Coffee House: Page 9
Oh, it’s good to have Coffee House back. Unfortunately, the four-episode postponement most certainly did set the drama’s ratings back, nearly halving them. It was performing in the 9% to 10% range, but this episode dropped things to a 5.9%. (Giant didn’t have as big a drop — only about 1%, landing at 12.8% — but it did air one episode during the World Cup, while Coffee House did not.) Bummer.
SONG OF THE DAY
T-MAX – “심장이 열 번 뛰기 전에” (Before my heart beats 10 times). As you guys know, I’m not a huge kpop or idol-band fan. But of all the boy bands out there, I have to say that T-MAX is probably my guilty-pleasure favorite; they’ve got hooky melodies and a vaguely old-school kpop flavor that reminds me of groups like Shinhwa. [ Download ]
PAGE 9 RECAP
After Jin-soo and Eun-young pull back from the kiss, the uncertainty of the moment hangs in the air between them. Jin-soo tries to brush it off, uneasily joking that her birthday gift is a little much, and then asks if this is another attempt to fool Ji-won.
Whatever hope Eun-young may have been harboring in this moment of vulnerability is dashed by his response, and she silently turns away, picks up her umbrella, and walks off.
When it started to rain, Seung-yeon had rushed out with an umbrella, worrying about Jin-soo. Now she finds him walking along in a daze, hardly even registering the pounding rain as he continues to drink from his beer. She attempts to shield him with her umbrella, but he rejects it.
Eun-young returns to the office, where she manages to put on a cheerful smile for her employees’ benefit — they’ve prepared a party to celebrate a new writer contract. As soon as she makes it to the safety of her office, however, she wails in humiliation — what was she thinking? What happens now?
Seung-yeon remains unaware of this development, and runs into Hyun-joo in the building. She explains that she had come in with a cake for Jin-soo, but the Birthday Grinch ordered her to remove all signs of festivity. Hyun-joo invites her to join the office party, then gets the idea to combine both events. Seung-yeon likes this, and decides that she can’t just let Jin-soo’s birthday go uncelebrated after all.
Seung-yeon opens the back door so the publishing house employees can sneak in and grab Jin-soo to escort him forcibly to his own party. I know Seung-yeon’s not the brightest color in the rainbow, so to speak, but you’d think she’d have learned her lesson by now in defying Jin-soo’s direct orders, even when it’s “for his own good” (at least in cases not involving pills and self-hatred). I think she’s lucky this doesn’t backfire her in any great way, ’cause she’s just asking for another Jin-soo smackdown.
This makes for uncomfortable squirming when Jin-soo’s dragged into the gathering. Everyone else assumes that these two ought to be more than happy to party together, given their closeness and all. As if the memory of their kiss weren’t embarrassing enough, comments are made about the kind of present Jin-soo might want, particularly from Eun-young.
The two try to avoid each other’s gazes but are pressured into blowing out the candles together to celebrate both of their days.
Eun-young excuses herself and dashes to the bathroom, where she groans to herself, “Awkward, awkward, oh it’s so awkward!” Jin-soo steps inside with messy cake-smeared hands, and she forces a hearty laugh, trying to play it cool and joking that he got the wrong bathroom. Until he points to the wall — urinal! — to indicate that she’s the one who got the wrong room. Heh.
Trying to think of the best way to deal with this, Eun-young decides that what they need right now is time. And distance. Lots of time and distance. So, she grabs her bag — not noticing that her cell phone is left on the desk — and sneaks out of the office before she’s noticed.
And then runs into him in the elevator, as he also makes his getaway. Awkward! To make things even worse, just as they joke how uncomfortable things would be if the elevator stopped, it stops.
They try pounding on the doors and pushing the alarm button, but no response. Laughing uneasily, they try to pretend this isn’t their idea of a tenth circle of hell and fail miserably at it.
Next door, Ji-won comes back to his office after taking a few days off to cool his head. He’s in a despondent mood, believing his chances with Eun-young to be lost to Jin-soo.
There’s a hilarious moment when he prevents his secretary from opening his blinds. With a tragic air, he gets poetic: “Over the past few months, this window has been the window of memories, reminding me of my beautiful youth. But now… I’ll have to call it the window of hell. What hellish view awaits me once these blinds are opened tonight? I’m afraid to look.”
All the while, his secretary gives him a confused “Whatever, weirdo” look. Finally, Ji-won decides he has to face his demons and orders the blinds opened.
The sight incenses him anew: How dare they party while sending him to stew in his personal hell? Ji-won calls Eun-young’s office and gets Hyun-joo, who explains that Eun-young is currently not in sight. And neither is Jin-soo.
Whatever sultry scenario Ji-won’s imagining, it’s miles away from the embarrassed, stilted conversation Eun-young and Jin-soo are attempting in reality.
Jin-soo muses that the elevator is sorta the same size of the phone booth — does she have some kind of romantic fantasy about catching him alone in these enclosed spaces? That earns him a glare, so he withdraws the statement, but contends that it’s weird that she’s acting so affronted when HE was the one who’d been taken by surprise. His choice of wording raises her hackles, though, because he’s the one who “suffered” her kiss. And she’s all, suffered?!
Eun-young tries to cover up her embarrassment, first laughing it off, then blustering that a kiss takes two participants. Jin-soo counters, “That’s just instinct. And I’m a man.”
Just then, the elevator resumes operation and the doors open, but Eun-young’s not about to let him go on that excuse and grabs him with one hand while jabbing the “door close” button with the other. The doors slide closed just as Seung-yeon, who has come out to look for them, sees them standing together inside. She sees from the display that the elevator stops at the top floor.
Eun-young decides that it’s best to confront this head-on and tells Jin-soo that they ought to stop talking in circles. She starts to speak, but he cuts her off, choosing to speak first:
Jin-soo: “Are you my publisher or my friend? Do you want to make money with me, or have fun? Do you hate me or like me? To me, you only mean one thing, but it seems you always have multiple roles, and it’s too much for me.”
Jin-soo tells her it’s time that they make things clear, just as Eun-young blurts her reply:
Eun-young: “I’m your publisher and your friend. I want to make money with you and have fun with you. I want to kill you out of annoyance, but I like you too. What do you want me to do?”
Jin-soo doesn’t like that answer, and tells her it’s “against the rules” — she has to choose one role and stick with it. Eun-young doesn’t like his response either, which is designed to make things easier on him: “Why am I only allowed to be in the position you designate for me? People can be different things to each other. Don’t relationships change naturally with the times?”
She doesn’t want to be the one always left behind when he pulls his disappearing act, wondering if he’s okay or if he’s dead. She tells him, “I can’t go back to the beginning now. I don’t want to do that, either. You insist that we go back to our original places for your comfort, but now I’m going to act according to my feelings too.”
She adds that she’s a greedy person — on top of those two roles of friend and publisher, she can even add another: “I’m going to be more than that, too. Why can’t I do that?”
That’s tantamount to a declaration, isn’t it? Or at least, it opens the door — which he swiftly closes with a no. “I’ve never thought of you as more than that.”
Eun-young tells him not to lie, not believing that he means it. She thinks he’s shutting her down for the wrong reasons (fear? uncertainty?), and I’m inclined to agree with her. However, he assures her that he’s not lying, and that has the effect of knocking the wind right out of her sails.
Jin-soo repeats that the kiss was just a bodily instinct, and Eun-young now accepts his answer that he only wants her to be a friend. Caustically, she laughs at herself, calling this “the highlight of today’s awkwardness.”
Eun-young manages not to shed any tears as she heads back downstairs, not seeing that their conversation has had a third listener: Seung-yeon, who had followed them up from downstairs.
While Jin-soo is left to brood on the rooftop alone, Seung-yeon trudges out of the building glumly, clutching her balloons. So the romantic chemistry between them wasn’t just a show.
Seung-yeon doesn’t quite understand the reasons behind her reaction, because she hasn’t fully acknowledged that she’s starting to like Jin-soo, so it’s as puzzling as it is depressing.
Passing by a streetside pojangmacha, she sees Ji-won having a drink. Outwardly he laughs and gives her his trademark cheesy salute, but he’s mired in a funk of his own. He talks to Seung-yeon, but the words are directed more at himself as he wonders if this is how Eun-young felt when he cheated on her with Young-mi. If so, he acknowledges that he deserved her anger, and figures he’s earned this feeling. Took him long enough to get it!
At home, Seung-yeon reflects on her mood, wondering if wishing that the couple doesn’t work out is the “normal response” in this situation. She recognizes that a pro ought to be interested in the work, “But why am I only interested in people?” Why is she so bummed out?
She sighs that she must not be qualified; she wasn’t meant for professional success.
Despite her denseness in realizing her feelings, I think Seung-yeon IS aware; she just has a tendency to hide behind her supposed dumb ways as a source of denial. She must be hip to her real reason, because she asks her grandmother if it’s true that Dong-wook really likes her, and wonders if she ought to give it a shot with him.
The party occurred on a Friday, and on Monday, Jin-soo arrives at the book cafe, where he overhears her employees wondering what’s up with Eun-young. She hasn’t come in to work, and nobody knows where she went.
He confirms with Hyun-joo that Eun-young has been gone for the weekend, leaving her cell phone in the office. They’ve checked her home and called around, but haven’t found any trace of her.
Her staff is pretty worried, but Jin-soo has an added reason for concern, thinking back to their rooftop conversation. He spends all day calling her home and trying to get a hold of her, tracking down her various contacts.
Such is his anxiety that I doubt Jin-soo even realizes that their situations have been reversed, for once, and now he’s getting a little taste of what he’s doled out to her for so long.
Ji-won also hears the news and calls the office. He sees Jin-soo through the window and orders Hyun-joo to put him on the line, then rips into him for letting this happen. It’s a little unreasonable to blame Jin-soo for this, but Ji-won’s not acting on reason, and he also believes Jin-soo to be her boyfriend, who therefore has a greater responsibility to make sure she’s okay.
This situation is worrisome because Eun-young has never gone missing before, nor has she purposely remained out of contact. However, Ji-won’s next accusation is particularly cutting: “Why do women always find themselves in these situations around you?”
Ouch, low blow. The words, obviously a not-too-veiled reference to his dead wife, get to Jin-soo. Late that night, he stacks dominoes methodically and keeps calling Eun-young, only to get her voicemail.
Finally, he leaves a message — but as soon as he utters the words, they bring a painful memory back with sharp clarity. They echo the words he’d spoken to his wife Hee-soo, when she’d been out of touch and he’d tried to find her.
The domino tower collapses — symbolism! (Jin-soo resorts to building dominoes when he is at his most stressed, because it’s a way of asserting order from within chaos.) He sits in the dark, stricken at the thought that history might repeat itself.
Meanwhile, things are lighter at the Kang household, where it’s meat-grilling night, Dad’s favorite night of the week. This week they have a special visitor: Dong-wook has been invited, and comes dressed to impress, cleaned up in a suit. This is Seung-yeon’s first move after deciding to give it a try with Dong-wook, and his first activity as her official suitor.
Jin-soo calls Seung-yeon during dinner, explaining the call as mere boredom. She’s surprised, and double-checks the reason for his call. He confirms that he’s “bored to death,” but she can’t quite shake the feeling that something is wrong.
As for the family… I got a big chuckle over the meat-o-go-round, when Dong-wook extends a piece of lettuce-wrapped meat to Seung-yeon. Dad gives him the eye and grabs the piece for himself, then offers a piece to Seung-yeon himself — note how Dong-wook hangs his head so pathetically in the shot above. But when Seung-yeon tries to eat it, Grandma snatches the piece away. And round and round they go. HA.
Back in his apartment, Jin-soo sits in the dark with his pills. He swallows a mouthful, then thinks back to the fateful day several years ago when he and Eun-young had gone everywhere looking for Hee-soo.
She had left him one last, ominous voicemail message, and they’d feared the worst. While he was driving around in their search, a phone call had come — but he couldn’t answer, staring at it in fear. Eun-young had tried to reassure him with hopeful words, but when she answered the phone, she’d been presented with bad news.
Eun-young and Jin-soo had sped to the site of a bad car accident, where Hee-soo’s car had been overturned.
In the following days, Jin-soo had sunk into deep depression, sleeping with the help of a constant diet of pills while listening to her last message:
Hee-soo’s message: “I’m sorry to worry you. I didn’t do it on purpose. Don’t misunderstand. And this… this will be the last time, so don’t be annoyed. You’re doing fine, but why am I not able to do that, stupidly? But you know, you really are mean. You’re too much. You know that, right?”
The wording indicates that she had been having a hard time with life after their separation, and Jin-soo’s ability to move on had hit her particularly hard.
In the morning, Jin-soo is shaken awake. It’s Seung-yeon, here to check on him.
He’s had a rough night but he’s fine now (at least physically speaking), and tries to act like Seung-yeon’s worry is unfounded. She sees the scattered dominoes and pills, but even without those clues she had sensed something was odd — Jin-soo uses “I’m bored” as a euphemism for feeling bad, which is an observation that he’s surprised that she picked up on.
Jin-soo asks Seung-yeon to check his messages for him. It’s like he was in his flashback — he can’t bear to be the one to hear the bad news, and when Seung-yeon picks up the phone, he waits with bated breath. She reports that there’s no message, which is both a relief and a worry. More of a relief, though, and with the worst-case scenario off his mind, Jin-soo suggests breakfast.
As they’re walking, Seung-yeon gets a call on her cell phone, and Jin-soo tenses as she answers it. She doesn’t say anything telling, but he senses that it’s about Eun-young, which she confirms. That was her office, calling to assure that Eun-young has returned to work and is therefore fine.
Not waiting for her to finish speaking, Jin-soo immediately tears down the street, racing for the book cafe at a full sprint. When he gets to the office, he’s drenched in sweat and out of breath. It isn’t until he sees Eun-young through the glass windows that he starts to calm down — she’s conducting a business meeting, looking perfectly fine.
Her employee explains to Jin-soo that Eun-young had taken a weekend trip to Japan to clear her head. She hadn’t even realized that everyone was in a tizzy over her absence, thinking all was fine.
All the while, Jin-soo stares intently at Eun-young through the glass, nearly overwhelmed with relief. I love the look on his face, so loaded with meaning — it’s a look Kang Ji-hwan does particularly well. (And it gets me — Every. Single. Damned. Time.)
When Eun-young catches a glimpse of him, she starts to excuse herself and head out to see him, but he holds up a hand to stop her. He puts on his trademark smile, but now it clashes with the sheen of tears in his eyes.
Trying to act calm, he indicates with a gesture toward the door that he’ll just head back, that there’s no need for her to interrupt her business. Eun-young understands the message and nods, staying in her meeting.
Now sapped of energy, Jin-soo staggers out of the office in a daze, pausing at the threshold as Seung-yeon comes running up, out of breath from chasing him.
Tiredly, Jin-soo suggests they order out instead, and heads back to his place. Trudging along, he misses his footing when he steps on his bottle of pills. His arm reaches to brace himself on the counter, but lands on some supplies instead, and he loses his balance. He collapses to the floor and, in his exhaustion, falls unconscious.
Several interesting conversations in this episode — namely, the elevator scene and the rooftop scene immediately after. I’m sure most of us would agree that he’s the one who’s being silly for insisting people remain in their clearly delineated boxes, but it’s in character with what we know of him. Jin-soo isn’t stupid enough to think people can only play one role, but this is his coping mechanism, and as we’ve seen with the dominoes and other quirks, Jin-soo tries to enforce a sense of order when he’s feeling vulnerable.
I suspect this is also why he sticks to his wacky plans and extended jokes — because in being erratic and unpredictable, he ensures that he is always the one in control. Control over a situation means control of his feelings and therefore control (or avoidance) of pain.
I’m glad to see that he’s finally seeing how it feels to be on the other side, because it’s true that he’s been a mighty pain to those around him. While it’s hard enough in a professional sense, Eun-young in particular has suffered, but because of her love for him as a friend, she has put up with it, pretty much unconditionally. Jin-soo refuses to play anyone’s game other than his own, but that also means he’s opted out of the Real World Game, too. If he continues this behavior, he might just get locked up in his own world. Furthermore, he may lose his sole link to the real world in Eun-young if he pushes her away one time too many.