You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 21-22
I’m happy to report that the upswing continues; I’m hopeful that this momentum will carry through for the foreseeable future. With more people finding out secrets, we get more action and development up in this joint, shaking it free of that slow bout of sitting and moping we had for a while. Plus, Jun-ho has some uphill climbing to do to get himself out of his mess—though the incline is so steep it’s more like digging out of one’s self-made grave—and that’s always fun to watch. I’m not a sadist, I swear. He’s just so bumblingly bad at groveling.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Tae-woo – “LOVEcoaster” [ Download ]
Soon-shin packs away her acting materials, and Yoo-shin sighs that she really thought she’d stick with the acting dreams; she’d never seen her so into anything before. Why not stick with it, she suggests, especially since Jun-ho believed in her so much.
Not exactly persuasive words, so when he calls saying from outside her house, Soon-shin tells him curtly that she she won’t come out. She leaves him out in the cold, which I think he deserves. For now.
At breakfast, the family confirms that she really is done with acting, and it’s Hye-shin’s turn to sigh that it’s too bad. Grandma never saw a situation she couldn’t see the downside to and grumps that she knew Soon-shin would quit because Soon-shin always quits.
I get that Soon-shin doesn’t want to drag out the pain by telling everyone about the bet, but I do wish she would. Mom stays quiet too, but at least she feels bad for Soon-shin getting blamed. Soon-shin’s just relieved to have her nice mother back and assures her that she’ll be fine; she’ll turn her attention to getting an office job now.
Bread Man Jin-wook and Hye-shin bump into each other at the grocery store, where he helps her choose produce and gets them mistaken for a couple. (He denies it with a goofy grin on his face; he’s loving the mistake a little too much, I think.) Jin-wook insists on helping Hye-shin with her bags, and as they’re fighting over it, a little ball of fury (Woo-joo) stomps between them, breaking them up and stalking off with the bag. Ha.
He’s full-blown in his crush now, and spends most of his bread-making time imagining Hye-shin’s face in the dough. Then he finds that his hands have automatically shaped said dough into a heart shape. Lol.
Jun-ho starts to clear Soon-shin’s file from their records, but can’t quite let go and changes his mind. He watches her audition clip and her monologue is, of course, apt to their situation:
“Why were you so good to me? You looked at me, smiled at me, and worried after me, asking whether I’d eaten. Why did you do that and make me flutter inside? Not knowing anything I believed it all and felt butterflies, like an idiot. What do I do now?”
Soon-shin suggests a trip to the jjimjilbang, and she and Mom thankfully have regained much of their warmth. It’s a huge relief that Mom’s finally past her bout of angst, but I can’t help but find it off-putting that she just gets to smile and have everything back without apology or acknowledgment.
Walking home, they find Young-hoon waiting in front of their house, here to ask Soon-shin to come back because they need her at the restaurant. Aw. It’s nice of him to say. She has no desire to return, but he asks her to consider a temporary return—say, just to fulfill the terms of her original six-month agreement—and she agrees to think about it.
Jun-ho drops by the neighborhood again and sees her walking with Young-hoon. She pointedly ignores him, he grabs her arm, and Young-hoon takes issue. I don’t know why but that objection endears me to him—maybe because he’s always the first to call out Jun-ho on bad behavior? Young-hoon is good people.
The problem with Jun-ho is, he struggles so much to get Soon-shin’s attention that when he finally has it, he hems and haws and can’t get to the point. So Soon-shin heads off disinterestedly, and he blurts that she’s a dummy in frustration. Smooooth.
Jun-ho blusters some more, wielding defense as offense, and says “I’m sorry!” like it’s an accusation. Shouldn’t she have been glad for the chance to be an actress?
Soon-shin agrees that he’s right, that she was like a Cinderella living a dull ordinary life: “So thank you for making a bet about me. Like you said, it was like I won the lottery.” She says this without sarcasm or vitriol, like she accepts it, and he asks what the problem is.
Soon-shin: “I have feelings too. I may be an idiot, but I also have a heart. And I also get hurt.”
Grandma wants to fly to Hong Kong to get the unhappy couple back together, and asks why Mom isn’t interfering. She finds it suspicious that Mom would kick up such a fuss about a child who’s not blood-related, and yet remain so calm about biological child Hye-shin. Ugh, Grandma.
Then she asks if Mom has a man on the side and is preparing to ditch this family, because why else would she be acting like this? Grandma’s worse than usual today, but I suppose it’s all to push Mom over the edge, because she finally can’t take it anymore and bursts out, “Soon-shin is [his] daughter!” That shuts Grandma up, and Mom begs for some understanding.
It cracks me up that Young-hoon bans Jun-ho from the restaurant, because the possibility of seeing him is keeping Soon-shin from returning. Like a little boy Jun-ho asks, “Did she say that? That she doesn’t want to see my face? Did she say she wants to see yours?”
Mi-ryung and Yeon-ah go on a talk show together, and the pesky Reporter Park shows up. He comments on Mi-ryung’s close relationship with Yeon-ah, then adds meaningfully, “But… aren’t you curious about your real daughter?”
Shaken, Mi-ryung tries to act confused by the question and Reporter Park backs off, saying he must have heard wrong. But it’s all too clear that his “I’ll see you again” is a veiled threat.
Thus Mi-ryung is simmering when Manager Hwang comes home, and turns her suspicions on him. Granted he has been acting shifty lately, but I actually feel bad for him knowing how hard he’s been working to plug that leak. He’s indignant too—he’s been working his ass off to find her daughter’s whereabouts, scouring orphanage records, and this is the thanks he gets? White as a ghost, Mi-ryung asks if he found anything. He says no, and that she can move on now.
Yi-jung pops up at the clinic again to pester Chan-woo into falling in love with her; it makes you want to tell her that’s not how it works, but she’s not the listening kind. Dr. Shin witnesses the exchange as Chan-woo firmly rejects her, saying that he has a girlfriend.
Dr. Shin sighs about his daughter’s pathetic attempts, but he does invite Chan-woo to dinner with the wife, specifically asking whether he’s been dating his girlfriend for very long. Aw, but I thought you were against Yi-jung chasing Chan-woo…
In the neighborhood, Chicken Ajumma watches a girl sashaying by in a tiny miniskirt with her judgy eyes, and then laughs when the girl trips in her heels. It turns out to be Yoo-shin, and Chicken Ajumma chides her to wear something more decent. Yoo-shin bristles, saying that this is perfectly acceptable these days, and they bicker back and forth. I have to say, I find Chicken Ajumma pretty grating but I can take her when she’s clashing with Yoo-shin, because both women can take it as well as dish it out.
Chicken Ajumma clucks to her husband about Yoo-shin’s attitude and her indecent skirt, and then has to deal with her own daughter showing up in an even tinier skirt. HA.
Mi-ryung mulls over Manager Hwang’s comment about scouring the orphanages, and rifles through papers to find the info sheet on dead Dad’s family. Seeing Soon-shin’s birthday finally triggers a suspicion. It can’t be… he didn’t…
She asks Manager Hwang about it, who starts by saying that it can’t be true. But even he has to admit in frustration that he doesn’t know.
Soon-shin decides to return to work for the remainder of her temporary contract, and it’s really sweet how warm a welcome she gets from the other employees. Like Jae-bum, who promises to take care of pesky fangirls for her.
Time for a mother-daughter double date, and where should the foursome go but The Only Restaurant In the Universe. In a daze, Mi-ryung excuses herself and comes face to face with Soon-shin. She confirms Soon-shin’s birthday, and the mounting suspicion that this is her abandoned daughter has her reeling.
Jun-ho arrives and also crosses paths with Soon-shin, and they stand there staring at each other for a long moment. But then he gets called away, Soon-shin turns back to work, and he again loses a chance to say something. If he could think of something to say, that is.
Jun-ho takes a meeting with the director of the music video, who is disappointed to hear that Soon-shin has been pulled and will no longer be acting. He sees something special in her—reminiscent of a young Mi-ryung, in fact—and believes she could turn into a worthy actor. It makes Jun-ho recall how Soon-shin said she loved acting, and thus he returns to the neighborhood (again!) that night.
He hands her her audition kit, then starts to explain himself. Better late than never, I suppose. He says that although it’ll sound like an excuse, he really was sincere about wanting to develop her as an actress: “If you ever want to start again, give me a call. I’ll wait.” Soon-shin takes the file home and gives it a watch, smiling to see herself acting.
Grandma’s having a hard time accepting that her son was a cheater and Soon-shin’s father, and presses Mom for the name of the bio-mom. However, Mom is finally ready to put everything behind her and asks Grandma to let it rest. Soon-shin is her daughter.
Mi-ryung responds to her brewing emotional crisis like she does all others, and drowns herself in drink. Then she walks to Soon-shin’s house wearing her steely grim face, and comes face to face with Mom. (End of Episode 21.)
So the moms face off… but not really because Mi-ryung just leaves with an excuse. It does little to alleviate Mom’s suspicions, and she follows to confront Mi-ryung: What did she come to say to “my child”?
Mi-ryung agrees with that wording, and it’s like in that moment she makes up her mind: Soon-shin is not hers. She says nothing will change, that Soon-shin is not part of her life.
Nobody’s talking about in plain words about the maternity claim, but it’s pretty clear that’s what they mean.
Mi-ryung drinks some more, and by now she and Manager Hwang have dropped all pretense of doubt and seem convinced that Soon-shin is her daughter. Which is what makes the denial more forceful as Mi-ryung vows, “I have no daughter. I’ve never given birth to one, nor have I abandoned one. Don’t you get it? I have no past.” I’d argue that fear of guilt is driving Mi-ryung more than an actual lack of caring, though perhaps that’s giving too much credit. She gives in to tears as she asks what she’s supposed to do now—just say, “Sorry for ditching you because your mother didn’t want to live miserably any longer”?
Grandma has terrible poker face and gets caught staring at Soon-shin, and then she’s extra nice when sending her off for the day, which comes across as creepy. When being nice makes people look at you like you’re an alien, maybe you should reassess your life choices. Just sayin’.
Out of habit, the next day Jun-ho drops by the studio looking into Soon-shin’s practice room. At the sight of her rehearsing lines, Jun-ho lights up and steps inside, only to realize it’s another trainee. At least he has his gallery of Soon-shin photos on his phone, from all the workout confirmation shots he’d demanded. Handy, that.
When he heads to the restaurant, Jae-bum blocks his path and cites boss’s orders. HA. Young-hoon pushes him out and tells him to give it a rest; Soon-shin has put everything behind, so don’t go around shaking her up.
Jun-ho argues that he hasn’t put it behind him yet… which strikes Young-hoon as strange wording: “Do you… like Soon-shin?” Jun-ho denies it, of course, but it’s not very convincing.
At the bakery, Bread Man Jin-wook offers Hye-shin a free taste of a new pastry. She says she feels bad for always getting freebies, so he assures her not to worry: “I just feel like it.” Belatedly he realizes that “I just feel like it” can be misinterpreted “This is how I feel”… just as Hye-shin notices the bread is in a heart shape. Immediately he stammers, “Uh, I didn’t mean the heart is how I feel…” while Bread Boy shakes his head in the background. He gives her two full trays of free pastries and sends her off cringing in mortification. You and me both, buddy.
Grandma can’t rest till she knows who Soon-shin’s mother is, and she asks Hye-shin about it. Hye-shin doesn’t know, but she has her suspicions and asks Mom about Mi-ryung dropping by and whether it’s because of Soon-shin. Mom finally admits, “You’re right. She’s Song Mi-ryung’s daughter.”
Today is Yi-jung’s birthday, so her mother invites Mi-ryung to dinner. Dad is mysterious about the gift he’s planned, and Yi-jung wonders if it’s to send her back to America. Ha, that would be hilarious. But mean. But hilarious.
Unfortunately (for us—fortunately for her), Dr. Shin’s plans involve inviting Chan-woo to dinner. He can’t refuse his boss and uneasily agrees.
Jun-ho, what are you doing lurking in the bushes like a stalker? Bread Man finds him peering at the Lee family house and asks what he’s doing, and both men eye each other suspiciously. When Soon-shin comes out, Bread Man asks if she knows him. She says, “Nope.” Lol. So when Jun-ho starts to follow her, Bread Man stops him and plays the gallant oppa role. Love him.
Jun-ho catches up to Soon-shin on her way up the mountain path, and again wastes time beating around the bush: He came to eat at that restaurant in the neighborhood… mumble mumble… and maybe also to talk to Soon-shin. Honey, you’re gonna have to commit to what you want to say because you’re not going to get a chance with your half-assed dithering.
She rejects his lunch invitation since she’s on her way to collect spring water, and he says he’s thirsty and follows. Ha, remember what happened the last time you tried to be manly about this hike? He’s gasping for breath in no time, and insists he has something to say to her. And then wastes the opportunity talking about spring water… and suggesting fish stew… and makgulli…
She turns him down flat and continues on alone.
That night, Hye-shin sends Yoo-shin on an errand to pick up chicken, and Yoo-shin stops to look at her reflection. She’s wearing short shorts, and harrumphs at Chicken Ajumma’s complaints about her indecent dress. Still, she stops for a second look…
HA, when she walks in, she’s in a floor-length pleated skirt with… I don’t know what you call them. Gigolo shoes, that’s what I call them. But on a woman, I guess they look like old lady church shoes. Yoo-shin insists on helping Chicken Ajumma with dishes, and their tug-of-war sends plates crashing to the ground.
Chicken Ajumma glows with pride about how Chan-woo got invited to the hospital director’s house for dinner, and declares that all he needs is a demure young wife to take care of the household and support his career. Yoo-shin protests (rather politely) that women these days don’t live to be housewives, and gets pooh-poohed.
Then to rub salt in the wound, Ajumma laughs at her clothing and tells her to wear something less ajumma-like. You know, be fashionable and young, like her daughter. Yoo-shin stomps off without her chicken, thinking herself crazy for trying to impress Ajumma.
Dr. Shin comes home with Chan-woo for Yi-jung’s birthday dinner, which makes me feel terrible for Chan-woo, but it’s a sweet gesture on Dad’s part. Mom gushes over him so much that it’s secondhand-embarrassing, and then turns her attention to Mi-ryung’s wan face and over-drinking.
Granted, Mi-ryung drinks too much wine and is well on her way to getting ugly-drunk, but Mom is being rather condescending with her You need a family and You’re lonely because you have no family and I always invite you over because I want you to experience family.
Unsurprisingly, Mi-ryung doesn’t just take it: She asks Mom if she keeps inviting her over to parade around her vision of a happy family and make Mi-ryung envy her. Well, she’s not in the least envious, she declares, and drunkenly staggers out.
Dr. Shin escorts her out and asks in concern whether something’s wrong. Mi-ryung sinks down and cries that she’s going crazy, that she lived a good life with no regrets. Yes, that sure is the face of unbridled happiness.
Chan-woo excuses himself after dinner, and I’ve gotta give him props for waiting it through until he could find an appropriate moment to leave. He states firmly for everyone’s benefit that he’s going to meet his girlfriend.
Jun-ho doesn’t like that, and follows him out to have a word. He accuses him of playing the field and warns Chan-woo to make his position clear and focus on one girl. Chan-woo says he has no interest in dating Yi-jung, and Jun-ho clarifies, “I’m talking about Soon-shin. Don’t hurt her.” Omo. I’m pretty sure Chan-woo had no idea, and this is a bit rich coming from Jun-ho, but it’s cute.
Hye-shin checks on Mom, chiding her for bottling up whole Soon-shin/Dad/infidelity thing inside. Mom admits that she treated Soon-shin badly, and that she was torn between feeling hate toward her and the fear that Mi-ryung would steal her away. Mom asks her to keep this a secret, which should last… oh, about twenty episodes, I’m thinking.
Mi-ryung and Yeon-ah have an interview lined up today, and Manager Hwang tries to relocate once he hears it’s at The Restaurant, where Soon-shin works. Mi-ryung tells him coolly that it’s fine—why should it bother her?
Even so, Mi-ryung remains distracted all throughout the interview, which does not go unnoticed by Yeon-ah. It brings out her claws, and she calls Soon-shin over specifically to be catty, wondering how she can have so little pride to continue working here. Soon-shin sticks up for herself, reminding Yeon-ah that she’s the one who made her the subject of a bet: “I think I’m the one who should be feeling upset right now.”
Yeon-ah sends Soon-shin on a personal errand to the pharmacy, then puts her sweet face on while in the presence of the reporter. Gah, back to hating you.
Soon-shin finds Mi-ryung’s script left behind afterward and finds her outside to return it. Mi-ryung has been getting weaker and sicker all day, though, and by now is crouched in pain on the ground.
Soon-shin escorts her to the hospital, holding her hand and comforting her all the way. But once there, Mi-ryung rouses long enough to yell at her to leave, and Soon-shin complies, feeling annoyed with herself for bothering.
Once outside (hey, is that the Nice Guy hospital?) she recalls the script she was going to return, and almost decides against it. But she turns back, ’cause she’s a nice person.
Mi-ryung slips out of bed unseen and heads out of the hospital, coming face to face with Soon-shin.
Mi-ryung knows! Grandma knows! Hye-shin knows! Huzzah!
Long-held secrets are a staple of family dramas, and inevitably we’ll have a character or two suffering in silence for unbearable stretches. I’m used to it, but I never enjoy it, so it’s gratifying to have the secret spreading to more characters. With the Chicken Couple in on the news I’m sure it would’ve come out sooner or later, but I never like huge plot points in the hands of one entity; distributing the knowledge amongst a wider array of people gives us more room for dramatic possibilities.
I do wish the show were cleverer about the way it doled out info, because some of this secret-sharing felt forced and unnatural. Like Hye-shin getting suddenly aggro with her mother in demanding the truth, when we’ve never once seen her get pushy about anything, even her bastard ex. So yes, it feels as though things sometimes happen because the plot necessitates it more than organic character development, and in that regard I understand that You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin will never be a subtle show.
For the most part, though, it doesn’t bother me as long as we stick to a few key criteria: (1) It keeps the story moving forward, and (2) the forced quality stays plot-related and doesn’t seep into relationship developments. By which I mean, my favorite thing about the show—and probably most people’s favorite thing—is the central relationship between Jun-ho and Soon-shin. I’ll sit through fifty minutes of obvious plotting to get to those five or ten minutes of cute Jun-ho/Soon-shin interaction, with the flirting and teasing and bickering. And thus far, their interactions feel understated and natural, with a slow build that (hopefully) makes the eventual payoff worth it. That’s one of the reasons to watch longer-running family shows, because the romance is allowed to breathe and bloom gradually, which feels more true-to-life than the dramatic romances of miniseries.
Yoo-shin and Chicken Ajumma are another highlight, and one I was surprised to see given that they’ve both had their eye-rolling moments. Some more than others. But as I said, it’s the give-and-take that makes their bickering amusing (whereas the one-sided harassing sets my teeth on edge). I thought Yoo-shin’s modern woman personality was going to have the greatest clash with Chan-woo’s conservative nature, but turns out that the prospective mother-in-law clash trumps all. I don’t want Yoo-shin to change herself based on what a shrewish mother-in-law says, but I didn’t read that from her wardrobe change. It seemed more like deciding to minimize a conflict over a battle you don’t have to win, and that strikes me as mature. I buy that Yoo-shin doesn’t agree with Ajumma that she looks trashy, or that short skirts are the devil, but she’s willing to compromise and that’s cool.
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 19-20
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 17-18
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 15-16
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 14
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 13
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 12
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 11
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 10
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 9
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 8
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 7
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 6
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 5
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 3-4
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 1-2