School 2017: Episode 11
Today’s episode is all about dreams—sometimes a glimmer of hope, while at others, a heavy burden. As our characters juggle their dreams and desires with reality, they start to realize the pain of adapting to real life when things don’t go quite as planned. School 2017 really does feel like a show that has something for everyone, whether we’re here for the romance, the bromance, or the family feels, and this episode in particular is a fantastic balance of the complex emotions we’ve built up in our characters so far. If only they could see that they’re all struggling together.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
With their X hoods removed and identities exposed, Dae-hwi and Tae-woon glare unwaveringly at each other. When a security guard approaches, however, they’re forced to hide together in the music room and wait for him to pass.
Once they’re alone, Tae-woon grabs Dae-hwi and demands to know what’s going on. Dae-hwi explains that Hee-chan has found him out. When Tae-woon asks why Dae-hwi is pretending to be X, Dae-hwi snaps back that he just doesn’t want to be indebted to Tae-woon for covering for him with the math competition.
When Dae-hwi reminds him that Eun-ho is in danger because of him, Tae-woon worriedly asks how much Hee-chan knows about the situation. Dae-hwi notes that without evidence, he was probably just poking around for information. But even though Hee-chan was surprised when he showed up tonight, he says, Hee-chan is smart enough to figure out that he was lying about being X. When Tae-woon asks how long Dae-hwi has known the truth, he doesn’t answer. Tae-woon storms out.
Alone, Dae-hwi walks to the back of the school toward Tae-woon’s hideout. In flashback, we see that Dae-hwi had seen Tae-woon, Eun-ho, and Bo-ra leaving the hideout, where he’d heard them talking about Tae-woon being X. Oops.
In the present, Dae-hwi starts to open the door to the hideout… when it opens up from the inside. Tae-woon tells him to come in if he has something to say.
Inside, Dae-hwi looks around incredulously at Tae-woon’s hideout before he finally asks: “Is this because of Joon-ki?” At that, Tae-woon hides the framed photo of him with Joon-ki and Dae-hwi, snapping at Dae-hwi to shut up. But Dae-hwi knows the truth, and accuses Tae-woon of trying to make up for his and his father’s despicable behavior after the accident.
Tae-woon slams his fist into the wall, but Dae-hwi bulldozes on, arguing that Eun-ho is the one suffering now because of Tae-woon. He sarcastically notes that if things go awry, Tae-woon can always let her take the fall and slip out easily. Infuriated by Dae-hwi’s words, Tae-woon draws back a fist to punch him, but he holds back and takes his anger out on a chair instead.
Tae-woon snaps that the one hurting Eun-ho is Hee-chan, the person Dae-hwi teamed up with: “So how dare you worry about Eun-ho?” In return, Dae-hwi coolly suggests the obvious solution—he just needs to confess that he’s X. With that, he storms out.
Outside, Dae-hwi ignores a call from Hee-chan. Meanwhile, Tae-woon sits alone in the hideout, rereading Hee-chan’s text messages ordering him to meet, or else Eun-ho will get hurt.
Tae-woon storms into the classroom the next morning looking for Hee-chan, and finds him with Dae-hwi behind the school. As Tae-woon listens around the corner, Dae-hwi insists to Hee-chan that he’s the true X. Hee-chan snaps that there’s no way that a spineless sycophant like Dae-hwi could be the culprit, and demands to know why he’s trying to fool him. Hee-chan fixes Dae-hwi’s tie as he speaks, acting high and mighty. But Dae-hwi doesn’t cower, and says that he’s spent enough time around Hee-chan to know one or two of his weaknesses.
Dae-hwi asks why he’s chosen a powerless girl like Eun-ho to pick on, and Hee-chan replies that the reason is because he wants to remind her that she is powerless. At that, Dae-hwi asks dryly whether Hee-chan still shakes and stutters when he gets a call from his father, and this time he fixes Hee-chan’s tie as he warns that if Hee-chan tries anything, he’ll tell his father everything.
As Dae-hwi storms away, he catches sight of Tae-woon listening in. The boys stare at each other before silently going their separate ways.
Later that day, Eun-ho’s admirer approaches her with some chocolates and a love letter. To Tae-woon’s dismay, Eun-ho smiles sweetly as he asks her out to a movie. When Tae-woon tells the guy to buzz off, he asks why Tae-woon keeps following Eun-ho around when she hasn’t accepted his confession.
As soon as he leaves, Tae-woon starts badgering her: “A movie? You two stuck right next to each other in a dark place?!” Eun-ho ignores him and starts to open her package of chocolates, and Tae-woon chomps down and eats it whole, right out of her hand. LOL, replay.
As Eun-ho stares at him in horror, Tae-woon warns her not to go out with that guy. He asks why she won’t give him an answer, reminding her that he confessed to her first. Suddenly nervous, Eun-ho stammers that she’ll tell him when she finds the answer, and then scurries away.
Eun-ho’s classmates gather around the announcements regarding the school violence cases against Hee-chan and Bit-na. Arm-in-arm with Bo-ra and Sa-rang, Eun-ho grins as the students congratulate her, especially excited that Bit-na is getting her just deserts. When Bit-na walks by and sees the announcement, she glares at Eun-ho and deliberately slams into her as she passes. The girls just grin at each other, unperturbed.
Outside, however, the girls run into a stronger adversary: Hee-chan, who glares at them in condescension. Eun-ho suggests that he apologize now that the case results are out, but Hee-chan insists that he did nothing wrong. When Eun-ho wonders how it can be so hard to give a simple apology, Hee-chan says menacingly that Eun-ho has a talent for making a person think bad thoughts, and purposely bumps into her and Bo-ra as he passes.
At home, Hee-chan’s mother tells him not to worry and just focus on studying. She sighs that the reason he keeps getting second place is because he’s not trying hard enough. Oof. He reluctantly starts to agree as usual, but when she demands to know what more she could possibly do for him, Hee-chan spins around to confront her. To her shock, he asks in tears why she’s suffocating him, and why she makes it so that he can’t breathe.
Principal Park holds a faculty meeting, urging the teachers to create a clean and honest school. Cowardly Teacher Jang snaps at Teacher Shim for reporting her misconduct regarding Bo-ra’s school violence cases, but Teacher Shim just retorts that he’s sorry, but he’s not that sorry, heh. PE teacher Jung pointedly suggests that the school should start conducting performance evaluations for the teachers, and not just the kids.
Later that day, Teacher Shim invites a special guest reporter to give a lecture on dreams to his class. The reporter urges the students to find dreams that make them happy instead of ones that are safe. As the students applaud, Teacher Shim urges the students to think about their dreams.
In the hideout, Eun-ho gushes that the view count on her webtoon has reached thirteen, and fawns over the comments by user “niceguy.” Tae-woon smiles at her excitement, but bristles when Eun-ho calls niceguy a fanboy: “That’s so undignified. He’s a passionate reader.” Hahaha.
When Eun-ho casually calls out to niceguy, however, Tae-woon answers to the name before he can realize what he’s done. Aw, of course she knew! She turns around and gives him a knowing grin, and he stutters terrifically as he tries to deny that it’s him. Eun-ho just thanks him with a teasing smile, and Tae-woon snaps that he only did it because he was b-b-b-bored. Sooo adorable.
Eun-ho asks Tae-woon if he’s found a dream yet, noting that he’s good at drawing. Tae-woon counters with his usual line, that life becomes exhausting the second you have a dream. When Eun-ho unexpectedly agrees with a sad smile, Tae-woon looks up, wondering what’s wrong.
Outside, Eun-ho explains that she has to compete with hundreds of webtoons every day, but the reality is that she can only get thirteen views. Tae-woon insists that everyone who succeeds has to go through that kind of competition, but Eun-ho worries that she doesn’t really have talent, because what she wants to do and what she’s good at might be different. She worries that in the end, she’ll just spend her effort imitating other people and then vanish. Tae-woon listens thoughtfully.
At home that night, Eun-ho checks her webtoon again to find another comment from niceguy: “This webtoon is so fun! I think the author might be a genius!” he writes. He goes on, “If I could change one thing, it feels like the heroine doesn’t know what it feels like to like someone. I think trying a real relationship would really make the characters come alive.” Knowing it’s Tae-woon behind the comment, Eun-ho laughs to herself.
It’s Bit-na’s birthday the next day, and her rich classmates shower her with expensive gifts. When Nam-joo hands her a present of her own, Bit-na eagerly opens it to find a candle. When her wealthy friends laugh that it’s from a cheap brand, Bit-na hardly hides her disappointment.
They wonder if Nam-joo is making fun of Bit-na, and then begin badgering her with questions she doesn’t want to answer, like whether her family really owns a taxi company and whether it’s true that Dae-hwi dumped her. When she can’t bring herself to answer either question, they turn to Dae-hwi for the truth, who reluctantly admits that it’s true that they broke up. Bit-na and her cronies giggle at her, assuming that she got dumped.
Nam-joo is mortified, of course, and confronts Dae-hwi after class. She asks why he had to expose her like that, and when Dae-hwi just says that he wants to live honestly, Nam-joo snaps that her pride must mean nothing in the face of his honesty. Dae-hwi apologizes, not having realized how it would upset her, but Nam-joo just storms away. Tae-woon watches the fight from a distance.
After school, Tae-woon tells Eun-ho that he wants to pick up some chicken from her family’s restaurant, because his father likes their chicken. Uh-huh. Eun-ho objects to the idea, but finally relents when he threatens to order delivery for six chickens to his house. Separately. Lol.
When they get home, Eun-ho’s mom sends her on a delivery while they wait for Tae-woon’s order. Tae-woon jumps at the chance to go on a delivery with her, telling her that there are all sorts of weirdos out there who will keep ordering chickens and tease her and demand coupons, so it’s unsafe for her to go out alone. Eun-ho looks pointedly at him and starts twirling her finger around her ear to say that he’s crazy, noting that she’s pretty sure she’s met a guy like that before. Tae-woon laughs: “I think I know a guy like that too. And I hear he’s pretty handsome.” Ha.
It seems he’s not the only one to think so, because the girls who receive the delivery stare at him in awe, drooling over how good-looking he is. Eun-ho doesn’t seem very happy at all the attention he’s getting, and when they take note of the school name on his uniform, she hurries to cover up his name tag. He accepts their compliments with a gracious smile before leaving, while Eun-ho glares at the girls in annoyance. Hee.
Eun-ho asks Tae-woon if he enjoyed having those girls marvel at him, and he calls her out on being jealous. She just gets more annoyed when he calls the other girls cute, and snaps at him to date them allllll. He retorts that he’s only here because he missed her and wanted to see her. Omo. As he speaks, he lifts up his phone and snaps a selfie of them before running off, saying that he’s going to look at it all by himself. She chases after him through the parking lot.
Tae-woon and Eun-ho head back on his motorcycle, when suddenly the engine dies on the way. They’re forced to visit a mechanic for repairs, who informs him that it’ll take a while to fix the bike since it’s a foreign model.
Eun-ho looks around the store, marveling at the many different bike models. Tae-woon rattles off the features of each bike, running around the shop like a little kid before spotting a really rare one. As he goes on and on about the design and how he would alter it, Eun-ho watches him light up and get animated with a fond smile on her face.
As Tae-woon and Eun-ho sit together in her favorite park that evening, Eun-ho comments that he seems to be really into motorcycles. She notes that she’s had trouble taking the bus since the accident, and always wondered how Tae-woon could continue riding his motorcycle.
Tae-woon explains that he’d always thought of the motorcycle as Joon-ki: He’d learned to ride and even dreamt of being a motorcycle designer because of him. Though he’d been terrified to ride after Joon-ki’s accident, abandoning it felt like abandoning him—and so he grit his teeth and got back on, so that he could feel like he was with Joon-ki again.
Eun-ho asks why he threw away his dream, then, and Tae-woon says that at some point, he wondered whether a dream could really bring him happiness or change his life. Eun-ho agrees that she doesn’t know, but wishes he would find something he enjoys enough to get excited about—something that makes his heart race, and flutter, and brings him happiness.
At that, Tae-woon looks straight at her and says, “I’m already doing that. I told you—you make my heart race. Seeing you makes my heart flutter and makes me happy. Does that make you my dream?” Eeee.
Later that night, Eun-ho’s dad brings home a bunch of expensive, tasty dishes for dinner that night, and Mom wonders how they can afford all this. Winking at Dad, Eun-ho’s brother notes that he and Dad just might get lucky and get hired by a big company soon. At Mom’s skepticism, Dad just feeds her delicious food to get her to quiet and enjoy the meal.
Tae-woon arrives at his hideout the next morning to find a motorcycle magazine sitting on his desk with a bow and a note from Eun-ho: “Just like you refuse to forget Joon-ki, I wish you’d do the same with your dream. This was really expensive, so do your absolute best to fight and follow your dream!” Tae-woon flips through it with an awestruck expression before sighing to himself: “This girl is making me crazy.” Sooo cute.
Dae-hwi runs into Nam-joo outside the classroom that morning, but they awkwardly turn away in silence. Seeing this, Tae-woon finds Dae-hwi outside, asking if they fought. Dae-hwi just brushes him off, however, and retorts by asking when he plans to turn himself in as X: “Eun-ho needs to know how selfish you are.”
Pissed off by Dae-hwi’s rudeness, Tae-woon grabs him by the collar, and it’s not long before the boys are at each other’s throats. Before they can get any further, however, Teacher Gu walks by, staring them down with a stern look in his eye.
The next thing they know, Teacher Gu drags the boys to the art studio and orders them to tidy up as punishment for fighting. He offers them a chance to get rid of their demerits all at once: clean up a whole slew of classrooms together, starting with this one.
Dae-hwi asks if he has to clean with Tae-woon of all people, noting that he won’t be any help. Teacher Gu snaps back that it’s their shared responsibility so they must clean together, before suggesting that if they want to try making up with each other, they could do that, too. Aw.
Dae-hwi and Tae-woon get to work, being adorably gruff nuisances to each other by “accidentally” shoving mops and white boards in each other’s path. When they finish, an annoyed Tae-woon leaves to wash his dusty hands, and in his absence, Dae-hwi looks through a pile of artwork in the corner of the room.
When he notes a portfolio labeled “Hyun Tae-woon” from last year, he starts to flip through it, surprised to find impressive sketches and drawings. He quickly hides the portfolio when Tae-woon comes back. As they take a break outside, Dae-hwi ignores another phone call from Hee-chan, and Tae-woon asks if he’s dealt with Hee-chan okay.
Dae-hwi just shrugs it off, saying that he knows a few of his weak points after following him around for so long. Tae-woon sighs that Hee-chan has been suspiciously quiet lately, which means he’ll probably be starting some kind of fuss soon.
Sure enough, Hee-chan goes to pay a visit to ex-Principal Yang in his temporary office that afternoon, telling him that he has some decisive information about X’s identity. Uh-oh.
Ex-Principal Yang meets with Director Hyun that afternoon to explain what he’s learned: Eun-ho is the author of a webtoon about X, and it contains all sorts of information that she couldn’t know unless she were acquainted with him. He asks Director Hyun to reinstate him, and he’ll definitely find X within a week.
After school, Dae-hwi passes by Hee-chan getting into his car. Hee-chan’s mother calls out to him to get in, but this time Dae-hwi refuses and tells her that he’ll walk today. I’m proud of you, buddy.
Tae-woon notes the encounter, and follows Dae-hwi on his way home. When Dae-hwi notes that his house is in the other direction, Tae-woon just makes a half-assed excuse, and then says that this direction seems okay, too. Tae-woon heads on ahead, ignoring Dae-hwi’s confusion at why he keeps going the wrong way. Omg, the cute in this episode will break me.
Teacher Shim and Officer Han meet with Young-gun to discuss her continued absences. He tells Young-gun that if she keeps it up, she’ll be expelled. But Young-gun tells him to go ahead, since there’s no point in staying in school: “I’ll figure out my life on my own.”
At that, Officer Han tells her to figure it out, then, instead of pathetically wavering back and forth between attending school and rebelling. She notes that Young-gun keeps showing up at school because she’s uneasy about her future. Young-gun snaps that she’ll rebel properly, then. She storms out before Teacher Shim can stop her. Teacher Shim turns to Officer Han, wondering if she had to speak so harshly. Officer Han just shrugs, saying that growth isn’t possible without pain.
Officer Han strolls through the halls that morning when she runs into Young-gun, who looks to be skipping class. Officer Han isn’t cool with that, though, informing her that she’s teaching the next subject. Young-gun stares at her in confusion since the next class is PE.
Sure enough, however, Officer Han is taking over today’s gym class as a self-defense instructor. Officer Han tells Teacher Jung to grab her from behind for a demonstration. As the students whistle suggestively, he complies with a delighted smile, hugging her sweetly. Officer Han orders him to grab her more tightly before suddenly flipping him over her shoulder. Yikes.
As the students stare in horror, feeling his vicarious pain, Officer Han slams him into the floor again and again before calling on Young-gun to try next. Young-gun complies, flipping Teacher Jung to the ground like a rag doll. As the students clap, Officer Han pats her on the shoulder, telling her that she’s good enough to be a police officer one day. Young-gun struggles to hide a smile.
Eun-ho comes home that night to find her family in a panic: Dad and Eun-ho’s brother have just been scammed by a guy claiming to be a government employee. Mom falls to the ground in defeat, sobbing that it would have been better if they just used up all their money to play around: “At least then it wouldn’t be such a waste since it would have been spent on our family!”
Mom spends the night calling friends for financial help, with no luck. Eun-ho goes to sit with her outside in concern for their finances, but Mom just tells her not to worry, promising not to break down. Eun-ho finally relents, but listens sadly as Mom fields call after call, trying to find work for any extra money.
Eun-ho goes to her art academy the next day to inform them that she’s quitting for a few months. Her instructor tells her that taking a break now is a bad idea, but Eun-ho just sighs and quits, without a choice.
Eun-ho wakes up early the next morning to find her brother already getting ready to go to work. Grimly, she watches him leave, wondering if he’s resorting to manual labor.
That afternoon, she goes to her part-time job handing out advertisement flyers, and asks her employer to give her twice the amount he normally gives her. He worries that she won’t have time to study, but she smiles and insists that she’ll be fine.
That night at her park, Eun-ho looks out at the city and cries alone.
The next day, Eun-ho packs up all of her things from the hideout as Tae-woon watches in confusion. When he asks what’s wrong, she gives the excuse that her computer broke down, so she’s taking a break from drawing for a while. Tae-woon asks if she isn’t planning to come back here, but Eun-ho just acts cheerful, saying that she has to work for now.
Eun-ho finds a job at a convenience store, fielding aggravating customers and struggling to appease her boss. When she goes outside to take a break, she finds Tae-woon waiting for her, having gone to every single convenience store in the area.
Tae-woon brings Eun-ho to a café to ask why she’s suddenly started working so hard. She notes that she just wants to experience the world a little, and says that it’s normal for high-schoolers to do this kind of work. Tae-woon insists that she quit her job, however, saying that it’s too tiring and it takes up the time she should be spending on her webtoon.
Eun-ho snaps that she’s not working because she wants to, but can’t bring herself to explain what’s really going on. She comes up with excuse after excuse, trying to find a fitting lie, but eventually she gives up: “Can’t you just leave me alone?” she asks, holding back tears. Tae-woon stares in confusion as she walks out.
Dae-hwi takes the bus home and thinks about how angry Nam-joo was at him. He flashes back to when they were still happily dating, remembering a study date they had at a café. Dae-hwi had come by to find a stranger offering her a drink and asking for her number.
Annoyed, he’d shooed the guy away and sat next to her to block other people’s view of her, telling her to cover her face with a mask and glasses from now on because she’s too pretty. In the present, Dae-hwi holds back tears as he thinks of her.
Eun-ho goes to her park again, and this time she looks over at the bench where Tae-woon had called her his dream, picturing herself sitting there with him as if she were another girl entirely. She looks over at them sadly, while past Eun-ho and Tae-woon smile at each other.
Meanwhile, Tae-woon sits in his hideout, staring at the magazine she’d bought him, and mutters that she was the one who said not to give up on his dream. Deciding something, he grabs a gift bag and rushes out on his motorcycle.
Tae-woon is waiting for her by the time Eun-ho gets home. He asks what’s making her suffer so much, but when she doesn’t answer and tries to walk past, Tae-woon stops her and offers her the gift bag. “You said that you can’t draw because your computer is broken,” Tae-woon says, “If you use this, you don’t have to work anymore, right?”
Eun-ho scoffs, wondering how everything is so easy to him: “Is my pride, my pain, and my effort that easy to you?” Tae-woon tries to tell her that he just wanted to help, but Eun-ho tells him that no one’s dream is that easy to keep. She tells him that what she needs right now isn’t his kindness: “So stay away from me. Don’t worry about me or my life. That’s my answer to your confession.” As Tae-woon stares at her in shock, Eun-ho walks past him. She pauses for a moment, but resolutely walks on.
Noooo, don’t fight! I knew that things would come to a head between Eun-ho and Tae-woon because of money at some point, and I’m excited that we’re finally touching the topic of Tae-woon’s massive wealth and Eun-ho’s humble background. I do hope the show won’t devolve into angst territory for too long—mostly because I never want to lose Tae-woon and Eun-ho’s adorably (and refreshingly) supportive dynamic. Of course, if there’s one thing School 2017 does well, it’s resolving tropes in a satisfying way—and I’m certain the showrunners know the show’s strengths too well to leave the cuteness factor at bay for too long.
I’m pleased with how the drama is choosing to depict the latest conflict of wealth disparity between Eun-ho and Tae-woon, particularly with regards to how their reactions fit into their characters. From the very beginning, we’d seen that Tae-woon was never reluctant to solve his problems with money—he buys and disposes of expensive electronics with ease, uses his family’s money as an excuse to free himself of the obligation to study, and even in this episode, teased Eun-ho about buying six chickens from her restaurant as if buying six chickens meant that little to him.
I’d imagine part of his view on the easiness of money comes from a cynicism of its power following Joon-ki’s accident, but it also seems that he has a fundamental issue with understanding its weight as well. I find this particularly interesting because his two former best friends, Joon-ki and Dae-hwi, were both from humble family backgrounds, and his friendship with Dae-hwi crumbled because of that exact issue.
Meanwhile, where Tae-woon solves his problems with money, Eun-ho endures everything from bullying to grade discrimination with steadfast idealism and emotional strength—almost the exact opposite of Tae-woon’s material approach. With that in mind, I totally get why Eun-ho wouldn’t want to tell Tae-woon about her family’s financial problems. While her pain, her mother’s forced strength, and her brother and dad’s guilt is palpably, horrifically real to her, Tae-woon has the ability to trivialize those emotions in a heartbeat and with a snap of his fingers.
The issue isn’t that he can easily resolve her family’s monetary debt, it’s that he can just as easily invalidate their pain. If Eun-ho told Tae-woon about her financial problems at the café, I’m certain his immediate reaction would be to try to offer or sneak his money her way by any means possible—and that’s the last thing Eun-ho wants to experience. These are complex emotions to feel, both on Tae-woon’s and Eun-ho’s parts, and yet I think the show has really nailed its depiction.
Still, Tae-woon has shown a repeated willingness to change his habits, attitude, and outlook for Eun-ho’s sake in the past, and while I suspect it’ll be hard for him to truly understand the weight of her financial worries, I’m excited to see how he’ll put in the effort to change himself again. Dae-hwi and Tae-woon also made some really significant strides in this episode, and since the main cause of their rift is the exact issue that Tae-woon and Eun-ho are facing now—the question of trivializing someone’s sincerity—I hope that recognizing Eun-ho’s sentiments will be an avenue for him to patch things up with Dae-hwi, too. Though the question of Dad and Eun-ho’s brother’s scam did kind of come out of nowhere this episode, I’m really pleased with its consequences and implications for the rest of our characters and their growth.
Finally, how totally sweet is it that Teacher Gu was the catalyst to get Tae-woon and Dae-hwi to make up and start to understand each other? My favorite thing about this show is that it never tries to take the easy way out. While it’d be easy to make the bright and bubbly Eun-ho or the selfless and optimistic Teacher Shim bring the boys together, instead, we have gruff, tough-love Teacher Gu making them scrub paint off floors. It’s perfect. The development we’ve seen in all of our characters has been so satisfying, and at this point, I have no more demands to make.
- Premiere Watch: School 2017, The King Loves, Man Who Dies to Live, Reunited Worlds
- Underdog student dreams of breaking into the elite ranks in School 2017
- A mystery, a suspect, and a hero for School 2017
- Riding bikes and motorcycles in School 2017’s first teaser
- Fresh faces for School 2017’s classroom
- School 2017 secures its leading bad boy, good boy
- School 2017 adds more students and a teacher to its lineup
- Kim Yoo-jung out, Gugudan idol Kim Se-jung in for School 2017
- Jealousy, Rebel’s Kim Jung-hyun up for School 2017