Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 14
This week has been a surprising one with sinking ships and various triumphs over evil, but I’m not yet sure the right people are on the job. The twins spend the episode apart, fixing things that are broken. All our friends struggle for acceptance — not just with their friends, but also to accept the truths about themselves.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
So-young overhears that Eun-bi is back in Tongyeong, and sneers at Eun-byul. Doesn’t she know Yi-an got his injury from trying to save “Eun-bi-nim,” when he already knew she wasn’t Eun-byul? Turning to Yi-an, she says she’s curious which sister he has feelings for.
He tells her it’s none of her business, and she simpers that she thought Eun-byul might be curious. But her words don’t make Eun-byul rise one bit — until she accuses her of lying.
Then, Eun-byul grabs her by the neck and advances on her: Is she messing with her using her sister who nearly died because of her, and her best friend of ten years? She blocks So-young’s hit, and Yi-an steps up, too, at which point she’s suitably fearful. Without turning a hair, Eun-byul gives her a shove, and tells her to take her hobbies elsewhere.
Yi-an ruffles her hair, impressed by her fierceness. She bats his hand away and asks about the injury, but he lightly tells her it was already hurting. She then asks what’s up with Tae-gwang, who went tearing off after finding out she wasn’t Eun-bi — all the way to Tongyeong, where he even spent the night. The news gives Yi-an pause, although he doesn’t say anything to Eun-byul.
Speaking of Un-goldilocks (I like your new hair, boy), he stubbornly insists he can’t make it back to school, but Eun-bi puts the kids on him as escort to the bus, an indignity he protests. He walks backwards so he can keep talking to her — she’s coming back, right? “I’ll be waiting,” he tells her, before running to join the kids.
Back at school, a student looks for Teacher Kim for maths help, but he hasn’t come in today, so Min-joon offers to take a look. So sweet to see him coming out of his shell and making real friends. The other kid is happy, too, and even more impressed when he finds out Min-joon’s signed up for some sporty extra-curriculars. Aw, just seeing you smile makes me smile.
Teacher Kim goes to see Detective Park (Min-joon’s dad) at the police station. He had wanted to wait until the kids finished the semester, but he can’t hide the truth of Soo-in’s death any longer, and is therefore turning himself in.
Mom tells Eun-bi on the phone that the paperwork’s been fixed so she’s not dead anymore, and that she’s about to start on her formal adoption. Eun-bi’s silent at that, and Mom asks if she isn’t coming back to Seoul. She figures that being with her foster-siblings again has made the choice harder, and Eun-bi asks for some time to think. Little Ra-jin overhears the conversation.
Eun-bi visits the mystery ashes in the vault with her name, but is surprised to find Oh Jung-ah there — the bullied girl she stood up for at her Tongyeong school. Jung-ah admits she thought Eun-bi might not have been dead.
She tells Eun-bi that when she heard she was missing, she went to the seashore everyday — until one day, a body washed up.
A flashback shows us a crowd gathered around the body of a young female student whose face is unrecognizable. Jung-ah dropped Eun-bi’s name badge (picked up that last day when Eun-bi discarded it) by the body, and confesses that even if it wasn’t her, she wanted to punish So-young. Sobbing, she says she’s worse than So-young for not sticking up for Eun-bi in return, even though she wanted to. Eun-bi reassures her that it’s okay — she knows better than anyone how terrible it is to be bullied.
Song-joo catches up to Yi-an and Eun-byul walking together, and asks if they’ve made up now, which goes over Eun-byul’s head. Yi-an offers that they didn’t fight — he was in the wrong. Shi-jin laughs that it’s more likely Eun-byul wronged him. Lol, this girl (Shi-jin: The Quiet Riot). Eun-byul argues, but with the two girls playfully ganging up on her, she huffily stalks off. They marvel at how thoroughly the gentle “Eun-byul” has disappeared, now that she’s got her memory back, while Yi-an looks pensively after her.
Coach lays into Yi-an for his long face, and reminds him it wasn’t going to be easy. Yi-an assures him he definitely won’t give up, and Coach approves of his attitude. After he goes, Yi-an takes out the medal Eun-bi gave him from his locker, thinking back to her parting words to get better quickly and go back to his old self.
Ra-jin finds Eun-bi pondering Yi-an’s real medal, which she must have retrieved from the vault. Eun-bi tells her it was meant for someone else.
Noticing her mood, Ra-jin tells Eun-bi it’s okay if she goes back to Seoul — she has a mom now, after all, and lots of friends. She’s not worried anymore, now that she knows she’s alive. Instead, she makes unni pinky-promise to come back on their birthdays, Children’s Day, and Christmas.
Tae-gwang is back home, troubled by the autopsy documents he secretly snapped.
At school, Teacher Kim hands in his resignation. Director Gong rails at his unnecessary actions — he’ll face some disciplinary action, but it’ll die down soon enough. Her death was an accident, and he (Gong) covered it up for the sake of the school, not personal gain. Teacher Kim replies that they violated of the Child Welfare Law, and remains firm that even if the director doesn’t come clean, the buck will at least stop with him. Making a deep bow to his old teacher, he takes his leave.
Tae-gwang slurps ramyun alone when Yi-an joins him. After a tongue-tied silence, Yi-an says he heard he went to Tongyeong. Tae-gwang thinks he’s here because he couldn’t contact Eun-bi, and tells him she changed her number, but that’s not it. Nonplussed by his staring, Tae-gwang barks at him to spit it out.
“Is she well?” Yi-an finally asks. He retorts that she is. “Then that’s enough,” he says, leaving at last.
So-young updates her Tongyeong minions on Eun-bi’s return from the dead. She tells them to give her a warm welcome, when Eun-byul whips the phone out of her hand. It hits the ground, and Eun-byul grinds it in with her foot; she wants to kill her right now, right? So-young makes no bones about it and stepping closer, she says, yeah, she wants to kill her.
Eun-byul: “When you stepped on my sister, how do you think I feel? If you want to kill me for stepping on your measly phone, what do you think I feel looking at you?” She kicks the phone away, and leaves So-young quivering with anger, and perhaps a touch of intimidation. Taste good?
She meets Tae-gwang, asking him who he is to keep summoning her, “You know we don’t talk to each other, right?” Somehow, I find this unreasonably funny — must preserve the status quo! He asks how much she knows about Jung Soo-in’s case, and to what extent the director (i.e. his father) is involved.
She tells him that the police initially thought she’d died earlier in the afternoon, and definitely not later than 5 pm. But when the autopsy results came out, it was recorded as 7.30 pm. The family insisted it happened during class-time, but were refused a reinvestigation. Tae-gwang’s mind back flits to the case-reports with the two different times, and asks if that means the papers were forged. She replies that the administration probably wanted to shake it off as an accident (rather than accept liability), since there was nobody around at that time.
Teacher Kim drinks alone at a pojangmacha when Tae-gwang joins him. He holds out his cup hopefully, and Teach makes as if to pour him one, but rewards him with a forehead-flick instead. Haha, you get points for trying! He sighs heavily and suggests they tell each other one problem each again. Going first, he tells Tae-gwang that in order to do right by one student who was hurt, he’ll take away the father of another. Tae-gwang stills.
“Being the teacher of both kids, what should I do?” he asks, finally looking up. Tae-gwang replies that it was the father who did wrong. If it were him, he would tell that student, “Convince your father one last time, before it’s too late, before he falls at somebody else’s hands.” Eyes full, Teacher Kim looks at Tae-gwang with a mixture of respect and sadness.
At home, Tae-gwang approaches his father. He slides his phone towards him, with the picture of the original autopsy report (stating the time of death as 4.30 pm). Once Dad registers what he’s seeing, he curses his ungrateful son for threatening him. Fine, he snarls — what is it that he wants? There’s something terribly sad in this misunderstanding.
But Tae-gwang is lost himself — he doesn’t know what he wants. Welling up, he tells his dad that he truly hates him, and he thought he would be the happiest to see him fall…but even with this damning evidence in his hand, he can’t seem to do anything. He leaves the phone on the countertop, and tells Dad to do as he wishes with it — he’ll take that as his answer. For the first time, it looks like Dad’s dam of denial is cracking.
The next day, the kids of Love’s House see Eun-bi off with the assurance that she’ll be back in a fortnight. They wave goodbye.
A police car arrives at school, and Director Gong is escorted in. Tae-gwang pushes to the front of the crowd and he and his father share a look before the car pulls away. Yi-an looks from the departing car to Tae-gwang’s grave face. Does he know?
At the police station, Director Gong hands over the original autopsy report to the detective. He makes a full confession for the forged document, and trying to cover up the fact that Jung Soo-in died during class. When the detective mentions Teacher Kim’s share of culpability, Gong repeats that it was solely his doing, and that he used his authority to block every attempt that Kim made to tell the truth. I almost admire you right now. But I wish you weren’t such a brute to your son.
Eun-byul and Yi-an share rainbow slushies (I really want one of these, damn you PPL!) and she asks him how well he thinks he knows her. When they were kids, he knew everything, he says. But recent events made him realize he doesn’t really know her so well after all. Talk turns to Eun-bi, and he says she’s lucky to have a strong, protective sister like Eun-byul.
She responds with a rueful smile, wondering who’s the unluckier one: Eun-bi who, for the crime of protecting an outcast, became an outcast, or she, who ignored her friend having a hard time and ran away. She asks Yi-an if he’s disappointed, but he jokes you’d have to have expectations first. Still, she feels better now that he knows it all.
Back at home, Eun-bi looks for the bear Yi-an gave her, and Mom says Eun-byul put it in her room, since furry things make her sneeze. When Mom asks who gave her it, she just says it was a friend.
She goes to the pool to leave a box at the desk for Yi-an, where he catches her. She snatches the box back, and everything’s a little awkward. They go outside, and sit nearly next to each other — on different benches. They both start talking at once, but she tells him to go first. He started rehab while she was away, he tells her, which makes her light up — she knew he’d get back up once Eun-byul was back.
Yi-an’s face says she’s got it aaallll wrong, but she blithely continues that she’s happy that she doesn’t need to worry about him anymore. She returns his winner’s medal to him, saying that he should give it to the person it was meant for.
She asks if it’s a little less hard for him to see her face now, and he sets her straight. It was hard, and he was pretty harsh to her, he admits, but does she really think he wants her to just leave and he’ll feel better? The gruff forgiveness makes her even happier, and she says she won’t avoid him anymore.
At the bus stop, Eun-bi sees a news announcement of Tae-gwang’s father’s arrest, and she calls him right away. The ringing wakes him from a fevered sleep. He finally answers, but the exertion knocks him out and the phone drops from his hand. She calls his name, worried.
Now hooked up to a hospital IV, Eun-bi lingers at his bedside. He still shivers with fever, and she notices with soft eyes how he mouths “mom.” She scrolls through his phone — where the bulk of his calls are with her or the housekeeper — and dials his mother.
Eun-byul discovers Soo-in’s note, which Eun-bi tucked into her diary, “Eun-byul. It’s okay that you pretend not to see me. You’re still my one and only friend.”
Tae-gwang’s mom gazes at her sleeping son, and touches his face. He remains asleep, and she tucks him in. Outside, she leans against his door with a sigh, and meets Eun-bi. She assumes she must know something of their family situation since she isn’t surprised to see her (guys, help me out here — how does Eun-bi know who his parents are?).
Ruefully, Mom tells her that he used to be such a sunny child, but the parents’ divorce really hurt him. She turned her back on him a lot, she admits, so she feels she doesn’t have the right to have regrets now. She’s grateful that he has a friend by his side, and leaves Eun-bi with a present to pass on to him.
Tae-gwang finally wakes, and Eun-bi reproaches him for not calling when he was that sick. “You came even though I didn’t call,” he quips weakly. But is it okay for her to worry when she won’t even like him? Eun-bi asks, “So…should I go?”
He shakes his head. “So…I’m grateful.” He wraps his hand around hers and closes his eyes.
Eun-byul, meanwhile, marshals her courage to visit Soo-in’s family, and (ex?) teacher Min-young finds her in the foyer.
Eun-byul steps slowly into Soo-in’s room. She stops at the photos of the two of them together, when Min-young pads in. She says that when she was sorting Soo-in’s things, whether it was her blog or journal, Eun-byul’s name was everywhere. Their times together were her happiest, Min-young relates.
In a flashback, Eun-byul remembers once when they shared earphones and sang together, carefree. The song continues, Soo-in’s beautiful voice interposed with the memory of the bullying Eun-byul ignored. Min-young plays back that song now, a recording on Soo-in’s phone.
She explains that that’s why she went so far — because Soo-in thought of her as her one friend, if she had been just a little closer…! Eun-byul breaks down in tears of grief and guilt, apologizing. Min-young wraps her in a hug and says sorry, too — it must have been hard for her, as well. O…kay?
Yi-an contemplates the returned medal, which now hangs at home. He thinks of Eun-byul’s last words to him before she went missing: “I’m not the Eun-byul of our childhood. We’ve grown too much and a lot has changed.” He takes out the humbler medal from Eun-bi, and her wish for his recovery and promise to help percolates in his mind. He hangs it next to the big one.
Tae-gwang picks at his spread, uncomfortably alone in his empty house. He calls Eun-bi and orders her out to eat, “I’m so sick I don’t have the strength to lift my chopsticks.”
They go to a crab restaurant where you pick your own, and it’s too cute for words. Tae-gwang laughs for real! Squee! But mate, I don’t think the way to a girl’s heart is to tell her the crab you’re about to eat looks like her. Haha.
He eats so heartily, Eun-bi questions his supposed lack of appetite. She tells him to take care of himself, since she’s not going to his place even if he faints. She softens on hearing he has nobody at home, but he just brushes off her concern with more crab.
She tells him that his mom came by at the hospital, and conveys the gift she left. Inside is…a tie? Wow, that’s a rubbish gift, and his disappointment is evident. He goes back to the meal like nothing happened.
Night draws in when Yi-an finally concludes his contemplations. I swear he’s been contemplating (ruminating, pondering, running out of synonyms here) all episode. Taking one of the medals from the wall — we don’t see which — he runs out.
Tae-gwang walks Eun-bi home from their almost-date, and she offers to tell him how to make the time go faster when he’s alone. He demurs that there’s no such thing — there’s only one way for time to go faster for him: “Being with you.”
When he comes closer to her, she doesn’t step away. Just looks at him. So nobody can blame him when he — the captain of his own ship — swoops in for a kiss, his lips grazing her cheek.
Except maybe Yi-an. The medal Eun-bi gave him drops from his hand, shock written all over his face. I can’t tell if Eun-bi sees him, but right now, she’s only looking at Tae-gwang.
I honestly wish the high drama of this show didn’t come down to a love triangle. It’s a bit disappointing that so many interesting potential storylines remain unplumbed while geometry dominates. Take for example, the compelling teachers’ storyline that its predecessor delivered so well, which 2015 only offers a smattering of here and there. Lee Pil-mo is criminally underutilized in a role that he’s killing, even with piddly screentime. The teacher-student relationship between Director Gong and Teacher Kim carrying into their adult lives is such a fascinating source of tension — a difficult face-off between idealism and necessity — which could have been expanded into a really satisfying arc.
The biggest loss, though, is not having him interact and connect more deeply with his students. It’s that flow of emotions between teacher and student that make this kind of show hit home, because it has a way of tapping into the our most treasured hopes (or experiences) of school, which are universally relatable. It made the flashes of it — with Min-joon, Yi-an, the twins — even more tantalizing, and those secondary storylines remain few and underdeveloped. But my favorite is his bromance with Tae-gwang. In a sense, they really are brothers, shaped by a common hand, even if Director Gong is kindly mentor to one, and harsh authoritarian over the other. Still, it’s not a coincidence that it’s their combined influence which brings him to confess.
His refusal to admit wrongdoing seems at least somewhat driven by a distorted desire to protect. As he sees it, nothing brings the dead student back, so why should they go down for an accident? Kim argues it’s his fault for leaving her, and this highlights a subtle difference in their respective worldviews. Gong sees consequences within a bigger picture, where Kim focuses on the indefensibility of his personal actions. As we see, Gong isn’t above pulling a few strings, and he can sacrifice some moral ground for expediency. But he’s also not exactly bad, with his refusal to embezzle school money despite Prosecutor Kang’s blackmail attempt. Up until this point, I think he’s really just been in denial — like, if he closes his eyes, it’ll all go away. But all of this culminates in a moral crisis and when he opens them to find himself at the top of the proverbial slippery slope.
Tae-gwang’s mom’s short visit was both illuminating and unsettling. The nature of her job (and celebrity) makes her turn her back on her kid? Really? You (rightly) don’t have a right to a lot of things when you ditch your kid, but your responsibility to them doesn’t just go away — there’s always a debt, a failure. She must think she’s punishing herself by denying herself her son, but the reality is that he pays the price because ultimately she denies him his mother. It makes Tae-gwang make sense — how he wants to be with her but doesn’t allow himself, because that’s just a world of pain waiting to happen.
I did find the plot turnover this episode a little too neat and quick, focusing on delivering dramatic plot points without the requisite build-up. For example, the significance of Director Gong’s voluntary confession is undermined if they had to take him in to get it — why did the police come to the school? Dramatic effect? And the overnight change of heart is a stretch. It’s to the actor’s credit that you see him crack in that raw, vulnerable moment Tae-gwang makes him feel shame. So on the one hand, I can produce the rationale (see: above), but on the other, I’m not feeling it. Perhaps we have to fault the writing for taking somewhat clumsy shortcuts with plot and character development, which means we skip to the endgame without due process, thus undercutting its own emotional climaxes. Teach says show your working or you don’t get the marks.
Another example of this is in the twins’ conflict with So-young. Gratifying as it is to see her brought down, it needed to be Eun-bi doing it, because isn’t that the whole point? That’s my biggest criticism of Eun-bi’s character, who has constantly been passive when it counts, even though we’ve seen her with plenty of pepper. I don’t want her victory to be that she decided on her own whether to go back to Seoul or stay in Tongyeong. That’s not to devalue self-determination (which is life itself to, say, Min-joon), but being agent of her own fate is only part of her battle. As long as So-young exists in her world, she needs a full victory against her tormentor — not for the sake of winning, but so she can end that threat permanently on her own terms. It’s frustrating to see her keep taking the backseat again while other people fight her fights, especially when you notice that Yi-an doesn’t interfere in Eun-byul’s clashes.
I resolved not to talk boys this time, but Tae-gwang remains the show’s shining light, and the way he offers an uncomplicated friendship that asks nothing back just never fails to get me. Yi-an precludes his own momentum with Eun-bi and spends this episode as little more than a brooding paper cutout, as if they can’t be bothered to write him anymore (maybe because our boy Tae-gwang is on fire).
I’m not sure what to make of this ending for a couple of reasons, mainly Eun-bi. It’s too rushed to feel organic (did this get called in the same meeting they decided to geld Yi-an?), but at the same time, Kim So-hyun is rooted enough in her character and the moment to sell it. But this definitely would have been way better a few episodes ago. So it’s a bittersweet note this episode to see how she doesn’t step back from him, or take her hand away first, which in Eun-bi might just be as good as a “yes.”
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 13
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 12
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 11
- Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 10
- 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