Monday episodes no longer even faze me. Yeah, the first half sucked, and while the second half was better, I’ve accepted that Mondays are just here to advance enough story to get us to the (hopefully) better Tuesdays. If I tried to make too much sense of it, I’d just wind up nursing a big(ger) fat(ter) headache.

SONG OF THE DAY

Panic – “기다리다” (Wait). This is the song Kim Hyun-joong sings in an early scene; Panic is the former group of songwriter-rocker Lee Juck. [ Download ] [ Alternate link ]

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EPISODE 15 RECAP

While sightseeing, Jan-di and Ji-hoo stop for snacks. Unfortunately, Ji-hoo can’t find his wallet, so Jan-di offers to pay, and when she accepts a pastry from the merchant, she leaves her wallet behind on the counter in plain sight. Folks, Idiot Jan-di is back! (Drinking-game followers, take a drink.)

As for Ji-hoo’s wallet, well, Ming took it. Because stranding someone without money in a foreign country is what all good friends do. Ming sneaks a photo of himself with Ji-hoo into Ji-hoo’s wallet, to be discovered later.

Jan-di discovers the loss of her wallet a bit later when she tries to buy a paper fortune at a shrine. Ji-hoo tells her to wait, and dashes off to save the day. But instead of searching for her wallet, which may contain important things other than cash, he… plays streetside minstrel? (Logic fail = take another drink.)

Ji-hoo borrows a guitar from a street performer, then starts to sing “기다리다” (Wait) (posted above). After a few bars of Kim Hyun-joong’s performance (it appears he’s singing live), we fade in with a new, acoustic version of SS501’s “Because I’m Dumb” — and I am SO annoyed that they intruded upon a perfectly good performance. You have an idol singer in your cast, finally give him the chance to show his skills, and then cover it up with a recorded track?

Mr. PD, maybe you’re proud to have gotten a new song to insert into the limited rotation, but as always, WORST TIMING EVER. (Drinkers: Cheers! I’m not sure which rule this violates, except my level of irritation tells me there are at least a half-dozen at work here.)

Money pours in from the sizable crowd and people applaud. Jan-di, who has wandered by, looks on in admiration. Ji-hoo smiles: “This should be enough, don’t you think?”

On the way back to Ming’s house (but what about the wallet?), Jan-di has trouble walking properly again (drink up) and her ankle rolls over as her heel snaps. She tries to stumble along in the broken heel, then decides to take the shoes off. Ji-hoo kneels in front of her and offers to carry her.

As she climbs on his back, Jan-di thanks Ji-hoo, at the same moment that he thanks her, too — this is the first time he’s ever earned money on his own: “There are a lot of things I’m doing for the first time because of you. So thanks.”

They enter the gate, not noticing the big black car lurking right in front. Maybe they’ve gotten so used to their dates being followed that they’re inured to the sight by now?

Inside the car, Mr. Jung asks Jun-pyo whether he should start driving; Jun-pyo answers, “Stay a little longer,” which turns into three hours. It’s only when the lights inside finally go dark that Jun-pyo allows Mr. Jung to head back.

This next morning scene severely tried my patience, and was only mitigated (marginally) by how gleefully Ming snickers at Jan-di. Still groggy, Jan-di stumbles into the bathroom and sits down on the toilet. Ji-hoo walks in — the door was unlocked — and covers his surprise, then walks out. When the reality of the situation sinks in, Jan-di shrieks, then locks herself in the bedroom to sob in humiliation.

I get that it’s embarrassing… but shouldn’t she have more grit than that? An initial freakout is understandable, but wallowing in bed all morning makes her into a silly, dramatic brat and I want to shoot her. (Character inconsistency — take a sip?) Gu Hye-sun’s acting does the scene no favors, either.

Seeing that Jan-di won’t come out, Ji-hoo leaves her alone while he steps out. When she comes down to breakfast, she finds a note that reads, “Memory erased.”

Ji-hoo browses the shopping center for some shoes, and buys the pair that Jan-di had eyed. (If there was more than one pair, why the hell were Jun-pyo and Jae-kyung fighting over the shoes? Ahh, my head hurts. Also: chug!)

Then, they’re at the airport. Jan-di sees that Ji-hoo has booked first-class tickets and, fearing the expense, offers to downgrade to economy. With a deadpan expression, Ji-hoo replies that his legs are too long to suffer economy, putting an end to that argument.

Jun-pyo sits through a business meeting when Mr. Jung brings him a document with a note stuck to it reading, “6 pm departure to Seoul.” Jun-pyo signs the note and hands the papers back to Mr. Jung, pretending this was mere business procedure. This is actually one of the few moments I really liked in this episode — the little detail to show how Jun-pyo is covering his actions to escape Madam Kang’s eagle eye.

With two hours left before Jan-di’s flight, next he’s stuck in a meeting with the heads of JK Group, although he’s so preoccupied with the passing time that he’s completely checked out of the conversation. Mr. Jung interrupts with an “urgent” overseas business call, which gives Jun-pyo an excuse to rise early.

He arrives at the airport just in time to see Ji-hoo kneeling before Jan-di to replace her broken heels with the new shoes he bought her, telling her, “I wanted to buy you something with the first money I earned on my own.”

(If Jan-di could barely walk in those shoes the other night, why is she still wearing them? Does she only travel with one pair of heels? DRINK.)

Jun-pyo sees this and seethes. At Ji-hoo’s question, “Why are you here?,” Jun-pyo retorts, “What about you, what are you doing?”

Ji-hoo: “Do you think you have the right to ask that?”
Jun-pyo: “Yoon Ji-hoo!
Ji-hoo:”I stepped back as a friend — I gave up because she was my friend’s girlfriend. I gave you a chance up till the end. I’m not going to hold back anymore.”

Jun-pyo punches Ji-hoo.

As always, Jan-di waits for someone to get punched before bursting out, “Stop!” She asks Jun-pyo, “Why did you come? Do you have something to say?”

Jun-pyo can’t respond (anything he says won’t make sense unless he backtracks on his Big Decision), and can only stare in frustration. Jan-di ignores the tears falling from her eyes and says firmly, “All right. I’m going.”

She and Ji-hoo walk off together, and Jun-pyo sinks to the ground.

Mr. Jung rushes in carrying Jun-pyo’s own gift (the shoes), and finds Jun-pyo on the ground. He helps Jun-pyo up, and the two walk off together. It’s fatherly, but also kind of weird. I blame the editing.

They leave the shoes behind on the chair… where Jae-kyung just HAPPENS to come by. WUT THE HELL. (Empty the rest of the bottle.)

Curious, Jae-kyung opens the box, recognizing the very shoes she’d wanted for herself.

On one hand, it’s like Jun-pyo is giving Jae-kyung a present indirectly, but on the other hand, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing — don’t Jun-pyo and Ji-hoo know you’re not supposed to give a girlfriend shoes? It’s bad luck! (The adage goes, if you give a lover shoes, they’ll run away from you. Maybe we should be glad Jan-di never got Jun-pyo’s shoes.)

And now, we’re out of Macau. Thankfully, this is the point where the episode starts to get better.

Back at home, Jan-di’s listlessness causes her to make constant mistakes. She’s so distracted that Ga-eul offers to take over when Master sends Jan-di on a delivery, but he insists that Jan-di go.

The delivery takes her to Cranky Grandpa’s busy clinic, which is crowded with (seemingly middle-to-lower-class) patients. Grandpa gruffly directs her to help out, so she goes around fetching drinks and babysitting. After everyone leaves, she gives Gramps the food, then hesitantly asks how he knows Master and what exactly he does for a living. He IS a real doctor, right?

Just then, a really bad actress stumbles in clutching her pregnant belly and crying in pain.

Jan-di assists Doctor-President-Fisherman-Grandpa as the woman gives birth. The experience introduces a new possibility to her life, and Jan-di returns to school filled with newfound direction and optimism.

Ji-hoo, fresh from a new haircut, drops by to see Jan-di, immediately clocking her good mood. She recounts helping with the pregnant woman, explaining that the experience made her feel something she had never felt before — “It’s the first time I didn’t think of Jun-pyo, or swimming” — and now she’s determined to be a doctor.

A bit sheepishly, Jan-di figures that people will sneer that a dummy like her wants to be a doctor.

Ji-hoo: “Do you know how hard it is to find something that you’d want to do despite being called crazy for it? What does it matter what people think? When have you cared about things like that? If you want to, just do it.”

Jan-di’s mood plummets when sees Jun-pyo on television talking to reporters about Shinhwa Group. Jun-hee happens to look out her car window and she passes, and spots Jan-di on the sidewalk. She greets her with a friendly smile and takes her back to her house for a chat.

Jun-hee has a general idea of what happened between Jan-di and Jun-pyo, and asks about Macau. Jan-di puts on a bright face, saying that she’s glad she went, so she could make a clean break with Jun-pyo.

Jun-hee’s disappointed: “I hoped you could stay with Jun-pyo. It’s too bad.”

Jan-di’s false bravado collapses when she walks past the doors to Jun-pyo’s bedroom, which are ajar. Stepping inside, she looks around and remembers the times she’d spent with Jun-pyo here.

The telescope brings to mind the star-moon necklace, given to her with Jun-pyo’s promise to never let her go. This sets off her tears.

Jun-hee passes by and comforts her, telling her to let it all out. Jan-di sobs that she’d lied earlier: “I’m not okay. I went to see Jun-pyo because I missed him, but I can’t believe he changed so completely.”

Jun-hee thanks Jan-di for being honest — at least knowing that Jan-di still cares means there’s hope. Jun-hee advises, “Jun-pyo will come back, so don’t give up on him. Trust me, and give him one more chance. Can you do that?”

Jan-di confides that she was hurt most not because of Jun-pyo’s cold treatment of her — but rather, because “I never got to tell him I was thankful to him, or that I like him, and I can’t tell him that now.”

Jun-hee’s not the only one who believes Jun-pyo isn’t over Jan-di; Yi-jung seeks out Ga-eul to give her an invitation to Jun-pyo’s birthday party, asking her to bring Jan-di along. He wants to confirm a hunch.

Ga-eul isn’t keen on the idea, because if something goes wrong, Jan-di will be the one hurt. Yi-jung reasons, “If Jun-pyo dumping Jan-di is all an act, that’s good.” On the other hand, even if it’s not an act, Jan-di needs to face it — it’s better she forget him cleanly rather than letting him linger in her thoughts.

Yi-jung presents Ga-eul with a stack of gifts: “If you’re going out to battle, you need weapons.”

In addition to Ga-eul, Mr. Jung also comes by to ask Jan-di to attend the party. He bears an invitation, not from Jun-pyo but from Madam Kang herself.

At the party, Jan-di explains to Ji-hoo that she only came because she didn’t want to run away, but now she wonders if she shouldn’t have come after all. The guys urge her to stay a while

It must be noted that Ji-hoo’s not the only F4 guy with a new hairstyle: Woo-bin and Yi-jung have also changed their looks and now sport upswept styles. But while Ji-hoo’s takes a little getting used to, at least the change works for Woo-bin and Yi-jung.

Party time, in name if not in spirit. Jun-pyo sits stoically while his mother presides, beaming in pride. Madam Kang welcomes everyone to the party, and brings Jun-pyo onstage for the presentation of the cake.

It’s at this point, when he blows out the candles, that he finally looks over and sees Jan-di sitting at the F4 table. They lock eyes for a prolonged beat, and then he turns away.

Ji-hoo clocks her hurt reaction, and asks if she’s okay. She isn’t, and uneasily starts to excuse herself, saying that it was a mistake to come. Before she can leave, the whole table looks up in surprise at Madam Kang’s approach. In a suspiciously cheerful tone, she thanks Jan-di for coming, then requests a piano performance of her: “In the spirit of things, could I ask you for a favor in congratulating Jun-pyo on his birthday?” I do not follow this logic — drink for me — and neither do Woo-bin nor Yi-jung, who wonder worriedly whether Jan-di can play the piano.

Ji-hoo steps in to take her home, but Jan-di stands and faces Madam Kang: “Yes, I will. You invited me, so I should at least sing for my supper.” (She literally says, “earn my dinner.”)

At Madam Kang’s introduction of Jan-di, Jun-pyo looks at her in surprise. Jan-di starts to play. She’s not good, but she’s not bad either.

In Episode 13, I posted two versions of “사랑밖에 난 몰라” (“I Only Know Love”), which Jan-di played on the piano with Ji-hoo. Here’s a third version by Horan (of Clazziquai) and Dave Koz. [ Download ]

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(In case you didn’t know, Gu Hye-sun is actually a strong singer — she almost debuted as a singer instead of actress. In this scene, she sings in a wavering voice because, for one, Jan-di isn’t supposed to be a great singer, and two, emotion threatens to choke her up at several key points in the lyrics.)

Here’s what she sings (the ellipses mark her long breaks):

The moment you come to my side,
I love that look in your eye.
Yesterday I cried, but because of you today,
I’ll be happy tomorrow.

It’s not your face…… or style
but your soft love that I needed
to forget the past.
Without you, I can’t do anything anymore……
I only know love.

After she finishes, Jan-di gets an enthusiastic response — and a standing ovation from Woo-bin — and again locks eyes with Jun-pyo. Oh yeah, and Ji-hoo throws long (blank) stares in Jan-di’s direction. (Drinky!)

On the other hand, Madam Kang is perhaps disappointed Jan-di didn’t outright suck, and says in her bitchy-pleasant manner that she’d asked too much of the student. She apologizes on behalf of Jan-di, who ruined the mood and should have known her limits.

And now, she makes the Big Announcement of the evening — the introduction of Jun-pyo’s fiancée. Everyone is completely shocked (including the couple themselves), while Jae-kyung is literally carried into the room, kicking and shouting.

Not only is the announcement a shock, so is Jae-kyung and Jun-pyo’s realization that they’ve met before.

Jan-di’s group convenes outside in the hall, which is where Madam Kang finds them to gloat. She addresses Jan-di triumphantly: “Do you understand now? The wife to the next head of Shinhwa Group has to be at least at that level.”

Jun-pyo joins them, demanding first to know what his mother is doing, then asking Jan-di why she bothered to come. Hurt and angry, Jan-di retorts that she has nothing to say to him.

And then, Jae-kyung joins the group — what, is nobody left inside? — to ask Jun-pyo’s mother if she’s truly serious about the engagement. Madam Kang replies that the parents have already discussed the matter; both sides are pleased with the match.

Jun-pyo cuts in to address Jan-di: “I have something to say to you, so don’t argue and follow.” He grabs her by the wrist and drags her away, grumbling all the while about how she should have suspected his witchy mother was up to something when she invited him… not realizing that he grabbed the wrong wrist.

Meanwhile, Jan-di (and the others) watch in puzzlement as Jun-pyo grabs Jae-kyung’s wrist by accident and pulls her away. Madam Kang may be our villain here, but I just love the wonderfully bitchy shrug she tosses at Jan-di, as if to say, See? You’re toast.

Witch-Mom tells her, “You must have realized by now that you should give up your empty hopes and fantasies.”

For what it’s worth, it actually is kinda funny when Jun-pyo yanks Jae-kyung along, muttering the whole time that he’s dragging the wrong girl behind him, addressing her as though she’s Jan-di.

Finally, Jae-kyung shouts at him, and he realizes his mistake. And then promptly blames it on her for letting herself be dragged along.

Jun-pyo tells Jae-kyung to stop following him and starts to walk off. Incredulous, Jae-kyung chases after him and jumps on his back, insisting he apologize to her. (He calls her a crazy monkey, lol.)

She bites his ear — unorthodox but effective, just like her — then falls to the ground. This is probably supposed to Mean Something because Jae-kyung teases him for blushing, suggesting that he’s attracted to her.

She asks for money to take a taxi home. He doesn’t have any, so she demands to use his cell phone, and gropes around his pockets to find it.

As Jun-pyo tries to shove her aside, her team of bodyguards swoops in to her “rescue.” Not realizing that they’re her people (or not caring), Jun-pyo reacts as he always does by fighting. They restrain him quickly, much to Jae-kyung’s amusement.

Ji-hoo takes Jan-di home in solemn quiet. Ji-hoo asks if she was very shocked, and she answers (not at all convincingly) that she doesn’t care if Jun-pyo gets engaged.

Ji-hoo defends Jun-pyo by guessing that he probably didn’t know about the engagement. Despite their rift, it seems Ji-hoo has faith that Jun-pyo would have told them if it were true. But Jan-di doesn’t believe it — she saw Jae-kyung in Macau, which means they probably did know each other.

Referring to the airport scene when Ji-hoo had hinted that he would have pursued Jan-di, Ji-hoo now says, “About what I said to Jun-pyo in Macau…” Jan-di reassures him, “I know. You only said that because you were angry at him.”

That’s not what he means at all, and he takes a long pause to think, then responds, “You’re right.” He leaves her with wise words: “Sometimes what you see isn’t real. You need faith to see some things.”

After she gets out of the car, he sighs to himself, “Yoon Ji-hoo, what the heck are you doing?”

At home, Ji-hoo looks at the bag Jan-di left behind in his car (bottoms up!), and dials Jun-pyo on his phone. Just at that moment, his phone starts to ring, and he peers outside to see Jun-pyo standing there, phone to his ear.

 
COMMENTS

The first part of this episode had me seriously scratching my head. So many irrelevant moments, weird plot jumps (they HAVE to lose both wallets to get Ji-hoo to perform?), that even the small shining moments — Jun-pyo’s contained pain, for instance — were suffocated by the rest. For instance, Lee Min-ho’s quiet portrayal while watching from his car was a GREAT beat and conveyed with nice nuance… only, sadly, I couldn’t care that much because of all the other chaff that surrounded it. His breakdown at the airport was also acted well — but then I cringed through his exchange with Mr. Jung, which should have been a lovely moment but instead made me uncomfortable. Mr. Jeon PD, you should take the words of advice of your own characters and let the good stuff in your drama thrive — by CUTTING OUT THE WEEDS.

Normally, I would argue that ratings and quality are linked only tenuously together; you can’t say they don’t reflect on each other at all, but it’s too simple to say that they’re directly correlative.

But in this case, I’m tempted to say that the high ratings have actually adversely affected the quality of the drama, if only because it can be seen as positive reinforcement of bad behavior. As in, the drama director can point to high ratings and defend his work saying he’s doing something right, when I think perhaps the drama is a success mostly in spite of his instincts which threaten to derail it on every level.

I mean, honestly. He’s going to drive us all to drink.

 
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