Bad Guy: Episode 7
It’s as I suspected. I’m in major second-lead love, and I’m headed for disaster. Now, I don’t always do this in every drama, although I’m more prone, say, than javabeans, who is more a leading-man kind of girl. But when a great second lead energizes the story and brings in a more layered character as Tae-sung is doing here, I’m a goner. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a tortured puppy, and that he is, for all intents and purposes, more of an actual bad guy, than, well…our Bad Guy.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Jae-in returns from Japan sans glass mask, hoping that Tae-sung will return to Korea with it in tow. That’s a risky move, considering you’re the one with a job on the line. She hedges about calling Gun-wook, but then he texts her that he’s back, and confirms that Tae-sung did indeed return with him.
Jae-in gets chewed out for letting the mystery buyer beat her to the glass mask, as she doesn’t give away Tae-sung’s plan to stick it to his mother. As soon as Tae-sung arrives, he heads straight to the police station, making Gun-wook a little nervous. I like that in the last two episodes, Tae-sung has successfully thrown a wrench or two in Gun-wook’s plan. He has yet to succeed in actually gumming up the works, but I can see the potential growing, which pleases me greatly.
Not surprisingly, Gun-wook doesn’t want to go inside, but then he overhears the detectives discussing the evidence in Sun-young’s case on their way in. Tae-sung meets the detectives, and Gun-wook rushes inside to join the meeting and listen in on the latest developments on the case.
Old Cop tells Tae-sung that they’ve discovered a new suspect and motive in the case: the child who was adopted and then abandoned by the Hong family is someone that Sun-young knew as a child, from the same orphanage. Gun-wook is ruffled that the cops have uncovered all this so quickly, as Tae-sung tries to take in the idea that Sun-young’s death might not have been a suicide.
Tae-sung tells them that she never betrayed any acquaintance with Tae-sung Number 1, but does recall that she did like his name—she had said Tae-sung was a name she liked. Gun-wook stirs at the mention of this.
He flashes back to some months before, when Sun-young had come for a visit soon after she started dating Tae-sung. She came upon Gun-wook’s Haeshin Group files, and landed on Tae-sung’s picture, exclaiming that he was the same guy she was seeing. Wait, that was a COINCIDENCE? Yet another coincidence? You are really raising my ire, Show. Say it ain’t so.
Tae-sung asks the cops if they read Sun-young’s diary, as she always kept it by her side. The cops perk up at the news of a diary, and so does Gun-wook. Ruh-roh. As Tae-sung and Gun-wook walk out, the eye-witness who heard Sun-young say “Tae-sung ah” is conveniently in the station. He does a double take at Gun-wook, but lets the moment pass him by.
As Tae-sung remembers the other child who was sent away when he was brought in, he calls out, “Tae-sung ah.” Gun-wook, without thinking, answers “Yes?” Tae-sung thinks nothing of it, but to us and to Gun-wook the slip is significant. It’s a nice little moment where he just answers to his old name without thinking, but reveals so much.
Tae-sung entrusts Gun-wook to find out more about this original Tae-sung Number 1. That should go well.
Mo-nae begs her sister to send her to Japan; Gun-wook isn’t answering her calls, so she’s determined to go find him. Tae-ra tries to tell her that when a guy doesn’t call you back, it means he’s just not that into you. Preach it, sister. But Mo-nae doesn’t care. She likes Gun-wook, and that’s all that matters. Spoken like a true spoiled princess with the world at her feet.
Madam Shin and the girls are presented with the latest haute couture, and among the racks is a piece by a new designer that is deemed below her. The sales clerk offers to take it away (apparently you can’t have common clothes touching the couture), but Madam Shin makes good use of it by giving it to Jae-in. It’s a cynical take on “one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.” I don’t know what’s worse: Madam Shin’s lies drenched in honey, or Jae-in’s earnest glee at receiving the gift.
Back at Tae-sung’s apartment, he caresses Sun-young’s clothes, still hanging in his closet. Gun-wook says he thought they had returned to Korea because of the glass mask. Tae-sung replies that Sun-young’s death had been weighing on him; if someone else is responsible, isn’t that better? For you, maybe. Gun-wook’s eyes start filling with tears. Tae-sung tells him to get rid of all of Sun-young’s belongings in the house.
Gun-wook asks haltingly if Tae-sung loved that woman, then doesn’t he want to keep at least one thing of hers, to remember her by? Tae-sung cuts him down for concerning himself with such things. He tells Gun-wook to throw it all away and leave nothing.
But it turns out that Tae-sung isn’t quite as heartless as he’d like Gun-wook to believe. He goes straight to Sun-young’s ashes and asks her if it’s true that she didn’t die because of him.
Gun-wook flashes back to Sun-young begging him to stop his plan because she loved Tae-sung. Back in the present, he crumples up a picture of them as he says bitterly in voiceover: “Love? They’re memories thrown in the trash with no remorse. Love?” Gun-wook hunches over, crying.
Tae-sung sheds tears of his own, wondering how they could say it wasn’t his fault, when it’s all because of him. He swears that if someone else had anything to do with her death, he won’t let it go.
Ooh, I like that these two are building towards a fierce rivalry, over more than just Jae-in and the family, and I would probably be enthralled if it wasn’t hinged on such a clumsy coincidence-riddled backstory. But I’m going to hold out hope that there’s more to Gun-wook’s relationship with Sun-young, and that the stuff in the present will outweigh the past.
Gun-wook brings Sun-young’s things back to his place, and he continues in voiceover: “Noona, I’m sorry, I’m going to keep going. Haeshin Group, those people…they have to know what they’ve done. When it’s over…I’ll take my punishment then. Wait and see, noona.”
Gun-wook goes to Hong Manor to tell President Hong that he’s returned. President Hong is surprised to see him, but welcomes him warmly, and invites him inside. Gun-wook steps inside the gates, memories of his childhood flooding back to him. Inside, he offers a plan to keep Tae-sung in Korea: offer him a job, as he is more than capable. President Hong is overjoyed to hear his son being praised, and considers the plan.
Just then, Madam Shin arrives, with Jae-in in tow. High and mighty Madam Shin asks Gun-wook to leave before Mo-nae comes home, and instead of shoving a pie in her face, like I would have, he politely agrees to go. Jae-in catches him on his way out, wondering why Tae-sung isn’t with him. Seems like you wasted a trip and a really expensive gift skirt for nothing. You should’ve just returned it for the cash like you were originally angling to do.
Gun-wook begins to leave, but finds himself drawn to a small room beside the house. Carried along by his memories, he goes straight for a hidden stash of caramels that he used to sneak when he was a boy. This PD likes to employ a fourth-wall-breaking direct address to the camera, and here as the adult Gun-wook and boy Tae-sung look directly at each other, at us, they pierce the space-time continuum in Gun-wook’s mind.
The head housemaid/secretary who had cared for little Tae-sung all those years ago, returns to her quarters to find Gun-wook hunched over the caramels, tears streaming down his face. She immediately makes the connection, but doesn’t give voice to it, and Gun-wook manages to give vague excuses and deflect by asking about the original Hong Tae-sung, since Tae-sung requested he find out more about this kid. She tells him nothing, but he leaves her curious and skeptical.
Gun-wook waits for Jae-in to finish her work, and gives her a ride on his motorcycle. He offers to help her meet up with Tae-sung, but she’s more concerned with the glass mask in particular, thinking that Tae-sung’s not the type to just hand it over because she asks nicely. Gun-wook muses that she knows Tae-sung better than him, and she realizes that she in fact knows almost nothing about Gun-wook. Yeah, that’s not an accident.
She asks him about his parents, his dreams, what kind of person he is…Um, I’m going to go out on a limb and say “a BAD GUY.” Gun-wook just deflects the questions, of course, asking if she’s really curious about him. He tells her to keep her eye on the prize, ie. Hong Tae-sung, to which she gets defensive and leaves. Way to cut to the chase there, buddy.
The next morning, Tae-sung and Gun-wook go in for a family pow-wow over the business. Madam Shin kicks Gun-wook out the minute he arrives, although that’s plenty of time for him to get Tae-ra all hot and bothered. The gist of the family meeting: Dad wants Tae-sung to join the family business; Mom thinks he’s out of his mind and wants Tae-sung to go away; Tae-sung wants to give it a shot, if only to annoy the crap out of Mom. So Dad puts Tae-ra in charge of the department stores, and Tae-sung in charge of construction.
Gun-wook and Tae-ra share an elevator on the way down. The tension is palpable, and just when you think, oh just make out already, Gun-wook grabs her for a no-holds-barred makeout session ALL OVER that elevator. Buh?
It’s pretty steamy, even if it’s totally out of the blue, but then we find out why:
Tae-ra’s imagined the whole thing in a heat-induced moment of stupor. Hilarious and awesome. They are going to some interesting lengths to show her sexual frustration. But what we get after the fever dream is even better. She gets so flustered that she drops her scarf, which they both stoop to pick up, and at the same time, the elevator doors open and a flood of people get on the elevator.
So Tae-ra and Gun-wook end up smooshed in the back, both holding onto the scarf. She tugs at it, struggling to get it free, and Gun-wook lets go…so he can start fondling her hand. It sounds simplistic compared to the making out, but it’s actually really hot. The two of them end up in a fingerlock handhold all the way down to the first floor, and Gun-wook walks away without a word. Tae-ra watches him go, confused, scintillated, angry, and happy, all at once.
Jae-in tries Gun-wook again, to set up a meeting with Tae-sung. He tells her to come to Haeshin, and then pretends to have lost Tae-sung (to what end, I don’t know), making her chew him out for messing with her when she’s at her wits end about the damned mask. In the end he tells her he’ll take her for a drive, directing her to the parking garage, where Tae-sung is waiting. What was all the runaround for?
Anyway, Jae-in finally gets to ask Tae-sung to hand over the glass mask, but he doesn’t see why he should just give it up when he hasn’t even been able to play with it yet. Jae-in tries her best to tamp down her anger, as she tells him it’s not a toy. Tae-sung doesn’t see it as anything but a toy, so he has no intention of being so compliant. She doesn’t realize it yet, but the real toy is her.
She offers him money, which he doesn’t need. So he asks her on a date, which she declines (out of character, although the haughty righteous streak rings true). She gets up to leave, and he finally concedes. He’ll send it soon. She lights up, and thanks him.
Mo-nae is ecstatic to find out that Tae-sung (and therefore Gun-wook) have returned to Korea, but it turns out that just because your boyfriend is in country, doesn’t mean he’ll answer his phone.
Jae-in goes through the embarrassing rigamarole of returning the gifted, twice-worn clothes for the second time, this time successfully getting cash in exchange.
Gun-wook runs into Won-in at the market, and over popsicles, he hands her a little gift—it’s the exact same cell phone charm that Jae-in brought back for her from Japan. She takes it out of her pocket to show him she’s already got one, marveling at both people’s bizarre taste. It doesn’t lead to any major revelations, but it lays the groundwork for some “Ah HA” moments down the road. Because Coincidence is thy middle name, Show.
Heh, Bad Coincidence Guy has a nice ring to it, no?
Tae-sung sends Jae-in the mask, and Jae-in brings it to Madam Shin, who practically faints in anticipation. She opens up the box to find…no mask. Of course. What kind of moron doesn’t check the box to make sure it contains the friggin mask? Are you really that trusting? Of Tae-sung?
Needless to say, Madam Shin rips Jae-in a new one. Turns out the box wasn’t totally empty though. Inside were these:
Hahahahaha. Now THAT is funny.
Right on cue, Tae-sung walks into Mom’s office, mask in hand, taunting her in delight. Madam Shin pretty much has an aneurism at the sight of him. He says that he can do what he wants with the mask, since it’s his. Mom lays into him, asking if he can say anything is his—he destroys everything he touches, every relationship he’s ever had—if no one is by his side, can he say that anything is his? Why do mothers always know how to cut the deepest?
She dares him to break it, like he breaks everything else. That’s what he came here to do, thanks. He shatters it against the wall. This time it’s Jae-in’s turn to lay into him. She slaps him across the face, saying that Master Ryu made the piece and that he had no right to destroy it. She uses banmal, getting in his face and standing up to him, which is going to bite her in the ass…
Madam Shin comes right up to Jae-in, and slaps HER in the face, but good. As expected, Madam Shin makes it crystal clear that Jae-in is beneath them, and this is no place for to be rising up in defiance. She tells her not to cross her line, and stay in her place. Damn. I know she’s supposed to be the hateful rich magpie, but lady is frighteningly gnarly. She goes on to say that he could shatter ten glass masks because she’ll just pay more money and get another one, but she can’t abide a thing like her belittling her son. Oh, NOW he’s your son?
Once Jae-in gets kicked out of the office, Tae-sung asks as much to Madam Shin: was it real? Is she trying to be a mother to him? Cold as ice, she disabuses him of any hint he may have had of her, say, having a heart. She says it was just to put Jae-in in her place. Wow. Blood of snakes in her morning shake, this woman.
Tae-sung tells her she shouldn’t have said anything. He thought for just a moment that she might have loved him, that he should be grateful. Breaks my heart, this damaged soul.
Jae-in wanders down the street in tears, and Gun-wook follows behind her. He finally tells her to just pretend that he’s the real Hong Tae-sung, and say what she wants, since she’ll never be able to do so to the real Tae-sung. Reluctantly, she starts:
Jae-in: Hong Tae-sung, do you think I gave up the glass mask for this? Since I started this job, this is the first time I’ve given up on a piece of art. I did it because of you. So you’d come back. When you came back, I wanted somehow to try and make it work with you. But what is this? The mask is broken. Madam Shin’s favor is broken. And I came to know one more time what happens when I go near someone like you.
Gun-wook holds her face in his hands, as a tear falls from his eyes. He leans closer.
Tae-sung sees them in the street and stops. As he looks on, Gun-wook goes in for the kill.
With this scene, I can finally see why Gun-wook might be having mixed emotions about Jae-in. Acting as Tae-sung in this twisty web of lies is only hurting himself in the long run, but some guys are all about the self-flagellation. His empathy in this case is not out of the blue, and it’s the first time I feel that they connect in a realistic way, even with the role playing, as that’s just a layer of distance created to shield them from confronting actual feelings.
THEORIES & SPECULATION
I have a sneaking suspicion that the shattered glass mask is a fake. It would defeat the dramatic purpose of the big blowout scene, so I might be disappointed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if another one showed up later.
If Sun-young’s relationship with both Tae-sungs are BOTH coincidental, I might have a mental breakdown. There’s still room for Gun-wook’s machinations there, so I’m going to hold out hope that there’s more to this story. I know the reason for her death is still a big question mark, but if it’s something lame like a suicide in order to stop Gun-wook and save Tae-sung (which clearly didn’t work), I will totally break up with you, Show.
What’s interesting is that Jae-in’s feelings are actually in the Tae-sung camp, although that kiss is about to change things. It does seem to some degree that she falls for the guy who messes with her the most at any given time. She’s a sucker for punishment too, this girl, which would explain her shuttling back and forth between two bad boys.
At first the elevator scene with Tae-ra seemed over-the-top because I could immediately tell that it was her fantasy, but then I love where it ended up. The hands were somehow hotter than the kissing, because it was more of a contained sizzle. It’s that whole Victorian propriety thing that makes hands grazing totally sexy. I would actually appreciate it if they kept this relationship at a slow boil for a good long while, because it’d be a nice contrast to the other relationships, and really fun to watch.
The secretaries and assistants are an interesting second layer on the Hong family. We’re starting to round out the staff who are a) lifers, b) loyal, and therefore c) culpable in one way or another to the Hongs’ betrayal of Gun-wook. I hope that these characters will be more than just a first line of defense for the family, because there are some interesting things to be explored.
In the world of this drama there are essentially two sides: the wealthy (Hong family) and the help (Gun-wook, Jae-in, et al). It’s actually a very upstairs-downstairs sort of story, with the police as a peripheral audience stand-in. Thematically the issues of money and social standing, and the line between rich and poor are dealt more severely here, because the Hongs equate everything to money, including human beings. It essentially reduces people to cattle, and makes everyone, family members included, worth a price. In a world like that, there’s a lot of room for a moral grayscale, so I’d like very much for the help to start turning the tables on the rich.
Overall I’d like for Gun-wook to be DOING more…something…anything. He seems to be going with the flow one day, then masterminding the next day, and I’m not sure the writers have figured out what to do with him yet. I like that there are more kinks in the plan and things are starting to be out of his control, but in the end, he still hasn’t done much in the way of actual revenge yet, and I’m getting antsy. Chop, chop, Mr. Vengeance! Less planning, more action.