Fight My Way: Episode 2
It’s time to learn a little bit about why our friends are living third-rate lives, and the reasons they gave up on their youthful dreams. But though their excuses for giving up on themselves may have seemed valid at the time, Dong-man and Ae-ra will be forced to admit that they’ve needlessly allowed themselves to stagnate. There can be good reasons to tell your dreams to wait, but if you make them wait too long, eventually you have to confront the fact that you have nobody to blame but yourself if your life is disappointing.
Round 2: “Whatever they say, we’ll go our way”
Three small children play beside the ocean in a small rural town. Already adorably maternal, little Seol-hee fixes little Ae-ra’s tie so she can pretend to be a news anchor, while cute Dong-man frolics in his tiny taekwondo uniform.
Seol-hee and Ae-ra argue over whether to play house or pretend news, then Dong-man makes Seol-hee cry when his taekwondo move breaks her tea set. Ae-ra whacks him in the head, then she instantly regrets making him cry and gives him a hug and an apology.
In the present day, grown-up Ae-ra offers grown-up Dong-man a similar apology for asking a favor (aww, they literally live right across from each other). She asks him to toss out some of her things, knowing that he’ll do it despite his grouchy protests. Seol-hee, who lives with Ae-ra, leaves with a suitcase in tow, telling them that she’s got a business trip.
Later, Dong-man and Ae-ra happen to leave at the same time, with Ae-ra dressed up for her frenemy Chan-sook’s wedding today. She asks if she looks successful, and Dong-man quips that she changes so fast, it’s like watching evolution. Ae-ra gives him a saucy little hair-flip, but Dong-man just deadpans that he’s losing his appetite.
Turning the aegyo up to eleven, Ae-ra pouts that she can’t help being born so pretty, and Dong-man rolls his eyes and says he’s not afraid to hit her, ha. He notices she’s carrying the plain canvas bag he got for her and offers to buy her another, which just triggers her aegyo again, so he puts her in a headlock.
Joo-man receives praise from his home shopping channel supervisor for discovering a new snack food that’s proving very popular. He finds a pair of movie tickets tucked into a file on his desk, then gets a text from Seol-hee to meet him at a particular elevator.
They pretend to be talking about work while holding hands out of sight of the security camera. In actuality, Seol-hee is handing off the suitcase she brought for Joo-man, since he forgot to pack for his business trip. He asks when she visited his desk, referring to the tickets, but Seol-hee doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
They break apart when a trio of women enter the elevator, and one of them, Ye-jin, pointedly mentions the movie that the tickets are for. Uh-oh. Seol-hee gets off at her floor, forced to leave her boyfriend alone with the pretty flirt as she overhears Ye-jin’s friends talk about her crush on Joo-man and how she’s hoping to take him to that movie.
Over at Dong-man’s workplace, his boss yells at him when an expensive piece of equipment breaks. His supervisor throws Dong-man right under the bus, lying that the equipment is Dong-man’s when it isn’t. He blames his supposed excessive drinking and invites Dong-man to just quit when he objects.
Dong-man heads to the corner to take his frustration out on the punching bag machine. He impresses a pair of little boys by unleashing his famous roundhouse kick on the machine before sauntering off with a bit of his self-esteem restored.
Ae-ra arrives at Chan-sook’s wedding, and yikes — the nicest thing I can say about her much-older, mostly bald fiancé is that he must be very, very rich. Ae-ra sits with a trio of catty girls who don’t seem very pleased to see her, though Ae-ra’s “I missed you guys so much!” seems pretty forced on her end, too.
A friend of Dong-man’s, Kyung-ku, calls him for a favor. He’s a producer at KBS, and he needs to replace a game show participant who didn’t show up, though he assures Dong-man that all he has to do is stand there.
Of course Dong-man is called on to answer a trivia question, and even though he has no clue what the answer is, the contestant agrees with him and loses. Eventually a bespectacled contestant answers a complicated math question correctly and wins, and Dong-man peers at him closely, thinking that he looks familiar.
As Dong-man enters the KBS cafeteria for lunch, a news broadcast offers more information on the mysterious woman Park Hye-ran. We learn that she’s been a news announcer and variety show host for KBS for several years, and is widely loved by her fans.
In the lunch line, Dong-man finds himself next to the winning contestant, and this time he realizes that it’s his old classmate, Park Moo-bin. But Moo-bin doesn’t seem to remember Dong-man, and in fact seems a bit alarmed at Dong-man’s insistence that they know each other.
They sit with Kyung-ku to eat, and Dong-man interrupts their work talk to continue trying to trigger Moo-bin’s memory. When Dong-man mentions borrowing his shirt for a taekwondo meet, Moo-bin suddenly remembers his love rival, but he sticks to his story that he doesn’t know him.
After lunch, Kyung-ku asks Dong-man for another favor, since he knows Moo-bin. They want Moo-bin, who’s a doctor now, to appear on a year-end winners’s special, but Dong-man stammers that they aren’t actually very close. As Dong-man is leaving the KBS premises, he spots Hye-ran walking into the building and turns his back to her. He looks nervous, almost scared, but luckily she doesn’t notice him.
Bride Chan-sook struggles to control the festivities at her wedding reception, catching flack from her female family members for not having an MC. Chan-sook whines that her MC missed her flight, so her mother orders her to find a replacement immediately.
The catty trio fuss at Ae-ra for missing their occasional get-togethers, which for some reason require a membership fee. When they offer to let her only pay half the fee, Ae-ra stiffens and asks if they’re being considerate, or if they’re implying that she can’t afford it. The women squirm at the truth, so Ae-ra gets up to leave.
A desperate Chan-sook grabs Ae-ra before she escapes and begs her to pretend to be her MC, a famous anchor from China. Ae-ra initially refuses, but Chan-sook assures her that nobody will know the difference. One look at the dress that the MC was to wear seals the deal — Ae-ra agrees, unable to resist the siren song of the exquisite gown.
Ae-ra does look amazing in the fabulous dress, and as she approaches the microphone, her confidence grows until she’s in total control. She starts the party and calls Chan-sook up to sing, and Chan-sook makes a big show of being shy even though she actually requested this.
Chan-sook is flat-out terrible, and soon all of the guests are cringing and waving for her to stop. Ae-ra ends the song and talks a bit about the bride, who goes wide-eyed with horror at the mention of their time together in a band. One of the catty girls remembers the male band member that the two fought over, and for a moment it looks like Ae-ra is going to talk about him.
Instead, she just relishes Chan-sook’s terrified expression, then lies that it’s a miracle Chan-sook found someone to marry because she’s sooo innocent when it comes to men. HA. She moves the party along before sitting with Chan-sook, and she snarls that she never stole Chan-sook’s stupid boyfriend — so now, they’re even.
At the table behind them, four men discuss Ae-ra, all of them impressed by her looks and poise. Coincidentally, one of them happens to be Moo-bin, though he’s the only one that admires Ae-ra respectfully.
Dong-man travels home to see his parents for his mother’s birthday, seeming upset that his mom made her own birthday dinner and wouldn’t let him take them out. His mother chatters happily about her thoughtful gift, and when his father snaps at her to shush, Dong-man quietly tells Dad not to yell at Mom.
Dad is pretty critical of Dong-man, implying that he doesn’t have much work ethic and asking how he paid for Mom’s gift. He expresses disappointment that Dong-man didn’t use his skills to become a taekwondo instructor, which feels like an argument they’ve visited a thousand times. Dong-man says that if you look him up online, articles from November of 2007 still crop up, which would scare away any potential students.
When Dad snaps that Dong-man refuses to live properly, Dong-man loses the temper he’s been hanging onto by a thread. He yells that taekwondo is the only thing he’s good at, so living his life doing something else is difficult and pathetic. But he swears that he’s never touching taekwondo again.
Dong-man admits that he’s scared he’ll want to get back into taekwondo, so he puts it completely out of his mind. Suddenly looking like a frightened little boy, Dong-man says that if Dad has used his connections back then, Dong-man wouldn’t have been eliminated, and if Dad hadn’t lost his business, he wouldn’t have entered that tournament in the first place.
His mother nervously asks Dong-man to keep his voice down or Dong-hee will hear (wait, who’s Dong-hee?). Dong-man just says that his dad should have protected Dong-hee instead of him, his lip quivering as he struggles not to cry.
After her MC duties are over, Ae-ra is approached by the three men who were noticing her earlier with Moo-bin. They ask her to have a drink with them, and though she’s a bit confused, she agrees and impresses them with her skill at making soju bombs.
The other three offer to be her black knight (to drink for her), and they express their wish to drive her home later. They insist that she choose her black knight and ride home, so she chooses the only one who isn’t pressuring her — Moo-bin. His friends tell her that Moo-bin can’t handle alcohol, but he defiantly drains her glass in one go.
Instead of going home, Dong-man ends up in front of Coach Hwang’s taekwondo gym, which has been converted into the headquarters for his soondae food cart. Inside, Coach Hwang watches a taekwondo match on television with a couple of friends. Coach Hwang is critical of the contestants, and his friends tease that he’s just loyal to his “first love,” Dong-man.
One friend asks if Dong-man is better than him, and Coach Hwang says he’s too confident, while Dong-man isn’t confident enough. Dong-man surprises them by walking in and joining them, serving them the food his mother sent home for him. The confident friend challenges Dong-man to a match, curious to see if he’s as good as Coach Hwang claims.
Dong-man isn’t keen on the idea, until the jerk smirks and says that it wouldn’t be a fair fight anyway. His pride stung, Dong-man agrees to the fight. As he gears up, Coach Hwang looks like a kid on Christmas.
When the fight starts, Dong-man almost immediately swings, which leaves him open for a punch to the face. He tries a roundhouse kick, but he’s rusty, and the kick misses as Dong-man goes crashing to the floor. Coach Hwang starts to look concerned, but Dong-man is spoiling for a fight now, so he gets up to continue.
He’s again surprised by a hard fist to the face, then another in the gut. A couple more kicks miss their mark, and now Coach Hwang looks really worried. His opponent backs Dong-man into a corner and pummels him, and all Dong-man can do is protect his face.
Coach Hwang calls the fight to a halt. Disappointed and upset, he orders them all out and mutters to himself that Dong-man has become useless. Dong-man finds Coach Hwang prepping his soondae cart and asks him for a ride home, but Coach Hwang snaps that he’s not going to sell in Dong-man’s neighborhood anymore.
Dong-man quips that he sucks, which is why he shouldn’t fight anymore, but his brash words mask an obvious disappointment in himself. In a small, hesitant voice, Dong-man admits that fighting again felt good. Louder, he adds that getting hit made him feel relieved.
Moo-bin’s friends weren’t kidding about him being a lightweight — Ae-ra pats his back while he throws up, griping that he shouldn’t have taken her drink. He says that he did it for the wish she’ll grant him in return for being her black knight, and his wish is for her to refuse his buddies’ offers for a ride and take the bus home.
When she asks why, Moo-bin confesses that at the wedding, his friends had figured out that she isn’t really a famous Chinese news anchor. To punish her, they’d made a bet that the guy who got to drive her home would win the equivalent of a thousand dollars, double that if they could get her to a motel. Gross.
After seeing the chat room on Moo-bin’s phone as proof, Ae-ra asks for a minute alone. She calls Dong-man to ask him to pick her up, which he initially refuses. But the moment he realizes that she’s on the verge of tears, he goes into hero-mode and heads her way. Coach Hwang knows exactly what must be happening, saying to himself that only “Microphone Moron” makes Dong-man act like this.
Moo-bin walks Ae-ra out to the parking lot where his friends are waiting. She refuses their increasingly insistent offers to drive her home as they point out their expensive cars like that’s all it takes to lure her in. Ae-ra takes note of which cars are theirs, then proceeds to methodically and viciously destroy at least one side view mirror on each of their cars.
Once she’s finished, she gives them her real name, telling them that she’ll pay for the repairs. She boldly warns them never to approach her again and turns to leave, but one of them grabs her angrily. Moo-bin tries to pull him off, but Ae-ra says furiously that he probably can’t get a woman into bed without money. Dong-man shows up just in time to see the bastard slap Ae-ra to the ground before grabbing her to hit her again.
Dong-man bellows a loud, “HEY!!” then starts towards the guy. Knowing what’s about to happen, Ae-ra urges the guy to run, but he doesn’t go. Dong-man runs, then launches off a car to high-kick the chair the jerk holds up into smithereens.
He slaps the jerk twice, and when he complains that it hurts, Dong-man asks in a too-calm voice why he slapped Ae-ra. He delivers a crack on the head and a kick to the knee before Ae-ra intervenes. She leads him away, but when the jerk mouths off that she deserves to be beaten, Dong-man goes back for more.
The end up at the police station with the three asses looking like they’ve been dragged backward through a rosebush. Dong-man is in a holding cell completely untouched, which is hilarious, but it does nothing to convince the policeman that the jerks deserved what they got.
The officer argues that with Dong-man’s taekwondo knowledge, this could be considered attempted murder, since technically, he’s a lethal weapon. Coach Hwang shows up, having gotten a call from Dong-man. He ignores Dong-man to check the lead jerk’s injuries with glee. In an awed voice, he tells the officer that Dong-man can still break teeth and ribs like he used to, which is totally not helping.
The lead jerk throws out his family connections, threatening to get Dong-man locked up, which has Coach Hwang puffing up in his face. Ae-ra shoves Coach Hwang aside like he’s nothing to inform the lead jerk that if he sends Dong-man to jail, she’ll show up at his hospital every day to pass out copies of his dirty chat logs.
She says she’ll never stop, and that she’ll even go to his wedding and his children’s school ceremonies to show everyone what a creep he is. Dong-man can’t hide his laughter while Coach Hwang seems terrified of Ae-ra, and Moo-bin looks like he just fell in love.
Eventually, Dong-man is set free, and he trails behind Ae-ra like a sad puppy on the walk home. She rounds on him to ask why he’s moping, and he says that he’ll pay her the settlement money she paid on his behalf, knowing that was the money she was saving for her wedding. Ae-ra just barks that she’s not getting married and leads Dong-man away by the wrist.
They stop for some kimbap, and Ae-ra compliments Dong-man’s on his first spin-kick in a long while. She says that she got to hold a microphone for the first time in a long time tonight too, bragging that they’re both amazing when in their element.
Her split lip stings, causing Dong-man to grab at her mouth to check her out. Ae-ra shakes him off, so Dong-man yells at her, saying that while he may live an embarrassing life, she shouldn’t let others think badly of her.
Ae-ra demands to know why his life is embarrassing, putting Dong-man at a loss for words. Eventually he says that he’s just a lame jock, but Ae-ra disagrees on the “lame” part. She says that she’s sure he’ll make it big some day, but Dong-man mutters that everyone thinks he’s lame.
Reminding him that she’s known him longer than anyone, Ae-ra tells Dong-man to trust her. Again she says confidently that he’ll make it before standing up to head home. Instead of joining her, Dong-man reaches out and pulls her close, wrapping his arms around her waist and laying his head on her belly.
Voice shaking, he sounds like a little boy as he says that she made him cry. He says that she fed him when he was starving today, though it doesn’t sound like he’s talking about food.
Ae-ra realizes that Dong-man really is crying as he demands comfort like a child. He gets distracted for a second and hopefully asks if he’s touching her butt, then begs her to stop getting involved with bad guys. He complains that she just cried over Moo-ki too, which earns him a thump on the head.
Dong-man lets go of Ae-ra and yells at her for hitting him, then orders her to quit letting others hit her, and crying, and breaking side view mirrors. He asks her to just hang out with him, promising to spend his time with her. It’s an achingly vulnerable moment for him, but she doesn’t understand what he’s saying, so he backs off and leads her home.
Six-year-old Ae-ra chases bullies away from tiny Dong-man, who sits in the dirt wailing. Taking his hand, Ae-ra calls him a crybaby and a bedwetter, though she adds that he’s also cute sometimes. Balling his hand into a fist, she tells him to open his eyes and promise never to cry, but instead to use that fist to punch those who try to hurt him.
Dong-man does as she says, but he vows that he’ll never marry her. Ae-ra hisses that she’ll never marry him either, then whaps him upside the head, making him cry all over again.
These little epilogues are wonderful. It’s great how they show us glimpses of Dong-man and Ae-ra in the past and how their friendship has evolved — yet somehow, it’s stayed exactly the same. I just love these two chuckleheads and their oddball friendship so much. My only complaint, and it’s really more of an observation than a complaint because I already love this show, is that we haven’t seen the Fantastic Four together in the present yet. They must all still be friends, I would just like to see it sooner rather than later. But I also understand that it was important to introduce Ae-ra and Dong-man to us properly, and I’m glad the show didn’t rush that in the first week.
I’m glad that we got to see a bit more about Dong-man’s past and why he seems so frustrated and dissatisfied with life. Putting together the clues as to what happened back in 2007, it sounds like Dong-man’s father lost his business, causing Dong-man to enter a tournament to try and win prize money, and there was a scandal. Someone named Dong-hee was also involved, and I’m assuming Dong-hee must be Dong-man’s brother. I wonder if somehow the brothers were pitted against each other and Dong-hee was seriously injured, traumatizing Dong-man. This is all speculation, but whatever the truth is, it’s enough to make Dong-man so scared to go back to taekwondo that he’s willing to give up his entire future.
Back in the romance area, I love how weak Dong-man is to Ae-ra’s tears. He seems always on the edge of annoyance with her until he hears that wobbly voice and sees her eyes well up, and then he just sees red. They’re so much like family already — he can upset her, but let anyone else try, and he’ll mess them up good. He’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he’s too thick to know that his wild reactions to anyone hurting Ae-ra are because he loves her as more than just a friend. And it was great when Ae-ra finally got a chance to show that she’s the exact same way when it comes to Dong-man — when he was threatened with jail time, she used her own brand of crazy to terrify his opponent into giving in. Ain’t nobody going to mess with either of them, not while the other is around.
This episode proved that Ae-ra is even more badass than I originally thought, and she’s quickly becoming a personal favorite. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Oh Hae-young, who was a horrible mess and knew it, but at least she owned her bad decisions and didn’t excuse them or delude herself. Ae-ra is the same way — she knows when she’s doing something she shouldn’t, or making the wrong choice, but she does it with her eyes wide open, fully prepared to accept the consequences. The way she broke each of those jerks’ mirrors before telling them that she would pay for the repairs made me love her even more than I already did. I’m not a proponent of destroying others’ property, but I can’t help admiring that it was worth it to Ae-ra to pay them back for their disrespectful treatment of her, even if it meant she had to foot the resulting bills.
Generally with friends-to-lovers romances, it’s frustrating to see how much the main couple loves each other but doesn’t realize it, but I can actually understand it in the way this show presents these two and their history. They’ve been friends for so long, it’s probably very difficult to differentiate the love they have for each other as friends and heart-siblings from the something deeper they’ve most likely felt for years without noticing. It doesn’t help that both of them are stubborn to a fault, which is at the root of their lifelong friendship but also causes them a lot of problems. Ae-ra stuck with her leech boyfriend way longer than was prudent, even knowing that she was letting herself be taken advantage of. And although it sounds like Dong-man has valid reasons for quitting taekwondo in the first place, and maybe even for avoiding it all this time, he takes it to a ridiculous extreme that only makes him miserable. Learning to let go of old hurts and betrayals can only help them as they finish growing up together, and will also go a long way toward helping them admit their (glaringly obvious to everyone else) feelings for each other.
- Fight My Way: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Circle, Fight My Way, Lookout
- Life is rosy for the youths of Fight My Way
- Oh Snap! A friend to lean on when things go sideways
- Suffocating best friends in Fight My Way’s new teaser
- The cute and the petty in Fight My Way’s second teaser
- KBS schedules drama shorts, delays Fight My Way’s premiere
- Finger hearts in new stills for Fight My Way
- Bickering besties Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won for Fight My Way
- Kimbap and charged looks on the set of Third-Rate My Way