You know, A Star’s Lover has this special ability, let’s call it a gift, or maybe a curse, of taking a very simple conflict and stretching it out, and out, and out… It’s not a total bummer because the episodes always end with an exciting turn of the plot. Then again, the middles of the episodes often get a little, shall we say, wearying.
It’s like it goes boring…boring…OOH! exciting!, then back to draggy… slow… INTERESTING! like some really messed-up game of Duck Duck Goose. Or sometimes Goose Duck Goose. It’s not all bad — but then again, not all good, either.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Soo-young -“너를 위하여” (For you) [ Download ]
EPISODE 10 RECAP
After Chul-soo grabs Mari in an embrace, they pull apart, and he asks why she came — doesn’t she know it’s dangerous for her to be seen here? Mari answers that she wanted to be with him, and that Tae-seok is managing the situation; he even promised to keep Chul-soo from being harmed. Chul-soo says she was foolish because going abroad was the safest for her, and wonders what Tae-seok’s terms were for helping her. He doesn’t trust the manager and knows she must have promised something to him in exchange.
In order to avoid admitting that the condition was to quit seeing Chul-soo, Mari deflects the question and says that she’s sure it’ll be fine — Tae-seok wouldn’t hurt her when that would hurt him, too.
Chul-soo’s aunts alert them to the latest Mari news: she’s supposedly been hospitalized because of extreme stress, which is a result of the scandal. Speaking of which, the fake ghostwriter gives an impassioned press conference (presenting background materials for Lovers in Asuka as “proof” of his authenticity), explaining that he couldn’t stand seeing a smug actress take credit for his work.
The aunts ask how Mari and Chul-soo know each other, and when the explanation that they’re “friends” who met through “work” doesn’t satisfy them, Chul-soo admits that the work in question was the ghostwriting job.
However, we soon discover that the fake ghostwriter is all a part of Tae-seok’s master strategy for extricating Mari from trouble. Nobody else knows about the plan aside from Tae-seok and Mari (and now, Chul-soo). The rest of Team Mari, particularly Jang-soo, are confounded at how the stranger can know so much of the truth and yet be fake.
Tae-seok’s mood darkens upon receiving word that Mari didn’t leave the country as planned, but tells his source to leave things be for the moment.
Mari and Chul-soo start arguing as she explains that the fake ghostwriter (and his abuse of Mari’s character) is being used to stir up sympathy for her. She’s doesn’t like this course of action either but doesn’t have a better solution (other than ruining her career and admitting the truth), while Chul-soo points out that she has essentially given up control over her own life by submitting to Tae-seok.
Mari says (naively?) that this is Tae-seok’s specialty: “He wouldn’t ruin me. Why would he, when I’m his product?” Chul-soo hates to hear her referring to herself as a product, and she fires back, “I hate it too! That’s why I wanted to try handling it on my own, but that’s how things ended up like this!”
Mari had thought Chul-soo was going to stay by her side no matter what. He says that he is, but: “This is the kind of person I am. I’m not good with consoling, and I can’t say that something wrong is right. Why did you come to me?” Mari shouts back, crying, “Because I like you! Because I want to be with you.”
An aunt breaks up the fight and brings Mari downstairs to rest for the night (shooting Chul-soo an admonishing look for making a woman cry).
The younger two aunts have been doing their best to contain their curiosity, but as they settle down for the night, the youngest aunt can’t hold back. She asks, “Did you really date Yoon Ji-ho?” Mari whispers back no, but he’d been dating another celebrity — which prompts the Middle Aunt to pop up and exclaim, “Really?” Mari shares more gossip about the complicated celebrity love rectangle: the guy had dated someone else, who had already been dating someone else… and so on.
Eldest Aunt breaks up the gossip with an irritated yell. They shut up, until she says, “Talk louder!”
Giving up any pretense of sleeping, the ladies get back up and bond over a card game.
Later that night, Mari gets a call from Tae-seok, who asks (with fake innocence) if she’d arrived safely in Japan. Mari admits that she didn’t leave, and Tae-seok thanks her for telling the truth. If she’d run away, “I was going to seek out Kim Chul-soo at his school.”
Mari intends to return in a few days, and Tae-seok magnanimously gives her that time, since it’s the last time she’ll be seeing Chul-soo.
Woo-jin then calls Tae-seok to confirm his suspicion that Chul-soo is Mari’s ghostwriter. He promises not to leak anything; he just wants to know for personal reasons.
In the morning, Mari has bonded with the women, calling them “unnis” (sisters) because they supposedly look too young for her to call aunts. (Technically she should call them aunts instead of unnis, because unni suggests they’re on the same generational level. Since she’s part of Chul-soo’s generation, calling them unnis mixes up the terminology, but she does this out of pure flattery, and they love it.)
Byung-joon (The Idiot) calls Chul-soo to share the latest twist in the Mari Scandal — the ghostwriter was proven to be a fake! He’d stolen the materials and made the whole thing up. As a result, Mari’s hospitalization further arouses public sympathy, since she was vilified for a “false” scandal. Reporters even worry that they’ll be sued for libel — although Tae-seok announces that (at Mari’s request), they will not sue.
Looking online, Mari and Chul-soo find that the tenor of netizen commenting has changed; now, they express sentiments like “I feel sorry for her” and “It’s so easy to ruin a person.” Chul-soo is still uneasy about taking the wrong path out, to which Mari points out that nobody got hurt. But that’s not his point, and he says in frustration, “I just wish you could say that you did something wrong.”
Mari defends herself — she’s not the only one who would be hurt, because everyone around her, including Chul-soo, would be affected. Chul-soo: “When you want to be cowardly, don’t use others as an excuse.” He concedes that they’ll probably never agree on this; Mari’s forced to agree.
When Chul-soo hears that Mari promised Tae-seok to stop seeing him, he guesses that she must have come to him in a farewell visit. Growing upset, he demands: “If everything’s all decided, why is my opinion important?” He doesn’t want to hear her say she came because she missed him, and he doesn’t want to participate in last farewells. He says, “Let’s end this now,” and storms out.
Eun-young visits Yuri and offers to take her laundry home, mostly as an excuse to see Chul-soo. As she leaves, Yuri’s mother arrives, noticing Eun-young’s classy demeanor and clothes, and asks what kind of family the girl is from. (I suspect she sees her as a mark for money, since a phone call proves that Mom owes money to a lender who’s pressing for payback.)
Thus Mari is home when Eun-young arrives (after Chul-soo has left for the morning); the aunts try to hide her from Eun-young’s view, but they aren’t quick enough. The aunts try to mitigate the situation, explaining that Mari spent the night in the aunts’ room and that Chul-soo wanted her to leave, but the situation is uncomfortable.
Eun-young shows some uncharacteristic temper, growing angry at Mari’s calm attitude, accusing her of not realizing the severity of the situation — why is she here? Is she that thoughtless? What if she’s seen? Mari answers, “I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go.”
Eun-young bites out, “You’re really a bad person. Selfish, self-centered. You’ve got everything, but did you come to play the spoiled brat because it’s difficult having so much?” Forcing herself to calm a bit, Eun-young pleads, “Please, don’t stay with him. You being with him makes me so afraid for him. I feel like something really bad is going to happen to him.”
Mari answers, “I know. Because I like him too, I don’t want anything bad to happen to him, either.”
The awkwardness of the meeting serves as a reality check; the aunts sit Mari down and say, though in a kindly tone, that they can’t continue to house her — they’re afraid of Chul-soo coming to harm, for one, and also feel too sorry to Eun-young.
Mari answers that she was thinking she’d to leave soon anyway. She only wants to stick around until Chul-soo returns, so they can leave things on a good note. Mari admits honestly that she likes Chul-soo, but that it’s one-sided. “All along, it was just me. Chul-soo is a proud man. When he comes, I’ll see him and leave.”
Chul-soo goes to see Woo-jin at the latter’s request. Woo-jin greets him in a pleasant tone, complimenting him on the book — he likes it so much he’d like to talk about it with him sometime — but it’s merely superficial cordiality. Woo-jin suggests (in a way that is more of a statement than a suggestion), “How do you feel about breaking up with Mari?” After all, he says, they are bound to break up anyway, and Mari belongs as a star.
Offended, Chul-soo answers stiffly, “I don’t know why I have to hear this from you.” Woo-jin admits that he doesn’t hold much sway over Mari, and hints that Chul-soo should persuade Mari to return to her place.
Chul-soo answers curtly that Woo-jin ought to deal with Mari himself; he doesn’t want to hear about someone else’s releationship. He gets up to leave, but stops when Woo-jin says, surprising him: “I first saw her in the orphanage.”
He recalls how cold and distant the young Mari had been: “That’s why I think she needed love. She hasn’t had friends or family all this time. She’s come this far, clinging to the love of the public. Can you imagine how much she has to abandon to be with you?”
Chul-soo disagrees: “The Mari I know isn’t that weak. She’s strong. She’s an honest and warm woman. Of course, she has her baffling and odd ways too, but she’s courageous about her feelings.” Chul-soo leaves.
With reporters swarming the hospital where Mari is supposedly staying, she agrees with Tae-seok to return to resume the charade. All that’s left is her last goodbye with Chul-soo.
This time, they don’t argue, since this’ll be their last conversation. Chul-soo asks about her reading — she’s given up The Brothers Karamazov because it’s too hard. But she’s not giving up; she still intends to read all the books, and try that one last. In a rueful tone, she suggests, “When we meet next, let’s talk about books.”
With departure imminent, Mari asks if Chul-soo has any last words. Does he think she should just admit the truth? This time, Chul-soo answers in an understanding tone:
Chul-soo: “Don’t. Do as you want. Do what’ll make you happy. That’s what I want.”
Mari: “Those are the words I wanted to hear, but they don’t make me happy.”
With that, Mari returns to the hospital to join Tae-seok, who has orchestrated the next phase. He tells Mari that if she just plays her part and “cries pretty,” he’ll take care of the rest and return everything to how they used to be.
Mari is put to bed, hooked up to an IV, and the reporters are admitted to see her.
Immediately they swarm around her, and Mari fulfills her role beautifully by looking damaged and vulnerable. Tae-seok plays the role of the outraged, righteous manager to the hilt, railing at the media for reducing an innocent woman to such a state. He rants that there had better be no more mention of the ghostwriting, because he will not take any further scandal lightly.
Mari is given a chance to say a few words, and she starts out on message… but somewhere along the line, she recalls her last words with Chul-soo, and how he told her to do what will make her happy.
With tears streaming down her face, Mari says, “Lovers in Asuka… was not something I wrote. The ghostwriting claims are true.”
The reporters are thrown into greater frenzy, crowding around the bed until they are shoved back by members of the management team. Mari glares resentfully at a stunned Tae-seok, who shoots daggers back at her.
Soon, the crowds are pushed out of the room. Tae-seok storms out, and Mari is left to her own misery.
Chul-soo, who has seen the coverage on TV, immediately leaves home to race to the hospital. Unfortunately, on his way in, he’s spotted by both Tae-seok and Byung-joon. Enraged at Mari’s actions, Tae-seok makes good on his promise to ruin her and seizes the media spotlight. When they ask who the ghostwriter is, Tae-seok reminds them of the popcorn-box-wearing man in Japan, and outs him as the true writer. And because Byung-joon is the biggest idiot to ever walk this earth, he blurts out that he just saw Chul-soo racing across the lobby.
Chul-soo remains oblivious to this attention, running past them to find Mari alone in her room.
She asks what he’s doing, and he asks the same. In a mostly silent scene, he holds her hand as they look at each other for a prolonged, meaningful beat…
…which is, naturally, when Tae-seok leads the mob right to them, pointing at Chul-soo and announcing, “Everyone, I introduce you to the Box Head Man!”
With the press clamoring all around them, Chul-soo and Mari remain fixated at each other while family and friends watch in stunned disbelief on TV — Yuri, her mother, Woo-jin, and Eun-young.
Chul-soo, still holding Mari’s hand, ignores the shouting reporters and leads Mari out of the room.
The drama, if anything, ends every episode very well. They aren’t quite what I’d call cliffhanger endings, but there’s enough of a plot twist to keep us interested in how they’ll continue in the following episode.
What gets a little frustrating, though, is that we’re seeing some repeated beats in all the cliffhangers. Basically, we spend all episode discussing why Chul-soo and Mari can’t/shouldn’t/won’t be together, and then at the end, voila! One of them takes a step toward the other. Yay, right?
On the plus side, each time they are pulled apart, we’re given a different reason. So at least we’re not doing the on-again-off-again routine for exactly the same reason each time, which would not only get repetitive, but downright aggravating. There’s consolation in that each relationship step that is taken (whether forward or backward) is justified and generally makes logical sense.
On the downside, though, the end result is the same. We can’t be together! Oh yes we can! But no, it is not meant to be! But we must! No, no, no! Yes, yes, yes!
That said, I’m still curious to see how the couple weathers this next development, because thankfully, at least this time it’s done in the public eye, so any movements will have greater consequences. And THANK GOD that whole ghostwriting issue is out of the way. Or it had better be. Now we can move past that device and (hopefully) get to some more interesting conflicts.
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 9
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 8
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 7
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 6
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 5
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 4
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 3
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 2
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 1
- From the set of A Star’s Lover
- Seoul University opens its gates for A Star’s Lover
- A Star’s Lover press conference