Well look who turned the titanic around in the moments before impact. While this episode mostly has me screaming an exasperated “FINALLY!” at every turn, I can still appreciate it for being what I wanted the show to be around the midpoint. We’ve got plotting, wheeling, dealing, sharing, and hugging…but the real star of this episode is The Unholy Relic of Unspoken Love Between Two Stubborn Souls, aka The Letter. Archaeologists have declared it a monumental find, as historians had originally deemed it too old to matter; but apparently, they were wrong.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Ki-hoon calls out, “Eun-jo ya,” and she turns, but doesn’t approach him. He realizes that she’s not going to come over (has she ever?) so he says he’ll go to her. SO happy to see the return of Smiling Ki-hoon. I thought I was seeing things last episode. It’s hard to tell ever since I lost my marbles. He comes over and waves a little piece of paper in Eun-jo’s face, and puts it in her hand. He says that he’s never been able to finish one sentence he’s ever started with her, because of her untimely habit of running off. “If you move one foot before I’m done talking, you’re dead, you little punk.” Cute, can it be you? I thought you were being held hostage by Angst and Guilt.
She opens the note, and it’s got the numbers one through four written on it. He tells her cryptically that things are about to happen, and that she needs to 1) no matter what happens, don’t be shocked; 2) trust that Dae-sung Co. will survive; 3) you will shut your mouth; and number four—he’ll tell her number four if she’ll still see his face after it’s all over. If four isn’t something like “give me your lips,” I’ll be upset you made me wait too long to hear it.
He tells her to keep that note safe since it’s very important. If she kept your crappy drawing of Ushuaia for eight years, I’m thinking you’re good for another eight, unless you have some other horrendous family secret to lay bare. Eun-jo can’t stand it—what’s he playing at? Yeah, there’s nothing I hate more than when someone says, “I have something very important to say…but I’ll tell you later.” NO…tell me now! He says that the important thing is not what’s about to happen; rather, that all of it too, will pass. Thanks for the lesson in zen, buddy, but it’s easy for you to say because you’re not the one in the dark.
The next morning the town elders have returned, and they tell the Gu sisters that they’re going to sell their shares to Hong Ju. Eun-jo now realizes the meaning of Ki-hoon’s words. Hyo-sun tries to plead with them, to no avail. Eun-jo steps in, saying that she understands their wishes. Hyo-sun freaks out thinking her sister is giving up, but Eun-jo continues, saying that Dae-sung Co. is their father’s legacy (she pointedly says “our dad”), and reminds them of their own sadness and personal loss at his passing. She tells them again of Dae-sung’s wishes for the girls to realize his dreams, entreating them to reconsider. It’s the first time we’ve seen her not freak out, not yell irrationally—she’s actually learning from Ki-hoon and Hyo-sun. Why does personal growth feel so foreign in this drama?
But Grandma/Auntie Priestess shuts Eun-jo down: “You shouldn’t be speaking right now. Your mother’s actions being what they are, you have no right to stand up and preach to us.” Oh, damn. It’s like that, is it? Eun-jo shakes, as she has nothing to say in defense of her mother. It’s her eternal weak spot, to live in guilt over her mother’s actions. Hyo-sun comes to Mom’s defense in front of the elders: “Don’t speak of our mother so lightly! Have you followed her around? Do you have proof? I live with her and I’m saying it’s not true. If it were true, the person who would never be able to forgive her is me. But I’ve told you time and again it’s not true.” Eun-jo is stunned as Hyo-sun stands there defending Mom so fervently.
But Grandma isn’t having any of it. She could care less about Jun-su, about any of them. She dismisses Hyo-sun as a child, and continues to drag Kang-sook’s name through the mud, declaring loudly who knows how much money she’s funneled out over eight years. Eun-jo falters, and Hyo-sun holds her sister steady. It’s as close to a sisterly hug as we’ve ever gotten, but it’s nice to see them supporting each other.
Eun-jo glares at Grandma, challenging her that even if it were true, what’s she going to do about it? Their mother has nothing to do with the business, and short of getting Dae-sung to sign divorce papers from the grave, they have no right to kick her out. She storms out as the elders huff and puff.
Hyo-sun follows after Eun-jo, who can’t believe that what she thought was a giant secret is known to the whole world. The only secret is that she didn’t know it. Now it’s time for Hyo-sun to rally her sister and knock some sense into her, using the same tough love that Eun-jo once gave her, albeit in a much less Eun-jo-esque way. “Get it together. That’s not the problem right now. Our winery…are you going to hand it over to Hong Ju and be done with it? Are you?! I won’t. I’ll beg to all the elders on my knees if I have to. You’re the smart one…what will you do?” Eun-jo, desperate for a moment of sanity, asks for just ten minutes alone, and runs off. Yeah, I sometimes have to do that too. It’s called the pause button. Hyo-sun shouts after her: “Hey, you just TRY and give up on me!” But she looks worried.
Eun-jo goes to the wine cellar to have a private freakout. I feel like it’s been ages since she’s even stepped foot in here! She calls Mom and leaves a voicemail: “Mom, don’t come back. Hide away and don’t come back. Yes, I did think that if we hid it well enough, it would go away; but that’s not how it is, Mom. You’ll be a witch until the day you die, and I’m that witch’s daughter. I’ll burn at the stake in your place. Just run away and don’t come back. Forever.” I was hoping we would see more change in Eun-jo regarding her mother since Kang-sook has shown some signs of remorse. Is it asking for too much, Show? There’s not that much time till the end…
Ki-hoon pops up from behind, having heard her message. He walks over to her and wipes away a tear tenderly. Eun-jo wonders to herself: “If I’m a witch’s daughter, am I also a witch? If I’m a witch, did I cast a spell? I must have forgotten who this person is, what he’s done.” He reminds her of his words from last night to entrust everything to him. He wipes away another tear and puts his hand on her shoulder.
“I told you not to be shocked but I know you are. I told you not to scream but you’re already crying. Rotten girl. Do you know what? I’m scared too. But even though I’m scared, I’m not going to avoid it. I’ll do well.” Eun-jo thinks to herself: “And just like that, the witch’s spell ended. The moment he said he was scared, I was too.” She calls after him asking what exactly he’s planning to do. Ki-hoon just looks back at her and smiles, telling her all she has to do is wait like a good girl. Again, easy for you to say!
While Captain Cryptic enacts his plan, the girls scrape together their finances to see what kind of assets they can gather. Eun-jo is surprised that Hyo-sun knows nothing of the family fortune, but we’re not. Eun-jo realizes that Ki-jung’s plan all along was to liquidate Dae-sung Co. and leave nothing, so that Hong Ju could rule the market—essentially just eliminating the competition. And the promise for Eun-jo to keep doing research would actually be as a Hong Ju employee.
Ki-hoon deploys his super-secret files to Daddy Hong and Ki-jung all in one shot. They read over the records of lobbying funds and other illegal company activities with horrified looks, as Ki-hoon smirks in victory. Ki-jung asks where they came from and what Ki-hoon wants. Daddy Hong tells him to shut up, claiming that they’re not Hong Ju’s documents. Yeah, nice try. Ki-jung loses his cool for the first time, calling Ki-hoon a sly fox, conning him with his pathetic puppy face all the time. Heh, so the puppy dog mug is good for something after all. Other than eye candy, of course.
Ki-jung shouts to find out Ki-hoon’s demands, tipping him off that the documents aren’t as fake as Daddy is insisting. Ki-hoon praises their backdoor dealing prowess, as both men literally gulp in reaction. Ki-jung breaks, copping to being the mastermind as Daddy Hong winces. Ki-hoon: “You already know what my demands are. Don’t mess with us.” Ki-jung: “Us?” Ki-hoon: “Dae-sung Co.”
Then he makes a phone call to play back the recording he made of their conversation. I’m kind of disappointed that Ki-jung, the supposed mastermind, has just been checked using the oldest trick in the book. Oh well. I care not, because I’ve been done with this storyline for ages now. Yay, Ki-hoon who is all of a sudden smarter than his brother!
Meanwhile the girls have been finding their own way to save the company. Eun-jo says that their shares combined are 40 percent, so all they need is two of the elders to switch teams and they’ll have majority control. Problem is, one of them is Grandma, and that is what we like to call a mission impossible.
Ki-hoon drives home and someone follows behind him. Eun-jo sees that Ki-hoon has a new email (the recording), and tries some passwords, and fails. Dude, invasion of privacy much? Ki-hoon arrives at home, but before he can get inside, the thugs that were following him do a snatch n grab. Really? You’re going to kidnap him? Don’t people know that kidnapping always ends in the crushing of minions via dramatic rescue?
In a nice little touch of meta, Hyo-sun reads Jun-su “Kongji and Patzzi” (the Korean version of Cinderella) as a bedtime story. Outside, Jung-woo tells Eun-jo that he’s ready to get married, so she tells him that she’ll help (financially) in whatever way she can, though it’s sooner than she would have liked (wanting to provide him a bigger return on his investment). But that’s not what Jung-woo means…
Hyo-sun tells Eun-jo she has something to show her. They go to her room, and she takes out her treasured keepsakes. She tells her about the dress she gave Mom to wear when she first came to the house, and shows her pictures of Dad when he was little, looking just like Jun-su. But Eun-jo only sees one thing. THE LETTER. God, it’s been like seventeen millennia since that letter was written. I could’ve sworn Ki-hoon had etched it into a stone tablet in the dark ages.
Eun-jo reads it, shaking, as Hyo-sun watches her in fear. She looks at peace with the decision, knowing it’s the right thing to do, even if it breaks her heart. It would’ve been the right thing to do a century ago. Now it needs carbon dating, and you should probably go to jail for the crime of withholding with intent.
Eun-jo pores over the letter in her room. The beginning we already know, thanks to the native speakers in the house. Here’s the rest:
The Letter: “…Don’t run away. Don’t go anywhere. Wait for me at home. I’m going to endure thinking that you’ll be waiting for me, and I hope that you’ll endure thinking of my return. I like you, Eun-jo ya. I like you most in this whole world. I love you. If I were parting with you for a short time, I wanted to write you a letter like this. Don’t go anywhere and wait for me. I love you, Eun-jo ya. I wanted to write you a letter like this, pounding my heart, asking you to wait…”
I’m sorry, what? There’s a fakeout within The God Forsaken Letter itself? I already hated the existence of The Letter. Now I also hate how it was written.
The Letter: “…BUT…the me who has to cross a river and can’t return, has to pathetically ask you not to wait, but to stop me. Will you stop me?”
And the rest is what we heard in voiceover as Ki-hoon got onto the train. Seeing both of them in flashback really does make it seem like a century ago that they parted so epically. Eun-jo runs out of the house, thinking to herself: “There were no tears. My chest was so full I couldn’t even breathe…So because I couldn’t stop you…that’s why we ended up here?” THAT’S what I’m saying!
Then she has a thought-bubble conversation with The Letter. That’s what it’s come to? Now we’re talking to The Letter? Here goes:
Letter: “I’ll take you to the moon and the stars.”
Letter: “Will you stop me?”
Letter: “If you hold me, I think I could stop here.”
Eun-jo: “This person…was holding onto me tightly like a piece of straw.”
The realization finally makes her cry.
Letter: “Even when blood gushes from your knee, you’re unable to cry, just like stupid Hong-Ki-hoon.”
Eun-jo: “This person bled too.”
Letter: “Will you stop me?”
Eun-jo: “If I had known that this person had nothing but a stubborn 18-year old girl in all the world to stop him, then I had no reason to call my own name like a bird, and cry.”
It’s fascinating that what brings Eun-jo around is not how Ki-hoon feels about her now, but how he felt about her in the past. I mean, I get it. But I’m always so interested in how much weight is placed in kdramas on the past—what came before is paramount, even at the cost of the present. If and only if he truly loved her then, does he have the right to love her now.
Both sisters stay up, each thinking of Ki-hoon on her own: Hyo-sun finally letting go, and Eun-jo finally holding on. Eun-jo runs to Ki-hoon’s room in the morning, but Jung-woo tells her he never came home. She knows immediately that something’s wrong. Oh, NOW your sync-dar is up and running? They run outside and see his car parked out front. Eun-jo starts to panic, and she tries again to crack Ki-hoon’s password.
Jung-woo stands by as she tries to figure out her next step. She wonders what the fourth thing on that note might be—the thing he said he’d tell her later. She figures out the password: MMM, and in comes the linchpin recording.
Looks like Big Brother is the kidnapper after all. What a quaint family reunion. Poor puppy is all beat up, and sits in silence. Ki-jung tells him that he just needs to hold him for a few days, since their parents’ divorce is going down tomorrow, and Dae-sung Co. will be dealt with in the fallout. His genius plan is to hold Ki-hoon there for a few days? Then what was the roughing up for? And done via secretaries and thugs, like everything else with this guy.
Ki-hoon smirks at his brother: “I didn’t know you were a gangster too, Ki-jung hyung. Even if it weren’t for me, you’re still destined to fail. I can tell by the kinds of actions you’re taking…how weak a person you actually are.” Ooooh. Dogfight! He gets a good punch in and tries to run away, but the goons get him not five feet away. Is it time for Eun-jo to arrive and kick everyone’s asses? Will she use her death beam to stun them while Jung-woo knocks them out with his Eun-jo-is-my-woman bat?
Alas, Eun-jo hears the recording and decides on a trade: Ki-hoon for the incriminating evidence. Please tell me you didn’t drink stupid juice to make you forget the part where you make a copy.
Hyo-sun kneels in front of Grandma’s house and refuses to leave until she speaks to her. She shouts out whether Grandma’s ready to claim responsibility for her, Eun-jo, and Jun-su if she refuses to let Mom come back. (She’s twisting the truth for effect here, but it’s not untrue that Grandma’s acceptance would clear Kang-sook to return without judgment.) And then someone appears next to her.
She looks up, and it’s Jung-woo, everyone’s favorite bodyguard. He says that Eun-jo sent him to stay with her. Well that’s the best present ever. Send him my way for Christmas, will you? Although I would really rather he be your bodyguard against all those minions, dear skinny girl. I guess you have the death beam going for you, though.
She phones Ki-jung and calls him out on the kidnapping. He tries to play dumb, asking if she’s ever heard of anyone kidnapping his own brother. She reminds him of his own words that Ki-hoon was never any brother of his. He tries to deny it, but she tells him that she’ll be doing the talking, thank you. I really wish this conversation were in person. But then I suppose you’d just be kidnapped right alongside him.
Eun-jo tells him that she came here with the intention of swapping the recording for Ki-hoon. But then she realized that if Ki-hoon were worried about his well-being, he wouldn’t have done this in the first place, and she realized he wouldn’t have wanted her to make the trade. So her plan is to turn everything over to the authorities, and deal with them all in one blow. She doesn’t know what the documents contain, but based on the recording, she says that even an idiot would know that they must’ve done something massively bad. Awesome. I would’ve screamed if you had made the trade.
Ki-jung tries to get her to meet, but she goes on:
Eun-jo: “This is the right thing to do. Even if you swallow Dae-sung Co. and break it off, even if you wipe the name Dae-sung from Korea forever, it’s the right thing to do. Our father who passed away would think so too. And the biggest reason…that person…Hong Ki-hoon…I don’t want to make him ashamed anymore. That person was ashamed this whole time—that’s why he couldn’t come to me. Because he felt so guilty, he always said otherwise. Never saying how I really felt, I didn’t once give him a warm word. But if I trade this recording for him, then that person and I…we’ll never have a chance.”
It’s FINALLY here. The confession of confessions. Too bad it’s again to the wrong person. But I don’t even care right now. It’s such a long time coming, and akin to watching an iceberg melt like a popsicle. Is that…could that be…happiness I see in your future?
She tells Ki-jung that she’ll give him some time before she goes in there, and if he lets Ki-hoon go and he calls her, she’ll leave the kidnapping out of the charges she’s about to level against him. I’m pretty sure that’s like telling someone with leprosy that you’ll cure him of psoriasis, but maybe he’ll not want to go to jail for quite as long. Hm. Someone that pretty should not be going to jail. He quakes in fear and calls his lawyer. And then he looks in on Ki-hoon, totally stewing that he’s been beat by his kid brother and a little girl.
Eun-jo’s phone rings…and it’s Ki-hoon. He tells her to roll down her window, so he can see her face. She does, and they see each other across the street. Ki-hoon: “Who told you to do that?” She checks if he’s okay, and tells him to go home. What? Go home? You’re supposed to run to each other in the middle of the street and kiss! Gah, stubborn girl. I know you’re new to feelings, but just listen to me for once.
He tells her that she can’t turn over that evidence—it’s the only way to save Dae-sung Co. She shakes her head, tears falling. In her head it’s the only way for them to be together.
He gets off the phone and starts walking through traffic to get to her. Finally! Someone who knows how this works!
Eun-jo gets out of the car, and when he gets stuck halfway (Symbolism!) she makes a break for it and runs to him (Yay!), landing in his arms in the middle of the street. Cars pass as they embrace, not for the first time, but for the first time as equals, meeting halfway.
Is that Eun-jo actually running TOWARDS somebody? Did the earth spin backwards on its axis? And what’s a girl got to do for a kiss ’round here? I’d better see some lip action in the finale, Show. Now’s not the time to pull any punches.
I love seeing the sisters as a unit, and the acknowledgement of Jun-su as their brother, their shared blood. It’s a nice contrast to see the Gu family coming together as the Hong family unravels, and to see Ki-hoon officially choosing sides in his actions. It only took eighteen episodes and eight years, but we FINALLY see some change in Eun-jo, some growth towards becoming a functioning adult. What’s amazing is that the person who changed her, made her able to come running wasn’t Ki-hoon, but Hyo-sun (as an extension of Dad). That’s something I really do like about this drama—the centrality of the sisters’ relationship, and the influence they have on each other, despite a lifetime of outward animosity. As far as portraits of dysfunctional families go, it’s a pretty great one, even if I still wish more stuff had happened.
I have an admittedly complicated love/hate relationship with this show. Sometimes it drives me to drink, and other times I’m lost in its world. I felt more of the latter earlier on, and less so lately, but this past week’s episodes did bring back a lot of the humor that I missed so much, and finally started to move things along plotwise. I don’t think four good episodes (say, 17 through 20, I say optimistically) necessarily save this crazy ship from sinking, but they at least make me able to watch again without pulling out all my hair. I agree with javabeans that a happy ending is the only possible ending for such a downer of a show, and despite the going bonkers in the middle there for a while, I am still looking forward to seeing these nutty kids all get their “happily ever after,” like a proper fairy tale should.
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 17
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 16
- Cinderella’s Sister: Episode 15
- 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