Nice Guy: Episode 5
So good. SO GOOD. I’m still reeling from all the emotional missteps and victories this episode, since Nice Guy has proven that it can deliver its thrills carefully and methodically. Add ‘beautifully’ to that list, because not only is the cast exceptionally pretty (Song! Joong! Ki!), so is the cinematography. The directing hand in this drama works really well to enhance the writing and provides the perfect springboard for the performances, which is something I’ve noticed since the first episode but was really floored by this time around. Short version of all of the above: Love love love, lovity love love.
There was a rise in ratings this episode at 14.0%, a personal best, and a number that’s keeping them at the top of their time slot. Woo-hoo!
SONG OF THE DAY
Junsu – “Love Is Like Snow” [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
We start the episode with a flashback of Maru before the trip to Japan as he remembers Jae-hee’s desperate plea for him to ask for money instead of revenge. (Icwutudidthar, Vitamin Water.)
Min-young wasn’t in Maru’s bar as a coincidence, since he tells Maru about an animal documentary he watched, where a jackal had taken hold of a coyote’s tail, causing the coyote to go to the edge of a cliff.
He speaks from the viewpoint of the coyote, who told the jackal that they would both fall off the cliff and die together if he didn’t let go of his tail. Min-young claims he never saw the end, but keeps wondering what their fate was.
“If the jackal were sensible, he would have let go of the tail he was biting, and if the jackal were stupid, they would have died together by falling off the cliff. What do you think that jackal chose?” Min-young asks, cleverly using that analogy to equate Maru as the jackal and Jae-hee as the coyote.
Back in the car, Maru thinks over Jae-hee’s threat that she won’t forgive anyone who stands in her way. These words cause him to make the dramatic U-turn Of Decision.
And then we see the end of his talk with Min-young, where Maru answers his question by saying that the jackal was probably more reckless than he’d think.
Min-young wonders if the jackal would be scared to die when faced with the edge of the cliff. Wouldn’t he have changed his mind?
Maru: “No, probably not. It probably would’ve said to the coyote, ‘It’s a relief that we can go together. Thanks to you, I won’t be lonely as I go.'”
Ohhh crap. He’s crazy.
After the opening sequence, we see Maru arriving at the Aomori Resort only seconds after Jae-hee ushers the American company inside. He asks the concierge where Eun-ki is in Japanese.
Still in a flashback of the night before Eun-ki’s rude awakening, Maru arrives at Eun-ki’s secluded house to find her Barbie still on the swing. “It’s been a while,” he tells the doll with a smile.
On Eun-ki’s door, he finds a warning written in Hangul, Japanese, and English: “Don’t disturb me. Never ever knock.” Ha.
So he doesn’t, and just sits outside and waits while Eun-ki crunches numbers inside. Turns out he was watching her the whole time Eun-ki was outside, and tried to get her attention once she was asleep, only to hear her murmur, “The calculations aren’t right.”
Maru takes the opportunity to let himself inside, and flips through Eun-ki’s notes. It seems like she has a habit of scribbling a person’s name when they’re troubling her, but instead of the Kang Maru she scribbled at the dinner table, now it’s Han Jae-hee.
He remembers overhearing Eun-ki and Jae-hee’s earlier conversation, especially the bit where Jae-hee told her, “You can’t beat me.” Since helping Eun-ki will harm Jae-hee, Maru sits down and sets to finishing Eun-ki’s work. The goal? Find roughly thirty-five million dollars from anywhere they can, in order to avoid selling the resort.
Jae-gil apparently sleeps in a tent outside Maru’s house, and gets a wakeup call from him in the middle of the night, asking for his expertise to help him make sense of Eun-ki’s financial statements.
After a tiny tantrum, Jae-gil uses his business management skills to help his friend.
Maru ends up working the whole night, papering the walls with post-it notes of all the little amounts they can collect to add up toward the big sum. One of the companies, Club X, piques his interest as he remembers one of his female clients telling him to put his money (probably meaning stocks) into the company since it was growing fast, despite having filed for bankruptcy two years ago.
Now we’re all caught up, since we see Maru unceremoniously dumping Eun-ki into the nearby river/pond/body of water. Ha. It’s still funny, even the second time around.
After his “Let’s kill them all” speech, Maru suggests some food to build up their strength.
Eun-ki just stares at him over the breakfast table, and it’s cute that Maru keeps pushing plates her way so she can eat. When she asks how he got here, Maru simply replies: “I took the plane.” Eun-ki still seems miffed, so he adds: “I also took the taxi.” Adorable.
But then he admits the truth (orrrr is it?): “I came here because I missed you.”
He claims that he can’t go without seeing her for even a couple of days, and came to hash out some issues with her. He certainly does act the part of a loving boyfriend, as he tells Eun-ki that his heart is too distressed at the sight of her pale and tired face. Good thing she’s not easily insulted.
Maru starts telling her about all the ways he’s found to help get the money, namely the five million Taesan has invested in Club X. Eun-ki thinks the shares are worthless, but Maru tells her what he found out about the group’s recent and secret growth, which will turn their five million into twenty million. Now, they only have fifteen million to go.
Eun-ki barely speaks, her expression caught somewhere between surprise and admiration (maybe even a little envy). “Since when did you know all these things?” she asks, and Maru simply replies that he has a diverse pool of connections. Maru: “Of course, if we’re comparing, I’m even smarter.”
He’s also found a defunct factory they can sell, and Eun-ki’s able to come up with more, which earns her an admiring look from Maru. This leaves them with around $500,000 left, which Maru thinks she can come up with by selling jewelry, cars, or whatever else she doesn’t need.
It’s easy to see that she’s touched, and Maru tells her to dismiss those feelings for now since she doesn’t have time. She tells him that she’ll remember well what he’s dismissed: “Reverence, being touched, using you to boast, a hug… After I win, let’s tally the tab clearly.” He’s got her hook, line, and sinker.
She gets on the phone in order to put a stop to Jae-hee until she can get there, and is stopped on her way off by Maru, who gently holds her face in his hands so he can give her a kiss on the forehead. Aww.
Maru: “You have to win and kill them all. And if you don’t win, don’t think of coming back.” The worst part about this is you can literally see the love beaming from Eun-ki’s eyes, and Maru smiles after her until she’s out of sight…
Then he drops the smile, just like that. Eeep. Not good. Not good at all.
And Eun-ki, still happily reeling from the kiss, heads off to thwart Jae-hee’s plans.
Speaking of, we find her in her birthday suit in an outdoor bath, with Min-young standing nearby, eyes averted. He tells her that Eun-ki came up with a way to get the funds, and that she wants Jae-hee to stop with the deal.
Jae-hee doesn’t plan on doing anything Eun-ki asks, and Min-young seems to agree with that sentiment. She asks him to get her a gown, and by the time he turns around, she’s standing in front of him stark naked. This girl knows how to use her assets.
In the wake of Eun-ki’s new discovery, Jae-hee plans to push the contract through faster in order to pull the rug out from under her rival.
While Eun-ki is still on a taxi ride to the hotel, Jae-hee begins the contract-signing process with the American company. She’s on pins and needles, but smiles to herself once she knows Eun-ki won’t make it.
And she’s right, since Eun-ki arrives only moments after the contract has been signed. Jae-hee introduces her as her daughter to her contacts, which is just so weird.
Eun-ki’s fuming that Jae-hee ignored her message to put a stop to the signing, but Min-young steps in and takes the blame, telling Eun-ki that he never even passed it on to Jae-hee because “I couldn’t let you risk Taesan’s future because of your own personal feelings.”
He even tells her that her useless stubbornness is what caused them to hold off on selling the resort so long, and Eun-ki looks like she’s about to cut a bitch.
Jae-hee smiles coldly: “Eun-ki, I know your heart. This resort, including every tree here, is what your mother planted. And all the guest rooms’ interiors are what your mother designed.” She claims she knows that Eun-ki wanted to protect the resort, but business is business…
So Eun-ki turns to the Rolling company head to voice her dissent in English: “I’m not selling this resort. I will not sell it. Never!”
She even starts ripping up the contract, which has Jae-hee screaming at her to stop. I love that Eun-ki drops the paper pieces with the same kind of “What’re you gonna do about it?” face we get in band battle movies, where the lead will drop his drumsticks in front of their rival.
“This contract is invalid,” Eun-ki stresses in English. Jae-hee rages about the fact that she’d dare to tear the contract when she’s already been fired from Taesan, so when Eun-ki goes for the phone to call Daddy, Jae-hee snatches it away and slaps her across the face. Eek.
Eun-ki takes it like the champion she is, but Jae-hee tears into her about how she’s her mother, and that gives her absolute authority to correct Eun-ki from going down the wrong path.
None of this fazes Eun-ki, until Jae-hee adds the cherry on top of the harsh lecture: “The person who wanted to sell this resort the most is not me, but the Chairman. He wanted to erase all the memories of your mother with the selling of the resort more than anyone else.”
Eun-ki eventually just screams in frustration before she collapses, but she’s the first to shrink away when Min-young tries to help her up. “Since when have you been Han Jae-hee’s dog? You were one of Seo Eun-ki’s most precious people in the company, in which she could rely on.”
Saaad. Min-young tells her that he’s just got Taesan’s success on the mind, and I call shenanigans on that.
It’s even worse when Maru calls Eun-ki, and her face briefly contorts in sadness before she tamps it all down. So. Awesome. We’ve all been there with a phone call, and props to her for resisting the urge to just break down the second she hears his voice.
Maru guesses from her silence that she lost, but strangely enough asks to talk to the Rolling Chairman.
She puts him on speakerphone as asked, and he uses English to call the Chairman out for his previous company’s sordid past of lawsuits and illegal chemical dumping. Maru’s certainly done his research, and even Jae-hee looks surprised to learn that they plan to renovate Aomori into some sinister medical research center.
His tactic works, and the Chairman hightails it outta there. Jae-hee makes sure Eun-ki knows she made a big mistake, but Eun-ki doesn’t care as long as she could save the resort.
And once again, she’s left Maru on the line. Jae-hee eavesdrops from outside as Maru tells her to meet in three hours, since he needs a nap.
Time for another Jae-gil/Yoo-ra/Choco insert scene, where Choco stops the two from kissing in the coffee shop, and Jae-gil becomes distressed when a stranger recognizes him and calls him “Young Master”. There’s a reference to Jae-gil’s (Kwang-soo’s) ‘Giraffe’ nickname from Running Man, but honestly, why is this same conflict still happening and why do we need to see it?
There is something interesting going on with Jae-gil when he talks to the stranger outside, and it seems like he’s content with having been removed from the family register. Especially since his father seems to be in some shady business with mistreating hapless foreign workers and killing them when they become useless.
So in response, Jae-gil wants nothing to do with his dad and tells the man that he’s even changed his last name, from Park to Oh. “When you go back, please tell Father that. If I could, I would take out all his blood that’s flowing inside my body.”
When Yoo-ra sees Jae-gil coming back, she bites into her own arm like a psychopath so she can blame it on Choco. But she does ask Jae-gil if he’s the runaway son of a chaebol like a joke, except it’s now the truth.
Choco takes the blame as expected, but Yoo-ra pushes her luck when she accuses Choco of stealing jewelry from her. Jae-gil knows Choco can kick and bite, but she doesn’t steal. That’s the nail in the coffin for their relationship, and once they leave, Choco starts crying. But hooray for Jae-gil using his brain instead of his, well, you know.
Back in the homestead, Joon-ha still seems to be suspicious of Maru, and studies a picture of him intently. Word of the cancelled contract has already reached Chairman Seo, as he expresses his desire to punish Eun-ki severely.
It’s sweet that Joon-ha keeps offering safe punishments like taking the money from her future salary, and when that doesn’t work, it’s doubly sweet that he offers his own salary for a cut, too: “As long as you don’t kick her out until she’s eighty.” Awwww.
Except, it doesn’t seem like Dad wants her punished as he entreats Joon-ha, “If, for an unbelievable reason, people would turn their backs on Eun-ki, and even if I turn my back on her… Please, stay right next to that child. Even if everyone in this world leaves her, don’t leave her. And be patient although it may be difficult. Please, protect her no matter what.”
Joon-ha agrees, and while it’s a sweet sentiment from Dad, how about just not turning your back on your kid in the first place?
One of the maids brings Joon-ha the picture of Maru he forgot, and he asks her if she’s seen him come by to call on Jae-hee. The maid says no, but she did see him leave an envelope for her.
This is enough to give Joon-ha a new lead, especially when he spies the security cameras that would have inevitably recorded Maru.
Meanwhile, Eun-ki gets ready for her date with some preening and primping, except it goes horribly awry and makes her look like a kid who got into mommy’s makeup. Hah. She calls someone to help her with it instead.
Jae-hee gives Maru a call, and though we can’t see his eyes through the sunglasses, you can hear the thinly-veiled uncertainty in his voice as he denies Jae-hee’s every attempt to come and see him.
She pulls out the big guns though, and in her most pitiful and breathless voice tells him: “I miss you, Maru. Just give me ten minutes.” Don’t do it, Maru! Be strong! Fight the power!
Eun-ki shows up for the date in a demure ensemble, and has no idea that Maru’s gone to meet Jae-hee. He tells her he’s just going to give her ten minutes… but we’ll see how long that lasts.
“Did I make you like this?” Jae-hee asks. “I made you like this. The warmest Maru in the world… I turned you into this dark, cold, and scary person that you are right now. I, Han Jae-hee, made it like that.”
Maru’s just counting down the minutes, and it’s neat to see Jae-hee switching gears to keep holding his interest. She asks him to take the nearby cruise ship with her, because he’d told her long ago that he wanted them to take a cruise together to the end of the world.
Jae-hee: “That promise… You still haven’t kept it yet.” And there is this awesomely sad moment where we see Maru’s resolve breaking ever so subtly, just in the way his eyes redden. So. Cool.
While this is going on, Eun-ki continues to hike around the beautiful date locale, looking for Maru.
No matter what sweet words Jae-hee says, Maru is ready to leave her when her ten minutes are up. She resorts to begging at the sight of his turned back: “Don’t go. Don’t leave. Please don’t go. Please don’t go to Eun-ki!”
But Maru keeps walking, until he hears a splash from behind him. Oh no she didn’t.
He turns around to find only her shoes left on the bridge. She’s jumped into the ocean. Maru sees nothing when he looks over the edge and yells for Noona.
…And at that same time, Eun-ki turns around, as though she’s heard him. To complete the metaphysical tie that bonds all these characters, Min-young’s glass shatters ominously.
Maru dives in after her and sees her slowly sinking down, stiff as a board. He manages to get Jae-hee back on the bridge where he performs emergency CPR, until she spits up water and regains consciousness.
And when Eun-ki calls him, the phone goes straight to voicemail.
Meanwhile, Joon-ha goes through the security camera footage and stops when Maru pops up on screen. Something about Maru isn’t sitting right with him, but he continues to click through the footage until he sees something even more unsettling: Jae-hee and Min-young’s kiss. Uh oh.
Maru watches over Jae-hee while she’s unconscious and hooked up to an IV at the resort, and consciously resists the urge to hold her hand.
Jae-hee’s voice stops him as he’s about to leave: “Could it be that you still haven’t forgotten me? That’s why you’re still lingering by my side, right?” She thinks him saving her is proof, and wonders why he didn’t let her die. Wait, was she actually planning to die or did she just use it as a ploy to keep Maru near?
“I will go back. I will go back to you again. Not now, but I will definitely go back to you. So trust me and wait for a bit,” she tells him. Oh, that’s rich. Not now, but soon? Girl, please.
Maru’s reaction isn’t kind, especially when he asks if her ocean (of how far she’s willing to fall) is bottomless. He tells her that she should have said these words sooner, when he was immature and naive enough to listen and be fooled by her.
Maru: “Out of one hundred memories, there were ten that were good. Don’t you know what you’ve done wrong? How great it would have been if only you could’ve left one or two good memories. ‘Ah, my first love Han Jae-hee isn’t that kind of unscrupulous person.’ Even though I don’t understand, you should have left the good memories for forgiveness. That way, the pathetic Kang Maru who believed Han Jae-hee was everything in his life wouldn’t have become so defiled.”
Those are some powerful words, with the emotion just building and building in Maru’s eyes and voice until he finally storms out, leaving Jae-hee speechless in his wake.
It’s dark out, but the town is alive with a grand parade making its way through the street. Maru stares vaguely until he remembers his missed date with Eun-ki, and runs through the crowd in a really, really neat sequence.
Eun-ki’s fallen asleep on the bridge waiting for him, and that’s where Maru finds her. She wakes when he brushes her hair behind her ear, and when he asks what she would have done if he never came, she answers, “Then I would have waited until you came. If you wait, the person is bound to come.”
He takes a good look at her face, and asks if she put on makeup. Hah. She also mentions that it’s her first time wearing a dress, but as she begins to tally up what she owes him, including a hug, Maru interrupts her by swooping in for a kiss. Omo.
And it isn’t your mother’s kiss scene, either.
Song Joong-ki is killing it in this role. Maru is deep and dark and twisted, but every now and then we see flashes of who he used to be – naive, innocent, loving to the point of obsession. And there’s no doubt that he’s still obsessed with Jae-hee, since she still dictates his every move whether he knows it or not. But is there still love? I’m not sure.
It always surprises me when characters in dramas ask why they were saved from a near-death experience, since they don’t seem to realize that maybe their savior just didn’t want to be responsible for their death. Especially with Maru, a former physician and former nice guy. He wants to bring Jae-hee down, but on his own terms and not on hers. Plus, death seems a little too easy of an out, right?
I used to give Jae-hee the benefit of the doubt, but this episode really solidified her role as a master manipulator. It’s kind of neat to see her switch gears depending on the person, or even the lulls in a conversation, because she’ll keep trying different tactics until she finds one that works. That takes a special kind of person.
With Min-young, she uses his sexual desire for her to keep him under her thumb, which is why I loved it when Eun-ki called him out on it. With Chairman Seo, she uses a false veneer of innocence and weakness to stoke up his protective and (possibly) fatherly instinct to protect her, which might explain why he’s so much harder on Eun-ki – she doesn’t let him see her weak side, so in turn, he challenges her more.
But the innocence trick doesn’t work on Maru anymore, who now seems immune to her now that his trust in her has been permanently shattered. It’s why she had to go to the extreme of almost dying to get him to pay attention to her, which is both pathetic and ridiculously manipulative. I don’t doubt that pulling the suicide move was a cold, calculated maneuver on her part, and that she was depending on Maru to save her. After all, Jae-hee has worked too hard to get where she is to throw it all away in an instant.
So then it’s both gratifying and disconcerting when Maru basically tells her to shove it, since he is resisting her directly… in order to drag her down indirectly. I’ll believe Maru when I’m sure that he’s completely done with Jae-hee, but I have the feeling that isn’t going to happen for a long, long time.
…Even though I wish it would. C’mon, Maru! Look how awesome Eun-ki is! She wasn’t even mad that you were late – now there’s a girl who probably wouldn’t let you take the fall for a murder because she loves you back. Gasp. I know, new concept. Here’s to hoping that you actually take the sincere hand Eun-ki’s holding out to you to take down the evils of the corporate world and, more importantly, Jae-hee.
Or, yunno, maybe have a few more smooching sessions. Just throwing that out there.