Playful Kiss: Episode 13
FINALLY! I’ve been waiting twelve episodes (nearly thirteen, really) for this turn in the story. I’m not saying Ha-ni has to become a different person or that Seung-jo needs to turn into a considerate human being overnight for me to be satisfied — I just needed some balance to this relationship. I’m not even so greedy as to hope for a 50-50 balance — I’m talking one teeny, tiny, friggin’ step toward Ha-ni, Mr. Robot Boy. Something that gives me assurance that I’m not wasting my time hoping that these two kiddos can work it without necessitating a complete destruction of Ha-ni’s dignity. I was beginning to think that wouldn’t be possible.
SONG OF THE DAY
Sesame and Cotton Candy – “이즐께” [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
He-ra’s grandfather, President Yoon, arranges the seon between He-ra and Seung-jo, to his satisfaction. (A seon is more than a blind date; it’s a formal step toward finding a potential spouse, often arranged by parents or elders.) Despite her light mood, He-ra observes Seung-jo’s reaction closely as she explains that she had been opposed to date initially, until she found out it was him.
She supposes he doesn’t like the idea of being pimped out to save his father’s company (since President Yoon is a crucial investor). Seung-jo explains that he was relieved that it was her, but he only went on the date because he needs her grandfather in order to launch the company’s next game. Shouldn’t she hate that that was his reason?
He-ra doesn’t intend to force things with Seung-jo, but suggests that they give dating a try: “Let’s just take the opportunity with each other.” To her surprise (and glee), he agrees. Am I gonna have to call you Gigolo Seung-jo now?
When he gets home, he’s a little defensive as Ha-ni hesitantly asks about the date, and whether he’s going to marry He-ra. Seung-jo answers with a casual “Sure” — isn’t that what a seon is for?
Crushed, Ha-ni takes Seung-jo’s words to heart. The next day at school (where she has gone instead of working at the office), her mood is glum as she tries to come to grips with this.
He-ra sends a girlfriend-y text, and tellingly, Seung-jo picks up the phone to send a text of his own — to Ha-ni.
Of course, he can’t ever do a nice thing without undercutting it (that boy has spikes of steel guarding his heart, or maybe it’s his pride) so the text tells Ha-ni that he’s deducting her pay for her absence. I know, it woulda killed you to just say a simple “Hi,” right?
Joon-gu calls Ha-ni over to try a new dish he’s concocted, since he always wants her to be the first to try his creations. In light of her heartbreak, Ha-ni seems to appreciate his unflagging devotion even more than usual and thanks him, saying, “Hearing you talk like that makes me feel like a valuable person.”
Joon-gu hems and haws as he nervously tries to ask her out on a date. And while Ha-ni feels no romantic spark, she has been seeing Joon-gu through new eyes lately — at least she’s not taking his devotion for granted anymore! — and agrees to go out with him.
The date takes them through the standard activities (lunch, a movie, street shopping, etc.), and despite Ha-ni’s subdued mood, she enjoys herself.
At one point, she smiles up at Joon-gu happily, thanking him earnestly: “You’re a really good person. I already knew that, but these days I’m feeling it again.” Aw. I know these two can’t be, but this is the first time I’ve really wished they could make it work, because Ha-ni deserves a guy who adores her, who cares more for her well-being than he does for his own pride/image/status.
Speaking of whom… Seung-jo hears from his brother that Ha-ni went on a date today, and while he doesn’t react (much) to the news, Eun-jo sends him a curious look.
Seung-jo heads out on a date of his own, but little details trigger memories involving Ha-ni — a fact that doesn’t escape the notice of He-ra. Of course, coincidence dictates that the two couples run into each other — Ha-ni and Duckie arrive at a cafe on the river just as Team Genius Robots are leaving.
Seung-jo subscribes to “the best defense is a good offense” school of thought, and lashes out at Ha-ni by telling her that she and Joon-gu don’t fit in at a place like this — they’re better suited for the kiddie arcade. The problem with this (well, other than the obvious part where HE’S AN ASS) is that Ha-ni is so defeated that she doesn’t fight back, and concedes the point to him, turning to leave with Joon-gu.
Seung-jo’s just trying to get a rise out of her, and because he’s about as emotionally developed as an eight-year-old boy, he calls her back just so he can say with derision, “You sure look good together.” (Again, this doesn’t have the intended effect, since Joon-gu’s pleased with the comment.)
He-ra’s pretty sharp, and at the end of the evening she notices how Seung-jo holds the car door open for her when he would’ve tossed a rude comment if it were Ha-ni. She asks why he’s so mean to Ha-ni, and comments that it’s strange that she almost wants him to be mean to her as well.
As Ha-ni and Joon-gu walk along the river (he must’ve missed the memo that No good news ever happens at the river), he screws up his courage to make his big move… and asks Ha-ni to marry him. Oh, Duckie. As if the huge (physical) space between you weren’t already a huge sign that this is not meant to be…
Joon-gu says earnestly that he can wait for her — but even so, Seung-jo has someone now, and it’s time for Ha-ni to stop staring at his back. “If you just turn around, I’m here.” Sigh, this love triangle is just so tragic. (Or it would be in a drama that prized, yunno, drama.) You can’t fault him for hoping that she’ll turn around, even though the very same hope is what keeps her back turned away from him.
Mom intercepts Seung-jo when he arrives home that night, telling him he doesn’t have to date He-ra for the company’s sake. He laughs at that, albeit humorlessly, saying that that’s not why he’s doing this. Casting a glance upstairs, as though he wants the words to sting Ha-ni, he says, “It’s because I like [He-ra].”
While I don’t consider Seung-jo malicious here, it’s that thing a person would do to hurt the person in return for hurting you — even though the reason they hurt you is because you hurt them first… Sigh. People can be so silly and cruel. Why do we suck so much?
Upstairs, Seung-jo tosses out the comment, spoken with an edge to his voice, that she sure looked like she was having fun on her date. Ha-ni answers in kind, telling him that it was fun and her date was nice — he didn’t make fun of her, unlike somebody else.
Too bad she can’t make her heart follow her mind: Ha-ni understands that Joon-gu is the nicer, more thoughtful guy for her, but he just doesn’t make her feel those butterflies. Her friends prod her to think seriously about Joon-gu’s proposal, because he’s better for her than Seung-jo. Faced with reality, Ha-ni starts to consider that maybe that romantic excitement isn’t necessary, and concedes that Joon-gu’s very comfortable, “like family.”
As she walks along considering the proposal, she runs into He-ra and Seung-jo on a shopping date together. He-re greets her cheerily, but Seung-jo surprises them all by inviting Ha-ni along to dinner with them. Uh, awkward?
Thus the trio end up at Ha-ni’s father’s restaurant. When Joon-gu serves them with tips for how to eat the dish correctly, Seung-jo can’t resist shooting a barb at Ha-ni at how great it must be that her boyfriend knows so much.
When Dad is released from the hospital, He-ra drops by to pay her respects. Mom, being firmly in Ha-ni’s camp, is delightfully aloof to her, greeting her with an indifferent “Oh, have we met? Perhaps you seem familiar. You must not have made an impression.”
He-ra isn’t intimidated, and nothing Mom says ruffles her good mood, not even when Mom lays out all Seung-jo’s faults, calling him selfish and haughty. She adds, “Seung-jo looks smart, doesn’t he? But he’s really stupid. He doesn’t know his own feelings.”
Mom’s strategy is about as smooth and subtle as a tap-dancer on crack, but funny enough, this is the one thing that seems to make an impact on He-ra — she recognizes the truth as Mom states that Seung-jo treats a person colder and meaner the more he likes them. Feelings aren’t easily solved like math problems, and he’s afraid of his being found out.
Afterward, Seung-jo faces off with his mother, calling her tactics childish. Although Mom takes him to task for lacking basic decency in bringing He-ra home when he knows how Ha-ni feels, Seung-jo insists that she stop interfering in his life now.
Despite her earlier conviction, Mom starts to feel doubt — she’d truly believed Seung-jo liked Ha-ni, but perhaps she was wrong. If that’s true, she fears she has wronged both Seung-jo and Ha-ni by forcing them together, and wrings her hands in guilt.
Eun-jo — who has been observing all this with a sharp eye — finally speaks up in order to get his mother to stop crying and announces, “He does like her.” He refuses to give any further explanation, but he asks Seung-jo if he really means to marry He-ra. Seung-jo replies that He-ra suits him and that he’ll probably grow to like her, but he doesn’t sound convinced so much as he’s trying to convince himself.
Little Bro is smarter than that, and doesn’t buy that at all — especially in light of the scene he witnessed in a previous episode. Now we see the scene from the woods, where Seung-jo had come upon a sleeping Ha-ni and kissed her. Eun-jo decides that his brother definitely does like Ha-ni, no matter what he says.
Thinking more about the proposal, Ha-ni asks her father how he’d feel if she dated Joon-gu. Dad answers essentially as her friends did — that Joon-gu is devoted to her and wouldn’t be a bad match.
Understanding that He-ra is the girl Seung-jo is thinking of marrying, Dad sighs that they shouldn’t have moved back to this house. Things will only continue to grow more awkward if they keep living here, and this is a good chance for them to think it over.
Seung-jo puts in a rare appearance at tennis club — looking around for Ha-ni, of course, only to be told that she’s been busy dating her boyfriend lately.
As he leaves, Min-ah and Ju-ri run into him and talk extra-loudly-on-purpose to make sure he hears that Joon-gu proposed to Ha-ni, and that she is supposed to give him her answer today. Seung-jo doesn’t give them the satisfaction of reacting, but this news does NOT make him happy.
Joon-gu treats Ha-ni to more new dishes, and hesitantly brings up his proposal from the other night, wondering if she’s thought it over. In spite of his willingness to be patient, he’s frustrated by her request for more time and reminds her that he’ll always be here for her, like a home — but a house that stands empty too long is no good, either. Better an empty house than one that caves in around you, I say.
A clap of thunder sends her recoiling in fright, and Joon-gu grabs her to make sure she’s safe — and that closeness prompts him to attempt a kiss. Ha-ni resists, but he’s caught up in his emotions and tries to move in anyway, and in the almost-struggle they both fall to the ground. Ha-ni shoves him away.
Joon-gu asks sadly if that means she’s saying no to him. Feeling guilty and upset, Ha-ni blurts out that she’s sorry and rushes out into the rain.
(Sigh — and you were doing so well, Duckie! Patience was suiting you so well, and then you had to go and get all Traditional Second Lead on us and try to force your suit. Don’t you watch dramas, ever?)
Ha-ni beats herself up about it on the way home, feeling guilty for raising Joon-gu’s expectations and then hurting him.
She finds Seung-jo waiting for her at the bus stop, and he gruffly offers her the cover of his umbrella (with a sharp look and the backhanded comment that he knew she’d be foolish enough to be without an umbrella).
As mean as ever, Seung-jo brings up Joon-gu’s proposal and prods her to explain. Losing patience, he snaps, “So what did you tell him?!”
Ha-ni retorts that her answer has nothing to do with him, and adds — to his shock — that she’s going to move out. She doesn’t want to be a hindrance to Seung-jo’s relationship, and now she’ll turn her attention to helping her father and Joon-gu. It all works out, since Dad likes Joon-gu.
Seung-jo looks at Ha-ni sharply and asks, “Do you like him?” Irritated at her yes, he asks if she is just going to like whoever likes her back.
But Ha-ni has tired of this one-sided love, and wants to be with someone who likes her back. She states, “I like Joon-gu.”
Seung-jo fires back, “You like me.” It’s both a statement and a command, and he follows that with the declaration that she can’t like anyone other than him. Frustrated, Ha-ni admits angrily that he’s right — she does still like him — “But what good is that?” After all, he won’t have anything to do with her, and he treats her like—
Dropping the umbrella, he grabs her in a kiss.
Pulling back, he instructs Ha-ni not to say that she likes anybody but him. Mollified, Ha-ni nods in agreement, then notes that this is their second kiss.
Smiling, he gathers her to his chest and corrects her: “It’s the third.” And then he adds, “It’s okay, you don’t have to count anymore.”
Okay, you got me there. Pretty awesome way to get Seung-jo to man up and make his confession, finally. It’s been mighty frustrating to watch Ha-ni pine over Seung-jo all this while, and while WE know that her love isn’t futile, SHE doesn’t. It’s been nearly painful at times to see her entertaining flimsy hopes in the face of such blatant (outward) disinterest.
I don’t actually have a problem with Ha-ni’s constant following around of Seung-jo, and I’ve long accepted that her persistence is just a part of her nature, so my issues with her weren’t based on that. What gets me is the idea that she has no sense of self without Seung-jo, that she doesn’t value herself as a human being if/when apart from him. There’s a sweet moment in this episode when she thanks Joon-gu for liking her so much, because it makes her feel “like a valuable person,” but that kind of thinking is like a slap in MY face, as someone who loves Ha-ni’s character for her heart and life. It hurts that she would buy into the idea that she isn’t worth a concern if she isn’t liked by a guy.
I was pretty irritated with Seung-jo in this episode, even though I knew that Big Moment was coming at the end of it (thanks, spoilers!), and I think you only get so many passes for being a socially awkward genius robot who treats people like crap due to a lack of artificial emotional intelligence. He gets some sympathy for being emotionally stunted, but let’s face it — the boy’s got a pretty privileged, cushy life. At a certain point you pass being a mere misunderstood hero to plain jerkface poopypants, and Seung-jo has long crossed that line with me.
(On a perfectly shallow note, I am willing to entertain the idea that I am possibly less forgiving because Seung-jo’s perm is straightening out. For some insane and unfathomable reason, without that head of messy curls, I just don’t find him as appealing. I KNOW! It’s weird.)
(Now, if only the sound in the ending scene were anywhere near halfway decent. Gah, I haven’t heard such atrocious sound engineering in a drama in perhaps ever — and certainly not at such a crucial moment. Can we get on that, drama crew, and fast?)