City Hall: Episode 16
(written by samsooki, editing, design, and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS TO JAVABEANS and all City Hall’ers by 0timelost and cleown)
Episode 16 – “Love Like Your Heart Has Never Been Broken.”
One of the things that I love about this drama is the fact that the characters get right back up if they are knocked down. This goes for Mi Rae (of course), but it also goes for almost everybody else. Jo Gook, Go Hae, Joo Hwa, BB, Boo Mi… all of the characters suffer serious body blows (albeit from each other) but they keep getting back up. It takes a good deal of courage, strength and hope (or spite, hehe) to get back on your feet once you’ve been knocked down, and of course, this is all part of the emotional journey affectionately known as the City Hall Rollercoaster.
“Love like your heart has never been broken” is a quote from William W. Purkey, and fans of Kim Sun Ah will recognize this quote immediately as being used in the immortal drama series, My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. We are given an imperative to explore the human spirit’s ability to overcome loss, and with Kim Sun Ah as the intrepid explorer, in this drama and in MNIKSS, we have our wonderful guide.
Last episode, twin bombshells drop simultaneously: Go Hae directed the release of the slimy reporter’s pictures of Mi Rae and Jo Gook in the hotel room together; and Joo Hwa and her Victory Party City Council cronies have deep-sixed the budget plan proposed by Mayor Shin Mi Rae, turning her into a lame duck mayor.
Working quickly and under control, Jo Gook gets Soo In to establish spin damage protocol and then briefs Jung Do in order to get the latter’s cooperation. Spin is useless unless everybody agrees on the same story. Jo Gook tells Jung Do that the neutralizing story is that Soo-In was also in the room with Jo Gook and Mi Rae.
Jo Gook: …and so [you can say] ‘it is just a misunderstanding.’
Jung Do: But is it really just a misunderstanding?
Jo Gook: …No.
Jung Do: And in the future, do you plan on continuing to see her?
Jo Gook: …Yes.
(Talk about jaw dropping sofa-side confessions! Jung Do should start an afternoon talk-show, if he can get people to confess that easily just by asking direct questions.)
Meanwhile, Joo Hwa and the rest of the City Council are in continuous filibuster debate, preventing any legislation to pass, and even the City Council chair is angered by these petty games. Mi Rae visits the Council chambers and drags Joo Hwa out. A little chat, just between girls, is necessary. Mi Rae has had enough of Joo Hwa’s antics but Joo Hwa hasn’t changed a bit.
Joo Hwa: Don’t you know that you are the reason for all of this? If we had a Mayor with money and connections, do you think we would have these problems? This is all because of you!
Mi Rae: Okay, fine. Continue playing your games, if you can. But I have my own methods too. You might be good at spending money, but I am good at getting money. Me, I am going to get Provincial funds. And I can’t do that, then I’ll get Federal funds. Then, I’m going to gather all the reporters and the citizens together and tell them how the Victory Party tried to block all the improvements! This… is your last chance to repent.
And with that, and a strong body check, Joo Hwa is knocked to the curb. Joo Hwa doesn’t realize it yet, but Mi Rae is head and shoulders above and beyond Joo Hwa now.
Mi Rae heads back to City Hall, exasperated by petty politics, and is met by Boo Mi. Boo Mi asks if she should go and beat up Joo Hwa and send her to the hospital for 4 weeks.
Mi Rae: Can’t you make it 40 weeks instead?
Boo Mi: Can’t I? What is there that a Republic of Korea ahjumma can’t do?! Okay, give me just a little while, I’ll be back…
Can I get a whoop-whoop from the ahjummas on the left? Now the ahjummas on the right? ROFL! OMG, I just realized why I like Boo Mi so much. You guys know who Boo Mi is? Boo Mi is Goose!
I am invoking one of the top 25 manliest movies ever – Top Gun. Boo Mi is Goose, the lovable and loyal wing-man to Maverick (yes, technically, Goose was the RIO, but this is metaphorical). A wing-man is a person who protects you while allowing you to take the glory. It is every guy’s dream in life to have a loyal wing-man. And Boo Mi is Mi Rae’s wing-woman.
Across town, Jo Gook is ready to face the music and deliver spin, but when he gets to his press conference, he finds that the beautiful and elegant Go Hae is already there, telling stories of their courtship. Jo Gook has no choice but to play along.
Go Hae (to reporters): National Assembly member Jo and Mayor Shin seriously don’t have that kind of relationship. Take a look, can’t you see his taste in women?
Reporters (collectively): Huh. Huh. Yup.
Ah, those silly reporters. After the press conference, Go Hae reminds Jo Gook of their relationship, and that he should turn back to her. Jo Gook replies that if Go Hae doesn’t like the arrangement, she can leave. Despite being treated pretty much like a prostitute by Jo Gook, Go Hae takes the high road.
Go Hae: Going on vacation is fun because you have a home to return to. You seem like you have had your fun. What about coming home now?
I know some will disagree, but I have a lot of sympathy for Go Hae. Jo Gook and Go Hae might not have a typical romantic relationship, but they do have a relationship – and it was built on the concept of trust. Jo Gook trusted that Go Hae’s money would be there for him, when he would make his foray into national politics. And Go Hae trusted that Jo Gook’s hand would be there, to lead her when he would dance at the Presidential Inaugural Ball.
Jo Gook’s reply in turn, is even more interesting. And by interesting, I mean, mercenary.
Jo Gook: You and I have the same intentions [to get to the Blue House], and that’s why I like you. And so that’s why I won’t be the first of us to let go. For our relationship to end, you will have to be the one who lets go.
That’s really… I don’t even know what to call it. I wonder how Mi Rae would feel, if she were in the room, listening to Jo Gook say that he won’t let go of his fiancé’s hand because he likes Go Hae’s money.
But Go Hae is not one to let go of any investment that has value, at least not without a fight. Her next move is to enlist Joo Hwa. In a rather funny scene, Joo Hwa tries her best not be looked down upon by Go Hae. From the first moment, Joo Hwa miserably fails, however, as Go Hae does not rise to greet Joo Hwa. This is a no-no among strangers, as Joo Hwa presumes to be Go Hae’s equal. The more Joo Hwa tries to seem like she is rich, the poorer she sounds.
Joo Hwa, if she were more sure of herself, would have remained standing and looked/talked DOWN to Go Hae, rather than sitting as commanded. Had she done that, then Go Hae would have had to get out of her seat in order to talk to Joo Hwa, which would have been Joo Hwa’s goal all along. Alas, Joo Hwa has never met a person who could look down upon her and her family so easily, and thus is ill-equipped to deal with a person such as Go Hae…
And so, like a dog, Joo Hwa sits, and Go Hae throws her a bone: a possible introduction to BB and national politics. All she has to do is…do… something… about Mi Rae.
For all of Joo Hwa’s criminality, her actions have always been directly about her: her husband, her gravy train, her father’s mayoral campaign, her pride, etc. Joo Hwa has never been about doing another’s dirty work. Would Joo Hwa stoop to being an evil henchman now, after being accustomed to being the evil brains all her life?
The next day, Mi Rae scans the papers and sees the result of Jo Gook’s fancy footwork: Mi Rae is a nobody to Jo Gook.
That night they slept together? It didn’t happen. It is hard to imagine what Mi Rae is feeling, with all the hurt emotions swirling around, and knowing that on some level, she cannot blame Jo Gook for her own pain and must take responsibility for her personal life. To make matters worse, her field trip to the provincial government was a complete failure as it is now clear she has been blacklisted by BB. Jung Do and Mi Rae sit for hours, ignored by everyone. They will not even see her.
Jo Gook gets an earful from Jung Do when the latter returns to Inju City, and so Jo Gook goes off to find BB, and finds him launching a new political party.
Not to be overly dramatic, but a certain beer hall putsch comes to mind with BB’s impassioned and almost maniacal speech about how the nation had been betrayed by its current leaders. Jo Gook looks almost saddened, as he realizes that there is no stopping the fight now between him and his father. BB is committed to fight his own son, and so must Jo Gook be committed.
We get our second face-to-face now, and BB finally reveals his hole card – to solidify support from Go Hae’s dad, the Chairman of the Dae Han Group conglomerate, BB needs a solid waste treatment plant to be built in a place like Inju City, a waste plant that other industrialized nations wouldn’t dare build in their own countries since it would make their citizens sick. Go Hae’s dad would presumably make millions from the plant, and BB would have all the campaign donations he could want. And if Jo Gook can convince Mi Rae to approve, BB would make sure that Inju City would get all the funding Mi Rae could ever want. Everybody would win…
But this is a deal made with the devil. And Jo Gook knows if this deal goes through Inju City will turn into polluted city and thousands will be harmed. I hate to be the “I told you so” person, but I freaking TOLD you so. If you try to win all the time, sooner or later, you will have to deal your soul.
Things get even more tempting for Jo Gook, as he meets Go Hae outside. Go Hae tells Jo Gook to go and have his fun with Mi Rae, until he gets bored, and then return to her. In the meantime, she has set him up with a free apartment. Have fun with the woman you are currently into, get a free luxury apartment, but just make sure you sell Mi Rae out, in the future sometime. Sounds do-able? Jo Gook has a lot to ponder. Don’t take the apartment Jo Gook!
Perhaps as a way of helping him make his decision, Jo Gook meets up with Mi Rae, who is scrubbing her tennis whites. Mi Rae is in her element, and here, you can see why Jo Gook has fallen so quickly for Mi Rae. Mi Rae wears her heart on her sleeve, and there is nothing fake or dishonest about her. After a lifetime of being surrounded by cold plotters who can only hide what they think and feel, Jo Gook must see Mi Rae as a warm summer afternoon.
Still, Mi Rae is smarting from her failure at the provincial government office and she mutters that instead of “Big Brother,” BB should be called “Bad Brother.” Hehe! But Jo Gook asks Mi Rae not to hate BB so much, as that awful man is Jo Gook’s dad. Mi Rae is stunned, and not just because she finds BB to be a complete hypocrite – that awful man would be Mi Rae’s father-in-law if she stays with Jo Gook.
But even as Mi Rae ponders this cruel twist, from both her perspective and from Jo Gook’s perspective, Jo Gook wisely switches gears and turns her mind back to her issue with the City Council. Mi Rae will not be able to get outside funding now, and so she must win over the City Council.
Advised by Jo Gook as to divide and conquer, Mi Rae smartly attacks the weakest links in the Victory Party by meeting with each member individually. The filibuster ends, and Mi Rae’s budget approved by a vote of 5-2! *Cheer!* This may seem like small victory, but consider how far Mi Rae has come, since her ignominious firing and her 1-person protest. Mi Rae is now in full control, with a complete bureaucratic staff and the backing of the City Council.
Finally! Score 1 for the good guys!
Gaining his own momentum, Jo Gook cooks up his own moves. He joins up with a party in opposition to BB’s new political party, which is basically the same as declaring war against his own father. BB is… upset, but Jo Gook notes that he is giving BB a chance to change his ways. By the look on BB’s face, that ain’t happenin any time time soon, and Jo Gook lectures his own dad on fatherhood:
Jo Gook: Instead of trampling on other people to get higher, you can also reach higher by protecting other people. I didn’t know that you could do that. But these sorts of things you normally learn by a father teaching you.
What I am saying is that you did not teach your son very well. Do you feel wronged? What you are feeling right now, is every day that I have lived since I was five!
Jo Gook is using all of his efforts now, to block BB from bringing that awful waste treatment plant into Inju City, even invoking the debt that BB the father owes to Jo Gook the son. Jo Gook turns and leaves without waiting for a response from a BB who is quivering with rage. While the look on BB’s face says that Jo Gook’s play wasn’t nearly enough, Jo Gook has done what he can do.
That night, Jo Gook and Mi Rae share a quiet meal at Jo Gook’s home, and Korean Renaissance Man aka Jo Gook is doing the cooking.
(Note: it looks like linguine with olive oil, garlic and rosemary – this is a wise choice of food by Jo Gook; if it were Korean food, likely Mi Rae would have insisted on helping or doing it all herself, but Jo Gook chose western food that Mi Rae probably is less familiar with, and so this has allowed Mi Rae to relax and be pampered instead. In a word? Smooth. Jo Gook has his flaws, but he sure can make em swoon…)
Jo Gook and Mi Rae are so clearly into one another, it is a joy to watch them even chat with one another. This scene, and the next one with a planned all-day field trip to Seoul with the nursery school kids, is a welcome breather from all the stress and worry from politics and relationships and stuff.
Watch out Rang! Your dad fell for the same tricks!!
Mi Rae and Jo Gook slip away from the field trip for a little R&R on their own. First stop is a surprise for Jo Gook. Mi Rae, trying to be the proper girl-friend, has worked hard to try to find Jo Gook a place near the National Assembly building. Dang, nooooooooo!!! Jo Gook, you dummy, why did you take Go Hae’s luxury apartment gift!! Jo Gook tells a fib to Mi Rae, saying that Soo-In got him an apartment already.
Perhaps to get his mind off of the apartment, Jo Gook pushes aside his moroseness about the trap he is in with Go hae (and his lie about the apartment), and he comes up with the bright idea of taking Mi Rae out shopping like a proper boyfriend should. Mi Rae is over-joyed, as she is finally getting to do some of the things that she has always wanted to do with a proper boyfriend. The montage is a little cheesy, but it is a welcome relief to the background tension of the episode.
By the end of the montage, you will completely forgotten that Jo Gook has apparently still not made a firm decision as to Mayor girlfriend or billionaire fiancé. We all know that he loves Mi Rae. But Jo Gook has his ambitions too. Why else would he have accepted the luxury apartment from Go Hae and then lie about it to Mi Rae?
At the end of the night, the two are high above the city lights of Seoul, and Jo Gook has another revelation: he has worked his whole life to realize his ambitions, but now that he is almost there, he can’t see why he has worked so hard. Mi Rae takes Jo Gook’s hand and vows to teach Jo Gook what it means to have a true dream, a dream that is centered on something other than himself.
In a rather abrupt end to the episode, the happiest day of Mi Rae’s life comes to a screeching halt as Jo Gook and Mi Rae drive up to her house after the trip. Some police detectives are there, interviewing Mi Rae’s mom. As Mi Rae approaches, cuffs are yanked out and Mi Rae is placed under arrest for bribery and corruption! Ummm, what the HECK just happened?!?
Whoa, serious whiplash from the 180 degree turn in the last minute of the episode! While this was certainly a very fun episode and had its misty-eyed moments of pure happiness, the way it was put together was more than a little uneven. I understand that there is a lot of information to get to the audience, and a lot of plot points to get through, but the abruptness of the ending was without any continuity and I get the feeling that the director / producers just threw it in there because they wanted a “cliffhanger” to come at the end of the episode. But I’m not sure it would have been necessary to add that arrest scene anyway. Anyway, as fun as this episode was, it was a little hard to digest. There is so much going on in this episode, I feel like I ate at a buffet. Not that buffets are bad, but sometimes less is more, and sometimes having a consistent theme to your food is a good idea.
Still, we have two lines of thought that were quite fully developed and explored. First, Jo Gook loves Mi Rae, and when they are together and having fun, I wish I could hit pause and just live in the moment. And second, Jo Gook loving Mi Rae might not matter a bit. If you have been trained your entire life to focus on your career ambition, then loving someone is irrelevant to the big picture and can be ignored or forgotten at will. And in this case, Jo Gook focusing on his career means that Mi Rae will undoubtedly lose, and lose huge.
I am conflicted here, because I KNOW that Jo Gook and Mi Rae are so good together. But if he loves Mi Rae, then why did Jo Gook accept the gift of the apartment from Go Hae? Why won’t he just let go of Go Hae’s hand? Why must he continue to play a double game, at the risk of losing not only everything that he has, but everything that Mi Rae has as well? THAT is the most frustrating of all. I don’t care whether Jo Gook risks everything that he has; that’s what people who gamble do. They think they are smarter than the system, and they gamble. That’s fine, they have the right to spend their lives as they will. But Jo Gook is gambling with more than just his life. By linking his life to Mi Rae’s, he is gambling on everything that Mi Rae has, and everyone that she is protecting. And that is unconscionable.
And each and every time that Mi Rae gets hurt, it is because Jo Gook is still hanging on to the hope that he can have his cake and eat it too.
And now, after all that she has been through, Mi Rae has been arrested. Hey Jo Gook, are you happy now?
The person to watch for in this Episode: Jo Rang!
I was going to make this part about the department store shopping, and the Cinderella / glass shoe moment between Jo Gook and Mi Rae, but honestly, there aren’t enough scenes with Rang in the drama and so I wanted to get him in here. Cute as a button girl Kyung Hee and Jo Gook’s son Rang both grab the same french fry and Kyung Hee licks it and then gives it to Rang. Both Mi Rae and Jo Gook notice, and Jo Gook whispers to his son, “I think she likes you.” Rang’s response:
Rang: Appa! Neh ‘style’ ani-eh-yo! [Dad! She’s not my style!]. Yi sang hae! [She’s weird!]
Oh bless Rang’s discerning but overly critical heart! Don’t kids grow up so quickly these days? Not that I can remember, but I am pretty sure I didn’t even have a “style” at Rang’s age. Actually, I didn’t even know what having a style meant.
On To Episode 17! Save Mi Rae!
- City Hall: Episode 15
- City Hall: Episode 14
- City Hall: Episode 13
- City Hall: Episode 12
- City Hall: Episode 11
- City Hall: Episode 10
- City Hall: Episode 9
- City Hall: Episode 8
- City Hall: Episode 7
- City Hall: Episode 6
- City Hall: Episode 5
- City Hall: Episode 4
- City Hall: Episode 3
- City Hall: Episode 2
- City Hall: Episode 1