Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 15
After last week’s awesome and emotionally wrenching episodes, I was deeply anticipating this week’s shows, because it just has to get better, right? So while I’m super disappointed that Shut Up is actually ending tomorrow, I’m revved up to see how this ends, and how to rehab my heart(breaaaaak) after it does.
SONG OF THE DAY
투개월 (Two Months) – “Romantico.” Two Months is the two-member group Kim Ye-rim belongs to; they were contestants on Superstar K, which shot her to stardom.
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EPISODE 15 RECAP
We open in Busan, with Kyung-jong chained to Mom’s side at her stall in the fish market. As feared, his parents have forbidden him to go back to his corrupting Seoul life, despite his entreaties to return. So he sits here, deflecting the vague embarrassment of having customers casting him curious looks, like they almost recognize him from somewhere…
Do-il returns to his empty pool hall, brooding in the dark, turning away customers and closing up shop.
Ha-jin goes to acting class, where the teacher calls him out as having on-camera experience. Immediately he goes from just one face in the crowd to a curiosity, and people stare and murmur. The script exercise involves a scene with a rock star and his longtime friend, and Ha-jin walks out of class.
He calls Kyung-jong, who furtively sneaks the call and promises to break out of “jail” soon. The friends have no idea what has happened with Ji-hyuk, who isn’t answering his phone. Nor is he answering his door.
Hyun-soo records his solo album, but Seung-hoon is dissatisfied with a song and tells him to redo it. This time Seung-hoon’s not just being an ass; he says Hyun-soo sang the touching ballad with the voice of “someone who’s tired of living in this world.”
Hyun-soo is barely civil to Seung-hoon, but Seung-hoon points out where they’re similar: “You won’t find someone who understands you more than I do. We’re both traitors, you and I. … Neither you nor I have anybody at our sides. We both got what we wanted, but we’re not happy.” At that last bit, Seung-hoon’s smirk turns bitter, pointed at himself more than anyone.
Hyun-soo tries to call Ji-hyuk, but the phone has been left behind at home. No response when Ha-jin calls, or Do-il, or Kyung-jong.
Ji-hyuk walks the street alone at night, ignoring the looks of recognition he receives. Seeing posters advertising Eye Candy’s second single, he tears one from the wall. It’s like he’s completely disconnected himself from the world, not just by ignoring the phone but emotionally as well — he’s like a ghost, aimlessly wandering his old haunts, with nothing to do. Nobody to care about.
At school, Seung-hoon gives Hyun-soo a revised version of the song and talks to him in a friendly way, only to get Hyun-soo’s ice-cold “Mind your own business” in return. I almost feel sorry for Seung-hoon — not that he’s a victim in this, but a lot of the anger directed his way is actually misplaced. It’s easy to take out your frustration on Seung-hoon, instead of facing up to your anger at yourself for letting a friend down.
Ha-jin shoots daggers at Hyun-soo and wonders if he can transfer schools to avoid seeing that bastard’s face. Appearing to rub salt in wounds is Pyo-joo, the eternal shit-stirrer, who tells Ha-jin and Do-il that they should’ve played their cards right: If they crawled under Seung-hoon’s wing — “like Hyun-soo” — they’d still have careers. Instead they sided with Ji-hyuk, the “rotten rope” to nowhere.
Hyun-soo interrupts, reminding the rich boys that they got dumped by Seung-hoon, then tells Ha-jin he wants to talk, getting a flat refusal.
Ha-jin calls him a traitor who left to be a star on his own, to which Hyun-soo retorts that they have no right to call him a traitor. They decided to disband the group themselves, so what are they blaming him for?
Do-il tries to keep the peace, but Hyun-soo turns on him, too, saying he’s just as bad. Seeing that their confrontation is attracting a crowd, they reluctantly decide to move the talk to a more private setting.
Ji-hyuk takes a bus to Byung-hee’s memorial vault, and asks Byung-hee if he’s angry at him for liking Su-ah: “Is that why you don’t show up in my dreams anymore?”
He tells him he burned his guitar and is quitting music, but couldn’t bring himself to burn Byung-hee’s guitar. He wonders, “If you’d lived, would we have turned out differently? Why’d you leave me behind, you bastard?” Oof.
The boys relocate to the gym, where their aggression boils over into a fistfight. Trading punches, Hyun-soo demands to know where Ji-hyuk is, calling him out as being the so-called leader who let his group fall apart. He storms off, and Do-il stops Ha-jin from following.
Deciding that enough misunderstanding is enough, Do-il reveals, “Hyun-soo was sent away by Ji-hyuk.” Thank you. There’s just no repairing this deep-running lack of faith until the dark cloud of misunderstanding has been cleared, and it’s about time.
Realizing he’s been unfair toward Hyun-soo, Ha-jin now worries that he’s messed up his face before a TV appearance, which makes me aww. He calls Kyung-jong to tell him to get his butt back up to Seoul pronto, and shares the news about Ji-hyuk sending Hyun-soo away purposely.
Hae-ri fields calls asking about Eye Candy’s potential comeback while skimming an article that reads: “Sadly leaving behind just two songs before disappearing, a brightly shining comet and band of the year, Eye Candy.” She balks at the caller’s suggestion that they dissolved the band just to save Hyun-soo’s solo career. While she hadn’t explicitly ordered Ji-hyuk to do that, she essentially forced his hand — and, surprisingly, it bothers her.
Seung-hoon drops by to see Su-ah, who hastily puts away Ji-hyuk’s necklace and her sketch of him. He asks how she’s doing, and she says that it’s nothing compared to how Ji-hyuk’s feeling — he lived for his friends and his band, and she feels like she ruined it all.
He asks why she didn’t stick with him, then, and she replies that she was making life even harder for him, and that breaking up was the only thing she could do to help.
Kyung-jong stands up to Mom to tell her to trust him, then shows up in Seoul. He has his happy reunion with Ha-jin and Do-il, and they head inside the pool hall… where they find Ji-hyuk, back at last.
He doesn’t face them angrily, but he stares off blankly and doesn’t look them in the eye. He talks dully, like nothing matters. They say they know what he did for Hyun-soo, but he answers, “So what? Like that changes anything.”
Kyung-jong suggests calling Hyun-soo over to straighten out everything, but Ji-hyuk says no — they’ll talk after his solo album has wrapped. He doesn’t want Hyun-soo to derail his album by insisting on rejoining the band, “Even though there’s no band to come back to.”
Ji-hyuk invites them over for ramyun like old times, but they all have to decline; they’re all on some sort of probation from parental figures. It may be a pain in the ass to have to report back home like children, but I actually find this contrast most saddening for Ji-hyuk — he who has no such governing force in his life, cast adrift in the world with no anchor. It brings me to tears, just thinking of it.
So Ji-hyuk eats ramyun at his table for one. He shoves his chopsticks away in dissatisfaction, then tries to read, then tosses in bed. Bored. Listless.
Meanwhile, Su-ah listens to Ji-hyuk singing on repeat, as usual.
Teacher Kim suggests some frank conversation with Hae-ri, taking her to a pojangmacha and cutting down to banmal. Offended, Hae-ri grabs the soju and drinks up — fine, she’ll play along.
Cut to: a few bottles later, with Hae-ri slurring, “I feel… really wronged, y’know. Everyone calls me tough and charismatic — d’y’ou know how much slack I cut those Eye Candy guys?”
She says she liked their confidence and bravado, and that touch of crazy you can’t manufacture even when you’ve got Midas hands. She hadn’t seen that quality since fifteen years ago, when she saw Rock Kim and Teacher Kim performing in a club show. He guesses she was a fan, and she admits it.
She also says that for the first time in her career, she feels her conscience troubling her: “I thought I was doing my best. But in order to save Lee Hyun-soo, did I gravely wrong Kwon Ji-hyuk? Did I test their tear-inducing friendship?”
Teacher Kim immediately latches on to her words and asks what she did to Ji-hyuk.
Ji-hyuk finds an unexpected visitor waiting on his rooftop: a well-dressed, sophisticated woman who’s back after ignoring him for a year. It’s Mom (Yeom Jung-ah, awesome casting), and he knocks away her hand when she goes in for a maternal face-touch. Like the woman who threw him away has maternal rights.
She tells him she had nothing to do with the contract asking him to give up his inheritance rights; “they” may have sent it on her behalf, but she tells him he’s his father’s legal son, “No matter what your hyungs say.” He growls that he never said he wanted to be a part of that family anyway.
She says that his hyungs were mortified every time Ji-hyuk and his band friends landed in scandal, and offers to send him abroad to study music. He understands that it’s just another way to get rid of him.
Ji-hyuk retorts that he wants no connection to that family, so she can tell them that. Mom balks, and ah, here’s our conflict: He’d rather cut himself out of the family for good and live his own life, but that means giving up his rightful place. Mom wants him to be proud of his name and his place in the family register (“Don’t be stupid, why would you give up your fair share?”)… just, yunno, maybe he could be proud quietly, like a good little black sheep.
He tells her, “You ditched me, so leave me alone.” She returns, “You’re still my son.” Ji-hyuk: “Well that’s too bad, because I have no mother.”
He starts to leave, but turns back to ask one thing: “Why’d you abandon me?” She wonders why he’s asking now, when he’d never mentioned it before, and he bites out, “Because I can’t keep acting like it’s fine, and I’m sick and tired of hating you, so tell me straight.” But Mom just says, “Keep hating me, and live off that strength.”
Ji-hyuk warns that if she doesn’t answer now, he’ll never see her again. She relents, admitting that she didn’t want to pass on her miserable poverty to him. To which he points out, “You may have become rich, but I’m still poor, you know!”
It sounds like Mom had a lot of rationalizing to do — as though keeping him with her just because she was his mother was somehow worse for them. Like this was a cruel kindness she did him.
Ji-hyuk doesn’t buy that as an excuse and tells her that “no matter how young I was,” she should have asked him if he wanted his mother to stick around, even if that meant a harder life. Mom says he would’ve found a different reason to hate her, and declares, “I don’t regret it.”
He tells her, “Don’t think you were protecting me. I’m not thankful in the least.”
Ji-hyuk walks off, trampling over the pieces of my broken heart, and Mom stops him with one last remark: “Keep singing. My son’s voice sounded really great.” He returns, “Too bad. You won’t hear it anymore.”
Ji-hyuk heads inside, leaving Mom on the rooftop. She reaches for the doorknob but ends up turning away, and to tear your heart out (if it isn’t already), Ji-hyuk’s eyes dart back, like he was hoping she’d at least try. (Side note: How fitting that the song scoring this scene is called “Words You Shouldn’t Know,” by Loveholics.)
Ha-jin finds Seung-hoon at school and glares him down, asking after Hyun-soo, who hasn’t been in school lately. He warns Seung-hoon not to treat Hyun-soo the way he treated them, which basically translates to, Don’t be a dick to Hyun-soo, or I’ll hunt you down. It melts this heart, it does. Of course, hearts tend to be easier to melt when they’re already broken in pieces.
After Ha-jin stalks off, Seung-hoon mutters to himself that it’s enough to bring a tear to the eye. He isn’t being sarcastic, just noting what Hae-ri did — that these boys have a “tear-inducing” friendship. To hammer in that point, he turns a corner and sees his former bandmates. Pyo-joo immediately storms off, and Maro shrugs.
Hae-ri lets Teacher Kim go; his services are no longer needed. That’s true, though there’s also the fact that she’s embarrassed of her drunken honesty, and she reminds him of the nondisclosure clause in his contract.
Teacher Kim runs into Hyun-soo on his way out and wishes him luck, sighing that at least one of the band ought to do well, “after Ji-hyuk did that for you…” He stops himself, but Hyun-soo’s sharp and wonders what that means.
Ye-rim is sad that duet activities with Hyun-soo are winding down and suggests a party with all his friends. Though Hyun-soo has been nicer during their promo duties, now he’s back to his cold ways and asks if she knows Ha-jin likes her — and that’s why he isn’t interested in her. It’s more like saying that’s why he won’t allow himself to be interested in her, but in Hyun-soo’s mind that’s just a difference of semantics.
When Hyun-soo drops by his parents’ club, the sleazy nightclub owner pressures him into singing for the club. Hyun-soo’s parents are ill at ease, not wanting to subject their son to their boss’s tyranny but having little power to stand up to him. Hyun-soo agrees despite his dad’s silent head-shake.
Hae-ri puts her foot down, though; he can’t handle the image beatdown of being revealed as the son of third-rate lounge singers. He retorts that he’s never once been embarrassed of his parents, but she argues that the Eye Candy disbandment should’ve been proof that negative parental associations are enough to shake a career, and his has barely even begun.
She refuses: “Do you know how much Kwon Ji-hyuk begged me to save you? He said he’d do anything I asked if I’d save just you. The guy who was so confident and honorable that he ripped his contract in my face and told reporters he has a girlfriend said he’d do anything if I’d just give you a contract.” Her argument is that he shouldn’t squander his friend’s sacrifice so easily, but Hyun-soo’s fixated on the other part, the part about the sacrifice in the first place.
(Also: yay! I’m pretty sure this is Hae-ri’s way of righting her wrong, only done in her usual brusque way so she doesn’t lose face. So she does have a soul; it’s just buried in miles of pride.)
The guys wonder if Ji-hyuk’s okay; all he does is stare off at the TV all day. Hyun-soo storms in to demand, “Who told you to do all that? Did you think I’d cry in thanks? Who the hell are you to interfere in my business?”
Ji-hyuk doesn’t lift his eyes from the TV and tells him idly that it’s all good, since Hyun-soo ended up fine. Hyun-soo fires back, “Yeah, I did want to succeed on my own. BUT NOT LIKE THIS!”
Kyung-jong agrees with Ji-hyuk to let this go, telling Hyun-soo that they all know the true story and have no beef with him.
Still, Hyun-soo asks how he could do this to the band. Well, that’s going too far, and Ji-hyuk finally snaps out of it to yell back.
Ji-hyuk: “Well, what are you coming here now and saying I should do?! Was it a crime for me to like Su-ah? I wanted to see her, so I did. She got kicked out of her house and had nowhere to go, so I told her to stay in a room that was empty anyway. What does that have to do with the band?”
Furthermore, Ji-hyuk points out that he ever said one word about the other guys getting into trouble.
Do-il tells him to calm down, but Ji-hyuk tells him the same goes for him: “You act like you’re being so thoughtful, but every time Su-ah’s name came up, your face got so hard you wouldn’t let me say a word — did you think I wouldn’t know that? Friends who were supposed to be with you till the death all slunk off with one word from your parents! I was left behind on my own — so what was I supposed to do?!”
Oh thank the lord. You don’t want our hero necessarily demanding credit for his good deeds, but pointing out the injustice of being damned for his sacrifices definitely takes the idiot edge off that nobility.
Ha-jin protests that parents weren’t the only reason for their disbandment.
Ji-hyuk: “Without the band, you all had a place to go. You have parents. Noonas. Little sisters. What do I have? Su-ah was alone too, like me, and I liked her even more because of that — I wanted to protect her even more. But I sent her away too, to protect this goddamned band!”
The guys look down uncomfortably at these hard truths. In his defense, Hyun-soo says that Ji-hyuk could still have told him the truth, at least: “Did you not trust me?”
Ji-hyuk: “Hyun-soo, I never once thought of you as having quit the band. I was going to stick with the others and keep us going till you came back.” But now he starts to break down, so Ji-hyuk calls an end to the discussion and walks out.
He leaves the boys thoroughly chastened, hanging their heads as they remember Ji-hyuk kneeling before Seung-hoon, ripping up his contract, hugging Hyun-soo onstage to save his hand.
Su-ah has a surprise guest at her door and brightens to see Dad, back as a free man and ready to start a new business venture with a friend. He’s able to take Su-ah back in, but there’s one downside: The business will take him — them both — to China. He’s already looking into high schools there.
Ji-hyuk finds Rock Kim at a club, nursing a bottle of whiskey while a band sets up the stage. Rock Kim points out how lonely and bored he must be, and Ji-hyuk protests (way too much) about how he’s totally living it up, thankyouverymuch, and soooo happy he doesn’t have anyone looking to him as leader anymore and all that promo crap.
But then the band starts playing and he’s thrown into memories of playing with his own band. The pain cuts deep and his face starts to twist; the look on his face just about does me in.
Ji-hyuk fights tears while Rock Kim tells him that when you really love music, it has a way of bringing pain as well as joy — “Like how falling in love is easy, but keeping that love going is hard.”
Ji-hyuk breaks down and buries his face in his hand.
Meanwhile, Teacher Kim gets a call from somebody asking for Eye Candy’s manager, and it sends him hurrying to round up the boys.
He informs them that an opportunity has presented itself for Eye Candy. The road’ll be tough for them in Korea, with the ever-present gossip mill, but they can start over in Japan; a Japanese agency called him expressing interest. “Who’d they call? Eye Candy’s manager. ME!” He cackles in glee.
The guys consider the idea and see the appeal, but there’s one hurdle: Hyun-soo has to be part of the deal. The guys immediately protest, saying that he’s contracted for his solo album, plus they can’t ruin Ji-hyuk’s sacrifice by throwing that to the wind.
Rock Kim continues his depressing advice session, telling Ji-hyuk that guys like him are lonely to the bone: “What do you know, besides music? Guys like you can’t do anything but music. Like me.”
With that in mind, he proposes that Ji-hyuk try working with him.
The guys tell Teacher Kim to decline the offer, but Hyun-soo interjects, “Says who?”
I love that most of our supporting characters deal with their own conflicts, rather than merely playing sidekick roles to the lead characters. Like Seung-hoon, who is tasting the bitterness of his own choices. It’s an unexpected surprise in his character arc, and one I’m really pleased to see. I’ve always found him a bit more interesting than your stock antagonist character, a bit more gray and complicated; it’s a lovely sad note to show that he regrets his move.
Pyo-joo and Maro may not be the best specimens in the friendship pool, but they were loyal to him despite their boneheadedness and emotionless logic, respectively. Their companionship is perhaps worth more than Seung-hoon had deemed when he so coldly threw it away, saying that just because you spent time together doesn’t make that time special. And on the flipside of that coin, just because that is sometimes true doesn’t mean it always is. Who knows, Seung-hoon may not regret the choice enough to act differently if given a chance, but he’s learning that those decisions have unforeseen consequences. Like he tells Hyun-soo, he got exactly what he wanted, and he’s still not happy. So was it worth it?
I have respected Hae-ri all drama long so I don’t think she’s meant to be in the villain mold, but I also appreciate that she starts reflecting on her actions. It’s like when Rock Kim advised her not to tear up the group because it had something you couldn’t manufacture — some things transcend cold hard numbers, transcend pure monetary worth. And now that the band is gone — her throwaway toy, or so she had thought — she can feel that issue returning. That just as they brought value that couldn’t be quantified, their loss makes her feel uneasy, like she’s committed a grave wrong that you can’t fix with money, or the consolation that at least you got one good idol out of the mess.
But inasmuch as it’s gratifying to see her come to that realization, I also really like that the drama doesn’t paint her in a cartoonish light, by turning her around 180 and making her a new person. She calls Hyun-soo in and makes him aware of the situation, but does so in a way that’s totally typical of her. It’s consistent with her character, and this way of remaining true to its personalities makes the drama feel even more true to life.
I’m glad we got to see Ji-hyuk’s mother make an appearance, though equally glad that she wasn’t brought in as a huge dramatic arc — she was just there long enough to give us a taste of what kind of life Ji-hyuk must have had, both with her and without her. The family situation seems a bit convoluted, but I think we can consider it a mix of Lee Da-hae’s mother in Miss Ripley, Su Ae’s mother in Thousand Day Promise, and Chun Jung-myun’s brothers in Cinderella’s Sister. Basically she convinced herself that ditching her child would be better for them both, when she really meant it would be better for herself. She doesn’t feel this cuts the maternal tie, but as far as Ji-hyuk is concerned — and it appears she left when he was quite young, though I assume the rooftop house was hers — she relinquished any claim.
And now, he won’t take any half-assed attempts at parenting now — either claim him as her son, or cut him loose. It’s the wishy-washy excuses he (and we) can’t abide, the self-delusional attempts to reason the behavior as sympathetic. But most cutting of all is the fact that he seems to still want her. He just needs her to want him voluntarily, and her heart just isn’t big enough.
Finally, I really like that the story has turned back to Ji-hyuk as the central figure in the band-family, because he really is their glue. It makes sense that Hyun-soo was the catalyst for the initial split, but once you lose your backbone, it’s much harder to come back together. I commented on the skewed ideas of leadership in my last recap, because it felt unfair to expect Ji-hyuk to lead them in an administrative sense, to be the one to liaise with the company and lead interviews. But in terms of heart and soul, he’s definitely the leader, bridging the relationships and spurring them on through sheer will. And once you break that will… you break him. Sob.
I’m a bit wary of how the drama will manage to wrap everything up in one episode, and worried that I’ll be left wanting. But I suppose I’ll always want more, because it’s just so damned good.
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 14
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 13
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 12
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 11
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 10
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 9
- Sung Joon goes from scruffy rocker to prepster
- Shut Up: Lyrics edition
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 8
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 7
- 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