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A Gentleman’s Dignity: Episode 19

javabeans: So we’re doing something different with these last two episodes of A Gentleman’s Dignity, because sometimes life gets busy while you’re recapping. Sad but true. But we know that a drama fix is never complete without a finale, so girlfriday and I decided we’d lend a hand and finish things off. But it’s been a while since the show ended, and uh, maybe one of us hasn’t actually been watching it fully, so…

girlfriday: This is gonna be interesting.

javabeans: Or really boring? Because now I remember why I stopped watching…

girlfriday: Guess we’ll find out!

 
EPISODE 19 RECAP

javabeans: Oh yay, cold open. I like these. They’re the best part of the show, and therefore the only part I’ve consistently watched. Funny thing is, I would watch every episode for the cold open, and then let the show keep playing until I lost interest… and without fail, I always cut out at minute 11. Why is that, I wonder?

girlfriday: The writer must have a Minute 11 Achilles Heel. Though this cold open seems… like it’s in the future? Whereas the others are cool ‘cause they’re in the past.

javabeans: So the boys sit around lookin’ cool, as they are wont to do, when their ladyfriends enter the restaurant. Why are they all gaping? Have they only just now realized that their girlfriends are super hot? In episode 19?

girlfriday: Eh, it seems to be mostly a you’re-showing-too-much-skin reaction, times four.

javabeans: So it’s okay when you’re chasing her, but not when she’s “yours”? I don’t get them. Then again, not like I ever did. They drape napkins around their ladies with lame excuses (it’s cold, you might spill)… Okay, I do laugh when Do-jin wraps his napkin around Yi-soo’s face, saying, “Expose one thing at a time. Today is bare skin.” Ha.

girlfriday: He does get points for creativity. But then of course, to reinforce the double standard, when a different woman walks in showing some leg, they all put a crick in their necks to gaze up her skirt, narrating the “irony.” Lordy.

javabeans: Is pointing out the hypocrisy supposed to make it funny? Eh, we’ve had much better cold opens. On to the episode!

girlfriday: Jung-rok sits dejected in his empty bar, as the other boys file in after getting emergency calls in the middle of the night. He announces gravely that his wife wants a divorce… and they all react like, Psssh, is that all?

javabeans: He insists it’s serious this time, but they all dismiss this as a false alarm and file out. Yoon says he’ll meet with her and talk it out, leaving Jung-rok sitting depressed.

girlfriday: Things are still icy between Tae-san and Yoon, but at least that doesn’t stop them from coming to Jung-rok’s side.

javabeans: Do-jin and Yi-soo sit in his parked car at the end of the date, and things get weighty when he asks, “What if I don’t want to send you home tonight?” Rawr. But also — they haven’t slept together yet?? Aren’t they a little too old and jaded to be playing the soonjung romance storyline?

girlfriday: That is something I do not get about this writer and her insistence that adults…

javabeans: …only have sex in Episode 20 or Minus-1?

girlfriday: Pretty much.

javabeans: He checks into a hotel and they wait for an elevator while standing around incredibly awkwardly. The first one is loaded with businessmen, so they let it go, but the next one is filled with ajummas and their judgy eyes. So you’re going to have sex when you’re so ashamed that you can’t even stand in an elevator with people who think you might be having sex?

girlfriday: Also, doesn’t this guy have like an entire other officetel for just such an occasion?

javabeans: Oh, right. Yes, that too.

girlfriday: But yeah, you know what they say… um… if you can’t take the elevator, you can’t have the sex? Or something. Anyway, they finally make it all the way up to their floor, and then run right into Min-sook. Sigh. They’re not having sexy times, are they?

javabeans: Min-sook gets right to the point, saying she’d come to this hotel instead of the other one just to avoid such run-ins. What, there are two hotels in Seoul?

girlfriday: This show does the opposite of what Gaksital does. Why is Seoul one city street big?

javabeans: This writer does this ALL the time. It sort of drives me nuts. There’s a lot of really important stuff happening purely by coincidental run-in. Anyway, Yi-soo practically pulls a muscle thinking up an excuse for why they’re here.. uh… on business! Yeah, business! And she’s just walking him to his room! And it’s totally not what it looks like! Which again, frustrates me about her — the lily-white pure heroine — because hello, they’re mature adults and they’re DATING.

girlfriday: But also, false, because you’re fine going to buy new lingerie for the boyfriend, but just don’t want to be perceived as such.

javabeans: I do enjoy Do-jin’s reaction at least, which is to find this all very droll, knowing it’s absurd but just letting her cling to her belief that she’s somehow not entirely transparent.

girlfriday: I’ve always liked the fact that Min-sook is a straight-shooter, and her reaction here is great. She just says that life is short and they should grab what happiness they can in each moment.

javabeans: And NOW Do-jin connects the dots, realizing that Jung-rok’s divorce fears are real after all. He swings into motion, telling Yi-soo to invite Min-sook in for a drink while he calls Jung-rok. Uh, I don’t know that an ambush meeting is the best way to spur reconciliation…

girlfriday: Meanwhile Meahri comes home to a big mess, dramaspeak for depression, and cleans up after Tae-san. I would rather you got your life together or something, but okay, dishes and laundry it is.

javabeans: Is this because Tae-san misses Yoon? Or did something happen to the girlfriend I don’t care about?

girlfriday: Because Yoon asked for permission to be with Meahri and Tae-san’s being a foot-putter-downer.

javabeans: Right, so it’s because of Yoon. I guess it’s a sweet twist on the usual depressed-cuz-of-girl scenario.

girlfriday: I do like this one thing about the drama — that the central will-they-won’t-they is actually the bromance. ‘Cause by Episode 19, all couples have formed, though of course one is on the verge of splitting. It’s at least different, albeit not the most thrilling conflict. But lack of conflict isn’t so new for this drama.

javabeans: Min-sook drinks wine with Yi-soo, saying that she’s divorcing because she doesn’t know whether to trust Jung-rok and can’t stop being suspicious now, and is tired of it all. Which seems like good logic to me. I guess because I haven’t sat through 18 full episodes of their interaction, I really have no sympathy for Jung-rok and wonder how they made it this long to begin with.

girlfriday: Yi-soo pegs her situation as a one-sided love, which she happens to be an expert in, and says it’s natural for someone who’s been in an unrequited love for so long to suddenly feel suspicious and nervous at receiving love. She suggests maybe it’s an opportunity for Jung-rok to show his love for her.

javabeans: Annnnnd then Jung-rok comes banging on the door, bursting in to demand what she’s doing here. He asks if she’s really gonna do this, and she tells yeah, let’s divorce. “Because only one side has to want a divorce to make it happen. Unlike marriage.” She busts out the paperwork right then and there, asking for him to sign.

girlfriday: He agrees, not wanting to keep her around if she doesn’t want to stay married to him, and signs. But he takes the pages about his alimony–a third of her giant fortune–and rips them up, saying he loved the woman who had lots of money, but has no desire for money without her. Ha, it’s a pretty funny love confession, but it must speak to Min-sook, because she looks up in shock.

javabeans: Do-jin reports back to the boys, who are shocked. Jung-rok isn’t picking up the phone and they worry that he’s off getting trashed somewhere. Only to have him pop up bearing a fruit platter, totally calm and fine. Ha, they all look at him like he’s an alien, and he’s all, Eh, it was bound to happen at some point. Oh well.

girlfriday: He tells them to text him words of comfort from their respective homes and leaves them gaping. They agree that he’s not as fine as he pretends. And aw, in the kitchen he cries over his burning steak.

javabeans: At school, Yi-soo gives her class a send-off for summer vacation, then chats with Colin about his vacation plans. They both describe their relationship to Do-jin as “gradually getting closer,” and she suggests that she and Colin give it a try, too. Then Dong-hyub comes along to claim him, and she wonders, “Were you two friendly?” Over chicken lunch, Dong-hyub lets Colin in on his get-rich scheme, letting him in on the secret: “To earn 100 mil, you need… 200 mil.” Colin wonders where you get that 200 mil, and Dong-hyub answers, “Uh… if you had 400 mil…”

girlfriday: Hahaha. I don’t think math is his strong suit. But as they’re complaining about needing money, a sign gets posted for a part-time employee, and they fight over who needs the job more. They do this funny little competitive interview with the boss, all “I’m tall!” “I’m tall and good-looking!” “I’m nice if you get to know me!” “I look nice at first glance!”

javabeans: Haha, it’s really cute. “I’m popular with the ladies, I’ll get all the girls from across the street.” “Then should I get you all the boys?”

girlfriday: Meahri tells Yoon she’s applying to go back to school, thank goodness, and he buys her a pair of shoes, saying it’s to commemorate the start of her mountain hike (a play on ip-sa, getting into a job or school). He of course means conquering Im Tae-san (san = mountain), and I’m just surprised we’ve gone 19 episodes and this is the first mountain pun. She notes he’s not wearing his ring anymore and asks if he was sad to take it off; he says he doesn’t think he can answer honestly in front of her. She understands.

javabeans: Then Yoon goes to see Tae-san, who receives him coolly — is he here as Yoon, or as Meahri’s boyfriend? Yoon says it’s as boyfriend, and Tae-san immediately dismisses him… so Yoon kneels down before him. I guess this is one of those gestures that has been so overdone in dramas that it’s lost its narrative impact, though it makes sense that it’s a big deal between two friends, two lifelong equals, for one to bow down and beg the other. He vows he’ll make Meahri happy and remember for the rest of his life that this was a love he won through difficulty (as in, not take it for granted).

girlfriday: I think it’s Kim Min-jong who carries the scene and at least gives it emotional impact.

javabeans: I’d agree, in that since I’m not current with the emotional throughlines, I basically feel nothing for this conflict but do feel that pang of sympathy for Kim Min-jong and his doleful eyes.

girlfriday: Right? Like you could kind of just tune into the middle of a drama and suddenly be crying ‘cause you were looking at Kim Min-jong’s eyes.

javabeans: Yes, whereas if, say, you tuned into the middle of a Jong-rok scene all you can think about is how he has Llama Hair. Anyway, Tae-san grabs Yoon and punches him, asking, “How could you do this to me? How could you kneel?” I guess he recognizes the power of the kneel, and can’t bear to let go of his anger. Yoon promises to repay him every day of his life, and be grateful.

girlfriday: Tae-san goes to see Do-jin, who’s all glib and jokey, until he hears that he hit Yoon. Tae-san wonders now if this is a game he was always meant to lose. Do-jin says he’s done all he can do, and it’s their lives to live. Perhaps it’s time to let go? Finally, someone’s talkin’ some sense up in here.

javabeans: Wait, you mean nobody’s suggested this before?

girlfriday: Nope.

javabeans: ….why?

girlfriday: Because Tae-san is an angry bear? Because it’s obvious and shouldn’t need to be said in as many words? Because we needed conflict till Episode 19?

javabeans: Sigh. Dramas. Min-sook comes home to find Jong-rok measuring all their stuff, saying he reconsidered and he does want a third of everything after all. She’s all, of course you do. And then he clarifies that he’s going to CUT a third out of everything in this house, like the TV, which cracks me up. Okay, that was a good fakeout, after making it seem he was rescinding his love declaration.

girlfriday: HAHAHA. This is so funny. He’s like taping their sofa down in thirds “Do you want your left butt cheek to hang, or the right one?”

javabeans: He actually whips out a power saw, and I’m wondering how far he’s going to take this (I don’t have great faith in his sanity levels, so I’m thinking pretty far), but before we see any destruction Yoon arrives. Min-sook ushers him in and tells him to talk to her “potential future ex-husband.”

girlfriday: He starts calling her Park Min-sook-sshi in return and just keeps going, so she runs into the bedroom and slams the door…. only to find the entire master bedroom already taped off meticulously into thirds. She just bursts into laughter, because that is the only reaction you can have to this. It’s great.

javabeans: I’d love to know his logic behind which thirds he claimed — ‘cause there’s that statue, and instead of left-right, he’s got the top part (most of a face).

girlfriday: He does win for strangest love declarations.

javabeans: Do-jin drops by to Yi-soo, who’s doing her nails and taking a break from being teacher, saying she’s going to spend this vacation being “sexier.” And yet, she couldn’t look him in the face at the thought of sex. Okay. She draws him close and says playfully that there’s something she really wanted to ask him, which makes him all nervous (“Did I do something wrong?”). She tells him to relax, it’s nothing bad, but then he gets a call from Yoon, who knows he’s with Yi-soo and therefore warns him ahead of time to just listen, not talk. Yi-soo’s mom wants to meet him.

girlfriday: Oh no, is it that time of drama? Do-jin goes to meet Mom, who ends up thanking him for the Oppa Incident and asks what he does and if he’s single. He tells her about his son and apologizes, but Mom says she doesn’t have a right to disapprove of anything in Yi-soo’s life. Well that’s… surprising. But I’ll take it.

javabeans: This type of scene’s gotta happen in like Episode 12 for it to have any punch. Episode 19, it’s just a blip on the radar. At least, for the mom-son-in-law conflict. This conflict is all about Yi-soo, who storms into the cafe and heatedly demands Do-jin leave. Mom says she may not have a right to disapprove of Yi-soo’s life, but she still has a right to see her. Yi-soo storms out feeling humiliated (I assume because he’s seen a part of her she’s not cool with), and Mom asks Do-jin to take good care of her daughter. He assures her he’ll make sure she’s loved.

girlfriday: He chases her out and wipes her tears, saying she’s got nothing on him and his complicated family relations. Well, he’s got ya there. Secret son and all. They argue over who cried more when who dumped who. Yi-soo: “Then why did you dump me?” Do-jin: “Because I love you, stupid.” I’m pretty sure that makes you the stupid one, but who am I to argue?

javabeans: Do-jin then hangs out with Jung-rok, who sighs that nothing he’s doing is having an effect in getting through to Min-sook. Do-jin advises him to win her over again, then: “Love is faster than forgiveness.” Ha, is he the voice of reason now that he’s all happily settled down? He’s gonna be SUCH a smug married, isn’t he? Although I suppose if he’s got the good answers, they’ll have to put up with him.

girlfriday: I’m pretty sure he’s a smug everything. He says there’s a quick way to see Min-sook: make Yoon and Meahri get married tomorrow. Jung-rok: “Just because your genre’s a romantic comedy now, are you belittling my courtroom thriller?”

javabeans: Tae-san arrives and says he’s called Yoon and Meahri over. Do-jin warns Jung-rok, “Clear out the expensive cups.” Heh. When they arrive, the couple sits with heads bowed like errant children in front of angry dad, only today he says he’s not going to oppose them anymore. The peanut gallery: “REALLY?!”

girlfriday: I love that in this foursome, it’s perfectly natural that this scene happens with the the two nuts watching and commenting.

javabeans: Tae-san says that it’ll be hard if the two date and break up, because then he’d lose both of them. So if they must be together, they’re better off getting married. ASAP.

girlfriday: I always assumed what they were asking permission for was marriage anyway.

javabeans: Me too. Now I’m confused, like, was all that Sturm und Drang just to go out to the movies and stuff?

girlfriday: If you have to kneel to hold her hand, what’s it gonna take to make babies??

javabeans: I guess they didn’t expect him to agree to the big one without first agreeing to the little one, but really, you’re a K-drama and you’ve got a family member putting a foot down. The question is marriage.

girlfriday: They agree so fast it’s funny, like they’re scared he’ll take it back.

javabeans: Tae-san sighs that he’s lost — he was no match for them and their instant agreement. Do-jin says wisely, “You didn’t lose, you won.” Jung-rok asks why, and he answers, “I dunno. Just, they always say that in situations like this.” Ha, and then he does his ridiculous aegyo voice that sends everyone away in embarrassment. I think that aegyo-idiot voice might be my favorite thing about Jang Dong-gun doing this drama.

girlfriday: I do love his commitment to the humiliating half of Do-jin. Because Jang Dong-gun being cool, we’ve all seen before.

javabeans: Meahri’s face changes as they leave, because she’s so stunned it all feels like a dream. He starts to ask if there’s a way she dreamed of her wedding, as though he’s sorry for things that won’t happen in real life, but she tells him no — all she ever dreamed about was a wedding where he’s her husband. He tells her basically what he told Tae-san: He won’t disappoint her, he’ll love her, and be grateful daily.

girlfriday: Awwwww. Oppa, marry meeeee! Just as Do-jin predicted, their wedding gives Jung-rok a good excuse to see Min-sook, and he crashes a working lunch to ask if they should give gifts separately or together. This is how you’re using this opportunity?

javabeans: I know, right? I was thinking he had something more ingenious planned. C’mon, Llama Hair. Min-sook informs him that she filed the divorce papers this morning, so it’ll be separate gifts. He’s like, today’s Saturday — and then catches her in the fib, having brushed up on filing procedure.

girlfriday: He asks if she’s happy after leaving him, and says he isn’t. “You went from being my woman to a woman I wish were mine,” and gets up to leave. He turns back to add one last thing: “You suffered loving someone like me. I was sorry. Don’t be kind of happy, but actually happy, Park Min-sook.” Oh my god, he actually apologized.

javabeans: Seriously, and that’s the crux of it. It took you that long to acknowledge that. There’s something really sweet about the pathetic way he says it and leaves it on the table, not asking for anything or making conditions.

girlfriday: It’s the first direct and sincere thing he says to her, ever. Which I guess is why it makes an impact. Is that like the definition of setting expectations so low that a sincere apology seems like earth-shattering stuff?

javabeans:…in which case, he wins?

girlfriday: Right? Maybe he’s the genius of the group after all.

javabeans: Let’s go with savant and leave it at that.

girlfriday: Colin, Dong-hyub and their other buddy discuss Teach’s boyfriend (Colin argues that he’s really chic and good-looking, ha) but they stop when they come across their classmate Sung-jae getting bullied. Despite their own strife, Dong-hyub goes in for the rescue.

javabeans: This ends up at the police station, and Do-jin is called as guardian and starts to scold the guys.

girlfriday: A moment of recognition flashes across their faces from the cigarette hold-up way back when, and then to add insult to injury, Dong-hyub’s friend whispers that it’s Teach’s boyfriend. And THEN they realize this is same guy is Colin’s dad. Whoops. I love that Do-jin’s big lecture is: You’re friends with these guys? Have you not seen how tiring my life is because of your uncles?

javabeans: Then the bully’s dad arrives and gets all protective of his baby, asking who messed him up. The bully points at Dong-hyub, and Douche Dad actually hits him upside the head. Oh no you di’n’t. So Do-jin demands to know who messed Colin up, and he points at another bully, and ha, Do-jin never met a dick war he didn’t have to one-up, did he? Dad-fight! Do-jin actually schools him, saying that if he treats his own son as precious he’d best recognize that someone else’s son is precious too. The cop asks whose guardian he is specifically, and Do-jin answers, “Both of them.” Awww. I have no idea what this means in this context, but even so my heart is warm and fuzzy.

girlfriday: It’s especially adorable because Dong-hyub and the other kid bullied Do-jin, but it’s nice to see that when push comes to shove, he can be a grown up. Er, more of a grown-up than the actual teenage boys. It’s especially touching for Dong-hyub, who’s totally adrift and only ever had Yi-soo to act as his guardian all drama long.

javabeans: Do-jin goes on a date with Yi-soo and she sighs about one couple divorcing while another’s marrying — they’re both decisions made in search of happiness, but off in opposite directions. Do-jin assures her that the divorce isn’t going to happen; he’s got a hunch that couple’s in a round of “hide-and-seek and treasure hunting.” Okay, why does that sound dirty?

girlfriday: Yi-soo thinks she recognizes an old boyfriend at the next table over, which leads to a petty fight, naturally.

javabeans: And just when we were saying he was acting grown-up. At her place, he reaches for the nail polish remover, intending to erase it so other men can’t see. It’s an extension of the cold open’s caveman response to “My woman should look sexy for me and me only.” When she protests, he challenges, “Do you want to ride into my pocket or do you wannna erase your manicure?” I’m like, dude, that’s a lame ultimatum, but Yi-soo pouts and gives him her hand because I guess it’s romantic or whatever. As he goes about erasing her manicure, he quizzes her on the ex. Another bickering session ensues.

girlfriday: If she’s so argumentative about his attitude, then why does she comply with the nail polish removing? I don’t get her.

javabeans: It’s this writer. The girl loves him, so she finds his neanderthal ways swoony.

girlfriday: Ugh.

javabeans: My problem with it isn’t that she incorporates these character traits, because hey, they ARE funny. And these men are flawed, which is totally fine. It’s that she raises these points in the guise of arguing against them, and then negates it all by saying that it’s all good and well when the girl wants it, so all the man’s bad behavior is justified (or worse, endearing — his asshole behavior is sweet because he cares). It’s the packaging of this type of behavior as romantic that bugs the ever-loving shit out of me.

girlfriday: I do agree that the traits are funny, but why can’t the heroine call him out on it and stick to her story? Why can’t she also be a shit-stirrer and make him hide his face or tell him to stop wearing sexy shirts, or ride around in HER pocket?

javabeans: Yi-soo gets a phone call, and heads to the club with the other ladies for Meahri’s bachelorette shindig. Part of the fun involves booking (partying with pretty boys)… and then a car pulls up with the boys. Um. This is not going to end well.

girlfriday: At least they get a taste of their own medicine for once. And Jung-rok certainly deserves this shoe-on-the-other-foot feeling, even if it’s to prove a point. Pfft, the bouncer doesn’t let them in, so Do-jin grabs Yoon and tells the others to take a step back. The pretty boys pass. LOL. Tae-san and Jung-rok have to resort to bribery to get in the door.

javabeans: And who should walk in the VIP room to be “booked” but… Jung-rok, Yoon, Tae-san, and Do-jin. Seriously, a girl can’t even have a bachelorette anymore? Ha, did they have to bribe their way in to be booked too? I wonder how much money this club is making just off these four couples’ petty conflict.

girlfriday: Your immaturity is our gain?

javabeans: They introduce themselves as though they were really the booking partners, all while growling through their teeth.

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