Is it strange that despite the fact that I find the premise beyond ridiculous, all I want is to watch Jang Geun-seok and Kim Jae-wook fight over Mary like a couple of petty dogs? It’s a sickness, I know. But I can’t get the image out of my mind, and now I can’t let it go. Does that mean that I’m hooked?
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Dad flips his lid over the strange young man standing in his living room. Mary tries to explain, but it doesn’t help matters that she and Dad are freaked out, while Mu-gyul is weeble-wobbling about in his drunken state. To add insult to injury, he is of course the EXACT kind of guy every dad universally hates: rocker dude with long hair and eau de beer. Add motorcycle, and that’s pretty much Dad Nightmare Number One.
As Mary hastily ushers Mu-gyul out of the apartment, Dad mutters, “That long hair…is he a boy or a girl?” Hahaha. You’re not the only one who’s wondering, buddy.
Mu-gyul pauses on his way out to toss a drunken, “Mary Christmas!” with a sheepish smile.
Before they can even iron out the he’s-not-my-boyfriend-I-swear conversation, Dad’s debt collectors are back at the door, and father and daughter dejectedly saunter over to the window, tired of living this way day in and day out. Dad promises to call, and climbs out the window yet again.
He goes to see his hyung Jung-seok, who has by now seen Mary’s picture and discovered that she’s an exact replica of her mom, for whom he’s been carrying a lifelong torch. The dads set up a blind date for their kids, and the next day Mary sits and waits in the hotel lobby, not knowing why she’s been called there.
While sitting in the lobby, she sees a famous drama actor, so she goes up timidly to ask for an autograph and a picture. He obliges with an autograph, but declines the photo, so Mary sits back down. She starts to call her friend to tell her she scored the autograph, but the manager thinks she’s sneaking a picture anyway, and sends someone to snatch her phone away.
This is right when Jung-in walks up, seeing someone from his production company accosting Mary for her phone. He puts a stop to it and then, assuming that she’s trying to milk them for money, hands her an envelope of cash. She declines it, offended at the accusation, and then balks when he asks her to sign an incident waiver. Haha. What’s with everyone and their incident reports? That triggers a memory of her drunken night with Mu-gyul and how hard she had to work to get his signature, so she sighs and agrees to sign the document.
Jung-in manages to insult her the entire time, calling her a teenager and looking at her like a crazed fan. His demeanor is condescending and demeaning but not outright rude, and she remarks to herself, “That guy is annoyingly polite.” She calls him a polite bastard behind his back.
She realizes that he left the envelope anyway, and finds a boatload of money inside. Meanwhile, Jung-in returns to the reason why he was at the hotel in the first place: to score actress Seo-jun as the lead in his drama. She agrees to do it, and wishes him luck on his blind date, calling him old-fashioned for agreeing to an arranged marriage.
That reminds him that he’s late, but when he calls Mary, her phone’s broken, so she doesn’t answer. They sit at different tables in the same lobby, waiting but never meeting up. Mary finally finds out from Dad that she’s there for a blind date, and she hightails it out of there, shocked and angry.
She finds Dad at a wedding dress shop, where he insists she find a dress for her engagement. She’s like, engagement what, now? and guesses correctly that her dad’s rushing to marry her off to repay his debts. Although he denies it of course.
She can’t believe her dad wants to marry her off to some guy whose face she’s never laid eyes on, and is doubly wary of his faith in that family’s promise to cover his debts. She ends up packing a bag and leaving home, with a hilarious recitation of a typical drama-sageuk speech from a maiden escaping an arranged marriage. Ha. I love all the drama meta in this series, from Mary the drama addict to people’s throwaway remarks, like all drama heroines are the same.
She’s about to leave, when she notices Mu-gyul’s guitar case sitting in her living room. She can’t believe a rocker is without his guitar, but opens it up to realize that it’s just stuffed with clothes inside. She finds his cell phone too, so she decides to take his stuff along.
Mu-gyul performs with his band for a new potential manager, who just wants to sign him solo. He declines, preferring to stick it out with his bandmates. Mary calls one of them with Mu-gyul’s phone, and tracks him down to return his stuff. His friends immediately call her jae-soo-sshi and hyung-soo-nim, both variations on what you’d call your brother’s wife. So cute.
She insists they’re not a couple, but they know that Mu-gyul’s been sleeping at her house, so they jump to conclusions, and Mu-gyul doesn’t help matters, finding her cute and fondling her face like she’s his new pet. He even finds it adorable that she’s run away from home, laughing at the ridiculousness of a 24-year old leaving home for the first time. He deduces correctly that she even left a dramatic letter for her father, and dies of laughter at her sweet innocence.
I sort of love how Mu-gyul is constantly drunk. It’s both hilarious and perfect for his character.
Mary ends up hanging out with the band until her friends come to pick her up, and then the girls stay for another round, despite Mary’s insistence that they go. Things start to go south, though, when the drunk band members start a fight that leads everyone into the street for some fisticuffs. (It’s fueled by the band’s jealousy at Mu-gyul’s relative popularity with girls and their continual shadow-status.)
Mu-gyul just sits by indifferently, drinking a beer and waiting it out. This seems pretty routine, and he barely registers any concern. Mary sits down next to him, and he drunkenly asks if her name is Mary Christmas. Exasperated, she tells him it’s just Mary, to which he decides she needs a new nickname. This time he decides that it’s Mary like a puppy, so he starts barking at her, grinning like an idiot. [In Korean, “mung-mung” is the equivalent of “bow-wow.”] She responds by meowing at him, calling him a kitty then.
The cops arrive to break up the festivities, so everyone takes off running, and Mu-gyul grabs Mary, and they run, wrist-in-hand, through the streets of Hongdae. Mary notes that crazy stuff happens to her every time she steps foot in Hongdae, but I’d say it’s more like, crazy stuff happens every time you’re with Mu-gyul.
For instance, they’re just walking along, and two crazy guys get all upset at Mu-gyul for bumping into them. They shout all manner of insults at him, from the “are you a man or a woman?” (which I’m beginning to see is so common a thing for him to hear that it doesn’t ruffle his feathers) to cursing at him outright. He initially walks away, but can’t take it anymore and goes back to punch the guy, landing them at the police station after all.
She tries to apologize to the guys on Mu-gyul’s behalf to get him out of any liability, but he refuses to be of any help, even starting a new fight in the police station. Mary stops him by yelling, “Jagi-ya! [honey/dear]” and takes him aside. She’s got an idea for how to get him out of it. She tells him to make a fist, and hold it close to his face…and then she pops him in the nose with his own fist. Hahaha. Now that he’s got a bloody nose, both parties are injured, and he’s not liable unless they are too.
The band and her friends cheer Mary for her brilliance (all learned from years of getting her errant dad out of such scrapes), and head out for more drinks. Oy, people. Even I’m like, more drinks? And that’s saying a lot.
Mu-gyul asks Mary why she helped him, and she says it’s because she was there when he fought. She’s speaking to him in banmal now, which he notes and says that she must feel comfortable around him now.
At his friends’ insistence that Mu-gyul needs to marry someone like her, Mary tells him that whoever he does marry is in for a rough life. He says he won’t marry, and she replies that he really shouldn’t, because it would actually be wrong to the other person, since he’s such terrible husband material. He’s: a drinker, a playboy, a musician, good-looking, lazy, and has a bad personality. Hahaha.
Meanwhile, Mary’s dad has responded to her escape by skipping the engagement altogether and barreling on through directly to the wedding. Mary frets over what to do to get out of this situation, and her friends come up with a plan: tell him that she has a boyfriend. That’s clearly not going to be a strong enough roadblock for Dad. Then they decide that she should just get married first, and that way she can’t marry anyone else. All they need is “proof,” enough to deter Dad from forcing her into the arranged marriage.
They all turn and look at Mu-gyul, who is blissfully unaware of what’s been put into motion while he’s had his headphones on.
Cut to their mock wedding photo shoot, with Mary in adorable red sneakers and little wedding dress, and Mu-gyul yawning away in his tux. Her request to the photographer: “Can you shoot us from far away so our faces don’t show?” Hahaha. Their friends join in with ridiculous costumes, and Mary sends her dad a photo, with a text that says she loves this man, and has married him.
She and Mu-gyul then part ways, amiably agreeing not to see each other ever again. They each turn back to glance as the other walks away.
Dad gets the photo while he’s with Jung-seok, who calls Jung-in right away. Jung-in has just signed the drama deal with Seo-jun, who is inexplicably dressed like she’s working the streets later that day. She continues to belittle his decision to marry whomever his father chooses for him, but he doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other.
Dad calls Mary home, pretending to be defeated. She apologizes for making him worry, and asks expectantly if the marriage talk is off the table now. He silently hands her a document…
…notifying her of her marriage registration to Jung-in. What the…?
She heads to a lawyer, who explains that she needs to furnish proof that her father registered this union without her knowledge, which then would turn her dad into a criminal. The lawyer tells her that if she doesn’t want him to take the fall, then the easiest way out is to divorce. She shouts out, “How can I divorce someone I never even married?!”
This is getting ridiculous. It’s taking farce to a new high, even for k-drama standards. But I’m rolling with it, since this double-marriage is the premise, after all. I just wish it made more sense.
Jung-in meets with his father, who explains the circumstances. He doesn’t see why it has to be this girl, if all his father wanted was for him to be married. But Dad is dead set on Mary, and gives it to him straight: in order for Dad to continue investing in his business, he must marry…Mary.
Jung-in decides that he needs some time, to test the waters and to make sure that she’s not rushed into this marriage either. So he decides that a year is too long, but a hundred days is just right. Oh REALLY, Show? Are we just going to arbitrarily throw every single k-drama cliché in the bag? Couldn’t we at least have come up with some flimsy excuse why it needs to be a hundred days? Sheesh.
Mary tries to reason with Dad, and asks him again if the real reason for all of this is to clear his debt. What’s infuriating is that the debt is the real reason, but he’s convinced himself that this is what’s best for Mary (to provide her with a rich husband who can take care of her in his stead, since he’s such a lousy father). Gah!
She’s taken to drowning her tears in a bottle of soju, in the middle of the afternoon. That’s a cry for help if I ever saw one. She calls Mu-gyul out as a drinking buddy, but he refuses to drink. He finally takes a shot to keep her from drinking too much, and sweetly feeds her soup, like he did instinctively the first time they drank together. I love how this kind of little stuff is so natural between the two of them, because they just feel comfortable and drawn to each other.
They walk outside, and Mu-gyul pats her on the head and says goodbye, but she follows behind him. She asks what his dreams are, and if he plans to just spend his life playing music. He says he plans to live this lifetime that way, and asks what her dreams are. She just wants to live a normal life—one where she comes home to Mom, where Dad doesn’t worry about money, where she goes to school without worrying about how to pay tuition. He smiles, realizing that she’s had quite a rough life, if those are her big dreams.
He leans in, “Mung-mung.” She leans in, “Yow-eng-ie [meow].” So cute.
She shows him the marriage certificate and starts to ask for another favor…but he inches away from her, with a resounding, “No.”
She follows him to the park where he plays a song for a small crowd, and she tearfully thinks over what her dad proposed: that she try being married to Jung-in for a hundred days, and then at the end, she’ll get to choose, either Mu-gyul or Jung-in.
She pleads with Mu-gyul to help her out just once more, asking to borrow his name for the duration of her contract marriage, but he refuses, telling her coldly that it has nothing to do with him.
She ends up following him around all day, until she finds herself down a dark alley and face to face with a couple of thugs who look at her like a tasty treat. Mu-gyul swoops in for the rescue though, appearing from behind and putting his arm around her. Her feet are all torn up from following him around (in tennis shoes? Whatever, Show), so he offers her a piggyback ride.
Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s a record number of k-drama clichés in one episode. That’s TWO contract marriages, one piggyback ride, an alleyway rescue, a wrist-grab-and-run, six turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Mu-gyul agrees to help her out, and says the one thing that people entering into a contract relationship always say: Don’t fall for me. She reassures him that she doesn’t like him in the least—he may be cool, but not as…a man. He agrees that she’s cute, but not at all a woman in his eyes. So that’s settled then. You two will NEVER fall in love. Nope.
Mu-gyul asks who she’ll choose at the end of the hundred days. She says that she’ll choose nobody. The contract will clear her father’s debts, saving their house, and at the end she’ll be free to choose whomever she wants…and she’ll choose no one. Or herself? Like Kelly Taylor?
She goes home and signs the contract, which actually divides her days between the two boys, by the hour. Hahaha. Jung-in gets her 9 to 5 and Saturdays, while Mu-gyul gets her 5 to 10, and Sundays. They’re time-sharing a bride!
She calls Mu-gyul to tell him about the schedule, and promises not to bug him. Dad comes into her room, blowing a gasket that she’s calling Mu-gyul. She quickly adds into the phone, “Jagi-ya, sleep well. Dream of me!” to keep up the pretense that they’re in love.
The next morning, Mary heads over to Jung-in’s place, and stands agape when she finds herself staring up at the ginormous house in front of her. The first thing that gets her excited when she looks around is the big-screen tv. “It’s going to be so fun watching dramas on that!” Heh. Girl after my own heart.
Jung-in arrives to find her asleep on the couch, mess of curls covering her face. She falls off the couch and wakes up, and they greet each other for the first time. After their introductions, Mary finally looks up at his face, and instantly recognizes him. “The Polite Bastard!”
While the setup is as crazy as crazy can be, I do love the characters, and particularly find Mary and Mu-gyul refreshing. Moon Geun-young is so unbelievably cute and emotive that it amazes me how effortlessly she does everything. Mary is in many ways the standard sweet daughter, trapped by filial piety, but she’s also spunky and random, and has such a sunny disposition that you can’t help but love her.
Mu-gyul’s infuriating laissez-faire attitude towards life is also perfect, and I really like this Hongdae-street-rat-free-spirit vibe he’s got going on. As far as dramas go, it’s nice to make the characters feel organic to a certain neighborhood and a space, which is maybe why I’m responding to the fun and fresh all-night hijinks with Mary and the band more than the marriage-debt arrangement, which feels staid in comparison.
Well, it’s certainly not wanting for any more tropes to recycle and regurgitate, but I find the show charming overall in its dogged simplicity. They know they’re going with the standard clichés, but the tactic seems to be to overload us with so many that it actually becomes a commentary in and of itself. It’s ridiculous to the Nth degree, but that’s sort of what they’re banking on—our foreknowledge of every single cliché. It’s part and parcel of what we bring when entering into any k-drama—it’s like our own contract relationship with Show. The problem is, they’re not quite commenting on it outright, a la Hong Sisters parody, so it’s a hair shy of being meta enough to be brilliant.
So then I’ll do what Mu-gyul did. I’ll agree to the contract, but warn Show not to fall in love with me. Don’t do it. You’ll only get hurt.
- Mary Stayed Out All Night: Episode 1
- Kim Jae-wook looking mighty fine for Mary
- Jang Geun-seok sings on Mary OST
- Official posters released for Mary Stayed Out All Night
- Teaser and last character stills for Mary Stayed Out All Night
- Mary’s second leading man Kim Jae-wook
- Kim Jae-wook joins Mary Stayed Out All Night