This is how melodramas are done. There’s no pain for the sake of pain, or tears for the sake of tears. Instead we get a surprisingly engaging story out of such a simple-sounding premise, made all the better by characters who behave like real people. We can see every little thought cross their minds, enough to know why they’re doing what they’re doing, which goes a long way in understanding a hero(?) who’s using our heroine’s every hidden vulnerability against her.
This episode was aired right after the first in an attempt to get the jump on ratings, and netted 12.8% compared to last episode’s 11.3%. Next episode’s numbers will show whether the tactic actually worked.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Lawyer Jang’s face lights up as soon as Soo claims to recognize him, though their lie of a reunion is cut short when Jin-sung arrives. Hah, it’s kind of cute that Jin-sung fawns over his hyung’s face before he’s ready to take down the ajusshi, thinking he’s responsible.
Soo eventually shuts Jin-sung in the apartment in order to keep him from spilling information that could ruin his newly-hatched plan, and Jin-sung rails against the door like a dog who’s just been locked up.
Soo tries to send Lawyer Jang away so he can have enough time to explain things to his friend, and he shuts the ajusshi out so he can clamp a hand over Jin-sung’s mouth. Lawyer Jang thinks that Soo is acting out because he’s come to get him now, as opposed to a year ago when his father died.
“Your one and only sister, Young, is waiting for you,” Lawyer Jang says from outside the door, his tone apologetic. “Think about Young.”
This prompts Soo to think about when he’d first met Young, which of course prompts him to remember her real brother’s fatal car crash. Lawyer Jang knows that Soo’s (he means the real one of course, but he doesn’t know better) relationship with his father was strained but urges him to come back for his sister, since he’s the only person she can depend on now.
Soo takes this all in and orders Lawyer Jang away so he can have time to think.
Maybe he still doesn’t believe it himself, since he starts digging through Friend Soo’s things as soon as Lawyer Jang is gone. He finds his friend’s wallet with an old family portrait, a collection of newspaper printings about his father (and former CEO of PL Group), along with a metronome with the name In Min-sook inscribed on it.
This is proof that Friend Soo was indeed the long-lost son of PL Group, and the realization seems to numb Soo. He looks so lost and bewildered when Jin-sung asks him why he didn’t tell Lawyer Jang that Friend Soo was dead.
“I don’t know,” Soo ekes out, his eyes unfocused and teary. It’s like he really doesn’t know, like he acted without thinking. “I just… pretended to be the dead Oh Soo.”
Jin-sung reels back, incredulous. “What?!”
Hee-sun threatens to go to PL Group to tell them the truth when Jin-sung tells her about Soo’s plans to impersonate their dead friend. The relationship between these two seems contemptuous as Jin-sung snaps at her, “Your sister died and she annoys Hyung. You’re alive and you’re annoying Hyung. You two sisters, go ahead and kill him. What did he do to you guys, for you to act like this?”
Tears fill Hee-sun’s eyes. “He threw away my sister.”
Jin-sung doesn’t see this as a big deal, citing that it’s a fact of life for people to break up if they don’t like each other. What does she want Soo to do?
She tries to present an alternative plan, wherein they report Moo-chul to the police instead. Jin-sung scoffs that it’d be useless when Moo-chul has the police under his thumb, and asks her to look at Soo: He was stabbed a week ago, and was beaten to a pulp a day ago. Without this plan, he’ll be killed. Is that what she wants?
Man. Hee-sun’s words and attitude make it seem like she despises Soo, since she asks him why he wants to live so badly and why he’s so scared of dying. Soo flashes back to the moment he was stabbed. Yeah, when you actually get to feel what dying might be like, who can blame him?
So her argument is that Soo’s life is so meaningless that it wouldn’t even matter if he died. I get that she’s angry about her sister, but good gracious. Granted, this could all be some reverse-psychology tactic to get him to stop the scam and rethink his life, but still. Buy him a puppy and kill it in front of him while you’re at it, Hee-sun.
When she asks if he’s trying to stay alive to get revenge on his mother, Soo flashes back to a time in grade school when the mother who had abandoned him saw him only once, and gave him a little money. She’d fled before he could reach her, and he ran after her taxi crying, “I won’t ask for anything! I won’t ask you for money! I won’t ask for us to live together! Just stay.”
Gah, it’s always those running-after-cars scenes that get me. He tells Hee-sun that he never saw her again and has no feelings left for his mom.
But at her insistence that he has no reason to live, he asks, “Do you have to have a grand reason to live? Even if I don’t have a reason to live, I live because my eyes open in the morning. Because I still breathe. Why? If a person doesn’t have a reason to live, does that mean he can’t? If living like this is embarrassing,” his eyes well up with tears, “then I’m embarrassed right now. But you know, Hee-sun-ah… because I’m still alive, I want to continue living.”
Creepy Moo-chul interrupts from a rooftop away where he’s been watching them, and knows Hee-sun by name. Soo flashes back to her sister’s accident: “If Hee-joo had loved Moo-chul instead of me when she was young, would she still be living right now?”
Ah, so they all have a past together, and it seems like Moo-chul might have been in love with Hee-sun’s sister, Hee-joo, too. Come to think of it, Moo-chul was acting chummy with Soo before, but I thought it was just the “Affably Evil” villain trope rearing its head.
Lawyer Jang is clearly expecting a bigger reaction from Young regarding her newly-found brother, but she doesn’t seem too thrilled. She must be able to hear or smell Secretary Wang in the room since she throws a few barbs her way – like how her father chose her over her mother, and how her mother chose her brother over her when she was forced to leave.
She knows Secretary Wang wouldn’t want her brother coming back, but just on that basis alone she decides to reconsider meeting him, just to screw with the woman who ruined her family.
Hee-sun’s changed her mind about the scam, and proves to be a pretty invaluable teammate in helping Soo prepare. Jin-sung asks her if she changed her mind because she likes Soo, but adds, “You’re mine. I won’t give you up, even for Soo.” Wink.
She’s dug up pictures of Friend Soo, and starts versing Soo on the members of the company. With regard to Secretary Wang, Hee-sun explains that she’s sort of a “surrogate” mother (with the whole adultery thing) and adds sardonically, “Congratulations on getting a mom.” Hah.
While Team Soo takes a look at PL Group in their fancy new car (bought with money Soo got from selling high-profile gambler information), Secretary Wang calls Young’s fiancé, Myung-ho, with the news of her brother. Seems like the two might be in cahoots together, since Myung-ho will lose the company if the prodigal son returns.
Myung-ho almost ends up running into Team Soo’s car in the parking garage, and during the ensuing altercation Soo scans the garage for cameras. They can tell he’s a high-ranking executive, so Soo decides to try and avoid him if he can.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Jang texts Secretary Wang that Soo called, and that he’ll be coming home this coming weekend.
Young thinks back to the exact moment when her mother took Soo and left for good, leaving her running behind the car yelling for her mother and her oppa. Two chasing-after-cars scenes in one episode? Is this drama trying to kill me?
Team Soo is leaving nothing to chance by preparing methodically, with Jin-sung thinking it’s a bonus that Young is blind so that he won’t be found out on looks alone. Funnily enough that works against him later, since he says that all Jin-sung has to do to win Young’s favor is look like his usual hot self… which seems like some weird logic when the girl is supposed to be his sister? Either way, Soo’s looks won’t help him, considering that she can’t see him.
Everything fits together, since Jin-sung failed to register Friend Soo’s death anyway. Hee-sun got him his passport and ID, along with proof that he owns an Italian restaurant (since Friend Soo had mentioned that in the letter). They’ve even got the blueprint to Young’s house. Man, this is playing like a heist movie, and I kind of love it.
There’s just one hiccup that Jin-sung realizes belatedly: Friend Soo had a scar on his arm from some childhood wound, which Young would know about it. Eeeek. So… is Soo going to have to hurt himself?
That answer seems to be no, since Jin-sung just hopes no one will notice the wound as they approach her house together. To him, it’ll be easy for Soo to get his 7.8 billion won, and all he needs is 100 million to build his father a farm. Win-win.
Soo’s first meeting with Secretary Wang is tense, since he notes how comfortable she looks in all the family pictures. I’m sure he’s playing it up for authenticity, but he even notes that the curtains his mother liked have been replaced, which he blames on Secretary Wang wanting to get rid of all traces of his mother.
When Myung-ho arrives Jin-sung and Soo do a double take – there’s no way he won’t recognize them from the parking garage incident. Soo’s lucky he’s such a good liar, since he covers fluidly by acting surprised and mentioning that he’d go visit his father’s company from time to time when he missed him. That’s why he was there. Smooth.
Of course, Myung-ho is suspicious of Soo from moment one and mentions the burn wound everyone knows he had, asking to see the scar. Soo uses Myung-ho’s words against him (Myung-ho mentions that he had a burn wound that never healed) by saying that his didn’t either, and that’s why he won’t show it. Yikes. Is he going to get caught?
Soo goes to the piano, claiming that it was something his mother treasured. Jin-sung offers to take out his mother’s metronome (the one they found in Friend Soo’s things) and “accidentally” spills water on Soo’s jacket, causing him to take it off and roll up the sleeve…
…To reveal his burn wound. Of course, it’s looking a little fresh, but Soo explained why that is. (Side note: HE DID IT? He burned himself on purpose? That’s dedication.)
And aww, Lawyer Jang seems all happy now that Soo has proven himself, before we flash back to reveal Soo pouring boiling water on his arm. Good Lord.
Young finally arrives, though she’s not as hopeful as she was one year ago, asking Soo flat-out why he didn’t meet her then. She explains the situation with the letters and how she only received the one on the day of her father’s death, and it’s interesting to see Soo eye Secretary Wang like he’s totally figured her out and knows exactly what she did.
Jin-sung tries to explain (claiming that the man she talked to went to jail before he could tell her brother, which isn’t completely false), but Soo interrupts him to tell her that “oppa” will apologize. Yeek. We knew this relationship was going to get weird but hearing him call himself “oppa” already takes it to another level.
She doesn’t want to hear it, and claims that he came for money. She makes Lawyer Jang reiterate the point in her father’s will where everything will go to her, and seems satisfied that Soo will leave now that he won’t get anything without her permission.
Soo follows after her to try and get her to talk to him, but it’s when he tries to grab her arm as he calls her “the sister that I love” that she whips around with her cane, cutting his cheek in the process.
“The love you give me, I don’t need it,” she tells him coldly. As she walks away, Soo calls after her that he’ll consider her reaction as proof that she missed him too.
Everyone but Young prepares to send him off, though Soo plans on coming to live at the house, citing that he had plans on opening a restaurant in Italy… but that’s all changed now that he’s seen the state Young is in.
“What happened to Young? What happened to such a bright and happy girl?” He directs these questions at Secretary Wang, making it clear that he thinks she’s the reason. He also wants to know why she never received any of the letters he wrote.
He leaves with plans to move in the day after tomorrow, and any of Myung-ho’s lasting suspicions are cleared by Lawyer Jang. Soo definitely prepared for every eventuality, and his background clears even when Myung-ho has it checked.
Moo-chul and Hee-sun do seem to go back, since she has no problem telling him that she wants to report him to the police, though both of them know that won’t happen.
However, she tells him that Soo won’t be dying, because he’s the heir to PL Group. For obvious reasons, this comes as a surprise to our resident baddie.
It’s Moving Day for Soo, and he goes upstairs to get Young when she won’t come down. The song “Memory” from Cats serenades him as he makes his way to her door, which she purposefully seems to have left open.
He lets himself in after plenty of warning to find her pulling down her leggings, and is totally taken aback at the sight of her bare legs. She has to tell him to close the door to snap him out of it. Why does this feel like a test on her part?
On the other side of the door, Soo smiles. “Things just got interesting.” Yeah, I’d say that’s an accurate assessment.
Jin-sung joins in for the first family dinner, and I’m beginning to wonder if he moved in as well, like a package deal with his hyung. Young won’t join them for dinner so Soo goes to get her in an effort to fix her bad manners.
Jin-sung stops him, citing that he has to get on his fake-sister’s good side and all sisters want a warm, caring brother. Soo thinks that Young has been living like a princess and that she’s more likely to take notice of him if he doesn’t treat her like everyone else. At least, that’s how it’s worked with other rich women.
However, Jin-sung reminds him that his goal isn’t wooing some rich princess, Young is supposed to be his sister. The same tactics don’t apply.
Soo lets that stop him for only a moment before he claims that he’ll still show her what-for… but as her oppa. Same thing, right? Er.
He finds her at the swimming pool and starts laying into her about how she’s treated him so far. Since she thinks he’s there only for money he can’t get, he enlightens her to the fact that he can sue her for it, so it’s not impossible.
But, he adds that he’s not here for that. He’s got three months before his restaurant opening in Italy (so, he’s got his excuse in order), and for that time he claims that he only wants her to treat him like a proper oppa.
She finally speaks up to ask him how he wants brotherly treatment from her when he’s treating her this way. Especially when he hasn’t mentioned her blindness, considering that she had her vision when they last saw each other. Yikes. She’s got him there.
Young: “When you left me when I was six, my eyes were fine. But twenty-one years later, I can’t see. How does it feel? Your one and only sister, if you really loved her… Before talking about my rudeness or talking about suing, you’d ask about my eyes. You should have asked what happened. Don’t you think you should have asked that first? ‘It must have been hard for you. It must have been painful. I’m also hurt because my sister can’t see me.’ I didn’t expect that kind of warmth from you, but this isn’t right. The brother who came back after twenty-one years to a blind sister…”
She trails off before she leaves, barely keeping herself from crying. Aww.
Jin-sung updates Hee-sun on the poor state of Soo’s relationship with his fake-sister after the whole pool incident, but they’re interrupted when Young’s friend, SON MI-RA (Im Se-mi) spots them on her way to meet Soo. Wha?
Both Jin-sung and Hee-sun know what this means: Soo has made his next move. I really, really like these two.
Soo trails Young during her volunteer work, which involves helping visually-impaired youths learn teamwork through soccer. (These are kids who seem to be losing their vision, so they’re getting help on how to cope early.) She chides one boy in particular for being too prideful to accept help: “If you don’t get help from other people, you can’t live.”
Her friend, Mi-ra, leaves her standing in the mall saying she’ll be right back, when really, she’s conspired with Soo in order to force them to spend some time together.
Mi-ra leaves Young in his care, but while he’s inside buying a necklace for her, a couple of kids jostle Young’s coffee out of her hands, causing it to spill on one of them. The angry mother shoves Young down and belittles her, even after finding out she’s disabled.
Young is shaken, and tries desperately to find her cane on the floor while a crowd watches. At least one lady tries to help her, but Young shrugs her off and tries to go her own way…
But she can’t see where she’s going and slips, landing in one of the mall’s decorative pools. Oh man. This is awful to see.
Soo comes to her rescue, but… not quite as you’d expect. He slowly kneels next to her in the pool and throws the words she’d used with the blind youth back at her, claiming that she teaches others to accept help when she won’t accept any herself.
“Why have you become so twisted as to refuse the good will of others?” he asks. “What do you want to do? You don’t want to accept my help either?”
He waits, and Young, shaking and crying, finds his arm and holds tight. “Let’s go.”
With that he helps her up and leads her out with an arm around her shoulders.
Moo-chul has been keeping tabs on him, and texts Soo while he waits at the train station with Young about how desperate he must be if he’s committing fraud when Soo isn’t even sure if she’ll give him the money he needs. “But Soo, what happens if she dies?” he adds.
The train arrives in the distance, and both ‘siblings’ approach the platform. Young’s expression is vacant as she tells him, “If your goal is to get money, then there is an easy way to get it. Right now. When the train comes, push me.” WHAT?!
Soo looks desperate for a second as the train speeds toward them. He can’t be considering it, can he? Can he?!
His fingers twitch, but Young takes the first step as she moves toward the speeding train, like she’ll walk in front of it herself.
And Soo lunges forward…
Wow. That’s what I call a good cliffhanger. We can be fairly certain of the outcome, but that was some clever cutting. Exciting stuff.
I’m loving the emerging dynamic between Soo and Young, even though it’s going to become helplessly complicated later when love and betrayal is thrown into the mix. The premise is a simple one, but the drama is pretty much built into it. It’s not even just a matter of how Young could maybe even begin to come to love someone she thinks of as her brother (try saying that seven times), but whether she could get past the deception. With how emotionally guarded she is, it’ll take some effort on Soo’s part to win her trust – and if she finds out she got royally duped the ONE time she allowed herself to open up… well, the possibilities are endless.
In retrospect, I’m really glad that the first episode established a basis for us to have sympathy for Soo’s plight, or at the very least, to understand his desperation. And despite the fact that what he’s doing is reprehensible, the line between where the con ends and where his feelings begin is already starting to blur. I think the big turning point happened when he first seemed to catch on to Secretary Wang’s involvement in hiding the letters from Young for so long, because his outrage seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s as if he was actually angry on behalf of his actual late friend, or maybe even on Young’s behalf, since he could easily tell that she’s being taken advantage of… even though he’s there just to take advantage of her.
That’s where things are already complicated, because right now it’s looking like Soo might be the only one able to take Young’s side and help her. Lawyer Jang seems nice enough, but he clearly hasn’t cottoned onto the fact that Secretary Wang is the snake she is when it took Soo all of five seconds to realize the truth. And it’s looking more and more like Young’s fiancé is just in it for the money too, so if I had to pick the lesser of two evils, I’d go with Soo. Not just because he’s our leading man, but because he actually understands her, as evidenced by the mall scene. He could have coddled her or said nothing, but he actually scolded her, in a way that would help her to realize how to help herself, basically.
And then there’s the caveat that he probably just said what he did to manipulate her into trusting him, even though they were words she needed to hear. Gah, his involvement is such a double-edged sword, because he clearly has as much potential to help her as he has to hurt her. And even if he helps her along the way, if he hurts her in the end, will it negate any good he’s done?
Even if his helping hand isn’t sincere, the fact that he helped Young at all is what matters. The mall scene did a great job in laying her vulnerabilities out for the world to see, and suddenly the blind ice princess we’ve come to know became vulnerable and unsure. But it’s not like she was emotionally unavailable until then, since you’d have to be blind to think that she doesn’t want to trust him and have her brother back. It’s just that she knows she’s easy prey.
And the worst thing is, Soo knows it too.
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- Teaser and stills for That Winter
- That Winter gets a slot on SBS’s schedule
- Kim Bum and Jung Eun-ji in talks for That Winter
- Jo In-sung and Song Hye-gyo confirm melodrama
- Song Hye-gyo and Jo In-sung in talks for Noh Hee-kyung drama