I liked this episode better than Episode 1, not least because of Jung Il-woo! Well, he’s one reason, but I also thought the story was tighter and, as I was hoping, Yoon Eun-hye got to move away from the awkward rich-bitch acting and showed some more emotion. She’s best showing a little vulnerability (in my opinion), so those scenes work better for her.
The ratings dipped slightly and the Wednesday-Thursday prime-time shows are in a tight race (with Swallow the Sun; in third place is Hon).
SONG OF THE DAY
FT Island – “못난이” (Fool) [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Now that Dong-chan has been installed as Hae-na’s personal attendant, he promises his moneylenders that he will pay them back soon, trying to buy some time. They’re not impressed, because even if he has a job at the Kang household, it’s not like he’s rolling in money.
Thinking fast, Dong-chan reminds them of his reputation as a ladykiller, and paints a fantasy scenario where he makes Hae-na fall in love with him, after which he’ll pretend to leave her in a noble sacrifice because he’s too poor for her. She’ll be so eager to keep him that she’ll offer him money. Victory!
Dong-chan vows to win her over and get the money. He has one month.
Rather than expose the unsavory details of his predicament, Dong-chan assures Eui-joo and her mother that the debt has been taken care of. He lies that he set Hae-na straight and she apologized in contrition; her grandfather was so impressed that he lent him money for the debt and gave him a job.
It’s a pretty outlandish explanation, but maybe the ladies aren’t so bright. Or how about we call them trusting.
Mr. Jang, the head butler and trusted servant to Grandpa Kang, isn’t keen on the idea of Dong-chan working for them, but Grandpa figures they just have to trust him to bring Hae-na in line. Mr. Jang gives Dong-chan a tour of the premises and formally introduces him to this trio — their bios list their names as Lee Byung-heon, Jung Woo-sung, and Jang Dong-gun.
All the while, Hae-na stews at her grandfather’s decision to hire Dong-chan. Grandpa Kang holds firm and reminds her that the power to fire is his, not hers. She does not handle this development well, and tries to think of her next move.
She may be unable to fire Dong-chan, but that doesn’t mean she can’t pick a fight with him. She summons him to meet her, and when he arrives, she ambushes him with a kumdo (kendo) sword. She demands to know his ulterior motive for taking the position. She doesn’t buy for a minute that he’s just doing it for the sake of the job.
To her surprise, Dong-chan is pretty good with a kumdo sword and holds his own against her. After a brief sparring bout, he even knocks her sword from her hands. He proposes they start over and addresses her formally, bowing in greeting. (Still pissed off, Hae-na grabs her dropped kumdo sword and hits him over the head with it.)
And now… it’s
Iljimae! Jung Il-woo! Lee Tae-yoon.
The short version of the story is: Tae-yoon grew up as part of a rich family, but has distanced himself from his privileged upbringing and now works in a modest office as a human rights lawyer, taking on powerless and downtrodden clients. He works alongside his friend and colleague Su-ho and is currently handling a case that puts him at odds with the Kang San Group.
Kang San is looking to acquire a sprawling golf course, a matter the chairman entrusts to Hae-na’s uncle, Kang Chul-gu, who’s a director at the corporation. From Uncle Kang’s nervous reaction, we can see he’s not having an easy time of it, even though he assures the chairman he will take care of it.
The problem is, Lee Tae-yoon is interfering in the deal, and has successfully done the same to other large-scale projects. So Uncle Kang visits Tae-yoon’s law office and kicks up a fuss, demanding to know who put them up to it. He threatens to sic his own legal team on them if they cause the golf course project to be canceled.
Tae-yoon isn’t intimidated. He lets the older man know that he’s aware that they’ve covered up a lot of environmental assessment reports. Furthermore, he knows there have been a lot of cultural assets excavated in the area. If Kang San backs off, he won’t pursue the matter — but if they persist, well, things are bound to become difficult.
Uncle Kang storms out, but Tae-yoon recognizes that they haven’t won. He suspects the matter can only be worked out by talking to the chairman himself.
Hae-na regroups to devise a new plan to get rid of Dong-chan, gathering the servants to her side. Basically, she tells everyone that he was in charge of the food for their dinner party tonight, but doesn’t let him know this. When Dong-chan hears, they’re in crisis mode and he storms in to confront Hae-na.
Innocently, Hae-na tells him that he’d promised to take care of the food. She reminds him that he’d commented this morning (in passing) that he’d like to show Grandpa some great cuisine, and she acts as though that was a binding deal.
Understanding what her game is, Dong-chan tells her to bring it on, and buckles down to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the kitchen staff were all told their services were not needed, and they leave for the night.
As he surveys the empty kitchen, Dong-chan is interrupted by a tiny, imperious voice demanding some juice. (Juice! Is there nothing cuter?) It’s Su-min, here for the dinner party with his family. LOL — it’s like the little boy meeting the big little boy. Su-min puts on airs and insists upon being called “young master,” but Dong-chan just treats him like a cute little kid and doesn’t humor him. (Adorably, this actually seems to work, because the boy isn’t used to people NOT bowing and scraping.)
Dong-chan asks Su-min for tips on what kind of food the family likes, but they’re all fancy French dishes beyond his ability. He does get an idea, and starts preparing ingredients.
The lower-level staff worries that they’ll get fired for going along with Hae-na’s plan, so they’re fine letting Dong-chan take the fall. On the other hand, the head butler and housekeeper — Mr. Jang and Ms. Jung — eye Hae-na’s antics with disapproval.
Hae-na comes to the party anticipating Dong-chan’s demise, digging his grave a little deeper by telling her grandfather that Dong-chan insisted on taking over the dinner plans. Thus it’s with more than a little consternation that she leads the group to the table to find that everything is perfectly in order.
Dong-chan unveils the menu: pigs roasting on a spit and a plate of… ordinary Korean fried rice? (Bokkum bap.) He puts that silver tongue to good use and spins a story of how this is a favorite dish of the lauded Michelin food guide Alain Ducasse, and uses lots of fancy terms like bourguinon. This dish, with its delicate flavors and aromas, is Andalusian paella!
Hae-na sneers that she’s never heard of it, and he glibly replies, “It is a pity that such a person as you has never tried this before.” Turning to Su-ah, he says leadingly, “I’m sure you’ve had this before, miss?” Not about to admit she hasn’t — and eager to one-up Hae-na for once — Su-ah says yes. Her family jumps in to rave about how this recaptures their vacations in Andalusia.
Grandpa Kang isn’t blind, although he goes along with it. The next morning, he asks why Hae-na did it. She answers that this was because he wouldn’t let her fire Dong-chan. He says with concern that even if she doesn’t take a job at the company, she should at least go out, date someone, maybe get married. She flatly says no — she’ll just live out the rest of her life here, with him.
Tae-yoon and Su-ho attempt to find Chairman Kang at one of his usual haunts at the equestrian club, but are unsuccessful. As they leave the grounds, one of the grooms recognizes Tae-yoon and greets him enthusiastically. It’s been years since he’s been here — the rest of Tae-yoon’s family drops by regularly — and he’s missed seeing him around.
Clearly this is no longer part of Tae-yoon’s life, but he must have enjoyed horseback riding in the past. He takes the groom up on the offer to take the horse out for a quick ride.
Hae-na also heads to the equestrian center, dragging along a tense Dong-chan, who wonders what horrors she has planned for him today.
Outside, Hae-na looks up at an approaching rider, and reacts with shock. It’s like she recognizes Tae-yoon, but the name she says is different: “Jun-su oppa?”
She runs after him on foot, but such is her distraction that she doesn’t notice that a team of racers have just rounded the bend and are headed for her. Dong-chan sees that she’s about to get trampled, and grabs her out of the way, sending both to the ground.
Even after that near miss, Hae-na remains fixed on getting to Tae-yoon, who has escaped from view. Then she spots him walking to his car and driving off. Not willing to let him slip away, Hae-na grabs a horse, swings up on its back and races after the car. Dong-chan gets in their car and follows her down the road.
Su-ho and Tae-yoon notice that they’re being chased by a rider, and stop the car in puzzlement. They get out to face her, neither recognizing her, and wonder if Hae-na was following them. As soon as she sees Tae-yoon, she deflates. Dong-chan pulls up in the car and apologizes for the inconvenience, and she answers dully that she mistook Tae-yoon for someone else.
Not understanding what just happened, Dong-chan is surprised to see tears on Hae-na’s face. She sits alone for a while, lost in sad memories, feeling foolish. Given that Tae-yoon doesn’t look like Jun-su — no secret birth twists here! (we hope) — this suggests that she was so anxious to meet Jun-su again that she was quick to jump to that conclusion.
Dong-chan tends to the scrapes she sustained from falling down.
After a while, Hae-na is in a better mood and tells him to pretend this didn’t happen. Dong-chan vows his loyalty, but in a cute, over-the-top way that makes her smile. This conversation marks their first civil (almost pleasant) encounter and as they walk off, he asks what she had initially planned to torment him with today. She answers lightly, “Dismemberment.”
Later that night, Dong-chan gets more insight into Hae-na’s heartbreak, which he learns was from her sole romantic relationship, despite all the gossip about her prolific love life.
Tae-yoon’s older brother shows up at the office and scolds his brother for living “like this” and moving out of their home. The tone is tense, and we can tell this is a conversation they’ve had many times before. Tae-yoon doesn’t want to get into it again and asks his brother to leave, but first, his brother has a family request to ask of him.
The next morning, Dong-chan is taken to task by Mr. Jang for the accident at the equestrian center and asked for the details. Dong-chan pauses, then takes the blame; the accident occurred after he’d angered Hae-na. Immediately, Mr. Jang fires him. Dong-chan pleads for a second chance, but Mr. Jang says that they cannot give second chances to people who would put Hae-na in danger.
Only, Hae-na steps in and chides Mr. Jang — who is he to fire an employee without her consent? Mr. Jang is genuinely puzzled, having thought Hae-na hated Dong-chan. Hae-na hastens to tell Dong-chan not to get the wrong idea — she’s got plans to torment him further. He’s not fooled, muttering to himself, “She could just say thanks. That girl and her pride…”
Meanwhile, Eui-joo has successfully scored a job working in her field of choice — clothing and shoe design — with Su-ah, who has a line under the Kang San Group umbrella. Su-ah’s a capricious boss, wanting her subordinates to tell her what they think of her and her designs, fishing for compliments but then scolding them when their compliments are all the same. (“You’re pretty, you’re refined, your designs are perfect.”)
Eui-joo learns quickly how to please Su-ah, giving a philosophical answer about the shoe’s design, describing its artistic properties and using terms like avant-garde, nihilism, and feminism. (Of course, she has no idea what she’s saying, but Su-ah loves it.)
Chairman Kang has received another proposal for a mat-seon (arranged date) between Hae-na and the second son of another large corporation, Yoo Sang Group. He worries that Hae-na will act out again like the last time, so he calls her to the dinner meeting without explaining the reason, and also calls Su-ah and her father.
When the date arrives, we realize that Tae-yoon is the Yoo Sang son, which means the life he’s rejected is that of a chaebol. Su-ah’s a little jealous of Hae-na’s good luck, but her father is uncomfortable, recognizing him as the lawyer he’d threatened. In contrast, Tae-yoon has come prepared. He asks Uncle Kang pointedly whether he’s bothered to tell the chairman what he’d said earlier.
Uncle Kang and Su-ah leave the dinner in a huff while Tae-yoon speaks alone with the chairman, who assures him that he will look more carefully into the matter of the golf course. The chairman suspects that Tae-yoon came to talk about the case, not to meet his date, and Tae-yoon sheepishly admits it. He apologizes, saying that he couldn’t think of another way to meet him.
On Su-ah’s way out, she tells Hae-na what awaits her inside, which annoys Hae-na. Dong-chan (perhaps thinking of his own plan to woo Hae-na) urges Hae-na to turn back, since it’s better than going to the dinner and causing a ruckus. He offers to take the blame for letting her run away.
Hae-na accepts the offer — but she has an amendment to his plan. After all, if he admits that he lost her, he’ll look like an idiot. Whereas, if he says that she HIT him and ran, well, that’s more believable.
Nervously, Dong-chan protests, saying, “Oh, but you don’t have to go through so much trouble for me.” Hae-na answers sweetly, “No, you were thinking on my behalf, so naturally I should do this much for you.” With a smile of anticipation, she winds up, aiming for Dong-chan’s face…
…only to be stopped, wrist caught mid-swing by Tae-yoon.
A little jealously (I like to think), Dong-chan demands, “Who are you? Let go of her!” and grabs her hand away from Tae-yoon’s grip.
Tae-yoon asks who Dong-chan is to Hae-na, and Dong-chan answers, “I’m her attendant. What about you?” Tae-yoon says, “Me? I’m the man who’s here for a date with her.”
This drama has got some seriously pretty scenes. So far, we’ve seen a good mix of indoor luxury and outdoor scenery, and I appreciate all the fantastic views. A drama doesn’t have to look pretty to be entertaining, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
You know, there are a lot of clichés at work here and sometimes the story gets rather obvious, but the plot still seems to have a fresh quality to it. As an example of something I didn’t love, the “Andalusian paella” story isn’t terribly clever; Dong-chan’s smooth talking shouldn’t always work when the stories are so flimsy (like how he convinces Eui-joo of his reasons for taking the job). But I just go with it, and they’re amusing despite the obviousness.
On the other hand, I do like the character setups for our main characters. Specifically, the guys. (I’ll get to Hae-na in a moment.)
I admit to extreme Jung Il-woo prejudice — I mean, come on! He’s adorable. But I don’t think it’s just my bias that made me perk up once he showed up; now that he’s entered the scene, I want to see him shake things up. It’s way too early for this, but I think I would be thrilled if he finds his own happy ending with Eui-joo. Yeah, that’s a neat, pat ending, but I don’t care. It’s Jung Il-woo. Boy deserves some loooove.
I like that Dong-chan, as our hero, is a total mischief-maker. Or rather, he’s a mischief-finder. It’s not rare to have a protagonist be a few shades darker than our usual law-abiding and aboveboard fixtures — say, for instance, Jang Hyuk’s gambling wastrel in Tazza, or Jang Hyuk’s womanizing wastrel in Robbers, or Song Seung-heon in East of Eden, etc. But it’s less common than that old trope, “cold uptight man meets bubbly free-spirited girl and thaws his frozen heart with true love.” I’m a bit tired of that and glad to be away from it.
(It may be too early for full-on attraction, but we see the first hints break through the characters’ exteriors.)
Meanwhile, I think the Gu Jun-pyo comparison is natural, since there are some very obvious similarities between Jun-pyo and Hae-na. Still, there’s also a key difference when looking at the reasons for their bad behavior. Jun-pyo’s a case of arrested emotional development, having been brought up with a lack of family affection and an abundance of alone time. He internalized the belief that people can be bought and that loyalty based on feelings is impossible. He wasn’t saying that he could buy people (only) to be a jerk, but because he actually believed it.
On the other hand, Hae-na’s issue is hinted to be a result of a disappointed love when she was 18. Meaning, her current bad behavior is her way of acting out, externalizing her pain rather than turning it inward. It also makes her more of a brat. It’s like she breaks rules of civility just for the hell of it, acting out because she’s angry at the world.
I’m not saying either character is better than the other; they’re both rich, spoiled, and damaged people with major personality flaws. Just pointing out a difference, because it seems like everything is compared to Gu Jun-pyo these days.