Heirs: Episode 5
Tan is back for good and now everyone gets to react to it. This also means the sprawling cast of characters is finally gathered in one place, upping the ante—and the tension, oh, the tension—as we hold our breaths waiting to see how his reappearance shakes up the existing social order. Will he find his spot at the top ready and waiting for him to step into it, or will he have a bit of pushback from the changes wrought in his absence? If dramas have taught me anything, it’s to never bet on the easy way.
SONG OF THE DAY
Park Sae-byul – “한 여름 밤의 별” (One summer night’s star) [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Tan sees Eun-sang’s message online and hurries down to the kitchen, where he confirms that she’s in fact here, in his house. She checks her phone for updates while drinking water, wondering at all the fuss, unaware that he’s watching from just outside amidst a burgeoning personal crisis. She shrugs, puts her phone away, and heads back to her room.
Tan trudges back to his room, burdened with this news—now it makes sense why Eun-sang hates Jeguk Group. As if he didn’t already have his immense wealth standing in his way, now he’s got to contend with being the direct reason for her family’s hardships. Of all the girls in the world, you had to fall for this one.
School vacation is over, and Eun-sang heads out the next morning dressed in school uniform. Tan watches her leaving the house from his window, then heads downstairs to peer inside the tiny room she shares with her mother, looking dismayed.
He asks his mother where hyung is, sighing that he thought he’d get to see him more now that he’s back. Madam Han tsk-tsks at his affection for someone who hates him, but Tan replies that still, he likes his brother.
Even so, it’s a shock to be told that Won actually moved out of the house because of him, as he finds out from his stepmother Madam Jung.
Won meets with Hyun-joo, the tutor whom we met previously who’d ignored Won’s call. His demeanor suggests they’re in a dating relationship, but her behavior is a bit distant even though she calls him oppa. Won gives her a wishbone as a gift from his trip to the States, to use for a wish, then presents her with the real gift—a necklace with a wishbone pendant that he says will be a good luck charm.
Hyun-joo isn’t inclined to accept, saying that she grew up always supported by his family—but now she’s fine on her own with a job and home and savings account. Won gets frustrated at the difficulty in just giving her a gift, and she relents and accepts. But he guesses that she intends to never wear it, and gets up to fasten it around her neck. Her expression is anything but happy, and she looks on the verge of tears. I do wonder if it’s something in the Kim brothers’ blood that attracts them to women who see their wealth as a burden.
Won is greeted at his hotel with the message that he has a guest waiting in his room, and bristles to hear that it’s his brother. Won is ready to rip into the hotel employee for admitting just anybody into his room, but he’s told that Chairman Dad gave the okay himself.
Tan sits and waits in his hyung’s suite. And waits. And waits. And waits. Aw, is Won just going to stay away until he leaves?
Tan finally calls it a day and goes home late that night. He eats a late dinner that his mother sets before him, and they have a cute back-and-forth as he asks if she prepared it herself, to which she says, “I ordered it all prepared for you!” She promises to order lots more good food for him in the future, like it’s only the thought that counts.
Tan casually asks about the housekeeper’s daughter, and how long they’ve lived here. Madam Han thinks to call Eun-sang over with a wine request (calling her the wrong name, Eun-sung, the whole time). Hilariously, Tan looks alarmed at the prospect and for a moment contemplates crouching under the dining table (lol), but opts instead to bolt. By the time Eun-sang arrives, his chair is empty.
Eun-sang heads outside to the cellar, using her cell phone as a flashlight on the dark path. Suddenly all the outdoor lights flick on—aw, Tan, you romantic.
Moving on to Jeguk’s Manager Yoon, who sits at a bar with a drink, thinking on his complicated romantic history with Rachel’s mother. Won joins him, which is a little surprising given that they don’t exactly have a friendly relationship. Maybe broodiness loves company.
Won points out that Manager Yoon may work for Tan if little bro takes over the company. There’s the unspoken assumption that such a scenario would require Won to be out of the picture, but Manager Yoon asks pointedly, “Why, will you give him the company to run?” I like him; Manager Yoon is no pushover, though he manages it without being a hardass either. Won wonders if he’s being dumb or just drunk, though, to ignore the subtext in his comment.
Then who should stroll into the bar but Rachel and Young-do’s newly engaged parents, and Won greets them pleasantly while Manager Yoon stiffens. Won already speaks to Rachel’s mother as though she’s an in-law, because of Tan and Rachel’s engagement. Oy, this family tree.
Young-do’s father suggests a friendly drink together. I’m not sure if he dislikes Manager Yoon for being a secretary or if there are other reasons at play, but there’s definitely a hard undercurrent to his tone. Frankly I have little patience for the moony faces Rachel’s mother and Manager Yoon make at each other, but it isn’t long before the business talk turns the air chilly.
As the presidents of their respective companies, Won and Young-do’s father discuss their thoughts on expansion into global markets. Manager Yoon takes the conservative view, and Young-do’s father sneers that such concerns are the province of “guys who work below us.” God, he’s an ass.
Manager Yoon excuses himself to make a call, and then Rachel’s mother excuses herself from the business talk. After their departure, Young-do’s father sniffs that the other guy doesn’t know his place.
Rachel’s mother finds Manager Yoon to apologize for her fiancé’s lack of manners, and he apologizes as well. “For what?” she asks. And then he basically attacks her with a kiss. Okay. I just wish I cared about the parents at all.
Eun-sang zones out during class, and the English lesson using Hollywood as a topic makes her think of being there with Tan. As she walks out with a friend, she stops short at the crowd of excited girls squealing over and expensive car and a hot guy waiting by it. Ha. You have to admit, Tan does know how to make an entrance.
He indicates Eun-sang, which naturally piques everyone’s curiosity. They ooh and ahh as he explains coming her to see her to ask a question, though he clarifies that it’s not about her—he wants Chan-young’s phone number. She wonders why. “Why do you think?” Tan quips. “I’m interested because he’s pretty. He won’t leave my mind and it’s driving me crazy.”
Eun-sang tells him Chan-young is taken and heads off, and just like that Tan loses all footing in this exchange because he’s left huffing, “Stop while I ask nicely. Stop right there!” She keeps walking, to his chagrin.
Eun-sang gets a call from Chan-young while she’s at her cafe job, and he wonders how she has time to message online and upload photos while she’s working. Haha. Eun-sang’s eyes widen and she checks her page to find an aegyo photo of Tan with the caption, “Kim Tan is really good-looking.” LOL.
She finds him sitting around the corner and orders him to log out. He refuses, then keeps her from stomping off by playing the customer card in front of her boss. “I would like Yoon Chan-young’s phone number,” he orders. “On ice.”
Figuring it’s the quickest way to get rid of him, she gives him the number, and Tan calls right away… to request her number. Ha. To his credit, Chan-young refuses, like a good bestie would. Tan just grabs the phone out of her hand and calls himself, promising to log out of her account now that he has her number. Then he heads off, and it’s her turn to call out ineffectually for him to stop right there.
He calls right away, and she wonders how long he means to visit, so she can buy him dinner before he leaves. He smiles and points out that she’s the one who suggested it.
Tan confides to Manager Yoon about his failed attempt to meet hyung. He apologizes for putting Manager Yoon in the middle, and they acknowledge that this whole situation is neither brother’s fault. “It’s the chairman’s fault,” Manager Yoon deadpans, which makes Tan laugh out loud. ‘s true.
It’s interesting that Chairman Dad seems to be a passive figure in the family feud, especially given that he’s actually keeping close tabs on both sons. His secretary presents him with a stack of photos, which show each brother with various women—Rachel, Eun-sang, tutor Hyun-joo. He takes particular interest in the Eun-sang photos.
That night, Mom finds a questionnaire Eun-sang has been working on for school, which outlines her aspirations for college, major, and career. In every category she has written “none,” and under the general future category she has written simply that she wants a salaried job. It’s a little crushing for Mom to see.
Tan goes for a morning walk just as Myung-soo drives by on his way to school. Myung-soo greets him enthusiastically and confirms that he’s back for good, then has to hurry on. Tan turns to his front gate just as Eun-sang heads out, and hastily ducks around the corner like a suspicious person. Smooooth.
Eun-sang gets paranoid and drags Tan down the street by the wrist, not wanting to risk running into the family’s Second Son (“Oh, the family’s really good-looking Second Son?” Tan notes). Tan has absolutely zero objection to the wrist-pull, and when she lets go, he offers his arm again for another round. Heh. He plays dumb about not knowing she lived here, saying that he lives in the neighborhood.
She starts to give a defensive explanation for why she lives in this neighborhood, but Tan says he’s not interested in that. Instead he leaaaans in close to ask when she’s gonna buy him dinner. Eun-sang points out that he said he’d call but didn’t, which just about makes his day: “Ohhhhh, you were waiting for my call, huh?”
Myung-soo takes the news of Tan’s return straight to Bo-na, who has a very badly masked freak-out over the news. Aw, she’s so simple. She thinks it’ll jeopardize her relationship with Chan-young if he knew she’d once dated Tan, and yet I’m pretty sure it’s a secret to nobody. She lies that she totally didn’t hear what Myung-soo said because she was thinking of a song, and Chan-young makes amused jabs: “Is it G.O.D’s ‘Lie’? Big Bang’s ‘Lie’? T-ara’s ‘Lie’?”
Bo-na beelines for Rachel to demand a confirmation, only this is totally news to Rachel as well. Rachel masks her surprise much better, and plays the “Why should I tell you?” card rather than admit she didn’t know. That just gets Bo-na more fired up and she vows to exact her revenge if this gets her dumped.
Rachel calls Tan right away, then fumes when the phone is shut off.
News travels fast, because Rachel comes to her locker to find Dear Stepbrother-to-Be waiting for her to ask if Tan’s really back. She snaps at him, asking if he’s afraid he’ll get his spot stolen away as big man on campus.
Just then Tan returns her call, and she puffs up in satisfaction to answer. But all he says is a curt “I’m back in Korea. If that’s why you called, then I’ll hang up now.” Holding on to a dead line, Rachel pretends to agree to a date later, which Young-do sees right through.
At the Kim mansion, Chairman Dad engages Mom in conversation (er, one-sidedly I suppose) and asks how long she’s been working here. Madam Han enters the room late, assumes she’s going to get tattled on, and rushes forth to insist Mom is wrong. Ha. This woman pretty much embodies the idea of shooting yourself in the foot. Thankfully Mom intervenes before Madam Han incriminates herself too thoroughly.
Chairman Dad heaps praise on Mom for sticking with a difficult mistress, and offers to send Eun-sang to one of their schools as a gesture of appreciation. Mom is overwhelmed with gratitude, since this opens the doors to a future Eun-sang might never have otherwise.
Mom is quick on her feet and gets all the transfer documents in line to pull Eun-sang from her current school. Eun-sang doesn’t see it as the heavenly boon her mother does and protests: Going to a school as ritzy as Jeguk High School is out of their means—they can’t even afford the uniforms.
Eun-sang gets called to see the chairman, and tells him that while she’s thankful, she doesn’t fit in at Jeguk. Chairman Dad actually gives some wise advice about not deciding ahead of time that your “place” is low, limiting yourself while others go out seeking higher and greater things. He mentions Jeguk scholarships that send students abroad—ooh, is he being an evil genius in sending her away under false pretenses? I really wonder about him.
Young-do reluctantly complies with another family dinner summons, where Rachel’s mother keeps up a stream of conversation while they wait for Young-do’s dad. She gives Young-do a fancy dog collar as a gift and asks how long he’s raised his dog. Young-do answers that it was after Mom left the house and Dad started dating around—he bought that dog with all the allowance money those girlfriends gave him. The dog was so smart that whenever he told it to bite one of those women, it would, “So how could I not love it?”
The inappropriate story gets both ladies fuming, so when Dad joins them, Mom does them all a favor by excusing Young-do from dinner. Rachel hops on the excuse train and leaves too, insisting on a ride on his bike.
Rachel’s headed to get fitted for a new school uniform… which is where Eun-sang is, reeling from sticker shock over the thousand-dollar uniforms. She walks out just as Rachel arrives, and the glare-off is immediate. Rachel takes offense at Eun-sang for not avoiding her and for knowing that Tan is back, and snaps that she warned her off in America.
Eun-sang stands her ground to say she has no reason to avoid Rachel, then snaps the nametag from Rachel’s uniform. On the plane Rachel had snatched her documents to learn her personal info, so she’s returning the favor. If she wants it back, give her a call, she says.
Young-do watches with vast amusement and prevents Rachel from stomping off after Eun-sang, noting that she lost this round. Telling her to find her own way home, he zooms off.
Young-do catches up to her near her neighborhood and cuts off her path to ask a few questions: What’s her relationship to Tan? To Rachel? Why’d she get her personal info stolen? Eun-sang bristles and declines to answer, but he says they’re on the same team and that he’s never seen anyone—excepting himself—who could piss off Rachel so quickly, and that, he declares, is a rare talent.
She cuts him off and asks him to get out of her way since she has Things To Do. Young-do says that she wasn’t leaving out of choice and not necessity, pointing out the wide open street around them that she could use to escape. Ha. Such a smartass.
Eun-sang tells Chan-young about her transfer possibility, and by now she’s come around to the idea that maybe she should go. After all, Jeguk is a name that’ll open doors for her, and she admits to occasionally envying Chan-young for being able to attend. But his response is decidedly wary, and although he welcomes her to his school, it’s a muted reaction.
Tan finds a box of his old things in the wine cellar, smiling at the note scrawled inside a book from Bo-na back when they were dating. Then the door opens and he scrambles for a hiding place as Eun-sang walks in, thankfully too preoccupied with her phone to notice him. He ducks behind the main wall and crouches there as Eun-sang calls Chan-young to inform him that she paid him back for the plane ticket. With that her last loose end connecting her to America has been tied; the midsummer night’s dream is over.
Tan calls her on her walk back to the house and tells her to look up to the second floor. Puzzled, she looks around at the windows until the sight of her dreamcatcher stops her in her tracks. Then he tells her to turn around… and there he is.
They stare for long, loaded moments. Finally he walks toward her, not breaking the stare, and waits for her to arrive at the correct conclusion. She asks whether he’s really the second son, and whether he knew she lived here when they ran into each other at the gate. And whether he knew she lived in the maid’s room. To each question he sounds an affirmative.
She whirls around and starts walking away, eyes filling with tears. Tan calls after her, “Did I… miss you?” How like you to ask her how you feel, which is somehow more touching than just telling her.
Madam Han brings Tan his new school uniform and tells him he’ll be matriculating tomorrow. She urges him to excel at his studies—can’t have him being outperformed by the maid’s daughter. Tan looks up in surprise to hear that Eun-sang is transferring as well, though I’m not sure if it’s pleasant surprise or an uneasy one.
The next morning, Eun-sang tries not to stare on her way in at the parade of fancy chauffeured cars and students mentioning huge sums of money like it’s nothing. She’s not wearing a uniform, which, eek. I know she can’t afford it, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of place where you’d want to draw even more attention to yourself for that. (Oh god, and then there’s more English? Didn’t we get that out of our system in America?)
Bo-na is the first to come up to Eun-sang, incredulous to hear she’s a new student here. At least she’s not mean about it, which is more than we can say for Rachel, who’s as hostile as ever, while cheery Myung-soo welcomes her and offers a handshake.
But the curiosity over the new girl is soon eclipsed by the grand excitement as the whole student body rushes outside to confirm the news: Tan just arrived.
A crowd gathers around him in front of the school, and Tan gets right to addressing the points that everyone else is bound to gossip about—Rachel is his fiancée, Bo-na his ex, Chan-young his ex’s new boyfriend.
Watching from afar is vomiting sunbae Hyo-shin, who notes with entertainment that Lucifer has just arrived in “this school of Satans.” That’s one way to put it.
Then Young-do makes his way into the circle, and tension mounts at this confrontation of alpha dogs. Tan speaks first.
Tan: “Missed you, friend.”
Tan: “Relax. I won’t do anything right away.”
Young-do: “Let’s stick to greetings. The kids’ll scare.”
And then… Eun-sang wanders along obliviously, totally not seeing the circle until she’s right in the middle of it. She’s busy texting—at least we’ve established that she gets tunnel vision when she’s on her phone—asking where Chan-young is, then belatedly notices her surroundings.
Finally, we arrive at the central conflict! I do appreciate that the story took a little time to bring us to this point in that it actually means something when Tan and Young-do have their face-to-face confrontation, and we’re ready to feel the same sense of unease that ripples through the student body. Because we got to know the characters, we see this showdown not only from one angle (say, Tan’s) but from several, and that adds a bit of punch to the moment.
So I’m not against taking some time to bring us to the point, especially when it’s drawn in an entertaining way. And if we take out the amazingly awful English-language acting of the LA scenes, I like the time spent away from home turf as well, because it adds to the dreaminess of that isolated encounter, that connection formed in a (semi-)vacuum where our leads were on more level playing field than they are here. (Because once in Seoul, we’re back to that maid-and-boss, chaebol-and-Candy setup that has become so familiar.) That said, I wouldn’t have been averse to getting here just a wee bit sooner.
I’m pretty sure we all saw the story heading this way, so on one hand it’s still not doing anything all that fresh. I find myself anticipating the moments before they land, wishing they’d come a beat or two sooner, which would help tighten up the sense of dramatic tension. Right now I’d say the tension comes in the acting—which is largely solid—but less in the plot. With school back in session and all our characters finally gathered into the same scene, maybe we’ll really get rolling.
I did like that Tan chose to reveal his identity to Eun-sang himself, even though I enjoyed the brief spell where he was running around trying to stay out of her sight. And I wondered whether she was going to have to deal with a big shocking reveal down the line, maybe at school. But it was a thoughtful way to reveal himself, I thought, gentle and without pressure. It’s so obvious to us that he’s a sweet guy that it makes me all the more curious about his reputation among his peers, which hints at a much meaner, tougher version.
I’m not sure I love this Candy-goes-to-prep-school turn in that it feels so reminiscent of Boys Before Flowers, even though in terms of execution the dramas are worlds apart. And Heirs has its characters acting and reacting with emotions that seem native to the human race, whereas I’m not sure you could say the same for the caricatures of Boys. But it IS a distinctive setup, and with the lead actor being in both it’s hard to ignore the feeling. Right now I feel like I can anticipate exactly what kind of reception Eun-sang will receive at the school, and who will step in to help and who will antagonize. And while all that is rich in conflict, I do want something to surprise me.
I’m going to hope that Heirs continues what it’s done thus far in giving its characters motivations that seem realistic and true to life, rather than punched up for the rom-com hijinks-y version. (Case in point: I was expecting Tan to geek out happily over the cohabitation reveal because that’s what the rom-com hero would normally do—as Gu Jun-pyo did—and thus preferred the more muted, conflicted reaction the show gave him. The outright romantic comedy would play up the broad comedy more, but we’re really dealing more with youth melo. I think this is a good thing for this drama.)
Despite all that, though, the show continues to breeze by as an engaging watch that has me invested rather strongly in the main couple and has lined up a nice cast of characters to enjoy. (Some others could drop off the screen, as far as I’m concerned, and not cause a ripple. Myung-soo, for one, who irritates the crap out of me despite being a generally happy dude.) The writer certainly has a gift for sparkling, funny dialogue and some of those bantering sessions are a delight to watch even when they’re really just there as verbal decoration. But hey, some dramas have pretty cameras, some have evocative OSTs, and some are enhanced by sharp, witty dialogue. Why not make full use of all your strengths, yes?
I find Won’s relationship with Hyun-joo one of the more interesting points (and can we drop the parental angst-romance, please?), particularly in how it seems to echo so closely what little bro Tan is going through now. No doubt most women of their acquaintance would be thrilled to be connected to the Jeguk family, but that’s exactly the opposite of the kind of women they’re drawn to, which makes me hope this will be a point of bonding for the brothers down the line. SOMEthing has to bring them together, doesn’t it?