As we head into the finale, ends are tied, realizations are come upon, and decisions made. It’s funny to think of how many times this couple has circled around each other, almost reuniting but the pulled back by some badly timed reminder that they’re just not ready for it yet. Normally these forces keeping a couple apart are just narrative devices pacing us for the eventual realization of love, but in this drama they’re relevant to these characters’ development, proving why they’re just not there yet. It may be a bit roundabout, but it gives me more faith that once they finally get it right again, it’ll really stick.
SONG OF THE DAY
Can’t Lose OST – “돌아와줘요” (Please Come Back) [ Download ]
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Eun-jae loses her father just as she was ready to finally reconcile with him, and sobs her heart out. A short while later, she steps inside the hospital room, calmer now. Her mother cries that they’d waited for her, while Eun-jae looks at her father’s face and wonders if they resemble each other. She notes the strangeness of this familiarity: “But it’s not awkward. I feel like I’ve seen him a lot.”
She cries at his bedside, saying he should have held on just a little longer: “I’m sorry for coming late.”
After the funeral, she and Hyung-woo stop by the lake so she can say her final goodbye; she hasn’t emotionally let go yet, but now that she’s here in her familiar thinking spot, she works up the wherewithal to make a clean farewell. She calls out to the lake, addressing it like it’s her father as she says she’ll forgive him, and now that she knows what he looks like, she’ll see him in her dreams: “When we meet, you have to accept me completely, because I’m going act childish and be irritated with you.”
Hyung-woo adds his own promise: “Don’t worry about your daughter, Father! I’ll take good care of her!” She calls out, “Goodbye, Dad!”
Eun-jae comes home in a better mood, and finds Mom sitting there in a depressed funk with Hot Bartender. She tells her brother to stay the night, and prepares dinner.
Hyung-woo steps out when he’s called by Seok-hoon, who wants to know if Eun-jae’s holding up. He’d gone to the hospital, but turned back, not wanting to add to Eun-jae’s stress. He only knows part of the complicated Dad story and asks Hyung-woo to explain it for him, because he’s trying to make sense of something in his head. Hyung-woo advises that he ask Eun-jae directly, but can’t turn down Seok-hoon’s earnest appeal.
When he comes back home, Eun-jae’s watching her brother and mother eat her kimchi fried rice, waiting to hear if it’s any good. Too bad it’s not, so she fusses over their food while her annoyed brother and listless mother tell her to cut it out.
It’s cute how Mom’s all, “What’s one bad meal in my life?” and Hot Bartender says, “Leave it alone, I’m already eating,” ignoring her attempts to fix her dish. And it’s here that they seem like a real family for once, all four of them, bickering and shoving and unafraid to spare Eun-jae’s feelings.
As she walks Hyung-woo out, she tells him that this situation with her father has made her decide not to do anything that’ll leave her with regrets. She’s got a specific issue in mind, but isn’t ready to share it with him: “I’ll tell you once I make my decision.”
Most likely she’s thinking about her marital situation, and she hands over the sweater she’d bought for Dad, telling Hyung-woo that he would have approved of her giving it to him.
Hyung-woo tells her that he met Seok-hoon earlier, and ended up telling him the situation between her and her father: “I’m not bothered by him anymore. Thanks to him, I’ve become more honest about my feelings.”
She says she’s going to do the same, then sends him off while walking backward to wave goodbye, and ends up tripping over her own feet. He rushes to her side, and she finds his overreaction cheesy. Hyung-woo: “It didn’t make me look cool?” Eun-jae: “Not at all.” Heh. Well, you asked for honesty.
Hot Bartender is tucking Mom into bed (er, couch) when Eun-jae comes back, and she tells him that he ought to just consider himself as Mom’s real son now, despite their lack of blood relation. Mom sits up at that and tells her that Hot Bartender has been a real son to her for a while now. Sitting her two kids down next to her, she takes his hand and thanks him for playing the son to her. He repeats something Hyung-woo has said before, that those words make him sad because it implies that the bond is acted, not genuine, and Mom nods: “Because you’re family.” She tells them that they should fight and make up like a family from now on. Aw.
In her bedroom, Eun-jae takes down the bedsheet covering her wedding photo.
Hyung-woo returns to the Saddest Bachelor Pad in the World, where he starts to share about his hopes for reconciliation. Only, the other guys act disinterested and don’t pay attention, paying more attention to the TV than his story, and he retreats. Turns out that this is their new tactic, because when a relationship is in the early stages, it’s best that the people around the couple stay disinterested and let them work things out, lest they inadvertently derail progress. Oh really, meddling Professor Meddlington of Meddlytown Studies 101?
In the morning, Hyung-woo finds Eun-jae waiting in his neighborhood, armed with a smile and a transparent excuse about saving gas costs. (He repeats her words about being cheesy, and she asks, “It’s not cute?” “Not really.” Ha.) They walk off holding hands, with him wearing his new sweater.
The couple makes plans to meet for lunch — with specific instructions to ditch the others — although Eun-jae gets called a half hour before their date and meets Seok-hoon. Now that he knows the truth about her father, he tells her ruefully that it makes him feel sorry. All this time, he’d thought he was the only one with family troubles, and she’d encouraged him to reconcile with his own parents while keeping her own pain to herself.
Eun-jae tells him that there’s one key difference between them: she was abandoned by her father, but he wasn’t. His issue stems from being adopted to parents who then had a biological child, and living with a family where it felt he wasn’t included.
Seok-hoon still hasn’t seen his parents since his return to Korea, and Eun-jae encourages him to see them and share his feelings with them. This she can say with added wisdom now that she knows what that regret feels like.
She succeeds in persuading him, and he decides to make the trip after all. Before parting ways, she tells Seok-hoon that she’s going to try again with Hyung-woo. He keeps a smile on his face and accepts this, though he lets out a sigh as he looks at her hurrying away to meet her date.
Hyung-woo invents an excuse about a client to ditch his officemates. They aren’t fooled at all, but he doesn’t know that and ducks in alarm when the walk into the very restaurant where he’s meeting Eun-jae. He fires off a quick cancellation text to Eun-jae and tries to devise an exit strategy.
Eun-jae hurries inside the restaurant and stops short to see her employees sitting right in front of the door, and Hyung-woo doing his best “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me” ostrich impression. She sits at their table to cover (Hyung-woo hisses, “Traitor”) and pretends she’s here to eat alone, but Gogi says matter-of-factly, “So you’re just going to ignore Hyung-woo, sitting over there all by himself?” Ha.
They cringe in embarrassment, since this was supposed to be a date, and one where Eun-jae had intended to tell Hyung-woo she wants to get back together.
Back at the office, Eun-jae says she didn’t see the text since she was with Seok-hoon, and Hyung-woo squawks out, “WHAT?” before remembering that he’s not jealous anymore. (He admits, “It’s become a habit.”) She feels awkward just jumping right into the crux of her planned discussion, so she suggests a retrial over dinner.
They’re sitting down to ramyun at home when Eun-jae broaches the topic, but she gets caught up last-minute in semantics. What word to use? How to phrase this? She shovels ramyun into her mouth and mumbles, eyes averted, “Wannagetbacktogether?”
He tells her to say it again, but his reaction isn’t what she was hoping for (“We can’t decide something like that so rashly”) and she backs off, saying that of course not, that’s what she was about to say. Oy, you two.
So when she sees him out and he tries to prolong their send-off with a walk or some conversation, she tells him, miffed, that she’s cold and wants to go back home.
But Hyung-woo isn’t actually that dense, and he hurries to tell Gogi that Eun-jae brought up reconciliation. Gogi doesn’t see the problem in this, and neither do I. Does Hyung-woo know something that we don’t? I’m confused here.
Eun-jae sighs to Hot Bartender that she suggested getting back together and got rejected. She’s decided that even if problems crop up again, this time she thinks she can bounce back and forgive/forget. “Sharing pain together is what family does. Like us.”
Now she wonders if her mistake was in the delivery. Should she have poured on the romance?
Version 1, seen in every other romantic drama ever: A darkened bar. The object of her affections sitting alone at a table. Her voice sings a love ballad (totally off-key, heh), revealing her sitting at the piano. Hyung-woo is impressed and jumps at her offer to rekindle the relationship.
Version 2: They sit outdoors, at a table next to a fountain, sipping red wine. She asks to get together, and he nods enthusiastically.
Version 3: She stands onstage in a single spotlight, while Hyung-woo sits in the audience of a theater. Standing in front of a microphone, she asks to get together.
I love that Hot Bartender calls her out on the old-school scenarios, and she sighs that she’ll have to settle for dating.
Too bad Mom has overheard, and although Eun-jae backpedals and tries to make the situation sound less glum, Mom isn’t buying that and gripes that she’s disappointed in Hyung-woo. “And you’ve got Seok-hoon anyway.” Hee.
The family of three has a slumber party in the living room that night, and Mom gives that classic Mom advice about a woman being better off with a man who loves her more, rather than the man she loves more. With a self-pitying sigh, Eun-jae figures Mom’s right, and catalogs all the things proving that adage true: She suggested marriage first, she proposed setting up the firm first… Mom cuts her off: “Are you advertising your patheticness now?” Haha. Hot Bartender does that little-bro thing in pointing out that her pride has hit rock bottom.
The next morning, Hyung-woo tries to pick up Eun-jae for work outside her apartment, but she’s already there and still miffed, treating him with cool politeness and shooting him dirty looks.
Hyung-woo tells Gogi he still hasn’t figured out a good way to do “it” yet, but that he’s got to hustle with “a proper proposal.” What? Don’t tell me you rejected her proposal just so you could do the proposing, because that is just…lame. And backwards. And lame.
Hyung-woo explains that he wants to do it right this time, since he didn’t get to the first time, and knows it must’ve been hard for Eun-jae to bring up the subject first. “This time I’m going to tell her honestly how much I love her, and how much I want to get back together.” Uh…and rejecting her offer helps how? Am I going to have to bust out my Drama Extension Voodoo Doll and stick it with pins?
Young-joo has bad news for Gogi, which is that her mother, angered by his quitting the law exam, has cut them off: She won’t help them financially anymore, or continue to look after their first child who, since we’ve never seen her, I didn’t realize they even had. This is a big worry, with a new baby on the way, daycare, and expenses. Young-joo gripes that her mother is going too far, but Gogi understands that Mom-in-law has helped them a lot already. Still: How to make ends meet now?
Eun-jae calls Seok-hoon to ask how his meeting with his parents went. He says he met with them, and while they couldn’t hash out everything in one meeting, he’s going to keep trying.
He adds that he can’t stop thinking of her, so he’s decided not to see her anymore. He says it without anger or even sadness, just a matter-of-fact decision that this is how he’ll deal with it, and sends her off saying that Hyung-woo seems like a good guy. Aww, I think I’m sadder about those two not seeing each other again, calling each other “hyung” and “dongseng” and giggling like schoolboys together.
After deliberating all day, Hyung-woo finally comes up with a plan of attack, and calls Eun-jae to meet him later at Namsan, since he has something to tell her. She takes the cable car to the top, enjoying the view of Seoul, and walks to the viewing deck.
Hyung-woo’s a short distance behind, taking another car up to the top, armed with his trusty voice recorder…which he doesn’t notice falling out of his pocket. He figures it out when he reaches for it after finding Eun-jae, but now his big moment is ruined so he tells her to wait a moment while he looks for it.
Hyung-woo retraces his steps and heads to the Lost & Found, which doesn’t have the recorder, and joins Eun-jae again…43 minutes later. Still miffed at him, she says he’s starting to resemble her (for losing things) and adds that this is why they shouldn’t live together….right?
He’s not ready to say his piece without preparation, so he says they’ll get to that next time. Apparently this is where their old teacher proposed to his wife, and Eun-jae muses, “His wife must have been thrilled.” Hyung-woo tells her she’ll feel that way next time, and she teases, “Why, are you going to propose?” She’s joking but he freezes, and she misinterprets his reaction for a negative one, which sours her mood. So when he gets a call from Gogi and asks her permission to go, she snaps that he doesn’t need to ask.
Gogi tells Hyung-woo he’ll have to quit, because of his mother-in-law’s decision to withdraw support. Without anyone to take care of the kid, he’ll have to do it.
Eun-jae comes home sick and tired of dating (“This must be why people marry, to avoid that”), and leaps to answer the phone. But she doesn’t let Hyung-woo know that and affects a bored tone, though she agrees to come outside and meet him.
He gives her a hug and says he’s bummed that today’s plans fell through, then announces, “I’m going to kiss you.” Heh, nice of you to give her a little warning, although his lean-in maneuver is so slow you’d think it was literally in slow-motion. Which, of course, gives it plenty of time for interruption.
Mom’s the one who stops them, wondering what they’re doing out here on the sidewalk. They jump apart and she looks at him disapprovingly, about to tell him just why she’s disappointed in him, but Eun-jae jumps in before Mom embarrasses her.
The next day, Hyung-woo tries again, armed with musical tickets. She’s excited about it but plays it down, saying she’ll go because of the expensive tickets. Meanwhile, Hyung-woo’s recorder is found and he picks it up, then gets a call from Seok-hoon over business matters (that resort case they worked on).
Seok-hoon shares that he isn’t going to see Eun-jae anymore. Well, that calls for a drink, and over soju he says he’ll be handing over this case to a colleague. Both men acknowledge that it’s a pity, since they could’ve been good friends. Siiiigh.
Eun-jae paces impatiently at the office, worried they’ll miss the musical. Hyung-woo returns to the office drunk, explaining that he ran into Seok-hoon and ended up having drinks, since he felt bad for him. (Eun-jae: “Are you two dating?!”) He heads into his office for a quick nap before the musical, but Eun-jae’s had enough and announces to the others that as of today, she is no longer dating Hyung-woo.
Hyung-woo’s nap stretches into the night, and Woo-shik wakes him up, telling him Eun-jae gave the tickets to Gogi and left a long while back. Oh, and she’s breaking up with him.
Hyung-woo calls Eun-jae, who tries to brush him off despite his declaration that he’s going to wait all night at the playground. While waiting outside, he’s joined by the other hapless husband, who’s still as troubled in his marriage as ever. Currently he’s locked out, thanks to an all-night drinking session he had with friends.
Hyung-woo gives him some common passcodes he can try (2222, 1234) and the advice, “If your wife asks for eggs, become a chicken.” He’s feeling pretty content about having matured as a husband since the last time he and Mr. Hapless crossed paths.
After Eun-jae finishes watching her movie, she checks her phone (no messages) and tells Hot Bartender to go to the playground to tell Hyung-woo to go home. Eun-jae: “Would you rather get hit and then go, or just go?”
Off he goes. Hot Bartender passes along the message, but Hyung-woo’s feeling upbeat today since he’s determined to make his proposal tonight and confirms that he’ll stay here all night.
Finally Eun-jae heads out and joins him on the swings, still annoyed. He admits that he was foolish for thinking the location was important, when it’s just the content that matters. He hands over his voice recorder, asking for a reply after she’s listened to it.
Eun-jae wants to stay outside to hear it, so Hyung-woo asks the other husbands to watch over his wife, then leaves her to her privacy.
The recorder starts with the old recordings, with all of Hyung-woo’s old complaints. That just reminds her of old wounds, but then they transition into newer recordings, about how he misses her, and how these daily recordings are proof that he loves her. And how he feels scared, how he doesn’t want to break up like this. And the last one: “I want to keep Eun-jae, who has felt so much hurt without me realizing it, with me. I plan to ask her, ‘Will you live with me again?'”
That brings both tears and a smile to her face, and she runs out looking for Hyung-woo. He’s walking away, and she runs toward him and throws herself into his arms and declares that she wants to. He tells her to think it over, but she cuts him off with kisses .
It’s funny how it took this couple so long to circle back to this point when it was clear that they wanted to be back together, but I think most of the time was necessary to get them ready to tackle Round 2. And like Eun-jae points out, this time she feels ready to recover quicker from hurt and work things out so that it won’t end the same way the first try did.
I still think Hyung-woo’s deferral of the proposal was irritating, even if I understood his desire to show Eun-jae he loved her before she made the choice to take him back. But that’s likely the Extension Gods at work, so I can take a little bit of stretching. Especially if it gave us an extra episode of Eom Ki-joon, who will one day win the girl in a decent drama, I’m sure. It has to happen, or life will be too sad. He plays those moments in such a wonderfully realistic way, with sadness but pragmatism, in a way that you believe his character is being emotionally honest, even if he’s not all emotional about it.
Speaking of realism, I do appreciate how a drama shows a couple who loves each other not knowing for sure whether they’re better off together or apart. In dramaland we’re conditioned to believe that where there’s a will there’s a way, and the conflict ends once they figure out they’re in love and remove the obstacles to being together. This couple surely needed the time apart, and you actually see that they’ve grown since Episode 1. I wouldn’t have thought they’d changed quite so much if not for the flashbacks (during Hyung-woo’s recorder confession) showing us their old fights, which now seem so distant and petty. It gives you hope for their future, and by that I mean well beyond tomorrow’s finale.
- Can’t Lose: Episode 16
- Can’t Lose: Episode 15
- Can’t Lose: Episode 14
- Can’t Lose: Episode 13
- Can’t Lose bargains its way to extension
- Can’t Lose: Episode 12
- Can’t Lose: Episode 11
- Can’t Lose can’t agree on extension
- Can’t Lose: Episode 10
- Can’t Lose: Episode 9
- Can’t Lose: Episode 8
- Can’t Lose: Episode 7
- Can’t Lose: Episode 6
- Can’t Lose: Episode 5
- Can’t Lose: Episode 4
- Can’t Lose: Episode 3
- Can’t Lose: Episode 2
- Can’t Lose: Episode 1