Coffee House: Page 5
More laughs and antics, but now we start peeling back some of the surface layers to get at the backstory. This episode felt really short to me, which I interpret as a good thing since it zipped right by.
What gives me hope for this series, on top of the laughs in every episode, is that Coffee House has been doing a good job of subverting cliches so far. It definitely employs a lot of them — but then it’ll twist one at the end so that the situation ends up being not what you expected it to be. (Such as the bus scene in a previous episode.) I always dig when a drama does that.
SONG OF THE DAY
Napoleon Dynamite – “Jazz Night” [ Download ]
PAGE 5 RECAP
Eun-young looks out of her office window, surprised to find Ji-won glaring at her from his side. After figuring out that she and Jin-soo have been playing him for a fool, he is none too pleased to have been so thoroughly punk’d, and he jerks his blinds closed in a huff. Eun-young’s actually miffed that he closed the blinds first, since surely she has more reason to be upset with him than he with her.
In the writer’s studio, Seung-yeon hesitantly tries to get Jin-soo to stop with his domino-building. Like a teenager trying to sneak in a few more minutes’ sleep time before school, Jin-soo extends his deadline again and again — he’d promised to quit with the dominoes by noon, and it’s past that now — and Seung-yeon reminds him that the pro-like thing to do would be to keep his promise. But Jin-soo isn’t having any of that and says that his only promise is his contract with the publisher.
Eun-young calls Seung-yeon and guesses that Jin-soo is back at his dominoes. Assuring her that she will take full responsibility for the ramifications, she urges Seung-yeon to step on the dominoes, and against her better judgment, Seung-yeon does.
This earns her a fierce scowl from Jin-soo, who refuses to take Eun-young’s call and tosses the phone away. Downstairs, manager Dong-wook has heard Eun-young’s end of the exchange and worries about what this will mean for Seung-yeon — won’t Jin-soo be really mad at her? To his surprise, Eun-young says that he should be upset — Seung-yeon ought to have shown more loyalty to her direct boss than to her.
That’s exactly Jin-soo’s charge against Seung-yeon, and he yells at her for not realizing which side she should take. Holding up a fistful of darts, he says that if any one of them hits the black on the board, she’s fired.
Not expecting such a swift and severe punishment, Seung-yeon watches in horror as he throws four darts in quick succession. White — white — white — the line! He holds up the last dart and asks who she’ll listen to, him or Eun-young. She promises to listen to him, but he says, “It’s too late. You should’ve known that from the start” and throws the last dart. Black!
She’s stunned speechless. He supposes she’s hoping this is all a joke, but makes clear that he’s serious: “Pack your things.”
Eun-young arrives to urge Jin-soo to turn his attention to his manuscript, and is surprised to hear that he has just fired his secretary. Now she feels bad for her part in the scenario, and prods him to reconsider. He replies that if she feels so bad, then she can give her a job.
Seeing that Jin-soo isn’t going to change his mind, Seung-yeon glumly packs her things and gives a subdued goodbye. Jin-soo reacts so disinterestedly to her departure that she leaves fighting tears.
However, Eun-young knows him well and figures that he’s just being his typical mean self (“You’re 10% meaner than me!”) by teaching her a lesson in an overly harsh way. Jin-soo replies that Seung-yeon is so dense that he has to make his point really clear for her to realize she’d better not do this again.
Now that the threat of real firing is gone, Eun-young wonders why Jin-soo doesn’t actually fire Seung-yeon, since she’s not very useful. He answers that it’s still better having her around than not.
That answer elicits a little “Hmph”-like reaction from Eun-young, which I don’t interpret to be outright romantic jealousy but an indication that she’s a little bummed about his liking for Seung-yeon. Eun-young likes her too, as a person, but this is one area in which she and Jin-soo don’t see eye to eye — and we’ve seen how they are so similar in everything else; they’re almost always on the same wavelength. While there may be a little bit of romantic longing mixed up in there (which I think is supported by the rest of the episode), her reaction points to that disappointment you feel when it seems like you’re losing a close friend to another relationship.
To highlight Jin-soo’s point about preferring to have Seung-yeon around, he looks at his pencil in amazement. He’d assumed it was his own pencil all along, but this is one that Seung-yeon sharpened. This is what he means — she has a habit of pulling one solid thing out when you don’t expect it.
Jin-soo had been planning to let her stew for a few days, but now he reaches for the phone before pulling back. He’ll wait 24 hours to ensure that his lesson really sinks in. (His excitement over the pencil shows that no matter how hard he may be on her, he’s fully willing to give credit when it’s due. He may be an erratic jerk sometimes, but there IS a consistency to his madness. Even if it’s a consistency only he understands.)
As Seung-yeon trudges along, Ji-won pulls up to her in his car. Upon hearing that she’s been fired, Ji-won promises to help her by talking to Jin-soo about it, and thus they end up on his doorstep together. (Ji-won’s actually taking advantage of this moment to get to Jin-soo, since he knows he’s less likely to get to him on his own.)
I love that Jin-soo opens the door with a smile, expecting only to see Seung-yeon, before Ji-won yanks open the door and makes his presence known, to put it mildly.
He grabs Jin-soo by the shirt and curses at him for all the trickery. Not content to solve this with anything less than violence, he challenges Jin-soo to a boxing match.
Jin-soo is not looking forward to this at all, as he is fully aware of Ji-won’s reputation for amateur boxing back in the day. He mutters to Seung-yeon that this must be her revenge for firing her. She protests that Ji-won promised to talk things over with Jin-soo on her behalf. He retorts that he was very clear that he didn’t consider Ji-won a friend; again she has taken someone else’s word above his.
Ji-won warms up in a fervor, eager to get his pound of flesh (and I mean that only half-metaphorically!) Jin-soo drags his feet, knowing he’s about to get his ass handed to him on a platter, and reluctantly joins him in the ring. Ji-won warns him that he’d better not worry about winning so much as preserving his life.
Jin-soo does his best to hold his own, and although he successfully dodges some punches, he ends up taking a lot more. Overcome with panic, Seung-yeon hurriedly calls Eun-young to beg her to put a stop to this.
After pummeling Jin-soo with a flurry of smaller blows, Ji-won lands a mighty punch, which sends Jin-soo flying up in the air and falling to the mat with a heavy thud. Ji-won isn’t done yet and has a lot more aggression to take out, but Jin-soo remains sprawled on the mat, out cold, so Ji-won leaves the ring with a warning that he’d better not mess with him and Eun-young anymore.
Seung-yeon dashes to his side, overcome with worry, and tries to rouse him, making an inept attempt at reviving him with some thumps on the chest. When that doesn’t work, she swoops in to deliver that cliche-ridden gesture, the CPR kiss, blowing into his mouth.
This is such a pet peeve of mine — people attempting CPR who obviously have no idea what they’re doing — but again this drama manages to twist the cliche, because Jin-soo is actually faking his knock-out and therefore her gesture is unnecessary. Despite his intent to fake unconsciousness, Jin-soo pushes her off and starts sputtering in disgust — what does she think she’s doing?
From the corridor, on his way out, Ji-won hears Jin-soo’s shouting and realizes he’s been fooled again. Even angrier now, he storms back to resume the fight. Jin-soo’s attempt to escape before Ji-won corners him in the ring is pretty hilarious, as he has no scruples about running away, if only he could manage it. Alas he can’t, so without a choice he engages for Round 2, which goes just as badly for him as Round 1.
Eun-young rushes in and yells for them to stop (as Seung-yeon is making an ineffectual grab for Ji-won’s leg, which is kind of adorable and ridiculous). She grabs a rope and uses it to yank Ji-won off Jin-soo, and shouts at both men to cut it out.
She faces Ji-won angrily, telling him he’s being immature — he ought to talk this out with her, not fight with Jin-soo.
As they walk home, Jin-soo grumbles at Seung-yeon’s inability to distinguish between a real knock-out and a faked one. In her defense, Seung-yeon argues that it never occurred to her that he’d fake this kind of situation. Don’t men usually throw themselves full-on into fights with the intention of winning? Yet he didn’t even try to win, and toward the end of the fight was mostly just shielding himself from Ji-won’s blows.
Jin-soo replies that she’s got the wrong idea (once again) about what it takes to be a “pro.” A pro doesn’t necessarily put his utmost effort into everything — being a pro means you focus your energies where they’re most needed. If you try at everything willy-nilly, what can you accomplish? And also, he grumbles, what was with the CPR? Does she think that’s just something you bust out in any emergency situation? Clearly she has been watching too many dramas.
Recalling that he left his sweater back at the gym, Jin-soo sends Seung-yeon back to retrieve it, where she inadvertently overhears an argument between Eun-young and Ji-won. She’s spitting mad at Ji-won for picking the fight, because even if they did play tricks on him, Ji-won doesn’t have the right to be this upset, given his past transgressions. She entreats him to move on with his life.
However, Ji-won senses something more to the situation and asks about her relationship to Jin-soo — what’s going on, and what happened in the time he has been gone to make them band together? Why would Jin-soo help her?
Eun-young doesn’t have a thought-out answer for that, and shrugs that he probably just felt sorry for her situation. But Ji-won is either very suspicious or very sharp (perhaps a bit of both, for once), and isn’t buying that simple explanation. He’s convinced that Jin-soo must have feelings for her — and then looks closely at her reaction and asks if she has feelings for Jin-soo too. His next words are cryptic and hint at more to the backstory, as he warns that a relationship between those two can’t happen, and she should know that.
When Eun-young leaves the room, she sees Seung-yeon standing in the corridor, and walks off embarrassed to have had a witness to this conversation.
Seung-yeon returns to the office with the sweater, and asks why he chose to mess with Ji-won in the first place. It doesn’t seem that he did all that purely because he doesn’t like him, but Jin-soo answers shortly that that’s all there is to it.
He requests an ice pack, and it isn’t until she’s busily preparing it that she realizes that she was fired today. In all the hustle and bustle, they’ve fallen right back into their boss-employee routine, but now she remembers the truth. Tentatively, she reminds Jin-soo of this, and with a disappointed air, she starts to leave.
Jin-soo halts her exit with a simple question: How did she sharpen his pencil? This brings a smile of excitement to her face — then she has been successful? She’s thrilled at this news, and tells him that she had used a microscope to examine them, since he had told her it wasn’t something she could try to do randomly. He looks impressed — it never occurred to him that anyone would use a microscope.
Eun-young swings by to apologize to Jin-soo — she must have acted her part poorly and given away their prank to Jin-soo. She assures him that she’ll take care of Ji-won, then asks if Ji-won said “anything” to him. She’s probing to see whether Ji-won shared his theory about them having feelings for each other, which supports the possibility that he’s right about Eun-young’s secretly harboring some. Seeing that Jin-soo doesn’t know what she means, she waves it aside, saying that Ji-won was spouting lots of nonsense. She tells him to ignore whatever Ji-won says.
Later that night, Seung-yeon reads up on CPR, and is surprised to see that it’s actually not suitable for all emergencies. Good thing she figured that out now before anyone else feel unconscious, eh?
Eun-young calls to request a favor, which Seung-yeon immediately declines, thinking that she will be asked to go against Jin-soo’s wishes again. She’s definitely learned THAT lesson. But Eun-young’s request is merely that she pretend she never heard the conversation between her and Ji-won, because she doesn’t want gossip to spread among the employees. (I’d think that making a request like that is bound to raise more suspicions than settle them.) It’s a good thing Seung-yeon is not exactly quick on the uptake, since she doesn’t think too much of it and assures her that she had no intention of spreading gossip.
And now, for more Cute! Well, there are a lot of other cute moments in this drama, but the ones with Dong-wook are especially so, and these two always put a smile on my face with their awkward, bumbling, not-quite-romantic interactions.
Dong-wook enters Seung-yeon’s father’s cafe that night, and his unexpected presence catches her off-guard — especially when Seung-yeon takes in the way he’s dressed. In stark contrast to his smooth, dreamy appearance at the book cafe, now he’s dressed in a silly tee, hoodie, and flip-flops. Basically, he looks like her. She even notes the resemblance, pointing out the similarities in their outfits.
He says that he was “just in the neighborhood,” which right away tells us that that’s not really his motivation. (I mean, who ever drops by because they were “just in the neighborhood”? Nobody, or at least not in the history of television.) It’s more likely that he has been worried about her after the morning firing incident, and has come by to see that she’s doing okay. But Seung-yeon accepts his response (like I said, girl isn’t really quick to perceive hidden meanings) and takes his drink order.
She’s nervous to present her coffee to a real specialist, but Dong-wook gamely takes a sip and covers up the grimace and assures her that it’s actually good. (Aw!) When she comments on how differently he looks now, he explains that at the cafe, he feels obligated to uphold a certain image. That’s also why he doesn’t speak much — he’s self-conscious of his saturi accent, which is considered unfashionable, so instead he cultivates the silent image. Seung-yeon laughs at this discovery, saying that he’s actually quite talkative!
While Seung-yeon is walking Dong-wook out, her father answers her ringing cell phone, which turns out to be a call from Jin-soo. Dad has been drinking so his mood swings from one extreme to another at the drop of a hat; at first he’s friendly and cheerful, but that soon turns teary as he starts going on about how he worries for his poor girl, who was all broken up after the death of her mother. We can see that Jin-soo feels some sympathy as he listens, though he doesn’t say anything.
When Seung-yeon comes back, she finds a message waiting for her. Jin-soo has given instructions to come to the airport wearing respectable clothing, and she’s only got an hour and half to make it in time for the flight.
When she finds him at the airport, Jin-soo looks at her outfit in disapproval — didn’t she get the message that she was supposed to dress up? She answers that this is the most appropriate outfit she had — until he clarifies that they’re headed to a funeral. Lol. (He’d relayed that detail over the phone, but it had been left out of the memo.)
They fly to the location in Jeju Island, but as Seung-yeon’s bright pink suit would probably be considered disrespectful, so she can’t go in with him. Unfortunately, she has forgotten her cell phone in her hurry, but he says that he should only be a half hour and he instructs her to wait outside for him.
This is a professional obligation for Jin-soo, also attended by the members of the publishing house. Eun-young informs him that there are a few publishing bigwigs who are waiting to talk to him and leads him around to make the appropriate greetings. He accuses her of lining up a bunch of meetings to entrap him; she replies that she had to take advantage of the occasion, because he can hardly skip out of a funeral like he might in another situation.
The networking takes longer than expected, and one of their contacts suggests that they relocate to a quieter location to continue their conversation. The man is flying to Japan in the morning, so he’d like to take this opportunity while he can.
So they end up driving to the man’s vacation home to spend the night, and it isn’t until they’re in the car that Jin-soo recalls that he has forgotten his secretary. Oops! He asks the driver (one of Eun-young’s employees) to turn back to get her, but Eun-young insists that they can’t keep the man waiting. The driver promises that he’ll go right back to get her after dropping them off.
When they arrive at the house (and presumably after the business conversation), Jin-soo sits by the phone to wait for the driver’s call as soon as he has picked up Seung-yeon — it’s around 2 am by now, and he’s anxious about leaving her behind. As well he should.
Eun-young is not as worried, and jokes around that Seung-yeon is turning out to be quite a source of inconvenience. Till now Eun-young has treated Seung-yeon with friendliness, but this is the first time I think she’s being unfair, and while she’s not being outright malicious, her joking has a mean girl tinge to it. She calls Seung-yeon a damsel in distress — you know, the kind of girl who sits back and whines for someone to rescue her, when others try so hard to be self-sufficient.
Jin-soo picks up on that unfair vibe too, and asks if that damsel in distress did something to her for her to talk like that. Eun-young merely says that it’s a pain, and heads up to her room for the night.
But ain’t karma a bitch? After undressing, she walks barefoot to the bathroom — and slips on the wet tile to crash down hard on the ground. The impact immobilizes her and sends pain shooting through her body, particularly her neck.
Thankfully she has her cell phone with her, but in her embarrassing position she’s not exactly eager to cry for help. She calls her employee, Hyun-joo, since it’s not as embarrassing to ask another woman for assistance.
However, Hyun-joo is still in the car with the driver, on their way to pick up Seung-yeon. They’re torn between their two tasks, but decide that an injured person supersedes a waiting person, and figure they ought to head back to the house. But then they recall that Jin-soo’s there, so Hyun-joo calls him to ask him to check on Eun-young, who may need medical help.
When he opens the door, he and Eun-young are both stricken with embarrassment. Reddening, he immediately steps out and talks through the door. Meanwhile, Eun-young is mid-conversation with her doctor friend and urgently asks what tack she should take in dealing with this — act embarrassed? Cool? Laugh it off?
Her friend tells her to act cool, so when Jin-soo comes in with a towel, she forces herself to tease his reaction, tossing around comments like how her great figure must have him embarrassed. Jin-soo tells her she chose the wrong “concept” — she should have gone for embarrassed — and laughs at her. Heh.
She doesn’t want to go to the hospital in a towel, so she asks him to retrieve a dress from her luggage, and cringes in shame as he fumbles through layers of leopard-print lingerie before finding the garment. It just gets worse from there, because she has trouble working the dress down over her body. Jin-soo finally dives in and drags the material over her body as quickly as possible, which is humiliating and awkward for them both. And hilarious for us.
This whoops-I-slipped-and-fell-while-naked bit may seem like just another overused cliche, but again I like that the drama twists it at the end. Jin-soo asks, using her earlier words and twisting them, who’s the damsel in distress now? You know, the type of woman who talks a big game but then has an injury requiring the man to swoop in to carry her to safety? Touché!
The mood takes a serious turn when Jin-soo watches Eun-young being loaded into the ambulance, which brings back other, less pleasant memories. His vision blurs at the flashing emergency lights, and he sits by Eun-young’s stretcher in a subdued mood. When Eun-young comments on it, he reminds her that ambulances hardly have good memories for them.
As they drive toward the hospital — which is where the funeral hall is located — Jin-soo spots a familiar figure out the ambulance window, dressed in pink. It’s Seung-yeon, still standing out on the sidewalk, waiting for him. When he checks the time, it’s 5:30 am.
Seung-yeon is hurt and angry, and demands to know how he could just leave her here for six hours. Jin-soo feels so bad that his anger at himself comes out in his question directed at her, as he chides her for just standing there all this time without figuring out a backup plan. Couldn’t she have thought of some way to handle the situation other than this?
Seung-yeon shoots back that she tried to think of alternatives, but she was afraid of missing his return — she didn’t even go to the bathroom once because she didn’t want to be gone if/when he came by. And what if he got mad at her again? She’s getting pretty tired of always being scolded by him.
In a calmer tone, Jin-soo tells her that he’s sorry, and that he knows he put her through a lot today. Those little words are enough to take her aback, because he’s never said sorry to her before. That’s also enough to melt her hurt, and she smiles back at him happily.
Jin-soo says that now that he’s apologized, it’s time to scold her for her mistakes — how can a secretary leave her phone at home, and dress like that to a funeral? — but those words have no ill effects on her mood, because she’s too busy smiling.
He sends her off for a bathroom break, and while he waits, the sound of an ambulance brings back his painful memory:
In a flashback, we see the bloody site of an accident. A woman is loaded into an ambulance with blood pouring from head wounds. A younger Eun-young and Jin-soo sit by the unconscious woman’s side, while Jin-soo is wracked with sobs.
This is the same memory that comes to Eun-young in her sleep, and she wakes up in the hospital crying.
I don’t feel a burning need to get to the mystery of Jin-soo’s wife’s death — I’m mostly content to wait for the show to reveal it to us — but one quick speculation: There’s a particular reason that Eun-young cannot like Jin-soo, as articulated by Ji-won, and it seems pretty serious. That makes me think she has either hurt Jin-soo or has incurred some debt against him (emotionally, figuratively). Which brings me to the thought that maybe she feels responsible for his wife’s death, which would explain why she can’t pursue him now, and would also answer why these two never got together. Too much negative mojo in their history.
But that’s just a theory.
As for Dong-wook… I think there are two possible directions for where this is going: Either they’ll have a romantic development, or they’ll end up good friends, like Eun-young and Jin-soo.
On the couple front, I love how awkwardly adorable Dong-wook and Seung-yeon are together, and despite that botched romantic moment on the bus, we’re seeing that they actually have a lot in common. Perhaps he’s a lot more like Seung-yeon than anyone would have expected, and based on his concern for her feelings after she is fired, we see he’s developing feelings for her, even if we don’t yet know if those are romantic.
But I think there’s an argument for them ending up platonic buddies, especially if Seung-yeon is paired with Jin-soo. Just as Eun-young and Jin-soo are similar friends who have never gone romantic, perhaps Seung-yeon and Dong-wook will also go that way. However, if it turns out there was romantic interest in Eun-young and Jin-soo’s relationship, that sorta discounts this argument, doesn’t it?
Ah, either way, I’m game. Like I said in the last recap, I’m totally okay leaving the ‘shipping behind and sitting back, not worrying about who ends up with whom.