Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 15
As I was watching Episode 15, I couldn’t help wishing this part of the plot had happened at the halfway point rather than three-quarters of the way to the end. If this shift in family dynamics had come at the midpoint, I think I would have been a lot more excited about the dramatic possibilities, but since it comes after so much dragging of feet, it loses a lot of its potential. Still, we’ve got some fantastic acting, again by Lee Mi-sook and Seo Woo, the latter of whom really kicks it up a notch.
SONG OF THE DAY
Rumble Fish – “어쩌지” (What do I do?) [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
After reading her father’s journals, Hyo-sun throws open the doors and storms into her mother’s room. Shooting Kang-sook a venomous look, she starts throwing Kang-sook’s clothing and even chucks a suitcase at her, screaming, “Get out!”
Too bad it’s only in her head. And Urgggh is all I can say about the fake-out. I understand the reasons for it, but I hated the drama when it did it to us with Eun-jo comforting Hyo-sun in her imagination, and I hate it now.
In actuality, Hyo-sun stands outside the door, poised to enact her imaginary scenario, but finally turns and leaves. On the other side of the door, Kang-sook sits tensed, bracing herself for the confrontation that doesn’t happen.
In her room, Hyo-sun tells a photo of her father that she was about to ask how Kang-sook could do such a thing to him, and that she could have kicked her out. “But I didn’t, Dad. I don’t want to drive her away so simply. Because I don’t want to settle this so easily, I held back.” She tells her father to wait to see how she handles this. Ooh, scary!
An unpredictable Hyo-sun is by far more alarming than an outwardly angry one, as Kang-sook finds out the next morning. Hyo-sun surprises her in the hallway, eyeing her coldly, and figures that Dear Mother is going to tell Eun-jo what happened. Hyo-sun will not allow that, as she explains in a calm, almost friendly tone that makes the harshness of the words that much more unnerving.
“You don’t have to do that. Mo. Ther,” she says, with a particular emphasis on mother. Her voice takes on a menacing edge as she continues, “If she finds out, things will get noisy, and I don’t want that. Just let this go, quietly. Don’t do a thing. Just live quietly as the lady of the house. As my mother.”
And then she reverts to a perfectly normal voice to say that Eun-jo has gone out to handle contract matters. Kang-sook’s left wondering what the heck just hit her. I’m calling it karma, lady.
Now that the machinery rental has been canceled, Ki-hoon goes around asking old friends and contacts for favors. So dire is his need that he doesn’t even really ASK so much as he informs his contact what he needs. He knows he’s being pushy, but desperation doesn’t have time to stop for etiquette classes.
Unsuccessful with one contact, he moves on to the next, who hangs up on him. He calls back to tell the man that he WILL meet with him, because he refuses to give up until he gets his meeting. Which… kinda freaks me out a little, Ki-hoon buddy. I guess it’s a good thing Koreans aren’t as into restraining orders as us litigious Yanks.
Hyo-sun relays the message that Ki-jung wants to meet Eun-jo, and her new change in attitude doesn’t appear to extend to her sister. This makes me curious to know how Hyo-sun’s burning desire for revenge relates to Eun-jo, and if she’ll get the same treatment as Kang-sook.
Whatever she’s thinking and whatever the extent of her suspicions, this right here is the crucial moment. Hyo-sun casually asks about this man named Jang, wondering if Eun-jo’s absolutely certain that there’s nobody like that in Kang-sook’s family. Eun-jo tenses, as though scared she knows the truth, and answers that there’s no such guy. Hyo-sun looks at her closely, then says, “Okay. I see.” There’s a finality to this, as though she has concluded that if Eun-jo’s not on her side, she must be on Mom’s.
Eun-jo expects Hyo-sun to come with her to meet Ki-jung, but Hyo-sun plans to stay at home because it seems Mom needs her. The words aren’t that strange, but there’s a dissonance between the words and the way she says them that unsettles Eun-jo. Growing uneasy, Eun-jo calls her mother. Getting no response, she seeks out Jung-woo to tell him urgently that Jang ajusshi mustn’t — mustn’t! — appear again, ever.
Jung-woo assures her that he won’t, that he made clear that if he ever needs money, he will call Jung-woo instead of Eun-jo.
Hyo-sun finds Kang-sook packing kimbap rolls in the kitchen, and pops a piece into her mouth. Kang-sook is so anxious over Hyo-sun’s behavior that a simple compliment has her on edge.
This isn’t helped by the phone call Hyo-sun accepts from a grandmother, particularly when Hyo-sun asks, “What about my mother?” Kang-sook eyes her warily as Hyo-sun continues in a conciliatory tone, “I don’t know what you’re going to say, but don’t say it, Grandma. I’ll come see you soon, so don’t say it now.”
Ki-hoon drops in on Ki-jung to ask his brother to tell him how far he’s going to take this, which seems like a pretty naive thing for him to do. (“I know you’re my enemy, and I’ve pissed you off and you’ve pissed me off, but could you just let me know what you’re planning against me? ‘Cause… it would really help me fight back against you. Kthxbai.”)
Ki-jung replies that he can’t tell him because he doesn’t know himself — but he’s intending to take this “to the end.” Wait, so he DOES know, then? Ah, whatever, this is just a scene to get Ki-hoon to freak out about being caught chatting it up with Big Bro, as he does when Ki-jung says with false concern that he’d better leave before Eun-jo arrives.
Ki-hoon takes the elevator down, and sure enough, when the doors open, there she is in front of him. Omo! What will she do? Flash him the evil eye? Accuse him of betrayal? Jump to conclusions? Give this drama some much-needed plot movement?
None of the above, alas. She’s so wrapped up in her thoughts that she steps into the elevator right in front of Ki-hoon and doesn’t even notice him. Which… is a really random way to blow hot air into that balloon and then pop it immediately before we have a chance to wonder where that balloon is headed, or what it was even for.
Eun-jo goes up to meet with Ki-jung, who proposes that rather than using Japanese capital to get Dae-sung Co. back on its feet, it would be more desirable to use Hong Ju funds. It’s a pleasant way to propose takeover, and Eun-jo knows it. Ki-jung lays out his proposal plainly: He’ll support her continuous research with yeast, and he’ll let Dae-sung Co. keep its name, since it has built up a solid reputation that is worth preserving.
Contrary to his expectation, however, Eun-jo tells him, “Thank you.” She says that he has just confirmed the vast potential of Dae-sung Co., because it must be quite valuable for the nation’s top liquor company to attempt to swallow them up. She adds, “You’ve given me the strength to rise back up.” In fact, if her yeast is worth the amount he offered, then its market value is several times that. She’d be a fool to sell now, wouldn’t she?
You can practically see the thought bubble forming above Ki-jung’s head that reads “Fuuu…uuu…c….k…” just as Eun-jo thanks him again, then adds, “I won’t forget what you have done to us, not a single thing. I’ll pay you back, so wait and see.”
The reverse power dynamic now means that Kang-sook finds herself uneasily going along with everything Hyo-sun suggests, such as going to pick up Jun-su from kindergarten even though he’s perfectly able to take the bus home.
Still speaking in that polite, calm tone (despite the death glares leveled Mom-ward when the latter isn’t looking), Hyo-sun suggests getting a family photo taken. It’s too bad they never did one when Dad was alive, but it’s better late than never. Ironic that they should pose as a happy family now, after the illusion has been stripped away.
Hyo-sun’s feigned warmth scares Kang-sook — it makes Hyo-sun seem erratic and unpredictable — and she watches warily as Hyo-sun plays with Jun-su. Kang-sook finds her dangerous in a way that belies her innocent appearance, and thinks to herself:
Kang-sook’s narration: “That little thing dares to challenge me without any fear — me, Song Kang-sook, who fought with God and Buddha and won. I’ve never been afraid of either God or Buddha, but that girl who’s barely been a puppy for a day now bares her teeth. That day-old puppy is more frightening to me than a ghost.”
Kang-sook slips away to rush home while her children are playing on the playground, hurriedly packing her belongings and running to the bus stop. The same bus stop where Dae-sung had once come to stop her from leaving, where she now sobs to herself.
Kang-sook’s narration: “This dirty bitch’s fate… Looking at it now, the dirtiest thing in my destiny was this house. God, Buddha, thank you for showing me this now. Finally, you have come to your senses.”
The bus pulls up to the stop — but oh no, that little teeth-baring puppy isn’t about to let one dirty bitch go so easily, and comes running from a distance, shouting after her to stay put. Kang-sook hurries onto the bus and sits anxiously as it pulls away.
Hyo-sun stumbles over her heels and kicks them off (and honestly, given that she had to spend a few seconds putting her shoes on after entering the house, don’tcha think she could’ve opted for something a little more appropriate for a chase than four-inch heels?). She runs after the bus in her bare feet, and when the driver sees her in his mirror, he ignores Kang-sook’s panicked instructions to keep going and stops.
Hyo-sun gets on the bus, panting and glowering. She pulls Kang-sook off and keeps one hand firmly grasping her mother’s shirt to prevent escape.
That doesn’t prevent Kang-sook from trying, though, and thus begins my favorite sequence in this episode, because it weaves a darkly humorous thread through an emotionally charged exchange. (Kang-sook’s histrionics at Dae-sung’s funeral are another example.)
Kang-sook runs, Hyo-sun runs after her, and the tussle sends them both slipping on the rough grass and rolling in the dirt path.
Kang-sook screams that Hyo-sun is a freaky ghost-like (as in scary, not as in dead) girl, but Hyo-sun glares fiercely and tells her that she ain’t going nowhere, nuh-uh — she’s going to stay right where she is and live under Hyo-sun’s thumb: “If I wanted to see you running away, I would have kicked you out. Did you think I’d just leave you alone?” Hyo-sun declares that this is a secret between them two and the heavens. So keep that mouth shut.
Kang-sook tells Hyo-sun to curse at her instead, to call her a bitch or a slut — how can she smile pleasantly and call her “Mom”? “You’re a hundred times scarier than I am, do you know that?!”
Hyo-sun bursts out that if not for Jun-su, she’d do just that. But how could she curse her brother — her father’s son? “Should I give it a try? Should I spit in Jun-su’s face and call you a slut?” Kang-sook dares her to, but Hyo-sun screams that she can’t do that to her father.
Now Kang-sook starts to sob in earnest, but Hyo-sun isn’t about to allow her to soothe her and pushes her back. She warns Kang-sook not to dare apologize, because she wouldn’t believe her anyway.
Hyo-sun: “Are you going to beg for my forgiveness, Mom? The person you should beg to is DEAD, so why are you acting like this to me? Live like that for the rest of your life, as a sinner. Do you think I’d forgive you? Do you think I’d let you live with a clear conscience?!”
Now Hyo-sun screams as she cries, wailing at the unfairness of it all.
The women hobble along back to the house, both the worse for wear after their scuffle. Hyo-sun limps behind her mother, her feet paining her. Kang-sook looks down at her injuries — Hyo-sun raises her chin defiantly, as if daring her, “So what?” — then kneels in front of Hyo-sun, telling her to get on her back, “you awful girl.”
Thus Kang-sook carries Hyo-sun home. The piggyback ride is so often used to convey romantic subtext that I really like the dissonance this creates in this moment, because both ladies would really not prefer to be in this situation. I’d imagine that if I felt this level of disgust or anger toward another person, I’d hate merely looking at them, much less touching them. So one can only imagine the incredible discomfort and enmity that these two feel between them, along every point of contact.
Eun-jo has been trying to get a hold of Ki-hoon all day, to no avail, so when he finally shows up at home, she’s angry enough to tell him to sign his resignation. However, that dissipates when he tells her that he finally managed to get one of his contacts to cooperate with them. Therefore, they now have a replacement for their canceled yeast-testing machine, but strict stipulations come with the agreement.
In addition to a high price and an agreement to cooperate with them in the yeast research, Ki-hoon must come to work for their company. His contact is a sunbae from when he studied abroad in the States, and has declared that Ki-hoon is needed at their company. He agreed, because that’s the only way for them to get Dae-sung Co. back on its feet and stand strong enough that they can withstand attempts to mess with them.
The moment that he tells her the last condition, it’s like the light goes out of Eun-jo and she sits in a dull daze long after he leaves. An hour later, Jung-woo looks at her worriedly, urging her to move or do something.
Eun-jo: “From a long time ago, the morning sunrise wasn’t fun for me at all. I’d either open my eyes in some man’s house or in a motel room. The sound I heard most was my mother slinging slurs, and the swears thrown back by her men. The sound of households breaking, things like that. But one day, I didn’t hear that sound. I figured that after a short while, I’d start to hear it again. This peace would be broken anyway, so I didn’t believe in it. If I believed and it betrayed me, I’d be the one hurting. But even though many days passed, I didn’t hear my mother slinging slurs. On top of that, the sunrise started to become fun for me — I wanted to go to sleep at night, because that’s how morning would come. If I slept and woke up, then I would start my day with that person. Whenever I turned my head, there was this person I was happy to see. I didn’t dare hope for much. If I came back from going somewhere, that was enough that he was there. If I didn’t see him for a short while and then saw him suddenly, I was happy as though seeing him for the first time in a million years. That was enough for me. But like that was hoping for too much, he went away so I couldn’t see him again, when all I needed was to see him. But now he’s going away again. He says he’s going. Living… really sucks.”
Feeling for her, Jung-woo half-seriously offers to keep Ki-hoon from leaving by breaking his leg. So desperate is she that she asks hopefully, “Could you do that?” She then tries to convince herself that this is a good thing for them all, although she fools nobody.
I think I’d feel a lot more for Eun-jo if she hadn’t repeatedly pushed Ki-hoon away and swore to kill him multiple times whenever he tried to approach. Sure this sucks for her, but you only get to insist you don’t want something so many times before you lose sympathy points at actually losing it. Looks like the Drama Gods are calling your bluff, Eun-jo.
Entering the house, Eun-jo hears loud voices and sees Hyo-sun and Kang-sook fighting — Kang-sook is attempting to put medicine on Hyo-sun’s feet, but the latter isn’t having it. Upon Eun-jo’s entrance, they stop arguing and Hyo-sun smiles at Eun-jo, then shoots Kang-sook a look designed to say, “You’d better play along or I’ll make you regret it.”
Modulating her voice, Hyo-sun says that she was crying out because Mom is applying the medicine too harshly, and sweetly asks her to do it more gently.
Kang-sook complies, and Eun-jo leaves the room, her suspicions assuaged for now. Which makes me think Eun-jo’s a heckuva lot more self-absorbed than I’d thought — you’d have to be a grade-A narcissist to miss those hate vibes. Sure she’s hurting, but that doesn’t make her blind.
After Eun-jo leaves, Hyo-sun kicks Kang-sook’s hand away and scowls at her.
At breakfast, Hyo-sun and Kang-sook continue their cold war while Eun-jo eats, missing the glares traded back and forth. However, she does notice the oddness of Hyo-sun oversalting her food as though it’s nothing. Yet when Eun-jo tastes it, it makes her gag.
Feeling that Hyo-sun is burning with fever, Eun-jo drags her to bed, ignoring her sister’s claims that she’s perfectly fine. She orders her to rest up and wait for the doctor, while Kang-sook keeps watch.
Hyo-sun fights back and shoots daggers at Kang-sook, who sighs heavily, “I’ve committed so many sins that you must have been brought to me through fate. So this is my punishment.”
When Eun-jo arrives at the winery, she hears the unexpected sound of laughter coming from the storeroom, where she sees Ki-hoon tasting makgulli with a woman. He escorts her to her car and sends her off cheerfully.
Ki-hoon joins Eun-jo to give her the documents regarding the estimated costs. Eun-jo goes through the motions of reading, but she’s fixated on his contact and comments that she sure laughed a lot. And he laughed a lot with her.
She tells Ki-hoon that the job change is good for him — he should have been working for a big company to start with. The only reason he stayed after Dae-sung died was because he didn’t have an excuse to go, right? In her usual manner, Eun-jo is pre-emptively closing the door and deciding what the truth must be, because hoping for more and being disappointed is more hurtful than not hoping at all. Better to expect the worst, then get the worst. Too bad she hasn’t figured out that she’s actually inviting the worst.
Hyo-sun is treated by the Oriental doctor, and is sleeping when Kang-sook checks on her. Suddenly Hyo-sun starts moaning in her sleep, saying in a pained voice, “Don’t… don’t run away” while tears fall from her eyes.
Kang-sook addresses her wedding photo to tell Dae-sung, “You’re really being cruel in your punishment. You and your daughter are a lot tougher than I am.”
Ki-jung is dealt another blow when he receives the report that Dae-sung Co. has managed to start up production again. On top of that, they have a buyer — Ki-hoon has managed to persuade their Japanese contact to buy from them instead of Hong Ju. Furthermore, market research in Japan has concluded that the Dae-sung makgulli tastes much better than Hong Ju’s brand. Ki-jung tries to contain his fury and asks if there’s anything further. To which Director Park takes out a letter and presents it to him — his resignation. And the hits just keep coming, don’t they?
At the Dae-sung factory, Eun-jo enjoys a brief moment of basking in the satisfaction of seeing production rolling again… but it’s only for a moment, because she gets a call from Dong-soo, who is a character whose purpose in this story still eludes me. (He’s a plot device, for sure, but is that all he is?)
Dong-soo confirms that Hong Ju was the company that interfered in their Japan sales incident. And there’s one more thing that’s weird… Did she know that Ki-hoon is the youngest son in that Hong family?
Ki-hoon comes in bearing good news, and holds up a business magazine with Dae-sung’s face on the cover, the headline of which touts their new yeast discovery. With a smiling face, he announces, “It’s all over now, Eun-jo.” Oh, you have NO idea, unsuspecting Ki-hoon!
I love when the setup changes in a drama, so I welcome the change in Hyo-sun, which shifts the story on its axis and makes things more about her than about Eun-jo. In fact, I thought Eun-jo was quite peripheral in this episode, and didn’t really care about her storyline that much. (Then again, nothing much really happened with her so there’s less to get excited about.)
It made me feel some disappointment, however, that this big shift didn’t happen earlier, back when I was still invested in the characters and their tribulations. I’m still watching and enjoying the acting, but I started to check out emotionally with all the stalemating going on a few episodes ago, and this isn’t enough to bring me back to enthusiastic levels. But imagine if Hyo-sun vowed revenge at the end of Episode 8, or even 10 — then her decision would’ve elicited an “Ohh, shit” reaction from me (and I suspect, a lot of other viewers). Back then, it would have mattered — it would have been a game-changer — and I would have sat up and taken notice. However, at Episode 15, I’ve pretty much given up hoping for progress from these people.
I fear that this drama never had enough plot in the makgulli wars, because I just don’t think they’re very interesting. I’ve been spoiled by shows like Story of A Man, where the schemes and business machinations were a whole lotta fun to watch unfold. I didn’t know a thing about stocks and money manipulation, but they made it exciting and fun and a real thrill ride of suspense — who would win this week? Good Guys or the Bad Guys? And the winner each week was the one who deserved to win because he had skillfully outmaneuvered the other.
Here though, we’ve got a plain tug of war. Two sides pulling one rope. Every once in a while, the Bad Guy gets some secret help from an invisible machine that does its magic voodoo and gains ground for its side, until the Good Guys pull back. Back and forth. Ho-hum.
The Hyo-sun shift, on the other hand, is a lot more interesting. I love that Hyo-sun is trapping Kang-sook in her own lie — this is the illusion Kang-sook forced upon her husband and stepdaughter. The brilliance in Hyo-sun’s retaliation — wherein she hasn’t even done much to “punish” Kang-sook actively — is that life must continue as normal, only now Hyo-sun is the one in control. Just when Kang-sook realizes that the house (and her greed for its possessions) is the “dirtiest thing in [her] destiny,” Hyo-sun refuses to give her an out.
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 14
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 13
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 12
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 11
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 10
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 9
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 8
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 7
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 6
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 5
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 4
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 3
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 2
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 1
- Cinderella, Prosecutor, Taste: First episode impressions