Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’re not really broken up. Our couple spends a lot of energy in being apart-but-together and together-but-apart, and I can’t even tell you which is worse. Let’s just say there are lots of tears. But in better news, when Tyrannical Daddy digs his heels in further, it actually spurs the people around him to make some changes. Let’s just hope they don’t get run out of town first.
SONG OF THE DAY
Standing Egg (feat. Park Shin-hye) – “넌 이별 난 아직 (Goodbye For You Not For Me)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 18 RECAP
We return in the midst of Tan’s meltdown, as he lies bloody and bruised in the street and tells Young-do he can take Eun-sang now. Oh are you done playing with that toy now? Young-do fumes: “Do you wanna die?” He challenges Tan’s right to rebel now, after what’s happened to Eun-sang because of him.
I do admit I see things from Young-do’s point of view in this conversation, because Tan made this mess and is now the one crying about it. Tan admits he can’t do it anymore, and Young-do just leaves him there to wallow a little more in his own self-loathing.
Tan trudges home to a shocked Madam Han and Won, and an annoyed Chairman Dad who shouts after him that his antics aren’t cute anymore. The fact that you thought they were before is disturbing.
Won comes up to his room to try and talk some sense into him, with reminders that no amount of kicking his feet will change the way their household goes ’round. He tries to order Tan to go to the hospital, which is sweet, but just gets met with more deadened stares.
Tan finally asks when he’ll get sent to America. ” I feel like I’m dying. Please just send me away. Please, save me hyung.” He breaks down, and Won is taken aback by his desperate tears.
When Won returns to the hotel, he runs into Young-do wearing a matching bloody lip, and stops him to ask if he’s the one who fought with Tan.
Young-do says he did the hitting and sighs that he forgot that he shouldn’t hit kids with hyungs. “I forgot Tan had one. He’s so good at hiding it.” Buuuurn.
Won just needles right back: “Looks like he doesn’t have any friends either.” He tells Young-do to put some ointment on his wounds, and heads upstairs.
Bo-na gets upset when she realizes Chan-young is staring at Eun-sang’s posts online, hoping for a clue on her whereabouts. The stream of messages back and forth between Tan and Eun-sang both posing as Eun-sang confuse her, because she’s delightfully simple like that.
Eun-sang sits at work staring at the same posts, and takes one last lingering look before deleting them. Tan sits up with a start as he watches every last picture and message disappear from the account before his very eyes.
Hyo-shin sighs to see Tan so troubled, and jokes that wearing his pain on his face is a little clichéd. He knows it won’t solve anything, but suggests that he should just go see Eun-sang or bring her here if he misses her that much, thinking it’ll at least lessen his suffering.
Young-do goes down to Eun-sang’s house for a visit…stalk…visit-stalk. There’s no sign of her, but just as he turns to go, he recognizes Mom, who remembers him too. She turns him away at first, but decides he’s probably harmless (if only you knew) and invites him inside.
She makes him food, which is probably the first home-cooked meal Young-do has had since he was a child, and he chokes back tears as he takes a bite. It’s pretty heartbreaking, and a scene like this makes me wish Young-do had been written this sympathetically from the start.
Mom asks if he’s good friends with Eun-sang, and he admits shyly that he likes her. But as soon as he says it out loud, he gets this sheepish smile on his face that he can’t hide. Mom tells him Eun-sang went to Seoul to wrap up some paperwork at school, but in reality she’s sitting in a room with Chairman Dad. Eep.
Chairman Dad accuses her of taking his money and then overstepping her bounds, feeling so high and mighty about it that he doesn’t even want her saying Tan’s name. What, is she going to taint it by uttering it with her drugstore-chapsticked lips? Good grief.
Eun-sang promises to repay the debts that Chairman Dad covered in her own time, but doesn’t apologize for liking Tan: “because that’s not wrong.” Good for you.
She tells him that she won’t see him anymore as promised, but there’s nothing the chairman can do to stop her from liking Tan. She asks not to be called here again.
She stops at the dreamcatcher store for one last look, which is exactly where Tan is headed on his zombie walk through town. He stops short at the sight of her, and they brace themselves and walk towards each other…
…And they each walk past without stopping. Tan keeps going for a minute until he finally breaks down and turns back. He runs to catch up with her, but she’s long gone.
He chases her down all the way to the bus, hopping on just as the doors close. Eun-sang is shocked to see him sitting across the aisle, but they just continue that way in silence, as he walks behind her all the way back to her house.
She doesn’t look back once, and he just watches from afar. This writer just reeeeeally likes this silent follow-walk motif for all her drama heroes.
It’s only when Eun-sang gets inside and closes the door that she lets herself cry, and she runs back outside. You two and your delayed reactions.
She runs down the road where he was shadowing her just moments ago, but he’s already gone. She trudges back down the empty street alone, but then there he is, waiting for her and asking why she came looking for him.
She tells him not to speak to her, or come to her, or do anything, but as soon as she turns her back he back-hugs her. “I can’t let you go, Cha Eun-sang. What are you going to do?”
She cries in his arms but then pulls away, as if to say she’ll be the first to let go then.
Meanwhile back at Chez Kim, Chairman Dad now turns the blame on Madam Han, accusing her low-class blood of being the reason Tan turned out this way. Wow. There are no words for how disgusting you are.
He says he should never have let her dream of reaching the executive suite so to speak, while she cries that he’s the one who brought her in this house and made the top floor her home. She goes up to her room in tears and takes off every piece of jewelry the chairman ever gave her.
Rachel and Young-do run into each other as they clean up their parents’ cancelled wedding arrangements, and joke amicably now about losing each other as siblings. Young-do still calls her sexy sister, which ew, but at least it won’t come true anymore?
He turns down her offer to share a friendly meal, opting instead to go to his favorite snack shop alone. And there among the scribbles on the wall, is a lone message from his mother: “Are you doing well…Young-do-ya?”
Won has Hyun-joo over for a sleepover and asks if she still doesn’t have a wish for her wishbone necklace. She thinks marriage would be a boring use for her wish, and he brings up his blind date, clearly feeling bad about it.
He asks her if she would’ve liked it better if he had been like Tan, but Hyun-joo says he couldn’t have been: “You’re someone who dreams of the highest seat, while Tan’s dream is for Eun-sang to be his entire world.”
She tells him to go after his dream, and promises to wave from down below. He says he’s working his way up now, and asks her to wait just a little longer.
Eun-sang reads a passage from a novel called Wonder Boy that gives her pause, and she prints out a copy to paste in the bookstore window. It reads:
Our two hands that clasped one other as we escaped past those people. Those bones, and muscles, and veins that gave their strength not to let go—that is almost all the love I know. What other love is there than that?
Other than the fact that I couldn’t let go of that hand.
The door opens and she gets a visitor she wasn’t expecting: Won walks into the bookstore, and though she assumes he’s here to rattle her cage, I think we’re in for a brotherly save.
She tells him defensively that she won’t see Tan anymore, but he says he’s here to fix the mistakes of his father, and asks what it is she wants for her life—to return to her old life, or to be next to Tan?
He suggests that if it’s hard to choose, maybe thinking of tomorrow instead of the long term is easier. He even offers her an excuse—final exams are coming up, and she can use that as a reason to return to school.
He tells her that sometimes when you can’t come up with the courage you need, leaning on a flimsy excuse is a start. Well, he ought to know about that.
Won returns to find Tan sitting in the wine cellar, and asks if he’s really going to do as ordered from now on. Tan agrees to leave for the States whenever hyung wants, but Won says the first thing he wants is for Tan to do well on his final exams. He adds a cute, “And if you’re in last place again…”
He hands Tan a little note left behind by Eun-sang, wedged in between bottles of Won’s favorite wine. He says it must’ve been a request for him to pass it along, but he didn’t really see the need to until now. He says he asked to be saved, so he’s doing it.
Tan sits in the cellar and reads the note as we see Past Eun-sang in the same frame as she writes it. She recalls the dreamlike mid-summer when they met: “The days were hot, the nights cold, and I liked you.”
She apologizes for lying to him and for running away. “My relief amidst misfortune, Kim Tan. I’m really disappearing like yesterday’s dream. It was nice to see you in my dream, Kim Tan.”
Early the next morning, Eun-sang puts on her uniform and returns to school. She sits down next to Tan and he’s so shocked he just stares and stares, finally asking, “Is it you?”
She says she won’t run away anymore and she’ll stay by his side, and he just envelops her in a hug.
So…is that the end of the separation segment? Not that I’m not happy about the misery being over; I’m just not sure what changed. Whatever, moving on.
Young-do hears that Eun-sang is back, and even though she greets him with a smile in the hallway, he walks past her without a word. W…hy?
It’s a happier reunion with Bo-na and Chan-young, and Bo-na is especially adorable with her I didn’t miss you at all! followed by a bear-hug. Cute.
Everyone takes finals and even Tan keeps his promise to hyung and tries. When he passes Young-do in the hall, the air is back to icy between them, and it’s another silent pass-by. I can never keep up with the randomness of you two and your up and down relationship, so I’m just going to go with, Today Is Not-Friends Day.
Young-do bursts into the broadcast room and tells Eun-sang he knows what debt-collectors must feel like now, and asks why she keeps making him ask about the debt she owes him. So they finally go get those noodles she promised forever ago.
He takes one bite and asks why she came back—if she’s really going to fight this fight. She says she wants to try, and he takes it in silently, and then tells her to give up if it gets too hard, that way he can say “I told you so.”
He tells her not to talk to him anymore, and she asks if they can’t be friends. Young-do: “No. You were a woman to me from the start, and you’re a woman to me now. And from now on, my first love. If we see each other, let’s not say hello. Let’s not ask how we’re doing. Even after a long time passes, let’s not smile and pretend to reminisce about how we were back then.”
And with that, he tells her she can pay for the noodles and walks out. Aw, poor Young-do. At least you learned how to be sincere.
Eun-sang tells Bo-na she’s sleeping elsewhere tonight, and elsewhere turns out to be Myung-soo’s studio with Tan.
He tells her that he likes her, that he missed her, and that he felt like he was going to die, and that he swore to himself that he’d never laugh again and never fall in love again. “So don’t ever throw me away again, Cha Eun-sang.”
She reaches over for his hand and they sit there holding hands and smiling.
In the morning he grumps that all she did was study all night, and sighs that he hates the fact that they’re underage. The first reason is that everything he does ends up looking like an adolescent tantrum to the outside world, and the second reason is one she doesn’t let him say because it’s certainly naughty. Let him say it!
Madam Han calls to say vaguely that she might not be home when he gets there after school, which Tan just takes as her going out for the evening. But we see that she’s packing a bag.
She goes downstairs to tell Chairman Dad that she’s going to leave him, which he finds absurd. But she’s prepared to go if it means giving Tan what he wants, and heads for the door. Leaving isn’t as easy as she imagined though, because Chairman Dad tells her she’ll be going to the States to ride out whatever angst she’s feeling, making it clear she’ll never be truly free of him.
She panics as his minions load up the car with her suitcases, and grabs a passing taxi to make a run for it. She goes to Tan’s school and happens to see Young-do out in the street, and begs him to find Tan for her.
It’s eerily similar to the moment when Young-do’s mom came looking for him, and he puts her in his car and goes running to find Tan. Aw, you really are friends when it counts.
Thankfully he finds Tan right away and tells him to hurry, and sends them both off in his car just in time to avoid being seen by Chairman Dad’s minions. As Young-do stands in the street, he envisions his mother asking for him on the last day she was here.
He goes back to his snack shop and writes a response to Mom’s message on the wall asking if he’s doing well: “No. I think I lived wrongly.”
Tan tells Mom to go wait at Young-do’s hotel for now, and goes to see Chairman Dad. Tan tells him that he’ll take responsibility for Mom now, by parting ways with his father for good. Nice.
He says he’ll only live as Mom’s family from now on, and bows: “Thank you for having me.”
It shocks Dad, but he continues to go ahead with arrangements for Tan’s eighteenth birthday as planned—company stocks, along with a big press conference at Zeus Hotel. Tan hears about it from Won, and decides he’ll attend after all.
Won gives him the Cheondam-dong villa for his mother’s use, admitting that her troubles have something to do with him, and Tan apologizes for always doing things his way when it came to hyung.
Won tells him not to apologize because it makes him uncomfortable, but then offers up a happy birthday as Tan walks out, and it puts a little smile on Tan’s face.
It’s time for Tan’s big birthday press conference, and he has Eun-sang escorted there to be his date. Time for the big Cinderella makeover. She wows him in her pretty red dress, and he says they’ll need some courage tonight.
Off they go to face the row of cameras, and he steels himself as they prepare to face the world head-on.
If this entire conflict goes away with one press conference, I’ll die laughing. Anyway, at least there’s some indication that Tan is doing something, even if I’m not entirely convinced he’s cutting ties with Dad for good. And I sort of laughed at the Cheongdam-dong villa for Mom, because these people talk about leaving like it’s some huge sacrifice and they’ll have to be penniless and destitute in exchange for their pride, when in fact they’ll really just move into that other villa provided by the other rich guy. It’s the same for Eun-sang, whose life changes in no visible way except for the fact that in one moment Chairman Dad is pulling the strings, and in the next, slightly more magnanimous President Won is backing her instead. Why… can’t she just live her life instead of being allowed to do things by one rich guy over another rich guy? Or am I just asking the wrong questions for this drama because those are her only options in life ever?
Other than the fact that it’s annoying on principle, it also downplays her decision to go back to Tan. Isn’t it more meaningful for them to say, Screw it, we’re just gonna love each other anyway? It’s like the drama wants to say that that’s too unrealistic, so instead we have our teenage romance playing out under the umbrella of choices made by the overseeing (and puppet-string-yanking) adults, which has the effect of taking away any dramatic oomph from the choices made by our lead characters. They’re told to go away and they’re told to come back, and it’s played as if it holds the same dramatic weight as if they made the decisions on their own. I don’t necessarily disagree that these eighteen-year-olds are in fact powerless in their universe. There’s just a disconnect for me between the characters’ agency and the dramatic weight of their choices.
What exactly about Won’s declaration makes it okay for Eun-sang to go back to Tan? Why does Tan think it’s going to be different this time around? The only major shift we saw in this episode is really Madam Han’s choice to leave her husband, which gives Tan freedom from the last reason he’d have to cower to Dad. I’m just pinning my hopes on Tan making some kind of useful declaration at the press conference, and truly cut ties with Dad, officially, for GOOD. At this point I’d be disappointed if Tan didn’t sacrifice his entire kingdom to be with Eun-sang. Tan has so failed to impress me that it’s the only thing left in his arsenal, though I’m not going to hold my breath because obviously this drama is not going to let them (gasp!) be poor.
It was really Young-do’s episode, and the fact that I really felt for him in this hour just made me lament that it was too little, too late. At some point they flipped a switch and the Young-do who secretly wanted to be Tan’s friend and was sincere towards Eun-sang was written with sympathy, and for that character, this episode was a great moment of growth. For that other guy who started out the series pre-lobotomy, it made me sad that his existence fractured a character I could’ve rooted for and loved. I suppose the realization that he lived wrongly is better late than never. It’s just too bad it’s this late.