You From Another Star: Episode 3
Aw, I really enjoy how the connection is building between our two leads, and how the past weaves into the present story without being fobbed off as a simple fated-lovers story. Yes, fate is described as an element in play, but it’s actually our coldly logical hero who pooh-poohs such explanations. It’s an added layer of confusion for him, in fact, since he emphatically does not believe in romantic notions, and that keeps the plot from being too much a rehash of so many dramas we’ve seen before.
SONG OF THE DAY
Vanilla Acoustic – “흔하지만 사랑얘기” (Commonplace love story) [ Download ]
RECAP: THIRD RECORD
After dragging Song-yi out of her beauty salon confrontation with jealous rival Yura, Min-joon demands to know who the girl in Song-yi’s photo is. He’s already guessed the connection but needs the confirmation: “Who are you?”
A flashback to Joseon takes us to the aftermath of doppelganger Yi-hwa’s kidnapping. She asks him a string of questions about his identity, offering that she believes in other life forms (whether grim reapers or folk-tale creatures), and therefore he can be honest about his origins. Through it all, Min-joon just looks at her with an enigmatic smile.
Song-yi invites Min-joon home with her, wanting to take care of him in exchange for him saving her life, and leads the way.
Upon arrival, they find a crowd gathered in front of her gate as Yi-hwa’s in-law announces that the new bride hanged herself last night and will be remembered as a virtuous woman (for following her dearly departed husband). Ah, so it was her own family plotting to rid themselves of her—once she married into the family, she became one of theirs, but as she is a mere widow they literally have no use for her. Her mother-in-law directs the preparation of a coffin and orders her men to find and kill the girl before she is spotted and contradicts their lie.
Min-joon notes Yi-hwa’s stunned reaction as they overhear this exchange through the open window. Just then, the henchman looks up straight at them and Min-joon reacts swiftly, placing himself in the way to block Yi-hwa from sight. He whirls around her… and suddenly, they find themselves in the middle of a faraway field.
Yi-hwa finds her freshly dug grave and cries, “Where am I to go now?” Min-joon watches her with a mix of pity and sorrow, and she decides to return to her parental home. She thanks Min-joon for his help and turns to leave, whereupon he finally speaks: “Let’s go together. I will protect you.”
With that, we return to the present day as Song-yi shakes off his arm and reminds him that she’s Chun Song-yi. Min-joon says, more to himself, “Right, there’s no reason you’re her.” Song-yi wonders who he means, curiosity piqued, then shrugs that it’s quite possible the other woman is similar-looking because everybody gets plastic surgery to look like her. Ha.
Min-joon gets distracted by the sight of Song-yi’s glittery heels, which are the same ones from his vision of a woman teetering over a railing and falling into water. He mulls over the connection with his friend Lawyer Jang, who tosses out words like reincarnation and doppelganger, which Min-joon summarily dismisses as ridiculous. I love Lawyer Jang’s reaction: “Well, considering there are aliens…”
I also love that Lawyer Jang seems to understand Min-joon better that he understands himself—at least in some regards—and prods him about whether he’ll step in. Or will he ignore it like he does everything else, hmm?
Song-yi and Se-mi stand by for shoots on their drama, and Se-mi’s in sympathetic friend mode, asking about the beauty salon incident and the man who stepped in. Song-yi identifies him as her neighbor and professor, and puffs up a little at the assumption that he was hitting on her with the “You remind me of her” line.
Two hoobae actresses stop by to say hi to Song-yi, gushing over her and totally ignoring Se-mi, who feels the slight. Surprisingly, it’s Song-yi who speaks up for her, schooling the hoobaes on their lack of manners. She warns them of dire consequences should they continue to snub Se-mi, drawing them close to assure them that the rumors of her terrible temper are true.
At S&C Group, undercover chaebol Hwi-kyung bolts up as soon as his alarm goes off at 6 p.m., marking the end of the day. His co-workers’ astonishment is hilarious, since it’s the height of impropriety for the junior employee to take off before his seniors (even if the workday is technically over), but Hwi-kyung has zero understanding of office culture and doesn’t take the hint.
His sunbae scolds him for his terrible work attitude, starting with the way he set a movie star as his desktop wallpaper. Hwi-kyung whispers that Song-yi’s his girlfriend, and his sunbae scoffs, “If Chun Song-yi’s your girlfriend, then Kim Nam-joo’s my wife!” (HA. A reference to Yoo Joon-sang’s drama You Who Rolled In Unexpectedly.) Hwi-kyung is sweet-natured enough to not take offense, and accepts the advice readily—he’ll fetch coffee, obey his elders, and change his desktop to his family as a motivational reminder.
Sunbae enjoys acting the part of office superior and struts back to his desk… where his co-workers have made a dispiriting discovery. Hwi-kyung has done as ordered and changed his desktop, and now they can see exactly who his family is. (“W-why is the chairman in the photograph? And w-why is the executive director next to him?”)
Then Hwi-kyung comes back with coffee and apologies for his thoughtlessness, promising to stay as late as his sunbaes are working. Everyone nervous-laughs that they’re done with work and ready to go home.
Scary chaebol hyung Jae-kyung takes a meeting with one of his directors regarding the recent, convenient death of a business rival (Chairman Dad admitted previously to feeling happy about it, though at least he had the awareness to know that was unseemly).
Director Hwang feels the need to investigate the matter—there are suspicious circumstances regarding the death, such as the fact that the deceased man had met someone from S&C Group the night before. Jae-kyung says that the matter can be left to the police, but doesn’t resist when Director Hwang presses. And then he asks after the director’s diabetes, which has me nervous for his future.
Sure enough, after hours that night, somebody messes with the director’s stash of insulin needles. Poor guy. It was nice knowing ya.
Min-joon is in his library thinking about Yi-hwa when his super-hearing picks up Song-yi’s cries of pain from next door. She’s been plagued by a persistent stomachache and calls her manager Bum for help, but as he’s out of town he tells her to call her mother.
Song-yi barks at him not to, then proceeds to get prettied up while moaning in pain. Can’t go to the hospital looking shabby, can she? She picks out her glittery heels muttering to herself that she has to keep up her “hospital fashion,” and heads out—and who should she run into but Min-joon, who pretends to be heading to the hospital. What a coincidence.
In the ER, Min-joon proceeds to bark orders at the first-year resident (he was a doctor in a past life), who grumbles that there are too many medical dramas on air these days, making managers think they know everything. Thus Min-joon gets wrangled into playing manager, and as Song-yi is wheeled into surgery she pleads with him to stay: “You have to be there when I wake up.” Min-joon starts to walk off anyway, but stops and takes a seat. He waits.
Once she’s out of surgery, the nurse informs Min-joon that she’ll have to expel the gas from surgery before she’s allowed release. Song-yi protests that she doesn’t fart, but Min-joon dutifully takes her for a walk around the hallways.
Song-yi asks about the woman who looks like her, asking if it was his first love. Min-joon shakes his head no, saying she’s someone he feels sorry to, and Song-yi sniffs that he probably has way more than one person like that in his life. Ha. Then she farts, though she protests ineffectually that it wasn’t hers.
A look out the window reveals that the first snowfall of the season has started, which stirs another memory for Min-joon:
Yi-hwa marvels at the first snow and tells him of the Joseon belief that on this day, all lies are forgiven. Then she musters her nerve to make a confession: “I like you. I want to grow older quickly, so that I may show you a beautiful womanly appearance.”
Min-joon doesn’t know what to do with that confession and looks dismayed—and then Yi-hwa laughs, saying that it’s a lie.
Now Song-yi looks out the window, murmuring, “The first snow…” Min-joon looks at her intently, and she continues, “…is all about fried chicken and beer. Or cow stomach and soju. Or pork skin.” LOL. She rattles off all the things she’d love to eat, accompanied by the calorie counts that make them impossible to eat, and wonders if losing an appendix reduced her body weight at all.
Min-joon tells her to go to sleep, and she starts making the excuse that it’ll look weird if her manager leaves while she’s sleeping. She visibly relaxes when he says he won’t go and climbs into bed. Min-joon takes up a newspaper and pretends to read a horoscope just to tell her that her fortune advises her to stay away from boats and be careful around water.
News gets out of Song-yi’s hospital stay, naturally, and in the morning Hwi-kyung drops by for a visit and gets denied by bodyguards. He tells them that he’s her boyfriend, but as he is the tenth supposed boyfriend to try that tactic today, they’re not having it. So he says that her manager will know him—just as Min-joon steps out playing the part. Hwi-kyung sputters in indignation to hear that this manager brought Song-yi in and stayed with her all night long, and then sputters some more when Min-joon states that the patient needs absolute rest and is not taking visitors. Hehehe.
Se-mi gives an interview, but all of the questions are about Song-yi. She asks if they have nothing to ask about her, and the reporter corrects course to ask about a boyfriend. Se-mi admits to having a decade-long crush on a guy, as we see a flashback to their youth:
In school, young Song-yi brag-complains about having so much dialogue (it would be nice to be a background actor like Se-mi, she says, because she’d have fewer lines to memorize). In walks young Hwi-kyung, who introduces himself to Song-yi as the son of the company she just shot a CF for. She’s completely unimpressed with his specs, which has Hwi-kyung at a bit of a loss, especially when she says he should thank her for raising sales for his dad’s company.
Through it all, Se-mi watches on the sidelines, unseen. She wonders now why she continued to like him despite it all, and so it’s with her usual disappointment that she sees Hwi-kyung when she arrives at the hospital. At least Se-mi’s presence finally gets him inside to visit Song-yi, and he protests over her choice to let her neighbor take her to the hospital rather than calling Hwi-kyung.
Song-yi flips through the newspaper to read her friends’ horoscopes, and realizes that there’s nothing of the sort there. She wonders why he would conjure up some fake prediction for her, just as Min-joon is congratulating himself for the disguised warning. He tells Lawyer Jang that she’s not the type to heed warnings, but at least he tried and now he’s washing his hands of it.
Lawyer Jang asks why Min-joon called him over just to tell him he’s not getting involved, and why he keeps talking about Song-yi when he insists he’s done with her. That’s proof that he’s thinking of her, he points out. Note that Min-joon changes the topic rather than address it, complaining that Lawyer Jang is talking to him a lot more familiarly than he used to, and that this modern society’s losing its focus on respecting its elders.
Just then, Min-joon’s ancient beeper rings, and Lawyer Jang wonders at it—he was the only one with that number. Except this was also the number he used when registering Song-yi to the hospital, and when he calls back he gets her on the line, wondering where to find that horoscope. She also asks for a favor, which we don’t hear, though we do hear his exasperated reply: “Did you seriously think I would do a favor like that?”
The next thing we know, Min-joon is walking into the manhwa store run by Song-yi’s frenemy Bok-ja. LOL. Bok-ja swoons over the dreamy customer’s arrival, and Min-joon reads off Song-yi’s wishlist with utmost discomfort, all hilarious titles like Neighbor Man’s Splendid Seduction and In the Middle of the Night in the Office with the Greedy Boss . (They’re all adults-only ero-mangas, ha.)
He delivers them with a look of disgust, and she tells him defensively not to disparage her books. He cites a Joseon book as his type of reading material, and then it’s his turn to get defensive when she calls him stuffy and old-fashioned. I love how it chafes his pride, though it also makes her ask how old he is exactly.
Song-yi’s mother arrives at the hospital despite Song-yi’s refusal to inform her directly, and little bro Yoon-jae happens to run into her just outside. They’ve been alerted by the documentary crew, which wants to get coverage of the family moment, though Yoon-jae refuses to play and goes in glowering. Mom, on the other hand, is happy to take center stage and get her time in front of the cameras.
For what it’s worth there seems to be genuine care between Yoon-jae and Song-yi, but it’s buried below layers of dysfunction. He’s ready to leave after seeing her for about ten seconds, while Song-yi wants to spend some time with the brother she hasn’t seen in a year. He rejects her offer of allowance cash, telling her that it’s why he left home—because he’s sick of living off her money. Ouch.
He says that money is what ruined their family, including Dad and noona. It’s a pretty harsh indictment, even if there’s truth in it, but Song-yi’s prevented from reacting because her mother bursts in with her drama queen face on, worried tears on display for the documentary crew.
Yoon-jae storms out of the room and Mom delivers her grand monologue on their family love, and finally Song-yi yells, “Just stop it!” She orders everyone out, and Mom leaves in a huff. Through it all, Min-joon watches silently, taking in Song-yi’s hurt reactions.
Song-yi’s father shows up at the hospital, but one glimpse of Yoon-jae sends him ducking out of sight. Min-joon clocks Dad’s reaction to Yoon-jae’s exit, connecting the dots.
Song-yi looks out her window at the snowfall, thinking to the old days when her father would bring her fried chicken to mark the occasion. She doesn’t, however, see her father walking away glumly, not having the nerve to actually come see her.
Time for the diabetic Director Hwang to take his insulin, and immediately thereafter he gets called up to Jae-kyung’s office. Already the swapped meds are taking effect, and the director staggers to the stairwell and takes a tumble down a flight. He reaches for his cell phone to make an emergency call—and gets it kicked out of his hands by an unseen figure.
It’s Jae-kyung who delivers the news of the director’s death to his stunned father—insulin overdose led to hypoglycemic shock. Only Episode 3 and already two murders? Who wants to take bets on Jae-kyung’s final body count?
While Song-yi preps to venture out of her hospital room (“Make me look like I just got out of bed, but sexy”), her manager Bum reports that her heels have mysteriously vanished. Min-joon was in charge of her belongings, and Song-yi wonders at his fixation with her heels, recalling his distraction with them earlier. “I didn’t take you for that kind of person,” she muses. Ha.
Min-joon, meanwhile, continues his lessons on mating by giving a lecture on human courtship, which is based in self-perpetuated fantasies of everlasting love whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the species. He advises his class not to make silly sacrifices or decisions based on such delusions.
He elicits an unintended laughs when his pager goes off in the middle of class, since who uses pagers anymore? The message is “1000,” which is a dead giveaway for Song-yi, who uses 1000 as her nickname (thousand in Korean is pronounced chun). She meets him outside and demands her shoes back, which he flatly denies knowing anything about. She huffs, “What are you planning on doing with women’s shoes?!” He barks back, “I didn’t take them!”
Cut to: Min-joon, looking at the heels in his shoe closet, hanging his head at his own behavior. Haha.
Rival actress Yura dines with Jae-kyung and complains about his kid brother dating her rival—if both couples get married, she would be Song-yi’s sister-in-law, and that would be terrible. But she’s jumping the gun, and Jae-kyung points out that he never mentioned marriage.
Yura wheedles anyway, saying that they’ve been dating a year (and that Dispatch is slacking on the job to not be all over her dating life) and should break up if he has no intention of marrying her. She’s different from his ex-wife, she promises, adding slyly that she’ll keep “everything I know” a secret. Uh-oh. Something tells me this is not a man you should be blackmailing for anything. Or, y’know, marrying, but let’s start small and work our way up.
Jae-kyung looks at her with that scary look in his eyes, though he agrees to be her date at an upcoming wedding. Why do I feel like she may not make it that far?
Song-yi prepares for the wedding too, mock-complaining that she’ll be accused of being a wedding disturbance by outshining the bride. Gotta love her vanity. The wedding is on a cruise ship, and with her shoes stolen by the alien man, Song-yi has had a backup pair rustled up to replace them, though she’s had to settle for the wrong size. Eek! Is this a case where trying to avoid the problem actually leads to the problem?
Song-yi calls Min-joon and leaves him a message, informing him that she re-bought those same shoes and will expect an apology in the future.
She runs into Yura again, this being their mutual salon, and Yura snipes at her to stay away from the wedding and out of her sight. Song-yi has no intention of skipping out, and tells Yura that if she’s so afraid of getting upstaged by Song-yi, she should just have more confidence in herself. Oh, and also—that movie Yura was dying to do? The offer came to Song-yi.
Yura screams in frustration, spitting that one of them is gonna die. Oh, I wouldn’t want to take that bet, honey.
Min-joon checks his voicemail, just as he sees a news report on TV about the big celebrity wedding. And there Song-yi is, arriving to take that cruise, wearing those heels.
Min-joon interviews, “Why don’t I believe in love?”
Song-yi interviews, “Of course I totally believe in it!”
He explains seeing instances where lovers would fall into a love that transcended class, like the lady of the house running off with the servant, only to have that love fizzle in a few years. Song-yi talks dreamily of the grand proposal she wants, with serenade and on bended knee—an idea Min-joon calls immature.
“You do it on purpose knowing it’s immature,” Song-yi says. “Love can’t conquer time,” Min-joon counters.
“A love that conquers all,” Song-yi says, “I think I’ll meet him soon. And then I’ll go—it’s about time I married.”
I’m loving Song-yi more and more, monstrous ego and all, which is nicely played alongside her loneliness and family abandonment issues. I’m sure I’d find it hilarious if she were a shallow brat even without her hidden fuzzy side, but having that dimension there adds to the appeal. It also keeps me curious to know how the two girls relate to each other, because I don’t quite think Song-yi is a mere reincarnation of Yi-hwa. Perhaps Song-yi had it in her to be as sweet and thoughtful as her Joseon counterpart, but we’ve seen enough of Song-yi’s youth to suppose that her hilarious ego was always a part of her. I’m willing to believe that the obnoxious part was cultivated, but Song-yi never had a problem with underestimating her worth, that’s for sure.
I do like seeing that she’s still capable of being a decent human being, though, at least in matters that count. Like her sticking up for Se-mi. That one gesture doesn’t negate the fact that she may be a deficient friend in other respects, but I do think she cares for both Se-mi and Hwi-kyung, in her own way. That makes me want to see this friendship flourish despite hints that it may not, because wouldn’t that be a nicely unexpected turn? I can see where a Se-mi backstabbing could make for good drama so I’m fine with it going there; I just don’t want her to turn into another Yura. Because as we can see, the world is packed with Yuras, just waiting to tear Song-yi down. It would be nice if Se-mi came out of it with her soul intact.
Song-yi’s also trying to be a good sister to Yoon-jae, which is why it stings to have him reject her so thoroughly. I don’t doubt that he’s right about money being the cause of their family’s decline, though I think to be more accurate you could say it’s Mom’s love of money. But as dysfunctional as they are, Song-yi’s only way of relating to her family is, thus, money. So round and round the cycle goes, of her throwing money at the problems and hoping for a different result each time, only to be crushed every time Mom sucks her dry and asks for more.
I’m a little skeptical about the murderous chaebol brother storyline, in that it actually feels a little broad for this drama. Which I know is hilarious given that we’re talking about a drama about a 400-year-old alien, but really, the Min-joon characterization has actually been lovely and grounded in human emotion. But the chaebol killer is just over-the-top enough for me to find it funny (whether or not that is its intention), and I find myself thinking back to Tae-mu, the world’s most inept attempted murderer in Rooftop Prince. I could take him as comic relief. Not that we need it, since there’s plenty of comedy keeping the show afloat already.
I do find Min-joon’s alien status tinged with unexpected poignancy, especially when we consider that it sounded like joke fodder and little else. I also expected him to have harbored some kind of love for Yi-hwa, which is why I find it more interesting to see that it’s not quite that simple—it’s not like thwarted lovers in one lifetime getting a second chance in another one. While I do believe Yi-hwa meant her confession, his feelings are murkier; maybe it’s that he feels he has unfinished business with this connection, rather than anything as specific as romance.
And while Min-joon isn’t human, his experience of walking among the humans offers a poignant look into what exactly constitutes being human (his scientific birds-and-bees mating lectures are a nice touch), inasmuch as he lives as one. Is it biology or emotion that plays a bigger role, science or experience?