Chicago Typewriter: Episode 2
I love it, I love it—this show contains the essence of an era gone by that enchants my spirit and delights me to my core. Being in the spotlight is never easy, especially when there is no room for error and when one wrong word can endanger a writer’s career. Never has the saying “You should never meet your heroes” been so relevant than when the shiny veneer of Se-joo’s public image threatens to shatter in the mind of his biggest fan.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Getting glimpses of her past life, Seol’s hand begins to shake. The intruder uses the distracted moment to carefully reach for a golf club, but she catches him and fires a warning shot before directing the gun back at him.
Now we see what she does: her past self donned in period clothing, her gun trained on a man’s head as tears filled her eyes. Seol’s hand starts shaking again, and this time the intruder grabs the golf club. He charges at her, but she flips him over her shoulder and pins him to the ground, then tells a shocked Se-joo to call the police.
After the man is taken away, Se-joo is annoyed when Seol weakly asks to converse inside since he needs to assess whether she was an accomplice. Feeling woozy, Seol says the front gate and door were unlocked, guessing that was the intruder’s doing.
Se-joo asks how she knew that he was in danger, and she wearily answers that she was chasing the dog. She soon collapses, and he catches her just in time.
Meanwhile, the dog stops outside where a spirit leaves its host and enters (or re-enters?) the old typewriter.
Seol wakes up with a start and gasps to learn that she’s in Se-joo’s bedroom. When her friend Bang-jin calls to check in, she quickly says she can’t talk because she doesn’t remember how she ended up in Se-joo’s bed, then hangs up.
She ventures outside, taking in the ceiling-to-floor library. Suddenly, a door unlocks behind her, and she carefully walks inside Se-joo’s office. Her eyes fall upon the antique typewriter, giving us longer glimpses of her past life: her bursting inside a room with a gun, the back of Se-joo’s past self, and the back of another man in a hat.
Seol reaches out to touch the typewriter as the men’s heads begin to turn… and Se-joo walks in just to drag her out of the office. Hearing again that another door opened up for her, he wonders why all these literal doors supposedly keep opening up for her, asking if this means she’ll drop by whenever she pleases.
He also wants to know why she was so interested in that typewriter—did she plant a hidden camera on it? She realizes that the typewriter was what was in the box, and then her stomach growls.
Cut to: Seol slurping ramyun while Se-joo works at the table. When she asks if he’s sitting here so she wouldn’t eat alone, he brusquely replies to “abandon” any dreams or expectations because he still doesn’t trust her and wants to make sure she won’t flit off somewhere without his knowledge.
She thinks he’s acting rather cold to her considering that she saved his life. Se-joo sets her straight: She was the one who jumped into action when he could’ve dealt with that guy himself. Uh huh.
He clarifies that it wasn’t his gratitude toward her that let her rest here either—the house was swarmed with reporters. He does, however, wonder if she ever learned how to shoot because she looked skilled with a gun. “A very long time ago,” she answers, adding that she used to be on the national team back in high school.
He chuckles at that, thinking of the markswoman bearing Seol’s face in his dream. He’s quick to enforce that this doesn’t mean he’s interested in her, but he wants to know why she gave up that aspiration. She says it’s top-secret because people typically leave her once they find out, so she’ll tell him once they get to know each other better.
He dryly answers that he’ll die without knowing then, then tells her to leave if she’s done eating. But he has trouble typing with his injured arm, which prompts her to offer her speedy typing skills.
Seol types furiously, excited by the idea of being the first person to read Se-joo’s latest manuscript. Hearing her say that reminds him of the 1987 Stephen King thriller novel Misery, and she immediately draws similarities between her and the nurse who rescued the writer protagonist and read his manuscript (and held him captive).
Se-joo says he was the one who called his personal physician to treat her in his home and saved her life. When she speaks up, he asks if she ever stops talking, and soon the only prominent sound in the room is the clickety-clack of keys.
He catches her periodic reactions to his writing from giggling to exclamations, and at one point, she goes silent—contemplative. He chuckles softly, pleased.
As Seol continues to work, the room magically spins around them, transporting us back to the 1930s. Exasperated, Past Se-joo yells at Past Seol for being such a slow typer when he’s got a deadline. She barks back that he has poor handwriting and points out that he got drunk last night and injured his hand.
He loses control of his bicycle on his way to the presses and crashes into a pile of straw. Witnessing that first-hand, Past Seol laughs at him. He tosses his bag at her, promising to give her half his pay for making the deadline.
She hops on the bike, only to stop a few feet later, chuck the bag back at him, and ride away, reminding him to write something better than a third-rate novel that will only waste newspaper space. Infuriated, Past Se-joo yells out her name: “Yoo Soo-yeon!”
We warp back to the present, and both Se-joo and Seol agree that they felt something odd, as if time and space were collapsing. She nods, asking, “Is this… an earthquake?”
The earth starts rumbling, and they hide beneath the desk. Se-joo tells her to move away, but she snaps that she was here first. As it turns out, Se-joo’s house is the only one experiencing the earthquake which soon subsides.
But as they climb out, the portrait’s eyes and lips move, blowing out the power. Terrified, they crawl back under the desk, and Seol gets reeeeaaaall close. He tells her to back off, thinking of the Stephen King novel, and then she shines a flashlight beneath her chin, which also scares him.
Seol admires the moonlight shining through the window, then turns her head to see Se-joo looking at her. He remembers her saying that they met before and asks when that was: “Was it a very long time ago?”
She stammers, but they’re interrupted by Ji-seok’s arrival, and the power comes back on. Se-joo hits his head on the desk, but that’s the least of his worries because Ji-seok catching her here will only complicate things. Instructing her to find a way to sneak out without notice, he goes to greet Ji-seok.
His mention of an earthquake puzzles Ji-seok, who thinks Se-joo is still shaken up from recent events. Se-joo is the against the idea of paying off Seol and publishing a scripted interview before anyone else does, while Seol sneaks away on the second floor.
Ji-seok counters that the media will have a field day if they find out that the intruder was inspired to commit crimes because of Se-joo’s novels. Se-joo doesn’t believe that his book is the primary cause when it’s apparent the intruder suffered from self-esteem issues.
But Ji-seok says everyone is chomping at the bit to tear apart a star writer like Se-joo… and then they hear a scream. Se-joo loudly denies hearing anything, and we see Seol sitting in the grass with twigs in her hair.
Tae-min’s mother HONG SO-HEE clucks at the news coverage on Se-joo’s attacker, telling her son that Se-joo has a knack for turning normal people into crazed maniacs. Tae-min doesn’t find any fault in Se-joo, whose work Tae-min’s mother doesn’t even consider as writing. Well, aren’t you lovely.
She brings a drink to her husband, author BAEK DO-HA (Cheon Ho-jin), who has also read the headlines. He regards Tae-min as his only biological son, adding that they did a DNA test long ago (that proved Se-joo wasn’t his son?). But his wife believes that those results can always be manipulated, and that Se-joo built his grand house for her husband’s attention.
He angrily says that she’s the one fixated on Se-joo, and blames her for Tae-min and Sera’s emotional states. When she spins the blame back on him, he tells her to take her medication, and she throws Se-joo’s latest novel at him.
Tae-min informs his father (who addresses him in a professional tone) that he’ll be joining Se-joo’s publishing company, Golden Bear Publishing, before heading out.
In his office, Se-joo is unable to focus, thinking of Seol staring up at the moon and Soo-yeon looking back at him. When his ears keenly pick up on the deer grazing outside, he tells the groundskeeper to get rid of the animals and the caretaker (hi, Yoo Byung-jae!).
He’s interrupted again to be told that a reporter received an anonymous tip with the alleged claim that Se-joo plagiarized his book off of the three years of correspondence sent from his attacker. Ji-seok is on damage control duty, telling the reporters that all of Se-joo’s mail goes through screening. Furthermore, Se-joo’s mailing address is strictly confidential.
To his surprise, Se-joo shows up at the office and asks if there were any correspondences sent from his attacker. Ji-seok argues that it’s virtually impossible to know given the constant influx of letters addressed to Se-joo. Discrediting Se-joo’s literary abilities would be one thing, but the problem is that the attacker has killed before, so giving legitimacy to his contact with Se-joo would mean that Se-joo turned a blind eye to the murders.
What Ji-seok doesn’t get is who this informant is, since the attacker has remained silent. And then it occurs to him that someone else could’ve overheard everything at the house that night.
Se-joo gets up to leave and overhears other employees gossiping about him, even entertaining the notion that Se-joo employs a ghostwriter. He interrupts them, thanking them for the wonderful idea, and advises that they make their copyright claims now.
Seol asks her veterinarian sunbae to post flyers to help find the lost stray dog. Just then, a man calls out, “Seol-ah!” and she immediately responds to her name and whips around. It’s Tae-min, who’s here to pick up his cat by the same name. She recognizes him and is in awe that Tae-min also lives in the neighborhood.
She sees him struggling outside with a parked car blocking his own, and flashes her errand service business card. She uses a loudspeaker to call out to the owner, and she accepts his autograph in lieu of payment. He stops when she names one of his novels “Fate” among her top five faves, and when he asks if she didn’t like any book after that one, she hedges. Interesting.
When Se-joo calls asking to see her, she skips over in a different outfit. They meet inside a UFC ring, which she thinks is an odd choice for a date. But Se-joo says he chose this location because it’s too open for anyone to sneak in and install any cameras or wiretapping devices.
He comes right out with it, asking if she was the informant who told the media about the conversation between him and his attacker. She can’t believe that he’s still making accusations toward her, giving an emphatic “no.” Frustrated that he still doesn’t believe her, she drops down to banmal, demanding to know his reasons for suspecting her.
He fingers her as the only person who overheard the conversation that night, and she asks what she has to do to make him believe her. He replies, “Did I not tell you? I don’t trust people. Especially those like you… who put on an innocent face but does malicious things behind my back.”
She wants to know why he’s questioning her if he won’t believe her anyway, and he explains he’s giving her a chance to come clean and possibly exonerate her. He admits it was his fault for not making her promise to keep quiet, but he won’t give her a second chance at forgiveness.
“Hey, Han Se-joo!” Seol hollers. “What makes you so high and mighty?! I said I’m your fan, but you accused me of being a stalker! I saved your life, but you’re ungrateful. Even if I do you a favor, you suspect me and keep your guard up!”
Se-joo tries setting her straight, but she isn’t finished: “You think you’ll always be successful? I know that there will be a day when you hit a dead end! There will come a time when you need someone’s help! Look to see who’s around you then. I’m sure it’ll be nobody.”
He vows that day will never come for him, and she responds by throwing him onto the floor. It’s her turn to swear that she should never have rescued him that night and let him die if he encounters danger ever again.
She storms out and cries that Se-joo has changed since she first saw him ten years ago. She bids farewell to her days as a devoted fangirl.
Over at Riccardo, Bang-jin crushes Dae-han’s crush on Seol, saying that she will always love Se-joo more. He claims to be okay with that, but Bang-jin says it’s infinitely harder now that Seol has been in Se-joon’s bedroom.
Seol arrives just then, clarifying that it was the guest bedroom. She announces to her friends that her decade-long fangirl era has come to an end, which is great news to Dae-han’s ears. He serenades her with his ukelele, and that makes her laugh. Aww.
Meanwhile, Se-joo sits down with his attacker at the police station. The latter explains that his younger sister must’ve blabbed to the press, and Se-joo bristles at his use of “our relationship.” The attacker matter-of-factly says they were each other’s muses to kill and write.
Se-joo takes this opportunity to clearly state that he never read any of his letters and that his book isn’t about him. The attacker says that’s fine—he’ll gift that narrative to him—and leans in to say that he knew from the start that they were very much alike.
He’s done his homework on Se-joo, who was abandoned by his parents at the age of ten. His relative ran away with his parents’ insurance money, and Se-joo was passed around the family until he lived with Baek Do-ha. But why did he leave that household? “You were there for five years until you were sixteen. Were you… abandoned again?”
Se-joo tells him to shut up, but the attacker takes that to mean they do share similar pasts: “We’re always worried about being abandoned again. We’re scared and we never trust other people. That’s why I thought you’d understand—”
“No,” Se-joo interrupts. “You’re just a crazed murderer and stalker. You committed murder simply because you wanted attention.” He believes his attacker committed those crimes to vent his anger toward his pitiful life. He laughs at the ideas of muses and inspiration, asserting that they’re nothing alike and telling him to abandon the idea that he’d understand him.
His attacker feels deeply betrayed and screams that his life came to an end because of Se-joo’s writing. He implores Se-joo to feel what it’s like: “Why don’t you taste death with my words?”
Se-joo tracks down Seol’s address and tries calling. The call is picked up by Bang-jin’s mother, who appears to explain that Seol is taking a break and left the phone behind. As a fortuneteller, Bang-jin senses unrest within Se-joo, who has difficulty discerning whether people he meets are good or bad, and that death stays close.
She predicts that he’ll have two special encounters and wishes him luck since they will be key to his survival.
Se-joo’s overactive mind makes him unable to type one keystroke that night, and he’s awoken the next day by Ji-seok’s call, warning him not to check the news or accept any calls other than his. That’s because his attacker has killed himself last night and left behind a suicide note which expressed his resentment toward Se-joo, who can’t step foot outside his house without being bombarded by reporters.
One month later. Barely anyone has heard of Se-joo, who is rumored to be going through a slump. In truth, he’s suffering from post-traumatic stress and burnout, though Se-joo finds it silly to be told not worry when hearing that worries him.
Unable to see him moping, Ji-seok pulls him out of bed, sits him in front of the computer, and orders him to write. He spits out Se-joo’s quotes from past interviews about the importance of writing anything without concern for perfection, but Se-joo says those were all quotes made by other famed authors.
When Ji-seok won’t quit about an upcoming billion won project, Se-joo lashes out at him, telling him to shove it if Ji-seok doesn’t plan on writing for him. That gives Ji-seok an idea: “Let’s hire a ghostwriter.”
Ji-seok says they can hire a ghostwriter to take over until Se-joo overcomes this slump because what they need most right now is his name. But Se-joo has a strong integrity to his work and tells Ji-seok to get out because he’ll meet the deadline.
While Se-joo flies into a rage that evening when he can’t type out a single sentence, Ji-seok calls up a “Writer Yoo” who usually pens biographies to meet him at a swanky bar. He’s tipsy by the time his guest arrives and has him swear to take this secret to the grave.
Se-joo has another dream that night that takes place in a lively 1930s jazz swing club. He’s approached by a man in a hat (Go Kyung-pyo), and they smile at Soo-yeon ripping it up on the dance floor.
He refuses to dance because of a looming deadline, but his friend encourages him to seize the day (like the name of the club, Carpe Diem) and pulls him toward the dance floor.
Se-joo is awoken by a phone call from Ji-seok asking about the manuscript. He’s annoyed when asked about whether or not he’ll make the deadline, and when Ji-seok gently mentions that he found someone perfect to act as his ghostwriter, he hangs up.
His laptop damaged, Se-joo walks toward the typewriter. But upon contact, he sees images of the past: the Carpe Diem club sign, him laughing with Soo-yeon and a friend. He sees that very scene playing out in his mind, which makes him wonder if it’s a side effect of his sleeping pills or a scene from a novel.
Se-joo places the old typewriter on his desk and takes a deep breath… but can’t bring himself to start typing. He takes out a cinnamon stick from a drawer, but that doesn’t help, so he finds his cigarettes.
He can’t find a lighter, but does find an antique box of matches from Carpe Diem. He lights a match and more images of the past flash in his mind… and he realizes this is the same box of matches that appeared in his dream. Frightened, he puts it out and runs out of the room.
He drives speedily in the rain, scared that he might actually be going crazy. He momentarily entertains the thought of death since a writer’s inability to write would kill one’s career. But then he realizes he’s worked so hard at achieving success, and swerves upon seeing a deer in the road.
He drives off the road and fear consumes him as he thinks, Wait! I haven’t decided whether I want to die or not! Objects fly around him as the car flips and crashes on the side of the mountain. Suffering from a head wound, he passes out.
Se-joo wakes to see a hooded grim reaper-like figure approach the crash site dragging a shovel. It places one gloved hand on the car and bends down… to reveal Seol.
Meanwhile, a dapperly dressed man enters Se-joo’s office and sits in front of the typewriter. He cleans up the workspace and begins typing as the camera pans up to reveal his face.
Back at the crash site, Se-joo remembers Seol’s vow to leave him to die. As she raises the shovel, he screams.
Don’t worry your pretty half-shaven head, Se-joo. She won’t kill you… yet. Let me say that I’m absolutely smitten with the retro tone of this show and the era gone by concepts depicted by the set locations and background music. Everyone looks great in their 1930s outfits, and I love how smart Go Kyung-pyo looks in a timeless white shirt and vest.
We don’t have a full name to the face yet, but I’m most intrigued by Writer Yoo. He eerily seemed perfectly at home in front of the typewriter without (as far as we know) experiencing any flashbacks of his past life. Time will tell if his personality in this life is anything like the carefree man we saw in Carpe Diem. Although we’ve only seen happyish memories of the 1930s trio so far, I love that we can already feel the great chemistry in their relationship. Furthermore, I’m enjoying how the past is popping up in the present: Seol sees glimpses of her past life while Se-joo dreams of his own and freaks out to find more and more items from the 1930s showing up in his workspace.
As creepy as it was hearing Se-joo’s painful childhood from the lips of his attacker, we now have confirmation that he keeps people at arm’s length to prevent himself from being abandoned again. We may not know exactly what made him leave the Baeks ten years ago, but Seol tells us that’s when her adoration for Se-joo began. I was so proud of her when she got to speak her mind and was even prouder when she closed the door on her fangirl days, though I’ll miss her adorable fangirl moments like when she drew close to Se-joo in the dark. But I am looking forward to her getting her revenge because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
In that same vein, Se-joo’s declaration that he’ll never experience writer’s block felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially when his career was already in a spiral. His book may not have been the primary cause for his stalker-fan’s unhinged behavior, but it’s understandable that he experiences post-traumatic stress following the man’s suicide, and that the death left him so shaken that it would impede his ability to work. Ji-seok can be money hungry, but he’s also the one to pull his friend out of bed and try and give him a reason to keep going. I found it funny-sad when Se-joo snapped out his suicidal thoughts and was filled with new determination, since it was self-realization that kicked him into staying tied to life. He’s told that two very special encounters will be the key to his survival, which I’m sure includes Seol.
I can’t help but be suspicious about Tae-min, though, who is seemingly perfect on paper. Everyone in this world seems to react most to one novel “Fate” in different ways, and it was notable that Tae-min froze when Seol named that one has her favorite in his collection. It’s clear that virtually everyone thinks of him as second-best compared to Se-joo, and I can imagine that there will come a day when that idea will eat at him if it hasn’t already.
Even though Seol and Se-joo’s relationship is at a crossroads, I still love seeing them together onscreen. It’s the tiny moments that move me, like Se-joo smiling at his fan’s appreciation of his work, and how he stares at her while she looks up at the night sky. Likewise, there’s so much that’s left unsaid in Soo-yeon’s eyes when she has that gun raised that leaves me both breathless and on the edge of my seat for more.
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- Chicago Typewriter’s star writer, ghostwriter, and anti-fan go for a spin
- News bites: March 11, 2017
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