Nice Guy: Episode 7
Huge game changers this episode, delivering new thrills and chills to the warped love story and the equally warped family story. Eun-ki and Jae-hee reach some pretty pivotal turning points in their relationship with Maru, and while one decides to make his fifth vertebrae into his sixth, the other decides to lay it all out on the line and hope for the best. I’m sure you can guess who does what.
The love for Nice Guy just keeps growing, and deservedly so. Ratings shot up over a point from last week, landing us at 17.3%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Vast – “Flames” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
We jump back a bit to see Jae-hee get that frightening call from her brother, as well as Maru’s reaction to finding out. Of course, Jae-gil tells him not to get involved, yet in the same breath says: “It looked like he was going to kill Jae-hee Noona if he got his hands on her.”
Sure, Jae-gil. That’s just the thing to say to get Maru to stay out of it.
He blames Choco for opening her mouth, but she passes it off as being a heat of the moment thing, since she was only thinking about how Jae-gil got hurt. Jae-gil takes this opportunity to sit her down and discuss her feelings for him – and how, if she keeps it up, he’ll have to shave his head and join a monastery. Ha.
She acts surprisingly mature considering it’s, well, her, and tells Jae-gil that she’s fine settling for a one-way love and that she won’t burden him with it.
When she’s gone, Jae-gil sighs, “Why am I so handsome?” Haha.
After seeing the disaster Jae-hee’s brother Jae-sik made of his house, Maru takes Jae-gil’s phone to call his own. Jae-sik picks up, and Maru agrees to tell him where Jae-hee is when they meet.
Now we’re back where we left off last episode, with Eun-ki seeing a photo of Maru and Jae-hee together. Secretary Jo was responsible for planting the photo, but a text reveals that this was all orchestrated by Min-young, even though the endgame isn’t clear. It doesn’t seem like Jae-hee was in on it, either.
Speaking of, Jae-hee looks distant and worried as she sits through an interview about her upcoming wedding.
Maru ends up seeing Eun-ki on his way out, and she hides the photo and swallows down her emotions to maintain a calm facade. She’s barely responsive as he tells her he’s got someone to meet, but he stops himself from heading off to check on her, noting that she doesn’t look good.
Eun-ki’s eyes are strangely unfocused as Maru checks her forehead for a fever, and his gentle touch reminds her of the first time all three of them (Jae-hee, Maru, and herself) had been in a room. And how he’d lied about only knowing Jae-hee from her television days.
Now, in the present, Eun-ki stares back at him with a fierce look. You just know she’s weighing every interaction in her mind to figure out exactly how much he’s lied to her. The worst part of it is, even if she counted up every lie she knew of, that’d just be the tip of the iceberg o’ betrayal.
Maru has no idea what’s going on, and just thinks she’s sick from her drinking extravaganza. Now Jae-hee’s words from the spa, “You’ll be the one to get hurt!” come crashing down on her.
She musters up the strength to wish him off, and even adds, “Come back quickly.”
However, the second he’s out of sight, Eun-ki’s knees go weak. She stares at the photo and takes it all in, her mind reeling to connect the dots, until she remembers Joon-ha’s envelope and all but tears it open. Inside is the indictment she’d filed against Maru when the whole blackmail debacle happened, only now realizing that they’re the same person.
Back in the only coffee shop in all of Seoul, Joon-ha tells Eun-ki what he knows: Maru was the one who saved her in the airplane, he and Jae-hee go back nineteen years, and that the money Jae-hee gave him was meant to keep him quiet about their relationship.
Joon-ha: “In any case, that friend, Kang Maru, approached you with an ulterior motive.” Eun-ki listens as she keeps adding more and more sugar to her coffee. (Anyone remember this same thing happening in A Love To Kill?)
Maru meets with Jae-sik at a bar, and lies to him that Jae-hee died six years ago. Jae-sik’s not buying it since he got her number off Maru’s cell, but there’s a more interesting turn when he talks about Maru’s supposed murder before he adds, “Jae-hee killed him, right? Jae-hee killed him and you took the blame, right?”
They go way back, and Jae-sik knows Maru well enough to make that assumption. “I don’t know about Jae-hee, though.” When her own brother says that… well, it says a lot.
Joon-ha tells Eun-ki about Maru’s murder charge and sentence, citing that as the reason why he was kicked out of medical school. Eun-ki then asks “What else?”, as though she’s not impressed or frightened yet.
Joon-ha blinks at her, before stressing that Maru and Jae-hee have been close for a long time (Eun-ki: “You said that before.”), and that Maru approached Eun-ki with ulterior motives. Eun-ki: “Are you dense? You already said that too.”
He tries getting through to her, but she continues to shrug him off. Maru’s list of crimes is nothing special to her. (Or so she tries to convince herself.) When he suggests legal action, Eun-ki turns on him fast, “Don’t you touch him. Don’t you dare touch a single hair on his body.”
So while Eun-ki protects Maru, Maru protects Jae-hee against the threat of her brother. We know by this point that first impressions are deceiving; Jae-sik is no model citizen, but he claims to be on Maru’s side against his self-described satanic sister.
Jae-sik: “I will take revenge for you. She’s a terrible girl who used you. I can’t explain everything to you, but there is no comparing me with that bitch.” He claims that he’ll take care of Maru’s revenge, his mom’s revenge, and his own revenge against Jae-hee.
This sets Maru off, and he kicks Jae-sik down before pouncing on him, shoving his face into the seat cushion as he grates out, “Don’t you even lurk anywhere near Jae-hee. If you do, I’ll kill you with my bare hands!” He makes sure to drive the point home that he did kill someone before, and he can do it again.
Joon-ha asks Chairman Seo to reinstate Eun-ki now that she did as he asked and blocked the strike.
When Chairman Seo protests against honoring the deal, Joon-ha smartly uses his resignation as a bargaining chip. However, their conversation takes an even darker when Joon-ha tells him that if he doesn’t get Eun-ki back now, she may never return, especially since she may have found something more important outside of her Dad’s cutthroat world.
Dad asks for some clarification, so Joon-ha spells it out, meaning every word: “Chairman, it seems Eun-ki has gone crazy.”
Meanwhile, Eun-ki meanders through Maru’s neighborhood and thinks of their first serious talk in the car, when he’d asked her what she would do if he wanted her to give him something much more valuable than a watch. Now she understands the deeper meaning to those words.
Jae-hee musters up the courage to give Maru a call, and thinks he’s behind her brother’s sudden reappearance in her life. “How far will you go? You and I, how far are we going to go? Let’s go till the end.” He doesn’t correct her.
She finds Chairman Seo unwell and knocking back some serious pills, but agrees when he orders her to bring Eun-ki back. He hands over Maru’s name and address, and wonders why Jae-hee hasn’t taken care of him yet.
Money won’t work on Maru and she tells him as much, but before leaving, comes up with an idea. Chairman Seo knows some people in low places, ones that could beat the tar out of Maru.
But then she has the nerve to ask if there won’t be any bad consequences from using that kind of force. So, basically, she’s fine with breaking every bone in his body as long as he doesn’t die.
Eun-ki catches Maru on his way home, and takes him to a pretty vista overlooking Seoul for a drink. She knows, we know, he doesn’t know that she knows, but it’s still cute when he drinks some of her beer for her so she’ll drink less, considering her epic drinking contest from the night before.
She points out all the lights, and says that among those lights are Maru’s future wife and her future husband. She turns to him, cool as a cucumber, and says that he’ll have to send her an invitation when he gets married.
Ah, this is a breakup. It hits Maru at the same time, and Eun-ki notes his kicked puppy expression: “Could it be… you thought of me as a potential marriage partner?” And basically tells him that she was way out of his league from the start.
Here’s the Eun-ki from the first few episodes, but by now we know this tough facade is a tried and true defense mechanism. She explains herself as having decided to fall for him and see how long it lasted, but, “My feelings lasted longer than I expected. That’s a compliment.”
We see her vulnerability begin to peek through as she explains what she thinks (hopes) he’s feeling – enraged, maybe even struggling to accept the harsh reality of being without her.
That’s why it throws her for a loop and takes some serious wind out of her sails when Maru simply replies: “It’s not hard. I understand.” And the way she’s like, “You… understand?” just breaks my heart.
It’s even sadder when she wistfully says what a bother it would have been if he’d hung on to her, which reads to me as: Hang on to me, please.
But he doesn’t, and she stumbles home alone while she fights back tears. Maru is as unreadable as ever as he keeps drinking where she left him.
Eun-ki looks more than unwell, and we can literally hear the sound of her world crashing down as her vision begins to blur. Jae-hee slowly filters into view, having come to bring her back, but is promptly shocked when Eun-ki just faints on the spot.
Maru finally gathers himself up to go home, only to have a mysterious attacker brutally smash a piece of wood over his skull. Eeeek.
In an interesting turn, we see the end of Jae-hee’s conversation with Chairman Seo as she drives an unconscious Eun-ki home. At the mention of hiring thugs, Chairman Seo had actually said no. So Jae-hee orchestrated the attack all on her own.
Two thugs beat Maru until he’s bloody and wheezing, and hold the phone to his ear once he’s knocked down with Jae-hee on the line.
She coldly refers to him as “Mr. Kang,” and tells him that all he has to do is sign a few documents promising to never step near her “daughter” again, and in return, he’ll get a lavish estate in California and a speedy plane ticket.
Jae-hee mentions that Choco will be cared for too, however, “If you decline it this time, next time, your most loved one will get hurt.” Eun-ki stirs awake at different points during this conversation, but it’s not clear how much she actually hears.
Maru has no choice but to listen silently when he probably can’t feel his face, but oh man, if looks could kill. (And he’s only got one good eye at his disposal, too!)
Jae-gil leaves Maru a voicemail a short while later, having done as he asked by temporarily hiding Choco away with him at an island retreat. She doesn’t know anything about Maru getting beaten, and Jae-gil promises that he’ll take care of her until Maru’s well again.
Choco knows enough to be suspicious, but is too distracted by the thought of jumping Jae-gil’s bones to worry too much. He finds the thought hilarious, and reiterates the point that they’re not a man and a woman, but a brother and younger sister. Choco doesn’t help her case by throwing a childlike tantrum.
We find Eun-ki undergoing IV treatment at home and under Jae-hee’s care. Joon-ha comes for a visit with a tonic delivery, and I love how he is clearly not buying anything Jae-hee is selling and makes his dislike of her clear. (As if I needed any more reason to like him.)
He’s come at Chairman Seo’s call, and it looks like he’s just found the CCTV tape of Jae-hee kissing Min-young. Crap. Joon-ha cringes: “You knew about it?” Which isn’t the choice pick of words for Chairman Seo, who then grits out, “So you already knew about this? Why didn’t you say something? Are you in this together with them?”
Joon-ha says that he and Eun-ki thought the shock would be too much, and Dad’s even more upset to realize that everyone knew but him. Still, he warns Joon-ha against letting anyone know, even Eun-ki, that he knows.
With fire in his eyes, Chairman Seo tells Joon-ha to use every power under the law to bring Jae-hee and Min-young down. And when the law isn’t enough, he suggests doing anything and everything necessary, even framing the innocent, to make sure Jae-hee and Min-young rot in prison for thirty years.
Oh, it’s on. He finishes his calculating tirade by adding that only then can he die in peace, and will entrust Eun-ki to Joon-ha’s care once he’s gone.
As for Min-young, having a spy in Secretary Jo proves belatedly useful as he finds out that Chairman Seo already saw the damning tape, along with Joon-ha. He rages uselessly.
The neighborhood ajumma brings some soup to Maru’s house, but no one comes to the door. A pair of shoes at the entrance seems to indicate Maru is inside, though.
Eun-ki finally regains consciousness, and stares wistfully at a packet of medicine Maru gave her. Flash back to when he gave it to her at the end of their breakup conversation, where Eun-ki had been moved by the gesture and asked hopefully, “Is there more? Do you have anything else to say?”
Maru didn’t, and back in the present, Eun-ki crumples up his parting gift.
Choco is ready to head back to Seoul the next day, although her sneaking attempts are quickly foiled when she can’t help but edge closer to Jae-gil as he sleeps. He wakes up with a start, cue another round of bickering, only he has to physically hold Choco back under the lie that Maru is off gallivanting with a girl.
She knows that can’t be true when Maru leaves his phone on all the time in case she faints, and Jae-gil’s quick to point out that he’s always the one who runs to her in times like that anyway.
And that’s what she uses that to make her case: “See? You’re doing all these cool things for me. If I received some love from you and then you tell me not to love you, what am I supposed to do?” Jae-gil faux-comforts her by assuring her that he won’t run to her in the future even if she dies.
She gets her revenge by telling him she kissed him multiple times when she carried him home drunk. He gives her another hit on the head, but grows concerned about Maru and tries calling again. We only see the dark house and the same set of shoes outside.
Jae-hee stops Eun-ki from trying to go to work in her weakened state, explaining that her Dad has made it so that she can’t take one step outside.
Eun-ki isn’t fazed, and calls Jae-hee out on sending thugs to beat Maru: “You knew that I was listening.” Jae-hee shrugs as she owns up to it, but Eun-ki gets the last laugh when she adds that Maru didn’t give in. “I really chose my man very well.”
Jae-hee just leaves, and makes sure to lock Eun-ki inside her room. No amount of pushing or pulling gets her out.
A call from Jae-sik puts Jae-hee on edge, but her brother just commends her on raising a loyal dog like Maru. “He threatened to tear me apart if I came anywhere near you,” Jae-sik explains, which hits Jae-hee like a sucker punch to the ladyparts. After all, she had Maru beaten because she thought he was working with her brother, not because of Eun-ki.
So now she knows she’s done (even more) wrong, and barely listens as her brother asks to meet her like old times. She hangs up the phone, and he breaks his own in frustration.
Later that night, Eun-ki holds her Barbie as she remembers how Maru risked himself to save it, how he gave her strength when she fought for her mom’s resort, how he kissed her in Japan, and how he’d warned her to run away from him with all her might.
At the memory of that specific conversation, Eun-ki gathers her resolve and again tries to leave, but the door is locked. She notices that the outside guard is missing due to the storm, and rips off her curtains to use as a rope to make it down to ground level.
During this time, Jae-hee prepares a meal in to-go boxes while Chairman Seo is asleep, and my guess is that she’s planning to take them to Maru. Hah. What’s she gonna say? Sorry I had you beaten mercilessly over a misunderstanding, here’s some bulgogi?
Eun-ki drives to Maru’s neighborhood and starts the climb up shoeless, all while getting soaked to the bone. No one answers at his gate and she rails against it, calling his name.
Just when she’s about to give up, the gate creaks open, and Maru all but crawls out. His poor face is a disaster, and Eun-ki registers the shock in tears. What she says next is confessed with all the feeling in the world, and made somehow more meaningful (and eerie) by Maru just staring at her with his one wide-open eye.
Eun-ki: “That was my first kiss. The one that we had by Hirosaki Castle. From someone… it was also the first time I told someone ‘I love you’ with all my heart. It was the first time in my twenty-nine years of life. ‘I love you, Seo Eun-ki.’ I heard that kind of heart-thumping confession for the first time because of you. Because of the guy named Kang Maru, waking up, breathing, living… those things felt wondrous for the very first time.”
Maru inches up to her, and wipes her tears away with his thumb. (Yeah, it’s raining, just roll with it.) She continues:
“So… My only wish now is to be able to see you every day, to say ‘I love you’ every day, to hear you tell me you love me every day, to dream the same dream, to give birth to children, to raise them, and to grow old with you. Is that possible?”
And the way she stares at him, scared out of her mind now that she’s laid everything out, just makes her seem so vulnerable. So it’s like a sigh of relief when he finally wraps her up in his arms, but then his eyes focus on something over her shoulder – Jae-hee.
She’s standing with an umbrella and a disbelieving, and Maru just holds Eun-ki tighter, and sends her a silent warning in a glare: This is mine.
Be still, my heart! I’ve tried to keep such a cool head about this show (even worrying for a while that my love for it was just at a clinical level), but Eun-ki going all in was the straw that broke the I-don’t-know-about-this-Maru-fellow’s back. I’m going down with this ship, even though it’ll probably sink way lower than I can imagine, and even with the pretty decent chance that everyone will end up unhappy, or dead. With this kind of drama, who knows where we’ll end up?
So far Maru’s been a pretty passive/reactive character, with the whole “I’m going to get my revenge on you sometime maybe somehow later” thing going on, and this episode wasn’t too different. I felt pity for him when he got beat up for something he didn’t do, even after being mildly miffed that he’s still ready to do anything it takes to protect Jae-hee. No surprise there, since living for Jae-hee is just who Maru is and what he does.
That seemed like a fact of life that just wasn’t going to change, but this episode marked the first time where I found myself hoping that it would. In short, I’m tentatively invested in Maru’s personal journey, now that there might be a tiny light at the end of the long angst tunnel. Most of that is based on what could be a completely misguided interpretation of that look he shot to Jae-hee at the end. That’s one thing Nice Guy has been pretty consistent at – giving us little moments to interpret how we will. I think that’s why it’s been so fun so far.
There’ve been some points raised about Eun-ki’s character being inconsistent from what we were presented with in the first few episodes, and while my opinion is always evolving, Eun-ki seems surprisingly well drawn-out to me, with very realistic (if not sometimes infuriating) character traits and serious flaws that make her human. This is hugely helped by a good writing hand and Moon Chae-won’s performance, since she’s able to make Eun-ki as vulnerable as she is strong.
No woman is tough twenty-four hours of the day, and I think it’s especially telling that Maru is her first true love. She’s got a good head on her shoulders but she’s still incredibly subject to her own impulses, which is a trait that Dad seems to want to squeeze right out of her. It is a flaw, both in personal business and business business, especially since her most recent bouts of problem solving have cost Dad money instead of making him any.
But to her credit, it doesn’t seem like Dad ever wanted her completely out of his reach, and could just be putting her through hell to toughen her up so she can take over once he’s dead. They certainly have a strange relationship, but the same can be said of pretty much every relationship as far as this drama is concerned.
As far as Eun-ki’s big confession, though, I’m just sold. She knows his past is shady, knows he’s not necessarily in this for her, and knows she might get hurt – but she’s in it to win it, and it’s in keeping with her character to just bare her soul to the only person who’s ever told her he loves her. It leaves her extra vulnerable and ripe for Maru’s machinations, and if nothing else I hope he realizes that Eun-ki is not the type of girl to let this all fade like some terrible nightmare.
So congratulations to Maru, since he now has a female version of himself who’ll probably go to the same ends of the earth he did for love. My only hope is that he doesn’t become to Eun-ki what Jae-hee became to him.