Modern Farmer: Episode 3
Love is in the air, along with a few other things like suspicion, sabotage, and revenge. We meet a few more characters, and at least one mystery woman, as the guys start to settle into village life. But of course it won’t be easy, and Min-ki and his bandmates are going to have to learn that they can’t do this farming thing alone, and that just being in the village isn’t enough to get them what they want. They might actually have to, you know, make friends.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
The impostor Mr. Flower wreaks havoc at the mascot ceremony, destroying the town square and sending the governor off in an ambulance with a stomach wound. Sang-deuk insists that Mr. Flower used to be so sweet, but a closer look clues him in that this may not be the deer they all think it is.
Everyone looks to village head Yoon-hee for an explanation, but Min-ki offers to tell the truth about what’s going on, and admits that Mr. Flower is dead. Florist Man-gu shrilly demands to know who’s responsible, and Min-ki dramatically points right at Yoon-hee. He apologizes in his head, but if he gets blamed and kicked out of town, his life is over.
Yoon-hee is too stunned to do anything but gape, and the governor’s aide says they’ll forget about the mascot appointment (and the prize money too, of course). She swears that the governor will be hearing about this and that there will be consequences.
Long after everyone has left, Yoon-hee is still standing in shock, and the boys look to Min-ki to do something. He apologizes to Yoon-hee and promises to pay her back someday, but she only gives him this creepy smile. Suddenly she screams, curses at him, and nails him with an uppercut, sending him flying through the air. He totally deserved that.
The village leaders meet to discuss the incident, and Man-gu lists the boys’ various crimes from stealing apples to killing their beloved village pet. He proposes they force the guys out of the village, but Min-ki insists that they get a chance to defend themselves. He appeals to the villagers to think rationally rather than emotionally, and points out that he wouldn’t have hit Mr. Flower if he’d been properly penned. That’s a good point, actually.
He even backs up his argument by saying that drivers who accidentally hit wild animals on the road aren’t killers, so how can he be one? Even his friends look impressed. The villagers still vote to kick them out, but Min-ki hollers that he’s farming land that belongs to him and they have no right to force him off his own property. If they truly want them out, they’ll have to file a complaint and do it legally. Wow, if Min-ki only used that smart brain more often…
The boys leave and Man-gu turns on Yoon-hee next, claiming she was an accomplice and calling into question her suitability as village head. Sang-deuk defends her, saying that he doesn’t think this is necessary since she works hard and helps everyone. Besides, there’s the county Olympiad coming up and without her to lead them, they’ll lose again.
Man-gu is insistent that the offense to Mr. Flower is inexcusable, but Sang-deuk reminds him that the town long ago had to switch deers anyway, so he wasn’t even the real descendant of the town savior. Wait, so this has happened before? HAHAHA. Sang-deuk outs Man-gu’s real intent here — that he used to be village head, and only wants Yoon-hee out so he can be village head again.
Finally Yoon-hee’s grandfather breaks in to suggest that if Yoon-he can get them the Olympiad trophy, then she can keep her job as village head. Yoon-hee splutters at this (the town hasn’t won in ten years) but he says if she thinks she can’t do it, she should just step down now.
Back at the farmhouse Min-ki flails in frustration over Yoon-hee telling the truth on him. Hyuk notices that Ki-joon has gotten a little tanned and is scratching, but Ki-joon brushes off his concern, swearing that real men don’t need sunscreen. Suddenly, they notice that Han-chul is missing.
Han-chul isn’t missing, he’s leaving, and he mutters to himself over this stupid farming plan as he walks himself to the bus stop. But right as he’s about to board the bus, he sees a girl getting off, and he stares at the pretty as his heart starts to pound.
The other boys run around looking for Han-chul, and finally find him sitting under a tree staring into space. He asks them in a dazed voice what it means when you see a person and your heart beats hard enough to break ribs. Hyuk says it sounds like falling in love, and Han-chul gets all giggly as he admits that he thinks that’s what’s happening to him.
That night Yoon-hee’s family listen to her complain about those rotten jerks, and Sang-deuk tells them that Man-gu is already campaigning to be village head again. Yoon-hee tells him to gather the village after work tomorrow, so they can start practicing for the Olympiad.
Yoon-hee’s young cousin Sang-eun says she heard that the new guys used to be a band, claiming an affinity towards them since she wants to be an idol, too. Her father In-ki (the apple orchard owner, who doesn’t speak but uses hand gestures) objects to her plans and they argue, as the rest of the family marvels that she understands him.
The mysterious girl from the bus stop approaches the family and asks for the village head, introducing herself as an art college student here to volunteer to paint murals in the town. Yoon-hee is still hesitant regarding strangers in the village, but the girl swears she’s not a weirdo. Sang-deuk points out that weird people never admit they’re weird, and asks why here, when there are lots of other villages.
It’s a little suspicious how the girl kind of fumbles her answer, claiming the murals would be good for tourism and the village children’s development. Yoon-hee’s father tells her to go somewhere else, but the girl pleads, and eventually Sang-deuk’s mother offers to let her stay at their place, seeing a prime daughter-in-law opportunity.
A reluctant Sang-deuk shows the girl her room and tells her to ignore his mother. Completely unasked, he assures her that she’s not his type anyway, since he prefers sexy girls. HA.
The four guys get ready for bed and tease a dreamy Han-chul for being in love with a girl he knows nothing about. He just nods like a goof when they ask him if she’s pretty and has a good figure, and Min-ki says that at least now they don’t have to worry about Han-chul leaving.
As the guys try to sleep, Han-chul’s heart beats so loudly that it keeps Min-ki awake, and he tells him to stop thinking of the girl so they can sleep. The girl in question, whose name is Soo-yeon, is busy working on her real reason to be here in the village. She pulls out a map of the town and gets a sly glint in her eye — I knew she was up to no good.
The boys oversleep and Min-ki wakes everyone after noon, but they all gasp in horror when they see Ki-joon. His face is swollen and bright red from a combination of not using sunscreen and sleeping outside with the mosquitoes, and he looks miserable. His friends can’t resist teasing him for being a “real man,” but they offer to go to town later for medicine since they need rice and cabbage seeds anyway.
Soo-yeon borrows a bike to ride around town and “brainstorm mural ideas,” but instead she takes her map and starts marking spots to check out later. I’m just dying to know what she’s up to.
The guys find Man-gu cutting off their electricity, saying that he used to let Min-ki’s grandmother borrow electricity from his house but she’s gone now. He says if they don’t like it they can always move, and by the way, he’s doing the same thing with the water. He’s enjoying this way too much.
Min-ki’s car won’t start (Man-gu, with an evil grin: “I didn’t do that!”) so they walk to the bus stop, and they all freak out when they see a snake in the road. A girl with hair obscuring her eyes picks up the snake and silently offers it to them, and they run screaming until they run into Man-gu’s mother.
She tells the boys that the girl, Bul-ja, works for her and that she rarely talks, and tells them she only wanted to ask them if she could have the snake. WHAT. Ki-joon tells her to just take it and she almost-smiles at him, and puts it in her bag of snakes, and heads to the field to find more.
Man-gu’s mom reveals that Bul-ja is a foreign worker who was kicked out of a factory without pay, and that she makes extra money selling the snakes to a restaurant for snake soup. Um, okay then. She’s apparently a very hard worker, and even hunts boars in the winter. HAHA. Man-gu’s mom swears the boys to secrecy regarding Bul-ja’s illegal status.
Yoon-hee’s son comes by and he’s all “Hey, it’s that illegal worker,” causing Man-gu’s mom to scream that he promised to keep it a secret. Some secret, if she’s telling everyone. Orchard owner In-ki saunters past and casually dumps a shovel of dirt on Min-ki’s head and then blows him the raspberry, hee.
The guys finally get to the bus stop and brainstorm ways to fight back against the villagers who are all trying to kick them out of town. Ki-joon sits on the bench only to suddenly realize he’s next to Bul-ja and her bag o’ snakes, and I swear if you’re going to wander around with creepy hair and carrying a giant bag of snakes, you should make some noise, sheesh.
When they board the bus, the passengers and even the bus driver all talk openly to Bul-ja about being an illegal worker, so yeah, not much of a secret. The boys swear not to tell that ajumma anything about themselves, which is a pretty sound plan.
After a loud bus ride, the guys find the market and drool over the street food, Ki-joon begging unsuccessfully for a hot cake. They find the seed vendor and reel in shock at the cost of the cabbage seeds, and are turned away when they ask if they can pay in installments.
They wander the streets and happen upon a protest being held outside a factory. They recognize Bul-ja among the protestors and figure this must be the factory that kicked her out without pay. Ki-joon in particular seems saddened by her situation.
They see a vendor selling a litter of puppies, and Hyuk asks why the small one isn’t eating with the others. The vendor says he’s weak and will probably die, so he doesn’t want to feed him. This hits a nerve with Han-chul, who asks if the dying don’t deserve to eat, and asks if the man has no pity for a puppy that might die.
So Han-chul buys the puppy (awww) even though Min-ki argues that they’re in no position to get a dog, and he asks Min-ki if he also has no pity. Min-ki yells that they’re more pitiful than the puppy and demands to know why Han-chul cares whether the dog lives or dies. Han-chul looks at him with a hard look, and asks if he even knows what dying is like. Ouch.
Ki-joon has wandered off to get himself one of those hot cakes, but he’s interrupted by police cars, come to arrest the illegal workers. Suddenly someone crashes into him, knocking his hot cake to the ground then stepping on it. He realizes it’s Bul-ja running from the police, and he abandons his ruined snack and piggybacks her when she falls on her twisted ankle.
They run through the market dodging the cops, and Bul-ja has a sudden moment of awareness of her closeness to Ki-joon before they crash into a vendor and end up sprawled on the concrete. Ki-joon dramatically yells at her to go on alone, and he gets arrested as Bul-ja makes her escape.
Ki-joon sits despondently in the police station, mistaken for an illegal worker, but he insists futilely to the police that he’s Korean. He whips out his ID to prove it, but with his sunburn and mosquito bites he looks so unlike his photo, the policeman naturally assumes it’s a fake. Thankfully, his friends soon show up to vouch for him.
On their way back to the village Bul-ja pops up out of nowhere again, to hand Ki-joon a whole bag of hot cakes as thanks. She runs off and the guys tease Ki-joon for having a girlfriend, though he denies it. Bul-ja watches them go from behind a tree, and as she smiles after them a wind blows her hair off her face, revealing that she’s positively lovely.
Yoon-hee starts Olympiad training, and it’s like the saddest episode of Running Man you ever saw. The villagers are so bad at the events it’s hilarious, like managing to kick a shoe a two whole inches, and making it about three feet in a many-legged race before they all collapse in a whining heap. Yoon-hee sees the guys pass by on their way home, and gets an idea.
The boys start to prepare their dinner (with meat!) and are in great moods, at least until Yoon-hee shows up. She explains the situation with the Olympiad and how her village head position rides on winning, asking them for help, and Min-ki takes great pleasure in turning her down. He’s upset that the villagers turned off their power and water, asking why he should help them.
There’s no convincing him, and what Min-ki decides the other guys follow, so Yoon-hee storms away defeated with Min-ki smiling triumphantly after her. He does a hysterical victory dance at having gotten the upper hand in this round.
They sit down later for a nice meal, all of them happy to have something go right. The guys worry what they’ll do without water and electricity, and Min-ki gives them his trademark, “It’s okay, it’s okay!” He pulls out some alcohol he got as a treat, though Han-chul declines, only saying that he gave up drinking.
Hyuk gets a call from his father, who asks if he’s acting up again. Hyuk only says he found something interesting to do, and he says he can’t go home anyway, with his father so angry. He keeps smiling as usual, but his smile definitely looks harder around the edges when he talks to his father.
Mystery girl Soo-yeon opens her big suitcase to reveal that it’s full of what looks like spy equipment. She’s clearly comfortable using it, as she suits up and heads out into the night to do… something. She heads to one of the fields in her night vision goggles, and starts to dig.
At the farmhouse, the guys gripe at Han-chul to stop sighing over that girl, and he complains that he doesn’t even know her name so he won’t be able to find her. Hyuk suggests they go look for her tomorrow, making Han-chul practically squeal with happiness. He asks the other three for advice, since he’s never been in a relationship before.
Hyuk the ladykiller tells him that the first impression is the most important, and suggests he practice talking like Lee Seon-kyun. I’d call that excellent advice. Hyuk also tells him to work on his expression, to be handsome but cute like Kim Soo-hyun, which is also fantastic advice. Han-chul gets an attack of nervous stomach, and runs off with a shovel to take care of business.
He finds a field, which also happens to be the one Soo-yeon is digging in, and she hides behind some tall plants. He digs a hole and squats as she watches, horrified, through her night-vision goggles. Ew, and HAHAHA. He takes off a sock to use as toilet paper and loses his balance, falling into the plants right under her, uh, nose.
Soo-yeon runs, leaving Han-chul to scream shrilly and very much not sounding like Lee Seon-kyun. He gets back to the farmhouse and cries in a corner, only telling the guys that it’s all over for him.
Now a bit into his cups, Hyuk says it’s nice to be drinking with the guys again, and Min-ki takes the opportunity to ask him why he did what he did “back then.” In flashback we see Min-ki, Ki-joon, and Han-chul getting ready for a show, excited that their debut was so near. They hear a scuffle outside the door and run to find a crowd around Hyuk, who has the president of their agency by the collar.
For once Hyuk isn’t smiling, and actually looks scary-furious, and before anyone can process what’s happening he calls the president a bastard and decks him. He goes after the president for another punch, but the other three guys grab him and hold him off.
Back in the present, Min-ki asks Hyuk why he did it, promising he won’t get mad. Ki-joon tells him not to ask because it won’t change anything, just happy to be all together again. He suggests they play a song together so they do, and it’s lovely. They sound wonderful, and Min-ki narrates that just for a moment he felt alive again and like everything would be all right.
But as the guys sleep that night, a restless Ki-joon kicks over a still-lit candle, setting the farmhouse ablaze.
The story is now well underway, with all the players in place and a solid premise giving us some direction and purpose. And still I like it, a lot. This is a show you either love or hate, because it can get a little crazy and a lot silly, but that’s really what I like about it. I love the over-the-top facial expressions and silly reactions — and so maybe it’s not realistic, but it’s super fun. I do feel like it’s settling down in this second week, now that we’re setting up some clear story lines and goals for our characters, which is nice. As fun as it can be, the show doesn’t need to be quite so crazy to still be an enjoyable watch, so I’m glad to see it calm down into something a bit more grounded.
I like that we’re already getting into issues a bit more complicated than “let’s go farm cabbage,” because I was worried with a 20-episode show that we’d be stuck on cabbage-farming shenanigans for the first few weeks, and that could have gotten old fast. But it’s only Episode 3 and we already have two new love-lines, one old love-line (Min-ki and his idol girlfriend back in Seoul), a first love come back to haunt someone (which I hope just turns into a strong friendship), a mystery, a family feud, a competition, and someone’s job on the line. There’s a lot going on but somehow it doesn’t feel cluttered, and none of the plots that have been introduced are boring or uninteresting. I dearly hope it stays that way!
I’m liking the direction the whole basic “musicians go to the farm” plot is turning into, which is not exactly what I was expecting, but somehow manages to be better. The writer actually found a nuts-but-still-plausible reason for them to go farm cabbage, and have the experience be something they can learn some life lessons while doing. It’s not as simple as getting plants to grow — they’ll also have to figure out a way to get along with the neighbors, especially since you can’t exactly farm anything without water. It’s still a bonkers idea for a story, but I’m not watching and thinking to myself that this is an unbelievable premise. And while I do try to find the good in shows I’m recapping (to a reasonable point), I’m not working at it with this one. It’s not completely believable, but it’s just believable enough.
A lot of that owes to the characters, which are also over-the-top but in a fun, enjoyable way. Min-ki is pretty out of control sometimes, but I’ve actually known real people like him, who are just larger-than-life in everything they do. They’ve toned down his screaming which is good, as that was about to get very old, and he’s not overreacting to every little thing. He’s an ass but he’s honest, and I was frankly impressed when he argued their case in front of the villagers. The guy has a brain in there, and I’m going to enjoy watching him learn to actually use it. I like Yoon-hee a lot too — she’s loyal and friendly, but she’s not a country-Candy, and she’s not dumb or a pushover. I saw the town leader in her when the mystery girl showed up, because she knew something didn’t quite feel right. She was welcoming but hesitant, and kept the best interest of her village in mind even in the face of that innocent wide-eyed young girl.
I like that we got to see a bit more of Ki-joon, because I think he’s got potential to be a great character aside from just being the whiny maknae (and side note: watch him whenever he doesn’t have lines, his facial expressions are hysterical). I’m looking forward to seeing more of Han-chul too, and delving into his experience as he faces his own mortality and tries to go through it alone. I think he’s going to learn that he’s got some pretty amazing friends, and that he can lean on them. Whether or not he really is dying, it doesn’t matter because at this point he thinks he is, and that informs everything he does right now.
But I’m mostly fascinated by the chinks we saw in Hyuk’s smiling, happy-go-lucky armor, particularly when he was talking to his father. He was still smiling and his words were friendly, but his voice had an edge and his eyes were hard. This is a guy I want to know more about, and I want to know what’s going on between him and his father and why his default response to everything is to smile and joke. Is he hiding something from others, or from himself? And I definitely think it’s telling about him, that he was the one who found out something about their agency President and that whatever it was, it was bad enough to throw away their career over.
Beyond the silly antics and overly dramatic situations, I really love the direction we’re being taken and I hope we keep getting more of the same. So far the show is exactly what I was hoping for, and it’s hitting all the right notes of humor and heart. Keep it coming Show, I’m loving it!