Operation Proposal: Episode 5
Love confessions all abound in this episode! Everyone’s got to step up their game, boys and girls alike! Baek-ho finally sees the first hints of the repercussions of time travel. He’s learning that he’s got to earn those trips back in time and make it worthwhile or the reality he returns to is sadder than what he left behind.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Our boys meticulously search through the pile of fallen buttons in an empty sewing room. Because of course, that button looks different from the other ones.
Growing tired, Chan-wook asks why it’s so important that they find it. Baek-ho barks back that it’s not just any button, but it’s the black box of their high school memories. Chan-wook, “Then isn’t it… meaningless if it’s not the same one?” Getting more confused and losing patience at their friend’s coded persistence, they leave.
Back at the classroom, the girls are baffled to see the boys’ bloodied faces, and they ask what kept them. Chae-ri reminds them about their longstanding promise to bury a time capsule together on their graduation day and Yi-seul asks where Baek-ho is.
Chan-wook puts his hand over Tae-nam’s mouth before he can innocently spill the beans.
The girls are confused that he’s in the sewing room and Tae-nam blurts, “A button—” Thankfully, Chan-wook quickly recovers by saying Baek-ho tore a button off from the fight.
Baek-ho sits by himself, contemplating some more about how he cast his feelings and heart by the wayside. If he couldn’t find a simple button, how did he expect to chase after Yi-seul’s heart?
He jumps out of his seat when Yi-seul arrives to find him, quick to stash the jar of miscellaneous buttons out of sight. He uses the excuse that he’s ‘appreciating the classrooms he’s never been in’ before he graduates from school, and Yi-seul delightfully plays along, handing him his time capsule envelope.
She teases that he can go on ‘appreciating,’ adding, “Mr. Pervert.” Which is when he realizes where his hands are on the dress form. HAHAHA!!
He flusters red, stammering that it’s a misunderstanding – clearly he’s not a perv, and she laughs. And then her eyes find a missing hole in his uniform, and it registers that the news the button is gone is actually true. Yi-seul slaps on a brave face, joking that the boys looked totally uncool fighting earlier. Before Baek-ho can explain himself, she quickly tells him to meet them later and leaves.
Jin-won runs into Yi-seul on her way out, and greets her happily. He came to see his old colleagues and students, who are all graduating thanks to Jin-won’s inspiring words.
Hearing the news that the entire gang is attending Sky University, he jokes that they are really glued at the hip and asks if they ever get sick of each other. Yi-seul calls him out, hinting that it sounds like he’s jealous, and he admits that he is. Seeing them makes him wonder why he never invested time to form a close-knit group of friends like them. They’ll see him on campus since he’s a sports consultant there now.
In the locker room, Baek-ho reads over a piece of his cast where Yi-seul had left a note that said she believed in his brute strength. His thoughts wander to what Yi-seul might put in the time capsule – that dreaded second button if he gave it to her properly. He places the cast piece inside his envelope and punches the locker door in frustration.
The boys are in line to take their graduation photos and I’m thoroughly amused that they don’t care that they’ve got bruised faces for photos they’ll be immortalized in. Tae-nam is adorably buffing his homerun ball that he plans on putting in his own time capsule.
Chan-wook mentions that he saw a glimpse of Yi-seul and a letter which sparks Baek-ho’s curiosity. But when he asks what it looks like, his head starts to throb. And when he slips away into the stairwell, his hand disappears for a second.
Aha, so there ARE magical side effects to this whole time-space jump. It was about time that there were some time lapse consequences to altering the past to fix the future.
It occurs to him that if his present self, er his 2012 self, never read that letter because Yi-seul placed it in the time capsule, then this entire journey, everything he’d worked for would be for naught.
Yi-seul meets with Jin-won in his office. He mentions that the envelope he picked up (she dropped it by accident) isn’t that substantial to put in a time capsule and she admits it’s a letter. It’s not that hard for Jin-won to clue in that it’s a love letter and he finds it strange that she’d bury it instead of delivering it.
She thinks it’s simply not meant to be – she missed her chance to deliver it three years ago, and she had something else in mind to store in the time capsule. But she felt that this second chance wasn’t the right time either.
Jin-won tells her the reason why he loves baseball – you get at least three chances at bat. He suggests giving the guy another chance. Good man, Jin-won. What if all three chances fall flat? Then the ball’s in her court and then it’s her turn to play offense.
The advice starts to slowly sink in and the gears start churning in Yi-seul’s head. She quickly thanks Jin-won and heads out.
A TV show is being filmed on their graduation day and it’s a program where guests have the opportunity to confess anything from the roof. The first kid confesses to his Mom that he lied about leaving early to school to study but believed it would preserve his sideburns. Odd, but the crowd gets a good laugh.
It’s the second confession that surprises everyone (and the host) of fright and anticipation. Jin-ju takes the megaphone, nervous. Chan-wook cheers her on (so cute) and she musters up the courage to squeak:
“I was scared of the world, and I thought the world was scared of me too. But there was one person who didn’t avoid me, who talked to me and always smiled at me. Even though I wanted to quit school, I kept coming to see that person. That person is graduating today and I wanted to tell him before he left – I was able to endure this school because of you. Thanks to you, I now have a dream. Stay healthy and be happy, sunbae.”
With tears brimming in her eyes, Jin-ju sings into the megaphone. She’s got a beautiful pure voice that carries wonderfully throughout the campus. Chan-wook and Chae-ri smile at her hidden talent.
As she sings, Yi-seul and Baek-ho run through the halls, missing each other by mere seconds in true Korean drama fashion. Yi-seul finds a replacement for her love letter (the movie coupon Baek-go gave her), stuffing the love letter in a book. Baek-ho finally finds her in their classroom, and pulls her out.
He thinks to himself, “I finally found her,” and tells his 2012 self that he has to read that letter.
How adorable that Tae-nam needs a lift before he makes his public love declaration to Chae-ri. He shouts that he hit a homerun (cue the baseball) and is trying to grow taller (shows carton of milk). “Yoo Chae-ri! I love you! Thanks for being born into this world!”
He tops it off with a huge homemade banner that reads, “I’ll become a better man for you!” Chae-ri buries her head in embarrassment, but can’t help but crack a smile. For Baek-ho, he’s left envious and impressed at Tae-nam’s confidence.
The kids bury their time capsule and wonder when they’ll get to open it again. Chan-wook muses what their future selves will be like (Baek-ho stays silent) and they promise not to go digging for it on their own.
Yi-seul comments that she thought she knew everything about Baek-ho but honestly has no idea what he buried. She concludes that’s what being an adult is like – having secrets from each other. I think you’ve already got a HUGE secret you’re hiding from him.
Baek-ho assures her that she already knows everything there is to know, and always will. Yi-seul pipes, “I got it! You put in your lucky underwear!” You know, like that sweaty, gross piece of clothing you swear has an effect on your game. Um, ew.
At the snack shop, Chan-wook places a hand of encouragement on Jin-ju’s shoulder, complimenting her on her singing. He tells her that he doesn’t know who this guy is, but that he’ll scold him if he doesn’t accept her. Chan-wook, you’re so pretty but so dense.
Looking back at some nostalgic photos, Yi-seul confides in Baek-ho that it’s the end of her involvement in baseball. She’ll have to craft her own path from now on, since she can never play on the field. The realization that she too has nothing in her school memories but baseball has a slight gloomy twinge to it.
A lightbulb goes off in Baek-ho’s head and he rushes out. Chan-wook and Tae-nam soon follow him after they receive ‘mysterious’ text messages. And of course, Tae-nam is a little less smooth in the I-have-to-go-but-don’t-think-there’s-anything-up act.
The girls exchange confused but sad looks at being suddenly ditched by their guy friends. It gets late, but before they head out, snack shop ajusshi hands them a clue from the boys: Follow the arrow.
Their smiles widen with each arrow they find, and the final one leads them into the dark baseball field. The lights flicker on and the entire baseball team march and sing in formation for them. They cheer and chant the girls’ names and I swear I’m not crying.
Giving Yi-seul a bat, they play a pretend game and the baseball team hosts their own ‘graduation’ for the special ladies of their team. They acknowledge Chae-ri for her energetic cheers, and Yi-seul’s dedication as their team manager.
Baek-ho hands her a gift and when she opens it, out tumbles a little red button. So she calls after him and sees his second button missing from his uniform. Aw.
They gather together for a group photo. The flash goes off and our hero gets hurled back into the present. It’s Valentine’s Day 2012 (again!) and we see in Yi-seul’s room that the red button is joined by Baek-ho’s signed ball.
The journey back jars Baek-ho’s time-space orientation once again. He’s in the game, but he’s the umpire and the catcher looks at him to make the call. Baek-ho calls the play as a strike and boos stream from the small crowd of spectators.
Then a kid in the bleachers yells, “Hey Ump! How is that a strike? Are you blind?!” He calls Baek-ho out by name, telling him to stop scuffing up the field. It must not be his first time haggling him and the catcher mutters that the crazy kid’s back.
Wrapping up the game, Baek-ho ponders that the umpire is the closest spectator to the sport, but Baek-ho is yet again, one step further from playing the game. Had baseball abandoned him or did he abandon it? Now he feels further from getting what he want – both in baseball and Yi-seul.
Baek-ho turns around to see the same kid throwing eggs at him. In an angry and pained voice, the boy tells him that Baek-ho has no right to baseball if he was just going to end up being an umpire. Fighting tears, he accuses him as a thief for prematurely ending someone else’s dreams.
All Baek-ho can do is take the abuse silently, and I’m thinking this kid’s big bro never got to reach his potential because of Baek-ho. The boy runs off when Yi-seul steps in, and she yells at Baek-ho for his dull acceptance at being cursed at.
Oh man, this is one sad reality that Baek-ho’s stepped into. Poor Chan-wook is a depressed drunkard with his scenarios passed over as duds.
In his drunken stupor, he blubbers that the kid might look like a weird monster, but he’s better than most people. Is this philosophical drunk Chan-wook? “Can’t a monster live in the Han River? Can’t brides become vampires?”
For a second I thought that Tae-nam and Chae-ri finally got married and had a kid, but it turns out that she’s a single mom no thanks to a deadbeat fling from college. Everyone thinks that her child takes after Tae-nam and Chae-ri calls him shameless that Tae-nam actually likes hearing it.
He contends that love is meant to be shared, but she remains firm on her fierce pride so she’ll never marry Tae-nam. Aww.
Looking over at the heartbreaking state of his friends, Baek-ho recalls that fateful day in college baseball – a rogue pitch hit the hitter. On the elbow. Come on, show. REALLY?! AGAIN?!?!
That ended the big bro’s baseball career and Baek-ho hadn’t been able to stand on the pitcher’s mound since. He wonders where it started going downhill, and how he ended up in this miserable present, as his friends console each other or are passed out from drinking.
Baek-ho carries an inebriated Yi-seul on his back. She mumbles that he’s an idiot for not fighting back – the injury he caused was accident, after all – why couldn’t he just say so?
Yi-seul murmurs that there’s something that she regrets: that she couldn’t pull him out and place him back onto the pitcher’s mound. If she had another chance, she would have done things differently. A lone tear running from the corner of her eye, she continues that she’s going to tell that crazy kid that his brother wasn’t the only one who lost baseball – so did Baek-ho!
Baek-ho thinks aloud, “If I had another chance to stand on that mound, would I not have lost you?” But Yi-seul doesn’t respond because she’s fast asleep.
Dad and soon-to-be son-in-law share a drink at home. Dad regales Jin-won with how frightening Yi-seul’s grandfather is. Jin-won shares that he met the legendary figure in baseball once before, which surprises Dad. If Grandpa had any idea that Jin-won would marry his granddaughter, he’d have gone through a training month of hell.
Jin-won’s stern face pretty much says it all when Baek-ho staggers into the house with Yi-seul on his back. It’s hard to tell whether he’s jealous or if he and Baek-ho shared some bad blood in the time gap. Jin-won steps in to carry Yi-seul to her room himself, and Baek-ho stops for a moment.
Dad invites Baek-ho for a drink but he excuses himself, citing that he’s already had too much to drink. But it looks like Dad wanted to give you some words of advice, buddy! No? Okay, fine.
Baek-ho throws angry practice punches in the park, until a voice peeps, “144 kph. Not bad.” Baek-ho is ecstatically excited to see the Conductor and immediately blurts out, “You came! You came again!”
Clearly unamused, the Conductor replies, “I hear that as ‘Can I go back?’ and ‘Can you send me back?'” He notes that there’s no autographed balls her for him to barter a trip for (“No pay, no trip”), and hilariously, Baek-ho offers to sign one himself.
But no thanks, says the Conductor – he’d rather get a signed ball from a baseball player, not an ump. Baek-ho says to name his price, and an idea pops into the Conductor’s head. He instructs Baek-ho to throw a pitch, magically summoning a bat into his hands.
Baek-ho revs up, but the painful memories flood into his brain as the image of the Conductor transforms into the injured baseball player. Baek-ho chokes up, unable to throw the ball, and falls to his knees. Baek-ho: “I can’t. I can’t do it.”
The Conductor observes how difficult it is for him and tells him it’s his last chance – if he’s not confident, then Baek-ho should just give up.
He resolves that this trip will be free for the first and last time. His condition, however, is that should Baek-ho come back empty handed, he can expect that he’ll never appear to him again. Does he still want to go back? Baek-ho agrees.
Baek-ho lifts his head to find the Conductor vanished, and another vial left for him on a bench. He uncorks it, downs the time lapse juice, and mutters the incantation once more. Time warp!
This time, the first thing Baek-ho hears is Jin-won calling softly, “Yi-seul,” and he looks over to see Jin-won bent on one knee. Jin-won takes Yi-seul’s hand in his, placing it over his heart. He looks directly in her eyes and says, “You’re…in here.” HAHA – are we getting Lovers in Paris up in here?
They look at each other lovingly, and Jin-won pulls in for the kiss…. Baek-ho: “NOOOO!!!!”
Whooo boy you’ve got to step it up now! I love that as passive as Baek-ho is, Jin-won is just as aggressive. They both know what they want, but one guy makes it happen while the other is constantly telling us, the audience, in voiceover all the chances he missed trying to capture the girl’s heart. Here’s a solution – you TELL her. She might want a clue. It helps.
That’s what makes Jin-won a worthy opponent – he’s just not your ordinary nice guy who happens to like the same girl. He makes sure that she knows she’s appreciated, that she can be a partner in his life, not just a friend. And Lee Hyun-jin is absolutely killing it. It was a nice touch that he wasn’t comfortable with another man carrying his fiancée home, even if that other man is her best friend.
This episode, I really have to hand it to the women. Did anyone else’s heart break at Jin-ju’s heartfelt confession? It’s the first time we’ve ever heard her speak and it was so powerful that she did so in front of a crowd, facing the fear of public speaking and the possibility of unrequited love. So far, Chan-wook is just trying to be a good friend to her, but I can’t wait until he finally registers that his side glances may be more than just mere curiosity. That’s right, buddy – I’ve seen them! And by the by, does anyone else think that he resembles Choi Siwon from Super Junior?
I love that Baek-ho found another way to show Yi-seul that he cares, since he lost the button that she originally wanted. If you think about it, his baseball uniform button is actually more significant – baseball is an integral part of their lives and by giving her his, he’s sharing that love for the sport on a deeper level than just pitcher and team manager. Our hero is starting to learn that there’s more than just one way to convey his feelings. But right now, the rival is ttttthhhhiiiiissss close from kissing your dream girl. Yeah, what do you plan to do now?
Lastly, I love how the bond of friendship is dealt with in this series. For this gang, simply growing up together and attending the same school is superficial compared to what really matters – being each other’s best friends. That means there are times they encourage or challenge each other. The best part is that they’ve got so much heart and that love is reciprocal. The girls prepared a time capsule and the boys put on their own graduation ceremony. They really try to bring out the best in each other and are stripped of any pretenses.
Though there’s some romantic tensions floating around, one thing’s clear – they’ll always be there for one another.