City Hall: Episode 8
(written by Samsooki, editing, layout, design and “CSW is ours” by 0timelost, cleown, and mead33)
City Hall: Episode 8 – “Wonder Woman” or “The Other Woman”?
What a beautiful opening scene, with flower petals and budding crushes in the air. Smells like spring love, perhaps. As Episode 8 begins, we see Jo Gook giving Mi Rae a bouquet of flowers and inviting her to go on an overnight trip with him. That’s like a 5th or 6th date kind of thing, but I guess both Jo Gook and Mi Rae are old enough that they don’t need to go to dinner and a movie first, with mom riding shotgun.
But is this really even a date? The flowers could have been merely a congratulatory gesture for taking down the Mayor, and the trip, well, what’s that about? Mi Rae doesn’t look quite convinced that she should go. In fact, Mi Rae looks a little frightened here, which says a ton considering how much courage this woman has in her pinkie finger alone would be more than the rest of City Hall combined.
Mi Rae asks if Jo Gook is being sincere, and Jo Gook says, sure. It is a congratulatory victory trip. Mi Rae replies that it is Jo Gook’s victory, not hers. Jo Gook smiles and tells Mi Rae that she should just congratulate him then. LOL! At least he is honest.
Jo Gook: Oh, and I’m no longer Deputy Mayor. I gave my resignation.
Mi Rae: Resignation? Why?
Jo Gook: Because I wanted to go on a trip with my hamster.
Mi Rae: …
Jo Gook: You have no reply? Perhaps you need permission from your previous owner? Hyun Bin or whatever his name is?
Mi Rae: Why are you bringing that up?!!
(Note: Yooo, Cha Seung Won, them’s fightin words! It will take a LOT more than talk of “your hamster,” a nice voice and tall genes to make us forget about Thumbelina and Hyun Bin. A lot more.)
Before leaving on his trip, Jo Gook stops by City Hall to pick up his belongings and welcome in the interim Mayor (the Deputy Mayor who was chased out when Jo Gook took his place briefly). The interim Mayor tries but fails to determine Jo Gook’s real motives for stirring things up and then leaving abruptly. What is Jo Gook’s goal? Even Soo In is puzzled by Jo Gook’s resignation, since BB’s orders were to either become the Mayor or install a puppet mayor. What is Jo Gook up to?
Jo Gook: Who wants to know? Is it you or the Elder (BB) whom you really serve?!
Soo In: Hyung…
Jo Gook: Here’s the update. I am going on a trip with a woman and I had to resign in order to do it.
Soo In: Hyung!
Jo Gook: Listen. When I was abandoned by him, I endured it. When I was ordered back to his side, I accepted that as well. When I was tossed to this poor Moo Yang province, I handled that as well. And even I was transferred to this country bumpkin city, I was patient. Day or night, I was at his beck and call. Are you asking me why I did this? Now, it is the Elder’s turn to come and look for me!
Powerful words from Jo Gook. Where is he getting the strength and the courage to stand up to BB? What has made him change like this?
Ahh, well, perhaps those answers will be revealed in the future. And Jo Gook and Mi Rae are off on their trip! Ohhh, nice!! It’s a camping / bike trip! What a great idea! One point for the eco-friendly travel, and one point for trip creativity, one point for asking directly and not by phone or email, and a special bonus point for making the trip intimate and yet casual at the same time. Single guys out there, take notes. Jo Gook is the man.
The cool and distant Jo Gook has turned into a rarer bird indeed, inviting Mi Rae to an overnight camping trip, cooking for Mi Rae and even carefully cleaning Mi Rae’s hands before eating – is this a Jo Gook ploy to butter up Mi Rae, or is this the real Jo Gook?
In no uncertain Kim Sam Soon terms, the things that Jo Gook are doing mean, “I like you.” In Mi Rae’s world, these things just mean that Mi Rae is happier than she has been in a long time, although she remains skeptical of Jo Gook’s motives. As night falls, Mi Rae asks the question that guys just hate to answer; she asks Jo Gook how he feels about her. Jo Gook demurs answering, and that leads Mi Rae to note that at least she knows that she shouldn’t be going on a camping trip with someone else’s boyfriend!
Jo Gook indirectly corrects her, by (a little too) casually asking if Mi Rae is concerned by his fiancé. Mi Rae is absolutely stunned, since she thought Go Hae was just his girlfriend! The difference between “girlfriend” and “fiancé” is a magnitude of difference, a world of difference – and the look on Mi Rae’s face shows exactly what she thinks of Jo Gook now.
But then Jo Gook reveals what most women suspect and what most guys think about but don’t do.
Jo Gook: Look, this is what guys are like. Bring 10 women and we will like them all. A woman you want to marry, a woman you want to date, a woman you want to go on a trip with, a woman you want to have a drink with, a woman you want to hug. They are all different. So that’s why you shouldn’t believe in what men say, especially a guy like me.
Mi Rae isn’t one to remain silent though.
Mi Rae: What are you saying?! Should I be punished for looking at a tree that I am not supposed to climb? And let’s say I can’t climb, am I even supposed to avoid looking? Are all arrogant men like you? You should have just let me be, why did you mess with my heart? “I missed you.” “Let’s go on a trip together.” – you totally messed with my heart, so why are you telling me not to believe in you?
Jo Gook has no fast answer for Mi Rae. Was it wrong for him to be truthful, though? And, while he may have been truthful about what most guys are like, was Jo Gook not being truthful about how he feels about Mi Rae? It is a difficult night’s sleep for the both of them. Sensing Mi Rae’s unease, Jo Gook yet again shows his sensitive side by pretending to snore so that Mi Rae can go to sleep peacefully.
Morning comes and the bickering continues as Jo Gook challenges Mi Rae about the meaning of politics, since Mi Rae seems to accuse Jo Gook of being political.
Mi Rae answers that, to many, politics is about being dirty, but for her, politics is just about trying to make people’s lives better. Jo Gook seems to have found his moment to pop the question he might have been planning to ask the entire trip. Does Mi Rae want to run for Mayor in the upcoming election? Mi Rae gags on her breakfast. Clearly, the answer is: heck no!
With that, the trip is over. Back in Inju City, it is Jo Gook’s turn to pester Mi Rae over multiple days, giving 1,001 reasons why Mi Rae should run for Mayor, and why she would be better at it than the ex-mayor. Finally, Mi Rae has had enough.
Mi Rae: Why are you confusing me like this. Since I am naïve, I will believe anything. Haven’t you always had an ulterior motive? Is this what that motive was? Using the trip as an excuse to ask me this?
Jo Gook: No.
Mi Rae: Don’t make me laugh. Can’t you speak honestly for once?
Jo Gook: Do you want me to be honest? Can you handle it?
Mi Rae: (silence)
Jo Gook: I didn’t use the trip as an excuse to ask you about this. I used this as an excuse to go on a trip with you.
Jo Gook’s eyes soften as he looks upon a confused Mi Rae, and he takes his hand and tussles her hair before walking away. And everywhere, women are pounding sofa pillows and shouting at their significant others, “What does that mean? What does that MEAN, exactly? Does he love her or not??!!” Ow! I don’t know! Stop hitting me, I’m not Jo Gook!
The camping trip is now just a memory; Jo Gook has his sights set on making a candidate out of Mi Rae, even if Mi Rae hasn’t yet agreed. In the meantime, he takes a little time out to exercise on the basketball court and finds fellow unemployed academy graduate Jung Do there. They decide to play for dinner.
After their boys-having-fun basketball game, Jo Gook presses Jung Do for more details of the unforgettable (for Jung Do, anyway) night they spent together. Jung Do finally relents and tells the story. Back in their training academy days, right after graduation and having just received their job postings, Jo Gook, the #1 ranked student with connections that went as far up as the Ruling party chairman, is devastated that his posting is to Moo Ang Province government, rather than some place important. All of the training academy graduates are at a bar celebrating, but Jo Gook is not celebrating. In fact, he is an inconsolate crying drunk and makes a mess of the bar before leaving. Jung Do notices Jo Gook’s briefcase on the seat, retrieves it and heads outside to see a collapsed Jo Gook on the pavement.
Jo Gook cries out to no one in particular that he has worked so hard, done everything that he was supposed to do, and yet a certain someone won’t acknowledge the efforts of his own child, and has exiled him to some country-bumpkin provincial government job.
So the story of Jo Gook’s past seems to be clearer now. Jo Gook has done everything that he could possibly have done to win the approval and respect from his father BB, but rather than keep his son close and help his career like other dads might have done, BB has sent his son far away, to a job unbefitting the #1 ranked graduate. The questions of why BB has treated Jo Gook this way, and why Jo Gook still went to work for BB even after the exile upon graduation, however, remain unanswered.
Meanwhile, plans are afoot to find the next mayoral candidate. Since Jo Gook is unlikely to run as a Mayoral candidate, Joo Hwa thinks her dad would be the perfect candidate to run for Mayor. In the meantime, Mi Rae’s friends are also thinking about who should run for Mayor, and they decide that there would be no better person to run for Mayor than their own Shin Mi Rae. But Mi Rae is not really in the mood for anything, as she is troubled by the fact that even ousting the Mayor did not result in Boo Mi getting her job back, she is also jobless, and nothing else seems to have changed. That, and the confusing behavior and statements by Jo Gook has her completely blind to what is going on around her.
Her friends, unbeknownst to Mi Rae, start putting up posters of Wonder Woman with Mi Rae’s face all over downtown Inju. Who better to lead Inju City, than the woman they believe to be Wonder Woman? Still preoccupied, Mi Rae walks along the streets in a daze, until…
… her ears perk up as she realizes people are talking about her, and Mi Rae looks up and finds her picture posted everywhere!
But Mi Rae is not the only one who is dismayed at the posters. Others now have seen her Wonder Woman picture too, including Council Member Joo Hwa and the remaining political cronies of the now-ousted Mayor. The Deputy Mayor takes the posters as a threat to their party (the Victory party) and whoever they nominate to run as Mayor.
As usual, it is up to clever Joo Hwa to calm everyone down and take it upon herself to neutralize the Shin Mi Rae wild card. How? Bring your friends close, but your enemies even closer. Joo Hwa meets up with Mi Rae and begins by offering her old job back.
Mi Rae is all ears (especially if Boo Mi and Jung Do can also get their jobs back), until she learns that Joo Hwa is only offering the chance to get her job back if and only if Mi Rae supports Joo Hwa’s party in the upcoming Mayoral election by being the party flower (sort of like a mascot). Clearly, Joo Hwa doesn’t know that Mi Rae is no longer a person to be used, be it by Jo Gook or by anyone. It is exactly the wrong thing to say. For all Joo Hwa’s native intelligence, she is really is blind to what makes Mi Rae the person that she is.
Mi Rae: Why do you always think of me as a fool?
Joo Hwa: Ohhh, this isn’t the time or place for that kind of question… Do you think that someone like me, who from the day I was born, had a golden spoon in my mouth, can be compared to you, just because you also have a mouth? It would be weird if we were the same, don’t you think?
Mi Rae: You’re right, I forgot. But even so, because I thought of you as a friend, I thought you might change. But you won’t change. You won’t change until you die, right?
Joo Hwa: And why would I change? Am I some sort of Transformer?
Mi Rae: Shut your yap and listen well. If you aren’t going to change, then fine. I will be the one to change. I will change so that you won’t be able to look down on me again, so that you won’t be able to think of me like a fool again. And so, for the things you did to me, I am going to pay you back in equal measure. No, you know what? I will pay you back even more.
Joo Hwa (sneering): Well, I guess I understand how you feel, but how exactly are you going to pay me back?
Mi Rae (determined): How? Well, I guess I’m going to have to become Wonder Woman! I guess now I’ll have to become Inju City’s Wonder Woman! I guess now, I will have to run in the upcoming Mayor election!
And with that brilliant scene, the Mi Rae vs. Joo Hwa battle, Part II, is now on! Mi Rae might have won the first battle, but now Mi Rae seems to be stepping into the home turf of Joo Hwa – the local political battlefield. And there may not be a more skilled political operator at the local level than Joo Hwa.
Still, an unlikely and unwilling superhero has been spotted in the streets of Inju City, and she is none other than Shin Mi Rae as Wonder Woman. The Battle for Inju City is about to commence. It used to be about the prize money, and about getting fair and just treatment for herself, Boo Mi, and Jung Do. But with a few careless words tossed about by Joo Hwa, a superhero has just been born… but isn’t Mi Rae biting off more than she can chew (especially trying to go against Joo Hwa)?
And if Mi Rae decides to take on the challenge of representing all of Inju, then she will have to take on all of their burdens as well, and to do THAT, she will indeed have to become Wonder Woman. And even if Mi Rae ready to accept that kind of responsibility, would the people of Inju really be willing to vote for a secretary with no education to become Mayor?
And the other main story is, of course, the budding relationship between Jo Gook and Mi Rae. Jo Gook has his fiancé, Go Hae, but it seems he wants more. Can he really have his billionaire cake and pet his hamster too? And while Jo Gook follows Mi Rae around, secretly watching her, what does he really think will come out of any of this? And Mi Rae, I think, has strong feelings for Jo Gook at this point, admitting even to Jo Gook that she has been shaken by him. But Mi Rae sees herself as… what, exactly, to Jo Gook? Does she think of herself as “the other woman”?
It is a little difficult for me to understand what Mi Rae must be feeling at this point. She now knows that not only does Jo Gook have a woman, but that woman is his fiancé, the woman to whom Jo Gook has promised his life. And more than that, Jo Gook has said that Mi Rae shouldn’t trust men, especially not a guy like him. So how can there be anything between them?
The thing to watch for in this Episode: The chemistry of Jo Gook and Mi Rae.
The camping scenes in this Episode are really something, and the chemistry between the two, even in simple dialogue is so apparent. It is sort of like Cha Seung Won and Kim Sun Ah were made to play those roles, to talk to each other in such a natural and comfortable manner. Chemistry in a drama series is not so easy to come by, and even compared to other drama series were there was undeniable chemistry between leads, there is still something else, something a little bit different about how CSW and KSA interact with each other. Their chemistry is aromatically complex and mature, something that you might not find with drama series that merely mash together young actors and actresses.
And I love the way that they look at each other. Jo Gook looks at Mi Rae with eyes that change between humor and sadness, as he is tickled by her warmth, honesty and lack of guile, but he knows that those very elements of Mi Rae will be the ones that will be her biggest weaknesses if she gets involved with him. And if he gets involved with her, her weaknesses become his weaknesses too. Mi Rae looks at Jo Gook, and she sees a brilliant and beautiful man, one that has so much to offer and give to everyone, but a man who is greedily hoarding his talents for his own gain. Everytime she looks at Jo Gook, her eyes show longing and fear, and they show how even the strongest and most courageous person can be made the weakest.
You have to wonder what this series would be like, if someone else had the role of Jo Gook other than Cha Seung Won, or if someone other than Kim Sun Ah had the role of Shin Mi Rae. I just can’t see it.
On To Episode 9!