And yet another May trendy premieres! Today’s new offering is Lie To Me, which is, in a nutshell, a cute story with a familiar setup buoyed by two appealing actors. But we knew that even before the drama started, didn’t we? Trendies so often employ the same conflicts and character types that the success of one is all about the execution. I’d say the execution in this one is decent — not really an out-of-the-gates spitfire, but comfortably entertaining.
Also: Tag-team relay recap! We’re both covering this first episode this time, so I’ll be handing the baton over at the midway point so girlfriday can get her say. ‘Cause, why not?
SONG OF THE DAY
Biuret – “거짓말” (Lie) [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
My Kang Ji-hwan, why so HOT? *Szzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!* (sound of sizzle)
Chic, exacting boss HYUN KI-JOON walks through his posh hotel, casting his discerning eye on every single detail, from whether wineglasses are lined up properly to checking that the white counter is perfectly dusted. Employees gulp every step of the way, hoping desperately to be ignored, because non-reaction equals approval. Gah, he’s like the most withholding Korean mother ever.
He’s got his right-hand woman, MANAGER PARK (Park Ji-yoon), constantly in his orbit, handling whatever task he needs addressed with her efficient calm. The hotel is preparing for a big event tomorrow, a lavish wedding (cameo by Paradise Ranch and Sol Pharmacy actress Yoo Hana as the bride). The hitch is: The sobbing bride has just seen her best friend and fiancee enter the hotel together, and her friends demand to know what room they’re in.
The clerk won’t disclose that information to the shrill trio, until Ki-joon steps in and gives the okay. Together, the whole group travels up to the hotel room, where the bride hesitates — if she confirms her suspicions now, she won’t get the wedding, and she’ll lose her deposits, and forfeit her honeymoon. She’s getting cold feet about getting cold feet — is blissful ignorance really better than knowing? Ki-joon thinks to himself how brides are really about the wedding, not the groom.
She loses her nerve, so Ki-joon steps up instead and rings the bell. The door is opened by the groom in a robe, full of complaints over the hotel’s bad service, and the bride and her two friends barge in to let this unhappy scenario run its course.
Ki-joon leaves — his work is done here — and instructs Manager Park to clean up after the dust has settled. He advises her to wait ten minutes, which seems optimistic to me; from the screech level coming from the room, I’d say the groom has got a good hour of abuse in store for him.
Elsewhere, a cultural event is being held, replete with awkward English and exaggerated Korean pride. Foreign ambassadors and other Very Important People enjoy the traditional drum performance and the food, making this event a smashing success.
Low-level civil servant GONG AH-JUNG (Yoon Eun-hye) is proud of having spearheaded this effort and eager to reap the rewards. Her boss tries to take credit for her work, but she’s not too demure (thank God!) to let him sneak this out from under her, and confidently claims her due and is praised effusively by a minister.
Which is when a falling branch knocks a hornet’s nest from its perch nearby and sends its angry swarm directly into the midst of the crowd. Assaulted by massive hornets, people run screaming, shoving others aside and overturning tables. Ah-jung takes the podium and tries to take control, but everyone’s too far gone to listen to her cries to calm down.
In the aftermath, Ah-jung gets it from her boss, who scolds her for the ruined event. It doesn’t matter that she points out that she couldn’t reasonably be held responsible for controlling hornets at the site, which is true, but also: Have you seen angry Koreans? Reasonable hardly applies.
Her boss takes her to task for sending thirty attendees to the emergency room, and because she swooped in to take credit for the success earlier, he’s not exactly in the mood to hear her out. She calls him out for being excessively hard on her, but he just blusters that she can resign if she doesn’t like it.
At the airport, a rich hottie gets off the plane and heads immediately for a nightclub, where he’s welcomed with (literal) open arms by one pretty girl, who flirts with him even as she shows off her new engagement ring. She pouts for a kiss, but they’re interrupted by a disgruntled (and drunk) Ah-jung, who sits at the bar and yells in the general space around her that it’s too loud. In the club. Oh, drunk Ah-jung, how my younger drunk self cringes for you.
Sang-hee looks at her in amusement and calls her entertaining, joining her at the bar to see how things play out.
Meanwhile, back at home, Ki-joon hunches over in his studio, working on some miniature models. Pfft, I love that our rich, perfect chaebol stud has a hobby as geeky as model building — and that he takes it so seriously. He gets some startling news, though, and rushes out.
In the club, Ah-jung is drunkenly scribbling her resignation letter, while Sang-hee has taken the seat next to her, observing for the fun of it. The way he humors her is adorable; he nods and follows her faulty logic gravely, like she makes perfect sense, although he does point out that a napkin resignation won’t appear very serious. Not that seriousness is her big concern when the letter reads: “My almighty self is resigning. Don’t live like that, you punks!” It’s decorated with a devil sticking out its tongue and declaring, “Neener!”
Ki-joon comes running into the club, where he spies his target from across the room. Sang-hee clocks his pursuer and gives him the slip, exiting the club and hitching a ride with some acquaintances.
Ki-joon runs outside in time to see Sang-hee take off, just as Ah-jung also runs out in pursuit of her resignation letter. He’d taken it with him in his haste to be off, and she spews curses after him, calling him a thief.
Ki-joon asks if she also knows Hyun Sang-hee, but Ah-jung starts choking (on air? on spit?) and grabs him in her panic. He shoves her off, which leads her to hilariously grab his ankle, and that’s a sight that draws eyes. The bystanders start murmuring over the scene, and Ki-joon realizes how bad this looks for him. (Literal ankle-grabbing = metaphorical ankle-grabbing = “Don’t leave me!” Thus, the guy ignoring the desperate ankle-grabber = cold-hearted bastard.)
Having passed out, she’s taken to the hospital in an ambulance, accompanied by Ki-joon, who tries to explain that he’s not her guarantor and that this is the first time he’s seen the girl. Everyone’s like “Yeah, sure” and continues to call him her guarantor anyway.
He’s tempted to ditch her, but thinks better of it and stays till the morning. As she sleeps, he’s so bothered by the sight of her misaligned buttons that he can’t help his OCD impulse to fix it, and settles for covering the sight with a blanket. Which is when she finally wakes up and finds him hovering over her.
I’m just about to make a joke about not minding that face waking me up in the morning, but she beats me to it, smiling and thinking, “He’s good-looking. Who is he?”
Turns out that Ah-jung has had a case of alcohol poisoning, with the liquor reacting with her bee sting. The lady in the bed next to her refers to Ki-joon as her husband, which naturally confuses Ah-jung. She insists that he’s neither boyfriend nor husband, but that claim isn’t believed, given how attentive he was, staying by her bed all night.
Ki-joon’s sole reason for staying is his hope that Ah-jung will be able to tell him information on Sang-hee, and he starts to ask about him. But then he notes how slovenly she is and decides that “he” would never in a million years be affiliated with her, and turns away, satisfied that she’s uninvolved.
Ah-jung races outside to catch him before he leaves, and pounds on his taxi window. Ki-joon instructs the driver to go anyway, but the misunderstanding continues and the cabbie tells him sagely that one doesn’t treat women like this, and that in these circumstances, “Losing is winning.” Hee.
With a sigh, Ki-joon exits the car to deal with her quickly, telling her that the hospital bill wasn’t much so she needn’t worry about it. She bats her eyelashes while asking him to accompany her back to the club, where she’ll collect her purse and pay him back. Or, barring that, if he gives her his contact info, she’ll deposit it into his account.
He has no patience for the coy act and shuts her down, leaving her with a zinger: “Don’t go overboard — you didn’t look like someone with that much shame.” Eep.
Ah-jung is left fuming — so the cocky bastard thinks she was coming on to him? How dare he! (Aside from the fact that, well, she kinda was. But a gentleman wouldn’t point that out!)
Ki-joon creates a bit of a stir when he reports to work, as he’s dressed in the casualwear he’d been wearing last night instead of his usual immaculate suit. Jaws literally drop. Is this…a walk of shame?
His aunt (and company CEO) drops by to remind him of his plans for today: a mat-seon date with the daughter of another big company, which she wants to ensure he takes seriously.
Auntie CEO grumbles about the errant Sang-hee, thinking him still off gallivanting in Spain or thereabouts, but Ki-joon tells her that Little Bro is back in Seoul. She orders Ki-joon not to find him, because she wants Sang-hee to come home groveling, not to be dragged there one minute before he’s ready to beg her forgiveness.
She threatens to kick him out of his seat as hotel president if he doesn’t marry this year, prodding him to think favorably on his upcoming date. He cheekily reminds her that she said that last year. Her eagle eyes pick up on the fact that he didn’t go home last night, and immediately jumps to the conclusion that he has a girlfriend, eager to know who it is.
Ah-jung comes home all ready to blame her absence and lack of contact on various culprits that have nothing to do with alcohol or passing out, but her father is surprisingly nonchalant. That actually offends her, that he hadn’t worried about her, but he sighs that she’s almost thirty, so what can he do?
Dad tells her she came out on the news yesterday, which perks her up…until she watches the broadcast. It’s not the cheery, composed interview she’d given earlier that made the airwaves, but the madness that followed the bee attack. Worse yet, a little boy exclaims in the street, “It’s that ajumma from yesterday!” Ouch, all noonas on the verge of ajummahood can probably feel her pain. (Unmarried = noona!)
[Insert baton hand-off here, wherein javabeans turns it over to girlfriday…]
Ah-jung discovers that she’s a national laughingstock for the Bee Incident. She rushes out to do some damage control, starting with changing her appearance so that no one can recognize her.
She waits for her perm to set, and blushes at a nearby ajumma telling her husband to hurry home that night so that they can “set the bed on fire,” LOL. She flips through a magazine, and then discovers a cover story on Ki-joon, only she just knows him as: “That jerk!”
She flips back to his picture, snarking that they totally photoshopped him. Heh. The number of times Yoon Eun-hye must’ve heard that.
Ki-joon goes on his blind date, as promised to his aunt. His date asks what kind of woman he’s looking for. He very matter-of-factly explains that he’s got a lot to take care of, so he wants someone who knows who Hyun Ki-joon is, and will quietly be by his side.
It’s not necessarily as jerky as it sounds on paper (he’s basically looking for the old-fashioned wifey), but it’s definitely an ego-centric point of view. He is who he is, and he wants someone to match him. Oh, the irony of what’s to come.
His date mentions that she’s heard he was engaged once and then broke it off. She asks why, and he just smiles and looks away.
Ah-jung gets interrupted by someone squealing her name, and she immediately recognizes the source. She cringes as she turns around, thinking, YOO…SO…RAN (Hong Soo-hyun)?
So-ran seems pleased as punch to run into Ah-jung for the first time in three years “since that thing.” Ah-jung returns the sentiment, though we can hear her thoughts: what are you talking about?
But before she knows it, So-ran calls out, “Yeobo!” (An endearment reserved for married couples, meaning “honey/dear.”) Ah-jung’s face goes white, and she scrambles to run away.
But So-ran is the kind of bitch who wants to cut you and then rub a lemon into your wound, so she holds Ah-jung in place so she can’t run away. Ah-jung squirms with her back turned, thinking, “Everyone always dreams about the moment you run into your first love. But why does it have to be now?”
So-ran’s husband, aka Ah-jung’s first love, comes over and greets her awkwardly. So-ran continuously makes jabs at her in any way that she can, and then when her husband asks if she’s married now, So-ran implies that that’s a ridiculous question, like who on earth would marry Ah-jung?
Ah-jung just stews silently, holding it in, until So-ran digs the knife further, that people ought to marry young, and that marrying early is a sign of one’s prowess. Urgh, you little hussy! It’s bad enough that you stole your BFF’s Big Crush right out from under her, but do you have to be such a smug little twit about it?
Ah-jung almost lets it go, but then her phone happens to ring with a service call. Lightbulb moment: she coos into her phone, “Yeobo! What? Set the bed on fire?” Kekekeke.
She hangs up and smiles triumphantly at So-ran, whose eyes look like they’ve caught fire just listening to her. She refuses to believe that Ah-jung is married. Ah-jung: “Oh, were you planning on coming to my wedding? I would’ve sent you an invitation then.”
She manages to wipe So-ran’s self-satisfied look off her face, but at home she stills stews about it, upset that she had to run into her first love, CHUN JAE-BUM (Ryu Seung-soo), that way. We flash back to her student days, when she had studied her ass off just to impress Jae-bum, which So-ran knew when she met him…
…Which of course ends with Ah-jung running to confess her love, only to find him holding So-ran’s hands lovingly. Oh, heartbreak. Yoon Eun-hye does this kind of scene so well. You can just feel your guts being ripped out in her split-second reaction.
Back in the present, she screams out loud, “You call yourself a friend? That’s a friend? Did you not know that I liked him? You knew! You knew!” as she cries.
In the morning, she heads to Ki-joon’s hotel to repay the hospital bill she owes him. She tries leaving it at the front desk, and they refuse to accept it, but one of the receptionists mentions that he’s sitting in the lobby.
She walks in and notices Ki-joon in a very different light, all suited up, and camera lingering on his profile like he’s posing on purpose. He smiles at her and waves, and she smiles back, thinking, “Is he…waiting for me?” Haha.
She puts her hand up to wave back, which is just one of those things I find So. Embarrassing. We’ve all done it. Don’t deny the pang of empathy you immediately feel. She quickly realizes that he’s not waving at her, and takes a seat at a nearby table to wait it out while he’s on a date.
After drinking her tomato juice and resisting the urge to go to the bathroom, she leans her chair back to see if she can figure out what’s keeping him so long, but loses her balance. She falls backwards, landing on the ground, tomato juice surrounding her like a pool of blood.
Embarrassed more than anything, she closes her eyes, squinting out of one eye to see what’s going on around her. Ki-joon notices her and then realizes that it’s the same girl from last night, and lifts her up off the ground.
He then carries her out, through the lobby and then up to one of the rooms. On his way, someone recognizes Ah-jung and wonders what’s going on.
He carries her in and stops in front of the bed. Rawr! Bow-chicka-bow-wow?
Aw, no dice. He throws her down, which is when she races for the bathroom. She wonders what excuse she can give, and he knocks on the door impatiently. He offers to take her to the hospital to be sure that she’s okay, just to cover his ass so that she can’t sue him later.
She’s offended at the implication and tells him straightforwardly that she pretended to faint to cover up her embarrassment at falling. He thinks she’s purposely trying to bait him, even noting that she changed her hair. (So that she won’t be recognized? Pffft. Well, that’s sorta what she was going for…)
She sets him straight by repaying the hospital bill, despite his insistence that it’s fine. He finds her strange, but he does look a little impressed that she repays her debts. He tries to stop her from leaving, and she asks if it’s because her leaving the hotel looking this way will be bad for business.
She snickers and walks out, stumbling in front of other hotel guests as she cries, “This is not…a place…where people should stay!” They shrink back in horror, thinking that it’s blood on her shirt.
She skips out with a goofy grin, while he laughs too, when he opens up her envelope of cash, down to loose change.
Meanwhile Little Bro Sang-hee is on the run (because we all know—chaebol boys are only one of two things—good boy/cold Darcy, or bad boy/escape artist). He ends up at his friend HWANG SUK-BONG’s (Kwon Hae-hyo) art studio, with plans to crash there.
He finds Ah-jung’s resignation napkin in his pocket, and laughs to himself when he remembers why he has it. At work, Ah-jung turns in a formal apology, and when her boss sneers that she ought to have turned in a resignation instead, she replies off-handedly, “I wrote one, but someone stole it!”
I love that it makes sense in her mind, that she took the time to write one, and someone took it, so she therefore can’t write another one.
At the same time, her friends (or shall we say, former friends who knew her in school) meet up for lunch and the topic of the day is Ah-jung. So-ran tells her friends that she ran into her, but that she thinks the marriage is a bluff.
Enter fourth friend, who just happens to be the same woman who saw Ah-jung get carried away by Ki-joon yesterday. She confirms the story, adding that he’s definitely wealthy too.
Cell phones go ablaze as the rumor mill starts churning, and the story grows from married to someone, to married to a chaebol, finally landing at: married to… Hyun Ki-joon.
Ki-joon heads out to the golf course the next day, where his blind date from the other day snubs him unceremoniously, after having heard the rumor. He wonders what’s up, until another acquaintance comes up and congratulates him, calling him sneaky for getting married on the down-low.
Ki-joon: “Married? That’s ridiculous. Who, me?”
And then his eyes flicker, putting two and two together. He conjures up Ah-jung’s face, as his own darkens.
How cute! So light and refreshing, and rather uncomplicated, despite having to maneuver everyone into place for the Big Misunderstanding. We all knew that the Lie That Binds was coming, but I’m glad that it was a little white lie which snowballs into a misunderstanding, helped along by forces outside Ah-jung’s control. It would’ve been hard to dig the heroine out of that trench if she had propagated the con for selfish reasons (well, other than snubbing her frenemy, which was self-preservation in the moment).
This one seems as frothy as meringue, but the leads are going to anchor it for me. I already like the main characters and see the potential for all of the crackling, sizzling butting of heads. It’s romantic entanglement at the expense of pride, which is always a good time.
Not the most deft handling, admittedly, with a bit of clunkiness in the delivery, mostly with the support staffs on both sides (hotel, Ah-jung’s office) and the extraneous characters/frenemies/etc. It’s a fun setup, though, despite being one that has been done in similar ways before. (Some scenes seemed almost lifted from My Girl, like Ah-jung faking unconsciousness and Ki-joon being the impatient hotel director.) But there’s just enough of a difference that the similarities don’t bother me too much, and most of all, I’m watching this for the leads.
Yes, Kang Ji-hwan is playing yet another chaebol who’s (sigh) a cool, polished perfectionist. I’d be more bummed out that Ki-joon’s such a cardboard cutout of a character if I didn’t have faith that Kang could do more with the role than may even be there on paper — he’s good like that. And I like Yoon Eun-hye much, much better being bumbling than trying to be bitchy, and although her take on Ah-jung doesn’t seem very different from her other characters, it’s warm and friendly and familiar. Like tea with your best girlfriend in your favorite spot, laughing over favorite old memories. I’m looking forward to the chemistry to really get going with these two.