City Hall: Episode 10
(written by Samsooki, editing, layout, design and Cityholic syndrome by 0timelost, cleown, and mead33)
Episode 10 – I’m Shin Mi Rae: Your Mayoral Candidate #5!
What an opening scene. It looks like Jo Gook has everything he can dream of in this hotel room: he has his billionaire cake and can pet his hamster too. Jo Gook looks like a kid on Christmas morning who cannot decide which present to open first. The only slight adjustment I would make, if I were Jo Gook, might be to have them not necessarily be there ALL at the same time…
After imagining the worst possible “business” arrangement to obtain campaign financing, Mi Rae finds out that the “VIP campaign sponsor” is none other than Go Go Hae, the fiancée of Jo Gook. Mi Rae, however, does not look entirely relieved that it is Go Hae rather than some sleazy businessman.
In fact, Mi Rae is just a boil of emotions now. Angered enough to want to storm out of the room after thinking that Jo Gook had pimped her out, she finds herself in an entirely different set of circumstances. Mi Rae is upset, but probably doesn’t even know why she is upset, or who she should be upset at.
The ever elegant Go Hae ignores the huffiness of Mi Rae and grandly slides over a check over to Mi Rae. Mi Rae huffs again, thinking that there is no way that she will be impressed with the amount of money written on the check.
Well, that’s twice Mi Rae has been wrong in the last few minutes. She IS impressed.
Go Hae has just given Mi Rae a blank check, literally. By the by, I feel like this whole “I am rich enough to give you a blank check” routine should be beneath Go Hae. It is the first time that Go Hae has actually shown her petty side. Insecure people do that, and so it is interesting that Go Hae is made to feel insecure by a woman who is “less” than her in every way that would count to a person like Go Hae.
A surprised Mi Rae has no idea what amount to write down on the check. She starts off writing down $80,000 but when Go Hae flashes her “I’m very elegant and pretty and rich and you are…… not” smile, Mi Rae quickly adds more digits to make it $320,000. “Are you serious?” Go Hae asks, officially pissing off Mi Rae. Taking back the check a second time, Mi Rae starts writing on the check again. Now it is Go Hae’s turn to be surprised and confused. Jo Gook takes a look at the check and bows his head to keep from cackling out loud.
Mi Rae has taken FOUR zeroes off of the check, and now the mighty all-powerful blank check is for a total of $32! LOL! With that, Mi Rae bids good night to the both of them and skips out of the room. A brilliant move by Mi Rae! If this were a cartoon, there would be cranial smoke leaking out of Go Hae’s ears right about now.
Go Hae feels upset, perhaps rightly so. She had come to the hotel, taking time out of her busy schedule to give Mi Rae all the support she could possibly ask for. But Mi Rae rewards Go Hae with a childish prank, making a mockery out of her generosity. And Jo Gook is merely amused by it all. He stands up and offers to give Go Hae a ride back home so that they can discuss other things along the way.
Go Hae isn’t ready to leave just yet, and drops a bomb. She asks if one of the “other” things to discuss would be Jo Gook’s overnight camping trip. Jo Gook is stunned that Go Hae knows. But, as it turns out, Go Hae only knew that there was a trip, and not who actually went. It is only through his expression of shock and guilt that Go Hae figures out that he didn’t go alone, and that Mi Rae was the companion! *cough* Jo Gook, wow dude, if that is your poker face, we have to play sometime.
But, Go Hae gives Jo Gook a rather interesting warning – Don’t get caught so easily again. She has no wish to end up like, and doesn’t have the patience of, someone like Hillary Clinton! (That’s it?! That’s the warning? What about, “If you cheat on me again, I’ll break every bone in your skinny body?”)
Back at Mi Rae’s campaign headquarters, Mi Rae’s friends express their dismay over her decision to not accept money from Go Hae. The expected campaign costs, including food, t-shirts, wages for contract help, total nearly $250,000. Mi Rae has a bright idea though, and enlists the aid of her friends who own small businesses, and is able to get “loans” from them by way of borrowing their services for food and snacks, truck rental, t-shirts, etc!
Mi Rae may not have financial resources, but what she has is the respect and friendship with people, and sometimes that can mean as much as money. Jung Do notes that even with all these help, they are still going to need a lot of cash quickly. Fortunately, Mi Rae still has Jo Gook, who has come up with the money that Mi Rae needs to fund her campaign. To receive the money, all Mi Rae has to sign a contract guaranty for the amount borrowed.
Mi Rae is stunned to see that the title of the Contract is “Surrender Of Body Contract.” It appears that Jo Gook wants Mi Rae’s body as collateral! Mi Rae looks like she will stab Jo Gook with his own pen, but Jo Gook has a good response waiting:
Jo Gook: Why are you looking at me like that? Besides your body, do you have any other collateral to use against the debt?
Sad, but true. Mi Rae backs down and signs the contract. She is then given her mayoral election sash and is instructed by Jo Gook on the finer points of meeting and greeting people on the street. An optimistic Mi Rae charges out into the streets of Inju City, but gets shot down by just about everyone, as she realizes how steep the climb will be, to convince people that 1) she is a capable candidate, and 2) that it does make a difference who you vote for.
Meanwhile, Jo Gook busies himself with writing Mi Rae’s campaign proposals and her speeches. Aghast at how the proposals are just empty promises and completely unlike Mi Rae, Jung Do accuses Jo Gook of trying to manipulate Mi Rae into making promises that will benefit Jo Gook himself.
Mi Rae is also dismayed by the contents of her campaign proposals, not one of the promises can she fulfill. But Mi Rae hasn’t even given any thought to her own campaign proposals. It is another rude awakening for Mi Rae, who finds out yet another thing that she has to overcome: her own ignorance.
Later, Jung Do meets up with Joo Hwa’s father, who questions why Jung Do is supporting someone other than his own father-in-law. Jung Do explains that it has nothing to do with his father-in-law per se, but that their beliefs are just different. Joo Hwa’s father then changes course and asks why Jung Do and Joo Hwa don’t have any children yet. Jung Do responds, it is his fault because he cannot have kids.
Outside, Joo Hwa overhears how Jung Do, even despite everything that has happened to drive them apart, and all the nastiness in their relationship, has protected her. It is more than Joo Hwa deserves, and she realizes that Jung Do still has hope for their relationship.
When Jung Do comes out of the meeting, Joo Hwa cannot help but hug the man that obviously loves her still, despite everything. It is less than Jung Do deserves, but for the moment, it is all that Joo Hwa can offer. Jung Do is uncertain of how to respond to Joo Hwa’s burst of emotion.
Joo Hwa isn’t the only woman who is feeling grateful for those close to her. Mi Rae is running dead last in the most recent polls, with less than 8% of the vote, and yet her friends are unflagging in their support, love, and friendship for her. Mi Rae feels the weight of responsibility to make their efforts mean something.
Not wanting to disappoint her tired friends who have passed out in the campaign office, Mi Rae decides to try her best to learn the campaign speeches that Jo Gook has written. She heads out to the sea wall and amidst the crashing waves to compete with her voice, she tries out her lines.
But these words are not her words. Mi Rae has no confidence in them, and her voice sounds weak and unconvincing, even to herself. Trying again, her voice fails to rise above the sounds of the waves. Mi Rae cannot learn this speech; she cannot give this political speech. Mi Rae is failing, and she knows it.
Mi Rae: I am sorry, everyone. Please forgive me, everyone! I made a mistake, everyone!!
Despairing, Mi Rae starts to cry, as her emotions start tumbling out of her. She pours her heart out toward the sea, as if the sea would accept her apology for being a fraud, for trying to be something that she cannot be. She cannot be mayor, if being mayor means that she has to fulfill empty promises like this. And everyone who has put their faith in Mi Rae will have been disappointed, cheated by Mi Rae who can’t even give a simple political speech. Mi Rae’s worst fears – that she will let other people down, are coming to life right before her eyes.
Mi Rae (crying out): I am not fit to live, everyone!! Please forgive me…
Beyond the dress-tearing incident, beyond the brutal egg-throwing and the multitude of put-downs by everyone, and even beyond the unique resilience of her crushed heart that inflates again and again for Jo Gook, this scene breaks my heart. Mi Rae cannot be a politician the way that politicians should behave, and that means that Mi Rae cannot shoulder the burdens and the hopes of everyone who has put their trust in her. This is a soul-crushing moment, and unlike Joo Hwa, she has nobody to hold on to. She is alone with only the ocean to catch her tears.
But, that’s scratch that. Someone else IS there. Jo Gook is there, and he hears every heart-rending sob. Jo Gook’s eyes tell the story of how he feels, and how Mi Rae’s pain is felt by him as well.
It is a beautiful scene, and one that I almost couldn’t recap.
However, not all hope is lost! Mi Rae’s campaign smartly decides to not make more impromptu speeches on the truck and instead, gets all their volunteers to make a difference in people’s lives by doing trash pickup and helping local businesses.
That decision, plus the Internet efforts of her crack team, are beginning to pay off and help Mi Rae advance in the pre-election polls. Inju’s citizens are beginning to realize that Mi Rae IS different. From below 8%, the latest poll results have her moving up like a rocket, trailing second place by less than 6% while she stands at 18.1%!! This is no longer about getting to 15% and getting a refund. This is about the future of Inju City. SHIN MI RAE, FIGHTING!!
As Mi Rae becomes more like a real candidate, the other candidates also take notice, especially the folks over at the Victory Party. In the next polling, Mi Rae’s popularity has now reached new heights, at 20.7%, less than 2% from being in second place! But as her popularity grows, so do the desperation tactics by her opponents. The secretary of the former Mayor Go decides to make a phone call to get some people to discourage Mi Rae from running any further…
After a long day of campaigning, Mi Rae comes back to her campaign headquarters, where she is ambushed by goons throwing tomatoes at her. Mi Rae stands frozen, taking the beating again.
This time, though, Mi Rae gets help. Jo Gook and Soo In are on the scene in seconds as they are driving to Mi Rae’s headquarters too. They jump out of the car and start kicking butt. Jo Gook has had enough of watching, and he is a man on fire. It is five against two, but with the anger inside of Jo Gook (and Soo In too!), the goons are no match for Jo Gook’s wrath. Jo Gook picks one of the guys off of the ground and starts pounding the nearly-unconscious gangster again and again but he is stopped by Mi Rae.
Jo Gook releases the gangsters and instead, raises his voice at Mi Rae, why didn’t she cry for help, or run away? Why did she just stand there and allow them to hit her like that?
With a single tear running down the side of her face, Mi Rae was unable to respond. In that moment, Jo Gook has a flash of insight and chastises her no more. Mi Rae says that she will go and wash up.
But Jo Gook grabs her and takes her to a hotel room, away from her home where her mom would be frightened by her condition, and away from the campaign headquarters, where her friends would be shocked and worried. While Jo Gook is out to find a fresh set of clothes, Mi Rae receives a call from Jung Do, who has heard what happened. Jung Do rushes to the hotel room bringing with him a spare set of clothes. Mi Rae thanks Jung Do for his concern and for the clothes.
Jung Do (smiling): Hey, these clothes aren’t free! Later, I’ll just get you to pay me back for the clothes. Oh, and in fact, there is actually something that I really want to receive from you.
Mi Rae (curious): Receive from me? What is that?
At that moment, Jo Gook walks back in, also holding a newly-bought spare set of clothes…
Heh, this is a slightly predictable ending, but with my heart in a blender, I can only say how grateful I am that this episode ends in a slightly trite fashion like this. My heart probably couldn’t take another stunner.
What a fantastic episode! We are at the halfway point of the drama series, and the episodes’ pacing has turned into a sprint. Go Hae now knows about Mi Rae and Jo Gook, but Go Hae chooses just to warn her fiancé… for now. Jo Gook, in turn, agrees to Go Hae’s request that she’ll be the one to walk with him, if and when he reaches the front steps of the Blue House.
This is quite a maelstrom in the making as Mi Rae is becoming the sole hope for the people of Inju City, the sole target for her enemies, and every step she takes toward realizing the hopes of others means that much less freedom she will have for her own life.
And this is something that Jo Gook knows all too well. His deal with Go Hae puts any future with Mi Rae in jeopardy, but it is far too late to back out now. Three separate concerns of Jo Gook’s are now in Go Hae’s hands: (1) BB is kept on a leash, (2) Jo Gook’s and (3) Mi Rae’s political careers. All three concerns are critical, and so Jo Gook cannot break the deal. He is trapped.
The scene to watch for in this Episode: Mi Rae, at night, by the sea wall.
This scene is so powerful, and it pulls double-duty as an abridged summary of the series thus far. Mi Rae’s integrity and her sense of self will not let her be fake even if means dashing the hopes of everyone who put their faith in her. But rather than merely shrugging her shoulders and saying “what can I do?”, Mi Rae still accepts the responsibility and the burden of failure, even if the weight on her shoulders makes her cry out in pain. But even as frightened and in pain as she is, Mi Rae STILL does not collapse and she remains standing. She remains standing!
On the other hand, Jo Gook can only watch stoically from afar, in awe of Mi Rae’s sense of duty and her love for her people. But Jo Gook is unwilling to cross the gulf that separates the two, because while his heart is breaking, he knows that if he tries to comfort her, he will be causing more pain to come.
On To Episode 11!