Awww, yeah! I love when the tables turn in a drama, when the rules change and there’s constant motion in a plot. I’m really liking the pace of this drama — things move briskly enough that we’re never in danger of plodding along, but not so speedily that they don’t have time to resonate, either. Now it’s time for the fast-trackers to get going and leave the rest stewing in jealousy… just in time for our Misfits to surprise everyone with the stuff they’re made of.

SONG OF THE DAY

Gigs – “짝사랑” (One-sided Crush). This is the song used in the Jason/Pil-sook Post-it scene. [ Download ]

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EPISODE 8 RECAP

When Hye-mi gets Jin-gook’s text message to meet at the basement studio, her immediate reaction is to harrumph at the traitor, grumbling that she’s only going to give him a good beatdown for his betrayal… all while primping. You know, a girl’s gotta look pretty when she’s giving the guy she totally-doesn’t-like-or-at-least-would-die-before-admitting-it a piece of her mind. Not that she cares. Because she doesn’t.

Jin-gook’s captor takes him to the airport and says that his father is just trying to protect him, but Jin-gook knows that it’s more like he’s being hidden out of sight because he’s an embarrassment. He’s given a plane ticket to Vancouver, with Mr. Right Hand Man accompanying him to see that he gets settled.

The man walks Jin-gook walk toward the gate, one hand firmly on his back to keep him in line… so Jin-gook waits for the right moment to slip out of his jacket and run away, melting into the crowd. He sheds a pretty tear as he mentally asks his father not to make him hate him (meaning, please don’t do any more things that’ll make me hate you).

Hye-mi waits at the studio for a while before finally giving up. She comes home in a grouchy mood, but as Sam-dong’s mother is there, and she puts on an (uncharacteristically) cheerful face for her benefit.

She even smiles and goes along (albeit with clenched jaw) when Mom brings up marriage, saying sweetly that they haven’t talked about it yet. Sam-dong does get a kick to the shins for blabbing all this nonsense, which, yeah, he deserves.

Jin-gook arrives, intent on finding Hye-mi to apologize, stopping short as Mom enthusiastically greets him, calling him the devoted follower to her son. It’s ridiculous how sweet I find it that these kids all play along with Sam-dong’s absurd lies. Mom pats Jin-gook’s cheek in a maternal gesture and says that he’s her son too, then, and that rattles him a bit, having just come from being dumped by his father.

Mom puts a piece of fish in his bowl as she asks what he likes to eat, and that little gesture is enough to introduce a waver to his voice and a glimmer in his eye as he answers that he likes fish. Aw. He tries to hide his tears as he eats, assuring Mom it’s delicious.

After bidding Mom goodbye, Jin-gook apologizes to Hye-mi for being a no-show, knowing she’s peeved. She confirms that she is — but she’s also noticed Jin-gook’s reaction at dinner and senses that he’s going through something right now, and says she’ll let it slide tonight

As she turns to head inside, Jin-gook grabs her hand and whirls her around, resting his head on her shoulder wearily. Hye-mi pats his head, and he clasps her hand in both of his.

Sam-dong sees Mom off at the bus station, and as she chatters on about how much she likes Hye-mi, his hearing fades in and out again. Argh, if you’re going to make him into bloody Beethoven…! Drama, I don’t care how genius he was, I want Sam-dong to hear!

Interestingly, loan shark Doo-shik decides to foot the bill for the majority of the Rebel Misfit Showcase — a shocking move, since it’s understood that Oh-hyuk is basically digging himself into a grave of debt all by his lonesome. But Doo-shik declares that it’s a fair price “for showing me my dream.” (Omo — Mr. Awkward Loan Shark… possibly becoming a real agency president?)

During a staff meeting at school, Oh-hyuk and Jin-man sneak notes to each other via cell phone, wondering that Kyung-jin might spill the news about their fake showcase to the principal. But curiously, when Oh-hyuk works up the nerve to ask her about it, she says blankly, “Fake showcase? Yesterday? But I didn’t come to the school yesterday.”

The guys wonder why she would possibly side with them. Personally I suspect she may be embarrassed about showing vulnerability in a weak moment, but Jin-man recalls how she’d fallen on top of him (believing him to be Oh-hyuk, I might point out) and his mind goes in a different direction. He sighs, “I think I know why.” LOL. I love how prone he is to flattering his own vanity.

Jin-gook’s father is still intent on withdrawing him from Kirin, so Oh-hyuk asks if Jin-gook agrees with this intent. Getting back a firm denial, he cheerily rips up the form, though he’s under no illusions that this is the end of it — the henchman threatened to take this up with the principal next time.

Jin-gook contemplates the card given to him by the talent agency CEO at the showcase, who has selected him to make his debut next. Despite his initial protests, now Jin-gook thinks of the man’s promise that this is a step toward becoming a world-famous singer.

The rest of the student body soon finds out the names of the students selected for upcoming debuts, which includes a handful of first-years: Shi-hyuk (Jin-gook), Baek-hee, Jason, and Ria. Wait, I thought Ria was already a star…? Maybe she just got a jump on the diva attitude.

Sam-dong and Hye-mi are surprised, not having known till now that Jin-gook had performed at the showcase. They both feel it as a betrayal, particularly Hye-mi, who remembers him telling her he wanted to debut on the same stage with her.

The newly selected are gathered for press interviews, and students gather to watch as Baek-hee is asked who she would thank. She has two answers: Jin-gook, for making the showcase possible for her, and her teacher for telling her that rivals are more important than friends. Naturally that prompts the question of who that rival is, and whether she ought to thank her as well. Baek-hee casts a satisfied look Hye-mi’s way as she says that yes, her rival deserves some thanks for calling her third-rate — after hearing that from her best friend, Baek-hee was spurred with motivation.

Jin-gook has been looking guiltily at his friends, and now shoots a glare at Baek-hee as Hye-mi runs out in tears.

Outside, Hye-mi thinks back to all the harsh words she’d said and finally realizes, “Go Hye-mi, you really were the worst.” Well, enlightenment is better late than never?

It’s Sam-dong who follows her out to ask if she’s okay. She answers that she’s not, because she sees now that while she thought she was Ha-ni (the heroine of a manhwa) when she was actually Naeri (a lesser character). Or Eliza instead of Candy. Sam-dong’s not up on his pop-culture references and doesn’t understand, though he does get the gist of Hye-mi’s self-deprecating mood.

The Top Entertainment CEO, President Yoon, gathers his debut students to tell them that they’ll be beginning training camp next week.

Baek-hee tells Jin-gook she meant her thanks, only to have him answer that if she’s really thankful she won’t talk about him — or Hye-mi — anymore. I like that he doesn’t threaten her, but shrewdly turns it around on her — that if Baek-hee becomes famous, it’ll become clear who her rival is: “That can’t be what you want, is it?”

Zing! What other response could she have but “Why no, Mr. Hot Stuff Whom I Have A Pluto-Sized Crush On, of course not”?

Mr. Right Hand Man is also at the school to try to press his father’s dictate upon him again, but Jin-gook is holding firm. He’s already been noted as a debut student, which would make backing out of Top Entertainment a big mess: “And Father hates messes, doesn’t he?”

When Jin-gook gets home, Hye-mi ignores him while Sam-dong asks him about this debut business. Jin-gook wants to speak to Hye-mi in private, but neither Hye-mi nor Sam-dong are willing to humor him.

Sam-dong even stands up to him and won’t let him take Hye-mi away, leading Jin-gook to an unexpected, high-handed solution: He picks Sam-dong up, deposits him on the balcony, and shuts him out. Heh.

Turning to Hye-mi, he apologizes for not keeping his promise: “But wanting to stand onstage with you… I meant it.” He says this debut wasn’t what he wanted, but he couldn’t help it from happening.

A bit bitterly, Hye-mi answers that it must be nice to get that debut through no want of his own, when she wants it so badly: “I’m not angry at you. No, I don’t know if I have the right to be angry at you, when I’m not anything to you.” The implication is that they mean nothing to each other, and he tries to protests, but she steps back and tells him dully, “Congratulations on your debut. But I can’t say it with a smile.”

In a studio, some random actor (Nickhun, in a cameo), dressed as Romeo, lies in the death throes (or whatever) when a phone call comes through from his “Juliet.” She (Ria) sings him a song and revives him with her angelic voice… is the concept of the CF, which doesn’t work out so well because Ria has a voice to make the dead turn over in their graves, but not rise from them. Funny how she’s debuting as a singer, then. I guess her appearance is supposed to make up for the warbling.

Romeo can’t get into the spirit of the moment, and neither can the producers. They can’t hire another singer because it’ll be apparent it was a lip-synch job… unless they use one of Ria’s Kirin classmates who has a good voice but no hope of debuting.

Who could that be? Enter Pil-sook, who dubs the song to great success, while being told she’ll be credited properly.

Excited about this big career moment, Pil-sook tells her parents the good news. She wants to share her happy moment with someone else, but she’s so shy that as she dials another number, she adorably mutters, “Don’tanswerdon’tanswerdon’tanswer…

But Jason does answer, and then sneaks up behind her as she announces that she’s going to be credited in the upcoming CF. Aww, I foresee a broken heart in the near future. But Jason congratulates her, and these two are so cute it’s ridiculous.

Baek-hee, bolstered with her recent success, now confronts Hye-mi (sporting some very Kyung-jin-like eyeliner) with a superior smirk and hands over the K pendant. No longer the insecure hanger-on, Baek-hee declares that Hye-mi will need it more, and that Baek-hee no longer hates her, or considers her competition. Burn.

Weary and beaten down, Hye-mi just sits there with her head on the table, where Pil-sook comes to join her, seeking some advice.

Pil-sook thinks Jason is starting to like her for real this time, and offers examples that are solid enough that Hye-mi deems them promising indeed. Her opinion bolsters Pil-sook’s good spirits, and as she exults, Hye-mi looks at her in a curious way. She says, half-surprised, “You’re pretty. Why didn’t I see it before?” Hye-mi calls her a star — as in, a leading lady, not just a sideline character. Aw, the unlikely friendship between these two is pretty cute.

Sam-dong heads to a manhwa rental store to ask about the characters Hye-mi mentioned and busies himself in reading. Hilariously, Jin-gook looks at him curiously — Sam-dong gives him the cold shoulder — and asks if he’s wearing his underwear again (HA). Sam-dong just covers himself with a blanket (LOL) and refuses to answer.

At school, Pil-sook works up her courage to leave Jason a note in the form of a heart-shaped Post-it: “You don’t know how I feel.” Puzzled, Jason looks around and finds another Post-it on a nearby locker (which begs the question of what would’ve happened if that student got there first…), and that reads, “No, that’s okay.”

Jason quickly realizes that those are lyrics to a song (the one posted above), and as he follows the trail of heart-shaped breadcrumbs, they say:

You don’t know how I feel, no that’s okay
That time on the way home, you smiled at me
You’re beautiful, more than the sunlight
I like you, more than the universe
I must have a crush on you
I must really love you

Finally, the last note are Pil-sook’s own words: “If you feel the same as I do, come up the stairs.”

His expression grows more serious as he sees Pil-sook waiting for him at the top. She’s sitting there praying for him to come up… and just as I’m thinking he’s not gonna do it, HE DOES IT. AHHHHHH!

Jason sits next to her and says that he didn’t know she liked him so much. She’s fast on her way up to Cloud Nine, but the next words send her crashing back to earth: “Sorry. I do like you, but I don’t think I feel the same as you do.”

Disappointed, she asks why he came up the stairs, then, instead of just going. Jason says that he couldn’t just go without replying — argh, you and your stupid supposedly-American-but-totally-not-really-American-(because-Americans-have-crappy-manners-frankly-let’s-be-honest)-politeness and manners!

Putting on a brave face, she laughs it off through her tears, saying she must have mistook things again and rushes off.

Yet more heartbreak awaits her as she visits her parents’ restaurant, where Mom and Dad are watching TV with their cameras out, ready to take a snapshot of their daughter’s big moment. But to her horror, Pil-sook sees that she’s been Smelly Cat’ed, and it’s her voice singing along to Ria’s angelic, pretty, thin image. Worse yet, the written credit is given to Ria as well.

This time Pil-sook joins Hye-mi in the headdesking, saying sadly that she must not be a leading lady after all. Hye-mi pats her hand, and it’s a sad, touching beat as they just sit there, tears falling in silence.

In a photo shoot for the soon-to-debut-idols, President Yoon congratulates Ria on her CF, and asks about her voiceover artist. Ria confirms that the girl isn’t debut material (and therefore no threat to the con) since she’s 30 kg overweight.

Overhearing, Jason confronts Ria for taking credit for Pil-sook’s voice. Ria lies that she wasn’t in on the plan, but Jason calls her out for the shoddy excuse.

On his last night in the Misfit house, Jin-gook sees Hye-mi trudging home, but as she has been diligently giving him the cold shoulder, he quietly leaves without saying anything. In her room, Hye-mi finds a box he’d left behind, containing his spare helmet and his earphones. That, finally, unleashes a flood of sweet memories, and she starts to cry.

Sam-dong finds her outside later, standing in the cold wearing the helmet. When he lifts the helmet off her head, he sees that she’s been crying and asks what’s wrong — but something in her tone warns him as she asks, “Can I really tell you what’s wrong?” and he says no, he doesn’t want to know after all. Hye-mi barrels past his protests and says he ought to know, admitting that she’s crying because of Jin-gook.

Sam-dong yells at her not to say it, then reconstructs the truth in a way that he can handle — that yes, she’s crying because of Jin-gook, but it’s out of jealousy because he is debuting first. Holding back tears, he tries to smile and assure himself that this is the truth. Poor, heartbreaking boy.

While taking out the trash, Oh-hyuk finds a stash of crumpled drawings, which he assumes are Hye-mi’s. Hye-mi sees the manhwa images and knows right away that it was Sam-dong, in response to what she’d told him about being Naeri — he’d made her into the heroine. He has redrawn the Misfits into these manhwa characters, even adding in an evil Baek-hee with her evil eyes.

Hye-mi asks Oh-hyuk if she seems like a Naeri, and he agrees, which makes her grumble that he could’ve at least fibbed to make her feel better.

Oh-hyuk clarifies that if the drama of Hye-mi’s life were to end here, she’d be Naeri, as the girl who insulted her friend and let pride be her downfall. But if her drama were to end later, “Then the story changes. If you realize your mistake and reflect on it, fix it, and mature — then you can be the heroine of that drama.” He assures her that she has plenty of time to grow.

In class, Hye-mi shows Sam-dong the drawings, and immediately he lurches after them. In the brief runaround, her hair gets caught in his jacket, and while he works to untangle them, she asks how the story continues. He doesn’t know, but she declares that she thinks she does — it’s time for them to win now. Yes, please!

In the halls, Pil-sook attempts to evade Jason and ends up drawing his concern when she hits her head on a locker. She asks him to quit acting out of sheer politeness, but he says that she keeps weighing on his mind — which is precisely the type of term that kdrama heroes tend to use about heroines that they don’t know they’re in love with yet. Pil-sook brightens at this proof that he doesn’t hate her, and he clarifies that no, he does like her — as a friend.

With new hope, Pil-sook asks if he’d reconsider his answer (about likng her) if she were to come back thinner and prettier — say, in 200 days’ time. Jason thinks to Ria’s comment that Pil-sook might have debut potential without her extra 30 kgs, and agrees.

This fresh motivation spurs Pil-sook into action, and she seeks advice from her teacher, wondering if it’s possible for her to lose 30 kg in 200 days. The teacher answers (ugh), “There are no ugly women in the world, just lazy ones.” Oh, I hate you so much, just for the sheer principle of it.

So over the next few months, Pil-sook works at her new diet and exercise regimen, and the Misfits watch as their classmates — arranged into the group “K” — make their debuts and enjoy a swift climb in popularity.

Finally, by day 200, we finally see Pil-sook — aptly singing to “Video Killed the Radio Star,” although perhaps it’s not so apt anymore, since she’s newly slim and prettified.

By now, K is a sensation, and a mob greets them as they pull up to Kirin. Jin-gook beelines for the Misfit class — it’s empty — and amusingly, so does Jason.

Neither guy has found who he’s looking for, and they split off into opposite directions. Happily, Jason finds a welcome lollipop stuck to his locker, just like old times.

But he walks right by Pil-sook, not realizing who it is until she stops him, giving him a chance to read her nametag. His eyes widen to see how much she’s changed.

Jin-gook prowls around looking for Hye-mi, and comes upon a dance studio where a crowd has amassed, watching two students inside. The backlighting makes it hard for him to make out the figures, and he squints as he tries to figure out who he’s watching.

It’s only gradually that he and a shocked Baek-hee are able to discern that Hye-mi and Sam-dong are the center of attention, impressing everyone with their dance moves, including them.

As they dance, Oh-hyuk’s words to Hye-mi repeat:

Oh-hyuk: “Your drama has a long way to go before it’s over. So don’t force yourself to go quickly. If you go slowly, you can see a lot more, in more detail, than the people who go quickly. If you ask me who would grow more between those two, I’d say it’s the one who goes slowly and sees a lot.”


 
COMMENTS

Yay for reversals! I’m a sucker for this stuff — I just eat it up. Obviously we all knew that our Misfits were going to succeed eventually, but this introduces an interesting, not-quite-black-and-white rivalry with Jin-gook in the wrong group, and Jason stuck there as well. There’s also that foreshadowing that K has ascended too quickly to make it for the long haul, while the gradual, slow risers will be in it for the long haul. I’m fully expecting lineup changes and group shakeups, as they did with the defection of Jin-gook to Team Hotshots, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here on out.

I’d been anticipating yet half-dreading Pil-sook’s transformation, because the issue of starlets and weight loss and prettification is a touchy one at best, and positively incendiary at worst. Again we get into the issue of Dramas Aren’t Reality vs. Art Reflects Culture and Shapes It, So Don’t Be a Damned Idiot About Representing Things Irresponsibly. And while there may have been better ways to approach the issue — like Pil-sook being motivated, of all things, because of a guy (realistic, but sadly so) — I can accept the 200-day agreement because of the way Jason reacts (thankfully).

If he’d just agreed to rethink things when she got skinny, I’d have wanted to hit him over the head with a tire iron and disavow any affection for the Milk Couple (so-called because the real-name smooshing — “WooU,” from Wooyoung and IU — means milk in Korean). But the drama makes it a point to indicate that Jason is thinking of Pil-sook’s debut potential, and couches his agreement in the terms of wanting her to succeed for herself. A bit clunky, but better than the alternative, yeah?

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