It’s a less traumatic episode than the last few, which I guess isn’t saying a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. The frenemy war rages on, and the two suitors literally declare that they will be fighting over Eun-sang because they have nothing else to fight over. Gee, and they say romance is dead. I’m pretty sure that both boys actually like her, but I’m also sure that they hate each other more, which sort of clouds that teeny tiny thing called motivation.
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EPISODE 10 RECAP
The love triangle has another three-way run-in, but this time it’s in Tan’s front yard and Young-do isn’t exactly pleased to see that Eun-sang is chummy enough with Tan to be making house calls. He wonders what their relationship is, and jokes that it only leaves one possibility: “You’re siblings.” Shh, we’re in a drama! Don’t make jokes about things like that.
Tan quickly covers it up like they had a date after school, and apologizes to Eun-sang for having to reschedule. Before Young-do can get a word in edgewise, he shoos her out the way she came.
Young-do asks if his fiancée knows about his afternoon play dates, and Tan says without reservation that he’s dating Eun-sang and Rachel knows about it. It’s technically not true, but it sends Young-do seething. Well, more than usual.
To top it off, Tan tells him he’s headed somewhere to get his revenge, and then marches right into Young-do’s hotel to see his dad. It’s a little sad to see how Young-do suddenly becomes a tiny child in front of his scary father, and whispers at Tan not to tell on him.
Too late. Tan’s here to return his earlier asshattery tit for tat, and apologizes to Dad for fighting with Young-do. And hitting him. Twice.
Tan gets nothing but the royal treatment from Young-do’s dad, who declares that he’s grown up well. Tan saunters out of the office with this evil smirk on his face, knowing he’s untouchable while Young-do is about to get ripped a new one.
Sure enough, as soon as the door closes behind Tan, Dad slaps Young-do across the face (for being beaten up, mind you—he’s being hit for losing said fight, not for fighting) and unbuckles his belt. Augh, Young-do is evil but I don’t know if I can watch that.
But he’s saved by the bell when a phone rings… from the bathroom. He opens the door to find Dad’s mistress hiding inside. He turns around to go and asks Dad bitterly, “Were you like this when Mom was around? Or… is it that one of those women became my mother?”
As he trudges down the hallway with tears in his eyes, a flashback reveals the two boys in junior high, having sneaked into a hotel room to play video games. They hide in the closet when they hear someone coming, and end up witnessing Dad’s philandering ways.
Tan is still there and he gets into the elevator with Young-do. He declares that family is off-limits now, because they both know what the backlash is—they’ve felt it before. If you’re so concerned and know how much it might hurt both of you, how’s about we just knock it off and hug it out? Too easy? Too rational?
Young-do sighs that if family is off-limits, that only leaves one thing to fight over: Eun-sang. God, it’s going to get worse than before? How is that even possible? Tan warns him not to go near her, which of course makes Young-do want to win even more.
Rachel’s mom comes by to see Young-do while he’s on hotel dishwashing duty, and she tries to fawn over his bruised face like a mom, but gets squarely rejected. She happens to cross paths with her fiancé’s mistress in the lobby, and the first thing she does is call Chang-young’s dad for an ego boost.
At home, Madam Han is sick with worry that Tan still isn’t home, and Mom sweetly massages her hands to make her feel better. Tan comes home and she asks why he’d out her to Young-do when he knows their whole cover could be blown.
Tan asks why they have to hide at all, and when he sees how panicked his mom is at being found out, he sighs and apologizes for everything. She runs off in tears.
He gives Eun-sang the all-clear to come home, which you technically could’ve done when you left with Young-do, but whatever. He waits in the service entry for her to come home and pulls her into the wine cellar, insisting that they have to match their stories about today’s run-in.
He says they’re dating now, fully intending to date for real so that the lie isn’t a lie. She wonders if he’s just plain stupid not to have heard all the things she’s said up until now, but he doesn’t disagree that he’s dumb: “I like it when you’re angry and I like it when you’re smiling. I’d say that’s dumb.” Well I guess we agree on something.
She stops mincing her words and outright calls him a sheltered spoiled brat. She decides fine, they’ll date, and he’ll break his engagement and get kicked out of his house, and then they’ll see if he still says he likes her. She knows she’ll be the one who’s hurt and alone at the end of that story, but fine, they’ll date.
He only fixates on the dating part, but she douses him with a cold splash of reality: “Did you not know? If your mother finds out that we’re dating, my mom and I are on the street. So will you stop mouthing off about your first-world problems, young master?”
He asks if his sincerity means nothing to her, and decides that she’s right about them not being suited for one another then. He knows all the reasons she’s rejecting him and wounding his pride, “But I showed courage for you, and you won’t do a single thing for me.”
His words finally start to sink in, but he tells her that he’ll stop pestering then if that’s what she wants: “I thought you were a beautiful dream, but you’re a bad dream, Cha Eun-sang.” As soon as he walks away, she starts to cry.
The next morning Tan’s car passes Eun-sang on the way to school, and his driver asks if they should pick her up. Tan answers with his usual rhetorical questions, asking if it’s okay for them to ride together, and this time he’s the one to pass her by.
Eun-sang gets greeted at school by some girls who apologize and invite her over for study dates, now that they know her mom is loaded. She chooses to reject their offer and keep her head down.
Young-do saunters into class and asks Rachel if she’s ever been invited over to Tan’s house. It’s clear that she hasn’t, and Young-do starts to recount the amazing bit of news he encountered yesterday, when Tan interrupts him.
They get hauled off to finish their extra detention cleaning duties that they shirked the last time, and Eun-sang watches them from her class. Chan-young asks about her mom and the PTA meeting, and Eun-sang just says vaguely that someone else went in her place. Chan-young notes that she’s keeping an awful lot of secrets from him lately.
He asks if she had a fight with Tan, and she says she’s in the middle of running away from him. She heads up to the roof for a break, and shuts her eyes as she thinks of the kiss. When she opens them, Tan is staring right back at her.
He’s standing on the roof of the building opposite hers, which is a nice beat—they’re in the same place but so very far apart. She’s the first to break the gaze and run off.
Young-do finds her in the library and asks about her faux mom, knowing that mom in designer duds and multiple minimum-wage jobs doesn’t add up. She doesn’t give him a straight answer and snaps back at him to leave her alone so she can study, and he smiles at her sass. So today we’re sassy, apparently.
It’s time for midterms, and everyone puts in their best effort except for Bo-na who mostly doodles Chan-young’s name, and Young-do, who just marks all As down his test sheet.
Results go up, and Chan-young is first in his class as always, while Rachel takes second. Tan is in the middle of giving Chan-young a hard time, when the entire group chortles to see his name… at the very bottom. Ha. You tried, and somehow got a lower score than Young-do?
Eun-sang walks up to check her score, but Tan jumps to block her path. He spits out her score and succeeds in keeping her from seeing his embarrassing last-place finish, though I don’t see how you’re going to keep her from seeing the public announcement every time she walks by.
The teacher lists a few names of students who aren’t going on the class trip, including Tan and Young-do. But Young-do pipes up to say that he’s found a reason to go now, staring right at Eun-sang.
Rachel pulls Tan aside to say that Mom is requesting a brunch, and she tells him he can date whomever he wants, since that has nothing to do with their engagement. I’m pretty sure I can’t tell if it’s worse that he’s kind of cheating on you, or worse that you’re fine with it.
Tan doesn’t quite agree that his love life is so unrelated to their engagement, but invokes the very same excuse when she asks about what it is that Young-do saw at his house yesterday.
Hyo-shin comes up and comments that Rachel is too good to be clinging to Tan, and she balks at the clinging part. But Hyo-shin sighs that he’s jealous she gets to cling—he didn’t even get to do that.
Manager Yoon gets in the hotel elevator to go see Won, and runs into that mystery man he saw delivering an envelope to Chairman Dad. He plays elevator tag with him until he catches him trying to be evasive, and then tells Won that the chairman knows about his relationship with Hyun-joo.
He asks Won what he’ll do, and Won knows his father well enough to expect the question: inherit Jeguk or choose one girl? Hyun-joo waits and waits outside for their date, and then Won finally texts: “I can’t come. Don’t wait for me.” Ouch, I guess that’s his answer.
Hyun-joo wonders aloud to herself, “Is today the day? We must’ve broken up today.” How sad to spend your whole relationship just wondering when that day will come. She fights her tears and gives up waiting, when Hyo-shin pulls up.
She chides him for running around when his exams are so soon, but he counters that she quit on him first. “You’re not my tutor anymore, so I’m not your student…” He reaches out to her face and plants a kiss on her forehead, and leaves as suddenly as he came.
Rachel and Tan have breakfast with their moms, and Rachel’s mom brings up Eun-sang’s name, having met her “mother” at the PTA meeting. Rachel says she’s good friends with Tan, and cuts the pleasant chitchat with the announcement that she’d like to break the engagement.
The moms go into damage control mode and send the kids off, and Tan asks what she’s trying to gain by doing this. She scoffs that he’ll find out just how their families will react, knowing full well that this won’t actually break their arranged marriage in the least. Tan says this won’t get him to date her, but Rachel counters that he won’t be able to date Eun-sang either.
He sighs that she’s worse than he ever imagined, and Rachel spits back, “What were you doing while my affection turned to hate?” Dayum.
And as if on cue, Tan’s phone rings with a call from Dad. Rachel says they’ll find out if he’s really willing to trade everything for Eun-sang. I know Rachel thinks she’ll win this way, but I feel like we ought to thank her for sending Tan over the edge, or at least kicking his complacent butt a little.
Dad asks Tan what he did to make Rachel want to break the engagement, and Tan says he doesn’t like her. Dad scoffs as if that is the most absurd reason not to marry someone, and wonders if Won was right about his little brother. Dad says he needs Rachel as insurance (as in company shares, if his legitimacy gets called into question, because he is in fact illegitimate).
Tan sighs that he doesn’t need that kind of insurance, and adds that this house really does become sadder when he’s in it.
Meanwhile, Eun-sang is being interrogated by Madam Han for dirt on Tan—did Young-do blab about his family tree at school, and if not, why did Rachel threaten to break the engagement?
Tan comes in and tells his mother to stop having Eun-sang spy on him, and refuses to go to camp even when Mom cries that she paid for the whole thing because of him.
Eun-sang follows him out to try and convince him to go to camp, and gets stalled at the staircase, unable to follow him up. He won’t stay put though, so she follows warily up the stairs, and then hesitates again in the hallway outside his room.
He’s waiting for her on the other side of the door, but she can’t bring herself to knock or cross the threshold, as if coming through that doorway means crossing some invisible social barrier. He won’t talk to her anywhere else though, so she gulps and steps foot inside.
Madam Han comes knocking, so he hides her behind the door and says he’s undressed. She asks what his father said, and he says matter-of-factly that Dad told him he needed Rachel as insurance because he’s the son of a concubine. It sends Mom reeling, and Eun-sang cringes behind him.
Once they’re in the clear, Eun-sang says he needs to go to camp when his mom obviously went to the PTA meeting and did all that because of him. But Tan points out that if he and Young-do both go, one of them won’t come back alive.
He stops her from leaving with the excuse that she might run into his mother, and when she goes to leave anyway, he threatens to call out to Mom. Augh, the manipulative threats dressed as romance in this drama, I swear.
He calls out and Eun-sang clamps a hand over his mouth. He asks her to stay for just a minute, but she says she can’t be here—his room and hers are in two different worlds. She says there are some thresholds she can’t cross, and his room is one of them.
She turns to go, and he backhugs her: “Wait just a little. I’ll make it so that you can cross all the thresholds in the world. I’m looking for a way.” He tells her to have a good time at camp, and that he’ll miss her while she’s gone.
Bo-na is busy preparing camp couple shoes for her and Chan-young, and in return asks him for lots of handholding, piggybacking, and hugging. He laughs that they’re all skinship requests, and says he shouldn’t have held back all this time. She’s hilariously shocked that he was holding back, and calls him a pervert. Ha.
Everyone minus Tan goes camping, and Young-do jumps at the chance to help Eun-sang pitch her tent. Myung-soo comes by snapping photos of everyone, and when he looks at the one of Eun-sang and Young-do, it triggers his memory.
He finally remembers that the first time he saw her was coming out of Tan’s house at the crack of dawn. Young-do’s eyebrow goes up (er, more up) at that, despite her attempts to deny it.
Tan hangs out with Hyo-shin at the deserted school, and talk turns to Hyo-shin’s mystery medical ailment. Tan clearly knows what’s really going on with him, and Hyo-shin even talks about “last year’s suicide attempt” while he went to see Tan in L.A. as if he’s talking about yesterday’s lunch.
He assures Tan that he’s being good about going to the hospital and taking his medicine now (adding that his mother counts his pills daily). Tan asks if anything’s changed at home, but Hyo-shin shakes his head, and says that he’s planning to do something big to upset the order.
Tan tells him that it can’t be anything to harm himself, and Hyo-shin assures him that he hates hospital food enough not to try suicide again.
At camp, they get spit into two teams for paintball. Great, let’s give them guns and an excuse to hunt each other. This should go swimmingly. Bo-na gets trigger-happy right away and pelts Rachel before the whistle even blows, earning her a round of applause from her teammates.
The kids all movie-parody their way through the game, and Chan-young takes a hit to protect Bo-na even though they’re on opposite sides. I love that these two are just off in their own world of romance topped with cheese.
Young-do fires a shot at Eun-sang’s feet and wonders if he ought to save her or not, and says he’ll let her go if she tells him why she came out of Tan’s house early in the morning.
He wonders what her deal is, and then hilariously asks if she was adopted, and Eun-sang uses the chance to fire a paintball right at his heart. Ha, okay that made me laugh.
Young-do continues to follow Eun-sang around (do you keep changing your jacket color to match hers on purpose?) and kicks at her table while she eats, and then declares to the whole group that Eun-sang volunteered to wash dishes.
He offers to help her, and then parks his butt in a chair the whole time, declaring that his mere presence ought to be a comfort. It’s like you don’t know the meaning of words. At least she rolls her eyes at him instead of crying.
Chan-young comes by to help and asks if this situation is Young-do’s doing, and Young-do in turn asks how long he’s been friends with Eun-sang, and if he knows she’s a charity case. Bo-na comes by a second later and he asks her the same thing, and she confirms it with the same reaction, wanting Young-do to keep his trap shut.
Young-do pouts that he’s the only one who didn’t know, and then when Myung-soo comes he’s about to ask him too, when Eun-sang cuts him off and pulls him aside to talk.
He points out that she’s only ever interested in him when he does bad things. There are so many things wrong with that I don’t even know where to begin. Is negative reinforcement the only language you understand?
He asks again what her relationship to Tan is, and she fires right back: “What does it matter what we are? What you going to do about it? Who are you? Just pester me like before. I’m not afraid of you anymore.” She marches away and he hangs his head.
She hesitates and then calls Tan, and runs into Rachel in the woods doing the exact same thing. Rachel snatches the phone out of her hand, sees that she’s calling Tan, and slaps her across the face. What the hell is wrong with all you people?
But Eun-sang just says since she got hit today, she’ll do as much as the slap is worth, and asks for her phone back so she can call Tan. That fires Rachel up even more and she winds up to slap her again, when Young-do shows up to grab her arm in mid-air to stop her. Of course this is happening.
And in true Young-do fashion, he tells Rachel that he hasn’t introduced Eun-sang yet: “From now on Cha Eun-sang is mine. Only I get to pester her.” *facepalm*
He takes her phone and drags Eun-sang away by the wrist. Because she’s freaking incapable of getting out of these situations until a man drags her out of them, naturally. *sporkeye*
Once they’re alone, Eun-sang agrees that this suits him better—it’s more his style to terrorize her. He tells her not to assume things, and declares that she hasn’t seen half of what he’s really like.
And then Tan appears around the corner, which only Young-do sees. He says he’ll start showing her right now, and grabs her in a hug as the boys stare each other down.
Okay, besides the fact that Young-do is impossible to root for romantically (because hello, restraining order), character-wise his stuff would land better if he were allowed to act on his feelings instead of always reacting to Tan in some new volatile way. What is the point of that cliffhanger, when she doesn’t care for him, and he’s doing it to mess with Tan? I mean, if he were a real mastermind, wouldn’t he win her over, yunno with actual romance, not threats and territorial backhanded rescues? I get that it’s possible that his feelings are real (hey, they say even fish feel pain), but until he starts showing it in some other way than the if-I-can’t-mess-with-her-no-one-can rescues, I’m pretty sure I won’t give a flying fish what he feels, no matter how sucky his life is (and yes, it’s pretty damn sucktastic, but still).
It’s not like it’s a surprise to me that this writer’s brand of romance doesn’t sit well with me. I lived through Secret Garden and A Gentleman’s Dignity, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that we just disagree on some fundamental things. It’s not like it always ruins the entire drama, but we’ve hit the stretch in the story where everything builds to these moments that are written to be swooned at, but I can’t swoon at them because they make me want to call the cops and tear out all my hair.
I want to root for Tan, but his idea of giving a girl space is watching her on CCTV cameras and forcing skinship. I want to have sympathy for Young-do, but he thinks terrorizing a girl is a show of affection because negative attention is better than being lonely. And I really really want to get behind Eun-sang (especially when she puts on her sassy pants) but then she miraculously gets jelly-knees just in time for Tan or Young-do to swoop in and “save” her from the horrible [fill-in-the-blank-here], every time. She had some great moments in this episode where she finally didn’t hold back with Tan, and stood up to Young-do for herself. But somehow at the end of the day, she still ends up the pawn in their game.
How can I possibly root for my heroine to find love and cross all the socially divisive thresholds that unjustly separate her from her one true love… if I can’t even figure out why they’d be better off together? The story has convinced me that they live in different worlds, enough to be compared to royals and plebians, and enough to make their social crevasse a believable source of conflict. But it hasn’t convinced me of the other thing—that their love is worth all the wrist-bruising and pride-swallowing that it takes to get through the day around here. And until the show succeeds at doing that (or here’s a thought—we could stop yanking her around altogether!) it’ll continue to chug on ahead and leave my heart behind at the station.