Manhole: Episode 4
Oh Time Travel, how you do confound. Pil has his hands full this week, trying to navigate a mystical manhole, prevent an upcoming catastrophe that only he knows about, and fix his previous mistakes while trying not to make any new ones. It’s a good thing Pil has a never-ending supply of energy, as this journey is anything but smooth sailing.
EPISODE 4: “Love hotly!”
After leaving behind his gangster self of 2017, Pil awakens to find himself not back in high school as he expected, but on a lovely sandy beach. Stumbling towards the ocean, Pil screams to the sky, “Where did you take me to, you darn manhole!” and a helpful passing chryon tells us that this is 2011.
Collapsing back on the lounge chair, Pil realizes that he does remember when and where he is. He also starts dry-heaving at the sand. Looks like his 2011-self partied a bit too hard the night before.
As Pil lies there just trying to maintain, a man waltzes up to his chair and starts digging into him for drinking too much. Apparently this is Pil’s ex-marine Uncle, whom Pil’s father had given instructions to “build [Pil] into a legitimate human.” Best of luck, friend.
After Uncle leaves, Pil laments that he can’t fix anything from here, since he was supposed to go back and lose the fight with Church Boy. He quickly forgets his trouble though, when a beautiful girl walks up to him, smiling and asking if “Oppa” is all right. She laughs that he couldn’t hold his alcohol from last night, but poor Pil can barely manage a twitch and just stares pathetically at The Pretty before passing out again.
Pil’s friends are on a road trip together, with everyone crammed into the car and happily singing along to music. Jin-sook snaps at them to be quiet so she can concentrate on driving, but the silence barely lasts a second before they’re back at it.
Between Dal-soo’s begging for air conditioning (because he’s overheated from Jung-ae clinging to him), Seok-tae’s whining about bumpy pot holes (because he’s sitting in the trunk, ha), and Gu-gil’s demands for a change in music, it’s all too much. Jin-sook gives an almighty bellow and yanks the car off the road.
At a rest stop, drill sergeant Jin-sook puts everyone in their place before dismissing them with instructions to eat, drink, and poop, then return in 20 minutes. They all scatter, no one hearing Seok-tae’s pitiful pleas to let him out of the trunk. Aww, they forgot about him in there.
Still stuck in a haze, Pil dreams of fire and jerks himself awake, just in time for his uncle to toss a bucket of water in his face. Heh. Sopping wet, Pil staggers around, suddenly remembering that there is going to be a bad fire that night.
Soo-jin manages to get a smile (albeit reluctantly) out of Jin-sook and wonders why Pil invited them all to the beach. Ah, so that’s where they’re going. Jin-sook scoffs that Pil invited them because Soo-jin would never have agreed to come alone, nodding to the group and calling them all “just bridesmaids.”
As the gang loads up into the car, who should pull up right in front of them but Church Boy and his friends. He looks very different from the studious guy we just saw in 2017, calling out to the group and smirking at Soo-jin who looks like she’s trapped in a nightmare.
Soo-jin spends the rest of the drive lost in bad memories while the group ineffectually tries to cheer her up with the suggestion that their three guys should go back and take on Church Boy and his two friends. That is, until Gu-gil points out that their third dude is Seok-tae, who’s more likely to cause damage than help in a fight. Everyone perks right back up however, when Jin-sook spots the ocean.
Pil is still trying to remember the events leading up to the fire that night and recalls that all his friends will arrive at the beach. He attempts to call them, but his phone is dead.
He snatches his uncle’s phone, but because Pil is used to current-day smart phones, he doesn’t have Soo-jin’s number memorized (Pil: “Who memorizes phone numbers these days!?”). Uncle yells at him to go charge his phone in the shack, but by the time it has enough battery to turn on, the gang has arrived.
Pil runs up shouting at them to leave, but Soo-jin just snaps his picture and Jin-sook tosses the car keys at him, leaving him to park the car while they all rush to the beach.
While Soo-jin takes everyone’s pictures on the beach, Pil tries to tell Jin-sook that there will be a big fire here tonight. He rants that though no one will get hurt, some guy saves Soo-jin’s life and they end up dating seriously for a while. (Pfft, figures that that’s the part he’s worried about.) Jin-sook of course has no idea what he’s talking about and yells that he must still be drunk.
Pil tries to explain further, but Uncle steps up with a squirt gun and starts shooting at his nephew like he’s an errant puppy. Uncle escorts Jin-sook away while Pil screams ineffectually that a fire really will break out.
As the group sets up camp on the beach, Church Boy and his friends wander past, deciding that they should camp nearby.
Determined to prevent the fire, Pil runs around hauling buckets of water over to the shack, ignoring the crazy looks from his friends. When Soo-jin asks what he’s doing, Pil gasps out that it’s for the fire, you know, just in case there happens to be one. Dal-soo just shakes his head and jokes that Pil is going crazy since Soo-jin is here.
Pil runs off for more water and doesn’t see Seok-tae march past him. Sweaty from the beach, Seok-tae upends one of the buckets on himself. Pil turns at the noise and shrieks to see Seok-tae empty another of his precious buckets. Losing his mind to see his water go to waste, Pil chases Seok-tae around the campsite while everyone laughs.
When things calm down, Dal-soo and Gu-gil have a literal sunscreen tug-of-war over who gets to apply it on Jung-ae, and Pil looks like he’s died and gone to heaven as Soo-jin gets up close and personal to apply sunscreen on his face.
As Soo-jin twitters concernedly that he’s getting too tan, Pil’s eyes can’t help but wander downwards until he’s legit gawking at her chest. She snaps at him to bring his eyes up top, but she doesn’t really seem upset.
Pil gives her the saddest puppy eyes and thinks to himself, “How are you getting married? What will I do without you?” Right next to the couple, Jin-sook watches them almost wistfully.
The sun lotion party is broken up by the arrival of Church Boy. Everyone jumps up to confront him and Pil immediately tugs Soo-jin behind him, promising that nothing will happen to her. She stares at him for a moment, remembering when he said the same thing the day she broke the mirror.
Pil puts on a strong front, swaggering as he reminds Church Boy that he beat him up before. Except, Church Boy looks confused at that and Pil’s friends shake their heads urgently.
Soo-jin jumps in to break them apart, but Pil continues to taunt the guy, saying that after he “beat him to a pulp,” Church Boy started studying for the civil service exam. It’s too far, and suddenly Church Boy’s fist is making contact with Pil’s face.
For a split second it looks like Pil will dodge it the same way he did in his gangster days. But it seems his fighting skills are no more, and Pil gets knocked flat on the sand.
As he lies dazed on the ground, Pil wonders how this happened. He passes out, and we suddenly cut over to a classroom full of elders who are learning about computers. The teacher explains the concept of a reset button: Everything goes back to the way it was in the beginning. Ahhh. That’s a twist.
Pil wakes up with his friends hovering over him, and he learns that his rewrite of the past never happened, and he actually lost the fight at the church. He starts writhing around to realize that whenever he goes back in time again, whatever happened in his previous time travel gets reset to the way it was originally.
Soo-jin heads straight over to Church Boy’s camp. Smiling at her ex, Soo-jin tells him that throughout her life, there have only been two times when she was embarrassed for confessing her feelings. She says the first time was to Pil, when she secretly sent him a picture she took of him running because she was too embarrassed to say how she felt out loud.
Church Boy cuts in to say that he knows the second time was when she confessed to him. However, Soo-jin corrects him that the second time was also to Pil. Pointing back towards the beach, she says that Pil just stood up for her, that he is always the one to stand up for her, taking the blame and promising that he will protect her.
So, Soo-jin continues, she confessed to him in her heart, but was embarrassed that she couldn’t say it out loud. Church Boy notes that she told him how she felt really easily, but Soo-jin argues that when you truly like someone, you’re terrified to say it because you’re scared that the other person’s love for you will cool.
Dropping her friendly tone, Soo-jin tells Church Boy that she heard he’s been asking around for her, wanting to date again. She guesses that their meeting at the beach isn’t a coincidence and firmly tells him that he hasn’t got a chance with her.
With a final warning not to touch Pil ever again, Soo-jin storms off like a boss, not seeing Jin-sook standing nearby, having overheard everything.
Soo-jin finds Pil in the shack and tells him to stop getting beat up. Pil, however, just pouts that yesterday he was such a cool badass, and now he can’t dodge a single punch.
Jin-sook heads back to the camp as well, just in time to stop the boys from launching a Braveheart-style revenge attack on Church Boy. Bit late, fellas.
The boys play on the beach while the girls watch, Soo-jin remarking that Pil has a lot of energy to already be running around after just getting knocked out. Jin-sook wryly comments that whoever ends up marrying him will never be bored.
The revelry gets interrupted by the arrival of the pretty girl who woke Pil up that morning. She happily joins in on the fun, though the guys look decidedly more excited about the addition than the ladies.
Elsewhere, Pil’s parents continue their lives on their own, blissfully content to leave their son in the care of his uncle.
In town, the Bong Bong Pub opens and the owners stand outside distribution flyers. Seok-tae’s postman father happens to drive by and comes to a screeching stop when he catches sight of one of the lovely owners.
At the beach, the boys have all flocked around the new girl as she tells them that she felt an instant connection to Pil, laying it on pretty thick. For his part, Pil looks pretty uncomfortable with the whole thing and desperately tries to change the subject when she asks if he has a girlfriend.
Not twenty feet away, the girls all glare at the boys, with Soo-jin looking like she wishes that the straw she’s chomping on were Pil’s neck. Jin-sook quips at Soo-jin to let the straw live, and Jung-ae growls that the new girl is dead if she turns her attentions on Dal-soo.
Pil jumps up, desperate for an out, and trots over to Soo-jin to announce that he has to go up to the lodge and collect the rented inner tubes. Soo-jin plays it off like she couldn’t care less, but scowls to to see the girl run after Pil.
Pil tries to collect the inner tubes and leave, but the girl is pretty much glued to his hip the whole time. Using a combination of guilt-tripping and aeygo, she manages to drag Pil up to her room. He gapes to see that her room is literally covered in racy underwear and bathing suits, and hurriedly collects the inner tubes so he can skedaddle.
Tenacious, the girl grabs on to one side of the tube and pulls Pil back, asking him to stay the night with her. It’s as he tugs on the tube that Pil remembers when this happened the first time. He flashes back to the image of Soo-jin and Jin-sook storming into the room and calling Pil trash.
Pil immediately lets go of the tube and the girl goes flying back onto her butt. She starts fake crying as Pil remembers that the last time this happened, the girls treated him like a pervert for the rest of the trip. He tries to leave, but can’t ignore the girl wailing about her booboo. Going to help, he kneels down right behind her, and of course, that’s when the girls walk in.
Pil tries to explain, but between his stuttering, the girl clinging to him, and the underwear lying around, it looks bad. When the girl attempts to lay claim on Pil, Jin-sook angrily grabs his and Soo-jin’s hands together and yells that these two are dating. The girl quickly drops the cutesy act, glares at Pil, and coolly walks out.
Pil watches her leave, apologizing to her in his head and hoping that she finds a good man someday. Unfortunately he gazes after her too long, and Soo-jin and Jin-sook give him twin glares of death. Soo-jin vents her rage, shoving Pil down into an inner tube before Jin-sook pulls her out of the room.
As Jin-sook drags her friend out, they pass right by Soo-jin’s future fiancé, Jae-hyun, with what looks like his current girlfriend (the same girl from the park the last time we were in 2017).
Pil staggers down the stairs with his arms full of inner tubes muttering that he did nothing wrong, but stops short to see Jae-hyun and his girlfriend.
Pil strolls up to the table and bangs his hands down, demanding to know what he’s doing there. But when he gets nothing but confused looks, Pil remembers that Jae-hyun hasn’t met him yet. Pretending he mistook him for someone else, Pil backs off and rushes out, swearing to tell Soo-jin the truth about her fiancé when he returns to 2017.
Pil runs up to Jin-sook and starts trying to justify his actions to her, but she turns him around to show that he has a much bigger problem than proving his innocence: Soo-jin has found herself a new guy (Dayum! Hello, six-pack). As Soo-jin laughs with the sexy shirtless hottie, Pil stares, horrified.
Seeing the newcomer’s face, Pil remembers that this is the guy that will eventually save Soo-jin from the fire and start a relationship with her. We flash forward in Pil’s memory to see the guy carrying Soo-jin out of the burning shack while Pil looks on helplessly from afar.
Pil dashes up to the pair and tries to interfere, but Soo-jin completely brushes him off in favor of Mr. Six-Pack.
This time it’s Pil’s turn to watch as Soo-jin flirts with another guy, and he’s not taking it well. Jin-sook comments that Soo-jin looks uncomfortable, then whacks Pil and yells at him that Soo-jin clearly doesn’t care about the guy and wants Pil to come save her from the conversation.
Pil just stares at her, so Jin-sook sighs that he really was no good at starting a race. She says that the gun has already gone off and he hasn’t started running. That finally gets through to Pil, who downs his beer and sprints to his crush.
Pil grabs Soo-jin’s hand, offering to help her apply sunscreen, but Mr. Six-Pack gets annoyed and pushes Pil back. This is the wrong thing to do in front of Soo-jin, who gets suddenly protective of Pil.
Luckily Uncle comes over at that moment and gives Mr. Six-Pack a shove in return, yelling at him for hitting his nephew. It turns out that the guy is actually a marine himself (explains the abs) and he runs off on ex-marine Uncle’s orders.
Uncle sends a wink towards his nephew and gives Pil the keys for a jet ski. Next thing we see, the two of them are speeding across the water, Pil laughing while Soo-jin hides her face in his back, terrified. He totally goes faster to make her hug him tighter.
Afterwards, the group of friends watches the sunset together, all of them enjoying the sight. Pil just stares at Soo-jin instead. Aww.
The group gathers around a campfire that night (HAH! Pil has ringed the campfire with water buckets and fire extinguishers). Jung-ae fangirls while Dal-soo sings the love theme from Secret Garden (which came out that year), and Gu-gil reenacts the sit-up scene with Seok-tae like a couple of doofuses.
Dal-soo ends the song and comments that he shouldn’t sing any more sad songs, blathering on philosophically that one must approach love with reason, not emotion.
Jung-ae swoons at that, but Gu-gil drunkenly rants at him, “Do you know what love is? Do you know how it feels when you can’t say you love the person that you love?” The words strike a chord with Soo-jin, who looks over at Pil.
After Uncle retires for the night, the friends light some fireworks, and Pil and Soo-jin sit off to the side, watching the display. Soo-jin thanks him for standing up for her earlier, while Pil stares at her longingly, wondering if he should just kiss her now and accept the probable slap she’ll give him after.
Soo-jin tells him that she knows she can take care of herself, but when someone steps up to help, it feels like she’s not alone in the world. She then asks if Pil will be there for her in the future, the same way he was today. Regrettably, Pil is so busy staring at Soo-jin’s lips and debating kissing her that he misses the question, and she snaps at him to keep his mind out of the gutter.
Soo-jin brings out her digital camera and Pil laughs, remembering when he gave it to her. He tells her to keep taking pictures, saying that she’ll make a living with it one day. Soo-jin is doubtful, but Pil jokes that has an eye for the future. Soo-jin asks what he sees in his own future, and he thinks, “I get married to you.”
Nervous at the topic, Pil dashes off and Soo-jin is left looking at the picture she took that morning of Pil running towards the group. She decides to title it “Run to Me.”
Away from everyone, Jung-ae puts some serious moves on Dal-soo, and the flustered poet looks like he’s about to faint from his hormones. His leg drifts too close to the lit mosquito coil and he yelps from the burn. Jung-ae leaps at him to help, nearly crawling up his leg to “blow on it.” Goodness. Girl knows what she wants, I suppose.
The rest of the group is sitting around the fire and Soo-jin wonders where the other two went. Pil recalls that after this trip, Dal-soo and Jung-ae move in together, and he breathes a sigh of relief to know that she’ll never end up with Gu-gil. But then Gu-gil pops up, having heard that Jung-ae is off with Dal-soo, and he drunkenly runs out into the night looking for them.
Soo-jin is quite tipsy herself, and starts heading towards the shack to sleep. Pil leaps to stop her, saying that there will be a fire and asking her to just stay with him until midnight. Instead, Soo-jin hauls him over to the shack and posts him as a guard outside the door. Yelling at him to protect her, she stumbles inside, locking the door behind her.
Pil sits himself down to guard her room and ticks off his time-travel to-do list: The church fight is back to normal, and he can reveal the cheating fiancé when he returns. All he has to do now is prevent a fire for the next hour, and he’s home free.
Seok-tae wakes up to find that he’s the only one left at the campfire. Wrapping himself in a blanket, he walks by the fire and unknowingly drags his blanket over the dying embers. He then loses the smoking blanket on the pile of inner tubes before waddling over to Pil.
Pil jumps to see that everyone is gone from the campfire and immediately douses it with water, sighing that the threat has been eliminated.
Just then, Pil is distracted by the sight of Jung-ae stomping over, with Gu-gil and Dal-soo arguing behind her. Looks like he found the lovebirds. Pil runs over to break it up, not seeing that the fire has begun to spread from the blanket to the inner tubes, and then finally the shack.
As Pil tries to drag Gu-gil away, they all freeze when Gu-gil notices flames coming from the shack. Pil pauses for one shocked moment, then sprints towards the fire. Nearby, Uncle also sees the smoke and runs to the beach.
Everyone runs around the shack, using Pil’s water buckets on the fire, but it’s too strong. Pil starts to wrap himself in a wet blanket so he can break through the flames, but Uncle comes running up and drags his nephew back from the blaze.
While Pil struggles against his uncle, Mr. Six-Pack comes bounding up with his own wet blanket. Pil sees him and runs straight at the guy, shoulder checking him hard and grabbing the blanket from him. Pah!
Pil throws the blanket over himself and jumps through the glass window. He wraps the blanket around the unconscious Soo-jin, gathers her into his arms, then he kicks open the door and hero-runs out of the shack.
Stumbling to the sand with her, Pil yells frantically for Soo-jin to wake up. She finally stirs awake coughing, and stares up at Pil. He flops to the ground in relief while Soo-jin gapes at the chaos around them.
Soo-jin leans over Pil and asks what happened. Looking at her like she’s his whole world, Pil tells her:
“I told you that nothing would happen to you. You asked me whether I would come forward if something happened to you. Of course. Have I ever not done that?”
Aww, he did hear her. Soo-jin looks completely lost for words, and as everyone dashes around them, she starts to slowly lean down. Pil stills, actually trembling as she draws closer and closer to him for a kiss…
But then, when Soo-jin’s lips are a hairsbreadth away, the clock strikes midnight and time freezes. (Gah!) Pil’s 2017 self is once again forced out of his body and he’s yanked upwards, all the while yelling at the damn manhole for its terrible timing.
We return once more to the waterslide manhole tunnel, then cut to the exit where it’s bright daylight. Yet again, the manhole cover flies off. Then, out of the billowing smoke rises… oh my. Hubba hubba!
Wearing a sexy black suit and styled hair, Pil nearly floats out of the manhole like he just stepped off the cover of GQ.
The manhole cover comes plummeting down once more and a chryon updates us that it is noon in 2017, now five days before Soo-jin’s wedding.
Looking at his fancy new threads and checking that his gangster tattoos are all gone, Pil smiles to see that he fixed the future. Believing that he’s now mastered the rules of time travel, Pil sets off, eager to find Soo-jin and confident that he got things right this time.
Rewinding to mid-afternoon in 2011, all of the friends spend the day speeding around on jet skis and banana boats. That night, when Jung-ae is putting the moves on a nervous Dal-soo, Gu-gil comes screaming out of the woods and rips Dal-soo out of her grasp.
Gu-gil yells at his friend that they’re supposed to be a family and begs him not to break their friendship over a woman. Dal-soo fervently agrees and barely gives Jung-ae an “It was fun, see-ya!” before trotting off with his buddy.
Oh, Gu-gil. I appreciate your tenacity, but sometimes you really need to know when to quit. Although, given Jung-ae’s single-minded determination in pursuing Dal-soo, they may actually be perfect for each other.
After making it through our second week of episodes, I still really like this show, but it feels a bit like there is something missing. The acting is great, the music is moving, the shots are beautiful, and the plot—while slightly cookie-cutter—does have some entertaining twists when it introduces new rules into the time travel. (I honestly wasn’t expecting the reset concept, and it’s a clever way to both fix and cause problems.) The one thing that doesn’t quite mesh yet is the relationship between Pil and Soo-jin.
I hesitate to say it’s an absence of chemistry, because I do feel the tension, and those puppy eyes they make at one another melt the ice around my jaded heart very nicely. It could just be a lack of backstory. So far in each timeline, Pil has spent more time with his friends than with Soo-jin. Without that interaction, it’s hard to appreciate their dynamic. I really want to like them, but I just don’t understand them (yet!) and am constantly left wanting just… more. At this point, I’m feeling more of a connection between Pil and Jin-sook than with Soo-jin.
And how about that Jin-sook, huh? I’ve really liked her character this whole time, but I totally didn’t see her as part of a love triangle until this episode. She and Pil seemed like just great friends, until the look on Jin-sook’s face when she watched Soo-jin and Pil playing with sunscreen. I’m not sure if this is intention, or if these two characters just have some great chemistry, but now I’m finding myself torn. I’m used to always getting Second Lead Syndrome when the guy likes the girl, but I’ve never watched a drama where I wanted the second lead girl to triumph. I have no idea if there’s some twist planned for the end game, but at the very least, I’m hoping that one of these upcoming future 2017s will include a storyline where she and Pil are together, just so I can see what it would be like between them.
As much as I enjoy the bumbling Pil, I really like this cool and suave guy that just climbed out of the manhole. Pil’s main flaw seems to be a lack of confidence, which leads to zero motivation for anything—including pursuing the love of his life. He spends so much time second-guessing himself and pining for what he wants without the confidence to just go for it. I am a firm believer in what they say about confidence being attractive, and this new suited-up and self-assured Pil sure is sexay. But as this can’t be Pil’s last trip through the manhole, it immediately raises the question: How many ways can this go wrong?
- Manhole: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Manhole, Live Up to Your Name
- Jaejoong goes back to high school for Manhole
- Manhole gang’s funky new character posters
- Manhole goes retro for the ultimate beach holiday
- UEE and Jaejoong cozy up under the sun in new Manhole stills
- Cast of Manhole throws dignity out the window for new dance teaser
- First look at Jaejoong’s time-slip rom-com Manhole
- News bites: July 1, 2017
- Baro up for Jaejoong and UEE’s time-slip rom-com Manhole