Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 11
Time for the moment of truth, and it’s a good one. Sometimes it takes a figurative smack to the head to realize how you feel, and sometimes a literal one provides the kick-start. What’s even more gratifying than watching Dok-mi emerge from her shell, though, is the way she’s reaching out and reciprocating, lending a hand of support when once it was everyone else’s mission to get her to take theirs.
SONG OF THE DAY
Clazziquai – “여전히” (As ever) [ Download ]
EPISODE 11: “Can I return to the me of the past?”
Backing up a bit, we revisit Enrique’s book-signing event, where he offers hugs to his adoring fans. A glimpse of a poster for the Van Gogh exhibit reminds him of Dok-mi going to see it with Jin-rak, which wipes the smile from his face. He forces the smile back on.
Jin-rak is ridiculously pleased about Dok-mi’s invitation and spends all his pre-date time chuckling to himself. Dong-hoon even styles him up for the big occasion, though he ends up giving him a sharp pointy hairdo that has Jin-rak growling. Hee. On to the museum he goes.
It turns out that Enrique’s follower isn’t Seo-young after all, but the cutesy fan-stalker who’s styled herself to copy Seo-young. She’s there when the skulking ajumma darts out to shove him into traffic. Screeeech!
Slammed to the asphalt, Enrique imagines Dok-mi standing there and realizes he must be in love after all.
At the museum, Jin-rak adorably hovers at a respectful distance from Dok-mi while she takes her time looking at the artwork, and shoos other visitors away so they won’t interrupt her viewing. He barely registers on her radar, though, because she’s imagining Enrique standing next to her instead, chattering on about how he likes Van Gogh, sharing info about younger brother Theo who wrote his brother lots of letters and supported his career.
But it’s Jin-rak who appears at her side in real life, knocking her from her reverie. Hilariously, he steals a glimpse of Dok-mi’s hand down at her side, and starts shaking as he tries to make the move to hold it. He’s so fixated on that objective that when Dok-mi asks whether he knows about something Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother, he blurts, “I want to hold your hand.” Omg. Cringe. I’m so secondhand embarrassed for you.
He gets a reprieve, though, when Dok-mi says he’s right—though the hand-holding Van Gogh referred to was a handshake. Jin-rak heaves a sigh of relief to have escaped the moment, although Dok-mi does belatedly catch on and surreptitiously tucks her hand under her scarf. Ha, and aw.
Enrique is rushed to the hospital, and the glimpse we get of his limp bloody hand is not at all encouraging. Neither are the frantic messages posted online by his worried fans, which is how Do-hwi and Dong-hoon find out about his accident. They wonder whether they should tell Dok-mi and Jin-rak about it, and in Do-hwi’s typically one-track-minded way, she’s more freaked out hearing that the two went on a date than Enrique’s “serious condition.”
At the exhibit, Dok-mi tells Jin-rak about a friend of hers who particularly admires Theo Van Gogh, the younger brother who supported his hyung both emotionally and financially as an artist. That person felt Theo ought to be remembered as well, and Jin-rak guesses he knows who she’s talking about.
Jin-rak tries to put Dok-mi at ease by saying that he hasn’t been out in a long while, and their apartment has a way of keeping you inside: “So what I’m saying is, you’re not strange.” Sweet of him. She says she’s never once found him an uncomfortable neighbor and refers to his daily milk drawings, and he assures her he’s prepared to draw her lots and lots more.
But at that, Dok-mi asks him not to anymore since she’s moving. He tells her he already knows, and explains that when he was younger he used to feel uneasy after receiving a present, because something bad always followed. He had a similar thought this time when she invited him out, thinking she must be doing it as a goodbye gesture, and says that he’s fine as long as she’s fine. Aw, don’t cry, Jin-rak!
Then he asks if she’s moving because of him—if so, then he can revert to the way he was and not bother her a bit. “But perhaps… is it because of the traces?” He refers to that conversation when she spoke of people leaving bits of themselves behind. “Is it because you’re afraid it’ll be painful after he leaves? That you won’t be able to forget him? Are you wanting to hide someplace where he’s never been?”
Now it’s her turn to blink back tears, though she explains saying that it’s her dream to spend a year doing what she wanted—she’s just moved up her plans a bit.
Jin-rak gets a text alerting him to Enrique’s attack, and he lets Dok-mi know that his condition is serious. Aw, he didn’t even struggle with the dilemma, which makes me love him more.
She’s rattled and fumbles for her phone, but he stops her. Instead he accompanies her to the hospital and gets Dok-mi past the doctors by saying they’re from Enrique’s company.
She enters the emergency room to see the doctors calling out to Enrique and tending to his body, and the sight of the blood-stained sheets has her reeling a bit. She flashes back to their last encounter when she’d treated him so coldly, and after he’d turned back from his flight to Spain.
And then, Enrique walks into view—he’s not the patient, but watching from the bedside. He’s half in shock as he asks the injured woman—his ajumma attacker—why she did it, and has to be ushered away to get treated himself. He’s taken past Dok-mi without seeing her, while she staggers in relief and heads back out in a daze.
Jin-rak waits outside and actually encourages her to stay behind. He says this is the only time he’ll back off and push her in the other direction, but that she should be with Enrique now. With that, he trudges off—see, he can be so cool when he’s not trying.
Enrique drops by his attacker’s room, though he decides not to press her to talk today when she turns away from him. But it’s the ajumma who gets worked up as she yells that it’s been five years since she’s had a decent conversation with her son, who’s so obsessed with him and his games that it’s all he does. She grabs him by the jacket and starts cursing him, calling him the devil, only to be stopped by the arrival of her teenage son.
Enrique pulls the son aside, who apologizes for his mom and tells him to go ahead and press charges. But Enrique asks, almost angrily, whether the son spends all his hours gaming, playing in secret and neglecting all else. The son insists he’s not an addict, explaining that he wants to design games like Enrique, and that it’s his way of studying them.
Enrique informs the kid that he has no business making games if he can’t make his loved ones happy: “You have to love to make games.” Do I detect a touch of self-loathing in his speech? Or perhaps it’s merely wisdom gleaned from hard-learned lessons.
Dok-mi arrives and stays with Mom during this conversation, which the ladies can hear from her bedside, and she encourages Mom to find “it” from herself: “I don’t think it’s something you can’t look for in others. Reasons to hurt, to be angry, to be sad—find them with your son.”
She says that Enrique’s a good person who wants to make people happy, but he steps inside to contradict her, saying that he doesn’t really care to be a good person to Mom, who is welcome to keep hating him. As for himself, he stands strong behind his work.
However, he challenges Mom to try playing his games if she truly has a desire to seek happiness—not because she’ll find them in the games, but because she should understand her son’s feelings in liking them. He advises, “Love is knowing that person.” Again, spoken from experience.
The rest of the posse has reconvened in Ryu’s apartment, where Do-hwi prepares a boxed lunch for Jin-rak despite being told that there’s no point in trying to win his favor that way. But reasoning with Do-hwi is a futile exercise, and she primps to hear that Jin-rak is headed over.
Dong-hoon gets a text from his mother, and he heaves a big ol’ sigh to read what seems like a familiar message: a request for money, for hospital bills and rent. Poor kid, working himself to the bone all the time.
Jin-rak arrives, spots Do-hwi present, and turns right back around. Ha. Serves you right.
She chases him into the hallway, though he really is in no mood to hear her excuses for inviting her old teacher to the party, expecting that she’ll feign innocence and claim good intentions. But there are things a person can’t conceal, he says, his voice getting angrier and louder: “Cha Do-hwi is, from the front and back and in every way—”
Here he pauses to calm down, and says tiredly, “—not my type.” That was definitely a nice way to put it.
She pulls him back, crying now to say he’s being harsh. Said the pot and the kettle rolled into one big blob of blackness. Jin-rak seems to have seen her nature, though (hooray for that) and says he’s ready to listen to her when she can speak completely honestly, without excuses and lies.
Dok-mi and Enrique take a cab home, and he admits to feeling bad over the whole ugly incident. In particular, he remembers how the ajumma leapt in front of him to take the brunt of the car’s impact, seemingly regretting her actions right after shoving him into the street.
Enrique thanks her for staying with him today and heads off toward his building, head hanging and mood low. But he ends up in her hallway anyway, and Dok-mi invites him inside.
He sits there dumbly, lost in a funk, and Dok-mi tells him reassuringly that there are many more people who have been made happy by his games. She says, “When people are overwhelmed with their troubles, they look for reasons in other people. That’s easier, but it never solves anything. People are weak.”
Enrique spots Dok-mi’s piles of books, tied together and ready for moving. She says she’s just reorganizing them, then changes the subject to say that she feels his accident was her fault. If he hadn’t come back, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
He asks if she really thinks he’s a good person, as she told the ajumma, and sighs that he understands how she feels. Perhaps he ought to become a shut-in too, to prevent more of these things from happening.
Dong-hoon pushes Do-hwi’s lunchbox at Jin-rak, telling him to consider her feelings. It’s more than Do-hwi deserves, but he does have a point about everybody just stuck staring at someone else’s back.
Dong-hoon tells Jin-rak he’ll have to quit working on the webtoon, wistfully saying that it would be nice if he really were a runaway rich kid out pursuing his dream. Instead, he’s decided he’ll devote the next three years of his life to making money.
Jin-rak doesn’t know what’s prompted this decision but his expression hardens and he grabs his jacket, ordering Dong-hoon to follow him outside. Dong-hoon shrinks back—is he intending to beat him for leaving?
Enrique eats the dinner Dok-mi cooked, giving it a thumbs-up, and she continues offering him encouragement, suggesting that he hold one of his talks for that ajumma and her son. He says that the ajumma won’t want to listen to him since she hates him so much, but Dok-mi surprises him by admitting that they helped her.
She’d read his lectures while working on his book, and felt a rapport with his words. His life was entirely different from hers, yet she felt his words applied to her: “Living must all be similar. He understands. He’s talking for us. They’ll feel that.”
Enrique pushes a finger to her forehead to chide her to eat slower, but the moment of connection brings a pleased smile to her face. It’s adorable.
That night, Dok-mi works on a new passage:
“Because people aren’t machines or toys built in factories, we’re special and complicated. Our uses, the colors of our hearts, our scents, our pressure points or weaknesses that hurt even when something grazes it—everyone is different. One must look for a long while just to make out their outlines. That’s why that woman doesn’t believe in fateful loves. She didn’t believe.”
As she writes (and Enrique watches TV nearby), we see glimpses of the other characters, showing the truth of her insights. The ajumma and son sit in the hospital together, awkward but perhaps seeking a line of communication; Do-hwi mulls over the day’s events; Enrique’s fangirl studies photos of Seo-young to mimic her more closely; Enrique lectures to eager listeners.
It turns out that Jin-rak takes Dong-hoon not for a beating but to the PD’s office. Dong-hoon slips out while Jin-rak goes first, armed with something “really important” to tell her. The PD has a bit of positive news in that women are starting to respond to the show (despite the still-dismal star ratings); in fact, they’re bombarding her with tons of questions about love. “Do I look like I know anything about love?!” the PD shouts. (Jin-rak shakes his head no.)
Jin-rak offers her one dating tip and tells her to speak softly. That’ll force the other guy to lean in close, at which point he can notice her sweet fragrance. (Jin-rak sniffs: “You haven’t washed your hair, have you?” Heh.)
Just in time to test this out, Dong-hoon pops back, bearing a gift. The PD tries out the whisper tactic, and crows to herself when it works. Ha. Showering also helps.
On to the matter at hand: Jin-rak has come today to request changing the name on the webtoon’s credits to Dong-hoon’s. He declares that Dong-hoon drew more of it than he did, and says he’s no longer an assistant. Aw, he’s just rising to the occasion all over the place today, isn’t he?
The PD holds Dong-hoon back to ask him about his debt repayment, because she’s starting to have nightmares that the loan sharks are going to come after her, as his guarantor. Dong-hoon assures her that he’s not going to skip out on the debt, and takes her hand and offers her a compromise—then how about she give him a call whenever she has nightmares? She gulps, totally smitten, and whispers, “Okay.”
That night as Enrique sleeps, Dok-mi answers a call from her realtor and assures him that distance is no problem. All she’s worried about is the deposit. She hangs up quietly… and sees Enrique glaring at her, not sleeping after all.
He’s fuming with hurt and disappointment, and accuses Dok-mi of treating people’s hearts like debts to be repaid and put away—it’s why she visited Enrique for a final goodbye, and why she took Jin-rak to the gallery.
He reminds her of her own words to the ajumma about not trying to attribute reasons to other people: “You think you’re not like that because you keep yourself hidden away, don’t you? But you’re just like them. Other people hurt you, other people give you a hard time, so you run from them. Don’t lie and say my lectures helped. Nothing has changed.”
He scoffs at himself, like he’s sorry he let himself hope, continuing:
Enrique: “When I got into the accident, you were standing there. I thought you liked me too, just a little. I was wrong. I’ll stop here. I’ll disappear. So don’t hide, and don’t run. I guess I’m just leaving you with unhappiness. I don’t know if I can return to the me of the past. I’m sorry. And be well.”
All the while, Dok-mi looks stricken. He’s got it all wrong, and as he turns to leave she bursts out, “No! Go back to the way you were.”
Dok-mi: “Go back to being the nonstop-talking, easily smiling, honest, warm Ke-geum who hears my inner thoughts. I felt so hurt when you said you were returning to Spain all of a sudden. I was hurting too, though I thought my heart wouldn’t get hurt again. I hid my feelings away, wanting you to stop bothering me and to leave me alone… but I liked you. I liked you a lot.”
He turns to face her, staring intently. She adds, “Return to the Ke-geum of the past, and go on your way. Forget everything that happened here—you can just open that door and leave.” Dok-mi musters a smile and says she’ll do the same: “I’ll open that door and leave. I’ll take care.”
But he approaches her instead, tears flooding his eyes, and says, “I hear it again. Your inner thoughts.”
Yay for honesty! And transparency! And communication! What’s interesting to me about these two is that they’ve always been on the same wavelength, but it’s the communication part that gets in the way, making them feel more distant than they are. It’s somewhat the reverse for Jin-rak, who thinks he has Dok-mi figured out a lot better than he does.
I don’t think Jin-rak’s got it completely off-base, and these boys aren’t perfect opposites where one’s always right and the other’s always wrong. (Thankfully. I hate when our choices are diametric opposites, as though that’s the only way to depict a difference.) But it’s the difference between seeing somebody and really knowing them. As Enrique says, to love someone is to know them. Really and truly, not just in the way of seeing a person every day and thinking you’ve got them pegged.
That was the crucial missing link for the ajumma, who is also not entirely unfounded in her worries but who also had a skewed impression of her son (assuming he was an addict and not an aspiring designer). I think it’s significant that ajumma was right about how the son was spending his time but was in the dark about how he felt all the while.
That said, I really love Jin-rak’s quietly honorable actions in this episode. When he’s trying to be the cool guy he just manages to be a big dork, but the decency of his character is what makes him a good guy. And you’ve got to give him props for putting himself out there honestly; he’s a big ol’ grumpypants but his heart is in the right place. The world could use more guys like him.
I’m just left wondering (worrying) that with feelings confirmed here, with three weeks still left on the calendar, where do we go now? I suppose it’s too much to hope for five episodes of rosy cheery happiness and fanservicey romance, huh? Sigh. *prepares for angst* *also prepares to rewatch smoochies a dozen times to soothe that angst*
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 10
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 9
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 8
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 7
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 6
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 5
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 4
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 3
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 2
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 1