Go Back Spouses: Episode 9
I didn’t know I wanted this love triangle this badly, but now that we’re in it, I’m ecstatic. Ban-do has been blind to what he’s truly wanted for a long time but now, he’s starting to see things a little more clearly. Of course, that also means that he’s seeing what’s stopping him. He’s got the heart and the determination, but like all things in life, he needs to put in a whole lot of effort if he wants to get anywhere.
EPISODE 9: “The times we were in love”
In the original 1999, the day after the big group date, Jin-joo stops at her locker to find a trail of arrows that lead her to the library. There, she finds a note from Ban-do, in which he asks her out to a movie. She smiles, and just behind the bookshelf, an excited Ban-do is smiling too.
After a while of dating, the two are practically inseparable. Ban-do reluctantly sends her off on her bus home, but he gets an idea when he spots an elderly woman selling fruit by the street. Later, Jin-joo arrives at her stop and is surprised to run into Ban-do again—he’d taken a taxi over to give her something.
Jin-joo loves that he wanted an excuse to see her again, but she gasps when she sees that the excuse was to give her peaches. He’s already breaking out from his allergy, but he happily states that she likes peaches, so his allergy doesn’t matter. Oh, the sweetness is overwhelming.
Jin-joo is so moved that she figures Ban-do would pluck a star right out of the sky for her if he could. He replies that he would get her every star in the sky and with that, the happy couple walks arm-in-arm the rest of the way home.
As we see this sweet moment juxtaposed with the moment they signed their divorce papers, Jin-joo’s narration wonders where those times, when they were willing to pick the stars and even the moon for each other, disappeared to.
The next thing we know, Ban-do is waking up in his apartment of 2017. He can hardly believe his eyes until he runs out to the kitchen and sees present-day Jin-joo standing before him.
Ban-do is so relieved that he grabs Jin-joo in a hug, tears in his eyes. He releases her to look for Seo-jin, and she wonders if he’s still drunk from last night. He stops and says that he’s not drunk.
“I had this dream,” he starts, but when he turns around, Jin-joo is gone. He calls out for her, and then we see that that was a dream. Ban-do wakes up, still in 1999, tearing up as he mumbles for Jin-joo.
Before leaving for school, Jin-joo confirms with Mom about their trip to the mineral springs. Dad is upset that he’s being left out again, but Mom is too busy reading a headline on the newspaper he’s reading—there’s been an increase in suicide among those in their twenties.
The quote “Mom, thanks for giving birth to me, but it’s too hard” reminds her of Jin-joo thanking her for the same thing the day before. Now thinking the worst, Mom searches Jin-joo’s room and finds the letter Jin-joo had meant to leave when she thought she was returning to present day.
Mom is alarmed, although she doesn’t actually read the letter, and asks Eun-joo about it. Eun-joo figures that Jin-joo must’ve just written a note for Mom’s upcoming birthday, so although Mom still feels uneasy, she lets it go for now.
As Ban-do walks to school, Ye-rim cruises by with her chauffeur and offers him a ride. She thanks him for helping her, and he reveals that he had his own reasons for wanting revenge against Hyun-suk as well.
Ye-rim gets all shy and offers to protect him if Hyun-suk were ever to harass him again. Realizing how flirtatious she’s acting, Ban-do starts to feel uncomfortable.
We see in flashback that Ye-rim had been moved by Ban-do the night he and Jin-joo saved her—he’d paid for their drinks and even took the blame for a statue she accidentally broke at the counter. She’d looked at him with hearts in her eyes, as she does now.
Once Ye-rim drops him off, she smiles and asks if he has a girlfriend. He actually hesitates and starts to fantasize about what it would be like to marry Ye-rim and become a big-shot hospital director.
He revels in the idea of having Hyun-suk as his underling, but seeing Ye-rim as his wife snaps him out of it. Ban-do goes on his way, but he gets flustered the second he spots Jin-joo. He immediately ducks and takes off, though he wonders why he’s avoiding her when he did nothing wrong.
Jin-joo heads into her building and finds an older woman yelling at a student for spilling a drink all over her expensive clothes. She boldly approaches the woman and criticizes her for treating someone else’s child that way. The woman fumes, asking how Jin-joo can talk to her in banmal. She raises a hand to hit her when someone comes and grabs her wrist.
Jin-joo is surprised to see Nam-gil interfere, and she’s even more surprised when the woman asks why Nam-gil is doing this to his own mother. (Oh, ouch.) Before his mom can say any more, Nam-gil drags her outside. Still, Jin-joo and several other students see Mom repeatedly pushing him away and whining that Jin-joo started it.
In class, Ban-do stares at Jin-joo while Jin-joo stares at Nam-gil. (And I find it funny that this whole time, the lecturer is discussing love and how people have to keep putting effort into it if they want it to last.) Afterwards, a student sends a petition around to have the university’s director—Nam-gil’s father—resign. Dok-jae sees this as a great opportunity since they pay way too much tuition, making Jin-joo turn around and shush him.
When the petition reaches Nam-gil, Jin-joo snatches it away and stammers that the students must be going overboard. She also says that she didn’t know the woman from earlier was his mother. Nam-gil snatches the petition right back and signs it.
“I don’t have a mom,” he says firmly. “Mind your own business.” He walks away without another word, though the fact that he keeps flashing back to that scene with his mom suggests that he’s more embarrassed than anything.
Back in the dorms, Ban-do asks his buddies what they would do if they were 38 years old and they got the chance to return to their twenties. They give him answers like dating around, but one look at a poster for a club’s spontaneous trip and Ban-do gets an idea of his own.
Ban-do steals his dad’s van and goes around town, picking up the whole gang one by one. They snatch Jin-joo last, just as she was getting ready to go to the springs with Mom. She’s hesitant at first, but with everyone’s excitement for a spontaneous trip, she decides she might as well have some fun. Woohoo, that’s the spirit!
With Jin-joo gone, Mom decides to take her trip with Dad. Dad wants to make sure Jin-joo didn’t go off with a bunch of boys, thinking she’d be better off with this wealthy Nam-gil he met. But Mom argues that out of all of Jin-joo’s suitors, she likes Ban-do best. She figures he’s the type of guy who would never let a gal go hungry.
Cue Bo-reum and the rest of the gang complaining for food. Ban-do’s been driving for hours now, looking for a tunnel that Dok-jae can’t seem to find on the map. Finally, he realizes that this tunnel must not exist (at least, not in 1999), which makes everyone even more cranky.
Ban-do pulls over in an empty lot so they can rest for the night. Luckily, Dok-jae made sure to prepare. They all check out the supplies in the trunk, with Jin-joo and Ban-do shocked that Dok-jae bought an entire cooler full of pork (though little else, heh).
Soon, everyone’s enjoying a nice dinner around the campfire. They even have their own little karaoke session, with everying laughing and just having a good time together.
But when Bo-reum and Jae-woo start singing their next song (“Miracle” by Kim Dong-ryul), Jin-joo and Ban-do’s smiles fall. They both think back to their wedding day, when Bo-reum and Jae-woo had performed that very song for them.
As they remember how happy and in love they’d been that day, they get this wistful look in their eyes. They steal glances at each other, but all they can really do is sit there and try to suppress their tears.
The next morning, the guys wake up (having slept outside on the ground) to a bunch of construction workers, who angrily tell them to clean up their mess so they can work on the lot. Inside the van, the girls wake up to find their faces scribbled on with marker, haha.
Soon, they all continue on their journey, with Ban-do laughing as Jin-joo tries to clean her face. An irritated Seol scowls at him before taking out her phone to send a text.
Elsewhere, Nam-gil is about to go out when his stepmom greets him. He gives her the cold shoulder, even when she follows him out to say goodbye. He’s about to drive away when he sees his mom marching straight toward the stepmom. Before she can do anything, Nam-gil steps out and drags Mom back to his car, ignoring her protests.
After driving for a while, Nam-gil stops and tells Mom to get out. She asks why her son is doing this, and he retorts that he’s not her son. “If you throw out your trash,” he suggests, “you shouldn’t pick it up again. It’s dirty.”
Offended, Mom insists that she’d come to give him a present, which she on the chair before getting out. Once she’s gone, Nam-gil opens it to find… a pen? (Seriously, lady?) He sighs in disbelief, though his expression changes when he receives a text from someone.
We rejoin our travelling posse just as they’re nearing Gangneung and they’re all screaming with excitement. Ban-do checks his rearview mirror (for like the tenth time) and smiles to see Jin-joo’s happy face as she looks out at the ocean.
When they finally get to the beach, everyone runs straight into the water and splashes around, while Jin-joo hangs back and enjoys the atmosphere. Again, Ban-do is all smiles to see Jin-joo looking so happy.
Later, as the boys try to wash up with hoses, they playfully spray Bo-reum and Seol. This, of course, initiates an all-out water war.
They run around spraying each other when Ban-do sees Jin-joo approaching and sprays her too. They all freeze at the cold look on her face, but she merely says, “You’re all dead,” and joins in on the fun. Aw, yay for Jin-joo!
Meanwhile, Jin-joo’s parents are still out on their own trip, and apparently, so are Ban-do’s parents. Jin-joo’s mom catches Ban-do’s dad trying to cut in line for the spring water and she boldly calls him out for it.
As always, Ban-do’s dad loses his temper, and soon, both couples are starting their own intense water fight. In the middle of the tussle, Jin-joo’s mom exclaims that she would absolutely hate having a son-in-law like him, and Ban-do’s dad says he’d hate having a daughter-in-law like her. LOL.
The gang decides to eat out for dinner, and they’re surprised to see Nam-gil pull up to their restaurant. Seol proudly admits that she invited him to join them, though Ban-do isn’t too keen on having him join the party. While Nam-gil calls his sunbae to apologize for missing the wedding he was supposed to attend, Ban-do is staring daggers at him.
When distributing the food, Ban-do makes sure to give Nam-gil the smallest piece. On top of that, he makes a point to speak banmal since he’s technically the older one (though everyone calls him crazy, heh). Notably, when Ban-do asks that someone pass the jalapenos, Jin-joo takes the dish on Nam-gil’s side and gives them to him. The satisfaction on Ban-do’s face and the hurt on Nam-gil’s says it all: Ban-do, 1. Nam-gil, 0.
Dok-jae asks if they’ve been to Gangneung before, and Ban-do looks at Jin-joo expectantly. She averts her eyes and says she doesn’t really remember. Her nerves make her choke on her beer, and she ends up spilling some on her shirt. Nam-gil grabs a napkin, but Ban-do is quicker and wipes her shirt clean. Ban-do, 2. Nam-gil, still 0.
Fortunately, Bo-reum and Jae-woo had gotten couple tees, and they bought extras for the next day. Bo-reum gives Jin-joo her spare, which spurs Nam-gil to ask to borrow the other spare, since he only has his ROTC uniform. Just as Jae-woo hands it over, Ban-do’s hand shoots out to grab it as well.
Ban-do lies that his shirt shrunk after getting wet at the beach and that he wants the couple shirt. The two boys hold onto the shirt for dear life, neither willing to give in, while Jin-joo sits between them looking like she wants to bonk their heads together.
Cut to: Jin-joo wearing Ban-do’s shirt… and Ban-do and Nam-gil wearing the matching couple tees. HAHA. This literally made my week. What makes it better is that the back of these shirts have fingers pointing to each other that say “My love.”
As they walk over to where they’re staying, Seol tells Jin-joo that she’s glad she came back to school—she now realizes that she would’ve regretted quitting school for the rest of her life. Jin-joo smiles to hear that.
Ahead of them, Ban-do and Nam-gil are still fuming, with Ban-do grumbling that Nam-gil should go home and Nam-gil arguing that everyone else is just fine having him here. Sick of the weird looks they’re getting from people, they bark at the others to hurry up.
Once everyone’s settled, Ban-do joins Jin-joo in the bathroom to brush his teeth. He talks badly of Nam-gil again, and Jin-joo reminds him that this is the same Nam-gil that became a wealthy history lecturer. Ban-do then remembers seeing Nam-gil’s face on TV back in present day and even feeling jealous of the guy.
He tells Jin-joo that she did a good job catching a rich guy like Nam-gil, and she gives him a dirty look before saying he did a good job too, catching a rich girl like Ye-rim. Ban-do realizes that she must’ve seen him get out of Ye-rim’s car, but Jin-joo’s out the door before he can explain himself.
Later, Ban-do asks Dok-jae if he’s seen Jin-joo. At the same time, Nam-gil finds the others eating snacks outside and asks the same thing. They tell him that Jin-joo went for a walk, so he wanders around until he finds her checking out the neighborhood. He smiles at her and suggests they keep checking out the neighborhood together.
Nam-gil nervously brings up his coldness toward her when she’d asked about his mom, but she just brushes it off. She merely tells him that he should cherish the time he has with his parents, remembering how happy she’d felt when she first saw her mom alive again.
Nam-gil seems moved by her words, but he still thinks she should leave the subject alone; he says that he has his reasons. Jin-joo agrees that every family has their issues. Nam-gil turns to her and asks why she (and Ban-do, for that matter) has been speaking to him in banmal.
She changes the subject by pointing out some scenery, which is when the two come across an old bridge completely lit up with fireflies. They step onto the bridge and stare at the beautiful sight in awe. However, Jin-joo gets this faraway look in her eyes as she takes in her surroundings.
Nam-gil notices Jin-joo hug herself to keep warm, so he takes off his jacket and wraps it around her shoulders. She looks up at him in surprise when he just holds her close and says that he’s feeling cold too.
Just then, Ban-do, who had been wandering around trying to find Jin-joo, comes walking by and wonders if he’s getting close. When he confirms that he’s in the right place, he dials Dok-jae’s number (he’d told Dok-jae to bring Jin-joo over when he called). But his phone drops to his side when he catches sight of two people on the bridge.
Jin-joo thinks back to when Dok-jae had asked if she’d ever been to Gangneung, and it triggers the memory of her and Ban-do being on this bridge while in a loving embrace. Ban-do is remembering this as well as he narrates that there was a time when his world only revolved around one thing: Jin-joo.
Sometime later, Ban-do and Nam-gil watch over Jin-joo after she gets a bit drunk. Her head starts to fall forward, but Nam-gil catches it in time. He smiles… until he realizes Ban-do had caught her head at the exact same time.
They both tell the other to let go but neither give in until Jin-joo raises her head on her own. Nam-gil stares at Ban-do, while Ban-do just smirks. My god, you two are unbelievable.
Nam-gil walks into the bedroom, where everyone is huddled on the floor, and pouts to see Dok-jae sleeping next to Jin-joo. So he actually rolls Dok-jae away and takes his spot. He does the obligatory stare-at-the-sleeping-girl routine, only to shut his eyes when Ban-do comes shuffling in.
Ban-do tries to roll Nam-gil away, but Nam-gil struggles to stay in place while still feigning sleep. Finally, Ban-do gives up and squeezes into the small space on the other side of Jin-joo. He feels cramped, but he smiles when Jin-joo turns over to him. But that happiness is short-lived—Jin-joo opens her eyes and grimaces when she sees him.
So she turns over to Nam-gil’s side. She looks conflicted, but stays where she is, making Nam-gil smile. The guy even raises a fist in victory, which Ban-do notices with annoyance. And there you have it: Nam-gil, 1.
I don’t know what to feel anymore—my heart is in two. Nam-gil is such a great guy, and such a great guy for Jin-joo, but arghhh, I still feel so much for Ban-do. Sure, he can be a total ass at times, but he really is a good guy at heart. And it truly feels like he’s falling head over heels in love with Jin-joo again, which only makes it worse. I’ve made it pretty clear that I want him to work things out with her, but when she’s with Nam-gil, I do have second thoughts. Because who knows? Maybe she would have a better relationship with Nam-gil, rather than Ban-do. In fact, I know she would. And that almost makes me want them together. But then I see Jin-joo’s face when she gets lost in her memories with Ban-do, and it instantly brings me back to square one.
There’s no doubt about it—no matter how angry she is with him, no matter how much she may blame him, she still loves him. She still wants what they used to have. She always has, and she’s just been waiting and waiting and waiting for Ban-do to want the same thing, to step up and fight for her. The only downside is that she’s at that point where she’s given up on him, just when he’s decided that he wants her back. Well, Choi Ban-do. You have a lot of fighting to do. She’s spent years waiting for you, and it’s about time you catch up.
I’m glad that Ban-do is showing signs of loving her again and that he’s started doing all of these little things to make her happy, but it does feel like he’s far too late. He spent so much time hung up on Seo-young, or to be more specific, hung up on the idea of Seo-young. She’d always been this unattainable figure in his past, but after confirming that he cared for her in a more father-daughter way, a switch went off in his brain. It took all this time, but he finally sees that his first love wasn’t Seo-young; it was Jin-joo. And it’s just starting to hit him that he might be missing his second chance with her. It scares him, as it should.
Last week, Ban-do really came to his senses when it dawned on him that the past wasn’t as important as he thought it was. Great things can happen, terrible things can happen. But once they happen, they’ve already happened. There’s nothing to do but move on and go from there. That’s never been an easy thing for Ban-do to accept, but I’m so proud of him for starting to try. The dream he had in the beginning of the episode made him realize that the fun he was having in the past wasn’t worth it. He wants to be in present day, back with his family. The way he cried out for Jin-joo nearly had me in tears because he seemed so happy to be back. That had to be the biggest wakeup call of the show yet.
And to my pleasant surprise, Ban-do didn’t wake up from that dream ready to throw himself another pity party. Instead, he moved on. He did what he could to get Jin-joo smiling again, even if they were still stuck in the past. If he keeps this up, the little things he does for Jin-joo could become big things. Important things. For his sake and Jin-joo’s, I hope this is the case. In the meantime, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ban-do and Nam-gil butt heads a few more times. These two are hilarious together, and frankly, seeing how much they dislike each other only makes me want them as best friends. Now.
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