Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 13
Does anybody have a spare heart lying around? Mine’s broken. It’s been cracked, crushed, pulverized into bits by this episode. The only cure is a massive dose of bromance. I can only hope it’s on its way, and soon.
That said, the angst isn’t the gloomy, dread-inducing kind. The conflicts have been coming to a head for a while, and they needed to erupt at some point. Thanks to the well-developed setup, the angst may hurt, but it kinda hurts in a gratifying way. Which isn’t meant to sound dirty, I swear. It’s that the emotional release is satisfying, even if most of that comes in the form of fighting words and wounded hearts. Mine included.
SONG OF THE DAY
L & Kim Ye-rim – “Love U Like U” which is the duet sung in this episode. [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Ji-hyuk is put on the spot by the pesky reporter, and while it’s not a good thing for the hottie leader of a hit new rock band to admit he’s got a girlfriend, it’s much worse to reveal that he, a minor, is living with a girl. Hae-ri motions for the host to smooth over the moment, but the reporter persists, saying that he’s better off explaining rather than trying to cover it up.
Ji-hyuk answers that those rumors are false — he’s not living with a girl — but when prodded he admits that he does have a girlfriend, shocking his friends. The host halts the questioning, but the damage is done.
After hearing the news, Woo-kyung races to Ji-hyuk’s rooftop apartment, where she sees Su-ah’s shirts drying in the breeze, and that’s enough confirmation for her. I do hope this provides the jolt she needs to let go, once and for all.
Deo-mi dumps the gossip in Su-ah’s lap and asks if the girl in the photo is her. The class silently watches with their judgy eyes — guh, this school, such a viper’s nest — and Su-ah bolts from class to deal with her mounting panic in private.
Seung-hoon finds her trembling and pleads with her to deny it, that she’s not living in Ji-hyuk’s place. She gives a tiny nod: It’s true.
In the green room, the boys are confused and angry. Hyun-soo, with the sharp eyes, asks if the girlfriend is Su-ah and points out accusingly that Ji-hyuk specifically denied that. Hae-ri bursts in to yell at Ji-hyuk, asking if this is all he amounts to as the leader. Where’s his sense of responsibility?
Ji-hyuk answers that he just told the truth — denied what’s false, confirmed what’s true. She spits out that the public doesn’t care about truth, they care about gossip. He wrecked the showcase, and nobody will remember they have a second single. This reduced the whole of Eye Candy to the soundbite “Teenage band of delinquents whose leader has a live-in girlfriend.” She puts the band on immediate hiatus, until the company decides what to do with them.
Ji-hyuk genuinely doesn’t see why his personal life has to affect the band, so Hae-ri lays it out: “YOU wrecked Eye Candy as a whole! Do I have to spell it out for you?” And you can see the moment it all clicks for him, leaving him stunned.
Hae-ri decides the company will issue no comment; they’ll wait to see how far the guys fall before stepping in to clean up.
Teacher Kim drops the boys off at the dorm, and immediately Ji-hyuk starts off in the other direction. Hyun-soo grabs his arm warning that if he goes to Su-ah now, he could make trouble for her, too. Ji-hyuk just says he’ll be back soon, then takes off running.
Sure enough, he finds reporters camped outside his building. He calls Su-ah to warn her about them, and she decides to crash with a friend for a few days. Oh no, is this where Seung-hoon steps in after all with his spare luxury apartment? Damn. And it’s such a great way to force this scenario, since you can hardly begrudge anybody for it.
At the dorm, the boys endure a check-up call from Teacher Kim, hilariously trying to imitate Ji-hyuk’s deep voice to cover for him. He ain’t falling for it, though, but at least Ji-hyuk returns in time to waylay his suspicions.
I love that they cover for him even though they’re still angry and hurt, and now Ji-hyuk faces them with bowed head. Ha-jin and Hyun-soo are the most hostile, while Kyung-jong suggests hearing him out first.
Ji-hyuk apologizes, and Hyun-soo challenges him to say exactly what he’s sorry for — for wasting all the hard work they poured into their first composition? For ruining the press conference? For sneaking around with Su-ah?
Ji-hyuk says, “For not telling you guys first.” They all agree that if he’d just said so, they wouldn’t be feeling so angry. Ha-jin calls him a coward, and he doesn’t contradict him.
Ji-hyuk: “You’re right. For not being honest with you guys, or with Su-ah, and for feeling like my head was so mixed up that I didn’t know what to do… and using that as an excuse — I was a coward.”
He adds that he was going to tell them the truth, and the reporter beat him to the punch. When confronted with the truth, he didn’t want to back down again.
They recognize that it’s not like Byung-hee and Su-ah ever dated, so what was he afraid of? Why was it so hard for him to tell them the truth? Do-il’s comment may be the worst, because it’s said with such resignation: “You didn’t trust us. If you said it publicly instead of to us directly, did you think we’d just let it go? I’m really disappointed in you.”
Su-ah moves in to the spare apartment, though Seung-hoon is put out that she’s uncomfortable with the arrangement after being content to live in Ji-hyuk’s room. She tells him that it’s because she can’t afford the rent on his fancy place so it feels like she’s imposing, but assures him that she’s thankful. That mollifies him a little.
Do-il calls Woo-kyung that night to check in on her. She picks up, but all he hears are sobs, and poor Do-il sits there listening to her cry.
The boys are met with hostility at school. Their hateful principal is quick to jump off the bandwagon now that their star has fallen, sneering at them for ruining the school’s reputation.
Ji-hyuk texts Su-ah to talk, and they head to their usual stairwell. He takes her hand to assure her things will work out, just as a camera snaps a shot of them together. Pyo-joo crows to get confirmation that it was Su-ah, threatening to show it to the reporters, and Ji-hyuk takes off after him cursing.
He catches up to him and mutters under his breath to hand over the phone. Pyo-joo taunts him to hit him, since that’ll just intensify the scandal. Man, if only your daddy weren’t a congressman… I’d dearly love to see you navigate the world based on your merit. Which is nearly nonexistent.
Ji-hyuk starts to swing anyway — Pyo-joo gives a gratifying nervous gulp — but Do-il blocks his punch, asking him not to.
Helpless to do anything, Ji-hyuk asks/growls/warns Pyo-joo to erase the photo. Help comes from an unexpected quarter, because it’s Seung-hoon who steps in and grabs the phone, asking if Pyo-joo’s doing this to get at him. Why is he so fixated on hurting Su-ah?
Pyo-joo bursts out that Su-ah’s the reason Seung-hoon ditched them and quit the band. Seung-hoon tells him calmly, “You’re no fool, and I know you’re loyal. But stop now. Don’t sink so low. Stop worrying about those guys, and go your own way.” He adds that if Pyo-joo keeps acting out of hate for the band or for Seung-hoon, “The one who ends up destroyed is you.”
Pyo-joo leaves seething. Maro marvels at this bit of wisdom and tells Seung-hoon, “What you just said — say it to yourself. I think you need to hear it too.”
I don’t love Maro for himself, but I do have to admit it’s occasionally awesome having him around, he of such cold, robotic logic. As he leaves, Seung-hoon gives himself a long hard look at his reflection.
A reporter approaches students asking for clues on Ji-hyuk’s girlfriend. A girl mentions Su-ah’s name, and Deo-mi swoops in to interject that she has it on the very best authority that Su-ah is NOT the girl. It’s sweet that she’s protecting her friend in the one area where she’s helpful — gossipmongering — until she adds that there’s some other unni who came by once. Aw man, throwing Woo-kyung under the bus for Su-ah? At least she doesn’t know her name and can offer no details.
The boys read the latest wave of news, wondering why the rumors won’t die down. Hyun-soo says cuttingly that they can’t blame the messenger when it’s their leader who fed them the news in the first place. All of his individual appearances have been canceled as a result of the band’s image collapse, he says pointedly. It’s Ha-jin who takes offense this time, challenging, “What’s so immoral about having a girlfriend?”
Hyun-soo is called in for a recording session, but immediately declines once he sees that it’s for Ye-rim’s duet. Hae-ri says it’s just for the guide vocal, since they haven’t found a partner yet, and he concedes with a sigh. Eek, I don’t have a good feeling about this…
He proceeds reluctantly, but when Ye-rim joins in, he looks surprised, like maybe he’s enjoying it after all. He shoots her a few sidelong glances as they sing, and even starts to smile.
Ji-hyuk arrives at the pool hall, where Woo-kyung flies at him to demand, “How could you do this to me?!” As though she has any place in this matter to begin with. You know, I feel for her, I do, and I don’t even blame her for having a hard time getting over him — but this outraged wife act is so damn presumptuous that I find my sympathy quickly dissolving.
Woo-kyung makes a valid point about his actions taking down his friends with him, but he says that since the rumors aren’t true, they’ll get a chance to rebound. Even Do-il agrees, telling her to calm down.
But Woo-kyung charges forward: “Break up with her immediately. That’s the only way.” He says no, and she hardens her voice to deliver an ultimatum: “Putting Eye Candy and me on the line, answer this: Su-ah, or us?”
Goddamn. It’s a conflict that’s long in coming, but the fact that Woo-kyung is the one to make the demand really chafes. She’s important to the band, but she isn’t the band. She has no right to speak for them.
Ji-hyuk tells her, “I won’t give up either. Ever.”
Seung-hoon asks his sister if she’s the one who let loose the scandal, knowing that this is a tactic she sometimes employs to tame unruly charges. The question isn’t born of suspicion but acts as a test, because as soon as she confirms that it’s not her handiwork, he asks her to stop it then, since she has the wherewithal to calm the storm.
Hae-ri says that if the boys are untameable they’ll have to be released back to the wild — meaning, she won’t exert her powers if the boys aren’t ultimately going to stick around. Seung-hoon’s unusually passionate in his request, though, and says it’s not only about Ji-hyuk anymore.
Hae-ri picks up on the desperate undertone and puts the pieces together: the girlfriend is Su-ah. Seung-hoon asks again, “Stop it. Not for Kwon Ji-hyuk, but for me.”
Hae-ri had arranged dinner with the duet couple, but excuses herself at the last minute, leaving Hyun-soo and Ye-rim at dinner alone. Hyun-soo gets up to leave immediately, but she persuades him to stay and eat with her.
She wonders why he speaks banmal with her, and he retorts that if she feels it’s unfair than she can speak banmal right back at him. It’s kind of adorable how Ye-rim jumps on that, because while he meant it as a jab, she takes the invitation for the other meaning — it brings them closer.
Ye-rim asks if he has a girlfriend, saying that Ji-hyuk’s frank answer at the press conference was pretty cool. He asks if she has a boyfriend, and Ye-rim replies, “I’m thinking I’m about to get one.” Ha, I love a saucy girl.
Dinner’s interrupted by an alarming phone call, which sends Hyun-soo hurtling to the street to catch a cab. Nobody stops for him, though, and he’s near desperation when Ye-rim pulls up in her company van. She offers a ride, sensing an emergency.
As they drive to the hospital, he’s a ball of nerves. Ye-rim assures him it’ll be okay and takes his hand, which he pulls away. But not before we see that the touch means something to him.
Neither Su-ah nor Hyun-soo are in school the next day. Ha-jin wonders what’s going on at home, but has no idea since Hyun-soo’s so tight-lipped.
Seung-hoon can’t resist poking at Ji-hyuk in the hall, asking if he knows where Su-ah’s staying. He tells Ji-hyuk he can’t stand to watch Su-ah being made lonely because of him, and that he’s taking care of her now. To punctuate the point, he gets a call from Su-ah and answers in front of Ji-hyuk, who glares with his laser eyes.
When Hyun-soo comes home to the dorm room, he ignores Ji-hyuk’s greeting and heads for the shower silently. His phone rings with a call from Mom, and Ji-hyuk answers to tell her he’s in the shower. And then, he asks hesitantly what the matter is, and a weary Mom breaks down as she tells him how hard it is with Da-som (sister) needing surgery and them lacking the money and Hyun-soo burdened with worry.
Ha-jin drags Kyung-jong along to the studio with another excuse to see Ye-rim. As they chat, Kyung-jong recognizes Hyun-soo’s voice on her new track, which Ye-rim confirms. Seung-hoon’s there as well, and takes advantage of the moment to add that Hyun-soo’s in talks to make a solo debut — didn’t they know?
Ha-jin bursts into the dorm shouting for “that bastard” and grabs Hyun-soo, calling him traitor. He accuses him of going solo and recording a duet with Ye-rim and taking advantage of this opportunity to ditch the band.
Hyun-soo addresses each charge: The duet is a guide track and he turned down the solo offer. Ha-jin retorts, “How can we trust you? You never tell us a thing.” Ouch, and yet, that’s a valid point. How do you expect loyalty when you keep everything a secret?
With a glare at Ji-hyuk and then Hyun-soo, Ha-jin says that girls and money are going to tear the band apart after all. “Let’s quit then! Quit everything!”
Ji-hyuk asks gently why Hyun-soo didn’t share with them. Hyun-soo says bitterly, “Why would I, when you all treat me like a traitor anyway?”
Later he approaches Hyun-soo in their room to ask about his sister, and the amount of money needed for her surgery. Hyun-soo tells Ji-hyuk to worry about the band instead, since they’re unlikely to make it to a first album if things continue.
Su-ah calls him out, and they meet by — uh-oh — the river. She explains not coming to school till the furor dies down, and he confirms that she’s staying with Seung-hoon (or, at least, Hae-ri’s spare apartment). She worries that even meeting like this will cause more trouble and apologizes for causing problems. He apologizes back for being unable to do anything for her.
Su-ah wonders if they ought to break up, with all the trouble that the relationship is stirring up. Ji-hyuk actually has tears in his eyes when he pulls her to him, saying, “You’re no trouble to me at all, so don’t say that again.”
Kyung-jong tracks down Ha-jin at a nightclub, where he’s arm in arm with one of his club-bunny noonas. Ha-jin’s in no mood to go back to “a band where nobody thinks of anyone but themselves,” whose breakup is only a matter of time. He overhears some girls gossiping, having recognized him, and storms over to ask, “What the hell do you know about me?”
Unfortunately, a boyfriend steps in and attacks, which pulls Kyung-jong into the fight. Ha-jin easily wins, blinking back tears as he wails on his opponent.
That hits the news, along with Do-il’s father’s identity. Hae-ri wonders, “Is this rock bottom?” God, I hope so, because my heart can’t take much more.
Now it’s Hyun-soo’s turn to fling the accusations at Ha-jin, who retorts that fighting is better than betrayal. Hyun-soo challenges Ji-hyuk to do something, not just sit there, since he bears responsibility for their fall from grace. It’s sort of unfair — always telling Ji-hyuk to fix things, when that’s an excessive expectation — but I forgive him because his next whispered comment guts you: “I’m running out of time.”
Ha-jin taunts him to go solo. Hyun-soo storms off. Kyung-jong wonders, “How did we come to this?”
Ji-hyuk goes to see Hae-ri, who has made a decision: They are all free to go home; their contract is void. She reminds him that they’re the ones who brought this on themselves.
Ji-hyuk doesn’t protest. He does, however, ask her to keep Hyun-soo, and contract him solo. He argues that Hyun-soo did nothing wrong, and that he worked harder than anybody. The band will keep going somehow, and start over from the beginning — but Hyun-soo should take this opportunity.
Hae-ri says she considered the idea as well, but since he’s part of Eye Candy, his image is also endangered. She adds that thanks to his “tear-inducing friendship” Hyun-soo has already refused several times — hard words to hear, I’d think — and supposes that he won’t give up his friends now, either.
Ji-hyuk vows to make him agree. Hae-ri asks what Ji-hyuk will do in return. He answers, “Anything. Everything.”
Ji-hyuk finds Hyun-soo at the pool hall, who asks somewhat nervously if they’ve all been cut loose. Ji-hyuk says Hae-ri offered a regular contract — Hyun-soo cheers up — but that he couldn’t accept the one condition, to break up with Su-ah. Oh noooooo… you’re playing bad cop? Oh, this breaks my heart. Especially with the way Ji-hyuk can’t even look him in the eye.
Hyun-soo, naturally, does not take this well and accuses him of being so love-crazy that he’d give up their album for her. Ji-hyuk fans the flames, saying, “I don’t need that junk,” knowing full well that Hyun-soo does.
Hyun-soo grabs him and demands, “Are you really the Kwon Ji-hyuk I know?” Ji-hyuk tells him to go ahead and hit him, ’cause he can’t give up Su-ah.
I’m dying here, especially since Hyun-soo keeps giving him chances to explain himself, asking over and over if he really means it. Ji-hyuk nails his coffin shut, saying, “Right now, Su-ah is more important to me than you guys.”
He lets Hyun-soo punch him over and over, while Do-il looks away in dismay.
Hyun-soo grabs him and asks, “Is this the end?” Ji-hyuk shakily nods. Hyun-soo storms out, leaving him bloodied on the pool table.
Hyun-soo packs his bags. Kyung-jong pleads with him not to go, but Ha-jin is too proud to beg and tells him to leave.
Hyun-soo storms out of the dorm, just in time for Hae-ri to call and tell him that the solo offer is still good.
The one silver lining in this heartbreak is that Do-il knows Ji-hyuk was pushing him away on purpose, and asks if Ji-hyuk had to go that far. Ji-hyuk says, “If I didn’t, he wouldn’t leave.” And then he bursts into tears.
Alone in his room, Hyun-soo cries, too.
This issue of leadership is one that’s reared its head in the past, and I find it intriguing. Byung-hee was the obvious leader of the group in their previous incarnation because he had the songwriting skills, the grand visions, and the overwhelming charisma. He commanded attention, and people were happy to follow. Ji-hyuk stepped in because he’s the other vocalist, the other songwriter, the go-to guy after Byung-hee. But what does it mean to be group leader — musical proficiency, or diplomacy, or the best liaising skills with the media?
I’ve always assumed that idol group leaders were figurehead positions — everybody needs a role, and the leader is the most visible. Maybe s/he’s the most popular, or the eldest, or the primary vocalist. It seems a calculated move to me, made by shrewd record label executives trying to predict the tides of popular opinion. It never struck me that these leaders actually needed to, yunno, lead. What is there to lead, after all? The decisions are all made by managers and producers and you just follow, right?
Then you stick a group like Eye Candy into turbulent situations and everybody’s flailing to find purchase on this slippery slope of showbiz, and leadership takes on different connotations. The leader is no longer just the guy who gets the most panties thrown at him onstage, but the guy who’s expected to step in and get stuff done. Even if he has no special qualifications, and is no better at problem-solving than his fellow bandmates.
In a certain sense Ji-hyuk isn’t the most natural leader, and he’s stumbling as he goes. He’s terrible with reporters, he isn’t much of a peacekeeper, he doesn’t express himself well. But we’ve also seen him step up and do things worthy of the title, too, and he has done a pretty good job of communicating with Hae-ri. He isn’t as charming as the others, but he does command respect.
Like I mentioned above, I feel like there’s an expectation placed on Ji-hyuk that seems excessive. He’s their figurehead leader, but somehow that also means that when they’re stuck in a tough spot, the others have the luxury of sitting back and saying their leader will figure it out. And the leader has to go and beat his head over the problem trying to rise to the challenge, even if he’s got no clue. He’s not any smarter or better positioned, certainly. And Hyun-soo has always thrown that in his face, from the moment he balked at Ji-hyuk’s election as leader. It’s as if he holds it against Ji-hyuk for taking the role and then underperforming, regardless of whether anybody else would have done better.
Speaking of Hyun-soo… aie, my bleeding heart. I’d always feared that he’d be the first to bolt because his motivations for continuing this path were the most different from the others. Granted, I expected him to resist and fight himself, but he seemed the most likely to break from the pack. So it’s heartbreaking to see that he’s never once wavered — but that the group fractures anyway over him, because the others suspect he’s capable of betrayal. You can’t blame them for fearing it, because he’s always off doing the cool thing in private, and never letting anybody in. In that, he’s like Ji-hyuk was a few episodes ago, trying to figure out all his problems on his own rather than relying on his friends.
I’m usually hugely opposed to any form of noble idiocy in a drama, and in fact its introduction is usually the point at which my interest in a show drops precipitously. I’ll stick with the show anyway, but I’ll roll my eyes and clench my fists and hope it’s over quickly, like a date in the dentist’s chair. So it speaks to the well-crafted relationships here that the noble idiocy doesn’t turn me off in this case, because I understand everybody’s situation so clearly. There’s no sense of frustration that this is a lazy plot point that could easily be avoided, because I don’t actually see a better alternative.
I get why Ji-hyuk is driven to this point — his own future with the company is nil, but he can salvage the career for the guy who really needs it. What’s a little self-destruction in the name of brotherhood, right? Nobody wants the boys to break up, but right now everybody has his priorities lined up, and I don’t think either Hyun-soo or Ji-hyuk would argue that little sister’s life comes first.
We’ve seen that more than anybody else, the band is a lifeline for Ji-hyuk, who has no other family (not one that hasn’t already forsaken him, that is). It’s why he looked so crushed when Su-ah proposed a breakup, and why he refuses to give anybody up. So it’s especially crushing that when push comes to shove, he’d lose it to help his bro. It’s all very ironic in a roundabout way, but it works.
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 12
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 11
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 10
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 9
- Sung Joon goes from scruffy rocker to prepster
- Shut Up: Lyrics edition
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 8
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 7
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 6
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 5
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 4
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 3
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 2
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 1