Operation Proposal: Episode 7
So many adorable moments in this episode that I think I’m going through acute cute shock. Baek-ho realizes that he’s still not yet capable to fully win Yi-seul’s heart; Jin-won finally notices that Yi-seul is more than just a team manager, and hearts are challenged to be open to one another.
Also, time travel lesson learned: if you’re in the past, don’t take pictures. It’ll send you back to the present.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Baek-ho pulls away from the kiss and tells Yi-seul that this is their first kiss… and then she slaps him. To your credit, he did kiss you without warning, but assaulting the kid you like might not be the same as, “I like you too.”
Yi-seul stammers back what he thinks he’s doing and she storms off, leaving Baek-ho confused in the playground. He’s confused, for sure, but breaks into a small smile.
He heads to the convenience store to pick up some snacks, and mistakes the clerk for a comedian. But before he can pay, the clerk snaps a picture of him, which unexpectedly sends him hurtling back to 2012.
Baek-ho wakes, taking a few moments listening to the familiar radio broadcast before he bolts out of bed.
Standing in front of the dresser, he murmurs, “Please, please…” and opens it, perhaps to find a tux with his name. But alas, his uniform hangs to greet him.
He stares at his reflection with a heavy heart when Chan-wook calls just like before. This time, he yells about the engagement party and Baek-ho hangs his head, defeated.
The friends gather together with the engaged couple. Jin-won modestly bounces the praises he receives to his fiancée and asks if he doesn’t look like a cradle robber. Tae-nam tells him that he’ll hear that anyway and Chae-ri pipes, “An old teacher and a young student? What is this – a makjang drama?”
Yi-seul’s parents walk in and there’s an adorable moment when Dad says that they should practice walking down the aisle. Mom protests that it’s only for the wedding, and Chae-ri asks if he practiced all night. Dad: “Is it obvious?” Everyone has a good laugh.
At the baseball field, Baek-ho is throwing practice pitches. His coach tells him that he didn’t have to come in and is surprised when he hears that Baek-ho wants to play in today’s match. But a game is a game, Baek-ho states, and the Coach relents.
In voiceover, Baek-ho says that the only thing that prevented him from losing it was playing baseball. What angered him wasn’t that the wedding didn’t happen yet but that Yi-seul’s choice never wavered from Jin-won. To be more truthful, he was more enraged at himself.
He throws pitch after pitch as the memories flash in his head: the wedding, Yi-seul’s stinging words that he doesn’t know anything, the kiss (and the slap). One of the players sends him an arrogant smirk which breaks Baek-ho’s tipping point and he starts punching him to release his pent-up rage.
Unfortunately emo Baek-ho’s tantrum gets Jin-won pulled out early from his engagement party. After apologizing to the other team, he joins Baek-ho for a drink. Baek-ho has trouble with the cap, and Jin-won silently opens it for him. It’s a small moment, but it suggests that Baek-ho is still not capable on his own yet – not as a man, but more like a child.
Jin-won says that he didn’t let Yi-seul tag along because if he were in Baek-ho’s shoes, he wouldn’t want to let her see him in such a pitiful state. He won’t ask what prompted him to suddenly pick a fight, and simply asks for some warning signs in the future. Baek-ho mutters, “I’m sorry.”
Jin-won: “Go beg Yi-seul for forgiveness. You know how she takes things.”
Baek-ho finds her on the swings later that night and says that he’s sorry. Yi-seul asks, “For what? Missing my engagement party or that you caused trouble” He replies, both.
He asks if she isn’t sick of that movie, Jerry Maguire, yet and she responds that he’s her role model. No, not Tom Cruise, but Jerry Maguire, she clarifies. She wanted to become a better agent than Jin-won, so that she’d become Baek-ho’s Maguire.
Yi-seul muses that she should have studied harder, and was more competent that she’d be able to better see a person’s potential. Baek-ho asks then if she’s like Princess Pyeonggang. She counters that he must know that he’s a fool too. Handing him a belated Christmas gift, Yi-seul forces a small smile.
At home, Baek-ho opens up the box, reading the card from her first:
There’s a chance this could be my last Christmas gift to you. Up to now, I’ve been telling you things like, ‘Stay strong, Cheer up, Work hard.’ But today I want to tell you something else. It’s all right not to work hard because you’ve already given it your all. You’re already the best baseball player to me. Don’t forget that I’m always proud to be your Number 1 fan. Merry Christmas.
We flash back to some earlier time when Yi-seul spotted his worn out cleats, the new ones now staring at him.
A separate box contains all the gifts from Yi-seul and he realizes that he was always on the receiving end. Even when they were kids, Yi-seul had taken care of him – she tried to sneak out a gift (Dad caught her in the act, heh) and they dropped it off at Baek-ho’s door. For a kid who lost his father when he was young, and a mother who was never at home, he didn’t anticipated Christmas until he met Yi-seul.
But he never once gave her a present. What right did he have to be angry that Yi-seul would choose Jin-won in the end?
He thinks to himself that he wants to go back and give her a proper Christmas gift, to give her that same excitement and anticipation he once received. And the Conductor states, “You have two Park Chul-soo baseballs.” Aw yeah, he’s back!
Baek-ho greets him happily and the Conductor smiles in satisfaction, mentioning that there are some who take him for granted by now. He asks how Baek-ho owns a collector ball from 1982, an item before Baek-ho’s birth, to which he says it’s a souvenir from his late father.
The Conductor picks up the 1995 one. A legendary pitcher of 14 years turned into a disaster after a mistake on the mound. He continues that legends never keeps a clean record, and believes that the mark makes him far more valorous then any ol’ legend.
Holding it in his hand, he wants it enough to send a pathetic Baek-ho back in time once more. Baek-ho thanks him repeatedly for another shot in the past, and just like before, the Conductor disappears.
And we know how it goes by now: He drinks, repeats “Renovatio,” screams Yi-seul’s name as everything blurs…
HA! Our hero’s catching on, immediately lifting his gloves to his face in defense. Too bad it doesn’t save him from a punch straight to the face a moment later. He’s in a boxing ring sparring against Jin-won, and his friends cheer from the sidelines. But another punch sends him to the corner, slumped.
As Tae-nam starts counting (and stops at 3 despite Chan-wook telling him to go on), Baek-ho wonders how he could already be K.O.ed as soon as he arrives. It doesn’t help then that he learns he was the one who challenged Jin-won.
They spot an open concert in the park and the lyrics trickle about how it’s difficult to act like an adult and confess one’s feelings. How apt for Baek-ho then, eh?
The girls worry over how they’ll be getting older and I love that their solution is, what else, shopping. Meanwhile, Baek-ho contemplates how it’s a week before Christmas, excited at the prospect of preparing an actual Christmas present.
He casually tosses what girls might like to get (Tae-nam: “Brand name bags and shoes.”). Chan-wook wonders if it doesn’t matter as long as it comes from someone they love and that it’s better than coming up empty-handed. Call me shallow, but I’m going with Tae-nam on this one, Socrates.
Baek-ho spots Yi-seul stop to look at a coat in a store window, and he encourages her that it doesn’t hurt to just try it on. He’s slackjawed for a moment as she examines herself in the mirror. He teases before he admits that it suits her, but she ushers him out when she notices the price.
Aww, but he sneaks back into the store to confirm how much it is. It’s expensive at around $500, and Baek-ho asks that they save one so he can buy it on Christmas Eve. They strike a deal, and Baek-ho resolves to work as much as he can to come up with the cash.
Over the course of the week, Baek-ho works at various odd-end part time jobs from a traffic attendant to a moving assistant, to a waiter.
Yi-seul unearths some old baseball theses and asks Jin-won about them. Repeating Baek-ho’s earlier words about how there’s nothing in this world but baseball for some people; Jin-won explains that he decided not to run away from the things he loved.
Thanks to him, Jin-won found a new dream: to build a team of players who were constantly rejected by the sport from either trying to make it pro or who were dropped, and essentially giving them a shot at their dream.
Yi-seul stares for a moment, impressed, and calls him cheap… for holding such a remarkable dream by himself. Jin-won asks if she’ll partake in that dream with him and she readily agrees, joking that he can’t take his words back now.
She spots a Jerry Maguire DVD on his desk and they both answer simultaneously that he’s their “life’s mentor,” and they crack up over the similarity. She suggests that they watch it together.
Jin-won and Yi-seul watch the movie in his darkened office (rawr?) and she ends up falling asleep on his shoulder. He lightly moves her head so that she’s more comfortable, and then catches a glimpse of her sleeping. Suddenly, he visibly stiffens as it registers that there’s a girl sleeping on his shoulder. As the movie continues, he sneaks a glance or two in her direction.
Snack Shop Ajusshi tries to cheer up a dejected Tae-nam and Chae-ri. It’s no good because she leaves, taking Tae-nam with her. Ajusshi muses to himself that “A jjajangmyun once lost won’t ever come back. That’s life.” (a reference to Fantasy Couple).
Then he sees Jin-ju in a corner, knitting, and hints that she can take her time to make his present. Say it’s for Chan-wook, say it’s for Chan-wook!
Tae-nam follows Chae-ri to the hospital, where she asks if he’s curious as to why they’re here. He’s not, since he’s just glad to be with her (aw), and she apologizes. A part of me wonders if she’s pregnant like last time (or was it the time before? Time travel confuses me), but she admits that she’s here to see her boyfriend.
Doctor Boyfriend is no better than the others, completely disinterested as Chae-ri mentions that she can’t reach him and it’s been too long since they’ve seen each other. It’s Christmas and they should squeeze in a date, right?
Wrong, says Intern Jerkface, rolling his eyes at her. He says he’s already got enough on his plate without having to deal with Chae-ri too. He suggests that they end things.
Chae-ri looks at him with pleading eyes, saying that she’ll do better, that she won’t cling onto him. But
He calls her out saying that she’s one of those girls who need to be in a relationship. Instead of someone who loves dating, he needs someone who loves him.
Heartbroken, Chae-ri murmurs, tears filling her eyes, “We weren’t in love?” And Intern Jerkface calls her childish before leaving her in his wake.
At one of his many part-time jobs, a small boy asks Baek-ho if he’s really Santa and if he can make his wish come true. Baek-ho bends down to his level and the boy whispers in his ear. All we can catch is Baek-ho repeating, “Your dad?” with a slightly saddened expression and clues in that the boy likes the girl he mentions.
Baek-ho tells him that his dad (who we can safely presume has passed away) left a Christmas cake in the boy’s name. The kid isn’t anyone to be trifled with and asks how it’s possible because Baek-ho Santa doesn’t even know his name. Smart kid – don’t blindly accept kids from strangers!
But Baek-ho correctly identifies him and instructs him to take it before another Santa makes off with it. The boy smiles and runs off, his name plastered on his backpack.
Dad clocks him on the back of the head, having heard the entire exchange. He calls him for an imposter for lying to a child, but praises his earnest effort to uplift the boy’s spirits. Dad jokes that Baek-ho’s too skinny to be Santa (Baek-ho: “Yeah, you need a perfect D-line like you…”). HA – In Korea, having an “S-line” means one has covetable curves so Baek-ho here is joking about Dad’s belly.
He buys a cake off of Baek-ho and hands him his gloves so he stays warm while he works in the cold. Dad notes that it’s been a while since Baek-ho’s come for dinner and that lately, only Baek-ho’s favorites have been prepared at their house. Why so loveable, Dad?
Back at the hospital, Chae-ri salutes Tae-nam, reporting that her mission failed and she came back wounded. She calls herself silly and turns to leave.
Tae-nam: “You’re not an idiot, Yoo Chae-ri. If you are, then what am I? A super idiot?”
Moved and upset, Chae-ri tells him to stay where he is, so that he doesn’t see her crying. He complies, stating that he won’t go anywhere. “From now on, I’m frozen. Freeze!” Tae-nam freezes behind her, forming a heart above his head. It effectively gets her to smile.
Tae-nam confesses that he’ll always be by her side, as a guard or gum stuck to her shoe. If he ever needs her, he’ll be there. She genuinely thanks him.
He stands up on the chair, saying that this is the part of the scene where the girl leans on the guy’s shoulder, and Chae-ri walks up to him, and tells him he can forget it. She turns, smiling.
The kid Tae-nam comforted earlier asks, “Mom, how is he so short and he looks so old?” Tae-nam yells in offense, which makes him start crying. HAHAHA.
At the snack shop, Tae-nam wonders if Jin-ju really is psychic, as she brings Chan-wook’s food as soon as he says it. Chan-wook calls out loudly in thanks, and she beams in the kitchen. SO CUTE.
Jin-won rushes in, asking why Yi-seul isn’t picking up her phone – he’s got exciting news. A contact of his is a well-known sports agent and is currently holding an essay contest. He wants to enter Yi-seul in it, arguing that he thinks she has a fair shot. Though the formal deadline has passed, he’s willing to accept her proposal if she submits it before his flight.
At this news, Baek-ho remembered that this was an exceptional opportunity for her – if she won, she’d be able to study abroad about sports consulting, with the internship overseas the first step. Missing this chance was something that Yi-seul would come to regret.
Yi-seul says that she can’t prepare one in such short notice, and they’re having a holiday get-together at Baek-ho’s later that night. Jin-won backs down, and Yi-seul adds that she’ll just try next year…
Baek-ho interrupts that she should go for it, adding that they can always move the party to another date.
The friends find it strange – wasn’t it him who insisted they don’t change the date? But Baek-ho slips out, using another part-time job as an excuse. Then Chan-wook bolts, having remembered that he’s on the clock too.
Baek-ho coughs his way through work, the workload clearly taking a physical toll on his body. He insists that he’s fine as Chan-wook worries over him, asking what could possibly be so important that he needs to make money so quickly.
Future Boy slips again that it’s for the similar reasons that Chan-wook is saving up to pursue film. Whoops. He covers by saying he’s saving up to by a present for someone, and Chan-wook correctly guesses it’s for Yi-seul.
Chan-wook tells him that it’s strange that Baek-ho is usually so blunt with her, but every now and then, he’ll do something nice for her. It’s news to Baek-ho, and Chan-wook tells him it’s more hurtful when someone’s sincerity turns on and off like a light switch.
He assures him that Baek-ho’s gotten a wee bit nicer now that they’re older and finishes, “Plus, you and Yi-seul aren’t in that kind of relationship.” Baek-ho glares.
Baek-ho pushes through, and once he receives his pay, he runs to the store. From the window, he spots the bare mannequin and spots another customer trying on the coat. Out of breath, he rushes in and hands over the money to buy the very last coat.
Chan-wook calls to check in on him and inform him that Yi-seul is worried that she might not make the deadline. Concerned for his health, Chan-wook tells his buddy to rest up and that he’ll call to update him. Exhausted, Baek-ho falls into his bed and immediately falls asleep.
The girls chat over coffee, reflecting on Chae-ri’s recent breakup. Chae-ri concludes that she learned something from her experience and asks Yi-seul ever procrastinated on her chance to meet things head on. She rolls her eyes when Yi-seul mentions the thesis, pointing towards the matter of the heart. Gently, she encourages her friend to follow her heart.
Meanwhile, Tae-nam hunts down Intern Jerkface at the hospital. He doubles over in pain, creating a scene. The ex nervously feels around for “where it hurts,” placing his hands over Tae-nam’s rear when Tae-nam screams in horror. Adopting a female voice, he feigns offense at the sexual attack, and yells that he refuses to be treated here before he runs off.
Intern Jerkface is left in complete astonishment, and his superiors immediately call him in on his misconduct. Serves you right.
Yi-seul reels after she hears that Baek-ho’s fallen ill. It weighs heavy on her mind as Jin-won drops by to check in on her. She asks him a hypothetical: if someone loved baseball all their life, there’s a point when they reach a crossroads. Do you decide to become an athlete or remain as a lover of the sport?
After a long moment, Jin-won says that though he doesn’t have answer, he can speak from personal experience. He asks if you love the pain, a reply that confuses Yi-seul. He explains that once you choose to become an athlete, you stop enjoying the sport because of the rigorous training and brutal suffering.
The question then becomes whether you’re willing to stick it out through the rough patches. He adds, that there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back to find happiness and comfort in being a spectator.
However, one side will hold more regret than the other, but that is for someone to decide on their own. Usually, the person already knows the answer by then.
Yi-seul reflects on the memories with Baek-ho from their childhood to the present, contemplating over Jin-won’s words. Her decision made, she grabs her things and apologizes to Jin-won, citing that she’ll regret it if she doesn’t go now.
Jin-won tries to stop her, asking if it’s something that can be dealt with after she finishes her report, but she leaves. He pops in the Jerry Maguire DVD and places a hand on the couch where Yi-seul once sat, his mind wandering back to when they watched the movie together.
Yi-seul picks up medicine on the way to Baek-ho’s house. She knocks on the window, calling after him. There’s no response, and she instructs him to stay put, telling him she might have a harder time telling him the truth face to face.
With her back to the window, she starts, “Did you know it’s already been 14 years since we’ve known each other? Even though it’s a long time, it feels like it’s passed in a blink of an eye. That’s all your fault. First, second grade, summer and winter breaks, we were always together.”
She takes in a deep breath, and turns to the window, “Kang Baek-ho, actually…”
Actually what Yi-seul?! Actually WHAT?! Don’t you know I’ve got limited patience here? Sigh, I don’t expect her to read my thoughts. Anyhow, I really think that this show has finally found its groove and settled in nicely from its storyline to its character developments. I found myself enjoying every moment in this hour, from the heart-tugging moments to the more humorous ones, and felt that every nuance added to the magical quality this drama has to offer.
I’m strangely content with this cliffhanger, because my first thought would be that Yi-seul would confess her feelings to Baek-ho after the nudging from Chae-ri to step up. But then, I realized how awesome it would be, on a plot level, if she admitted that she liked Jin-won instead. I know – the fact she ran to his house, leaving the thesis behind is more of a clue that she wants to admit her heart to Baek-ho, but you have other clues that hint that the gears are working towards Jin-won’s favor. For instance, they share the same passion, envision the same goals, and love the same things.
Maybe I’m just trying to stir up trouble, but now that we’re hitting the halfway mark, it’d be an interesting twist if Baek-ho really had to work for Yi-seul’s heart, instead of expecting for the ‘right moment’ to open up to each other. Because Jin-won is perfect, and he’s a formidable contender, the bar is set high, and calls for Baek-ho to man up if he deserves Yi-seul’s heart.
On the other end of the character spectrum, I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to explore Chae-ri and Tae-nam’s relationship. I knew that she truly cares for her friends past the superficial façade she puts on. What I didn’t expect was that she’s just as heartbroken as any other woman, trying to look for love in the wrong places. It’s interesting that her ex-boyfriend (aka Intern Jerkface) calls her out that she loves the idea of love rather than pursuing love itself. And though she dismisses Tae-nam’s constant heartfelt confessions, you can tell she’s already starting to warm up to it.
Speaking of whom, I love Tae-nam. His character could have been set up for pure comic relief as the dunce who knows nothing but love, but that’s what’s so endearing about him. He believes that love is to be shared so strongly that he has no qualms about openly declaring it and protecting it when the situation calls for it. His undying loyalty to Chae-ri is so wonderful to watch because he respects where she’s at, loves her for who she is, and desires to be the person who deserves her.