It’s a remarkable thing when a drama can elicit such a strong reaction from you within the first three minutes. What a good drama should know how to do is cater to their target audience. What happened to the cute? Whilst thou abandon me so soon adorableness? Here’s looking at you, drama.
Ratings dipped this week in Episodes 3 and 4 to 5.1% and 5.4% respectively.
SONG OF THE DAY
Onew – “In Your Eyes” [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Back at the pension, Seung-ri’s mother wonders why Chang-hyun, the nameless hyung/employee from the previous episode, is missing. You didn’t send him on an errand, did you?
Tae-joon thinks the same, and Chang-hyun’s numerous inappropriate behaviors flash in his mind before he rides off on a bike.
Meanwhile, Chang-hyun panics when Jae-hee asks to borrow his cellphone. Tae-joon’s frantic voice leaves her confused and Chang-yun swipes the phone before she can describe their current location. In a scarily calm voice, he tells her, “Stay still and nothing too bad will happen to you.”
Waitaminit. Drama are you telling me that he’s a McCreeperson sexual predator? I wanna throw up already.
He locks the door and stops in front of an abandoned yard. He scoffs when Jae-hee addresses him as ‘hyung’ and chuckles, “You’re a girl.”
The air grows increasingly tense and horrific as he grabs her wrist, preventing her escape. Oh my god, oh my god. Then he jumps her and she pushes him off and slaps him upside the head in retaliation.
With a poke in the eye, she runs out. I feel thoroughly disgusted right now. We’re only three minutes in, drama!
McCreeperson gives chase just as Tae-joon arrives and searches through the now abandoned van. At the same time, McCreeperson catches her and as they fall, the bracelet falls out of her pocket.
Grabbing her by the shirt, he punches her and he taunts her to scream for her life. She’s terrified and he mocks her shouts for help with maddening eyes.
…and then a flying kick by Tae-joon knocks McCreeperson over. The two engage in a slo-mo fight, punching and kicking each other. Tae-joon delivers a righteous punch that sends McCreeperson flying into the ground.
Jae-hee finally intervenes before Tae-joon can deal more damage, pleading for him to stop. And McCreeperson gets away? WHAT?!
Tae-joon breathes hard for a few moments and then gives a half-laugh, “Sorry for being late.” He pulls her in a tight hug. Oh hai there romantic music cue. Sorry Onew.
Her ankle’s shot and he offers to piggyback her back. Tae-joon silently picks up the fallen bracelet before hoisting her up.
Night falls and Doc grows concerned that neither Tae-joon or Jae-hee have returned. He proposes that they organize a search party.
They search through the woods and no luck. Doc breaks the group up into pairs and Eun-gyul and Hanna gape back, Me? With her?! There’s no time to lose and they continue to search.
Taking a short rest on their return trip, Jae-hee asks why he started high jumping, dissatisfied with his answers that “it just happened” and that it was a sport that wouldn’t get him dirty.
However, he sympathizes when he learns that Jae-hee moved to America after her father passed away and her mother remarried. She reflects, “But it was okay. Because of you.”
They continue on using the lighted bracelets to direct their path and Jae-hee wonders what Tae-joon must feel when he’s high jumping.
That triggers a time when his mother asked the same question from him when he was younger. His answer back then was, “When I’m jumping, it feels like I can touch the sky.” And for Mom, it warmed her heart to see him jump.
After they’re found by Eun-gyul and Hanna in the woods, they head back to the pension where Doc tends to Jae-hee’s sprain. He tells her to take it easy or else her injury could worsen.
Seung-ri asks about what happened – wasn’t she with Chang-hyun? Tae-joon swoops in with the simple explanation that they were fighting while Eun-gyul and Hanna cast worried looks at Jae-hee.
Jae-hee sits in her room, still shaken up and Tae-joon thinks to himself, concerned.
Eun-gyul tries to lift Jae-hee’s spirits by singing a cute song. He starts to dance which gets her to start laughing. And then right outside the door, we see Tae-joon hold a plate of milk and snacks.
Drama, are you expecting me to believe that this is how you’re going to deal with a girl who was sexually assaulted? Giving us subtext along with a song and dance? *headdesk*
Jae-hee is unsurprisingly quiet at breakfast and the others note that Doc is missing at the table. Seung-ri’s mom sighs that he’s too busy to date and at this rate, he’ll die as an old unmarried man.
Hanna confronts Jae-hee about what’s wrong because her intuition is telling her that something’s off. But she’s in no mood to empathize today.
Before they head back to school, the group gathers for a souvenir photo.
Jae-hee checks her email in the van and hits her head in surprise when she reads that her brother is planning to see her this week.
It turns out that Doc came back to town early to attend a seminar. In the bathroom, he notices another handsome, well-dressed young man. I love how he’s enamored by every small detail down to the cufflinks. Omo, does this mean our Doc is gay in this version as well?
He gives a surprise look when the Western man makes small talk in Korean. And then he’s further impressed when he’s a prominent doctor.
Director Jang fills up Tae-joon’s upcoming schedule with more CFs and wonders if they should move up his retirement since he’s not jumping.
We jump into the middle of the CF shoot where the director is ready to pull his hair out for the multiple takes, citing how difficult it was to get to shoot here. And then his assistant says that the principal is just fine with it.
At that moment, the principal walks in giving the director an earful about how Tae-joon is this school’s “Jang Dong-gun and Won Bin.” Pfft – is this supposed to be a Secret Garden reference?
Jae-hee reads her brother’s email as if it were a conversation. It seems that her brother has no idea that little sis has chopped off her locks and is attending a boys school. Jae-hee contemplates what to do about obtaining a female student’s uniform.
As if on cue, Hanna comes bursting in the room and isn’t inclined to hear Jae-hee’s request. But while she’s busy shooting the CF with Tae-joon, we see that Jae-hee has spotted Hanna’s uniform in the distance and swipes it before Hanna returns.
Meanwhile, Hyun-jae is busy training for the upcoming competition. Coach Baek runs him through drills and literally sets the bar high at Tae-joon’s record.
Hyun-jae fails to clear and beats himself over about it. Coach Baek gives him an encouraging pat on the back, telling him that the tiniest bit can mean the difference between gold and silver. Hyun-jae stares at the height with determined eyes.
Eun-gyul positively beams as he looks through the vacay photos on his phone, stopping at a photo of Jae-hee. He shakes himself out of it and looks up the word “gay” out of curiosity.
He raises an eyebrow at the first definition, “Mirthful joy?” Aw, I’m not sure if that’s what you were looking for.
He imagines marrying Jae-hee and their married life where their son comes crying that the kids are making fun of him for having two Dads. (Eun-gyul tells him, “But that’s a joyous thing!”) How awesome is that Jae-hee is the one who’s all scruffy?
Then one question gives the both of them pause, “Which one of you had me?” HAHAHA.
He snaps himself out of the daydream and exclaims, “There’s nothing to be joyful about!”
Director Jang pays Tae-joon a visit after the CF shoot. She looks on with pride about how much he’s grown since he first signed to their company when he was in middle school.
She reminds him that it wasn’t just a contract but that he was entering a family. With a deep breath, she suggests that they look into an earlier retirement. And as usual, Tae-joon doesn’t put up a fight.
Coach Baek arrives to school in his beat up car to meet his crush, Teacher Lee. He asks her where she lives (Boon-dang) and then offers to carpool since he lives near the area. When she asks where, he replies, “…Ilsan.”
Hahaha. Which is on the opposite end of the city. Your crush is too cute, Coach Baek.
Doc is in the middle of googling the mysterious handsome doctor when Jae-hee bursts into his office for a pass.
I love that she forgets herself for a moment while waiting for her brother and sits with her legs wide open. It’s the little things that get me.
It’s no surprise then that her brother, Daniel Dawson (Julien Kang), is the same doctor we saw earlier. At lunch, he zips through a litany of questions in excitement about Jae-hee’s new life in Korea.
Daniel clucks at his sister for living in Korea without a cell phone. Commence shopping spree!
He finds that it amusing that Jae-hee peruses the men’s clothing selection and he lavishes her with new clothes and accessories. Aww, it is kind of nice to see Jae-hee enjoy an afternoon as a girl.
Jae-hee slips away to use the bathroom (and runs into the men’s one first out of habit, heh) and gasps aloud when Hanna walks in. She tries to leave unnoticed when Hanna stops her… and returns her hairpin.
Hanna cocks her head in slight recognition. But it’s not Jae-hee’s face that gives her pause but the uniform. Heh.
Just when Jae-hee thinks she’s out in the clear, Daniel tells her that she’s in luck – Tae-joon is here to sign autographs. Like a good older brother, he ignores her protests, telling her not to regret missing the chance to meet her idol.
Jae-hee does her best to cover her face when they approach Tae-joon. He asks for her name and she answers, “Goo-jil (grungy).” Because he affectionately calls you “goo-jil goo-jil” now?
She takes the autograph and gets ready to dart out of there when Hanna stops her in her tracks. Hanna narrows her eyes – she’s sure that she’s seen her face somewhere – and asks to see Jae-hee’s face.
Tae-joon interrupts that it’s likely they saw each other at school given the same uniform. He lets Jae-hee go but Hanna can’t shake off her hunch.
Jae-hee sees her brother off and then heads back to Genie High.
Tae-joon enters the darkened gymnasium and packs up his locker with a deep sigh. It’s sad to see him stare at an old photo with his mother and past headlines that marked his success.
Coach Baek interrupts him and takes it as a sign that Tae-joon that he really intends to quit. Tae-joon says that it’s better that a real athlete should take his place. At that, Coach Baek raises his voice, warning him that he won’t be able to come back if he quits.
Tae-joon takes his leave.
Jae-hee stays up late on her computer and gets caught in the middle of class for yawning. At least she’s not the only one since Eun-gyul gets kicked out soon after.
They get caught again and while they run laps, Eun-gyul asks what kept her up so late. Was she up “watching videos”? You mean porn? Oh you and your raging hormones.
He lights up in surprise when she answers that she’s been making one instead. I’m pretty sure it’s not what you’re thinking, Eun-gyul.
She in turn asks about his mysterious caller who got him kicked out of class – was she his first love? But nay, Eun-gyul recalls it as a dark spot in his past.
Aww, young Eun-gyul is so cute! He gets hit on the head for teasing the girl’s drawing. Some time later, after she told him she was moving to the States and he told her to just go on ahead, she kicked him. Just thinking about it makes his teeth grit.
Doc calls Jae-hee inside to gush, uh I mean, inform her about the doctor he met at the conference. He just so happens to be an expert about Yips syndrome and Doc asks for her help to translate.
Jae-hee is happy to help but then who do you know walks in the door. Daniel gapes, “Jae-hee?!” Ruh-roh.
Back in her room, Daniel is understandably angry at the entire situation. He grabs Tae-joon’s picture – did she come to this school for him?
But Jae-hee insists that she didn’t come solely for that reason, “Because of Tae-joon I was able to step out into the world again! After I saw him jump, I found a reason, a desire, and courage to come back into the world again!”
Tae-joon is done for because of the yips but what about her own dreams? Her own life? Jae-hee tries to calm him down but Daniel finally bursts, “Does it make sense for a girl to live in a guy’s dorm?!”
And right outside, we see Tae-joon has heard the entire exchange.
Inside, Daniel asks Jae-hee to assess what help she can really be to Tae-joon. Oh thank God for you, Daniel; you’re asking all the questions we want to ask. He asks if Tae-joon has changed at all since she arrived.
She can’t give him an answer and Daniel softly sympathizes with her intentions but this isn’t the way to go about it. He tells her that he’ll take her back to the States.
Tae-joon sits outside with Sangchu and wonders if he was good to her because Jae-hee’s a girl. He thinks aloud about how a girl could be gutsy enough to enter a guy’s school.
He ponders, “I should send her back right? To America?”
Jae-hee is surprised to see her bags packed when she returns to the room. She does her best to try to play it off when Tae-joon tells her that he wants her to move out.
But he isn’t joking this time and remains firm. If she won’t leave, then he will.
Keeping up his cold facade, he tells Jae-hee that it’s no use trying to convince him to start jumping again because he’s already quit.
That’s news to Jae-hee and when she mentions his injury, he flares that it isn’t. He’d already been wrestling with this decision and decided to quit. He adds, “So you should quit too.”
She still tries to get on his good side and Tae-joon burns his final words, “Get lost.”
He storms out and Jae-hee silently cries.
Eun-gyul finds Jae-hee crying outside and he asks, “Why is sweat coming out of your eyes?” Boy, have you never seen tears before?
He sits there, waiting, and Jae-hee finally opens up that she must be a burden to other people. Because she’s impulsive and always does things her own way, people end up hurt.
Eun-gyul tells her that it isn’t so and Jae-hee rests her head on his shoulder. His heart goes thump thump again.
They sit there for a moment and then Eun-gyul slowly turns his head towards Jae-hee’s… and then suddenly gets up to excuse himself.
Eun-gyul runs until he finally collapses to the ground. He picks up the phone and calls the girl from elementary school.
Tae-joon pretends to sleep when Jae-hee returns to the room. He listens as she apologizes that she was selfish to try and help him when he didn’t need her. Even though their time was short together, she was happy.
She tells him to take care and then leaves, rolling her bag behind her.
O Drama, hear my plea – wherefore art thou so dramatic so soon?
We left off Episode 3 wondering what would happen to Jae-hee in the car with Chang-hyun. I knew he’d been bordering on sexual predator territory but the very moment he tried to jump to rape her, I wanted to gag several times. And the fact that he got away without consequence angered me to no end. In that same vein, how did Seung-ri’s mother pick up the van at the police station – was it abandoned? Did no one think it was odd that the van was just lying there?
What upsets me more is how the storyline immediately handles this conflict. Sure someone just tried to sexually assault you, but don’t worry because your hero will rescue you and then hug it out. Because we think he thinks you’re a girl… or maybe not yet. Then we get a whole lot of subtext with some brooding sessions and Eun-gyul dances away our pain? Nope drama – unacceptable. You can’t possibly take out this kind of conflict and then brush it under the table like something didn’t happen. Doing so is doing a disservice to your audience and suggesting that it’s no big deal when it certainly is. Commenters have mentioned that this plot point is true to the manga and I wished that the production team took that creative liberty to address the conflict properly and let the audience know that a sexual attack on a minor is not okay.
It’s too bad that this episode started off this way because when we were introduced back to some welcomed lighter moments in the latter part of the hour, all I could think of is how I wanted to take several showers to wash away my disgust.
Moving on, I came in thinking that we’d be spending some time at school, getting to know our classmates at Genie High and then you brought the main couple front and center. Part of the charm from the 2007 Japanese version was the various crazy personalities we met in the dorm leaders and the other classmates (I’m still sad Ghost Boy is a no-show). It makes me wonder if the writing doesn’t know how to handle an ensemble or if the High Kick 3 writer will follow a similar pattern of focusing on a few characters at a time. I do dearly hope that we get to settle at school for a while to get to know some minor students who have already faded to the background. Can we go back to Genie High, add a dash of zany and then plunge back into the romance? *crosses fingers*
I am impressed with the drama slowly bringing up the issues around homosexuality, especially within a romantic comedy geared towards a younger audience. For Eun-gyul to explore and question his sexual identity (and reference his hormones) is something more than I could ask for and I’m with him at every step, even when his imagination gets the best of him. I loved his daydreams about marrying Jae-hee and even starting a family because even a light hearted reference suggests that at least the drama is brave enough to mention it. Before the drama started airing, I heard that Ki Tae-young’s character would not be gay but we’re seeing clues that the team has kept that in to this version as well.
Additionally, I understand that the production team is trying to stick to the source material moreso than previous adaptations. However, we’re seeing a string of lightly touched upon stringed scenes that keep moving along. It makes it difficult to discern which scenes are important to the overall plot or scenes that let us know that we haven’t lost our minor characters yet. Which is then jarring when we spend an ample amount of time with our main couple… and still not glean enough information about what went on.
Drama, I want to know more about you! My arms are wide open to love you – can’t you open up your heart to me?