Show, you’re awfully cute, but I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’re all poof, no punch. Thankfully, I like all your characters, who are endearingly good-natured and sweet, so you’re not without your merits, and I have fun when I’m with you. I know, I can be a bit of a Goldilocks—I complain when there’s too much drama, I complain when there’s not enough. But really, I want some stakes. Somebody, bring me the stakes!

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

Ha-ni’s friends insist on seeing Baek Seung-jo’s house, so she brings them for just a peek from the outside, when Mom finds them and insists they come inside, to Ha-ni’s horror. She’s sure that Seung-jo will be furious. I think you should go with your gut on that one. Duckie has followed them there, and pouts like a sad little duck as he watches them go inside, confirming that she really does live there.

Seung-jo comes home and has a fit, already angry because of the rumors, and annoyed that she’s bringing friends home now to gawk. Mom intervenes, saying that she heard the news, and takes the blame for the picture and the blog. He doesn’t let up, demanding that Mom take down the blog this instant, But she isn’t about to give up her hobbies over her teenage son’s rumor-angst. He yells at Ha-ni to leave him alone and huffs upstairs.

Ha-ni’s friends start to leave to avoid the awkward tension, but Mom invites Ha-ni’s friends on their camping trip to the beach this weekend. Ha-ni worries about missing school, but Mom insists it’ll be fine. Well that should be a fun time.

Duckie calls Dad for some money, desperate to rent Ha-ni a room somewhere so he can get her out of Seung-jo’s house. But alas, that’s not an option to poor Duckie. He gets some unsolicited love advice from a bum via Van Gogh, and it revives his conviction to try his best to win Ha-ni over.

That night Seung-jo still has it out for Ha-ni, and growls at her all over again, still pissy that she’s made their living situation public and generally interfering with his life. She takes it, and cries alone in her room, thinking that she didn’t even cry when The Letter happened, but now she can’t hold back the tears.

Later, Seung-jo stews in his room with his window open, and he can hear Ha-ni on the phone with a friend, insisting that she’s fine, and even defending him, saying that he must’ve been really shocked by the rumors, and that she’d react the same way. This softens his mood a little, since she’s clearly the most understanding person ever.

They each sit at their windows, thinking over their actions of late. How cute that their windows are right next to each other. I love those directorial touches. I remember loving the across-the-hallway antics in Goong.

The next morning Seung-jo wakes up to find that he’s not going to school like he thought…they’re all going camping at the beach for the weekend, and he’s being dragged along. Little Brother Eun-jo has already been kidnapped by Dad and is being held hostage in the car. Something’s wrong when both young boys in the family would rather go to school than play hooky and go to the beach. Were you both dropped on your heads as small children?

The family plus Ha-ni’s friends get ready to leave, when Mean Girl shows up unannounced, ready to join the party. Hey rude-o, who invited you? Duckie goes to school to find all the girls gone, and when he finds out that Ha-ni is at the beach with Seung-jo, he flips his lid. With no money and no way to get there, he uses a sick aunt as an excuse to ask the principal for his scooter, and heads to the beach in glee. A girl stops him in the street to give him a promotional lighter, and when he reads the label, he sees that it’s for a massage parlor. Without thinking, he puts it in his pocket, which I’m sure he’ll come to regret later.

The family heads to the beach in their little camper, and Mom sneers disapprovingly at Mean Girl, who has ingratiated herself with no tact. She suggests karaoke, which Mom shoots down, so Ha-ni suggests they play a word game. They go around, and when it’s her turn, she has to say a four-syllable phrase starting with “baek,” so she blurts out, “Baek Seung-jo, jjang!” (jjang = best) Hahaha. Okay, you got me there, Show. Laughed out loud.

He smiles widely, teasing her that she must’ve wanted to say that badly, since she was the one who suggested the game. She’s embarrassed, but she laughs good-naturedly. When these two are teasing and laughing they’re a-DOR-able.

When they arrive, Mean Girl changes into a skimpy bikini, while Ha-ni wears a cutesy one-piece. Mom tells her that she’s the cutest, and fishes for Seung-jo to tell her the same, but he replies that she looks like a grade-schooler. He nonchalantly walks up to her and hands her a pair of socks, saying, “You need these, right?” Ha. How totally unexpected and funny of you, Seung-jo. You have a sense of humor!

Ha-ni looks at them, not getting the connection at first, and then it dawns on her that he remembers her sock incident from the other day and knows that they’re for, erm, enhancements. She looks over at him in a murderous rage, and mutters under her breath, “God, today I will end that jerk, and go to Hell.” Ha. I love her.

She runs over to him, yelling at the top of her lungs, but trips and falls flat on her face. He asks if she’s okay, but then when he sees how mad she is, he takes off running. She chases after him, and when she falls again, he makes sure she’s okay, and runs away again. Aw, I love it when these two are chasing each other like little kids. So cute.

On his way to the beach, Duckie has some scooter trouble, so he pulls over and takes a peek in the gas tank. It’s too dark to tell if it’s empty (because you can’t look at the gas gauge?) so he takes out that lighter, and peers inside…

Heh. So, not the brightest bulb. Well, that lighter did come back to bite you in the ass. Just not in the way that I thought.

While everyone is resting, (and the two dads are buried in the sand) little Eun-jo starts teasing Ha-ni, so she gives chase, and he ends up going into the water and egging her on to come and get him. He starts to lose control and flails about, and Ha-ni screams for help but she’s too far for anyone to hear her. She braces herself and jumps in after him, but then they both end up struggling in the water.

From a distance, Seung-jo keeps an eye on them, thinking at first that they’re playing around. But then he sees Ha-ni waving her arms in the air and takes off running like the wind. He goes in after them, and Min-ah is right behind, and she pulls Eun-jo out. He sputters out some water, but is okay.

Seung-jo hauls Ha-ni out, and she’s more traumatized than anything else, because she’s afraid of the water and can’t swim. She clings to him in terror, crying, as they fall to the ground and she leans on his chest, crying uncontrollably.

Later as the bbq gets going, Dad has a heart to heart with Ha-ni, saying that he was so scared when she was in trouble and he was stuck in the sand. Aw, I love good father-daughter relationships. At his mother’s behest, Seung-jo brings Ha-ni a cup of water, and Dad lets them talk, thanking Seung-jo for saving her.

Seung-jo chastises her for jumping in when she can’t even swim. She didn’t know what else to do since no one could hear her, and pouts that he’s still admonishing her for stuff when she’s still not feeling well. He sneers that she’s fine and she knows it, making her pout all the more.

Just then, they hear a scream from the campsite, as Duckie appears, blown up and battered. He doesn’t even explain himself before asking, “Where is my Ha-ni?”

It’s time for bed, so the guys go to the tent, as the girls plus Eun-jo head to the camper. Eun-jo stays quiet, but he starts to see Ha-ni in a different light, after her rescue attempt earlier today. Aw, I knew you’d come around, kid!

The dads chatter away in the tent, and Seung-jo sits outside by himself, playing the guitar. Oh, goodness. Here we go. Let’s not all faint at once, shall we, girls? No squealing! I will put my foot down if it gets out of control! Okay…not gonna lie. Kind of hot.

Duckie sits down next to him, begrudgingly impressed that he can play the guitar. Seung-jo asks if he came all this way just because of Ha-ni. Duckie says of course he did, since, “you’re a red-blooded male, and there’s no telling when you’ll turn into a beast.” HAHAHA. Even Seung-jo laughs at that.

Seung-jo: Why don’t you just move into my house then?
Duckie: Do you have an empty room? … Don’t you get any ideas around her. Just remember that I’m always watching you.
Seung-jo: You like Oh Ha-ni that much?
Duckie: Oh, hey….um…when you ask it so…directly…I just…want to make her happy—that’s my dream.
Seung-jo: You do that then. You fit well together, you and Oh Ha-ni.

The camera pans over to Ha-ni, who has heard their entire conversation. She sighs with her hand over her heart. Poor button.

Back at school, a list of universities goes up, and the girls start to stress about college entrance exams, hoping that there’s at least one school in all of Korea that they can get into. Ha-ni insists that they can do it if they work hard, and her friends decide to latch onto her 50th-place-scoring train, aka the Seung-jo Train. They come over to study with her, in the hopes of getting some much-needed help from genius boy.

They run into a problem they can’t solve (Number 1, ha) so they send Ha-ni over to Seung-jo’s room to get the answer. She refuses to go over there out of embarrassment, but they knock on Seung-jo’s door and shove her in there.

Ha-ni asks for his help on one problem, but he shuts her down cold. She argues that it’ll take him thirty seconds, but he says that even that would be a waste of time. Gah, I want to smoosh your haughty nose with a big ol’ dictionary! Ha-ni says that thirty seconds of his time means the rest of their lives to them, which even he can’t argue with, so he solves it for her, literally in 30 seconds.

They move onto the next problem…which leaves them scratching their heads again, so off she goes, back to Seung-jo. Listen, if you had trouble with Number 1, it’s usually not going to get any easier from there on out, if ancient memory serves. She keeps having to go back, later and later, until she’s getting him out of bed late at night. He screams at her to come back in fifteen minutes, so she goes outside to wait, and then he comes storming out and throws the book at them, shouting, “Now don’t step foot in my room anymore!” They look down to see that he’s filled out the entire book, and solved every problem. Heh.

At school the next day, the girls marvel at the solved problems, wondering how nice it would be if he’d explain some of his methods too. Ha-ni balks, asking if they’ve already forgotten what they had to go through to get these answers from him. Their classmates see the book and put two and two together, and all of a sudden, they all want in, on study sessions with Seung-jo. Ha-ni’s eyes pop out in horror, not knowing what to do. Duckie is the only holdout, and when even his lackeys join the group, he sighs and comforts himself with a little squirt of hairspray. Ha.

When Seung-jo comes home from school, he’s greeted by the entire 7th class, eagerly awaiting his tutelage. Seung-jo refuses right away, muttering under his breath at Ha-ni. But Mom grabs him and tries to talk him into it, while Ha-ni hides among her classmates, desperate not to raise Seung-jo’s ire any further. But he catches sight of her, and yells at her to come out.

Her friends pull her out and send her to the front, where she pleads with Seung-jo to teach them, just once. He’s totally exasperated with her, but she pleads so cutely. How could you say no to that face? C’mon!

Cut to Teacher Seung-jo, giving the entire class a physics lesson in his living room. Heh. The best part of this? Hey, I remember that Force = mass x acceleration! Cue trumpets.

After they leave, Ha-ni is in good spirits (especially since all she did during the study session is swoon over Seung-jo). But Seung-jo snaps at her attentiveness in his usual cold way. Mom sees this, and feels bad for Ha-ni, who starts drooping at the shoulders.

Just then, Mom gets a call, and a light bulb goes off in her head. She starts clucking, “Omona, omona,” over the phone and running around in a panic. She makes up an excuse to get everyone out of the house for dinner except Seung-jo and Ha-ni, and tells them to take care of dinner on their own. Aw, how cute is she?

She tells the rest of the family to meet at Ha-ni’s restaurant, where she confesses to leaving them home alone, because there are things between a man and a woman that can only be solved by “staying home.” Keh, keh.

At home, Ha-ni insists on cooking dinner, but of course burns things to a crisp. The look on Seung-jo’s face is pretty funny, as he tries to figure out what he’s about to eat. They scrap her “Hawaiian Locomoco” and Seung-jo whips up some egg-wrapped rice. Can this guy do everything? What’s the fun in a character who’s good at everything?

Ha-ni marvels at his cooking skills, but he simply says it’s because he’s smart. Ha-ni muses that Duckie must be smart too, since he’s a really good cook. The look on Seung-jo’s face spells j-e-a-l-o-u-s, as he snits that what Joon-gu makes isn’t cooking. Ha-ni goes on and on about how good Joon-gu’s food is, which just makes Seung-jo put his spoon down and take the plates away before she can even take a second bite. Ha.

Mom decides to haul the family to karaoke to prolong the kids’ alone time, and Ha-ni gets to studying. She smiles to herself that even though Seung-jo complains, he still helps her with all her subjects. She can’t find her English book with all her embarrassing scribbles about wanting to marry Seung-jo, and she realizes she must’ve left it in his room.

So she sneaks in while he’s sleeping to retrieve it. She almost clears the room without incident, but suddenly Seung-jo darts awake and grabs her wrist just as she’s about to leave. He takes the book as a flimsy excuse to come in here late at night, and pulls her onto the bed (omo!) and leans over her. He says that this must’ve been what she wanted when she came in, and repeats Joon-gu’s words that he’s only a red-blooded 19-year old. What’s he supposed to do? Haha.

Ha-ni panics, and Seung-jo leans in for the kiss…

COMMENTS

Well if that’s not a fantasy sequence I’ll give you my left foot.

I’m not the biggest fan of ending on a fantasy sequence, since either way the resolution is a disappointment, right? Regardless, it’s at least a better fantasy than the ones we’ve been getting, so that’s a plus. I mean, really, what teenager isn’t a raging bag of hormones?

I do really like the characters, and I like the world. There’s something very earnest and sweet about this drama that I like, because it’s not too cool for school, or trying to be so slick that it forgets to be about the human moments. That’s the appeal of a slice-of-life story, and I’m a fan of that type of storytelling.

That said, the episodic nature of the drama in this format (for television) isn’t really elevating it past delivering what’s expected. I keep wanting more—more tension, more expectation, more rise and fall. It doesn’t have to be a faked, manufactured tension. I mean organic stuff out of these characters’ lives, such as someone finding out about a long-harbored crush, or the effect of the rumor mill at a high school. These can be played for a little more dramatic oomph, even if the scale of the stories remains small.

In short, I want the show to take the elements it has, and then inject a few stakes in the game—even if it’s a heightened version of the stakes that we already have, such as pride, jealousy, etc. I hate to be a debbie downer about the ratings, but if there’s no TENSION, then people aren’t going to tune in to see what happens next. There’s a reason we call our dramas crack, right? From one addict to another, what’s a girl gotta do to get the good stuff?

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