One bromance gives way to another and there are so many adorable moments that I’m still squeeing. This show continues to pull the right emotional threads and the revelations are sure to throw you for a loop. Our characters will find that challenging the biggest hotshot in school won’t be easy, especially when their newest addition is still very much a mystery.
EPISODE 5: “Let’s Fight, All for One!”
We pick up in the courtyard where everyone is in high spirits apart from Kyu-dong, who silently slips away to invite Do-nam to join them. Aw, d’you still have Do-nam on speed dial? He sighs when he gets the usual brush-off.
Things are still rough at school where he’s still ridiculed by Jae-rok. This time around, the other kids are more reluctant to comply but do nothing when Kyu-dong puts on another “Radio” performance.
He only stops when Se-yi barges in, calling his name. Oy, that mortified expression is heartbreaking. He runs out of the classroom and Se-yi follows him.
She finds him back on the rooftop and notices that his paper airplane is portrait-free today. She offers a word of sympathy when Kyu-dong ruefully admits that he doesn’t know what his own face looks like, telling him that there probably isn’t anyone who does.
Seol-chan has made his way up to the roof too, having followed Se-yi here. Somehow he’s just within earshot to overhear Kyu-dong thank her since he knows why she’s helping him out: “It’s because of me.”
That has Seol-chan recall how Sun-woo already knew about this, and he grumbles, wondering what else Sun-woo knows about her.
When Se-yi asks why Kyu-dong insists upon Do-nam to join them, he answers that he was envious of Seol-chan and Sun-woo’s piano duet. He figures that they were once close friends as kids just like he was with Do-nam. (Just below, Seol-chan scoffs: “Whatever” at every bit, ha.)
As to why things are so strained between them now, Kyu-dong confesses that he did something wrong by Do-nam, which is why Do-nam doesn’t want to join them since it means practicing music with him again.
The others run into Sun-woo as they leave school, and Eun-ha naturally assumes that he’s on his way to practice with All for One. He walks past Nana, and though she momentarily stops to look back at him, it’s hard to tell whether she’s affected by him from her stone-cold expression.
As expected, Se-yi’s attempts to convince Do-nam to come to practice prove futile, and Seol-chan steps in before things get out of hand. He tells Do-nam that this is his last chance, to which Do-nam barks back that he won’t.
Seol-chan hones in on that answer, and launches into a long-winded explanation about the difference between “I can’t,” and “I won’t.” He points out that Do-nam’s answer means that he chooses not to do something he already knows how to do—so how about he show them?
From what he can tell, all Do-nam knows how to do is to pick fights with those weaker than him and act as someone else’s lackey. Look who’s giving the grammar lessons now.
He turns to leave, and is pleased to find that his reverse psychology tactics worked like a charm when Do-nam calls him back. But the entire thing has flown over Do-nam’s head and he growls at Seol-chan that those two phrases mean the same thing for him before stalking off.
Seol-chan stands there, blinking. When Se-yi asks him if that means Do-nam is coming, he walks away without a word. Ha, my money’s on that he doesn’t know either.
As Seol-chan’s words reverberate in Do-nam’s head, we learn why they hold such significance. Flashback to some years ago where a younger Do-nam engages in judo practice and gets flipped over again and again.
At one point, he wheezes that it’s obvious that he can’t overtake his opponent, which is when his instructor/father(?) challenges him with that same lesson: “Which one is it?” When Do-nam ekes out that he doesn’t know, he’s told to go find out. And that gives Do-nam the motivation to successfully complete the move.
In the present, Do-nam tears up at the memory and turns to see Sun-woo standing just around the corner. Now I have to ask how much Sun-woo knows about everyone else.
The boys are led into the cellar by the ajusshi and Do-nam is still teeming with anger, determined to show everyone that he meant what he said by his answer of that he won’t join them.
Seol-chan asks what he plans to show them then, and Kyu-dong rises to uncover an audio system in the room. They wonder what his talent is as Do-nam nervously holds onto the microphone. Kyu-dong answers: “Something awesome.”
Before they can ask anything else, Do-nam lifts the microphone to his mouth.
HOLY CRAP—Do-nam knows how to beatbox. Like a beast. The others gape in shock, and as Do-nam lays down a familiar beat, Kyu-dong joins him in song, and they perform an impromptu 2NE1 medley. I… don’t think there are enough words to capture how awesome this is.
When they finish, Nana applauds the performance. Do-nam drops the mic and he levels at Seol-chan: “Satisfied, you punk?”
And then Seol-chan grabs him in a bear backhug, saying that he won’t let go and insisting that he has to join them. Awww. Even Eun-ha urges him to perform with them, and Nana tells him to “just do it,” as Kyu-dong stands nearby with a longing look on his face.
Sun-woo echoes their sentiments and adds that Do-nam looks better performing than he does as Jae-rok’s lackey. Then Se-yi points out a blooming flower in the courtyard, like a metaphor to their new beginning.
Later that evening, when Teacher Dokko comes to check on Se-yi, she beams, saying that she has a good feeling about the group’s charity performance.
The following morning, Sun-woo spots Se-yi walking up to school alone and calls out to her: “Transfer Student!” (She in turn calls him “Class President”—it’s adorable) But his chance to walk by themselves is quickly snubbed when Se-yi waves behind him to the others. He mutters: “They’re all here.” Ha.
The crew is joined by Teacher Dokko and All for One, and the latter can’t help but slip in an underhanded remark about how the group looks so colorful.
Just then, Teacher Dokko receives a call from the Vice Principal. Her face falls whereas Joon-hee’s lips curl upwards. He confirms the belated news for everyone to hear—that All for One will play at the charity concert after all.
We get an appropriate music interlude as the group waits outside the teachers lounge for an update. It’s bad news and Kyu-dong hangs his head.
Outside, Sun-woo confronts Joon-hee about the sudden change-of-heart, and the latter argues that he felt guilty by not doing something good for the school. Sun-woo scoffs at this: “And it’s not because the stage has changed?”
He’s heard that along with a change to a bigger location, the event will be televised—which would all look great to boost a college resume. Despite Jae-rok’s protests, the expression on Joon-hee’s face tells us that Sun-woo may have hit the nail on the head.
As Sun-woo walks away, Joon-hee tells him to come to practice since they plan to perform a cello-focused piece for him. Sun-woo turns back to tell him no, they can change it to piano so that Joon-hee can take the spotlight. Good for you.
The other All for One boys run into Seol-chan and company outside, and Jae-rok gets in a few taunts before he’s told to stand down. They push past the group and Se-yi starts towards them. But Seol-chan takes her arm and calls out: “Joon-hee, let’s fight.”
Word travels fast back to the classroom that the Seol-chan and Joon-hee plan to face-off. Not in a physical fight, but the two teams will battle it out for the chance to perform at the charity concert. The students ask who are on Seol-chan’s team, and one student points to the back as the group return: “Those guys.”
The Vice Principal whines again at the news of the upcoming battle to the teachers, who assure him (through gritted teeth) that All for One is sure to win. At the end of his whining, he agrees to gather a few teachers to act as judges.
Meanwhile, the group beats themselves up over their heads about how they’ll lose against All for One for sure. Neither Seol-chan nor Se-yi doesn’t seem too worried about it, as Se-yi pipes that she thinks they’ll win.
Sun-woo joins them and warns Seol-chan not to underestimate a talented group like All for One. Seol-chan counters that he’s up for the challenge. When Sun-woo asks if he’s feeling okay with all of this, Seol-chan truthfully admits that he doesn’t but tells his team to trust him.
So Sun-woo decides to join them (and Se-yi immediately agrees to this, to Seol-chan’s displeasure, heh) and Do-nam asks: “Are you two confident that you win this?”
He tells them to make sure to win ’cause he’s in it to win it. Aw. Seol-chan assures him that he never enters a battle he’s not sure to win. Nana asks them what they plan to do now, and Seol-chan fires daggers at Sun-woo: “Get rid of this spy.” Everyone shakes their heads in response. HA.
News about Sun-woo joining Seol-chan’s team travels fast and suffice it to say that All for One is not pleased.
Seol-chan is still hung up on Se-yi’s immediate approval to accept Sun-woo into their group afterward. Se-yi doesn’t see anything wrong with it, saying that it’s like having a thousand soldiers to fight with them.
He counters that it’s more like letting in a Trojan Horse into their team, and he already has enough on his mind without worrying about what Sun-woo might do. Se-yi doesn’t understand why Seol-chan is so bothered by the situation, but the mere mention of Sun-woo’s name has him fly off the handle: “Do you not know what kind of person he is?!”
She just stares back, and Seol-chan storms off in frustration. Now I may be reading too much into this, but Se-yi’s face slightly flickers once he leaves, and she casts looks at both boys in the classroom.
As Eun-ha and Se-yi wait at the bus stop (the panels behind them are pictures of Seol-chan, ha), Eun-ha leers at her friend and asks, “Do you know why Sun-woo joined our team?” Se-yi points at the picture of Seol-chan behind them.
Eun-ha nods her head but reminds her that Sun-woo isn’t someone to readily help others. She sighs when Se-yi says that she’s sure the boys’ estranged friendship is just a front and they must actually be close. You’re not the only one wishin’ that, hon.
Speaking of whom, Seol-chan alludes to Sun-woo’s decision to join their team as an act of betrayal towards All for One, calling it “digging your own grave.”
Sun-woo follows that logic and figures that their team will lose then, which forces Seol-chan to backpedal in response, and start calculating whether that makes sense. He mutters in frustration: “Ah, math.”
Sun-woo smiles and turns back to ask what the team’s strategy is. Seol-chan isn’t keen on sharing this information to a spy, and literally falters when Sun-woo guesses correctly: “You’ll go all-in on vocals.” You mean an acapella group?
No matter what kind of instruments their opponent might have, it doesn’t compare to the human voice, Seol-chan argues. They’ve got four strong vocals, and Seol-chan assures him that he’s got a brilliant idea for the other two members of their group.
Said brilliant idea is entitled “the Mimi Sisters” and Seol-chan situates Eun-ha and Nana together to give off the same deadened expressions. Ha, so you plan to have them act as stand-ins?
Then we enter a daydream sequence (where Kyu-dong and Do-nam play instruments they don’t know how to play in real life, heh) as Seol-chan sings front and center as the Mimi sisters dance alongside him.
And then we pop back out… of Eun-ha’s imagination? Well, that certainly explains the kissy face at Seol-chan at the end of the song. Nana is against the idea, and the ajusshi keeps watch over the kiddos inside his house.
Manager Hong drops by the house to deliver a few things, and the ajusshi isn’t pleased to greet unwelcomed visitors. But then he stiffens when Manager Hong recognizes him and asks, “Do you remember me by chance?” Ooh, was the manager a fanboy or a classmate?
The ajusshi hides his face and slams the door shut. Seol-chan is quick to notice that something is up and he asks if the ajusshi is hiding something. He claims that he can see everything and wonders if it’s something bad.
The ajusshi gruffly tells him to get out, and Seol-chan asks: “Just me? Or all of my friends? Even your friend’s daughter?” He tells the ajusshi that Se-yi is under the delusion that her father’s friend is her father, and tells him to come clean about his pervy stalker ways.
Now the ajusshi grabs Seol-chan by the shirtfront and throws the idol’s words back in his face—he’ll tell it like it is too. Seol-chan is someone who acts like he knows everything but knows nothing. Who is he to talk so much? “Did your parents teach you that?”
He’s sure that Seol-chan was the apple in his parents’ eye; a child who could do no wrong. So he can take that over-indulgent foul mouth of his to his parents. Uh oh, you did not just mention the parentals.
That hits a nerve and Seol-chan slaps his hand away. It takes all of his willpower to tamp down his anger as he ekes out: “My parents… What my parents did to me…”
Then he finally yells, “What does it matter to you?! What does it matter whatever my parents do?!” He’s near tears by now, and the ajusshi stares back in shock.
It turns out the delivery is a lavish spread of food, but they quickly realize that Seol-chan is missing. Sun-woo finds him still standing by the front gate, still reminded by the ajusshi’s harsh words. Seol-chan downplays it and marches inside to join the others.
Seol-chan raises his glass to start their feast. When Se-yi asks why her glass contains milk instead of whatever everyone else is drinking, he starts, “Because you like mi—I mean, you still have to grow.” Hahaha.
The boys exchange stern looks when they toast to different things, and Se-yi raises her glass to both. She ends up with milk on her top lip, and when she goes to lick it off, Seol-chan yells, “Don’t do that!” Ha.
There’s still the matter of deciding on a name and they run through a few suggestions (Kyu-dong adorably votes for Do-nam’s idea) like “Seol-chan and the Kids” or “Poop Band” before Seol-chan suggests they go with “Color Bar,” the same name Hyo-rin uses to mock them. Se-yi disapproves, and at the end of the conversation they still don’t have a name.
Se-yi packs some food for the ajusshi and Seol-chan trails behind her, telling her to be careful. Sun-woo tells him that his ajusshi theory is borderline paranoia now, and Seol-chan shares that Se-yi is under the delusion that she considers the man like her own father.
Sun-woo doesn’t think that she’d be that foolish, to which Seol-chan scoffs, reminding him that the truth will reveal itself in time. If one isn’t careful, they can be easily led to believe something else. “Like you.”
Then Seol-chan points out that oh-so-confident Sun-woo still hasn’t confessed his feelings for Se-yi. Is his guilty conscience holding him back, perhaps?
Sun-woo doesn’t skip a beat, and answers that he’d been wondering if Seol-chan harbored the same kinds of feelings for Se-yi as he did. He’s relieved to see that it isn’t the case. Seol-chan stutters back, O-of course I don’t!
The ajusshi declines the food, but Se-yi lights up when he calls her back, only to deflate when he reminds her and her friends to leave as soon as the concert is finished.
Eun-ha runs inside to grab her camera, and muses to herself that it really feels like a party. Then we’re oddly transported into her imagination in a scenario where they all meet a decade later in a fancy party. Uh… is this one of her fanfics?
The lights suddenly go out until a spotlight shines on an older Eun-ha (Ivy, is that you?) who serenades a song dedicated to Seol-chan. He’s enraptured by her singing, and he apologizes for not noticing her sooner. To be honest, this scene feels awkwardly shoehorned in, but at least we get a glimpse into Eun-ha’s thoughts.
She’s brought out of her reverie to rejoin the group, and lights up to see her idol oppa smile at her. She snaps a photo to document the event.
The group awkwardly stands around outside the gate afterward. Then when Seol-chan offers to arrange their performance piece, everyone (except Eun-ha) looks to Sun-woo. Heh. Eun-ha pouts over when her idol will sleep, to which he hilariously responds, “The clock of a Korean idol never stops.” Pffft.
We see Seol-chan work into the night in his room and even uses class time to work on the piece. Then Se-yi passes him an encouraging note that contains a sketch of himself and the phrase: “Fighting!” D’aww, that’s adorable.
What’s cuter is that he jots down a response: “They say you’ll die if you start doing things you normally don’t do.” He smiles at her when she’s not looking and totally keeps the note. HEE.
The All for One orchestra practices with the piano-centered piece (I love how Jae-rok always stands behind waiting for his cue to play the cymbals), and Teacher Dokko asks where Sun-woo has gone. Joon-hee reassures her that he’ll be back to play with them for the concert.
Teacher Dokko is pleased as punch to know that she has nothing to worry about, and even smiles through Gym Teacher Choi’s musings, thanking him for his efforts. But she stops when he mentions that she once mentioned something about “a teacher’s pride.”
His voice turns serious (and in banmal): “You said it’s the feeling you get when you see the kids who you thought wouldn’t make it change in a blink of an eye.”
After practice, Hyo-rin whines about Sun-woo, and that she’s sure that the new girl has something to do with it. The trio runs into Sun-woo a bit later and Hyo-rin rips into him, saying that it’s obvious the idol boy likes the shepherd girl and something about how blue bloods flock together. You have to paraphrase with her.
Joon-hee signals for her to leave, and has Jae-rok usher the small crowd of students away. Hyo-rin storms off and stares at Se-yi with hateful eyes. Eek, she may be whiny but I wouldn’t put it past her to pull something.
That leaves the boys to talk, and at Sun-woo’s refusal to rejoin them, he asks if Hyo-rin’s words were true—does he like the new girl? Sun-woo answers that he’s just following his heart, an answer Joon-hee scoffs at.
Sun-woo makes his stance clear, and Joon-hee delivers the classic revenge line in dramaland: “You’ll regret this.”
Sun-woo runs into Seol-chan a minute later, who asks why he started hanging out with those kids. He answers: “Because you wouldn’t hang out with me.”
Seol-chan tells him that there isn’t any room for Sun-woo on their team anyway. With a pat on his shoulder, Sun-woo corrects him: “My place is next to Se-yi.” Then Seol-chan trails behind him, like the adorable puppy he is. Hee, I love these two.
Se-yi beelines for the ajusshi’s place as soon as school ends, and cheerily comments that the ajusshi makes ramyun just like her father did. He asks if he lives with her mother, and Se-yi says no, her mother still resides in New Zealand, and she came to Korea on her own: “Just ’cause.”
He changes the subject, but Se-yi once again confides in him, saying: “I couldn’t look at my mother the same way I used to.” She says that she found out something she was better off not knowing: “My dad… died because of my mother.”
The ajusshi shifts uncomfortably as Se-yi continues: “My mother said that… she liked someone else other than my father.”
I think we only need one guess to know who that person is. It makes me wonder if she already knows that she’s looking to the eyes of the man who captured her mother’s heart, and yet with her frank nature and longing to get to know the only other man who knew her father, it may be safer to assume that she doesn’t. At least not yet. This revelation squashes the theory on whether the ajusshi was her father (Why yes, I have been watching Shark) and the little hints we’ve been given suggests that the feelings were mutual. We still don’t know what happened between the parents or how the ajusshi ended up in his current state, but we can expect that this bit of the past will throw a wrench into how she views him in his pseudo-paternal role, and later on down the road with his interactions with the group.
First things first, though—holy crap, Do-nam! You’ve been holding out on us. I had a feeling that he might bust out some beatbox skills, but I didn’t expect anything as superb as his performance. It makes me wonder if this is one of the actor’s (Park Kyu-sun) hidden talents, and if it’s true, then mad props. His heartwarming backstory challenges the notion of what we can’t do versus what we won’t and it’s a hard lesson to swallow. His character is one that would be usually sidelined as the gruff and unapproachable in a different series, but he too has a rooted passion in music like the others.
With one bromance comes another and I appreciate that we spent time to examine Do-nam and Kyu-dong’s relationship. There’s still so much to know about their fallout, but as their former friendship evolves within the group, I can’t wait to see how much these characters will grow with it.
The narrative and characters are points that I praise about this series time and time again, and I love that our leads take a break as we shine the spotlight on our side characters. At this point, although I’m sympathetic to Eun-ha’s character, I find that it doesn’t hold up as well as the others. I understand her loneliness, her longing for a group of close friends, and her everlasting love for Oppa. But I couldn’t align with her fantasy to impress Seol-chan with a different face and body, not when everyone else looks the same. We could go as far to argue her own self-image, but I would so want her to accept who she is as a feisty, creative, and loyal friend.
The music serves to supplement the characters and as we approach the halfway mark (I know, already!), we still have yet to see this group of misfits play in a band together. I hope that we don’t have to wait long, ’cause I’m waiting for the awesome that will be their soundtrack.
- Monstar: Episode 4
- Monstar: Episode 3
- Monstar: Episode 2
- Monstar: Episode 1
- Cable music network Mnet’s first original drama Monstar