What a fun episode. I was rolling with laughter at some parts, and also feeling loads of sympathy at others — this drama has managed to make everyone pretty darned likable, in my opinion. I know there have been a lot of heated comments pitting the two actresses (and characters) against each other, which (sadly) is all too common in fandom. I sorta wish we could all move past the direct “A is better than B” comparisons, because they’re two different parts of the main picture; they’re not meant to fulfill the same role. I appreciate that the drama isn’t pitting these two women against each other as possessive antagonists who fight each other for the man’s attention, which would just drive me nuts. There are things that they don’t see eye to eye on and they’ve got very different personalities, but also a lot of mutual respect, which we see demonstrated in this episode.
SONG OF THE DAY
Coffee House OST – “Page One” by Ok Joo-hyun, So-yeon [ Download ]
PAGE 7 RECAP
Escaping the aborted interview, Jin-soo wonders where they ought to go. After all that effort, they should find a place where they won’t be bothered. He’s thinking of a far-off rural spot, maybe a remote island, but Seung-yeon is taken aback — the two of them, together? Seeing her hesitation, he makes the executive decision to take this trip solo and directs the taxi driver to Seung-yeon’s neighborhood.
He hadn’t thought about her family and is giving her an out, but Seung-yeon feels a little bummed to be so easily let go. She asks where he’s heading but he doesn’t answer, and merely promises to call when he’s back.
As she gets out of the taxi, she’s spotted by a passerby, whose face lights up: It’s Dong-wook, happy to see her back from her trip. Seung-yeon, however, is preoccupied with concerns about Jin-soo and excuses herself hurriedly. She runs after the taxi just as her father and grandmother see her dashing away.
She rounds the corner and jumps in front of the taxi — good thing she picked the right car, is what I’m thinking — and gets back in. Jin-soo looks at her in surprise and tells her to get back out, but she says with determination that she’s staying. They ran away together, so they should see this plan out together. How can he just leave her to bear the brunt of Eun-young’s ire alone? That would be irresponsible of him.
Her mind made up, she instructs the driver to proceed, and the car starts to go… only another figure pops out to stop the car — Dong-wook. He’d just talked to the office and heard that Jin-soo ran away. Where are they going? Dong-wook won’t accept Seung-yeon’s brush-off and gets into the backseat, and instructs the driver to proceed…
…only to have Seung-yeon’s father jump in front of the car, demanding some answers. Seung-yeon tries to brush him off too, but Dad refuses to let her go and argues loudly, while yet another party pops up to the car — brother Seung-chul this time.
LOL. This is like the Simpsons joke about stepping on the garden rake. The first time a character does it, it’s mildly amusing, but after that it starts to get tiresome… until you do it so many times it becomes ridiculous and circles back to being funny again.
To appease Seung-yeon’s family, Jin-soo agrees to stay somewhere that will allow Seung-yeon to come home every night. That limits their options to Seoul, and Jin-soo checks them into a lavish hotel suite.
It’s hardly ideal, and Jin-soo grumbles at this complication. She should have gotten out of the car while she had the chance. Seung-yeon protests — they’re a team! Jin-soo takes issue with that, breaking down what it means to be a team, scoffing at the idea that they are in any way a suitable partnership. Seung-yeon pipes up with a few suggestions: “Don Quixote and Sancho? Tom and Jerry?”
Jin-soo gets right to work. Meanwhile, Eun-young maintains a calm professional face even though this has been a massive headache for her, both on a personal and business level. She betrays some of her frustration to Hyun-joo, asking who’s the bad guy in this situation. Is she truly so mean? Is it really her and not him who is out of line? She wanders around the now-deserted writer’s workshop glumly.
Ji-won arrives at Jin-soo’s place and rings the doorbell, pretending to be a deliveryman to trick Jin-soo into opening the door. Lack of a response sends him downstairs to the cafe, where he inquires after Eun-young’s whereabouts (her office) and Jin-soo’s (gone, poof).
This puts him face to face with a new arrival: It’s everyone’s favorite grumpy grandpa Lee Soon-jae (who was in both High Kick series), here as Eun-young’s grandfather. As he is aware of the bad history between Ji-won and his granddaughter, he takes the erstwhile fiancé to task — how dare he come here and continue to pester Eun-young? Doesn’t he have a conscience? (I’d say it’s common sense he’s lacking.)
Ji-won bows respectfully and speaks politely, but he’s intimidated by Grandpa and skedaddles. This is something Eun-young greatly appreciates, and she half-jokes that her grandfather ought to stick around to keep Ji-won away.
Seung-yeon sneaks in a call to Eun-young; Jin-soo had told her not to call, but Seung-yeon feels compelled to at least check in. She isn’t at liberty to disclose where Jin-soo is staying, but assures Eun-young that they’re fine and that she’ll be sure to call if something comes up.
Jin-soo sees her on the phone and takes over the call. The two longtime friends revert to their familiar script of faux-politeness, which covers up their true aggravations. For instance, Jin-soo asks if she managed to settle the aftereffects of his departure, as this is her specialty. Eun-young says with an edge to her voice that she’s gotten very good at cleaning up his trash, and this time he sure left a lot: “If your next book isn’t a big success, I believe I’ll be quite upset.”
Jin-soo returns, “Yes, which is why I’m working very hard.” She replies that working hard isn’t enough — he’d better write his ass off. This time a “regular success” won’t be enough to compensate for his behavior.
Here’s where the conversation takes on weighty overtones, and their anger and hurt at each other spills over into their loaded words. It’s as though this stunt pushed things a step farther than he’d gone before, testing their friendship beyond normal levels. She says as much, telling him he’s crossed the “Maginot Line” — a reference to a line formerly believed impenetrable, which basically means he went too far to escape without repercussion.
However, she isn’t the only one who feels wronged, and his next comment indicates that Jin-soo has been feeling some hurt of his own: “How much more money do I have to make to satisfy your ambition?” He says she seems greedier than in the past, which not only hurts but outrages her. I’m inclined to feel more for Eun-young in this situation, but there’s something to his tone that you can’t quite dismiss, either:
Jin-soo: “How much more famous do I have to get for you to be satisfied? I’m asking because it seems like there’s no end. I’m not an endless supply. No matter how much I keep writing manuscripts, you’ll want more.”
Her response hits home: “If you stop writing, will you disappear?… What’ll you do if you don’t work? Will you hide away somewhere and take some pills? And if you get tired of that, you’ll call it quits?” Growing more heated, she calls his behavior worse than being mercenary — he treats everything like a joke, like nothing’s important.
Eun-young: “You say I’ve changed? Well, people change, you bastard! I thought you might have developed a sense of responsibility after becoming famous, but why don’t YOU change? You’re trying to make your secretary into a pro? She’s more of a pro than you! No matter what crap her boss makes her do, she obeys, and she worries about the people around her. What’s the big deal about being a pro? — a person needs sincerity! She’s better than you — who’s teaching who?”
She warns him to finish his draft in a month. Any longer than that, “and I can’t forgive you.”
Bravo! I love this exchange, and I love that both sides have reason to feel hurt so there’s no clear-cut Good Guy or Bad Guy. Eun-young’s got more basis for complaint because of Jin-soo’s latest antic, but this isn’t a simple matter of subtracting one’s wrongs against the other’s wrongs and seeing who’s been wronged more.
On top of that awesomeness, I love the scene that follows, as Eun-young gets her emotions under control and heads back to join her grandfather, who has of course overheard the entire exchange. She explains that Jin-soo ran away, and Grandpa asks why. Without being self-pitying, she answers honestly. Her smile and matter-of-fact tone contrast with the words she says: “Because he really hates me. He says I’m mercenary.”
Even so, she can’t manage to hold her tears, to her embarrassment. She excuses herself, passing Dong-wook on her way out, who notices the tears.
Dong-wook continues to be adorable, particularly when Seung-yeon calls to request some of the special coffee from the cafe for Jin-soo. She can’t go pick it up herself (that would alert the others to Jin-soo’s presence in Seoul) and asks him to deliver it to her father’s coffee shop, promising to treat him later in exchange for the favor. Eagerly, Dong-wook answers quickly, “A movie!” It takes her a moment to register that he wants her to treat him to a movie, to which she agrees. He follows that immediately by asking, “When?”
That’s a little weird, but she rolls with it; she supposes that she’ll first have to get the coffee from him, to which he blurts, “Tonight!” Hahaha! I can see why he decided to cultivate the silent mystique at work.
Dong-wook also lets her know that he saw Eun-young crying, so she starts to gently chide Jin-soo for his behavior: “In making you comfortable, everyone else got stuck in a really bad position.” She points out that it wouldn’t have killed him to do the interview, and feels guilty for following his lead now that she thinks of the fallout.
Jin-soo keeps his attention fixated on his work as she talks, and complains that she’s using his onetime praise as an excuse to speak freely now. However, despite pointedly ignoring Seung-yeon’s criticism, her words do get through to Jin-soo. Later that night, he leaves the hotel for the publishing office.
As Eun-young escorts her grandfather out and says her goodbyes, he asks if she is in a romantic relationship with Jin-soo. Eun-young answers that they just fought over money, but Grandpa isn’t wholly convinced. He cautions her that it could lead to complications later.
While rearranging files in her office, Eun-young finds a stash of old photos that date back to her university days. She smiles as she flips through graduation pictures, but her mood instantly sours at those depicting her and Ji-won as a happy couple. She rips Ji-won out of the photos, then lingers on one that features the old foursome: Jin-soo, his wife, Eun-young, and Ji-won.
Eun-young tears Ji-won’s image out of the quartet, and then — interestingly! — folds the photo over so that she is sitting next to Jin-soo, rather than his wife. And then there were two.
She contemplates her revised image for a long moment, not noticing Jin-soo arriving behind her. He calls out from the doorway, which startles Eun-young so much that she tosses the photo into the trash in a panicked gesture. The altered photo would probably lead to a mighty awkward conversation, so she babbles and blocks his path to the trash can.
Of course, her suspicious behavior just makes him more curious and he continues his approach, at which point she trips him. Based on her reaction, Jin-soo wonders if those are nude photos, then has to add the dig that he’s already seen her nude. That earns him a swift kick in the shin.
Recovering her composure, Eun-young asks why he’s here. Jin-soo answers that the rumors have spread about her crying over the interview, so he came to make sure the company wasn’t ruined. She laughs at that. Now they’re both back to their witty, cool personas — their vulnerabilities tucked out of sight — and the repartee is light and swift.
Eun-young: “You don’t have any power to control my life.”
Jin-soo: “That’s true.”
Eun-young: “Naturally. Who are you, anyway?”
Jin-soo: “Good for you.”
Eun-young: “You’re not even anything.”
Jin-soo: “Then that’s that. I’m off.”
Eun-young can’t stop herself from asking where he’s staying. He answers that he’s fine, so she need not worry. She mutters, “Who’s worrying?” He returns, “That’s what I’m saying. Of course, you’re not one to worry about me. It’s only because my secretary exaggerated so much.”
It’s nice that Seung-yeon is their bridge now — she called Eun-young to check in, then tweaked Jin-soo’s conscience enough to send here now. What I love about their banter is that it’s the kind in which everything is said in the subtext and what they don’t say — the actual text says hardly anything at all. Eun-young doesn’t WANT to need the assurance that he’s okay, and she won’t admit that she’s worried… just as Jin-soo doesn’t want to care enough to come here and assure her. So he can blame this on his pesky secretary.
While Jin-soo heads to his apartment to collect some books, Eun-young has a lonely glass of wine in her office. She wonders what to do with Jin-soo, who’s always laughing and joking “without one sincere word.”
A phone call from a singsong Ji-won makes her look out the window, where he peers over with his own drink. He offers to join her, to which she hangs up the phone and shuts her blinds.
Eun-young calls Seung-yeon to ask what hotel they’re staying in. Seung-yeon nervously resists, not wanting to counter Jin-soo’s wishes, but hearing that Jin-soo dropped by to talk to Eun-young alleviates her apprehensions. Eun-young leaves for the hotel, which means that her office is empty moments later when Ji-won drops by with a bottle of liquor.
Jin-soo is leaving his office when a strange sound captures his attention, coming from the publisher’s office. Warily, he makes his way to Eun-young’s office, where he finds the source: A drunk, weepy Ji-won, huddled over the trash can crying over discarded photos.
Ji-won can’t believe Eun-young would be so cold to cut him out of her memories, when he’s always treasured his. (Funny how that “treasuring” didn’t extend to not crapping on the actual relationship by cheating on her, huh?) He turns to an unsympathetic Jin-soo for comfort, who turns his attention to the photos in question.
One in particular catches his eye: the one Eun-young had folded over to bring their images closer together. He stares at the image for a long moment as the significance of this sinks in.
Eun-young arrives at the hotel suite before Jin-soo gets back, and tells Seung-yeon, “You’re more capable than I thought, as a secretary.” Deciding to wait, Eun-young helps herself to some wine. Seung-yeon declines to share the wine and sits with her, while Eun-young sinks into a thoughtful mood that grows more melancholy the more she drinks.
Eun-young asks if Seung-yeon finds it difficult working with Jin-soo, admitting that it has been pretty tough on her. Seung-yeon agrees that it was rough at first, but the more time passes, she’s getting used to it, “And now I can even sense the pattern of what he’ll say next.”
Eun-young sighs, “That’s impressive. It’s only getting harder and harder for me. Why is that? There must be a problem with me.”
I love this, because it’s pretty much an admission that she has feelings for Jin-soo that are complicating her professional feelings, as her grandfather warned. She’s not admitting it TO Seung-yeon, who doesn’t read any meaning into it, but we understand that Eun-young’s personal feelings are getting all tangled up. It’s funny, because on the outside it seems like Seung-yeon is the mess and Eun-young the cool, collected professional. Emotionally, however, the situation is flipped — Seung-yeon’s feeling good about her life, while Eun-young’s all in turmoil. I guess you can’t fool the heart.
By the time Jin-soo arrives, it’s late and Eun-young is asleep in the bedroom after having polished off a bottle of wine. Jin-soo tells Seung-yeon to go home for the night, and tucks Eun-young into bed.
With the photo still fresh in his mind, Jin-soo looks at her with a troubled gaze. He becomes so lost in his thoughts that he drops his kettle and spills the coffee he’s making. Seung-yeon, who is just about to leave, starts to clean up, but he ends up snapping at her.
He softens the edge from his voice and asks if she’s going home, as though he’s about to suggest something. However, because she has plans — a midnight movie (midnight to work around her odd schedule) — he dismisses her. Seung-yeon senses that he had something in mind and eagerly offers to cancel — aw, poor Dong-wook — as she’d much rather stay here with Jin-soo.
Jin-soo tells her not to cancel, but invites himself along. She’s happy to agree.
On the bus ride, Seung-yeon mentions how Jin-soo had made such a wonderful first impression. In fact, she thinks he’s more personable the less you know him. She assures him that it doesn’t mean she doesn’t like him now, just that there’s a big difference from his first impression.
When the bus lurches, Jin-soo reaches out to steady her, which makes her recoil in surprise. She explains that it’s odd to see him being so considerate after the way he normally treats her, but Jin-soo answers that she’s not his employee right now; he only messes with her when she’s on the clock. He adds, “Just enjoy it when I treat you like a woman.” He means that he’s being chivalrous, but I suspect that the gesture makes Seung-yeon aware of their genders in a more acute way — as in, it makes her think of him as a man instead of her weird boss.
HOW much do I love that wounded, angry look on Dong-wook’s face when he sees that his date has brought a date? Bwahahaha!
Seung-yeon remains oblivious, and it takes a while for Jin-soo to catch on. At first he just finds Dong-wook’s stony silence puzzling, such as when Seung-yeon stumbles in the dark and Jin-soo grabs her arm to steady her. Then Jin-soo follows Seung-yeon into the row, leaving Dong-wook on the end, and Dong-wook shoots him another offended glare. Finally understanding, Jin-soo offers Dong-wook his seat next to Seung-yeon, taking the aisle seat instead.
However, that ends up belonging to another patron (the tickets are numbered), so Seung-yeon instructs Jin-soo to sit on her other side. Weathering another scowl from Dong-wook (see above), Jin-soo mutters to himself, “I came to watch one movie and may just end up stabbed.”
As the other theatergoers enjoy the movie, Jin-soo’s mind wanders and lands on an old memory. In the flashback, he’s laughing and chatting with Eun-young until Ji-won bursts in on the scene, wedges his way between them and pushes Jin-soo aside, monopolizing Eun-young’s attention.
I’m not sure if this means that he liked Eun-young first but missed his chance when Ji-won made a move before him, or that he liked her despite the fact that she was dating his hyung. But in any case, this flashback shows us that there was in fact the possibility for Jin-soo and Eun-young to be together, except timing got in their way. And after his wife died, that door was shut for good. (Or at least, they both treated it as shut.)
After the movie, Seung-yeon suggests going for some ice cream, but Jin-soo catches Dong-wook’s furtive head-shake at him. Jin-soo excuses himself and takes a taxi, and it’s worth noting that Seung-yeon is visibly disappointed when Jin-soo leaves, just as Dong-wook is visibly gladdened.
At the hotel, Jin-soo finds Eun-young asleep in bed. Or half-asleep, I should say, because she murmurs groggily, “That sounds like Lee Jin-soo’s voice. Is it you?”
He sits by her, and without opening her eyes, she tells him that he’ll regret it if he loses her, too. Her tone isn’t mean, just matter-of-fact and sleepy:
Eun-young: “You can’t do a thing without me, punk. Cocky. You have no sincerity. Because you don’t have any, nobody treats you with any. It’s not that I’m not greedy — it’s that you’re making me into that, you know that? I can’t just let you get away with it.”
Jin-soo: “Cut me a little slack. If you don’t, who will?”
Eun-young: “I’m tired of it, too. You’re done. Living like that’ll mean the end for you.”
I love this exchange (can you tell there are a lot of exchanges to love in this episode?), because it’s a stripped, honest conversation. These two have trouble being candid in normal circumstances, but it’s moments like this (as in the Jeju hospital) that they can cut out the bull and be straight with each other. Even if one is half-asleep (or pretending to be, to give her the excuse to be frank).
Her words have an impact on Jin-soo, who spends the rest of the night brooding by himself. (How gorgeous is the above photo?)
He stays up all night thinking, and when the sun finally rises, he’s still awake, still in the room while Eun-young sleeps (much like their night in the hospital). When Eun-young wakes, she sees Jin-soo sitting by the window, gazing off in thought.
As if you couldn’t tell by the many times I used the phrase “I love this” in this recap, there were a lot of things that worked for me in this episode. First of all, I think it’s fantastic that Jin-soo got called out on his behavior, by both ladies. At this point, they’re the only ones who have any sway over him, much as he tries to pretend they don’t. Because frankly, he deserved it.
Jin-soo has pulled many stunts in his career, and I’ve always wondered why. I know there’s something there under the surface, so I have faith that there’s a valid reason for his behavior. I’m okay not knowing the full truth now, because the show has earned my trust and I’m willing to go along for the ride. However, that aside, even if he has the most legitimate reason in the world, the fact is that his behavior is pretty irresponsible. I’m not blind to it, but maybe we (okay, I) would have been harder on Jin-soo earlier if not for the character’s charm, which is greatly enhanced by (but not limited to) Kang Ji-hwan’s own personal charm. But that’s the way of the world, isn’t it? The handsome, charming jerks always get away with more. When you add bestselling author (read: cash cow!) to his list of attributes, it makes sense he got away with it this long. But as with anything, there are limits.
If the Jeju episodes built the foundation for a Seung-yeon/Jin-soo romance, this episode certainly paved the way for Eun-young/Jin-soo. This is the first time I’ve really enjoyed having an uncertain “main pairing,” but I’m content with it so far because both sides have been portrayed well. I also enjoy the pendulum swinging from one side to another, giving us reasons for both sides in alternating fashion. That’s the best kind of love triangle, in my opinion — one where both legs make sense. When the “real” pairing is so obvious from the get-go, the romantic tension can feel very contrived because we know that the other side is never going to work out. Here, both sides make sense.
(This is different from a show that just doesn’t know what its pairing is, and therefore confuses the viewers with its ambivalence. Triple was a show that lost people’s attention because it was pretty wishy-washy about the relationships, and failed to create compelling reasons for any of the romances. My Love Patzzi feared offending both camps and therefore copped out at the end, which satisfied neither camp. I consider Coffee House to be different from those cases, because even though we don’t know the end result, at least there are persuasive arguments for both pairings.)
That aside, I just have to comment on how much I love the look of this drama. There’s a great use of color and contrasting light and a lovely palette that’s really appealing to look at. A drama like Bad Guy has a sepia tinge, Cinderella’s Sister was kind of dark and the colors washed out accordingly, and Wish Upon a Star and Oh My Lady were bright and colorful to correspond with their sunny, simple attitudes. Coffee House uses a lot of color, but it isn’t limited to child-like primary colors like Wish Upon a Star; the hues are bold but balanced with a heavy use of darkness, which reflects the drama thematically as well as visually.
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- Coffee House production press conference