More cuteness abounds. Honestly, this drama can feel rather average whenever the scenes don’t involve both main characters, so I can see why it’s struggling to gain ground in the ratings (today’s episode had a 9%). But whenever Jang Geun-seok and Moon Geun-young are together, they just crackle with adorable chemistry.
SONG OF THE DAY
Jang Geun-seok – “My Precious” from the Mary Stayed Out All Night OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
After Mary and Jung-in realize that they’ve met before, she tries to return the money he’d given her as payoff (when the manager threatened her thinking she was trying to sneak a photo with the actor). She also finds it curious that he accepted their odd marriage contract arrangement.
Jung-in declines the money and answers that he sees the marriage as a business decision, and advises that she not take it too seriously. She’s onboard with that, since she intends to reject the suit after the 100 days are up anyway.
Given that intention, however, Mary asks to be put to work, because she feels more comfortable treating this like a job than as a handout. Jung-in agrees and employs her at his drama-production company as a secretary — only, he won’t actually give her any work. This has to be the cushiest contract “predicament” in kdrama history. Trust Mary to complicate things, huh?
The job affords Mary the opportunity to approach Seo-jun to ask for an autograph while she waits for a meeting with the lead actor. When he arrives with his manager, they jump to the conclusion that Mary makes it a habit harassing stars, even though Jung-in assures them that it had just been a misunderstanding earlier.
Jung-in dismisses her early since he has no work for her. She and Dad have to admit that his behavior doesn’t add up, starting with his easy acceptance of the marriage. Perchance he’s gay?, Mary thinks, seeing as he’s fashionable and talks of the marriage as a business transaction. (Also, she watches dramas.) Or, maybe he’s using the false marriage as a way to get at his inheritance.
Mary almost forgets about her ruse with Mu-gyul and fumbles for lies when Dad starts asking questions about how they met and fell in love. Thinking fast, she says that it was like in dramas, and that love is like a car accident: “That’s how we met. As though in a car crash, suddenly, love found us.” LOL. Well, I guess Dad can’t blame her for meaning something literally that he takes figuratively.
Again Mary speaks in that flowery romanticism drawn from dramas and insists that Mu-gyul did, in fact, want dearly to pay his respects to Dad, but that she’d held him back. She manages to get her father to agree to leave Mu-gyul alone, threatening to cancel the 100-day contract if he reneges on his promise.
Just in case, though, Mary presents the fabricated “love is a car accident” story to Mu-gyul, so he’s in on the official story just in case Dad should call to check on him. This annoys him, because Mary had promised that his involvement would be purely nominal, and that he wouldn’t have to do anything. At every step she insisted that this would be all he had to do, yet things have spiraled out of their control.
Furthermore, Mary needs to spend her evenings out (supposedly with him) in order to keep up the ruse that they’re a couple in love. She asks to spend that time in his new place, which he is just settling into now, and even offers to pay for the three months of nighttime visits with the payoff money Jung-in gave her.
Mu-gyul flatly refuses to cooperate, but he’s no match for her display of aegyo as she looks up at him with her most entreating puppy-dog expression — or, as Mu-gyul calls it, “Shrek cat” eyes. I suppose it’s appropriate, given their back-and-forth exchange of him barking teasingly at her, and her meowing in response.
Just to strike the nail in the coffin of Mu-gyul’s resistance (which is almost worn down completely by Mary’s cuteness), the landlady drops by to remind him that his deposit is due within the week. He agrees with some hesitation (he doesn’t have the money yet), and Mary eagerly jumps in to remind him that she has enough to cover it.
To wear down his reluctance, Mary tags along as Mu-gyul goes dumpster-diving around the neighborhood, picking up junk he can turn into furnishings for his new digs. By the end of the day, he’s got a pretty nice apartment/studio, decorated with his own DIY flair.
Mary asks him to let her stay for a while, just so she can kill time till 10 pm. Grudgingly, he agrees, but only for tonight. That’s enough to make her happy, and despite his lack of a television — horrors! How will she be able to watch her stories tonight? — she settles down with a book.
It’s her cue to leave when Mu-gyul’s bandmates come over bearing housewarming gifts, but they invite her to eat with them, and Mu-gyul’s protest is overruled. The friends prod her to call her girlfriends over again, and pretty soon the whole gang is assembled over drinks.
Mu-gyul remains disgruntled to have his wishes ignored, but it’s cute that everyone sides with Mary when hearing about the marriage farce they find themselves in. While he flatly refuses to let Mary spend each evening at his place, everyone urges him to agree. His friends even joke that since things have come this far, he may as well make the marriage real.
A woman drops by looking for Mu-gyul, and Mary recognizes her from the photo in Mu-gyul’s guitar case. Assuming that this is one of Mu-gyul’s many girlfriends, Mary launches right into an “I’m not his girlfriend, so please don’t misunderstand and fight with him” speech, which is interrupted by the arrival of the man himself.
The woman squeals and launches herself at Mu-gyul, who responds to her affectionately. The girls are surprised, then, to hear from the bandmates that the woman is Mu-gyul’s mother. She had him at 17 and is forever getting into scrapes that Mu-gyul has to clean up, which prompts Mary’s friend to comment that their relationship is just like Mary’s with her father.
Now for a round of drinking games, which is a version of “I Never” where people have to drink whenever a statement applies to them like, “Whoever hasn’t been kissed, drink.” Mary’s the easiest one to tease because she’s never dated or kissed anyone, and Mu-gyul laughs in disbelief. So Mary turns it around and makes HIM drink by pointing out the one who has dated the most, who has been unable to sustain relationships for longer than a month.
This ends, of course, with Mary getting very, very drunk. Mu-gyul is the only one sober at the end of the night, and is charged with getting her back home.
Alas, his junky van breaks down along the way, and he is forced to piggyback her the rest of the way home. (Another one? Already? While they’re at it, they should turn the piggyback ride into a running gag and give us one per episode.)
While he struggles along, Mary rambles on about her polite bastard and how she won’t marry him. He grumbles at this inconvenience, until Mary drunkenly tells him, “I’m sorry, Dad.” (Just the person your not-quite-husband wants to be compared to!) Mu-gyul’s disgruntled expression softens as Mary confesses to “Dad” that she had felt driven to run away, but now that their debt is taken care of, she wants to live well — she’ll return to school, get a good job, and make Dad happy because she knows he worked hard to raise her after Mom died.
Mary’s well past her 10 pm curfew, which has Dad on edge, and that’s before he sees the boho rocker dude carrying his drunk daughter home. Accusingly, Dad asks how long Mu-gyul plans to carry on with Mary. How far have they gone?
He refers to a physical relationship, and Mu-gyul replies that they’ve done nothing to worry about. In full protective parent mode, Dad orders Mu-gyul to look him in the eye as he says it, which gives us a hilarious bit as Mu-gyul stares directly at him in his own version of Mary’s Shrek-cat stare (mung-mung!).
Mu-gyul works on a new song long into the night, and despite his reluctance to get involved with Mary, it’s becoming clearer to us that they really are well-matched. For instance, he smiles as he remembers an exchange he’d had with Mary when she asked what kind of music he wants to make, and he’d said, “The kind that doesn’t lie.” He appreciates her response, which shows that she *gets* it — that he must mean music that moves you with its honesty.
Mary reports for work that morning, only to be told to call it a day right away. Jung-in is reluctant to give her real work, but Mary prods him to treat her just like any employee. Since they aren’t going to marry at the end of the 100 days, there’s no reason he should treat her differently.
Thus Mary is brought along to work at the photo shoot for Jung-in’s new drama project (title: Wonderful Life), which is set in the Hongdae indie music world. How very meta of them — but “meta” may as well be this drama’s middle name.
The project hits a little close to home for Seo-jun, who plays the role of rocker’s girlfriend, and during a break she calls Mu-gyul on a whim — he’s the ex-boyfriend she’d mentioned previously, whom she’d lost while working on her previous drama.
Their conversation is simple and a little awkward, but there are no hard feelings on either side — just a wistfulness that things are different now. Seo-jun keeps her tone light but is affected by the conversation, while Mu-gyul tells her to take care before hanging up to prepare for his upcoming show.
Mary approaches Seo-jun to offer her a drink, and calls herself a fan. Seo-jun asks which of her projects is Mary’s favorite, and is surprised at the answer — the indie movie she shot in Japan two years ago — because it’s fairly obscure.
Seo-jun speaks casually when she cautions Mary that she has a lot of anti-fans, which means there may be some noise surrounding this production, but Mary tells her encouragingly not to let the rumors get her down. Seo-jun is disarmed by Mary’s positivity and friendliness, and comments to her co-star’s manager that she likes the girl.
But the manager still remembers the hotel incident and is convinced Mary is a conniving bottom-feeder, saying that Mary blackmailed her way into this job by threatening Jung-in to go public with the manager incident.
Seo-jun is prejudiced by this information, which has immediate effects because she overhears a girl gossiping in the bathroom about her. The gossip is actually another staff member, who talks about Seo-jun snidely and calls her a phony and a troublemaker who only got on this drama with “sponsor” backing (which insinuates that she pimped herself out for the role).
So when Seo-jun steps out of the stall to see Mary on her phone, she assumes that Mary is the malicious gossip and angrily takes her phone, throwing it into the mirror. Hurt, Seo-jun storms out of the photo shoot, declaring herself too upset to continue.
Seo-jun winds up at Mu-gyul’s show, where she is joined by Jung-in, who has followed her. And lo and behold, he looks up and is immediately taken with the charismatic musician singing onstage.
Mu-gyul puts on an impressive performance of his new song…at least, until it’s time for the drummer to begin playing. Their drummer has been a no-show, so the guitarist has to take over, and the result is a mess. Mu-gyul ends up taking over solo, and the drummer sits in shame.
The bitchy manager has also arrived at the show, and simultaneously recognizes Mu-gyul as her former client and sees Jung-in’s interest. Bitter Betty isn’t about to let her troublesome former client win any glory if she can help it, so she jumps in to warn Jung-in against Mu-gyul. She urges him to leave this amateurish show, but Jung-in knows what he likes and tells the others to go on without him.
After the show, Jung-in presents himself as an entertainment company CEO to Mu-gyul, only to be rebuffed straightaway.
What’s endearing about Mu-gyul’s bandmates is that despite the occasional bitterness at being overlooked by everyone, they do understand that Mu-gyul is in a different class than they are. He considers them all in the same boat together, but the boys feel like they’re holding him back with their lack of skills.
The drummer shows up after the show with a broken arm and apologizes profusely, but his apologies only make Mu-gyul angry — if they all did their best, there’s nothing to be sorry about.
As they drown their sorrows, the bandmates tell him that it’s time to be realistic — he has talent and looks, and he can make something of that while they’re, frankly, barking up the wrong tree.
I’m sure Mu-gyul has to know the truth on a gut level too; he grumbles on about the importance of loyalty (which, by the way, is a policy Mary also adheres to), but I wonder if he sees that his insistence on loyalty is more foolish than admirable in this case. Especially since his friends urge him to talk to that CEO guy.
Mu-gyul finds a text message on his phone, which he reads with boyish enjoyment. It’s from “Mary Christmas”:
“Sorry for yesterday, and thanks. You must’ve been tired because of me, so rest comfortably tonight. You aren’t off drinking after saying you wouldn’t, right?” (Here he mumbles, “I already did.”) “Don’t just insist you’re young, and take care of yourself. If you want to make music till you die, you have to be healthy. Bye. Mary Christmas! Meow.”
The photo shoot resumes, and Mary takes the opportunity to stand up for herself. She approaches Seo-jun and asserts that she misunderstood the situation earlier. Seo-jun asks who the true culprit was, then, which Mary can’t quite answer. But she says:
Mary: “I haven’t lived that much, but I think in life you can’t always say everything, even though you are wronged or feel angry. I’ll just reiterate the main point: It wasn’t me. But in that situation, it was understandable that you misunderstood, and I think your behavior to me was understandable. So I’ll be understanding. We’ll be seeing each other at the office, so I’d like if we didn’t have any more uncomfortable situations.”
The others marvel at her guts, a little impressed despite everything.
Meanwhile, Jung-in tracks down Mu-gyul again and tries again to make his case over drinks.
(Side note: Gotta point out that this scene plays my favorite song by FreeTEMPO, “Flowers.” [ Download ] With the drama’s plot and setting, they seem to be aiming for a “Hongdae indie” vibe with the soundtrack, which I don’t think is entirely successful — the music is pretty poppy and standard and Coffee Prince really did a better job with the indie-pop ambiance. But give ’em props for trying.)
Mu-gyul’s skeptical of Jung-in, and the two have pretty opposing viewpoints: Jung-in points out that they’re only famous in this neighborhood, while Mu-gyul retorts that Jung-in’s neighborhood (on the other side of the river, aka the trendier mainstream culture) just assembles bands based on looks.
Jung-in lays out what he wants: The feel and emotion of Mu-gyul’s live performance, just as it was tonight, and his music. Mu-gyul scoffs, not trusting Jung-in’s words because it’s just as likely that he’ll go back on them later and dress him up in a different style and make him lip-synch.
So Jung-in throws down the gauntlent: “Are you that unable to understand your talent and potential?” Mu-gyul responds, “Do you turn talent and potential into commodities?” Jung-in says, “I think having the rock spirit is the most important thing.” To which Mu-gyul laughs: “The money-loving producer knows about the rock spirit?”
But there’s some grudging respect there, and Mu-gyul seems to be considering the possibility that Jung-in may be the real thing. They drink.
In the morning, Mu-gyul wakes up in a fancy room in Jung-in’s posh home. He gets up groggily while Jung-in comes in, fresh from a shower and dressed in a robe, asking if he remembers last night. Oh, this conversation could go so many ways, which is half the fun of it. Mu-gyul thinks back and remembers Jung-in carrying him along, since he’d been drunk.
Meanwhile, Mary has been excused from working today because she’d spent the whole night at the photo shoot. So Dad orders her to go to Jung-in’s house during the day, because she should honor the terms of her contract.
So she trudges along tiredly to Jung-in’s place, banking on the hope that her polite bastard has left for work already. To her dismay, she hears his voice and realizes that he’s still home — and then realizes what he’s saying. And that he’s saying it to another man. Wait — so he really IS gay??
Tiptoeing quietly to the sound of the two voices, Mary approaches the bedroom just as Jung-in tells his male guest that they worked out what they want from each other last night.
Thinking this is her ticket out of the contract marriage, Mary nears the doorway to confirm her suspicions just as Jung-in says, “We’ll make good partners.”
Her jaw drops when she recognizes Jung-in’s houseguest — dressed in nothing more than a bedsheet — and can’t believe it.
Jung-in registers the mutual look of recognition on their faces and wonders, “Do you know each other?” Mary blurts, “He’s my husband!”
Realization dawns on both men as they realize that they’re connected in more ways than one. Jung-in asks, “Then he’s… wedding ceremony guy?” Mu-gyul returns, “And he’s… marriage registry guy?”
Mary thinks fast and realizes she has to keep up her ruse, so she jumps in front of Mu-gyul and exclaims, “Jagi-ya!”
There’s a concept in television called “hanging a lantern,” which refers to a show taking the meta approach in calling out its problem areas outright, rather than trying to hide or ignore them. That is to say, if there’s a logic issue that hampers the story (“But how can that possibly happen?”), a character will address it in an effort to minimize the impact the problem has on viewers (“I know, it’s like we’re in some weird movie or something”).
Sometimes hanging a lantern isn’t enough to solve the problem, because a logic hole is a logic hole. On the other hand, some writers are able to use it effectively — the Hong Sisters are one example, because they will often point cliches out plainly, but add their own twist. What could be trite is suddenly fresh.
Cliches are both the lifeblood and the bane of kdramas: On one hand, they’re used because they work, and they’re great narrative shorthand. On the other hand, we are by now so familiar with certain stories and characters that they can feel overused or tired. Mary Stayed Out All Night is practically Drama Cliche Central, but the reason I’m okay rolling with most of the overused conventions is because the drama is totally hanging a lantern on everything, either in meta dialogue or in the very act of making Mary a drama addict. And that, at least, makes it funny.
For instance, in Episode 2 she writes her runaway letter in this very exaggerated, stiffly formal sageuk language that she no doubt picked up from many a historical drama, which makes that scene unexpectedly hilarious. And Mary’s speculation that Jung-in is gay manages to be amusing because it’s so like her drama-addicted brain to jump to extreme conclusions — because that’s what would happen on television! Wink wink.