Beauty Inside: Episode 14
Guilt weighs heavy on the heart, and self-forgiveness proves difficult — if not impossible — when our protagonist realizes she caused her lover’s deepest pain. As Se-kye agonizes through penance, Do-jae struggles to assure her of their love for each other but to no avail. No one can reach Se-kye through her remorse for inflicting life-changing hardships on Do-jae, and she resorts to heartbreak as self-punishment.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Devastated by the truth, Se-kye sobs as she admits to Do-jae over the phone that his condition is her fault. She explains that she was on a trip to Europe with Woo-mi then and remembers seeing his face just before she lost consciousness. Do-jae looks shocked and worriedly rushes out to meet Se-kye.
Do-jae bangs on Se-kye’s door, demanding that she come out and tell him the truth in person. Se-kye wipes away her tears before walking out, and Do-jae immediately notices the cuts on her hands from her throwing the frames in her photo room. Se-kye discloses that she was the old lady that Do-jae saved in the accident and blames herself for causing him the ten years of pain.
Se-kye cries as she apologizes for shamelessly promising him happiness and says that she can’t fulfill that promise anymore. Do-jae says that he’s fine with everything, but Se-kye doubts that they could live together for the rest of their lives pretending this didn’t happen. Even if Do-jae could, Se-kye says that she couldn’t be that shameless.
Do-jae asks what they do now, and before Se-kye can respond, he stops her. Sensing the looming response, Do-jae offers to come back later and discuss then. He wraps Se-kye’s injured hand with his handkerchief and tells her not to cry too much nor hurt too much. With that, Do-jae leaves Se-kye at her doorstep, and she sobs uncontrollably in guilt.
That night, Do-jae looks through his fish-naming exercise records, and he remembers a conversation with his doctor about the only cure being a surgery that only had a 5% success rate. Unless Do-jae was willing to take that risk, the doctor advised Do-jae to accept that his condition was incurable.
The next day, Do-jae eats lunch with his mother, who shares her surprise about Do-jae disclosing his condition. Mom apologizes for hiding Do-jae’s condition for so long out of fear. Do-jae wonders what kind of person he would have been without the accident but says that he has no regrets about saving that person then. Mom admits her regret in teaching Do-jae to save those in need of help, as that goodness caused Do-jae so much pain.
In his office, Do-jae asks Secretary Jung to share his true impressions when they first met. Secretary Jung admits that Do-jae was in an indescribable state: young, hurt, and sad. On days that Do-jae was especially sensitive, he would get angry and yell in frustration. Other days, he would refuse to identify anything. But when Do-jae first recognized Secretary Jung, he felt a sense of relief that Do-jae would survive.
Do-jae reflects on that experience and wonders if his hardship was that intense. Secretary Jung confirms that he wouldn’t lose in a pity battle and commends him for enduring ten years of this hardship. Secretary Jung says that it was worth it because now Do-jae even found someone he loves. He points to the fish from Sa-ra and assumes that its name is Han Se-kye, since that’s the one fish that stands out in the world of similar-looking fish.
Woo-mi walks in on Se-kye rewatching her debut film once again and wonders if she’s a narcissist. Se-kye asks how her company would do without her, and Woo-mi assures her that the company can endure Se-kye taking a couple breaks whenever she wants. Woo-mi wonders if Se-kye is hinting at an upcoming marriage, but Se-kye denies this.
Se-kye offers to take on any current and future advertisement requests, and Woo-mi suggests that they start with Do-jae’s company. Se-kye freezes at the mention of Do-jae and numbly agrees to carry out the rest of their contract.
Do-jae looks at memo in his notebook that reads: “Even if you understand the situation, understanding the person is a different issue.” He switches the wording to better describe his dilemma: “Even if you understand the person, understanding the situation is a different issue.”
Secretary Jung urgently updates Do-jae on Director Kim’s call for a board meeting about Do-jae’s condition, and Do-jae considers this an opportunity to let out his anger. When Do-jae enters the meeting, Director Kim greets him and suggests that Do-jae take a break, with his condition and all. Do-jae silently stares at Director Kim, who then waves his hands around, taunting Do-jae about recognizing him.
Do-jae smirks at Director Kim and fires him. Director Kim laughs at Do-jae’s foolishness and reminds him of the formal dismissal procedure, but Do-jae says that he’s skipping that. Do-jae promises him compensation and then tells Director Kim to get out of his face.
Director Kim yells that the president (Gramps) won’t let this happen, but Do-jae disagrees. He points to the door, where Gramps glares at them disapprovingly. Director Kim runs over to Gramps and laments the mess Do-jae created, but Gramps pretends not to recognizes Director Kim, since he’s no longer a part of their company. The rest of the board members leave without any regard for Director Kim.
In Do-jae’s office, Gramps asks about Se-kye, and Do-jae admits that he doesn’t know how she’s doing, earning him a scolding. As Gramps leaves, Do-jae notes that he didn’t call him a fool this time. Gramps turns around and says that Do-jae is only a little bit of a fool.
After Gramps leaves, Secretary Jung tells Do-jae about Se-kye’s commercial shoot for their airlines, so Do-jae visits the set. Se-kye forces a smile for her shoot and looks unhappy on her break. Woo-mi finds Do-jae watching her from afar and finds it strange that he insists on just keeping his distance.
On the car ride back, Woo-mi notices that Se-kye isn’t attached to her phone waiting for Do-jae’s calls nowadays. She tells Se-kye that Do-jae seems to separate work and personal life well, as he just watched Se-kye during her shoot instead of approaching her. Se-kye wasn’t aware of Do-jae’s visit and asks Woo-mi to pull over.
Se-kye takes a taxi back to Do-jae’s company and sees Do-jae exiting the building. She hides and watches him longingly from afar.
Do-jae drinks soju with Eun-ho and asks him if a god really exists. Eun-ho responds that God exists for those who believe, and Do-jae asks if he’s allowed to hate this god. Do-jae belatedly realizes that he asked an inappropriate question to someone who loves God, but Eun-ho sympathizes with Do-jae, considering his condition. Eun-ho admits that he questioned God after witnessing Se-kye’s hardships and says that he feels the same way about Do-jae.
Do-jae shares that he’s unable to recognize himself in the mirror and that Se-kye is like his mirror because all of her sentiments about her condition resonate with him. Eun-ho says that this is all a part of God’s plan, but that makes Do-jae resent this god even more.
Eun-ho offers to repent for Do-jae’s resentment as repayment for Do-jae treating him to soju. Eun-ho addresses Do-jae as hyung, and Do-jae corrects that to hyungnim, a more formal way to address an older brother or brother-in-law. Meanwhile, Se-kye sits in her house alone and tells herself that she doesn’t deserve to cry for the rest of her life.
The next morning, Eun-ho tells Se-kye and Woo-mi that he had soju with Do-jae last night at Do-jae’s request. Se-kye tells him not to meet Do-jae anymore, and Woo-mi suspects that she broke up with Do-jae. Eun-ho doubts this, since it seemed like Do-jae was so in love with Se-kye.
Eun-ho receives a message that prompts him to leave, and Se-kye asks if it’s another part-time job. She offers to give him money, and when he jokingly throws out his usual unreasonable amount, Se-kye agrees to it. Eun-ho wonders if Se-kye is approaching her transformation day, since her emotions are out of check, and he tells Woo-mi to keep an eye on her.
After Eun-ho leaves, Woo-mi wonders if Se-kye is coping with her heartbreak by working. Se-kye doesn’t answer, and Woo-mi gently retreats instead of pressing further. Se-kye says that she’s going to visit her mom before her next event — her movie premiere that she needs to attend because Yoo-ri has already withdrawn from attending.
Eun-ho arrives at Sa-ra’s house with medicine after receiving her message that she’s sick. When he sees her state, he urges her to go to the hospital, but Sa-ra won’t go because her admittance will cause her company’s stock prices to drop. She thanks him for the medicine, and before Sa-ra closes her door, Eun-ho offers to make her food.
Sa-ra eats the homemade porridge and notes that she feels less lonely with someone watching her eat. She says that her independence is her strength, but when she’s sick, that independence makes her sad. As he watches her eat, Eun-ho admits that he just thought: “This woman can’t do without me. The person that I need to save is this woman.”
At the columbarium, Se-kye tells her mom that she’s visiting because she won’t be able to visit for a while. She apologizes because Mom believed in her to love, but she won’t be able to fulfill that promise.
Se-kye meets with Do-jae’s mom, who happily gives her a gift before they talk. Do-jae’s mom says that wherever she goes now, she thinks about Se-kye. She thanks Se-kye for loving Do-jae despite his condition, but in response, Se-kye apologizes and gets on her knees. She tells Do-jae’s mom that she’s going to break up with Do-jae.
Do-jae’s mom asks if it’s because of Do-jae’s condition, and Se-kye confirms this without further explanation. Mom takes Se-kye’s hands and pleads that she stay with Do-jae because he’s only just learned to embrace himself. Se-kye claims that she’s Do-jae’s weakness and asks Mom to comfort Do-jae so that he doesn’t hurt too much.
Then, Do-jae walks into Mom’s office and finds Se-kye on her knees. He lifts her up and apologizes to his mom, promising to explain later. He leads Se-kye out of the office, and Se-kye explains to Do-jae that she wanted to apologize for causing him and his mother this hardship. She blames herself for ruining Do-jae’s life, but Do-jae comforts her with an embrace.
Do-jae apologizes for not going to her sooner and explains that he couldn’t approach her because he feared that she would say these words. He wishes he could fix everything, but they can’t return to the past nor forget everything. He admits that he can’t do anything, but Se-kye disagrees. She tells Do-jae to forget her and forget them.
Se-kye says that Do-jae can’t be happy knowing that Se-kye is haunted by their past. She knows that they’ll be in agony together and blames herself for ruining their past, present and future. As she cries, Se-kye pleads that they break up and that Do-jae abandon her. Do-jae pulls her into a tighter hug as she cries on his shoulder.
When Do-jae returns home, he sits in the dark trying to remember Se-kye’s smiling face. He can’t remember, and he sweeps the vases on his table in frustration. Meanwhile, Se-kye attends her movie premiere and flashes her smile at the cameras.
As Se-kye looks to the different cameras, her smile suddenly drops when she locks eyes with Do-jae in the back. When she enters the theater, she finds Do-jae sitting one seat away from her. He notices the band-aid on her hand and asks if she’s still hurt. Se-kye struggles to hold her emotions in and walks out.
Do-jae follows Se-kye to the parking garage and stops her. He tells her that he would have saved anyone from the oncoming car, and that person just happened to be Se-kye. He reminds her that she told him that after resentment, you could get what you desired, but Se-kye claims to be the cause of that resentment. He assures her that he’s fine, but Se-kye tells him not to be.
Tears brimming in her eyes, Se-kye demands that he not smile or worry about her. Do-jae responds, “If we’re together, we’ll be sporadically happy and frequently afflicted. But I’ll resolve everything without exception. I promise.”
Se-kye doesn’t accept that promise and says that she’s resentful of their ill fated relationship. Do-jae challenges Se-kye to look him in the eyes and tell him that she hates him if she wants to break up. Se-kye remains silent, proving to Do-jae that she actually loves him.
He takes her hand, but Se-kye quivers as she tells him that she hates him. Through her tears, Se-kye says that she hated him from the moment they met, but Do-jae says that he hears those words as a confession. Before he can say any more, Se-kye walks away.
At home, Se-kye tells Woo-mi that she plans to retire, and Woo-mi finally realizes why Se-kye was loading up on work. Se-kye explains that she’s the problem and explains that Do-jae was the person who saved her life during her first transformation. She takes the blame for causing Do-jae’s hardship and begins to cry.
Woo-mi holds Se-kye’s hands and assures her that it’s not her fault. As Se-kye sobs, she says that she can’t smile in front of audiences anymore because she finds herself repulsive. Woo-mi lets her do whatever she needs to and offers to help however she can. She pulls Se-kye into a comforting hug.
As Woo-mi loads Se-kye’s luggage into her car, Do-jae arrives and requests to meet with Se-kye. Woo-mi blocks his path. She understands Do-jae’s urgency, but she says that Se-kye also needs to live. She defends Se-kye and apologizes to Do-jae.
From her window, Se-kye watches Do-jae drive away and tells him goodbye. With an empty look in her eyes, she crumbles to the ground.
The next day, news breaks about Se-kye’s retirement, and Do-jae’s employees wonder if she’s getting married to Do-jae. In his office, Do-jae considers calling his doctor, remembering the slim chances of surgery curing his condition. Secretary Jung interrupts his thoughts with the news of Se-kye’s retirement, and then Do-jae receives a call from Se-kye.
Over the phone, Se-kye says that she plans to live in hiding as her alternative faces instead of Se-kye. She reminds him of the last clause in their contract: At the end of their business partnership, their secret contract will be terminated and the contents of their secrets will be forgotten by both parties.
Se-kye tells him to forget, but Do-jae says that he can’t. Sharing her last words as Han Se-kye, she confesses, “I love you so much.” Then, she hangs up. Do-jae runs out of his office and speeds in his car to Se-kye house, but he finds the house completely empty.
Do-jae finds all the rooms cleared out except for the photo room. He walks into the room, finding broken glass and fallen frames from Se-kye’s emotional outburst. He sees his reflection in the glass of the empty frame that Se-kye intended to fill with her own photo. Do-jae bursts into tears and crumbles to the ground, sobbing.
Seo Hyun-jin must literally have no tears left to cry after this episode wrung her out. I’m honestly amazed at her ability to be convincingly sad and heartbroken — her compelling performance is possibly the only thing keeping me engaged through this unpleasant and painful heartbreak. Of course, heartbreak is never pleasant, but this feels especially choppy and unrefined. I think that this struggling plot is more obvious in Lee Min-ki’s acting, not because he’s a bad actor but because he doesn’t have much to work with. Like that one line where Do-jae says that he can’t do anything to help Se-kye, he literally can’t do much with his character at this point. It’s all up to Se-kye and whether she decides to forgive herself.
The lazy writing is starting to take a toll, which is a shame because we have such a great cast. I think the gaps in the writing were previously filled with the great acting instincts of the cast, but that only applied to the lighter comedic moments of the show. Improv isn’t quite doable with these heavier scenes, and the weaker writing is starting to become obvious without the ad libs to cover up its shortcomings. On the bright side, I’m glad we have a solid cast and director to make this show watchable, and I am depending on the synergy of the cast and director to pull us through the end. As we enter our finale week, all I need from the writing is more whoo-hoos than boo-hoos to give Seo Hyun-jin’s tear ducts a rest and validate that this show is greater than its weakest link.