stumbles along to her room, but she’s too drunk to walk, so Hyun-soo carries her. Kang-hyun watches them walking down the hallway, and when she returns to the group, everyone’s commenting on how romantic the couple is, how perfect they are for each other.
Fed up and unable to keep it a secret any longer, Kang-hyun announces that she has something to reveal. (Nobody cares.) It’s about her love life — she’s dating someone. (Nobody cares.) It’s somebody they all know. (They perk up.)
Just then, Kyung-hwan comes back to the room from the bathroom, and they guess that he must be her boyfriend. Everyone applauds the couple as a good match.
Frustrated, Kang-hyun bursts out, “No! That’s not what I was going to say!”
Hwa-young tells Hyun-soo she’d intended to confess the story of their first meeting when they’d both turned old and gray, but now that she’s gotten it off her chest, she feels better. Unable to keep quiet anymore, Hyun-soo says, “Hwa-young, I know this must be hard on you, but I have to tell you. I can’t keep it a secret any longer.”
He collects his thoughts, preparing to reveal the truth… and the phone rings. (Curses be!) It’s Hwa-young’s father, which can only mean bad news.
Now that Kang-hyun has told everyone about her relationship, Kyung-hwan asks why she didn’t tell him earlier. He warns her again, pointing out how Hyun-soo looked after Hwa-young as she drank, and how they disappeared after the Truth Game.
Frustrated at Kang-hyun’s loyalty to Hyun-soo, he asks why she’s so blind to the truth — can’t she understand what’s going on? “You’re totally being used by that divorced guy, you idiot!”
Kang-hyun turns away in disgust, but just as she does, Hyun-soo rushes out with Hwa-young.
We know that he is probably comforting Hwa-young, who’s probably received bad news about her mother — but this looks really bad to Kang-hyun, who’s already feeling emotionally bruised and battered.
Hyun-soo knows this looks bad, too, and he freezes with a surprised (almost guilty?) look on his face.
Kang-hyun fights tears. Kyung-hwan, bothered to see Kang-hyun’s hurt expression, makes his move —
Things. Just. Got. Good.
You may have a different interpretation, but I think Kyung-hwan actually acted for Kang-hyun’s benefit at the end. Perhaps it was misguided, but he saw how hurt she was and what a vulnerable position this puts her in, and did the only thing he could think of to salvage her pride. It’s similar to how he allowed everyone to think she’d dumped him. I honestly don’t see him as a bad guy, just immature, and he doesn’t like seeing someone else taking advantage of her. And before I give him too much credit for having a generous spirit, I also think he’s motivated by guilt — since he hurt her enough, he wants to do what he can to mitigate her future hurt.
I love how things are getting tangled. A lot of things that happen are fairly expected — like how I’m sure we all knew it was going to take all episode long for people to find out about Kang-hyun and Hyun-soo — but there are enough little twists to keep the plot interesting as we get to that point.
Also, for the first time in a while, I think I really buy the secondary relationship dynamics. It’s hard to draw up convincing secondary romantic lovelines in a romantic drama because the emphasis is usually so heavily focused on getting the main couple together that the other complications are merely that — complications. Obstacles, yes, but not serious threats.
This doesn’t mean I think Hyun-soo and Hwa-young have a shot, or Kang-hyun with Kyung-hwan. I just mean that for once I can believe the feelings driving all the legs of the relationship square. I doubt Hyun-soo and Kang-hyun’s feelings for each other will be seriously challenged, but I really buy their exes’ desire to win them back. As a point of comparison, there are only a few strong secondary pairings I can think of in the dramas I’ve seen, such as Hyun Bin and Jung Ryeo-won in Samsoon (although I didn’t buy Kim Sun-ah’s ex wanting her back), and the foursome of Que Sera Sera.