Secret Garden: Episode 15
So the cat’s out of the bag. Frankly I’d thought we’d get some huge changes once this happened, but really, the discovery is played more for comedy than for real advancement. Thankfully, by episode’s end we finally make some progress with the body-swap gimmick that opens the door for some of our questions to be answered. Not in this episode, alas, but at least we’re heading somewhere.
SONG OF THE DAY
Loveholics – “Raining” [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Both Ra-Him and Joo-wonita find themselves caught in their impersonations by Oska and Jong-soo, respectively. To be sure, it’s not like Oska actually suspects the truth when he declares, “You’re not Joo-won”; instead, he thinks that Joo-won has so thoroughly lost his mind that his old self is gone.
Since she doesn’t want to take this body-swap to the hospital per Oska’s recommendation, Ra-Him fesses up to the truth — that she’s Ra-im in Joo-won’s body (freaking him out by calling him “oppa”). She cites stuff that Oska had said to her that only she’d know (like his offer to let her touch his butt when rock-climbing), and flips him out further.
Joo-wonita also comes clean to Jong-soo, stating that the reason (s)he’s acting strange is because he’s actually Joo-won. Ra-Him calls at that moment to alert him to Oska’s discovery of their predicament, and he invites Jong-soo along so they can get the facts straight.
So the foursome sit around, with Oska and Jong-soo initially thinking this is a prank. To convince them, Joo-wonda says something that only Joo-won could know, reciting words he’d said to Oska earlier about being so sure that he wouldn’t fall for Ra-im, but failing.
Likewise, Ra-Him shares something bound to convince Jong-soo that it’s her: She knows that when he gets a call at midnight, his first words are, “Which hospital? Is he dead?”
At least they get to set the record straight now — Jong-soo realizes that it wasn’t Ra-im who figured out that he liked her, but Joo-won(da). And that the person who told him to never confess his feelings was also Joo-won. While it’s still a hard idea to wrap their heads around, Jong-soo concedes that if he doesn’t believe that it’s true, the alternative is that Ra-im and Joo-won are both crazy, and he dislikes that idea even more.
Ah-young has been reinstated and promoted, so Secretary Kim presents her with a gift of warm boots. She brings up his threat to quit upon hearing of her dismissal, and chides him for acting rashly; if one of them has lost a job, it’s important for the other to keep it. Aw, at least it seems she likes him back now; it was sad for poor Secretary Kim when she was all confused about Joo-won.
Joo-won’s mother gripes to Oska’s mother about Ra-im’s audacity, still incensed over their last encounter (not realizing it was actually her son giving her the smackdown). Oska’s mother reminds her that she’d advised her not to make the confrontation, and even goes so far as to say that seeing how Ra-im has Joo-won in the palm of her hand, she deserves some recognition. She suggests that Mom allow the couple to marry, but keep it out of the official family registry (making it the equivalent of a common-law marriage).
But Oska’s mother makes a slip in referring to her as a stuntwoman, which Joo-won’s mother shrewdly notes she has never said. What is Big Sis up to? What would she get out of suggesting that kind of marriage?
Oska’s mother uneasily brushes it aside and heads out to see her son, who’s in a meeting at the music studio. She delivers her decree that Oska should stop with this pop star business, since he’s had enough time to enjoy it. She doesn’t like seeing him the object of public scorn.
He takes his mother’s concerns to heart — not about quitting, but about being maligned by the public. He’s been feeling that he hasn’t been living right, no doubt bolstered by that blackmailing songwriter’s harsh words that his prior (mis-)conduct is the reason his fans were so quick to turn on him. He stuns his managers by declaring that he wants to make an apology for his past wrongs. This is the diva, humbling himself? Voluntarily?
With that in mind, the team gets to work on an image rehabilitation project, beginning with a list of his offenses (even marked by stars to indicate level of difficulty).
On the list? Things like “Throwing script at music video director of second album” and and “Skipping out of a broadcast saying that you didn’t like the look in the FD’s eye.” LOL. Some prop coordinator must’ve had fun with the list, which includes this gem: “Refusing to let another actor appear because he was better looking.”
There’s a whole string of names that are women he’s dumped unceremoniously, and Manager Choi quips, “I thought I was looking at a list of winners at a year-end awards show.” Oska’s surprised by some of the entries, having forgotten them entirely, like the one about him acting pissy about Big Bang. His reasoning is that he has to apologize for his misconduct before he can go to Seul and win her back.
Tae-sun tells Seul that he won’t be able to sign with her after all, due to his pesky conscience — he bears some responsibility for the songwriter who’s now blackmailing Oska. Seul accepts his decision, but has a final request — to find out the other singers who have chosen to work with Bitter Betty.
At that, Tae-sun smirks and guesses, “Could it be you’re thinking what I’m thinking?” Seul smiles back. Ooh, this is gonna be good. At least it had better be.
Ra-Him sits in a cafe, where the Magic Veil of Unswitchiness lets us see her (as in, Ha Ji-won) brooding. She thinks back to the hike she’d taken with Jong-soo at the stunt retreat, where he’d confided that bit about the midnight phone calls — and that he hoped for her sake that she would get out of the stunt business before she could lead her own team and have to get accustomed to such things.
She gets the good news that she has advanced to the final round of auditions for Dark Blood. Giddy, she tells Joo-won to get ready for a new round of training, to which he balks since it’s unrealistic that he could pass the audition for her.
Ra-im answers that passing isn’t the goal — she can’t even be sure she’d succeed in her own body — but that merely attending such an audition was always her dream — so all he has to do is stand there for her. Plus, this occasion affords one perk — the auditionees are (conveniently!) allowed to bring along one person. Therefore, while Joo-wonda is doing his thing, she’ll be able to watch, which will be a good experience for her.
Although he understands, Joo-won protests that he can’t even ride an elevator — how can he perform her audition for her? The comment piques her interest, but a call from Jong-soo interrupts the moment. The magic veil unswitches our leads to show us what Jong-soo experiences — the weirdness of talking to Ra-im, but hearing her words in Joo-won’s voice. Finding it too weird, he texts her instead, asking her to come by to discuss the audition dilemma.
It’s no less weird in person: Jong-soo can’t look at Joo-won’s body even though he knows it’s really Ra-im in there. He turns his head toward Joo-wonda while addressing Ra-Him, and expresses strong disapproval over their plan to train Joo-wonda to do the audition for Ra-im.
But Joo-wonda challenges, “And what if I do it?”
The magic veil drops again to show us this scene with everyone in their rightful bodies — aie, this is getting confusing — and Joo-won tells Ra-im that if it’s important to her, he’ll do it. But on one condition.
He moves back into his house, illustrated with another drop (or is it lift?) of the magic veil. Joo-won instructs Ra-im that they’ll be sharing beds and bathrooms, and dangles the threat of “Then I won’t audition” to shut up her protests. With a smile, he declares they’ll be stuck together 24/7 from now on.
That evening, he watches her pretending to sleep in bed next to him, and she asks about the medication in his bathroom. Is it serious?
He tells her about his claustrophobia, which is so severe that his reaction is far more extreme than most people — what other people feel as unease, he feels as horror. He might lose unconsciousness or, in a worst-case scenario, be in danger of heart failure. She muses that that’s why everyone was so surprised when she rode the elevator the first day impersonating him.
Magic veil unswitches them (again?! This is confusing enough without the constant back and forth, thanks) — and now Joo-wonda is staring down at her in his body. He comments, “You know, the more I look at you, I realize I’m really good-looking. How do people talk to me when they’re so nervous?” Hur.
Over the next few days, the two prepare for the audition and continue with work while fervently hoping for rain. Joo-wonda arranges for work meetings to be conducted at his house instead of the office, so that while his directors report to Ra-Him, Joo-wonda can give her signals while lingering in the background.
Seul and Tae-sun embark on their plan to find other singers who have dealt with the troublesome rumormonger, but find that it’s more difficult than anticipated, since people don’t want to get involved in the mess.
All the while, scurrilous rumors about Oska continue to spread, which come with all the attendant internet slander. Aw, poor rich boy hasn’t learned to stay away from the internet during a scandal. He even starts typing a message in defense of Oska, posing as a neighbor, but gives that up. At least that shows he’s got more restraint than your average huffy internet commenter. (Seriously, people, using dozens of screennames to flame doesn’t do anything but create extra work for yourself. I still see who’s doing it.)
Gradually, Joo-wonita improves his fighting skills as he works on his swordplay skills. (With yet more magic veil switchiness.)
Ra-im is thrilled with his improvement, wondering if some miracle might actually allow him to succeed in the audition after all. As they flirt back and forth, Joo-won is reminded of that scream he’d heard way back in Jeju, the one that sent him looking for her when she’d gotten lost in the bike race. Puzzled, Ra-im confirms that it really wasn’t her.
Only NOW does he suppose that the restaurant in the woods was “a little strange.” Gee, you think? She agrees, and asks if he gave that wine to Oska per her instructions. Not about to admit that he ignored her request, he lies and says that he did indeed give it to Oska. It’s not until she admits she drank hers and thought it might have been the cause for the swap that Joo-won comes clean.
Magic veil re-switches them, and they head straight for the Mysterious Garden restaurant in Jeju. However, when they arrive, things are different. It looks… very normal, actually. No longer are those curious little bottles of medicinal wine strewn all over the place.
Furthermore, the ajumma proprietress isn’t the one from before. She answers their questions with puzzlement, confirming that there is no other lady with a gloomy face working here, and they don’t sell homemade wine.
Well, one mystery is solved, but without any access to the mystical wine, they’re stuck without an out, destined to keep changing back and forth with the weather’s whims.
Upon their arrival home, a dour-faced Mom faces them with arms akimbo, standing by packed bags. To their surprise, she snaps that she won’t stop them if they want to live together. But she has one condition: Leave this house. She’s already packed for them.
So where do they go? To Oska’s, naturally. (I love that he gets confused when Joo-wonda speaks and complains, “I can’t get used to this — why don’t you wear nametags?!”)
Oska meets with one of the broadcast PDs he’d apologized to yesterday, who admits that he was touched to get the call, as he’d never gotten an apology from a star before.
The producer had been sitting on some information that can help Oska — until yesterday, he had no reason to divulge it. But the apology unleashed some goodwill, and now he explains that the blackmailing songwriter is going around selling songs to multiple singers. He knows the singer who had bought the song Oska is now accused of plagiarizing.
The pop star is someone Oska has some history with — a woman named Chae-ri. When he arrives to meet her, he finds that there are two people already sitting with her: Tae-sun and Seul.
Chae-ri is a bit begrudging, as she has soured on people whose names start with O — Oska, Oh Seung-ah. (The latter is a nod to writer Kim Eun-sook’s On Air; Kim Haneul played a bratty actress with that name.)
Seeing Seul’s expression, Oska hastens to explain that their relationship wasn’t romantic. They’d been linked in a scandal, which Chae-ri had admitted to, only to have Oska kick up a fuss about it. And after she’d drunk all those consolation drinks with him when he was so torn up about his proposal being rejected!
Even so, Chae-ri agrees to help, having gone so far as to record the song, only to hear Oska’s version being leaked.
(Chae-ri expresses interest in Tae-sun, to which Oska starts to retort that Tae-sun is off-limits. Tae-sun cuts him off before he drops any big news, and answers simply that he already likes somebody. Hm. I WONDER WHO.)
Chae-ri assures them that her management will release the story tomorrow, and leaves. Oska asks Tae-sun to leave so he can speak to Seul alone, and Tae-sun does after shooting him a (peeved? jealous?) glare.
Seul tells him not to thank her, since she’s repaying her debt to him. Oska tells her that he figured out why she rejected his proposal. He hadn’t known that she’d be hurt by words he hadn’t meant, back when his priority was protecting himself.
He tells her earnestly, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry… that I’m sorry about saying the words I’m sorry.” His sincerity brings tears to her eyes as she’s moved despite her better efforts, and she replies that she must not be as mean as she thought, because she doesn’t like seeing him like this — she feels sorry for him.
When she arrives back at her office, she finds Tae-sun waiting for her, having figured out a few things for himself. Such as her taste in music (read: men) running more toward the Oska type, not himself — so why did she court him?
Tae-sun’s annoyed to have been used as a means to piss off Oska, and smirks that she must have been pretty jealous of the way Oska pursued him relentlessly. That wording has Seul raising an eyebrow — does he know he sounds like one leg of a love triangle, fighting over a man?
He dismisses that casually and walks out, leaving her to figure it out.
Audition day arrives, and the Dark Blood crew arrives from the U.S. while auditionees gather for their shot at glory. Joo-wonita shivers in the cold anxiously, but when Ra-Him asks if he’s nervous, he retorts that he’s not the type to get nervous. While shaking with nerves.
A text message from Secretary Kim alerts them that Grandpa CEO is at the department store, and if he finds out that Joo-won didn’t come to work, there’ll be trouble. No problem: Ra-Him can pop by the office to show his face, make up an excuse about a meeting, and hurry back in no time.
While Grandpa waits impatiently, griping about his irresponsible grandson, Director Park starts to slyly bring up the possibility of filling Joo-won’s vacant seat. Interestingly, his sister (Ms. Fourth Wife) is the one to cut him down, telling him he’s overstepping. She’s also the one who speaks affectionately to Ra-Him and ushers Gramps out, saying they were just dropping by for a quick visit.
With that taken care of, Ra-Him is free to return to the action school, where Joo-wonda waits, and she heads to the elevator.
That immediately piques Director Park’s interest, who races to the security room, ordering everyone out for a lunch break. Finding the camera of the elevator, he’s stunned to see Joo-won (Ra-Him) actually entering the elevator calmly.
Moments later, the elevator jerkily stops. Ra-Him intercoms to the security room for help, but none is forthcoming. Acting on a hunch, she calls out, “Director… Park? You’re there, aren’t you?”
In the control room, Director Park jumps nervously, freaked out when Ra-Him states into the camera, “I know you’re there watching me.” Scared, he runs out of the room while Ra-Him continues calling out to him.
All the while, Joo-wonda has been waiting out in the cold as most of the people head into the building, and time is running out. Only… it’s then that it finally starts to rain — and just as they’d suspected, the water triggers the re-switcheroo.
Joo-won’s spirit leaves Ra-im’s body… and crashes into his own. In the elevator.
At first, Joo-won is pleased to realize the switch has happened, until he takes stock of his surroundings. The lights are flickering on and off, adding to the eeriness, and his breathing starts to quicken until soon he’s gasping grotesquely.
Doubled over in pain, he tries to call for help, but there’s nobody left in the security room, thanks to Director Park. He can barely call out a plea for help anyway, and he starts to collapse.
Back at the action school, Ra-im squeals in delight to be back to herself, since she can do the audition herself now. She starts to text Joo-won the happy news… until she remembers where she left his body.
In the elevator, he collapses and starts to reach for his (Ra-im’s) cell phone. She picks up as he manages to eke out, “I told you I can’t ride the elevator…” before he falls unconscious.
Ra-im screams his name, but he can’t answer.
Good setup for some interesting possibilities, but I was expecting the episode to go out on her giving up her audition to race back to the store, so the way it ends feels a bit premature to me. I actually would have preferred if she realized the truth, put the pieces together, and raced back without even needing the phone call to convince her. All along Joo-won has been the one pursuing her, so this would have been the first time she would have to make a real, concrete decision about their relationship — because, as has been pointed out so shrilly to her by his mother, she has nothing to lose, everything to gain. (Other than pride.) By giving up her dream to save his health, we have stakes. (Finally.)
I’m glad that the soul-swap actually brought about circumstances with real consequences, other than the comic ones of friends wondering what had gotten into Ra-im and Joo-won. Now that it’s come, I find myself wishing it had come a lot earlier. It isn’t that this drama has been slow exactly, because every episode is always full of witty dialogue and humorous moments, but it’s been curiously leisurely in its actual plot trajectory.
We still don’t know what mysterious accident Joo-won suffered in the past, or what the body-switch is for, or how Ra-im’s father is making it all happen. Who Are You is a drama where the body-swap had immediate stakes and established its rules early on, and then did one of my favorite things in a drama — it evolved its rules in almost every episode or two.
I know I’m the one bringing up the comparison but I don’t do it to start any kind of fanwars about which was better — both dramas have their strengths and weaknesses and there’s probably no point in taking up a round of “Who’s Better?” But I bring it up because I think it’s interesting to see a show with some similar traits that accomplished its purpose in a very different way. That was a drama that also hinged around a very unlikable hero — one who’s probably harder to like than Joo-won upon introduction. But what Who Are You did so well, and what I’m not getting from Secret Garden, is an evolution of the main character.
Although Joo-won has softened a little bit since the beginning, ultimately I don’t think he’s changed at all. Not in a significant, fundamental way. His view of the world has sorta been opened a little because of Ra-im — inasmuch as he acknowledges that there are poor people now, when previously he hadn’t even fathomed the concept of a woman paying rent on an apartment. But actual character development? I don’t see it. (In Who Are You, the hero shows marked, gradual, and consistent development to the point where, at the end, you feel you’ve traveled a mile in the hero’s shoes as he undergoes some really monumental character changes.)
All this to say: Yay for plot development. Too bad it’s fairly late and lightweight, but I guess that’s better than nothing.
- Secret Garden: Episode 14
- Secret Garden: Episode 13
- Secret Garden: Episode 12
- Secret Garden: Episode 11
- Secret Garden: Episode 10
- Secret Garden: Episode 9
- Secret Garden: Episode 8
- Secret Garden: Episode 7
- Secret Garden: Episode 6
- Secret Garden: Episode 5
- Secret Garden: Episode 4
- Secret Garden: Episode 3
- Secret Garden: Episode 2
- Secret Garden: Episode 1