Playful Kiss: Episode 9
Yay for forward movement! Our Man-Robot Seung-jo takes some big strides toward becoming a real boy, and this episode is chock-full of sweet moments that warm the cockles of my jaded heart and send Ha-ni to cloud nine. And a happy Ha-ni is a happy Playful Kiss.
SONG OF THE DAY
Hot Potato – “고백” (Confession) [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Seung-jo and Ha-ni lose the gangsters (dudes, it’s just a suit!). Although Seung-jo comments that this is typical of her, he ain’t fooling us — we all saw you smiling as you ran! Ha-ni hangs her head and apologizes for the trouble, and also for following him — she couldn’t help herself. She concedes that if he likes He-ra, there’s nothing she can do about it…
To her surprise, Seung-jo asks what she wants to do next. As in, a fun activity. As in, a date?
This leads to a boat ride, and Ha-ni thinks giddily that this is like a dream. She’s happy to point out that they’re the only people who “look like a couple,” but Seung-jo never passes up a moment to burst Ha-ni’s bubbles, and he tells her that there’s a saying that couples who come here break up within six months. But that shouldn’t matter, since they’re not even dating, right?
Not wanting to jinx herself, Ha-ni wants to leave immediately and stands up in the boat. Yeah, she’s not bright. On the other hand, she gets the immediate exit she was looking for, and takes Seung-jo with her as she topples into the lake.
Seung-jo buys cheap shirts for them to change into, and Ha-ni realizes excitedly that they happen to match. Like couple tees! And may I point out that HE’S TOTALLY LOVING IT? Oh, he pretends Ha-ni’s being silly, but it’s an excuse for him to have his cake and eat it too — he can enjoy her reaction but still saves face by acting cool. I’ll even bet he chose matching shirts on purpose.
Seung-jo explains that he’d never faced difficulties, but after meeting her, it’s like he’s come into a whole new world. (The real one, perchance?) He compares her to a problem he has to solve, musing that perhaps this is like a test — he has to face it, rather than avoiding it like he used to: “I won’t run away anymore… because the answer is there.” How like Seung-jo the (former?) Robot Wonder Boy to equate human emotions to math.
Ha-ni gapes: Is this a… proposal? He chides her for jumping to conclusions, then clarifies, “I’m saying I don’t dislike you.” Coming from him, that’s downright romantic. “Being with you isn’t easy, but I don’t dislike it.”
Overcome with excitement, Ha-ni hugs his arm and thanks him, because she thought he hated her. He already knows she likes him, but there’s something admirable in the way Ha-ni makes a full-on confession anyway. She promises that although she doesn’t know Sartre and can’t cook, she’ll try to be better.
For once Seung-jo doesn’t snark back and says he’ll look forward to it. In fact, midterms are approaching — he’ll confirm her confession with the test results. (If she really likes him, she’ll try hard and improve.) HOW LIKE HIM.
As they walk off, she notes that his smile is a little different today; she feels closer to him than when they kissed.
The other twosome have a much less successful outing, as Kyung-soo tries to work up the nerve to confess his feelings to He-ra. He’s prepared a speech, but her presence makes him stutter and He-ra, sensing what’s coming, excuses herself before he gets to the point.
Hearing that Kyung-soo’s attempt went bust, Ha-ni gives him advice on how to confess effectively and coaches him with some role-playing.
Remembering her kiss with Seung-jo, Ha-ni makes a similar suggestion, replete with the line “Try to forget me if you can.” As they work out the timing of the moment, the other members see Ha-ni faking the kiss part — only, they assume it’s real.
Seung-jo arrives at practice to hear everyone buzzing about Ha-ni giving up on him and kissing Kyung-soo. The bumbling duo are still oblivious to the rumors and happen to be engaged in a wrestling match when Seung-jo sees them. Yeah, that’s the look of a guy who totally doesn’t care, right? (Ha-ni is trying to stop Kyung-soo from approaching He-ra with racquet in hand, because that turns him into a raving meanie.)
The rumors spread all over school, even reaching Ju-ri at the hair salon. When Ha-ni hears how the truth got twisted, she’s horrified — and after they’d had such a wonderful date! She tries to tell Seung-jo that the stories are untrue, but Seung-jo walks away before she can muster the words, while He-ra smirks and “congratulates” her.
Wanting to set the record straight but afraid to pester him, Ha-ni chickens out of calling him. She ends up going to the house, just in time to hear a thud. Letting herself inside, she finds Eun-jo collapsed on the ground, moaning in pain. His parents are out of town and she doesn’t know what to do, so she calls Seung-jo in a panic.
Seung-jo calms her down enough to instruct her how to take care of Eun-jo until the ambulance arrives. At the hospital, Ha-ni is pressed to make a decision about whether to operate on Eun-jo, and after a fearful moment of hesitation, she agrees to it.
Thankfully everything goes well and Eun-jo is expected to recover in a week, as Seung-jo finds when he arrives. Ha-ni is wound up tight, having gone through a big scare, and the air is strained with the misunderstanding hanging between them. She thinks that he believes she’s interested in Kyung-soo, and Seung-jo’s too emotionally awkward to express his feelings.
He (awkwardly) tries to cheer her by saying the doctor praised her reaction to the emergency. She answers that without his help, she wouldn’t have been able to do a thing.
Since words aren’t working so well for him, Seung-jo gently places a hand on her shoulder to stop her exit. Ha-ni starts to explain about the rumor, but he already heard the real story; he moves closer until he’s right behind her, and thanks her.
His gentle response releases the floodgates, and Ha-ni turns to face him and cries into his chest, saying that she was so afraid that something would go wrong. As he consoles her, she thinks of how these “first warm words I’d ever heard from Seung-jo” have dispelled all the tension that had built up inside her.
Seung-jo’s parents hear from Ha-ni’s father that house construction isn’t going so well, which is their cue to persuade him to move back. This time, Mom has a secret weapon: the kiss between Ha-ni and Seung-jo. Now that they know that Seung-jo initiated the kiss, Ha-ni’s dad doesn’t have to worry about her being stuck in a painful one-sided love anymore.
Over the next few days, Ha-ni drops by the hospital regularly to see Eun-jo, who shares a room with a boy named No-ri who has been here for over a year. The foursome — Ha-ni, Seung-jo, and the two patients — bond while studying together and playing games. Although the nurse scolds them for overtaxing No-ri, the boy is happy to have company and tells them that they’ve made things fun for him.
No-ri’s weak health stems from heart issues, and Ha-ni tears up in sympathy over his situation. That gives her an idea, and she tells Seung-jo that he could do something about it — since he’s a genius, he could become a doctor and cure people. He retorts, “If you tell me to become a doctor, do I have to?” Ha-ni eagerly answers yes.
She says it’s the perfect occupation for him, and wants to see him in a doctor’s gown someday. (Aw. If he becomes a doctor because of Ha-ni…)
The foursome have a lot of fun together, but soon it’s time for Eun-jo to be discharged. No-ri keeps a cheerful face through the goodbyes, but Eun-jo’s unable to contain his tears. It’s only after the group leaves that No-ri cries as he watches them driving away. Aw, a little boy with heart problems crying over the loss of his only friends? Cheap shot! Just tear out my heart, why don’t you.
When the three kids arrive home, they’re surprised with the announcement that Ha-ni and Dad will be moving back in. Ha-ni’s thrilled, as is Seung-jo’s mother, while Eun-jo’s first thought is about what will happen to his room. Hearing that the brothers are back to sharing a room makes Seung-jo grumpy, though I’m telling myself that he’s secretly happy — surely he’d rather have to share a room than to have his own and be stuck with that infernally tedious peace again, right?
Ha-ni joins Seung-jo outside, and they do a whole adorable dance of sneaking looks at each other, turning away when they see the other one looking at them, then stealing another glance. This scene, spare with no dialogue, is utterly adorable for the undercurrent of awareness running between them.
Poor Duckie is in for a rude awakening, and both Ha-ni and her father have a hard time working up the nerve to tell him the news. How could they, when he’s so eager to welcome them to the shop and serves them with his very first creation (special dumplings)? When Joon-gu hears that they’re moving back with the Baek family, you can practically see his heart sink.
Ha-ni’s excited to be back and a little nervous, with her relationship with Seung-jo changed but still undefined. He still gets a kick out of poking fun at her, such as when he mocks the (girly, childish) underwear she dropped on her way to take a bath. He further teases her about being flat-chested, asking if she stopped growing before puberty. Ha-ni pouts, but he says that just looking at her makes him want to tease her. (It’s okay, Ha-ni! He’s totally flirting with you. Like a 10-year-old, maybe, but still! Flirting!)
Dad sees them talking in the hallway, Ha-ni still wrapped in her towel, and hilariously, he tells them that while it’s nice that they’re on such good terms, they’re not married yet… Perhaps they could be more careful? Especially with Eun-jo around? Bwahaha.
Seung-jo finds himself thinking more about his future and his place in the world, though he doesn’t yet have any answers. He’s supposed to declare a major in the second semester, and Dad suggests business. Seung-jo summarily dismisses that.
His preoccupation means he walks right past Ha-ni at school without saying a word — either he didn’t see her, or he doesn’t find her as important as his thoughts. (Either fits his character, really.) Ha-ni laments being unable to tell if he’s interested in her or not, with him running so hot and cold. Min-ah proposes one way of testing his interest: the yawn method.
It’s simple: Yawns are contagious — if you see someone yawing, you end up doing it reflexively. Just yawn in lecture, and watch if he follows suit. If he does, it means he’s been looking at Ha-ni.
Ha-ni tests it out — and sure enough, Seung-jo yawns mere seconds after she does. She exults in this little victory… until she notices that all the women in the class also yawn. (They were looking at Seung-jo. LOL.) ‘Fess up — how many of you just yawned right now?
Seung-jo finds He-ra a welcome conversation partner since she understands what it’s like to be so good at everything that she’s never suffered. (Although Seung-jo considers them two peas in a pod, I suspect that she’s putting on an act and doesn’t get him as well as she’s trying to make it seem. There’s something about He-ra’s reactions whenever he brings up their similarities.)
Her smile fades when Seung-jo says that when Ha-ni moved in, she made him consider that the world could have different ideas than he does, and that those ideas could be right and his could be wrong. Those thoughts took him by surprise, and therefore he’s been thinking lately that he’ll have to experience more of the world.
Here’s a small but hilarious scene: Kyung-soo asks Ha-ni for help with the timing of the kiss. She balks, not wanting to revive rumors, so the other senior member volunteers to play He-ra’s part. Smooch!
Their kiss timing is off, so Ha-ni tentatively suggests that Kyung-soo try his confession while holding his racquet. However, that tilts the balance too far in the other direction; it brings a fierce (some might call it crazy) look in his eye, and his kissing partner runs away to avoid being attacked.
At home, Ha-ni is sent to collect laundry from Seung-jo’s room, and she takes the opportunity to look around. She spots a newspaper with classified ads circled — is he looking for part-time jobs?
When Seung-jo enters, she asks him whether the story she heard from a schoolmate is true — is he thinking of moving out? At his yes, Ha-ni asks worriedly if it’s because she moved back. As we know, a pensive Seung-jo is a pissy Seung-jo, and he says snappishly that she shouldn’t make everything about herself.
Mom overhears this conversation, and this leads to a serious talk with the parents. Seung-jo explains that he wants to carve his own path, including working to earn money and what he can do with his life.
His reasoning is sound, and his parents can’t argue with that. His father, in fact, is rather proud and agrees to let him move out. Mom is less thrilled but doesn’t object, either.
Ha-ni, on the other hand, is crushed.
Seung-jo, you big romantic robot. I may have to upgrade you to cyborg with all your sweet gestures to Ha-ni, although I’m holding off on that because it looks like it may be one step forward, two steps back with the next episode.
But this is about this episode, and here, he’s surprisingly sweet. This is the most open we’ve ever seen him so far, and not only does he mellow his usually gruff attitude toward Ha-ni, he goes so far as to extend a hand and make an effort. It’s not just the hospital embrace, but expressed in little details all throughout the episode. Take the beginning, when they escape the gangsters. After making his “This is so typical of you” comment, he sees that she’s feeling pretty glum and tacks on the comment that she’s pretty fit to keep up running with him. The swipe at her character is thus mitigated with the compliment, and followed by their date, during which he buys her food, matching shirts, and walks her home. Of his own volition.
More than those romantic strides, though, I’m loving seeing more hints of their complementary relationship. When Ha-ni tells him he should be a doctor, you get the sense he hadn’t considered it before, but is open to the thought. Contrast that to his father’s suggestion to go into business, which he shoots down with his usual cool detachment. It’s not that he’ll pick a career to make Ha-ni happy, but that she, again, has that unique ability to make him see the world in a new light. Like he told He-ra, Ha-ni makes him see that his one perspective of the world may not be the only (or even right) one, so he’s more willing to consider her suggestion.
Even Seung-jo can see that that’s pretty special… which is why I’m annoyed at the previews for the next ep. You have a treasure, Seung-jo, and even you recognize it — SO KEEP HER WHILE YOU CAN, DUMMY.