EPISODE 334 RECAP. Broadcast on May 15, 2011.
girlfriday: The footrace begins! Seung-gi and Tae-woong manage to catch up to Ho-dong, but the problem is Ji-won, who may be a genius, but can’t run for crap.
javabeans: It’s the nerd dilemma. So fast in brain, so slow in body.
girlfriday: Team Babo’s got Speedy Su-geun way out in front, except their problem is trust — Ho-dong explained all day long that the team leader has to pull the flag for it to count as a win, but was met with suspicious eyes from his teammates every time. So, which team will win: Speed without Trust, or Trust without Speed?
javabeans: Ho-dong needs to work on his sincere-o-meter, because when he was explaining this to Su-geun multiple times all day, even *I* thought it sounded fishy, even though I knew he was telling the truth!
girlfriday: It’s the ol’ crying wolf dilemma. After a while, no one believes you, even if you ARE telling the truth. Ho-dong does the smart thing and holds Tae-woong back (if you know you can’t beat him, it’s best to interfere), and Su-geun has enough time to pull the flag. He has to get it into Ho-dong’s hands though, and I fully expected him to run off with it in the other direction, but he chooses to trust his hyung this time. Cue dramatic victory hug, complete with a flashback to their untrusting days (four hours ago, give or take) to show how far they’ve come. Heh.
javabeans: And now for the big dilemma: How to deal with their “winnings.”
girlfriday: The prize is a big one (and the first-ever of its kind) — two members get to go home. Right now. And Ho-dong gets to choose. Turns out it’s not all fun and games to be the winner though, ‘cause he realizes it’s for real, and then all of a sudden he’s paralyzed with indecision. Ho-dong: “If I send them and stay, I’ll be left out. But if I go, the viewers will badmouth me.” Seung-gi: “Those are the rules of the game… But if the viewers DO badmouth you, there’s nothing you can do about it.” Hahahaha. Way to drive home the pressure.
javabeans: The difficulty comes because it’s clear that Ho-dong wants to take the prize and go home, but he’s greatly aware of his duties and image as the main MC. If he had no interest in leaving, it would’ve been an easy decision, but he’s torn between the temptation and the fear — and, oh yeah, also that niggling suspicion that there’s a hidden catch. ‘Cause this IS 1N2D.
girlfriday: It’s really kind of funny how hard this is for Ho-dong, whereas I don’t think anyone else would think twice about it. They’d be like, “See ya!” *zoom* One of the PDs points out that this is the real face of Kang Ho-dong. I half wonder if he’s actually going to do it, and leave, just for vanity’s sake. You know, that let’s see how well they get on without ME kinda thing. But it looks like he’s far more concerned with his responsibility as the main MC, and how it’ll look if he leaves. Seung-gi: “Even if you get cursed at, it won’t greatly change your life or anything.” HA!
javabeans: I like how they dropped in hints in the previous episode when the teams first heard about the prize, such as when Team Scary was speculating that Ho-dong couldn’t possibly go home, and Seung-gi joked, “If he goes home, then he must really hate working.” (Meaning: Somebody’s got a bad work ethic!) And the caption read, “These scary young fellas…” for joke-calling his image into question. Hee.
girlfriday: Ho-dong finally finally makes the call: “We don’t have to go home, right? So then us married guys — you’ll keep it a secret… and we don’t have to go home… Er, there are a lot of cameras here…” OMG, so funny. I love that that’s what their instincts are as the two old marrieds — our wives think we’re at work, but we don’t have to be at work…. sooooo….
javabeans: That’s so cute. These two ajusshis are gonna have fun playing hooky and keeping it from the wives, while they go out and play. And their reasoning is that Jong-min isn’t married, so the reward isn’t the same for him. Haha.
girlfriday: Adorable. But then I begin to wonder, what do two comedian ajusshis DO when they’re playing hooky from their wives? Mid-day bender? So it looks like Ho-dong and Su-geun are done for the day, but they can’t bring themselves to actually leave. The cameras are packing up, but they’re still like, “Do we really go?” It’s so funny to see how hard this is for them.
javabeans: Plus, I bet they’re afraid of somehow turning into the butt of the joke or something the instant they’re gone. I’d be wary too.
girlfriday: I know, right? And I always have that little kid thing, like I don’t want anyone having fun without me. Still, they said they were going, so they say goodbye… The rest of the boys head inside the observatory, and talk of stars leads to Ji-won’s crazy UFO theories again.
javabeans: It’s funny how serious he is about them, how matter-of-fact. Everyone else is joking, and he’s talking about how aliens beam up cows into their UFOs like it’s a proven phenomenon.
girlfriday: That’s not even the half of it. Once the other boys were trying to convince Na PD that a picture they took had a UFO in it, and Ji-won called him, totally striaight-faced: “Burn it. Burn it right now and walk away.” They start to feel their hyungs’ absence, especially when you take into account that Ho-dong and Su-geun are the two biggest talkers, by a long shot. Tae-woong says it feels like the head of the household is out. Seung-gi: “Did you maybe get beaten up severely by Ho-dong hyung before?” Tae-woong: “No, but I always have the fear that I might.” LOL.
javabeans: Yeah, on one hand they’re all wondering if/how to step it up to be more entertaining, but on the other hand this is a show when they’re funniest just being themselves, and forcing it doesn’t yield the best results.
girlfriday: They visit the pepper bridge, and I’m already realizing how quickly we move from segment to segment without Ho-dong around. I can actually recognize that the episode is kind of zooming past things, because there’s nothing interesting going on to edit in. Ho-dong would’ve engaged the guy at the observatory with more questions, and he’d have made up some crazy game at the pepper bridge and made the boys play.
javabeans: Yeah, it’s not that his MC-ing is invisible, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s integrated to be a seamless part of the show. Without him, you see the seams.
girlfriday: It’s time for dinner games, and they all start to feel burdened by the wall of cameras pointed at them. Ji-won: “We really don’t need this many. You can take turns.” Wow, it’s fascinating to see how awkward they feel when they can’t rest on Ho-dong to run the show. MC duties naturally fall to Seung-gi, who does his best to do a Ho-dong-esque intro for the scene.
javabeans: At first it looks like he’s imitating Ho-dong, inflection for inflection, hee. It’s interesting that while Seung-gi is a good MC, you can see the effort it takes.
girlfriday: The game: deep-fried peppers, half of which are stuffed with beef, half with pepper seeds and hot sauce. Eat one whole, and last ten minutes without water or pained expression. Tae-woong: “Are we not allowed to cry?” Na PD: “If you have something sad in your personal life…” Hahaha.
javabeans: The peppers are battered and fried to hide their color, which Ji-won notes is a clue. It’s funny how they pick one based on their hunch that it’s green, then turn it over and groan to see that the bit of red peeking through was hidden on the bottom side (no coincidence, that!), but now they’re stuck.
girlfriday: Ji-won’s convinced he can tell which ones aren’t spicy, and actually manages to pick one for himself. Tae-woong, on the other hand, is not so lucky.
javabeans: Tae-woong masks the heat pretty well, to the point where I wondered if he’d gotten lucky too, until it’s pointed out that the corners of his mouth are swelling red with the spiciness.
girlfriday: Seung-gi eats his in one bite, and the tears just start pooling instantly.
javabeans: Surely I cannot be the only one who had a wayward thought… when Seung-gi announces he’s picking the biggest gochu… and is told to put it in his mouth all at once? …Anybody?
girlfriday: Who, me? *bats lashes*
javabeans: (Note: gochu, or pepper, is also the Korean word for weenie. Hee.)
girlfriday: Pffffft. Weenie humor. Evil Na PD purposely makes him MC through his pain, with hilarious results.
javabeans: Oh man, he’s turning red and sweating, with veins bulging out of his temples. Usually he’s pretty good at putting the show first, but this time he can’t even and he’s just miserable as he tries to narrate. That’s what you get for going for size!
girlfriday: Apparently size matters. Tae-woong actually tolerates the spicy pretty well, and he says he prefers stuff like this to jokgu. Keh. Dogfeet! Ji-won is actually so good at picking the un-spicy peppers that he clears Jong-min, and then plays again to save Seung-gi, who really looks like he’s dying. So they all win dinner. Yay! Ji-won the Cho-ding gets so squeamish about the stew with the fishes cooked whole that he won’t even taste the broth. Tae-woong goes to take a bite of the fish, head-first, and Ji-won’s eyes bug out, “But, hyung, that’s a face!” Hahaha. And he doesn’t at all mean it in a vegetarian way. It just grosses him out, like a little kid.
girlfriday: The boys finish dinner and Na PD gets a text from Ho-dong’s manager: “PD-nim, I don’t know what to do…” Apparently, Ho-dong and Su-geun knew they had to leave, but didn’t really want to go home, so they ate at a nearby restaurant and then asked if they could rest there for a while. They’ve been sleeping there for over 3 hours, the restaurant is about to close, and Ho-dong’s manager doesn’t know what to do. HA.
javabeans: You can practically hear the desperation in his message: The boys suggest going to the restaurant, and the manager asks, “Please come as quickly as possible.”
girlfriday: The boys have been calling them all day, and wonder now why the hyungs never picked up. Na PD nails it: “Pride.” Omg, I love it. So true. So basically they made a big fuss, then left, but really they just want to come back, but they can’t. Why? It’s a conflation of the Trifecta: Korean, Male, Eldest.
javabeans: Ho-dong feels the burden of responsibility despite being absolved of it by Na PD, and there’s probably an element of “They need me!” mixed in there along with “Why don’t they need me?”
girlfriday: They decide to go and find them, and then Ji-won adds the twist: “And then we’ll send them home, again!” Hahaha. That’s like, Oh is your pride getting in the way? Well you can just take your pride all the way back home ‘cause we’re not gonna make it easy for you! Seung-gi thanks his lucky stars he’s one of Ji-won’s troops. The PDs add the pun: “Eun Ji-won: If you’re not ah-goon [friendly troops], then you’re ack-woon [unlucky].”
javabeans: What’s funny is that until this point, the quartet version of 1N2D has been a bit dull, and I was wondering how they’d handle the rest of the shoot in this atmosphere. But with this, all of a sudden they’re in full mission mode, pretending they don’t need their hyungs, when in fact it’s becoming increasingly obvious that they do.
girlfriday: It’s a pride contest from both ends, as most things in 1N2D devolve into. They don’t want to admit it, but they’re dead in the water without Ho-dong and Su-geun. They head over to the restaurant, named Something-something Garden, which means one thing: beef. I love that strange ubiquitous thing with Korean BBQ restaurants all named Such-and-such Garden.
javabeans: They orchestrate the grand unveiling of the room: One, two, three! And there they are, curled up in the room, facing opposite walls like a married couple after a spat.
girlfriday: They get the jump on Ho-dong and Su-geun, who have by all accounts been sleeping all day, but they insist that they’ve been having a grand old time, playing hilarious games, just the two of them. HA. I love all the posturing.
javabeans: Ho-dong insists that they were yukking it up until just before the guys got here. The guys point out his scratchy voice and sleep-reddened eyes, but he’s sticking to his story.
girlfriday: Ho-dong tries to make it seem like they had the brilliant idea of scaring them in the middle of the night, but then the truth starts to come out. Su-geun: “Once there were no cameras, we had nothing to say to each other.” Pffft. And Ho-dong: “I’m so sick of him! He farts more than he speaks!” LOL. They really do look like they’ve been suffering, and Su-geun says that this was more of a punishment than a prize. Ho-dong finally starts to come back to life now that the cameras are back on him. I love the meta of this whole thing — the star without the camera is just some ajusshi sleeping in a restaurant. And I think this is the moment that he realizes it too.
javabeans: It’s funny that this was their big reward, which makes it impossible for them to go back because they’re supposed to want to leave — it’s built into the thing itself. But here they are, not enjoying it, so all they can do is ignore the boys’ calls and insist they’re fine.
girlfriday: Ji-won and Seung-gi don’t make it easy for them, and keep insisting they go home like they’re supposed to. Ho-dong looks like he might cry. Na PD finally steps in and explains that he really meant it when he said they could go home, but seeing them now, he knows that it’s best when all six of them are together. So he takes care to use the word REQUEST and issues a formal request for Ho-dong and Su-geun to return. Such a genius quick read of the situation by Na PD.
javabeans: And to keep them from overthinking it, the guys only give him five seconds to decide, counting down, so Ho-dong has to blurt out his answer right away.
girlfriday: Ho-dong: “Well if you’re REQUESTING, then we will accept!” And then he makes a personal aside to Na PD, thanking him for the formal request, so that he can save face. This intricate dance of egos and saving face is so funny to watch, because on the one hand, they’re doing it for the cameras, but on the other hand, it’s still totally real. If nobody asked him to return, he wouldn’t be able to, because his pride wouldn’t have allowed it, despite desperately WANTING TO.
javabeans: I love that. It’s such a perfect example of the whole che-myeon aspect of Korean dealmaking, saving face, and (as we’ve mentioned before), doing things to restore the proper balance of this world. The show’s balance has been knocked askew, so you need to right the dynamic otherwise things continue to feel *wrong.* And even though Na PD words his statement as a favor, everybody in the room knows he’s purposely giving Ho-dong and Su-geun an easy out — but it doesn’t matter, the transparency of the mechanism, as long as it’s working.
girlfriday: Yeah, it’s a classic Korean social contract that works because everyone plays along. It’s funny because on the one hand, the mat-hyung is usually in the position of power, but he also has to save the most face, as it were, so in this specific instance, he’s at the mercy of the others. Life’s funny that way. Ho-dong finally gets to close the segment with one of his trademark breathless run-ons, and collapses in happiness. The boys note how much he must’ve been dying to do this, all day. Ho-dong: “I know it now. The camera is like air to me.”
javabeans: All of a sudden he’s vitalized, and the support staffers are laughing in relief and amusement as he goes around welcoming everything.
girlfriday: They come back to the fold and have some down time while Jong-min passes out his new CD.
javabeans: Isn’t it hysterical how Ho-dong and Su-geun sing his song like old grandpas? I’m just thinking to myself that it’s something my grandpa would hum at a temple when Seung-gi starts bowing in response. HAHA. But I’m glad Jong-min gets a few moments of the spotlight, because he seems so sweetly earnest about his song — I know it’s all part of the promotional machine, but he was so bashful when Ho-dong praised his song in the last episode, and now he’s the same way. He sings a few bars live, and he’s pretty good, which makes me feel even worse for the mocking he gets, like when he got passed over for karaoke for Tae-woong. (Although I’m not sorry we got the awesome Seung-gi/Tae-woong love ballad!)
girlfriday: Then they all get to sleep indoors together. Aw, Na PD, you big ol’ softie.
javabeans: I know, he doesn’t even bother making up a game for that or anything! Maybe he figures they’ve been through enough.
girlfriday: In the morning they do a blind smell test, and the three winners who can guess the most dishes get to eat ‘em. The game itself isn’t very exciting, but the boys do look adorable with their bear and bunny masks on. Ji-won of course makes things interesting by trying to cheat his way into a taste test, but no dice.
javabeans: And Ho-dong is led in like the Godfather, HA. Or maybe a decrepit old monk. Results are revealed and first place is Seung-gi, then Su-geun. Problem is deciding third. (I love how Na PD reads Jong-min’s answers — he was last to do the sniff test and had the least time to write down his answers, so he wrote in a blind panic: “Kimchi, bracken, bracken, sesame leaf, beef, beef, apple, bracken, beef, pepper.” Hee.)
girlfriday: To Na PD’s chagrin, there’s a four-way tie for third place, so whadduya gonna do? Everybody eats!
javabeans: Ji-won: “This is the first time I haven’t gone hungry the whole trip through.” We’ll see if that luck holds: Next week, the actresses arrive!