A Star’s Lover: Episode 6
Mari is starting to grow on me. I was prepared to merely put up with her (didn’t love her, didn’t hate her), but I actually liked her in this episode. Choi Ji-woo still kinda pushes the cute factor too hard sometimes, but while I usually find it annoying, I thought she was actually cute in this episode.
SONG OF THE DAY
My Aunt Mary – “Hey.” Finally, a new My Aunt Mary album! [ Download ]
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Mari and Chul-soo huddle outside Chul-soo’s rooftop apartment, hiding from Byung-joon until the latter gives up and goes away. Mari takes advantage of Chul-soo’s distraction and darts inside his place before he can prevent her, where she looks around freely. Chul-soo protests at first, then gives in resignedly.
She brings up the coaching sessions again: “I wouldn’t make this kind of request to just anyone, because I don’t trust just anyone.” In fact, she doesn’t like showing her vulnerabilities even to her management, who never support her weaknesses anyway. She’s faked her way through her career before (following her managers’ instructions), but she can’t fake her way through this scenario. She has three days left and she’s only halfway through one book.
Chul-soo picks out two more (in addition to Pride & Prejudice, he selects Emma and Sense & Sensibility) and tells her to come back when she’s read them all. Mari accuses him of using this as an excuse to get rid of her, and Chul-soo is fine telling her that’s true. Thinking his conditions unreasonable, Mari gets upset, tells him to forget it, and storms out.
Ha-young stumbles home in a drunken stupor, frustrated over losing Mari. Woo-jin had always backed him even though their upper-class family opposed the match, so when Woo-jin tells him coolly to give up, Ha-young asks, “So you’re not on my side either?” And then, suspicious: “Are you interested in her, too?”
Maybe Ha-young really believes it when he tells Woo-jin not to pursue Mari because he’ll end up humiliated, but it seems to me that he’s mostly threatened. When Ha-young says, “Mari is going to be tough,” Woo-jin ignores the warning: “Want to make a bet?” He assures Ha-young that he’ll succeed in putting a ring on Mari’s finger.
Meanwhile, Mari returns shortly after leaving Chul-soo’s apartment in a huff. When Chul-soo opens his door, she pushes her way inside before he can stop her: “This is the only place I could think to read.” Alarmed, Chul-soo shoves Mari out the door, locking it firmly.
It isn’t long before he starts feeling guilty, though. Going outside and seeing nobody, he figures (with a little disappointment) that she must have left… until he finds her shivering around the corner.
Looking pathetic (on purpose, I think), she tells him she can’t go home — that’s where Tae-seok and the rest of Team Mari are waiting. She can’t go to a hotel for fear of gossip. She exaggerates her shivers to maximize pity points, and Chul-soo is no match for her: He lets her in.
He only intends to let her stay for a few hours, but Mari has different ideas. She beelines for his bedroom to bury herself under his bedcovers, and helps herself to his clothing to make herself comfortable. (He has to rein in the scolding he would dearly love to deliver because, as Mari reminds him, his family lives downstairs.)
When his aunts call him down for some snacks, Chul-soo lies (badly) that the noise upstairs is from a study buddy. One lie leads to another and another, making Chul-soo behave extremely oddly; his aunts look at him curiously when he insists they shouldn’t come upstairs for any reason.
Chul-soo only starts to loosen up when he starts talking about the reading. Mari finds his comments on the novels useful, and jots down notes. Warming to the topic, Chul-soo unthinkingly falls into the role of enthusiastic coach until he catches himself, and Mari bursts out laughing at his chagrin.
Soon she’s immersed in the novel, while Chul-soo tries — but fails — to focus on work. Asked how long she intends to stay, Mari answers, “Until I’m done reading.” Chul-soo’s eyes bug out: “Do you mean to sleep here?” Unbothered, Mari suggests he pretend they’re acting to make it more palatable — they can be a poor newlywed couple.
Chul-soo can’t take this (repressed sexual tension) anymore. He grabs the bedding and tells her to go outside. Mari protests — it’s cold! Grumbling, Chul-soo heads for the living room instead, but Mari exercises her upper hand: mischievously, she calls out, “If you don’t come back inside, I’m going to yell!”
Across town, Yuri is on the hunt to find her mother. Though she works off a list of hotel performance locations, the task is made more difficult because the woman who is performing is using a different name. Yuri may not remember her mother’s face, but she knows she’s found the right person when she sees a particular woman performing at one of the clubs on the list.
Yuri waits for the singer after the performance. When she approaches, her eyes are brimming with tears and her voice is emotional, but she merely says that she liked her music. The singer gives Yuri a searching look, and it seems as though she may sense who this is.
Still battling his anxiety, Chul-soo can’t fall asleep with Mari in the room, so he sits at his desk to resume work. When he looks over at 3 am, she’s finally asleep, and he turns out the lights and tucks her in.
As he did in Episode 1, Chul-soo hovers over Mari for a lingering second, gazing down at her while she sleeps.
There’s a new addition to Team Mari: Tae-seok’s younger sister, Ye-rin. Her arrival takes Jang-soo by surprise, and he tries (unsuccessfully) to exert his seniority over the new manager until he realizes she’s related to the boss.
The team is sent into a panic when they discover that Mari has disappeared. Not only is she not responding to calls, she isn’t at home. The big concern (and worst-case scenario) is if Mari were to decide that the show is such a lost cause that she it’s not worth showing up.
In the morning, Chul-soo awakens in an empty room (again, disappointment mixing in with relief) and figures Mari has gone — only to run into her outside. When he steps out on an errand, Mari playfully waves him off — just in time for Chul-soo’s aunts to catch a glimpse of the woman on Chul-soo’s rooftop (she’s hooded, so they don’t see her face).
That sends them into a frenzy, wanting to believe it’s Eun-young but afraid of finding out it isn’t. They debate their options: Do nothing? Barge in?
Seething over his disappeared star, Tae-seok heads toward Chul-soo’s neighborhood, where Jang-soo finds Chul-soo and brings him to Tae-seok for a conversation that is worded politely but laced with undercurrents of menace.
Tae-seok thanks Chul-soo for his book and the positive effect it has had on Mari’s image, then bluffs (throwing his power around) that they’re very happy these days thanks to Chul-soo’s work. However, this is one lie Chul-soo can see through, knowing that the book’s success has NOT made Mari happy.
Tae-seok hands over an envelope to express his “thanks,” and the meaning of the payoff is clear: Chul-soo asks, “Is this a threat?” Tae-seok: “Think of it as a warning.” Un-cowed, Chul-soo responds, “Is that so? Well, I won’t take your warning,” crumples the envelope, and gives it back.
Chul-soo steps out of the car, but Tae-seok tosses the envelope out the window and drives away.
When Chul-soo comes home, his mood has changed — where it was previously reluctant, now it is genuinely dark. He thrusts the envelope at Mari and tells her, voice dripping with disdain, to leave immediately: “I should never have gotten involved in this.” He accuses her of being just like Tae-seok, using people for their own purposes. Hurt, Mari stands up for herself quietly, and then with increasing passion:
Mari: “Why do you always yell at me? If your pride was injured, you should yell at the one who did the damage. Why do you take it out on me? Did I shove the money envelope at you? What’s your problem with me? Ah, you wanted to run away like a coward, and I asked you for help, is that it? Running away is a hobby of yours, you said. Your girlfriend was better off than you so you ran away. You wanted to write novels but it seemed hard so you ran away. This time, you say you have no responsibility for the words you wrote, and that’s that. Fine, run away. This time I’ll step aside first.”
But this time, he grabs her arm. Quietly, he answers, “You’re right. I took it out on the wrong person. I’m sorry.”
Downstairs, the aunts wrestle with their suspicions. Middle Aunt wants to leave well enough alone, but Youngest Aunt suggests barging in on Chul-soo. Barging in wins, and they would have done so but for the arrival of Byung-joon. In order to get rid of him, they tempt him away to the sauna with promises of food, pretending to worry over his health.
As she has been reading nonstop, Mari soon finishes all three books. (Chul-soo, amazed at her progress, moves to pat her on the head, then awkwardly pats her back instead.) Mari’s proud of herself for finishing, but Chul-soo corrects her: “This is just the start.” Now comes the real work — practicing questions and responses.
Eun-young calls from Japan, and the phone conversation is mostly one-sided as Chul-soo keeps his replies monosyllabic, uncomfortable with Mari in the room. When Eun-young asks if he was sad that she couldn’t come to spend Christmas with him (this episode aired on Christmas), he reminds her that he doesn’t really care for Christmas. After the call ends, Mari wonders why — doesn’t he have any good Christmas memories?
Chul-soo: “I only remember reading stories to my sister.” He asks Mari the same question, and she answers brightly that when she lived with her grandmother, she had lots of visitors and presents.
Mari suggests, “Do you want to spend tomorrow with me?” As if to justify it, she adds that they can spend it “without much meaning.”
Study time. Discussing the marriage focus of Pride & Prejudice, Chul-soo asks what she thinks is most important about marriage. Mari answers that money is important — having it allows for comfortable living, and helps avoid strife. (Perhaps misinterpreting his bemused look, she assures him, “But I have a lot of money, so the man doesn’t need much,” as though assuring him he need not worry about being poor.)
Chul-soo takes a more traditional view — “The other person is what’s important” — and Mari writes it down eagerly. He asks why she’s stealing his answer; she thinks it’s the more pleasing response.
Hours of coaching later, Mari comes in from a break to find Chul-soo slumped over in sleep. She tries to make him more comfortable on the floor, and he rolls over, trapping her. (SO TYPICAL — but yet, we fall for it, don’t we?)
What happens next is equally predictable, but I admit to finding it amusing anyway. Byung-joon, miffed at having been locked out of Chul-soo’s place, sneaks in with his own key in the morning. Seeing the couple asleep on the floor together, Byung-joon can barely contain his reaction.
Immediately, he fumbles for a camera, snaps a few photos, then sneaks back out.
Chul-soo awakens shortly thereafter, startled to find himself lying next to Mari. After the surprise wears off, he looks down at the sleeping Mari with a little smile.
It’s talk show day, and the management team arrives at the studio in a nervous fit, hoping Mari will show up but preparing themselves for grim defeat. Just as Tae-seok is about to announce that Mari must cancel, she blithely announces her arrival.
Relieved but annoyed, Tae-seok hands her the prepared questions to memorize, but Mari pushes them aside: “Rather than automatically memorizing things people have written for me, I think it’ll be more fun from now on saying what I want to say.”
The talk show is a smashing success, helped greatly by the fact that for once Mari actually knows what she’s talking about. When asked about her thoughts on marriage, she uses Chul-soo’s answer — that the other person is the most important factor — and refers to P&P to illustrate her point.
Because this is a kdrama, the audience members praise her insights, and everyone looks suitably impressed at Mari’s brilliant thoughts. Let’s assume that her answers are as riveting as everyone finds them (when really, they’re the stuff of basic high school English classes) — because if we were to treat this realistically, we would just be crushed by the weight of our suspended disbelief when it came crashing back down on us.
Afterward, Mari pretends to join her team in the green room to lull them into a false sense of security, then runs off at the last minute gleefully. Thus when Woo-jin drops by the green room with a gift, it’s empty.
(I admit, I uttered an involuntary “Aww” when I saw that the box contained a jumble of Christmas ornaments — and not new, prettily wrapped ones, but things that look plucked off a tree.)
Chul-soo comes home to an empty apartment, a bit disappointed to find Mari gone and his borrowed clothes neatly folded. She calls him to tell him everything went well, and he’s happy for her.
Mari reminds him that (1) his month begins today, since he promised to cooperate if she read the books, and (2) he also agreed to spend a “meaningless Christmas” together. Mari’s on her way to pick him up.
Byung-joon arrives at work in a great mood, boasting about getting a scoop about his best friend dating Mari. Just as he’s pulling out his camera, his boss scoffs (thinking he’s making this up), “So now you’re selling out your friends too?” Those words hit home, and Byung-joon is assailed with regret — he can’t sell out his friend. Dejectedly, he withdraws the camera, apologizes, and curses his conscience.
But of course we saw this coming as well — Byung-joon’s boss finds his camera. Scoop!
On her way to picking up Chul-soo, Mari glances into a storefront at a Christmas tree, which brings to mind the story she told Chul-soo about her fun childhood Christmases. Clearly she had lied.
In the same flashback that Woo-jin had in Episode 5, Mari thinks back to how her grandmother forced her to give her only present to another girl who was crying because she didn’t get one. She’d told Mari, “Things that are pretty on the outside are useless. What’s important is your heart.” A worthy life lesson, to be sure, but probably not comforting to an orphaned and now-giftless child.
Chul-soo has a flashback of his own while he waits, remembering how his mother had slipped away on Christmas Eve to party, leaving the kids alone. Upset, Chul-soo had reached for a book to read aloud while Yuri slept — he was reading to soothe his own spirit, not hers, since books had always been Chul-soo’s refuge.
Chul-soo and Mari buy a cake and head to Mari’s place, where Chul-soo looks a bit stupefied at all the grandeur.
Mari insists this is going to be a meaningless Christmas, but she’s obviously very happy — excited, even — as she sets about unpacking food and wine for their little party.
As we may have expected, Eun-young interrupts the budding festivities by calling again — only this time she’s in Korea. She’s come to surprise Chul-soo! In fact, she’s in a taxi on her way to his apartment as they speak. Chul-soo lacks enthusiasm when tells Eun-young he’ll be right over, but he never hesitates that that’s the right thing to do.
Listening to his end of the conversation, Mari’s excitement fades as she guesses what’s going on. Her expression hardening, mood soured, Mari pauses in her unpacking of the snacks. Chul-soo tells her, “I have to go. I’m sorry.”
Meanwhile, Woo-jin takes his box of old ornaments and heads over to a posh building — we don’t know where, but I have a guess. (Oh, all right. We all have a guess. And because there are no surprises in this episode, we are all — very probably — right.)
As Chul-soo turns to leave, Mari grabs his arm: “Is it okay if you don’t go? I’m asking you not to leave.” At his silence, Mari covers up her disappointment and fumbles for excuses, chiding him for etiquette — his pre-existing plans should take precedence.
Chul-soo tells her to call over some other friends instead, but Mari’s got no one to call — not aside from her managers or employees. Her friends all have people they’d rather be with, like family, friends, or lovers: “Good for you, since you have family, friends, and a girlfriend.”
Chul-soo doesn’t respond, so Mari gives up, telling him in annoyance, “Fine, go.” Feeling bad, he offers to do their party tomorrow, but she tells him not to bother.
He turns to leave, then stops: “Don’t stay here alone. Call somebody over, so I don’t feel bad.” Mari has a better idea: “Or, you could come back quickly.” Chul-soo: “I don’t mean me!” Mari: “If it’s not you, I don’t want anyone.”
This gives him pause, and he asks what she means. Mari tells him to think about it, so he asks again, more annoyed, “What are you saying?”
Mari bursts out, “It means I like you! What do you think it means?!”
Funny enough, I thought Episode 6 was entirely predictable, but I did enjoy it. Just goes to show that well-executed dramas can make up for lack of originality, I suppose?
Regarding the first half, where Mari makes herself at home in Chul-soo’s apartment: It’s all very cute, but it gives me the feeling that Mari is playing house. She and Chul-soo have done well when they’re away from any burdens of society — or, as we might call it, reality. When she hides away at his place, she’s recreating a fantasy environment — not the same one they had in Asuka, but it’s a similar exercise.
Perhaps this “love in a vacuum” is a more pure ideal of love — you care for the other person regardless of other outside factors, just because of who the person is — but it’s not practical for all us mortals. Which is why this dynamic is destined to fail at the first intrusion of reality (for instance, Tae-seok’s meddling, or Eun-young’s sudden arrival).
Like Chul-soo said previously, they’re both unable to enter the other’s world comfortably: we’ve seen them fail in Mari’s sphere, and they’re probably going to fail in Chul-soo’s sphere. Clearly the answer is that they need to strike a balance, and create their own model for a successful relationship.
As for the coaching: At least Chul-soo refused to merely give answers to Mari. She tells Tae-seok she’d rather formulate her own responses than reciting what is handed to her, but in fact at the outset she had wanted just that from Chul-soo. She thought she was fighting for her independence but she was really just transferring her dependence from one male to another whom she liked better. Thankfully, Chul-soo doesn’t play that game and forces Mari to do her part; teach a man to fish, and such as.
By the way, I totally love the Woo-jin backstory — the childhood crush — but the grown-up Woo-jin isn’t really doing it for me. It seems like he’s doing everything the Typical Mari Suitor would do — he’s smooth, has a few practiced moves, and approaches courtship in the standard vein. Therefore, even if he could get Mari’s affections, I doubt he could retain them (even without Chul-soo in the picture), and would likely fall by the wayside like all her other discarded lovers.