So, it only took us fifteen episodes, but we finally get to the point—the heart of the conflict that’s been brewing between brothers, and the future that defines every choice Tan makes. And despite every effort to not become next in line for the crown, Tan finds out just how little it matters that he never wanted to wear it in the first place.

 
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Coffee Boy– “곱게 자랐어요 (I Grew Up Privileged)” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 15 RECAP

While Tan and Eun-sang recreate the G-rated version of Secret Garden upstairs, Young-do takes Rachel aside to give her a talking-to for calling Eun-sang here on a catering order. He lets her off the hook since Eun-sang outed herself as poor, but warns her that this is as far as it goes.

She just scoffs at his concern and asks if Eun-sang knows he’s tripping all over himself to be her black knight, and he says of course not—that would be embarrassing. Myung-soo comes down and tries (very badly) to distract them but they overhear other girls gossiping anyway about the kiss upstairs, and Young-do leaves dejectedly.

Hyo-shin arrives and for some reason Rachel gets a devious glint in her eye as she makes him promise to come up to the party. He takes a call from Hyun-joo first, and she screams at him in a panic. As suspected, he never even took his college entrance exam. She says his mom is furious and worried, and he promises to tell her where he is if she comes alone.

Meanwhile, Madam Han pulls Mom into Chairman Dad’s study and tells her they’re about to break into the safe, so now Mom is complicit in her crime. Ha. She tries every birthdate and anniversary she can think of to crack the code, but it stays locked.

Suddenly Mom goes all MacGyver with pencil shavings and blows the dust onto the keypad, showing the numbers used most. Madam Han tries Won’s mother’s birthday—aka his first wife—and it opens.

She digs around until she finds the spy pictures of Tan and Won with their respective girlfriends, and then her jaw drops at one picture in particular, which we don’t get to see yet.

At the party, Tan and Eun-sang continue to make moony eyes at each other, and Hyo-shin joins them, lying all the while about how the exam was a piece of cake. When Rachel returns she asks Tan if he’s happy now that he’s told the whole world about his poor girlfriend, and he genuinely says he hopes she finds the same kind of happiness.

But she’s blind with revenge and says she’s given up on him ever liking her, but she’ll be damned if she’ll let him be happy without her. Yeesh. And with that, she marches over to the group, throws her arms around Hyo-shin, and plants a kiss on him. Huh? He’s as surprised as she is, and then of course that’s the exact moment when Hyun-joo arrives.

Her eyes widen at the scene, and Hyo-shin clocks her entrance but doesn’t push Rachel away. Rachel tells him this isn’t about feelings—she just wants to take him away from Tan by making it uncomfortable for them to be friends. O…kay.

But then to her surprise, Hyo-shin says this isn’t about feelings either and goes in for another kiss, all the while looking over at Hyun-joo. Bo-na finally has enough of all the limelight-poaching lip-locks around here and declares her party ruined.

Tan follows a very drunk Eun-sang out, and asks what on earth she had to drink at the party. She swears she only had three helpings of juice, ha, which of course was spiked before she got to it.

She’s a cute drunk, and Tan thinks her even more adorable when she’s tipsy and smiling freely. As they walk down the street she calls out to him: “Hey, Kim Tan! Very handsome Kim Tan. Kim Tan who walks over whenever he sees me. Kim Tan who suffers misfortune because of me. Kim Tan, I like you now, sincerely.”

She reaches for his hand and he frets about how cold she feels, and takes both her hands to warm with his breath. You two are so cute when you’re not arguing about social hierarchies.

Madam Han interrupts the cute moment with a phone call and tells Tan she’s discovered a way to get his engagement back on track. She admits it’s kind of a low blow, but is convinced it’ll work and tells him to apologize to Rachel first.

He sighs and asks if she still hasn’t given up on that, explaining for the billionth time that this isn’t what he wants. He doesn’t want to live as a fake anymore, but she counters that no matter what anyone says, he’s still Jeguk Group’s second son.

Tan asks if he can’t just be Mom’s son, and if that isn’t enough for her. Aw, that pangs my heart. He wonders, “If I’m not Jeguk Group’s second son, I must be nothing to you either,” and leaves her reeling.

At home, Hyo-shin faces his sentence with his epically stern parents. Dad surprises him by saying that since he’s going to take another year to retake the exam, he can choose to study whatever he wants in school, and suddenly Hyo-shin lights up.

But then Dad follows it up with, “And then you can just go to law school after that.” Oy. Hyo-shin says he has his own dreams and pleads with his parents to just get mad instead of being so stifling. But they continue in their calm Stepford manner and Dad simply counters that he has dreams for his son too, and that’s the end of that.

Hyo-shin skipping the exam becomes the big story at school, and contrary to Rachel’s Big Plan That Made Sense to No One, Tan is as friendly as ever and more concerned about how Hyo-shin is dealing with his hellish parents.

Hyo-shin apologizes for the second kiss, saying it was unplanned but he just wanted to show someone. Tan jokes: “As long as it wasn’t for me.”

Eun-sang gets cornered by some mean girls after gym class, and she handles it pretty well. Young-do comes by to play the black knight, and whadduya know—he doesn’t even resort to violence, and gets them to back off using fairly civil words. It’s a freaking miracle. Does your hair programming offer personality software that comes with?

Eun-sang even thanks him and he resists being labeled the black knight if it makes Tan her prince charming, joking that he’s got the better complexion to be the prince.

Eun-sang points out that they seem to be talking to each other just fine without him having to lord her secret over her head, which catches him off-guard. And to think, you could’ve just been this nice from the beginning and then I would’ve loved you.

He gets called away for more detention duty with Tan, which gets conducted in silence today… that is until Young-do’s dad and Won walk through the front door together. Oh. Crap. It’s actually so terrifying that they momentarily forget they’re fighting, and instantly revert to little kids.

Tan: “Did you tell your dad?” Young-do: “Did YOU tell us on us?” Tan: “Did you show him your report card?” Young-do: “Can we say I hit you?” Pwahahahaha.

Director Jung sits the foursome down to talk about the fighting, and to their horror, their 98th- and 100th-place test scores. I’m cringing in secondhand embarrassment.

After the meeting, Young-do’s dad needles that his son’s IQ doesn’t seem to translate to grades, but then adds—with a hint of pride in his voice—that he finally beat Tan at something.

Won is horrified at Tan’s last-place finish, and shames him until Tan promises to do better. Won: “Is it even possible to do worse?” Lol.

But Tan just smiles, admitting that it feels great to have Won yell at him because he assumed hyung wouldn’t give a flying rat what his grades were. Can you guys hug now? Too soon?

After the parent-teacher conference, Hyun-joo passes by Won in the hall without a word. He breaks the silence first with concern over how unwell she looks and asks if school life is hard on her.

She says it’s okay for now but the students will treat her very differently once the story breaks that she’s a poor charity case. He assures her that the story will never be published, and when she asks if he had anything to do with that, he walks away without answering.

Tan’s mom meets with Rachel’s mom as planned, but surprisingly the thing she asks for is to call the engagement off. Gasp, you finally heard what he was saying. Rachel’s mom is as condescending as ever, declaring that the matter is something outside the mistress’s purview.

So Madam Han takes out the big guns, and shows her the photo she found the other night—of Rachel’s mom making out with Manager Yoon. I love how sweetly Madam Han goes about the blackmail. Rachel’s mom fumes but agrees to break the engagement once and for all.

Hyun-joo assigns group reading projects to her class, and though Eun-sang agrees to join Bo-na and Chan-young’s group, Tan and Young-do appear at her café. Together. Suddenly we’re friends now?

They’re not about to take no for an answer, and she knows better than to think they’ll read a book, so she makes them share headphones and watch the movie version together. Ha.

It goes pretty well for a little while, but then henchmen in suits suddenly show up to escort Tan home. Young-do even offers his services if Tan wants to make a break for it, but he decides he has to face Dad at some point and agrees to go without a fight.

Eun-sang watches him go worriedly and leaves work early to go after him. Young-do guesses that she’s angling for a ride on his motorcycle, and pretends to give her a hard time about it before agreeing (though he adds that she’ll owe him one).

Tan goes home to face the music, and Dad is raging mad about the broken engagement, thinking that all of it has to do with Eun-sang and asking if he has to resort to dealing with her before Tan will wake up.

Tan doesn’t back down either and threatens to never see him again if he touches Eun-sang. Dad confiscates his phone and computer and locks him away in his room until further notice, and posts his henchmen at the exits.

He asks his mother if she really broke his engagement, and she says she wanted to do something for him for once. She says she was happy because today she got to be his mother. He presses his luck by asking if she’ll rescue him from his room, but she ignores that request.

Rachel is sobbing at the news of the broken engagement, and asks her mother why she had to take it this far. Mom is as cold and calculating as ever, and thinks she did her daughter a favor. Rachel finally says the thing we’ve all been thinking: “Don’t interfere in my life from now on. And don’t try to sell me. I’m not this season’s newest item.”

Young-do drops Eun-sang off at Tan’s house, and takes a moment to enjoy the fact that she’s hanging onto his jacket for dear life. But when she gets to the front gate, she finds guards posted there and realizes Tan must be trapped inside.

Young-do muses in a bit of meta: “It’s the chapter you can’t watch without tears. Title: Attack of the Chairman.” He says more than half of the players in this chapter are usually bodyguards, and guesses she won’t even get to see Tan while living in the same house.

She promises to repay the favor and heads inside, and Young-do thinks her brave for offering when she doesn’t know what he’ll ask for. Uh, should I be worried?

Eun-sang finds the whole house littered with guards, and Mom asks if they can’t hurry up with the move, worried this will come down on Eun-sang. She says the current tenants are still living in the apartment she found, but agrees to try calling.

She texts Tan to check on him, which of course only reaches Chairman Dad. He’s busy having a group conference with his wife, his mistress, and his secretary, which sounds like the start of a dirty joke, but isn’t.

He orders Madam Jung to find Won a top-notch girl to marry or face being cut out of the family, warns Madam Han that if she continues to raise Tan this way she’ll end up with nothing, and tells Manager Yoon to clean up the stock war and hand in his resignation.

Apparently his crime is taking no one’s side in the war, which Chairman Dad thinks is worst of all: “If you don’t choose an enemy, then you don’t have an ally.” He demotes him to Tan’s private tutor, and says he’ll consider not firing him depending on the outcome.

Manager Yoon tells Chan-young he got fired, and Chan-young takes it pretty well, saying that he’ll become the big earner from now on. He asks if they have some savings though, and when Dad plays dumb he yells at him like a wife. They’re cute.

The next morning Eun-sang goes to school alone and confides in Young-do about Tan’s predicament. Young-do barks at her not to assume they’re friends all of a sudden, which is pretty confusing because you’ve been acting like you’re friends now, but whatever.

Tan tries to go to school, but Dad stops him and tells the guards that they can pretty much do anything to Tan to keep him trapped, as long as he’s still breathing. And you wonder why he’s rebelling?

Instead Manager Yoon shows up to resume his lessons about the company, and Tan rejects the idea flatly, saying he has no desire to learn of their sordid family tree and why his aunts and uncles and father hate each other over the amount of stock they own.

He says he was ten when they first started these lessons, and back then he wondered why his mother had none of these shares that everyone else had. In his naïve way he had asked Won what he’d have to do to get his mother more shares than Madam Jung. He says now that he’ll never forget the look on hyung’s face, and has no desire to take what belongs to Won.

Eun-sang ignores Young-do’s insistence that they’re not friends, and sits down in front of him at lunch in the victim’s chair. His threats just bounce right off of her now, and she just tells him to eat.

All the other kids stare, but then even bigger news breaks: Tan’s birth secret comes out in the press. Everyone else chatters around them about whether or not it’s true, while Young-do asks Eun-sang quietly how many guards are at the house. Aw, are you gonna spring your non-friend from his prison?

Chairman Dad fumes at the leak, and counters it with a leak of his own. He has the stocks transferred to Tan and repaints the picture as a war between princes for the crown, letting the press go to town on the legitimate/illegitimate heir drama.

Young-do shows up at Tan’s house with a team of bodyguards in tow, and tells Chairman Dad very politely that he’s here to do homework because he has a group project with Tan. Hahaha.

Chairman Dad actually praises him for being so diligent about his schoolwork, and he gains access to Rapunzel. He tells Tan about the news leaks, which of course has him itching to escape his tower.

Tan asks for Young-do’s helmet, and then walks back out posing as Young-do, which looks hilariously suspicious. The guards try to stop him but he manages to get out behind Young-do’s line of bodyguards, and then the henchmen just fight each other.

But it turns out to be a decoy—it’s Young-do after all, and Tan uses the diversion to run out the back and hop the wall like a badass. Gah, you would make me wish I was watching City Hunter right now.

He runs straight to Won and pleads with him to listen, swearing that he didn’t ask for any of this. He even offers to give hyung all his shares to prove how much he doesn’t want to fight this war, and asks what he has to do to make hyung believe him.

Won says he can give up his shares and go back to the States and never return—then he’ll believe that he means it. Tan’s eyes fill with tears, and he asks how hyung can tell him never to return so easily.

He promises to give him everything if he just lets him remain here and doesn’t throw him away. He’s offering everything in exchange for love… but still, Won refuses. BAH. Why??

Tan’s heart just breaks right then and there, and he steels himself to fight back. He says he just changed his mind and won’t give him anything. “You want my shares? Then try and take them.” Oh noes, that hug is totally off the table now.

At the same time, Dad is offering Eun-sang a choice. We don’t hear what the options are, but I think we can guess.

Tan comes home as Eun-sang is leaving the study, and they cross paths in the living room. He’s about to walk past her in silence, but stops to hold her hand for just a few seconds before letting go.

He barges into Dad’s office to say he just lost a son today, and asks why he insists on having his two sons go to war when Tan was content to find his own path and let them all be at peace.

But Dad says the future of the company rides on there always being someone next in line—Won on Dad’s heels, and Tan on his brother’s heels. Tan doesn’t understand why in this family he can’t be a brother or a son, but declares through tears that from now on he has no father.

Dad: “That is the weight of the crown you wear. Endure it.”

Eun-sang steadily makes her way past the guards and up the stairs, and as she does, we go back to the choice Dad offered her.

He says that if she breaks up with Tan now, he’ll send her anywhere she likes. If she doesn’t, she’s free to date him for two weeks without intervention, after which time she’ll have to go wherever Dad sends her. Uh…those are her options?

She finally reaches Tan’s door and knocks. He asks how she got up here, and she shushes him with a playful smile.

 
COMMENTS

Guess she’s made her choice. Two weeks and then the guillotine it is. Not that we expected her to choose anything other than the nobly idiotic option, naturally. I suppose I should be happy that we finally managed to get to the central conflict of this show, but I admit I’m a little underwhelmed that it plays out exactly as expected, as outlined in the very title and premise. It’s more of a problem that it took fifteen episodes to even get to this at all, but given that this is the pace you choose, couldn’t there even be one twist on the very straight version of this tale?

That aside, as a standalone episode it was much better than what we’ve been given before, in that everyone actually behaves like a person I might have sympathy for. The boys were looking out for each other, Eun-sang and Young-do actually seemed like they could’ve been a coupling to root for in a universe where he hadn’t been a terrible person for fourteen episodes, and I even felt a little bad for Rachel. I was really happy when Madam Han stepped up to give her son what he really wanted, and when Won showed that he might care about Tan after all when he was yelling at him about his grades. But le sigh, I guess the brothers are doomed to just repeat history.

I find the brothers’ fate to be tragic (mostly ’cause their dad royally sucks), but their conflict has been sidelined for so long that it became almost an afterthought, and now we’re just picking up where we left off, with no change from where they were at the start of the show. Fifteen episodes and zero progress seems awfully futile, though I suppose to some degree it’s the way Tan feels about banging his head against the giant boulder that is his father and always coming up with the same bruised noggin. In the very least from this point forward there’s a war on, which means that something will change from the status quo, and Tan will actually—and literally—have to put his money where his mouth is. I just hope your girl doesn’t get deported while you figure out how to choose her.

 
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