My Strange Hero: Episodes 5-6
Tired of being played with, our strange hero returns to the school that ruined his life, facing the same people who helped ruin it. And if these people won’t tell him what happened all those years ago, then he’ll just have to find out himself. But he won’t get his answers, or his revenge, that easy–Seolsong High has some surprises in store first.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
In classic dramatic fashion, Bok-soo gets into his old school uniform. Gyung-hyun walks in and asks what he’s doing, and Bok-soo replies that in order to catch a tiger, he has to get inside the fox’s den. With a wink, he then leaves for school.
At the school, several female students gush over the news of Bok-soo’s return. One girl named So-ra gets into an old Seolsong legend and we’re catapulted into a Kill Bill-esque flashback.
Bok-soo’s friend/admirer Min-ji had entered the school, and she was being harassed by a stalker and his friends. On one laughably rainy day, when these boys ganged up on her, Bok-soo appeared to kick some butt.
So-ra’s exaggerated story gets interrupted, however, when someone notices Bok-soo walking towards the school. They all press against the windows to get a better look, as does (oh no) Bok-soo’s surprised nephew In-ho.
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Seolsong High, can you handle this?
From the field, Bok-soo takes one long look at the school and seethes, “I’m going to make you guys regret my return.” But only one second later, a teacher runs up to him, grabs his ear, and scolds him for being late, not knowing who he is.
Se-ho sees all of this from his window and muses that the timing is unbelievable. He sends the principal and vice principal down to take care of things. The two retrieve Bok-soo and take him to the auditorium, where he’s bombarded with reporters.
Bok-soo’s gaze moves past the chaos and finds Se-ho standing up on stage, below a banner officially congratulating him as the new director. Bok-soo takes a breath and walks through the sea of reporters until he’s in front of the stage.
The former friends stare each other down before Se-ho makes his speech. He claims that he’s going to take Young-min’s suicide attempt seriously and that things are going to be different from now on, starting with Bok-soo’s arrival.
One reporter accuses Se-ho of using Bok-soo as a way to cover up the school’s flawed system, to which Se-ho replies that Bok-soo isn’t significant enough to do that. Furious, Bok-soo stomps onto the stage and raises a fist at an unflinching Se-ho.
Bok-soo calms himself and instead holds out his hand to shake Se-ho’s. Se-ho smiles and accepts the handshake, earning applause from their audience. The boys bicker through their forced smiles, with Se-ho reminding Bok-soo that he only has to act like a student for a little while. Bok-soo drops Se-ho’s hand and retorts that he has a speech too.
Bok-soo starts off by accidentally calling Se-ho by name and not his title (pffft) and then whips out some forms that state that a student can return to their school after leaving as long as there are no special reasons for doing so. Bok-soo confirms that he came on his own, giving Se-ho a “You can thank me later” look. The teachers and students watch this whole broadcast with awe, save for Soo-jung and Teacher Park.
When Vice Principal Song announces a new class specifically for bad students, Teacher Park argues that it’ll only worsen the discrimination. Se-ho barges in and states that it’s customization, not discrimination. Since all students have different skills and interests, he thinks it’d be more unfair to force them together for the sake of equality.
Teacher Park still disagrees, but Se-ho interrupts him and asks for Soo-jung. Se-ho thanks her for saving Young-min and says that she’s been appointed to a full-time teacher. Soo-jung looks more confused than anything, especially when Se-ho walks up to her and asks, “You’re like this because you’re happy, right?” Ignoring the applause from her colleagues, she follows Se-ho outside.
She catches up to him and starts rambling that she had nothing to do with Bok-soo coming back, so she feels she doesn’t deserve the promotion. Se-ho laughs at the fact that that was what she worried about.
He assures her that he’s doing this because she’s more than qualified and because she’s waited long enough. He goes on his way, leaving Soo-jung with tears in her eyes. She manages a smile and tells herself that he’s right–she is good enough.
Meanwhile, the slacker kids learn that they’re in the new class and wonder if this means that the teachers have given up on them. Either way, they think it doesn’t change anything. In-ho, however, is disappointed to find his name on the list.
Back in the teachers’ office, Vice Principal Song assigns Soo-jung the Wildflower Class, the class for troubled students. She’s not ecstatic about this, but she is relieved to see Bok-soo’s name missing from her roll book.
But then, Song grabs the book and jots down Bok-soo’s name, saying he almost forgot. He tells her that Bok-soo is waiting in her counseling office, ready to be escorted to class. Soo-jung sinks into her chair and thinks to herself, “Kang Bok-soo. Would you please just disappear from my life?” Heh, don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon, girl.
Soo-jung braces herself before walking into her office and finds Bok-soo sitting in her chair. He figures that she must be full-time now, saying that Se-ho sure works fast. She ignores his patronizing words and asks what he wants from her.
He smiles and says that he wants her confession of trying to buy her way into a job. And if she doesn’t confess, then he’s going to help her do it. Frustrated, she demands to know why he’s doing this to her after nine years.
He stands up and says that he should be asking that question–why did she do what she did back then? “I thought you and I…” he wavers. “I thought there was something between us.”
She looks sad for a moment, but she hides it with a dry laugh, asking what there was supposed to be between them. Bok-soo’s face falls. He’d thought they had something, but now that they’re talking, he sees that it must’ve been nothing. He tells her that a fake like her doesn’t last long, and she agrees. She throws back that if he was sincere back then, he never would’ve done “that” to her.
He doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but she doesn’t care to explain. Instead, she tells him that they’re teacher and student now and that he needs to stop speaking to her in a casual tone. “Understood,” he says with a hard expression. “Teacher Sohn Soo-jung.” But hearing that only makes her feel worse.
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I thought we had something
She takes him to the classroom, and all the kids are amazed to have the famous Bok-soo in their presence (while poor In-ho silently freaks out in the back). Se-ho walks up to the room as Bok-soo introduces himself, and he’s reminded of when he first came to Seolsong.
Back in 2009, Se-ho had introduced himself to the class, looking a lot more shy and insecure than the present-day him. Teacher Park had asked Soo-jung to show the new kid around, but Bok-soo bolted up and insisted that he’d do it.
Bok-soo dragged Se-ho all around the school until he noticed Soo-jung sitting out in the sun. He’d beamed and asked Se-ho if he’d ever been in love, and Se-ho merely followed his gaze, intrigued.
Bok-soo told him to act natural, but Soo-jung had already seen them. “We got caught because of you!” Bok-soo whispered. “Why’d you look?!” Awww, you guys were cute…
It turns out that Se-ho was a serious student just like Soo-jung. He’d been disappointed to be ranked second behind her, but something in the way she smiled made his disappointment disappear.
He’d constantly find himself staring and smiling at her, until one day when Soo-jung confronted him about it. We return to present-day Se-ho as he watches Soo-jung inside the classroom. “Right,” he says, before walking away. “Why do I keep staring?”
After Bok-soo takes his seat, Soo-jung asks who wants to be class president. But since no one wants the job, she decides to pick the first name on her list. She skips Bok-soo’s name and calls on In-ho, making the entire class laugh. (Apparently, he’s the joke of the class and subject to bullying.)
Shocked, Bok-soo turns to see In-ho and jumps out of his seat. And when Soo-jung asks what’s wrong, he can’t say anything. He can’t take the kids laughing at his nephew, though, so he volunteers to be class president. After class, Bok-soo drags In-ho away from his bullies, much to their confusion.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Outside, Bok-soo listens to In-ho’s weak excuses of being in the Wildflower Class and tells him to shut it. In-ho should know better–Bok-soo’s expulsion broke his mom’s heart, so this would kill In-ho’s mom. But In-ho begs his uncle not to tell.
From afar, In-ho’s bullies Seung-woo, Shi-on and Jae-yoon can’t believe that In-ho is groveling to the “Elder” Bok-soo. They wonder if the two are brothers but quickly dismiss the idea.
During break, Seung-woo orders In-ho to go down and buy their snacks, making Bok-soo stand and flip his desk. He angrily approaches the bullies and… offers to buy the snacks instead since he’s such a fast runner. And with that, he takes off.
He races through the school like lightning, Google Translates his way through the “English only” snack bar, and returns to the classroom practically coughing up blood. When the bullies still bother In-ho, Bok-soo marches up to them, only to tear their snacks open as free service and laugh through clenched teeth. LOL, I can’t.
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The legend of Seolsong High
Later, he sees the kids pushing In-ho around, but In-ho shakes his head, urging him to ignore it. Bok-soo groans that he doesn’t have time for this; he can’t get his revenge when he’s constantly worrying about his nephew.
In her office, Soo-jung looks over Bok-soo’s forms and sighs at the section regarding his leave of absence. After some thinking, she simply jots down “personal reasons.”
After school, Teacher Park insists on taking Bok-soo out for drinks to celebrate his return. But when Gyung-hyun and Min-ji join them, Teacher Park sneaks off to the restroom. He’s not coming back, is he?
Min-ji, upset that her precious Bok-soo is back in school with his ex-girlfriend, drinks until she passes out. Gyung-hyun wonders what Bok-soo has planned, and he states that he’s going to destroy Se-ho and get an explanation from Soo-jung.
Meanwhile, Se-ho comes home to find an extravagant seafood dinner. He hesitates when his mom places a shrimp on his plate but eats it anyway. But when Mom gets up to take a call, he immediately starts choking. He tells the chef that he’s allergic to shellfish and that his mom must’ve forgot. He then hurries to his room to take his medication before falling into his chair. Damn.
This scene is juxtaposed with Bok-soo walking home to find his mom eagerly waiting for him. She looks him up and down, saying it’s nice to see him in a uniform again. Bok-soo’s sister So-jung then comes out and tells him not to bother In-ho at school. He huffs past her, saying she doesn’t know anything.
That night, Bok-soo lies in bed wondering what Soo-jung meant when she said that if he’d been sincere, he wouldn’t have done “that” to her.
The next day, Soo-jung cheerfully goes through her lecture despite the majority of sleeping students. She asks if anyone has a poem ready, which she immediately regrets when Bok-soo raises his hand.
He improvises the poem “Crow’s-eye view” and changes it to “$50,000 view,” ha. And every time he says “50,000,” Soo-jung squirms with anger. She tells him to stop and has him follow her out to the hall.
She asks if he only came back to school to act immature. Instead of answering, he asks if that’s all she has to say. He starts going up the stairs, toward the roof, and says, “You have nothing to say, huh? Then I should help you remember.”
As the two walk up the stairs, they remember rushing up those same stairs (at different times) on that day nine years ago.
Bok-soo had burst through the doors to find Se-ho standing there. He punched Se-ho square on the mouth and cried, “How did you know? Why did you tell [Soo-jung]?!” And Se-ho said it was because he didn’t like her.
Se-ho explained that he’d never lost to someone in his studies, and he was upset that Soo-jung kept ignoring his advances. Bok-soo reminded him that Soo-jung was his girlfriend, but Se-ho didn’t care.
And when Bok-soo yelled asking if he even felt sorry for Soo-jung, Se-ho looked at him with tears in his eyes. “Are you saying you don’t feel sorry for me? I pity myself most in this world.” He concluded that Bok-soo didn’t know anything.
Rather than punch Se-ho again, Bok-soo cried out in frustration and turned to leave. But Se-ho called out for him to turn back, and he panicked to see Se-ho standing on the ledge.
Se-ho told him that life was too hard and that he might feel peaceful if he jumped down. He then wobbled on the ledge, freaking Bok-soo out, and laughed. Thinking Se-ho was joking, Bok-soo told him to do whatever and turned away.
Suddenly scared, Se-ho shouted that he was really going to jump. “Don’t go!” he cried. Bok-soo stopped but wouldn’t turn around. Se-ho’s expression looked empty as he then said goodbye, thanked Bok-soo, and let himself fall back.
It was then that Bok-soo turned around and ran straight for Se-ho. He grabbed Se-ho’s tie just in time, but his grip was slipping. Se-ho’s expression turned to fear as he shouted at Bok-soo to save him.
Se-ho clasped Bok-soo’s hands and screamed, “I said save me!” But Se-ho fell out of Bok-soo’s grasp and went down, down, down until he hit a tree branch and then the ground. His body was contorted, but he was still conscious.
Bok-soo was looking over the ledge, stunned, when he heard Soo-jung behind him, crying in horror.
In the present, Bok-soo walks through the roof doors and sees Se-ho standing on the ledge, looking out at the view. Se-ho turns to face Bok-soo and Soo-jung, and they all look just as they did on that day.
The history behind this trio is getting more and more interesting. With each layer we peel back, the situation is looking less diabolical on Se-ho and Soo-jung’s part. For us, as viewers, Bok-soo is still the victim here, but I’m beginning to understand why Se-ho and Soo-jung might believe that they’re victims too. A big part of it falls under some unknown misunderstanding. We know that Soo-jung carries feelings of horror and disappointment because she thinks that Bok-soo assaulted their friend, but what else does she think? What else is she thinking that drives her obvious anger? Does it have something to do with whatever the boys were fighting about?
Which brings me to Se-ho. Ohhh, Se-ho. Kwak Dong-yeon did such a good job at making this character seem like a total psycho, so this episode’s flashbacks took me aback. Back then, the kid seemed like such a sweetheart (up until those last few moments on the roof). He was smart, he was shy, and he was… I don’t know, innocent? I still saw traces of that on the roof, when Bok-soo was beating the crap out of him. Rather than crazy, Se-ho looked broken. And he was pleading with Bok-soo as if he was asking Bok-soo to fix him. To save him. This tells me that that this sudden suicide attempt isn’t about some love triangle.
Seeing Se-ho’s home life, there are already several hints that could explain his behavior that day. We met a Se-ho that had already accepted his lifestyle, that had used it to his advantage. But back then, as a high schooler, it had to have been suffocating. And whatever happened, whether it had to do with home, his mom, school or Soo-jung, he just wanted Bok-soo on his side. To see him as pitiful, as the victim. And to have Bok-soo turn away, that must’ve felt like some kind of betrayal. Enough of a betrayal to prompt his false accusation. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Se-ho was just that manipulative, even then. And, question: Why do these kids have easy access to the roof? And why are there no railings?
Anyway, I digress. As excited as I am for our trio’s story, I’m just as excited for the actual high school hijinks that Bok-soo is sure to get into. For some reason, it never occurred to me that his young nephew In-ho would also be at Seolsong High. It creates some great tension. He doesn’t want to hurt In-ho, so he can’t act out as much as he thought he could. But at the same time, he can’t really protect In-ho either. He can’t go flying around doing parkour and the bullies’ errands all the time. Still, I’m glad that Bok-soo has at least one friendly face at that school.
There’s never one moment where I’m bored with this drama, and that in itself is such a great feeling. If I’m not laughing hysterically (which is most of the time), I’m fully invested in Bok-soo and his friends. Him and Teacher Park, him and Soo-jung, him and his family. The characters are so wonderfully realized, and I love seeing them all interact, whether they’re arguing or just goofing off. This perfect balance of humor and heart continues to make me one happy viewer.
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