Miss Ripley: Episode 3
I’m liking where this is heading, and how the characters are starting to emerge and develop. Everyone’s more complex than they appear at first glance, and each of the main four has his/her own set of contradictions, which make them intriguing. Plus, we start to see Miri spread her wings and take her first steps over to the dark side. *cackles in glee*
SONG OF THE DAY
4men – “안되는데” (Though it can’t be) [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
While Miri follows Hee-joo, trying to work the Tokyo University diploma angle, a flashback takes us to their days at the orphanage, when Young Hee-joo had been crying over her impending adoption to Japan, feeling sick to her stomach to boot.
Young Miri had hidden Hee-joo in an empty room and told her to be quiet, so that the couple with the scheduled flight to Japan would be forced to leave, child or no child. But the nuns had decided to send Miri instead, ignoring her cries that she had to stay until her mother came for her, and Hee-joo, locked in that room, was unable to get out.
Now we see Yoo-hyun at work as the director of his division of Mondo Group, looking over a particularly impressive set of architectural designs with his friend Chul-jin. The plans are exactly what they’re looking for, but unfortunately, the documents are unidentified (since they were dropped, presumably, by the scattered Hee-joo). Yoo-hyun surmises that they had been lost on the day of the design concept test, and figures that a check of the CCTVs may yield their owner.
Hee-joo invites Miri over, chattering happily while she tidies up. Miri looks around, enviously taking in Hee-joo’s pleasant home and the framed photos of her happy life, which include one with Miri at the orphanage. So she’s not feeling particularly gracious when Hee-joo marvels at how they could work in the same place without running into each other there. Miri replies, “Our jobs are different. You’re a maid.” Rawr.
Happy Hee-joo doesn’t take offense at the veiled setdown, and Miri casually asks how large this apartment is. Hee-joo doesn’t know, since this isn’t her place; it belongs to an oppa who came to the orphanage after Miri had been adopted — Chul-jin, friend of Yoo-hyun. Wow, you mean they’re ALL connected? How convenient.
Miri comments that Hee-joo’s always had good luck, such as being adopted well — if she hadn’t been sick that day, it would’ve been Hee-joo who would’ve been adopted to Japan: “It feels like you switched lives with me.” She says it almost as a throwaway comment, but you can see the idea starting to take root with Miri, particularly the more she looks around and sizes up Hee-joo’s life.
Hee-joo starts to apologize, saying she’s always felt sorry for that, but Miri lets it drop.
Myung-hoon faces his soon-to-be ex-father-in-law and apologizes, though President Lee says it’s not his fault. On one hand: Yay for reasonable in-laws! On the other: Ouch for Daddy’s Girl, who can’t even count on her father to take her side in her divorce (even if she’s acting like a crazy-jealous loose cannon).
Myung-hoon submits his resignation, per his agreement with Gwi-yeon to leave everything behind in the divorce, but President Lee has no intention of letting him go. He says he wasn’t given this job because he was his son-in-law — he needs him, particularly as he plans to step back from his position soon.
To emphasize that point, Nakamura asks Myung-hoon what he intends to do with the hotel, as his decision about investing depends on Myung-hoon’s actions.
Yoo-hyun meets with Myung-hoon to discuss plans for Mondo Group to buy out Hotel A. This is no hostile takeover, and both men greet each other with warm pleasantries, wanting to keep this an amicable merger. To this end, Myung-hoon has a few conditions that he requests of Yoo-hyun: That in order to keep his existing staff and maintain the hotel’s atmosphere, he wants to maintain authority over their personnel.
Yoo-hyun agrees, saying that he believes that those are important, and confers the authority to manage his personnel to Myung-hoon. However, he also has a condition: Myung-hoon’s authority is vested in Mondo Group. So…you get to say you have power, but in effect you have no power, is that it? How generous of you.
Myung-hoon feels likewise, and says that this sounds like Yoo-hyun is taking claim over everything anyway. He adds that he may be leaving the hotel soon, in which case Yoo-hyun’s condition becomes null. Surprised, Yoo-hyun asks for the reason, and gets back merely that it’s a personal one.
The formerly warm mood starts to cool now, with both sides putting up their guards as they start seeing that the other man is potentially maneuvering the situation to protect his own interests. I like this a lot, because these are two good guys with fair minds who like each other, but can’t trust each other (yet?), and now it’s Yoo-hyun’s turn to point out that Myung-hoon’s reticence to explain bespeaks a mistrust between them. He says he’s disappointed, but will give them time to develop trust.
Yoo-hyun presents some papers to Myung-hoon, which include the details of the proposed merger and company restructuring. He requests, “And also, above all, please change your mind. Without you at the hotel, the takeover has no meaning for us, either.”
Aw, Yoo-hyun wuvs Myung-hoon. It’s so cute.
On his way back, Myung-hoon gets a worried call from Director Kang telling him that the Japanese prime minister’s daughter — the VVVVVVIP currently staying at Hotel A — has disappeared, leading to an army of black-suited bodyguards to take positions outside the hotel. If they don’t locate the daughter before the prime minister arrives, they’re in for a world of trouble.
Review of the security cameras shows daughter Yuu (cameo by T-ara’s Jiyeon) slipping out of the stairwell. Director Kang wonders if they’ll have to reinstate Miri.
After dinner, Hee-joo reminisces on her time at the orphanage, her happy memories a stark contrast to Miri, who says, “I’d forget it all, if I could.” Hee-joo asks if that’s why Miri never called her (she’d attempted to call, but the presumably fake number Miri gave her in Tokyo didn’t work). Hee-joo says cheerily, “But you came back, like this.” Miri answers, a little ominously, “But things won’t go back to the way they were. No matter what, I’m going to succeed. I’ll improve, climb higher, and make it impossible for anybody to look at me.”
Hee-joo accidentally drops a bowl while clearing the table, admitting that her excitement to see Miri has made her more accident-prone than usual. (Which hardly seems possible — she’s a walking disaster zone as it is.) Cutting herself on a shard, Hee-joo asks Miri to retrieve her medicine from the shelf, and Miri gives a careless look around — until she sees an envelope containing official-looking Tokyo University documents, which perks her right up.
Suddenly all consideration, Miri helps Hee-joo up and treats her cut, clucking in concern like a mother hen. Her care makes Hee-joo well up with happy emotion, and she hugs Miri and invites her to live with her so they can be roommies.
In his office that evening, Myung-hoon brings up Miri’s profile, which is notably still missing important documents. Furthermore, he clicks to see the client reports filed by Miri — reports she should have submitted as their VVIP’s handler — which are blank.
In bed that night, Miri waits until Hee-joo sleeps, then gets up to retrieve that envelope. A look inside confirms that it contains Hee-joo’s diploma. Score!
She slips out with the diploma and hurries to the forger’s shady workshop in the dead of night, who produces a copy bearing Miri’s name.
On her return to the gosiwon, she’s spotted by the smitten Yoo-hyun, who is eager to try engaging her again. He’s packing to move out, and suggests a drink, as neighbor to neighbor. Eee, it’s a little paining to watch him playing the part of eager puppy who just won’t stay down when kicked, who loves despite abuse. Aww, and ouch.
Miri turns him down flat, so he tells her frankly, “I’m interested in you. My name is Song Yoo-hyun. Nice to meet you.” LOL. I’m pretty sure he’s working backwards here.
While he has her (limited) attention, Yoo-hyun starts to explain about himself — he grew up in Japan and returned to Korea to take over his father’s company, since Dad is ill.
Miri cuts him off with a derisive laugh, and asks questions that are intentionally crude: “Is there a woman your family’s pushing you to marry? What about a half-sibling who’d fight you for your inheritance?” She’s deliberately asking things that make her seem gold-diggery to nip this in the bud, but sweet, unassuming Yoo-hyun just answers no.
On the other hand, his friend takes offense at her rudeness, particularly when she tells him she has no interest in him, since she knows too much about this world to hold onto “a rotten rope.” Chul-jin demands an apology, but Miri leaves them with a glare.
At work, with her documents presumably taken care of, Miri is welcomed to the fold by a co-worker. The mood takes a quick downturn, though, as notice of the merger and restructuring has just been posted, which has the staff abuzz with worry.
Alongside the notice is another one listing names that are probationary, which contains Miri’s name, suggesting her job is not going to make the transition. She heads directly to Myung-hoon’s office still reeling from the shock, barges into his office while he’s conferring with Director Kang and all but demands he listen to her NOW. Yowsa. I know the woman’s gutsy, but sometimes her temper borders on foolishly unwise.
Director Kang can be pretty hot-tempered herself, and she aggressively bumps past Miri on her way out. Ooh. I can see this dynamic erupting into catfight down the line, probably sooner rather than later, the way they’re glaring holes into each other’s faces.
Miri asks Myung-hoon to explain the reason for her probation, almost slipping about her lie but correcting herself to say, “My education — is a fact, but perhaps I didn’t have outstanding experience. Still, you were the one to bring me in.”
Myung-hoon tells her calmly that he’s her boss, not her family, and that she had no reason to expect he’d take particular care of her. When she argues that he hasn’t gotten a chance to know her or her skills yet, he cuts in to say he’s got a pretty good idea, thanks: She’s got a good education, strong focus, determination, “And the knowledge that you have to know what the other person wants — no, the uneasiness of knowing that you mustn’t fail to understand what they want.”
Those are all assets, but she lacks one thing: She only focuses on the one problem that must be solved — i.e., she becomes lax with her other duties.
Miri speaks defensively about his harshness in cutting her loose for one mistake, and that yes, she was in a hurry to find a job and therefore followed a stranger without questioning it: “But do you think I could do that purely because I needed to find a job? I thought you might be a good person. Maybe even someone I could trust and count on.”
She says she can understand his change of heart, but that he should have given her fair warning, and that he lacked common courtesy. Those are pretty aggressive words, Miss I-Was-Away-From-My-Position-While-The-VVIP-Fiasco-Went-Down-Because-I-Was-Forging-My-Diploma…
As she turns to leave, Myung-hoon tells her that he looked at the client notes, which she hadn’t bothered to write up. This suggests either a complete lack of interest, or untrustworthiness, or laziness — and that such a person should call him out for a lack of courtesy is quite an unpleasant feeling. Oh, snap. Someone just got told.
Furthermore, he points out that there was record of the maid’s request for replacement due to her health, meaning Miri had overlooked it. With that, Myung-hoon tells her coolly to think hard about whether she can overcome this, or not. Dismissed.
Seething, Miri storms out for some air, ducking to hide when two employees come out to worry about the missing prime minister’s daughter. Because of the delicate nature of the situation, it’s being kept hush-hush for the moment, and the hotel’s official stance is that nothing is amiss. In a press conference, Myung-hoon smoothly lies that daughter Yuu has arrived in advance of her father and, being a Hallyu fan, is enjoying the sights of Seoul.
This gives Miri an idea: Her job’s on the line, but if she could solve this problem…
She asks Manager Kim to see the guest information, because she doesn’t have access. He wrings his hands, wanting to help but knowing the case is top secret. So Miri tries a new tack, pretending there’s an eyelash on his cheek that she’ll brush aside for him — while the tune of Carmen plays, that famous femme fatale. With some strategic leaning and flirtatious maneuvering, Manager Kim caves — sigh, men are so easy — and agrees to help.
He pulls the file and lets her take a look at it, which contains the phone number of the taxi service Yuu had used several times.
Using that as her lead, Miri goes to the taxi service office, and finds out the neighborhood where Yuu had headed. It’s not terribly specific information, but it gives her a starting place to ask residents if they’ve seen Yuu.
She strikes out, though, and returns to the hotel after a fruitless search. She runs into Myung-hoon in the elevator, who has just checked her department and found her absent from her desk, and reproves her for her lax work ethic.
Miri replies smoothly that she’s on probation, and she reported to the general manager.
He’s no dummy to her tone — it’s overly sweet, almost so pleasant that there’s sure to be some sarcasm underneath it — and says that she appears to be confusing work and personal feelings. Miri replies, all wide-eyed insincerity, that no, she’s actually quite thankful to him for giving her such an employment opportunity and that she’s currently in the midst of making important realizations about herself and her work.
Meanwhile, Hee-joo submits her own papers for the Mondo Hotel design contest, only to find that she’s missing her diploma. Today’s her last to submit her paperwork, and can’t imagine where the papers went, having taken extra care to pack them.
Up in Mondo’s executive suite, Lee Hwa watches Myung-hoon’s press conference on TV, knowing that he’s in damage control mode and finding his PR performance satisfactory.
Yoo-hyun reports that he’s still awaiting a response from Myung-hoon regarding the merger. She wants him to take advantage of Hotel A’s current difficulty to wrap up the business quickly.
He agrees that he also feels the value of hurrying, to lessen the injury to what will eventually become his. However, he’s politely firm in his stance of not taking unfair advantage in a moment like this: “I didn’t start this because I wanted to steal it away, I started because I wanted to work together with Hotel A.”
Stepmom continues to try to change his mind, but he doesn’t give her the chance, saying very pleasantly, “Thank you for agreeing. I believed that you would understand.” Ooh, looks like the puppy has a steel spine underneath that sweet exterior after all.
Miri returns the next day to continue her search to track down Yuu, and gets nowhere until she spots the sign for a Hallyu Super Concert. Ding-ding-ding!
Inside, the members of real-life boy band X-5 (a rookie group playing top stars) pick a random number and invite that audience member onstage — which turns out to be Yuu, who runs up excitedly. (Ha, her friend’s sign reads, “I love Yuu.”)
Miri follows Yuu and her friend out of the concert, and with some shock watches as Yuu gives the girl a kiss. Following her to a hotel (not Hotel A — apparently Yuu has run away semi-permanently, and isn’t just out to party), Miri knocks on the door. Yuu opens the door, sees that she’s not housekeeping, and shuts it in her face. Miri pleads with her to listen, and tries to convince her that hasn’t been sent here by Hotel A to bring her back.
Her pleas go ignored, so Miri talks to the hotel maid and confirms her suspicions — that the girls are in fact lovers, and that Yuu had run off because of the opposition to their relationship.
Myung-hoon hears that Miri had made contact with someone at the taxi company, and makes his own way to the hotel. He arrives there in time to see Miri attempting, once again, to talk to the girls who again shut the door in her face.
Miri gives it one last shot, telling Yuu that at first she’d wanted to take her back to the hotel, but now she has another reason for wanting to talk to her. That she also once hated her father. That she understands how she feels.
Yuu opens the door to retort, “What do you know?!” and tries to slam it again. Hurriedly, Miri tells her, “I’m lesbian, too.” (Omo! I’m sure that isn’t gonna create confusion with Myung-hoon later on, right? He looks startled, but keeps himself hidden around the corner as Miri continues.)
Miri says she’ll talk to Yuu as though she’s a little sister:
Miri: “I loved her. I wanted to marry, too. But because of my father, I couldn’t. But do you know what I heard after I left home? The father who’d looked everywhere for me had hurt himself and died. I’d always thought of my father as someone I would always be able to see. That’s why I came looking for you — to tell you not to become like me. Do you know was most painful to me? It was hearing that your father was considering give up his office because of you, did you know that? Do you really care nothing about your father losing everything because of you? Are you sure you won’t regret it? I hope you won’t become like me. That’s all I wanted to tell you.”
She even manages some convincing tears, and with that, Miri leaves. Meanwhile, Hotel A is bustling for the Korea-Japan cultural exchange gala, which is where the prime minister is to make his official appearance. The event is attended by some industry bigwigs like the Mondo family — Yoo-hyun, Stepmom Lee Hwa, and father President Song — not to mention lots of members of the press.
The hotel staffers are biting their nails in worry, needing to decide on their course of action asap. Myung-hoon orders them to stall the proceedings, and Miri arrives just as the prime minister does, her face falling to see that he’s alone. So did her plan fail, after all that?
But no — Yuu makes her appearance moments later, to everyone’s relief. Miri and Myung-hoon both hear of her arrival and race to find her, Miri bursting out of the stairwell gasping and unintentionally cutting off Yuu’s path.
Recognizing her, Yuu greets her cheerfully, calling out, “Oneesan!” (Unni.) In Japanese, Yuu thanks her for making her realize something very important. Miri replies that she made the wise choice: “All I did was help a little.” They thank each other, and in full view of the cameras, they hug.
Crisis averted. Yuu makes a speech at the gala, and Miri watches in satisfaction. I suspect Myung-hoon feels a little conflicted about this, but for the most part he’s relieved and gives Miri her due.
She’s called up to President Lee’s office afterward, where he thanks her for her good work. Now that she’s safe, Miri affects a modest, demure pose and deflects the praise gracefully, which only makes him more happy to praise her.
In fact, the president says she seems like a good fit with Mondo — so how about it? Does she care to join them? (Meaning: She’s got a job after the merger after all.)
Myung-hoon doesn’t have much say in the matter — I don’t think he’d disagree, but that’s moot here because the president has superseded whatever he would have said — and says he’ll take it under advisement. The president offers to buy her dinner for all her troubles.
The Mondo trio heads out after the event, and President Song compliments Myung-hoon’s skills in pulling this off.
Yoo-hyun sees his parents off, and to his happy surprise recognizes Miri standing right there on the curb, awaiting her own ride. He lights up…until he sees her get into the car with Myung-hoon. He doesn’t know that it’s a platonic dinner with President Lee they’re heading out to (or the fact that Myung-hoon now thinks she’s gay, haha), and the sight dampens his mood. (Ooooh. Will this spur him to feel jealous of the man he so respects? Are we going to have a pseudo-Oedipal storyline in the mix? If so, I LIKE.)
The president is vastly grateful for Miri’s work, having worried that he’d not only embarrass himself and the hotel, but the nation. He praises her ability to read people, and even praises Myung-hoon for scouting her.
He comments that he feels quite relieved about the prospect of leaving, now that he knows such capable people will be left to take care of the hotel. That’s news to Miri, and the president ignores Myung-hoon’s attempt to change the subject and confides that he’s going to give his position to Myung-hoon after the merger.
And THAT gets the wheels turning in her head.
I really like that they’re bringing out the devious, almost mean side of Miri. It’s not just a heroine lashing out in desperation — which is what she was in the first two episodes — but the birth and evolution of her dark, deceptive side.
For instance, we’ve been given reasons in prior episodes for why Miri ended up in such dire straits — but starting from now, she’s responsible for the choices she makes. And a lot of them are going to be bad ones, or at least, ones shaded by a dubious shade of gray morality. In Hee-joo’s apartment, she says that she feels like she’d swapped lives with Hee-joo, which suggests some Single White Female-ing down the line, particularly if they start living together. It’s fascinating that Miri talks as though Fate wronged her, which almost gives her this entitlement complex of “Well, then I get to claim my life back.” And how ironic that it should be Hee-joo now in danger of not getting what she wants because of a lack of her diploma, when it’s Miri who benefits from it.
It’s totally effed-up logic, but I love how this switched-lives idea shows Miri rearranging the facts to suit the narrative in her head — that she’s justified, that this is what should have been hers. In Episode 1, she was shaking in fear over the prospect of committing fraud, but by Episode 3 she’s positively embraced the role with gusto.
The funny thing is, if Miri were a conventional heroine in a conventional melodrama, I’d probably find her insufferable. But in a drama that plays with moral ambiguity, I’m just itching for her to go full-on anti-heroine. I both want to love her and hate her at the same time.
Admittedly, I still don’t love the music, but I don’t mind it so much anymore now that I see that there’s a thematic purpose to some — though not all — of its selections. In Episode 2, the background music in the scene where she first decides to go with the Tokyo U lie is the famous tune from the opera Carmen — a story famous for being about a woman who seduced men, turned them against each other, and got her killed in the end. (Foreshadowing?)
Then, in the scene where the cheating wife causes a scene at the hotel, she shoves Miri into broken glass shards and flower petals as the “Flower Song” from Carmen plays. As we’ve been told, flowers are a motif with Miri’s character, and they play a key role in Carmen as well (she’d tossed Don Jose a flower, which he keeps as proof of his love for her). No surprise, then, that it’s Carmen that plays when she flirts with Manager Kim into bending the rules for her.
I like the way Lee Da-hae is playing Miri so that you can see the wheels turning in her head, like we are witnessing the process of her transformation from scared victim to haughty manipulator. True, she does have the habit of gasping overmuch (it gets a little distracting), but for what it’s worth, I’m invested in Miri’s journey.