Operation Proposal: Episode 6
Finally! Just when I thought that this show was going to make me into a dunce as much as Baek-ho, we finally get to see the glimpses of some character development. Issues are dealt with head on and our hero is learning that he’s got a lot of work ahead of him to get what he wants. Will Baek-ho be able to reel in (I couldn’t help it!) Yi-seul’s heart?
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Jin-won declares his undying love for Yi-seul as a wide-eyed Baek-ho stands frozen in astonishment. He pulls her in for the kiss and Baek-ho yells in protests… which is when the director shouts, “Cut!” Damn, my fantasy’s ruined already.
Anyway, the camera pans back and the disgruntled students grumble at Baek-ho’s interruption again. It’s the winter of their first year in college. Consider it the latter half of their freshman year because in Korea, school begins on the cusp of winter and spring. Both Yi-seul and Jin-won shake off the cheesiness, and suggest that Chae-ri fills in instead.
But there’s the matter of the male lead and Baek-ho offers up himself to pair up with Yi-seul. That won’t do since Baek-ho’s no good in front of the camera, so what about a famous actor? If they wait a few days, Chae-ri says that she might be able to pull him into the project. And then right on cue, a car horn blares and she goes to greet her man.
Chan-wook tosses out casually that this year’s rival is a celebrity and wonders how each guy just gets better and better. Undeterred, Tae-nam says that it’s just like in the comic books – as the enemy gets stronger, he the hero does so as well. So he won’t use him as the lead, right?
Alas, it looks like Chan-wook will, and he pulls Yi-seul and Jin-won from the project. Before he leaves, he pulls Jin-ju aside for a moment and asks to lend her singing style to the project. Jin-ju – you look so pretty! What a difference it makes when your hair is out of your eyes. When she agrees, he affectionately pats her head and she squeals with excitement when she leaves.
The gang heads to class, joking about Baek-ho’s awful acting skills. Baek-ho’s face falls when the baseball team marches past and his thoughts how he can’t pitch after the injuring another player the previous summer.
The other three look on painfully as Baek-ho excuses himself, and Chan-wook wonders if his buddy won’t consider playing baseball again. Jin-won tells him, “It’s not because he can’t; he won’t.” It’s PTSD, and it won’t be easy for Baek-ho to recover from such a tragic event.
Yi-seul refuses to believe that those words might mean that Baek-ho will never play again. She yells at him for putting it so bluntly and leaves in a huff. Thankfully, Jin-won isn’t too distressed since he knows that talking about her ‘precious blue glove’ aka Baek-ho is a soft spot for her.
An older man wanders around the halls, calling Baek-ho’s name. I kinda love that he’s so bold, bursting into the lecture halls and classrooms and cringing at the sight of campus love. He finally spots Baek-ho who is surprise, surprise, fast asleep in his seat. He wakes suddenly to hear a roaring satoori voice boom, “Grandpa’s here!”
Baek-ho tries to whisper that he’s in class, but Grandpa sees right through the act, demanding that he come down immediately.
Realizing that he’s just barged in the middle of lecture, Grandpa turns to the professor and tells him that it’s better off he takes Baek-ho out of class, since he’s just a nuisance. He balks when he asks if they’re related: “Of course not! We don’t have a dunce like him in our family!”
News travels fast and Yi-seul runs into the cafeteria asking why Grandpa’s here without any notice. Hilariously, Grandpa stammers that he happened to be in the area and he didn’t want to come, but Baek-ho made him. I don’t know what’s funnier – that Grandpa’s scared of his granddaughter or his exaggerated facial expression while shifting the blame.
Baek-ho is baffled at the accusation, but Yi-seul simply laughs in amusement.
Grandpa and Jin-won fire famous quotes from baseball legends to each other, and Jin-won answers readily. The others look on, clearly impressed. Grandpa asks for a quote that tugs at his heart and after a moment, Jin-won replies, “You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat.”
At that, Grandpa declares that he’s made the decision that Jin-won will become Yi-seul’s future husband. All their jaws drop, and Baek-ho thinks how Grandpa could do this to him, especially after he bought him lunch.
Yi-seul tells him that saying so puts Jin-won in an awkward position and hopes that Grandpa didn’t share any more embarrassing stories while she was gone. Jin-won teases, “Oh nothing – just who your first kiss was.” That effectively gets her worked up.
Grandpa reclines at the snack shop, ordering Baek-ho around with a toy mallet. While Baek-ho feeds a drumstick, Chan-wook leans in and whispers, “Do you really want to know that badly?”
Now satisfactorily buzzed, Grandpa asks if he should tell them now, and Baek-ho nods, expecting to finally satiate his curiosity. He starts, “Yi-seul’s first kiss was…”
We don’t hear the answer, and Baek-ho readies Grandpa for bed. He finally blurts that you can’t count that as a first kiss and Grandpa argues that of course it is – he kissed Yi-seul the day she was born. Pfffftt. Grandpa, why so cute?
“If you’re jealous, just say so.” Baek-ho denies it but Grandpa’s sharper than he looks – it’ll never be his turn at the rate Baek-ho is going, “Who are you talking about first kisses if he can’t even confess his own feelings!” Touché.
Grandpa issues a word of warning: He’ll never let someone like Baek-ho have his Yi-seul while he’s still alive. He lies down and dismisses Baek-ho’s question why he’s sleeping here rather than at Yi-seul’s, telling him he’s most comfortable here. Does that mean he’s okay with annoying Baek-ho instead? Answer: snorreee.
Evidently the memory still grips Baek-ho with fear, and he crumples to the ground at the park, the image of the baseball player, his little brother’s words echoing loudly. He thinks, “Sorry. I’m sorry. But, I don’t have baseball anymore either.”
And look who’s not really asleep – Grandpa silently watches over a defeated Baek-ho.
Chae-ri comes by bearing lavish gifts and I get a kick knowing that Snack shop Ajusshi is a fashion guru, almost drooling over the LV bag. She asks if it suits her and he (honestly) admits, “I think it suits me better.” But she’s talking about her and her new actor boytoy, commenting that it feels like she’s found her other half. Tae-nam: “Is it fate just because he’s tall?”
And then there’s Chan-wook frustrated in the corner, pulling at his hair. Then Snack Shop Ajusshi asks if he’s still hung up on that scenario about a ‘monster in the Han River.’ Oh boy, a reference about The Host? Or what about where the hero yells that love never changes (a pitch to Stairway to Heaven) and Chae-ri bites that hers does.
Grandpa drags Baek-ho’s lazy ass out of bed at the crack of dawn. Wait, Grandpa says what? You kidnapped the boy here? How and when? With a huge smile, Grandpa gleefully bellows, “Welcome to the training camp of hell!”
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, Baek-ho is tasked to physical work right away, but also enjoys some moments of bonding over fishing with Grandpa.
If Jin-won couldn’t be more perfect already, he works with underprivileged kids in his spare time too? Damn if perfection was just a dream. He shares that he loves sports because talent doesn’t discriminate between socioeconomic status. He acknowledges that Yi-seul’s right – the rich have access to more resources, but even with talent, it’s useless unless you meet the right person who will cultivate it.
If they do, something better will come out of it – hard work.
Yi-seul tells him that she’d like to become a manager who finds those hidden pearls of potential in the world and raise up future baseball players. He corrects her that they call those people agents, and she runs off, playfully miffed.
Over at Camp Hell, Grandpa snatches the baseball out of Baek-ho’s hands, telling him that he didn’t bring him here to train for baseball. What irks him is seeing players who try to play the sport when they haven’t earned the right.
Baek-ho asks what that right is and Grandpa challenges if Baek-ho feels like he’ll die without baseball, if he’s passionate enough about it that he can’t live without it. He stays silent.
At Yi-seul’s worried words, Dad reminds her that this might be Baek-ho’s last chance because they don’t know if he’ll ever return to baseball. Dad assures her that Grandpa had a countless number of players train under his wings, so he especially knows how to handle the most vulnerable ones. Then Mom gently adds that the moment Grandpa found out that her best buddy wanted to pursue baseball, he regarded Baek-ho like his own grandson.
The stinging words of little bro continue to haunt Baek-ho’s dreams and in his sleep he murmurs, “I’m sorry. I want to play baseball.” Overhearing these words, Grandpa wakes him to head out.
They arrive at a harbor and Baek-ho ends up face to face in front of the brother pair. They instantly recognize each other and little bro scrounges up the courage to yell some more scornful words at Baek-ho for ruining his brother. But big bro cuts him short and sends him home.
Now with just the two of them together, big bro, or Young-woo, switches to banmal since they’re in the same year. He carries a lighthearted attitude, and explains that his younger brother looks up to him and it was a big deal that a kid went to college in Seoul around these parts.
Baek-ho tells him that there’s something he needs to address and falls to his knees in front of big bro. He apologizes about the events of that day, about how he changed someone else’s life forever.
With a serious look, Young-woo asks, “Did you do it on purpose?” but then breaks into a smile and tells him that it was an accident. He can still remember the astonished look on Baek-ho’s face when the ball slipped out of his hands. So he doesn’t harbor any negative feelings.
Young-woo’s heard the news that Baek-ho quit baseball afterwards. He confides in Baek-ho that the injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise:
“But you were different. When you were standing on that mound, even without any particular skills or talents, you still shone. You looked so happy. So my thoughts wandered for a second when I got hit.
I don’t want you to give up baseball like me. I’m not just saying it to sound cool. I’d be grateful if you become a great player that someone could root for.”
Before Young-woo leaves, he reminds Baek-ho that there’s definitely someone in his life who will be sadder than him if he gives up baseball.
As soon as Baek-ho returns to his room, he starts to frantically search for his blue glove. He runs outside to see it in none other than Yi-seul’s hands. She’s come to see him as his manager and tells him that it’s time he starts pitching again.
She thrusts the glove into his hands and picks up a bat, waiting for his pitch. Baek-ho hesitates, and she orders, “Throw it. Just once. You won’t make that kind of mistake anymore.” Her voice falters, and she tells him to throw it. He says he can’t and she fires back: “Yes, you can! Because Kang Baek-ho would never let any harm come to me.”
Baek-ho still won’t budge and Yi-seul tells him that she’ll stay put until Baek-ho delivers that pitch. He calls her out on her stubbornness and finally have had enough, he fumes, “What do you know?!” and storms off. Yi-seul whispers, “I know. I know you, Kang Baek-ho. I believe in you.”
The hours pass by and night falls. At dinner, Baek-ho asks if Yi-seul left to which Grandpa tells him she’s right where he left her. He darts outside to see Yi-seul shivering in the cold, snowflakes starting to mount on her head.
Through chattering teeth she utters that he can leave if he’s not going to throw a pitch. So if he doesn’t want her to freeze to death, he can do as she says. And finally Baek-ho caves in and steps onto the mound.
As he stands there, Young-woo and Yi-seul’s words trickle in and Baek-ho gives himself a little pep talk – he can do it and Yi-seul is waiting for him. Taking a deep breath, he gathers his courage and throws the ball.
Yi-seul shouts, “One more!” and he does so, to which she calls for another one. He throws the third pitch and Yi-seul finally drops the bat… and collapses to the ground.
They rush to the hospital, but as luck would have it, the car gets stuck in a ditch on the way. So Baek-ho resolves to carry her the rest of the way. As he runs, he asks why Yi-seul’s so brazen and why she would risk her life for someone like him. She mumbles his name and Baek-ho lets out an angry cry.
Morning. Yi-seul wakes to find Baek-ho sleeping down below and she smiles.
Grandpa arrives at the hospital and suggests that Baek-ho should look into becoming a marathon runner than a baseball player given how fast he hurried.
He continues that the greatest thing he regretted in his life was being unable to take care of his family properly because he placed baseball as his top priority. He’d always figure there’d be time after he retired, but his wife suddenly passed away.
For the forty years they were together, he never told her “Thanks” or “I love you” thinking that there’d always be a tomorrow to say it. Holding fast to that thought, he suddenly found that four decades had passed in a blink of an eye.
Grandpa turns to Baek-ho and instructs him: “The man who leaves things to tomorrow is a fool.” The man who rests assured that there will always be a tomorrow will only be left with regret. Hinting that Baek-ho should tell Yi-seul how he feels, he gives Baek-ho an encouraging pat on the shoulder and leaves.
Yi-seul happily digs into the red bean porridge that Grandpa packed, mentioning that although Grandpa is scary to others, he never forgets what she likes. She wants to be discharged as soon as possible and Baek-ho asks her if that means she won’t drop by to visit Grandpa.
She casually breezes that she just saw him earlier and that they’ll just see each other the following summer. Which is when Baek-ho remembers that they would never get that opportunity because Grandpa would pass away right before their summer break.
He grabs his coat and tells her they should go and meet Grandpa. Baek-ho repeats Grandpa’s words of never putting off what you can do today. If she wants to see him, she should go see him, and if she wants to tell him how delicious his porridge is, she can go tell him himself.
As he grabs her hand out the hospital, he ponders how he always thought that he could put off telling Yi-seul how he felt because she was always beside him. But no matter how close she was to him, he never said anything. And so, he didn’t want Yi-seul to regret anything.
They catch Grandpa just before he boards the bus, and Yi-seul, gasping, tells Grandpa that the porridge was delicious. As expected, Grandpa scolds her for running out in the cold. But Yi-seul tells him to take care of his health and not skip any meals because he lives alone.
Grandpa flips that worry onto Baek-ho, stating that he’s in terrible shape to take care of Yi-seul, let alone for baseball. They see him off, waving until he’s out of sight.
Back at the snack shop, Tae-nam brews with bubbling fury and storms out when Ajusshi tells them that Chae-ri’s arrived. The two lean in for a kiss when Tae-nam appears out of nowhere and slugs the guy. We’ve only seen him for a few seconds, but it’s oddly refreshing to see the big name actor come out with a nosebleed.
Chae-ri is infuriated and she asks in half-amazement if Tae-nam has gone crazy. With hurt and mad eyes, he admits to it and exposes the sleazy guy as a married man.
Tae-nam goes on, saying that he doesn’t know whether if she was just another fling, but to him, she’s so precious that there are times he can’t look at her. He roars if Two-Timer actor douche is willing to end his marriage for Chae-ri and demands an answer. Chae-ri screams for him to stop and his buddies drag Tae-nam away.
Dazed, Chae-ri stands there trying to take it all in, and slaps the guy across the face when he tries to explain himself. But then all pretenses go out the window and he says that she must have enjoyed the attention – after all, didn’t going out with a star make her feel like one herself? Ugh, I feel sick. Smaaccckk, second slap.
Her eyes unwavering, she explains, “One was for your wife. The other was for my friend.”
She wipes her tears and slaps on a smile before she steps into the store. Chae-ri greets the gang in a salute, and apologizes for making them worry before sitting down.
Baek-ho and Yi-seul stroll down the street and he asks her what “Ha-chi” means. Yi-seul explains that it’s a nickname for Grandpa – usually a child’s first words are “Mom” or “Dad,” but for her it was “Ha-chi” for for halabuhji (grandfather). Looks like Grandpa tried to instill it in her since she was just over three months old.
He retorts that it’s as expected that the man who stole her first kiss was so patient with her. She defiantly claims that it doesn’t count and Baek-ho follows her, asking persistently who it was then.
Yi-seul finally turns around and asks if he’s joking – how could he of all people NOT know? But Baek-ho just returns the most innocent I-haven’t-got-a-clue puppydog face. Exasperated, she blurts, “It was you!”
She’s referring to the kiss we saw earlier at the 2002 World Cup and at Baek-ho’s disbelief; she’s hurt that the person who stole her first kiss doesn’t even remember doing so.
Baek-ho considers it more of an accident than a kiss and she retorts that what good is it if he remembers endless facts about sports if he can’t even remember what’s important.
It resonates with Baek-ho and he follows her. In a bold move, he turns Yi-seul around, gazes into her eyes, and kisses her. Baek-ho then looks into her eyes again and says, “That…was your first kiss.”
Eeeeeee!!! About time, I’ll say. What I was beginning to get annoyed with is how everyone and their mother knows how our main couple feels about each other… except for Baek-ho and Yi-seul. Dad knows, Mom knows, the friends know, even Jin-won knows, and I find it absolutely amazing that these two still flit about as if they don’t know. Then they have to hear from everyone that screw their idea of ‘fate/destiny/second chances,’ – the other person is never going to know unless you DO something about it. If I had to deal with another episode of tiptoeing around this, you’d expect my mouse to hit my screen. HARD.
Let’s see that kiss again.
What I think is a flaw of the story and its writing (which was present in the Japanese original as well), is treating the audience as both dense yet completely aware of what’s going on. Like how they like to remind us that once again, Baek-ho is completely in the dark of exactly when and where he’s traveled back to for a few moments, but don’t worry – he’ll remember exactly what happened 2 seconds too late after it counts. It didn’t hurt much in this story arc, but we’ve seen what kind of butterfly effect you all keenly and helpfully pointed out it can have.
Man I love Grandpa. He strikes me as such a jolly fellow who is genuinely caring and passionate about the things and people he loves. He’s the only one who can help Baek-ho get out of his funk, face his problems head on and then leave him with wise words of wisdom – all without being obvious. He might say how much he loves Jin-won and baseball, but it’s those he doesn’t explicitly mentions that he holds near and dear to his heart – like helping Baek-ho, his love for his wife, and caring for Yi-seul. And I love it how Yi-seul is the only one who makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
I’m so glad that we got time to spend with Young-woo, the player who was injured because of Baek-ho. It was a necessary conversation for Baek-ho to have before he could even consider pitching again. I was surprised that we didn’t get an all-out fight between the boys, but Young-woo realized that for him, baseball wasn’t going to cut it as his life passion. But it’s interesting that he notes that Baek-ho shines when he’s on the mound – he sees that baseball brings out the untapped potential Baek-ho has.
But pure talent and potential isn’t enough to succeed, like Jin-won says. It’s hard work and how much you want to put that effort in to see it to fruition. You’ve got your work cut out for you, buddy.