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You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 8

Our heroine finally signs The Contract and the story begins in earnest, giving the hero six months to make her a star (aka six months to fall in love). Second sister Yoo-shin takes some big strides in this episode toward being likable, and Mom starts to question the things she thought she knew about her husband, and her youngest daughter.

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Soon-shin decides she can’t have Mom working herself to the bone just to repay her debt, and walks right into Jun-ho’s office to say that she’ll sign. As she reads through the contract, he launches into a fancy speech about what it all means, which amounts to: “So you have to do whatever I say.” Pffft. As if we ever expected anything else.

He asks what made her change her mind, and the first thing she asks is how much money she’ll get. He scoffs that if she was going to end up caving because of money, she shouldn’t have played so hard to get. He asks how much she needs, and offers to give her the amount she’s in debt for because of the con man, plus interest. Aw, you big ol’ softie.

She balks that it’s too much money for a six-month contract, and decides that she’ll keep working at the One Restaurant To Rule Them All in order to slowly pay him back. That’s a hilariously roundabout way to do things—it’s not like he’s giving you a loan.

He complains that she’ll be too busy, but those are her terms. She’ll sign for six months and repay it, end of story. He reluctantly agrees and tells her to move into the dorms right away. She gasps—she can’t stay out all night—and tells him she’ll commute from home.

I love the endless parade of exasperated looks from him. Basically, she just signed a contract that she’d do anything he says, but she’s doing the opposite of everything he says, and he can’t do anything about it. It’s great.

At home, Yoo-shin gets ready to go to work as Mom arrives from her early morning shift. Not one to be sweet with words even when she’s doing a sweet thing, Yoo-shin just puts her savings bank book down and barks at Mom to quit her job and use that money to repay Soon-shin’s debt.

Aw, I kind of love her now. She’s still prickly as ever, but you can’t hate a sister who gives up her life savings like that. She leaves before Mom can even process or argue, and Hye-shin tells Mom to do as Yoo-shin says.

Mom can’t in good conscience spend the money Yoo-shin has been saving for when she gets married, but Hye-shin argues that they have to put out the immediate fire first and worry about the future later.

Yoo-shin has a normal day at work, when suddenly the sight of a topless mannequin gets her all hot and bothered, thinking back to Chan-woo lying in bed next to her. She clutches her flushed cheeks in embarrassment, wondering what’s gotten into her.

She asks her co-workers over lunch about her “friend” who mistakenly had a drunken one-night stand with another “friend,” and asks if it’s possible to have things return to normal between them. They laugh that there’s no chance in hell.

Mi-ryung goes over Dr. Shin’s cryptic words in her head over and over, and finally just goes back to see him to ask directly—what did he see that night? He says casually that he saw her with a man “who died that night.”

She pretends that she has nothing to hide, and challenges him to do whatever he likes, adding that his son (Jun-ho) won’t exactly walk away unscathed either. But he says condescendingly that he doesn’t have time for such concerns and walks out, leaving Mi-ryung shaking.

Chan-woo sits at his desk almost calling Yoo-shin about a thousand times, so when Soon-shin calls, he answers, “Yoo-shin?” Poor Soon-shin deflates, but asks if he has time tonight because she wants to consult him about something, obviously wanting to tell him about her contract.

He has work though, so she quickly backs out, saying it’s nothing, and shares the news with Chan-mi instead. Her bestie gapes at the contract and wonders if the real Shin Jun-ho signed her, maybe she really does have some potential.

Underestimating herself as usual, Soon-shin says she’s under no such illusions anymore. She says that Jun-ho isn’t doing this for charity (“he’s not that nice”) but because he’s testing his own star-making skill or some such nonsense. In any case, she’s treating it like a loan, and swears Chan-mi to secrecy. Oh ’cause that worked out so well last time?

At home, Mom returns the bank book to Yoo-shin, insisting that she can handle the family debt and Yoo-shin needs to save this for when she gets married. Yoo-shin: “I’m not getting married!”

That’s news to Mom, but Yoo-shin says she’s never wanted to get married and live like Mom or Unni, and that marriage isn’t what she saved that money for. (And the reason you couldn’t have told us this earlier? I would’ve liked you from the start.)

Mom refuses to take it, lying that Soon-shin’s debt isn’t why she got the job. But Yoo-shin gets defensive, taking it personally that Mom would bend over backwards to coddle Soon-shin but won’t take her money or let her take the hit for the family.

This girl. Good intentions, but everything takes three wrong turns before coming out of her mouth. Yeesh. She goes so far as to say that sometimes she doesn’t know which daughter isn’t Mom’s.

Soon-shin walks in just then, grinning from ear to ear. She notes her unni’s bank book, and tells them both that she repaid the money. She lies that she got hired as a full-time employee at the restaurant and got an advance on her first year’s salary.

Soon-shin follows Yoo-shin into their room and tries to apologize, but Yoo-shin just ignores her and yanks the battery out of her phone when Chan-woo calls again.

Hye-shin brings Mom a bundle she found while cleaning out more of Dad’s things to donate, and remembers them as the clothes baby Soon-shin was wearing the day she came here.

Mom opens the bundle to find baby clothes and a red scarf, and Hye-shin says that now that she’s a mother too, she wonders how Mom raised a child that wasn’t hers. So now we have confirmation that both sisters definitely know Soon-shin isn’t their blood-sister, and that Soon-shin doesn’t know any of this.

Mom flashes back to the day Dad brought Soon-shin home bundled in that red scarf, saying that someone left her on their doorstep. Dude. So Mom has no idea that Soon-shin is her father’s biological daughter? Omg. Dad.

Yoo-shin can’t sleep that night, and decides to return Chan-woo’s calls. She heads out to meet him, trying way too hard to be casual, and says that the other night was just a mistake.

He screws up the nerve to say that they should date, and she laughs out loud. “What, are you going to suggest that we get married because we spent one night together?”

He says sincerely that it’s not like they can’t get married (thinking only of the fact that he likes her and does want to marry her), but she laughs in his face for his antiquated notions of taking responsibility.

He starts to say, “And that night…” but she cuts him off and gives him a flat-out rejection and leaves him hanging. Hm, I wonder if maybe they didn’t sleep together after all, in which case her foot-in-mouth would be even less advisable than it is now.

Yeon-ah comes by to make breakfast for Mi-ryung, and finally remembers that the girl Jun-ho brought to her movie premiere was the same girl who was crying in the street—their Eliza Doolittle.

She calls Jun-ho, who tells her to be ready to sign with him in six months when he makes Soon-shin a star. It’s pretty hilarious that he doesn’t realize how much this proves that he’s still hung up on her. He just puffs up proudly when Yeon-ah says she’ll look forward to it.

But when he actually gets down to business with his staff on Project: Starlet Lee Soon-shin, they basically tell him it would be smarter to fold now. Their best idea consists of surgically restructuring most of her face, and Jun-ho jumps at the plastic surgery monster on the screen.

He heads down to the restaurant to give Soon-shin an insanely detailed diet chart, planning out every single meal she’s supposed to eat from here on out. Young-hoon sees them together and his face falls when Jun-ho says he signed her.

To make matters more complicated, Soon-shin’s mom suddenly shows up at the restaurant, wanting to say thank you to her new boss for such a generous advance on her salary.

Soon-shin flails about but can’t manage to stop Mom from coming in. If you’re going to just be throwing around lies all willy nilly, at least be better about covering up after the fact!

She tries to shoo Mom out of there after reluctantly having to introduce her to Young-hoon, but he’s so nice that he sits them down for a chat. Mom thanks him so much for the full-time hire, and he just rolls with it, saying that Soon-shin is a treasure to them. Aw.

And then Mom thanks him for the one-year advance on her salary, and Soon-shin just about dies. But Young-hoon is quick on the uptake and doesn’t miss a beat, saying that she’s so trustworthy that it was easy to do. I feel relieved, and yet I’m not really sure that the secret is that dire in the first place, just that Soon-shin wants it that way.

Afterwards she thanks Young-hoon, and tells him the quick version of the story—that she was conned, and then her father died, and things have been hard on her family.

He realizes now that’s why she was away for a while, and why she signed with Jun-ho. He offers to help in any way he can, and she assures him that he’s done enough already.

Bread Man Jin-wook sees little Woo-joo on her way home and runs out to ask if she liked the bread he gave her the other day. She scrunches up her face and says no, so then he gets all wounded that she doesn’t like his bread.

He drags her in (by the backpack, heh) to get her to taste other pastries, determined to prove that his bread is awesome, and gets carried away saying that all his hyungnims in prison used to go crazy over this one.

(The slang word for prison is the same as bread, which makes the line funny, but also vague enough that Woo-joo wouldn’t understand that he accidentally just let it slip that he’s an ex-con who now bakes bread.)

She doesn’t like that this pastry either, and when he starts to get exasperated, she runs away and knocks over a tray of bread. Hye-shin arrives moments later and helps Jin-wook clean up, each of them apologizing for the incident over Dad’s cake. Woo-joo catches him swooning at her mom and gives the pair a disapproving look.

Chan-woo’s parents stop by to visit Mom and Grandma, and Grandma asks Chan-woo’s dad if he knows anything about Kyung-sook (or Mi-ryung, as we know). He stammers that she’s probably married and living well, and Grandma stops her inquiry there, despite the fact that a few things are still niggling at her.

Chan-woo’s mom tries to cheer Mom up, though the less said about her the better. I find her insanely annoying and way too happy at other people’s misery to find likable. Anyway, on their way back home they spot Mi-ryung, and Chan-woo’s dad’s jaw drops.

At home, Mom takes another look at the red scarf, and then takes out the old photograph of Dad. And there in the photo is that same red scarf on the woman next to him—with the same initials KS stitched into the front.

Dr. Shin cuts off his wife’s credit cards, knowing that she’s just handed them over to Yi-jung. He agrees to reset the credit flow when she stops harboring their wayward daughter.

Of course at the same time, Yi-jung is busy partying it up at a club, declaring to all her friends that she’s paying tonight. Chan-woo happens to be at the same club because his coworkers dragged him out, but he’s in no mood to party, and just sits in the corner and drinks.

It comes time to pay the bill and Yi-jung sends all her friends out ahead of her and hands over her card, only to have it be rejected. Being the princess that she is, she doesn’t even think twice about turning around to the next guy who crosses her path, and declares that he’s the big winner tonight who gets to pay her bill and get a date with her.

Uh…I’m gonna be nice and not point out what that makes you sound like. Of course the guy happens to be Chan-woo, and he turns down the offer. But just as he’s about to walk out, a drunk guy gets grabby with Yi-jung and slurs that he’ll pay the bill, and refuses to leave her alone.

So Chan-woo turns around, pays the bill, and tells her: “Don’t live this way from now on.” She swoons at his rescue and chases after him, but he leaves in a cab before she can catch up. Blech, I know we’re supposed to find her ridiculous, but blech.

The red scarf in the picture keeps Mom up all night, and in the morning she asks Grandma again about the woman in the photo, remembering that she once called her Kyung-sook.

Mom asks for the story and this time it’s Grandma who insists she was nobody and that they broke up looooong before Dad ever met Mom. But at breakfast, Grandma notes that Mom just stares and stares at Soon-shin, lost in thought.

Soon-shin barely eats breakfast because of her new diet, and then caves on her way to work when she passes by a food stand selling toast.

But just as she’s about to take that delicious first bite… Jun-ho snatches it out of her hand, yells at her for cheating, and eats it himself. That’s just mean.

He takes her straight to the gym where he orders her to work out for an hour every morning before work, and send him a photo as evidence every day. It must be where all his clients work out (or it’s the One Gym in All Of Seoul), because Mi-ryung is there for her morning workout.

Jun-ho introduces Soon-shin as his new protégé, and when Manager Hwang laughs at her name, Jun-ho’s the first to get defensive, which cracks me up: “Lee Soon-shin! Lee Soon-shin! National hero, Lee Soon-shin! Did you sleep during history class?”

Soon-shin gapes at Jun-ho getting offended for her, but then quickly bows to Mi-ryung and thanks her for the other day, identifying herself as the server who was with Yi-jung. Mi-ryung shakes her hand and says she has charm, and Soon-shin lights up.

 
COMMENTS

I’m a little disappointed that the only thing Jun-ho did in this episode was put Soon-shin on a diet. It seems a little slow for someone who’s dead set on proving that he has the Midas touch in six short months. The episode went by fairly quickly, but nothing especially new happened, at least in the present. We did find out more of the backstory, but since the birth secret isn’t the thing I’m watching for (and WE already know that Mi-ryung = Kyung-sook) it wasn’t particularly thrilling to have a few more puzzle pieces come together.

At least we have a clearer picture of the Lee Family now, including the fact that the two unnis know for certain that Soon-shin isn’t their biological sister, and that both Mom and Grandma think Soon-shin was just abandoned on their doorstep randomly. (She may have been left there, but Dad clearly never shared some key facts with his loved ones.) And Soon-shin, of course, knows none of this.

Second sister Yoo-shin still has a huge chip on her shoulder and a terrible kneejerk reaction to be prickly and defensive, but I finally saw something in her that I could like. Despite all of her nagging, when she put up her life savings to get her sister and mother out of this financial mess, I couldn’t help but forgive a lot of her sniping. She’s really the most successful and responsible of the three sisters, and in a backwards way she feels overlooked because she’s not a troublemaker. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it does explain it and I’m not left wondering why she’s got such a stick up her rear end about, well, everything. She still has a long way to go, but now I’m looking forward to her transformation instead of just accepting it.

Now if someone would just give the romance a kick in the pants, I’d be a happy camper. Maybe you ought to meet her at the gym every morning instead of trusting a picture, and maybe you could make her breakfast (ahem) instead of worrying that she’ll buy toast on the street? Just sayin’. The possibilities, they are endless, my friend.

 
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