Coffee House: Episode 17
Hey, girlfriday here, pinch hitter in the Coffee House lineup. I couldn’t let the series end without getting a word in, so I’ll be providing you with the recap today, and rest assured, javabeans will be back for the finale.
Earlier in the run I liked the series but didn’t love it, mainly because one third of the triangle always felt off to me (I was not a fan of the bumblingly annoying Seung-yeon). But then that time leap actually changed how I felt about her character, and it effectively made all three characters level—which I totally dig.
PAGE 17 RECAP
We catch up with Ji-won as he gets the call from Jin-soo that he’s staying in Seoul after all. Needless to say, he does not look pleased. Eun-young in turn thinks about Jin-soo’s multiple-choice query about whether or not she wanted to hear the truth, and his toast at Ji-won’s party, for her to be happy.
Seung-yeon calls her to let her know that Jin-soo made it to the radio show, and Eun-young’s reaction is a great mix of happiness and trepidation. She turns on her radio, and when she hears his voice, she smiles to herself.
Ji-won calls to gauge her response, to see if she knows that Jin-soo is staying after all. She says she heard him on the radio, and Ji-won lets it go at that, too nervous to push it further at the moment.
Jin-soo finishes his radio segment with flair, and Seung-yeon thanks him for keeping his promise. Jin-soo asks if he’s worth respecting, if she still thinks his word is law. Seung-yeon answers yes, making him smile, then recoil in his trademark way. He says with a glint in his eye that it’s a lot of pressure to be so revered, and to have to keep all his promises. Cheeky. Oh, it’s so hard to be you.
He turns to leave after throwing her one last blue steel, but she calls out to him, asking if he’s going to stop running off without a word. She answers for him that she thinks he will, and Jin-soo genuinely smiles at her unwavering trust in him.
Jin-soo leaves and heads straight for Eun-young’s office, but her staff tells him that she’s gone for the day. She can’t be reached by cell because it’s broken (convenient), and she’s got family over at her place in preparation for the wedding. He tries calling, then ends up just coming over. Brave of you to walk right into a den full of wedding-crazed-ajummas.
They go into Eun-young’s room to talk, and she asks him where he disappeared to, and why he’s back. He tells her point-blank that he’s here to say something, and gets right to the heart of it:
Jin-soo: You told me to keep lying to you, but I want to know how you really feel. I came to confirm your true feelings. Can you really be happy with this marriage? I stayed because I have something to protect. The thing I want to protect is…your happiness. It doesn’t matter how. Whether it’s as a friend, a business partner, or as Ji-won’s wife, it doesn’t matter. I want you to be happy. So I came to ask you one more time. Is me letting you get married, and us splitting up really the road to your happiness? Am I turning my back on you, am I making a decision that neither of us wants? Do you really think you could be happy?
Is it because you’re a writer, or because you’re not a real human being that words like that come out of your mouth? It sure took you long enough to step up, but when you finally do, it’s just…perfect. Gah!
Eun-young struggles to speak, holding back her tears. She ekes out: “How am I supposed to know? I haven’t even tried.” She cracks a coy smile, and Jin-soo finally eases into a smile. They go back to their light banter, as Jin-soo asks if she can’t just have a sense about how things will turn out. She wonders if he’s got that kind of sense, why he’s been living the way he does. Touché.
Jin-soo counters that he’s an empiricist. He needs to be sure, otherwise he won’t take any action. The meaning isn’t lost on Eun-young, but she counters that nothing is for sure in this world, and that she never would have guessed he’d show up like this in two years. She sighs, “If only you had made me feel sure that you’d return…”
And with that, Jin-soo leaves. Aargh you guys and your non-answers!
Once he’s gone, Eun-young makes a decision and calls him. With the comfort of the phone to help keep her emotional distance, Eun-young gives him an answer: “Thank you, for asking me one more time. But…I might regret these words forever, but…now, in this moment…there are things that I must protect too.” Jin-soo answers that he won’t force the issue, but to tell him if she ever loses the certainty that she’ll be happy. “Even on the morning of your wedding.”
Well thanks for THAT. You could’ve at least pretended to avoid that cliché.
He says that he’ll do anything she asks, or whatever it takes, if it comes to that, and hangs up. She’s like, is this good or is this bad? Well, it’ll be good if your wedding dress has a slit or a full skirt for a quick getaway, bad if it’s that mermaid dress you could barely stand up straight in.
Seung-yeon doodles in her notebook that night with the birthday pen from Jin-soo, writing out “Oppaaa” and Jin-soo’s name with hearts. Keh, I died when she called him oppa all day. She takes out a globe to locate where the Galapagos Islands are (Who goes for “globe” before “internet”??) as she remembers Jin-soo’s advice to protect her idea and write it herself.
Eun-young’s staff goes out for drinks and happens to see Jin-soo going over a contract with an editor from a different publishing house. They approach him about it, and he says good-naturedly that they caught him, but not to tell Eun-young since it’ll make her feel bad. When pressed for the reason, he says that he suddenly needs a sizable sum of money.
Eun-young can’t sleep that night, and calls Ji-won for a quick chat. They’re actually really sweet together now, and I don’t fault her at all for choosing this path, because in the end there’s no right or wrong—she’s just making a choice and sticking to it.
Seung-yeon’s brother catches Dad making his best flirty eyes at his new lady crush, and Grandma drops the news that she thinks he’s dating. Both kids are like, whaaaa? Dad? Seung-yeon looks pleased, but Little Brother throws a tantrum.
Dong-wook shows up in his flashy red sportscar to throw a tantrum of his own over finding out the truth about Seung-yeon and Jin-soo. Seung-yeon apologizes and tells him that it’s over now, to which Dong-wook doesn’t miss a beat: “So does that mean I can officially ask you out on a date now?” Heh. Seung-yeon’s surprise blows me away. How could you not KNOW how this guy feels about you? For years now!
But this time, she at least has the decency to tell him the truth. She shuts him down, and tells him that it might be a lie that she’s dating Jin-soo, but her feelings for him are real. She admits that it’s always been this way, even long ago. The stricken look on Dong-wook’s face just says it all.
But Dong-wook, ever the optimist, asks if it’s okay if they eat meals and go see movies together, since you never know how life’s going to turn out. With confidence he tells her he’ll call her this weekend, and Seung-yeon muses with a smile that he’s much more well-spoken than before.
Dong-wook and Eun-young start their new café business, and Eun-young continues making preparations for the wedding. We’re finally at the week of the wedding, as Eun-young wraps up her work before taking her vacation. And this exchange with Ji-won? Adorable.
As she leaves the office everyone says they’ll see her at the wedding, and she answers over and over, “Don’t laugh at me.” Heh, it’s probably what I’d say too, but it’s also indicative of her feelings about marrying Ji-won.
She walks to meet Ji-won for dinner, but runs into Jin-soo on the street. She sees him from a distance and they both stop. Jin-soo looks at her with hope in his eyes, but Eun-young is overwhelmed by her feelings and can’t face him. She turns and walks in the other direction.
Sad. But that tells you everything you need to know about where her heart is, right? If she feels comfortable with her decision, why is she running the other way?
It starts pouring rain on her way to the restaurant, so she ducks into a phone booth to wait it out. Once inside, she realizes it’s the same phone booth where she and Jin-soo shared their first kiss. As it all sinks in, the tears start to fall. She flashes back to all their tense moments, leading up to their second kiss, and she cries, rain-soaked and heavy-hearted.
Seung-yeon comes over to Jin-soo’s to discuss notes for the last radio show, and Jin-soo tells her to leave her Galapagos notes there. She questions him, but he pulls the “respected and trusted teacher” card on her, and she laughs that she dug her own grave with those words.
She notices his new contract with a different publisher, and he confirms that he’s starting a new book, but doesn’t explain the why behind signing with a new house. Instead he poses like he’s doing a coffee CF, and what’s with the finger, dude?
And then? He actually pulls back and asks, “Have you ever seen a guy drink coffee so handsomely?” HAhahaha. She tells him to stop, but he teases that she’s the one person in the world who respects him, and he wants to be impressive around her. He really does mean it, even though he’s being funny about it, because you can tell he really took her words to heart and he’s a changed man because of them.
On the eve of the wedding, Jin-soo hears that Eun-young is sick from being out in the rain the other day, so he heads to her place with his doctor bag. Handy, that. He hooks up an IV and sends her friend for some medicine, and he sits at her bedside.
She stirs awake, shocked to see Jin-soo watching over her. He smiles and reminds her that he was a doctor, and asks how she’s going to get married like this. She says it’s all his fault that she’s sick. He’s like, me? Eun-young: “Yes, it’s because of you. Everything…it’s all because of you. All…all…because of you, you dog bastard. Dog trash. You son of a bitch.” A tear falls from her eye as she calls him all of those familiar insults.
He loses himself in the moment and wipes the tear away, his hand lingering on her cheek. After a moment, he pulls back and up goes the veneer, as he says she’ll be fine for the wedding.
He says that with her stubbornness, she’ll go through with the wedding, so with furrowed brow, he tells her what he’s planning. He’s going to interrupt the ceremony and run off with the bride like they do in movies. He congratulates himself on the awesomeness of that scenario—women love this stuff, he says. HA. I love the meta.
She knows he’s joking, but he continues, saying that it’s the only way. He wonders though, that if the bride runs away, there will be family members to face, and all her business contacts. But she says more importantly, it’s not something that Lee Jin-soo could pull off, in front of all those people. He wonders if that’s really true. I like how in joking about this scenario with their thinly veiled imaginary versions of themselves, they get to work out these lingering questions and issues.
Jin-soo decides that it’s true—he hates characters who always give public declarations of love when a private one will do. Heh. Me too! He thinks it’d be funny if he did it, but maybe it would ruin his image? Eun-young agrees it doesn’t suit him. She adds the salty grain of truth that the kind of behavior that suits him is sneaking in and sneaking out (of her life) without a word. Ouch.
She confesses that she’s having a hard time…even now. And she asks him to stop making it hard on her. Heartbreaking. He gives her one more smile and leaves, as she lets go another tear.
Jin-soo does his last radio show, and announces that his next book will take at least a year and a half, since he doesn’t have an idea yet (should he be saying that on national radio?), and when the DJ laments not hearing from him for that long, Jin-soo says that actually, they’ll probably be sick to death of him since they’ll be seeing his face all the time. It’s cryptic, but what isn’t, from this guy? The DJ takes it in stride.
As he leaves, Seung-yeon thanks him, and he double-checks that her respect for him is still intact. Heh. He hands her the Galapagos notebook, and when she opens it, it’s full of red marks from Jin-soo. Aw.
She runs after him to thank him, and he complains that there was so much to correct that he thought his arm was going to fall off. She’s totally moved, and he takes yet another opportunity to ask if she’s overflowing with respect for him. He makes sure to add that she’d better hold onto that respect. I sort of love his obsession with this. He’s like a dog with a bone.
She asks if he’s going straight to the wedding, and he jumps when she mentions that she’s going after work. He tells her not to go. She demands to know why, and he says, “Because your respect for me will end up in the trash. If I think about that, it makes my heart hurt. If you ever feel your respect for me taking a dive, you read that notebook until it goes back up, okay?” Haha. I’m totally getting a Hwang Tae-kyung point-system vibe from this, and I love it.
I also love that he’s planning to do something so outrageously embarrassing that he doesn’t even want Seung-yeon to witness it, for fear of losing face in front of his one and only disciple.
It’s time for the wedding! My goodness, is one of them a Kennedy? There are as many photographers as there are guests. On the drive over, Eun-young is so out of it that she can’t focus at all.
Jin-soo talks to the other publisher on his way over, planning to meet at the wedding to sign the contract. The publisher worries about all the reporters, but Jin-soo says it’s fine—the more, the better. Kyah!
Ji-won enters the ceremony, and I’m dying…who walks down the aisle like this? Eun-young, on the other hand, makes her way down the aisle like this…
Jin-soo arrives, with heavy steps and heavy sighs. He slowly puts his hand outside the door to the banquet room, then turns and walks away, pausing to look wistfully back at the door. Then, as his expression changes from sad, to a smile, to a fighting growl, he shouts out: “Aja-ja-ja-ja-ja!” and runs full speed ahead at the door. AHHahahaha…I seriously died laughing at his pre-run fighting call.
Then he rushes into the banquet room, still growling out loud. Oh my god, this is so funny. Eun-young goes into shock as soon as she sees him, recalling his jokey threat to run off with the bride.
And Jin-soo starts running right at her, but zooms past, headed straight for the publisher he’s supposed to meet. He starts a knock-down, drag-out brawl ALL OVER the wedding, and basically pummels the guy for all the cameras to capture. We get a flashback wherein Jin-soo purposely sought out this guy because he was known for making shady deals.
Ji-won realizes what Jin-soo is doing and so does Eun-young, but it’s too late to stop it.
Okay, THAT was your big plan? My, my Lee Jin-soo. I thought maybe you had grown up in this episode, but that stunt totally took you back to first grade. What can I say? You did a stupid thing, and you’re going to have to pay the consequences. At least it was thoroughly laugh-out-loud funny. I’ll give you that.
While some might find Jin-soo’s initial declaration to Eun-young a sort of cop-out, it was the first time I really loved his character. It’s my own personal inclination, but I’m such a huge fan of the grand gesture that’s all about the other person, and not yourself. So when Jin-soo finally confesses his feelings in that roundabout way, he does it in the most respectful manner possible, by simply offering up his role as Eun-young’s happiness-supporter, rather than some pushy guy who tells her that she needs to choose HIM to be happy. He trusts HER to know what’s best for herself, and he doesn’t push when she says no. I love how realistic that is, and to me, that’s as grand a gesture as they come.
But then he blows it all with the wedding stunt, so then I’m back in the Jin-soo-is-an-idiot camp. I want him to get his happy ending, and I have no doubt that he gets it, but I hope there’s some serious remorse on the plate before he gets his girl.
As far as Eun-young is concerned, it’s a little disappointing that it’s going to take Jin-soo’s disruption to wake her up out of this zombie-wedding march. I was hoping that in giving her more agency in the beginning of the episode (which I loved), that she’d come around to a mature decision on her own. But there’s still room in the finale for her to face her heart, so I’m sure we’ll get a satisfying conclusion. We’d better, or I’ll hurt someone. That means you, Show.
Just a reminder: please respect the NO SPOILER policy. Some of us (*ahem, me*) have NOT seen the finale, and thus do not want to know what happens, ON PAIN OF SLOW AND EXCRUTIATING DEATH. Don’t think I won’t do it. I know a guy.
- Coffee House: Page 16
- Coffee House: Page 15
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- Coffee House: Page 9
- Elle’s interview with Coffee House team
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- Coffee House: Page 2
- Coffee House: Page 1