Drama Recaps
Nice Guy: Episode 18
by | November 9, 2012 | 175 Comments

Hey guys, just stepping in to recap this one episode because someone is busy ogling her Oppa in person (Priorities!), and because you really needn’t ask me twice to spend a day with Joong-ki. I’m easy like that. Let the melo and mayhem begin.

As finale week approaches, it’s fallout time for Maru and his precarious house of cards. Eun-ki begins to enact her revenge, unconcerned by the fact that the person who might suffer the most might be her own damn self. Can you call it karmic retribution if you have to throw yourself under the bus to get there?

 
EPISODE 18 RECAP

We catch up to the aftermath of Eun-ki and Maru’s not-a-wedding. He confronts her: her memory has returned. It rattles her, but she calmly asks how long he’s known and why he didn’t say anything. Listen if we’re gonna play this game, we’ll need a scorecard.

He says that he was going to let her do anything she wanted to him, to get her revenge. Well it sounds all noble, except for the fine print where you deserve what’s coming. She points out that if it were true, he’d have shown up to their wedding.

He argues that he can’t abide by this plan of hers because it ruins her too. He says there are plenty of ways to go after him and Jae-hee, without endangering herself. “If you made up your mind to stab, you should have stabbed Han Jae-hee and me. Why stab yourself too?”

She glares coldly and says that while she was infatuated with him, her father died. She admits she’s gone crazy: “Whether I stab you people or myself, whether I spill your blood or my own, if I can bring you two down, if I can kill you… I’m going to do anything it takes.”

She adds through gritted teeth: “That… is Seo Eun-ki.” Maru’s face falls. She throws him the same line he offered her once—the chance to run away. She says he did clothe and feed her out of pity, so she ought to give him one chance.

He has nothing to say in defense (and she mutters that he wouldn’t be human if he did) and tells him to call Joon-ha to pick her up. Maru watches dejectedly as she goes, asking Joon-ha to take her anywhere but Maru’s house.

He flashes back to their breakfast conversation when the sweet Eun-ki had said she wouldn’t forgive him if he turned out to be a bad guy, and his insistence that she stick to her guns and never let him off the hook. Feels different on the other side, eh?

Joon-ha drops her off at a hotel room and turns to go, but Eun-ki asks him to stay. Dude, is this part of your revenge too? She just says that she’s probably going to cause some kind of accident, and asks him to stay and watch over her.

Meanwhile, Secretary Hyun packs up Eun-ki’s things from Maru’s house. Choco is near tears, but she understands why Eun-ki would feel this way, and hands her a hair-tie, saying that Eun-ki liked it.

Jae-gil asks Maru if he wants a drink, but he asks for food instead, shoveling in his dinner as if it were just an ordinary day, which worries them even more.

Jae-hee comes home late trying to avoid reporters, and someone shows up… it’s Maru. They sit across the table in silence, with Min-young standing stiffly in the wings.

She asks if leaking the scandal was his doing, and he says casually that it was. She wonders what he gains out of it. Maru: “Han Jae-hee. That was my goal from the start.” Whaa? Why are you playing this angle?

Well whatever his reason, we can see that it stirs her. She asks (tellingly) if he doesn’t love Eun-ki. He smirks and calls it a guilty conscience. “Love… love is the thing I gave to you.” (He’s back to calling her noona now.)

He says he only figured out how much it meant to him when he lost it. Gah, he’s good. I mean, he’s evil, but he’s good.

Min-young trembles as he says to absolutely zero effect that Maru can’t be trusted. But we already know where Jae-hee’s inclinations lie. Maru counters that if he really loved Eun-ki, then why would he have risked everything to turn the wedding upside-down?

Maru decides he’s had enough of the peanut gallery and asks how much longer she’s going to keep Min-young around, because he has important, private things to discuss with her.

Out he goes. I’d feel sorry for you if you weren’t murderous and hateful… but you are.

Meanwhile Joon-ha checks on Eun-ki who’s been in the bathroom for an hour and a half, and panics when there’s no response. He gets hotel staff to open the door, and finds her sitting in her wedding dress in the bathtub, staring off into space.

She doesn’t respond until he finally drops the formalities and calls her “Eun-ki-ya.” She says, almost berating herself while saying it, “I didn’t hate him.” She says she tried with all the strength she had, but couldn’t hate Maru.

She knows that he doesn’t love her, that he’s only using her to get to Jae-hee, that he thought her easily manipulated because she had no memory, that he was only acting nice out of guilt… but it’s no use and she can’t hate him.

“That’s why I did it. Because I thought it would all end this way.” Joon-ha sheds a tear as he listens. Eun-ki confesses that she leaked the scandal because it would ensure that someone in the world would stop them.

You mean like a public, nationwide call for don’t-let-me-drunk-dial-my-ex? That’s quite the elaborate insurance policy against your feelings. She asks through her tears, “I did good, right? My father will be a little pleased, right?”

And then the truth: “But what do I do? I miss him. I miss him so much, oppa. What do I do?” She breaks down in tears.

Jae-hee and Maru sit down for a drink, and she warns him to be careful around Min-young—he might kill him. Maru just brushes it off and plays up the seduction, brushing her hair away and wondering if they ought to just use the scandal as their excuse to be together.

He’s clearly getting to her, but it’s the last bit that tips her off that he’s lying. She clenches her hands and says she was almost fooled, but she still knows Kang Maru better than he knows himself, and this is a lie.

She’s no dummy, and figures out right away what he’s up to. He intends to drag her down to protect Eun-ki, even if the cost is selling himself to do it. Maru doesn’t flinch, “So, will you buy me?”

She challenges his bluff—what if she says yes? He’s completely serious as he gives her the terms: she gives everything back, lays everything down, and the two of them go off to someplace where Seo Eun-ki doesn’t exist. Then they have a deal.

The thing is, you can actually feel it—that a part of her really wants to.

The morning brings another loop, as Eun-ki moves back home unannounced. It’s honestly a toss-up how Jae-hee will respond, but she chooses to act the doting stepmother and welcomes her. She says that it was Maru who leaked the story; it’s a surprise to Eun-ki that he took responsibility for her scheme.

The scandal spreads far and wide, even to little Eun-seok’s kindergarten class, where he gets teased and comes home crying that mommy is a bad person. She is, but still that hurts coming from your own child.

All parties are met with scorn at the office, and Min-young preps Jae-hee for the board meeting she’ll have to face concerning the scandal. He asks what she decided with Maru, and she refuses to tell him.

He grabs her by the collar, speaking in banmal, as he looms over her threateningly. He says she’s the one who brought him in, asking him to be her man, to protect her. “Who made you the way you are today?”

He shakes her as he calls her a prostitute’s daughter who could be rotting in jail for murder. “You can never go to Kang Maru. If you want, you can go dead.” Oh shit. It’s not a metaphor, coming from a man who’s killed before.

And then… he PROPOSES? Talk about misreading the mood. He demands that she marry him, and then forces a kiss. *shudder* You know you’re evil when even Han Jae-hee wants to burn her lips off after you’ve kissed them.

Joon-ha finds Maru at work and they sit down for coffee. He wonders why Maru isn’t asking about Eun-ki—if she’s okay, if she’s crying, if she’s already forgotten him and living well.

Maru says he wants to know, but is scared he’ll be hurt if he hears that she’s peachy keen without him. And if it’s the opposite… then he’ll still be hurt. Aw.

He goes back to his office and considers calling Eun-ki, when the phone rings from an unknown number. He answers, but there’s no response on the other end of the line. Suddenly a song comes on in the background—their song—and he knows it’s Eun-ki.

They don’t say a word to each other but have an imaginary conversation on both ends, worrying about the other. Maru thinks to himself, “I miss you.”

And when she finally hangs up, he says it aloud into the phone: “I miss you, Seo Eun-ki.” He says to himself that he’ll wait for her call tomorrow.

Jae-shik stops by to have dinner with Choco and Jae-gil, and leaves behind a scrap of wood he’s been carving into with the inscription: “Maru?” Jae-gil asks what the question mark means, but gets no answer.

Jae-hee drinks alone in her office, and then stumbles into Maru’s office to have a drink with him. She waxes poetic about the irony of people throwing away their youth to gain riches, and then growing old and spending all their riches to regain youth.

And then she picks up her phone and calls her brother and tells him to stop her if she starts acting crazy and saying that she’ll give it all up to run away with one man. It remains to be seen whether it’s a show for Maru or if she really called.

Eun-ki is working from home, doing background checks on Jae-hee’s personal accounts (like the one they tried to put in her name and get her caught for), when Jae-hee comes stumbling home drunk… with Maru helping her in.

Oh noes. Did you not know Eun-ki moved back in? Aaaargh. They stand there frozen, and Maru pulls away from Jae-hee awkwardly.

She drunkenly asks if the three of them should have another round. How like you to relish the pain. Maru does what he can to evade the worst cocktail party known to man, and takes Jae-hee to her room. It doesn’t go over well with Eun-ki.

As he turns to go, Jae-hee murmurs, “I regret it. I regret it. So, so much… I regret it.”

He walks through the empty house, and decides to go back up and knock on Eun-ki’s door. He asks if she’s doing okay, if she’s eaten, if she’s not sick. All she does is give a curt “Yes” to everything, and he turns to go.

She gets up to go after him, but can’t bring herself to open the door. He stands on the other side doing the same, as they take turns reaching for the handle and then pulling back.

And then he calls her, from just on the other side of her door. He asks if she really didn’t have anywhere else to go but here, and why she looks that way—does Jae-hee not feed her?

He sighs that he’ll go now, and says goodnight. She thinks to herself, “I’m happy that I got to see your face today.”

The next morning Maru gets ready for work, only to find Jae-gil lying in the entranceway like he’s on a one-man strike. He says they have to go to the hospital today.

Jae-gil argues that he’s out of excuses now, and that if Maru should die, he’ll spend the rest of his life looking after Choco, and that if Maru should become a vegetable, he’ll spend the rest of his life nursing him and cleaning his bedpan.

Aw. That is the sweetest proposal in the entire run of this show.

Too bad he hasn’t thought the whole leave-over-my-dead-body plan, ’cause Maru just laughs and steps on his ass to get to the door. Ha.

Eun-ki tells Joon-ha that she’s doing her own investigation into her father’s death. She assumes her father didn’t know about Jae-hee and Min-young’s affair, but Joon-ha surprises her with the truth—Dad knew, and he was having Joon-ha prepare a scheme to cut them both loose and leave them with nothing.

She asks angrily why he’s kept this from her, and asks what else he’s hiding. He doesn’t answer.

He broods over it in the park, helpfully reminding us why he’s holding out on her (because I’d forgotten, actually). Min-young is keeping him from talking because he has evidence that Joon-ha’s father was the one who killed Eun-ki’s mother.

He comes to a decision and goes straight to Maru’s office to tell him something, insisting that it has to be now before he changes his mind.

Next thing we know, Maru is walking through the park that night. He finds Jae-hee trembling, and holds her hand.

He silently puts his arm around her and comforts her. She breaks down and sobs into his chest.

And then, in the distance, Eun-ki watches it all. Her cryptic voiceover:

Eun-ki: Memory plays a game that no one can avoid. Memories will be rewritten, will decay. Are my memories whole? Can my memories be trusted? What was it that I saw that day?

 
COMMENTS

This writer has an interesting approach to the cliffhanger, choosing to skip ahead to the dramatic moment while leaving us purposefully in the dark, wondering how we got there and thinking it’ll be one thing when it’s really another. It works better in some cases than in others—at times it’s downright confusing, and at others it’s not really all that interesting or enticing a question.

But this is a pretty good one, in that there is what looks to be a moment of sincerity from Maru, towards Jae-hee. It’s a notable shift, so the question is what’s driving it. My guess would be that Joon-ha has told Maru everything he knows, and he’s confronting her about Min-young and the murder, but we don’t have much to go on other than the scene that preceded it. I’m sure the B-side will turn those expectations upside-down, which is the fun.

Frankly, I’m a little surprised that this is all we got in the episode leading up to finale week. We’ve only got two more episodes to go, but nobody (other than Jae-gil) knows about Maru’s condition, and Eun-ki still doesn’t know how her father died. The pacing of the big secret reveals (which WE have known from the beginning) is the one really conventional thing about this drama that I find staid and uninteresting, because with such unpredictable characters, you could do so much more if you just outed the expected secrets and took the story to new territory. At this point what I want to know isn’t how they’ll react to the big reveals, but what they’ll do afterward that will subvert expectation. We’re just running out of precious story time for them to do anything in the aftermath.

While I do understand what Eun-ki means by leaking the scandal to, in essence, protect herself from her own feelings for Maru, it’s a rather convoluted thing when she’s still calling him and missing him at the end of the day. You sort of want to tell her it’s okay to want what she wants since they’re all headed on the road to hell anyway, but I guess if she were my sister I wouldn’t be advocating a reunion with a known lying sack of bastard.

What has me torn is that we see Maru in such a different light than the other characters do, because despite his opaque nature, we do know that he never acts out of a selfish desire. He does the really twisted thing of making himself the bad guy in order to protect others, but that alone doesn’t buy my sympathy either. No matter the noble motivation, he still does the bad guy things, and if he never explains himself, never clears it up, then at some point I just stop feeling sorry for him and figure he wants to die a martyr.

He’s a fascinating character because he’s SO selfless that he’s willing to go down in flames to protect the one he loves, but that’s just as frustrating as the noble idiot who’s going to throw himself in harm’s way like a big ol’ hero. This guy is just willing to go down as the villain to do the same. Would it kill him to be selfish for a day and just decide he’s allowed to be happy? This show. I mean, it’s riveting, and dark, and really well done. But at the end of every episode I always find myself saying the same refrain: What I wouldn’t give to take you all to a round of therapy.

 
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