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Rooftop Prince: Episode 17

Secrets come pouring out and lots of dots are connected, praise be! Secrets are great when they twist the viewers’ expectations, but when the secrets are things that the viewers have been aware of for a long while, they lose their dramatic punch when we’re just waiting for them to come out. Now that some big hurdles are cleared out of the way, we can turn our attention to the more interesting stuff.

SONG OF THE DAY

Feelbay – “비밀의 방” (Secret room) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 17 RECAP

So, Park-ha’s locked in her refrigerated prison and Tae-mu’s let his crazy out. Yi Gak screeches to a stop in his car, because Yong-sool has pulled over ahead of him. They’re here to swap cars so Tae-mu will believe he’s Impostor No. 1, since he can’t just show up in Tae-yong’s car without outing himself as also Impostor No. 2. (Sheesh. What a tangled web, and et cetera.)

He refuses Yong-sool’s offer to follow along as a safety precaution: “This is something Yong Tae-mu and I must work out between us.” Yes, but who says you can’t work things out without a bodyguard standing by, just in case? Trust me, dude, I know Tae-mu, and he tends to have a lot of “just in case” scenarios cropping up.

All the while, Park-ha shivers in the refrigerated truck, crying for help.

Jang Sun-joo calls Se-na over and greets her more warmly, needing to tell her something that can’t wait. She tells her that she’s found her daughter—not In-joo, who seems out of reach now, but In-joo’s unni. Tearily, she reveals, “Se-na, I’m the mother who gave birth to you.”

Se-na is back to calling her by her formal business title, but now Jang Sun-joo invites her to call her Mom. She explains how she’d given her to Se-na’s adopted mother to raise, and how she’s now ill.

Se-na is so shocked at the news that she can barely form words. Shaking, she asks for a moment to gather her thoughts and steps outside. Immediately she calls Tae-mu and asks after Park-ha, whom he assures he’s taking care of, per Se-na’s request; she’s “in an appropriate place.” Says you, evil bungling villain.

She asks what he did to Park-ha, and he tells her nothing yet. Se-na tells him they were wrong, that CEO Jang had given up looking for Park-ha, and asks him to release her.

Se-na returns to face her mother, kneeling and crying, even more ashamed for perpetrating the con given the irony of its needlessness. Jang Sun-joo proposes that they both go to Hong Kong for a fresh start.

Despite Se-na’s revised plan, Tae-mu ain’t about to give up his chance to use the situation for his purposes. When Yi Gak arrives, he demands the phone as ransom, and gets it. I guess Tae-mu isn’t a total idiot for forgetting we’re in a digital age, because he warns Yi Gak not to entertain thoughts of using that photo against him in the future, threatening more harm.

Yi Gak replies that he won’t threaten Tae-mu anymore, “Because merely threatening won’t satisfy me—I’ll make you feel regret down to your bones.”

Tae-mu drops the truck key on the ground and kicks it over, warning Yi Gak to mind his words if he wants to save Park-ha. He directs him to the junkyard and waits for Yi Gak to retrieve the key, bowing at his feet to do so. Aw, aside from giving Tae-mu the satisfaction, it’s particularly meaningful given all the height gags we’ve had, since the prince cannot lower himself to anyone.

Grudgingly, Yi Gak bends to pick up the key, and gets attacked from behind by hired thugs. I’m just about to make a crack about Tae-mu outsourcing his revenge beating, but then I remember that Tae-mu doesn’t do so well with evil plots; maybe it’s best he leave it to more capable hands.

The struggle is cut short after a few blows, because Yong-sool arrives to defend his prince. Aw, did you secretly follow him anyway? Yong-sool tells Yi Gak he’ll take care of this, subduing the gangsters easily, urging him to save Park-ha.

Yi Gak staggers off and drives away, finding the locked truck in the junkyard. Opening it, he finds Park-ha huddled inside and grabs her to him as she sobs. Yo, smarty, you think you could do the reunion outside the icy prison?

The ducklings huddle outside their home, anxiously awaiting the prince’s return. When he arrives, Park-ha is weak but otherwise fine, and adorably the boys all scramble to help her walk inside.

Yi Gak tends to Park-ha’s recovery, holding her hand as she sleeps. When she awakens in the morning, he suggests breakfast, and she gets up to make them omurice. But today it’s his turn to do the cooking, and he prevents her protest with a kiss. Like she’s going to argue with that.

His version of omurice is a lot uglier than hers, though, which makes her smile. He knows it too, and hurriedly tells her to eat before she can kill his pride by commenting on it. Hee. She soothes the ego a little by saying he made it look “interesting,” though when she compliments the taste I’m pretty sure it’s a forced Mmmm sound she makes.

He suggests that she take it easy today, but Park-ha won’t give Tae-mu the satisfaction of knowing he put her out of commission. She can’t report Tae-mu because it puts Yi Gak at risk, but she’ll go to work for Jang Sun-joo as planned.

She can find her mother without Tae-mu’s help, either, since it’s clear he isn’t about to share his information. Her plan is to take out an ad with her photo, in hopes that her mother will see it.

Se-na tells Tae-mu the shocking news of her birth secret, and it brings a satisfied gleam to his eye. The same gleam that always makes me want to back away nervously, that is, given his track record. Honestly, I’m not sure whether it’s better to have him on your own team or on the rival one.

Se-na asks him not to press the company issue right now, since she’s still dealing from the shock of it all, but it’s clear he’s thrilled; the company is within his reach again.

Park-ha runs her errands for Jang Sun-joo and tells her about her plan to put the ad in the papers. Jang Sun-joo asks to take a look at the photo, but predictably, just before she’s about to take out the photo she gets a phone call.

Park-ha listens in shock as Jang Sun-joo addresses Se-na as her daughter and asks to meet at her other mother’s house. Jang confirms the news to her, though she adds that Se-na isn’t In-joo.

Se-na panics at the thought of Jang Sun-joo seeing Mom’s house, with all those family photos around. She rushes home to take down all the pictures, grabbing the photo album Mom intends to show Sun-joo.

Se-na explains her behavior by saying that she wants to honor their mother-daughter relationship by keeping their shared stories between them. A pretty answer to soothe Mom’s blue spirits, even if it’s driven by selfishness. Arg, she’s such a good liar, it kills me, especially since Mom is touched and we know she’s just lying through her teeth.

When Jang Sun-joo arrives, Mom describes the dishes on the table, which are Se-na’s favorites, but her attempt to stay calm fails as she starts to break down in tears.

Sun-joo assures her that Se-na’s still her daughter, and even Se-na looks upset as Mom excuses herself to go to the sink, crying over the running water. Now that she’s gotten what she wants, I wonder if Se-na will find enough room in that tiny corner of her heart that’s left to bring her back to some semblance of humanity.

Though he’s been threatened into keeping that New York photo private, Yi Gak shows it to Park-ha and asks if she recognizes it, then zooms in closer to show her the third person: herself. This fills in a few more puzzle pieces, and Park-ha guesses that the postcard must have come from Tae-yong after he’d come to her bar with his hyung.

Yi Gak says he won’t “mess with” Tae-mu using the photo anymore. Donning Tae-yong’s glasses like Clark Kent readying for battle, he clarifies, “I’ll crush him completely.”

In Tae-yong guise, Yi Gak then meets Tae-mu for lunch, all smiles and warmth. He looks around for someone, explaining that he’s asked someone here to meet hyung, then excuses himself to use the restroom… which is when Park-ha walks in.

They trade barbs, and she snipes that he sure looks well-rested for someone who pulled such a cheap stunt last night. He guesses that she couldn’t go to the police because of her relationship with the con man, and warns her to choose her boyfriends more carefully. He ends the conversation and dismisses her coldly, just as “Tae-yong” rejoins them and invites her to sit.

“Tae-yong” explains that he ran into her and thought her face looked familiar. Park-ha says pointedly that she found herself staring since he looked so much like somebody, and Tae-yong adds, “It turns out we met in New York!”

Suddenly Tae-mu starts sweating, particularly when Park-ha takes out the postcard and Tae-yong says that he supposedly drew it. He doesn’t remember, of course, since his New York accident is still a blank in his memory, but Tae-mu knows what this means, and out comes his guilty-murderer face. Really, dude, reaction control. Learn some.

Tae-yong(-gak) says it feels like his memory is about to come back, and Park-ha says leadingly, “You were both there [in New York], weren’t you? I thought I saw you both at the pub where I worked—isn’t that true?”

Tae-mu nervously says she must be mistaken, and Yi Gak lets him off the hook, acting like nothing is suspicious to keep Tae-mu feeling safe. After Park-ha excuses herself, Yi Gak asks Tae-mu if this means he liked her, since he drew her picture and all. He sighs that if not for that accident, they could have dated in New York, goshdarnit. What a pity.

That sends Tae-mu tearing through Tae-yong’s room, and he finds a laptop with that same cell-phone photo as its wallpaper—Impostor No. 1 must have saved them on the computer he’d used while posing as Tae-yong.

Yi Gak enters and sees him holding the computer so Tae-mu can’t take it with him. But thankfully for him, Tae-yong says he doesn’t use it anyway, pretending he doesn’t notice Tae-mu trying to steal it. Heh.

That’s enough mind games for one day, and Yi Gak returns to the rooftop that night (Really? There?) where he hears about Se-na’s big birth secret. Yi Gak has his thinking pants on, because he says that it always bothered him that the girls were blood sisters in Joseon, but not here. Now that Se-na’s birth isn’t as it seemed, he supposes, “It is possible you may be blood sisters after all. You may be CEO Jang’s daughter, too.”

Park-ha dismisses the suggestion as unlikely, but it does get her thinking.

Tae-mu tells Se-na about that laptop and tells her to steal the computer while he distracts Tae-yong. He calls him out for drinks and Yi Gak goes along with it, knowing Tae-mu is stalling.

When Yi Gak tries several times to leave early, Tae-mu insists on one more round, then another, buying Se-na time to enter the house. Either Yi Gak is pounding those beers or Se-na is the slowest walker ever, because it takes three rounds for her to get inside the house and upstairs.

She finds the laptop, opens it up, and sees the incriminating photo… then turns to see Granny glaring at her. Whoops.

Grandma demands to know what she’s doing here, and why she’s got Tae-yong’s computer. She has caught enough of a glimpse of the screen to know the photo features the two cousins and demands a closer look. Se-na can’t have that, so she hurriedly makes up an excuse about taking the laptop to Tae-yong, then runs out clutching it, not stopping to retrieve a dropped key card.

Grandma follows her out, grabbing hold of her on the staircase, and… this isn’t going where I think it’s going, is it?

Yup, it is. Granny grabs for the laptop and slips instead, falling down the stairs. A pool of blood slowly forms around her head. I know I’m supposed to think this is a terrible thing, but Grandma’s so hateful that really, I can’t help but think all our baddies are making it easy by taking each other out.

Also: I always knew Se-na was the better villain! Tae-mu’s got, what, a dozen failed murder attempts and Se-na gets it on her first try?

In shock, Se-na hurries out clutching the computer to her chest, unnoticed by two men dealing with a minor fender bender. She texts Tae-mu a panicked “Uh-oh, we have a problem” message, and he goes running. Se-na blubbers in a panic that she didn’t do anything, that Grandma fell on her own. Which I think is true enough—I’m sure she could get away with it if she called the police and argued accident—but it’s always the cover-up that screws ya, isn’t it? Tae-mu tells her he’ll protect her no matter what.

Yi Gak arrives at the house carrying lunch for Grandma, passing by the cleared accident scene and heading inside. The gate is suspiciously open, and in horror, he finds Grandma lying at the base of the stairs.

The family gathers at the hospital, everyone in shock. The doctor comes out to deliver the “I’m sorry, we did our best” message, and everyone reels at the news of her death.

Se-na’s in genuine shock over the news, but Tae-mu racks his brains and instructs her to go to Hong Kong immediately. She wasn’t at the scene, she went to Hong Kong today, got it? He’ll call her when things have settled.

Yi Gak pays his respects to Grandma, apologizing to her. She wasn’t his grandmother but he’s affected by the loss, remembering how much she loved Tae-yong. Upon entering his room, he steps on the dropped key card and sees that the laptop is missing. It’s enough to get the wheels moving in his brain—Tae-mu was with him, so the culprit must be…

Se-na arrives at her officetel and immediately begins packing, shaking badly as she crams things into her suitcase willy-nilly.

Park-ha drives mother and daughter to the airport, and during the drive Jang Sun-joo returns the envelope containing the family photo meant for that advertisement. Park-ha doesn’t say anything as she sees them off at the gate, even though she mulls over Yi Gak’s suspicions in her mind afterward.

She changes her mind belatedly and runs back into the airport with the photo. She spots Jang Sun-joo sitting in a waiting area and runs over, asking for just one question. Park-ha takes the photo out and hands it over with trembling hands—does she recognize it?

Jang Sun-joo recognizes it immediately and asks, “Are you… In-joo?” Park-ha reacts to her reaction, asking, “Am I… In-joo?”

Mom recognizes that it’s true and holds Park-ha to her as they both cry into each other’s arms.

Se-na misses the scene since she’s calling Tae-mu to inform him of her departure. But as soon as she returns to the boarding gate, she sees Park-ha and Mom embracing and understands that the secret is out.

As a result, she can’t face them and slips away, taking a bus as she texts Jang Sun-joo that In-joo is in fact Park-ha. She apologizes for not telling her earlier, and says she’s too ashamed to go with her to Hong Kong.

Hearing this unexpected change in plans, Tae-mu puts on mastermind hat—though really, it’s crude-apprentice-hat at best—and instructs Se-na to go home to the officetel.

It’s a conversation that Yi Gak overhears, and this is where her dropped key card comes in handy. He scans it and lets himself inside, and Se-na naturally assumes that the arrival is Tae-mu. So she asks, back turned, how he can stand in front of Grandma’s memorial without fear.

But there’s no response, so she turns and realizes who’s standing there. Registering her huge slip, she gapes at Yi Gak, just as Tae-mu arrives behind him.

But Yi Gak has enough confirmation of his suspicions and growls at Tae-mu, “You bastard!” Punch.

 
COMMENTS

You know how sometimes you’re in the middle of a sentence, and you can feel your train of speech starting to go awry, but you can’t stop talking and redo your thought because that would be even weirder, so you just go with it? Yeah, that’s how I feel about Rooftop Prince.

That’s not necessarily an insult, though, because the drama totally commits to the new line of thinking, and that, if nothing else, is totally entertaining. If it were half-assed and confused, like many a waffling drama that just didn’t know what to do with itself and therefore just spins its wheels in place, it would be a huge annoyance. The fact that Rooftop proceeds with swiftness and assuredness gives the illusion that things make sense; and maybe by the show’s barometer of internal logic, they do. True, that barometer is totally insane, but I do get the sense that the show knows where it’s going. It’s just that where it’s going is absurd, but you know, I’m willing to go with it because the show remains fast-moving and easy to watch.

With that said, I liked this episode for the fact that (1) birth secrets are out! Finally! (2) most of the connections have been made, or are well on their way, and (3) Buh-bye, Grandma. I know she’s not a villain but she was never likable enough to make me take her off the love-to-hate list, so I find myself humming, Ding-dong, the witch is dead… Maybe that’s not the intended effect, but hey, I’m happy about it and isn’t that what really matters?

At the very least, her death means that the company warfare, which is the drama’s most tedious point and has long been static in terms of conflict, can finally get moving again. Inheritance rights are at stake and Se-na’s a blood daughter to the biggest shareholder outside of the family… just as Park-ha is. I feel like the company takeover story is nearing its close, which means we’re that much closer to getting to the really interesting questions: the murder, the Joseon mystery, and the time-skippy shenanigans.

 
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