Chicago Typewriter: Episode 4
Great writing isn’t something that can be conjured out of thin air—rather, it’s a product of hard work and perseverance by a writer who refuses to quit, even when he’s at the end of his rope. So when Se-joo is unable to think himself out of the biggest writer’s block of his life, he’ll be reminded of the reasons why he loves and lives to write. They say the scariest moment is always the one before you start writing, but he’ll need to start somewhere if he doesn’t want to see his life go up in flames.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Se-joo accosts the man typing at his desk, who carefully introduces himself as the ghostwriter YOO JIN-OH. His nonchalance at being caught annoys Se-joo, who demands to know who sent him.
Cut to: Ji-seok singing heartily to “Why Do You Call Me” by Diva with the publishing team at noraebang. Lol. Se-joo’s call cuts the party short, and one threat sends Ji-seok flying out of there.
Se-joo ties his trespasser to the chair as they wait. Writer Yoo finds this excessive considering that he came clean about being hired by Ji-seok, who sounds his arrival by pounding the locked door.
Once inside, Ji-seok asks when Se-joo changed the passcode. He’s perplexed when Se-joo argues that he gave the ghostwriter access to his house since they tabled the idea of hiring a ghostwriter (oh?). So Se-joo pushes him into the office to see said ghostwriter for himself… but the chair is empty.
Ji-seok wonders if Se-joo is still taking his meds, then decides to settle this once and for all by calling Writer Yoo. When the call goes straight to voicemail, Se-joo angrily grabs Ji-seok, who shouts the writer’s full name: Yoo Chang-myung. Hmm.
Asked about the name Yoo Jin-oh, Ji-seok says he never heard of a writer by that name. Then Se-joo turns to the portrait hanging on the wall behind him, and it dawns on him: The name Yoo Jin-oh is a play on Eugene O’Neill (yoo-jin-oh-nil).
His rage drives Ji-seok out of the house, and he calls Se-joo’s physician to find out when his last therapy session was. Once the coast is clear, Jin-oh emerges from the bushes, wondering how he can keep working.
He muses, “Should I… toy with him some more?” Inside, Se-joo rips up the draft sitting in the typewriter.
Later, Ji-seok gulps when Tae-min tells him that he’s chucked his manuscript. He declares that he’ll be starting from scratch and take a trip for research. He declines submitting that discarded draft for revisions, saying that he wants his first novel in five years to be a good one.
Ji-seok can’t believe that he’s got two writers driving him up the wall, but then quickly corrects himself, claiming that nothing’s wrong with Se-joo.
Seol gets an eerie feeling on her way to the animal hospital, and stops to check if someone is following her. She doesn’t see anyone, but we see who’s following her: Jin-oh.
Seol is filling in for her veterinarian sunbae today, but she declines to work alongside her here at the clinic. As the day goes on, she’s unable to shake off that nagging feeling that she’s being watched and goes to check, but there’s no one there.
Tae-min arrives with his cat, hoping to entrust her here while he’s away. Jin-oh watches them head inside, where Tae-min voices his worries about his cat sleeping more than usual.
Noting that Tae-min often leaves his cat here, Seol guesses that the animal might have a fear of abandonment. She chides Tae-min for not noticing that his cat’s behavior changed because he was too busy to play with or groom his feline companion.
Deciding that Tae-min needs to know how to have fun, she spends the afternoon teaching him how to play with his cat. He ends up buying a mountain of cat toys and invites her out for a drink, swearing that he simply wanted to thank her, and in turn, ask her for a favor.
Unable to type a single word that night, Se-joo decides to turn in early. But the tick tock sound from the pocket watch keeps him up, and he realizes that Seol was looking for this very watch.
Seol grabs that drink with Tae-min, where she’s asked to be his assistant. He’s in need of an expert in veterinary medicine, and when she offers to give him a referral because she quit the profession some time ago, he insists that he wants to work with her.
He does ask why she stopped being a vet, and just like with Se-joo, she promises to answer once they get to know each other better. Tae-min is onboard with that idea, saying he wanted to get to know her from the moment he saw her. Aw.
Seol has a few more drinks before telling Tae-min why she gave up veterinary medicine. During one of the hand-foot-and-mouth disease breakouts, she was responsible for euthanizing cows and collecting their blood samples. She had to put one sweet calf to sleep, and the poor thing died in just three seconds.
“Ever since then, I can’t forget the sound of a cow’s cries. I became a vet to treat sick animals, but it felt like I killed more animals than I saved,” she explains. Haunted by the sound of their cries, she left that profession.
As Seol walks home that night, she wonders if she was a butcher in her past life because she always gets discouraged whenever she aims to do anything related to taking a life. She thinks: Or maybe… I killed someone? Maybe I’m being punished for killing a precious someone who should not have been killed?
Se-joo arrives at Seongsucheong, hoping to see Seol. His face brightens when he sees her walking up the hill, though troubled when he sees Jin-oh following her. He waits until Seol is inside to confront Jin-oh, who stammers to ask if Se-joo is here to get his fortune told.
Se-joo doesn’t let him change the subject, grabbing him by the shirtfront and asking why he keeps showing up. Taking his hands, Jin-oh confesses, “I fell in love at first sight.” Taken aback, Se-joo lets go, but Jin-oh clarifies that he’s not in love with him, but Seol.
Bang-jin’s mother can sense something evil lurking outside and instructs her daughters to bring her red beans (believed to ward off evil spirits). She senses two spirits but is unable to discern which one is evil.
Meanwhile, Se-joo asks how on earth Jin-oh crossed paths with Seol, to which the man replies, “I fell in love at first sight at the airport, when I arrived in Korea from the States.” Se-joo scoffs at that answer, but then Jin-oh exclaims that they have to run because he feels something approach, and bolts.
Seconds later, Bang-jin’s mother emerges and throws the red beans at Se-joo. The women recognize him belatedly, and while Seol goes after Se-joo, Bang-jin berates her mother. Her eyes still fixated outside, Bang-jin’s mother murmurs that she can see it all over his face—his good looks. Pfft.
Bang-jin grumbles when she’s sent out to collect the fallen red beans. She isn’t alone in the task, however, and when she reaches for the same bean as her helping hand, she looks up to his face… and gapes at Jin-oh’s handsome face.
She smiles involuntarily when he does, and he pours the red beans from his handkerchief into her bowl. He picks up two more red beans with his fingers, which make them look like finger heart gestures.
He turns to take his leave when she calls out to ask for his name. Saying he can’t readily give out his name, he says she can call him “Yoo.”
Seol finally gets Se-joo to stop and talk to her, and the first question he asks is, “Do you know someone named Yoo Jin-oh?” He asks how they know one another and if Yoo Jin-oh talked about him. When she doesn’t know where to start, he advises her to start from the beginning.
So she does, replying that she doesn’t know a Yoo Jin-oh. She asks if that’s all he came here to talk about, and then Se-joo places the gold pocket watch in her hand, which he claims to have found on his way here.
Touched, she badgers him with more questions, asking if he went back to the cabin just to retrieve this for her: “For me? In case I’d be sad?” Se-joo sets her straight with the truth: that he was caught in a fog and he saw it sparkling on the ground.
He makes sure to reiterate that he wasn’t “thinking of her” when he found the pocket watch, but she’s grateful and cheerily offers to take him out in exchange for “finding my heart.”
He has her take him to Subway, which she feels doesn’t hold good memories for him here. Her eyes widen when he asks if that’s because he was talking about his past in his feverish state, realizing that he remembered when their paths crossed here ten years ago.
She frowns when he remembers her as the crazed fan who gave him a hot beverage and secretly took his photo, claiming that she knows more about him than he thinks because writers speak through their words. Se-joo says he was a nobody back then, and she confesses to having read the manuscript he was writing ten years ago.
Turns out she read a crumpled page when she was cleaning up, and Se-joo arrived to work for a few more minutes. Se-joo is spooked, saying that this revelation is eerily close to “Misery,” but doesn’t believe that a scrap piece of paper was enough to know him.
He’s surprised to hear that they had conversations too—she pulled up a chair and asked if he was a writer because he worked like a madman. She asked why he wrote like his life depended on it, and he answered with a quote from Lord Byron: “‘If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.'”
Se-joo was pleasantly surprised when Seol knew that quote. She claimed to be a bookworm and asked if Se-joo decided to be a writer to overcome life’s difficulties. He said writing makes him look cool; this grasping at straws through his words was safer than being with someone who could betray him at any time, allowed him to escape reality without the use of drugs, and could turn out to be a lucrative career.
He thought he could be happy if he could earn a living through his writing, and that prompted her to ask what sort of writer he hoped to become. He replied, “An original writer?” Seol guessed: “A writer who imitates nobody?”
He corrected her: “No, a writer whom nobody can imitate.” They simultaneously identified that as one of François-René de Chateaubriand’s quotes, and he laughed.
Se-joo can’t fathom the very idea that she made him laugh since he believed he had no reason to be happy ten years ago. When he chooses not to disclose what happened back then, Seol guesses that there was some heartache there.
She says his writing on that scrap paper was amazing and better than any novel he’s published. Even then, she knew he’d become a great writer, rooted for his success, and prayed that his suffering wouldn’t hold him back, but would mold him in becoming a fantastic writer.
She asks if his career choice made him a living since they last met, and he says he can buy anything his heart desires. Then she asks, “Have you become a writer whom nobody can imitate?” He goes silent at that, reminded of his ghostwriter, which she takes to mean that dream has yet to come true.
He says they should leave, and she asks if he’s upset with her, adding that this only makes him seem like an overly sensitive writer. She stops in her tracks when she sees Se-joo and Tae-min’s commercial playing in a store window and comments that Tae-min is much more handsome in person—they even went out for drinks earlier tonight.
Hearing her speak positively of Tae-min ignites a flame of jealousy and makes Se-joo doubt her claim that she was his first fan. She counters that he didn’t want her to be his fan anymore, and he exclaims, “I took you back!” Frustrated, she turns to leave, but he wants to know if he’s any better-looking in person than on screen.
“You’re obviously as handsome in person as you are on TV!” she hollers. Hahaha. It’s then they notice that they’re being photographed, and Se-joo takes her hand and instructs her to run.
As they run, the gold pocket watch falls out of Seol’s pocket… just like it did in Se-joo’s dream of the past. The similarities continue as she doubles back to retrieve it, then tells Se-joo to run again. They hide in an alcove, and Se-joo watches Seol check to see if they’re being followed, just like Ryu Soo-hyun (not Yoo Soo-yeon, whoops!) did.
He presses her against the window, asking, “What are you? Why do you keep showing up before me? What are you to keep showing up in my dreams… in my head… and my novels?!” He looks back up at her shocked face, and lets go of her before walking away.
Se-joo returns home and checks that his office is empty. He stares at the portrait of Eugene O’Neill before exiting… and Jin-oh emerges from behind a bookcase and apologizes because he has nowhere else to go.
While Seol discovers that the broken pocket watch is working, Jin-oh kicks back and whistles in Se-joo’s office.
At breakfast, Seol asks Bang-jin’s mother if she remembers when her mother came to see her because young Seol was apparently saying some strange things. Bang-jin’s mother claims not to remember, but she asks if Seol has been seeing things again.
Seol denies it, then gets a call from Dae-han, who sadly asks if it’s true that she and Se-joo were up in the mountains together and are an item now. He’s heartbroken, and Seol finds out that those photos taken with Se-joo have gone public.
The media has a field day, identifying Seol as a former vet who was also present when the stalker-fan broke into Se-joo’s home and Se-joo’s caretaker following his car crash. Seol is even described as Se-joo’s alleged ghostwriter, which Tae-min’s mother considers a bit of a stretch given the quality of the photo.
That sketchy reporter, REPORTER SONG, is currently eating at the restaurant where Bang-jin now works part-time, sighing that a juicier scoop requires the use of a hidden camera.
Tae-min’s mother suggests making Seol work for them and offer her a chance for a tell-all interview. She hangs up, unaware that her husband has overheard her conversation.
Ji-seok follows up with Se-joo, who isn’t at all perturbed by the scandal. Ji-seok is happy to hear it and advises Se-joo to solely focus on his work because they cannot allow the public to think that this issue has gotten under his skin. Se-joo hangs up, and Ji-seok asks his staff to track Seol down.
Se-joo sits down at his desk, staring at the blank page until he finally types one sentence: “Looking at Hwi-young, Soo-hyun said…” before amending it to: “Looking at Soo-hyun, Hwi-young felt his heart race.” But then he gets rid of that sentence too and groans in his chair.
Thinking of how Jin-oh was typing away on the old typewriter, Se-joo decides to give it a try. Setting it before him, he loads the typewriter with paper and slowly begins to type. He barely gets two words in before ripping the paper out of the ribbon and crumpling it up.
He tries once more before giving up, and soon we see his office littered with balls of paper. He forces himself to keep going before letting out a frustrated yell and stepping away from the typewriter.
He dunks his head in his sink and thinks back to how Seol asked him if he found writing to be fun. “No,” he answers. He ruminates over her question about what kind of writer he hoped to become, and he answers, “A writer to whom writing comes easy.”
Se-joo heads back to his office when he hears the sound of typewriter keys. He bursts inside to discover Jin-oh, typing away at the desk. “Have I… been caught again?” he asks haltingly.
Se-joo chases him around the desk, and Jin-oh says he was rewriting the manuscript that Se-joo ripped up because he thought maybe Se-joo was unhappy with it. “Who told you to?!” Se-joo yells. Jin-oh: “I did! I mean, my heart told me to because I wanted to help you.”
Jin-oh hopes that they can talk it out, but Se-joo is prepared to strangle him. Jin-oh says doing so will only make it harder for Se-joo to get the answers he wants, so Se-joo orders him to sit.
Once he does, Se-joo asks how he got inside last night. Jin-oh says he snuck inside after Se-joo arrived home last night. Se-joo was apparently too lost in thought to notice, and when he’s asked if he slept in this house, Jin-oh carefully replies that he had nowhere else to go.
Se-joo asks how he got in the first night then, and Jin-oh says picking locks is a piece of cake for him because he dipped into some “dark” jobs back in the day. Se-joo already knows Ji-seok didn’t send him and demands the truth. Jin-oh honestly answers, “Myself. I sent myself… to you.”
Jin-oh jumps out of the chair when Se-joo grabs a heavy bookend, telling him to calm down because Se-joo won’t get answers if he passes out. He doesn’t really have an answer to Se-joo’s question of what his motivations are for being here, but when Se-joo makes a move to chase him again, Jin-oh says he can think of something.
“I want to become your friend?” he ventures. “And I’d like to live here with you?” When Se-joo tells him to leave, he repeats that he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. Se-joo threatens to call the police, but Jin-oh says that will only complicate things for both of them.
He explains that he’d only tell the cops the truth that he was here as Se-joo’s ghostwriter, which Se-joo hears as a threat. Stuffing the manuscript in Jin-oh’s face, Se-joo drags him out of the office.
But then the doorbell rings, and Se-joo stuffs Jin-oh back inside his office. It’s Tae-min’s father, who would like to speak with Se-joo inside. Se-joo lets him in, but doesn’t look him in the eye to greet him.
Tae-min’s father asks if Se-joo lives in this grand house by himself, and if he’s all right. Se-joo asks him to come right out with it because he knows it wasn’t easy for Tae-min’s father to slip out without his wife’s knowledge.
He claims to hold no resentment toward Tae-min’s mother and understands why she hated him: “What woman would want to raise a child she has no relation to… whom her husband suddenly brought home? And the child of her husband’s first love, at that?”
But his resentment is directed at someone else: “It’s you. The person I trusted the most and the man whom I regarded as my own father… betrayed me.”
Meanwhile, Jin-oh flips through a book in Se-joo’s library. He goes to return it when he spots a manuscript hidden behind the books: the first draft of the novel “Fate,” written by Se-joo. He then pulls Tae-min’s published copy of “Fate” from the shelf and begins to read.
But then his chair tips backward and Jin-oh falls, letting out a yelp. Tae-min’s father looks back to the office, and Jin-oh stuffs the manuscript beneath him and hides under the table just as the older man walks inside.
Tae-min’s father bends down to pick up the crumpled balls of paper when his eyes go wide. He draws closer to the table when Se-joo walks inside, insulted that a knowledgeable writer such as Tae-min’s father would trespass into his workspace.
Tae-min’s father says Se-joo has “something” a writer should not have: “Wouldn’t it be wise to get rid of things that could later become problematic?” He advises Se-joo to put it away, adding that this visit was a mistake.
Se-joo pulls Jin-oh up to his feet, asking again what exactly he wants from him: “Are you doing this to ruin my life?” He swears that he won’t go down easy: “Do you have any idea what it took for me to get to where I am?”
Chucking Jin-oh to the floor, he screams, “I won’t ever fall to ruin because of a punk like you!” Jin-oh then asks, “Were you ever… a ghostwriter yourself? Did you ghostwrite Tae-min’s novel ‘Fate’?”
Se-joo barks at him to leave, then grabs a stack of Jin-oh’s pages. “My words may be stolen from me, but I don’t steal other people’s words.”
He sets the pages ablaze, then tosses them into the air, letting the remnants fall where they may.
Damn, would you take a look at that final shot—that’s a man who means business. I truly admire Se-joo’s fierce pride and sense of ownership in his work, because you don’t get to the top without facing countless obstacles. And yeah, I’d be pretty bitter too if something I wrote was handed to someone else to take credit for.
If I had any doubt about Jin-oh before, though, this episode gave us enough clues to surmise that our resident ghostwriter might actually be a ghost writer. Many of you eagle-eyed viewers picked up on how Se-joo was only one of two people who directly interacted with him in this week’s episodes. For a hot second there, I thought that Tae-min’s father was staring right at him while he was hiding under the table, but then I remembered that Jin-oh was sitting on top of the “Fate” draft, so the man was likely instructing Se-joo to get rid of “that.” It was a careful choice in dialogue and a clever trick in the show’s direction, since that moment of disapproval could’ve referred to hiding a man in one’s creative space (or even hiding a same-sex relationship in general, since we’ve been told that Se-joo disliked dating in the traditional sense) instead.
But I think it’s safe to say that by that point in the hour, most of us had already guessed that Jin-oh was only visible to Se-joo. At present, I can think of two character possibilities for Jin-oh: either he is a ghost of his 1930s self trying to help his reincarnated buddy through a rough time, or that he’s a figment of Se-joo’s imagination as a way to cope with his post-traumatic stress by creating an extension of himself that would write down events from his past life. Or perhaps it’s possible that the spirit inhabits Se-joo from time to time and conjures up a human image of Jin-oh as a form of accompaniment. That last possibility would explain how Bang-jin’s mother can sense two spirits outside her house, and how Bang-jin (who might have shaman powers herself?) can also interact with Jin-oh.
Furthermore, there’s the way that Jin-oh talks about himself and advises Se-joo against harming him because doing so will prevent him from getting answers. He also said that he “sent himself” from the States, which makes me believe that he was the one who typed out that message to be sent to Se-joo. Jin-oh also seems to move independently from Se-joo as well, since Se-joo had no idea that Seol met Tae-min until she told him about it. And if Jin-oh is indeed the spirit that inhabits the typewriter, then that would also explain his declaration that he fell in love with Seol when they first met at the airport.
I’ll be honest when I say I’m a little worried that we can draw these educated guesses about Jin-oh this early in the narrative. I’m hoping that there’s much more to figure out because it wouldn’t be as fun for us to be left waiting an indeterminate number of episodes to see if we were right. Still, I love the tie-ins between the two time periods: Se-joo is still challenged to become the best possible writer he can be, and Seol questions whether or not she took a life in her past life. I’m hoping that a majority of those answers can be delved into through the past because nothing makes me happier than seeing Soo-hyun school Hwi-young and knock him off his feet.
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