Orange Marmalade: Episode 2
I’m happy to report that not only is the second episode of Orange Marmalade as good as the first, but in my opinion, it’s even better. We learn a bit more about our characters and their pasts, and discover some surprising connections. A newcomer to school shakes things up, and Jae-min will have to elevate his game if he wants to win the girl… but first he’ll have to make her notice that he actually, you know, exists.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Jae-min walks home from the cafe, thinking about Ma-ri and her beautiful song. Teacher Han had made a comment that a voice like that would be perfect for a school band, and Jae-min is moved enough to tell Han that she goes to their school.
A news show plays Shi-hoo’s interview, and he doesn’t watch the program, but Ma-ri’s father sees it and looks nervous. Before the show is even over, the Vampire Control System (VCS) calls Shi-hoo. Uh-oh, he’s in trouble.
Interesting… when they ask if this is Han Shi-hoo, he says that sure, that’s his name this time around. The faceless voice at the VCS reminds Shi-hoo that they control all interviews and information regarding vampires, and they mention something about underage activity punishments and that they’ve prepared him new documentation.
Shi-hoo knows where they’re going with this, and says he’s definitely not going back to school again. The voice tells him that until he complies with the VCS’s decision, his SPA (Sun Protection Ampule — an injection that protects vampires from the deadly sun’s rays) will be discontinued.
Even with his face blurred for the interview, Shi-hoo seems unstable and volatile. Definitely not good for the vampires’ image. As he watches, Ma-ri’s father takes a delivery that turns out to be his family’s dose of SPA. This must be one way the VCS controls vampires, since without it, they wouldn’t be able to go out during the day.
Jae-min reads alone at school, and he hears the chords of a guitar. His attention is drawn to the window where a curtain billows enticingly, and behind the curtain sits Ma-ri. She smiles warmly, but suddenly everything goes black. In a dark room, clawed hands run up Jae-min’s bare back, and a predatory-looking Ma-ri appears behind him.
Back in the schoolroom, the Ma-ri behind the curtain is suddenly dressed to kill, and she slinks towards Jae-min and aggressively pushes him into a chair. She sits on his lap and leans towards him, their lips moving closer and closer… and in the dark room, Ma-ri’s eyes glow vampire-purple, and she sinks her fangs into his neck.
Lying in their beds, both Ma-ri and Jae-min startle awake from their respective dreams Ma-ri looks terrified to have dreamed of biting a human, and Jae-min looks — well, pretty pleased, actually. Ma-ri wonders why she keeps thinking of that person’s blood, fearing that it makes her a monster. And Jae-min has to wash his underwear, heh.
After that embarrassing teenage moment, Jae-min looks at the latest guitar from his mother and remembers Teacher Han’s words that he used to be a legend in middle school. He remembers practicing his guitar as his mother played piano, and she’d been impressed and proud of how good he was. They seem to have had a warm, loving relationship when he was younger.
The next day at school, the kids crowd around to watch the video online of Shi-hoo’s interview, but the video suddenly becomes unavailable as, I assume, the VCS blocks access. Ma-ri feigns disinterest and furtively takes a small blue bag from her locker. She tries to go to the roof but it’s locked today.
Jae-min visits the old school band room, which looks nearly abandoned. He picks up a discarded guitar and plays a few chords, but quickly decides this way lies madness and gets up to leave. He has to hide behind a desk though, when Ma-ri walks unexpectedly into the room.
She starts to open her blue bag but instead, picks up the guitar that Jae-min was playing. She accidentally knocks a vase off the desk,and Jae-min catches it by reflex. HA, his cute little, “Nice catch!” is not nearly as smooth as he probably thinks.
Ma-ri looks like a startled rabbit, and when Jae-min asks why she said she didn’t play guitar, she runs rather than answer, leaving her blue bag behind. Jae-min just huffs in frustration at her strange reaction to him. He picks up her bag and heads back to class, but she finds him and they play keep-away for a moment with the bag.
Jae-min asks if Ma-ri remembers what it is she owes him an apology for, though he’s glad at least that she knows who he is now. Ma-ri is fixated on getting her bag back, offending Jae-min’s delicate feelings that she hasn’t answered any of his questions.
When Ma-ri at least says that it’s not like that, Jae-min changes tack and asks if she’d be interested in joining a school band. Ma-ri only stares at him, and he haltingly says that if she’ll do it, he’ll think about doing it, too.
But Ma-ri just snatches her bag back, and says she’s not doing anything like that. Poor Jae-min, he’s so used to being the most popular boy in school and having all the girls fawn over him, he can’t even fathom that Ma-ri isn’t interested in being around him.
Ma-ri takes her blue bag to the restroom, and drinks one of the packets of synthetic blood she’s got stashed inside. She thinks about Jae-min’s offer to join a school band, and says to herself that actually, it sounds like fun.
Jae-min tells Teacher Han that he’ll be part of the school band on one condition — there’s a particular voice he wants paired with his guitar. Teacher Han smiles to himself with satisfaction, but his face falls when he gets a call from the VCS. Wait, what?
At his home, Shi-hoo is in pretty bad shape, trying unsuccessfully to hide from the sunlight streaming in through his curtains. Looks like the punishment of withholding his SPA to protect him from sunlight has gone into effect. He’s on the floor, weak and gasping, and a stray breeze ruffles the curtain open to allow a ray of sunlight to sear his shoulder.
Luckily, Teacher Han’s call from the VCS seems to have been an alert regarding Shi-hoo, and he arrives at Shi-hoo’s place in time to close the curtains and pour him a bolstering cup of synthetic blood. Han mentions that these sorts of injuries don’t heal quickly, and reminds Shi-hoo that he needs the support of the VCS to live in normal society.
Shi-hoo hasn’t lost his spirit, and gripes that Han is always trying to teach. Han informs Shi-hoo that he’s going back to school, and gives him a shot of SPA.
Ma-ri’s mom also gives her daughter her dose of SPA, then Ma-ri quickly runs out to school. Her father follows her out to give her the forgotten blue bag of synthetic blood, and ohmygoodness, these two are so adorable and quirky together. Dad asks if something’s bothering Ma-ri lately, and reminds her that she needs to drink the synthetic blood at least once every twelve hours.
Teacher Han thanks Ah-ri for her father’s donation of new instruments for the school band, and he asks if she’s friends with Ma-ri. He asks Ah-ra to persuade Ma-ri to join the band, letting slip that Jae-min offered to join only if Ma-ri also joins. Predictably, Ah-ra doesn’t look one bit happy about this.
The class hurries to get ready for a scholastic competition at another school, and Ma-ri is ushered into the car without her blood to drink. Ah-ra is still in the classroom, and she notices that Ma-ri accidentally left the padlock on her locker unlatched. She pokes around but sees nothing of interest other than what looks like some tomato juice packets, and before she goes, she resets Ma-ri’s padlock to a different combination.
By the time Ma-ri gets back to school she’s desperate for her synthetic blood, but she can’t open her locker since Ah-ra fiddled with the padlock. Weak and disoriented, she stumbles down the hall and outside, seeing everything through a haze of vampire-purple.
Jae-min sees Ma-ri about to collapse, and when he comes close, she catches the sweet scent of his blood. She leans into him and he clutches her tightly, confused but unwilling to let her go. She leans into his neck, closer and closer, but at the last moment Ma-ri remembers her dream of her monstrous self, and wrenches away before she bites him.
Nearly the whole school (including Ah-ra) is watching by now, scandalized by what looks like a public display of very intimate skinship. Ma-ri collects herself enough to give Jae-min a glare and tell him to get away from her, and she runs past him and right into Shi-hoo’s arms.
Shi-hoo scoops up Ma-ri when her knees finally give, and coolly carries her to the nurse’s room as the students wonder who he is and what’s happening. Jae-min watches this strange boy carrying away the girl he likes, then walks right past a distraught Ah-ra.
Alone in the nurse’s room, Shi-hoo provides Ma-ri with some synthetic blood — the way they talk to each other, it’s obvious that they already know each other. Shi-hoo asks what she would have done without him, and for the first time we see his beautiful smile as he fishes for her gratitude.
It’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other, though Shi-hoo says that they shared blood once before, so of course they recognized each other. He leans in very close and says they were even in the kind of relationship where they drank from the same bowl.
Aw cute, they were just little kids when they knew each other, and we see Tiny Shi-hoo adorably sharing a bowl of synthetic blood with Tiny Ma-ri. Back at school, he brushes a drop off her lip, and thinks that with her here, going back to school won’t be so bad. The way he looks at Ma-ri betrays a crush that’s already long-established.
The gym teacher doesn’t buy Ma-ri’s excuse that she can’t get into her locker for her gym clothes, and he’s super-nasty about calling her a liar in front of the class. Ah-ra actually sticks up for Ma-ri, so the teacher tells her to go check Ma-ri’s locker. Of course she changed the combination, so she gets in, and changes it back to Ma-ri’s original code before taking the gym clothes back to class.
I have to admit that it does look pretty bad, since it looks like Ah-ra was able to get into the locker with Ma-ri’s regular combination. The teacher punishes her with laps, and Shi-hoo sweetly joins her to keep her company. He compliments her on her ability to act human, but warns that it looks like she’s been made the class outcast. Luckily, as a vampire, she can run laps all day without getting tired.
The rest of the class see Shi-hoo running with Ma-ri, and the rumor mill starts churning immediately. The girls sigh over Shi-hoo’s fine face and form, and squeal even louder when he touches Ma-ri’s face as they run. It looks pretty intimate to grumpy Jae-min, though in reality, Shi-hoo is wondering how Ma-ri managed to fake sweat.
He exclaims at her level of preparedness, since she’s carrying a small bottle of water to dab on her face to mimic sweat droplets. He stops to put some on his face, and from Jae-min’s angle, they look extremely handsy and close.
In class that afternoon, Ah-ra opens her locker and screams to find her gym clothes covered in what looks like blood. It’s only tomato juice, and Ah-ra plays the innocent wronged victim as her friend accuses Ma-ri, since now she can “mysteriously” open her locker just fine.
The girl smirks that she’s seen Ma-ri drinking tomato juice, and the juice on Ah-ra’s clothes can’t be a coincidence. She wants to compare the “juice” in Ma-ri’s locker to the juice on the clothes, but Ma-ri quails at this — if her blood is discovered, she’ll be run out of school again.
Of course, Ma-ri’s refusal to open her locker only makes her look more guilty, especially since Ah-ra is so popular that nobody else would do this to her. They think Ma-ri is retaliating since Ah-ra was the one who opened her locker and brought her the gym clothes. Ah-ra makes herself look even more saintly by taking the blame and saying she should have supported Ma-ri, and told the teacher she couldn’t open the locker. Oh gag.
Ah-ra’s friend actually gets physical and tries to shove Ma-ri aside and force the locker open. Their loud struggle finally prods Jae-min, who’s been trying to ignore all of this, into standing up. Shi-hoo also stands, and the two boys exchange a loaded glance.
Interestingly, Shi-hoo nods his head and cedes the field to Jae-min, who calmly asks Ah-ra’s friend why she’s treating Ma-ri like this. He says she has no right to search the locker, and the girl insists that if Ma-ri is innocent then she’s got nothing to fear, but she seems more bravado than righteousness now.
Jae-min points out that just because Ma-ri has tomato juice doesn’t make her guilty anyway, and nobody had been alone in the classroom all day. It’s kind of useful, how his intense observation of Ma-ri makes him qualified to defend her, since he knows exactly where she’s been every minute today.
Another girl asks who else would do something like this, and Shi-hoo finally pipes up. He pulls a packet of “tomato juice” out of his pocket and says he likes it too, then pulls out another packet, this time of grape juice. That breaks the tension and the kids all laugh.
Shi-hoo saunters lazily over to Ah-ra and gets reeeeally close, and murmurs that he’s sorry, but she’s pretty when she’s angry. That’s genius, since now the class thinks he did it. As he wanders out the door, Ah-ra asks if he really did this and why, and Shi-hoo just breezes that he likes her, even adding in a sexy little snap of his teeth. Well, that’s one way to diffuse a situation — I know I suddenly can’t remember the last five minutes.
As the class settles back into their seats, Ma-ri finally, truly notices Jae-min (well, as something other than the guy who smells delicious). She waits nervously for him after school, but because of Shi-hoo’s behavior around her, Jae-min now thinks they’re an item and stoically ignores her. Ma-ri watches as Ah-ra asks Jae-min to the play one more time, and this time he accepts.
Shi-hoo finds Ma-ri zoned out, and offers to take her home. She’s still distracted on the train, but she denies that she and Jae-min are close. Shi-hoo remembers that he once met someone named Jung Jae-min, and we flash back to a young Shi-hoo with a guitar, leaving an outdoor wedding and congratulating his uncle.
He’d seen young Jae-min hiding, looking very unhappy about the wedding, and he’d followed Jae-min to see him take refuge in his guitar. Shi-hoo had silently tried to play a song with him, but after a few harmonious moments, Jae-min had stopped to tell Shi-hoo a scary secret. His mother had married a vampire today.
We see the newlyweds, Jae-min’s mother and Teacher Han, and suddenly so many things make sense. Teacher Han is a vampire himself, which explains why Jae-min dislikes him and why he’s angry with his mother. And Shi-hoo is Teacher Han’s nephew.
Ah-ra chatters to Jae-min in the car, asking him to join the band since her father donated the instruments. He deflects which causes her to go on and on about how he needs to seize the moment or he’ll miss out, which doesn’t exactly have the effect she’s going for. Instead, Jae-min asks the driver to pull over, and he jumps out with an apology to Ah-ra.
Shi-hoo trails behind Ma-ri as she walks home, and she finally tells him to go home and they’ll see each other tomorrow. He pouts that he’s not following her, it’s just that she’s going the same way he’s going. Right, sure. She peppers him with questions about where he lives, but they both stop still to see Jae-min leaning on the wall outside Ma-ri’s house.
This time it’s Ma-ri’s world that stops, though it’s interesting to note that Shi-hoo doesn’t even look upset, just resigned. He almost seems to know what’s happening, and as Jae-min approaches Ma-ri, Shi-hoo just walks away and gives them space. He can’t help but turn to see what they’re doing, with the saddest expression of longing in his eyes.
Jae-min asks one final time if Ma-ri really doesn’t remember why she owes him an apology, though this time there’s no challenge in his question. She doesn’t answer, so Jae-min asks quietly, “Should I make you remember?”
Before she can answer, he swoops in to gently lay his lips on her neck, in the precise spot where her lips touched his skin on the train that day. Ma-ri’s eyes fly open, and for a brief moment, they flash vampire-purple.
For a show that’s about teenagers, Orange Marmalade is surprisingly provocative. From Jae-min’s sexy dream about Ma-ri, to his final reciprocation of her intimate neck-nuzzling, we’ve gotten more skinship in two short episodes than some adult dramas offer in their entire run. Not that I’m complaining, perish the thought! I just wasn’t expecting this level of outright sensuality between our lead couple. But I find it refreshingly honest, and welcome it, since the vampire myth is deeply steeped in and intertwined with sexuality. Throughout history and in just about every culture, the vampire has been linked with seduction and intimacy. What could be more intimate and personal than our blood, the very thing that gives us life?
And yet, the show manages to maintain it’s feeling of young innocence, a delicate balancing act that’s really working so far. The sensual moments seem to stem less from sexual desire, and more from a sort of awakening on the parts of Ma-ri and Jae-min, though for entirely different reasons. Jae-min, of course, is feelings things for the first time on a very human level, so of course he’s having sexy dreams about the girl who’s rocked his world. He’s a teenage boy, and I’d be more surprised if he didn’t (though I’m thrilled to see a drama actually acknowledge that teenagers have desires!). But for Ma-ri, it’s more about being drawn for the first time, not to a person, but to living human blood. Something about Jae-min’s blood is different, for Ma-ri, and I really think that her reaction to him has been purely hunger — up until the final scene, at least. Jae-min was nothing more to Ma-ri than a delicious cake that’s sitting there, tempting you, when you’re on a diet. You know you shouldn’t eat it, you know it’s bad for you, but it just smells so damn good. But in Ma-ri’s entire life, nobody has ever stood on her side against the people who persecuted and rejected her, and so when Jae-min put his popularity on the line for her, she finally realized that he’s someone to be noticed.
I still feel like this episode was mostly setup, because I’m still not really sure what the show is about, having not seen the webtoon myself (though I intend to correct that soon). But it doesn’t bother me at all, because the world is so rich and the characters so complex, that I’m happy to sit back and have the show take it’s time telling it’s story. I was glad we got the questions filled in about their relationships, and how they are connected. It’s interesting that Jae-min, Shi-hoo, and Ma-ri have all known each other since childhood, though they may not all know it yet. In fact, Jae-min and Shi-hoo are technically family, since Shi-hoo’s uncle married Jae-min’s mother. I’m curious as to where little Ma-ri fits in, and how she knew Shi-hoo years ago. Given that he’s clearly gone on her already, they must have had more interaction than that one shared bowl of synthetic blood.
I’m just fascinated by Shi-hoo, to be honest, because he seems to be one giant mystery. He’s young, yet jaded and hurt by the world enough to rant like a lunatic in an interview about the human/vampire treaty. This isn’t the first time he’s acted out, since he seems to have had several names in the past and only his youth has protected him from more permanent punishment by the VCS. He has a very strong shield of coolness and sarcasm, but when he met Jae-min at the wedding those years ago, he seemed to be caring enough to see another boy in pain and try to connect through music. He obviously likes Ma-ri, but without hesitation he yields her attention to Jae-min not once, but twice. I feel like he tries to erect a veneer of insensitivity, but he’s actually the opposite — a soul that’s so sensitive, that the least bit of injustice or unfairness wounds him deeply. I’m looking forward to learning about his character the most, I think. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how well Lee Jong-hyun is playing this role, that we can see all these layers to Shi-hoo so early in his character development. He’s not been previously known as one of the more talented idol-actors, but I’ve been a fan of his music (CNBLUE was my first kpop experience, and is still one of my favorite bands) for a long time now, so it makes me happy to see him really knocking this one out of the park so far.
All in all, Orange Marmalade delivered with it’s strong premier week, giving us a rich universe to explore and strong, complex characters to fall for. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes and where the characters take us. And if there are lots more kisses to share, neck or otherwise, then bring it on, Show! I’m ready for whatever you can dish out.
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 1
- Yeo Jin-gu sound bites from the Orange Marmalade press conference
- Bashful high school crushes in Orange Marmalade
- Vampire kisses and Yeo Jin-gu tears in Orange Marmalade’s first teaser
- Vampires get schooled in Orange Marmalade
- Yeo Jin-gu falls in love with vampire for Orange Marmalade
- Yeo Jin-gu courted for new KBS fantasy romance drama