It’s a regular media circus, and Anthony gets to be the ringleader in yet another strong episode. I keep running into this problem where I love each one more than the last – wait, is that even a problem?
This was an hour filled with everything I love in a good show – tension, payoffs, teamwork, meta references, and just the right dash of romance. Getting to peek further into Anthony’s teddy bear side is just a treat to watch, and whether it’s acting or writing or both, the changes feel true to his character and all the more satisfying for it. Rock on.
Ratings-wise, though, King hasn’t been pulling in kingly numbers. They started low and have actually gotten lower, with Episode 7 dropping down to 6.8%, from 7.7% last week. Which, eek. Comparatively, Oohlala Spouses pulled in a meager 6.9% for their penultimate episode (now that I can understand), while Horse Healer took the lead at 17.7%.
SONG OF THE DAY
King of Dramas OST – Yesung “Blind For Love (사랑에 멀어서)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “Asphalt Gladiator”
Go-eun is rushed to the hospital with Anthony by her side, though she remains unconscious even as Mom arrives, threatening to kill Anthony if anything happens to her daughter. Hyun-min just stands there in the ward, shell-shocked.
And to no one’s surprise, he’s later mobbed by press over his drunk driving charge.
Director Nam heads a meeting at SBC over the Hyun-min situation, with the general consensus leaning toward replacing him.
But it’s Director Goo who charges through the door to admonish them for jumping on the media bandwagon. “I cannot abandon my actor like that!” he proclaims, and I just like him more and more.
It does nothing to sway Director Nam, since he tells Anthony that there’s no reason not to replace Hyun-min when the public is in such an uproar. To make matters worse, he wants Go-eun replaced as well, presumably because of her health (or lack thereof).
Anthony pleads for more time to resolve the problem, refusing to back down. Director Nam relents, but gives him three days. If he doesn’t find a solution by then, Hyun-min and Go-eun are gone.
CEO Oh takes this self-made opportunity to once again try to squeeze Elegant Revenge 2 in for broadcast. This time he meets with Deputy Director Kim, despite knowing he once helped Anthony, and convinces him that Kyungsung Morning is dead in the water now that they have no star and a writer in a coma.
Aww, the World Boys are keeping vigil in front of the hospital, each of them tsk-ing the media for ignoring Go-eun’s injury in favor of Hyun-min. Maknae Goo, the spy who tipped CEO Oh off and started this whole mess, squirms nervously.
Mom stays by Go-eun’s side while Anthony questions the doctor – she doesn’t have any external injuries, so why isn’t she waking up? The answer could be brain damage, but they won’t know until they see the test results.
Anthony pays a silent visit to Go-eun’s hospital room, and reminisces over their cute teamwork moments as he watches her sleep. When he slips out of the room the World Boys are there (minus Dong-seok), but they haven’t the heart to go back to work when Go-eun’s just lying there.
It’s up to Anthony to get them focused, as he assures them that Go-eun will wake up, and that they have to get back to work to start shooting her script right away.
Everyone disperses except for Maknae Goo. It seems like the guilt has gotten to him as he begins to stutter the truth about what he’s done to Anthony, only to be interrupted by Dong-seok’s arrival with news on who broke Hyun-min’s story first.
It was Reporter Park, aka CEO Oh’s slimy guy, aka the guy who broke the dead motorcyclist story three years ago, aka the guy who rear-ended Hyun-min. “I think it was all a scheme, not a coincidence,” Dong-seok says, and Anthony knows instantly that it’s CEO Oh’s doing.
Anthony marches straight into CEO Oh’s office, and before the smug bastard can get another word in, Anthony punches him in the face. Awesome.
“Oh Jin-wan, I’m warning you,” Anthony says, his demeanor barely restrained. “You can do anything to me, but you can’t touch my actor, my writer, my people. I won’t stand for that.”
But CEO Oh sneers, saying that he’s only doing what he learned from Anthony. Unfazed, Anthony offers another terse lesson: “A death match is only between gladiators.” Welcome to the thunderdome.
CEO Oh lets out his trademark yell before calling Deputy Director Kim to put their plan in motion.
Dong-seok calls Anthony back to the hospital, because Go-eun has finally woken up. He’s not able to get out the second bit since Anthony goes rushing into the room, but he finds out once she sees him and asks: “Who are you?” Oh no. Amnesia!
Right now I’m laughing, because I’m sure this has to be a joke. Anthony takes it dead serious though, and looks like he might cry: “I am Anthony,” he stresses. “Anthony, who buried you in this field three years ago after only using you, and later threw you away without mercy! Did you even forget your hatred and resentment toward me?”
He grabs her by the shoulders, leaning in close. “This can’t be. You must remember me. Even if you have to use the power of hatred you must remember me, Lee Go-eun!”
She looks him straight in the eyes. “So you do know it – how mean you have been to me!”
And then she high-fives Dong-seok. Psyche!
I’m laughing SO hard. She totally fooled him and got a rib in on the amnesia trope at the same time. Best hospital wake-up scene ever, or greatest hospital wake-up scene ever?
Anthony realizes he’s been had and takes a deep breath, before leaning in so his face is just inches from Go-eun’s. Omo omo.
He defends that he didn’t fall for such a clumsy act – he’s used the amnesia plot over a hundred times in his ten years of drama producing. He could tell she was acting from a mile away. Pah. I’m not buying it.
But, it’s good to know Go-eun’s fine and back to writing. Dong-seok ribs Anthony outside: “You totally fell for it earlier, didn’t you?” Anthony glares him down. Haha. He totally fell for it.
And then he leaves Dong-seok in time out in the hallway, elementary-school style. This. Is. Amazing.
Deputy Director Kim, now working with CEO Oh, tries to get Director Nam to renege on his promise to Anthony and give the time slot to Empire instead. But Director Nam has integrity, and won’t make a decision until the three days have passed.
Anthony has a powwow with Hyun-min and his team, explaining the situation as it stands: If they don’t get their act together in three days, Hyun-min will be fired. For that matter, the whole production is in trouble because Hyun-min was their only option.
There’s a good chance the breathalyzer results were tampered with since Hyun-min didn’t drink enough for it to have registered, so they’ve submitted for a blood test. They just don’t know if they’ll get the results in time.
Hyun-min’s mom calls to interrupt the proceedings, and it’s hilarious how he stomps his feet while whining like a kid while talking to her. But Anthony latches onto one thing in particular – she’d gone to the ER for a stomachache the night Hyun-min got caught.
Anthony declares that Hyun-min go visit her. “The only person who will resolve this situation is your mom.” Huh?
Anthony goes into damage control mode, and he’s awesome at it. The timing works out so that they can claim that Hyun-min, having found out his mother went to the ER, had no choice but to drive. Then, the accident.
Unfortunately, Hyun-min’s Mom pays regular visits to the ER for nothing in particular. So even though she’s now fine, Anthony tells him that the only way they’ll survive is if her condition becomes serious today.
“Hyun-min,” Anthony begins, “You and I, the fate of us all, now depends on your mother’s acting today.” I like this plan.
Mom must have gotten the message, because she goes from lying calmly in her hospital bed to thrashing around in “pain.”
The media follows Hyun-min to the hospital, and watch him act concerned for his mother’s health. They’re falling right into Anthony’s trap, thinking that Hyun-min’s DUI was because he was rushing to his sick mother. Hook, line, and sinker.
CEO Oh sees the headlines and knows something’s up, considering that Hyun-min’s planning a press conference. Anthony stresses to Hyun-min that they have to keep their plan a secret from everyone and, most importantly, Go-eun.
Hyun-min’s confused, because she’s one of them. Anthony: “She is one of us, but she can’t be one of us when we’re lying.” She’s too honest for their dishonesty, so they agree never to tell.
Hyun-min acts all contrite as he updates Go-eun on the story, and she’s trying to take it all in. “Then, when you said that you were going to see your mother… You were being serious?” she asks. HA. He doesn’t even remember at first, but then he remembers how he’d fired back at her in the car: “I’m going to see my mom! Happy?!”
Anthony’s there to shoot him looks, and Hyun-min just goes with it like he totally meant it. Haha.
The World Boys marvel at the new headlines, but Maknae Goo still can’t relax. A call from CEO Oh sends him out, but at least Dong-seok seems to notice something’s up.
CEO Oh wants him to find out if Hyun-min’s mom is really ill, and when Maknae Goo expresses trepidation, he reminds him that he’ll be blackballed if CEO Oh reveals him as his mole. And he’s got a sick granny to care for, so how’s he going to do it without a job?
If CEO Oh is able to find proof that Hyun-min’s mom is faking it, then he’s sure the DUI charge won’t hold a candle to it. Plus, it’ll bring down Anthony too, since he orchestrated the lie.
Meanwhile, Go-eun writes Hyun-min’s apology for the press conference, and he has a good whine about it. “Did I ever ask them to love me?” he says, about his adoring fan base. “They just fell head over heels for me because I’m so hot!” Oh, Hyun-min.
I love that Go-eun looks to Anthony like he’s the dad in this situation. Because, let’s face it, Hyun-min is acting like a kid.
So Anthony steps in and throws his arm around Hyun-min’s shoulders. “Yes, you’re hot. So you can also make a hot apology.” He then coaches Hyun-min through it, line by line.
Deputy Director Kim makes sure to tell Director Nam that, if Anthony staged this whole press circus, they’ll be in big trouble. Director Nam agrees to give the slot to Elegant Revenge 2 if that’s the case.
It’s press conference day, and Hyun-min wonders if they shouldn’t just come clean about his mom. Anthony refuses on the basis that everything’s over if it’s revealed that his mom was a fake patient. The fate of their drama rests on Hyun-min now.
But, Maknae Goo recorded their conversation. He’s pretty torn about it even as CEO Oh calls and demands to be sent a copy of the file, threatening him in the process.
Maknae Goo runs to Anthony right before they head off for the conference to come clean, but Anthony’s in too much of a hurry to listen. Aaaaugh.
They get the blood test results in before the conference starts, and Hyun-min was below the legal limit. Phew. They’ll be in the clear if the apology goes well.
Hyun-min starts the conference, while Maknae Goo frets about doing the right thing. CEO Oh calls to threaten him for the umpteenth time.
So he sends along the voice recording to CEO Oh and his lackey, who’s at the press conference. The lackey goes to the broadcasting room to presumably air it on the loudspeaker…
But when CEO Oh finally listens, it turns out to be a recording of his threatening conversation with Maknae Goo, wherein he’d admitted to being behind Hyun-min’s DUI and that Go-eun was just collateral damage. Hah. That’s what you get.
Flash back to reveal that Anthony had stopped to listen to Maknae Goo before the press conference. Ah, so he planned the reversal. Niiiice.
CEO Oh manages to make it in time to stop the damning evidence from being broadcast. He catches Anthony’s gaze through the window, and Anthony’s look can best be summed up as such: How do you like them apples?
They meet, and CEO Oh asks him what he plans to do with the file. Anthony says it depends on how CEO Oh behaves from now on – if he keeps digging into Hyun-min’s mom’s case, he’ll reveal it and ruin CEO Oh’s career.
Oh, and CEO Oh is to use his media connections to spread only rainbows and sunshine about Hyun-min henceforth. “Now, the combat between gladiators is finished,” Anthony says. “I will go back to the Colosseum and enjoy my victory, so you’d better hurry up.”
Hyun-min completes the press conference, even shedding tears at the end. It’s all an act, of course, and he’s sooo proud of himself. Anthony isn’t, and warns him against making a single misstep going forward.
But their tactic works, since public favor turns back toward Hyun-min, securing Kyungsung’s time slot in the process.
Meanwhile, Hyun-min’s Mom sneaks into Go-eun’s room with flowers, looking fine as can be. Go-eun is worried for her health, and Mom’s all, “Well, I am sick.” *Wink wink* You know, for being a fake patient.
Go-eun’s smile starts to fade as she “gets” it. Oh, crap.
Director Nam calls Anthony with the news that Kyungsung is good to go, though he notes that Anthony doesn’t seem too surprised and wonders if this was the result Anthony had anticipated.
Anthony finds Go-eun angrily typing away in her room, and she confronts him over Hyun-min’s mom. He owns up to it, at least, and gets her confirmation that she would never have gone along with it if she knew.
“You’re really immoral,” she fires. “Turning someone’s perfectly fine mother into a seriously ill person in a second wasn’t enough?”
Anthony shrugs. “Someday, she’ll be seriously ill, I guess.” This made me laugh SO hard. His quips are hilarious.
Their bickering is harmless, since Go-eun can’t stay mad, and Anthony is just being too funny. The look he shoots her once he closes the door, like he’s a little kid who’s won a game, is maybe one of the best things ever.
Work resumes, and Anthony is given Maknae Goo’s resignation letter as Go-eun receives the same while leaving the hospital. In it, he apologizes and thanks Anthony for his kindness while wishing them all the best. Aww.
Go-eun seems to know what Maknae Goo did, and asks Anthony to forgive him once she returns to World. He refuses on the basis that someone who betrays once will do so again, even when Go-eun brings up the fact that he’s not free of mistakes either.
When Dong-seok tells her that Maknae Goo hasn’t even been picking up the phone, she pays a visit to his house where his ailing grandmother lives. She notes that her grandson has had a few visitors from work today, and one left a letter. Eek. I keep freaking out that CEO Oh will literally kill him.
But, it turns out to be from Anthony: “Shut up and come to work early before I really fire you.” Awww. Big ol’ softie.
Go-eun calls Anthony later that night from her rooftop, where she can easily see him on his. His version of the story is that Maknae Goo begged him for his job back so he gave it, and Go-eun is just happy as a clam to see him finally become a real boy.
But then, she asks, “Why did you lie?” She’s talking about the fact that he reinstated her as a writer, and not Director Nam. Anthony completely denies it, totally straight-faced. A-dorable.
Maknae Goo returns to work the next day, and Anthony un-welcomes him with his usual grumpiness. But everyone knows better by now.
Now it’s time to tackle the next production hurdle: A lead actress. Their options are pretty limited, and Director Goo has his heart set on one in particular. The only problem is, she technically belongs to Empire.
Director Goo isn’t the least bit happy that Anthony’s personal issues with CEO Oh are affecting his choice of actress, and tells Anthony as much. He wants Sung Min-ah.
Cut to: SUNG MIN-AH (Oh Ji-eun), posing for the camera. We see her grace the covers of most major magazines, going from glam to simple and fresh in an instant.
However, she walks off the set of her latest shoot displeased because her photographer had bad breath. Okay, so maybe a bit of a diva.
She stops short when Anthony visits the set, and there is definitely some recognition of the bad kind going on – she does NOT look happy to see him.
The way they talk confirms that they did know each other, and by her reactions I’m guessing they were romantically involved. She rejects the script outright because she doesn’t recognize the writer, and she doesn’t happen to like the producer, either.
However, Anthony says he’ll pay her as much as she wants – no amount is too small for Korea’s best actress. He tells her to think it over: “My number hasn’t changed.” Yup, they have a past.
Once he’s gone she throws the script and cries. Yeek.
Go-eun’s typing away in her studio when she gets a visitor in the form of Hyun-min bearing flowers and his knack for winning conversations: “Quite spacious for a writer’s studio. It’s about the same size as… the second bathroom of my living room.” What a charmer. How DO the girls stay away?
He knows she saw his mom and found out the truth, so he does have a moment of sincerity in thanking her for helping him out. She’s a little weirded out by his demeanor, especially when he gets in close to put a hand on her shoulder.
“I feel as if… I found a new friend,” he starts. Hah. What is he up to? “…Wouldn’t it be better to take out that swimming at sea part? I’d love it if that part was cut out from the whole script!” That’s more like Hyun-min.
It’s a no-go for her, and now I’m wondering if she’s refusing to budge on it just to see him squirm. That’s what I’d do, anyway. *cackle*
Meanwhile, Min-ah follows Anthony out to ask: “Do you still love me?”
He takes a long pause before replying, “If you would act for Kyungsung Morning.”
I’d all but forgotten that we’d need a leading actress, and now I remember seeing Oh Ji-eun‘s name in the cast list. I was wondering when she’d pop up. Perfect timing, too – I’d just warmed up to the idea of Anthony and Go-eun as a romantic pairing. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m completely excited for them as a possible couple, even though that thought hadn’t really crossed my mind until now.
Like I said up in the opening, I’m loving the gradual shift we’re seeing in Anthony, and the little ways he’s changing while still keeping true to, well, himself. He’s still as shrewd as ever, so it’s not like getting in touch with his more sensitive side has dulled that aspect – it would have been more out of character if he hadn’t outsmarted CEO Oh. And that whole sequence, from the delayed reveal of Anthony’s conversation with Maknae Goo all the way up to his closing conversation with CEO Oh, was so well done. I was on pins and needles wondering if Maknae Goo was going to change allegiances, or whether Anthony was really going to lose all the footing he’d gained.
I doubt that this’ll be the last of CEO Oh, but I am hoping that maybe, with this setback and the threat of blackmail, he’ll have a little less impact going forward. He’s been great as a source of conflict so far, but hearing/seeing him scheme maniacally was starting to wear out its welcome, especially since we weren’t going anywhere new with him character-wise. And with such a colorful character assortment, CEO Oh has so far been the flattest.
Needless to say, I love Go-eun’s resourcefulness. She might be new to the industry but she’s not all that naive, and she wins points for not only pulling one on Anthony, but for poking fun at a narrative trope I’ve definitely had my fill of since Nice Guy (and every other drama ever): Amnesia. Maybe with such a sense of self-awareness, we might end up avoiding a lot of dramaland’s biggest overused conflict-generators. A girl can dream, anyway.
In a drama about dramas, the meta shenanigans are endless, and I’m hoping that we get to see the ins and outs of Kyungsung Morning’s production just to see how everything fits together. I’m missing that ticking clock from the first episode, because right now it feels like World Productions has all the time in the world before broadcast, if a leading actress just crossed their minds. But knowing the way k-dramas work, I’d say they’re planning a whopping five minutes ahead.