Best Love: Episode 11
Oh the angst, it hurts so good.
Despite some of the more outrageous aspects about this drama (which are many), the characters feel earnest, their bond sincere, and their conflicts rooted in genuine emotion. My heart twists for them, and exults in their petty victories. Which is to say that no matter the outlandish behaviors of some (namely a certain Mr. Dokko Jin), I’m hook-line-sinkered into this conflict and relationship, because it makes me FEEL. And I’m grateful to dramas that do that.
SONG OF THE DAY
Alex – “봄날의 바람 같아요” (Like a spring wind) [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Jin tiredly holds Ae-jung, needing to recharge after his day, and tells her that even a cell phone needs the minimum charge in order to operate. He asks to hold her just long enough to recharge one bar.
She pulls back, reminding him that he should leave and escape the inevitable mob of reporters. He turns instead to the kitchen, saying, “You cut off my charger. I’ve got to charge my batteries with food, at least.”
He asks her to make curry for him, insisting that he needs to eat curry right now. Aww. She’s not about to indulge him and turns to leave, but he points out that she can’t just go out amidst the paparazzi. They’re not going to leave until they catch a glimpse of him, and she may find herself locked up here with him for as long as three days. Gee, I wonder what they could do? (Oh, I know you’re all thinking it.)
Seeing her concern, he shares his home’s “secret exit” with her: He’s got a hidden escape route, like Batman has his Batcave, and it’s via the yellow car that sits in his living room as decoration. But before he reveals how to operate it, he needs to eat: “So make me curry. Then I’ll tell you everything.” Ha.
Yes, the Hong Sisters are kind of going wild and crazy with the sheer number of metaphors let loose in this drama, but I do love that it makes even the most innocuous statements touching. His fixation with curry is making me squee.
While she chops onions, he looks at the bandage on her arm and starts to blow on it, telling her he’s treating her injury. Ae-jung asks if this is why he hit Manager Jang, and tells him to go blow on the manager’s injuries rather than hers.
She instructs him to bring potatoes, and he replies, “No! In this house, we don’t kill potatoes.” Oh my god. Why is that so sweet? He says that if one wants to eat fish, one doesn’t just pluck one out of the aquarium — so in the same way, “Potatoes are for growing.”
After eating their potato-free curry, they sit in the car. Ae-jung humors him about the secret exit, as though to speed up this process of leaving. He’s content to linger, though, and he asks if she has any places she’d like to go together: “I have a lot of places. No — if I’m with you, it feels like I’d want to go anywhere.”
How she can scoff at that instead of, oh I dunno, jumping him on the spot, I have no idea. Ae-jung calls the both of them crazy and starts to get up, but he stops her and says, “I’m not crazy — I’m broken.” He touches his chest to indicate his heart, which is as broken as the car they’re sitting in, which keeps pounding past his safety zone: “I’ll keep chasing after you, like a car that’s broken. So you keep running away, staying sane like you are right now.”
Worried, she asks if his heart is fixable, and he answers that it is — and when it’s fixed, he’s going to zoom right past her. Since his response doesn’t betray how serious his condition truly is, she answers, “Fine, then follow me around, and I’ll avoid you. Since the car’s broken, it’ll come to a stop at some point.” Oh honey, if you only knew.
Pil-joo arrives at Jenny’s cafe to ask about the situation with Manager Jang, and why he treats Ae-jung so badly. Both Jenny and Ae-hwan acknowledge that Ae-jung was the one to initiated the group breakup, but they don’t know the particulars either. Jenny speculates that it had something to do with Mina, which triggers Pil-joo’s memory of Mina confiding that Ae-jung had rescued her.
Jenny tells Pil-joo that Jin’s current controversy is linked to Manager Jang (and therefore Ae-jung), and also that Ae-jung has gone to see Jin. Pil-joo can connect the dots of what that implies.
Jin heads off to address this mess, emerging from his house to tell the swarm of reporters that he’ll explain later. It’s off to the hospital for him, where he delivers a respectful apology to Manager Jang, who says that he won’t be so easy to forgive the next time.
Jin replies that neither will he, if he hurts Ae-jung again. Manager Jang scoffs that Jin’s image, however rock-solid till now, won’t hold up if he continues acting this way, and insinuates that he might cause trouble for him. Jin challenges, “Try it. If you mess with a rock mountain, you could find yourself buried in a landslide, and die.”
Jin leans in close…and then blows a wimpy puff of air toward him (to “treat” the wound), saying, “I’m only doing that because she told me to. You should feel honored.” Hee. I love how half-assed his gesture is, but also that he bothered at all.
Manager Jang wonders what Ae-jung means to him, to which Jin answers, “She’s a powerless colleague from my agency. I’m Dokko Jin, overflowing with a sense of justice, and you’re a bad [mouths bastard] who hits women. I’m done here. If you spread stories, I’ll sue.” Fear of god = effectively delivered. Manager Sleazeball could make trouble, sure, but he has to contend with the trouble of fighting a new, bigger enemy…
President Moon tells Jin that they’re putting out the story of his chronic heart problem as damage control. She’s annoyed that he ruined what should have been the crowning moment in his life, and peevishly shoves him his trophy from the Korea Film Awards. Saying that distance will improve the situation, she figures the Hollywood film will be just the ticket.
He shocks her by saying he’s not going to go be a movie superhero: “I’m going to be the Dokko Jin of justice who protects his fellow agency-mate.” She bursts out that Ae-jung doesn’t even like him, but that doesn’t faze him.
At home Jin places the award next to his potato, which he’s taken to speaking to now, and pats it affectionately. He wonders if it’ll soon flower (ahhh! flowers AND potatoes, in the same crazy mixed metaphor?), and asks, “Wait — does that mean the poison will disappear?”
Heart surgery is the official story explaining Jin’s absence from the ceremony. Se-ri had never realized his scar was from heart surgery, to which he points out that their relationship wasn’t characterized by talk so much as it was by “body language.” Rawr.
Referring to his incident with Manager Jang, Se-ri asks interestedly, “Do you like Gu Ae-jung that much?” She offers to let go of him if he’s going to pursue her, and since he doesn’t know of her ulterior motive (i.e., Project Free Pil-joo), he says suspiciously, “We’re not the type to wish other people well without reason.” Ha. True, that.
Se-ri explains that she likes Pil-joo, so it’s in her own interests that Jin and Ae-jung work out. Jin, however, says that he can’t be with Ae-jung (thinking of his whole I-might-die problem), and instructs Se-ri to leave “that anybody doctor who’s nice to Gu Ae-jung” alone. Oh, something about the selflessness of that thought kinda hurts me, in the heart area.
Se-ri goes to Pil-joo anyway to tell him about Jin liking Ae-jung, trying to get him to let go. Pil-joo, who has wised up to Se-ri’s mean-spirited tendencies, no longer sees her with kind eyes and tells her that her so-called pain about him is just her mean nature, which this clinic doesn’t treat. Oh, snap. He just told her to get lost, in the nicest possible way. He guesses, “Your words last time [about liking me] were just jealousy born of your bad temper, weren’t they?”
Se-ri points out that jealousy arises out of liking him, and asks if he feels jealous about the whole Jin/Ae-jung loveline. Pil-joo admits that he does, and apologizes for speaking harshly to her.
At the agency, Ae-jung is busily signing autographs when Jae-seok brings in promo materials for Jin’s upcoming ad campaign. Ae-jung looks at the cardboard cutout of Jin, imagines it laughing at her, and tells it crossly, “Don’t look at me.”
Deciding to turn it away from her, she gets up — then takes out some of her aggression on Cardboard Jin, knocking into it and grumbling, “Completely mean, always doing what you want, you broken Butthole Jin. Why do you keep tormenting me? Why?!”
Oops. She accidentally marks a dot on his cardboard face with her sharpie, and tries to rub it off. Which…looks like an entirely different activity from his vantage point.
Hee! Well, that’s certainly gratifying. Feeling smug, he says knowingly that she must be taking out her repressed ardor for him on the cardboard cutout.
Posing like the ad, he tells her to go ahead and do as she wishes to the real life version: “Don’t touch, just admire.” Ae-jung: “That’s not it! I was just erasing the mark.” Jin amends: “Okay, you can touch once. Greedy.”
To his disappointment, she doesn’t take him up on his offer to feel him up; instead, she gives him the cold shoulder, assuming that he’s just playing around with her again.
Jin:: “Then whatever I do, you have to ignore it as joking around. If I said I wanted to put out dating rumors in tomorrow’s paper, it’s a joke.”
Jin:: “And if the day after tomorrow, I said to marry, it’s a joke.”
Then, with a bit of a choke:
Jin: “And if the day after tomorrow, I disappeared saying I’m dying, that’s a joke, too.”
Oh, man. I know they’re not actually going to kill him off, but the fact that HE thinks he’s going to die is just…ack! So heart-twisty.
Meanwhile, Manager Jang stews, unable to (or afraid to) talk freely about Jin’s attack but too indignant to just stand by idly. He asks his manager friend for info on an old client, the idol group leader who’d dated Mina back in the day, thinking that he’ll lead him to Mina: “Then I’ll find someone’s weakness.”
Jin watches Iron Man at home while explaining to Jae-seok that he can’t go to Hollywood because there’s a thing (or a person) he’s provoked: “The crumbling mountain has to stand its ground and be scary so that it won’t be messed with.”
(Jin occasionally talks — and acts, and thinks — like a 7-year-old, but when he says something particularly thoughtful in that childlike way, it’s simultaneously cute and moving. I just love that odd juxtaposition in his character. The Hong sisters are masters at this dissonance, packing the bluntness of the words with added impact.)
Jae-seok nervously asks about the results of the hospital visit, and Jin says cryptically, “You may not be my manager for long.” He reminds Jae-seok — who catches on to his meaning with tears in his eyes — that his manager must be perceptive, and tight-lipped. Meaning: I’m dying, but you can’t tell anyone.
Jin’s doctor debriefs a room full of doctors on Jin’s surgery, outlining the circumstances of the heart that, ten years ago, began rapidly deteriorating due to a virus. It’s acting up again, and another surgery is required. There’s a device in his heart (not a medical pacemaker, but a mechanical graft) and because of the nature of the surgery, survival odds are only at 50-50. Because of Jin’s celeb status, the procedure is to be conducted under top-secret conditions.
He tells Jin that surgery will happen within the month. The process will stop his heart, and Jin surmises that in a worst-case scenario, it won’t resume again. (More metaphors!)The doc tells him to think positively — after all, ten years ago he had the song cheering him on, but now he’s got the song’s originator by his side. Jin answers, “It’s too selfish to keep her by my side, so I’m holding back.”
At home, he moans pathetically, “I miss Gu Ae-jung.” His heart starts to pound, so he orders himself to hold back, saying, “Even if you want to see her, you’ve got to resist three times.”
His heart thumps defiantly, and he sighs again, “I miss her.” Thump! Thump! He concedes, “I-miss-her-I-miss-her, there, I resisted three times!”
He gets up to go to her, but it’s like his id and superego have taken up residence in opposite sides of his body and fight it out to alternately push him toward the door and keep him home. Finally, he strikes a bargain with Id and Superego to stick it out another half-hour: “Sigh. Still, I miss Gu Ae-jung.”
Next thing we know, he’s lurking around the Gu house armed with the excuse, “I resisted 300 times. I need recharging.”
Instead of Ae-jung, though, he finds Hyung-kyu at home alone, who asks for his help retrieving his game from a tall shelf. That brings him inside, where Hyung-kyu asks, “Did you come to sneak a look at my aunt?” Jin: “No, Ding-dong. Stealing looks is what pervert stalkers do. I came to see her officially.”
Jin takes a look around, pleased to find his Vitamin Water stocked in the house…sitting right next to the doctor’s tonic packets. He scoffs, “It must be because of these that her face looks so worn out these days.”
Catching a sight of her room, Jin can’t resist a peek…but his virtuous foot stops in its tracks, and he asks himself if he’s a pervert stalker, to sneak a glimpse. He satisfies this moral quandary by deciding that knocking first is the polite thing to do, and enters. Dude, he is so 7 years old.
He picks up her jar of face cream, and the familiar scent perks him right up. Deciding to “take a little with me,” he dabs it on his upper lip, right under his nostrils, and inhales deeply. Omg. How can this be so creepy and sweet at the same time?
Just then, Ae-jung comes home and calls out for her nephew, sending Jin panicking. He twists his ankle as he steps on the tonic packet that drops to the floor and scrambles to wipe it up…with a pair of her shorts. Puahaha!
He hurriedly tucks the shorts into his pocket — oh, that’s not going to look weird — and ducks out of sight, planting his tonic-soaked feet in incriminating splotches on her bed as he dashes for cover.
In her room, Ae-jung starts to change out of her shirt, and Jin dutifully covers his eyes with his hand…which lowers to unblock his view, ha. I’m beginning to think his right side is the ethical one, and his left one thoroughly unprincipled.
Alas, Jin lets out an exclamation by accident, and Ae-jung sees the footprints. Who’s there?!
Deciding to out himself, Jin calls out to her and urges her not to run — a surefire way to get her running — and in his panic, he claps his hand over her mouth and identifies himself.
He explains that he came to visit and just ended up hiding, but asks her to keep quiet to spare him some humiliation.
She nods agreement and he sighs in relief — until Ae-hwan enters and starts calling out her name. Thinking fast (but not very well), Jin ducks underneath the bedcover, and Ae-jung pretends she’s lying down alone.
Big Bro seems to buy it, but then Ae-hwan spots Jin’s tonic-stained feet peeking out from under the covers, which makes me think we’re going to get the same scene recently seen in Baby-Faced Beauty, until he lets it drop, chiding, “Wash your feet.”
Phew, safe for now!
But Ae-jung starts sniffing around, recognizing the scent of her cream, and asks accusingly if Jin used it. He starts to explain himself, only she spots her shorts sticking out of his pocket, which bear his tonic-stained handprints. Right on the asscheeks. HAHA.
Irritated, she leads him to the roof exit to avoid being seen by her family. He’s favoring his twisted ankle, which she tends with a cool wrap.
She asks why he came here, and he answers, “To recharge.” He takes her face in his hands and leans in close until their foreheads touch, and tells her to stay this way till he can fill up one bar.
She asks with concern if the brokenness (of his heart) is severe, and he answers that repairs are in the works.
He sighs, “I wish I could take you home and keep you as a recharger. Gu Ae-jung, I told you I was broken. You’ll have to wait for a month while I’m repaired — will you stay with the broken me during that time?”
(I just adore the image of him holding her face, while she holds his injured ankle, as they sit there together.)
Ae-jung:: “How can you ask that of me? Just one month? It’s not even love, but that you’re broken. For one month?”
Jin: “Yes, just stay with me for that long.”
Ae-jung: “You said you’d zoom past me once you’re fixed. Why are you acting this way?”
Jin: “Think of me as a broken car and block the wheel, in case I crash somewhere. Because my battery is low, I might stop running before the month is out, so recharge me and stay with me. I’ll really be good to you.”
Ae-jung: “Then tell me properly: ‘I like you, so stay with me.’”
But that’s asking too much, in his broken logic where he’s about to die, and he tells her that he can’t say that. Exasperated, she declares, “If you don’t want to be hauled off to the junkyard, just go!”
Pil-joo’s mom is in the running for having the lowest usefulness-to-aggravation ratio in this drama, or maybe ever, because she complains to the Couple Making PD that her son’s on-air shenanigans have made her a social outcast. She wonders whether Ae-jung may have gone after Pil-joo aggressively, or if Pil-joo was coached to act a certain way, but the PD says that Pil-joo’s affections are genuine, and that all they can do is request Ae-jung to go along with it, for the sake of the show. Quite ironically, it’s Ae-jung who isn’t feeling the love.
Mom then goes to the Gu family to confirm, “So you’re saying that she thinks Pil-joo’s a good man, but doesn’t like him?” Ding-dong: “Ding-dong!”
Ae-jung goes to Pil-joo, feeling sorry to his mother: “I feel like I’m making her worry groundlessly that you and I may take this all the way.” He tells her seriously, “It’s not a groundless worry. When I started, I was ready to take this all the way.”
All this has taught him a lesson: “That if a heart is full of another person, I can’t claim it.” He asks that if she has even the smallest care for him, to let the other person go.
On the career front, President Moon is confident that Ae-jung’s career is due for a revival, with her demo ready and a CF offer coming in, albeit a small one. Therefore, she has a favor to ask, and calls upon Ae-jung’s commendable grasp of reality: Please convince Jin to go to Hollywood. Since Jin has a fierce sense of pride, Ae-jung should try provoking it and cut him loose.
That night, she thinks over her quandary, dissolving into sobs as she drops her sneakers into an envelope for clothing recycling. And as she cries, so does Hyung-kyu.
Manager Jang gives Se-ri the news that Mina has changed her name to Hye-jin, and that she’d reportedly married and moved to America. He’s not sure whether she’s currently in Korea, but Se-ri is, and promises to find her.
To that end, she goes to Pil-joo’s clinic where the nurse confirms that Han Hye-jin is a patient. This has got to be overstepping the bounds of ethics, but Se-ri’s got her star power to trample over that pesky red tape, and while the nurse won’t convey Mina’s phone number, she offers up her next appointment time, so Se-ri can come by and meet her.
Thankfully, Pil-joo sees Se-ri leaving and asks the nurse about it. Putting two and two together, he figures that Se-ri must be looking for Mina — who, he recalls, was quite keen to remain unknown.
To Jenny he goes for clarification, and she confirms that Mina and Se-ri weren’t close, and won’t be eager to meet.
On his way out, he comes across Hyung-kyu rooting around in the recycling bin. He asks for help retrieving something his aunt threw away, “which I have to save.” Aw.
Pil-joo finds the shoes, but cautions Ding-dong that his aunt won’t like him returning something she threw away. Ding-dong protests, “She didn’t throw it away because she didn’t like it! My aunt was crying when she threw it out.”
And then the boy actually goes and washes the shoes by hand. Awww. Would that we all had such devoted cheerleaders in our lives. The world would be a better place.
At the agency, Ae-jung uses Jin’s cardboard cutout as practice for the real deal, requesting, “Please don’t shake my resolve anymore.” Jin walks in as she continues, “I really want to give it a good shot with Yoon Pil-joo. If only you weren’t in my life, I’d be fine. So get lost.”
He asks her to come over to his house, because he has something to show her. She replies, “Thinking about it, whenever you say to come, I have, and whenever you say go, I have. I think I’ve obeyed you too well.” To his surprise, though, she asks him to a picnic.
Ae-jung: “If you want to go, will you wait for me this once?”
Jin: “If I wait, will you come?”
Ae-jung “Can’t you just wait, regardless? If you’re interested in waiting and going to a picnic with me, wait in front of my house today.”
Jin: “I’ll wait. So come.”
While waiting for their next Couple Making shoot to begin, Pil-joo guesses that his words the last time were “burdensome” to her, which is the kind of thing you say when one side has feelings that aren’t reciprocated. She tells him it was a good thing, and that she needs to feel that sense of burden.
She requests his help, “so that I don’t go running to him. Hold me back.” It’s the kind of request that makes me hurt on Pil-joo’s behalf, but even sadder, he thanks her for making that decision.
Driving that knife deeper into our hearts, Jin dresses for his date with anticipation, stopping to talk to his pet potato: “Potato, today I’m risking the rest of my life and going to wait for Gu Ae-jung.” He gives it a little thumb-kiss goodbye, which: Aw. And, OH NO. This next part is gonna break MY heart, isn’t it?
Pil-joo picks up Ae-jung’s phone and sees that she has a new message from someone now renamed “Under Repair.” Clicking on the text, he sees a photo of Jin’s potato plant.
He tells Ae-jung frankly that he’d confused her phone for his, and that she’s received a text from “that person.” She asks him to erase it, preferring not to have her emotions confused by reading it. Nooo, don’t do it! Be the bigger man! Augh, why is your finger on the “confirm delete” button? Is it naive for me to hope that you didn’t actually press it?
Filming commences, featuring the couple working on a jigsaw puzzle. Pil-joo reaches over and guides Ae-jung’s hand to the right spot, saying, “I’ll help you. If it’s difficult for you, just follow me.”
Oblivious to the fact that Jin pulls up to the Gu house that evening to await, per his instructions, Ae-jung and Pil-joo go out to dinner at (where Miss Ripley plays in the background, haha!), then a movie. The day’s almost over by the time Pil-joo walks Ae-jung home.
Jin is still in his car, having waiting steadfastly all night, and all three tense to see each other. Pil-joo makes good on his promise to help by taking Ae-jung’s hand, and when he sees her hesitating as she locks eyes with Jin, he extends his other hand to her and leads her inside the gate.
Once inside the courtyard, she takes her hand back and starts to cry. She asks, half-hopefully, half-dreading, “If he has pride, he’ll leave now for good, won’t he? It’s all over now. I’m sorry. It must be hard for you too.”
Pil-joo has noted her conflicted emotions and now spots the shoes Ding-dong had rescued. Finally he can’t take it anymore either and pulls out the cell phone, telling Ae-jung that he hadn’t deleted the message after all. (Ahhhh! I am simultaneously hurting for you and impressed with your decency, which in turn makes me hurt for you even more. I WANT A PIL-JOO. Drama gods, haven’t I earned one??)
With a heavy sigh Pil-joo goes, leaving Ae-jung to read Jin’s message, which comes with accompanying potato photo:
Jin: “Gu Ae-jung. I’ve raised the potato you brought me. Potato sprouts are poisonous, but now that I’ve raised it this much, I think it will flower. Because I’m broken, I can’t hold onto you properly — so this time, come to me. So that I can move without stopping, come recharge me.”
How’s a girl to resist that? (Answer: Not at all.) Ae-jung finds Jin resting in his car, eyes closed, and puts up her hand to the glass, in an unconscious mirroring of his move in Episode 4.
He opens his eyes, revealing his tears, as Ae-jung says, “You mean bastard. Recharge.”
Jin takes her hand, then lifts himself out the window to kiss her.
If you’ve seen a Hong sisters drama (or seven), you’ll recognize that we’ve now entered the part marked by separation angst. Maybe the end of this episode suggests that we’re out of troubled waters, but I’m thinking not. And this is perhaps the part where we have to contend with the Funny taking a backseat to the Conflict, which — depending on the execution — can be compelling (Hong Gil Dong) or tiresome (My Girl).
To be honest, this part isn’t typically my favorite stretch in a drama’s run — but on the upside, with this show, I’m happy to go with the source of that conflict. Namely, Jin’s bum heart. A drama — particularly a trendy, and a rom-com at that — needs to manufacture conflict to keep the tension alive, and since we’re all familiar with the pattern of a rom-com’s development, our satisfaction with its treatment lies ultimately in the credibility of that angst and the execution thereof. It’s why, despite the obviousness of the plot arc, we still find a vast range in a drama’s success rate in pulling off said plot arc. Lie To Me, for instance, entered this phase this week as well, but as it failed to introduce any semblance of real-world logic into its separation (he’s going with the woman he no longer loves because he “doesn’t want to hurt her,” but is, as a consequence, hurting the woman he currently loves), it still falls shy of emotional resonance for me.
What I like about this turn is that I know it’s a plot manipulation, but I’m still completely invested in this relationship, mostly thanks to the wonderfully committed, sincere performances of the three main leads. In the hands of lesser actors, I’d say this conflict is nothing special — but with these three, my heart bleeds for them. I’m confident that Jin will emerge victorious (49 Days this ain’t), but his fear that he’ll die comes off as credible, and that in turn binds me to his angst. With Gumiho and Best Love, the Hong sisters have really upped the ante, moving past mere family interference to true life-and-death dilemmas. That we should feel Jin’s fear despite being assured of his survival (at least, for me) speaks to the solidness of this conflict.