Rooftop Prince: Episode 16
Both hero and villain step it up a notch with the scheming, which sends our pendulum swinging back and forth a few times. Also, it is pretty satisfying to watch our baddies unraveling a bit at the seams… even if I am super greedy and want a lot more unraveling. Come on, comeuppance!
SONG OF THE DAY
옥상달빛 (Dalmoon) – ” 없는게 메리트” (What’s missing is merit) [ Download ]
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Yi Gak, dressed as comatose Tae-yong, “wakes” up in the hospital bed and calls out to his hyung. The shock sends Grandma into a faint, and Tae-mu looks like he’d like to join her in unconsciousland, except now he has to deal with this complication. And it’s a lot worse than dealing with an impostor, because now he’s facing reckoning for his own crimes.
“Tae-yong” asks why he’s here, then looks down at his hand and realizes he forgot to take off his couple ring. He moves his hand under the cover before Tae-mu notices, and feigns a headache to cut this scene short.
The ducklings hurry the real Tae-yong out of the hospital and into an ambulance, just in time to avoid being spotted by Tae-mu. How did they get their hands on an ambulance? This seems like a dubious plan, but considering the security in this place it’s likely they’ll be okay.
Despite fearing that Yi Gak disappeared into nothingness, Park-ha clings to hope and waits at their date location. It’s not until nighttime that she finally heads back home, fighting back her fear that he’s leapt back in time.
Thus she perks up to find the lights on at home, and she calls out for the guys. But nobody’s home, and she starts to cry. “Is nobody home? Did you leave?”
In the morning, Tae-yong/Yi Gak awaits his discharge with Pyo Taek-soo, who’s in on the scheme, and the three minions. Yi Gak will move into Grandma’s house, while Taek-soo will house the boys, since they can’t exactly go back to the rooftop now that the first version of Tae-yong has been outed as an impostor.
Taek-soo gives them a strong warning to keep their mouths shut to everyone, because they can’t risk someone finding out. The boys worry about Park-ha, but Taek-soo forbids them from talking to her.
At Yi Gak’s request, Taek-soo takes him to see the real Tae-yong, who has been admitted to a different hospital. He wonders if his reincarnation called him here, thinking that watching Tae-yong lying there unconscious is like looking upon his own death. He promises to right the injustice that put Tae-yong in this position, and promises to protect his place till he comes back.
Now the question is what to do with Tae-mu. Taek-soo advises moving swiftly to evict him from the company, but Yi Gak says they should leave him for the time being—they need him if they want to collect evidence that he tried to kill Tae-yong. His tactic: “If you set a fire in a fox hole, the fox will emerge on its own.”
Yi Gak shows up at the company and meets Tae-mu in the lobby, greeting him in a friendly, familiar way, talking with the modern syntax he’s been practicing. He’s gotten a pretty good idea of how to play the relationship convincingly; for instance,. he says he still doesn’t have an interest in working for the company, which is a very Tae-yong-esque thing to say.
Tae-mu likes the way this is unfolding, though he treads lightly just in case. He asks about the accident, and that’s the one thing “Tae-yong” can’t quite recall. It’s not amnesia like before, but the actual injury is a mental blank for now. Yi Gak laughs it off as frustrating, and Tae-mu asks how much he remembers leading up to it.
Yi Gak: “Do you mean about us meeting in America?” Uh-oh, that makes Tae-mu nervous as he asks, “Do you remember that?” Yi Gak acts surprised: “Then does that mean we met? You said we didn’t. I’m saying that I don’t remember us meeting in America.”
So Tae-mu sticks to his story that the meeting never took place. He has the worst poker face ever, but Yi Gak is playing softball, lulling him into a false sense of security.
Park-ha worries about the continued absence of her housemates and goes to the company to check in. Taek-soo says that he’s worried, too, since none of them have shown up for work. He tells her that the real Tae-yong showed up, and that afterward, the foursome disappeared.
The wording of that just solidifies her fears, and she says, “Then they must have returned to Joseon after all.”
On her way out, she passes by Tae-mu in the lobby, who gives her a particularly close look, since she’s about to come face to face with Tae-yong. Park-ha spots Yi Gak and gives him a long, intense look—but Yi Gak moves on without letting recognition show. He can’t betray anything in front of Tae-mu, of all people.
But once he’s out of sight, he races through the corridor to get a glimpse of her leaving, pained at the hurt she must be feeling.
Tae-mu returns to his office to find a new fax. All it has written on it, in large letters, is: “MURDERER. LIAR.” Shaking, he hides the fax from Yi Gak, who doesn’t let on that he registers hyung’s panic.
Tae-mu recalls the previous Imposter Tae-yong calling him those things, and the words ring ominously in his memory. He guesses that the Impostor is still hanging around somewhere, blackmailing him, since Impostor has a pretty good idea that Tae-mu’s a guilty bastard.
Yi Gak returns to the rooftop penthouse to pick up one of his key bits of evidence: Tae-yong’s phone, which he had safely tucked away under his bed. On his way out, he spies Tae-mu entering the apartment to do some snooping and slips away quietly.
Yi Gak thankfully leaves the premises just in time to avoid being spotted by Park-ha as well, who arrives moments later. She finds Tae-mu ransacking the place, looking for clues, and demands to know what he’s doing. He tells her that he’s looking for the four con men, since he’s also a victim of their scam, just like she is. She retorts that she wasn’t a victim of anything and insists that he leave.
Yi Gak heads to Pyo Taek-soo’s home, where he finds the ducklings and gives the go-ahead to enter into the next phase of the plan. They ask if he’s sure he wasn’t followed here, but everyone freezes when the doorbell rings. Could it be…?
And then Yong-sool breathes, “The pizza’s here.” HA! The boys scramble for the door, then dig into the pizza. Yi Gak reaches for a piece, but Chi-san stops his hand—how far their Joseon manners have come—and says that there’s only enough for four people, and they have to leave some for Taek-soo. Put out, Yi Gak huffs that he won’t eat, then.
The boys are cooped up with no change of clothes, since Taek-soo’s stuff is all the wrong size. Yi Gak offers to take them shopping next, perking them up considerably, and tries to sneak a slice of pizza while they’re in a good mood. Out shoot three pairs of hands to block him. Pfft.
Yong-soo’s slice falls to the rug, and in annoyance he snaps at Yi Gak, “Argh, really!” To the prince. Who spared his life. I wonder if he’s keeping tally of all the little slights they’ll have to repay once they’re back home…
Out shopping they go, and the boys pick out… capri pants and matching T-shirts? What about the whole don’t-attract-attention-and-stay-out-of-sight rule? On the upside, I do love their sartorial co-dependence, always needing to match.
Tae-mu and Se-na meet that night, both on edge. Se-na wonders why Jang Sun-joo requested to see her, and he supposes that it’s because of her daughter In-joo—they must make sure to keep Park-ha away.
When she meets Jang Sun-joo in her suite, Se-na explains that she was merely acting on Tae-mu’s orders and apologizes for her behavior. She returns the ring and puts on her soberest, meekest face. But Jang Sun-joo just wants to know one thing: Where is In-joo?
Se-na says she truly doesn’t know. When asked about the story about Dad resting her on his stomach—which Jang recognizes as true—Se-na says it’s something she heard on the radio, which is enough to deflect suspicion.
Park-ha returns to the company, where she watches Yi Gak closely and is struck with familiar details—like Yi Gak’s signature hands-behind-back stance of authority. When he pulls his phone from his pocket, she sees his couple ring clattering to the ground and rolling her way.
She picks it up and recognizes the ring with relief. She mutters, “You’re so dead,” and when he walks down a corridor, she grabs him out of sight and confronts him.
She glares, but Yi Gak grabs her close and tells her, “I missed you.” Calling him an idiot and crying, she asks, “Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you?”
He says, “Now that I’ve seen you, my heart feels much more at ease.” They stand there holding each other for a long moment, which is simultaneously sweet and nerve-wracking, since I’m yelling at them to hide before they’re seen. They sit in the stairwell for a while, until they decide it’s time they go their separate ways, albeit reluctantly.
Yi Gak stops her to give her one last kiss goodbye, saying, “Thank you believing in me.” Park-ha returns his ring and warns him not to go around losing it anymore.
Yi Gak takes advantage of a spare moment to search Tae-mu’s office for clues, which is when he sees that photo in his desk. He recognizes baby Park-ha with her father, which she’d previously shown him. He starts to reach for the photo to look at the mother’s image, but Tae-mu enters so Yi Gak stops the search and plays off his presence as a casual visit.
A courier drops off a package for Tae-mu, and Yi Gak watches him open the box… to find an enlarged photo of the picture from Tae-yong’s cell phone. The one of the cousins in New York the day before the attempted murder. It prompts more jarred nerves.
Grandma gathers the cousins for lunch and tells Tae-mu that all the friction is water under the bridge now; she wants them all to get along. Great Aunt comes in with a recent delivery, and Tae-mu recognizes the distinctive packaging, since it’s identical to the box he just received.
Tae-mu grabs for the box and offers to open it in the other room, while Yi Gak notes his growing panic. Great Aunt swats his hands away and opens the box herself, finding a photo frame inside, which sends Tae-mu’s blood pressure skyrocketing. But there’s no reaction from the family, and Yi Gak takes the frame to wonder innocently, “Who could have sent us a picture of a puppy?” Tae-mu practically collapses in relief.
Then as Tae-mu is driving, he answers a call from an unknown number. “Did you receive my delivery?” Yi Gak asks into the pay phone, speaking in his Yi Gak voice to identify him as the Impostor. Tae-mu demands to know what he wants, and Impostor points out that Tae-mu ran him off. He leaves him with the chilling statement, “What do you think I’d want? Think it over.”
Yi Gak’s phone booth is close enough that he can observe Tae-mu in his car. When Tae-mu comes by in search of his blackmailer, he finds the phone booth matching the phone number, which is just a stone’s throw away from the rooftop penthouse. “Of course,” Tae-mu realizes, “He was here, that rat bastard.”
Tae-mu storms up to the rooftop and yells for the Impostor to show himself. He demands that Park-ha, who’s out on the roof, order the con man outside, which she naturally knows nothing about.
Tae-mu barges in anyway, but finds nothing. Furious, he throws plants and stands over and gives Park-ha the message to pass along: Show himself, instead of hiding like a rat.
From a distance, Yi Gak watches Tae-mu’s rampage with alarm, particularly since it has Park-ha cringing in fear. He stops himself from charging in, watching helplessly.
After Tae-mu has overturned all the patio furniture (you’d think he’d get more satisfaction out of destroying the interior), Park-ha gets a string of text messages from “Dummy ♥.” She cheers up and heads out, pretending not to see Tae-mu staked out nearby watching her leave, which suggests that this is part of a larger ploy.
Park-ha heads to the subway station, followed by Tae-mu, who seems to think he’s doing a good job being inconspicuous. He follows her into the subway car at a short a distance, but reacts too slowly when Park-ha darts out at the last second. Off the train goes with Tae-mu in it, leaving Park-ha and Yi Gak standing on opposite platforms, facing each other.
Yi Gak had requested that Park-ha bring her family photo, so he can confirm that her torn picture is the same one in Tae-mu’s keeping. The question: Why would he have it?
Park-ha asks him to take a picture of Tae-mu’s photo so she can see her mother’s face, and he agrees. Taking her hand in his, Yi Gak advises her to be wary of Tae-mu’s surveillance, and they urge each other to be careful.
Park-ha tells her mother about the other photo, wondering where it could have come from. Mom muses that it could have been supplied by her birth mother, and that stops them both short—does this mean Park-ha may be able to find bio-mom?
Park-ha meets with Tae-mu and gets right to the point, slapping down her photo and saying that she knows he’s got a copy of it. He plays it cool, pretending not to know what she means, even when she demands to know who gave it to him and where her mother is.
Tae-mu offers her a deal: Tell him where the Impostor is first. Park-ha scoffs, leaving without another word. Clearly this tactic will not work.
Se-na sits down for dinner at home with Mom, who tells her about the picture and how Park-ha may get to meet her birth mother after all. Mom is happy for her, which is the opposite of Se-na’s reaction; she immediately hurries to tell Tae-mu of this development. Since the photo gives Park-ha the link she needs, they burn it. Thus when Yi Gak sneaks into Tae-mu’s office the next day, he finds the photo gone.
Of course, Park-ha could just show her ripped photo to bio-mom, which is basically what I’m shouting at her to do all through her conversation with Jang Sun-joo that night. Park-ha explains that she may have a chance to locate her birth mother, but she’s afraid of hurting her stepmother’s feelings, who accepted her so warmly after she found out her father had died.
She wonders if she should perhaps give up the search, but Jang Sun-joo senses that that’s not what Park-ha really wants. She adds that she wishes her daughter would look for her too, since it’ll be a lot easier if both sides are actively seeking each other.
The two mothers meet, both feeling a bit low for different (though related) reasons. Jang Sun-soo says she’d like to take Se-na with her back to Hong Kong, wanting to reveal their relationship after all despite promising Mom she wouldn’t.
Jang Sun-joo is ready to give up her search for In-joo, but she wants to do something for Se-na as a proper mother. She apologizes for the change of heart, but Mom gives her permission, saying it’s for Se-na’s benefit.
Se-na arrives at the hotel to meet her, and overhears a phone conversation where Jang Sun-joo tells her husband she’ll be bringing her daughter back to Hong Kong. This sends her into a panic, assuming the woman has reunited with Park-ha, and she calls Tae-mu to warn him.
Tae-mu is upset, but as he looks around and sees a truck being loaded with boxes, he gets a gleam in his eye. Uh, I hope he’s not planning on repeating Se-na’s childhood ditch job, since I’m pretty sure that won’t work with an adult. Or maybe he’s opting for that easier path—murder—and thinking of running her over? Of course, with him, murder doesn’t seem so easy, despite the number of times he’s attempted it. By sheer virtue of probability and numbers, shouldn’t he have scored a hit by now?
Tae-mu tells Se-na to calm down, because he’s got an idea. He calls Park-ha next to request a meeting, baiting her with the information the she’ll be able to reunite with her mother after all. He apologizes for his rude behavior earlier, saying that he feels this is too important an issue to keep from her.
Thus he picks her up with the promise of delivering her to her mother, which has Park-ha lighting up with anticipation. He drives on for a while, then pulls over saying that her door was making a strange noise.
When he steps out to check on it, he takes out a drugged cloth, which he uses to clamp over her nose and mouth. She struggles, but it takes mere seconds for her to pass out.
Yi Gak looks through the rest of the photos taken on Tae-yong’s cell phone, and this time he stops at a familiar face in the background. It’s Park-ha, dressed as a server, which is enough of a coincidence to seem… well, not like a coincidence.
Tae-mu pulls in to an otherwise deserted junkyard and takes Park-ha’s phone from her bag. He loads her in the back of a refrigerated truck, then takes a photo of Park-ha on her own phone, which he sends to “Dummy ♥”—whom, he can see from her phone log, she just spoke with today.
Yi Gak gets the photo message, understanding the threat loud and clear. He immediately calls her phone, and gets Tae-mu on the line. Yi Gak threatens to kill him if he so much as harms Park-ha. Tae-mu tells him to shut up: “I’ll give the orders now.”
Tae-mu warns him that this isn’t the time to be making threats, since Park-ha’s in a refrigerated truck and just might turn to ice. He orders Yi Gak to bring him the cell phone containing the New York photos.
Tae-mu waits until Park-ha shows signs of stirring, and then locks the freezer door and leaves the junkyard. Thus when she wakes, she finds herself all alone, locked in a freezer, running out of time. Realizing her situation, she panics and cries, screaming for help. But nobody’s around.
Yi Gak races to make his meeting with Tae-mu, mentally replaying Taek-soo’s warnings to not tip his hand before the plan calls for it. This means that if he goes to Park-ha now, he’s giving up the bigger battle. So, what’ll it be: the girl, or your fate-driven mystery and intrigue and time-traveling predicament?
It seems he comes to a decision, because he screeches to a stop in the middle of the road.
Ha, and the terrorization of the villain begins. It’s pretty much the most satisfying storyline in the episode, with Tae-mu starting to unravel with all the pressure of his blackmailer. I enjoyed it enough that I wish the mystery of the message-sender was kept for longer, so that he could stew in the uncertainty for more time. Tae-mu is definitely teetering on the brink, and I suspect it won’t take much to push him over the edge. But it would be nice if that brink were more epic, a la Lady Macbeth, instead of having him figure out that it’s Yi Gak right away.
I find it (unintentionally?) hilarious to consider how many versions of the same person/soul are floating around by this point. There are so many Tae-yong personas that it’s almost confusing keeping track of what to call them. Example: There’s Tae-yong. And Yi Gak. Then Yi Gak Impersonating Tae-yong. Foollowed by Yi Gak Impersonating Tae-yong, Part 2.
Each version has a slightly different set of mannerisms and ways of speaking, so on that front Yoochun’s getting plenty of material to work with in playing with the roles. I think he’s doing a pretty good job of embodying each character, too, so we’re not confused about which role he’s playing at any given moment. For instance, it’s pretty easy playing Yi Gak and Tae-yong as separate entities. And Yi Gak pretending to be Tae-yong (the first time) was the funny version, where you got the funny sageuk talk with the modern appearance. The latest one is the most nuanced version, since Yi Gak’s portrayal of Tae-yong (part 2) is a little different from straight-up Tae-yong. There are little details in his speech pattern to show us that it’s still the stuffy prince in this role, like minor accent or pronunciation slip-ups as he tries to talk modern with about a 98% success rate.
Plot-wise, I did find myself wishing the characters were smarter, both hero and villain. I’ve been spoiled with Ji Hyun-woo’s character in Queen In-hyun’s Man, who is so satisfyingly clever and quick on the uptake that I want Yi Gak to be just as smart. I want him to succeed by outsmarting Tae-mu, who at this point is just smart enough to be annoying, but not enough to actually present a challenge.
To wit: Taking Park-ha hostage makes sense and totally fits with Tae-mu’s crude, brute-force approach to “solving problems” (aka, violence and murder), but I found it a bit of a retread. Especially since Park-ha had just been locked in a burning building a couple episodes back, only to be rescued by Yi Gak. Who else laughed at the inadvertent comedy of that juxtaposition—first fire, then ice? What’s next, submersion in tepid water? A middling-speed chase?
In the absence of super-clever twists, though, I do enjoy that the show makes up for it with cute. Like the super lo-fi subway escape, HA:
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 15
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 14
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 13
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 12
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 11
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 10
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 9
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 8
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 7
- The untold love story: Rooftop Fashion King
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 6
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 5
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 4
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 3
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 2
- Rooftop Prince: Episode 1