I didn’t necessarily get the “you’re prettier when you’re angry” thing, but I definitely get it now… Joo-won and Ra-im are totally angry-hot, as in having especially explosive chemistry… when they’re at each other’s throats. I mean, I always knew the bickering hate phase was intended to spark a few flames, but these two are downright X-rated. I swear, every time they yell at each other, I half expect them to rip each other’s clothes off. Whew! Is it getting hot in here?
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Joo-won sees Ra-im standing in his department store, and takes her up to his office to talk. He can’t believe that she came all the way down here, just to pick up a stupid raffle prize, as if her desire for a free vacuum cleaner is a direct affront to him. Did you maybe stop to think she came here to see YOU, doofus?
She asks if maybe he put her name into the drawing, and he scoffs that he doesn’t have the time to do something like that, and belittles her coldly, that he really must’ve been crazy to fall for a woman without family or education, who’d come all the way here to claim some dinky vacuum cleaner. Oh, you are an ASS.
Ra-im’s jaw drops as she hears the angry, haughty words come out of his mouth, which he even repeats, just to get his point across, adding that she’s embarrassing him at work. For someone so obsessed with manner and upbringing, you really are the biggest asshole of them all. No doubt he’s reacting in this childish way to cover up his own insecurities and troubling obsession, but still. If it walks like an ass and talks like an ass…
Ra-im steels herself and then apologizes, retaliating with a, “You said I’m pretty when I’m angry, but I’m pretty when I smile too, right?” Heh. If you’re planning to make him more obsessed with you for revenge, that’s pretty ingenious, but a little passive for my taste. I prefer it when you kick him in the shins. She insists on taking the vacuum cleaner, just to prove a point.
She says that if he’s that embarrassed, he can tell everyone that she was just someone he played with and threw away. He flares up at those words, saying that he can’t, and drags her down to the department store. He starts throwing shoes and clothes at her feet, angrily yelling, “Play? Play with you? You’re not even at the level for me to play with!”
Dude, you are taking rich bastard to new heights. He basically throws the evidence down at her feet, of how far apart they are in social standing. It’s beyond insulting—it’s degrading and hurts her where she’s most insecure.
He grabs a dress and drags her into a dressing room to put it on. He follows her in there, and they end up face to face in that tiny space, within kissing distance and tension flaring high. Gah, it’s unfair if you’re evil AND sexy. That’s just not right.
He tells her to put it on: “Should I put it on for you?” He reaches to undress her, and she stops him angrily. She asks him what he’s trying to prove—what he’ll do with her if she puts on the dress. He replies that he’ll do nothing; he’s just trying to show her how far apart they really are. Listen, if all you’re doing is trying to prove that you’re unattainable, you’re sending a girl mixed messages, what with your stalking of her and all. I know you’re nuts, but that’s no excuse.
Beads of sweat start to pour down his face, as he looks up at the four walls of the tiny dressing room, realizing how small a space he’s in, all the while trying not to lose the argument. You’re the one who pushed her in there, Mr. Claustrophobia. He holds his panic in for just a moment longer, and then can’t stand it anymore and pushes her aside to clamor out of there. He runs out, barely breathing, and has a panic attack in the middle of his store.
Ra-im leaves in a daze, and arrives at the action school, late for training. She decides to spend a few hours taking out her frustrations…by hurling herself at a car. Repeatedly. Sheesh. I guess stunt people can’t just punch a wall or something.
Meanwhile, Joo-won drives home, and has another panic attack in the middle of a tunnel. It’s a nice visual sequence, and the tunnel is great literally and figuratively as a motif for his fear of being trapped. He barely manages to make it out to the other side, and pulls over on the side of the road. He calls number 1 on his speed dial: his therapist. God, I love that his shrink is speed dial 1. That’s so telling.
She comes over to check on him, but because they’re old friends, he refuses to actually tell her what’s going on with him. I’d like to ask his shrink, but I bet half the stuff he suffers from is made up in his head to give him an excuse to keep himself locked away. He finally tells her not to think of him strangely, since he just read it in a book, but…”What are the symptoms of lovesickness?” Hahahaha. His sincerity about this just cracks me up.
Later, he sits outside in his garden, and starts picking the petals off a flower, saying, “She’s cursing at me, she’s not; she is; she’s not…” until he picks the final one, landing at: “She is.” He gets mad at her for cursing him (in his mind, but that seems to be no different for him, hilariously), and stalks off angrily. Heh.
As he walks away, the camera pans down and we see that he’s left a giant pile of those yellow daisies, having plucked the petals off of a hundred of them. Little twinkly lights start to work their magic on the daisy patch, and one lands on the last flower that he dropped, magically re-growing one last petal. Aw, cute.
And how adorable is it that the guy’s the one killing flowers over “She loves me; she loves me not”?
The next morning, Joo-won wakes up to find that Seul’s family has sent him a strange present, out of the blue. He walks outside to find himself face to face with a herd of…deer? He asks if he’s supposed to eat them (to the horror of his assistant: “Omo”) and tells him to send them back. It’s a totally random, hilarious comment on the oddities that rich people spend their money on.
He gets a call for his monthly obligatory family dinner, and heads over to his grandfather’s mansion, where everyone takes turns being passive-aggressive over the steak course. With a family like this, I’m surprised Joo-won doesn’t have a few more neuroses under his belt. In particular, he gets outed for only showing up to work two days a week, making his disappointed grandfather even more disappointed in him.
Also, random fashion note, but how neurotic and nerdy is it that he’s wearing three highlighters in his pocket as an accessory?
Oska goes all the way down to Jeju to find Tae-sun, who rebuffs him yet again, this time acknowledging who he is, but saying that it doesn’t make his music any less crappy. Oska just stands there slackjawed, unfamiliar with people who don’t worship at his feet for being a Hallyu star. I love that he constantly refers to himself as “The Hallyu Star,” making him just that extra bit of ridiculous self-aggrandizing.
Oska has punked out on his music video shoot in Thailand, but it doesn’t seem to matter much to the director, who has washed his hands of the project at Seul’s request. Or rather, her payment of large sums of money. She takes over the music video, with the excuse that she doesn’t need to spend any time improving her looks or her schooling, so she may as well have some fun. Oh, okay, princess.
She goes straight to Jong-soo’s action school, embarrassing herself with her VERY LOUD and off-putting use of English. Gah, the horror! I’m cleaning my ears out with soap. Jong-soo replies, but looks at her strangely, as well he should. Because girl’s off her rocker. She asks for his help in the music video shoot, announcing that Oska is the star.
Ra-im continues to work out her angst, thinking back to the department store fight with Joo-won. As she was leaving earlier, she had paused in front of a mirror, holding the dress up wistfully. I like these little touches that reveal her girly side, that she doesn’t show to anyone.
Her roommate Ah-young arrives home with the dreaded vacuum cleaner in tow, causing Ra-im to freak out that she accepted it on her behalf. She calls Joo-won right away, who goes from brooding to instant happy face when he realizes that she’s calling.
But of course he can’t let HER know his excitement, and just snaps at her to return it herself or throw it away if she doesn’t want it. He hangs up abruptly and returns to the task of art-buying with a renewed sense of interest. He even starts seeing the paintings differently, now that Ra-im is back in his orbit. Heh. And aw.
He insists that the house in one of the paintings had its lights on a minute ago, making everyone think that he’s insane, but we see that it’s the same bit of whimsy that’s been re-petaling the daisies and such in his life, having a bit of fun.
Ra-im heads out to give Joo-won a piece of her mind, and when Ah-young tells her that he isn’t at work today, she calls her action school sunbae to get Joo-won’s address off of his registration form. Jong-soo overhears and hangs his head.
Joo-won, meanwhile, sits on his patio with sheets blowing in the wind and desserts and…wait…did I fall asleep and land in some fantasy? He is totally going to such lengths on purpose, waiting for her to show. (Also, he happens to be reading a book about why there are starving people in the world, as if he can read a book to study her, like she’s some social experiment.)
Ra-im rides in on her motorcycle, vacuum strapped to the back. She marvels at the expansive grounds as she rides around, and stops to ask an employee where Kim Joo-won lives. The lady’s like, um…here. Ra-im: “I know here, but which house is his?” “They’re ALL HIS.” Haha.
She finally finds him, and throws the vacuumn down at his feet, demanding to know what he meant by sending it to her. Oh, honey. Don’t you know when a boy is pulling your pigtails? He did it so you’d do this.
She leaves it there and turns to go, when she hears a splash. She turns around to find the vacuumn floating in his lake, and Joo-won sitting there without a care. He tells her that he doesn’t need it, so if she wants it, she can fish it out herself.
She looks at him in shock, then walks right into the lake and hauls the box out, carrying it back to her bike. It’s enough to finally get Joo-won out of his seat and yelling at her. He can’t believe that she’d go in there herself, instead of making him apologize. (And you couldn’t have, say, apologized yourself WITHOUT the tantrum?) Sheesh. He basically calls her a charity case, making her feel as low as she can go.
She fights him off and to keep her from leaving, he grabs her key and throws it in the lake. You are so transparent, buddy. He ends up dragging her into the house to get cleaned up (rawr), only to come face to face with his dragon lady mother. Damn it, Mom. You have the worst timing ever.
She glares a hole through Ra-im’s skull, making it all too clear that she’d rather her precious son play with others “at his level.” Shivers. Now we know where his horrid snobbery comes from. Ra-im insists that she’s not here to play, and that she dare not deign to be someone that Joo-won sees romantically, since she’s just a charity case (nice job, to use his words back at him). Mom is offended at her tone and the mere presence of a poor person, and sneers as Ra-im makes her exit, even as Joo-won ineffectually tries to stop his mother.
He’s interrupted with a call that Oska has gone AWOL to Jeju, and does some damage control. Looks like the music video will have to be shot there, along with the department store contest, since that lands him in Jeju anyway. He comes out to find Ra-im’s bike still there, and jumps into the lake to retrieve her key.
Ra-im returns to the action school to find the guys planning a car stunt for Oska’s music video shoot in Jeju, and excitedly asks what part she’ll get to play. Jong-soo tells her that she doesn’t have enough experience with car stunts, and when she begs him for the chance, he snaps at her that it’s too dangerous; he can barely tolerate the danger she puts herself in now, but he does it because it’s what she wants to do.
Jong-soo broods for a while, then calls Ah-young for a favor. He gives her a purse for Ra-im, and has her pretend that she bought it for her at work. Ra-im swoons from the pretty. See, this is why you’ll never get the girl, Tall dark and handsome. Because even though Joo-won is a petty bastard, he’ll take credit and endure the backlash. Silent protector never wins against self-righteous asshole. I know. It’s unfair. But them’s the rules.
Oska calls Joo-won from Jeju, having landed himself in jail for an altercation with some gangsters. He’s being extorted for harassing a woman, but he tells Joo-won: “You know me. If I sleep with a girl, I sleep with her. But I’m not the type to harass.” Haha. I love that he’s so forthright—he is who he is.
Joo-won makes sure that he’s repaid, tit for tat, and has his lawyer sent to bail him out. He asks Secretary Kim about the winner of the trip to Jeju, and finds out that the first- and second-place winners had to forfeit out, so that leaves third place, which is Ra-im of course, former winner of the vacuum cleaner, now upgraded to vacation with her favorite pop singer.
Joo-won immediately cries, “NO! Send the fourth-place winner!” But she’s already gone, because her stunt team is down there for the music video shoot. Joo-won: “So, what you’re telling me is…Oska and Ra-im are on a vacation, and I’M paying for it?!” Haha. Well, that’s karma for ya, babe.
Ra-im arrives on the island and sneaks a peek at her stunt team, who report to Seul for the shoot. Well this isn’t going to get complicated or anything.
Oska sees Ra-im lurking and greets her warmly, surprised that she’s the winner of the contest. He warns her that he believes in fate, and invites her to lunch. He chomps down on some tofu in the meanwhile (having just gotten out of jail) and when Ra-im asks why, he says, “Because I stole something. Someone’s…heart?” Hahaha. Cheesetastic, as always.
They head over to the restaurant for lunch, where Joo-won is waiting for them. Ra-im’s eyes widen, and he smirks, “You’re ten minutes late.”
The maneuvering of every single character to Jeju is clunky, but I do love Joo-won’s reaction to realizing that he just sent his crush on her dream vacation with her idol, and his lifetime rival…on his dime. It’s as delicious a revenge as you can get, for the assholery that went on throughout this episode.
Which isn’t to say that I hate Joo-won, because I love his character, with all of his rich boy eccentricities and girlish affectations. I like the little touches, like the fact that he cares enough to accessorize his outfits down to every last detail, or that he always has fresh flowers nearby. Ra-im in contrast is so oblivious to the kinds of things he puts so much painstaking care into, that it actually angers him—because he can’t control the situation. She’s outside his wheelhouse, which throws him, and he can’t control his feelings, which is even stranger. It’s the perfect wrench to throw in the neurotic control-freak’s world, made even more delicious by the crackling sexual tension that they can’t ignore.
I seriously feel invasive when I’m watching the close-quarters angry fighting scenes, because they play it like they’re two seconds away from tearing their clothes off. The acting in those moments is so amazingly layered, from both of them. They go from I hate you, you disgusting excuse for a human being, to Kiss me now, and I’ll forget it all in a matter of seconds, in just a look. It’s crazy good.
What’s great about the pair is that they’re both incessantly stubborn (Joo-won’s haughty stubborn versus Ra-im’s prideful stubborn) that it seems like if left to their own devices, these two would NEVER work out their differences. Neither of them would give an inch, ever, and even if their fights landed them in bed, they’d never be able to sustain a relationship that way.
It makes the body switch necessary, if we ever want to see them grow up, and start to inch toward understanding one another and their circumstances. By now I’m dying for the switch to happen, not because I don’t enjoy this stage, but because I can see the potential hijinks around the corner.
And I actually really like the unexplained, whimsical magic fairy dust or whatever you want to call it. Because this isn’t a mythology-laden show with a gumiho that needs a mystical throughline, I prefer it that the magical element is just left oblique, without driving an explanation into the ground. It can just be seen as an extension of Fate, with sprinkles on top.
- Secret Garden: Episode 3
- Secret Garden: Episode 2
- Secret Garden: Episode 1
- Song Yoon-ah plays her fashionable self in Secret Garden cameo
- Hyun Bin’s on top for Secret Garden
- Secret Garden sold abroad before premiere
- A deluge of new stills from Secret Garden