Manhole: Episode 10
Another day, another timeline, but this one is a real doozy. Pil finds himself in a situation he never imagined possible, but with all the shifting realities and rewritten histories, he’s losing hope that anything he does will make a difference. What started out as a straightforward trip to the past to stop a wedding has turned into a convoluted ride through ever-changing possibilities. At least one thing has stayed constant: Pil will always love Soo-jin. But is that enough?
EPISODE 10: “Love never goes your way”
It’s an idyllic morning, and we zoom in on Jin-sook’s rooftop apartment. Except, when the door opens, it’s Dal-soo who emerges. Soon after, Jung-ae arrives bringing food, and the two enjoy a cozy lunch together.
Dal-soo scarfs down his food, teasing that both his appetite and luck have grown since moving up to the rooftop. Jung-ae eagerly encourages him to use the luck to make a lot of money, but Dal-soo tells her that being rich only brings unhappiness, promising to make her happy without needing riches.
The two of them wonder how Jin-sook is doing, but Jung-ae figures that she’s the type to adapt to any situation. That’s slightly ominous…
On the other side of town, Pil wakes up in his bed, lazily scratching his leg from a pesky mosquito. Except, Pil starts to panic when he can’t feel his own hand on his leg. Just then, a voice groggily asks if he’s awake and Pil flips out, rolling off onto the floor to reveal the owner of the leg that he had been scratching: Jin-sook.
Pil yells at Jin-sook, wanting to know why she’s in his bed, but Jin-sook seems completely unconcerned, yawning that she came in this morning. She tries to get up close and personal to put itch cream on Pil’s mosquito bites, but Pil frantically pushes her away and flees.
Pil dashes downstairs and barely manages to stutter out to his parents that Jin-sook is in his room — however, Mom just answers that Jin-sook must have missed her husband. (Say what?) Pil’s brain completely stops at that, and behind him, Jin-sook skips downstairs to greet Mom and Dad like the in-laws they seem to be.
Both Mom and Dad address Jin-sook warmly, with Mom telling her that if she misses Pil so much, they should just live together. Jin-sook smiles, saying they can’t since they’re not married… yet. Pil stutters out a terrified, “Married?!” then beats a hasty retreat to the bathroom.
Pil sits fully clothed in the bathtub with a cold shower beating down on him. As he wonders how on earth this happened, a passing chyron gives us the date: September 7, 2017.
Pil tries to convince himself that this is all some terrible dream he’s having while traveling through time, but Jin-sook’s call to come eat breakfast shatters the illusion, and Pil curses the darn manhole for letting this happen.
At breakfast, Mom and Dad fawn over Jin-sook, both of them thrilled with their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. As Jin-sook laughs with his parents, Pil stares confounded at the lot of them, barely even twitching when his apparent fiancé places food directly in his mouth (which had been left open in shock).
Over at Dal-soo’s DVD store, Jung-ae is tending to the book section when Gu-gil comes in asking for Dal-soo. Snapping that he’s at the sauna, Jung-ae chucks a book at Gu-gil, telling him to read it and go home. He grumbles that he came to see her, not read, but quickly shuts up when she turns back to him.
Soo-jin enters a moment later to return some DVDs. Jung-ae remarks at her taste in foreign movies, and Soo-jin answers that she’s watching them to get ready for her upcoming trip to study abroad. After checking to make sure that the two of them are coming to Jin-sook’s wedding photoshoot later, she heads out.
Gu-gil watches her go, wondering if Pil has ever gotten over Soo-jin. Jung-ae tells him to stop spouting nonsense, but Gu-gil sighs that Soo-jin is probably unhappy too.
Soo-jin is hard at work at her boss’s studio when Jae-hyun arrives with coffee. She’s friendly toward him, but it’s clear that the two are not dating.
Jae-hyun mentions her going abroad to study, but when he jokes about going with her, Soo-jin looks distinctly uncomfortable. She answers that if they’re meant to be, they’ll meet again, then dashes out, saying she has to go to the study abroad agency.
After she leaves, Soo-jin’s boss (Jae hyun’s friend) sighs that no matter how hard Jae-hyun tries to catch her, Soo-jin is still flying away. Creepily, Jae-hyun mutters, “I should have broken her wings sooner. Now I’m too late.” Oh yes, because that’s how one starts a healthy relationship.
At the study abroad office, Soo-jin’s sponsor congratulates her on getting accepted into the prestigious art school in England. After promising to help Soo-jin find housing when she’s abroad, the woman walks Soo-jin out… right past Jae-hyun, who is sitting in the waiting area, doing the old hide-your-face-behind-a-magazine trick.
When Soo-jin leaves, Jae-hyun pops up and approaches the woman. He casually mentions overhearing their conversation and asks after the school that Soo-jin is going to, claiming he wants to study art abroad as well. Creepier and creepier…
Catching back up with our engaged couple, Pil stands in his room looking lost while Jin-sook actually picks out his clothes for the day. He tries to ask how they ended up getting engaged, but she immediately asks if he regrets it.
Remembering Jin-sook’s heartbreak from when she had cried in front of her apartment (in another timeline), Pil quickly says that rather than regret, he feels like he’s dreaming. Jin-sook grins and hands him a shirt to wear, adding that they have a lot to do today.
After giving Pil a motherly butt pat, Jin-sook goes to get ready herself. Pil sighs that he has to try not to hurt Jin-sook like he did before, though he does whine slightly over the pink shirt she picked out for him.
Hah! Turns out the pink shirt is part of a matching set. Wearing their couple shirts, Jin-sook and Pil walk right past Seok-tae, who is out working for the city. The poor guy stares sadly after the pair.
Seok-tae goes out to lunch with his coworkers later, but when one of the men tries to set him up with a girl, he answers, “I have only one heart, and it already belongs to someone else.”
Jin-sook’s busy day consists of the two of them going shopping for apartment stuff for when they get married. Pil tries to be supportive, but he looks like every new appliance is making him die a little more inside.
Elsewhere on a park bench, Soo-jin looks at her passport and ticket to England, forcing a small smile.
Pil and Jin-sook take a PPL coffee break, and Pil apologizes for not being much help today. Jin-sook brushes it off since most men don’t like shopping, and instead changes the subject to picking out a farewell gift for Soo-jin before she goes abroad.
Pil blanches at the news that Soo-jin is leaving for England, and quickly asks if she’s traveling alone or if the pharmacist is going with her. Jin-sook says that she’s going alone, mentioning that Soo-jin doesn’t seem interested in Jae-hyun. Pil totally smirks at that, but Jin-sook frowns at his reaction.
Out on the street, Pil and Jin-sook run into Jae-hyun, and the pharmacist sweetly congratulates them on their wedding. Jin-sook nudges Pil to make him say thank you, but Pil is too busy glowering at the bag Jae-hyun is carrying, which has the study abroad agency logo stamped on it.
Jin-sook drags Pil off, and Jae-hyun sneers after them, noting, “Now, I don’t have to be bothered by him anymore.”
Jin-sook takes Pil to a photography studio, reminding him that Soo-jin rented the space to take their wedding pictures today. Just then, Soo-jin pops out to greet the couple, smiling at their matching shirts.
Soon, the rest of the gang arrives, giving wedding congratulations and sympathy from Dal-soo, who says he’s come to watch Pil dig his youth into a grave. Pffft.
Soo-jin takes Jin-sook back for make-up, and the friends talk about the difficulty Jin-sook had making Pil go shopping today.
In another room, Pil is fumbling with one of the male populace’s greatest challenges: the bowtie. Soo-jin finds him struggling and takes the tie to put it on for him, leaning in close. With both of them looking anywhere but at each other, Soo-jin tells Pil to find his own way to support himself instead of making Jin-sook do all the work.
Finished with the bowtie, Soo-jin is smoothing the front of Pil’s jacket when Pil reaches up and gently grasps her hand, holding it against his chest. She freezes and Pil looks down at her, thinking, “I experience inexplicable happenings every day. But there’s one thing that I can explain. That you and I like each other.”
They both look into the other’s eyes, and Pil silently entreats, “Don’t give up. Because I haven’t given up yet either. We’ll see each other again as different selves soon.”
The two continue to stand there, and outside the room, Jin-sook walks by, stopping dead to see her friend and fiancé gazing almost hopelessly at each other.
Soo-jin finally tugs her hand away and reminds Pil that Jin-sook is waiting for him. Looking pained, she sincerely congratulates him on his wedding.
Dal-soo finds Gu-gil in a staging room and wonders where Jung-ae has gone. No sooner does he ask does Jung-ae emerge from a dressing room wearing a beautiful wedding dress. She does a happy twirl, and both boys’ jaws hit the floor. They whip out the cameras, and soon all three are having fun posing together.
Soo-jin sets up the camera equipment, pausing to remember Pil’s face when he held her hand. Her musing is interrupted when Dal-soo and Gu-gil drag in a reluctant Pil, followed soon after by Jung-ae, escorting a glowing Jin-sook.
Everyone comments on how pretty Jin-sook is, but when Pil is noticeably silent, everyone stares at him. Recovering, Pil quickly stutters out that Jin-sook always looks pretty. Nice save.
Soo-jin quickly assembles the couple and starts to take pictures, but while Jin-sook is smiling happily, Pil can barely manage a slightly sickly grimace. The friends all try to coach Pil into smiling at Jin-sook, with Gu-gil eventually yelling out the suggestion that Pil kiss her.
Pil balks at that, but Jin-sook laughs at him being shy and says she’ll kiss him instead. She leans in, but Pil instinctively flinches back. Everyone freezes, staring at him. He tries to explain, but can only stutter as Jin-sook’s smile slowly dies.
Quickly pulling Jin-sook into a hug, Pil tries to say they can just do this instead. Jin-sook manages a nod, and the two of them force out smiles while Soo-jin resumes taking pictures.
After the shoot, Soo-jin escapes to an outside stairwell and quietly scolds herself for not being happy for her friends.
Jin-sook looks at pictures of her and Pil, but when she clicks back through to the earlier shots, she stops to see the miserable, panicked look on Pil’s face.
Meanwhile, Seok-tae and his team go to inspect the magical manhole.
Jung-ae and her boys walk back to the DVD store, but Dal-soo halts to see a fancy car parked out front. He tries to pull Jung-ae away, but the driver jumps out and calls Dal-soo “young master” (a title generally reserved for children of chaebol families). A richly dressed woman also emerges, glaring at Dal-soo. Looks like Mommy Dearest has come calling.
Jung-ae, Dal-soo, and his mom sit down in the store. Mom gets right to the point, firmly telling Jung-ae that while she seems like a pretty and nice girl, she and Dal-soo can never be together.
Outside the store, Gu-gil questions the driver and gapes to learn that Dal-soo is actually the youngest son of a company chairman, making him a chaebol.
Inside, Mom breaks it down for Jung-ae, saying that her relationship with Dal-soo is unacceptable to their family. But Dal-soo resolutely tells his mother that he doesn’t need approval from “that family” and asks her to go.
Mom gets up angrily, but gives some parting advice to Jung-ae, “No matter how hard you try, you can never have him. I’m sorry to say that people can’t always be together just because they are in love.”
Mom leaves, and Dal-soo tries to comfort Jung-ae, but the stunned girl quietly pulls her hands out of his and asks, “Oppa, who are you?” Dal-soo insists that he’s the same as he was before, but Jung-ae looks devastated.
Back in their matching pink shirts, Jin-sook and Pil leave the studio. Pil wants to head home, but Jin-sook reveals they have one more stop to make: registering their marriage.
Gu-gil confronts Dal-soo over his family and how he’s been lying through all their years of friendship. Dal-soo says that he hated his family and just wanted to live on his own, but Gu-gill is angrier about how Jung-ae must feel. He says that Jung-ae innocently believed that love would make everything work out, and now Dal-soo has shattered her dream.
Dal-soo tries to argue that he won’t let that happen, but Gu-gil yells that if Dal-soo really wants Jung-ae to be happy, he should leave her alone and go back to where he came from. Harsh.
Seok-tae is at city hall, discussing the manhole with his coworkers. Apparently it’s clogged with old cigarette butts, and Seok-tae wonders if they should just get rid of it. (Nooo!) Just then, Pil and Jin-sook walk by, and Seok-tae follows after them. He finds them in a waiting room, and his face falls to hear that they’re registering their marriage.
Still, ever the friend to Jin-sook, Seok-tae rallies and congratulates them, but Pil sighs that it’s not really a big deal (since for him, this timeline isn’t real). Awkward silence ensues until Seok-tae offers to help them, bringing over the basic information forms.
Jin-sook hands it over to Pil, and Seok-tae takes her to get their marriage registration application. Except, when Jin-sook leaves, Pil falters when it comes to filling out her phone number or birthdate.
Before Pil can remember, Jin-sook returns and sees that her fiancé doesn’t even know the most basic information about her. Seok-tae quickly grabs the paper and fills out Jin-sook’s information while she sits there, hurt. She looks over at Pil, but he can’t even defend himself.
Later, Jin-sook asks him to go somewhere with her before they head home. She takes him to their old high school, and as they look out over the grounds, Jin-sook admits that she has actually liked him for a very long time and regrets taking so long to tell him.
Revealing that she first fell for him over by the school gate, Jin-sook tells Pil about how she saw him helping her grandmother collect recycling. She says that it was the first time she felt grateful to someone, so she wanted to become a person that Pil could be grateful to as well.
Pil smiles at the memory, but Jin-sook turns to him and confesses that she likes him a lot, “But I think I should end my feelings for you. Let’s not get married.” Pil starts to say something, but she cuts him off, saying that her grandmother once said that a woman should love a man who wants her to be happy. Looking at Pil now, she tells him that he’s not enough for her.
Holding back her tears, Jin-sook decides that this is better than getting a divorce later and losing both love and friendship. She takes out their wedding registration application – which she never submitted – and rips it up.
Jin-sook sadly says that she’s not ready to be a married women yet, and jokes that when Pil sees the amazing man she’ll eventually marry, he will regret losing her. With nothing he can say, Pil sits quietly beside her as the two end their relationship.
In his office cubicle, Seok-tae remembers when he took Jin-sook to submit the marriage registration, but at the last second, she’d yanked it back, saying she couldn’t do it.
At the BongBong Pub, Jin-sook sits alone at the bar, drinking. She flashes back to a time when she’d cleaned Pil’s room and found Soo-jin’s letter to him (from when he was in the army) under his pillow. Jin-sook also thinks to earlier today, when Pil had held Soo-jin’s hands.
At that moment, Soo-jin sends her a text with her and Pil’s final wedding picture. It’s all too much, and Jin-sook starts breaking down. Just then, Seok-tae arrives at the bar looking for her, and through her sobs, she asks him to just stay with her tonight. She leans against him as Seok-tae wraps an arm around her, holding her as she cries.
Soo-jin reviews Pil and Jin-sook’s wedding pictures, looking resignedly at the happy couple’s faces. She texts the final photo to Pil, along with a message to please make her friend happy. Pil receives the text while walking back from breaking up with Jin-sook. He wonders how everything got so messed up, saying that he doesn’t even understand what’s going on anymore. (You and me both, pal.)
Pil starts to text back that he and Jin-sook broke up, but in the end, he just sends a simple message asking Soo-jin to be happy. Soo-jin gets the text as she leaves her studio and seems relieved. She heads out and unknowingly crosses paths with the woman who had been Jae-hyun’s girlfriend in previous timelines.
Speak of the devil, Jae-hyun is working late at the pharmacy when a man comes in with a phony prescription form. Jae-hyun tries to tell him that he can’t fill this out without a real doctor’s prescription, but the man angrily grabs Jae-hyun’s jacket and demands the drugs.
Jae-hyun’s face goes eerily blank, and in a quiet voice, he tells the man to let go of him. Scared off by Jae-hyun’s creeper face, the man flees. Jae-hyun immediately checks his appearance in a mirror and his fist shakes with rage when he sees that the man tore off one of his shirt buttons.
That night, Jae-hyun locks up the pharmacy, but seems to sense someone nearby. Shaking it off, he leaves, but as soon as he walks away, we see the girl (his maybe girlfriend) peek out from around the corner.
Later, the man from the pharmacy wanders down the manhole tunnel, unaware that a man with a black face mask is following him. (I think we can assume this is Jae-hyun.) The man turns around, and immediately, Jae-hyun punches him to the ground.
Not twenty yards away, Pil also makes his way down the tunnel, heading to the manhole. As Jae-hyun repeatedly kicks the downed man, it draws Pil’s notice and he sprints at them, knocking Jae-hyun away. Jae-hyun starts to run, but Pil delivers a flying kick to his back, and he goes sprawling.
Over at the manhole, construction workers are getting ready to excavate and a countdown chyron shows us that it’s 11:00 p.m.
In the tunnel, Pil pins the masked Jae-hyun to the ground. He wrenches an arm behind his back, and in the struggle, Jae-hyun’s sleeve slips up, and Pil sees a nasty scar on his inner wrist.
Suddenly, everything freezes, and the magic time-travel light bursts out of the soon-to-be demolished manhole. It zips away to the tunnel and wraps around Pil, making him vanish, then ducks back into the manhole.
Time resumes, and the freed Jae-hyun jerks upright, looking around for Pil. But Pil is now swirling down the manhole slide, yelling this it isn’t midnight yet and wondering what the heck is going on.
Epilogue. Boarding her flight to England, Soo-jin settles into her seat. She stares pensively out the window, not seeing that on the other side of the aisle, another person sits down: Jae-hyun.
He looks across the plane at Soo-jin and grins.
Ack! Creepy, creepy, creepy! How can such a beautiful man look so damn disturbing? It’s not right. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for admiring the pretty psycho.
So I had asked early on for a timeline where Jin-sook and Pil are together, and I’m glad that it did actually happen. Seeing them together convinced me that while they may be great friends, in the end, they’re not right for each other. I know Pil wasn’t really invested in the engagement since (for him) this was merely another passing timeline, but the way Jin-sook treated Pil was very telling. With everything from feeding him breakfast to picking out his clothes, she seemed like more of a caretaker than a girlfriend.
I appreciate that Jin-sook’s crush originated from her desire to thank him for his kindness towards her grandmother, but it doesn’t look like their relationship ever evolved into something deeper than that, making Jin-sook more of a parent figure rather than an equal partner in their marriage. Long-lasting relationships are all about learning to grow and change with one another, but instead of pushing Pil to do or become anything, Jin-sook was happy to support him as he was. That makes a great friend, but not the best life partner.
As much as it was a painful scene, I was really relieved that Jin-sook came to her senses and broke off the engagement. That strength and respect for what was best for her hearkened back to the way the character was in the beginning of the series, and it was great to see the old Jin-sook again. Still, even though it was a very moving scene, it felt a bit hollow because I know that at the end of the day, everything will get reset.
It’s getting a bit frustrating, because as much as I want to engage in the characters, I don’t really see a point to it. There were some great developments in this episode with Jin-sook letting go of Pil, the revelation of Dal-soo’s chaebol roots, and Jae-hyun’s increasing spiral into psycho land (not to mention the girl that seems to be stalking him). But none of it makes a difference, because once Pil pops back out of the manhole, it will have never happened. It’s making me feel a lot like Pil did about his marriage registration with Jin-sook: It doesn’t really matter because this timeline won’t last.
Much like the old “tree falling in the forest” adage, I have to wonder, if something happens in the manhole but no one remembers it, did it actually happen?
- 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