Heirs: Episode 2
The romance gets going lightning fast on this show, though the show itself is still rather slow to get started—it still feels like we’re in the introductory phase where everyone takes a turn in the spotlight to show us who they are. It doesn’t make for a fast-moving hour, but in general I like the world and the people, that is to say, I like looking in on the screwed up world, and I like the mystery behind their intricate relationships.
The couple takes center stage in this episode, and they have an easy rapport and a breezy chemistry that works for me. The tone of the show is far more contemplative and less rom-com-y than Secret Garden or A Gentleman’s Dignity, but I actually like that it feels a bit more like a throwback angsty teen flick than a comedy. So far, so good.
SONG OF THE DAY
Young Joon (Brown Eyed Soul) – “Driving Road” [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
After ditching our homeless, passport-less heroine Eun-sang in the street to wait for her sister alone, Tan turns his car around and shows up at her side. They stare at each other intently, and then he offers to take her to his place.
She asks, “Is your place really safer than here?” He thinks about it and says he doesn’t know if it’s safer for her, but it IS nicer. Why did that sound like a come-on?
She decides to chance it, and her jaw drops as soon as they enter his ginormous house. He plops down on the couch and she looks around for his family, but he says he lives alone. That freaks her out more than anything, and she starts speaking in half-jondae: “W-what are you? Are you a drug dealer? A gangster, perhaps?” Ha.
He agrees just to mess with her, inching towards her with every word. I love that she grabs her backpack like a shield, but he leans in close just to point out that the door she’s leaning on leads to her room. Cheeky.
She finally gets to sit down and process the crazy that happened today, and sighs to relive her sister’s betrayal. Hunger pangs soon overtake her angst though, and she realizes she hasn’t eaten all day.
She sneaks out to the kitchen, only to find canned food and sports drinks in the fridge (Who keeps cans in the fridge?) and eats straight out of cans in the dark. That’s just sad. Tan finds her stuffing her face guiltily, and she swears she only ate stuff that was past its expiration date, and slides over a five-dollar bill to pay for her meal.
He asks how she lives that she eats expired food, but doesn’t get an answer. He asks her name, and only gets a, “Thanks for letting me stay here for the night.” Tan: “That’s a long name.” He says that none of this is charity—it’s repayment, since his friend stole the bean powder meant for her sister.
Meanwhile, Big Bro President Won is preparing to head to the States for a business trip, and Secretary Yoon (Chan-young’s dad) tells him that President Choi (Young-do’s dad) called to suggest he stay at one of their hotels.
Won notes that he’s already playing nice with Jeguk ever since he got engaged to RS’s president (Rachel’s mom), and that stops Secretary Yoon in his tracks. Aw, is she an old flame? Won continues to be an ass to Secretary Yoon, who’s still loyal as ever to his father and doesn’t hesitate to show it.
We meet Dad for the first time as he chats pleasantly with his ex-wife (the second wife with no kids). Chairman Kim is in a wheelchair, and Madam Jung tells him to stop being nice—it won’t get her to remove herself from the family registry.
He chuckles and says he has no intention of ousting her; after all, she’s the one who brought Tan’s mother into this house. She points out that it was better than the alternative, with him hiding his affair outside of the house.
Meanwhile Tan’s mother Madam Han has her ear pressed to the door trying desperately to hear what they’re saying. Won catches her red-handed, which is clearly a normal sight around here. She just rolls her eyes and announces him at the door.
She tells Won that his mother is here (by which she means stepmother, technically), but Won bites back that his mother is not in this house. She rolls her eyes again: “Fine. Ajumma. The ajumma who raised you is here! And this ajumma is leaving now.”
He walks into the room, and Madam Jung feels the icy non-greeting from Won. Theirs was clearly not a warm relationship, but she still feels slighted, and she points out that she did raise him for ten years. He snarks back: “I’m sorry I only amounted to this after you raised me for ten years.”
Dad has to call a cease-fire, and then tells Won that he should take Tan with him to his business meeting in LA. Won chafes at the idea, but Dad makes a point of saying that it’s not his company yet. He’s taking Little Bro, and that’s that.
Madam Han hilariously yanks Madam Jung aside, and despite the fact that they’re rivals, they’re surprisingly comfortable and frank with one another. Madam Han wants to know about her upcoming meeting with Rachel’s mom, saying that it’s in-law business and she should be in the know.
Madam Jung puts her in her place: “Who’s your in-law? Tan is MY son, have you forgotten that?” OH. Well that’s news to me. Also, do they have the most complicated family registry or what?
Madam Han counters that Tan sure would be happy to find out that his mother gets treated this way, while Madam Jung spits back that being called madam for a few years has made her think she’s a wife in this family. “But as long as I’m alive, you are just my husband’s mistress.” Dayum.
As she holds back her tears, Tan writes: “Another woman’s bags, another woman’s house, another woman’s husband… a pitiful person who spends her whole life wanting others’ things. That person is…” And his phone rings with a call from Mom.
Eun-sang finishes the thought: “Mom?” She’s calling her own, of course, and her eyes fill with tears as she lies through her teeth about unni’s beautiful house with a green lawn and how tanned she is from the California sun (Mom answers with taps on the phone’s receiver).
Tan overhears the whole conversation as he stands at the door with a sandwich, and I do love the look in his eyes every time he inadvertently catches her at her most vulnerable moments.
He shoves the sandwich at her and wonders about the dollar sitting on the nightstand, which she says is for the long-distance call. He says that she sure spends her money freely, and then she adds the dream catcher as payment for the room.
She tells him it wards off bad dreams and only pretty dreams are supposed to come through the holes. Tan: “Does it not bring pretty women?” He hangs it over his door with a smile, and then watches from the backyard as Eun-sang barricades her door, and then proceeds to undress in plain sight. He nearly chokes on his sandwich and runs inside in a hurry.
She wakes up in the morning to the nicest view that money can buy, and Tan watches her, taken with her smile and just suspended there. I swear, if he keeps staring that intently, I might not make it to ten weeks.
She finds him on his way out to school, relieved that he’s not a drug dealer after all, and jumps to get her things packed so she can be on her way. But he throws out excuse after excuse why she can’t go now—her sister’s diner doesn’t open till later, there are no buses here—and suggests she come with him to school since she mentioned always wanting to see what kind of schools people go to here.
So they drive up the coast and she warns him that she’s going to stick her hands out of the car. He lets her be embarrassing for one minute, but then smiles to see her enjoying herself.
He goes to class while she sits outside taking in the scenery, and he steals glances at her out of the window. In the first non-soul-cringingly-embarrassing English scene in this drama, the professor talks about beautiful words in the English language, and says that a survey put “mother” at the top of the list. It makes Tan pause.
True to slacker form though, he doesn’t turn in his essay that’s due today, despite the fact that he wrote one. The professor’s pretty zen about the whole thing, wondering if maybe he wouldn’t find more purpose if he started to turn things in. Rather wise.
He heads out and finds Eun-sang elsewhere on campus, watching a pair of Korean girls put up flyers for a party. She notes with a wisp of jealousy that she was just looking at kids who had met good parents. He assures her those parties are lame anyway.
She thanks him for everything and says her goodbye, intending to go find her sister on her own. He lets her take about two steps before insisting he’d rather ditch his next class and go with her, and she’s geeky enough to wonder why anyone would want to skip math class. What.
There’s more bad news at the diner though, because unni quit her job and skipped town. Her ex-boyfriend shows up just as upset because she took his money too, and when he starts demanding it back from Eun-sang, Tan steps in to get violent.
But the ex has two halfwit goons who start chasing them, so Eun-sang grabs Tan’s wrist and starts running. This whole scene is ridiculous, but I do love how much he’s enjoying the handholding and running.
He gets another call from Rachel that he ignores yet again, leaving her fuming in her gilded hotel room. She gets a call two seconds later and snickers thinking it’s Tan crawling back to her… but it turns out to be Mom. Ha. Spiteful, I know, but I enjoyed that.
Mom assumes she’s with Tan and asks what he said about her engagement to Young-do’s dad, and insists that Rachel tell him—isn’t he best friends with Young-do? Rachel: “They’re not friends.”
Back in Seoul, Young-do arrives at Dad’s hotel on his new motorcycle and goes to work in the kitchen scrubbing dishes. We hear from a pair of chefs that he’s been doing this every vacation since junior high, an order from Dad to learn the hotel business from the ground up if he’s to inherit the company someday.
He does as told, except he won’t do it with a sunny attitude, and talks back to the manager like he already owns the place. He hears that the police chief is dining here, and Young-do points out that that seems like a duty much more suited to him than washing dishes.
The chief prosecutor is dining with his family, and son LEE HYO-SHIN (Kang Haneul) assures dad and grandpa that he’s preparing well for his college exams. God, it’s a stifling atmosphere, with a father, grandfather, and two uncles all telling him exactly how he should be planning for his future. Thirty seconds in this room tells us that failure is not an option in the Lee family.
Young-do enters the room to introduce himself, and checks the service just as his father would, earning praise for his good manners. But the way he pours Hyo-shin’s water with a menacing undertone seems like there’s plenty of bad blood between these two. He fills the glass to the brim and says pointedly that he looked thirsty.
A few minutes later, Hyo-shin is knocking on Young-do’s door (he seems to live in the hotel, which makes sense) and asks to use his bathroom, and goes straight to the toilet to throw up his lunch. Huh.
They’re not friendly, but they’re on pretty close (and antagonistic) terms, given that Young-do knows about the upchucking habit. He calls Hyo-shin “sunbae,” but talks down to him, and wonders why he came all the way up here to lose his lunch. Hyo-shin says that it’s better than running into his father in the bathroom.
Young-do thinks it weird that Hyo-shin would show him any weakness, while Hyo-shin counters that Young-do has shown more faults than he has. I… can’t tell what the hell is with you two, but I kinda like that I can’t tell.
Back in LA, Tan continues to ignore his phone while Eun-sang buys coffee. She moons over drinking her americano in America, needing at least one happy memory of being here. Tan balks at that, and asks if she really doesn’t have a single good memory.
He pauses expectantly for her to think of them, but when she changes the subject, he actually gets pissy with her. Hee.
She sees a group of friends taking pictures together, and it triggers an idea for how she’ll get back home. (I suppose I should’ve guessed that her sister stole her plane ticket money too, but who buys one-way tickets?) She messages her buddy Chan-young online, since she doesn’t have his phone number memorized.
Tan peers at the message and wonders if it’s her boyfriend, and she says he’s a “boy” and “friend.” He doesn’t see how she intends to get this guy’s help when she doesn’t even know where he is, and she cries defensively, “He’s in my heart!” Hahaha. He’s so jealous.
He drops her off at home with his keys while he takes the cab back to pick up his car, and on the way he starts snooping into her online life because she left the account open on his phone. That’s when he finally learns her name, and sees the kinds of messages she posts.
Among them are: “I wish Freddy and Jason would make up,” and “I don’t wanna go to work today. On a rainy day in spring, I should be watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Ha.
He finds what he’s looking for—pictures of Chan-young—and there’s a hilarious split screen where he imagines them conversing and interjects annoyed asides. It’s priceless. But one post leaves him wide-eyed: “I hate it that Mom is having a hard time. Down with Jeguk Group.” The cop finds him and hands off Eun-sang’s passport.
Back in Seoul, Bo-na pouts at all her unanswered calls to boyfriend Chan-young, wondering if he’s already found a pretty American girl to date. Young-do watches her hysterics and flirts that she’s pretty when she’s clinging, which rankles his buddy who’s obviously sweet on her. I get the sense that Young-do purposely says the most hackle-raising thing he can think of in any situation, just for shits and giggles.
This time Chan-young finally answers her call, and she asks why he hasn’t commented on the selca she posted online. He says he turned all that off because he couldn’t study, but he checks on her insistence, and that’s when he sees Eun-sang’s message.
Eun-sang packs her bag and heads up the stairs to leave… where she runs into Rachel, just arriving. Gah. They recognize each other from the airport, but Rachel’s more interested to know who the hell she is and why she’s at her fiancé’s house.
Eun-sang thinks that’s weird—the owner of this house is in high school. Rachel says they were engaged at seventeen, and that still doesn’t explain what she’s doing here. It only gets worse when she learns that Eun-sang spent the night, and turns her bitch dial up to ten as she kicks her suitcase down the stairs and then orders her to open it so she can make sure she didn’t steal anything. Good lord.
Eun-sang suffers the indignity of opening up her bag to prove that she’s not a thief, and Rachel spills the contents out just to be extra obnoxious. She tells her to clean up her trash, and Eun-sang is left holding back her tears. She sits outside at a park with her bag, with nowhere to go.
Bo-na paces back and forth, wondering why there’s still no response to her selca after two hours. She’s hilarious. Young-do tells her to dump him and date his buddy Myung-soo instead, and she calls him crazy three times, deflating poor Myung-soo.
Young-do is all jokes until the mention of Tan, when Myung-soo says that Rachel went all the way to LA to see him. Bo-na seems to be on Young-do’s side of whatever this feud is, because she tells Myung-soo that she hates hearing Kim Tan’s name.
Eun-sang goes to book a ticket back to Seoul, but finds that she’s short on cash, as expected. She asks to reserve it anyway, but then realizes that she still doesn’t have her passport.
Tan comes back home and asks where Eun-sang went, and Rachel points out that it’s been half a year since they’ve seen each other, but that’s all he’s got to say? So then he tosses in a half-assed, “You’ve gotten prettier.”
He sighs to hear that she told Eun-sang that they were engaged, and when she asks why he didn’t come to the airport to greet her, he doesn’t even bother to open his eyes as he gives the excuses that it was too far and too hot. She asks point-blank why he agreed to this engagement in the first place, and he says matter-of-factly: “So that I don’t have to marry you later.” Ouch. Also, do you people do everything backwards?
Eun-sang rings the doorbell, and Tan yells at her for leaving without a word. She’s just here for the cop’s card so she can get her passport back, but before Tan can tell her that he has it, Rachel says she threw it out in the trash.
Eun-sang races to the trash bins, and Tan tells Rachel to butt out. She heads down to grab her purse when she hears Tan’s phone go off, and reads the message from Chan-young with his phone number. I want to point out to her that deleting that would just give Eun-sang more reason to lean on Tan for help, but I think self-foot-shooting is her style.
Tan comes out to find Eun-sang digging through the trash, and asks if she’s crying. She says she’s been trying not to cry, but no matter how hard she tries to escape her life, here she is, next to the trash all over again. She cries that there’s no twist to her story.
He apologizes and hands her the passport, when suddenly two NEW thugs show up looking for him. What in the what? Why does this keep happening?
There’s literally no explanation, since the only point is to give them another reason to hold hands and run. So they hold hands and run. (I’m sorry, did you just run from Malibu to Hollywood? Pwahaha.)
They duck into a movie theater to hide, and Eun-sang gets lost in the movie, but doesn’t understand the dialogue. Tan starts translating for her: “She says, ‘If I’m going to trust you, I need to know who you are.'”
And then he starts making up his own lines: “She says she met someone yesterday. Her name was Cha Eun-sang.” Eun-sang wonders how he found out her name.
Tan: “But now there’s something she’s curious about… Do I… maybe… like you?”
It’s interesting how different Tan is with Eun-sang, and that he consciously has many faces: the heir and (outwardly) dutiful son, the party boy, the thoughtful writer, and the slacker who couldn’t care less. My favorite thing about him is that he’s actually too lazy to rebel properly—he admits so himself, and it’s evidenced by his engagement to Rachel, which is the path of least resistance. Do as you’re told, and keep your head down. There’s something nicely subdued about the character that keeps him interesting, because he represses his conflicts instead of acting out. The go-to chaebol archetypes get played in the other characters—Won, Young-do—so it’s really (really) great to have a hero who’s a shade more realistic, grayer in motivation, and a little lost.
The exiled prince metaphor works perfectly for this character, not just because the family is, as javabeans pointed out, set up like a carbon copy of Joseon royalty, but because it encapsulates the wasted potential in the hero—he could be great, a leader, a future king, but gets his wings clipped and caged because his existence poses a threat. The fact that we begin here, where he’s accepted his lot in life as the extraneous son who’s supposed to hide to survive, makes his arc a fascinating one. The two moms conflict isn’t even the usual birth secret, and I’m interested to know why they chose to make him the son of the de facto concubine rather than the queen—it’s playing chess with your children for the sake of the inheritance, and it’s at least strange enough that I find it interesting rather than just the same old. At least I hope the answer isn’t the same old.
Though two episodes of setup doesn’t feel as zippy as I would’ve liked, I do enjoy the way we get introduced to characters. There’s simmering animosity underlying every interaction that makes me curious about the backstory, but it’s nice to let that inform present attitudes without dropping The Past into our laps. With the exception of the main couple whose first meeting is onscreen, everyone else has a history we aren’t privy to, and I love feeling like we’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg with all the relationships. That kind of storytelling is engaging without gimmicks, and I think the show is strongest when it uses that.
On the flipside, then there’s the reaching for yet another excuse to get the couple running from thugs (because that’s the only way to ignite romance, apparently—sparks via mildly threatening surfer goons), and then I basically want to spork my eyes out. I mean, does the Candy really need to be digging in the literal trash to feel like trash? Is that necessary? We geddit. She’s poor.
That aside, I do think the couple has sparks—the lingering moments, the intense gazes—all of that is golden, and I really like them together. She’s pricklier than he is, which is great, but also not so down on herself and so doom and gloom that she can’t just enjoy a nice day like an eighteen-year old should. I can actually see how and why he’s taken with her, and frankly that’s not always a given with romance. Sometimes I watch sixteen episodes still wondering, And why do you two like each other again?
But he keeps seeing her at her worst, when she’s down on her luck and at her wit’s end, and there’s this fantastic silent empathy happening that I just love. The show is still finding its footing (and being outside of Seoul is most of that, I’d wager) but I like where we’re headed with the couple. Attraction happening this quickly means it leaves a lot more room for unexpected turns, and that has me excited for what’s to come.
- Heirs: Episode 1
- (Could there be any) more stills from Heirs
- Heirs releases another teaser
- Kim Woo-bin and Park Shin-hye’s first meeting in Heirs
- Romance via sprinklers for Heirs
- The first teaser for SBS’s Heirs
- More stills from the set of Heirs
- More Heirs: the Kim Woo-bin rendition
- Lee Min-ho and Park Shin-hye’s first shoot for Heirs
- Heirs holds script rehearsal, begins production