Brace for impact. It’s an awesome episode, but you’ll need your airbags and your first-aid kit handy. And perhaps a defibrillator charged up, on standby. Just when you think you’ve seen rock bottom, you find there’s a basement hiding underneath those floorboards. These boys really know how to put a heart through the wringer. Why does it hurt so much to love you?

 
EPISODE 14 RECAP

Hyun-soo debuts solo as the boys watch on tv, half of them sad, half of them seething. It’s Ha-jin who refuses to turn away from the television, wanting to clock The Betrayer’s every move.

Ji-hyuk defends Hyun-soo’s decision, which just gets Ha-jin riled up even more, asking how he can take that guy’s side when he clearly cut and ran to save himself. Do-il looks over at Ji-hyuk, wanting to say something, but Ji-hyuk shakes his head no.

Do-il just sighs and tells Ha-jin: “Watch what you say. You’ll regret it later.” They ask Ji-hyuk what Hae-ri said about the band, and he doesn’t convey the entire conversation. The parts he leaves out: the noble sacrifice for Hyun-soo, and Hae-ri’s orders to end things with Su-ah.

All he tells them is that they’re supposed to focus on their music, and wait for the opportunity to start slow, perhaps play in little clubs here and there. So I’m guessing the breakup with Su-ah was her “do anything” condition with Ji-hyuk, though when he argues, she does point out that it’s only a matter of time before Su-ah gets hurt in all this.

Do-il, Ha-jin, and Kyung-jong go to school, the strut totally gone from their walk down the halls. Su-ah passes by and gets squarely ignored, but she stops Do-il to ask where Ji-hyuk is. She gets a cold reply: “You do know who’s hurting the most right now, right? Do us a favor and get lost.” Ouch.

That night they get a surprise visit: Kyung-jong’s mom suddenly bursts in, hysterical about her son packing up and leaving this instant. Oh no. The boys come out to see what the commotion is about, just in time to hear her scream at her son that she didn’t send him up to Seoul for this – to be friends with girlfriend-cohabitating, son-of-gangster, fisticuffs-happy punks.

Oof. The looks on the boys faces. It’s one thing to be called that by some random person, but their buddy’s mom? She tells Kyung-jong that he can’t stay here any longer, or else they’ll be a bad influence and ruin him.

But Kyung-jong breaks free of Mom’s grasp and shouts back:

Kyung-jong: I’m not going! You don’t know anything about my friends, so don’t talk about them that way! No matter what anyone says, they’re really good guys. Even if I die, I’m gonna die with them, so you can go back down by yourself, or do what you want! I love playing music with my band. If I go too, what will the band do? Even if you beat me till I die, I won’t go. I’m sorry Mom.

Awwww, kitty. It just about wrings your heart dry. The boys watch stunned, tears brimming in their eyes.

Hae-ri goes to see Su-ah at work, and tells her she can stay in the apartment as long as she needs. But Ji-hyuk is another matter. Gah, I knew she’d do something like this. She tells Su-ah that Ji-hyuk is holding onto her when it might cost him the band and their future, and asks Su-ah to let him go.

Back in the dorm, Ha-jin sidles up to Kyung-jong, moved by his bestie’s show of loyalty. But it’s not over, because Mom’s called for backup, and if he doesn’t go down with her tomorrow, Dad’s coming up to haul his ass back to Busan. This time it’s Ha-jin’s turn to remind him that they’re going to play music together till they die, so it’ll be okay.

Ji-hyuk sits alone in the basement studio, hugging Byung-hee’s guitar for dear life. I just love that visual gesture. The words swirl around in his head – Hae-ri’s question of what he’ll do to protect the band, and Kyung-jong’s declaration to defend them. Out loud, he says, “I have to protect it.”

The next morning Teacher Kim makes the boys breakfast wearing an apron like an adorable little den mother, clucking at them to eat and get some life back into them. How cute are you?

He swears by his rock-drumming past that he will get them gigs in every club in town, and tells them to go to school and practice like normal. They’re clearly dispirited, but Teach’s pep talk gets Ji-hyuk onboard, and he agrees that they’ll go to school and practice.

At school they run into Hyun-soo for the first time, and the air is downright hostile with Ha-jin, who tells him things are AWESOME now that the cold winds of Siberia aren’t blowing through the dorm. Don’t be mean to Hyun-soo! You’re killing me!

Kyung-jong is much nicer, asking Hyun-soo how he’s been, and suggesting that he visit the dorm. Ha-jin makes it clear he’s not welcome there and stalks off.

Hyun-soo just looks over at Ji-hyuk, and already my heart can’t take it. Ji-hyuk just barely manages to meet his eyes for a second, and then walks away without a word. Do-il hangs back to ask how he’s doing, and tells him not to be so disappointed in Ji-hyuk.

Hyun-soo lies that he isn’t, and just puts up his usual bristly wall of defense, saying that life is just lived alone, and it was pathetic of him to put his trust in Ji-hyuk as a leader. Do-il tells him not to say things he’ll regret later.

But that gives Hyun-soo pause, and he asks what that means. Tell him! Tell him! Aaargh, of course you’re not going to tell. Do-il sighs and says nevermind, and gives him a little pat on the shoulder, saying that it’s good that things are going well for him.

Ji-hyuk can only watch Su-ah from a distance, and texts her that he’s been staring at the back of her head for days, wondering when he can see her face. So she relocates outside with Deo-mi, and Ji-hyuk picks a balcony vantage point so they can look at each other, even if they’re not in the same space.

I just love all their little ways to be together while apart. He texts her to meet him by the river tonight. No! Not the river!

Hyun-soo gets a call from Mom to say that Little Sis made it out of surgery okay, and he can rest easy now. Phew. Ye-rim overhears the conversation and asks if she can go with him to the hospital to see her, and he pretends to be put out by her eavesdropping, but he’s totally smiling.

She takes his hand again, startling him, and this time she puts a little container of hand lotion in his palm, saying that maybe it’s because he’s a guitarist, but she was shocked at how rough his hand was when she grabbed it the last time. He’s like, I’m not a girl… but again, he’s smiling.

Ji-hyuk finds Seung-hoon at school and tells him that he’s going to stop seeing her. Seung-hoon wonders why he’s being told, and Ji-hyuk says he’s just going to trust one thing – Seung-hoon’s warning to him not to make Su-ah lonely. As in, same back to you.

Ugh. I hate it when guys do this in dramas. She’s not a possession, and she’s not an imbecile. She doesn’t need to be protected by ANYONE, and least of all does she need two guys to hand off Su-ah Duty, without her say. YOU HAVEN’T EVEN BROKEN UP WITH HER YET.

Meanwhile, Hyun-soo and Ye-rim go into the studio for an interview, which Ha-jin and Kyung-jong catch on tv. Hyun-soo gets asked if Eye Candy is over, and he gives a smooth answer that they’re each working their hardest right now, and doesn’t say anything definite.

The interviewer asks who their ideal type is, and Ye-rim very quickly answers that it’s Hyun-soo. He answers the same, “but just as a duet partner,” but the MC pushes the coupling, of course.

As their duet begins to play, it all finally sinks in and Ha-jin starts to cry. I’m not even sure if he’s crying about Ye-rim or about Hyun-soo. Kyung-jong doesn’t know what to do, and very awkwardly pats him on the back. I know I’m not supposed to be laughing, but I am. It’s so cute.

Ji-hyuk and Su-ah meet on their bench by the river and he asks if there’s anything she wants to do. She asks for the necklace he always wears and he hands it over, saying they’re even for the sneakers then.

She thinks of something else she’s always wanted to do, and he wonders how she’s kept it all in for so long. Su-ah: “Well we only have today, so we have to do it all.” He says nothing, realizing that she knows this is the end too.

Flashback to when she saw the boys lighting fireworks in honor of Byung-hee. She and Ji-hyuk light their own now.

Once the fireworks go out, Su-ah is the first to say it: “Let’s stop seeing each other.” Ji-hyuk looks over at her, surprised, but can say nothing to argue. Well if they’re both going to be noble idiots about it, I much prefer a breakup like this, with both of them knowing why, as opposed to one party being dumped “for their own good.”

They sit in silence as they wait for the bus. It comes and she gets up, but Ji-hyuk grabs her hand, not ready to let her go yet. She sits back down. And they wait for the next bus. Aw.

Ji-hyuk asks if she’s not going to ask why or let him ask, but she says she knows. Ji-hyuk: “I’m not going to call you. And I’m going to pretend not to know you at school. I’m not going to be curious, and I’m not going to miss you. I’m just going to return to the time when I never knew you.”

She says it’s okay, over and over, to each of his statements. He finally turns to her: “Is that really okay?” With tears brimming in her eyes, she barely ekes out a yes with a smile, and gets up at the arrival of the next bus.

He holds onto her hand for as long as possible, and she finally pulls away. Without turning back, she says, “Bye,” and gets on the bus. Only then does she let herself cry.

Hyun-soo goes to the hospital to see Little Sis, who whines for Ji-hyuk oppa over and over. Aw. Hyun-soo gives a reassuring smile and promises that if she eats well, he’ll call Ji-hyuk. Don’t lie to your sister! Waaaah.

Reeling from the breakup, Ji-hyuk bursts into the dorm like a crazed man on a mission, and calls the boys out of their rooms, suddenly declaring that they have to practice, right now. “We can’t let it die like this.”

They sigh and follow him into the studio to practice, but no one’s got their heart in it, and everyone’s clearly feeling the loss of a guitarist. At one mention of Hyun-soo though, Ha-jin flips and walks out. Kyung-jong follows.

Ji-hyuk sighs and says they have to power through it, and Do-il wonders, “Since when is music work that we have to force ourselves to do? If we don’t enjoy it, shouldn’t we be quitting?”

But that’s exactly the wrong thing to say to Ji-hyuk right now, fresh off his heartbreak to protect the band. His anger flares. “What? Is that really something to say to me right now, when I’m doing my damnedest to try and do something here?”

Do-il: “You’re the leader, but no one asked you to be responsible for our lives!” And he storms out too. No! If you two fight, then EVERYONE is fighting! *whimper*

Teacher Kim sees the aftermath and calls Rock Kim for help, but there’s no answer. He goes to see Hae-ri to ask if she’s really just going to stand by and watch them fall, and do nothing to help.

He argues that the rumors about Ji-hyuk aren’t true, and it’s not like Do-il can get new parents, but she has the power to help them. She says it’s their problem, and that not dropping them entirely IS the best she can do. But Teacher calls bullshit.

“These kids are barely eighteen years old. They’re at an age where they can collide and fall, and then get back up and run.” My fist is in the air.

He pleads with her to give them another shot. I love Teach so much right now. But literally two seconds after the words come out of his mouth, another story hits, this time about Do-il starting a fight with that asshole a few episodes back. Goddamn, can’t catch a break.

And then another surprise visit at the dorm: this time it’s two thugs, here to haul Do-il away. Really, Mobster Daddy? You couldn’t just call? Ji-hyuk tries to stop them and gets shoved for his trouble, and they warn that they’ll all get hurt if he doesn’t comply.

Ji-hyuk asks if he’ll be okay, and Do-il says it’ll be fine, and goes with the minions.

That leaves Ji-hyuk alone in a room with two empty beds. He just sits there, looking at the place where Hyun-soo and Do-il should be, clicking the lights on and off, on and off.

Woo-kyung sees lights on in the pool hall and stops in, and finds Do-il lying on the couch, face covered in bruises. Stop making me cry!

She freaks out, guessing that no one would have the guts to mess him up except his own father, and she kind of adorably flies off the handle, which is so not helpful, wondering if he should do a paternity test.

She pulls back his hair to look at the bruises on his face, getting a little handsy as she checks the rest of him for broken bones, chattering a mile a minute. But he shuts her up pretty handily with a kiss.

It startles her and he sort of starts to mouth “sorry,” but the words don’t come out. She gets up awkwardly to break the tension and wonders if his father hit him in the head too, and heads out to get him medicine for his cuts. On her way out, she touches her lips, still reeling from the kiss. Don’t blame ya.

Su-ah smiles just to hear other girls talk about Eye Candy, and clasps Ji-hyuk’s necklace. Their songs are her only connection to Ji-hyuk now, and she listens to them over and over, though she sighs to see his seat empty again in class.

Do-il comes back to the dorm with his bruised face, and I don’t know what’s worse—that Ji-hyuk knows right away that it was Dad, or that he says “again.” Do-il says that he must really be his son, since he let him live, though it was under the condition that he quit the band.

Oh. Crap. And then Kyung-jong comes in to say that Mom called in Dad for reinforcements, so it looks like he’ll have to go to Busan for a little while, just to clear things up with the family.

Ji-hyuk can’t believe what’s happening, “So what, it’s over?” Ha-jin says he doesn’t know anymore—about them, about himself. Nooooo! You can’t break up!

Ji-hyuk’s voice starts to shake, as he asks if they’re really going to quit, but you can see it on his face—the panic is really in the un-asked question, Are you really going to leave me?

Kyung-jong says it’s just for a short time so he can calm his parents down, and maybe the rumors will die down so they can regain their popularity. Ji-hyuk bristles against that, wondering if they all joined Eye Candy for the popularity.

Ha-jin says that’s how it works, while Do-il confesses that it’s not music he’s tired of; it’s the life of a celebrity he can’t deal with. Ji-hyuk: “Since when are WE celebrities? What are we even talking about?!”

Kyung-jong says that’s how the world sees them. Ji-hyuk freaks out, lashing back at them now, asking if this is really the end. The thing is, the three of them are all saying no, that’s not what they’re saying, but Ji-hyuk is beyond reason and goes on the offensive:

“Fine. Let’s quit. Eye Candy? Is that anything great? Let’s quit.” Fuuuuuuuuck.

He storms out, and the boys sigh. Do-il tries calling him, but he ignores the call with a scream. Each of the boys, including Hyun-soo, sits alone, completely lost.

Ji-hyuk sits on his bench by the river, asking Byung-hee if he saw that this day would come, cursing him for his dreams of Eye Candy standing on that stage. You’re even fighting with Byung-hee? GAH.

Hyun-soo plucks at his guitar blankly with a heavy sigh. Ji-hyuk’s eyes fill with tears. “Are we supposed to quit, Byung-hee-ya? It’s tough, and I’m lonely. I’m lonely, Byung-hee-ya.”

With Do-il and Kyung-jong’s parents wanting their kids out of their contracts, Hae-ri’s hands are pretty much tied. But she calls them into her office to ask their thoughts. Do-il is the first to concede that it might be his father’s doing, but he doesn’t have the desire to live as a celebrity.

She mentions Ha-jin wanting to be an actor and offers to train him in that, and tells Ji-hyuk that he’s the last one standing, and says that she’s disappointed, after all his promises that they’d be together till the end.

She says the company will make the official announcement that Eye Candy has broken up. Kyung-jong cries through the meeting, while the others sit stone-faced.

Hae-ri tells Hyun-soo that his solo album will be produced by Seung-hoon, who gleefully rubs in the Eye Candy disbandment. The news hits Hyun-soo hard, and he paces back and forth in his room, clutching his phone. Awww, please let Hyun-soo be the one to bring them back together! Please! He almost dials Ji-hyuk’s number a million times, but stops short every time.

The boys pack up their stuff and head out, and Kyung-jong stops to collect the chicken coupons he’d saved. Ha-jin sighs that if they’d ordered one more, it would’ve been free. Kyung-jong: “The chicken we ate here… was really good…”

Collective flashback to all the boys sitting around, goofing off and playing rock-paper-scissors for the last chicken leg, and making each other smell their feet, and landing in a big dogpile. Guh, the happy memories are breaking my heaaaart!

They each smile as they remember, and then one by one, they turn to go.

Ji-hyuk arrives back home in his rooftop room, and goes straight for his old guitar, the one he used to play back when Eye Candy was just Eye Candy. He grabs it angrily and drags it outside.

He pours gasoline all over it and lights it on fire, as he watches it burn.

 
COMMENTS

Damn, that’s a good ending. Dramatically, we’re in the perfect place for the last two episodes. Emotionally, I’m gutted. I have no more tears left to give. I cried the most when Ji-hyuk and Hyun-soo had their huge knockdown-drag-out fight, all quivery lip and manly tears, but then to hit us while we’re down, with the Su-ah breakup and then fight after fight until the whole band spontaneously combusts? That’s just mean. It’s awesome, but cruel.

The one thing Ji-hyuk fears the most has happened—he’s all alone. But it’s also something that he did to himself, like a horrible defensive self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s like when people do the breaking up because their true fear is in being dumped. We’ve seen time and again that Ji-hyuk sees the band as family, not just as a clichéd lip service sentiment, but in a you-are-all-I-have-in-this-world way. And while the same is actually true for all the guys, I don’t think they KNOW that about each other. It seems stupid, but also totally logical—each of them thinks that he’s the only one who really needs the others. It’s like being in a relationship where you think you’re the only one who’s madly in love. Multiply times five and you get a whole lot of crossed wires and self-protecting pride.

And this is where the drama’s strength lies – in that the central love story is really the band and the boys’ friendship. It’s not about the girl, even though I really like the Ji-hyuk/Su-ah love story, and find it refreshingly open. But the breakup that rips my heart out isn’t theirs; it’s the Hyun-soo/Ji-hyuk fight, and then the rolling avalanche of fights between the boys until the band breaks up. It only makes sense that Hyun-soo leaving is just the beginning, and that they wouldn’t be able to hold together a group that’s already fractured. What killed me was when Hyun-soo found out about the breakup and reacted as if he were still in the band. It both tore my heart out and gave me hope. You can walk away, but you can never really leave your family.

 
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