Coffee House: Page 4
And the hilarity continues! I’m really loving how things are going so far, and I really, really hope the drama keeps its vibrant pace going. This episode had me cracking up several times, and the love triangle also gets going in earnest. I had thought that I wouldn’t like the triangle, because up to Episode 3 I was skeptical of its persuasiveness. However, I think it actually works well, thanks to some really nicely acted subtle moments by Kang Ji-hwan, who by the way has been singled out for being particularly deft with the ad-lib. (I’d heard this before of him on movie sets, so I’m not surprised — he seems to be the type with a zillion ideas of how to play a scene or twist a moment for laughs.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Sugar Bubble – “사랑해 사랑해” (I love you, I love you) [ Download ]
PAGE 4 RECAP
While reading a book on UFOs and their teleporting abilities (haha!), Ji-won receives an unmarked package at his office, which contains his wallet and cell phone. His immediate relief soon gives way to suspicion — how did the thief know where to send his wallet? And where are his car keys?
Jin-soo has them, of course. Without explaining the purpose, he instructs Seung-yeon to take the keys and drive the car whose door it opens to a specific location. By now used to Jin-soo’s oddball demands, she drives the car to a construction site, parks it as instructed, then goes on to Part 2 of the errand.
We don’t quite know what Part 2 entails, but it has something to do with ice. However, when she gets back to the office and starts to report on the ice matter, he furtively shushes her, as Ji-won is here to vent about his curious predicament.
Ji-won has deduced that this isn’t the work of an alien, and therefore must be the work of a person. It’s hilarious that this means he was seriously entertaining thoughts of the UFO in the first place. Sure, that idea was planted by Jin-soo, but a seed needs fertile soil in which to sprout…
Jin-soo acts like this is all a confounding mystery and brainstorms to narrow down the list of possible culprits. An idea comes to him: Could it be Eun-young’s stalker? This is all hypothetical, but Jin-soo spins a plausible-sounding tale — what if Eun-young had a stalker who had been watching over her for years and felt threatened by the reappearance of Ji-won? This recent incident could be him “warning” Ji-won to stay away. After all, Jin-soo has studied crazy people for a story, so he knows that being driven insane by love is fairly common. Supposedly.
Jin-soo ain’t a bestselling author for nothing, and he sells the idea reasonably well — although the story is absurd to our ears, Ji-won eats it up. He has to rush away when he gets a phone call from an angry construction worker — his car is parked at their site, and it’s blocking their trucks!
After Ji-won leaves to deal with this mess, Jin-soo bursts into a laughing fit. Seung-yeon hadn’t realized what was going on until the call about the car, and she looks at Jin-soo with some disapproval.
He guesses what she’s thinking: “That guy has crossed the line into crazy. It wasn’t enough to torment me so now he’s using me to torment other people? Why the hell do I have to be his secretary? I should have just played along when Dad told me to quit.” This makes Seung-yeon a little unnerved at how well he can read her thoughts, since that’s pretty much what she was thinking.
But then, he points out that she’s also probably thinking (and this is the part where he plants the idea) that this kind of harassment takes a lot of time and effort. It’s easy to get mad at someone you hate, like her ex-boyfriend. But to make him fall on his own using her brain? Now, that’s a skill, and maybe Mr. Crazy Writer will teach her that skill. If that wasn’t part of her original train of thought, it sure is NOW — Jin-soo really is pretty persuasive when he wants to be.
At the construction site, Ji-won tries to deal with a mob of angry construction workers, unable to do anything about the car because he doesn’t have the keys. Just as the crowd is getting unruly, a delivery man drives up with a box for him, which turns out to be an ice block — into which the car key has been frozen.
Lulz! By turns chipping at, hammering, and torching the ice block, Ji-won and the workers eventually dig the key out, and he drives away sheepishly.
When Ji-won reaches for the sunglass compartment in his car, a red note flutters down from the perpetrator that warns him to stop pursuing Eun-young. Jin-soo suggests that he ought to maintain a low profile to stay off the stalker’s radar; therefore he’d better stay away from Eun-young for the time being.
Watching all this unfold is Seung-yeon, who finds some relief in not being Jin-soo’s only patsy — this proves that she wasn’t dumb for falling for his lies. He’s just really good at lying. (But what about Door Number Three? It could just be that she and Ji-won are both incredibly gullible…)
Again I suppose you could argue that Jin-soo’s antics are mean — while they’re childish pranks, if anyone ever did this to me I’m sure I’d be spitting mad at the waste of time and therefore money the joke wrought — but I can’t feel entirely sorry for Ji-won, because he’s the absurdly dense one who forces his presence upon people who don’t want him. It’s not like Eun-young and Jin-soo are pretending to like him to his face — they’ve both made it pretty clear that they’re uncomfortable with him around, but Ji-won overrides their protests.
Furthermore, this is all for Eun-young’s benefit, and she certainly appreciates it. It occurs to her that she hasn’t heard from Ji-won all day — for once he’s not pestering her with calls and text messages. A gleeful smile spreads over her face as she wonders if this means Jin-soo has been successful, and she affectionately affixes stickers on his author poster, then gives his head a pat. It’s too cute.
Okay, now for one of my favorite scenes in this episodes — but not for the obvious reason. Seung-yeon spots Dong-wook boarding a bus and follows him on, hesitantly interrupting his music-listening to apologize for assuming he was mute. He lets it go, but now the air fills with awkwardness so she makes a stiff attempt at getting a conversation going, asking where he’s from and so forth. His reticence and their lack of common ground make the exchange pretty clumsy.
Seeing him clutching his earbud, Seung-yeon feels bad for taking him away from his music and tells him to go ahead. He politely declines, but she says it’s okay since she can listen to music as well. With that, she reaches into her bag to retrieve her mp3 player, but Dong-wook puts the earbud into her ear and they listen in silence, not quite knowing how to handle the situation. It’s incredibly uncomfortable for both and it is TOO CUTE.
And then to undercut the moment, Seung-yeon thinks to herself how he misinterpreted her comment — she wasn’t suggesting they listen together! She can’t refuse and the longer they sit here, the more weird it gets. Meanwhile, Dong-wook is all politeness on the outside but inwardly, he’s also thinking (grumbling) that she’s pretty bold to invite herself to listen in, when he’d rather listen on his own!
They both sigh (to themselves, but at the same time): “Ah, this is awkward. So, so awkward!”
HAHAHA. I LOVE that they did this. It totally messed with our expectations by taking a moment that could have — and would have, in any other conventional rom-com — been a sweet, cutesy couple bit. Instead, we get one of those cringingly stilted scenarios that we’ve all suffered through that has NONE of the grace of those magical movie moments.
It has now been a month into Seung-yeon’s tenure as secretary, and on top of that Jin-soo has given her a few days off, saying that there’s nothing for her to do because he’s having trouble writing. The next time she arrives at Jin-soo’s place, she’s greeted by an unfamiliar sight. It’s dark and the door is ajar, and she accidentally triggers the domino setup inside the living room. And when we arrive at the end of the blocks, we find a haggard-looking Jin-soo, unshaven and disheveled-looking. Because he’s still setting up dominoes — she set it off early — he shouts in frustration and glares, then gives her today off, too.
The next morning, she shows up to find Jin-soo at work on a reconstructed domino fortress, and he mutters that she can have today off as well.
Seung-yeon makes him coffee and sharpens pencils anyway. He takes a sip and looks over her pencils, then lays his head down wearily, asking if she hasn’t grown tired of it by now. He does the math to figure out just how many pencils she’s sharpened in vain and suggests that it’s time to take the hint. Does she still think she can meet his demanding specifications?
Seung-yeon hesitantly says that with more time, she could. Jin-soo scoffs and tells her to head home — the only thing she can do for him right now is to sharpen pencils and make him coffee, but since she sucks at both, “There’s absolutely no reason for you to be here.”
With hope, she reminds him that her job is to help relieve his stress, but he replies tiredly that that requires time and effort, neither of which he can spare right now.
Therefore, when Eun-young calls her to check up on Jin-soo’s progress, she’s at home. Hearing about Jin-soo’s change in behavior, Eun-young immediately knows something’s wrong, and asks if he’s been doing his thing with the dominoes again. At that confirmation, she sighs, because this means his manuscript will be late.
Eun-young is particularly uneasy because she happens to be in Busan for a seminar, and therefore can’t come by to get Jin-soo out of his funk. Seung-yeon offers to go back and check up on him, but Eun-young vetoes this idea because she wouldn’t be able to do anything. When he gets this way, Eun-young is the only one who can talk him back to himself.
There IS one thing Seung-yeon can do, though, and that is to search the place when Jin-soo is out — he’s bound to have sleeping pills somewhere.
And then, a horrible sight: Jiwon, walking through the hotel lobby. Eun-young ducks out to avoid being seen, but she’s too late and he spots her. He’s thrilled to run into her here, as he had been purposely staying away because of stalker-related concerns. He therefore remains alert to signs of possible stalkers in the vicinity, eyeing one man in particular who wears a medical mask.
A bit later, he comes by to Eun-young’s room to suggest a drink, to her great dismay. She would dearly love to get rid of him, and figures that she’ll be more effective tricking him than trying to persuade him with sense (since we know that sense is in short supply with Ji-won). She makes a quick phone call, then invites him inside for some wine. He takes this as a positive sign and exults at making progress, or so he thinks.
Just as Eun-young suggests ordering a cheese plate from room service, there’s a knock at the door. It’s room service, with a cheese plate. How eerily prescient. While Eun-young looks puzzled, Ji-won jumps to conclusions and decides that this must be the work of the stalker. Don’t eat that!
Rushing out, he sees a figure running away and chases, leaving Eun-young sighing to herself that he’s an idiot. He’s unable to track the supposed stalker (since he doesn’t exist), but he (finally?) uses his brain to go about this logically, heading down to room service to ask about the person who placed the order. To his surprise, he gets back the answer that a woman made the order — in fact, the very woman who was in the room with him. Whaaaa?
Seung-yeon can’t sleep that night, kept awake with worries of Jin-soo. She imagines unsettling what-if scenarios of Jin-soo turning to his pills to help him sleep and overdosing.
She resents having to worry about such outrageous possibilities, but what can she do? She’s the only one who can look after him in this situation. She sneaks out of the house, at which point she pauses — what if he gets upset with her for bothering him at this hour? She’s just about to talk herself out of it when she gets a call. To her surprise, when she arrives at Jin-soo’s door, he looks remarkably normal.
He apologizes for calling her in the middle of the night, but she assures him that it’s okay because she couldn’t sleep anyway. He asks why, but she can’t bring herself to admit honestly what she thinks to herself (“Because I felt uneasy”) and just glosses over her answer cheerfully.
Now to the point of the call: He lays down on his bed and pats the space next to her, instructing her to lie down next to him. Er, what now? Seung-yeon is understandably weirded out by this, but he clarifies that he can’t sleep because of a particular noise and wants her to listen to it. It’s been keeping him up the past few nights, and he really needs his sleep tonight.
Seung-yeon’s actually a little disappointed, which he picks up on — did she think he called her to help him with ideas? She admits that she was hoping she could help (in a real, tangible way, other than as a human stress ball).
A little uncomfortably, Seung-yeon gets on the bed, and he instructs her to listen closely for the noise. First up is the strains of a guitar, but there’s an additional sound that also keeps him up. This one she’ll have to put her ear to the bed to hear.
Obediently, she turns to press her ear on the bed, which brings her face to face with Jin-soo. He doesn’t notice because his eyes are closed, but the close proximity has a curious effect on her and she quickly turns the other way. Thus we get our first sign of awareness — and possible attraction — between them, or at least on her end.
But she turns back to the task, and now she can pick out the second sound, which is a running noise. No, more specifically, a person jumping rope.
But they’re not done yet, as Jin-soo has a third offender — the most annoying one — and they listen closely for another moment to isolate it. And when she does, it makes her laugh in amusement — it’s the sound of porn.
Then he instructs, “Now find them.”
Though this takes her aback — all alone? at this hour? (it’s somewhere in the vicinity of 4:30 am) — Seung-yeon plucks up the spirit and goes out, intent on finding and silencing the three offenders. Keeping her ears alert, she travels up and down the streets of the neighborhood, pinpointing the noises one by one, quieting them in turn.
Jin-soo knows when each of the three noises stops, and when the last one is turned off — the porn guy returns to his videos wearing headphones — Jin-soo smiles in sleep, finally able to rest easy.
Seung-yeon returns all flush with excitement, proud of her achievement. She sees him conked out in a deep sleep, and despite her disappointment at not being able to demand some praise for once, she smiles at the sight. She removes the glasses that sit askew on his face, then turns out the lights as she tiptoes out.
This gives her the perfect opportunity to search for sleeping pills, and she finds a bottle in his desk drawer. This also brings to her attention the manuscript pages that he has completed, and she picks up the top sheet to read.
The story starts out with the description of a woman hula-hooping in the night. A phone rings, and she struggles to wriggle her way over to answer it while keeping up the hula hoop’s momentum. The more Seung-yeon reads, the more pleased she grows — so he WAS making her hula-hoop for a reason! She’s mighty gratified to know that all her labor wasn’t in fact wasted on nothing.
Seung-yeon replaces his pills with some vitamins and throws the sleeping tablets into the trash, then unplugs the phone to allow him a good night’s rest. She leaves quietly, feeling proud of her work tonight.
However, in her effort to tiptoe away, she trips and falls down the stairs, landing hard and scraping her nose badly in the process. A cleaning lady hurries over to her in worry, gasping at all the blood. Seung-yeon is so fixated on remaining quiet — they can’t wake Jin-soo! — that she doesn’t even notice the blood until it’s pointed out.
Despite her assurances that she’s okay, the cleaning lady rings Jin-soo’s doorbell, waking him up to worry about Seung-yeon’s condition. She says that the girl fell down the stairs and was hurt pretty badly, and even though she promised she would head to an emergency room right away, the cleaning lady can’t help but feel uneasy.
This wakes Jin-soo up fully, and he tears around the apartment looking for his phone. However, since he isn’t the one who threw it away this time, he can’t find it anywhere, and resorts to the neighborhood pay phone.
Jin-soo starts calling every hospital in the neighborhood to ask about Seung-yeon, but makes no headway. He is so intent on tracking her down that he’s still there when the sun rises. When Eun-young gets back to check in on him, she finds him anxiously looking for his own phone again. He goes through the apartment in frustration until finally he finds it in the washing machine.
Eun-young watches perplexed as he plugs in the phone and checks that it’s working, but doesn’t make a call. Instead, he sits by it, all wound up with nerves, waiting for a call to come in. (Awww. Whose heart melted at this?)
It turns out that Seung-yeon’s phone broke in the fall, and her brother has gotten it fixed for her. She turns it on to see the whole call log filled with a strange number. Her eyes widen in shock when she checks her messages and hears Jin-soo’s angry-worried voice demanding to know where she is. Checking the time, she sees that he called at 5:30 am, and it’s now 5 pm.
Too anxious to wait for Seung-yeon to call, Jin-soo and Eun-young wonder if perhaps she hasn’t called because she’s been in the hospital all day. They drive out to her neighborhood to check on her in person, and therefore see her rushing out to grab a taxi, on her way to Jin-soo’s place.
Intercepting her, the three of them start to drive back to his place, and Seung-yeon apologizes for cutting into his sleep, thinking he woke up at the sound of her fall. She had only wanted to keep from waking him, and that’s why she hid his phone.
Now that his initial knee-jerk reaction has calmed, Jin-soo asks Eun-young to pull over so Seung-yeon can get out and go back home. She insists that she’s ready to work, but he says he’s just going to sleep all day tomorrow so she need not come.
She gets out and Jin-soo’s about to let her go with a cool dismissal, but then decides against it at the last minute. He gets out of the car and hands her his notebook, asking for her home phone number — after being unable to reach her cell phone all day, he realized he had no way to get in touch with her.
And then, to satisfy his curiosity, he asks what the porno guy looked like. Seung-yeon answers that he was in his forties, seemed really nice, and very embarrassed. Jin-soo smiles in amusement — it’s as much as he figured.
Contrary to his earlier instruction, as Jin-soo turns to get back in the car, he tells Seung-yeon to come in to work tomorrow after all: “Without anybody at all around, it felt… a little uncomfortable.”
That’s as close to validation as she’s going to get. Her mood lifting even higher, Seung-yeon waves them off cheerily.
She’s so good-natured that Eun-young marvels at her attitude. Jin-soo points out that she’s foolish, just like he said she was. Thinking practically, Eun-young says that he needs an assistant who’s actually helpful, and offers to introduce him to someone else.
But Jin-soo counters that for the first time in a month, Seung-yeon did something really worthwhile for him — “It was just for thirty minutes, but I was finally able to get some real sleep.”
There’s something peculiar in the way he says that — and that odd smile playing on his lips — that strikes Eun-young as odd and unfamiliar.
Meanwhile, Ji-won puts together the odd-fitting pieces of his mystery puzzle, and deduces that he’s been scammed. But this isn’t like Eun-young, and she can’t have done this on her own. Who would help her?
And then he realizes that there IS a guy who knows him well — not some stalker but a sly voice in his ear that has been stringing him along this whole time like some prankster Iago. Finally understanding, Ji-won bursts into a maniacal fit of laughter, then slams his foot down in a rage, then shrieks with laughter again. In this state of alternating rage and hilarity, he declares, “Lee Jin-soo, you punk!”
That night, Seung-yeon decides to get some pencil-sharpening practice in, buoyed by today’s uplifting events. She replays Jin-soo’s comment over and over in her mind, finding it encouraging. She even rationalizes omitting a few of the qualifiers from his original statement to produce a more definitive declaration of her value. And that’s how, out of this original sentence:
“Without anyone at all around, it felt… a little uncomfortable.”
she pares it down to the more declarative
“Without anyone here, it felt uncomfortable.”
Reasoning that “anyone” refers her, that brings us to:
“Without Kang Seung-yeon, it felt uncomfortable.”
which can be flipped upside-down to mean:
“Kang Seung-yeon must be here!”
So she gets out her microscope to study the pencil shavings in close detail and carve her pencil accordingly. At his own office, Jin-soo finds himself down to his last pencil and gets out his own knife to do the same.
This drama has so many cute scenes:
One of the things I really dug in the previous episode was the shopping trip to the department store — not because it was a great scene on its own, but because it plays with a cliche in so many kdramas, then flips it around. Rather than buying her nice clothes to give the frumpy heroine a makeover or make the hero realize how beautiful she is underneath her outdated clothing, this drama gives us that exchange purely to give Jin-soo her measurements… so he can figure out whether her body, hacked up into pieces, would fit inside a suitcase as dictated by the plot of his mystery novel.
And in this episode, it was the scene with Dong-wook that had a similar effect — it’s built up to be that typical sweet bonding moment… only not so much. In fact, if anything it argues against a Dong-wook romance for Seung-yeon, because they had all the makings of a gooey rom-com scene, but not the chemistry. The fact that the show approached this scene with such a sense of humor means that I’m not even too disappointed to have that hope dimmed.
I still won’t rule out a Dong-wook romance entirely, just because it would seem odd to cast Park Jae-jung for such a minor role, but I’m done trying to figure out what the OTP is and who is going to end up with who and what is “supposed to be” the real pairing. I’m just going to enjoy what they give us, as long as it continues to be as zany and fun as it’s been.