Introverted Boss: Episode 8
In an attempt to reach her taciturn boss, Ro-woon changes her tactics to hilarious effect. The team enjoys their much-needed break in Malaysia, while our two CEOs butt heads, and simmering grievances come to a boiling point at last. The friends face some hard truths, while Ro-woon figures out that patience is a virtue well worth cultivating.
EPISODE 8: “Unsocial Sociability – Immanuel Kant”
As Hwan-ki drives to the resort with the panda secured with a seat belt beside him, Ro-woon and the little girl, SHI-YEON, wait for him. Every time a van of tourists arrive, Ro-woon perks up, only to subside in disappointment. Finally, a car pulls up and Ro-woon looks up with a smile again, only to find Woo-il walking up to her.
She asks why he’s there, and Woo-il answers that there was someone he really wanted to see, and flying all the way there was the only way he could see her. Ro-woon begins to shyly smile at him until he asks where the orphanage director is.
Ro-woon cringes with embarrassment as she realizes that he came to see the director and not her. Woo-il catches the drift of her thoughts and says that she was part of the reason—she had sounded worried over the phone.
Ro-woon takes him to the director, and they have a long overdue talk. Ro-woon and the little girl watch from a distance as Woo-il hugs the only mother he’s ever known. They turn away, and the little girl asks if she’s unhappy because Woo-il turned up instead of “the man in all black.”
Ro-woon denies it, but then starts smiling the moment she spots Hwan-ki striding towards them. Hwan-ki reaches them and says, “I missed you.”
Then, even as Ro-woon blinks in surprise, he kneels and holds out the panda to the girl. “Did you miss him too?” he asks the girl.
Ro-woon mutters about misunderstanding two men in a row, and starts to scold Hwan-ki for missing his flight without telling them. He asks if she saw the instagram pictures and apologizes for making her wait. Ro-woon nonchalantly denies having waited, but the little girl pipes in that “she’s been waiting for the man in black the whole time!”
Belatedly, Ro-woon covers the girl’s mouth, while Hwan-ki smiles to himself. Ro-woon says that she’s just been waiting for the last picture in the series to get taken. Little Shi-yeon holds her panda close and smiles up for the camera, as Hwan-ki captures their “happy ending” in a frame.
Later in his hotel room, Hwan-ki uploads the image on instagram and it immediately garners thousands of likes. Woo-il is sharing the room with him and asks if they should get an extra cot for him to sleep in.
Hwan-ki wordlessly pats the bed beside him, and Woo-il comments on how suggestive that looks. He decides to tease Hwan-ki by leaning on him and grabbing his hand until Hwan-ki yells with discomfort.
Still laughing like a school boy, Woo-il thanks Hwan-ki for asking him to come on this trip. He remarks that though the director is older now, she hasn’t changed at all.
Hwan-ki thinks back to the day he walked into Woo-il’s office and found the Rose Airline project file on his desk. Woo-il had admitted that he only wanted to talk to Mr. Park because Hwan-ki’s father asked him to.
Hwan-ki had apologized for yelling at him the night before, but Woo-il had brushed it aside, saying that he’d been Hwan-ki’s sidekick for twenty years now. He added that he’s also ignored her (the director) for all of those years and didn’t know how to face her now.
Woo-il had wondered if he could go back in time and change things, would he and Hwan-ki become the friends they used to be?
The next day, in Malaysia, the team takes the children to a water park where everyone has a lot of fun in the water while Hwan-ki hangs back with his camera. He overhears the team wondering at Woo-il traveling all the way here after a single phone call from Ro-woon, and they begin to hound Woo-il with the question: “When are you heading back?”
At night, when they hold an event with the children, the team dances on the stage, and Hwan-ki pouts as Ro-woon pulls Woo-il up to dance with them. He grabs Woo-il at every opportunity and asks him when he’s heading back. Heh.
The next morning, the Silent Monster team makes a toast to their own awesomeness, and Se-jong pays Hwan-ki a compliment by telling him that he surprised them. Sun-bong deadpans, “He’s our boss after all,” (oh, now you’re proud of the team), but everyone waits for Hwan-ki’s response. The silence stretches and Hwan-ki gets up to leave, when suddenly, Woo-il arrives.
He asks everyone to clap for Hwan-ki and takes his friend’s hood off. Yoo-hee calls him a genius and Ro-woon asks him to smile. Everyone starts chanting “smile” until Hwan-ki shrugs off Woo-il’s arm and leaves, making everyone think that he’s upset.
Woo-il looks hurt but smiles and tells the team that they have time off before heading back to Seoul. Everyone cheers, and Ro-woon thinks to herself that though the team was saved by the actions of their boss, this was just the start of a rocky journey.
Hwan-ki walks along the sea and smiles at the memory of Yoo-hee’s compliment. But it’s quickly wiped away, when he sees Woo-il and Ro-woon lounging together by the shore.
What he doesn’t know is that they’re discussing him. Ro-woon says she wants to see him smile, and then wonders if he knows how to. Woo-il says he’s seen his friend smile, but not lately. (Yeah, I wonder why.) Ro-woon notices Hwan-ki glowering at them and calls him over. He just turns and leaves, making Ro-woon jump up to go after him.
Woo-il stops her and says that Hwan-ki needs his space. He tells her that when Hwan-ki has had time to think things through, he’ll approach her like a cat. He thinks back to the boarding pass left on his desk (by Hwan-ki?). Woo-il adds that he knows this method will be hard for an enthusiastic puppy like Ro-woon, but it’s the only way she can see him smile.
When Ro-woon registers the (apt) canine comparison, Woo-il changes the subject by complaining that she only talks about Hwan-ki. This stops Ro-woon for a few minutes, but then somehow they circle back to Ro-woon complaining about Hwan-ki’s all-black garments and wondering if he never gets heat rashes under them.
Hwan-ki watches them from afar as Ro-woon gestures enthusiastically, seemingly able to hear them despite the distance.
And it turns out that Hwan-ki does feel hot in his hoodie of invisibility. But when he begins to take it off by the poolside, the team arrives in all their raucousness and spooks him back into his shell.
Ro-woon notices Hwan-ki lounging on a bench with his jacket zipped up to his nose, and asks if he isn’t hot. Noticing his distinct reluctance to look at her, she remembers Woo-il’s advice to leave him alone. When Yoo-hee comes over to fuss over Hwan-ki, she herds the woman away, leaving Hwan-ki sweltering in his clothes.
He watches the team have fun in the water and wishes he could join them. He agonizes over wanting to go for a swim, but not wanting the attention that will bring.
Finally, Se-jong notices Hwan-ki sitting alone and suggests the team dunk him in the water. Hwan-ki watches with relief as the gang sneaks up on him, their plan obvious, and eagerly encourages them with his eyes. He puts up a token struggle as they throw him into the pool, then proceeds to have the time of his life.
Then… he’s back in his bench again, completely dry and undunked. (Dammit, it was a dream! A mirage?) But Se-jong does get that exact idea in real life and whispers the plan to the team. Sadly, Ro-woon is immediately against it, and even though Hwan-ki is itching to be thrown into the water, she jumps up to defend Hwan-ki’s right to stay overheated by the pool if he wants to.
In front of Hwan-ki’s crestfallen eyes, she makes Se-jong back off and even puts his jacket back on the way it was before Se-jong got to it. Then they go back to having fun, and Hwan-ki leaves the poolside. Ro-woon watches his retreating back and thinks that she has to wait for him to come to her.
He heads back to his room, puts out the “do not disturb” sign, and finally takes off his jacket. He sighs in relief, and then Yi-soo calls to congratulate him on Silent Monster’s success. She asks if Woo-il is close by, and Hwan-ki realizes that Woo-il hasn’t been answering Yi-soo’s calls.
She tells him about their parents’ behavior towards Woo-il, but advises that he pretend not to know anything. She says that she wants Woo-il to relax on his holiday and then “come back to where he belongs.”
Yi-soo tells Hwan-ki that their father is in a good mood right now. Mr. Park’s wife is a painter and the family is about to go to one of her exhibitions. Once she hangs up, she nicks her palm on a thorn from the stems of the roses she’s arranging in a bouquet.
She thinks back to Woo-il driving away from her and grips the stem again, blood dripping from the wound. When she goes out to meet her parents with the completed bouquet, she’s wearing gloves on her hands and a smile on her face.
Ro-woon finds the signs hanging on Hwan-ki’s doorknob and repeats her new mantra—“If I wait, he’ll approach me first”—to generate some patience. Woo-il finds her drawing princesses with Shi-yeon and tells her that she reminds her of someone, though they’re nothing alike.
Ro-woon mentions Hwan-ki again, which prompts Woo-il to ask if she has a crush on him. Ro-woon easily denies this and asks if she shouldn’t talk about Hwan-ki to him—do they have problems between them?
Woo-il ignores a call from Hwan-ki and admits that there’s some awkwardness between them now. He asks for a drawing, and Shi-yeon watches the exchange between them with a frown.
Hwan-ki stomps across the grounds calling Woo-il, then notices Ro-woon strides towards her. Ro-woon watches him come straight towards her, and her face lights up as she thinks that her patience has paid off.
…Only to have her hopes dashed as Hwan-ki furiously asks what exactly happened between her and Woo-il on Christmas Eve. Ro-woon gets angry that this is all he has to say to her, but answers that though she had some embarrassing hopes, Woo-il had rejected her and closed that chapter.
She decides that she can’t stand around being mad like this and drags Hwan-ki to the beach. She calls Woo-il over and tells Hwan-ki that the two need to have a chat, preferably on one of the rafts floating on the sea. Before Hwan-ki can get away, she takes his camera and jacket for safekeeping.
Until Woo-il gets there, Ro-woon decides Hwan-ki should raft with someone else… and her eyes alight on a sleeping Sun-bong. The next thing we know, Sun-bong and Hwan-ki are sitting in the inflated boat, holding the pedals and looking miserable, as Ro-woon takes their pictures from the shore.
She puts Hwan-ki’s camera in the bag, and then runs over to the climbing walls where she hears Kyo-ri crying for help. Kyo-ri is frozen a dozen feet above ground, and when she gets down and starts crying, Ro-woon tries to find out what happened. Turns out, Kyo-ri had tried to climb the wall after Se-jong told her how he was sure Ro-woon would be great at it. Ro-woon realizes then that Kyo-ri has a crush on her friend.
Hwan-ki and Sun-bong sit silently in the boat, both desperately trying to hit on a topic to talk about. Finally, Sun-bong decides to talk boating, and points out how good he is at sailing. Unfortunately, he’s been rowing in the wrong direction.
Hwan-ki asks him to face in the right direction, and Sun-bong gets up to turn around. Only, the boat overbalances, and both end up in the water. Knee-deep water. Hahaha. Hwan-ki grabs Sun-bong’s life jacket to pull him up, but he’s in a panic and manages to pull Hwan-ki down into the water instead.
Finally, Hwan-ki picks Sun-bong up bodily and carries him back to the boat. They sit awkwardly, facing in the right direction now. Hwan-ki wonders at Sun-bong’s inability to swim, since he was in the navy. Sun-bong admits that he was in PX.
This makes Sun-bong ask if Hwan-ki had used his family to get out of army duty, but Hwan-ki says that he was in the counter-terrorism unit. Sun-bong starts sniggering in disbelief, convinced that Hwan-ki was in PX too. But Hwan-ki stares straight at him and says he was a sniper. The look in his eyes silences Sun-bong, who begins to tremble like he is at gunpoint.
Ro-woon finds Kyo-ri near some woods and talks to her about Se-jong. She tells Kyo-ri to confess her feelings, but Kyo-ri feels far too inadequate to even look a chaebol like Se-jong in the eye. Then she looks up and points out that a monkey is carrying away Ro-woon’s purse.
Ro-woon chases after the purse-grabbing monkey, while Kyo-ri cries some more.
Back on the beach, Hwan-ki finishes giving Sun-bong rowing lessons, and they get back on land. Hwan-ki thanks him politely, and Sun-bong instinctively salutes him like a cadet before running off.
Hwan-ki looks around for Ro-woon, and when he doesn’t find her, he thinks of all the pictures of Ro-woon saved in his camera. Woo-il arrives and asks after her, but Hwan-ki is too annoyed to answer and hurries off.
The two find Kyo-ri crying at her bench and ask after Ro-woon. Hearing that she’s run after a monkey, both look at the forest path she took. Kyo-ri adds that it’s been a while since she left.
Hwan-ki and Woo-il run in together, and it becomes a bit of a race. Hwan-ki tells Woo-il that he’ll look for her on his own, but Woo-il follows anyway, until they begin to argue about how Woo-il runs over when Ro-woon calls but doesn’t pick up Hwan-ki’s calls.
The verbal fight escalates to foot stomping, and soon the two are grabbing collars and yelling into each others’ face. They end up rolling on the ground, while each lists grievances against the other. Hwan-ki asks why Woo-il didn’t tell Yi-soo about coming to Malaysia, while Woo-il points out that despite knowing about his father’s behavior towards him, Hwan-ki isn’t worried about Woo-il at all.
This gets Hwan-ki to stop and disengage. Woo-il says that the plane tickets made him think that Hwan-ki understood how he was feeling, but he’s been nothing but cold ever since Woo-il got here. When Hwan-ki tells him to go back again, Woo-il asks if he’s threatening him just like his father—do what he says, or he’ll be thrown out of the family and the company.
Hwan-ki tells Woo-il to be honest with himself and realize that he’s the one abandoning the people who love him. Just then, they hear Ro-woon’s cry for help and run toward the sounds.
They arrive at a fork, where one trail is marked “easy” and the other “difficult.” Hwan-ki makes Woo-il take the easy one, and runs off down the harder path. Luckily, he comes across Ro-woon standing under a tree, her bag (with his camera) hanging on a branch high above.
When Hwan-ki realizes that this is the reason she cried for help, he struggles to reign in his worry, but Ro-woon sees through it. Before she can feel to touched, Hwan-ki asks if she’s seen the pictures in the camera, and Ro-woon realizes that he came running for the camera and not her.
She kneels on the forest floor and tells him to use her as a step to get the purse. He makes her gets up and offers his own back. She gets on and comments on how this is the first time she’s seeing him like this. Hwan-ki mutters that it’s not the first time, thinking back to the night when he’d carried her drunken self to her home.
Her arms fall short, and she decides to try getting on his shoulders instead. This discomfits Hwan-ki so much that he forgets to hold her as they straighten. After a bit of yelling, he steadies her and they manage to get the purse. Then Hwan-ki twists his ankle and they fall in a heap on the ground—Ro-woon landing conveniently (magically?) on Hwan-ki’s chest.
Awareness makes their movements awkward as they try to untangle their limbs, and when Hwan-ki tries to get up, he collapses on his injured ankle. Woo-il arrives to find Hwan-ki hurt but in denial. He ends up carrying his friend out of the forest on his back, with Ro-woon beaming at the pair.
As Hwan-ki and Woo-il squabble, Ro-woon falls back and takes out the camera. She thinks of how worried Hwan-ki was about her seeing the pictures and decides to take a peek. What she sees makes her look thoughtful.
At dinner that night, Hwan-ki sits with a cold compress with his team. Se-jong teases Ro-woon as usual, but with Kyo-ri looking on, Ro-woon tries to get him to stop. He asks for a selfie, which Ro-woon ruins by making a face. It comes out hilarious, and Se-jong passes the picture around the table. It reaches Hwan-ki, who struggles valiantly not to smile.
Ro-woon leans forward, waiting for the laugh to break out, but it’s Woo-il who catches a glimpse of the picture and bursts into laughter. Ro-woon instantly becomes self conscious.
Woo-il invites the director to come to their table. She thanks everyone for giving the children wonderful memories. Se-jong observes that she seems to like Woo-il a lot, which makes the woman excuse herself. Woo-il stops her from leaving and thanks the team for himself.
Woo-il tells them that the project has been personally meaningful because White Cloud Orphanage was his childhood home. As the team recovers from the shock of Woo-il’s humble background, Woo-il thanks them for reuniting him with the family he’d lost.
Hwan-ki sits by the pool, where Ro-woon finds him. She asks if he really was in special forces, and Hwan-ki admits that it was his father’s doing. ”He wanted me to become a man,” he says.
Ro-woon remarks on how much more there was to learn about Hwan-ki. She admits to looking at the pictures in the camera and smiles as he protests that he didn’t have any weird intentions. “You like me, don’t you?” she says.
Hwan-ki goes silent, but then Ro-woon rescues him by adding that there is nothing odd about a boss caring about his staff. Apparently, the camera is full of pictures of the entire team, catching everyone at their best moments.
Ro-woon muses that in many ways she was the same as Hwan-ki’s dad. She kept pushing him to change, even though he was perfect just the way he was. She apologizes and pulls out his freshly washed jacket. As he puts it on, she says they should find a way to communicate that he’s comfortable with.
Ro-woon pulls the hood over his head and says that that’s the real Eun Hwan-ki. This causes a shy smile to appear on his face, though it disappears as soon as Ro-woon notices it. She hounds him for one more smile and follows him around the pool, until Woo-il finds them.
He asks to speak to Ro-woon, but Hwan-ki wants to speak to Woo-il first. Hwan-ki tells Ro-woon to leave, but Woo-il asks her to stay. Sensing the palpable tension in the air, Ro-woon suggests they all get a drink.
At the bar, Hwan-ki fills up two lines of shot glasses and the two friends face off. Hwan-ki returns Woo-il’s wallet, and the friends exchange a glance. In it, Woo-il silently asks if he saw Ro-woon’s sketch, and Hwan-ki nods yes. And then they’re off.
After drinking each other under the table, it is left to Ro-woon to escort the friends back to their room. After depositing Woo-il on his bed, Ro-woon goes back for Hwan-ki, only to find him in splits over her earlier selfie. “She’s so ugly!” he laugh-cries, and Ro-woon rolls her eyes at how long he’d kept that bottled.
She gets him back to his room, then loses balance as she leans forward to put him in bed. She lands between Woo-il and Hwan-ki. Before she can get up, Woo-il pins her in place with his arm, while Hwan-ki ends up inches from her face. As Ro-woon tries to wriggle out, Hwan-ki opens his eyes and gently places a hand on her face.
The bromance was strong in this one. If not for the itty bitty issue of a dead woman in the past, I would have been rooting hard for the Woo-il/Hwan-ki ship this day. This show is hell-bent on making me sympathize with Woo-il. And I do. I understand his fear, I see how he became the man he is, and yet he’s not just the misused, orphaned boy who yearns to belong to a family, Woo-il is also the man who has profited for years from Hwan-ki’s silence and done little to protect his reputation. There is undoubtedly a good man in there–he cares about his employees, wants to do his best by the woman he once saw as a mother–but his relationship with the Eun family is all kinds of wrong.
If all I knew of Hwan-ki and Woo-il’s friendship was what they told me in this episode, then I would have been all for the two making up. Woo-il clearly misses having Hwan-ki at his back. Their history is clear in their every interaction (kudos to the actors for their brilliant chemistry). But I can’t forget Woo-il’s cowardice after Ji-hye’s death, and it seems Hwan-ki can’t either. There are some things that forever change the way you look at someone.
As the most clear-sighted character in the story, Hwan-ki is faced with knowing several truths yet being unable to do anything to change the course of the people he wants to protect. He wants to protect his sister from hurt, but he also wants to protect his friend from his own mistakes. Woo-il might accuse him of holding Yi-soo’s happiness higher than his, but I think it’s the guilt of warring loyalties in his heart that keeps him from actively trying to separate sister from his friend. He cares about Woo-il, feels sorry for him, and yet, he can no longer trust him. This is not a friendship that can be salvaged. I’m hoping for a clean cut in the future.
I realized in this episode that the show has done Ro-woon’s character an injustice. They have failed to make her inherently likeable. The main thrust of her character was of a fearless extrovert out for vengeance, who decides to find out more about Hwan-ki through hook or by crook. If your heroine is going to stalk your hero, go through his things, get into his space, and tell him to smile when he feels self-conscious, then you need to build her up as someone irresistibly charming–someone we would forgive any number of sins, simply because she’s so damned likable. The show didn’t put in enough work into Ro-woon to make us connect with her.
I was waiting to see exactly how the rewrites would affect Ro-woon’s relationship with Hwan-ki. The transition was smooth enough that I don’t think much of her arc was changed. It’s more likely that her development was accelerated. I’m not sure this worked in the show’s favor, since I was willing to swallow Ro-woon’s worst moments, because I was waiting for her comeuppance–her realization that she maligned the wrong man. Unfortunately, that moment seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye and didn’t have the punch I expected. I’m happy that the revenge plan has been put on the back burner, but I don’t think enough happened to take Ro-woon from “Be like Woo-il!” to “Don’t change.” Where was the eureka moment?
Finally, I’m always happy with the way the show utilizes the individual personalities of the Silent Monster employees, and I was delighted by Sun-bong’s chance to get in some bonding time with Hwan-ki. Their simultaneous hyperventilation and Sun-bong’s utter loss of dignity made their scenes the funniest in the episode. I get the feeling that Sun-bong’s going to work harder to keep his snide remarks about Hwan-ki to himself from now onwards.