I Need Romance 3: Episode 11
Jealousy spurs some fiery reactions today, as Joo-yeon embarks on a new relationship, sending our love square into a confusing mix of pettiness, pride, and sudden clarity. It’s easy to be zen about it when losing the love your life in theory; it’s another thing entirely when she goes running into someone else’s arms.
EPISODE 11: “I don’t want to lose you”
Joo-yeon leaves her date with a new boyfriend and a skip in her step, and Wan runs down to wait for her in the street with his bouquet of handpicked flowers. Agh, stop smiling like that. It hurts.
He surprises her with the flowers when she rounds the corner to come home, and says it’s their hundred-day anniversary since he moved into the house. “Thank you for living with me.”
She smiles as she takes them. When he asks about dinner, she says she ate already and carefully adds, “With Kang sunbae…” And then she hesitates again before telling him about the confession.
Wan: “Without flowers, a ring, or an ‘I love you’? What did you like about that?” She says it just felt grown-up: “I’ve received flowers. I’ve received rings. I’ve been told ‘I love you.’ I’ve done it all before. It’s all fake anyway. It just passes and then it ends.”
She wonders if she’s too much of a realist now, or it’s because she’s had enough bad relationships that her expectations have vanished. Wan smiles and says lightly that it’s okay—he’ll give her all the flowers, rings, and declarations of love that she needs, acting like he’s totally fine.
But in voiceover he admits, “That was what I said, but I wasn’t okay at all. I wanted to ask: Why wasn’t it me?”
The next night she comes running home from the freezing cold after a date in the park with sunbae. Wan can’t help being annoyed at Tae-yoon’s lack of consideration, and needles that he was planning to be the bigger person and all, but he’s going to cave to his pettiness just once and ask—what on earth does she see in that guy?
She thinks about it, and recalls an earlier work conversation with Tae-yoon, when he just tosses out a “You look pretty today,” sandwiched in between dry work talk. She smiles now to think of it, and says she just likes that sort of thing.
Wan isn’t impressed, calling Tae-yoon’s moves playing hard-to-get. “Is that what you like? I can do that!” Ha, that’s so cute that you think you can.
He asks for other reasons, and she says there isn’t one, but that’s what he taught her anyway—that it’s love because there is no reason. Wan pouts, “I didn’t teach you that so you could like that guy.”
And then she adds that she also likes how uncomfortable sunbae makes her feel, which Wan taught her means she’s all aflutter with feelings. He grumps at her using everything he taught her to like someone else, and then later while they wash dishes, he tosses out a casual, “You look pretty today.” Ha.
She looks at him like he just called her an alien, and he tries to be as cool as humanly possible: “What, I was just trying it out…” And then he scurries away before dying of embarrassment. He collapses on his bed with a sigh, and decides he’s weak at love triangles because he’s never been in one before. Did you just brag in your voiceover?
The next day, Tae-yoon comes into the office after scouting a jewelry show, and surreptitiously hands Joo-yeon a pair of earrings. But when Hee-jae sees them, he makes the excuse that they’re a sample to look at for a possible sale, and ends up letting Hee-jae have them, much to Joo-yeon’s dismay. At least he texts her later and chides her for opening them in front of everyone.
Min-jung sneaks away to the bathroom to take a nap on the toilet, and sighs to Joo-yeon that she can no longer control her body. Min-jung tells her that she’s decided to keep the baby, consoled after Min-seok’s confession that he’s a good person.
Joo-yeon thinks she should consult him about the baby, but Min-jung nixes that idea right away, saying that they expressly sought each other out in the beginning because they didn’t want marriage.
Tae-yoon calls for a late-night work session at his place tonight, and Joo-yeon reads between the lines, remembering that he said the same thing when he took her to the musical. She has a momentary panic when she can’t remember what underwear she put on this morning, but then recalls it was sleepover-approved.
Her excitement only makes the reality that much worse, when she gets to his apartment… and he really does just want to work. Wah waaaaah. He realizes she was expecting a date and finds it cute that she’s mad, and pinches her cheeks to get her to smile.
They end up working over takeout food, and then Joo-yeon starts to wonder to herself if they’ve been sunbae and hoobae for too long to just declare that they’re a couple and suddenly become one. “I became nervous at the thought that maybe we could never have that feeling, like your heart might burst just from being together.”
But then he holds her hand as he drives her home, and she decides that small steps are good too. He walks her to her door and lingers there holding her hand, and she wonders if it’s finally time for a kiss.
She thinks back to a conversation at work where Min-jung talks about the excitement just before a first kiss, and why that anticipation is the best feeling. Hee-jae agrees, but then calls it the worst disappointment when it doesn’t end in a kiss.
Joo-yeon narrates that a woman in her thirties can’t be without some dating know-how, and demonstrates her surefire move: a tiny peck on the lips, then a sudden withdrawal, as if her lips are afraid to touch his, and then a childlike smile: “There is no man who stops there.”
She says that one second later, a deep, long kiss will begin. We watch all this unfold with Tae-yoon as she narrates it—the coy kiss, the smile, the coming back for seconds. But then it cuts out to her still standing there wondering if this’ll work on him. It was all in your head?
The way the scene actually goes couldn’t be farther from expectation—he lets go of her hand and says goodnight, the end. She heads inside and wonders what went wrong, thinking back to the kissing conversation where Min-jung says that a man who doesn’t kiss on the first date is just polite, a man who doesn’t kiss on the second date is sensitive, but a man who doesn’t kiss on the third date might possibly be into men.
She purposely looks at Woo-young while saying this, but he assures them that he kisses on the second date. Joo-yeon wonders what Tae-yoon’s deal is: “Even Sweet Potato started with a kiss.”
Speaking of Sweet Potato, he arrives home with a giant stuffed giraffe in tow that night, and happens to run into Tae-yoon on his way down the steps. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, Wan instinctively hides the ginormous giraffe behind his back, which is the most hilariously futile gesture ever. I’m dying.
He so clearly wants to be seen as a man, and there could not be a worse way to run into Tae-yoon right now. He tries his damnedest to speak coldly, all while hugging this giant giraffe behind his back as if it can’t be seen. I love this scene so much.
Tae-yoon chides that Joo-yeon’s tastes don’t skew that young, and Wan counters that he didn’t buy this because he’s a childish person, but because they share a memory attached to this giraffe. “It’s a giraffe with a story, this giraffe.” Hee.
Tae-yoon asks if he likes Joo-yeon, and Wan says yes right away without hesitating, adding that he likes her very much. That just makes Tae-yoon laugh, which peeves Wan even more—he said that to make him nervous, so why is he laughing?
It does the opposite of what he intended though, and Tae-yoon wonders if it doesn’t make Wan nervous to let his feelings be known to the whole world like that. He doesn’t think of Wan as a contender in the least, and rubs it in that he’s the one with the one-sided love.
Wan asks him why he’s dating, and nags him to stop sending Joo-yeon home freezing or crying. That raises Tae-yoon’s hackles and he says she must not tell him everything because there are good moments too. Why do I get the impression you’re more interested in winning this argument than in Joo-yeon as a person?
Tae-yoon suggests he can move out if he’s uncomfortable, and Wan runs out of articulate arguments, so he just declares that he’ll do what he wants in banmal like a kid, all while holding his giraffe. He stomps away and then gets crankier when he reaches the gate and thinks that this is the perfect spot for a kiss.
Inside, Joo-yeon frets about the serious lack of kisses in her life, wondering if she’s not attractive, or if he’s still hung up on Se-ryung, or if he even likes her. She sighs that she’s back in dating hell.
But then Tae-yoon texts her that next time she should close her eyes so that he has a chance to kiss her, and she beams. Hm, I can’t shake the feeling that these are excuses.
Wan comes in and presents her with the giraffe, and she lights up and sticks her hands out. He asks first whether or not it’s childish, but is appeased when she clearly likes it, and hugs her in relief.
Se-ryung is waiting outside Tae-yoon’s door when he arrives home, and he reminds her that he didn’t want to see her outside of work anymore. She knows he’s sick of her now, but says that eventually the same will happen with Joo-yeon—they’ll date, they’ll fight, they’ll make up, and things will cool.
She asks if he’s still going to go to Joo-yeon anyway, and Tae-yoon replies stoically that he will. He leaves her out in the hall, and she struggles to hold her tears back.
Woo-young walks Hee-jae home that night to see what her commute is like, and offers to start picking her up in the morning. He takes her hand as they walk, and then points out a streetlamp up ahead. He tells her he’s going to kiss her under that streetlamp, and gets closer and closer.
But once they’re actually there, she suddenly can’t and pushes him away. He wonders what happened and regrets the advance warning.
Joo-yeon prepares to give a big presentation at work, and Tae-yoon gives her a little hand-squeeze behind the podium after passing the stage to her. His boss warns him again that Joo-yeon will be nipping at his heels in no time, and tells him to be careful. He assures her that Joo-yeon won’t ever stab him in the back, and why do I get the feeling that you’re dating her to insure yourself against that very thing?
Se-ryung comes by Wan’s studio to dress his idol band, and he bugs her to pick out some manlier clothes for him too. He overhears her talking to her lawyers about when to break her contract with the home shopping channel to leave them in the biggest lurch possible, and when he asks her about it she doesn’t deny wanting to get a little payback on her way out.
She asks to get some air, so they drive to the river with the top down in the dead of winter. She wonders how Joo-yeon could like Tae-yoon over him, and Wan agrees that it’s a mystery, ha.
Wan tries to convince her not to let her feelings get involved with work, but Se-ryung says she was like this even as a kid—when she was told to share her toys, she would break them first. Why does that not surprise me?
Hee-jae and Woo-young arrive after a visit to Se-ryung’s office, bearing a stack of invitations to a party she’s throwing and the Betta fish that matches the one in Tae-yoon’s apartment.
Joo-yeon stares at it that evening, deep in thought, and Tae-yoon invites her over for a non-work date this time. They make dinner at his place and watch TV, and he slides over to put his arms around her.
He tries to get her to relax despite admitting that it’s awkward for him too, and then turns her face toward him to ask if it’s okay. “Close your eyes.” Kiss, kisses, and more kisses. Rawr. He reaches down to unbutton her blouse, but she puts a hand over his, so he stops at kisses for now.
Min-seok can’t help himself and rifles through Min-jung’s mail, among which is a letter from her doctor announcing a new mom class right on the envelope. He doesn’t have time to register what it means before Min-jung arrives and catches him, and he cops to looking through her stuff because he’s so curious about her.
He perks up when he sees her wearing the bracelet he gave her, and drags her into his apartment to talk. He says he’s stayed up nights thinking about this, and while he’s not happy about the fact that she lied about her name and her age, he likes her and doesn’t see what’s stopping them from dating.
Neither of them wants to get married, they only want to date, and they conveniently live next door to each other—what’s not to like? She still says no, so he asks if she’s hiding anything else, like a divorce or a child or a husband.
She gets defensive and insists she’s just sick of him, and warns him to stay away. It isn’t until she leaves that he remembers that envelope in her mail, and it gives him pause. She gasps when she discovers it too, praying that he didn’t see it.
Everyone goes to Se-ryung’s party, and the awkward love square gets even more awkward when they’re forced to stand around and smile in front of people. And then Se-ryung tips the precarious tightrope-walking mood when she tells Tae-yoon’s boss that he’s the reason she signed with them, outing their romance as if it’s still ongoing.
To make matters worse, one of Se-ryung’s poker buddies recognizes him and says something about their run-in the last time, and Tae-yoon storms off. He’s clearly still furious at her for everything, and he comes back out to ask what she’s doing.
Se-ryung tells him she did it so that he’d know what it feels like to be her—overtaken by rumors that grow to the point that no truth can beat it, and even the person you love starts to believe the lies over you. She challenges him to make Joo-yeon believe him now.
Wan keeps an eye on Joo-yeon at the party, and she seems perfectly fine until she locks eyes with him and he gives her this sympathetic look like he can see right through her, and she starts to waver.
Se-ryung sees her coming and uses the opportunity to ask Tae-yoon why he’s dating Joo-yeon, pointing out that there’s no way a woman so boring could make his heart race, and he’s only dating her because she’s easier to control.
Wan tells her to stop, which is when Tae-yoon sees them standing behind him. Se-ryung won’t shut up, so Wan starts to lead Joo-yeon out. Tae-yoon comes after her and grabs her wrist…
But just when you think he’s about to do one right thing and choose her, he tells her to put away her feelings because this is a work event. You ass. He orders her to think with reason rather than emotion, and you know it’s bad when Se-ryung actually smiles because he’s digging his own grave.
Wan pushes Tae-yoon’s hand away and scoffs that he can do plenty of rational thinking all on his own, and leads her out by the hand.
Once they’re out in the street, she pulls her hand away and says that Tae-yoon was right and she has to go back and be professional. Wan grabs her by the shoulders and asks where she’s going when she feels like this, and gets even more upset when she’s worried about how Tae-yoon feels.
Wan: “Don’t date him!” Finally, some honesty. She breaks free from his grasp and turns around, and he grabs her again. She flails and cries for him to let go, and this time he argues back that he’ll die before he lets go of her.
When she finally cries that she means it literally because he’s hurting her, he’s stunned and lets go. She stalks off wanting to be alone, but he trails behind her, admitting that he hates it that she’s dating Tae-yoon. “I don’t like it when you laugh in front of him!”
She agrees not to go back to the party, which is not what he’s talking about, so he swings her around again to face him: “Be with somebody who sees your worth! It’s okay if it’s not me! Just someone who thinks of you as precious! Someone who worries whether or not you’re cold! Someone who sees what you need.”
She tries to break free but he’s irrationally angry now, and when she tries to argue that people are looking at them, he says he has no room to think about that. She finally caves and has the conversation he wants to have: “Where is there a man like that?”
Is this a trick question?
Joo-yeon: “Believing all this time that there was such a person out there—it only made me unhappy. Where is there a person like that?”
Wan: “Why isn’t there a person like that? That bastard is just bad. The bad guy is just bad! He’s bad, and only bad.” But then he pauses and changes his mind. “No, that’s a lie. I just don’t want to lose you to that bastard!”
Yay for some messy truth. There’s no doubt that I love Wan for being the generous I’ll-love-you-even-if-you-stomp-on-my-heart adoring puppy, but in this episode he starts to feel a little less like an impossible fantasy and more like a real person. We all knew the pain was coming, and boy did I brace myself for it, but the cracks in his armor felt well worth the suffering. Not to mention the fact that the jealousy was entertaining on its own for purely comical reasons. Never has a toy giraffe given me so much enjoyment. I love how extreme the comparison was between the put-together, confident adult and the insecure man-child with a giraffe.
But comedy aside, Wan’s development in this episode was crucial. It’s important to show us the disparity between what he wants to be for Joo-yeon’s sake (giving, selfless, endlessly understanding) and what he really is (jealous, insecure, hurt). It makes his effort that much more endearing, because he’s the person preaching to her that she deserves this perfect guy, and then he’s struggling with trying to actually be that guy for her. It’s amazing that he gets as far as he does trying to cheer her on to follow her heart, but there’s a limit to trying to do the honorable thing, because at some point he’s fooling himself into thinking he’s above the petty common jealousy. Is it really that Tae-yoon is bad for her, or do you just love her and want her to love you back? I like that he comes around to that on his own, even if it takes a messy argument to get there.
I know that she’s not even expecting half of what Wan was describing from Tae-yoon, but I like that his argument is that she should. Tae-yoon should put her feelings first, for once, ever. But if he doesn’t, the more important thing is that SHE should—she ought to value herself and want to be treated better, and any guy who argues that is a winner in my book. It just rings true with my philosophy—you get treated the way you think you deserve to be treated in life.
And until she fixes that, she’s going to think that this is as much as she deserves from any guy, Tae-yoon included. How she doesn’t see the alternative in Wan is beyond me, but I do understand her desire not to spend her life unhappy in love because real life doesn’t match her expectations (though obviously becoming a crustacean is not the only alternative). I just hope she decides she’s worth a lot more before Wan’s heart ends up a sweet potato pancake.