Jugglers: Episode 4
The only thing more fun than watching Yoon-yi torture her new tenant is getting to see Chi-won serve it right back when they’re at work. I love both petty workplace hijinks and petty cohabitation hijinks, and Christmas has definitely come early when a drama offers both at once. But that pettiness can’t last in the face of real conflict, and Yoon-yi and Chi-won may soon realize that working together is a lot more fun.
EPISODE 4: “Life reversal… Life unchanged”
Still in her tracksuit, Yoon-yi accompanies Chi-won to a coffee shop to discuss their new tenant/landlord situation. Chi-won says that he’d like to keep their work and home roles separate, and be Yoon-yi’s boss at work, but her tenant at home.
Yoon-yi asks how he ended up signing a lease with her mother, so Chi-won shows her the handwritten “Room for Rent” sign that was on her gate. Yoon-yi says that she didn’t write it, and she asks how he saw it on her gate in the first place.
Chi-won sighs, then reminds her about the night she got drunk and he drove her home. Yoon-yi stops him, embarrassed, and says she’d rather not know the details.
Curious, Chi-won asks about the sign, which describes the landlord as “pretty and sweet.” He says that “pretty” is subjective and asks how she intends to compensate him for his disappointment because she’s not exactly Jeon Ji-hyun or Song Hye-gyo. He’s totally serious, and Yoon-yi sheepishly apologizes for not living up to his standard.
He’s most concerned about the statement that young men would get a discount, asking Yoon-yi to clarify the term “young.” HA, he’s grouchy that her mother decided that being a divorcé disqualifies him.
Yoon-yi promises to try and persuade her mom to change her mind, and gets up to leave. Chi-won doesn’t follow her, saying that he’ll wait until the renovation is finished: “The drilling is too loud.” PFFT.
Watch the scene
At home, I’m the boss!
As soon as she leaves the coffee shop, Yoon-yi breaks into a boisterous happy dance, thrilled to hold the power at home as Chi-won’s landlord.
Later she goes upstairs to talk to Chi-won, who barely sticks his head out and prevents her from seeing inside. Yoon-yi plays the landlord card to lure him out, then presents him with the list of house rules she’s drawn up.
Chi-won asks dryly if this is revenge for his office rules (like wearing low heels and not entering his office), and Yoon-yi denies it just a bit too emphatically. She says it’s normal for people who share a house to live by a set of rules, and Chi-won sarcastically agrees before going back inside.
He looks over her rules, which start with keeping noise to a minimum. Yoon-yi specifies that he’s to wear slippers with a thick sole so she can’t hear him moving around, so Chi-won is reduced to going around on his tippy-toes to avoid making any noise.
The next rule details how much water Chi-won can use and when, so that Yoon-yi has water in the mornings and evenings when she needs it. He’s forced to take a shower under a slow trickle of water, which looks extremely annoying.
As they head out to work at the same time, Yoon-yi grins to herself about the third rule, which instructs Chi-won to make sure the rusty front gate is locked before he leaves. He gets stuck when the lock won’t turn, and Yoon-yi trots off to work without helping him.
At the office, Chi-won calls Yoon-yi into his office to request that she buy him some thick-soled slippers. He goes into detail regarding the type of fibers they should be made of, and specifies that he wants them to be “smooth and silky black, like a panther.” Oh, I just love this childish side of him.
Dismayed at having her own revenge used against her so perfectly, Yoon-yi goes out shopping, but she can’t find any silky black slippers with thick enough soles. She gives up and heads back to the office, running into Team Leader Baek at the elevators.
He’s down in the dumps because he’s just had to inform the YB handball team that their funding has been terminated, and they didn’t take it well. But he says it’s easy compared to the search for Yul’s new assistant, even though they’re desperate enough to hire whoever wants the job at this point, regardless of qualifications.
Yoon-yi says that she’s asked around, but it’s difficult to find anyone with the rumors about how hard Yul is to work for. Team Leader Baek sighs that they need someone patient enough to ignore Yul’s brutal attacks, or just too dumb to notice them.
Suddenly Yoon-yi is reminded of the perfect person: Jung-ae. Later that night, Kyung-rye and Bo-na object to the idea, since Jung-ae has never had a real job in her life. Bo-na points out that Jung-ae doesn’t even know how to use a smartphone, calling it cruel to offer her the job.
HAHA, Jung-ae is actually sitting right there, and she’s all, Um, guys, do I need to be here for this? Yoon-yi tells her to face that fact that with her husband gone, she’s now the head of the family, burdened with a mountain of debt and no income.
Kyung-rye asks Jung-ae how, when she can’t even communicate with her own son, she plans to communicate with someone with no sense? Jung-ae asks if he’s really that bad, and Yoon-yi tries to downplay Yul’s reputation for being difficult.
While they’re discussing the problem, Chi-won arrives home to find a gift bag on his front door. Inside is a pair of black slippers… in the shape of fuzzy panthers. Awesome. The best part is that Chi-won actually likes them, and he jumps around his apartment testing how much noise they make.
The ladies can hear him bouncing around up there, but Yoon-yi sighs that it’s not important compared to Jung-ae’s situation. Bo-na is worried that even without needing qualifications, Yul will still have some hiring conditions, but luckily Yoon-yi already thought to ask him.
He’d said that he couldn’t afford to be picky since all assistants hate him, but that there are two things he insists on—that the new hire be unmarried, and under age 30. Jung-ae pouts that she doesn’t even meet those simple requirements.
Annoyed, Bo-na asks them not to call her over for useless meetings like this anymore. (Why is she even their friend? She acts like she hates being around them.) But then Yoon-yi gets the idea for Jung-ae to pretend to be her little sister Mi-ae to get the job.
The next morning, Vice President Do informs Chi-won that his ad campaign proposal wasn’t chosen, even though it was better than Executive Director Jo’s. Vice President Do tries to explain that when something changes in a large organization, then they have to change everything related to it, and Chi-won isn’t powerful enough to warrant those changes.
Chi-won scoffs that it sounds like he lost because he didn’t have Executive Director Jo’s connections, and Vice President Do doesn’t say otherwise. He refuses to explain it in detail and just tells Chi-won to accept it. Chi-won says that he needs an explanation so that his team can accept it, but Vice President Do tells him that what his team needs isn’t an explanation, but for Chi-won to buy them drinks and encourage them to do better next time.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Jo does a joyful shimmy in his office to celebrate his department’s win. He tells Bo-na to plan a team dinner, then changes his mind and says he wants to buy Chi-won drinks to comfort him.
Upset and frustrated, Chi-won sinks to his heels in the hallway, only to have Yul join him to deliver the good news that he’s getting a new assistant. Chi-won quips that he’s too burdened by his own problems to console the poor thing.
He gives Yoon-yi his credit card to buy the team dinner, and she tentatively asks him to join them. He asks if she was happy when they ate together, and she can’t bring herself to answer honestly. Chi-won tells her to just let the team eat comfortably.
Downstairs in the coffee shop, Bo-na tells Yoon-yi about the drinks invitation from Executive Director Jo. Yoon-yi whines that Chi-won won’t agree to it, knowing it’s just an excuse to taunt him. Kyung-rye runs over to tell Bo-na that Chi-won is Yoon-yi’s new tenant, and Yoon-yi blames her for that fact.
Suddenly, the phone that Executive Director Jo gave to Yoon-yi lights up, and she finds a private place to talk to him. He tells her to pretend they’ve never met tonight over drinks, but she says that Chi-won probably won’t come. Executive Director Jo just says that her first mission is to make him come out.
So she tells Chi-won that she’ll give him the ten percent discount on his security deposit, but only if he goes out with Executive Director Jo tonight. At first he refuses, but at the thought of all the money he’ll save, he reluctantly agrees to go for an hour.
Jung-ae gets all primped up, even cutting her hair, then heads over to YB Ad. She interviews with Team Leader Baek and Yul, who’s immediately suspicious of her high-pitched voice and furious blinking, which were Yoon-yi’s suggestions to make her seem younger.
Yul tells Jung-ae that he doesn’t want the assistant’s desk to be empty for more than three minutes at a time, and that she has to remain in close radius at all times. His phone alerts him that it’s almost noon, and he jumps up to go to lunch, taking Jung-ae and his team along with him.
He yells at the restaurant owner for leaving the bones in his fish, then frowns down at his meal like a pouty child. Team Leader Baek explains that Yul can’t use chopsticks well, having grown up abroad, and patiently starts to debone the fish for him.
Jung-ae passes her fish to Yul, already deboned and ready to eat. Yul watches her with awe as she explains how to do it properly, and as he tucks into his meal, he tells Jung-ae that she can start on Monday.
After lunch, Jung-ae calls Yoon-yi in tears. She’s terrified that her lies will be discovered, but Yoon-yi reassures her that getting hired is a good thing, and that she’ll be there to help her.
Team Leader Gong confirms with Yoon-yi that Chi-won is having drinks with Executive Director Jo tonight. He’s upset that Chi-won never goes out with his own team, but he’ll socialize with the man who’s always trying to tear their team down. Yoon-yi can’t explain the real reason Chi-won is going out with Executive Director Jo.
She tells him that Chi-won gave her his card to treat them, but he argues that a credit card won’t heal a broken heart. Aaaand then he realizes that Chi-won is standing right behind him. Chi-won says to bring his complaints directly to him, because Yoon-yi isn’t his messenger or venting station.
On their way to meet Executive Director Jo and Bo-na, Yoon-yi tells Chi-won that she won’t hold him to the entire hour if it’s too uncomfortable. She accidentally steps into the vestibule of the revolving door with him, and in her attempt to keep as far back from him as possible, the door hits her heels and stops, trapping them.
Watch the scene
If you’re going to come close, come closer
Chi-won steps a bit closer to her than necessary and says, “If you’re going to come close, come closer. If you’re going to go away, go farther away. I can’t stand being neither this nor that.” Wanna bet those words come back to haunt him later?
With a tiny smile, Yoon-yi steps closer to Chi-won’s back, and they exit the revolving door together.
Once they’re settled with drinks and snacks, Executive Director Jo kicks Yoon-yi under the table, but she doesn’t know what he wants. He says that Chi-won must be used to entertainment rooms like this from his days as a reporter, then asks Yoon-yi if it’s true they’re meeting for the very first time tonight. Oh nice, very smooth.
He picks up on her discomfort and attributes it to their surroundings, pointing out that Bo-na has been to places like this a lot thanks to him. Bo-na starts to pour drinks, but Executive Director Jo takes the bottle from her, saying that Chi-won doesn’t like it when women serve him.
With Chi-won flashing some pretty hard side-eye, Executive Director Jo pours him a drink, then one for Bo-na and Yoon-yi. Chi-won reaches for the bottle, but Executive Director Jo yanks it away and says that unlike someone, he loves it when women serve him. Gross.
Yoon-yi dutifully starts to pour a shot for Executive Director Jo, but Chi-won suddenly grabs the bottle and slams it down on the table. Executive Director Jo is startled, but he recovers quickly and tells Chi-won that he was too arrogant in his trust in Vice President Do, asking if the wake-up call was painful.
Chi-won retorts that he knows Executive Director Jo sucks up to clients and executives, then uses their influence to pressure the station for projects, but that seeing it with his own eyes is indeed a wake-up call. Executive Director Jo nods in satisfaction, but Chi-won isn’t finished.
Standing, he says that people say history is made at night, where there’s alcohol and beautiful women. He tells Executive Director Jo that if he knew how those people are remembered by history, he’d be the one waking up.
He turns to Yoon-yi and tells her that he’ll forfeit that discount, then takes her by the wrist to lead her out of the room. Executive Director Jo yells at him to come back, but Chi-won doesn’t even pause, and Executive Director Jo is left spluttering indignantly.
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Chi-won doesn’t want Yoon-yi pouring a drink for Executive Director Jo
Chi-won takes Yoon-yi to a pojangmacha, though he leaves her to pour her own drink. Downing a shot of soju, he asks if Yoon-yi is offended when she’s expected to pour drinks in places like that. She tells him honestly that she’s more upset when she has to pour her own drink while sitting with someone.
He doesn’t catch her hint, and she pours herself another shot with a heavy sigh. She asks Chi-won why someone else’s boss should treat her with respect when her own boss disrespects her. She reaches for the soju bottle again, but Chi-won beats her to it this time and pours her a drink. Okay, I totally just swooned.
He asks Yoon-yi what she wants from him, and she tells him, “I want to know everything about you.”
A little while later, Yoon-yi is asleep with a satisfied smile on her face. She nuzzles her cheek into the warm body heat beneath her head, then suddenly wakes to realize that she’s in a car with her head in Chi-won’s lap.
She has a mini internal freakout and pretends to still be asleep, while Chi-won gives himself cramps in his arm trying not to touch her. He thinks about how she told him she wants to know where he is, what music he likes, his hobbies, and what makes him happy.
Watch the scene
I want to know everything about you
Almost as an afterthought, she’d added that she wants to know why he always wants to be alone. Chi-won had gone all twitchy and slammed another shot, stammering that he finds people’s meddling to be very uncomfortable. Yoon-yi had told him not to think of it as meddling, but interest that allows her to do her job properly.
Chi-won carries Yoon-yi up the stairs to her house while she flails and chants for round two. He plops her down on a bench and says she can stop pretending to be drunk now, and Yoon-yi slinks inside, completely sober and thoroughly embarrassed.
Back at her own house, Jung-ae cleans out her husband’s closet and burns all of his clothes. Yul sits alone at dinner, practicing Jung-ae’s method for de-boning a fish with only a puppet for company. Bo-na drives a drunk and mumbling Executive Director Jo home, while Chi-won’s team has dinner together, complaining that Chi-won never joins them.
Upstairs, Chi-won organizes his extensive library of comic books, and downstairs, Yoon-yi lies in bed looking up at the ceiling. She knows that Chi-won is up there somewhere, and wishes him a good night.
Yul and Chi-won arrive at work at the same time the following morning, and Yul pretends to be disappointed when Chi-won isn’t curious why he’s there so early. He mock-whines, “You have so little interest in me,” and it reminds Chi-won of Yoon-yi saying there’s a difference between interest and meddling.
He asks Yul what he thinks, and Yul actually takes the question seriously. He tells Chi-won that interest is exchanged with someone you like, while meddling is more like parent to child.
In the elevator, Yul tells Chi-won that his morning drama ended, so he didn’t have anything else to do this morning but come to work. Chi-won doesn’t care, but Yul keeps chattering at him, asking if he found a place to live and pushing for details.
Annoyed, Chi-won blows up at him, and Yul says that that’s what meddling feels like. But he explains that his questions came from a place of concern for Chi-won, which is interest. Chi-won stares like he just got a brick upside the head and sighs to himself that Yul isn’t stupid.
He’s as taciturn as ever on his way to his office, breezing by Yoon-yi with hardly a word of greeting. As he’s suiting up for the day, he frowns at a little cactus Yoon-yi left on his desk with a cute note saying it will thrive without his care.
Yoon-yi messages Bo-na asking her to lunch, but her messages go unanswered. Bo-na deliberately ignores her, bothered by the events of the previous night and the way Chi-won stood up for Yoon-yi.
An alert goes out from the president’s secretary, ordering all of the executive assistants to the roof. They rush to make themselves as presentable as possible, eager to impress the secretary with the highest rank.
When the president’s secretary arrives (cameo by Choi Yeo-jin), she leads them in their motto: For the boss, of the boss, by the boss. She explains that she calls these unexpected meetings to ensure that they’re presenting the best possible image at all times.
She stops at one point to fix an assistant’s smudged mascara, but it turns out to be a bruise from botox injections, and chastises the girl for risking her looks. She continues on, but stops again when she sees that Yoon-yi is wearing flats instead of heels.
Yoon-yi tells her that her boss hates high heels, because the clacking noise annoys him. But the president’s secretary yells that even when wearing the highest heels, a good assistant should float like a butterfly.
She asks who Yoon-yi’s boss is, faltering when she hears that it’s Nam Chi-won, the “wall” who refused to ever have an assistant. Yoon-yi is held back after the meeting, and the president’s secretary tells her that they live in an age where information equals money, power, and competence, and that a boss’s competence varies depending on his or her assistant’s ability to gather information.
She calls information the assistant’s bullet, and continues to explain that the president’s secretary is like a control tower that needs to know what every YB executive is doing. But she says there’s one “bullet” that she lacks, and that’s detailed information on Nam Chi-won. She tells Yoon-yi to find out everything about him, and to have it to her by Monday morning.
That evening, Chi-won finds Yoon-yi going through his trash looking for something that will tell her a bit about him. Yoon-yi fibs that she’s just making sure he’s recycling correctly and runs inside before he can ask any questions.
Later, Yoon-yi lurks outside Chi-won’s office after work, hoping he’ll leave so she can search his office. He catches her and asks why she’s digging in his garbage and peeking in his office, so she sheepishly admits that she’s trying to gather information about him.
Chi-won gives Yoon-yi an envelope, calling it interest to her, but meddling to him. He tells her to open it after he’s gone, “Because it’s embarrassing.” Cute.
Yoon-yi pulls some papers out of the envelope to find that it’s a list: “100 Facts About Nam Chi-won.” Excuse me while I melt into a puddle. The list includes things like his favorite movie (Home Alone), his favorite drama (Baby-Faced Beauty, hur), and his habits (pushing his glasses up by his middle finger), and Yoon-yi smiles happily.
Chi-won had dropped by Yul’s office to ask him more about meddling versus interest, and Yul had gone slack-jawed with surprise. Chi-won had explained that he’s finding someone’s interest in him very bothersome, because it feels like meddling.
So Yul gave him the list of 100 questions (which he found on an idol’s fan website), and Chi-won had worked hard at filling out details about himself for Yoon-yi. He’d even answered the most awkward questions, listing his ideal girl as someone quiet, and his first time as “short and intense,” though he erases that last one.
This is getting so cute so fast, and I love it! I knew that Chi-won was a marshmallow, but I wasn’t expecting to see that side of him so soon. It’s nice watching him begin to defend Yoon-yi, which he did several times in this episode, though I still think it’s more about his sense of fairness in general than any real attraction to her in particular. Oh, the attraction is there, it’s just very quiet and I doubt Chi-won even realizes it yet. I do believe that Yoon-yi is beginning to see Chi-won as an attractive man, but her code of office ethics will stop her from admitting it, even to herself, for a long time yet. In the meantime, she’s pulling Chi-won out of his comfort zone and into a relationship built on mutual respect (not to mention a pen holder with red pens and pencils), which will be a fantastic place to start from when their personal feelings begin to get involved.
It’s definitely clear now why Jung-ae is going to be good for Yul—the kid is a spoiled rotten brat. As the mother of a belligerent teenager, Jung-ae is going to kick his butt all over that office once she gains some confidence, and I for one can’t wait to see it. I’m betting that Jung-ae will also appeal to him through her cooking knowledge, because Yul is a boy who loves his food, and Jung-ae has surely developed some impressive cooking skills in her years as a homemaker. But mostly, Yul just lacks someone to teach him how to behave like a grownup and treat people well all the time, not just when he wants something from them. So a mother figure like Jung-ae is exactly what he needs.
This week’s episodes felt much more purposeful, as if the writer has hit their stride and feels confident in where they’re taking the story. Not that the premiere week was bad, far from it, but it just felt a little more disjointed, a little less assured, so I’m happy to see that that hurdle seems to have been cleared. I like that the show feels simple, like a callback to early office dramas. Yet it’s not so simple that I’m worried nothing much will happen, because there’s been plenty of setup for interesting situations, and all four of the main characters have a lot of room for character growth. You never know what you’ll get with a rookie writer, but in the case of Jugglers, although we’re on familiar ground storywise, the characterizations and casting are so good that I’m still eager to see more.
A lot of that is due to the directing, which is doing a great job of allowing the actors room to stretch and play with their characters. Baek Jin-hee plays Yoon-yi as delightfully quirky, fiercely earnest, and committed to her decisions to the point that she often gets in her own way. Chi-won seems prickly and stand-offish on the outside, but Daniel Choi keeps giving us these little flashes of playfulness and mischief that make me think that once Chi-won comes out of his shell, he’s going to be a scream and a half.
Even Yul and Jung-ae feel layered, as if there’s a lot more going on under the surface than they show to the world. And Bo-na looks like she’s going to become a problem—she’s not a great friend to begin with, and I have a feeling she could quickly become an enemy if she doesn’t get control of her jealousy of Yoon-yi. Even the smallest characters are endearing, if slightly cartoonish, though that holds true for the entire drama in my opinion (and reminds me of Chi-won’s comic book fascination). In a way, Jugglers feels a bit like Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju did at the beginning, with its simple premise and endearing characters that became beloved by the time the show completed its run. I won’t be the least bit surprised if Jugglers takes us on a similar journey.
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