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Fight My Way: Episode 10

One step forward, two steps back… Just when it was looking like everyone was making some fantastic strides towards maturity and honesty, events conspire to put them back in their places. It’s frustrating to watch two couples who can’t just say what they’re feeling, bad or good, because by trying to avoid the risk of being hurt themselves, they only end up hurting each other. But some people manage to push forward despite that, and there’s plenty of cuteness to go around too, making the frustrating moments completely worth the pain.

 
Round 10: “Some or whatever”

The ringing phone wakes Ae-ra in her motel room, and she looks over to see Dong-man sleeping next to her. She checks under the covers and gasps, then pops Dong-man in the forehead, jarring him awake painfully.

Ae-ra also sits up, revealing that she’s still in her bathrobe. She barks at Dong-man for sleeping shirtless in her room, and he covers himself primly, saying that she was in the mood to drink. She snaps back that he said he’d leave when Coach Hwang returned to the motel. He keeps asking her over and over, “Do you really not remember?”

Ae-ra does remember something… She watched Dong-man sleeping late into the night, and reached out to softly touch his face. She whispered out loud, “Why do you have to be so handsome? You make me so tense.”

She grazed his face, and then when she reached his lips, Ae-ra leaned in close as if to kiss him. But she backed off at the last moment and turned her back. Behind her, Dong-man opened his eyes, having been awake the whole time.

Then later into the night, Dong-man watched Ae-ra sleep, incredulous that she could sleep at a time like this. In her sleepy haze, she slid an arm over him and snuggled close, making Dong-man forget to breathe. He looked down at her face and reached out to push her hair off her forehead, and she sighed and cuddled even closer.

Once he recovered for the second time, Dong-man leaned over to place the tiniest of kisses on Ae-ra’s forehead. He closed his eyes and drifted off, and a while later he grew hot and pulled his shirt off in his sleep.

In the morning, he complains about Ae-ra blowing her hot breath on his face, revealing that he felt her touching his face, but Ae-ra tells him to forget it. Dong-man refuses, so Ae-ra goes on the offensive and asks why he’s bare-chested. He doesn’t know, and he gives Ae-ra a cheeky look and asks if she took his shirt off.

There’s a sudden knock at the door, and Dong-man assumes it’s Coach Hwang and goes to answer. But whoever it is has Dong-man rearing back in terror as Ae-ra shakes her head in horrified denial. She narrates that in life, timing is always terrible.

One hour prior to the motel door opening, we see four people descending upon Daecheon at the same time. Dong-man’s acquaintance Kyung-ku travels on a work-related excuse, and Hye-ran grows angrier as her calls to Dong-man go unanswered. Ae-ra’s father has decided to surprise her by coming to see her emcee today, but all we see of the fourth person is a pair of gold high heels.

Thirty minutes before the door opens, Ae-ra’s dad arrives at the event stage, worried that Ae-ra isn’t picking up her phone. He finds the director talking to Coach Hwang and says he’s the MC’s father, so Coach introduces himself.

Coach Hwang walks Ae-ra’s dad to the motel, complimenting him on his strong daughter. He says that he’s more scared of Ae-ra than any other woman in the world, then he slips and calls her “Microphone Wacko” (his nickname for her), making Dad bristle at him.

As they enter the motel lobby, a woman in gold heels quickly slips into the office. She frog-hops across the room, trying to avoid being seen, and HAHA, it’s Landlady Hwang. She shows photos of Dong-man and Ae-ra to the clerk ajumma, who confirms that they stayed here last night.

Ten minutes before the motel door opens, Kyung-ku has found the event stage and is schmoozing the director to let him take pictures. He seems annoyed when the director gushes about Dong-man’s talent.

One minute before Ae-ra’s motel door opens, Coach Hwang and Ae-ra’s dad knock on her door, but nobody answers. The other fighter, Doo-ho, comes out of his room and tells them that Dong-man didn’t sleep in his room. Coach mutters that he didn’t sleep in his room, either.

It dawns on all of them simultaneously where Dong-man must have slept. Ae-ra’s dad pounds on her door furiously, and when it opens, they’re as shocked to see Dong-man as he is to see them. Ae-ra’s dad takes in the scene—shirtless Dong-man, Ae-ra in bed—and assumes the worst.

Dong-man tries to escape, begging Coach Hwang with his eyes to help him, but Ae-ra’s dad tells him in a too-calm voice to close the door. Dad starts taking off his watch and shirt, revealing a scary-looking tattoo on his shoulder… of Ae-ra’s name and birthdate (heh). Coach reaches out to dramatically caress Dong-man’s face one last time, then Dong-man resolutely turns to accept his fate.

Unable to find Dong-man’s motel, Hye-ran instead takes a seat at the show venue. She eavesdrops on the director talking about how great Ae-ra was yesterday, and how she’ll be a star.

Landlady Hwang makes her way upstairs, and she presses her ear to Ae-ra’s motel door alongside Coach Hwang. Coach seems to recognize her, and he starts to ask, “How are you… “ but a loud THWAP from inside the room makes them both cringe.

Ae-ra’s dad delivers a solid beating to Dong-man with a coat hanger as Dong-man whines that Ae-ra already hits him all the time. Dad asks what he’s after by sleeping here, and Dong-man promises that even if the two of them were stranded on a desert island, he’d only consider her like a native or a monkey. Dad snarls, asking what’s wrong with Ae-ra, and Dong-man resigns himself to another beating.

Coach Hwang asks Landlady Hwang why she came all this way, and she barks that sleeping in the same room before marriage is forbidden. LOL. Coach notes that she’s speaking to him in banmal, and she says it’s because she’s older. He tries to ask if they’ve met before, but she cuts him off with a sharp denial.

At dinner with Seol-hee’s parents, Joo-man starts to suggest that their families get together to discuss the wedding, but Seol-hee’s mom says there’s no reason to rush, bringing up a wealthy suitor who’s just waiting in the wings to marry Seol-hee. Joo-man gets a text from Ye-jin in the middle of the meal, but he ignores it.

In private, Mom gives Seol-hee a gold paperweight that represents the last of the family’s money, telling her to spend it on her wedding. Mom says she saved it specifically for Seol-hee and tells her to stop being so timid and insecure, and that if Joo-man upsets her, she should dump him.

Joo-man and Seol-hee’s father have a chat, and her dad says that unlike families who have daughters while trying for sons, they had three sons trying for a daughter. Awwww. He makes it crystal-clear that he thinks Seol-hee is too good for Joo-man. He warns Joo-man not to look down on her, or keep getting phone calls that he shouldn’t answer, or he’ll kill him.

Ae-ra’s dad beams as he watches his daughter prepare to emcee today, and Dong-man begs her dad not to tell his dad about what he’s doing today or he’ll tattle about the coat hanger beating. They’re all surprised to see Kyung-ku there, and not in a good way. Kyung-ku pretends that he’s just recognizing Ae-ra, when it’s obvious that she’s the real reason he’s here.

Tak-soo’s manager, Tae-hee, pops by to talk to Doo-ho. He tells Doo-ho that Byung-joo, the rude fighter whom Dong-man just beat in his last match, has switched to Tak-soo’s team. He offers Doo-ho a spot on their team too, and when Doo-ho tries to decline, he’s told to think a while before answering.

Knowing that his defection would mean leaving Dong-man alone, Doo-ho asks what Tae-hee is after. Tae-hee just says that Doo-ho should think about his baby son, who has bad skin allergies.

Kyung-ku brags to Ae-ra that he’s a PD at KBC now, but she just gives him serious side-eye as he brags. He says that he could have made some calls if he’d known she wanted to be an announcer, but she sternly forbids him to mention her to anyone.

A bit later, Ae-ra is still frowning at Kyung-ku. She asks angrily why Dong-man told Kyung-ku she was here, but he says that he didn’t. Curious, Ae-ra asks how he and Kyung-ku reconnected, and Dong-man admits that Kyung-ku called him and promised him a blind date. Aaawkward. Ae-ra asks if he went on the date, and Dong-man just goes, “Huh?” Ae-ra says accusingly that he did go (Dong-man: “Huh?”), and that he met someone (another “Huh?” LOL).

Joo-man and Seol-hee meet up with friends for lunch, where one of the couples talks about their wedding plans and the groom’s recent promotion. Seol-hee reveals that she and Joo-man will be planning their own wedding soon, but Joo-man seems uneasy and quickly changes the subject.

After lunch, Seol-hee says she thinks it strange that their friend is marrying someone he’s only known a few months, rather than the girlfriend he dated for years. Joo-man doesn’t seem to find that weird at all. Seol-hee notes that Joo-man is cranky, and asks if it’s because his friend got a promotion and he hasn’t yet.

She complains that she doesn’t want Ye-jin’s aunt to be the reason he’s promoted, and Joo-man takes exception to her insinuation that he would only be promoted because Ye-jin likes him. Seol-hee says that she’s okay if he stays an assistant manager forever, but Joo-man gets frustrated and says he isn’t okay with that.

Seol-hee tells Joo-man that she just wants to enjoy the small things in life with him, but Joo-man asks why their happiness has to be so small. Joo-man sighs that if nothing changes, then they’ll never be able to buy an apartment or a car, get married, or have babies. He says that he wants to be able to brag about himself to his friends, to have something to be proud of.

Seol-hee hugs him and says worriedly that she feels like he’s changing. Joo-man steps out of her arms and says that people can’t stay the same forever, and you can’t live life like you’re playing house.

Just before the show starts, Ae-ra asks Dong-man how she looks, and he manages to say that she’s pretty. She asks if he meant what he said about how he’d feel if they were on a deserted island, and when he doesn’t answer, she whines, “Why would you respect me so much?” Hee.

Suddenly serious, Dong-man tells Ae-ra that alcohol saved her yesterday. She splutters at him, and he steps closer to rest his hands on her neck and asks if she wants to go to a deserted island with him. Is it suddenly hot in here?

Looking up at him, Ae-ra asks nervously, “Right now, we’re really, really, really not just friends, right?” She asks if they’re in a “some” kind of relationship and Dong-man laughs. He tells her to stop talking nonsense and pinches her cheeks, and sends her to the stage.

When she begins rehearsing, the director freaks out about Ae-ra not being told something, and suddenly Hye-ran steps onstage with a mic. She admits that she must be evil because she doesn’t like seeing Ae-ra excited, but she doesn’t look one bit sorry about the fact that she’s just deliberately taken Ae-ra’s MC job. Heartbroken, Ae-ra pushes her confused father away from the stage area as Dong-man arrives and takes in the situation.

Ae-ra’s dad insists that he didn’t come just to see her on stage, but to bring her food from his restaurant. Ae-ra barely holds back her tears as she tells him to go, and he tucks some money into her pocket. She snaps that she’s not a child to need money from her father, yelling that he’s making her feel ashamed.

Through gasping sobs, she asks why he came now, just to see her like this, but her dad says that there’s nothing in the world she needs to hide from him. He says that in life, everyone has their own level to play in, and Ae-ra asks incredulously if he’s telling her not to dream. But he explains that a tiny country stage like this isn’t big enough for her. Awww, Dad…

Dad gets in his truck with one last parting curse for Dong-man, and Ae-ra tells him to come the next time she calls him, because next time she’ll be on a grand stage. Dad says that even if she’s in North Korea, he’ll cross the 38th parallel to be there.

After he leaves, Ae-ra sniffles and wipes her nose on Dong-man’s sleeve. She tells him to go because she doesn’t want him to see her crying anymore, and that she’s going back to Seoul. He tells her to wait until tonight and they’ll go together, but she insists on going alone.

That night, Joo-man gets a text from Ye-jin threatening to sleep in the street if he doesn’t come out. He fibs to Seol-hee that he’s going to see his guy friends, and she seems to sense that something is up.

After the show, Doo-ho flips through pictures of his son, then he tells Dong-man that he wants to fight him some time, and that he thinks Dong-man is very strong. Dong-man’s in a bad mood, and when Hye-ran leaves the stage, he shoots her a dirty look.

Ye-jin has been drinking again, and Joo-man repairs her ripped skirt with safety pins. He asks why she hasn’t been coming to work, and she whines that she still likes him. He asks why and she screeches that she wants him to pay attention to her. Her outburst reminds Joo-man of when he and Seol-hee were first acquainted—she’d said much the same to him, complaining that she liked him and wanted him to pay attention to her.

Wailing in earnest, Ye-jin sobs that she feels like she’s dying. Joo-man reaches out to dry her tears with his sleeve, and it’s this cozy scene that Seol-hee witnesses when she steps around the corner.

Hye-ran nastily berates the event director for being unprofessional and disorganized, sneering that nobody can do this job without a script. He mutters that one person can, then asks his assistant if Ae-ra is gone already.

As Ae-ra waits for her bus back to Seoul, Kyung-ku pulls up to offer her a ride. She’s reluctant, but she gets in his car just as a text from Dong-man arrives asking her again to wait for him. Kyung-ku joins her in the car and locks the door, which sets off my creep-o-meter big time. He asks how her friend Chan-sook’s wedding went since he wasn’t invited, and Ae-ra asks why Chan-sook would have invited him.

But something suddenly occurs to her, and she asks suspiciously, “How did you know I went to Chan-sook’s wedding?” Further, she wants to know how he knew about this festival. Kyung-ku says that Dong-man told him about it, but Ae-ra knows that’s a lie because Dong-man already told her that he didn’t mention it.

She asks point-blank if Kyung-ku is stalking her on social media, and he stammers that he’s not. But his car has a navigation computer, and all it takes is one push of a button to prove that he’s got her address programmed into it. Ae-ra tells Kyung-ku that it’s his fault she gets chills whenever she hears percussion bands. Oooh, Kyung-ku is the guy in the band that she and Chan-sook fought about!

She tells him to delete his social media account and to never show his face to her or Dong-man again. Kyung-ku puts on his most pitiful face and says that he’s not the same person he used to be, but Ae-ra doesn’t care. She orders him to unlock the door, and after she gets out of the car, he says under his breath that he’s changed—that he’s not the same pushover anymore. Uh-oh.

Joo-man puts Ye-jin in a taxi, but it only gets as far as the curb before Seol-hee yanks open the door. She asks if Ye-jin thinks she’s a joke, but Ye-jin says that she feels like the joke, as if Seol-hee has been laughing at her. Seol-hee counters that this isn’t one bit funny, and begs Ye-jin to stop and to unfriend Joo-man on social media.

Seol-hee is shocked when Ye-jin refuses. She says that she has no intention of stopping, vowing to take advantage of the weakness in their relationship to sway Joo-man towards her. Seol-hee goes home distraught, too upset to go inside, so she just sits outside the door sobbing about the safety pins Joo-man used to fix Ye-jin’s skirt, saying that that’s her thing.

It’s 2011, and Seol-hee worked at a movie theater with Joo-man as her boss. He came to her rescue when she struggled with the register, and she was smitten by his efficient capability. Later he chastised her for repeatedly causing trouble, but he had difficulty looking directly at her.

He handed Seol-hee a safety pin and pointed out a missing button on her shirt. He fussed at her for being careless and called her distracting, but when she offered to quit, he told her to stay where he can keep an eye on her.

Later they went out drinking with their coworkers, and Joo-man seemed bothered by the attention one guy paid to Seol-hee. Seol-hee excused herself and the guy followed her out to plant a surprise kiss on her, but he was hit upside the head with a flying soda bottle. He turned to see Joo-man running at him, fists and feet flying.

Joo-man lost the fight and Seol-hee hung back to doctor his wounds. He angrily accused Seol-hee of being entirely too cute, what with her adorable little dress and her big eyes and her smile, and he pounded his chest as he said she was making him crazy.

Seol-hee yelled, “It’s because I like you! It’s because I wanted you to look at me that I wore this dress and smiled so much!” Joo-man muttered that she was too darn pretty, then swooped in for their first kiss.

Back in the present, Dong-man sits Hye-ran down for a serious talk, asking why she’s acting like this. She asks coyly if she’s not acting like herself, but he says she’s acting exactly like herself. She smiles, but he tells her to scream and cry if she’s upset, because it’s less pathetic.

Hye-ran asks if he means the way Ae-ra does, and he says that Hye-ran is much more pathetic than Ae-ra. Her eyes going hard, Hye-ran asks why he never dated Ae-ra if she’s so great, adding that she always knew he was unsure. Dong-man says that he and Ae-ra have spent twenty years together, and Hye-ran tells Dong-man not to confuse long-term comfort with liking Ae-ra. She says that if it hasn’t been Ae-ra for the last twenty years, then it will never be her.

She says that she’s acting crazy because Dong-man is the only man for her, pouting that he said she was his first love. Dong-man concedes that she was his first love, but he was young and foolish and let himself get hurt. He says that his first love has ended, and now, “I only see Ae-ra.” Swoon.

He stands to leave, but she stops him and says that he was just as cruel to her as she was to him. She glances over to see Ae-ra outside watching them, so she tries to kiss Dong-man.

Ae-ra turns away so that she doesn’t have to see the kiss, which means that she misses Dong-man shoving Hye-ran away. She’s familiar with this scene, and a flashback shows her turning away to avoid seeing them kiss at a party. Another flashback of the friends at a romantic movie has Ae-ra snarling from one row back as Hye-ran puckered up for a kiss, but Dong-man refused it with a glance back towards Ae-ra.

Yet another flashback shows Ae-ra buying Dong-man some Valentine’s chocolates since he got dumped. But she saw them talking in the street, and when Hye-ran tilted her head up for a kiss, Ae-ra whirled around. She didn’t see Dong-man walking away from Hye-ran, and just threw the chocolate away.

Back in the present, Ae-ra narrates that in life, timing was always terrible, and she always ran away. She runs away again now, not wanting to see Dong-man and Hye-ran together yet again. But Dong-man pushes Hye-ran off, then he spots Ae-ra walking away. He forgets everything and chases after her, turns her to him, and kisses her soundly. WOW.

Ae-ra looks up at him in confusion when he ends the kiss. He says that he won’t lose her again, and that he doesn’t want to go around the long way again. He steadies her as her knees buckle, and he tells her to stand strong. So that she doesn’t misunderstand, he says, “We’ve already kissed, and I don’t know how to do ‘some’ or whatever it’s called. If we’ve kissed, it’s our first day. Let’s date.”

This time it looks like Ae-ra’s brain has shorted out, so he asks her again to date, then a third time in a pleading voice. She unfreezes enough to give him a tiny nod, and Dong-man says that now that they’re dating, he wants to do it again. Ae-ra asks what he means, so he repeats, “I want to do it again,” and he leans in for another kiss. This time, she kisses him back.

Epilogue.

Coach Hwang lights firecrackers on the beach to entertain Landlady Hwang, but when they fail to fire, she tells him to just sit and relax. He asks her excitedly, “But… it is you, right?” He starts to say a name, Hwang Bok-… but she puts a finger over his lips and says that she goes by Kanako Hwang now.

Coach Hwang asks how long she plans to live in the villa, and Landlady Hwang says dramatically, “I’ll live there forever.” Coach Hwang grins like a little boy.

COMMENTS

I’m done. I’m a puddle. That kiss was so worth the wait! I love that we got to see that Ae-ra and Dong-man have been through this before, multiple times, but their timing was always off. And it makes me feel better knowing that Dong-man has low-grade rejected Hye-ran because of his feelings for Ae-ra before, he just didn’t know that Ae-ra felt the same as he felt. Love really is all about timing, and thank goodness they’re finally in the same place at the same time.

I’m realizing that something I really love about our lovable moose is how he says exactly what he’s thinking, exactly when he’s thinking it. In most dramas, the hero would never tell the heroine that he was awake when she touched his face, but Dong-man just talks about it like it’s no big deal. And it’s just so adorably endearing how he says without any artifice that he wants to kiss Ae-ra again. If it were any other character, this constant telegraphing of his feelings would take the tension out of the moment, but somehow when Dong-man does it, it just makes the moment even more tingly and special.

But on the flip side—Joo-man has done so well up until now, but he’s about to screw it all up. In his defense, weak though it is, one of the problems between him and Seol-hee is that she’s genuinely happy with a mediocre life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Joo-man wants more. By trying to be supportive and saying that she doesn’t care if he’s ever promoted, Seol-hee is unintentionally emasculating Joo-man by implying that she doesn’t think he’s capable of better. It’s not true, of course, and Joo-man probably knows that, but I can see why a young, beautiful woman who triggers his weakness for damsels in distress looks appealing.

Ye-jin makes Joo-man feel needed and capable, but it’s still wrong for Joo-man to be spending time with Ye-jin alone outside of work. I’m just saying that I can see why, in his current emotional state of feeling inadequate, he’s drawn to a girl who makes him feel important. I’m still going to be very very disappointed if he starts to encourage her, because so far he’s done a great job of drawing that boundary, but I’m afraid that by meeting her at night and lying to Seol-hee about it, that ship has already sailed. As for Ye-jin, I don’t think much of her now that she’s admitted to pursuing Joo-man deliberately. With all the whining and pouting, she comes across like a child who refuses to accept that she can’t have a certain toy because it already belongs to someone else.

But it’s Hye-ran who really crossed a line in this episode by stealing Ae-ra’s MC job for no other reason than because she could. That’s three times now that she’s sabotaged Ae-ra’s career, but this time was arguably the worst because Ae-ra actually had the job, and Hye-ran took it out of sheer spite. I wanted to cheer when the director asked in front of Hye-ran if Ae-ra was still available. I do appreciate that we learned that Hye-ran is human and always felt unsettled because of Ae-ra, which explains her competitiveness, but Dong-man is right—that’s all in the past, and it’s time for them to move forward.

But despite all the bad things that happened in this episode (is anyone else terrified of Kyung-ku now?), the most important thing is that Dong-man and Ae-ra are now officially a couple! I’m so ridiculously happy. Watching them figure out how to transition from friends to lovers is going to be hilarious and swoony and wonderful, particularly when they’re so open and honest about what they’re feeling at any given moment. They’ve been so great about checking in with each other once they’d established that they were both having confusing feelings. With that kind of connection, not to mention their stratospheric physical attraction, their romance is going to be one of the greats.

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