Personal Taste: Episode 14
This episode entitled “Taming My Woman”…Oh No You Di’n’t, Show. I almost turned you off after the title sequence. But given that this is a topic of discussion and debate between the characters rather than a straight-up account of events, I won’t launch into a diatribe. Unless provoked.
All of our roads converge in this episode, and at the center of the crossroads stands our heroine. If she were the same Kae-in of Episode 1, I’d be scared she’s going to end up roadkill, but I’m certain the Kae-in we know now isn’t about to buckle, even if what she comes to bear is the weight of the world.
Initially I was skeptical of the lie-reveal-angst pacing of this drama, because it’s weighted much more heavily on the lie part of the trio, and because there is a redundancy factor when dragging on a lie for too long, especially a second lie at that. But so far it’s (mostly) had the result of being sufficiently tense, dramatically, while handily dispensing with the angst faster than you can say “Sang-go-jae,” which is a nice change of pace, even if I would trade a little of The Cute for some more angst. I think in the end the only thing worth beans in this kind of drama is the romantic chemistry, and I don’t know about you guys, but I could watch these two be in love for a hundred more episodes. (Wait. That wasn’t a nod of approval for an extension, MBC. It was just a hyperbole. Don’t you go adding on any episodes, Show! I will curse you and all your rom-com spawn!)
EPISODE 14 RECAP
After a day of shopping at the mart (which if you’ve never been, is the Korean equivalent of Target on steroids, complete with be-gloved attendees every five feet), Kae-in and Jin-ho return home with all of their couple-centric purchases: matching cups, dishes, and most importantly, toothbrushes. We’ve all been there…the moment when you get to put your very own toothbrush in your significant other’s bathroom. It’s like material evidence that you have a place in their world. While this is hardly Jin-ho’s first toothbrush in Sang-go-jae, it’s still a significant moment for them as a couple.
Jin-ho comes into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and Kae-in gets unnecessarily squeamish about him walking right into the bathroom while she’s in there. But the doors and windows are all open! What, are you popping a squat for everyone in the living room to see? He says (informally) it saves time if they get ready together, and Kae-in scoffs that they might as well take showers together then! Hell-o.
Jin-ho doesn’t bat an eyelash as he starts unbuttoning his sweater, like all right, let’s go! Kae-in flees the bathroom, as Jin-ho muses to himself that he’s become very brave, and then he showers…alone. What were YOU expecting? This is television, people! Get a grip!
They eat breakfast and Kae-in tries to sneak off, but Jin-ho stops her…and makes her do the dishes. Listen, I’m all for sharing the chores, and if someone makes me dinner, I’ll be the first to offer dishes in return. But Jeon Jin-ho, if you say one word about her needing to learn how to keep a house because she’s a woman, I will reach right in there and smack you to high heaven.
Young-sun calls, and Kae-in whines that Jin-ho has changed. He’s sneaking banmal (informal speech) in here and there, and today he made her do the dishes. Young-sun tells her to keep her wits about her…this is classic taming-my-woman territory. Kae-in bolts up—what new nefarious plotting is this? Young-sun tells her to be careful because once you give in, you spend the rest of your life boxed in. Kae-in nods, wheels turning in her head. She gets it now—it’s a game. The hilarious thing is that now she’s good at games because Jin-ho taught her so well.
Jin-ho wants to wash their linens next (which he at least wants to do together instead of supervising, like he did with the dishes), but Kae-in tries to resist giving in. He knows her weakness though, and taunts her with a delicious lunch (or lack thereof) to reel her in. Withholding food! Devilish. She caves, of course.
They basically shoot a detergent CF, doing their laundry in a park (?) and lounging for a while as their sheets dry in the sun. Who does their laundry in a…okay, whatever. Shutting off my brain.
They nap on a park bench, and Kae-in stares lovingly at sleeping Jin-ho’s face, wondering out loud why she’s nervous, when it’s a face she sees every day. The way she looks at him is so full of love and wonder. She can convey such an innocence and charm while not coming across as childish.
Jin-ho gets a call from In-hee, which she sees but doesn’t answer. Kae-in: “Jin-ho-sshi, you’re not going to go anywhere and leave me all alone, right?” And she leans down to kiss him on the forehead. Jin-ho smiles, ever so slightly, indicating that he’s been awake the whole time.
He carries her into her room (all the way from the park?), and tucks her into bed ever so sweetly. He works for a while on restoring the basement, and when Kae-in wakes up, she’s surprised to find him coming out from there. He lies that he heard a mouse, prompting a Defcon-1 freakout from Kae-in, where she literally jumps into his arms in fright. Okay, really? Even Jin-ho laughs at her, thinking she’s just using the mouse as an excuse to get all snuggly.
Kae-in doesn’t register the snark because she’s actually afraid, insisting on going to get a cat right away. Okay, how cute is it that when faced with a mouse, her first instinct is to go buy a cat? I love her. Jin-ho uses it as an excuse to keep her out of the basement, and says he’ll take care of the mouse tomorrow.
Chang-ryul and his team are hard at work on a Sang-go-jae concept for Dahm, and they’ve located a contractor from Sang-go-jae’s original build to answer questions about its design. Chang-ryul gets interrupted by a visit from In-hee, who I suspect is bored because she’s got no one else to mess with.
She slides him an envelope with the names of the judges who will decide the fate of the Dahm project, adding that there will be a special guest judge. Chang-ryul sits up, then thinks better of it and declines the offer. Both In-hee and I are impressed, and In-hee even goes so far as to wonder why he didn’t show this side of himself when they were together. She muses bitterly that love must have changed him. Yeah, it did, and while before I would’ve wished you two live unhappily undead lives ever after, now I’ve determined that he’s too good for you.
Jin-ho gets a drunk dial from Mom, so he leaves to go check on her, but she’s already asleep, so he gets a mouthful from Hye-mi instead. (Weren’t you packed and ready to go to Canada? Please go.) Kae-in worries, but decides she has to trust Jin-ho’s words that he will earn his mother’s acceptance properly.
Once he returns home, Kae-in calls him and they chat over the phone even though they could probably hear each other through the paper walls just fine. Kae-in offers to try and talk to Jin-ho’s mom, and keep trying, whether it takes one, two, ten, or twenty times. But Jin-ho wants to work this out without hurting either of them, and asks for her patience. She defers, which I think is the smart thing to do, since he’s the one stuck in the middle of this.
Jin-ho sings her a children’s song about a bear family to lift her spirits, which jars her memory for a second, but she doesn’t remember anything beyond the song. She requests more singing, and he dutifully sings to her until she falls asleep. Aw.
The next morning he complains that she didn’t tell him that she’d fallen asleep, leading to his singing himself hoarse all night. Heh. Kae-in’s like, duh, how could a sleeping person tell you she’s asleep?
On their way to work, Kae-in attaches a sticker picture of the two of them on Jin-ho’s phone, from the day she masqueraded as a man. She tells him never to take it off, and although he calls it childish, he agrees, smiling all the while. This is such a prime example of how in some ways, we all revert back to high school when we enter new relationships. It’s all about proving that you’re important to each other, with the little things.
While Jin-ho’s late to work from dropping Kae-in off, Sang-jun fields a visit from Jin-ho’s mom. She asks him about Kae-in making things difficult for Jin-ho, and decides to meet with her…until Sang-jun begs her to wait because Kae-in is so crucial to their current project. Without giving away why she’s the linchpin (which would take two hours and a flowchart to explain anyway), he asks her to let them handle it.
At work, Kae-in scrolls through pictures of sleeping Jin-ho’s face on her phone, just as In-hee walks in. For someone who’s supposedly so above it all, you sure do spend a lot of time orbiting your ex-friends. I suspect if you hadn’t traded your heart on the black market in exchange for fabulous shoes, you might be a lonely soul in desperate need of friends.
In-hee calls her childish, and Kae-in just sighs, “To someone who calculates love like you do, I’m sure it looks childish.” I love that the more confidence Kae-in has, the more petulant In-hee appears. The mean girl does kind of get de-fanged if nobody cares what she says anymore.
In-hee slyly asks if Jin-ho’s mom likes her, and Kae-in lies that she does, because dude, how is that any of your beeswax? In-hee tries to plant some seeds of doubt, asking why Kae-in hasn’t considered that Jin-ho is using her. Kae-in doesn’t see why he would (thinking that there’s nothing to be gained by it), and then says it doesn’t matter even if he did.
She smiles sadly, saying: “I used to be really envious of my friend Kim In-hee, the girl who was always brave and knew how to love herself first. But now, the woman who doesn’t think twice about hurting other people with her actions…I feel sorry for her.” In-hee takes it as a threat, replying pointedly that she’ll come to eat her words. But Kae-in looks at her with pained eyes: “It’s not a threat. It’s my last…sincere wish for you. If you go on like this, in the end no one will be beside you.”
While their friendship (or the memory of it) has always seemed one-sided to me, in this conversation it starts to feel for the first time like they’ve both lost something in the fallout. I can picture how at one point in their lives they could have complemented each other, albeit in an unhealthy, codependent kind of way. And the sad truth is that In-hee lost the only person who would ever love her for who she is by trolloping all over her best friend’s boyfriend. Poor you, indeed. If you hadn’t sold your human decency for a distractingly large pair of earrings, I’d probably care a little more.
Sang-jun walks into Jin-ho’s office, unnecessarily adding pressure for him to come up with a design concept. Without giving away his meeting with Mom, he adds that Jin-ho will have to teach Kae-in some basic cooking and cleaning, if he’s going to gain Mom’s approval. What in the what, now? Where do I even begin with that statement? You want Jin-ho to teach her how to be a proper woman, by way of COOKING and CLEANING?! Sang-jun, it was nice while it lasted, but I’m totally breaking up with you. Don’t bother speaking for the rest of the episode. I won’t be recapping your scenes. And don’t call me unni. Don’t even try to win me back!
Everyone converges at the gallery, where registration for the design competition is underway. Scarface drops Professor Park’s name in front of Do-bin, angling for some favor, but Do-bin makes excuses to get away as fast as he can. Pinky and the Brain have a quick pow-wow, where In-hee informs Chang-ryul that the special guest judge? Is none other than Professor Park. How would he feel if he found out that Jin-ho used his own daughter to get inside Sang-go-jae and win the competition?
Kae-in walks Jin-ho out to his car, hand-in-hand. He tells her to take a good look at his face, since he won’t be home for a while. He informs her that the project will be taking up all his time, so they won’t be seeing much of each other until it’s over. Kae-in’s like, not even to see ME?
He sweetly caresses her face, then breaks the moment by mussing up her hair. He walks away, and then turns back to shout: “Ya (hey) Park Kae-in!” She looks up in shock at his first informal calling of her name (at least while she’s conscious). Jin-ho: “If you stray because I’m not around, you’re dead!” Haha. Yay! The informality has begun!
Jin-ho returns to his office, only to find that they’re being kicked out of the building just when they need to spend night and day working. Chang-ryul starts a meeting in a massive boardroom, confidence surging that the real work is just beginning, but the fight is theirs to win. Across town, Jin-ho and team move into their new digs, a tiny low-rent office that puts the boys in a funk. But Jin-ho chides them for being down, since they started with even less than this, and will work to see better days. I like that they’re even more of an underdog team than before; it’ll make their success all the more delicious when it’s won. Hey, Red Pants! How’d you get in there? I’m still ignoring you! Move along.
Later that night over the phone, Kae-in offers to come by the office tomorrow with lunch for Jin-ho and the crew, which she claims is because she wants to cheer them on, and has nothing whatsoever to do with seeing his face. Nope. Not at all. Jin-ho tells her that not coming by would be more helpful: “If I see your face, I don’t think I’ll be able to work. If I see your face I’ll want to be with you. And if I’m with you, I won’t want to let you go.” Gah! Why so cute?
Later Jin-ho pores over Professor Park’s blueprints of the imagined Sang-go-jae, which honestly seems strange to me in design. It’s a fusion of han-ok and modern architecture, to be sure, and perhaps the drawing doesn’t do the concept justice, but that concept materialized as an actual structure would just look odd to me. Perhaps I am architecturally unenlightened. Either way, I hope that Jin-ho garners nothing more than inspiration from the blueprints, because narratively, as far as heroes go, it would ring false if he won based on a concept not entirely his.
Do-bin comes by for a chat and finds Kae-in sighing from the lack of Jin-ho in her life. She sweetly chides Do-bin for being the bad guy, keeping Jin-ho so busy on the Dahm project that he has no time to see her. Do-bin apologizes for the grave sin of making them star-crossed, offering to call Jin-ho with a fakeout emergency that she got hurt at work. Dude, already been there. Any other ideas?
Kae-in laughs heartily at the gesture of friendship, and Do-bin encourages her to smile. She tells him that at times he feels safe and supportive, like a father. He asks about her father, and why he’s decided to return to Korea. Kae-in: “My father has never once explained a reason for anything to me…whether he’s coming or going.” It’s so sad that she’s got such a massive hole in her heart because of her dad, but has never been angry enough to confront the issue with him. The look on Do-bin’s face is that of understanding and empathy—he’s well versed in estranged-daddy issues himself, as we all know. Kae-in laughs it off, but he can see that they share a deep-seated heartache in the family arena.
Jin-ho takes a break from his all-consuming work to finish up the basement for Kae-in. He has a new glass ceiling/floor installed (bad idea, bad idea…) and calls Kae-in to come see him at home for a surprise. By accident, he drops the one surviving picture of Kae-in and her mom, shattering the glass inside the frame. Symbolism! Meet Portent!
Professor Park finally makes an appearance (at least his eyes, mouth, and back…I’m hoping that the parts add up to a whole man), shrouded in mystery as ever. Scarface and Chang-ryul arrive at the airport to try and intercept him, but can’t manage to locate the man, for lack of up-to-date photos. Who IS this guy, the freakin Unabomber? What kind of college professor lives in such secrecy?
He makes a call to Do-bin, and then one to Sang-go-jae, but no one picks up…
Kae-in comes home to an empty house, wondering where Jin-ho went. He’s on his way back to the house, after getting the picture re-framed. He-who-shall-not-be-named calls to ask about some old blueprints from the office, and while digging around, discovers Jin-ho’s hidden Sang-go-jae blueprints.
Kae-in finds the living room rearranged, and discovers the glass floor underneath the rug. She begins to remember something, and decides to go down into the basement. She gets flashes of being above her mother while she worked, and runs back up in fear.
Just then, Jin-ho’s mom shows up to the house, after having heard from Hye-mi that Jin-ho had to move offices. This is the worst timing ever. Jin-ho’s mom asks to talk, and while she says all the typical mom things you’d expect, Kae-in hears none of it because the memories are starting to flood back. It’s clever because it’s as jarring and tense for us as it is for her, hearing this woman speak but not registering any of it.
Kae-in starts to go numb as she remembers knocking on the glass to get her mother’s attention, and then when that didn’t work…
She grabbed a small free weight to tap on the glass…
…shattering it directly above her. Kae-in goes practically catatonic from the shock, which Jin-ho’s mom thinks is a reaction to her request for her to stop seeing Jin-ho, and leaves. Professor Park walks in as Jin-ho’s mom leaves, and comes upon Kae-in trembling and utterly broken.
She stands, shaking from her core, as she finally confronts her father.
Kae-in: Was that why? Was that why you hated me so much? When I was young I was sad every single day, wondering why you disliked me, why you hated me so. If it were me I would have felt the same…because I’m the daughter who killed her own mother.
Dad, shocked, asks: “Kae-in ah, what are you talking about?!” She breaks down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably.
In walks Jin-ho: “Kae-in ah!”
Woo! The angst has finally arrived. That’s two weeks in a row where we’ve ended with Jin-ho calling out “Kae-in ah,” and I do so love how their relationship is progressing and the way it’s shown through those moments of heightened drama. I’m certain Jin-ho’s about to do something very heroic here too, and it’s going to be nothing more than simply being there for her in every way, which is the best kind of heroism.
We’ve spent a LOT of time in the cute and fun territory, so I’m chomping at the bit for some angst. Honestly, I could have used some revelations and ensuing drama in the last episode, so that it doesn’t have to be one giant truckload of beans spilled in the next one, but…
We’re poised for some great unraveling come next week, and I’m glad that the story has upped the ante instead of winding down. I love going into the last two with things unfurling so fast that you feel like you can’t keep it from falling apart. With the walls coming down around them, our couple still has a lot of storm to weather, but I wouldn’t have it any other way going into the final stretch.
- Personal Taste: Episode 13
- Personal Taste: Episode 12
- Personal Taste: Episode 11
- Personal Taste: Episode 10
- Personal Taste: Episode 9
- Personal Taste: Episode 8
- Personal Taste: Episode 7
- Personal Taste: Episode 6
- Personal Taste: Episode 5
- Personal Taste: Episode 4
- Personal Taste: Episode 3
- Personal Taste: Episode 2
- Personal Taste: Episode 1
- Cinderella, Prosecutor, Taste: First episode impressions
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 3
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 2
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 1