Can’t Lose: Episode 11
I actually think that this drama would probably manage a possible extension as well as a drama could manage an extension at this stage in the game, because this isn’t a show where the episodes follow a careful, tightly mapped out plot. It’s always been about the characters falling into conflict and misunderstanding, and working their way free of those issues (or not, as the case may be) in a slice-of-life way, so with an extension we’d just get more of that.
That said, I don’t want an extension. This is a cute, sweet drama, but I don’t want to lose that for the sake of four more unnecessary episodes. It’s too bad that the last-minute extension seems to be becoming the broadcasters’ method of choice in giving follow-up dramas extra time to prepare, because it’s the easiest option. But it’s like intentionally killing the bird in the hand just for a chance to get at the one in the bush, which may or may not end up dying anyway. I got that metaphor right, didn’t I?
SONG OF THE DAY
Acoustic Collabo – “사진” (Photo) [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Hyung-woo agrees to divorce Eun-jae, explaining to the court that this suit has made him realize how tough she’s had it in this marriage. Eun-jae tells him she came here today to dismiss the suit, but that doesn’t change his mind, because he points out that these issues will keep cropping up. They both make some valid points, with her arguing that they can both try harder, and him countering that excessive trying only exhausts her, and her saying that he can comfort her when she’s tired.
She’s confused, asking why he’s changed his mind so suddenly when she’s always lived like this. That’s his point; his eyes are open now, and he can’t continue hurting her: “Return to your old self. You don’t need to bow your head because of me.”
Angry and hurt, she tells him, “Don’t pretend you’re doing this for me.”
Professor Jo tries to play mediator, taking role of sunbae rather than judge, reminding them of the commitment they made and how they ought to honor their decision to love each other. But Hyung-woo sticks to his decision, and Eun-jae says that she can’t argue with him if he no longer wants to be married to her.
Professor Jo has no choice but to proceed; with his ruling, their divorce will become final in two weeks. After leaving the courthouse, he tells her solemnly that he couldn’t erase the image of her in her sunbae’s office, try to fix things.
At home, Eun-jae perks up at the sound of the doorbell, deflating when she sees that it’s Young-joo. She says it’s what she wanted, but Young-joo knows she’s just putting on a brave face and consoles her as she cries.
Hyung-woo gets drunk at a pojangmacha and has to be carried home by Gogi and Woo-shik. He tells Gogi that he can’t insist they stay married to make him happy when she’s struggling, “Although I feel really bad for leaving her alone.”
The next morning, Hyung-woo packs up his things at the Hope office and tells Eun-jae that he’ll move his thinks out of their apartment today. He’ll be back to work on Gogi’s wrongful termination lawsuit, but wants to be out of here quickly, lest he give in to his desire to cling. Gogi points out that he can just cling then, but Hyung-woo’s too far in Noble Idiotland to back down now. Eun-jae clearly doesn’t want him to leave, but she’s not going to ask him to stay, either. Arg, you two. It’s so frustrating watching them miss each other all the time despite wanting the same thing. On the other hand, maybe that’s an argument for why they don’t work.
Hyung-woo moves his things out of their shared apartment, cleaning up and fixing little things like light bulbs. Aw, he’s doing things for her now because he won’t be able to later, which is sadly sweet.
He moves his things into Mom’s place and tells her that they’ve decided in favor of divorce, reminding her that she didn’t like Eun-jae much to begin with, or her mother. She’s not happy about the choice, but since it’s been made, she asks if he wants to be set up on dates. Whoa there, impatient mom, the ink’s literally not even dry on those papers yet.
Mom drops in on Eun-jae’s mother’s store to tell her about the divorce. Since they’ll no longer be related, she wants her to move out of the store space, which Eun-jae’s mom argues against. It’s another funny reversal that now that these moms are back to opposing sides, they argue in jondaemal. Polite but distant, whereas arguing in banmal made them seem like friendly arguments.
Eun-jae comes home to find Hyung-woo’s things cleared out, with only a note left behind wherein he’s marked off a checklist of things he has fixed (“Gas OK, fridge door OK”) which turns into a list of other things she’s now free to do: “Don’t have to get angry OK, Don’t have to cry OK, Don’t hurt OK, Be happy OK.”
Funny enough, the things he’d done before leaving, like fixing the flickering bathroom light, actually remind her more of him. In changing the sheets, she tears off part of a fingernail and can’t find the clippers, and ends up calling Hyung-woo, who’s crashing with Woo-shik. Gogi’s also there, with Young-joo still angry about the money issue.
The boys perk up when Eun-jae calls, though her trivial request isn’t exactly anything to get excited over. Though I think it’s telling that she bothered to call, and that he’s happy to receive it. These two sorely need an intervention, only they need somebody stronger-willed than them at the helm, not the weak-livered Gogi or sympathetic Young-joo.
The next day, Eun-jae meets with a lawyer colleague to ask for some referrals, since she’s in the hunt for a new partner. Hyung-woo and Soju walk by and catch a glimpse of her sitting inside the cafe, looking happy and upbeat. Recalling how her mother told him Eun-jae used to be so bright, he looks at her wistfully.
Of course, then she catches sight of him outside, looking healthy and fine, at least to her eye. Her colleague comments that the rumors said he was wasting away in misery, having been spotted passed out at a pojangmacha.
Gogi tries to make peace with the wife and asks to come back home. Young-joo tells him to sign a contract promising to raise the baby for at least three days a week. He agrees readily, though you’d think the fact that she’d have to ask at all sort of supports why she’s peeved in the first place.
That night, Professor Jo joins his new best friend Woo-shik in the bachelor pad, and wonders how Woo-shik manages that hateful activity, clothes shopping. Woo-shik replies that he gets all his from the home shopping network, which seems to me deeply sad. Not that he shops via television, but because he does it expressly to avoid going out and doing it in person. Hyung-woo looks over thinking the same thing, but Professor Jo tells him he’ll be one of them soon. Ha.
When Eun-jae phones, he slips off to the bathroom to take the call. She’s having trouble deciding on the catering for that party they’re supposed to plan, and he offers to help in her consultation tomorrow. Then, loath to end the call, he asks what she ate for dinner and doesn’t give her grief when she says she ordered out. It’s nice, having this kind of mundane conversation on the phone, and Eun-jae points out how they never did things like this while they were dating. They’d just jumped straight to the marriage part.
The next day, Eun-jae primps before their meeting, and they pore over menus. Adorably, they’re both so busy trying to be thoughtful of each other that they both fight to turn the menu toward the other person, until he just gets up and sits next to her. And when the camera pans down, they’re both still wearing their wedding rings.
But after the meeting, Eun-jae recalls that they’re divorcing and maintains her distance. They arrive at Hope to find Eun-jae’s mother waiting to rip into Hyung-woo for the divorce. Eun-jae takes her mother aside, saying it was her decision, and tells Mom she’ll be fine.
Mom gives her the ol’ disapproving “This is why you scare men off, not giving them a chance to love you” and Eun-jae wells up in tears, telling her that she’s just barely hanging on, and Mom’s already blaming her.
Eun-jae cries, “Moms are supposed to say, ‘That’s okay, it’s not your fault. And even if it is, I’m on your side no matter what.’ Why can’t you do that? Why do you think I’m cold? Who made me this way?”
Mom gets up and embraces her, holding her while she cries.
After Eun-jae leaves, her mother calls Hyung-woo and asks him to offer her some comfort. So when she comes back to the office and says she’s heading off to Misari, a scenic park by a lake, he insists on accompanying her.
Hyung-woo white-knuckles it through the car ride, trying to tamp down his car-accident memories while she speeds along. Now Eun-jae notices his reaction and recalls the a previous instance when he’d balked at driving to Misari with her, only easing after they’ve passed that particular point in the road.
This is where she’d come periodically, ever since being brought here as a child. Since then she’s come back to wait for “someone who won’t come,” although she denies still waiting, convincing herself that it’s just become a habit.
She asks why he came along today when he’d refused to come before, then says lightly, “Ah, because we’re strangers to each other now? And you always do treat strangers well.” She’s not saying it to be mean, but there’s an unmistakable ring of truth in pointing out that was thoughtful to everyone but his wife.
Hyung-woo tells her to work out her worries, since that’s what she came here for, and they stand there silently, thinking their own thoughts.
That night, Hyung-woo hovers in his own neighborhood and spots Hot Bartender heading toward the building. Hot Bartender has brought drinks over at Eun-jae’s request and invites Hyung-woo to join them, which he declines. Hyung-woo does request, however, that they meet up from time to time even after the divorce, since he likes having dongsaengs. Aw. He misses his brother, and being with the brother is one way to keep his connection to Eun-jae. You know, there IS one way for you to have both…
I do enjoy Hot Bartender’s puzzled “Uh, I guess I can think about it” response, as well as his sardonic reaction to seeing Hyung-woo’s checklist. Tellingly, Eun-jae hadn’t ripped it up after all, like she was tempted to, and has taped it back up on the fridge. Her attitude is dismissive, but Hot Bartender casts a curious look her way.
Hyung-woo arrives at Hope to work on Gogi’s case, only to find the mood decidedly gloomy: Their key witness has died. He’s the man who Gogi had lost his job trying to help, and the shock of his business going bankrupt finished him off. The Hope team goes to meet his son, who unfortunately doesn’t know anything about his father’s work. At least his factory is still intact, so they get to work digging through boxes and poring over documents.
Finally Eun-jae finds the appropriate ledger, and in their excitement she and Hyung-woo hug each other and cheer. They belatedly recall themselves and split apart, only to have Gogi jumping in to make it a threeway.
Finding crucial evidence is great for their case, but it also means Hyung-woo’s last link to Hope is now gone, since he has no excuse to come by anymore, and they both register that with some awkwardness.
On their way back to the office, Professor Jo appears to tell them that Professor Go (the one with the upcoming 80th birthday party) is on his way here. They’re all curious as to his reason for coming by, and nervous as well. Professor Jo reminds the Hope office to keep their mouths shut around their venerated professor.
But there’s no need, because the first thing the old man says is that he knows the couple is divorcing. Hyung-woo and Eun-jae hang their heads, and then Professor Jo does the same when he’s taken to task for being the one to sign off on it.
Professor Go tells them that they’ve stained his own character; they’re the first of the couples he’s introduced to get a divorce. They mumble their apologies, and await his decree when he declares that they need to accept the punishment for their wrongs. And then, to their shock: “Handle my divorce.” Since they’ve gone through it, they ought to understand how he’s feeling. Ha!
He asks Eun-jae and Hyung-woo to convince his wife to settle the divorce out of court — but if it goes to trial, Professor Jo is to handle the case. Double ha! He gives the lawyers four weeks to manage the task, and declares he’s not going home to his own house — he’s going to stay with Professor Jo. Hahaha!
Eun-jae and Hyung-woo can’t believe their professor could be serious and wonder if this is all an act to scold them. They don’t relish this task one bit, plus they genuinely like his wife, who’s “probably fed every lawyer in the country.” They weren’t kidding when they called their field a small pond. On the other hand, they can hardly convince them NOT to split, having just done that themselves.
Gogi’s lawsuit begins, and his ex-boss sticks to his line about his performance falling and ending in the termination. The lawyers submit their critical evidence, and confront his ex-boss about the secret deposits that were made into his wife’s account. When Gogi confronted him about said deposits, he’d been fired.
They win the case handily, and rejoice for a moment before Eun-jae tells Hyung-woo she’ll see him when the divorce ruling goes through, so they can officially register it. That night Hyung-woo gets drunk again, depressed that he has no more reason to see Eun-jae after this case. He stumbles off from the pojangmacha, rejecting Gogi’s aid…and wakes up in his (Eun-jae’s) apartment.
He’d gotten in with the keypad last night, enveloping Eun-jae in a big, drunken hug. Tired, he’d stumbled to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed, and Eun-jae had left him there.
Now he looks around confused and alarmed, while Eun-jae sits calmly at the breakfast table. He apologizes for being drunk, promising not to do it again. She gets the text notification that their judgment papers have come out, and suggests (unenthusiastically) that they can file the divorce paperwork together.
They arrive at Hope’s offices together, sparking another round of excited jumping to conclusions, which Eun-jae flatly cuts short. Glumly, Hyung-woo tells Gogi that they’re on their way to finalize the divorce.
Professor Go arrives to asks if his wife has agreed to settle, and the couple takes this as their cue to beg his forgiveness and apologize for angering him with their divorce. They still think he’s just doing this to teach them a lesson, until he tosses a document onto the table. It’s his initial complaint in his own divorce suit. “Why is it okay for you guys to divorce, but not me?”
I’m a little frustrated with Hyung-woo’s latest change of heart, because it demonstrates why noble idiocy tops my list of aggravating drama tropes. I understand his reasoning for it, and you can hardly argue with a character who’s turned around from thinking selfishly to thinking of the other person, which is exactly why it’s such a popular narrative crutch: conflict introduced, but characters exonerated from bad behavior.
Except they’re not, really, if you think about it. Hyung-woo claims to be doing this for Eun-jae’s benefit, because he can no longer insist on being with her if Eun-jae doesn’t want him around. Okay, he seems to be conceding, I will no longer inflict my presence upon you. Except that’s not what Eun-jae’s saying, not now and not in the past, which is why he’s continually guilty of Not Listening, Ever. She wants moderation; he jumps from extreme to extreme. She asks for him to understand her position; he forces himself into her position as though that’s the same thing. She doesn’t want to refrain from eating intestine soup anymore; he forces himself to eat it with her and then vomits.
And if he’d listened to Eun-jae this time, he’d see that she isn’t pushing for a divorce; she’s pushing for reconciliation and compromise. She wants to be with him, just not with him and neglected. If she wants to stay with you, then how is divorcing her acting “for her sake”? You’re hurting her just as much by agreeing to the divorce as you were by refusing to grant it, because you’re missing the point entirely. And in playing the noble idiot, he’s making the decision for her, taking that choice away while allowing himself to wallow in his selflessness. Only it’s the opposite; it’s selfishness calling itself nobleness. Hence the idiocy.
And I say this all LIKING Hyung-woo. I just really hate the veneer of smug martyrdom that always seems to come with noble idiocy. If you’re gonna be an idiot, the least you could do is own it. Don’t compound by your offense by painting it over with gilt and calling it something else. We can all smell what that is, and it’s not a lump of steaming gold.
I’m not sure why they brought in the professor’s divorce as a storyline, unless they’re just looking for one last conflict to round out the last few episodes. I’m not in love with that choice since I hardly care about this new character at this late date, although I can see that it’s meant to be a reflection of our main couple — make them doubt their choice just as they’re on the brink of making it official. Still, I’d have preferred this point be made with somebody we already know and care about — say, Gogi and Young-joo, if we must. I can only imagine how the drama would have to come up with more of these tacked-on conflicts if an extension goes through, which is all the more reason to hope the actors hold firm and refuse to shoot beyond their 16-episode contracts.