Beauty Inside: Episode 10
Fate can be cruel to those who least deserve it, and our metamorphosing protagonist experiences her lowest moment yet as she tries to keep her dreadful condition a secret from her mom. Though Se-kye’s transformations have always been untimely, the consequences have never been so heartbreaking. And while she has plenty of people to embrace her flaws and sorrows, she struggles to escape the feeling of loneliness and self-reproach.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Mom interrupts the make-out session and smiles knowingly when she sees the couple together. Se-kye quickly jumps out of Do-jae’s lap and tries to defend him, but that’s unnecessary. Mom eagerly addresses Do-jae as her son-in-law, and Do-jae greets her as his mother-in-law.
Se-kye frets about explaining the complicated sequence to their relationship, but Do-jae simplifies it for Mom by saying that he loves Se-kye. Mom smiles in satisfaction and pours Do-jae a glass of wine, asking him to continue to simplify matters when Se-kye complicates things out of embarrassment. Do-jae pours her a glass of wine in return and offers to answer anything she’s curious about. Se-kye looks mortified.
As Se-kye walks Do-jae out, she asks about his impressions of Mom. Do-jae describes Mom based on his criteria of observations — voice, personality, gait — and Se-kye apologizes in realization of the inconvenience. But Do-jae doesn’t seem fazed by the sudden meeting and sweetly adds that he has something in common with Mom: They both really love Se-kye.
With that, Do-jae walks off as Se-kye lingers in those sweet words. But then, he comes back and gives her a quick peck, following up on what they didn’t finish earlier. Se-kye can’t resist a smile as she walks inside.
In bed, Mom asks Se-kye if they’ve kissed yet and chides her when she denies this. Mom shares that she kissed Se-kye’s father even before they started dating, and Se-kye asks for Mom’s love story. Mom shares that while dating, they were moderately sweet and moderately heart-fluttering, and Mom married him because she liked that moderation.
Mom says that if you’re too hot, then you boil over or completely boil down. She thought that they would live consistently at a moderate temperature. Se-kye points out that they were unable to, but Mom believes that Se-kye can do it. Se-kye asks when Mom’s going home to water her plants, but Mom dismisses them because of everything she’s raised, Se-kye comes first.
As the friends mooch coffee from Eun-ho’s café job, Woo-mi scolds Se-kye for being caught by her mom when she’s not even properly dating. Woo-mi receives a call from her boyfriend and shows them how it’s done with her cringey aegyo voice that makes Se-kye and Eun-ho gape in alarm.
Eun-ho says that he didn’t hear Woo-mi’s phone ringing and suspects that Woo-mi is pretending to call her boyfriend. Se-kye jokes that she should just take supporting roles to let Woo-mi date with all this free time she has now.
Meanwhile, Mom cooks up a load of food and visits Do-jae’s office to treat him to a home-cooked meal. Mom offers to cook more for him while she can and asks Do-jae to take care of Se-kye. Do-jae enjoys the food offers to repay Mom for the meal by taking her shopping.
Secretary Jung complains about the extraneous outing, but when Do-jae offers him a bonus to smile, he immediately brightens up. Do-jae applauds each outfit that Mom changes into, and Secretary Jung eagerly follows suit.
When Mom comes home with her spoils, Se-kye scolds her for visiting Do-jae unannounced and accepting a shopping spree. Mom sheepishly admits that she wanted to accept gifts from her son-in-law. Se-kye says that Do-jae already sacrificed a lot to be with her, but Mom argues that Se-kye is worthier than she claims. Se-kye storms off, saying that Mom doesn’t understand.
Se-kye calls Do-jae to apologize for her Mom’s sudden visit, but Do-jae says that he enjoyed the food and liked buying gifts for Mom. Se-kye seems to melt at his affection but insists that she’s still angry. She tells him to make it up to her by spending the whole day with her tomorrow, and Do-jae smirks at her excuse to see him.
Se-kye and Do-jae eat in public together wearing hats because that’s enough to make them invisible. Se-kye apologizes again if her mother inconvenienced him, but Do-jae insists that would be impossible because she’s Se-kye’s mother. Se-kye seems relieved and recalls a similar moment with her mother and her boyfriend when she was 15. Do-jae suddenly gets jealous and asks Se-kye to kindly restrain from provoking him.
At Do-jae’s house, they continue their date with scratch cards, Go Stop, and writing comments on Se-kye’s news articles. Se-kye also returns the favor from her previous transformation by shaving Do-jae’s face and adorably finishes it off with a kiss. Do-jae asks for another kiss, so they continue smooching in the bathroom.
At night, they go on a walk with their invisibility hats, and Se-kye notices her advertisement on the big screen. She tells Do-jae that he must see her every day when he passes this screen on his run, but Do-jae falls silent. Se-kye realizes that Do-jae must have not recognized her, and she blames the photoshop for making her unrecognizable.
They continue to walk in silence, and Se-kye stops to apologize. She says that it’s okay if Do-jae doesn’t recognize her, but Do-jae isn’t okay with it. He says that he wants to see her and just recognize her. Do-jae realizes that this is what it’s like to share something he needs to cope with on his own. Se-kye resonates with the struggle.
Eun-ho waits for Sa-ra with a birthday cake and doesn’t sing because he knows she wouldn’t enjoy that. Sa-ra stands frozen by his kindness and tells him about the meaning of the marigolds – “incoming happiness” — she received on her birthday. Sa-ra admits that Eun-ho seems like her incoming happiness and confesses that she likes him.
Staggered by the confession, Eun-ho stammers that he’s just friendly and clarifies that he loves God and wants to follow the path of God. He tries to soften the blow by saying that he’s used to the misunderstanding and tells her not to reproach herself.
Sa-ra responds by asking why he’s being good to her if he dislikes bad people. She blows out the candles and walks off, saying that she doesn’t like cake.
In her office, Sa-ra looks conflicted and looks around before she holds her hands together to pray. She doesn’t believe in religion, but she asks God to concede this man in exchange for a large donation. In prayer, Sa-ra pleads for God to give her Eun-ho in this negotiation. Aw, this is kind of cute.
As the three friends get their nails done, Se-kye and Eun-ho both sigh in regret for opposite reasons. Se-kye regrets not treating him better while Eun-ho regrets treating her too well.
Se-kye ignores a call from Mom, sick of the nagging about marriage. Woo-mi opposes Se-kye’s marriage, but Eun-ho voices his support, as he’d like to see Se-kye get married before he’s secluded in seminary. Se-kye scoffs that Eun-ho is crying wolf again about seminary, but he shares that he submitted his application yesterday.
Shocked by this news, Woo-mi and Se-kye both childishly kick at and grab Eun-ho for the belated notice. Amid the chaos, Se-kye takes a call from an unknown number, and it’s the hospital asking if she’s Mom’s guardian.
Se-kye runs to the hospital and discovers Mom’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The doctor explains that pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early and that most cases are discovered in the later stages. He tells her that Mom already knew her diagnosis when she arrived in the emergency room and that that she has a month left to live at most. Se-kye cries in shock.
In the hospital room, Se-kye watches Mom knit a sweater for Se-kye’s dog before it gets too cold. Se-kye looks unsettled by Mom’s calm composure and asks why Mom isn’t indignant about her diagnosis. Mom admits that she’s indignant but there’s nothing she can do now.
Se-kye blames herself for blithely getting her nails done and ignoring Mom’s call to avoid the nagging while Mom was writhing in pain. As she sobs, Se-kye yells at Mom for not telling her sooner and almost making that moment her biggest regret. Mom cries as she apologizes for not telling Se-kye and explains that she thought the news would break Se-kye’s heart.
Se-kye cries that Mom only thinks of her, while she’s full of herself. Wracked with guilt, she asks why Mom only thinks about her, and Mom says, “Because you’re my daughter, my one and only child.” Se-kye embraces Mom, and they cry on each other’s shoulders.
Do-jae visits Mom in the hospital, and Mom tells Do-jae not to get sick — not only because he’s dating Se-kye but because she thinks he’s a good person. She thanks him for the gifts and admits that she shamelessly accepted them because she didn’t know when she’d get another chance. Mom asks Do-jae for a favor — to take Se-kye’s hand when Mom has to let go — and Do-jae agrees to take the baton.
Mom wonders when Se-kye will finish filming her movie, and Do-jae offers to buy tickets to go together when it’s released. Mom agrees to go with her son-in-law, and Do-jae narrates: “Though we both knew that we couldn’t keep the promise, we made the promise anyway. I don’t know if it was to make us more or less sad, but perhaps it was because we desperately wanted to fulfill the promise.”
Se-kye happily records Mom on her camera as she narrates, “While death may seem far away, it’s always nearby. By the time we notice it, it’s already standing right next to us so that we can’t escape.” Mom finishes the sweater for Se-kye’s dog and hopes that the dog will protect Se-kye for a long time. She continues, “That’s why you have to say those words.” Se-kye holds Mom’s hands and tells her, “I love you.”
Se-kye showers Mom with those words, as they take a picture together, as they go for a walk, and as Mom cringes in pain at night. She narrates, “Because time is always faster than we think.”
As Se-kye packs more clothes to stay with Mom, she receives a text from Do-jae apologizing that he’ll be away for his business trip. Se-kye wishes him safe travels and suddenly feels a familiar pang through her body. She looks at herself in the mirror, and we see her transform into an older woman (Ra Mi-ran). She realizes how fast time has passed and resents herself for the inconvenient timing.
Woo-mi tells a weakening Mom that Se-kye had a filming commitment while Se-kye sits in her room day and night in her new body as time passes. She narrates, “Every heartbreaking day passed by meaninglessly.” She pleads for her original body to return faster.
Se-kye receives a call from Do-jae, who immediately recognizes her changed voice. He apologizes for not being by her side, but Se-kye appreciates that he’s with her now. She desperately asks him to call her name, and when he does, Se-kye feels reassured. Se-kye hangs up to pick up an incoming call from Woo-mi, and she runs to the hospital as her transformed self.
Transformed Se-kye sobs at Mom’s bedside, and Mom doesn’t recognize this stranger. Mom reaches for Se-kye’s face and after further inspection, Mom recognizes her daughter. Se-kye breaks down into tears and apologizes, and Mom also apologizes for not knowing her daughter’s hardships. It breaks her heart, and Se-kye assures her that it’s not her fault.
Mom says that it’s nice to see older Se-kye, since she didn’t think she would be able to see her age. Mom promises to recognize her sooner next time and proposes that they live together again. Se-kye nods in acceptance. “Next time, be my daughter again. I’ll do better.”
Se-kye begs Mom not to go and wait to see her real face, but Mom says that she can see Se-kye’s face even with her eyes closed. Then, Mom closes her eyes and takes her last breath. Se-kye wails in mourning of her mother’s passing, and Woo-mi drags her out of the hospital room to avoid any further suspicion from the doctors who’ve come to announce Mom’s death.
Do-jae arrives at the hospital and finds unfamiliar Se-kye crying near the entrance. He recognizes her and tries to comfort her in an embrace. Se-kye cries in his arms, and Do-jae apologizes for coming too late.
At the wake, Do-jae thanks Mom for her food and promises to love Se-kye more. Eun-ho and Woo-mi observe the wake while Se-kye stares at herself in the mirror, still in her cohabitant’s body.
While Se-kye hides in the bathroom, Director Lee and Yoo-ri pay their respects to Mom. Yoo-ri asks for Se-kye, and Woo-mi explains that Se-kye needed to step away to collect herself. In the bathroom, transformed Se-kye continues to wail at the sink when Yoo-ri walks in. Yoo-ri notices this older woman wailing and accidentally leaves her lipstick at the sink when she leaves.
Se-kye looks at herself in the mirror, and she undergoes a transformation back to her original body. She resents herself for not appearing sooner for Mom and cries in defeat. When Yoo-ri returns to the bathroom to retrieve her lipstick, she sees Se-kye walk out of the bathroom and finds it strange the bathroom was empty just prior.
As Do-jae stands by Se-kye to observe the wake, people gossip about whether they’re really dating. Se-kye tells Do-jae that he doesn’t need to trouble himself by standing with her, but he takes her hand and says that she should only worry about herself.
Sa-ra pays her respects at the wake and asks Se-kye what she plans to do now that her mother has passed. Do-jae intervenes at her rude question, but Sa-ra explains that lofty messages of encouragement didn’t mean much in her experience. She tells Se-kye that practical questions about her future stuck with her.
Se-kye admits that she thought Sa-ra didn’t like her, but Sa-ra says that she came because Se-kye is the person that her brother likes. And after all, he’s still her brother. Though she dislikes lofty encouragement, Sa-ra reluctantly consoles Se-kye to be strong. Se-kye tears up at the sincere words of encouragement.
As Sa-ra leaves, she runs into Eun-ho and shares her experiences of grief over her own mother’s passing. She says that she coped by joking about her pain, but she never meant it. She tells Eun-ho to take care of Se-kye with love, especially since he’ll soon belong to God. Sa-ra assures him that she’s here to give sincere encouragement, and Eun-ho silently watches her leave.
Woo-mi hugs Se-kye to let her cry, and Eun-ho takes over the role of chief mourner to let his friends grieve. Later, Do-jae finds Se-kye staring at her mom’s picture while her friends sleep against the wall, and he takes her outside for a breather.
Sitting outside, Se-kye wonders if Mom knew about her secret, since she recognized her immediately in a stranger’s body. Do-jae presumes that Mom probably didn’t know about the secret but recognized her daughter crying, just like Do-jae did when he embraced her in the hospital.
Though she initially worried what she would do without Mom, Se-kye says that she realized that she has Woo-mi, Eun-ho, Do-jae, and many others by her side. She knows that she’s not alone, but she still misses Mom and resents herself for being unable to show her real face to Mom in the end.
Se-kye tearfully admits her fears of her not returning to herself one day and dying with no one to recognize her. She turns to Do-jae and reproaches herself for thinking about herself when her mother has died. Do-jae takes her hand and assures her that that he’ll recognize her and be the first to hold her hand. Se-kye looks at Do-jae gratefully but turns away, still numb in mourning.
I vaguely sensed this coming from the previous episode, but that didn’t prepare me at all for the heartbreak and tears. Though the mother-daughter screen time was brief, the relationship felt complex and real, with cheekiness, guilt, nagging, and resentment. The way that Se-kye kept telling Mom that she loved her really got to me, with her desperation to give all the love she regrets not giving before, and all the love she would have wanted to give in the future. That desperation resonated with me and made me want to give my mom a hug.
Kudos to whoever is casting the cameo roles — Ra Mi-ran was a wonderful choice for that emotional last moment with Mom. The sorrow and regret felt raw, and I thought she did a great job at channeling Se-kye’s emotions to ensure continuity. It was such a cruel choice to make Se-kye remain transformed through her mother’s passing, though I found it interesting that Mom recognized Se-kye immediately. I trust that Mom truly saw and recognized the essence of Se-kye, but I wonder if she actually knew or was familiar with the condition.
While watching Se-kye and her interactions onscreen, I’m starting to notice that Seo Hyun-jin has such a strong energy that she almost zaps the charm out of her costars. I mean this mostly in a good way, but I can see how this can be a detriment to other storylines and characters. I’m constantly impressed by Seo Hyun-jin’s mastery of her craft — in her subtle changes of expression, the way she makes flawed characters seem so relatable, and the aura she brings to the role. Her energy isn’t blatantly in your face, but it’s a vibe that I’ve been noticing, especially in comparing scenes with and without her. For now, I want her to continue demanding that attention and energy, but I hope that the supporting roles can find their spotlight as well, even if it’s in Se-kye’s shadow.