Monstar: Episode 2
SO MANY FEELS. There are simply so many feels for this show that I couldn’t possibly let the series pass by without expressing all of them. The fantastic songs, a delightful cast, and an overall feel-good entertainment, fellow Monstar fans will join me in saying that Fridays will never be the same. So I kept tuning in week after week and found myself knee-deep in a sweet and adorable show that has a beating heart and leaves a lingering smile on my face.
With Monstar already a few weeks into its run, it’ll be some time before the recaps are brought back up to speed, but reliving the moments over again is something I’m looking forward to.
SONG OF THE DAY
Yong Jun-hyung & BTOB – “After Time Passes” [ Download ]
EPISODE 2: “Girl, I’m a star, a star!”
We rewind to earlier that morning, and the MIB boys hit the showers after dance practice. A shower scene already? Is it my birthday? Then as the boys get beautified in their stage outfits, Seol-chan gets ready for school.
In the car, Manager Hong gives him a few encouraging words—if Seol-chan is on his best behavior, his sentence to attend school could be reduced from three months to one.
At present, he worries about who Seol-chan will sit next to in class since it’s imperative that the student must be neither a fan nor anti-fan, and above all, tight-lipped. Seol-chan glances at his button and smirks, “I know someone.”
Which leads us to the previous episode’s ending as Seol-chan asks Se-yi to be his jjak Ah, so he meant it as his seat partner.
Cut to: Seol-chan seated next to Nana. HA. The entire school is in an uproar with the idol star’s arrival and Teacher Dokko (my mistake earlier. She has a rare two-syllable last name) addresses her class to make their newest addition feel welcome. The students collectively groan at the reminder about their upcoming music evaluations.
All it takes is one word from Nana to get him to move next to Se-yi, who isn’t happy to see him. She promptly sits next to Nana, smiling, “I can sit here, right?”
Wrong. Se-yi is sent back to her original seat next to Seol-chan, seething. Ignoring the countless phones clicking around them, she demands that he return her phone. Just when she’s about to mention the almost-kiss incident, Seol-chan covers her mouth, and she pushes his hand away.
That’s the last straw for Seol-chan, but he tamps down his temper in front of the growing crowd. He thinks fast, wrist-grabs Se-yi, and runs out of the classroom. Eek, that’s going to make it look worse.
Word travels fast and Seol-chan rolls his eyes in the van at the story floating around the internet: “Kidnapped?!” He explains that it was the first thing he could think of, and sits Se-yi back down.
She makes it clear that she has nothing to say to him, which Manager Hong agrees with—whatever it is, surely they can talk in the classroom, right? But he quickly changes his tune at the mention of the incident: “You can talk here.” Ha.
However, he isn’t keen on leaving the kiddos alone in the vans. “The windows are tinted! You can’t see anything from the outside!” I don’t think you have to worry about raging hormones as so much as their raging tempers.
Poor Kyu-dong is pulled out of the classroom and gets a full-on beating for his earlier act of defiance. Jae-rok scoffs at Kyu-dong’s meek answer of, “Just ’cause.” There’s a manipulative quality about his bullying tactic that make me wanna slap him.
When Kyu-dong complies to remain under his thumb, Jae-rok sneers, “Stupid bastard.”
Do-nam curiously hangs back to get in the last word, justifying his actions with the reminder that Kyu-dong is partially deserving to receive this constant abuse: “There’s something you’ve done as well.”
The argument ensues back in the van and Se-yi accuses Seol-chan of following her around to make sure that the earlier incident with Ari remains under wraps. She tells him that he needn’t worry since she’s not interested in spreading gossip anyway.
But she’s taken aback by his following question: what exactly did she see that day? Then he leans in: “This?”
His face inches from hers, he reminds her that they were this close not too long ago, and it didn’t affect either of them then. Yes, but it affects her now. Now that he has her attention, he makes it clear that he has no intention of blackmailing her.
Still, Se-yi firmly stands by her refusal and Seol-chan’s voice turns serious: “Even if I ask you as a favor?” She’s the only one who doesn’t know (and likely doesn’t care) about who he is.
Se-yi doesn’t budge, so he returns her phone to her. When she wrenches it out of his hand, he asks, baffled, “Why do you hate me so much?!”
But Se-yi bursts outside… only to find Manager Hong with his ear pressed to the door. Well, that doesn’t look suspicious at all. Then Teacher Dokko comes by to usher the students back to class.
Teacher Dokko gets an earful from the Vice Principal about all the commotion thanks to the arrival of their idol boy student. She reaffirms him that the preparations for the charity concert is going well (Gym Teacher Choi raises an eyebrow at this).
She returns to her desk, dazedly wondering what this strange new feeling is. That is, before Gym Teacher Choi spooks her to snap her out of it. Hee, I love that he’s the only one who can spark her anger.
Seol-chan returns to the classroom to find the seat next to his empty. It’s only now he sees Se-yi’s desk graffitied with hateful messages and he sighs.
As for Se-yi, she’s up on the roof, bitterly reminded of how much she hates him for making her think of her mother. She scoffs when she discovers a new folder in her music collection. Curiosity gets the best of her and she listens to one song on the tracklist “As Time Passes” (posted above).
Just then, a rogue paper airplane lands at her feet, and she unfolds it to reveal a crude drawing. A quick survey of the roof points her to Kyu-dong in his torn school uniform. He quickly crumples the drawing in his hands.
Se-yi sits down next to him and asks if the picture is of Jae-rok. She argues that his voodoo tactics on the drawing is useless: “You’re better off poisoning his drink.” At his look of shock, she adds: “It’s just a joke.”
Kyu-dong thanks her for her earlier intervention and admits that it’s a self-portrait. Though Se-yi sweetly remarks that it looks nothing like him, she clocks his silent and reserved reaction.
So she offers that they listen to the song together. Kyu-dong immediately recognizes the song and says with resignation: “It must be nice for people like Seol-chan. Everyone likes him… I hate myself.” Aw, sweetie.
To his surprise, Se-yi answers that she hates herself too. They sit there, listening while softly singing to the song together. It’s a sweet moment, and I already love the sense of camaraderie between them.
Seol-chan gets called outside by Sun-woo, and scoffs when he’s told to change his seat. They exchange clipped words as Sun-woo pegs him with questions as to why Seol-chan keeps bothering the new transfer student if they barely know each other.
At his charged reaction, Seol-chan retorts: “You’re acting as if she’s your wife.” That clams Sun-woo up, and Seol-chan declares that he’ll stay put.
When Sun-woo bites that the idol hasn’t changed at all and still as stubborn as ever, Seol-chan returns the sentiment in kind, calling Sun-woo out on his nicety act.
He in turn asks why Sun-woo is so concerned about her—after all, it’s so unlike him. Shouldn’t you be repeating those words to yourself Mr. I-don’t-care-about-her-but-where-the-hell-has-she-gone?
His search throughout the school is fruitless since Se-yi is back in the classroom, reading the hateful scrawlings on her desk like a textbook. Sun-woo places a folder over it to prevent her from reading any more, which is when Seol-chan arrives at the door, annoyed to see the two together.
Sun-woo has been tasked to work with the newbies for the forthcoming music performance evaluations where they’ll each need to play an instrument. He coolly lets Seol-chan off the hook when he voices his disapproval. Ha.
Seol-chan can barely contain himself as he watches Sun-woo take Se-yi’s hand and listens to him tell her: “You’ve played guitar for a long time.” Gah, you gotta love it when a simple hand-holding can send you swooning.
His eyes dart back-and-forth between them as they agree to meet to practice at a park that night. When Se-yi looks back at him to say that Seol-chan can sit beside her, he angrily stalks off.
Another orchestra practice tells us all we need to know about Joon-hee and a new character, his younger sister, MA HYO-RIN (Kim Yoo-hyun). He gently asks a fellow violinist if she knows if anyone is interested in joining the group… because a spot will open up soon. Hyo-rin smiles. Geez, that’s cold.
Afterward, Teacher Dokko gapes when Joon-hee replies that his band can’t play at the charity event. Then Gym Teacher Choi appears out of nowhere, here to collect. (They, well he made a bet that Joon-hee would say no.)
Two of the All for One boys find Do-nam stare longingly at judo team practice, only to shuffle away when he’s caught. Hm, does your beef with Kyu-dong have something to do with the sport?
All of Teacher Dokko’s suggestions to Vice Principal for a suitable replacement to play at the charity concert get promptly dismissed. What’s interesting is that we see that it’s getting increasingly more difficult for her to rein in her anger as people continue to try her patience.
As Se-yi leaves school that afternoon, she honestly shares with Eun-ha about why the idol boy chose to sit next to her. But Eun-ha alerts her to a greater mystery—why is Sun-woo so nice to her?
On his way back from school, a bus serendipitously pulls up beside Seol-chan’s van at the light. He notices Se-yi riding inside and unknowingly finds himself gazing at her. And then, Se-yi’s head turns in his direction, as if looking back at him.
His eyes linger for a long minute until he finally asks if anyone can see through the tinted windows. When he’s told that no one can, Seol-chan wonders aloud: “This isn’t fair. It hurts my pride.”
Manager Hong misconstrues his words, saying that they’re in this mess in order to keep his pride. Seol-chan corrects him: “That’s dignity.”
Teacher Dokko is in a surprisingly good mood as the Vice Principal’s thinly veiled warning that she may not be a homeroom teacher after this year brings a smile to her face. She barely pays Se-yi any notice when she leaves for the park.
Meanwhile, Seol-chan is still bothered by the thought of Se-yi and Sun-woo’s meeting. He makes a fuss when he’s told that his entire schedule has been canceled since he’s a full-time student now. Frustrated, he storms out.
As for Sun-woo, he stops in his tracks when he receives an urgent call—a younger sister, perhaps? But then he realizes that he can’t call Se-yi because he doesn’t have her number and is unable to get ahold of Teacher Dokko.
Their appointed time comes and goes, and Se-yi runs into the same issue while she waits alone in the park. Her face darkens when she sees a happy father-daughter pair sitting nearby.
Seol-chan arrives at the park (ha, who wears shades at night?) and searches for Se-yi. He smiles at the sound of her guitar softly playing in the distance and tries to figure out what lame excuse will work. You’re adorable.
He’s pleased to see that Sun-woo is a no-show and halts at a distance, mesmerized by Se-yi singing on her guitar in the rain. But they’re joined by a third person and Se-yi warily notices what surely looks like an Adam watching her play.
She stops mid-song just as Seol-chan also notices the strange ajusshi. Se-yi hastily packs her things as the Adam approaches, but she isn’t quick enough and averts her eyes.
Seol-chan swoops in to the rescue just in time. With Se-yi shaking uncontrollably by his side, he lectures the man for his perverted behavior. “If you can’t control it, then go run on a treadmill!”
He pulls Se-yi away, but the ajusshi calls out to her, asking who taught her the song she just played. Seol-chan protests that it was him and drags her away from the park.
Now that they’re out of seemingly imminent danger, Se-yi turns to go home, only to be whipped around again. He demands payment for rescuing her back there (“You should at least buy me milk!”) and then lets out a sigh when she actually does. Hahaha.
He snaps Se-yi out of her musings and scoffs in amusement when she ends up with foam on her lip. Omo, are you going to reenact Secret Garden?
But Se-yi licks it off before he can clean it for her, and it sends him into a whimsical fantasy as he zooms in on her lips. The imagery startles him out of his seat. So who needs a cold shower now?
Once they’re outside, she asks if he really intends not to join them in the music evaluations. He breaks into a smile, but tells her that he doesn’t. He’s taken aback when she unexpectedly apologizes and thanks him for earlier.
A quick goodbye later, she leaves him standing there alone. Seol-chan screams after her: “I should be the one leaving first! I’m a star, a star!” Hahaha.
Se-yi receives a call from Sun-woo, who belatedly apologizes for standing her up. After they hang up, we see Sun-woo standing outside of Se-yi’s apartment. He says aloud: “You… didn’t move.”
The next day at school, Seol-chan throws his bag down in a huff after he catches Se-yi and Sun-woo exchange friendly smiles. Nana is mysteriously absent, and we see her ignore Sun-woo’s text as she walks through a nightclub.
When Seol-chan arrives at the music room, he can hardly believe his eyes at the variety of instruments among the students. Everyone breaks into their respective teams and Seol-chan takes issue with how Se-yi smiles whenever she’s around Sun-woo.
“But why doesn’t she smile when she’s around me?” he wonders. I mean, can you blame her, Mr. Grumpypants?
Seol-chan seeks solace in his van, but is always nearby whenever Se-yi and Sun-woo meet to practice. He even tries to work on his own in the studio, but it isn’t long before he asks to join them.
They agree to let him back in but Se-yi calls him out on his synthesizer software, claiming that it’s against the rules. He doesn’t miss it whenever Sun-woo says that it should be fine for today, and Se-yi immediately concurs. “You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you?”
He smirks after he fiddles with the controls, compiling various elements as he goes along. On his cue, they join in and perform a rendition of the Kpop song, “Trouble Maker.”
Sun-woo acknowledges that it was fun when they meet in the bathroom later. He tells Seol-chan that it’s nice to see him again, and Seol-chan retorts: “That’s what you think.”
Se-yi is still in the music room when the All for One members walk in. Hyo-rin’s sneers hardly affect her, even when she acts like the bratty princess she is. When Joon-hee says that all the “regular students” have to clear out because the room is reserved, Se-yi finally bursts in laughter.
She finds his statement childish and retorts, “Is there such a thing as regular students and premium students? It’s just like meat—lamb meat.” They’re flabbergasted as she continues that people are just like meat; everything turns into poop once it’s digested. Dayum, girl can hold her own.
Before the situation escalates any further, Seol-chan enters and agrees with Se-yi’s statement. Everything’s the same: “Regular meat, premium meat, and star meat.” When Joon-hee introduces himself, Seol-chan adds, “School president meat too.”
Back at the van, Seol-chan starts to lecture Se-yi for speaking so crudely but he stops short when she breaks into a smile. He blurts, “She’s smiling.”
He’s annoyed when she turns her back to him after she declines a ride. Manager Hong catches Seol-chan smile again in Se-yi’s direction as they drive past her, to which Seol-chan exclaims: “I was doing lip exercises!”
Seol-chan does, however, make a fuss when Manager Hong hints that he may soon be transferred to live at home instead of the dorms. He denies any familial issues—his parents love him!—but all may not be what it seems.
The day of the music performance evaluations arrives, and the class groans when they find out that they’ll be graded against all-perfect Joon-hee’s class. Nana is notably absent again.
Seol-chan teases Se-yi when her phone rings, adding that she call him sometime. Ha, subtle. It’s Se-yi’s mother, and he watches as Se-yi check her call history. Suddenly, she turns around, asking if he picked up any of her calls. When he admits that he did, she lashes at him: “Why’d you do that, you idiot?!”
She’s clearly upset with him and the class silently picks up their phones to document the moment. So it’s back to the van. Is this going to be your go-to from now on?
Seol-chan defends his actions, saying that he picked up because it was her mother. Se-yi barks back that it doesn’t matter and accuses him of rifling through her photos and music without her permission.
She puts him in place, yelling, “Everyone babied you, didn’t they? They did everything you wanted? There was never a person who punished you if you did something wrong, right? So you don’t have an ounce of empathy. You never learned what empathy was. Everyone had to follow your every whim, didn’t they?!”
Although Seol-chan barely gets a chance to defend himself, he does get the last word: “Stop trying to act like a better person and call your mom!”
Then to make matters worse, Seol-chan is told that the company has moved his things back home. He beelines for the company and takes out his anger on CEO Go, who hasn’t the faintest idea of where this outburst is coming from.
The evaluations begin and as expected, Joon-hee puts on a stellar piano performance as Sun-woo tirelessly tries to contact Seol-chan. During the break, Teacher Dokko grants them the last slot, and Sun-woo informs her that they’ll perform as a duo.
Outside, Teacher Dokko finally cracks when Joon-hee refuses yet again. She furiously grabs Gym Teacher Choi’s collar, who celebrates the welcome of her inner badass with a hug: “You’ve returned Dokko Soon!”
Meanwhile, Seol-chan is still teeming with anger as he sits outside the company. He rises when he receives a text from Se-yi: “Sorry.” He rushes back to school.
The second half of the evaluations is a different story as Teacher Dokko’s eyes look like they can spit fire. This time, she isn’t afraid to give low marks to every abysmal performance.
When Teacher Dokko calls their turn, Se-yi apologizes to Sun-woo over how he’ll receive a failing grade because of her. He tells her not to worry: “I’ve never failed anything in my entire life.”
As they take the stage, we intercut between them setting up and the Adam ajusshi taking out a CD entitled “Catnap,” written by none other than Se-yi’s father. We get a brief glimpse of an unidentifiable tattoo on his left index finger. He presses play at the same time Se-yi and Sun-woo begin their song.
Se-yi sings the ballad while playing her guitar as Sun-woo provides accompaniment on his cello until he joins in song. When Seol-chan finally arrives near the end of the song, his imagination takes over and pictures the two sing the duet like a tango, donned in glamorous outfits.
The class erupts in applause, snapping Seol-chan out of his reverie. Teacher Dokko takes a call from the Vice Principal to inform him: “I think I found a replacement.”
What a wonderfully delectable series that has so many different mysteries pumping through its narrative veins. There is so much to potentially unpack that although each episode tips well-past the hour mark, there is so much more to figure out. How the production (a joint effort by tvN and Mnet, for the curious) will cram it all into 12 episodes, I won’t ever really be sure.
I’m delighted to see Kang Ha-neul in another project after To the Beautiful You. Even though his character gives me a severe case of Second Lead Syndrome (like bronchitis; once you’ve had it, it never really goes away) in this series, there are depths we have yet to discover about him. Past the cold and unapproachable shell, the true enigma about him is his previous history with each of our leads with the all-encompassing question—how does he know Seol-chan and Se-yi? All we know from this side of the tunnel is that there’s bad blood between the boys, and neither is fully ready to confront whatever happened in their past.
Then there’s Sun-woo’s connection to Se-yi and if our teeny hints are any indication, the answer may be a familiar one to many a drama-watcher. But rather than the trope itself, what I’m truly interested in is its execution. And if Kang Ha-neul keeps growing his range in his character as we learn more about Sun-woo, it’s safe to say that we’ll get a satisfying result. And damn, is he already swoon-worthy.
The more we see of Se-yi, the more I like her. Her frank nature and empathy is something I adore about her, and we see her exhibit that quality on numerous occasions throughout the episode. The rooftop with Kyu-dong was particularly striking as she finds a kindred spirit in her loneliness and self-image. I can’t wait to watch how their friendship develops as they each try to find their place in this chaotic school. Not only that, I love that we’re already seeing more of her emotions shine through, and doesn’t hide that she enjoys Sun-woo’s presence with a warm smile. Of course, it will just make it that much harder down the road, but for now, her honestness (even if it gets her in trouble sometimes) is something that I respect.
At its core, Monstar is a show driven by its characters, supplemented with beautiful music. It’s a show that so many of a similar genre hoped to achieve but fell short in its broadcast slots. The bottom line: moar Monstar, moar happiness.