Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 18
Oh, it’s so messy, everything is messy, how ever will they get themselves out of this one? This ill-fated triangle takes a battering as the share-house turns into a real-life, real-time personality test, and Na-ri is forced to examine her own motives. But is the choice really between ticking boxes and beating hearts, or something else altogether?
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Lying in bed beside each other, Na-ri tells Hwa-shin to quit drinking and smoking, and says she really would die if anything happened to him. “Sleep with me,” he says to her. He unbuttons his shirt and she puts her hand on his chest, where he covers it with his own. They gaze at each other, until Na-ri draws her hand back.
Touching her face, Hwa-shin leans in to kiss her, but she jerks back at the last moment and says they can’t break the rules. Nonplussed, Hwa-shin counters that she felt that moment, too, and uses Plato to argue that the natural attraction they feel towards each other is a sign that they’re two halves of one whole. That’s some slick talking you got there, bro.
He tells her she’s tormenting him and fooling herself, reminding her that she devised those rules in order to find an answer. He points out that that if she undoes his last two buttons, she’ll automatically find her answer to who she likes more, in a “necessary, sacred process”. Ha! How he can say this with a straight face!
Na-ri shakes off his hypnotic earnestness, and sends him flying to the floor with a kick. But contrite, she tries to stop him leaving the house, luggage and all. He breaks out of her hold, but spinning back on his heel, he returns to her and says that she’s the one who seduced him first, when he had wanted to leave her room. She says she only told him to stay with her, not climb into her bed. He yells that to a man, it’s the same thing.
Hwa-shin says that this house where she has her two men must be like heaven for her, but it’s hell for him. And he asks her why she’s holding onto him when he’s ending it now, just like she said. Sighing in frustration, she tells him it’s hell for her, too. She says sorry and grapples for his luggage, just as Jung-won returns.
Eyes brightening, he asks Hwa-shin if he’s giving up, and tells him he’s doing the right thing. Looking tortured, Hwa-shin stalks back in. Jung-won asks Na-ri if they fought, but she only sighs when he asks why.
Ja-young asks Sung-sook if she went to the movies with Pal-gang. Sung-sook says she asked her, and figures that Pal-gang’s decided who she wants to live with. Ja-young can’t believe it, “Why you?” she asks. Sung-sook takes exception to the question, pointing out that she’s the mother who gave birth to Pal-gang.
“Pal-gang is my daughter. I never once thought of her as your daughter,” Ja-young says, blinking back tears. Voice harsh, Sung-sook tells her to go ask Pal-gang herself, but Ja-young says that she’s too scared to hear the rejection from Pal-gang’s lips. She sinks to the floor, sobbing in earnest.
Na-ri crouches at Hwa-shin’s bedside, where he’s feigning sleep. She remembers him asking whether she really liked him and Jung-won precisely equally. Just as she’s about to touch him, he opens his eyes and tells her not to touch him.
Looking at him, she admits that she did feel something, but it still won’t do. “Get lost,” Hwa-shin tells her, turning away.
Upstairs, Jung-won intercepts her to ask when she was born, and Na-ri wonders if he’s going to consult a fortune teller. He says that his mom’s interested in her now, which he considers a good omen for them.
Pal-gang considers her dad’s final message (nominating Ja-young as her guardian), and sighs. She goes into the moms’ room and tells Ja-young to leave. “I don’t need you anymore. I’m going to live with my real mom,” she says smugly. Ja-young jerks in her sleep, and bolts up—it was all a nightmare.
The next morning, Na-ri takes happy possession of her new car. Struck by a thought, she muses that she can find out her suitors’ true personalities by getting driving instruction from them. Do you mean to say that you bought a car without knowing how to drive?!
We see her drive with them both: Jung-won instructs her lightly and teasingly, while Hwa-shin looks like he’s holding on for dear life as he yells at her. Na-ri’s inner monologue observes how extreme Hwa-shin is, when even Jung-won’s rebukes are pleasant.
A montage of comparisons follows, where Jung-won helps her carry shopping while Hwa-shin sits idly by. Another time, she deliberately throws the breakers to plunge the house into darkness. Jung-won coolly fixes them, and the lights come back on to reveal Hwa-shin on Na-ri’s lap, clinging to her in fear (really?). Na-ri thinks to herself that Hwa-shin really can’t do a thing.
Jung-won also helps with the housework, but this is one thing that Hwa-shin’s got, and they watch him obsessively wipe down every surface, which Na-ri thinks to herself is pretty exhausting.
Na-ri fills in her calendar, where she seems to be keeping a tally—of wins? Every day so far is Jung-won’s. Lol. She sighs for Hwa-shin.
Now at the movies, Jung-won is an attentive date, feeding Na-ri popcorn and
crowding her laughing together. It’s a wholly different affair with Hwa-shin, who remains stiff and surly, although he finally accepts her ministrations of popcorn and soda.
Na-ri eventually falls asleep. Maddened, Hwa-shin seizes her head and mauls her…in his head. Hahaha. In reality, he punches the air around her and wrings his fists, while the big screen reflects his imaginary onslaught. In his mind, he dashes popcorn over her, kisses her all over her face, and then screams in frustration. Real Hwa-shin closes his hand over Na-ri’s, but pulls it back as soon as she rouses a moment later.
Back at home, Na-ri asks Hwa-shin for his birth date details, which he refuses to divulge. When he lowers his newspaper, she’s shocked to see him in his glasses…I think she just swooned a little. She keeps staring at him, and tells him never to wear his glasses in front of any other woman—only her.
Looking challengingly at her, he takes them off. Just as the paper’s about to come up, she grabs the glasses and swoops into the space between. Hidden from view, they argue as she tries to put his glasses back on him. “I told you not to touch my body,” he tells her.
Lowering the paper, he takes the glasses off again. Cajoling, Na-ri replaces them while he growls at her. Laughing, she leaves them low down on his nose while he glares and pushes them back up.
PD Oh and Announcer Uhm find Ja-young drinking alone, and she conscripts them into drinking with her. Ja-young asks them who they would choose between her and Sung-sook, if everyone else in the world were dead. Uhm easily answers Sung-sook, but when Ja-young refuses PD Oh’s first answer (“I’d die, too”), he picks Sung-sook, too…for her tough-as-nails survival skills. Hahahaha.
Oh says that although she’s hotheaded, she doesn’t hold grudges, and Uhm adds that she’s loyal and all-round cool. Ja-young slams down her glass and asks what’s wrong with living with her, when she’s better at cooking and cleaning, would treat them better and love them more. She bawls, and they try awkwardly to comfort her.
The two men bring Ja-young home, glad to find Chi-yeol and Dae-goo to pass her off to. But she snaps out of the boys’ hands when they mention that this is more like Sung-sook. Ja-young asks why she can’t get drunk. She goes noisily up by herself, throwing off Chef Rak who also compares them. The noise brings Sung-sook herself out, followed by a sleepy Pal-gang.
PD Oh calls Pal-gang the wrong color (“bunhong” which is “pink”, as opposed to Pal-gang/red) and tells her to take her mom (Ja-young) in. “Hey,” says Sung-sook, “She’s my daughter and her name isn’t Bun-hong, it’s Pal-gang.”
But Ja-young refutes her and says Pal-gang is her daughter. She turns to Pal-gang with a loving smile, and asks her to live together with her. Pal-gang sighs in distress.
A slightly drunk Soo-jung rings Jung-won’s doorbell, demanding to be let in, but the three housemates are asleep. Jung-won snaps awake and goes for the gate. As soon as he opens it, Soo-jung dashes inside, desperate for the bathroom, which Hwa-shin points her to.
Jung-won runs back in and Hwa-shin wonders in amusement if he should invite Na-ri to view this spectacle. Jung-won grabs Soo-jung as soon as she’s out, but she perks up to see Hwa-shin. Na-ri, also coming down, has to duck out of sight before the other girl sees her. Instead, she watches Jung-won carry Soo-jung out while Hwa-shin recovers her bag.
Once they’re gone, Na-ri comes out, relieved that they weren’t caught. Hwa-shin wonders if she isn’t jealous of Jung-won with another woman, but she replies that as a two-timing woman herself, she doesn’t even have any right to be.
But when he suggests he’s a better man than Jung-won in that respect, Na-ri scoffs that she doesn’t have to be afraid of him sneaking into her bed every night. Hwa-shin remains adamant that he was seduced, and then asks her if she’s not afraid now, then, since they’re all alone, and it’ll be a while before Jung-won returns.
Na-ri grows angry. “I didn’t know you were such a boor,” she says. “The idea that it’s game-over if a woman sleeps with a man once, isn’t that boorish?” She rips into him for his Plato-sweet-talking, and pretty much everything he did that night, repeating the same insult.
He explodes at her that she should be taking her anger and jealousy out on Jung-won, not him, but she replies that she really isn’t jealous over Jung-won. Instead, she scoffs about how Hwa-shin gave Soo-jung water and even picked up her bag. Disbelievingly, he asks if that’s what she’s jealous of, and she yells that that’s exactly it.
He launches into another tirade to tell her to go fight it out with Jung-won. But…didn’t she just confess being jealous because of Hwa-shin? She shouts at him in frustration, while he remains hung up on her calling him a boor.
He comes eye-to-eye with her and she asks, “Aren’t you confused whether you just want to sleep with me or if you love me?” She says that because of how cruelly he treated her during her crush, she doesn’t feel like she’s precious to him, and all that past disdain comes to mind now.
He says he likes her so much but he doesn’t know how to show her it, but she tells him that she can’t trust him: It could be that he’s just acting out because he doesn’t want Jung-won to have her, not because he loves her, she says.
“You’re not an easy woman to me anymore,” Hwa-shin says, but she counters that he treats her like one. On the other hand, Jung-won is trustworthy and constant, she adds. “Even in this situation?” Hwa-shin asks, demanding a reply. “Yeah,” Na-ri says easily. Haha, you’d think he’d have learnt to stop asking damning questions by now.
Meanwhile, Jung-won reaches Soo-jung’s house, where he deposits her at her front gate. He tells her angrily that if she comes to his house like that again, he’ll release the CCTV footage he has of her visits, which would ruin both her career and marriage prospects.
When Jung-won returns home, he goes straight to Na-ri and folds her into a hug. He tells her that it’s okay if she gets mad at him, but she says it’s fine. Well, this is awkward. She says it actually makes her feel a bit better about herself, and I feel a bit sorry for Jung-won as he so searchingly asks her, “Aren’t you…jealous?” Clasping her hand with a smile, he says it’s okay for her to be honest with him. She smiles tentatively back. Nope, still not jealous.
As Hwa-shin watches Na-ri’s news next morning, his imagination serves him with Na-ri-on-the-screen repeating what she said the night before: “I can’t trust you.” He paces restlessly, waiting for the others, and finally gives in to the devil, looking up his compatibility horoscope with Na-ri. He comes up with a measly 3 and even the computer tells him to break up. It’s worse when it scores a 98 with Jung-won. (Computer: “Get married!”)
Na-ri pops home to pick up something, arriving just as Jung-won exits the shower. Rather unfortunately for him, his towel falls down while he’s talking to her, and he freezes. Covering her eyes, Na-ri flees, and I repeat: awkward. Bad awkward.
Pal-gang has Chi-yeol, Dae-goo, Chef and Sung-sook assembled on the rooftop for an announcement. Once Ja-young arrives, Pal-gang gives Sung-sook the note that is her dad’s will, and Sung-sook reads it in shock. But Ja-young looks like the sun came out, and tearfully thanks Pal-gang and Chef.
Sung-sook tears up the note and argues that it doesn’t mean anything—what matters is what Pal-gang wants. Pal-gang looks from one woman to the other and blurts that she always did what Dad told her, and she intends to honor his last words, too. Ja-young leaps up and hugs Pal-gang, while Sung-sook, stricken, leaves. Pal-gang seems equally upset, especially when Sung-sook trips on her way.
Hwa-shin’s mom arrives at the broadcast station during Hwa-shin and Hye-won’s broadcast. She smiles at Hye-won on the screen, thinking she’s the girlfriend Hwa-shin intends to introduce. She bumps into Madam Kim at the elevators, and as they go up together, she confides to her that she’s planning to take Hwa-shin and his ladyfriend to dinner.
Mom finds Hye-won in her dressing room and invites her to dinner with them, which Hye-won happily accepts. Madam Kim, meanwhile, finds Na-ri, though her dinner invitation finds a much more nervous reception.
Hwa-shin bursts into the dressing room and Mom apprises him of her dinner plans with his “girlfriend”, while Hye-won smiles shyly. Bursting back out, Hwa-shin phones Na-ri (#1 on his speed-dial), urgently asking her to have dinner with him today. But she’s already leaving with Madam Kim. Telling him she’s busy, she hangs up.
On the elevator down, every time Mom asks Hye-won a question, Hwa-shin cuts her off before she can reply. Finally, he comes out with it and says that Hye-won’s not his girlfriend. But he said she likes him, Mom says uncertainly. He replies, “She likes me on her own. I don’t like her, she’s scary.”
He apologizes to Hye-won, but he’s still a jerk, and Mom thinks so, too. But Hye-won tells her it’s fine—it’s true that she liked Hwa-shin by herself. Since they’re still in the elevator, it’s a bit awkward when Mom asks Hwa-shin who he really meant to introduce.
Meanwhile, Madam Kim tells Na-ri that she had her compatibility horoscope read, and apparently she can’t fight it. But Na-ri argues that they’re not necessarily accurate. Madam Kim is puzzled by her response, but says that she’s really meeting her because Jung-won likes her so much, and she wanted to see her for herself. She rightly predicts Jung-won’s arrival to rescue her, and denies to him that she was terrorizing Na-ri.
Naturally, Hwa-shin and his mom pick this same restaurant, and she asks him why he can’t just date Hye-won. Hwa-shin replies that the other woman is way better than her, prettier and more warmhearted, “And most importantly, my heart belongs to her.” But Mom still scolds him for his shoddy treatment of Hye-won.
Hwa-shin notices Na-ri’s party right then, and a moment later, his mom spots Madam Kim. She goes right over to their table, and calls Hwa-shin over, too. Awkward City, man. Madam Kim asks where Hwa-shin’s girlfriend is, and Na-ri suddenly realizes what his earlier call meant. Hwa-shin doesn’t look at her, and takes his mom out. Na-ri looks forlornly after them, and Jung-won takes her hand and sits her back down.
At home, Na-ri waits to meet Hwa-shin, and explains Madam Kim’s unexpected arrival. Grabbing his suitcase, he says it doesn’t matter: “Let’s end this.” He leaves, driving away, away, away. Inside, Na-ri grabs her own coat and runs out.
Ja-young comes to check something with PD Oh while Sung-sook is on air. As the news goes to a report, Sung-sook comes over and confronts Ja-young, thinking she’s there to gloat. PD Oh and Announcer Uhm drag her back to her desk, and Sung-sook spits that she’ll go to court for Pal-gang.
Appalled that she should care so little for Pal-gang’s feelings, Ja-young follows her back to the desk, but has to duck down when they go back on air. Sung-sook gives her a savage kick, toppling her over. “You’re no match for me,” she says, pointing out that the “will” is hardly legally binding, and that the law will favor her as the birth mother. The women are about to scuffle, but PD Oh and Announcer Uhm tear them apart.
At the station, Hwa-shin heads for the night-duty room, but loses a contact lens on the way. He’s surprised at the sight of Dong-gi in a face mask (so am I), but otherwise ignores him. PD Oh calls Hwa-shin to his office with Hye-won, and Hwa-shin dons his glasses and heads there.
Na-ri also arrives at the station, heading in after seeing Hwa-shin’s car. Girl, you gotta turn the lights off! She finds his suitcase in the night-duty room, and Dong-gi tells her where Hwa-shin’s gone.
Hwa-shin reaches the office first, and Hye-won arrives, eyes burning. She tells Hwa-shin he went too far, asking if he enjoyed humiliating her like that in front of his mom. “Don’t mess with me today,” he says tiredly.
“You messed with me first,” Hye-won replies. Pulling him to her, she kisses him, glasses and all. Na-ri arrives just in time to witness it, and the bag drops from her hand.
Does anyone else feel a tiny bit like the show is spinning its wheels a bit this episode? I feel like we’re treading the same ground that led up to Na-ri’s kiss with Hwa-shin a few episodes ago, just changing up the setting a bit. Everything about this episode, from the first minute, seems to prove that she definitely likes Hwa-shin more, and doesn’t actually like-like (lol did I actually say that) Jung-won at all. I’m relieved that she’s on the cusp of finally accepting what’s been obvious to us for weeks, because the level of awkward in that house was getting painful. I feel a little cheated, though, that we didn’t even get any quasi-family bonding moments—what about all that eating together and smelling each other’s poop?
I wonder if it’s even possible to untangle everyone’s hopelessly mixed-up motives, from the reason Na-ri proposed the arrangement, to the reasons why each man is pursuing her in the first place. For the former, was it really to break up with them? Was it to confirm her feelings? Or was it in fact to undo them? Or some combination of all three? As for the boys, I think their feelings for Na-ri are genuine, but some idiot sense of competition and territoriality has magnified their pursuit to an uncomfortable intensity. At the same time, I think Hwa-shin is justified in feeling played with, because Na-ri’s skinship rule leaves the balance of power unfairly on her side. If you’re having rules, it seems like it would be fairer (and more sensible) to have a no-skinship-by-anyone rule.
But here’s the thing, too. I’m sure Na-ri knows Hwa-shin is the one she really likes. She did, after all, nurse a three-year crush on him that she admits she didn’t succeed in killing. I’m impatient with the artificial protraction of Jung-won as a viable rival, with that lack of spark and liveliness in his interactions with Na-ri that’s had him shelved in my mind for weeks. As before, I can see the intent: He’s the very model of a modern man and just bursting with chivalry, but I’m really uncomfortable with his presumption, and the passive-aggressive way he has of whittling away at Na-ri’s agency.
By now, it seems more like a smokescreen to the real, more difficult and more interesting conflict of why she can’t pick Hwa-shin even though she clearly likes him more (by far more than 1%). When it’s so obvious their feelings are mutual, why aren’t they on the same page? There’s so much there to unpick—Jung-won is not the obstacle. Even the issue of the boys’ friendship is nearly irrelevant right now; that relationship is one thing, what’s between Hwa-shin and Na-ri is another altogether.
No, the real problem in Na-ri and Hwa-shin having a relationship is in the corpse of her crush that lies between them. She’s clearly scarred from the way he used to treat her, and what she said to him about not being able to trust him is really telling, because that’s the number one thing that their relationship lacks and desperately needs, if it’s to exist in any healthy way. “Being real” with her ceases to be a virtue in Hwa-shin, because that’s not what she needs. What she needs is a sense of security from him. If you think back to the kiss, it was the only time that Hwa-shin was impossible for her to resist, and if we examine what led her there, it becomes clear that there’s a lethal mix: not just a storm of mutual feelings, but he’d actually treated her well—unprecedentedly, swoonily well—all day.
It’s such a simple formula, but she’s been conditioned with negative associations between her feelings for him versus his treatment of her for over three years, even in the very recent past. She doesn’t feel emotionally safe with him, and he can’t undo that with a little careless wooing. With those memories and that hurt constantly rising to the surface and coming to the fore of every meaningful argument they have, it’s hard to blame her for just not wanting to start something with him, even if she has feelings for him. After all, she had those same feelings for him throughout her crush. He treated her like crap then.
The fact that he’s basically treating Hye-won the same way now says something about him that I’m not sure I like. Of course he isn’t obliged to accept the feelings of anyone who likes him, but he seems to take refuge in humiliating others, and that’s not a characteristic that makes me root for him. Hwa-shin really is his own worst enemy—he hardly needs Jung-won to show him up, he does a great job all by himself. The only thing that makes this occasion slightly less terrible is that Hye-won is a badass and won’t take it lying down. Seeing her crack was still a little bit painful, though.
Even seeing Hwa-shin break was painful, despite his buttface tendencies, because once again, that raw sincerity goes a tiny inch in redeeming him. I keep being reminded of the story of King Solomon and the baby; I feel like Hwa-shin proves his greater love and the seriousness of his emotions by refusing to play the share-game anymore, with an attendant understanding that love isn’t a prize to be won or lost. So he’s far from hopeless…but he’s also got a long way to go.
Speaking of King Solomon, I don’t see why the two-mom solution has to be so drastic. Of all the triangles in this show, shouldn’t this one be the most resolvable? Can’t they carry on living the way they are? Or if either or both women find someone else they want to live with, can’t they share custody like any other parents? I just don’t understand why Pal-gang can only pick one when they both have legitimate claims on her, and she clearly has important relationships with both of them. Don’t break the momance, show!
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 17
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 16
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 15
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 14
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 13
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 12
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 11
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 10
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 9
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 8
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 7
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 6
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 5
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 4
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 3
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 2
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 1