Loyalty shines through in this episode as our characters’ values are challenged and tested. There’s more than meets the eye to some of our stock characters and we get plenty of laughs, smiles, and tears in this hour. Baek-ho goes back for a second time at bat to discover why he and Yi-seul aren’t together, and sometimes that answer is more complicated than what we anticipate.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
The answer to Baek-ho’s question about if things would have turned out differently between them isn’t the one he wants – it’s no. Yi-seul reminds him that he’d still be her most cherished friend no matter what. With that, she plasters on a brave smile and sends him off.
A homemade banner brings back old memories when Baek-ho teasingly got a bit of paint on her face. Naturally she flared back at him, berating him through his laughter that baseball is nothing to snort about – you never know what might happen. Baek-ho muses that she was not only right about that but also about the game that day.
They were in the lead with two outs. Baek-ho revved up to deliver the pitch, and the ball flew straight to his elbow. Baek-ho collapsed in the middle of the field, crying out in pain, while the spectators stared in shock. As Yi-seul screamed his name from the bleachers, the hit had effectively ended his baseball career.
Another item triggers another memory, this time while he was angrily packing up his locker, his arm in a sling. Yi-seul had given him a gift to uplift his spirits, but he reacted in bitter resentment, throwing her earlier words back at her. Fighting tears, she protested and Baek-ho contended that he couldn’t, no wouldn’t, play baseball anymore before storming out.
Curiously, he unravels the paper cranes to reveal the carefully-written wishes like, “You are the best pitcher I know,” and, “Everything’s going to be okay.” With every unveiled note, the realization sinks in, “Why did I do it? Why did I give up so easily? She believed in me so much.” It starts with baseball, but he really beats himself over losing Yi-seul.
The tears keep falling and he thinks that he wants to go back. Then a familiar voice breaks in, “Should I send you back again?” Baek-ho asks (well, stammers) how long he’s been standing there to which the Conductor simply replies that it’s nothing for someone who’s sent a pathetic man into a time slip.
The Conductor recounts that no one imagined that a pitcher who injured himself on the elbow would return 10 years later to become MVP – Oh Seung-hwan. He sends Baek-ho well wishes for the journey, placing another vial into his hands. And the next thing we know, the Conductor vanishes.
Baek-ho gathers up the courage once more and tops off the cap. He recites the chant, and just like last time, he gets hurtled into the time warp, shouting Yi-seul’s name.
It takes him a few seconds to orient himself, but he’s returned to that fateful game so many years earlier. He relishes that he’s back to the very moment right before his injury, doing a little happy dance (and his friends remind him that they haven’t won yet).
Determined at the shot to change destiny once more, he passes on the pitch that injured him and hurls a different one instead… for it to come flying to his knee this time. The earlier scene repeats itself as his teammates rush to help, Yi-seul screaming his name.
At the hospital, Yi-seul is busy making cranes with nervous hands. Yi-seul searches for Baek-go’s glove when it goes missing, unbeknownst to her that a mysterious man scooped it up in her absence.
She starts punishing herself for losing it, when a stranger (Jin-won) returns it to her a moment later. Clasping it close to her heart, he comments that it must be special enough to her if she’s so upset over losing it. He asks after the glove’s owner, if he’s any good. Yi-seul declares that he’s the best.
That declaration is overheard by Baek-ho and she’s displeased to hear him speak lightly about his injury, and takes it out on him. He’s legitimately surprised, and Yi-seul shoves the glove in his hands before she leaves in a huff.
Later that night, Yi-seul’s parents awake to the smell and sight of smoke, only to find their daughter asleep and the stove on. She smiles through her punishment, explaining that she was fixing Baek-ho ox tail soup to help heal his leg, seeing as someone had to take care of him.
Mom and Dad are less than pleased, but Yi-seul manages to sweet-talk Mom into helping her out anyway. So cute.
Baek-ho reflects in bed over if he can sway Yi-seul’s heart and change his future, unsure since he couldn’t eve save himself from getting injured. He resolves not to give up, getting out of bed, and hobbling to the baseball field. He notices the hanging banner that Yi-seul worked so diligently over (it reads: Let’s go and win! The best pitcher, Kang Baek-Ho, fighting!), and unties it.
The boys are flabbergasted to see Baek-ho the next day, telling them that they should keep their spirits up and continue practice. Tae-nam is slackjawed when Baek-ho asks for his mitt so he can participate too. Baek-ho says in reference to doubt, “In one month, a spectator will know. In one week, a coach, and in one day, yourself.”
They’re impressed, and Chan-wook comments that Baek-ho’s different – he’s sure that he got hit in the leg, not the head.
Before they get started, Baek-ho’s glove gets snatched out of his hands by Jin-won, who tells him that he won’t be needing it anymore. It’s a tense-filled moment, and Baek-ho realizes that he met Coach, or Jin-won, in his second year. The thought that he’d be the man to end up with Yi-seul never crossed his ego-filled adolescent mind.
Jin-won has a cool and collective manner of addressing his new team. He calls out names of certain players which include all three of our boys and informs them that they needn’t bother come out to practice anymore – they’re cut.
When Jin-won is asked after why, he says, “Because we don’t need players like you in baseball. Does there need to be another reason?” They’re still stuck in disbelief, so Jin-won drills in his point, listing off their inadequacies. It’s cold, but he’s here to build up the best team possible.
Chan-wook defends that they’ve shed blood, sweat, and tears together as a team. Jin-won won’t have it, which is when Baek-ho finally pipes in, asking what would happen if they don’t follow his way of doing things. Would he quit? Jin-won: “Nope. You guys will.” Gauntlet thrown.
Jin-won adds that if it comes down to it, he’s even willing to cut the entire team, news that paralyzes all the players.
Jin-won declares that they won’t resume practice for another three weeks, but the remaining players best come at their tip-top shape when they return – if they’re in the bottom 5 percent of their class, they’ll be in danger of getting cut. He demands that his players be well-rounded students and not just a bunch of athletics jocks on the field. Damn, I know you’re being harsh, but goddamn if this isn’t hot right now.
Chan-wook grabs Jin-won’s attention once more – why is Baek-ho cut too if he’s one of the best on the team? He adds that the team is useless without him, which breaks my heart since he’s basically self-deprecating himself to defend his friend.
Jin-won, however, is unmoved, “Baseball isn’t a sport you play alone.” He continues, saying that Baek-ho knows the reason why he’s eliminated, returning his glove to him.
Jin-won gets introduced to the other teachers and he starts off in a fierce and powerful message: He’s here to train a high school baseball team, not raise national athletes. The kids aren’t star players yet and no one knows if they will be. He wants his players to know more than just baseball and asks that the teachers stop giving them special treatment. Finally, he ends saying that the teachers are here to train their students in learning.
Yi-seul bursts into Jin-won’s office after she hears the news from Tae-nam, giving him a piece of her mind. It’s then she recognizes him as the stranger from the hospital, but Jin-won fails to acknowledge their former meeting.
Instead, he rambles about the poor job Yi-seul’s been doing as the baseball team’s manager, hinting at her rudeness for not knocking before she came in. She asks if that means he’s the coach, calling him ajusshi.
He calls her out on it, citing that he’s too young, so just calling him Coach will do. Yi-seul fires back if “Coach” has had any previous experience in baseball before. He replies ‘no comment’, which she scoffs at, yelling that he’s waltzing in without knowing the basics of baseball. Points for your fierceness, honey, but a background check might help before your temper flares.
Jin-won asks what those are, she answers readily: friendship, passion, and fervor. He names his: winning, hope, future, and a fighting spirit. Yi-seul asks if that means those who quit don’t have a reason for existing. She calls him the worst, as a coach, a leader, and as an ajusshi.
But Jin-won astutely points out if her reaction has anything to do with that “blue glove,” and Yi-seul stammers that someone like Baek-ho shouldn’t meet his end like this. She gets a little carried away, and he reminds her that someone who’s unwilling to take responsibility for his actions shouldn’t start in the first place.
He spews off numbers which basically boils down to how there are only a select few who are chosen to become professional baseball players and he challenges her what’s more important: living life or baseball.
Yi-seul comes to check on Baek-ho, who’s packing up his locker. He brushes off her concern, that he’s fine and adds that he has her paper crane gift to comfort him. Only it’s still wrapped in paper and Yi-seul asks how he knew. First slip, future boy.
He laughs it off, saying that everyone’s seen her around school folding them and hops away.
Our boys get ripped a new one in class, finding themselves constantly punished by their teachers for their dunce status. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go unnoticed by Jin-won, who passes by their classroom.
The boys hang out after detention, and I love it how every time Chan-wook starts to order, well anything, Jin-ju immediately appears with it. He brushes her hair aside to thank her himself and she gulps at the close proximity.
The year’s 2002, which means it was the summer of the Korea-Japan World Cup, and Baek-ho reminisces that he never saw a game with Yi-seul. That year (we can tell by the arm sling), he spent it with his boys while Yi-seul waited for him, alone, on his porch.
Yi-seul casually asks if he wants to meet tomorrow to watch the match and suggests that she can meet him at home. She deflates, however, when he passes. He looks at her for a long moment before he returns to his game, and she does the same. Silly boys.
As Baek-ho watches the game (right outside where Yi-seul is watching), he calls her at a crucial point when one of the players sustains a head injury. He assures her that he’ll fight through it anyway, betting his mp3 player on it.
She starts to pray fervently, Baek-ho’s words ringing in her ears, and of course, the player gets up to everyone’s cheers. As the rest of Korea enthusiastically cheers during the matches, Baek-ho busily lifts in the gym to strengthen his leg.
Yi-seul reminds the boys that they have to do well on the next exam in order for them to get a shot at remaining on the team. Too bad she’s friends with a bunch of slackers who end up dozing off in no time.
Yi-seul rifles through some of the boxes in the storage room, smiling when she comes across her banner. However, the light flickers off, and she’s trapped in the darkness. Baek-ho finds her in this frightened stage, but before he can tease her, the door shuts, locking both of them in.
They’re trapped ’til morning it looks like, and Baek-ho calls her out for touching his stuff, picking up the banner. They bicker about whose it really is until he squeaks out, “Sorry.” The fact that Baek-ho made the effort to go pick up the banner brings a smile to Yi-seul’s face.
Baek-ho settles in, resolving they’ll just sleep until morning but Yi-seul reminds him that he’s got to pass tomorrow. So they study by candlelight. I don’t know what’s better – the fact that she praises him for getting the answers, or for wielding a giant rubber hammer to whack him when he doesn’t.
The next morning, we find them fast asleep, their heads resting against each other, their laps draped with the banner. So so so so so so so cute.
Baek-ho flips over the corner of the page to peek at his grade – it’s an 81, meaning he gets a shot to try out for the team. Yi-seul follows him curiously after school to the physical therapist. He pushes through the various exercises and his determination and effort brings her to tears.
Yi-seul finds him at the park later that evening, where he’s throwing practice pitches. She tells him that’s enough – he can stop now. He dismisses her and she protests, “What’s baseball to you? Is it more valuable than your body? Is it more important than your life? You can still live without this. So stop.”
Baek-ho tells her, no he can’t: “What’s baseball to me? It’s my arm, my leg, my heart. If I don’t do this, I don’t have anything left. If you take baseball away from me, I won’t have anything left.”
Yi-seul asks how he knows and he tells her that he does, and that if he loses this, he’ll end up losing so much more than that. She asks what that is and he thinks, “YOU!”
But he chooses the more childish route and says that she’s a poor manager if she’s trying to stop a baseball player. He hobbles off, rolling on his ankle in the process. Yi-seul, however, is quick on her feet, and she appears with a cart to take him home.
They pass by a crowd watching the game and Baek-ho offers that they stay and watch, or she’ll “regret it for the rest of your life.” As they shout for the match, Baek-ho bucks up the courage to look Yi-seul in the eyes.
He stutters, “A-actually… I l-l-like you!!” but his confession is drowned by screaming fans who celebrate in victory.
They join in with the crowd, jumping up and down until a fan bumps into them, sending them flying. They end on top of each other locked in a kiss, both of them wide-eyed.
Wooo! I did NOT expect that kiss to come so soon! But it’s still satisfying nonetheless. There’s still a considerable amount of fluff in this drama where it makes me think that it’s still trying to gain its footing, but I’m all in when it comes to slightly quirky, a little non-believable plots with outrageous characters. Wouldn’t life be more fun that way?
Anyway, let’s start off with Jin-won. I mentioned last week that this groom chap can be portrayed as a cookie-cutter character played by nearly anyone who doesn’t need to emote but stand there and look pretty. So I had some reservations when they cast Lee Hyun Jin, because I was afraid the production might not attempt to make him a formidable rival to Baek-ho. But we see that Jin-won is like a fortress – he isn’t easily swayed and once he puts his foot down, he’ll stubbornly see it to the very end. As the calm, collected, rational coach, he’s the complete opposite to Baek-ho’s impulsive, irrational, hot temper. And he can keep up with Yi-seul in a debate.
Then there’s Yi-seul, who I absolutely adore now. I find her adolescent persona with that rash personality to be oddly refreshing, and so much more enjoyable to watch than her demure and lady-like adult self. I love that she doesn’t act any differently in front of Jin-won, and that she’s so fiercely loyal to her friends and loved ones that she won’t take crap from anyone. She’s passionate about her ideals, and willing to fight for them, even if she’s still young and idealistic.
I love love love the cinematography in this drama. The colors are rich and the effects are impressive. The only drawback is that the angles aren’t that original, so when I take a look at my screencaps, there’s generally the same pattern of Seung-ho smiling or crying, but in a different setting. They’ve got a wonderful camera to work with and I would love to see the show to use that to its advantage.
In terms of our story, I appreciate that although Baek-ho’s motive is to travel back in time to fix his wrongs to Yi-seul, his reasons are still very surface-level (e.g. movie tickets, baseball) and the underlying issues are far greater and deeper. Each time he goes back, he discovers another portion of his relationship with Yi-seul, like how he never paid attention to her or sought out the time to spend time with her. Likewise, I like how Yi-seul also finds out new elements of Baek-ho, like his stubborn determination to baseball, not yet realizing those are mere reflections of her. It’s these tiny unveilings that keep me intrigued by the story and I find myself convincingly pulled into this world. You don’t know that you’ve stepped into the rabbit hole until you’re deep in.
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