Yeah, I thought Episode 3 was pretty rough. If not outright bad, then definitely clumsy and weirdly set up.
It had some cute points, but I’m hoping Episode 4 is a marked improvement. And now that we’re three episodes in, I think I have enough sense of the series to say that this is going to be another entry into the group of “fun but not amazing.” Oh well. Can’t win them all, so may as well sit back and enjoy what we get.
SONG OF THE DAY
Yoon Eun-hye – “Dash Girl” from the My Fair Lady OST. [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Our main trio of Hae-na, Dong-chan, and Tae-yoon face off outside the restaurant, and Hae-na learns that Tae-yoon was the date her grandfather had set up for her, and bristles. She has no interest in going on arranged dates! But her pride takes a hit when Tae-yoon pleasantly responds that isn’t interested, either. At this dismissal, Dong-chan pretends to be outraged on Hae-na’s behalf, but truthfully he’s glad that a potential rival is out of the picture.
Tae-yoon’s rejection of the date is very polite and said with a smile. so it doesn’t anger Hae-na. On the contrary, she’s perturbed and even disappointed.
Despite feeling a stirring of interest in Tae-yoon, she’s not happy about her grandfather’s meddling, and threatens to move out if he keeps forcing her on arranged dates. Later, she loses herself in thought thinking of him. (Even if he isn’t like her first love Jun-su, perhaps in her mind she’s still conflating the two people.)
Tae-yoon grows angry to see a television report announcing that the Yoo Sang Group is undergoing mass restructuring and layoffs (since Yoo Sang is his family’s corporation). People are out in the street protesting the decision, and given the prominence of the company, the story makes a splash in the news.
Tae-yoon is also invited to a Kang San-related launching show for Su-ah’s fashion line. He’s not particularly interested in attending the function, but Su-ah has set her sights on him. She isn’t deterred to know that he was set up with Hae-na, because she figures that if he’s going on arranged dates in the first place, that must mean he’s open to meeting women in general. Like her.
Su-ah prepares for her launching show, happy to bask in the attention until Hae-na shows up and (literally) steals the spotlight. Hae-na’s presence makes a splash and Su-ah is not happy; the two cousins trade barbs, sniping about each other’s lack of fashion sense and taste, etc.
(Hae-na, predictably, wins the verbal bout, calling Su-ah’s look unfashionable. I find it a little unbelievable that Su-ah’s supposed to be less attractive and less desirable than Hae-na — she’s called stick-skinny and overly plastic — but I suppose the true difference is in the way they carry themselves. Hae-na may be horribly rude, but she’s confident, while Su-ah reeks of desperation and trying-too-hard-itis.)
We see the same inferiority complex reflected in Su-ah’s mother, Mi-ok — she has married well and is now rich, but when she spies Eui-joo’s mother Seung-ja, she scrambles to hide. (Seung-ja is here to provide floral decorations.) Apparently the two mothers knew each other from their university days, and trade snarky insults back and forth.
Tae-yoon arrives in the entry hall, and asks Eui-joo for directions to the event. Eui-joo guides him there, not realizing that this is the important lawyer that Su-ah has demanded that Eui-joo bring to her directly upon his arrival. She discovers his identity belatedly when Director Kang Chul-gu, Su-ah’s father, greets him enthusiastically. Tae-yoon has actually come for a courtesy business call, as he and Kang San Group have settled upon a resolution in the golf course matter.
Meanwhile, Hae-na stalls at the party, looking around and hoping Tae-yoon will arrive. As she waits, she runs into her obnoxious blind date from the first episode, who again tries to hit on her. She again finds him repulsive and trips him, which causes him to collide with the food table. He fumes, humiliated and covered in food.
Dong-chan, on the other hand, is eager to be gone. Under constant pressure to repay his debt within the allotted month, he needs to make Hae-na fall in love with him soon so she can pay off his debt, and any love rivals are therefore unwelcome. He wants to get her away before Tae-yoon can impress her some more.
As Dong-chan ushers Hae-na out of the party, he looks around for some gangster types, whom he has hired as part of his plan to win Hae-na over. He imagines acting the hero when they threaten Hae-na, which will enable him to jump in and “rescue” her. Thus when a trio of thugs approach menacingly, Dong-chan prepares to put on his show.
Too bad these aren’t the guys he hired. Unbeknownst to him, Hae-na’s rebuffed date has not taken kindly to being sent crashing into the buffet table, and has hired some ruffians to teach Hae-na a lesson.
Dong-chan soon figures out that something isn’t right. He grabs Hae-na’s arm and the two run away, only to be cornered again. Dong-chan mutters to Hae-na that he’ll create a diversion by launching himself at the big guy, while she is to run to safety and call police. For a brief moment, Hae-na shows concern, not wanting to leave him to get beaten up. In the end, she does as instructed — but is stopped and restrained by a newcomer.
Thankfully, this is Tae-yoon, who sizes up the situation and jumps in to help. Wonder Twin powers activate!
The two successfully fight off the thugs, and when it’s over, Dong-chan has new, albeit grudging, respect for his unexpected assistant. He and Hae-na thank Tae-yoon for his help. Hae-na’s initial interest has by now grown even greater; she looks up at him hopefully rather than with the disdain usually offered to those around her.
Dong-chan clocks Hae-na’s admiration of Tae-yoon with dismay. This is not part of his plan, and complicates his goal considerably. Time to step things up.
First, he sets the stage with a romantic scene: a late-night serenade. What saves this attempt at romance from being unbearably cheesy is Dong-chan’s surreptitious glance as Hae-na approaches, letting us know that this show is for her benefit. He sits at the piano pretending to play for his own enjoyment while waiting for her to stumble across his display of sensitivity and skill.
He opens with a pop ballad: American pop song “Hello.” (And maybe this isn’t a funny moment, but I think anyone else who is recalling Lionel Richie’s blind-love music video is cracking up right about now.)
Yet Dong-chan doesn’t even get a chance to impress Hae-na, because instead of listening to the song, she makes a request. He can’t play the SNSD song she wants, nor does he know the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody.” Obviously he has a limited repertoire, and wasn’t counting on deviating from it.
Hae-na explains that she’s still awake because she’s having trouble sleeping. It’s because she’s full of thoughts of Tae-yoon, but she gives the excuse that her room is too warm because the air conditioning unit is broken. Eager to continue his seduction, Dong-chan offers to fix the unit — and even manages a calculated fall in order to land on top of her, as we so often seen in other kdrama situations.
She isn’t affected in the least, so he takes a moment to regroup in the bathroom. He imagines the smooth moves he will pull, practicing alone — which is how head butler Mr. Jang finds him. (That puts a quick end to Dong-chan’s plan for the night.)
Eager to see Tae-yoon again, Hae-na goes shopping for gifts to offer as a thank-you gift. She delivers the expensive clothing in person, disappointed to find that Tae-yoon is not currently at the office. His partner Su-ho decides to take advantage of the moment to get Hae-na to sign her name to a document — it’s an official statement of protest to Yoo San Group’s layoffs. Happy to oblige him, Hae-na signs.
(In issuing this statement, Tae-yoon is taking on Yoo Sang Group, which is essentially a public declaration that he is opposing his own family and siding with the common people instead.)
After waiting a while in anxious anticipation, Hae-na is thrilled to receive a call from Tae-yoon. She meets him at a restaurant, expecting thanks for the gift, and is therefore put out at his polite refusal. Tae-yoon relates a story about the first time he felt the difference between him and ordinary people, and says, “Money is a frightening thing, and shameful.” He points out she also lives a special life: “Have you never felt ashamed?”
Hae-na occupies the complete opposite end of the spectrum, because she frankly thinks he’s going too far in making a statement by rejecting his family’s status to live as he does now. He admits that it may be excessive to live like this, but he’s satisfied: “At least I know what it is I should be ashamed of.” He feels there are many ways one can express one’s feelings other than with money. This method — her expensive gift — is a method he chooses to decline.
While accompanying Su-ah to the mansion, Eui-joo crosses paths with Dong-chan, shocked to see him working there. He had told her he was the president’s secretary, so naturally she’s upset that he’d lied. He answers that he’d felt embarrassed to admit that the job was as Hae-na’s personal assistant.
Later that night, Dong-chan is performing errands in the wine cellar when he hears a sound. Turning the corner, he finds Hae-na crouched on the ground, struggling to open a bottle of wine (having already gone through a bottle or so).
Dong-chan sees that she’s feeling depressed, and he’s not feeling too great himself, with Eui-joo now rejecting his calls. At Hae-na’s invitation, he joins her in the drinking, and admits that he’s feeling down after lying to a close friend. He doesn’t get into the details, explaining that his problem is prompted by a lack of money, and that’s something Hae-na can’t understand.
That comment definitely strikes a chord, given Hae-na’s recent encounter with Tae-yoon. Tearing up, Hae-na tells him that contrary to popular belief, money isn’t a problem she can’t understand — after all, even today she was hurt over the issue of money. She asks bitterly, “Is it a crime for me to have money?”
Just then, they’re interrupted by a giggling couple — a maid and a manservant — who have entered the cellar for some wine and sexy times. This particular couple has been sneaking around the house for a while, shirking duties and sneaking bottles of wine. Dong-chan shushes Hae-na and leads her away quietly to avoid being seen while the servants carry on, none the wiser.
Drunk and giddy, Hae-na and Dong-chan run out onto the lawn, enjoying the night air and letting off some steam from their respective bad days. Eventually they end up sitting on a bench together, facing the lake that separates them from the mansion. Sleepily slurring, Hae-na grumbles over Tae-yoon dumping her. This time, when Dong-chan says she should forget Tae-yoon and not meet him again, she agrees — just before she falls asleep on Dong-chan’s shoulder.
Dong-chan takes Hae-na back to the house and puts her to bed, looking at her with a newfound expression; it suggests that he feels an unexpected twinge of emotion at witnessing her vulnerability.
That feeling continues in the morning, and is a bit unsettling for Dong-chan, who was not expecting this development. First, Hae-na surprises not only him but the entire staff by stepping in when Mr. Jang and Ms. Jung interrogate the staff about the missing wine. The guilty maid and manservant gulp nervously, but Hae-na announces that she had drunk the wine, thereby letting the culprits off the hook. (However, she does tell the sneaky couple sharply that they don’t make a good couple.)
Trouble strikes again when news of Hae-na’s involvement in the Yoo Sang protest hits the news. Her signature on the statement has become known, and as she is the heir to Kang San Group, her unthinking participation has taken on symbolic and political overtones. Grandpa Kang is deeply troubled, thinking Tae-yoon manipulated his way to them to use them for his own gain. Hae-na insists that she signed of her own will, and that Tae-yoon had no knowledge of it.
Tae-yoon is likewise unhappy to hear the latest hubbub, and accuses Su-ho angrily of taking advantage of the situation. Did he really expect someone like Hae-na to be fully aware of the implications of signing? He shouldn’t have manipulated her — and furthermore, now Tae-yoon has incurred a wrong against her.
But first, he has to deal with another angry complication: His brother storms into the office, furious for his public opposition of the family, and for bringing Hae-na, another public figure, into the issue. Hae-na, who has come to see Tae-yoon, pauses in the doorway at the mention of her own name. Tae-yoon’s brother slaps him, though Tae-yoon reacts coolly, saying it’s been ages since they’ve acted like a true family.
When the air grows increasingly heated, Hae-na steps forward and defends Tae-yoon — he didn’t know she had signed the document. She’d done that willingly, of her own accord.
Close to his boiling point, Tae-yoon storms out. Hae-na follows him down the hall, ignoring him when he tells her they’ll talk later, and criticizes him for perpetuating his family rift.
When she calls him foolish, he stops, pushes her against the wall, and struggles to tamp down his anger as he asks, “Do you like me?” After all, she follows him around, signed his statement, and is pestering him — what other reason might she have?
That may be the truth, but Hae-na’s not ready to admit it, so she tries to walk away with her pride intact. Tae-yoon holds her there, until suddenly, Tae-yoon is whirled around and punched.
Dong-chan stands there, fuming, and growls, “Take your hands off her!”
Ugh, sorry, but Yoon Eun-hye really isn’t suited to the snooty half of her character. When she shows anything other than arrogance or disdain, I like her — e.g., crying, feeling vulnerable, showing emotion. Yet I cringe every time she opens her mouth to utter a “cutting” phrase, and it’s so uncomfortable. She is so obviously acting; the connection isn’t there, and it comes off like she’s merely reciting lines with a practiced pout.
It’s funny that the young Wang Seok-hyun, playing little Su-min, does the snobby aristocrat better than Yoon Eun-hye. He’s not a better actor (and I don’t expect that much at his age), but he feels more real as an upper-class jerk-in-the-making.
In this episode, we start seeing the signs of attachment developing between Hae-na and Dong-chan. It’s on both ends, but I tend to prefer when the guy likes the girl first (perhaps because the earlier kdrama trend always had the girl fall first), and Dong-chan’s feelings for Hae-na are developing at a quicker rate than Hae-na’s. I don’t quite sense a romantic vibe between them yet, but I like their comfortable interactions together. I’m hoping the next set of episodes takes us away from the Boys Before Flowers-like jokiness and more into the characters’ relationships. (The staff shenanigans, for instance, seem to me a woeful waste of time.)
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- Jung Il-woo seeks acting advice
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- First still shots from My Fair Lady released
- Jung Il-woo: “Acting is a marathon”