I love this show more with every episode. Such genuine reactions and range of emotion between these people. The conflicts and setup aren’t new to anybody who’s seen a drama or a hundred in their lives, but no drama’s ever going to reinvent the wheel. What matters is giving your version of this story truth and depth, no matter how small-seeming the conflict.
Friendships are tested and some denial pops its head up in this episode, but Shut Up does angst in the best possible way. See, angst is a great thing. It’s the lifeblood of dramas. It’s just the crappy dramas that give angst a bad name.
SONG OF THE DAY
Verandah Project – “Train” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
The kiss. Swoon.
Su-ah returns to her room in a daze, and with some guilt ignores a call from “Seung-hoonie.” If that ain’t the perfect way to characterize her feelings for him: cute, friendly, toothless.
Ji-hyuk goes home in a similar state. It’s worth noting that while they’re both reeling from the kiss, it’s not a cloud of bliss they’re riding; they’re also feeling a heavy dose of confusion, and Ji-hyuk mumbles to himself, “I really don’t know.”
At school, the Strawberry Fields trio (or, as Kyung-jong cheekily calls them, Ddalgi-bat, the prosaic Korean translation) takes their victory walk. They stop in front of (four of) our boys, and Pyo-joo makes a snide comment about the bloody guitar-playing. Maro asks, “Wait, blood? That wasn’t ketchup?” Yes, because smearing ketchup on a guitar makes more sense, genius. Aren’t you the smart one?
Seung-hoon smirks and tells his friends not to bother, tossing out the backhanded insult, “And here I thought you’d actually be a challenge.”
Hyun-soo stays home from school, which prompts the principal to say he’s better off staying at home anyway if he doesn’t care to learn. Guh, I want to slap the principal so badly. He then praises Strawberry Fields for winning the festival, and pointedly asks Ji-hyuk what place he came in. Pyo-joo sneers that they couldn’t even perform properly, and the principal tsks-tsks that he tried to keep them from performing so they wouldn’t humiliate the school. UGH, now I want to shoot him.
The boys worry about Hyun-soo, who isn’t picking up their calls, though they figure he needs his space. Teacher Kim warns that there are people watching them now, so they’d better be careful if they want to stay in school. Ji-hyuk returns that he’s been thinking the same thing, wondering if there’s a point to sticking around this godawful place.
Su-ah’s feeling awkwardness in the wake of the kiss, so when she runs into Ji-hyuk she turns away quickly and runs into a wall. Hee. Later when crossing paths with all our boys, she hurries away without a word.
Kyung-jong and Ha-jin wonder if she’s embarrassed to be seen with them now, aw. Do-il is more observant and says she turned away after seeing Ji-hyuk, and wonders why. Ji-hyuk overcompensates: “Stop jumping down my throat!” HA.
He finds Su-ah on classroom cleanup duty and steps up to help. And by “help” I mean placing his hand over hers as they clean the window together. Rawr. Why is such a simple gesture so hot? I get an added moment of satisfaction when Seung-hoon happens by and sees them, though he leaves quickly.
Su-ah’s feeling shy, but Ji-hyuk takes the refreshingly direct approach, taking her hand in his and telling her to stop running away. She denies that she is, but he reminds her that she was the one who said she wanted to be with him.
She backpedals — she meant she wanted to help him during a rough patch, and pulls her hand away self-consciously. I’m not sure if he takes her words at face value or if he knows she’s lying to herself, but he laughs sardonically: “Was that it? So you felt sorry for me? Fine.”
He leaves, and Su-ah says to herself, “But it’s not because I feel sorry for you…”
It’s frustrating, though I guess I can see how fear and uncertainty are starting to kick in. So when Seung-hoon asks if she wants to grab a snack, she agrees.
He asks why she didn’t pick up the phone yesterday, having waited for her at his celebratory party. She says she fell asleep, but adds, “From now on, don’t wait for me.” She says that they used to live in the same area and it was comfortable hanging out together — but now they’re in different neighborhoods, and she feels like she’s interrupting his studies.
He asks whether she’s saying this because she really doesn’t want to take up his time, or because she feels uncomfortable with him. She goes with the easier excuse, but it backfires because Seung-hoon assures her that he’s happy to spend time with her.
See, missy, that’s what you get for playing the “It’s not you, it’s me” game. She’s going to have to learn to be candid to get what she wants, because her boys are only too willing to accept what she says, not what she means.
Hyun-soo’s little sister asks about Ji-hyukie oppa, wanting to see him. Hyun-soo tells her he probably won’t come around anymore, “Because I ruined everything.” Oof.
Ruefully, he tells her that in the old days, whenever he and Ji-hyuk were on the same team for anything, they always won. But at some point, Ji-hyuk stopped coming out to the neighborhood so Hyun-soo went to Ji-hyuk’s house, and found him playing guitar with Byung-hee.
Hyun-soo: “I was so envious of them that I started learning the guitar too… but Ji-hyuk could play anything. I’d have to stay up all night to practice something that he could do the first time, like it was nothing. I wanted to become as good a player as Byung-hee, so I’d be a friend Ji-hyuk would be proud of. But I ruined it all.”
Oh, tears. It’s what killed me about the moment after the festival when Hyun-soo asked about Ji-hyuk — like he was afraid Ji-hyuk was angry at him, and how it hurt when the boys told him he’d left early.
Little Sis asks, “So are the oppas mad at you?” Hyun-soo nods, and she pats him on the back like a little grown-up, telling him it’s okay. He hugs her, and blinks away tears.
Strangely, though, on their walk home a gaggle of schoolgirls squeals and tells Hyun-soo, “Oppa, you’re sooooo cool!”
Hyun-soo’s still absent at school the next day, which his friends note with dismay. Ji-hyuk goes home that night and addresses Byung-hee’s guitar as though it’s his friend, sighing, “I really don’t know. Byung-hee, what would you have done?” Feeling grim, he starts to write his notice of intent to drop out of “this damned school.”
The reason for Hyun-soo’s sudden local fame is explained when Seung-hoon’s music-executive sister is informed of their festival website suddenly attracting attention. The reason: Eye Candy’s performance clip, highlighted by Ji-hyuk and Hyun-soo’s emotional hug.
Noona shrewdly gives the instruction to have the footage spread further — along with Strawberry Fields’ clip.
One of Ha-jin’s many admirers drops by school to find him, because the number he gave her doesn’t work. He asks if she’s here to argue over a being given a fake number, but she’s totally willing to buy that it was a silly mistake. He tells her coolly that he’d done it on purpose, so shoo, shuddering over clingy women.
Kyung-jong actually takes him to task, calling him a rude bastard and warning him not to play around with people’s feelings. Aw, you adorable cutie.
At the pool hall, the pesky Dongnae rival gang finds Ji-hyuk, and cackles over Eye Candy’s embarrassing showing. When the others arrive, Gang Leader keeps laughing… until he sees Do-il, aka Mob Boss’s son. He backs down immediately, bowing and calling him Prince Majesty.
Gang Leader tells Do-il his festival performance was awesome, but hilariously, the gang’s flattery is so overdone that it’s not quite clear whether they’re kissing ass or being mocking. Ji-hyuk’s in no mood to fight, though, and sends the gang away.
Do-il wonders what to do about Hyun-soo, calling Ji-hyuk out for passively saying that everybody needs more time. He challenges him for really meaning that Hyun-soo should spend more time blaming himself. Ji-hyuk counters, asking if he should just coddle him then, and tell him it’s not his fault because they would’ve lost anyway.
Ha-jin chimes in, siding with Ji-hyuk. He says they’re all pissed off at Hyun-soo for messing up the performance; they’re just not saying so. Kyung-jong aligns himself with the more sympathetic Do-il and gets in Ha-jin’s face, growling, “Is that all you can say about a friend?”
Ji-hyuk yells at them to stop arguing, since they can’t fill up a bottle that’s already overturned. Do-il fires back, “Is that something a leader should say?” He tells the other two to cut it out, then leaves with a disapproving sigh.
Ji-hyuk sits in the practice room that night, calling Hyun-soo to no avail, and his frustration boils over. He starts kicking stands over, tearing the soundproofing from the walls, and grabs a drum to throw… and is stopped short by the sight of Byung-hee’s composition notebook.
He sinks to the floor and wonders, “Is this the end?”
Seung-hoon comes up to Su-ah as she walks home, and she teases that after spending ten years together, it’s about time they got sick of each other. He takes it seriously, asking if she’s tired of him, and says, “I like you. I didn’t want us to confine each other with words of girlfriend and boyfriend, but now I want to be your boyfriend. Officially.”
He tells her to think it over, just as Ji-hyuk comes up the street, seeing them chatting cozily. He glares.
Eye Candy’s popularity spreads, though the boys remain oblivious to it. They trudge through school, looking all doom-and-gloom, enough so that Teacher Kim stops them to tell them that life isn’t over because of one bad performance, and that mistakes are no big deal. He asks, “Is this all you guys amount to?” Ji-hyuk retorts, “Yeah, it is. What did you expect from us?”
Teacher Kim finds students huddled around a computer, watching the Eye Candy performance and oohing over how cool Hyun-soo is. He gets a glimpse of the screen after sending the kids off, and adorably smiles with pride.
Also watching the performance clip on repeat is Kim Ye-rim, the starlet whose driver almost ran Hyun-soo over. After she records a brief message for a TV broadcast, she adds a few comments: See, she’s been listening to rock music these days, and would like to recommend this really great song…
Deo-mi asks Su-ah for Ji-hyuk’s number, because this girl in her art class saw that video and is totally head over heels for him now. Deo-mi scoffs, wondering what’s wrong with that friend — Seung-hoon she gets, but that scruffy Ji-hyuk?
Ji-hyuk finally gets tired of his fruitless phone calls and decides to go to Hyun-soo in person. Thank you. Do-il and Woo-kyung follow and they find Kyung-jong outside, having thought the same thing. Aw, they’re simpatico.
Hyun-soo’s lying in bed — as he has for the past few days — when his friends come in and join him. Literally. They climb in bed and on top of him, tickling him and breaking the gloom in one fell swoop. Aw, I just luff them so much. I’m not the only one crying, am I?
Mom proposes a samgyupsal party, and to cap it all off, Ha-jin also drops by. Kyung-jong stiffens a bit, still peevish, and Hyun-soo wonders if they’re having a couple spat. Ji-hyuk says that when those two boys are apart, he feels uneasy — so he drags Ha-jin up to sit next to Kyung-jong. Kyung-jong inches away, but Ha-jin shoves food in his mouth and breaks the ice.
By now the clip has spread so widely that a bunch of schoolgirls on a bus recognize the boys walking down the street. I love that the band is totally oblivious; they continue on their way, missing the screams and waving hands.
Su-ah gets a call from the lawyer alerting her to a letter her father has left for her. In her eagerness to get it, she runs out of the convenience store and leaves behind the mp3 player with Seung-hoon’s song on it. She realizes this belatedly while crying over Dad’s letter, and runs out to retrieve it.
After dinner, Woo-kyung clings drunkenly to Ji-hyuk while Do-il silently walks alongside them. I’m pretty sure she’s exaggerating to angle for a piggyback ride, but instead Ji-hyuk slings an arm around her for support. He asks what Do-il thinks about dropping out of that school, since people just call them gangsters and deadbeats anyway.
Do-il replies that doing that would be giving up, and that after graduation their rivals are going to head off into their own untouchable world: “Then, even if we want to beat them, we won’t be able to see them.”
Su-ah runs into them, and Woo-kyung starts to roll up her sleeves to give the Jungsang Two-Timer a piece of her mind. I have to admit I get a bit of satisfaction in Su-ah’s reaction to the two of them looking cozy — hey, you forfeited! — even though I don’t really hate her for her knee-jerk reaction. The jealousy is just that necessary in-between stage in prompting some development.
Ji-hyuk pulls Woo-kyung back and the friends continue on their way, leaving Su-ah to go hers. But almost immediately Ji-hyuk foists Woo-kyung off on Do-il and makes an excuse to leave, dashing off after Su-ah. Disappointed, Woo-kyung shakes off Do-il’s arm, not so drunk after all.
Su-ah finds the store empty and starts digging in the trash for her lost player. Ji-hyuk pulls her away, asking if it’s because it’s Seung-hoon’s song.
She says no: “It’s because it’s your voice.” She’d realized it at the festival, and asks why he didn’t tell her he’d sung the guide track. He unzips his jacket to wipe her dirty hands on his shirt, and tells her to stop searching: “I’ll sing it for you.”
Do-il sits with a despondent Woo-kyung, who sighs, “Su-ah’s really pretty, isn’t she?” She calls her a heroine out of a manhwa, and Do-il concedes that she has that general look. She says that even she can see how pretty Su-ah is, and that all the guys prefer that princessy type over her own loudmouthed personality.
Do-il tells her she’s plenty womanly. Woo-kyung laughs, hearing it as mere flattery, though she thanks him for his loyalty.
On his rooftop, Ji-hyuk prepares his guitar and calls Su-ah, since he’s too embarrassed to sing it to her face. She listens from her room as he starts to play, but then comes out to watch from her rooftop.
Pyo-joo discovers the viral Eye Candy video, and his consternation puts a huge grin on my face. The other guys aren’t as worried, but Seung-hoon frowns to hear that Eye Candy’s logging ten times the views they are.
The principal asks for a report on the demerit project, and this time Teacher Kim questions the thinking behind a teacher trying actively to expel his students. What’s really so wrong with those boys?
The principal turns on Teacher Kim, saying he’s just like his students, and says he’s disappointed to see that he’s not “settling” into his new position here. Uh-oh.
Teacher Kim agrees that he’s not, and rips up the demerit notebook. Yay! Although now I worry for you…
Even the rival Dongnae gang watches the Eye Candy clip, suddenly proud of “our Ji-hyuk” and the representation from their neighborhood. The leader barks at his boys… then sneaks a look for himself. He figures it’s better for Eye Candy to get famous, over those Jungsang bastards.
The momentum builds online until netizens nationwide are arguing that Eye Candy are the true winners of the competition. Deo-mi wonders how they can possibly evoke a hotter reaction than Strawberry Fields, and decides, “Junk food has a way of bewitching people.” Ugh, Deo-mi, you dummy.
Su-ah counters that they’re not junk food — they have the ability to warm people’s hearts, and Ji-hyuk’s voice is plenty addicting. Deo-mi asks incredulously, “Are you taking their side? Traitor.” Lordy, she is such a tool. I see her purpose as a fairly effective exposition fairy, so her value to this drama isn’t entirely nil. But that’s all I’ll concede.
The boys resume rehearsal, although they wonder what they’re practicing for now. Ji-hyuk tells them it’s not like they ever practiced to put out an album or perform on TV: “Let’s just play together for fun, like we used to.”
They start playing, but Woo-kyung comes tearing in with the exciting news that their video has been logging massive views — over 50,000 compared to Strawberry Fields, who have less than 5,000. Fans are demanding them be announced the winners, accusing the festival of unfair judging. The guys don’t react and Ji-hyuk shrugs it off, asking, “So what?”
Woo-kyung adds that even more shocking is that Kim Ye-rim, who must be feeling guilty for injuring Hyun-soo’s finger, gave an interview saying that she’s a fan. Kyung-jong: “She gives the illness, then the medicine, huh?”
Ji-hyuk remains even-keel, saying that none of this really matters anyway since it changes nothing for them. It’s just chatter. He’s interrupted by a phone call, which he answers with a mere “Yes, I understand.”
He tells his friends in a calm voice that totally belies the message that it was HR Entertainment asking him to come in tomorrow. They guys prod him to explain, and Ji-hyuk continues with his fakeout: “They mentioned something… about a contract.”
They erupt into cheers, and later that night, Ji-hyuk rips up his dropout letter, all fired up again.
The next day the boys head over to the swanky HR Entertainment offices, which happens to be home to Kim Ye-rim. They’re greeted by Seung-hoon’s sister, who says she only asked for Ji-hyuk and Hyun-soo. Ji-hyuk tells her that if they’re going to talk contracts, they all should be present.
She doesn’t object, and starts with her proposal. HR is planning to form a new band, with Ji-hyuk as the vocalist and Hyun-soo on guitar. The other members will be selected via audition process.
The boys register this, understanding that the other three are considered dead weight. Noona tells them pleasantly that the contract conditions are good (for the two members) — and, well, it’s better for the others to wise up and give up that empty hope now, so they can look to their own futures.
Hyun-soo growls, “So you’re telling us to abandon our friends.” She says with mock surprise, “Did you think you could stick together forever? No band like that exists.” She names groups that all broke up, like the Beatles and Oasis. Yes, and that is why nobody should bother to try again, ever, because the volatile Gallagher bros couldn’t get along.
Ji-hyuk asks, “What if I don’t want to?” She offers to give them time to think it over. He tells her there’s no need, and rips the contract up in front of her, letting the pieces fall on her desk.
I don’t think it surprises anybody that Ji-hyuk immediately rejected the offer, and it looks like Hyun-soo feels the same. We’re not dealing with a brand-new tale here, so what I like isn’t that Shut Up is telling a groundbreaking new story, but how it tells it in a fully realized, interesting way and with fleshed-out characters. I’m impressed with how well the elements fit together, how the developments spring out of the setups in natural ways, without necessarily feeling like the strings are being pulled by an invisible mastermind. It just flows.
For instance, Hyun-soo’s feelings of inadequacy lead him to practice extra-hard and insist on performing injured, which leads to viral popularity, which leads to a contract offer. Meanwhile he withdraws from his friends, fearing that they hate him now, and nobody wants to make the first step despite being miserable all around with the group fractured. It’s a fantastic lesson for our boys in seeing what happens when they abandon each other, giving them a taste of that unhappiness so that when they’re tested, there’s no hesitation. This group has just experienced momentary disbandment and they’re not going to choose it again.
(It doesn’t preclude that the quartet won’t be tested in other ways, though, which has me nervous for the future. But that’s the future.)
Ji-hyuk initially takes up the mantle of leader because he’s Byung-hee’s No. 2, the solid guitarist and vocalist. He has his moments of faltering, hanging back rather than actively trying to fix things — in that sense, Do-il feels like he’s got more natural leadership skills. But like it or not, Ji-hyuk’s a real leader now, which means it’s time to put on his big boy pants and lead. Great way to step it up for him.
I love that the boys ended up losing the battle of the bands, but ended up ahead precisely because of it. If they hadn’t had any mistakes and played perfectly, I’m sure they would have gotten a new fan following, and the song is pretty rockin’. But what’s really winning people over is the emotional beat — seeing Hyun-soo rock out despite bleeding all over his guitar, and Ji-hyuk forcing him to stop. Plus seeing that they were bypassed for that boring jazzy band. People like good songs, but it’s the raw emotion that tugs their hearts.
This reinforces the underlying theme that the series has been incorporating all along, that our heroes may lose the little battles, but they’ll win the war. I knew that they were going to lose the first showdown at school because there’s no way the underdogs would beat the champions in their first clash. But because this drama has made its characters so real and three-dimensional, I desperately wanted them to win that practice room anyway, even though I was pretty convinced there was no way they could. It wouldn’t have made sense.
In a drama with lazier execution, the predictability could have killed the dramatic tension, but it speaks to how well this drama has built up the conflicts that I was still on edge to see how it would play out. It’s why I was extra tense during the rock festival, because I felt that now with one loss under their belts, there was a chance they’d win this one. Except then Hyun-soo got injured, handicapping their odds again, sending them back to underdog nation.
Yet it’s the loss that propels them forward. It’s significant that they don’t gain popularity merely by looking cool onstage, or because people sympathize with the bloody guy — it’s that the band’s reaction to setback allows their strength of character to emerge. Strawberry Fields plays perfectly, they win, whatever. Eye Candy messes up, struggles, and falters, but it’s their response to that challenge that shows everyone what they’re made of — and what they’re made of is heart and grit. And a whole lotta awesome.
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 6
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 5
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 4
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 3
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 2
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 1
- Shut Up adds Loveholic rocker as music director, releases long preview
- Press conference day for cast of Shut Up: Flower Boy Band