Episode 7 was the first one I connected with on an emotional level (there was something in my eye, I swear), so I had higher expectations going into 8. We’re definitely in a better place than previous weeks, and I do think that this show actually improves from week to week.
Truthfully, it still hasn’t gripped me, but I enjoy it immensely, as the characters are all so lovely, quirky, and sweet. I think the style of the show is actually a nod to 50s Japanese cinema—it has that retro vibe to me, and it’s paced like an Ozu film, full of ellipses and driven by character rather than story. It’s not a horse that’s going to win any races, but it’s the underdog that keeps chugging along, just like Ha-ni would.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Ha-ni looks out her window in her room above the noodle shop wistfully. Dad comes up and tells her it’s just a temporary room, while work on the new house is being finished. She puts up a stiff upper lip and heads downstairs, but Duckie and Dad can’t manage to cheer her up.
At Seung-jo’s house, Mom is in a funk over Ha-ni’s departure. Seung-jo tries to convince her to go out, but she doesn’t want to do anything anymore, and nothing makes her laugh. She asks if he’s okay (a little accusingly) and he answers flatly that he finds it peaceful.
Mom: Peace? What is that peace? Is it knowing exactly what to expect? Having everything in the palm of your hand? Isn’t that why you were bored and suffocated before? Isn’t the reason you went to Parang because you disliked that peace?
Duckie gets permission from Dad to take Ha-ni out on a date, in an effort to cheer her up, but she doesn’t answer when he calls. Seung-jo takes out the present he got from Ha-ni before their college exams, and thinks of her.
The next day, Ha-ni announces to her friends that she’s not only left the house, but given up Seung-jo for good. She declares that she’s going to find a really awesome new boyfriend, and says goodbye to Seung-jo in her mind.
They drag her to lunch, saying that she has to face Seung-jo at some point, and sooner is better than later. But everyone stares at them oddly as they walk into the cafeteria. When they walk in, they see why. Duckie has put up an embarrassingly giant banner that declares Bong Joon-gu’s Current Love Mood: “Oh Ha-ni got tired of Baek Seung-jo so she said goodbye!” Okay, worst tweet ever.
The girls fear that Seung-jo will see it and assume the worst, but too late…he’s standing right behind them, and with He-ra at his heels, no less. He-ra further rubs salt in the wound by commenting on the childish ploy to get Seung-jo’s attention, but Ha-ni retorts that she’s forgotten Seung-jo already. He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t look happy about it.
At Top Spin, Kyung-soo asks Seung-jo to attend their weekend retreat, and when he refuses, he challenges him to a doubles match: Seung-jo and Ha-ni vs. Kyung-soo and He-ra, and if Seung-jo loses, he has to attend the retreat.
Mom finds out that Seung-jo went to a Top Spin meeting, deducing that he must’ve gone to run into Ha-ni. She puts on sunglasses and goes herself, and runs into Min-ah and Ju-ri, who tell her about the ensuing match, and the fact that Seung-jo and Ha-ni kissed the night of graduation.
They lose the match, of course, due to Ha-ni’s inability to, well, play tennis. Kyung-soo rubs it in that it’s Seung-jo’s first loss ever, and challenges him to a rematch at the retreat, with the same partners. To Ha-ni’s horror, Seung-jo accepts, clearly because it’s an excuse to spend time with her, though he wouldn’t admit it.
He trains her, even putting his arms around her to show her how to swing, and she tries hard in her Ha-ni-esque way. He-ra notes to Seung-jo that Ha-ni seems to be working at it quite fervently (in her condescending tone, of course), and Seung-jo smiles as he tells her that Ha-ni is fun, and there’s a “fun in raising her,” because you can see directly that hard work equals results. She admits that it must be a new feeling for him, since he doesn’t have to try to be good at everything. He notes that He-ra is the same way, which is again a nod to the pot-lid metaphor.
Ha-ni packs for her retreat, and Duckie, taking some advice from Dad, chooses not to follow her, and instead packs her a lunch. He tells her to always think of him as “home”—the place where she can come back to, and he’ll always be there. AW. Ten points, Duckie.
At the retreat, Ha-ni gets singled out for being late, and gets saddled with dinner duty, missing out on training. He-ra also decides to tell her that she’s interested in Seung-jo, and plans to tell him. Why are you even saying this to her, you smug little princess? I can’t wait till he flat-out rejects you. I hope it’s in public.
Ha-ni struggles with dinner prep, so she pouts at Seung-jo to help her. He totally caves, making the entire dinner. The best part is, he lets her take all the credit for it. Cute.
At practice, he works her to the bone, but she doesn’t give up, sticking it through. He of course doesn’t say anything nice to her, but he smiles to himself, impressed by her snail-paced brand of doggedness.
The next day Seung-jo has to attend practice during dinner prep time, so Ha-ni has to go it alone. Everyone’s bewildered at the table full of burnt food, wondering what on earth happened to the master chef (they call her Dae Jang Geum, ha) from last night. Seung-jo gets outed as the culprit.
Later that night, Ha-ni keeps an eagle eye on He-ra, who is about to make her move. She calls Seung-jo outside for a private conversation, and Ha-ni can’t help but follow. She eavesdrops as He-ra tells Seung-jo that she likes him. She asks how he feels, and he doesn’t answer.
It turns out they have quite an audience, however, as Kyung-soo creeps up from behind them, running smack dab into Ha-ni and scaring her. They make enough noise to get caught red-handed by Seung-jo, who uses the opportunity to dodge He-ra.
He grabs Ha-ni by the wrist and takes her away for more practice, leaving He-ra behind. Well there’s your answer right there, Miss Perfect. She looks down in disappointment, then throws a glare at Kyung-soo.
It’s the last day of the retreat and Ha-ni practices hard till the match. She manages to get her serve down, which is a huge accomplishment, and Seung-jo smiles as he watches her. He congratulates her on a job well done and flashes her a smile, and Ha-ni’s resolve melts in all of .5 seconds.
But of course, being Ha-ni, she can’t do anything without incident, so she slips on a tennis ball and sprains her ankle. Seung-jo tends to her sweetly, telling her to get on his back. He’s voluntarily piggybacking you now? You are totally the winner.
He tells Kyung-soo that they’ll play the match another time, and carries Ha-ni away, smiling. Aw. You lurve her! Even He-ra smiles as she concedes defeat…at least for now.
Following more of Dad’s advice, Duckie undergoes a makeover. Kyah, hello, Cutie! You were adorable before, but now you’re kinda manly AND adorable. But Ha-ni has no chance to react, as she gets brought home by Seung-jo, limping from her injury.
Seung-jo’s presence totally steals his thunder, and Duckie slinks away dejected. He takes it hard, but is soon enough back to his usual chipper self, loving Ha-ni from afar. Poor puppy. Your devotion is sweetness itself.
He-ra asks Seung-jo to a movie after class, and Ha-ni follows them. You’re turning into a regular stalker, aren’t you? She sighs that she’s always dreamed of going on a date like this with Seung-jo, picking out what to wear, where they’d go…but now all of those things will belong to He-ra.
She turns around to stay hidden, and lo and behold, Kyung-soo’s here stalking them too. He suggests they join forces, in an attempt to stop the unholy union that is He-ra and Seung-jo. They head into the movie together. (Gah, does everyone get to watch Cyrano Dating Agency but me?)
During the movie, He-ra tries to lean on Seung-jo’s shoulder, but Ha-ni blocks her with a magazine. Heh. They finish the movie without incident, but when Ha-ni sees Seung-jo being kind and friendly with He-ra, she doesn’t want to follow anymore. She asks herself what she’s doing, and faces facts—if they like each other, there’s nothing she can do.
She gives up, not wanting to become any more pathetic. She turns to walk away before her tears come tumbling out, but in her haste she runs right into a large guy with an ice cream cone. The guy freaks out about his expensive jacket being ruined, and starts demanding money from Kyung-soo.
He turns out to be a gangster, and his backup arrives as he starts pushing Kyung-soo around. Ha-ni gets knocked to the ground in the scuffle, and Seung-jo appears by her side, to help her up. He gives Kyung-soo the signal to take care of He-ra, and on the count of three, each of them grabs a girl and runs in opposite directions.
Seung-jo takes off running with Ha-ni, both of them smiling as they leap in step with each other.
Not as good as Episode 7, which had such a strong emotional beat in Ha-ni’s departure from Seung-jo’s house. But I enjoy her current arc of attempting to get over Seung-jo and put herself first, which is never easy, but important for her to learn. I like that her crush has taken on a more serious tone, as Duckie’s has too. The changeover to college is a nice tonal shift, because the narrative is finally attempting to put more emotional weight behind each significant moment, rather than glibly stringing along a series of cute scenes, as it did in the high school segment.
I think proactive Seung-jo is definitely a step up, even if he’s still kind of emotionally unaware. I sort of wish they’d play up his social ineptness a little bit more, actually, because it would help to tip the scales in his favor. I want his flaws to be…more flawed.
The love triangles are also taking up a lot more real estate, which I’m good with, since it’s really the only dramatic tension we get in this drama. I hope He-ra continues to be a fierce opponent for Ha-ni, because I can’t wait to see her fall off her high horse.
But what I’m really dying for is a main loveline for Duckie. He’s finally starting to step up his game, and I want him to have a fighting chance for Ha-ni’s heart. Seung-jo deserves to be on the bench for a while, stewing in some good old-fashioned jealousy. I want him to know what he gave up and regret it, and realize his mistake when he sees Duckie being there for Ha-ni.
What we need is something to take the tension past lukewarm. I want some turning of the tables, because I want Seung-jo to earn Ha-ni’s devotion, even if he doesn’t need to.
- Playful Kiss: Episode 7
- Playful Kiss: Episode 6
- Playful Kiss: Episode 5
- Playful Kiss: Episode 4
- Playful Kiss: Episode 3
- Playful Kiss: Episode 2
- Playful Kiss: Episode 1
- Playful Kiss ratings round two: 3.7%
- Playful Kiss makes a dismal premiere (ouch!)
- Extended 15 min trailer for Playful Kiss
- New teaser for Playful Kiss