Rooftop Prince: Episode 2
Omg, it’s hilarious. With yesterday’s premiere establishing the world, now we get to dive right into the funny. And there is a lot of that. The setup is inherently comical, but I’m pleased that the drama doesn’t assume that it gets a free ride based on that one-line premise; it still works to bring the humor, and does so with a refreshing contrast of personalities and encounters. If the drama keeps being this funny, it’s going to be a HOOT to follow.
Ratings remained similar to yesterday, as The King 2 Hearts remained in first place with 16.5%, although Rooftop Prince managed to break through to double digits with 10.5%. Equator Man rose to 8.1%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Rooftop Prince OST – “상처” (Injury) by Ali. [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Four Joseon men face off against one tiny woman with a frying pan. She warns them back until she’s backed herself clear outside, where the men get a glimpse of the city lights and freak out. Forgetting her, they stagger over to gape at the skyscrapers and cars.
It registers that these guys are a little strange, which dissipates Park-ha’s fear and makes her scoff: “Are you all crazy?” Yong-sool draws his sword to defend his prince’s honor.
Yi Gak demands to know where here is. He’s talking his antiquated Joseonspeak, which makes it doubly strange (“Art thou person or ghost?”), and he accuses her of being “a wicked thing” who has bewitched them with dark magic. Park-ha realizes their affliction must be more severe than she thought, and starts to ask where they broke out of (as in, which insane asylum did they flee?), then amends to offer to take them back home.
The boys huddle, trying to make sense of things. This place is dangerous, and they must return to the palace at once. They last recall being on horseback, so they must have been thrown, knocked out, and moved by their captors. It kind of makes sense. More than the truth, actually.
I’m cracking up at how Yoochun’s imperious delivery — which I’d noted was well-suited to the sageuk portion — is so hilarious now, because it really does make him sound like a crazy person. He orders Wicked Thing to reveal the path to the palace, offering to spare her life. Park-ha scoffs in exasperation, like, What did I do to deserve this pain in the ass?
Into the truck they go. It’s sensory overload as the three vassals hunch in the open truckbed, assaulted with 21st-century lights and sounds. Princey gets to sit inside, but he’s just as stunned at the blinking lights. This must be what it’s like to be on acid. While crazy. And maybe also a little drunk.
Park-ha is heading toward Seoul’s Gyeongbukgung, but Yi Gak is alarmed — that palace is in ruins (in his time), so he wants to go to Changdeokgung instead. By the time she screeches to a stop, the guys are feeling queasy and stumble out of the truck. Park-ha gives them a pep talk, urging them to cut out the antics now and go home.
She drives off, and the boys head for the palace. They stand expectantly while Chi-san announces, “Open the gate! The Crown Prince has arrived!” And… nothing.
It does attract the attention of a patrol car, though, and an officer yells at them to leave. Caught in the headlights, the guys are chased off the property, and find themselves stuck on a traffic island in the street with cars whizzing by on both sides. Yong-sool plays protector and takes the lead, jumping into traffic with arms outstretched. Disgruntled motorists honk while the group makes their way across the road — drawing the attention of the police. Again. HA.
It starts to rain, and Yi Gak takes shelter under the overhang outside a 7-Eleven. He gets hungry watching schoolgirls eat ramyun, and heads indoors to ask for some of his own, promising repayment in the morning. The cashier has heard this line before and laughs, calling the cops and kicking him out. And who should arrive but the same cop, for the third time tonight.
What’s funnier is that he opens the backseat, and out climb the three companions; they’d left Princey to find food, and got rounded up on the way for suspicious behavior. All four hang their heads and sigh, tummies growling.
The next morning, the four Joseon Power Rangers sit in jail, having been caught. Again. What’s hilarious is that the cop from last night is surprised to see them behind bars, because he’d let them go. But apparently they’d returned to Changdeokgung in the morning, entered without paying, and trespassed into a restricted area.
The cop asks for names and birthdates. They answer with the Joseon equivalents — family, rank — and the cop sighs, writing in his notes, “Four juvenile delinquents.” He vows that they’ll be stuck in jail till their parents can be contacted.
They snap to attention at the sight of another officer eating, and the cop decides to play up the food angle to speed things along. Man-bo hurriedly asks, “What is this guardian contact number you speak of?”
The cop says mockingly, using Joseon-speak right back at them, that contact number refers to an address (holds up ID card), a phone number (holds up cell phone), or a car license (holds up plates). And at that last bit, Man-bo perks up, having seen one of those recently.
HAHA! Oh, this is great, and actually fits into the story because Man-bo had been caressing the car’s rear lights as Park-ha zoomed off last night. Now he concentrates, focusing on the plate in his memory.
Park-ha makes her rounds selling groceries, and makes a delivery to her sister’s apartment. The door opens at her knock (someone props open the door with a shoe) and Park-ha enters to stock the fridge, only to find that it’s not Se-na who steps out of the shower, but boyfriend Tae-mu.
Park-ha ducks out in embarrassment as Se-na comes back home, but she wonders how Park-ha got in. Hm. Tae-mu, on the other hand, is bothered by the encounter.
Tae-mu wonders why the girl called Se-na “unni,” and Se-na hides the family tie, saying that Park-ha meant it in the friendly sense, not the literal one. But something niggles at Tae-mu’s memory, and finally it strikes him: Park-ha was that girl in New York, the one his dead cousin liked. They’d only exchanged a few words, but the connection to Tae-yong is enough to unnerve him.
In jail, the boys gather round Man-bo, who draws the license plate like it’s a picture. Ha, I hadn’t realized that Arabic numerals might not be familiar to them (though they should know hangul at their point in history).
And so it is that Park-ha comes home that afternoon and finds the Power Rangers back at her building, like a boomerang come back to knock her in the head. The police officer asks if she’s Park-ha and knows these men, and she thoughtlessly says, “Yes — I mean, no!” Too late.
The officer confirms that these men “came from your house,” and she tries to explain that yes they did, but what that means is that even though they came out of her house, they didn’t come from her house, and they…
But away the cop goes, ready to dump them at first opportunity.
Park-ha glares and heads for home, just as Chi-san keels over in an exaggerated swoon. Man-bo sends a pathetic look at Park-ha, who haaaates that she’s not immune to his puppy dog eyes. Like anybody could be.
She presents the men with four plates of omurice (omelette fried rice), but they just stare at the plates. They’re hungry but wary, and Man-bo objects to the lack of royal-worthy food.
But Yi Gak tells them they’ll let it slide today because of the situation. “Today, let’s just eat,” he says, and with permission granted, the boys all make a mad grab for their plates and stuff their faces like wild dogs. Hahaha.
They’re done in seconds. Yi Gak asks wonderingly, “What is the name of this dish?” She tells them, and the boys all repeat in reverent unison, “O-mu-rice.” Why is this so funny?
Yi Gak smiles in pleasure and says, “For the first time since coming here, I am happy.” His vassals immediately bow and cry, “Thank you, Your Highness!”
Park-ha is called outside by her landlord to say hello to her new neighbors, Becky and Lady Mimi. While she’s gone, the boys try to figure out how to get the water out of the bottle she left behind, which is hysterical because the brawny Yong-sool practically gives himself a hernia trying to yank the cap off, not knowing to unscrew it.
Then one of them accidentally presses a button on the remote, and the TV flicks on — just as a character (in Bow: The Ultimate Weapon) shoots an arrow straight at the camera. The boys jerk back and Yong-sool jumps in front of the prince, fending off the enemy with a kick at the TV.
He finishes the job by crashing a vase into the TV set — just as a new danger presents itself. A voice sounds from somewhere (the automated rice cooker) and Man-bo orders the treacherous female to present herself.
They locate the source of the danger, and Yong-sool takes care of it by throwing it to the ground. Oh, so like a man to just smash things. That knocks over the heat lamp, which rolls into the curtains, which catch fire…
The boys panic, trying to put out the fire quickly. Man-bo runs around and finds water — in the toilet — and cups it in his hands. Then he takes the water in his mouth and sprays it at the fire, and Yong-sool does the same. Hahaha and ewwww. Ow, my stomach hurts from the laughing.
Man-bo slips and falls on a teddy bear, which triggers the recording, “I love you!” The boys start at this new threat, and Man-bo tosses the bear into the air for Yong-sool to slice and dice with his sword. Stuffing flutters down all around them.
And this is the scene Park-ha comes back to. She screams in horror and rage.
The boys slink away, covered in fire extinguisher dust. Park-ha stops them to give them a piece of her mind and the boys actually flinch, hanging their heads.
Yi Gak feels chastened, but he’s got some royal face to save, so he sticks that nose way up in the air and tells her that he’s a prince, the framework of this country, and cannot be thus slandered. What does she demand of him in recompense?
Cut to: Park-ha, collecting all their royal robes, ordering them to clean the apartment. She keeps them in line with threats to send them back to the police station, and asks the local drycleaner to hold the robes for her. Not to clean them, but as insurance — she refers to the story of The Fairy and the Woodcutter, where the fairy can’t return to heaven because the woodcutter has hidden her magical clothing.
In this case Park-ha’s the woodcutter (which makes the boys the fairies — HA), and she mutters to herself, “The kind who makes ’em work like slaves.” She adds up the price of everything they destroyed, determined to recoup the cost. And they can’t escape without their clothes, can they? Oh, but I’d like to see them try.
In the meanwhile, she gives the foursome tracksuits to wear. She has to demonstrate the concept of zippering up the jacket, and uses Yi Gak to demonstrate… which unintentionally brings them within kissing distance. Gulp.
She sets them to work loading supplies at the market, where they’ll start working off the 220,000 won they owe her (about $200). Man-bo asks how much work that translates to (Park-ha: “Ah, I see I’m starting to communicate with Green Ajusshi here”), and answers that it’ll take the three of them eight days. Since ONE of them just stands around refusing to work…
Yi Gak demands the return of his clothing, which she ignores. He barks at her, and she says not until they’ve repaid their debt. He grumbles to himself that he’d like to punish her the old-fashioned way, with a beating.
Tae-mu calls Se-na to lunch to fish for information about Park-ha, saying she looked familiar. Perhaps she studied abroad? Se-na tenses, because she’s got her own dark history to cover up, and lies that Park-ha has lived her whole life in the country and recently came to Seoul.
Grandma CEO is dealing with some health concerns of her own, and is admitted to the hospital. Se-na attends to her — ah, she’s a secretary at the company, which explains how she knows Tae-mu, and why it appears they’re sneaking around.
Lunchtime means cup ramyun all around, and the boys all follow Park-ha’s lead, down to the way she holds her chopsticks and opens her container. It’s adorable.
The boys recoil at her phone ringtone, and she has to wave it off as no danger, muttering to herself, “Is it real or is it acting? I can’t tell.” The caller is Se-na, who wants to talk, so Park-ha agrees to head over to the hospital straightaway. She warns them to stay put during her meeting, and Yi Gak growls that he’d like to give her another punishment, this time with the leg-twisty torture device of yore. Oh, so bloodthirsty.
Se-na brings up their morning encounter, and Park-ha assures her that they’re all adults and there’s no reason to worry about the whole naked-man-in-your-apartment business. But Se-na’s point is of a different kind: That their acquaintance was only renewed two years ago, and Park-ha shouldn’t try to be too close with her or her mother. They’re not blood sisters, and this in-between relationship is awkward.
Park-ha is crushed — it’s more family being taken away, this time rejecting her by choice. She asks if she did something wrong, and Se-na replies that it’s not a matter of behavior: “The problem was forcing a connection when there wasn’t meant to be one.”
Yi Gak takes a stroll, and passes by the cafe window where the sisters are talking. He freezes at the sight of Se-na, then chases her as she leaves the cafe, calling out, “Princess, it’s me!” And then walks straight into a glass door. HAHA. What a way to undercut a dramatic discovery.
Park-ha gets up to leave as well, and sees Green, Blue, and Yellow dashing past the window, on their way to save Prince Red. He wakes up in the hospital with a dinky little Band-Aid on his nose, with four faces hovering over him.
Still fixated on the princess, Yi Gak heads out immediately, but has to settle for disappointment. He sits on a park bench with heavy heart, while his vassals kneel before him, unaware of the strange looks they attract. Yi Gak insists he saw his princess, aggrieved to have lost her again.
Park-ha rolls her eyes and joins the party, grabbing his nose and making him squeal. She’s furious that she has to pay his hospital fee on top of everything and adds it to the tab. She pulls him aside to instruct him to await his exam, but he gets up to start looking for his princess. She hisses at him and he sits down meekly.
As Granny CEO is wheeled through the hall, she gets a glimpse of Yi Gak sitting there and gasps. It’s Tae-yong! But by the time she gets to the waiting room, he’s gone.
Grandma collects the family that night, and sadly decides she must have imagined seeing Tae-yong. To everyone’s relief, she finally acknowledges that she has to let go of him.
(Side note on the family politics: Their home shopping empire was built by Granny’s husband, now deceased. Granny had intended to pass the company to her son, but he and his wife died in an accident so she remained on — hence her desire to groom grandson Tae-yong to take over. Her stepson works with her, but she isn’t keen on letting him inherit — or his son, Tae-mu. There’s also a sister-in-law who’s flighty, who’s a great-aunt to the boys. Is it confusing? Basically everyone pictured above is sneaky or useless.)
Tae-mu’s father takes this opportunity to maneuver his son closer: Tae-mu can move into the mansion to take care of her. Grandma reluctantly agrees to have Tae-yong’s things packed up, and Tae-mu moved in.
The time travelers now accept that they have skipped 300 years into the future, and decide that this rooftop room was their portal from their world, so it must be key to their return. Therefore, they must not leave it. Yi Gak deduces that since they warped after discovering the princess’s poisoning, then saw the princess in this world, the two things are related.
While the others sleep that night, Yi Gak and Park-ha lay awake. Both think about Se-na, but for different reasons: he’s remembering his wife, while she’s hurt by the sister who wants to cut ties.
Park-ha steps outside for some air and finds Yi Gak already on the roof. He says he’s feeling frustrated, so she grabs soju and whipped cream as a fix. She pours him a cap of liquor, then shoots whipped cream into his mouth. His reaction is adorable, especially when it tries it for himself. She laughs at his face full of cream, but gets it right back at her when she sneezes through her own.
They make it through a bottle of soju, and he leans in close to note, “Your face is on fire.” Aw, she’s wearing a pink hoodie, like the Voltron Princess. Or the pink Power Ranger. Take your retro pop-culture pick.
Yi Gak takes her red face in his hands and tells her to stay still: “That’s good.” She fidgets uncomfortably as he leans closer… closer… closer… and says, “My hands were cold. Now they’re warm.” LOL.
He laughs, and she grumbles about him playing jokes like he’s a naughty kid. She asks how old he is, and he says he’s 300 years older than her. At that, Park-ha proposes that they speak honestly and asks, “Did you really come from Joseon?” He nods, and she breathes, “Daebak.”
I guess that means she believes them now, and in the morning she instructs them on the ways of modern life, like walking them through the mechanics of tooth-brushing. (Hilariously, they all drink their rinsing water.)
The toilet is a marvel, until Man-bo remembers what he did with it the first time he saw it. Gag. Onward to washing clothes, turning on the stove, and street-crossing.
At the intersection Park-ha points out the red light, and Prince Red looks down at his tracksuit thinking this is his duty: He tentatively strikes a “Stop here!” position. Hee. Then the light changes and she declares, “Green!” So Green Ranger Man-bo looks at his tracksuit and assumes the lead, “Follow me!” Oh, so cute.
She teaches them to take the bus, and belatedly realizes the boys are all barefoot. Pan down to the curb, where they all took off their shoes before boarding the bus.
At the store, Park-ha teaches the boys how to pay for merchandise, cautioning them to differentiate the banknotes. The boys recognize King Sejong on the 10,000 won bill and immediately bow, exclaiming, “Your highness!”
Park-ha gets a call from her stepmother asking her for help with her truck, because Se-na needs some things moved and her arrangements fell through. Park-ha hesitates, knowing Se-na wants her to butt out of her life, but Mom pleads and she gives in. And behind her, Yi Gak stumbles in a frightening encounter with the escalator.
Park-ha arrives at the house and announces herself as the mover. She tells the prince to stay here while she brings boxes, taking the three underlings to help her. So Yi Gak is ushered in by the housekeeper, who leads him to Tae-yong’s room.
He makes his way inside, stopping short at an unnerving sight: a photo of Tae-yong on the wall (since all rich people apparently love looking at themselves, don’tcha know?). He stumbles in shock, and to reinforce the point, he sees himself in the mirror, with Tae-yong’s photo reflected right next to him.
Granny enters the room to say her last goodbye to Tae-yong’s belongings, and reels at the sight of Yi Gak. She rushes to embrace him, crying out Tae-yong’s name.
Park-ha returns with boxes and starts unloading, just as a fancy car parks in front of the house, and out step Tae-mu and Se-na. Tae-mu’s struck again with deja vu to see her, but hides his reaction and goes inside.
Grandma greets him with excitement, announcing that Tae-yong has returned.
The story sure whizzes by, doesn’t it? I feel like the show covers so much ground, and so speedily, that it’s easy to get swept along in the humor and adorable characters.
I can already sense that the story slows when we’re in the chaebol family, and isn’t that always the case? I see the point in having them there — the Tae-yong situation opens up the basic time-skipping premise to lots of conflict possibilities — but I just don’t care much about the scheming father-and-son pair or the ailing grandmother. This reminds me of Wish Upon a Star, where it was like we had two very different dramas: the heartwarmingly zippy story with the hodgepodge adopted family warming the cold hero’s heart, and the dull-as-dishwater story about the chaebol grandpa’s scheming relatives. Rooftop is much better at handling the two threads, and it also focuses a lot more on the story we care about.
I love the four time-trippers already, and like that each one has his own distinct role. I don’t necessarily get the sense that they all have deep character backgrounds, but at least their personalities are clear and separate. You’ve got the smart Man-bo (Mr. Green), the klutzy Chi-san (Mr. Yellow), and the Zoolander-esque warrior Yong-sool (Mr. Blue).
The Prince’s mix of naivete and haughtiness makes him the funniest fish out of water, in the sense that he’s the one who experiences the biggest fall from comfort and status. It’s that aspect that makes me love this basic conflict of Yi Gak being the most officious and loudspoken, because that’s exactly why Park-ha ignores him the most — it makes him the most crazy-sounding. The other guys are used to being ordered around so it’s not as big a shock for them to work, but not so the prince, who stands around and complains that he’s tired. So he’s extra-frustrated, and she’s extra-annoyed.
Plus, she’s a take-charge kind of girl (yay for those), and the way she orders Princey around has him off-balance and discombobulated. He can bluster all he wants about deserving respect, but she’ll cut him down with an eye-roll and a nose-pinch. It helps that Yoochun and Han Ji-min have really cute chemistry together; the whipped cream scene was adorable.
What works with this sense of humor is that the characters are all playing it straight, treating their encounters without that self-aware wink at the audience that they know this is funny. There’s definitely a farcical, over-the-top aspect to the comedy, but the characters react true to their world, which makes is even funnier. It’s like Shannen Doherty being upset after seeing Heathers, because she hadn’t realized she was shooting a comedy. But that’s why it worked, letting the situation convey the absurdity rather than playing your reactions knowing they’re supposed to induce a laugh.
The show also got some surprise laughs out of me by highlighting small details that I’d never thought of. You hear about a Joseon prince time-traveling to the future and you immediately think of the obvious gags: cars, city lights, cell phones. You probably also imagine that look of wonder on their faces at the magnificent invention of the toilet — but you don’t necessarily imagine that they’d treat it as a simple water source and drink it. Or that they would take off their shoes before entering a bus, because that’s “indoors.” Oh, I died laughing at that one. And how amazed they were at the humble omurice dish.
I reserve some caution for when the corporate/makjang machinations start to work into the plot more, with Tae-mu and Se-na scrambling to cover up their misdeeds. I’ll hold out hope, though, that even as those plotlines progress, they’ll be scattered between liberal doses of the rooftop family, who are endearing enough to carry a light plot. Fingers crossed.