Premiere day. Finally! It feels like a long time coming, and it’s nice to know our cast feels the same. There are plenty of real feelings mixed with shenanigans in this episode, all of which manage to keep the conflict engaging but light, at least at this point in the game. So far King of Dramas is proving to be an unchallenging watch (which is NOT a bad thing), yet one full of stakes and subsequent rewards. And laughs. And squeals. And yes, even tears. But when those tears come with a laughter chaser, I can hardly complain.
EPISODE 11: “The Line of Life and Death”
Anthony gives Go-eun his trust, but reminds her that it won’t be enough – if she found the two works similar, she’ll have to prove that she wrote her script first and clear her name. So that others will believe in her, too.
With that, Anthony has the microphones turned back on and addresses the entire production as he reminds the cast that they can’t treat their drama with distrust. He gives them all a pep talk, basically, asking everyone to band together and believe in Go-eun.
He also vows to prove that Go-eun’s work came first, and tells everyone to continue filming in the meantime. The last bit he directs to Min-ah specifically: “If you still can’t trust this script, then trust me and act for this role.”
Tears of frustration fill Min-ah’s eyes, while Hyun-min broods backstage.
Anthony’s on a quest to help Go-eun recover a file for Kyungsung dating before 2006, but the only place where one could feasibly be is on Writer Jung’s computer, from when Go-eun was an assistant. Unfortunately, Writer Jung is abroad.
Anthony solves this problem by lying to a locksmith that they’ve been locked out of their own home so that they can break into Writer Jung’s house. In order to fool the man, Anthony throws his arm around Go-eun, lying without a qualm that his “wife” does stuff like this all the time. Ha.
Once they’ve broken inside, Go-eun mutters under her breath that their age gap is too big for him to be lying about them being married. Anthony responds by teasingly calling her “yeobo,” an endearing term between husbands and wives. Double ha.
After ransacking the place, Go-eun eventually finds the old laptop. Score.
Meanwhile, Min-ah can’t seem to get her mind off Anthony’s “I believe in you” line to Go-eun, especially when she remembers an old fishing date her and Anthony had shared before her debut.
He’d told her he didn’t believe her when she claimed she wasn’t nervous, but that was because he didn’t believe in anyone. (Just like he told Go-eun.) But, he’d believed in Min-ah’s ability to become a world star.
Back in the present, Go-eun has no luck retrieving the file since the laptop has been wiped, while the SBC executives mull over replacing Kyungsung due to the plagiarism scandal. Again. Wait, again?
Things are tense over at World Productions, since the submission of evidence in the plagiarism case is due by midnight, and Go-eun doesn’t have enough to defend herself. Anthony decides to meet with Writer Jo of Fated Lovers, resolving that even if he has to kneel and beg, they have to get their drama to air.
Go-eun takes her search home, and her and Mom share some cute moments as Mom reminisces over Go-eun’s dreams of becoming a writer over the years. She has a box of keepsakes from Go-eun’s childhood, and just so happens to have saved a floppy disk from when Go-eun first wrote Kyungsung.
Luckily, it’s a file dating from 2005. Go-eun all but cries in relief, and calls Anthony just as he’s on his way to meet Writer Jo, exclaiming, “I found it! I found it!”
The filming atmosphere is on pins and needles the next day as everyone, including the SBC execs, waits for the court verdict. Go-eun seems in dour spirits as the leave the courthouse. Eek, did something go wrong?
Anthony calls Director Goo with the verdict, which he passes onto the production crew: Kyungsung Morning isn’t plagiarized.
The set erupts into cheers, while Go-eun remains overwhelmed from the whole experience. Anthony takes this time to teach her a lesson in saving and copyrighting her files, and hilariously refuses to accept his handkerchief back after she uses it to blow her nose.
Go-eun notices the initials “A.K.” on the handkerchief, and asks why Anthony was never given a Korean name if he had Korean parents. “My name was Anthony from the day I was born,” he replies flatly.
Only when she asks him why he never asked his parents about it does she learn that they both passed, though he’s not as affected by that as she’d think.
So she takes it upon herself to give him a Korean name, reasoning that because he receives so many insults, his name should be short for a term meaning “plenty of insults.” Hee. She does love to toy with him.
Unfortunately for him, they end up getting pulled over by the police for running a stop light, which forces him to give the officer his driver’s license. The officer reads his real name – Kim Bong-dal – and Go-eun starts laughing uncontrollably. Haha.
The name sounds funny and decidedly ungraceful for Anthony, but better yet is the meaning behind it – “Bong” is for mountaintop, and “Dal” is for moon. So to her, his name may as well be Kimchi Mountaintop-moonface, and she finds that to be just about the funniest thing she’s ever heard. At least Anthony takes her teasing like a champ.
Later, Go-eun hears some persistent knocking at her door and is reminded of Hyun-min’s last surprise entrance. So to prepare, she pulls her hair over her face and opens the door to scare him…
Only to find Min-ah on the other side. Awk-ward.
It seems like she’s come for an apology, and like a true writer, Go-eun only has coffee to offer her. However, Min-ah’s expression grows dark when she sees Anthony’s embroidered handkerchief on Go-eun’s drying rack.
To Min-ah’s credit, she does sincerely apologize for believing the plagiarism accusations, and Go-eun is nice enough to forgive and forget. She is taken aback, though, when Min-ah asks what her relationship to Anthony is.
After a few moments of blinking, Go-eun laughs off the thought: “What kind of woman in the world would like a man like him?” Ha. Poor Min-ah.
She goes on to say that if she had to put a name to their relationship, it’d be that of a demon and an angel. HA. Min-ah seems soothed, at least.
I knew the ratings were going to come up in meta talk. Or at least, I’d hoped they would. Anthony rallies the boys over securing first place with the premiere, even though “SBC’s” drama hasn’t even broken 10% in the ratings. And that drama didn’t have help from its predecessor, which we can equate to Faith in the real world. (Faith didn’t do miserably, but it hovered at or below 11% for most of the run.)
“It seems we will have a hard fight,” Dong-seok notes. “Of course it will be hard, but no matter what, we will win,” Anthony replies. Oh, the meta.
The Chairman finally gets his accounting books in the hopes of finding fraud from Anthony, only to find that the only illegal accounting Anthony did was under the Chairman’s orders. It’s with some surprise that he realizes Anthony never embezzled a single penny.
But, even though it was all his orders, Anthony’s name is still on the damning ledgers. The Chairman calls for his legal team in the hopes of using that evidence to lock Anthony away for at least a decade. Dude, sometimes you need to learn to let go.
Meanwhile, Anthony gets a text from Go-eun addressing him as Kim Bong-dal. Hee. She’s having so much fun with that.
A frantic call from her mom sends her to the restaurant, but she’s crestfallen that it’s only because there are too many customers.
…Except those customers are Hyun-min’s fan club, which he’s brought to the restaurant in order to promote the drama. Is this his indirect apology? Because it’s adorable.
After Hyun-min introduces her as “the beautiful writer” to his fans, he takes Go-eun outside to apologize for misunderstanding her script. “I thought that apologizing with only words wouldn’t be enough,” he admits, which prompts Go-eun to ask if he thought that apologizing with money and fans would be.
Instantly, Hyun-min’s air of seriousness is gone as he replies: “Because I have nothing but money and fans!” Haha. They’re back to their old bickering selves, and all is forgiven.
Anthony calls her in to do some script revisions on a clumsy and lifeless kiss scene, flat-out asking her if she’s never kissed a man before. Go-eun hesitates before replying that she has, which may or may not mean it’s a lie.
“Then, do it,” Anthony challenges. Omo.
He hands the script over to Dong-seok to do the reading as he steps in close to Go-eun. Anthony starts acting out the scene as Dong-seok reads, with Go-eun still in a state of shock that this is happening at all. (Dong-seok is barely keeping himself from cracking up. I love it.)
Actually, all the World Boys are trying to keep it in because of the cheesiness of the scene. Anthony acts out Hyun-min’s part while Go-eun acts Min-ah’s, and you can just see her squirming with awkwardness and embarrassment as she says her lines.
And then, at the end, Anthony stands up and declares that this is the moment Hyun-min is supposed to kiss Min-ah, except it doesn’t work at all. “I’m not an actress,” Go-eun defends, but Anthony fires back that a writer’s job is to write in order to make actors act. Basically, the scene is unplayable.
For proof, he tells her to ask the World Boys what they think as a male audience. She looks to them all hopeful, like, It’s okay, right?
But they all shrug in a way that says, “Ehhhhh.” So Go-eun gets to revise the script.
Min-ah keeps messing up her takes during filming because Hyun-min won’t stop making faces to distract her. This ends up being his personal revenge since he doesn’t know that Min-ah apologized to Go-eun, which is a cute reason except for the fact that they’re in a blizzard. I’d be saving revenge for an indoor scene.
Of course, they’re both horrified to learn that a kiss scene was planned in Episode 7. Min-ah’s only hope is that it gets revised.
Go-eun struggles on the revision of the kiss scene, mainly because she doesn’t have any kissing experience to write about. “Should I experience a kiss to write a kiss scene well?” she reasons aloud to herself. “Then, what about a story about a serial killer? Should its writer be a serial killer?”
She has a point there. In order to practice, she puckers up for a picture of Johnny Depp, and chickens out at the last minute because of that “Kim Bong-dal.” But then she focuses on his birthday in her calendar. Is today the day?
Anthony sends the boys home to rest for the premiere date tomorrow, only to have Dong-seok come back in… followed by the rest of the boys and Go-eun, with a birthday cake. They sing him an extreme rendition of “Happy Birthday,” replete with confetti and candles. So cute. SO CUTE.
Go-eun knows his birthday from their run-in with the police. Anthony’s face remains stoic as he orders them out. Can’t they see he’s working?
They shuffle out, wondering if they had the date wrong. Anthony remains in his office sitting across from his cake, and he doesn’t take his eyes off it until the candles burn all the way down. This is surprisingly sad. It’s like he’s never been given a birthday cake before.
Min-ah invites him out next to wish him a happy birthday, and passes over a ring box… it’s the Absolute Ring! Well, a copy. She knows how meaningful it was to him. (This one seems to be fashioned around the actual Lord of the Rings ring.)
He ends up rejecting it on the grounds that it’s not his ring – the one he cherished with his life because he believed it protected his success. Well, there can be only one.
We see why the original ring was so important to him in flashback, where his blind mother had given it to him shortly before he left to study abroad in America. It once belonged to his father. (Not going to lie, Kim Myung-min’s styling is really freaking me out because he does look so much younger. It’s downright bizarre.)
That night, he goes to a care center… to visit his Mom? So she’s alive. She’s asleep when he enters her room, but her nightstand is littered with newspaper articles about him. Aww.
As he’s about to leave she wakes, and instinctively knows it’s him as she asks if he’s had seaweed soup for his birthday. She apologizes that she couldn’t cook it for him in the state she’s in, which has him urging her to get better so she can leave. Something tells me that isn’t going to happen.
She “sees” him by touching his face, causing both of them to well up with emotion. Anthony almost loses his composure when she tells him that she’s looking forward to the premiere, both of them knowing that she won’t be able to watch it. But it’s the sentiment that’s sweet.
Both he and Go-eun are pensively hopeful about tomorrow’s premiere, and Anthony hopes to himself that he’ll finally be able to smile. Before he realizes it, he’s spread his arms out like wings in the same way Go-eun taught him last episode. And when he does realize it, he just gives himself over to it.
And on her rooftop, Go-eun does the same.
It’s finally premiere day, and the team scrambles to do all that needs doing: trailer cutting, news interviews, etc. Director Goo calls it a day early so they can all watch the broadcast from their homes, something which has Hyun-min on edge as he counts down the minutes to air next to a sullen-looking Bit-na and the rest of his retinue.
Comparatively, Min-ah is the very picture of calm, since she refuses to watch the first episode of any of her dramas based on the superstition that ratings will plummet if she does.
Anthony, Go-eun, and Director Goo get to watch from the broadcasting room. It’s all finally coming together, and the feeling is palpable. Anthony reminds Go-eun that she’ll be breathing with the audience for the next twenty episodes, and that she’ll need to study the live ratings graph to see what specific moments excite the viewers as well as which ones cause them to change the channel.
Everyone’s waiting – even Min-ah, as it turns out. And Anthony’s mom, too. She may not be able to see the show, but she’ll be listening in, while Go-eun’s mom has her entire restaurant watching.
The first episode begins. Ratings start at 7.1%, which CP Lee notes as being pretty mediocre. I actually feel the worst for Min-ah – everyone else is watching with a support group, but she’s the only one watching alone.
There are disappointed faces galore, though, as the sight of the ratings. SBC is pulling in the lowest line on the graph, and it’s heartbreaking to see Anthony literally fighting back tears. You can just see his hopes and dreams going down with those numbers.
It’s only a half hour in, but Anthony calls it quits. When Go-eun tries to stop him he soullessly responds: “Half an hour has passed already and the ratings are in the pits. We’ve lost, miserably.”
Anthony ends up drinking and taking his pills at a street-side stall, doing everything he can to resist the urge to break down.
That’s where Go-eun ends up finding him, which means she’s given up on watching her very first broadcast in order to comfort him. (And yeah, probably also herself a little.) He’s not interested in company, until Director Nam calls him with the final average. We don’t hear what it is, but Anthony’s face twitches infinitesimally.
Go-eun hesitates to ask what the number was, and Anthony’s poker face is firmly in place: “We must have had a spike toward the end.” She nods, waiting…
“Viewership rating was 15.7%,” Anthony exclaims. “We’re in the lead!”
I caught myself literally jumping for joy before I realized it, because Anthony and Go-eun are doing the same. That was a HUGE spike, so it’s no surprise that everyone would be losing their minds over it.
Hyun-min gets to scream and yell in happiness, and even Min-ah, all alone, becomes girlishly excited when she gets the good news.
I love that Anthony acts like he had faith the entire time, even when he’d been moping about their mistake in making Kyungsung noir and not melo. Strangely though, I can’t tell if Anthony is lying or not when he claims he can’t remember saying it. Could it be the meds?
They each get a turn to claim why they are the reason for the ratings success, until Anthony hones in on Go-eun’s kiss scene again. “Tell me truthfully,” he begins. “You’ve never had a kiss, right?”
Go-eun blusters a bit, but he sees right through her. “You haven’t felt your heart beating for a man,” he continues. She argues that she has, but he shoots back that he’s not talking childish crushes. He means the real deal.
And he knows just as easily that Go-eun hasn’t experienced that kind of love, which causes him to look at her in a new light. One that she feels a bit uncomfortable with, ha.
She mentions how he needs to stop drinking, to which he confidently replies, “I’m Anthony. Mere alcohol cannot defeat me.”
…Only for him to end up face down on the table. Go-eun ends up dragging his drunk bottom all the way to the production building, and into his hilariously lavish bedroom.
After dumping him on the bed, she feels entitled to speak in banmal as she tells him to sleep well. Hee. But she doesn’t get one step out the door before she’s grabbed by Anthony and pulled down onto the bed, her face inches from his. And he’s wide awake. Omo.
“What do you think about me?” he asks. “How do you think of me as a man?”
Whoa. That was unexpected. I mean, anytime you get one drunk character in a closed space with another this sort of thing usually happens, and while I wouldn’t say that it felt out of place, it did feel sudden. Not bad sudden, not good sudden, just… sudden.
While we can’t pinpoint who fell for who first, I like the idea that Anthony was the one who broke first. It makes sense even considering his exterior, because we’ve seen how flimsy his outer shell of bravado really is. At any moment he’s on the verge of breaking down, which we saw clearly when he was eyeing the ratings. I’m hoping that at some point his depression issues are brought up and resolved somehow, unless the message they’re trying to convey is that the medicine he takes is good and necessary for his overall well-being.
I liked the meta reference to King’s ratings, which have once again dropped this week. Even I let out a sigh of frustration when looking at Episode 11’s numbers (7.3%, for the curious), wondering how they could lose what little footing they’d gained last week. While this show isn’t perfect, I *am* enjoying it immensely and am therefore a bit stuck wondering what exactly the viewers feel like they aren’t receiving from the show.
Conversely, it could just be that everyone is watching Horse Healer. (Sageuk always wins, unless it’s The Great Seer. Or Faith. Wait, sageuk hasn’t had a very good year, has it?)
I was hoping that we’d get a meta reference during Anthony and Min-ah’s fishing flashback, just because I feel like I’ve seen that scene in every drama this year. Camping/outdoor gear companies have been on a strangely aggressive marketing campaign lately, causing dramas like Equator Man and To The Beautiful You to have completely coordinated, mostly unnecessary outdoor excursions with which to show the camping products and coats. Even though we got a better integration of product placement here in the form of a flashback that didn’t derail the plot into some sort of group camping trip, a little wink and a nudge would have been fun.
Overall, I’m liking the turn we’ve taken this week and hope that the inevitable obstacles to come won’t end up feeling like curious afterthoughts or fresh off the assembly line. At least with the time slot fully secured by virtue of finally having aired, we might (at least) stop getting the Last Minute Replacement Threat from the broadcaster. But the drama world presented here is nothing if not ridiculously fickle, so there’s no telling where we’ll go. As long as the tone stays fun, I’m game.