There’s a nice thread running through the episode of trading places and moving forward to a place of emotional understanding, which also gives us a really cute bit of Enrique-Dok-mi table-turning. The episode is almost worth it just for that adorableness alone. There are some things that bog it down, like the seemingly endless circle of arguing the same point without any movement, but ultimately we do take a step forward. Only one more episode to tie things up and give us our Happily Ever After!
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EPISODE 15: “Sometimes Love Wants a Long Road”
We resume with That Dreaded Scene, which had me muttering curses all week, though I entertained just enough doubt that the show would pull a reversal to keep hope alive. Enrique’s face falls to hear Dok-mi declare that she likes Jin-rak. *Shatter* Sound of a puppy getting his heart stomped on.
Dok-mi looks genuinely surprised to see they’ve attracted an audience, which suggests she didn’t intend for her words to go heard by anybody other than Do-hwi. But Jin-rak takes her by the hand and leads her away, like he’s the boyfriend stepping in.
Dok-mi pulls out of his grasp as soon as they’re outside and says she’s sorry for the scene. Ah, a flashback to last night shows us a bit more of their conversation: While she had asked Jin-rak for help in pushing Enrique away (nobly, stupidly, for his own good and all), he hadn’t agreed. In fact, he’d been the one to urge her not to lie and to go to Enrique anyway.
Still, the timing today had been too perfect to pass up, and he’d done it to comply with her request. But he sees how torn up she is about it and says sadly, “You can’t be with me, even as a lie, can you?” Her admission that Jin-rak is a good man is as hurtful as anything because it makes him think he might have had a shot, and now he’s cut up with regret over losing that chance.
“Leave,” he requests, “so I can give up on you.” And if she finds she can’t go to Spain, then ask Enrique to stay here.
That’s when Enrique steps in to pull Dok-mi away. Another flashback to last night jumps a few moments back—what is this, Flower Boy Memento all of a sudden?—to show that Enrique had been awake as the other two had talked.
Dok-mi had admitted that she didn’t feel confident that she could be with Enrique and not feel guilty as the cause for his lost dreams. Jin-rak had encouraged her to focus on Enrique, and not invite all this pain. At least someone’s talking sense up in this hizzy. Even if nobody’s listening.
Enrique had let them talk while he feigned sleep, thinking, “Those two sure are alike.”
Now he goes back to confront Jin-rak, saying that he’s so fixated on Dok-mi right now that he has no mental space to have a care for Jin-rak’s pain. Jin-rak takes umbrage to his wording and bites back, “Don’t tell me you know my pain.” Aw, that’s one bromance shattered. Those things fix with superglue, right?
Dok-mi waits for Enrique at his place, and sees the text that pops up from Seo-young. She heard the latest round of gossip upon landing in Spain and urges him to come back home and stick with his dream. As a word of warning, she adds that his feeling for Dok-mi may not be love; don’t confuse that with pity.
Ouch. But it’s not something Dok-mi can dismiss, because it jibes with what she knows of him from editing his book: that he’s unable to turn a blind eye to those who are hurt or emotionally locked up.
Thus when Enrique joins her, offering her tentative smiles and jokes, she hardens up and gives him her answer: She won’t go to Spain.
He deflates, then decides he’ll stay then, which is missing her point. They argue back and forth (and back and forth) about how she should stop pushing him away, how he should not give up his dream, how she’s lying about her feelings, how he’s confusing love with pity, how she should know better than think that of him, how she never asked him to stay…
It’s one long circular argument, and it’s both sad to watch and a little bit aggravating.
Dok-mi adds that she has to learn how to like herself more, and that she’s only just started the process. But being with him and feeling self-doubt for ruining his dream just takes her right back to her old self, and she doesn’t want him putting her in that position of feeling pathetic.
Enrique asks her to state what it is she does want. She fires back, “I don’t have faith in someone who said once that he was leaving.” Ouch. And also, isn’t the important thing that he stayed?
After another round of confirming that she means it, no really she means it (seriously, it’s the world’s saddest merry-go-round), Enrique accepts her answer with heavy heart and crushed spirit.
It’s only after she leaves that he sees the texts from Seo-young and figures that Dok-mi read them.
Dok-mi heads home and asks herself, “What did you just do?” Funny, I’m asking the same thing. That was a frustrating fifteen minutes.
Dong-hoon remains behind to talk with Do-hwi, whose side he’s always supported when others had been against her. But even he tells her that he was wrong to have liked her for not being a nice person (as in, her meanness was honest), because he doesn’t like people who use others, or who toy with people’s emotions.
Dong-hoon informs Do-hwi that she’s got the wrong idea about Jin-rak’s wealth, because he’s cut himself off from it. He suggests that she move on to her next target, and to keep her gold-diggery motivations from being discovered with him.
That night, Dok-mi peeks out her window across the way, catching a glimpse of Enrique standing there by his curtain. He keeps his head dejectedly down, and both of them pull their curtains shut.
In the morning, Enrique shows up at Jin-rak’s door to take him someplace to “take care of” a matter. Which turns out to be taking a “confirmation photo” together, proving to fans that there’s no bad blood between the two. Okay, that’s sweet. To make it more credible, they’re doing it at the PD’s office, and she’s only too glad to have the famous, handsome Enrique dropping by.
Enrique explains that Jin-rak came up with his idea in high school and didn’t plagiarize: “But he acts so so so slowly in everything… Really slooooowly…” Haha. It IS in character.
Afterward, Jin-rak asks if Enrique is going away, and that spurs Enrique to ask, “Do you know this? You and ajumma are really alike. I have no desire to leave, but why do you keep asking me to?”
Jin-rak: “Because I’ve [we've] never received love. Because I’ve only been rejected from a young age. Because I was always alone. The reason I spent three years simply looking from afar and the reason Dok-mi hid in her room are probably the same.”
Enrique says he’s decided to do as Dok-mi requests, which sparks Jin-rak’s temper (even more)—how dare he leave when he should know why Dok-mi’s acting this way. She’s pushing him away because Enrique left her feeling abandoned the first time.
Enrique counters that he would have stayed if she’d asked him: “Why do she and you make things so complicated? Why can’t you just say what you want to say?”
Jin-rak rages, “What do you know?!” And punches him in the face. Yikes. Both he and Enrique realize belatedly that he must’ve been itching to do that for a while now, deep down.
The fourth floor ajumma has finally started to warm up to the security guard ajusshi, which is cute I guess. I’m still not sure what this storyline’s purpose is, but today we get confirmation that he is, indeed, the building’s mysterious owner. He’s outed by authorities who drop by to take him away for investigation regarding the building, despite his best attempts to shush them.
Hearing the news, Jin-rak thinks back to the day he signed his apartment lease. Ha, now we see that the owner (Mr. Security Guard) had been present, with his face hidden behind sunglasses and a bandanna. This plot is going somewhere, right?
As Enrique broods at home, he sighs that now he understands how difficult it is to be understanding and to not be able to do certain things in life no matter how much you love a person.
Ooh. He used the l-word.
With this newfound realization, Enrique heads next door to tackle the situation in typical Ke-geum style: By dressing up as Inspector Gadget and addressing Dok-mi formally as a teacher he is here to learn from. The lesson: How to live as a shut-in.
In character as the shrewd scientist, Enrique inspects her apartment for clues on all the requisite hermit accoutrements, explaining that he is going to put himself in her shoes because she doesn’t appear to be able to understand his feelings at all. If he puts himself in her mindset, maybe he’ll know why.
He doesn’t break character even as Dok-mi, watching with a mixture of exasperation and annoyance, apologizes for speaking harshly the other day. She has to insist multiple times that she’s sorry, and then he turns to “analyze” her behavior.
Magnifying glass up, eyes narrowed, he guesses that she read Seo-young’s text message, and that she was looking over their coupley photos, and that made her angry. Which means… she was jealous.
Dok-mi’s taken aback that he guessed the reason behind her reaction so shrewdly, but she’s not ready to acknowledge the jealousy part yet. He wonders why she can’t just ask him to stay, but at her continued silence he sighs that he’ll just have to be a shut-in then. Off he goes to wear Dok-mi’s shoes. Figuratively.
That night Dok-mi adds to her “That Man” file:
I try following that man’s way of laughing. I try seeing the world through that man’s eyes. I try thinking with that man’s feelings. To that man, love is seeing with both people’s eyes and feeling with both hearts, seeing the world more deeply.”
The next day, Enrique loafs around home all day, playing games, reading comics, and going bored out of his mind. The doorbell rings, and the sight of Dok-mi through the peephole has him utterly confounded. Her… here… why?
Dok-mi impatiently rings his bell over and over, which is a super cute reversal. She even tries to give his door a mighty kick but can’t quite go that far in her Enrique impersonation (she taps the floor lightly instead). Omg, she even has a face mask similar to his, which she busts out to fake illness, coughing conspicuously.
Enrique is tempted to open up, but he swats his hand from the doorknob, willing himself to stay strong and not cave in to her tactics. Aw. This is adorable.
Out comes the panda hat next, but still he remains resolute and unresponsive. She eventually gets him to open the door by saying she left behind an important manuscript… which he passes through the tiniest crack in the door.
Finally she turns away with a sigh, realizing, “So that’s what it feels like, waiting in front of the door that doesn’t open and just turning away.”
Though I was initially confused as to why Enrique wouldn’t open up, it starts to make sense the longer the role reversal goes on, because he’s learning by playing her part. Giving in right away, Enrique-style, wouldn’t be very illuminating. And as a side effect, his role-playing proves equally enlightening for her.
Next Dok-mi tracks Enrique down to an appointment at his 4-D movie theater, and now it’s her turn to read his mind while he’s the one freaked out at the telepathy.
They watch a move together, separated by a whole aisle of seats, each of them huddled on their side. Enrique shoots a look over, then inches his butt one seat over. And then two seats. Cuddletimes. Gah, he is too cute.
By dinner, the mood is much better and Dok-mi is ready to make her confession: She was jealous, and it was her reaction that clued her in to how much she must like him. She’d spoken out of anger, and it’s a first for her getting that mad at anybody. (He corrects her, saying she always gets mad at him. Ha.) Furthermore, she was afraid he’d grow to dislike her when her feelings had grown so much.
Enrique’s admission of feeling jealous of Jin-rak is a lot less surprising, since his petty rivalry has always been obvious. He does concede that Jin-rak seems like a pretty awesome guy, and says that it felt like he was working through his feelings and trying to get over them.
Dok-mi promises not to react that way anymore, and if their role swap has shown her something it’s that being unable to see him was the worst feeling. All that other stuff pales in comparison.
Enrique does warn her that he won’t take her side blindly in the future, because he doesn’t regret pushing her to see the other side of things, such as when he urged her to consider Do-hwi’s feelings. But he encourages her to get angry and fight, because retreating and hiding makes the other person feel worse. He promises to be the one person for her who doesn’t change.
Their food reminds them of their seaside trip, and it gives them the brainwave to go on a new trip together.
The webtoon PD drags Dong-hoon to buy the same bag as Enrique, and it must be noted that Dong-hoon is rather pissy about her infatuation with Enrique (though he denies it, of course, saying he’s just worried she’ll fall into a one-sided love). She surprises him by giving him the bag, though, which is adorable.
On an up note, she tells him that the webtoon is attracting monstrous hits. On a down side, the story has people wondering whether the thinly veiled real-life characters are in a similar love triangle.
These rumors are exacerbated by the actions of Enrique’s gaming club, led by crazy Stalker Fangirl, who declares to her fellow crazies that they must send him back to Spain.
That leads to an online smear of Dok-mi’s character (oh no), with photos of her dating back to high school (ack, oh no) alongside new ones of her on dates with Enrique. She’s painted as a two-timer, and in no time our principal characters all catch wind of it.
Do-hwi’s initially shocked to read the stories, but then she reaches for her keyboard… Uh. If this isn’t an eleventh-hour redemption disguised as a misdirect, I’m probably going to have a fit. Damn her. Such an insignificant character, given such significance.
Enrique and Jin-rak both catch wind of the story before Dok-mi does; she’s happily packing food for their getaway. Enrique hurries over and finds Jin-rak in the hall, who sighs that he’ll have to take down his webtoon. Enrique feels bad as it’s his gaming club who’s to blame here, and says he’ll take care of it.
Enrique gently breaks the news to Dok-mi, feeling panicked and guilt-stricken, itching for a way to make it better. He apologizes repeatedly to Dok-mi and suggests going on their trip as planned, promising to stay with her.
But Dok-mi says no, because she doesn’t want to relive the past again and just run.
So Enrique comes up with an idea, cautioning her that he’ll be taking her to an unfriendly place, but asking her to have faith in him.
It’s his gaming club, and the instant Dok-mi walks through the door she’s the target of furious glares. One belligerent fangirl body-checks her on the way out, and the whole thing sends her flashing back to her traumatic days in high school.
She wonders, “If the teacher had spoke the truth then, would my life have been different? If Do-hwi had supported me then, would my life have been different? Then I wouldn’t have met you.”
Enrique announces that he’ll do his animation film and go back to Spain. They exult. Dok-mi cries.
Uh… is this another fakeout, like the beginning of this episode? I pretty much expect it, given that Enrique had just asked Dok-mi to have faith in him, and he wouldn’t take her directly into the lion’s den only to abandon her there. So I’m not worried on that front. Well, especially since we’ve only got one more episode to go, so we’re closing in on the amount of probable angst in store for us.
That said, I’m not a fan of this kind of fake-out storytelling—not unless it’s done really smartly, and it wasn’t particularly so here. It wasn’t dumb, either—it worked for what it needed to do—but there’s a difference between a clever reversal and one that’s just tricksy. If you subvert my expectations with a neat twist, then kudos and thank you. But if you play on my expectations by deliberately withholding, misleading, then jumping back in time, then jumping back in time again, and keeping information out of our hands just so you can whirl around in a plot 180, then no, that wasn’t particularly interesting.
I’m a bit sad that the bloom is off the rose so thoroughly for me; I started out loving this show right off the bat and was constantly impressed with its insights and beautifully melancholic tone. The acting was wonderful and the show’s ability to mine the little moments for emotional truth was what had me glued to it. But I’ve been falling out of love with it gradually, and last week sorta did it for me when the show brought the fangeeks to the fore as the main evil and used them to drive a wedge in Twoo Wuv.
No, the malicious fans are no manipulating mother-in-law or spontaneous cancer, but they have the same effect: They shift the couple’s issues to external forces that hold disproportionate sway over their actions and somehow strip them of their emotional agency. The meaningful thing to do would be to focus on their connection and their personal issues, not have a picket line of angry interlopers chanting, “Break them up! Break them up!”
C’mon, finale episode. Turn this ship around and remind me why you were so special. Pretty please? With a flower boy on top?
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 14
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 13
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 12
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 11
- 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