My Secret Hotel: Episode 10
This is an episode packed with character developments (and regressions…) and focuses largely on the love triangle of Sung-gyum and the newlyweds. The male posturing continues, ranging from comedic and petty to crushing, and more than one heart is trodden on as things come to a head. Gestures only pay off when there’s already understanding, and for some of our characters, there may be a long way to go — but it’s up to them whether they crash, or hit the ground running.
We also get some significant revelations in our mystery, so we’re one step closer to solving it… or are we? (And would it be bad to say this week, I’m just here for the romance?)
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Sung-gyum asks Sang-hyo to recharge him. Apologizing in advance, he draws her in for a kiss, while in voiceover, Hae-young asks, “Shi-chan, what do I do now?”
We cut to the bar where they’re drinking, and Hae-young continues that this must really be the end, but Shi-chan has no idea what he’s talking about. Hae-young just downs more shots, and finally asks his friend to stay with him tonight: “I really…don’t want to be alone.” As usual, Shi-chan takes this the wrong way, lol.
Still outside Sang-hyo’s apartment, the couple slowly pull apart and Sung-gyum admits he thought that kiss would earn him a slap. He’s sheepish and reflects that he must have done pretty well, the cuteness of which makes Sang-hyo smile back.
He asks her if she really did get married for the sake of the hotel, or if she had lingering regrets about Hae-young. He reminds her of his earlier words, that if a man has a woman he loves, even if he falls off a cliff, he’ll climb up to find her again — and it feels like he’s hanging from a cliff-edge right now.
Sang-hyo assures him that she has no desire at all to start over with Hae-young. Sung-gyum beams in relief and the two laugh shyly together.
Alone in her apartment, Sang-hyo replays the conversation, but memories of Hae-young’s words intrude, about his sincerity in marrying her. She tries to shake them off, repeating to herself that she did it for the hotel. She vows, “I’ll go back to the time before I met you.”
An illusory Hae-young literally haunts her at every turn, calling her name, as she struggles with herself. She dissolves each apparition with fighting words — she won’t be taken in by him again. She climbs into bed and hides, when he calls out her name again — except this time, it’s no apparition. When she opens the door, drunk Hae-young spills inside.
Sang-hyo surveys Hae-young passed out on her couch with exasperation. She sits, watching him, her hand an inch from his face, when her phone rings. Moving away, she answers with a whisper and explains to Sung-gyum that she doesn’t want to disturb the neighbors, which surprises a laugh out of him. He wants to tell her something, but puts it off to say in person.
When they hang up, Sang-hyo grumps at her snoozing interloper. She flicks at his annoying hair and annoying eyebrows and annoying nose, but then relaxes into a smile at his sleeping face, before catching herself: “Nam Sang-hyo, don’t be fooled by this face.” Her eyes fall on her makeup scattered on the table and she rummages for an eye-pencil — LOL are you about to do what I think you’re about to do?
Sure enough, morning finds Hae-young wearing a drawn-on mustache, à la Clark Gable. Ahahaha! He wakes up and sees her, and asks what she’s doing there — she points out he’s the one in her house, and he realizes she’s right.
She’s heading out for work and tells him to eat the ramyun she made for him and scat. He remarks on how she’s remembered that he has ramyun after he drinks, which she quickly denies — she just didn’t want to waste rice on him.
Outside, Sang-hyo scolds herself for the ramyun, but remembers another morning seven years ago, when Hae-young guzzled down ramyun while she jokingly complained about how hard it was to cook (also: curry). He pulls her forward for a kiss over the table and tells her that’s why it’s so delicious.
Mooning over the same memory, Hae-young — still sporting the mustache — noms up his present-day ramyun with contentment.
At the hotel, Sang-hyo cheerfully greets her colleagues. She brushes off inquiries about the honeymoon and asks about absent Young-mi. Just then, Eun-joo comes along with… winking jjajangmyun boy? She introduces him as Young-mi’s replacement, Yoon Sung-min, but Sang-hyo still isn’t satisfied about Young-mi.
She’s shocked when Eun-joo tells her the truth, and angry that she was sent away in that situation, but the latter is firm on having done the right thing. Eun-joo tells her that everyone’s worked hard to settle their minds so she shouldn’t rock the boat now. She also confides that Young-mi wasn’t really a good person.
Sung-gyum glowers in his office, as Simon reports that he couldn’t find Young-mi’s pilfered necklace. In a flashback, we see Sung-gyum approaching the woman who sent him the mystery card about his dad: She reveals herself as Young-mi.
Sung-gyum asks her if she knows something about his father’s death. She gives a noncommittal answer that raises his ire, which only amuses her more. She thinks his anger is misdirected since she isn’t the killer. According to her, it’s true his father was murdered, but she doesn’t know the culprit is either, although she has her suspicions.
She claims to have a necklace (the necklace) belonging to the killer — a solid piece of evidence which will tell him, if he were to see it, who the killer is. But she’s not about to give it up for free. She leaves him with the words that someone else besides him is also after it.
Meanwhile, GM Lee arrives and Sung-gyum angrily upbraids him for not reporting Young-mi’s death, as well as for disclosing his private trip to the resort management. Lee offers a weak platitude, and Sung-gyum gets angrier. He asks if there is some other reason why Lee hid the fact from him, but the older man plays dumb.
Hae-young lounges in Sang-hyo’s apartment, admiring her improvement to his face. Full of curiosity about her home and life, he wanders around poking at everything. On her bed, he hugs her pillow… and then smacks it. Haha. He proceeds to have a human-marshmallow dance party by himself.
Shi-chan tells everyone at the firm that Hae-young’s in bad shape. He shares his suspicions about Hae-young’s romantic preferences, particularly that he likes Shi-chan. At this timely moment, mustacherrific Hae-young arrives with a cheery good morning, and greets the men with affectionate butt-smacks before heading into his office.
This leads to a whole round of extended misunderstanding as we view Hae-young’s general jubilations through the filter of “omg he’s gayyy,” particularly agonizing to Shi-chan, who thinks everything is a sexual advance. Oh my lols.
In the wedding planning office, Sang-hyo asks Kyung-hee to deliver some documents to Team Leader Cha, and Gi-chul looks nervous.
He follows Kyung-hee out, and offers to take it for her, since he promised to protect her. He whispers that Cha is someone she shouldn’t get close to, because if you cross him, you could get killed.
Alone in a meeting room, Kyung-hee holds back tears, until Cha joins her. She asks, sobbing, if he really did it, while he says nothing. She sinks to her knees, still crying: Detective Kim and sidekick Lee witness this curious tableau as they pass through.
Armed with his new intel, Detective Kim interviews Sung-gyum, who plays difficult. He masks his reaction when Kim asks about GM Lee and Hwang working with his father, and gives non-answers while the detective baits him with the information that Hwang called his mother. This is clearly news to Sung-gyum, and his consternation shows.
Next for the hot-seat is GM Lee. Kim asks him if he knew Sung-gyum’s father, Jo Min-tae. Lee pretends surprise at the connection between the two but Kim tries to blindside him with questions about Papa Jo’s death. Lee says he heard it was an accident, but is forced to admit that he benefited from the death by being promoted to the deceased’s former position.
Soo-ah meets up with Jung-eun, who wants to know the truth behind Hae-young’s marriage: Did Sang-hyo threaten her? She complains that doesn’t like either of them, but dislikes Sang-hyo more — at least Soo-ah has money even if her personality stinks. Soo-ah takes exception to that and sticks to the story about stepping aside for twoo wuv, and I love that she’s now firmly rooting for her unni. But she agrees about her personality — and knocks a glass of juice onto Jung-eun, whereupon things devolve into an all-out catfight.
Hae-young — how am I meant to take you seriously with that pencilstache? — gets a call about the two women and first claims not to know them, but loses this argument. He hangs up with a defeated sigh.
The disheveled women wait at the police station under Detective Kim’s vexed eye and quickly break into argument. Can we just agree both of you have rotten personalities? When Hae-young arrives, they clutch at him and tattle on each other, while Detective Lee marvels at his popularity.
Away from the detectives, Mr Popular forces them to make up by shaking hands. His work done, he leaves them behind. But he can’t resist, when Soo-ah asks what’s up with his face, turning back to tell them it was Sang-hyo’s handiwork. It cracks me up that Hae-young is the most adult of the three.
In his office, Sung-gyum speaks to his mother on the phone: Does she really think his father’s death was an accident? He doesn’t think so at all.
Sang-hyo finds him there and wonders if he looks so grave because of her. He lightens up with a joke but asks why she looks so down. On hearing she was thinking of Young-mi, he’s the second person to tell her she wasn’t what she seemed.
He surprises her by suggesting a ramyun-date at her house. He asks if she doesn’t trust Oppa (lol), and her jaw drops at the word. He promises he’ll only eat ramyun, not whatever she’s imagining.
MustacHae-young shops for flowers. He enthusiastically tell the florist he’s going to propose to his wife. When she asks about his face-art, he explains that it’s like Samson’s hair: Because of it, he has courage again.
He makes his way up to her apartment, happy with anticipation. But before he reaches it, Sung-gyum’s car draws up with Sang-hyo also inside. The smile fades from Hae-young’s face when he sees her laughing with his rival.
Sung-gyum tells her to go on ahead because he forgot something, and he’ll be right back. Hae-young watches their playful parting from around a corner. He looks disconsolately at his bouquet as Sang-hyo heads inside.
Meanwhile, Sung-gyum visits the same florist: It’s a special occasion since his girlfriend invited him to her home for the first time. While he waits, he smells with distaste the same flowers Hae-young liked.
Sang-hyo’s cross about the mess Hae-young left her apartment in. She runs around trying to clean up when her doorbell rings. She opens the door to flowers, and gushes over them. She enjoys their fragrance… until she sees the wrong man’s face on the other side. Derp. Hae-young lets himself in.
Sang-hyo tries to throw him out, but he settles in to stay. She drags him from the couch, but resisting removal, he runs away from her.
Sung-gyum is back with flowers — oh noes! They’re the same as Hae-young’s! Just as he’s about to ring the bell, Hae-young crashes out and they have an uncomfortable faceoff. Loool the first thing Sung-gyum does is reach for the ‘stache, which he absurdly flaunts. Sang-hyo comes out to finish ejecting him and it all gets (more) awkward.
Hae-young suggests they eat together, since they’re all here. He invites them in (’cause it’s his house, yo), and throws in a patronizing shoulder-squeeze for Sung-gyum. He settles himself lordishly in the center of the couch while Sang-hyo runs to pull up a bunny-beanbag for her boyfriend, as if he’s the unexpected guest.
Hae-young rubs in that his rival seems to be always one step behind him, like with the flowers. Sang-hyo still tries to get him to clear off but he loudly dissents: After all, she let him sleep over. He brags about that, as well as the mustache she drew on and the morning-ramyun she made. Sung-gyum struggles up from the beanbag (lol) while she tries to explain it isn’t what it looks like. He cuts her off, telling her he doesn’t need to hear any more — because he can see what a rude person Gu Hae-young is.
It’s Hae-young’s turn to be affronted. He points out that Sang-hyo married him, but Sung-gyum rejoins that they married out of love seven years ago: This time, it was only a wedding, and for the hotel’s sake. “Nam Sang-hyo and I decided to date regardless of that wedding,” he finishes, returning the patronizing shoulder-squeeze. When Sang-hyo repeats that he should leave, he’s finally sober and thoroughly crushed.
In his car, Hae-young wipes the mustache off at last. He vents his feelings by beating on the horn, while Sung-gyum watches pensively from the apartment.
Sung-gyum tells Sang-hyo that he doesn’t feel like dinner today, but he also doesn’t want to eat ramyun again — Hae-young’s jab about being a step behind hitting home. He leaves after a quick goodbye.
At home, Hae-young dwells on Sung-gyum’s declaration about dating Sang-hyo, while elsewhere, Sung-gyum dwells on the former’s words that he married her. Sang-hyo lies on her couch, pondering on the twin bouquets.
Detective Kim works on filling the spaces on his investigation board and gives us a round-up of key players: Sung-gyum, Jo Min-tae’s son; GM Lee, who got Jo Min-tae’s job; Hwang, who knew about it; Young-mi, who tried to reveal the secret. With only half the quartet remaining, Kim surmises that out of the two, one must be trying to hide the secret, while the other is trying to bring it to light.
The next morning, Sang-hyo is surprised to find Sung-gyum waiting for her outside her apartment. She apologizes for the night before, but he unwillingly recognizes that there’s something special between her and Hae-young — she even married him twice. But if she is really serious about not wanting to start over with her ex, he wants to help her: They’ll start by telling hotel staff that they’re dating.
The pair arrive at work together. Sung-gyum takes her by the arm and sets tongues wagging. Eun-joo hears and is on the warpath, but is cut short by Sung-gyum’s presence. He invites Sang-hyo’s department for a company dinner and includes Eun-joo in the invitation because he has an announcement she specifically needs to hear.
Eun-joo stomps into Hae-young’s firm and yells at him for not doing his job as a man, even when she got him married. The whole office listens open-mouthed. In quieter quarters, she questions his abilities. Soo-ah, also there, eagerly confirms that he has problems in the manhood department, which he vainly denies. What went wrong, Eun-joo wants to know.
She tells him about the announcement-dinner scheduled for tonight. “I don’t know about Nam Sang-hyo, but you were sincere about that wedding,” she tells Hae-young, and urges him to do something. He finds out the dinner venue from her.
Over drinks, the planning department pesters their boss for his big news, while Eun-joo keeps running interference to stop him. Suddenly, the room darkens and a spotlight hits the stage — where Hae-young has the mic. He performs a song — eyes on Sang-hyo — about falling in love at first sight, and it’s raw and impressive.
His song closes, and he tells the audience that he’s here to find the woman he loves, who was stolen from him. He addresses Sung-gyum directly, and asks him to return her. Sung-gyum says they already had this conversation: It’s over for Hae-young, it’s his turn now.
Hae-young disputes that — this song was his answer to yesterday’s words. He won’t give Sang-hyo up. A call starts in the crowd for Sung-gyum to respond with his own song. Sang-hyo remembers that he told her singing in public makes him choke up — she takes him by the hand and makes to leave. Sung-gyum, though, picks up a mic. Still holding her hand, he starts to sing, about an uncertain love that first becomes greedier, then consuming and fearful, and finally thankful — because she’s next to him smiling. His voice gains confidence: What he lacks in power, he makes up with feeling.
Sang-hyo is moved to tears, and looks at him with so much pride. As he finishes on the words, “I love you,” they smile at each other and he wipes a tear from her face.
Eun-joo tells Hae-young they’ve lost, and turns heel, leaving him alone.
This has really been Sung-gyum’s week. For the first time, I began to root for him with Sang-hyo (although disclaimer: It lasted until 10 seconds later when Hae-young’s voice breaks over “my heart hurts so much”). Because he’s so inscrutable, it makes it difficult to know how real he is, but he’s put his heart into her hands now, which feels like a big step for his character. Incidentally: There’s no real reason or evidence to think he’s not warm, but he just gives off that standoffish vibe. Being with Sang-hyo seems to tap into his softer, playful side.
This episode is bookended by his two big moments: the confession at the beginning and the song at the end. The confession was really hard for him: his nervousness, his palpable relief when she reassures him — it’s great to see him shaken up, and her given the power. The thing with power is that one person shouldn’t hold it all the time — it naturally needs to oscillate and shift between people. He starts off with with the upper hand, that’s why the equalizing is so gratifying — and then to actually see him voluntarily cede more of it away to her is even better. It’s more romantic than kisses, you know? Because it means trust. And trust is hot.
The song-challenge put him on the spot, but he put his nerves and ego aside willingly for Sang-hyo, which is a big deal. The best part is that she knows exactly how hard it is for him — moreover, only she knows, which multiplies the impact of his gesture. That look on her face! I don’t think she’s in love with him (still too much unresolved baggage), but she wants to try, and he keeps on giving her reasons: He treats her with the respect that Hae-young doesn’t seem to realize is necessary, and takes care to really listen to her. I think their sympathy really begins with their conversations, all of which manage to be heartfelt. So in a way, their relationship is built on communication, which contrasts with her connection with Hae-young, which while elemental and intuitive, has much more potential for (and history of) misunderstanding.
Hae-young is a brat for a lot of this episode. He knows what he wants but his disadvantage is that he doesn’t know how to achieve it: The problem with one-sided gestures is that they’re one-sided. This episode is proof that he needs to do something new: tired and tried gestures don’t mean anything to her since, a) she knows her own mind, so she’s not swayed by the “romance”, and b) if he’s done it all sincerely before but still left her, why should she trust the same again? It would help if he were better at respecting Sang-hyo as her own person — which reminds me: I had Heirs flashbacks when he asked Sung-gyum to “return” her. Because she is a parcel. Also: Why are you talking to him? Lakjdfl jlskfd TALK TO HER SHE’S RIGHT THERE!!!1
Let’s talk about the ‘stache. That ‘stache nearly brought me to tears. He wore it like a trophy all day, so gleefully — tangible evidence that there was hope. Wiping it off was accepting defeat. But if he wants to win Sang-hyo’s affections, there’s no point competing with Sung-gyum, because 1) dat guy is ripped, I wouldn’t fight him, and 2) right now, what she thinks of other men is irrelevant — what’s important is what she thinks of him, and this is the master-key to unlocking the problem of their relationship: if she could believe in him and he could be reliable…I don’t think anyone else would have the slightest chance.
As it stands, Sung-gyum’s worry is that Hae-young is in a (nominally) stronger position by dint of actual marriage, but that’s offset to an equal degree by how much Sang-hyo isn’t interested, even if she struggles. Battling with old feelings isn’t a really a “sign” (nor is drawing on his face): All it means is that it’s still hard — not that you want to go back. It’s hard because you want to go forward. I am really curious how exactly she will come back around to Hae-young, because right now, I almost don’t want her to: Choosing yourself in this situation isn’t selfishness, it’s self-preservation, and that’s a side I’m always on. To have a chance, Hae-young needs to figure out what went wrong the first time, and fix it.
On the investigation side of things, the show is feeding us answers a crumb at a time. Although Detective Kim’s narrowed his suspects down to Sung-gyum and GM Lee, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were multiple murderers with different agendas. GM Lee is shady but we don’t know anything from him except that Cha is his right-hand man — just benefiting from Papa Jo’s death isn’t conclusive. As for Cha, we’ll probably get more on what he’s hiding from Kyung-hee next week. On the one hand, he seems too straitlaced to be on the wrong side of the law, yet on the other, he’s certainly done some questionable things for GM Lee.
For our roundup: we found out that Young-mi sent the card to Sung-gyum, and that he knew about the necklace. Since it hasn’t been found, the big question right now is: Where is the necklace?
For now, all clues about the owner — and therefore killer, according to Young-mi — point (too obviously?) to Sung-gyum’s mom. A (woman’s?) necklace, which Sung-gyum would definitely recognize, along with her refusal to entertain the possibility her husband’s death wasn’t an accident — it might be a little too pat to be endgame, but it’s certainly going somewhere. I do think Sung-gyum needs some other reason to believe his dad’s death wasn’t an accident — the card and Young-mi’s words aren’t substantial enough to build such a strong conviction on. I hope this means he’s holding something back.
I really enjoyed what felt like a battle of the hardheads between Detective Kim and Sung-gyum. Both of them play clever and seem like worthy opponents, so let’s hope the case turns out to be satisfying, too. I wouldn’t say no to some twisty Machiavellian maneuvering — okay, Show?