Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 10
Guilt is today’s theme, and nearly everyone gets a dose of it, whether it’s the fresh guilt of young friends coming to terms with painful secrets, or the stale guilt of old sins, buried a year ago with Jung Soo-in — and where there is guilt, retribution is sure to follow.
We’re homing in on her mystery, and it’s clear that she’s wrapped in tragedy — but I can’t help finding Teacher Jung creepy to the point of villainous. Is revenge scarier when it’s dealt out by pixies with cloying smiles and non-work-appropriate shorts?
(I’m just filling in for our purple friend today — living the dream and having my slice of the School pie!)
EPISODE 10 RECAP
We rewind to a little before the classroom showdown. Outside, So-young burns with resentment as the whispers and accusations of murder ring in her head.
At his competition, Yi-an gets her text saying she’s going to reveal Eun-bi’s secret — too bad he won’t be there.
When So-young returns, the class taunts and jeers at her. She pauses at Eun-bi’s desk with a cruel quirk of the lips, and proceeds to the front and gets everyone’s attention. Narrowing her eyes at Eun-bi, she confirms the rumors — she is that girl, and it was her school. But she asks them if they’re not curious about what the girl who died looked like.
As we saw last episode, Yi-an runs to make it to Eun-bi in time, and gets struck by a car. He lands heavily on his shoulder, and a crowd gathers to help him.
So-young smirks that there’s someone in their class who looks just like the girl who died. Eun-bi watches stonily on as So-young brandishes a picture of her old ID. Everyone is shocked by its likeness to Eun-byul, and their reaction gratifies her.
Tae-gwang has enough and rebukes her for causing trouble as soon as she arrived. She doesn’t know Eun-byul at all, he remarks, to be making any insinuations. He switches on that lazy grin and steps closer to her while she backs up, even dropping a friendly shoulder-pat. Turning to Eun-bi, he invites her to tell the class about it herself, since it’s her family matter. She stands up, about to speak, when Yi-an bursts in.
He confronts So-young, and turning to the class, announces that he’ll speak for Eun-byul since her memories are still gone. Noo, don’t! When So-young challenges him, he asks if there’s anyone knows her better. The class pipes down and keeping his eyes on Eun-bi, he tells them how she was adopted by her mother when she was five, and recently discovered the existence of a younger twin sister — the girl who was driven to suicide by So-young. Song-joo and Shi-jin are particularly affected by the revelation.
So-young flounders, and now Tae-gwang turns on her with a single question: The Lee Eun-bi she killed in Tongyeong is Go Eun-byul’s twin sister — true or false? She argues that Eun-bi isn’t dead, but this time Yi-an shuts her down with the keenest question of all: If she’s not dead, then who died? Caught in her own trap, and between the two boys, she can’t answer. Denounced by the class, her cries of denial go ignored.
After a last look towards Eun-bi, Yi-an brushes past her and leaves. But once out of the classroom, he clutches his shoulder and collapses in pain. Eun-bi, having followed him out, runs to his side.
Tae-gwang, meanwhile, follows So-young to the roof. He reminds her that he warned her that she’d come off worse in this showdown. And if she was responsible for Eun-byul’s death, the fallout would be even worse.
A doctor explains the seriousness of Yi-an’s shoulder injury to his father and the dean, but also notes that he had signs of previous injury, not from the accident, which comes as a shock to both men. He calculates that his recovery will take a year.
The dean comforts Dad with the assurance that Yi-an is strong and will bounce back. Outside Yi-an’s room, Dad takes a moment to wipe his eyes and collect himself. When he goes in, he’s brisk and cheerful. Yi-an is afraid he’s disappointed in him, which Dad rejects, and explains how he lost his head when he heard a friend was in an urgent situation.
Dad sweetly reassures him that it’s not the end of the world. When he was Yi-an’s age, he says conspiratorially, he caused all sorts of trouble — it’s what you do when you’re young, and damn the consequences. He tells Yi-an to look at it as an opportunity to rest up.
Eun-bi lingers outside Yi-an’s door. She hides when Dad comes out, but can’t bring herself to go in.
Song-joo accosts Shi-jin and links arms, ready to be friends again. She grumbles about Tae-gwang knowing Eun-byul’s secret when they didn’t, when the troublemaker in question cuts into their path, demanding to know if they’re badmouthing him.
The girls frown at him, and he snorts in disgust as they worry about Yi-an and extol his virtues. Shi-jin kindly asks him if he could try being half the guy Yi-an is, which makes him bite her head off. Hahaha.
Min-joon eavesdrops on his mom commandeering another mom to sign up for her tutoring group, which seems to cost an extortionate sum. She uses her own son’s performance as bait, which makes the other mom give in.
So-young’s mother, meanwhile, has an angry phonecall with her husband. She wants him to do something about the rumors spreading throughout the school about their daughter, and argues that the school isn’t big enough for both girls.
It seems he doesn’t bend, because she says she’ll take care of it herself. So-young — the picture of innocence in virginal white — gushes with (false) remorse and promises never to cause trouble again. Excuse me while I throw up in my shoes.
Eun-bi hovers outside Yi-an’s room again the next day, and gets surprised when he brushes by her. He says she might as well go in instead of lurking outside, so she does. They both have a hard time meeting each other’s eyes, and when she asks how he is, his replies are terse, almost cold.
She thanks him for his intervention the day before, and he retorts he didn’t do it for her. He wants her to leave if she’s done talking. Reluctant, she says she’ll go once she’s seen him eat, to his mounting irritation.
Tae-gwang strides in at that moment, and pops open pots of food while prattling about how bad hospital fare is, and he should know. Yi-an turns his aggression on him, swearing at him to get out. Only Eun-bi’s quick word stops Tae-gwang from retaliating.
Now ejected, Tae-gwang asks if she’s that worried about Yi-an. He offers to stay instead, but she turns him down — she wants to be there. “Should I wait?” he asks, in a voice quietly loaded with subtext and hope. She turns that down, too.
Coach tells Yi-an that a year isn’t so long. But Yi-an says that taking off even one day makes it hard to keep his edge, so what’s a whole year going to do? He trembles as tears escape, and it’s hard for Coach to see him struggle. He yells at him for leaving the meet like that, but then encourages him to dismiss his negative thoughts and focus on recovery.
Unseen by them, Eun-bi overhears the conversation, stricken.
Alone, Yi-an has trouble opening a water bottle one-handed, and throws it away in defeat. Eun-bi chooses to come in then, and opening it, she hands it to him. He knocks it out of her hand, and unleashes a torrent of anger, perhaps with a touch of humiliation. He doesn’t want to even have to look at her, and tells her not to come, not to call his name, and not to show herself to him.
Cut by his harsh words, she sobs quietly outside his room, where Tae-gwang finds her. He waited for her after all! Wordlessly, he sits next to her, and lays her head on his shoulder while she cries her heart out.
The next morning, Min-joon pauses in front of the school. Currents of students flow by him while he stays rooted and uncertain. He makes up his mind and reverses direction, away from school.
Teacher Kim instructs his class to get through the day quietly, singling out Ki-tae and Tae-gwang. He notes Min-joon’s empty seat — he messaged his absence earlier, asking Teach not to tell his mom.
Teacher Ahn congratulates Ki-tae and Tae-gwang on making the best grade on the English project. The two boys smirk and Ki-tae says she must have been surprised. “Yeah. I was,” she says darkly, “until ten minutes ago.” Oops, rumbled. They almost got away with their scam, but Teacher Jung’s sharp eye caught the brochure company’s watermark (LOL how can they be called “Team Fail”?). Ahn awards them a resounding fail, but poor deluded Ki-tae is more upset by the pretty trainee teacher’s betrayal.
Eun-bi crosses paths with
Satan So-young in the library, and the latter girl scoffs at Eun-byul’s apparent clout at school. She coolly replies that So-young has her own presence — there’s probably not a person who doesn’t know her name. That cuts a little too close to home, and So-young taunts that while Yi-han is on her side for now, it won’t last. One by one, she’ll drive her friends away from her. Eun-bi tells her to worry about herself.
Out of sight, Song-joo happens to overhear the threat.
At lunch, So-young sits alone, but beckons Song-joo with a friendly wave, but she joins Eun-byul and Shi-jin instead. Ack, the atmosphere is so tense. Later, Song-joo ponders the contract she’s been offered by the agency. Aw, good for her for making it.
Teacher Jung solicits Teacher Kim’s help on some computer work and they get a little too cozy — which is most certainly calculated on her part — until the dean breaks it up (no in-office dating!). When he returns to his desk, he finds a workbook on it: Jung Soo-in’s. Taking it straight to Director Gong’s office, he slams it down in front of him.
“One year ago, the day Jung Soo-in died, it was on her desk,” he says. He tells the director that he’s not the one behind it — it must be someone else who was there that day. He cryptically asserts that they should have received their punishment back then, like he wanted to, “Otherwise, whether it be a year or two years, or forever, every time we remember, we will be punished.”
After he goes, Director Gong puts a call in to Detective Park (Min-joon’s dad) to check something about Soo-in’s case.
Shi-jin worries about Yi-an, and asks Eun-bi how he’s doing. Tae-gwang arrives again and rags on Shi-jin about her unending concern for swimmer-boy. He’s bothered her so much today, she complains — and has a sudden thought. Does he like her? He just…can’t even. Lol. Eun-bi excuses herself to go back to Yi-an at the hospital, which doesn’t make him happy.
We cut to Min-joon wandering the city as night falls, a lost look on his face.
Yi-an accusingly asks Eun-bi if she pities him, or if she’s sorry for lying to him all this time. He doesn’t even know what to call her, he tells her, and he’s afraid to look at her face. She agrees to leave, but says she’s coming back again tomorrow regardless, “So if you don’t want to see me, then get better quickly.”
Upset, she sinks to the floor outside his door. Her back to it, she confesses that she must not have been able to tell him about regaining her memory because she was afraid of this, so she kept telling herself, just one more day. It’s true she feels sorry for him, “But that’s not why I keep coming here. So…” Yi-an is just at the other side of the door, listening.
Yi-an is discharged and back at school. Teacher Kim spots him, and relieves him of his bag. That’s possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in my life ever. He chides him for not allowing visitors, and sheepishly confides that Yi-an’s dedication to his sport was inspiring to him. Yi-an tells him that this is all a little awkward, Teach giggles in agreement.
But his advice is heartfelt, and he tells Yi-an that he found from his own experience, when things go wrong at that age, it’s really difficult in the moment. But when a little time passes, it turns out not to be so bad after all. He cheers him on, and when the moment turns awkward again, so they head inside. So cute.
Min-joon admits to Teacher Kim that he ended up playing truant by studying in the library, to pass the time, and because he had nowhere to go. When you study, he tells him, the hours go by far too fast. There’s something desperately heartbreaking in how defeated he is, and Teach gently asks if he should speak to his mom again.
At home, Min-joon stares at a webpage for reporting illegal tutoring, his head swirling with the recent pressure of the notebook scandal, Mom’s militant study regime, and her determination to make him succeed at any cost.
So-young meets up with Song-joo, whose brusque manner perturbs her. She fishes for sympathy, and Song-joo coldly asks if she ever really saw her as a friend, or was she merely using her to get to Eun-byul? So-young holds her audition up as proof of her sincerity. Playing her last card, she calls her uncle then and there, to confirm a contract. She relaxes, confident she’s won her back.
Taking the phone, Song-joo raps out that she can’t sign with him, and cuts the call. With open contempt, she tells So-young that although she wants to become a celebrity, she’s not so worthless as to sell her friends for it. She wants to turn Eun-byul’s friends away from her? “That won’t be so easy, Kang So-young,” she vows.
Education Ministry officials bust Min-joon’s study group that evening, and at home, detective Dad is beside himself at the level and extent of Mom’s illegal activities. Confounded, she asks if it was really Min-joon who reported her.
Both parents come out when they hear him get in. After a long moment, he turns to face his mom. Gah he looks so broken. She just tells him to wash up, since he has to eat and study. How is it possible for those words to make him look even more broken? Their reflection in the coffee table neatly captures how terribly upside-down his world’s become.
So-young’s mom barges her way into Director Gong’s office at school. She introduces herself as Prosecutor Kang’s wife, which has him immediately solicitous. She shows him Eun-bi’s old ID and proceeds to tell him about how her poor daughter was victimized by her back in Tongyeong. Now she’s in the same class as the twin sister, who’s making life hard for her. This heart. It bleeds. She demands Eun-byul’s removal from the school. Lady, you move! It’s not like her departure will end whispers about So-young — if anything, it’ll be worse.
The lunch group has diversified, meanwhile, and Eun-bi is surprised to find Yi-an sitting with Song-joo and Shi-jin. After a moment’s hesitation, she joins them, and Tae-gwang follows (because, where she leads~♫). She and Yi-an jostle elbows uncomfortably, since with his right side out of commission, he clumsily eats left-handed.
Tae-kwang plops a piece of food on Yi-an’s spoon, which weirds everyone out and Yi-an shakes off. Oh, man, this bromance needs to happen. Yes? Yes! Song-joo wonders what’s up with him, and he snaps that he’s helping. Shi-jin: “That might be so, but when you do it, it’s a bit scary.”
Detective Park drops by Director Gong’s office to drop off the report on Soo-in’s death. The list of people present at the time includes the two of them, Teacher Kim, Soo-in’s mom…and Go Eun-byul, the only student. The name catches the director’s attention and he rings for the class register.
In a meeting, the teachers discuss the unresolved notebook case, and the pressure on the kids to achieve higher rankings. The vice principal pops in to collect the register for the director from Teacher Kim, and Teacher Jung offers to take it to him.
While in his office, she spots the death report on the table and smiles. Detective Park notes her interest. As soon as she comes out, she calls her mom, and tells her to wait just a bit longer — they’re nearly there.
Teacher Kim receives a transfer order — for Eun-byul. Agitated, he confronts Director Gong again. The director coolly counters that there’s more than adequate justification for it, citing her unauthorized absence at the school trip, threatening the karaoke owner, and the jewellery theft. He flatly ignores Kim’s objections and concludes her departure is all for the best. What a fine man.
When school is out, Tae-gwang rolls by on his electric unicycle and invites Eun-bi to hop on, which is silly. Instead, he suggests a round of rock, paper, scissors — loser carries the unicycle. They loosen up and Eun-bi scores a win, when Director Gong passes by. The sight of his son stops him, and it’s only then that’s he realizes the girl he’s laughing and joking with is (he thinks) Go Eun-byul.
Elsewhere, a capped girl moves through a corridor, and all we see is her silhouette shadowing marble walls. Oh my god — is it…? It is. She stops in front of Eun-bi’s memorial vault, and we see her reflection in the glass.
It’s Eun-byul. The real one.
I knew it! Okay, fine, we all knew it. She’s aliiiiive! But we can leave the mystery of where she’s been and why for now, since that’s sure to come to light very soon. (Is anyone else constantly having Lying Game flashbacks? In a good way!)
While the majority of 2013′s conflicts centered on the lone-wolf kinds, the ones left to somehow fend for themselves in much harsher circumstances, 2015′s parents all play active roles in their kids’ lives. But this episode really brings home how many ways there are to lose your kid — because, one way or another, every parent does. Eun-byul’s mom’s loss (and Soo-in’s) is the most obvious, but the others are no less real. Min-joon’s mom breaks his spirit (and heart); So-young’s parents nurture a monster with their entitled and enabling behaviour, and failure to ever take her to account. Even Shi-jin’s mom reduces her daughter to little more than her personal Mary Sue, projecting an imaginary daughter in place of her real one, despite Shi-jin’s loud cry for help. Yi-an’s dad remains the only unambiguously good parent, but he also suffers a distancing (through no fault of his own) with Yi-an closing up emotionally after his career-threatening injury. Only Yeong-eun’s mom (of the stolen jewellery in the early episodes) has managed to regain her kid — but look at what it took.
I’m a bit disappointed in Yi-an this episode. His rescue of Eun-bi cements why he’s not my ship, because there’s heroic, and there’s not listening, and it all comes down to respecting agency (my favorite thing). While what he did isn’t anywhere near as horrible or ill-intended as So-young, he still revealed her secret without her assent, which he had no right to do (or confirmed her lie, if you want to go glass half-full).
I don’t think being young and impetuous is a valid argument, because our goldilocks Tae-gwang proves the opposite. But I do recognize that Yi-an’s vocal and public championing of her, and the pincer-attack the two boys executed against So-young, both protected and advanced Eun-bi’s mission in a way she wouldn’t have been able to do alone. This is what’s great about the friends’ development this episode: Once So-young is exposed as a threat, they close ranks and form a wall of protection around her, and that support and loyalty is what sets the two girls most keenly apart.
So-young’s manipulations become clumsier as she meets defeat after defeat. Her attacks have a certain modus operandi, but once her script is derailed and she’s threatened, she crumbles, at least momentarily, because she’s not really a person — she’s a papier-mâché shell. When you peel backs the layers of manipulation and mindgames, she’s empty inside. Her whole self-concept is predicated on her winning, and that’s what stimulates and drives her. In other words: It’s all for kicks and giggles. So-young has to come out on top, no matter the scale or deed, pushing people’s buttons and dominating them. And also being the top-ranked student, because why not?
She shows little evidence of deep emotion or empathy, or an ability to interpret the complex and contradictory emotions of others even if she doesn’t experience it the same way. Like her whole meet with Song-joo, while she knows something is off, she can’t compute that she’s lost — she thinks she can still win if she provides the requisite moves. That’s what governs her decisions. Things like loyalty and sincerity are totally alien to her. She may or may not be a psychopath, but she has a ton of essential pieces missing. Like a heart. And a conscience.
Contrast that to Eun-bi’s deeply empathetic response to Yi-an and his reaction to her true identity (which I don’t like, but do understand). It’s easy to say it’s not fair — and it isn’t — for him to punish Eun-bi for not being her sister, or for his accident, but his personal struggle is so evident that it’s hard to hold it against him, and I think that explains Eun-bi’s response. With grief of her own, she’s no stranger to pain. Even if Yi-an’s pain isn’t the same, it’s all too easy for her to relate.
This is another reason why Tae-gwang squeezes my heart. He’s similar to Eun-bi, but even more contained, rarely giving away how much things cost him emotionally. Although he pulls on that mask of cheerful indifference, his easy demeanor and ready-to-help attitude when it comes to Eun-bi makes him that much more tragic, because it’s so painfully clear how unloved he is. And that’s what makes him sensitive — it’s a great point of contrast between him and Yi-an, whose thoughtlessness is, in a way, a symptom of the abundance of love he receives. Experiencing that care means he hasn’t been ravaged by the lack of it, so the small things that mean a lot to love-starved Tae-gwang (and Eun-bi) don’t make a blip on his radar.
I think these relationships hold more complicated geometry than your ordinary love-triangle, as they each struggle just to have a friendship that doesn’t cut like a knife whichever way they turn it. There may be latent feelings between Eun-bi and the two boys, but with the tension and anxiety over whether their basic points of connection can survive, the possibility of romance comes secondary to that. This is why Eun-byul’s resurrection is even more interesting, because it brings with it the possibility to return some things to their rightful places. I don’t mean there’ll be a neat shipping solution (haha), but at least the conflict that was created by her supposed death will take some knives out of some hearts. Of course, there will be new ones going in, but alive is always better than dead.
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 9
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 8
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 7
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 6
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 5
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 4
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 3
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 2
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 1