Monstar: Episode 10
So that’s not exactly what I had in mind when I thought of a musical serenade, but the series does continue to hit the notes that strum the heartstrings in ways that keep surprising me. Emotions rise to the forefront this episode as our characters continue to maneuver through the difficult waters of adolescence, as they dig to search for the truth of their feelings and their place in the world.
SONG OF THE DAY
Busker Busker – “First Love” [ Download ]
EPISODE 10: “What do I do? I’m still so bad at this”
Seol-chan catches Se-yi off-guard with a kiss. They open their eyes a few seconds later and blink at each other while their lips are still touching before they break apart, stunned.
Still in shock, Seol-chan stutters and asks what’s she’s doing to him. You initiated the smoochin’, lover boy. Se-yi turns the question back on him and asks if he was kidding around again. He admits that he wasn’t, although he’s unsure as to what compelled him to kiss her.
Se-yi raises her voice when he starts to mention that Se-yi remained still. But that only calls more attention to their awkwardness, and they suddenly rise like stiff robots and run off, avoiding eye contact.
Se-yi buries herself under the covers in embarrassment as Seol-chan looks up to see the stars draw a literal heart in the sky. Cute.
HA- I love that they both wake up the following morning asking themselves the same question: “What do I do?”
Seol-chan whines in his bed about how he can’t bear to face Se-yi at school today, and then hangs on the thought of how Se-yi didn’t pull away from the kiss. He wonders, “Could it be that…?”
In the teacher’s lounge, Sun-woo’s vague answers about Kyu-dong only worry Teacher Dokko further. However, Sun-woo does decide to partially inform her of the reason behind Kyu-dong’s absence. The issue (the bullying, I presume) is something that everyone, including themselves, has known of (and subsequently ignored) for a long time.
Eun-ha is eager to know how things went with Sun-woo yesterday, and she misinterprets her friend’s bashfulness to mean that something did happen between them despite Se-yi’s protests otherwise.
At the sight of Se-yi looking at the empty seat next to her, Eun-ha figures that Seol-chan is too tired from travelling to show up to school. But then she lights up a moment later: “Oh, he’s here!”
Eee, it’s Kyu-dong! I admit that I half-expected to see Seol-chan, but I’m more relieved to see Kyu-dong instead. Se-yi sends him a warm, encouraging smile.
Jae-rok wastes no time to launch into his mean-spirited taunts, mocking Kyu-dong for actually showing his face after facing such public humiliation. His, If it were me, I would have just died line makes me want to punch him.
Nana is about to intervene, but it’s Se-yi who speaks up first : “Hey school president’s lackey!”
She marches over to call Jae-rok a low-life coward. To that, Jae-rok merely laughs—she must feel pretty invincible these days with two of the most popular boys in school vying for her attention.
But Se-yi doesn’t skip a beat and counters that he’s too afraid of them to dare lay a finger on her. Scanning the class, she adds that there are plenty of other students who seem comfortable enough to ridicule Kyu-dong without Jae-rok’s help.
Using a rice cooker metaphor, she says that all Jae-rok has to do is lazily place a spoon on top of the bullying bowl. “Do you even know how to press the button?” Gah, I love badass Se-yi.
That’s the last straw for Jae-rok, who angrily rises from his seat. But their impending stand-off is interrupted by Do-nam’s arrival, who marches straight for Kyu-dong.
Do-nam silently tosses Kyu-dong’s backpack to him, and then pointedly glares at Jae-rok as he returns to his seat. Se-yi’s little smirk at this is so satisfying.
The class is told to relocate to a different room for their next class. Se-yi mumbles to herself in the hallway, worrying about whether Seol-chan will actually show up. Sun-woo catches up to her and he points: “Your lips…”
Se-yi suddenly covers her lips with a notebook in defense, afraid that they’ve given her away. But no, he’s referring to a stray strand of hair, but before he can help her out, Nana steps in to do it for her.
The dry content in literature class leaves the students bored to pieces, so their teacher plays a song to help illustrate the beauty of language utilized in song lyrics. As the acoustic cover of Busker Busker’s “First Love” plays onscreen, I can’t help but think that the kids will end up falling asleep to the lullaby.
Se-yi has barely gotten any sleep the night before, thus her sleep-deprived state imagines the performers (cameos played by Jo Moon-geun & Kim Ji-soo of Superstar K) singing in front of her.
Her hallucinations follow her for the rest of day, popping up everywhere from the hallway to the classroom. They even serenade her directly into her ears as she sits on a bench. It’s a delightful melody, but their hilarious facial expressions and cocked eyebrows crack me up.
At one point, even Se-yi finds herself singing along to the chorus: What do I do? / I’m still so bad at this / But my feelings have leaked and my heart grew bigger / And it keeps leaking a bit more
This is how Sun-woo finds her, and he shows concern at her exhausted state, which is when Seol-chan finally turns up for school.
Needless to say that things are awkward between the seat partners, and they try their best to avoid each other’s gaze. I love the beat when she grabs a book to use it as a barrier, unaware that it’s upside-down, and then he flips it over for her. Ha.
Seol-chan tears out the classroom as soon as they’re dismissed, using an idol group practice as an excuse. Kyu-dong makes an effort to approach Nana, who’s waiting for Sun-woo outside.
He scurries away when Do-nam walks out the doors. Do-nam hangs back to thank Nana for saving Kyu-dong on the roof, to which she answers in her usual gruff manner: “All right.”
Nana utilizes her third date with Sun-woo at her studio as he plays human mannequin for one of her designs. He asks who it’s made for. She says nobody but given how well it fits Sun-woo, I’d venture to guess that it might be for him.
The fitting brings them within close proximity, which affects Nana more than it does Sun-woo. He wonders if it’s her dream to become a fashion designer, but Nana answers that she’ll find out as she goes.
She asks if he’s willing to wait as she completes another yet unfinished design. He studies as he waits, and she steals occasional glances at him from her sewing machine.
Sitting in his chair, Ajusshi ruminates over Nawin’s sudden appearance. Before he can dwell on it further, there’s a knock at the door. Aw, I love that he’s not even surprised to see the Color Bar members anymore.
Eun-ha and Se-yi head to the basement where Kyu-dong is already at the piano. Eun-ha marvels at the idea that the ajusshi was in a band, and then wonders, “Then why is he hiding in his house like a criminal?”
But she quickly dismisses the thought and wonders if she should learn how to play an instrument, too. Then she picks up a djembe drum in a corner and lays down a basic beat. Se-yi and Kyu-dong join in and the trio plays a simple tune together.
Night falls by the time Sun-woo and Nana head out, and he asks more about Nana’s passion for fashion design. She shares how the pretty dresses the ladies at the room salon wore made them look like dolls.
Thus she began to make clothes for her dolls and eventually moved on to make clothes for people. As they look out over the city, she asks, “Are you certain of what your dream is?”
She figures that someone like Sun-woo would be. She finds those who force others to have a dream ridiculous. “If you don’t have a dream, they treat you like nothing.”
Her dream is to graduate high school and leave home, but that doesn’t fit under her parents’ standards. If she does graduate, her father promised her not to send the thugs after her anymore.
Then she brings up the matter of their remaining “date coupons.” She wants to use them on bass guitar lessons, and asks him to teach her.
Seol-chan is unable to sleep, mulling over whether he should confess his feelings to Se-yi. Recalling how Sun-woo has already beat him to the punch, he tries to think of alternative ways to say the words “I like you.”
His thought process makes me giggle as he runs through his choices (“I love you?” “My heart goes thump thump…” “Bounce?”) until he finally gives up and collapses on his bed. “If only I’d said it first!”
Then he takes the lamb doll on his bedside and wonders why Se-yi accepted his kiss.
As Se-yi climbs up the steps to her place, she pops her head out to check her surroundings. She deflates to see nobody there, and then deliberately avoids the area where they kissed, heh. She’s just about to head inside when Seol-chan’s voice rings out.
He emerges from his hiding place and she asks if he’s here to apologize. He says that he isn’t since the kiss wasn’t a joke to him. In a hesitant voice, he starts, “To be honest, i-it’s because…”
But she cuts him off, telling him not to say it. He hilariously sputters, “A-again?”
She clarifies that she merely asked him why he’s here and not about why he did “that.” Her cheeks flush pink at the indirect reference to the kiss, which Seol-chan doesn’t miss. Then he turns red in turn. So adorable.
They stand around for another minute until Seol-chan says that he’ll see her tomorrow. Next thing we know, Se-yi is walking him back ’cause yunno, he might be bored.
She suddenly stops to ask if it feels like they’re being followed. Seol-chan is spooked by the thought, to which she answers, “You’re scarier.”
Sure enough, the acoustic duo manifests behind them once more, singing Coffee House’s “Is This Love.” The music abruptly cuts out when they get to his car… and then Seol-chan walks her back up the hill. Aww.
They continue this silent routine of walking up and down the hill over and over again, and they both smile at the chance to spend just a little more time together.
Seol-chan eventually drops her off, and I love how they both linger even after they say their goodbyes. But Mom arrives just then, and Se-yi blurts out: “He’s my jjak!”
Mom recognizes him as that famous idol boy who sits next to her daughter, to which Seol-chan gapes at Se-yi with an incredulous look that says You talk about me?! He breaks into a smile.
Mom tries to broach the topic of Seol-chan with Se-yi in her room, only to get the brush-off that Mom isn’t in a position to give her advice. Oof, that’s harsh.
Seol-chan is on Cloud 9 the next morning, dancing in the car with a huge grin on his face. It’s still awkward between them in the classroom, and Seol-chan asks when Se-yi had talked about him, which Se-yi immediately protests that she didn’t.
Eun-ha pops up to suggest that Sun-woo tutors them on their upcoming exam. She nearly blurts out that she’ll be in trouble with her father should her grades drop, but quickly changes the subject. Hm.
Sun-woo agrees to help, and Seol-chan does not look happy to hear it.
It only gets worse in gym class when they’re paired off and told to hold hands as a part of a team-building exercise. That basically creates an excuse for Sun-woo to flare Seol-chan’s jealousy, and he takes Se-yi’s hand and then interlocks fingers in front of him.
He scores a few goals easily and Se-yi struggles to keep up with him. It cracks me up that Seol-chan is the unathletic one next to Nana.
But then Seol-chan notices Jae-rok winding up to kick a ball towards Se-yi. He dives to block it at the same time Sun-woo whirls her around to shield her. His heroic dive temporarily knocks him unconscious and he ends up in the infirmary.
Se-yi goes to visit him there after the kids return to class and presses an ear to his face to check if he’s breathing. When she turns to leave, he grabs her by the arm, gasping for air.
He’d been holding his breath, and when Se-yi asks why, he answers, “How can I breathe when you’re so close to my face?” She mentions that he said it meant nothing to him before, to which he blurts, “Is that the same now?”
That makes them both clam up, and he warns her to stay a safe distance lest he kisses her again. She thanks him for earlier, and he tells her that she can pay him back.
Just outside, Eun-ha hangs her head and a lone tear runs down her cheek. Aww. She retreats to the bathroom and calls herself a dummy.
We see that she’s on the roof and she takes out her notebook entitled “S & S Secret Love.” As she flips through the pages, we find out that she also saw the almost-kiss between Seol-chan and Se-yi.
Eun-ha doesn’t return to class until the end of the day. Her downcast mood is apparent, and she even ignores Seol-chan on her way out.
Eun-ha thinks back to how Seol-chan had promised to remain an idol star in her sky. When Se-yi runs up to catch up to her, Eun-ha barks at her friend to leave her alone.
Do-nam adorably drags Kyu-dong to hang out, who asks about his once frenemy’s sudden change in behavior as they play computer games. Do-nam tells him that he won’t apologize to him, but neither will he stand it if Kyu-dong does something stupid again.
Kyu-dong starts to tear up and he gets up before Do-nam can comfort him. When Kyu-dong says that he’s leaving to practice the piano, Do-nam grumbles to himself that his friend’s been doing girly things in the time they haven’t hung out. Hehe.
Nana waits alone in the basement and comes across one of Lee Hyori’s old albums. She turns it on to the song “10 Minutes” and we get a brief flashback to a younger Nana dancing to it at a noraebong.
She restarts the song and starts dancing to it, even breaking into a smile at times. Sun-woo arrives mid-song and he shushes the other boys as they watch her silhouette dance against the sunlight.
They applaud her performance once she finishes, and Nana runs off to avoid embarrassment. But Sun-woo chases after her with a smile on his face. Ooh, are you finally seeing her a little differently now?
The boys can’t help but cast looks at Nana later, who blinks in surprise at how Sun-woo pays slightly closer attention to her during their lesson.
Eun-ha can’t bring herself to tear down Seol-chan’s poster in her room and she’s still in a rotten mood at school the next day. She deliberately pushes past Se-yi, and spots Seol-chan oh-so-casually cleaning off the hurtful remarks on Se-yi’s desk.
Tears stream down her face as she recalls the memories with the Color Bar band. But now she’s brutally honest with herself as she cries, “No, I’m not all right. I didn’t want to be part of the Mimi Sisters.”
It’s heartbreaking as she looks through her phone to happier times with her band members, and returns to the classroom still discouraged.
Eun-ha is called out to talk outside, and she finally lets out her pent-up frustration at her friend. She bitterly remarks that Se-yi must think that the world revolves around her, and it doesn’t matter if Eun-ha is there or not.
When Se-yi replies that she doesn’t know where this is coming from, Eun-ha lashes out: “Do you really not know or pretending not to know?” She reminds Se-yi that there’s an unspoken rule between friends never to steal something (or in this case, someone) away from each other.
Se-yi’s still in the dark, and Eun-ha finally bursts that that’s the issue—her friend is so ignorant that she doesn’t even know what she did. She was the one who liked him first, not Se-yi.
That’s when Seol-chan interrupts their conversation, and he gently tells Eun-ha to let go of Se-yi’s arm. Eun-ha whips his hand away, and then after another tense moment, she wrings Se-yi’s arm away before storming off.
Back in class, Eun-ha writes her own version of the Little Mermaid, depicting herself as the mermaid who loved a prince and drank a potion to make her human, but lost her voice as a part of the deal.
So when the prince fell in love with someone else, the mermaid was forced to disappear into bubbles. But she was still in love with him, and the only way to escape death was to stab the prince’s heart. As she recites those words, we see that Eun-ha had visited Seol-chan in the infirmary as well.
She writes with greater fervor now as she starts to sob about how the mermaid couldn’t tell the prince that it was her who loved him first. She abandons her journal outside, which is later picked up by Hyo-rin. Aww crap.
But then she runs back to retrieve it before Hyo-rin can read a word. Much like the rest of her fantasy, Eun-ha softly floats away like bubbles disappearing into thin air.
Her sobs have now grabbed the entire class’s attention, and Se-yi can only look on helplessly. But there’s a silver lining to her distress, and their teacher praises her for her creative writing talent after class.
Se-yi stops Eun-ha as soon as she steps out of the teachers lounge. “It’s about Seol-chan and me, isn’t it?”
They sit outside to chat, and when Eun-ha calls herself a fool, Se-yi tells her that it’s not true. She means it, and Eun-ha knows it, since her friend always means what she says. That’s probably why Seol-chan took such an interest in Se-yi.
Eun-ha muses that there was a time when she shone brightly, too. Even though she can’t sing, she gave it her all in their battle performance. It was the one time she thought that she did well, but her father called her pathetic and hit her instead. Oh honey.
That was why Seol-chan was her world, since he shone brightly for the both of them. Crying now, Eun-ha tells her that she didn’t hate Se-yi because Seol-chan liked her, but rather: “You made Seol-chan into a person.”
They’re both in tears now as they blubber how sorry they are to each other. Then the camera pans upward to reveal Sun-woo and Seol-chan on the steps, who exchange looks of discomfort after having witnessed the girls’ reconciliation.
Se-yi asks the boys for a favor and she later brings Eun-ha to the basement. Eun-ha shifts uneasily when she’s asked to sing to help Seol-chan out. It’s sweet how Seol-chan responds to her hesitance with the encouragement that he specifically needs her help.
The others chime in their encouragement, and Eun-ha initially sings a few bars in a shaky voice. Her voice slowly grows stronger as they continue to record her singing voice.
When Eun-ha goes for a walk instead of returning home later that night, she receives an audio message entitled “Eun-ha Vocal.” She presses play… and hears her own voice ring out as the main vocal to the song “My Song” (originally by the indie band whose name translates to “A moonlight fairy’s comeback to a grand slam home run”).
As the song continues, we see the others help compile the track for her. Then we flash back to how Eun-ha sang with confidence back at the basement. She cries, touched.
What a heartwarming and moving ending. Even at this point in the series, I’m still left pleasantly surprised at the journey each episode takes the audience to end up at a completely different place than we started. So while we spent some time to respond to the Whoops we kissed, this is awkward situation between our leads, there was always an undercurrent of Eun-ha’s struggles which finally rose to the surface.
Her frustration and outburst was a long time coming, given the clues of loneliness and inferiority to the rest of the group throughout the series. I admit that it was hard for me to warm up to Eun-ha myself, since her character could so easily be dismissed as an idol fangirl and loyal best friend to the heroine. But beneath that chipper smile, there’s a girl who longs for acceptance and is plagued by her insecurities.
The longing to escape from reality and stay within the fantastical confines of fiction and her imagination is something I can sympathize with. Now that we know of her own abusive family situation, it makes sense why she would turn to creative writing and her imagination as an outlet. Though a part of me wishes that we got to spent a bit more time to explore with Eun-ha about her familial issues, I can’t imagine that we’ll spend that much more time on the topic since we have so many other narrative threads to possibly tie in the next two episodes.
I love that we also got a chance to dig into Eun-ha’s sense of normalcy in the group, and her subsequent inferiority she feels in comparison to her other musically-talented band members. For her to understand her limitations and then be crippled by them is huge and utterly heartbreaking to watch. She looked crushed when her chance to stand out was snubbed, and frustrated at the feeling that she feels like the outcast of the group, as the shadow in the background.
Which is why I love the track that her fellow band members compiled for her so much. More than her awesome singing voice (which is of course, awesome, since Kim Min-young has a musical background), I love what the song means to Eun-ha, not just as a fangirl but as a fellow Color Bar member.
Having her idol Oppa produce a song with her voice is one thing, but then it’s also the realization that she have friends who care for her and believe that she’s important—to help her realize that she’s the star of her own life.