Extraordinary You: Episodes 17-18
With our hero back and better than ever, our heroine is over the moon. But not everyone is glad to have him back — there’s one character who would rather that Haru, and everyone else, stick to their stories exactly as written. The more we learn about the nature of the manhwa world, the more this mysterious Writer seems to loom over our characters like a malevolent entity, intent on making them suffer.
We back up to the moment when Haru is drawn to the library by the sound of rapidly flipping pages. He sees the portal again, and this time it shows a hand tightly clutching the blade of a sword, and Haru grimacing in pain. Haru reaches into the portal, which grabs his hand for a moment, and when he pulls it out there’s a bloody slash in his left palm.
With it, Haru’s memories come flooding back. He runs to find Dan-oh, and when he does, she’s standing in the middle of the street, wondering if she’d have been better off as a mindless extra. Haru says that if she were, he’d still be nameless. He pulls the crying Dan-oh into his arms, reassuring her that he’s back.
They talk, and neither of them understands why Haru came back without his memory. Dan-oh pouts that someone else was sitting at his desk and nobody knew who he was, then when he returned he was like someone else. She tells Haru that she’s not going to try to change her fate anymore, because what happened to him was all her fault. He says that he wouldn’t change his decisions even if he could, so she shouldn’t feel sorry.
He offers to walk her home, but Dan-oh is scared to part again, afraid that he won’t remember her after the next Stage. She clings to his hand, making tears well up in his eyes, so he makes her look at him and promises earnestly, “I won’t let you go. Never. I’ll never let you go.”
The next day at school, Do-hwa is thrilled to learn that Haru is back (and look, he’s got the missing copy of Secret). He makes Haru say his name over and over, while he and Dan-oh force-feed Haru to replenish the energy he must have lost from everything he’s been through. HAHA, Do-hwa is such a mother hen.
Haru is still listed in Secret as a named extra, which Do-hwa figures is the reason he lost his memory. His theory is that Haru regained his memory because he missed Dan-oh so much, and he teases that Haru must like her, making Haru and Dan-oh stare at each other nervously.
Later, Dan-oh offers to do whatever Haru wants to do, and Soo-cheol makes such a fuss over ddukbokki that Haru suggests they get some. But a Stage begins and catapults Dan-oh to that evening, when she and Kyung apparently have a date at the sandwich shop where Joo-da works.
Joo-da’s coworker says that someone came in and bought up all the sandwiches and rented the whole shop, so she can close up. Dan-oh waits while Joo-da cleans, and soon Nam-ju arrives. He says he’s the one who bought the sandwiches, and it turns out that he rented the shop to throw a small party celebrating A3’s reunion.
Do-hwa and Kyung join them, with Kyung being his usual sparkling self (by which I mean he’s acting like a total grump in a party hat). Nam-ju toasts Do-hwa’s return, and Joo-da says that A3 shines brightest when they’re together, while Dan-oh inwardly cringes at the cheesiness.
Joo-da goes to the back and brings out a special sandwich for Do-hwa, but Nam-ju grabs it, asking why “his woman” would make something for Do-hwa and not him. Do-hwa asks if they’re officially a couple, reminding Nam-ju of their “friendly competition” and asking if Joo-da accepted his confession.
The Stage ends and the self-aware characters rip off their party hats. Dan-oh gets up to leave, snarling at Nam-ju that he’s being childish, and Kyung follows her out. Nam-ju insists that he and Joo-da will be official soon, but Do-hwa says he knows, and that Nam-ju will definitely make her happy. He sighs that that’s why he gave her up, and awww, Joo-da overhears him.
Outside, Dan-oh complains that her phone keeps reverting to a background photo of her and Kyung whenever she changes it. Kyung says it’s fine with him, remembering how she begged him to pose for it with her, but Dan-oh says that was onStage.
Kyung remembers her saying that she didn’t know if the Dan-oh onStage was real or fake, and he says that he wishes she was real. He tells Dan-oh that there must be a reason that everything keeps going back to the way it was.
In the morning Kyung heads to the library, but both Secret and Flower are still missing. He looks around and finds a book about plants, and looks up the trumpet creeper (the literal title of Flower is Trumpet Creeper).
Haru is in the corner of the library where he saw the portal. He and Kyung run into each other and Haru says he’s looking for something, but Kyung scoffs that he can’t remember anything and tells Haru to keep quiet and not to provoke the Writer. Haru says there’s someone he wants to protect, but Kyung sneers that he’d have to regain his memory first, and Haru tells him that he did.
When Dan-oh gets to school, she moons at Haru through the schoolroom window. She asks Sae-mi what it means when you keep thinking of someone subconsciously, and Sae-mi says that obviously it’s because you like them. Sae-mi tells her to imagine kissing the guy, and Dan-oh blushes at the thought of Haru’s pretty lips. Sae-mi assumes that Dan-oh’s strong objection that it’s Kyung she has in mind means that it’s definitely Kyung.
Do-hwa heads to the A3 hideout after a Stage where Nam-ju makes students set up an event for him to officially confess to Joo-da. Do-hwa has read all the romance manhwas in the library, and Kyung asks if he’s ever seen a story with similar characters and art style to theirs. Do-hwa says he has, and that many of the lines were even identical, but he chalks it up to all romance being the same.
In music class, Dan-oh and Haru get bored and decide to play hooky. They create a stir among the students by announcing that they’re skipping and leaving hand-in-hand, and they head up to the roof (LOL, Dan-oh hops onto a huge box just to be at eye level with Haru).
Dan-oh checks out Haru’s scarred hand again and admits that she’s glad to see it, because it means her Haru is back. She repeats his name just because she likes the sound of it, and she decides to treat every day/haru as if it’s precious and not act out anymore.
Since this is their last chance, Haru suggests they make it worth it. They head to town, which is deserted while all the Stages are taking place at the school. They step into a store where they find all kinds of familiar props like Haru’s sketchbook, the camera Soo-cheol used during the school trip, and even Kyung’s tennis balls.
Dan-oh even finds the box that she and Haru found under the historical building, that had the flower ornament inside. She pouts that this is just a place where the Writer keeps their things, but Haru says that the Writer won’t know they’re here.
He says that they can make their own Stage that the Writer will never know about, which sounds like a great lead-in to a kiss scene, but actually ends up with them playing video games and taking selfies with candy. Awww, Haru is camera-shy.
Dan-oh tries to set a picture of the two of them as her phone background, and she whines that it always reverts to the one with Kyung. She says she’s glad Haru is part of the manhwa now though she hates that he’s Kyung’s lackey, but Haru says that his set-up doesn’t matter when it comes to protecting her. Dan-oh jokes that she’s the one protecting him, and Haru teases that her itty-bitty fists are truly terrifying.
On the way back to school, Dan-oh checks Haru’s scar again just to reassure herself, and she makes him pinky-swear never to disappear again. She asks how his scar returned, so he tells her about the portal in the library. Dan-oh says she’s seen it too, but she thinks it’s just one of those weird Shadow manifestations.
They get a little awkward when they realize she’s been holding his hand for a long time and break apart. As they walk, their hands keep brushing, so finally Dan-oh grabs Haru’s hand. She instantly apologizes like it happened without her knowledge, but when she pulls away, Haru holds on tightly and doesn’t let go.
They stop to cool off at the water fountain outside, and Haru hears the ~BLIP~ of a Stage starting somewhere. It triggers a memory — he and Dan-oh are dressed in Goryeo-era clothing, washing off in a stream. Memory-Dan-oh splashes him with water, and he wakes when now-Dan-oh also splashes him.
She’s laughing, and Haru splashes her back like a reflex. He instantly feels bad and takes his shirt off to drape over her, but Dan-oh beams and says that she’s never felt this way before. She thanks Haru for making her feel like she’s been reborn (interesting choice of words there), and Haru remembers Goryeo-Dan-oh saying the exact same thing.
Haru talks to his friends about the weird flashbacks he’s having, which they chalk up to deja vu. Kyung tosses his tennis racket to Haru and orders him to take it to the court, reminding him that his set-up is to do whatever Kyung says. Haru tosses the racket back and retorts that Kyung’s set-up makes him a bully, and asks him why that is.
Kyung figures out that Haru is fully self-aware again, and he asks if he was pretending before to make Kyung look stupid. Haru asks if Kyung is scared that he’s back to his old self and coolly walks away.
At lunch, Kyung invites himself to eat with Dan-oh and her friends. Sae-mi whines that Nam-ju and Joo-da are eating together, saying that she could give up on Nam-ju if they were officially dating. She seems to feel bad for bullying Joo-da in the past, and Kyung tells her that it’s not her fault, it’s just that she’s the villain.
Sae-mi blows up and runs off upset. Dan-oh fusses at Kyung for being mean, but he thinks they should tell people their roles. He says that Haru seems to have recovered his memories, and at Dan-oh’s bland response, he asks if she’s her real self right now.
He asks if Dan-oh is simply glad Haru is back or if there’s more to it. Before she can answer, Haru takes the seat next to Dan-oh, and Kyung tells him that he’s crossing a line by deviating from his role. Haru says he doesn’t care about his role, and Kyung spits that he’ll see what Haru says during the next Stage.
After lunch, Dan-oh finds Sae-mi sitting alone and says that she wishes a Stage would happen so Sae-mi could forget what Kyung said. Sae-mi says she’s jealous that Dan-oh’s ten-year crush finally worked out, but Dan-oh confesses that the guy she likes isn’t Kyung. Sae-mi guesses that it’s Haru, and she suffers a hilarious attack of the vapors that her best friend is a cheater, hee.
Unfortunately, she’s doomed to forget this when the next Stage ~BLIPs~ into action. Sae-mi stumbles into an empty classroom which Nam-ju has filled with balloons and flowers to confess to Joo-da, and she screams that she’ll destroy Joo-da. She and the Jin bullies destroy the decorations, then they find Joo-da and tell her that Nam-ju wants to see her in the science room.
When they get there, the room is empty, and Sae-mi and her friends make fun of Joo-da for running when Nam-ju calls. They accuse Joo-da of two-timing with both Nam-ju and Do-hwa, then they throw her to the floor. Sae-mi croons that she’s not one of them just because she wears the same uniform.
They leave, locking Joo-da in alone. Joo-da starts to cry, but the moment the Stage ends, her eyes go hard and she screams in fury. Oh wow… if she’s not self-aware yet, she’s well on her way.
In the A3 hideout, Nam-ju admits to Do-hwa that Joo-da didn’t respond to his public declaration that she’s his lady. He says he’s postponed his official confession because someone ruined it, and though he doesn’t seem very concerned, Do-hwa panics and asks where Joo-da is now. He says that all romances are the same which means that Joo-da could be in danger, and he tells Nam-ju to go look for her locked in a room somewhere.
Do-hwa tries to hold back, sure that Nam-ju will find Joo-da during a Stage anyway, but he caves. He finds her in the science room and offers to stay with her until Nam-ju comes, but she insists on leaving now. Do-hwa gently slides the tattered shoe that Joo-da threw in her anger back onto her foot, and says that he hopes she forgets what happened.
The Stage starts, and Joo-da is huddled on the floor again as Nam-ju throws the doors open. He pulls her into his arms and promises that she’ll never be bullied again, because she’s his girlfriend.
Kyung finds Dan-oh smiling at her phone, happy that her picture with Haru is still her wallpaper. She tells him that they have to play their parts onStage, but that he needs to stop bullying Haru and Sae-mi in the Shadow. Kyung starts to walk away, but a Stage starts, and they’re suddenly walking together and planning their wedding.
Internally Dan-oh tells herself to stop talking about weddings at her age, but externally she says she wants to hold their wedding before she dies. Kyung tells her to stop talking that way, which she thinks means he doesn’t want to get married, and it causes a heart episode.
Kyung throws her onto his back and she wakes in the hospital with both of their fathers nearby. The dads go into the hall, where Chairman Eun tries to break the engagement, but Chairman Baek disagrees and says they should make Dan-oh’s dream come true before she dies.
In the lobby, Kyung runs into his stepmother and his stepbrother, Joon-hyun. He scoffs that on or offStage, his stepmother only thinks of money, and that she only came because she’s worried his father will give Kyung his company shares after he marries Dan-oh. His father rushes over and shuts him up, worried that Chairman Eun will hear him.
He moves away to comfort his crying wife, but Kyung yells at them, asking why his father was never this kind to him or his mother. He calls his father a hypocrite who’s taking advantage of a dying girl. Chairman Baek draws back a fist, but Joon-hyun jumps in front of Kyung and takes the punch. He follows Kyung and says that Chairman Baek isn’t always violent, but Kyung snarls that he doesn’t know anything because he’s just acting out his role. Joon-hyun begs him not to change anything, but Kyung just walks away.
Dan-oh ~BLIPs~ into another Stage at school. Kyung says that the wedding is being moved up and asks if she truly wants to marry him, but when she nods, he offers her the chance to back out because he doesn’t want to hurt her. She says she’s happy because he’s the love of her life, and the Stage ends.
In the kitchen, Mi-chae paces, disturbed by the fact that Haru has regained his memories. He’s scared that Haru may also be remembering the past, thinking about the Flower manhwa. He wonders, “No way… even Kyung?” just as Kyung enters the kitchen and demands to know where the copy of Flower went.
Mi-chae is the picture of innocence, pretending he has no idea what Kyung is talking about. Kyung says there’s something about that manhwa, and that when he finds it, Mi-chae had better talk to him.
Mi-chae runs up to the roof where he burned Flower, staggering with relief when he finds the burned remains of the manhwa. But he says with despair in his voice, “At this rate, it will turn out exactly like the previous manhwa. What is the Writer thinking?”
He finds Haru under the flowered trellis and asks if it makes him a terrible person to wish that Haru hadn’t gotten his memories back. Haru asks if there’s something he shouldn’t remember, and he says that these flowers are in his memories, which he thought were dreams.
He asks if he saw the future or the past, but Mi-chae says that this is why he couldn’t tell Haru about his beginning, because that answer doesn’t exist here. Haru says that he thinks he knows why he keeps seeing the trumpet creeper flowers, which symbolize “waiting” — they were telling him to remember Dan-oh, and to wait until she found him.
Thinking about Haru’s question of whether he’s seeing the past or the future, Mi-chae goes to the library and says to himself, “It happened before, and it will happen in the future.” Looking at the character page of Secret, he muses that the Writer reuses the same characters and even the same lines.
He says it would be weirder if they didn’t eventually become self-aware, and that even though he burned Flower, there’s still something he can’t stop: “If they find out the entire story, we might have to see that tragedy again. I don’t mind you bringing me into many different works, but you’re very cruel. If you’re going to do this, just make me oblivious again.”
Kyung is in quite the mood, verbally attacking Haru, so they face off on the tennis court. Haru wins the game and Kyung yells that Haru can’t win against him, insisting that they play again until he wins. At Haru’s bland expression, Kyung throws a temper tantrum, then he reminds Haru that Dan-oh is just an extra who has a crush on him.
That finally provokes Haru, who grabs Kyung’s shirt and says that he doesn’t care what Kyung does to him, but that he’d better not ever hurt Dan-oh. Looking triumphant to have learned Haru’s weak spot, Kyung sneers that Haru can’t even get into any Stages without him.
But Haru says that he’ll change the story if he has to, and that it’s possible because it’s still being drawn. Kyung asks how he’s so sure and orders Haru to leave his and Dan-oh’s story alone. Haru asks if Kyung likes Dan-oh, and when Kyung asks who Haru is to ask him that, Haru doesn’t even hesitate: “Because I do. I like Dan-oh.”
In the library, the portal bursts open and the lights go out. We’re taken through the portal into the manhwa world of Flower, where we see Haru and Kyung fighting on the steps of what looks like a palace. Kyung throws an angry fit similar to the one he just threw on the tennis court, then draws his sword and points it at Haru.
Haru asks Kyung to let him go, but Kyung yells that he can’t leave him, when he doesn’t even know where he’s from. Haru replies that he may not know where he’s from, “But if there is no answer to my beginning, then I will create my own answer.” But Kyung forbids Haru to leave him, saying that staying with him is the reason why Haru was born.
A short distance away, Mi-chae watches them argue, dressed in what appear to be kingly golden robes. Haru tells Kyung that he’s leaving anyway, but Kyung stops him by yelling out, “You’re in love with Eun Moo-young’s daughter. Eun Dan-oh.”
Now we’re talking! I’ve been hoping we’d get to delve into the world of Flower, and this small glimpse was exactly what I hoped to see — the same characters having the same fights, but in a different setting and with different stakes. I think that Haru will find a lot of answers he’s searching for in the story of Flower, but I worry that Kyung will find them first and use them against Haru. And I hate that Kyung was able to goad Haru into tipping his hand and showing Kyung how to hurt him — by hurting Dan-oh.
I like this new-and-improved Haru! He’s got some cheek that the old Haru didn’t have because he started out as a blank slate, literally, but since he came back with some of his old personality (according to Mi-chae), he’s a lot more vibrant and expressive. He’s still sweet and gentle with Dan-oh, but he doesn’t just stand there blinking when Kyung insults him — instead, Haru now gives back whatever Kyung throws at him, and because he’s not a seething ball of emotions, he’s getting the better of Kyung every time. It makes me feel that Haru is much better equipped now to do something about his and Dan-oh’s situation, both with Kyung and their set-up and with the manhwa world as a whole. It’s also made him a lot more flirtatious with Dan-oh, and it’s cute how Haru teases Dan-oh and enjoy her flustered reactions. I loved the old Haru, but I love this one even more, because he finally feels like a fully-fleshed character and a match for Dan-oh’s spunky personality.
Some of the side characters are starting to stick out more, now that we’re seeing them beyond their Stages, and I’m really getting fond of them. I definitely think that Joo-da is at least she’s at the point where Dan-oh was when we met her, knowing that something is wrong but not sure how to define it. That little smirk at Sae-mi before, the fact that she noticed the clock running backwards in the Shadow, and that scream of anger in the science room are clear indications that at the very least, Stage Joo-da and Shadow Joo-da are two very different people. Sae-mi is also becoming a favorite — she may be the villain of the manhwa, but in the Shadow, she’s such a good, supportive friend to Dan-oh. I think I want her to become self-aware the most, because her behavior onStage is so different from the way she acts in the Shadow. I think Sae-mi’s true personality will be loads of fun, and Dan-oh needs a girlfriend to talk to who won’t forget everything the next time there’s a Stage.
But the one who pings my radar the most is Joon-hyun, Kyung’s stepbrother. There’s just something about him that makes me think he knows more than he’s letting on. He watches everyone so closely, almost fearfully, when a Stage is happening, and he didn’t seem confused when Kyung said he was only playing his character. But it was when Joon-hyun pleaded with Kyung not to change anything that I became convinced that not only is he self-aware, but that he may even be on the same level as Mi-chae — I think that he knows exactly how everything works, and what could happen if the story is changed.
I’ve complained about Kyung a lot and I won’t bore you by repeating myself, but I don’t think that he really has a right to expect Dan-oh to be happy about his feelings for her. She’s been crystal clear that her crush on him was only her set-up and not her real feelings, and after seeing how she reacted to losing Haru, I don’t see how Kyung thinks he has a ghost of a chance with her. I originally assumed that once he became self-aware, Kyung would soften and become nicer, but it’s been the opposite… his onStage character is becoming nicer to Dan-oh, while his Shadow self is digging in his heels and just growing angrier and more volatile. With the other self-aware characters trying to assert their independence from their pre-determined personalities, it’s interesting how Kyung seems so invested in everyone sticking to their roles as they’re written. He gets very upset when anyone deviates from their Stage personas, which makes me think that whatever is going on with him, it stems from a deep-seated insecurity, maybe even some serious control issues. I’m guessing that we’ll learn a lot more about why Kyung acts the way he does as we see how Flower played out.
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