Nice Guy: Episode 4
Wires get crossed and double-crossed as we get manipulation going on with every side, which is really making it hard to tell where playtime ends and real feelings begin. If there’s one thing I love unreservedly about this show, aside from all the things I love unreservedly, it’s every interaction between Eun-ki and her Wicked Stepmother. These two just set the screen on fire. Who knew that watching mortal enemies clashing could be so fun?
Nice Guy took a tiny dip in ratings, but still managed to keep its number one spot at 13.3%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Explosions in the Sky – “It’s Natural To Be Afraid” [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Exercise turns out to be the best way to reminisce over past lovers, since Maru takes a jog and thinks about Jae-hee, while Jae-hee takes a much more ritzier jog as she thinks about him.
We rewind a bit to see the rest of last night’s conversation, where Maru took Eun-ki up on her offer to meet again and pretty much just asks when and where. Jae-hee has the nerve to look devastated that he’ll be seeing Eun-ki again, enough to where she falters on her treadmill and almost falls off.
Luckily, or unluckily for her, Eun-ki’s right there. She gives Jae-hee the equivalent of “Why so serious?” as she talks about the wedding like it’s nothing, and that she sees right through Jae-hee. Them’s fighting words.
Eun-ki must be really steamed about this wedding, since her bitchiness level is at about a ten right now. Jae-hee finally caves and asks Eun-ki how she knows Maru, and Eun-ki’s reaction makes it seem like everything with Maru was just a way to rile Jae-hee up.
It works, since Jae-hee starts pestering Eun-ki with questions a jealous ex would ask, like how far she went with Maru, how well she knows him, etc. Eun-ki jumps on that and asks, faux-innocently, “By chance, you don’t have any interest in him as a man, do you?” Score one for Eun-ki.
I just love when these two are together, because their hateful chemistry is tops. But there’s an interesting moment where Jae-hee could almost pass for sincere, when she tells Eun-ki that Maru approached her knowing her background, and that “He doesn’t look like a good person.”
Eun-ki: “Even if he did approach me knowing who I am and what my background is, I don’t care. Since I’ve already experienced Han Jae-hee, what else do I, Seo Eun-ki, have to be scared of?”
But Jae-hee seems to be genuine in warning her that in the end, out of her and Maru, Eun-ki will be the one getting hurt.
Choco worries that she’s only a burden to Maru, but then proceeds to list all the times she’s helped him, like that time she saved him from a crazed stalker, or that time she maybe helped him do dishes. Maru just plays into it all, “Thank you, Kang Choco. Thanks to you, Oppa has lived.” Hee.
Looks like Choco has aspirations to be a singer, since we find her anxiously waiting for a chance to audition… only the moment she opens her mouth to sing, a harsh, nervous whisper comes out instead. Cringe.
She fails the audition, and fails to put on a bathroom performance for a child afterward.
But then, she pulls up a picture of Jae-gil on her phone and is finally able to sing by looking at his face. (New love line alert.)
Joon-ha is sleuthing in Maru’s neck of the woods, and shows a picture of Jae-hee to one of the neighborhood ajummas, and she reacts strangely by over-insisting that she’s never seen Jae-hee before. Hm.
Of course, Joon-ha’s got a spy in Secretary Jo, who calls Lawyer Ahn up to report on Joon-ha’s actions. He admits that the neighbors have been paid off to lie, which explains the nervous ajumma. But whatever this whole thing with Jae-hee and Maru is, Secretary Jo and Lawyer Ahn want to keep it under wraps.
Before the smooch the night before, Jae-hee had confidently told Lawyer Ahn that she knew he’d liked her for a long time. Flash back to their first meeting, when Jae-hee was still a reporter and had stubbornly invited herself into the Executives Only elevator, where Lawyer Ahn was.
She was just as fearless before as she is now, and that moment seems to be where the whole not-quite-an-affair began.
Speaking of affairs, it’s pretty ironic that Dad gets taken for some air by his most trusted companion, Lawyer Ahn Min-young. He asks Min-young bluntly, “Eun-suk’s mother… what kind of person is she?”
Dad wants to know if she’s someone he can trust, since he admits that he doesn’t trust women. “Han Jae-hee. She’s probably different, right? She probably won’t betray me, right?”
You almost feel bad for him, especially when Min-young reassures him that Jae-hee is nothing but sincere. Dad has no reason to suspect Min-young, but I can’t wait to see if/when he finds out that Jae-hee and his most trusted companion have been plotting behind his back.
By the time Jae-hee and Eun-ki are out of the gym, Jae-hee’s already got a smile plastered on… which fades in an instant the moment she sees Maru, who’s come to pick Eun-ki up. “We decided to meet right after we open our eyes,” he reminds her.
It’s strange, because we know Eun-ki is putting on a show for Jae-hee, but is Maru doing the same? I love the little touch of her asking Maru if he waited long, and his reply, “No. About two hours?” Like two hours is just a drop in the bucket when waiting for her majesty Eun-ki.
Maru finally greets Jae-hee as though their first meeting was last night, when he brought Eun-ki home. Eun-ki has a little roll of the eyes here, which must be because she knows that’s a lie.
Eun-ki introduces Jae-hee as the person who will be marrying her father soon, almost as if to remind Jae-hee that she has no ground to stand on in the jealousy department, since she’s a taken woman.
This scene is LOADED. Maru claims that he remembers Jae-hee from her days as an anchorwoman, and admits that he was her fan. When Jae-hee collects herself enough to politely thank him, Maru finishes: “But, not anymore. Unfortunately.”
And he drops his smile, just like that. Aw yeah. Jae-hee is rattled, but they’re all interrupted with Dad’s arrival.
I didn’t think it was possible for things to get any tenser, but they do as soon as Dad asks about Maru. Eun-ki: “He is someone I am dating.” And you just see Jae-hee trying to swallow that news.
Dad invites Maru to a fancy family brunch, all while Jae-hee looks like she’d rather be anywhere but there. He’s interested in Maru as the first person Eun-ki’s ever introduced as her boyfriend, and gives him the normal interview runaround we normally see our poor-but-plucky stock drama heroines receive. I like this turnaround.
To Dad’s credit, it’s like he wants to like Maru, but Maru’s past doesn’t allow it. He explains how both his parents are dead and that he dropped out of college to become a bartender.
That’s a hard pill to swallow already, but it’s worse when Dad probes further on the college issue and Maru answers plainly: “It’s not that I quit. I was expelled.” Jae-hee is sweatin’ like a whore in church at this point, and though Maru has been forthcoming so far he finally admits, pretty boldly, that he doesn’t want to answer any more questions.
This riles Dad up, and it’s strange to see Maru sending pointed looks Jae-hee’s way, as though he’s doing this all on purpose since it rattles her deeply. Her hands are shaking so much in her lap that Min-young secretly reaches under the table to hold her hands still.
Dad turns his anger onto Eun-ki for not knowing enough about Maru’s past, but Eun-ki retorts that the past doesn’t matter – she only cares about their present and future together.
Eun-ki: “And what about you, Chairman? The person you decided to marry, even at a younger age than myself, wanted to be your woman when you already had a wife and a child. The person who seduced you. There is only a five-year age difference between her and your daughter. How much do you know about the hidden two-faced person that she is, and how much do you really know about her past?”
Oh. Crap. Gauntlet thrown. Dad pays her back by throwing a glass of water in her face, and all but threatens to write Eun-ki out of his will. He addresses Jae-hee and talks as if Maru isn’t there, telling her to get rid of him at any costs… because looking out for one’s child is a parent’s duty.
“If Eun-ki’s mom were alive, she would have done those things for her. So why don’t you take over for her now?” Dad asks.
Eun-ki goes running after him, leaving Jae-hee and Maru alone in the room. He asks her whether her world is really as nice as she says, and asks how much she’ll pay him to keep him away.
He sarcastically asks if she’ll give him the same one million dollars she tried to pay him off with before. She then demands to know what his objective is, and he turns on her fast: “What do you think I’m doing?”
With that prompt, Jae-hee’s paranoia takes over as she desperately fishes for the right answer. Does he want money? She has money to spare. Does he want revenge? It’s worthless. Jae-hee: “Be practical instead. Ask for money! You sell your body for money anyway, don’t you?” Ooof.
She’s not using it as a jab, but because it’s reasonable to her for him to take money, care for Choco, and live richly like everyone else. Maru finally loses his cool as he tells her that that line of thinking is the very reason he wants to take her back.
Maru: “I don’t know how glamorous, splendid, and great your world is. But that’s not where you belong. A person like you shouldn’t be there.” He claims that she’s living in the very world she bitterly despised during her days as a reporter, which is exactly why she can’t stay.
“If you can’t come down from there,” Maru continues, “I’ll go up there. I’ll go up and bring you down. I’ll kill your world. Pack your bags and wait until I come get you.”
Jae-hee asks if the place where he thinks she belongs is the slums she used to live in. Maru: “No. Even that place would be an honor for you.” Buuuuurn. BURN. Ouch, that even hurts me.
Eun-ki is waiting for Maru outside, and he uses a handkerchief to help pat her hair dry. He asks if she’s planning on quitting, and reassures her that he didn’t take the money and that he’ll be fine if her dad sends thugs to beat him.
But Eun-ki seems to be more in the “It was fun while it lasted” camp, which has Maru taking a proactive role to court her compared to his aloof dismissal before, which we now know is because of Jae-hee. He tries to tell her that they haven’t even been dating for twelve full hours yet.
“It may not be twelve hours since we’ve known each other, but it feels like we’ve been dating for twelve months. I just fell for you,” Eun-ki replies. “Even though it’s embarrassing and hurts my pride.” Hmm. I wonder how much of this is true. Maybe it’s all true.
She offers her hand for a goodbye handshake, but Maru instead proposes a goodbye kiss, maybe in a different setting. (I see what you did there, Maru.) He claims it’s felt like a hundred years since he met a woman he likes, so it’d be a waste to end things without a kiss.
Jae-gil’s girlfriend finds Choco working at a coffee shop, and blames her for the jealous doodling she did on one of their pictures together. Choco denies liking him, saying “My ideal guy is Ashton Kutcher, alright?” And Jae-gil’s girlfriend snaps back: “My Oppa looks like Ashton Kutcher!”
…Which Choco admits is true, after a pause. Hah. His girlfriend sees right through her and knows she has a thing for Jae-gil, who pops through the door right as she’s faking tears and calls her YOO-RA. (I love the running “I’m naturally pretty without plastic surgery” joke.)
Yoo-ra cries to Oppa that Choco stepped on her foot, and Jae-gil drags Choco out to make her apologize. She apologizes for the t-shirt vandalism but not the foot-stepping, which has everyone bickering again. This scene is really overstaying its welcome.
To sum up the rest, Jae-gil chides Choco like a little sister and puts Yoo-ra on a pedestal before piggybacking her whiny behind to the cafe Maru tends bar at so he can serenade her.
Everyone gets a brooding session, and while Eun-ki clutches her doll in the confines of her office, Maru shaves a block of ice into a nifty ball, which he then serves with alcohol to Min-young. Is he in Maru’s bar as a coincidence, or is something else going on?
It seems like a little time has passed, but not enough for Dad to get over the brunch debacle. He sends Joon-ha to deliver the news to Eun-ki that she’s basically fired from her job as Executive Director for the time being, which fires up Eun-ki’s temper as she declares that she isn’t going anywhere.
Joon-ha tries to dissuade her as she beelines for the meeting room, not at all dismayed when the door is locked. Despite her pounding at the door the meeting carries on as usual, until Min-young finally gets the go-ahead to let her in.
There’s another group that Taesan wants to acquire, but the only way they can work up the funds is to sell a resort in Aomori, something that has Eun-ki up at arms because they can sell every place but that place.
Luckily for Taesan, Jae-hee has a close contact with an American company who’ll pay them lots of money for the resort. Eun-ki’s dissent falls on deaf ears even as she swears to come up with a plan to get the funds herself. Like we thought, the resort has sentimental value attached to Mom.
Finally, Dad orders Eun-ki taken out, and tears into her when she calls him ‘Father’. “How am I your father here?” he demands to know, and literally takes Eun-ki to school in front of all the other board members. He appoints Jae-hee as management on the project, since the American firm is in Japan with the resort and thus presents the perfect negotiation opportunity.
Eun-ki is forced to stay and listen silently as Dad and Min-young iron out the details for Jae-hee to take control of the project.
And when Jae-hee herself gets the news, she can barely contain her happiness.
Maru ends up going through a box containing his old doctors’ scrubs and schoolbooks, and finds a picture of himself and Jae-hee inside. He flips the picture over so it’s not facing him, while Choco deals with one of his lady callers outside by frankly telling her that her Oppa isn’t picking up her calls because he’s a player and a con artist.
She had no idea he was inside and is mortified to know that Maru might have overheard her, but he takes it like a champ (as usual). She wants him to meet a girl he actually loves, and mentions Eun-ki specifically.
But Choco knows her brother, and knows that he can’t really date other women because he can’t forget Jae-hee. “Please forget her,” Choco pleads. “Jae-hee Unni will not come back to you now.”
Eun-ki calls him once he’s outside, and he asks whether she’s found a place for them to kiss yet. She asks him to name ten people who’ve thrown away their throne or power for love, and I love that Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Gu Jun-pyo (Boys Over Flowers) are among Maru’s picks.
The feelings/not feelings/pretend feelings in this drama are seriously messing with my head, especially when Eun-ki admits that she wants to see him. She’s calling from the resort in Aomori, Japan, which she’s trying to save from being sold off by her father and stepmother because it was dear to her real mother.
But she acknowledges that the odds are stacked against her, and guesses that she’ll be kicked out of the company if she fails. She doesn’t even have to finish her sentence, because Maru automatically cuts in and says he’ll accept her even if she loses everything.
Eun-ki: “Okay, I’ll believe you this one time. If it comes down for me to give up, I’ll give up quickly. If it comes down to surrendering, I’ll surrender even faster.”
Jae-hee pops up before she can hang up, and Maru gets to stay on the line (or Eun-ki lets him stay on the line) while Eun-ki plainly tells Jae-hee that she’s there to ruin her schemes, since she alone has found a way to get the funds they need without selling the resort.
Jae-hee calls her a liar: “I thought I told you. You can’t beat me.” She launches into a tirade about how far she’s gone to overcome all the obstacles in her life, and what she’s had to do. Basically, she’s made her bed, and she’ll make damn sure she gets to lay in it forever.
She leans in at the end to lower her speech and punctuate her words: “Don’t play around and just move, Eun-ki. Like I told you, you can’t beat Unni.” She even rubs in the fact that Eun-ki’s got nothing but time on her hands since she pushed her out of the company, and coos at her to go sightseeing and, you know, do all those other things people without jobs do.
Only once Jae-hee’s gone does Eun-ki hang up on Maru.
Eun-ki heads to a small house on the property where she and Mom used to visit, and admits to her Barbie that she did lie to Jae-hee. She hasn’t found a way, but “I am Seo Eun-ki. It won’t be taken away from me that easily. Believe in me, Mom.”
Meanwhile, Jae-hee meets up with the American businessman buying the resort, and even if they’re good friends, it seems a bit weird to say a business associate is sexier than you remember.
Eun-ki burns the midnight oil to do some serious number crunching, since everything’s better in a montage. Still without a solution, Eun-ki stares at the starry sky and affirms to herself and Mom: “Not yet. I won’t take my hands off this. I won’t give up yet. I won’t surrender yet.”
She ends up falling asleep outside, and in the morning a mysterious person picks her up… and dumps her into the nearby river. HA.
She comes up sputtering, face to face with a brightly smiling Maru. He’s there to help her get her shiznit together: “Let’s kill them all.”
Not going to lie, I thought it was kind of funny (in a sad way) when Maru was basically telling Jae-hee that for every moment she spends in her dreamlike, luxurious world, an angel loses its wings. Like every single second she experiences happiness after how she’s treated him causes an orphanage to spontaneously combust, or a baby seal to get separated from its mother. Maru declared war, and it was awesome.
This is the kind of show that really epitomizes the phrase “Your Mileage May Vary”, because there’s so much that’s just plain hidden from us. In the absence of exposition, I keep trying to not make glaring assumptions since they’ll always be thrown up in the air by the next scene, but I can’t waver in Indecisionland forever. I do love that we have a melodrama playing like a mystery, and it’s doing a great job so far of keeping the audience on their (our, my) toes.
I wish I could be that omniscient recapper who can read five levels deeper into each scene and discern the ONE truth the writer wants us to know, delivered from on high. But the truth is, I still don’t have a solid grasp on where fiction becomes reality, at least where our characters are concerned, buuut I’ll try to sort it out.
Yes, I think Eun-ki has fallen for Maru, but thinks she has control over who’s manipulating who. Yes, I think she knows who he is as well as his background, because it’d just be too out of character for her not do to some fact checking with him. Yes, I think she plays up the relationship to grate on Jae-hee’s nerves, but not all of it is just fancy pretend time for her. Yes, Eun-ki is very guarded, but she seems like the kind of girl who falls hard when she lets herself.
No, I don’t think Maru is in this for the good of Jae-hee’s soul, and what he’s doing is basically revenge. But the interesting thing about Maru is that he speaks like he’s going to bring her down for her hypocrisy, not just for what she’s personally done to him, said like he’s working on the side of The People.
She’s living in the same world she’d once condemned, sure, but last time I checked, that wasn’t against the law. Maru has more than enough reasons to want to take personal revenge, and I hope that he acknowledges that Jae-hee’s actions against him are what she needs to pay for. But who knows, maybe Maru does have a real grudge against those whom he thinks perpetrate social inequality and class injustice, and Jae-hee is all the things he hates rolled into one. I’m not quite buying it, though.
It’s where Eun-ki and Maru’s “I’ll use you/No, I’ll use YOU” comes into play that I’m honestly confused, but that’s not a bad thing. Maru seems in it to win it as far as bringing Jae-hee down, and I thought it was pretty telling that Jae-hee is so scared of him. He’s told her he’s going to bring an unholy fire upon both her houses, so who wouldn’t be quaking in their boots?
I’m just hoping Eun-ki is capable enough to handle the fact that Maru is using her, to whatever degree. The thing that makes her a step above the usual drama heroine is that I’m pretty sure Eun-ki is using him too.