It’s time for a little taste of success after all the setbacks and trials our boys have been through, which means that we get to bask in the satisfaction of watching our boys do well, while their detractors simmer in jealousy. Yeah, it’s pretty damn gratifying.
But given that we’re just halfway through with the show, I’m thinking this is the calm before the storm, and while this episode brings us lighthearted fun and bonding moments, we can see the dark clouds gathering on the horizon. Hold me.
SONG OF THE DAY
Loveholics – “바람이 참 매섭다” (The wind is bitterly cold) which is sung in this episode. [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Ji-hyuk admits to Su-ah that liking her is driving him crazy. It’s a hard thing for him to confess, but it’s a necessary step if they’re going to have a real relationship instead of dancing around the issue forever. Afterward, they sit together on the roof in that nervous-giddy-awkward way of new relationships and she congratulates him on the album contract.
He tells her the company wants them to move into the dormitory, right away. So while he and Su-ah return to their respective rooms smiling and giddy, they’re also bummed at the end to their shared rooftop intimacy.
The boys arrive at their new digs, ready to declare it home sweet home. They find a stern manager waiting for them, filling them in on their first practice session. The boys basically shrug and ignore him, turning to room selection. Kyung-jong darts ahead and claims a top bunk, Ha-jin the bottom bed. No use breaking up this dynamic duo, and the other three claim the other room.
The boys unpack, and how much do I love Kyung-jong’s reaction to Ha-jin’s beauty products? Aw, did the Busan boy (Busan stereotype = masculine, tough) not know his other half was so metrosexual? Ha-jin dumps out his clothes onto the floor, and Kyung-jong tidily folds them. Oh, this honeymoon period’s going to be a hoot.
The band’s disapproving manager informs them that their tardiness to rehearsal has earned them a grounding; they’re forbidden from leaving without permission. The guys barely pay any attention, quipping that they feel like they’re idol trainees. (Hm, is this an impending conflict? I’m already picturing how they’ll react to being remade into shiny idol versions.)
The manager hands out their schedule, which has them at school only for the bare minimum. He wonders, “What the heck did you do at school that the teachers are glad you’ll be attending less?” Ha.
The manager warns that if they break rules, they’ll find more rules tacked on. Ji-hyuk says, “If we’re talking rules, it won’t be long before we’re packing our bags.”
I love the manager hyung’s exasperation at how hard it is to corral the boys. He complains that getting them up in the mornings is a daily battle, and is trying to get them ready for one of their rare school days. They all balk, but Ji-hyuk suddenly changes his mind and agrees to go, saying that naturally students should go to school. I’m sure a certain pretty girl has nothing to do with it.
Off they go. In class, Ha-jin receives a gift from a girl congratulating them on their contract and shows off his new shoes, bought with his contract money, and scoffs at Ji-hyuk’s old ratty pair.
Ji-hyuk catches Su-ah’s eye and surreptitiously points to the door to mean Meet me outside, which is hilarious because he’s the furthest thing from smooth about it. Fortunately for him Ha-jin remains oblivious, but Seung-hoon picks up on the exchange.
They talk in the stairwell, and Ji-hyuk asks how she’s doing. I love watching him try to maintain his gruff demeanor despite his embarrassment, and he speed-mumbles, “If anything happens, call me, or-if-you-miss-me-then-call-me, take care.” And he darts off. So cute.
Noona CEO, whose name is apparently Hae-ri (hence the HR in the company name), introduces Seung-hoon to Kim Ye-rim, who’s pleased to be working with the famed genius songwriter. But his mood sours when Ye-rim asks about Eye Candy, since she’s a fan.
The meeting is interrupted by a call informing Hae-ri that the beleaguered manager has quit, unable to deal with Eye Candy. She assigns a new manager to take over and “tame those kids,” which lasts about two seconds before he quits as well, bringing on No. 3.
The third manager faces similar difficulty, because none of these management tactics works on a group who knows their contract is for one single only. They’re ready to leave HR as soon as it’s done, so they’re not going to bend over backwards to follow arbitrary rules.
The manager tells them to look at the big picture, the long road. If they do well, a regular contract may be next — a prospect that registers in particular with Hyun-soo. Ji-hyuk agrees to follow the rules for now, as long as they don’t make them do “weird stuff.” Like act, or dance. Ha.
With that, the boys are dressed up and prepped for their first photo shoot. Rawr.
Deo-mi has a few grudging compliments for Eye Candy’s “improvement.” Su-ah doesn’t see much difference, but Deo-mi says that before, they were “totally different from us,” and now “they’ve come over to our side.” Ugh. The fact that Su-ah grimaces endears her to me.
Deo-mi says they’re still a ways off from following Seung-hoon, to which Su-ah says that following has nothing to do with it — Eye Candy’s doing their own thing, and so is Seung-hoon. At that point, they spot Seung-hoon approaching down the hall, but he walks by and totally ignores Su-ah’s wave.
Pyo-joo and Maro find Seung-hoon in the music room, and tensions are still high. Pyo-joo demands the practice room key — this space is for bands, and Seung-hoon isn’t in one anymore.
Seung-hoon tosses the key silently, not answering Maro’s question of whether he feels the need to go this far in order to beat the other guys. Pyo-joo angrily says that he played the bass for Seung-hoon, challenging him for ditching them so easily after all the time they spent together.
Seung-hoon looks a little conflicted, but his answer is dispassionate: Spending a lot of time together necessarily doesn’t give it importance. He’s decided to start over on his own, to find what he really wants. He asks, “How long are you going to live as my underlings?”
He makes a valid point, but damn if it’s not the coldest way to make it. Even Maro reacts, telling Seung-hoon to back off because he’s at his limit too. Seung-hoon replies that he doesn’t care. Yeesh.
Seung-hoon finds Ji-hyuk in noona Hae-ri’s office, and asks how the album prep is going. Ji-hyuk tells him to mind his own business, but Seung-hoon stops him short by pointing out that Ji-hyuk’s living in the dorm now… which leaves Su-ah all alone… and does he think he can really protect her, through the end?
Ji-hyuk steps up to Seung-hoon’s face and warns him again to mind his own business.
Recording time. Hyun-soo sings “Somehow, You” while Hae-ri watches from the sound booth with Seung-hoon. She wants to record this song as a duet between Hyun-soo and Ye-rim; she likes the look in his eye, and his vocals are strong. It’s just that he’s overshadowed by Ji-hyuk in the band.
After Hyun-soo finishes, Seung-hoon asks Hyun-soo what he thinks of the song. Hyun-soo retorts, “Why should I have to tell you?” Seung-hoon offers to give Hyun-soo the song, being the songwriter and all — if he wants to hit it big, this’ll help his upward trajectory. Oh no, are you going after the weak link to divide and conquer? Nooooo!
Hyun-soo calls the song cheesy and declares that he’ll make it big on his own, without needing Seung-hoon’s “help.” Yay, for now. But this also gives Seung-hoon a clue: “So it means he does want to hit it big.”
That night, Ha-jin (wearing a nose strip) slips into the kitchen and is startled to find Do-il sleeping on the sofa, who’s more comfortable there after sleeping in the pool hall. Woo-kyung shows up at their door bearing late-night snacks, and the boys dig in. She deflates immediately to hear that Ji-hyuk is out, and nobody knows where he went.
He’s outside Su-ah’s gate, doing exercises to keep warm while he waits for her. And that’s how she finds him, doing push-ups on the wall. He makes up the excuse that he’s just here to pick up… some stuff… that he left behind. Always trying to save face, cool rocker boy. Su-ah knows it and calls his bluff, turning away and saying fine, see ya. Hehe. Serves you right.
Ji-hyuk stops her and angles for an invite, and they head inside for some ramyun. While he’s cooking, Su-ah sneaks over to his shoes and measures the size with her hand. Aw.
She steps outside when her landlady knocks on the door, and Ji-hyuk overhears the conversation: Gangsters came by today and demanded Su-ah’s rental deposit. They went away, but next time, the landlady’s going to give it to them — which means Su-ah will be kicked out. He pretends not to have heard for her sake, but surely this won’t end here.
As they eat, Su-ah asks how he feels about his band’s song being released, saying they’ve already got tons of fans. Ji-hyuk shrugs it off, not really getting why people like them.
Su-ah asks in surprise, “You really don’t know why people watch you and like you? It shows on your faces that you love what you’re doing, that you’re having the time of your lives. But it’s not you alone — you’re all like that together, and that makes it more powerful.”
Woo-kyung heads out, telling Do-il she’s too busy to just wait for Ji-hyuk; she’s working hard on her own life, learning to be a stylist and taking English lessons. He’s happy to hear it, until she adds that she’s doing it so she can follow Ji-hyuk — as his stylist/support team — and that if she doesn’t catch up to him now, she may get left behind entirely. Oh, honey, but there’s one guy ready to take you with him…
Ye-rim records one of Seung-hoon’s songs (it’s “바람이 참 매섭다” aka “The Wind is Bitterly Cold,” by Loveholics with Whale), but he cuts her off, unhappy with her bland interpretation. The Eye Candy guys wait for their turn, and Ha-jin wonders if Seung-hoon is being difficult on purpose to mess with their session.
Seung-hoon says Ye-rim is merely reciting the lyrics. He directs her to think of somebody the song brings to mind, to bring out some feeling in her voice. Ha-jin sends her a cheery wave, ready and willing to inspire, but Ye-rim looks over at Hyun-soo, who’s ignoring her.
Her phrasing is noticeably improved when she tries again, looking straight at Hyun-soo all the while, singing:
Loveholics – “바람이 참 매섭다” (The wind is bitterly cold)
Flowers wither again
The wind blows
Once again, it’s bitterly cold
Then and now, it’s the same rain,
but as ever, it’s unfamiliar
All day long it pours down on me
Until this rain stops
I’ll endure once again
The wind is bitterly cold
Hyun-soo catches her gaze mid-song and holds it, while Ha-jin moons over her, telling Kyung-jong, “The goddess has fallen for me. She’s singing this for me.” Yes, you, the bitterly cold goofball who always smiles and waves at her.
Next, it’s Eye Candy’s turn to record. They get a few measures into “Jaywalking” before the producer steps in, telling them the chords are a mess and need cleaning up: “What the heck IS your music?” Ji-hyuk refuses to change a thing about the song, saying that it’s representative of their band.
The producer tells them to do as they’re told, which raises everyone’s hackles. He declares that they have till tomorrow to persuade him, or he’s gonna “fix” the hell out of their song.
Back at the dorm, Hyun-soo concedes that they’ve always just played without worrying over the technicalities of music, or a band identity. Ha-jin says that as long as people like their music, who cares? Kyung-jong’s worried that Byung-hee’s song is going to get ruined, and Ha-jin says their trusty leader will take care of it, leaving it to Ji-hyuk.
Hyun-soo falls asleep with a smile on his face, which is unusual enough to get his buddies marveling over it. What could he be dreaming of that he’d smile, when he never does so while awake?
Ji-hyuk mulls over the producer’s question about who they are, and what their music is. He thinks back to Byung-hee’s camera introduction that opened Episode 1, when Byung-hee went around asking why the guys are in the band.
Ji-hyuk asks Do-il what kind of music Byung-hee would’ve wanted to make. Do-il tells him to think of what music he wants to make, because he and Byung-hee always wrote the band’s songs. So Ji-hyuk considers this, recalling Su-ah’s comments about them enjoying the hell out of their music, and decides, “That’s it, muse.”
Su-ah, meanwhile, buys a pair of shoes and sets to work adorning them with a hand-painted picture of a guitar on the side, replete with Eye Candy’s trademark sparkly-eyed skull and crossbones. I don’t know if shiny beads will be manly enough for our scruffy leader, but it’s an adorable gesture.
Ji-hyuk meets with CEO Hae-ri, who fills him in on the promo activities to come. Ji-hyuk is onboard until she shows them the album cover… on which their new identity has been emblazoned: Black Heart.
He protests, saying that Eye Candy isn’t Hae-ri’s. She replies, “I think it is. It’s mine, which is why I want to turn it into the best.” She thought he’d be embarrassed of the name Eye Candy, all cockiness and swagger, but she backs down about the name — for now. They can revisit the issue at a later date.
Ji-hyuk informs Hae-ri that the boys have no intention of staying with HR beyond this single, so she can put to bed any plans to reinvent them. She asks if he’s so confident that they can succeed without making any adjustments, and he replies that it’s not a matter of confidence: “If Eye Candy doesn’t stay as it is now, it has no meaning.”
She asks, “You could succeed if you let go of just a little of your stubbornness — won’t you think of your future?” Ji-hyuk answers that he doesn’t really care about whether other people will like them: “It’s just that making music with my friends is fun and thrilling and exciting. I’ll think about the future when it comes.”
She asks why he’s so fixated on his friends. Ji-hyuk answers after a beat, “Because without them, I have nothing.”
Hae-ri relents. This single will be a test of their potential, to see how far they go as themselves. Ji-hyuk thanks her, relieved, but she adds that it’ll also be a test of how far their lack of ambition can take them.
While awaiting their recording session, Hyun-soo’s already pulling away from the pack, saying maybe they should let the pros edit the song. I don’t like the look on his face when the producer declares that Ji-hyuk somehow persuaded the CEO to let them do it their way; it makes me nervous.
Enter Rock Kim, here at Hae-ri’s request. The producer entreats him to convince the guys to revise the song, but Rock Kim says to just record the sucker, keeping alive the spirit of the original.
As they record, Ji-hyuk keeps key memories fresh in his mind — of hanging out with his friends, of playing onstage with the band, of Byung-hee leading them.
Rock Kim leaves them with a backhanded compliment (or as I call it, a nonpliment), saying they had serious attitude today — it’s both an insult (you punks, full of hot air) and grudging praise (but you rocked it).
Time for the single to go on sale, and the guys gather around a computer at midnight on the big day, counting down. Refresh, click, cheer!
The song circulates fast, and even Maro starts strumming the chords, telling Pyo-joo that the song’s addictive. Pyo-joo claps his hands over his ears, refusing to listen. Haha, you big wuss.
Poor Teacher Kim is still on the hunt for a job, though he hides this fact from his beloved daughter. He scours the internet for job postings and lies to his daughter about how well he’s doing, though he takes a moment to read the news of Eye Candy’s chart success, smiling in approval.
Su-ah and Deo-mi perk up to hear the song even playing in a cafe. Su-ah frowns when the nearby table of schoolgirls “claim” Ji-hyuk, though she’s happy to let ’em dream on about Hyun-soo and Ha-jin. Deo-mi says that the guys are starting to get the star treatment, and pulling away into the distance. And when was it that you were so sure they’d never make it “up” to your level, hm?
Su-ah looks worried about that, perhaps fearing that distance. So when Ji-hyuk texts her to say he’ll drop by later, she cheers up.
Woo-kyung and her friend excitedly head over to hang out with the band. The boys have been busy promoting their single so tonight’s a rare free night. As they walk along, though, a group of girls gives them the evil eye — the same ladies who previously fought with Woo-kyung. It looks like we’re heading for a Round 2…
The Eye Candy boys, minus Ji-hyuk, hang out in the pool hall. They wonder where Ji-hyuk is, just as Kyung-jong gets a call alerting them to Woo-kyung’s brewing fight.
Hyun-soo wonders if they should stay out of trouble, but Do-il tears out of there the instant he hears, always hypersensitive to issues about Woo-kyung. The others follow, Hyun-soo most reluctantly.
Su-ah arrives at home to find her belongings packed and stacked outside on the roof. Looks like the gangsters came back, and the landlady caved. Damn. From rooftop to homeless.
Ji-hyuk is at the convenience store picking up snacks when his friends call, and he darts off… leaving his phone behind accidentally. No! When Su-ah calls, she gets no response. Am I gonna have to chain that phone to you, Ji-hyuk?
Woo-kyung finds herself cornered not only by the girls but also their angry boyfriends, here to defend their girls’ honor. Her friend warns that the band is on their way, but Woo-kyung flips, worried about getting them in trouble right when they’re on the brink of success.
The boyfriends aren’t intimidated and grab Woo-kyung. Seriously, you’re going to prove your worth to your woman by beating up another woman? I guess if your girl finds that romantic, it just shows you what kind of people we’re dealing with here.
Thankfully the Eye Candy boys arrive in time to take over the fight, joined belatedly by Ji-hyuk. It’s a pretty easy battle and the boyfriends go down easily.
After the fighting’s over and the other gang has beat it, our boys are sporting minor cuts but feeling pretty good about the outcome. The mood is positively upbeat.
Woo-kyung says that Ji-hyuk shouldn’t have come and endangered their band’s future, and starts crying as she admits she was really scared. He pats her on the shoulder to comfort her and Do-il looks away. Always there for her, but never first choice.
And then… the sound of a siren blares as a police car pulls up. Fuuuuck.
I love all the relationships, but the more the story progresses, the more I’ve been responding to the Ji-hyuk and Hyun-soo friendship. It’s strange to think they were probably once the closest two, but when you step back they’re probably the least tight pair now.
These two have had such a compellingly layered dynamic all series long, and now that the band is experiencing some movement we’re starting to see their differences stand out in starker contrast. When you’re all at the bottom together with little hope of change, it’s not hard to assume you’re all on the same page, but once you start dangling success and money and future plans in front of them, those discrepancies appear.
The drama has made each band member’s motivations very clear — I love that it’s accomplished in subtle strokes, not hit-you-over-the-head declarations — so we’ve seen this divide widening ever so slightly with each occurrence. To Ji-hyuk, the band is the family he doesn’t have — and more importantly, it’s the family he chose, over the one he was born into that tossed him aside for a new marriage. On the other side of the ring you’ve got Hyun-soo with the adoring family, and for him music is a means of upward mobility.
You can’t blame either guy for his stance, even though it puts them at odds. Yet as we saw in the festival scenes, you know they’ve got each other’s backs when it matters. I have faith their bond will prevail in the end… but it doesn’t keep the conflict from hurting while it lasts. And we haven’t even got to the tough part, I fear.
It’s something that Seung-hoon can sense too, I’m sure. Hyun-soo has enough residual friction with the rich genius prince to reject his song offer flat, but Seung-hoon now knows where the chink in the armor is, and he’s smart enough to know how to work that fissure to his advantage. If he wants to beat Eye Candy, and in particular Ji-hyuk, who’s to say he won’t stoop to picking off those friends, to hit him where it hurts?
It’s interesting that I sort of like Seung-hoon’s shrewdness. I don’t love what he’s doing (or what I suspect he may do in the future), but in the context of battling for ultimate victory, I have to respect the guy who fights smart. Granted he’s wading into some murky waters, but I don’t think he’s playing entirely dirty. The 100% morally upright thing to do would be to fight based on talent only, to step out of Eye Candy’s affairs and let the market decide, right? But people are rarely 100% morally upright (if ever), and barring outright sabotage or subterfuge, I can see where he’s going with this.
I’m simultaneously pleased that Noona sees Hyun-soo’s talents, and nervous because it makes him easier to separate from the pack. Unlike her brother she has no reason to destroy Eye Candy — quite the contrary — but inasmuch as she sees them as commodities more than people, I can totally see her making the calculated business move.
I like that she’s not evil, though, and she knows how to back down. She makes sense, too, in arguing that Eye Candy need only bend a little bit to secure success. Plus, the question of lack of ambition is an intriguing one. What IS it that the boys want? What IS their identity? I suppose the jaded answer is that the product-pushing executives just want to turn the boys into a brand, but I think there’s a legitimate question in there, and one that the boys recognize is something they can’t answer right now.
Having fun is all good and well when that fun is your end goal. But to pursue a career in music? Well, then, you’ve got to cultivate that career. If you want to be a part of showbiz, you’ve got to play the showbiz game — you can’t reject the machine and then expect it to reward you with fame and fortune. So are you in or are you out?
I find it interesting that they (minus Hyun-soo) seem to be okay with having this single and then returning to normal life. I respect that choice, but I also want them to want more for themselves. Or is rock music really not their passion, but just a vehicle for friendship?
It’s a fascinating question, and one that’s bound to cause some tensions in the near future. But once they hammer it out and make some hard decisions — instead of just coasting along together, untested, assuming they’re in accord — it’s also what’ll make ’em stronger.
- Sung Joon goes from scruffy rocker to prepster
- Shut Up: Lyrics edition
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- 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