EPISODE 4. Broadcast on July 26, 2013.
javabeans: Last week’s episode was rather epic, so I’m all eyes-n-ears to see how this leg of the Grand European Adventure* shakes out. After braving the streets of Strasbourg in a rental car he can barely drive, on roads he can barely navigate, Seo-jin hauls luggage to tiny rooms and sweats bullets hoping the grandpas don’t have a fit over the hotel he picked. (*Adventure, ordeal, prank from hell — same diff, right?)
girlfriday: I’m just surprised he’s still here. I swear he might’ve made a run for the border if Na PD weren’t following him around (for his own shits and giggles, mind you).
javabeans: Finally he gets a moment alone, which he uses to read maps and work his navigation program. A PD even asks if he took the staff’s car key, and Seo-jin balks, “So now you’re accusing me too?”
girlfriday: Na PD comes around with a little handheld camera to shoot the dilapidated crevices of the hotel that Seo-jin chose, and just keeps hounding him with endless sarcasm: “How can it be so desolate? You’re really amazing. How did you find this place? Did you plan it this way?” The thing he can’t hide is how genuinely HAPPY he is that they’re suffering, and that it’s someone else’s fault.
javabeans: It’s like his Christmas morning. Geun-hyung halbae comes down to join Seo-jin, and right away starts on the marriage talk again, and how you shouldn’t age alone, and by “you” he means “Seo-jin.”
girlfriday: If this were a longer-running show, Seo-jin would definitely be married in a year or two, with this halbae breathing down his neck all the time.
javabeans: Dude, four marriage-obsessed halbaes determined to marry you off? Not even Clooney would escape that scenario unhitched.
girlfriday: It’s a miracle, but they get settled in and even head out for their first sightseeing adventure in the city. On the way Il-sub halbae is already asking about the dinner menu, and approves of pig’s feet, as long as they have time to transfer soju into water bottles. Heh.
javabeans: Are you as nervous as I am about how happy Il-sub halbae is to hear pig’s feet (jokbal), which are surely nothing like the jokbal he’s thinking of?
girlfriday: Oh yeah. It’s gonna be a disaster.
javabeans: There’s this whole bit about how awkward the silence is in the car, intercut with Seo-jin’s confessional from later on about just how painful it is. You can SEE in Seo-jin’s eyes that he’s trying to think of something to say, so finally he blurts, “There’s so much traffic on the road.” Don’t draw attention to that!
girlfriday: Cringe, cringe. It’s kinda funny because you’d think that a car would be so much more comfortable, but you trade social awkwardness for ease of travel. At least on a train it’s less weird if everyone’s silent.
javabeans: While they’re stopped at a light, this old man pulls up alongside them driving a BMW convertible with a pretty young woman next to him, and HAHA the halbaes just stare and stare. Caption: “Envy + jealousy + amazement + who the hell is he?”
girlfriday: It’s pretty hilarious, just because all three heads turn at once.
javabeans: Like really judgy cats! So… regular cats. Geun-hyung halbae at least turns on some music with his phone, which cuts through some of the tense silence. Although the funny part is that it’s only really tense for one of them.
girlfriday: They make it to Strasbourg’s Notre Dame, which has a really cool discovery aspect to it because it’s surrounded by other buildings, so you don’t actually see the whole thing until you’re up close. Everyone marvels at it except for Seo-jin, who doesn’t have the brain space to take in sights right now. Uh-oh. Somebody asks where Soon-jae halbae is, and no one can find him. Crap.
javabeans: Seo-jin says he’ll come find them if they stay where they are, which sounds like the sensible thing to do. But we’re getting the thriller movie edit, with the music and the tense cuts…
girlfriday: Ha, they make Seo-jin’s POV like he’s the Terminator, scanning the crowd with facial recognition software.
javabeans: Turns out Soon-jae halbae is off in the distance, and Seo-jin points him out without even batting an eyelash. He handled that without panicking because, as he says, They’re all in my sightline at all times. He knows better than to not keep tabs on them.
girlfriday: He’s kinda like their momma duck now. Aw, I have such sympathy for Seo-jin. His biggest complaint: how long the days are. He points up at the sky (still sunny) at 8pm like it’s out to get him.
javabeans: Like the daylight is in cahoots with Na PD to make his life difficult, you mean? They head to an outdoor restaurant for dinner, and it looks like a pretty fancy place. I’m sure they can afford it, but I still worry. This show will do that to ya.
girlfriday: Il-sub halbae laments not having his soju-water, and Seo-jin suggests wine instead. I love that Il-sub halbae asks if it’s cheap, because you get the sense that he wouldn’t drink expensive table liquor on principle.
javabeans: I know, right? Like it would be a mark against it. I think wine is still too frou-frou for him.
girlfriday: But in Europe it’s cheaper than ordering a Coke, so they might be okay with it.
javabeans: Geun-hyung halbae really loves his smartphone. He must be the techie grandpa. He text-messages his wife photos of the cathedral, and then says proudly, “I totally won so many points with her today!”
girlfriday: Aw, he clearly loves his wifey so much. There’s a whole montage of him at every stop along the trip, calling her or buying something she’d like.
javabeans: I feel like she trained him so well. He reports all the things that wives want to know that can be interpreted as nagging if you let it — what he ate for lunch, how the weather is, what he’s seen and how he’s feeling, etc. Stuff we should all tell our moms more. I guess there’s a reason he’s so determined to get Seo-jin married off.
girlfriday: Hee, Geun-hyung halbae has another nickname for Il-sub halbae. He yells at the hyungs to slow down: “We have to wait for Baek Gom!” [polar bear, or his last name + bear] Is it his personality or his name that’s so nickname-able?
javabeans: It just fits in so many ways. Then Geun-hyung halbae giggles over how “Sub-ie” looks like Penguin doing his slow menacing plod in Batman, and calls Soon-jae hyung the village mayor. These are spot-on. Meanwhile, Shin Gu halbae wants to take a photo of Il-sub halabe in front of a carousel, but he’s totally tipsy and swaying on his feet, and he can’t figure out how to get halbae and the background in the same shot.(The answer doesn’t occur to him, to get down low and shoot upward.) “Go back. More back. No, forward now. Come forward.” And Il-sub halbae is chiming in, “Do you want me to jump? Should I jump?” They’re so adorable. And he’s so drunk.
girlfriday: It’s like a clown-car rake gag. How many grown men does it take to take one picture? At one point Shin Gu halbae is sitting on the ground and Na PD has to help him hold the phone, while the other halbaes bark orders.
javabeans: And there in the background you can see a woman (a staffer?) taking a cell phone pic of THEM, because it’s priceless. Geun-hyung halbae is having a laughing fit, because Gu halbae is insisting that everybody must stay still when it’s his arms that are moving around.
girlfriday: And then, because they’re drunk but also because it was such an ORDEAL, they laugh all over again in the car over how ridiculous it was.
javabeans: I’m just glad they’re talking, ’cause it’s one less stress for Driver Seo-jin. They head back to the hotel in good moods and Seo-jin finally gets to lie down. Shin Gu halbae and Il-sub halbae sit in the lounge, and a PD offers them water, and Il-sub halbae immediately barks, “SO-JU.” It’s like everything he endured today was just an excuse to get to the soju.
girlfriday: Haha. He’s like a dog with a bone. Then they’re asking for soup, which sounds crazy, but then we flash back to dinner when Seo-jin made a promise to make a stew for them later. OH NOES. Why would you do that?
javabeans: Man, then he has to go out to a tiny Korean market for ramyun (they’re subbing sauerkraut + pepper flakes for kimchi, which, erm), then to the market for meat. Back in the room he gets the water boiling and Na PD argues that he’s doing it the wrong way: “Hyung, no! It’s wrong! You’re gonna regret it. You’re gonna regret it. I warned you, you’re gonna regret it.” Ack.
girlfriday: He is SUCH a backseat-everything! Even though I agree with his fear. This is going to go so badly.
javabeans: Na PD adds the jewel that in two days it’s Geun-hyung halbae’s birthday. Eep, does Seo-jin have to make an occasion of it along with everything?
girlfriday: Seo-jin says the day before is Hyuna’s birthday, which he meant as a guilt-trip, but of course for Na PD it’s just fodder for more teasing: “Did you study that on the internet before the trip?”
javabeans: He totally did. And THEN, Seo-jin admits that he has never once cooked a thing. WHAT. You’re sitting in a hotel room trying to peel an onion with a fork, and you don’t know how to cook?
girlfriday: Well, I suppose only someone who doesn’t know how to cook would try to peel an onion with a plastic fork. Na PD jokes that Seo-jin is finally using his muscles for something. He really is, too. Like he’s trying to brute-force the onion into pieces.
javabeans: He actually appears competent once he starts cooking, plastic fork and tea kettles aside, while the caption says, “He looks like he knows what he’s doing…” Na PD says, “Hyung, the best thing I did for this program was casting you.” Ain’t that the truf.
girlfriday: I love the cut from the silent halbae foursome, all, What’s he doing? Is he showering? to Seo-jin’s frantic motel makeshift kitchen activity.
javabeans: It is the craziest jjigae ever, though I can totally relate to his way of sorta knowing how to throw it together and just tossing this and that into it, figuring it should work out. I mean, it’s not like budaejjigae is the classiest dish anyway since it was meant to be a catch-all soup, but still. He’s ripping apart meats with chopsticks and forks and just going to town.
girlfriday: It’s the hot dog of jjigaes. The first taste doesn’t look so good, but then he adds the ramyun and gives Na PD a taste, and he’s more shocked than anyone that it’s actually tasty. Seo-jinnie brings it out to the halbaes proudly.
javabeans: It’s so cute, the nervous-proud hovering he does like he’s the master chef, asking them to try the soup and waiting for their reactions.
girlfriday: The hilarious part is, the halbaes have NO IDEA how much Seo-jin is slaving over every little thing, so even though their reactions are good, they never feel quite big enough, compared to the effort involved.
javabeans: No, not even close. So we (and Seo-jin) want the big reaction, the grand moment, and what we get is an affectionate “Oh it’s good, thanks! So about the weather…”
girlfriday: And that’s like the icing on the cake of this show. Like you can’t fabricate that. It’s just… they’re halbaes, and you slave over trying to please them, but you’re not getting some big reward for it. You’re just doing your good grandson duty.
javabeans: Na PD is startled to hear how much the dinner bill was, which is because the halbaes ordered three bottles of wine. Na PD: “Without considering the cost?” Seo-jin: “I told you, I’m the only one who ever thinks of cost!” Our montage proves this — at every juncture he’s looking for the cheapest option, even if nobody else on his team even bothers to worry. Or maybe because of that.
girlfriday: You get the sense they checked out of that worry the second that money envelope was passed to Seo-jin, at the airport.
javabeans: They literally — wait for it — passed the buck. Badum-ching. So Seo-jin tells the grandpas tomorrow’s itinerary: hot springs in Germany. I love how Grandpa Shin Gu in particular is hung up on whether he has to get nekkid (“Can we wear pants? We can wear pants, right?”).
girlfriday: He’s cracking me up right now.
javabeans: Then Seo-jin breaks the news that they’re probably going to go broke tomorrow, and hence he proposes Go-Stop Day. HAHA. To win money from the staff?
girlfriday: Awesome. Clean them out, halbaes! Geun-hyung halbae already refuses to let Gu halbae play for their team: “You’ll lose it all!”
javabeans: It’s cute, I think he makes a half-hearted attempt to argue that being a less skilled player can have its merits, which doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, and then Seo-jin just suggests he drink and he’s happy.
girlfriday: Il-sub halbae decides he’s had enough for one day and orders the cameras to shut off. LOL. It cracks me up that he calls the shots and they have to listen. So then the halbaes go to bed, and Seo-jin stays behind to have a drink with the crew, and this is where things get interesting.
javabeans: They ask if the trip truly took him by surprise, and he says with this mix of half-indignation, half-shame that he was so bowled over at the idea of going to France with a girl group that he was crazy not to have even suspected anything was amiss.
girlfriday: But then you also see in flashback how Na PD was pitching the idea with all these details, like it was real, and also how giddy Seo-jin was, which is now embarrassing in retrospect.
javabeans: Seo-jin thinks longingly of the moment at the airport when Geun-hyung halbae gave him that out — if he didn’t want to go, he could decide right then and there to go home. But Seo-jin says he was so taken off his guard that he couldn’t think properly and just got on the plane.
girlfriday: Seo-jin: “Has my former agency called? They’re amazing, my former agency.”
javabeans: I love the flashback to the initial meeting, where his manager sits with Seo-jin and swears up and down to Na PD that her star is pure-minded (as in, simple and innocent). And now in retrospect, it’s just so mocking: My star is so gullible he doesn’t know I’m talking about him falling for this prank right now.
girlfriday: I swear you can actually feel Seo-jin losing it a little, just thinking about it.
javabeans: Seo-jin even admits that while on this trip, he occasionally wonders, “What would it be like if I were here with Hyuna and Sunny instead?” I feel like Na PD knew this trip would be good, but even he has to be amazed and giddy at how much better it turned out than he could have anticipated.
girlfriday: Because even having someone who was good-natured about it and not as mad over the whole hoodwinking business would be less entertaining.
javabeans: He’s just upset enough to be entertaining, but not so much so that it’s a problem. In that sense keeping him busy is probably a good thing — he has no brainspace to give to revenge thoughts or anger, because he’s got potential halbae crisis on his hands at every moment.
girlfriday: Right. Just keep him occupied and by the time he fully processes it, it’ll be over.
javabeans: In the morning, the halbaes get up and get ready for the day, heading to the hotel’s breakfast room to feed themselves. Seo-jin is the last one down and seems kinda nervously pressed for time, and sits down for a quick breakfast with some staffers. He asks them where his sunglasses went, only to be told he’s wearing them. LOL. He’s so harried already and the day has barely begun.
girlfriday: Haha. Poor guy. And he steals any private moment he can, away from the halbaes. “This is my Alone Time.” He says it now like a mantra, like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. They take a leisurely walk around Petite France, and that closes out this portion of the trip. Next week: the halbaes hustle the crew in Go-Stop. Muahahaha.
javabeans: Now that I wanna see.
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 3
- Grandpas Over Flowers (and Seo-jinnie) head to Taiwan next
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 2
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 1
- More crackling wit from Grandpas Over Flowers
- Grandpas Over Flowers goes to Paris
- Na PD launches new travel variety show on tvN