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Bad Guy: Episode 3

A note on the scheduling: Last week, SBS only aired one episode, and this week they’ll air 4 and 5. Next week (June 16 and 17), there will be no broadcast due to World Cup coverage. The normal schedule will resume the following week. It sucks, but what can you do?

I’m really enjoying the vibe of this drama — confident, sexy — but it is by no means without flaws, some of them more substantial than others. But regardless of those, I think this’ll be a fun one to follow and dissect.

Also, fear not for those of you who were clamoring for girlfriday to continue with recaps! She’ll be writing the next one, and we’ll be alternating hereafter.

SONG OF THE DAY

Paloalto – “Positive Vibes” with T [ Download ]

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EPISODE 3 RECAP

Tae-ra tries to convince Mo-nae that entangling herself with Gun-wook is a bad idea, but this interference is not appreciated by Mo-nae, who is experiencing a bout (perhaps her first?) of rebellion. She bites out that Gun-wook is a lot better than cheating fiancé Eom Se-joong, who has a girlfriend on the side. At least Gun-wook is sincere about his feelings for her (or so she believes).

Tae-ra pulls the classic older-sister move and warns Mo-nae that she’ll tell their parents if she doesn’t break it off with Gun-wook. As for the matter of Eom Se-joong, she’ll take care of it, so don’t act until Tae-ra confirms that it’s true.

The two officers are ready to conclude the investigation of Sun-young’s death, ruling it a suicide. However, just as Old Cop grudgingly makes the call (he’s still not satisfied, but doesn’t have more to go on), a man who has been arrested sees the photos on the desk and recognizes Sun-young. He smirks — after the ruckus he saw her in, he’s not surprised that she’s gotten herself into more trouble. That gets the officers’ attentions, and they grill him for details.

Shortly before she died, the man had seen her in the street near the location of her death, arguing with a man. He hadn’t been able to see the guy — although we clearly see that it’s Gun-wook — but recalls that she had been crying and pleading, calling him, “Tae-sung-ah!”

Finally, a break in the case! (Or so they think.)

New Cop gets on the phone with Hong Tae-sung, since what other Tae-sung could there be? It’s not like it could possibly be a common name or anything. Tae-sung is at the airport on his way to Japan, determined never to come back to Korea, and scoffs at their charge. First of all, Sun-young never addressed him as “Tae-sung-ah,” as she was always very correct about calling him “Tae-sung-sshi.” Secondly, he insists that she had no other man in her life other than him. Therefore they must have mistaken the scenario.

Yet based on their witness’s confirmation, they’re pretty sure they have the right woman. Thus they are frustrated as to what to do, because they believe Tae-sung is their big link but don’t have enough reason to keep him from leaving the country.

In his stylish lair, Gun-wook contemplates the business card given to him by Jae-in when she ran into him. He calls her, identifying himself as the coffee guy without using his name, which has the effect of furthering her misconception that he is Hong Tae-sung without technically lying about it.

Gun-wook tells Jae-in that the coffee stain won’t come out and turns down her offer to get it cleaned professionally. Instead, he requests that she come over to wash it, being purposely demanding because he’s curious to see how far she’ll accommodate him. When she shows up at his door, he murmurs, half-surprised, “She really came.”

He isn’t the least embarrassed to have her see the massive mess he passes off as his apartment (it seems it’s really the action director’s place) and talks to her in an almost taunting tone, like he’s testing to see how far he can push things. Jae-in would prefer to pay to have the shirt cleaned or take it to her own place to put it in her washer, but Gun-wook makes it clear that he really wants her to hand-wash it. So she holds back her disgruntlement — she’s got to ingratiate herself to Tae-sung, after all — and agrees.

After pointing the way to the bathroom, Gun-wook leaves her with the shirt and heads out. Jae-in starts washing in the dingy bathroom, where she notes that he lives in less luxurious environs than she’d expect of a chaebol’s son. Recalling Tae-sung’s disgruntled prank with the Haeshin office PA system, she figures it’s because he’s on the outs with his family.

At first it seems that Gun-wook is merely testing Jae-in to see how interested she is in him; he deliberately pushes the boundaries of politeness while Jae-in smiles and takes it. However, now we see that he actually knows Jae-in has got her own ulterior motive. A flashback to their first run-in shows that he had seen Jae-in in the cafe, taking the lid off her coffee cup, and planning the collision. Now that he knows she’s up to something, all that’s left is to figure out what that is.

While Jae-in washes, Gun-wook loiters around the neighborhood, eventually joining a group of kids kicking around a soccer ball. He agrees to play goalkeeper for them and adds to the challenge by promising to buy the kids an ice cream for every goal they score on him. He assures them that he used to be quite the player in his day, but as it happens, he lets them all score, managing to fumble all the goals. We know he’s doing this on purpose, but he tells the kids that they’re just that good, and buys them all ice cream.

This is perhaps the first time we’ve seen him being genuine with other people — with everyone else we’ve seen a very controlled Gun-wook, with a carefully projected image. It’s nice to see that his cynicism in people doesn’t extend to children; maybe he isn’t a complete misanthropist. It’s just that most of the people populating the world(s) he has chosen to inhabit happen to be phonies, opportunists, and heartless bastards.

Gun-wook receives — but ignores — a phone call from someone he has nicknamed “Rope,” which turns out to be Mo-nae. (The meaning of “rope” is something we’ll all have to wonder about for the moment, but I see it in a few different, contrasting ways: It can be a binding agent that shackles a person, but can also be a lifeline to safety, or perhaps a link upward to greater ambitions. Or an innocent object one uses to wrap around the neck of somebody else?)

To keep Mo-nae from meeting Gun-wook, Tae-ra orders her to stay inside all day so as to keep an eye on her. Which is pretty much an easy way to guarantee insubordination — if she thinks this is bad, wait till her own daughter pushes back against such rigid dictates. Frustrated, Mo-nae challenges her to go ahead and tell Mom everything — tell her that she likes Gun-wook oppa, but also that Eom Se-joong is cheating with that actress hussy.

Which is, of course, when Mom steps inside and demands to know what’s going on.

Tae-ra explains the situation to her mother, having confirmed that the fiancé is indeed dating Choi Hye-joo. Tae-ra votes for calling off the wedding, and while Mom agrees that she’d like to, she’s wary. Eom is a senior executive at another corporation, Chungsoo Group, and they need that business alliance. They certainly won’t marry Mo-nae off to such a bastard, but in order to preserve Haeshin Group’s standing, they’ll have to get Eom to call it off first.

As they are not exactly brimming over with clever ideas on how to accomplish this, they’ll have to think it over. Madam Shin tells Tae-ra to find out more about Choi Hye-joo, and also about this Gun-wook punk.

After Jae-in finishes with the shirt, she prepares to leave… which is when she takes a look around his disaster zone of an apartment and sighs. Not only can’t she abide the mess, she’s also looking for ways to curry favor with the Haeshin heir, so she gets to work cleaning up.

When Gun-wook gets back, he’s surprised that Jae-in is still here and startled at all the clean space. Rather than being impressed or flattered with her cleanup efforts, Gun-wook asks her point-blank, “Do you like me?” He eyes her in that unnerving, jeering way, and repeats, “Do you like me since I’m Hong Tae-sung?”

Not deaf to the condescending tone to his question, Jae-in laughs — not out of mirth, but in irritation. Tossing down the clothes she’s holding, she gets sarcastic. She shoves a finger in his chest and asks mockingly why he lives in such a mess. Patting him on the head in a patronizing gesture, she tells him, “Noona will take care of you, so let’s get it together and live nicely, all right?” Surprised, Gun-wook is duly silenced and a little chastened.

Except, of course, that this is all in Jae-in’s mind — it’s the scenario she’d LIKE to enact, if only she weren’t trying to win Tae-sung over. Instead, she answers with a plausible explanation, that she’s very fond of Mo-nae and wanted to do something nice for Mo-nae’s brother. Gun-wook dismisses her, and Jae-in takes her cue to leave.

Yet oddly enough, Gun-wook follows her out, strolling along several feet behind her. Jae-in looks back at him curiously a few times as she makes her way to the bus stop — where he joins her in waiting.

Jae-in asks if he’s here to see her off, but he answers that he’s got an errand to run. (The implication is, “Don’t think everything’s about you.”) Gun-wook has an unnerving way of talking — even when Jae-in is right, he asks questions in a probing way that keeps her off-kilter somehow. For instance, he cuts off her attempts to make conversation, which Jae-in understands as a dismissal. Yet when her bus arrives, he follows her on it.

At this point she no longer believes his excuse of having his own errand, even though he sticks to that line when she asks if he’s following her.

As their conversation lulls, Jae-in looks over at Gun-wook, becoming transfixed as she gazes at his face. With the lurch of the bus, she stumbles against him — a contrived gesture, I’m fairly certain — and he catches her. Based on the ease with which he grabs her, it seems he was expecting the move, and he asks sardonically, “Do you always do that? Do you always stand there blankly, then fall over like that?”

We’ve already seen how poor a liar Jae-in is, and she trips over her words as she answers, “N-no, that’s not it. I-I’m actually pretty smart and I always have to do things perfectly…” Without sparing her so much as a glance, Gun-wook drawls, “Isn’t it embarrassing to praise yourself?”

That shuts her up, making her feel foolish. She gets off the bus without another look at him.

But once again, he follows her off the bus and continues walking a few paces behind. At one point Jae-in stumbles again, and he grabs her arm to steady her. This time she’s more startled — because she hadn’t planned the stumble, I suppose — and he again makes her foolish by commenting on her propensity for falling.

Awkwardly, she points out that she’s at her destination and mumbles a goodbye. Gun-wook gives her a brief nod, then turns back the way he came. This proves to Jae-in that he was seeing her home, and she wonders if that means Gun-wook is interested in her. Oh, he is, but not exactly the way you’re hoping.

He stops for a drink outside a neighborhood convenience store, where a group of delinquent schoolgirls huddle to elect one of them to approach the older man. Won-in loses the draw, meaning she is the one to offer Gun-wook two bucks (2,000 won) to buy her a pack of cigarettes (“For my father!”).

Gun-wook takes the cash, but emerges from the store with only a beer for himself. She looks at him questioningly, to which he reminds her that he’s the bus stop guy from whom she took 1,000 won — he’s just reclaimed his debt. (The extra 1,000 won he attributes to interest. Lol.)

Outraged, Won-in fumbles in his pockets for money, but comes up empty. Thoroughly vexed, she snaps at him to answer the ringing phone he is ignoring. He tells her to go ahead, so she answers and tells “Ms. Rope” that the owner of the phone doesn’t want to talk to her, “So don’t call.”

Mo-nae sinks into a deeper funk at this continued silence from Gun-wook, which is exacerbated the next day when she finds that Driver Kang has been dispatched as her escort. This prompts an angry call to her sister, who instructs Mo-nae to go straight home from school. Just the kind of autocratic Big Sis move that guarantees that Little Sis won’t. In fact, Mo-nae seizes the first opening that comes her way and escapes from the driver in a taxi.

After hanging up the phone, Tae-ra lets her mind wander to her recent encounters with Gun-wook, and the memories get her (literally) heated.

Mo-nae arrives at the action school in search of Gun-wook, and instead finds Hye-joo working out with martial arts director Jang. Mo-nae smiles widely at him while thoroughly ignoring Hye-joo, only pausing to shoot her a challenging look as she introduces herself as “Gun-wook oppa’s girlfriend.”

But this doesn’t exactly have the effect she’s going for, because both Hye-joo and Jang know Gun-wook well, and they chuckle. Hye-joo can play at Mo-nae’s game (and probably better), and she pointedly mentions the upcoming weekend amusement park shoot, dangling that bait in front of Mo-nae.

Mo-nae’s absence from home has Tae-ra and her mother on edge, but they tacitly agree not to tell President Hong about the recent rebellious behavior. They do inform him of Director Eom’s other girlfriend, and Dad shares their disapproval of the cheating bastard. He agrees that the engagement must be called off.

The Moon sisters watch a movie together — Han Hyo-joo and Jaejoong’s Heaven’s Postman — and the main reason I include this bit is because I find it hilarious how the tough, wayward teen is in tears over the sad movie, while her more feminine- and soft-looking sister watches unmoved.

As they walk out of the theater, Jae-in sighs over her bad luck in love, which Won-in attributes to Jae-in’s excessive pickiness. Some of us would call that standards, but who are we to judge? Won-in tsks-tsks Jae-in’s inability to seal the deal with Tae-sung (well, Gun-wook) even after going to his home, and takes Jae-in’s phone to start texting a message.

She only tells her sister that she texted Tae-sung until after hitting send, which mortifies Jae-in. Worse yet, the message read, “I’m free today.” Hardly scandalous, but embarrassing all the same. But before Jae-in has a chance to properly flip out, a text comes back: “I’m free too.”

Thrown into a nervous panic, Jae-in frets about how to respond, so Won-in grabs the phone. While fending off Jae-in’s attempted grabs, she types: “Where are you? Would you like to grab some coffee?”

Jae-in may complain about her sister’s tactics but she enjoys the result, which is a coffee date with Gun-wook through the park. The conversation is meandering but pleasant; he doesn’t talk to her with that sneer in his voice this time, and even teases about having more housework available for her. At least this time he laughs with her rather than at her.

A woman asks Jae-in to take a photo for her family, and Gun-wook smiles to himself as he watches her. That smile fades when he turns his gaze to the happy family, which takes him back to happier memories of his own happy family in early childhood.

The conversation takes a more intimate turn as Jae-in reminisces about the spring picnics of her childhood, when her father was still alive. She muses that it would hardly be fun now because of all the crowds and inconveniences, but mostly because her father is gone. That strikes a chord within Gun-wook, who can understand the feeling.

She doesn’t notice, but we see him looking at her in a different light — for the first time he’s hesitant, even a little bit longing. As Jae-in walks on, he reaches out a hand slowly toward her shoulder, as though to extend a comforting touch. Just before he makes contact, a photographer interrupts and he jerks back his hand quickly.

The photographer takes touristy snapshots for passersby, and encourages the couple to pose for him. Jae-in starts to decline, explaining that they’re not in that kind of relationship, but Gun-wook grabs her shoulder and instructs the man to go ahead. He smiles widely for the shot, while Jae-in looks on a little bewildered.

This is a nice scene, and no doubt an important one that marks a shifting in their relationship dynamics. However, I notice that so far every episode has had at least one scene that feels glaringly out of step, which is what this feels like to me. More on that below.

The next time we see Gun-wook, he’s back to his hardened, cold self. He meets with a contact who has been digging up information for him, who presents him with the requested reports on Haeshin Group and its affiliates. He also hands over research on Tae-ra and her husband, and advises Gun-wook not to mess with the husband or his family, as they’re quite powerful. Gun-wook tosses back, “Why not? That’s more fun for me.”

Next, he finally makes contact with Mo-nae by finding her at school, which brings a smile of relief to her face. She takes his appearance as a sign that all is well, and that he’s going to answer her calls from now on. But Gun-wook asks, “Why do I have to do all that? I’m nothing to you.”

That wipes the smile from her face; she doesn’t understand. Gun-wook explains that he doesn’t fit in with her dilettante ways — she can immerse herself into something for a few months and drop it later, easily.

Ah, so this is his tactic! He’s taken on the role of the vulnerable bad boy who’s afraid to let himself like Mo-nae because she’ll drop him. He plays this part to the hilt, dropping his eyes, looking wounded, and giving her the illusion that she has power over him, not vice versa. Brilliant.

Mo-nae tries to protest that that’s not how she feels, but I think he’s got a point about her spoiled-rich-girl privilege and her freedom to dabble in hobbies and drop them at a whim. Which is what makes his handling of this scene so genius, because his strategy is rooted in truth.

Mo-nae asks how long he has felt this way. He answers, “When I realized you wanted to hide me.” He tells Mo-nae not to act like that, sneaking him around and such — she’s most beautiful when she’s forthright and confident.

Acting like he’s going to do the “right thing” in letting her go, Gun-wook adds, “Don’t feel uneasy or hide things or hurt because of me. I’ll be fine, so don’t worry about me.” With a gentle smile he leaves, and Mo-nae feels the sting of his words because she can’t deny them.

As Gun-wook speeds along on his motorcycle — kdrama shorthand for “I’m a bad boy!” — he reveals his three names. First is the one his parents called him, Choi Tae-sung. Second is the one given to him by the Haeshin family, Hong Tae-sung. And the third he chose for himself, Shim Gun-wook. He thinks, “Sometimes I don’t know who I am, either.”

Tae-ra brings the phone to Mo-nae’s room; Director Eom is on the line. At first Mo-nae declines, but she changes her mind and accepts the phone. Without preamble, she tells her fiancé that she wants to go to the amusement park on the weekend. This surprises Tae-ra, but Mo-nae explains that she has “last words” to tell him.

Meanwhile, in case we weren’t sure that Eom was a douchenozzle of the first order, he makes this call while in the bed of his ladyfriend, and then proceeds to get back to the adulteratin’ as soon as he’s off the phone with the virginal bride-to-be. Or rather, his no-longer-bride-to-be-who-is-about-to-kick-your-sorry-ass-to-the-curb-courtesy-of-her-new-bad-boy-crush.

They arrive at the park that weekend, where a large area has been sectioned off for filming. Mo-nae spots Gun-wook filming with Hye-joo, and as he rides his bike along the road, she runs out in front to stop him. It’s a pretty bratty thing of her to do — this is a professional production that she’s interrupting — but it also speaks to Gun-wook’s unspoken challenge to show openly that she’s not ashamed of him.

Gun-wook’s annoyed and tells her tersely to move, as they’re working. Mo-nae apologizes for hiding him away and promises she’ll present him to her family and the world. Shooting a look at her fiancé, she declares, “Hong Mo-nae likes Shim Gun-wook!”

When Eom tries to drag Mo-nae away, Gun-wook points out that she doesn’t want to go. Eom yells at Mo-nae to go “wait in the car,” and faces Gun-wook angrily, asking, “Are you dating my woman?” Gun-wook smirks, “Mo-nae? Or Choi Hye-joo? Neither one seems that interested in you.”

Eom blames Gun-wook for Mo-nae’s sudden attitude change — because, you know, it had nothing to do with his cheating or anything — and warns him to stop dangling after her.

Now Gun-wook’s stare hardens and he sneers at the rich boy’s sense of entitlement. Incensed, Eom takes a swing, but Gun-wook is essentially a fighter by trade and easily gains the upper hand, twisting his arm and shoving him to the ground. Then, to add insult to the literal injury, he tosses him a few bills for a bus ride back to Seoul — Mo-nae has driven off in his car and he hadn’t even noticed.

She drives along wiping at angry tears, and a lone motorcycle rider speeds ahead from behind and starts swerving in the lane ahead of her, zooming along in wide arcs, left and right. Mo-nae pulls over and happily gets out of the car, only to find that the bike has disappeared from sight.

At first glance it seems as though he had merely zoomed off before she had a chance to catch him, but upon second watch it seems likely that she’d imagined the encounter, which is supported by the fact that she is soon bedridden with a high fever, murmuring “Gun-wook oppa” in her sleep.

Madam Shin informs Tae-ra that Dad has decided to cancel Mo-nae’s engagement. Tae-ra feels sympathetic toward her little sister, which is probably prompted by her own unhappy marriage, despite its perfect facade, and hesitantly asks Mom to consider allowing her to date whom she wants. Mom curtly says no — they’d never marry Mo-nae off to a nobody — but Tae-ra points out that they can’t force two people apart. She offers to meet Gun-wook to try persuading him to leave Mo-nae alone.

Mom mutters that they can hardly send Mo-nae off to a faraway country… but that triggers a thought: What if they send her to Tae-sung? He’s in Japan, and to set up a future reunion for our characters, we find that she is also sending Jae-in to Japan to acquire more artwork.

Tae-ra meets with Gun-wook to discuss Mo-nae and as usual, Tae-ra is wound up tight under Gun-wook’s unsettling gaze.

Tae-ra asks to know what his intentions are regarding Mo-nae, and is insulted to hear he has none in particular. How dare he mess around with her without even knowing what he’s intending? The girl can’t eat, can’t sleep, and is generally miserable because of him.

Gun-wook asks if Tae-ra has ever had a first love, because when you’re in its throes, it doesn’t even matter who the other person is, because you become so immersed in your own emotions. Idly, he supposes that Tae-ra’s husband probably wasn’t her first love.

Tae-ra demands tersely, “What is it you want?” He cuts her off: “It’s too bad I don’t want anything.” He’ll date Mo-nae if he likes her, or not if he doesn’t, “And if there’s something I want, I’ll get it my way. Nobody can interfere, not even you.”

As he gets up to leave, he leaves Tae-ra with a message for Mo-nae: Don’t feel hurt because of a guy like him.

Gun-wook retreats to his lair again, his real apartment. This place is much more like the cool, smooth Gun-wook we know — chic, modern, clean. Not like the mess he showed Jae-in as part of his other persona. As he contemplates his wall of info on Haeshin Group, this time he focuses on a photo of Tae-ra.

He doesn’t answer Jae-in’s phone call, so she leaves a flirtatious message suggesting dinner together tomorrow night.

He also continues to ignore Mo-nae’s calls, who sulks. When Jae-in calls, she’s disappointed and turns down the invitation to meet for drinks tomorrow. But her listless mood receives an immediate jolt when Jae-in urges her to reconsider, as she’s invited her brother along as well — they can all have dinner together.

Mo-nae’s puzzled, as she didn’t know Jae-in and Tae-sung were acquainted. However, she perks up when it becomes clear that Jae-in has mistaken Gun-wook for her brother. Changing her mind, she agrees to meet.

When Mo-nae meets her at the restaurant, she’s dolled up and excited to be seeing Gun-wook again. Jae-in hadn’t told Tae-sung/Gun-wook that Mo-nae was invited here, which pleases Mo-nae just fine.

Gun-wook saunters in moments later, betraying no surprise whatsoever as he sits down at the table and says, “Mo-nae, you came too. Hi.” Pleased with herself, Jae-in smiles widely, blissfully ignorant of all the other subtleties at play in front of her.

 
COMMENTS

Episode 3 confirmed what I’d thought in the first two episodes, which is while this show has the potential to be a great show, it’s lacking just a little something special. It’s still good, very well-executed, and has a great soundtrack, so I’m not at all calling it a bad show. But there’s that tendency for story contrivance — for forcing beats that don’t get there naturally on their own — that keeps it from wowing. Instead of impressing you with the intricacy and depth of its plot, it feels like it’s not in tune with its emotions. It’s not a huge gripe, but it’s the difference between being led somewhere gently and being pushed there.

Take, for instance, the scene at the police station. There are so many ways that the writers (there are three) could have introduced an eyewitness, but the way they chose to do it was lazy and therefore less than convincing. An arrested lawbreaker happens to see the case materials lying on the desk and happens to recognize the victim? Furthermore, he starts out trying to recall the man’s name, thinking it could’ve been Jae-sung or Joon-sung before settling on Tae-sung, yet the cops choose to take his word as positive assurance and then accuse Tae-sung of being the man in question? And his word is oddly enough for them to be sure that the woman was in fact Sun-young, which is flimsy at best. Furthermore, I find it laughable that they’re genuinely flummoxed at Tae-sung’s explanation of being called Tae-sung-sshi rather than Tae-sung-ah. We’re not in an Encyclopedia Brown novel here — I want solid setups and solid logic.

Another example is Gun-wook’s “connection” with Jae-in. As I said, that was the scene in this episode that felt wildly out of character. I don’t mind seeing a vulnerable side to Gun-wook, and it’s probably a good thing we saw this now, because he needed to be humanized. Let’s be honest, a lot of love for his character is due to the charisma of Kim Nam-gil and our love for the actor/acting, not the character itself — at least that’s how it is for me. The character has been set up as this calculating revenge machine, so Gun-wook needed to show that flash of humanity within and I get that. However, he’s just not connecting with Jae-in (or is it Han Ga-in?) and to have him show signs of a deeper emotional connection based on one wistful mention of her father — well, that made me laugh out loud, not aww in sympathy.

If these two are going to be set up as “con men who connect with each other’s painful pasts” (which is the vibe I’m getting), we need a lot more to go on than that. I loved seeing a nicer Gun-wook when he was playing soccer with the kids, which felt natural and unguarded, so I’m not averse to the idea of Jae-in tapping into his emotional vulnerability. It just needed a lot more pizzazz in practice. In that regard, Han Ga-in also bears some blame, because forced writing or not, she needed to sell Jae-in as a character and she’s not doing that.

This doesn’t mean I need her to be tortured and screwed up like the rest, because we need the straight man, so to speak, and she fulfills that role. However, their connection has to sizzle for the drama to work properly — like Kim Nam-gil does with Oh Yeon-soo — and if we don’t get that spark, yeeesh this may be a grand disappointment in the making. (For instance, imagine if Tae-ra were played by an actress who said her lines perfectly but was unable to convey the character’s palpable nervous tension — how boring would those scenes be, right?)

On the plus side, I love the look of the drama. Everyone looks gorgeous — of course it helps that everyone IS gorgeous — and the lighting and mise en scene really evoke a moody, uneasy ambiance.

 
THEORIES, SPECULATION

To reiterate: I don’t stand by any of these theories, since I’m just throwing out possibilities. The drama is dropping little clues as we go, so I know things will continue to change, but it’s fun to speculate.

I would have loved for Tae-ra to be previously acquainted with Gun-wook, but this episode sorta counters that theory; it’s looking more likely that Tae-ra’s reaction is prompted by intense feelings of sexual attraction, which send her into wild internal conflict since she knows what is expected of her and what she ought to do. She’s the pristine society wife with the perfect life, and her overreaction to Mo-nae’s attraction to Gun-wook is an overcompensation for her own. And Gun-wook, being a sexy beast and fully aware of this, is exploiting her frazzled nerves to his own advantage.

This makes me fairly certain that Gun-wook can’t be the real Hong Tae-sung, nor can he think he is, if only because that would make his sexual tension and romantic entanglements with Tae-ra and Mo-nae awfully uncomfortable. First off, I highly doubt that Gun-wook would go that far if he knew they were his sisters, so I’m pretty confident that whatever the truth, he believes himself to be an impostor. Furthermore, as much as Korean dramas love to play around with the incest angle, note that they never actually go that route — it’s always that unsettling in-between stage that they explore, the two lovers who MAY be (but of course are not) blood related. (The only time I can recall a drama doing it on purpose was 90 Days Time to Love, where that conflict formed the very basis for the storyline, and even then they were first cousins who fell in love before realizing their kinship.)

Last but not least: Sun-young knew Gun-wook is Tae-sung! Moreover, she called him “Tae-sung-ah,” indicating that she knew him well and possibly for a long time. So did she approach Hong Tae-sung under Gun-wook’s orders, and end up falling for him? It seems awfully unlikely that a girlfriend of Tae-sung’s would have just happened to also know Gun-wook…

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like u all, between all the females, i enjoy gun wook's interaction with won in the most, so playful yet unguarded. with jae in, on the other hand, for me, it's still far less comfortable to watch. i hope she can do better than that mildly surprised / wide-eyed look. (and i admit i've warmed to her a little bit more with that imagination scene in the flat).

i love how gun wook always looks polished and cool when with others, but not with the moon sisters. he looks incredibly casual, although i'm not digging the hair let down like that. another thread in jb mentions kng looking skeevy these days, which is true. even if a healthy dose of skeevy wouldn't hurt, i hope he does go on with losing the stache.

by the way for the next episode preview, does anyone know who's gun wook kissing (or if it's even him)?

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There's so much about this drama that I love. I love the editing, such as the seamless flashbacks and montages. I love the tone (color) and texture of this drama. I love how it's so artistic, and seems as though it could have been an independent romance film, sans the intense melodrama. I love how everyone is so perfectly casted, right down to the head of Hae Shin group, the elder sister of Hae Shin group, Moneh, the seasoned detective, and Shim Eun Kyung as the absolutely lovable little sister. And I'm highly impressed with Kim Jae Wook's (the real Hong Taesung) acting. He was kind of stone faced and reserved for the most of Coffee Prince & Antique. But after having seen episode 5, I'm sure there's not a single girl who wouldn't fall for his charms. Wow, that kiss scene was just sizzling, and the way he seemed like a happy, mischievous little boy around Han Gain, and, well, just EVERYTHING about him in ep 5 is just swoon inducing. The only aspect of his acting that I still have reservations about is his desperate, wild crying scenes. I don't think he has enough awareness of the camera and control of his expressions. His tearing up, leading to a single solitary tear tracing his chiseled cheekbone is perfect, however. And his angst, loneliness in spite of hedonism, bitterness is also acted perfectly. My gosh, he's so good in this drama that despite myself, I'm rooting for him in his pursuit of Han Gain. His acting is so exceptional, I feel like he could easily be the main lead of a drama.

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"The meaning of “rope” is something we’ll all have to wonder about for the moment, but I see it in a few different, contrasting ways ..."

In relation to Mo-nae, Mr. Gun-wook plays the part of "The Roper". And she is his mark ("The Rope").

[The Roper is the 'Outsideman' - the man who identifies with 'the mark' (the victim) and gains their confidence.]

Maybe that's what he meant by naming her "Rope".

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while gun-wook does have more chemistry with tae-ra than with jae-in, we all know that he is going to fall for jae-in, and vice versa. i can't wait to see how this plays out. and i cannot believe the bad timings of bad guy, first with not having a premiere date, then the election, and now the world cup.

i hope the recap for episode 4 is out soon!

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just started watching this drama. it reminds me of the very dark jap drama "a million stars falling from the sky" with takuya kimura. gun wok even wears a cap like takuya did. i prefer takuya's portrayal of a bad guy, edgier and more intense. takuya will always be the original edgy character, tho' kim n g is not that bad.

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This episode has slightly dampened my interest in the drama. What's the deal with Jae-in? Is she the lead actress or the supporting actress? Seems like Mo-nae and Tae-ra are the lead actresses of the show.

Hmmmm... not seeing or feeling the love for KNG. Not sure where the attraction is.

I'll persevere with ep 4 for now...

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I'm actually enjoying this drama, much more then I expected.. Something different from the romantic comedies I've watched lately ! ..Hmm, I don't blame all the women for falling for KNG, I can see where the love is!! ^^

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I love KNG in No Regrets where he played a gay lover, he is awesome!Thanks for the nice recaps, now I'm interested to watch this drama. ^____^

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