I had a hard time getting through this episode (until the last third), even though I think it was one of the better ones. I think there’s an evenness to the pace, a sameness, that makes A Star’s Lover‘s subtlety feel slow at times.
It’s because the plot is kind of a foregone conclusion. While we may not know exactly what happens from here to the end, we all have a pretty good idea of its direction, and we haven’t been thrown any big twists.
So why tune in? This is a drama to watch for the acting of the leads and their chemistry, which is getting really good. I think Yoo Ji-tae and Choi Ji-woo are both pulling their weight nicely on this one. I don’t say that because the romance is heating up, but because I’m starting to actually believe their emotional connection. It also has a great soundtrack that fits the atmosphere to a tee.
SONG OF THE DAY
A Star’s Lover OST – “내겐 어려운 그 말” (Difficult words for me) by Hwayobi [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Tae-seok leads the reporters right to the hotel room, so Chul-soo takes Mari’s hand and they hurry out of the hospital, the reporters hot on their heels. As soon as they exit the front doors, Mari’s management team springs into action, holding the doors shut to keep the reporters stuck inside, allowing the couple to run down the street.
But a cadre of black-suited bodyguards run at them and pull the couple apart. Mari screams, “No! Stop!” as she’s dragged into a waiting car, inside which Tae-seok sits. He orders the car to drive off, ignoring Mari’s sobs to be let out. Chul-soo is held back and punched to the ground.
The reporters push their way out of the hospital and descend upon Chul-soo, who’s stuck in the center of the shouting and pushing. To help his friend, Byung-joon signals for Chul-soo to break free while holding the crowd back with a broom handle. Is he the idiot for thinking a skinny wooden stick will hold back a frenzied mob, or are they the idiots for proving him right? Did nobody think to, uh, walk around him?
Chul-soo runs down the street after the car, but isn’t able to catch up.
Tae-seok drags Mari to his office, where he tells her with his special brand of wild-eyed crazy that she’s really done it now. Mr. Angry Pointy Fingers accuses Mari of losing her mind, to which she pleads, “Yes, I have, so let me go.” Tae-seok shoves the signed contract in her face (which she signed in exchange for cutting ties with Chul-soo).
Tae-seok: “You thought what you did today would ruin you, didn’t you? You’re wrong. Do you know why I revealed Kim Chul-soo’s identity? To save you. Now you’re safe, and Kim Chul-soo is in danger instead. People will be curious not about you, but him — Lee Mari’s ghostwriter, Lee Mari’s lover!”
Fearing for Chul-soo, Mari cries out, “No! You can’t!” Tae-seok gets all shrill and overacty as he assures her of the doom he will mete out:
Tae-seok: “With the situation like this, do you think he can be with you?! Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to show you how Kim Chul-soo is destroyed.”
Tae-seok: “Watch me.”
Woo-jin, who has seen everything on TV, comes to whisk her away. Tae-seok looks pissed, but doesn’t interfere (for now).
Chul-soo rushes into the building, and as he gets on the elevator, Mari exits with Woo-jin, the two barely missing one another. Let me say that I HATE THIS PLOY. Absolutely abhor that missed-each-other-by-seconds-in-the-elevator bit.
Chul-soo asks Tae-seok where Mari is. Tae-seok answers that she left with Woo-jin, but warns him that this isn’t the time for him to be following her around.
Woo-jin tries to take Mari directly to an empty house of his (how nice to have those just lying around), because her own place will be staked out by reporters. He’s rather pushy when he ignores Mari’s requests to see Chul-soo first, but gives in when she tells him that if he won’t help her, she’ll get out of the car.
When she gets to Chul-soo’s, reporters are now also staking out his place. Mari calls Chul-soo just as he’s arriving home, and although both are within the vicinity of the crowd, nobody notices them yet.
Chul-soo tells her, now speaking entirely in the informal banmal, that he went looking for her at Tae-seok’s. Just then, a taxi pulls up containing Yuri, her mother, and Eun-young. Alerted to his presence, the reporters mob them, and Chul-soo ushers the three women inside. Eun-young spots Mari and shoots her a death glare, while Chul-soo remains outside and resumes his phone conversation, looking at Mari all the while.
He doesn’t use Mari’s name, but the reporters soon spot her and rush to her car. Chul-soo tells her to go quickly, and that he’ll call her later. Reluctantly, Mari gets back in the car, and Woo-jin drives off to his place, where Seung-yeon (her hair and makeup director) is waiting with Mari’s belongings.
Eun-young is upset with Chul-soo for throwing everything into chaos: “Couldn’t you think about the future even a little before acting?” Her parents and acquaintances were all shocked to hear this news, and she feels like she’s been made into a fool. He behaved really badly, she says bitterly: “I don’t think I can forgive you.”
Woman, it’s not like you were married. Or engaged. Or even dating very long. (They used to be serious, sure, but they’ve only been back together a short while after a very long separation.) I can understand her hurt, but she’s a little self-righteousness.
Feeling ill and burning with fever, Mari is put to bed. Expecting Chul-soo’s call, she even falls asleep clutching her phone, which Woo-jin sets aside just as it does ring.
Woo-jin answers the call and tells Chul-soo that Mari is at his place because her home wasn’t a viable option. She’s asleep now, so Chul-soo will have to leave a message.
With Yuri installed back at home, her aunts once more clash with her mother. They begin to argue again, but Eldest Aunt steps in, and because she’s always the grumpiest of the three, her response is surprising.
She calls Yuri’s mother selfish, saying, “You’re going to regret leaving them and not seeing them grow up.” However, perhaps recognizing that this is Mom’s punishment to bear, the aunt adds, “Come to see Yuri sometimes.” She won’t stop her.
Chul-soo goes to Woo-jin’s spare house. We can assume that Woo-jin gave him the address, but he isn’t happy to see Chul-soo and tells him to go back home. Mari’s in no condition to see him, and has been through a lot today. Furthermore, Chul-soo can’t do anything for her.
Chul-soo: “You’re right, I’m not able to save anyone. In fact, Mari’s the one who probably saved me. So I have no power to choose. If Mari asks me not to go, I won’t go. When she says she doesn’t need me, I’ll leave then. The one who decides is Mari, it’s not me. Obviously, it’s not you either.”
Woo-jin says reluctantly that Mari had wanted him to come, so he’s going to allow it just this once.
Chul-soo doesn’t wake Mari up, but stays by her bedside for a while.
On his way out, Woo-jin tells Chul-soo that up until now, he’d been doing his best to respect Mari’s wishes completely, but won’t after today. Great, just what we need, a man respecting a woman less in an attempt to win her over. Oh mens, sometimes you can be so dumbs.
Calmer now that he’s seen Mari, Chul-soo just thanks Woo-jin and promises to return later.
As for this fool… You know what? It’s not even Byung-joon The Idiot anymore. He’s just The Idiot. He has lost the respect required to carry a name.
For example: Torn between his loyalty and his job, The Idiot struggles with the story. His editor wants everything on Chul-soo — favorite foods, height, former girlfriend — and The Idiot feels bad. For a second, you even respect him, because he complains, “Do I have to sell my conscience for this story?”
But then his idiocy kicks in, and he lets himself be carried away: “Even so, Chul-soo’s girlfriend is afraid Mari will fall for him and is in a lot of turmoil right now! Do I have to add injury to that? To ease her doubts, I even told Eun-young that things between Chul-soo and Mari would work themselves out, that they’d never last past their first 100 days, and that she shouldn’t worry! That’s what I told her!”
So now the editor knows Chul-soo has a girlfriend, and that her name is Eun-young. Bravo, Idiot. Bravo.
The Jang-soo plot has been relatively undeveloped, but it looks like they’re going to start taking it somewhere, so briefly, here’s the deal thus far: Jang-soo is busy prepping to embark on his acting career. He clashes a lot with Ye-rin, who’s been assigned to handle him. Jang-soo is hot-headed and acts on his gut instinct, while Ye-rin is cool and manipulative. Their personality differences are partly why they bicker so much, but it’s also because Jang-soo doesn’t defer to his manager the way most newbies would, since he’s been on the other side.
I haven’t sensed any romantic chemistry between them at all so far, but I think they’re going to take it in that direction now, building another triangle with The Idiot, who is jealous because he’s now infatuated with Ye-rin. Ye-rin knows Jang-soo’s admiration (perhaps she’d call it infatuation) with Mari and baits him with it. For instance, here he struggles with a script because the dialogue is so cheesy. He can’t do corny lines like “You’re my destiny,” so she crosses out the girl character’s name in the script and writes in Mari’s.
In the morning, Mari asks Woo-jin if Chul-soo called, not realizing he dropped by in the night. Woo-jin hesitates, then chooses to ignore the question rather than lie. Knowing she wants to see Chul-soo, Woo-jin tries to persuade her why that’s a bad idea.
A TV report about Chul-soo proves his point. Not only has Tae-seok denied knowledge of the ghostwriting, the press has slanted the story against Chul-soo, painting him as a selfish two-timer.
When Mari insists on going out, Woo-jin raises his voice and asks her to understand him. He holds Mari and tells her he’s worried about her. Mari pushes away from him, feeling sorry to him but intent on leaving anyway. Woo-jin says the one thing that will change her mind: that she would just make things worse for Chul-soo.
Chul-soo is dogged by the press all the way to school. When one asks for his opinion on the ghostwriting matter, Chul-soo answers, “It was a mistake. I’ll take responsibility for it somehow.”
With the media swirling around, Chul-soo can’t hide when he gets a call from Mari. The press listens eagerly as he answers, so he cuts it short and tells Mari he can’t talk right now.
Chul-soo is the subject of a professors’ meeting discussing the ghostwriting issue. Before the situation can escalate, Chul-soo speaks up and offers to willingly leave school.
The senior professor (the one who’d treated him so kindly before) seems disappointed with Chul-soo’s choice. I think he wanted him to come to a different kind of compromise or defend himself, and he sighs that it’s too bad, because it’s not just his position now that he’s giving up, but his future writing aspirations.
When he steps out, Eun-young confronts him in the hallway. Per usual, the cameras are there to capture the conversation (don’t these people think to move to a private room?).
Despite her anger earlier, Eun-young is indignant on his behalf: “Why do you have to go through this?” Turning to the cameras, Eun-young addresses the reporters: “I knew about him ghostwriting for Lee Mari. It wasn’t a good thing, but it happened because of me. Also, we never broke up, nor will we in the future.”
Furthermore, she tells the press to go after the irresponsible Lee Mari for an explanation, and to stop harassing her boyfriend. Then they step outside, away from the others. Well, better late than never?
Chul-soo feels too badly toward Eun-young to make any demands of her, but he asks her to stop worrying about his life. Eun-young wonders how he can worry about a small thing like her interference when everything he considered important has disappeared. Is this all because of Mari?
Chul-soo: “If I’ve lost anything, it’s not because of Mari, but because I did something I should not have done. So if there’s a mistake I’ve made, let me take responsibility for it. I wish you wouldn’t hurt anymore because of me. I’m sorry and I know I’m not in a place to tell you anything, but there’s nothing you can do for me, and seeing you is painful.”
On TV, Mari watches the footage of Eun-young blaming her and defending Chul-soo. Mari frets that Chul-soo isn’t answering her calls, which heightens her insecurity. She worries that this is a sign that he’s mad at her and refusing her calls on purpose.
Seung-yeon warns her she may now be facing a fight with Tae-seok — a real, all-out fight. “Kim Chul-soo isn’t someone who can be by your side right now.”
Tae-seok is indeed planning to wage war, although we’re not yet sure how. At the offices, he orders Mari’s wall poster removed, which stuns both Jang-soo and The Idiot. Jang-soo asks Ye-rin what’s going on — are they completely on the outs with Mari now? Ye-rin says that it’s more that managers are “all or nothing.”
In a lighter interlude, Ye-rin also asks Jang-soo if he likes her. Flustered, Jang-soo denies it, but he doth protest too much. (I think he’s unaware of his feelings until he’s asked about them, actually.) As for her feelings, she’s playing it pretty close to the vest so it’s not clear if she likes Jang-soo, but they’re setting it up that way.
Tae-seok sits down with The Idiot, sensing he is a dim bulb to be manipulated to his advantage, and hints that they can work together.
When Chul-soo checks his phone that night, he sees a series of texts from Mari. The messages all have a worried tone, saying that she understands how he might be upset with her, but she missed him and wants to see him. She’s parked out in front by the street.
Chul-soo smiles, because she’s jumped to the wrong conclusion, and heads outside to meet her.
This scene is what I mean about emotional connection, because it’s a super simple exchange with almost no dialogue, but it’s one of the more touching moments of the episode. It’s all there in their looks, their expressions, and the chemistry.
Now that they’re together, they have to figure somewhere to go. They can’t go out in public, nor can they head to either of their homes. So they end up going back to the out-of-the-way boarding house they’d once visited before.
Once again, the granny looks curiously at Mari, not convinced by Chul-soo’s assurances that this isn’t the movie star. Mari keeps her head down, while Chul-soo does his best to block the nosy granny’s view.
They have a cute exchange when Chul-soo scoots away from Mari, nervous about being too close. He figures Woo-jin didn’t tell her he dropped by, and asks why she went to another man’s home. Mari asks, “Are you jealous?,” totally enjoying the idea.
Well, he’s not going to admit that, so he answers, “How is it you immediately follow a guy to his house like that? Well, you were like that at my place, too.” Mari argues, “How are those situations similar?” They bicker that it is — no it isn’t — yes it is.
Mari points out, “Then why did you rent one room? You only got one room last time, too.” Chul-soo knows she’s got him, but makes the excuse that he hadn’t planned to spend the night, that’s why.
They eat dinner, goof around, and settle in for the night.
Woo-jin comes home expecting to have dinner with Mari, because she’d agreed to earlier in the day. Thus he’s disappointed to find that she’s gone, and broods. Uneasy about Mari’s attachment to Chul-soo, however, Seung-yeon figures that Woo-jin is the better fit, and agrees to help him win her.
Bedtime makes Chul-soo suddenly nervous and fidgety, and to avoid dealing with his discomfiture, he lies down as though immediately going to sleep. Mari’s disappointed because she wants to talk, and prods him to stay up with her, or at least face her.
Chul-soo tells her that he’d dropped by the house the day before. She says he should have woken her, but he didn’t want to because she looked tired and sick.
Mari: “Why did you come?”
Chul-soo: “I missed you.”
Mari says they’re too far apart. This time, Chul-soo motions for her to move closer.
Mari wonders, “What do we do now?” Chul-soo: “What do you want to do?” Moving a little closer, Mari asks: “What about you?”
Slowly, gradually, they lean toward each other and kiss.
After a moment, Chul-soo suddenly sits up. He mutters that he should get a separate room for the night, then gets up and walks out of the room. Dismayed, Mari follows him to the door, but hesitates in front of it.
And as she’s standing there, the door opens again, and Chul-soo comes back: “No, that won’t work.”
That gift/curse I mentioned before was in full effect for me with this episode, because I found that the story often flip-flopped from really interesting to slow and back to interesting again. I just wish the middles of episodes were somehow more… energetic. It’s not that nothing happens, because the plot keeps moving along, but it’s more of a dynamics/tone issue. Tae-seok is possessive and crazy, we get it. Mari and Chul-soo want to be together but cannot be, we get it. Eun-young is meddling and clingy, we get it. Byung-joon is an idiot, we really get it.
None of those things are problematic in and of themselves. But when those issues remain fairly constant in every episode, then at least do us the favor by not belaboring the points. Because trust me, WE GET IT.
Also, I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly about Woo-jin that doesn’t work. I think Lee Ki-woo is a decent actor, and I think his character makes sense. By all rights, it should work — while I don’t expect his leg of the love triangle to pack as strong a punch as Chul-soo’s, I don’t see why it shouldn’t provide some decent competition. I don’t think it’s wholly attributable to Chul-soo and Mari having so much chemistry together, either, because while they certainly are in love now, I think there were a few episodes earlier on where Woo-jin really could have sneaked in there to be more of a viable factor. The Christmas ornament exchange, for example.
On the upside, I am enjoying the relationship growth between our lovers. Here’s an example of how you don’t need a lot of plot shenanigans if your actors can really sell the romance. Neither Tae-seok nor Woo-jin really pose a threat to our couple’s love — they pose a threat to their careers, their peace of mind, and their daily routines, but not to their actual feelings — but the relationship still has conflict. I wish it had a little more, but for the most part I buy it. Frankly, I don’t really care about the specifics of their obstacles; I’m watching more just to see how they react TO those obstacles.
- A Star’s Lover: Episode 10
- 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
- A Star’s Lover press conference