Trot Lovers: Episode 12
Joon-hyun bumbles his way through his amnesia as he continually has to call into question the truth per Soo-in versus what everyone else is telling him. But both his heart and his head gradually lead him away from Soo-in and towards Chun-hee, and there’s a chance next week all will be remembered. For now, we’re left with one question: Will this drama choose the Hans Christian Andersen ending or the Disney ending of “The Little Mermaid”?
EPISODE 12 RECAP
After picking up the specially made necklace from the jewelers, Joon-hyun sits in his fancy-pants apartment, wondering at the meaning of “MJ.” Tae-song arrives to deliver the suitcase that Joon-hyun left at his officetel, and then stutters out an awkward explanation once he remembers that he’s not supposed to admit that Joon-hyun had been living with him.
As Joon-hyun unpacks (with a confused glance at the jacket Chun-hee gave him after her photoshoot, aw), he finds the dating contract, which he takes as proof that Soo-in must be MJ. He moodily reads over it at the Shine Star offices as he waits for her, and when she enters the room, he hastily shoves it into a drawer.
Handing over a piece of her favorite cake, he leans in, letting her know that he did something worthy of a compliment. According to the dating contract, he’s expecting to get his pat on the head, but instead the confused Soo-in gives him a peck on the cheek. That’s not the reaction he was expecting, and he attempts to demonstrate the head-pat only to have her recoil because she doesn’t like anyone touching her hair.
He’s thrown by her reaction, but tries to shrug it off as he asks her if he called her by a nickname or by any initials. Soo-in still doesn’t understand what he’s referring to, and as he leaves for a meeting with his promotional team, he wonders to himself if he cheated on Soo-in, since it seems like she may not be MJ.
But Soo-in quickly discovers the dating contract that was hidden away, and quickly realizes what he was referring to — as well as who MJ must be, recalling how Joon-hyun had referred to Chun-hee as that “Medal Meddler” (literally “Medal Jinsangnyeo”). Panicked that their cover story is blown and that his memory will return when he finds out who MJ really is, she rushes to tell her mother. But Yang Joo-hee’s got a plan. Of course she does.
She puts her plan into motion the next day as the three of them are having lunch together. Using Soo-in’s time in Los Angeles as an excuse, Yang Joo-hee casually lies that Soo-in’s English name was “Mary Jane,” and everyone in America used to call her MJ. Both Soo-in and Joon-hyun are surprised to learn this so-called “fact,” but Joon-hyun is willing to accept it as the explanation of the mysterious MJ.
But Yang Joo-hee drops the real bomb: marriage. She calmly asserts that if Joon-hyun hadn’t had his accident, he and Soo-in would have been married by now, but since he seems fine now, they should have the engagement ceremony soon. After all, they had chosen the wedding date before his accident — surely he hasn’t forgotten that?
Soo-in confronts her mother in the privacy of the restroom, demanding to know if she’s gone crazy. Her mother refuses to back down, pointing out that if they make Joon-hyun part of their family, he can’t do anything about what happened even if his memory returns. Being coerced into marriage with the person who caused him to lose his memory doesn’t exactly seem like a fool-proof plan, but Soo-in accepts it as the only chance for her survival, and returns to the table with plans for their engagement.
She manages to overcome some of his doubt by pretending she knows all about the dating contract. But even though Joon-hyun agrees with her, his uncomfortable expression makes it clear that something isn’t settling right with him.
As Joon-hyun drinks alone at the bar, he calls Tae-song, asking if he was dating anyone other than Soo-in. That sets Tae-song to stuttering, as he wonders why Joon-hyun is suddenly asking such questions, and Joon-hyun sighs that he knows it’s strange. Dismissing Tae-song’s offer to pick him up, a very drunk Joon-hyun takes a taxi home instead.
Except he’s given the address to Chun-hee’s house, and Joon-hyun staggers up the stairs and automatically lets himself in, happily sprawling out in the room that used to be his. Not too long after, Byul and Chun-hee return home. Byul sees his shoes by the door and is excited to know that Ahjussi has returned. They hurry to the room, only to find Joon-hyun passed out and reeking of alcohol.
Chun-hee convinces Byul to let him sleep, and she tenderly tucks him into bed, wondering if his memory has returned. As he peacefully sleeps, she sits outside his room, quietly singing “I Only Know Love.”
In the morning, a not-fully-awake Joon-hyun stumbles into the kitchen where he pours himself some water (into “his” cup!). Chun-hee gingerly approaches him as he squints at her in his hungover state. For a moment, it seems as though he may be remembering her — until he drops his cup and staggers back, asking if she kidnapped him.
The flash of hope on Chun-hee’s face is replaced with weary resignation as she informs him that he came to her house on his own accord. Demanding she stay two meters from him, he calls Tae-song to come fetch him, and is surprised that Tae-song automatically knows where Chun-hee’s house is.
Joon-hyun warily watches Chun-hee make breakfast (hangover soup, which she insists is for her, not for him, although he’s definitely the only one hungover). When she reaches up towards the broken cabinet, that triggers a latent memory as Joon-hyun springs forward, exclaiming that it’s dangerous.
He reaches up an arm to keep the cabinet from falling, spinning Chun-hee around to face him. The Disney hero-music swells and Joon-hyun wonders if they’ve been in a similar situation before. But Chun-hee snarks that it wasn’t with him.
They get to relive their moment of broken-cabinet closeness soon enough, though, when they are crowded onto the Shine Star elevator. As Chun-hee exits the elevator, her hair clip falls off. Joon-hyun stops to pick it up — it’s the one he bought her. She snatches it out his hands, and when he teases her for holding onto it so tightly, asking if it’s something her boyfriend bought for her, she says it was.
He watches her walk away and scoffs to himself, assuming Geon-woo is her boyfriend. Later, as Tae-song drives him around, Joon-hyun wonders why his heart beats faster when he’s around Chun-hee, even though he doesn’t want to see her. He also wonders why he’d write a song about Soo-in where he’d say her eyes and nose weren’t pretty. Tae-song tries to dismiss his concerns, but Joon-hyun can’t shake the fact his heart hurts when he hears the song that was supposedly written for Soo-in.
Joon-hyun runs into Hyo-yeol, and grabs his arm in delight, wondering how long it’s been, and tries to counsel him like a sunbae. Hyo-yeol is having none of it, though, using informal speech to remind Joon-hyun that even if he’s popular now, his scandal dropped him to the bottom and he recently was nothing more than Chun-hee’s manager.
This is news to Joon-hyun and he confronts Chun-hee outside her house, demanding to know what the heck made him become her manager. She tells him that it was all President’s Jo fault, but refuses to tell him why. But he assumes President Jo is on vacation, until he catches him lurking in the bushes, picking lettuce from the garden. Déjà vu!
President Jo fills him on the details regarding the deal he made with Joon-hyun that if Chun-hee ranked number one on the charts, he’d produce Joon-hyun’s new album. Joon-hyun thinks the story is so absurd that he must be on a hidden camera show. Or, possibly… is Chun-hee President Jo’s long-lost daughter? But President Jo informs him that she’s the daughter of someone he’s indebted to (so thank goodness that’s one trope we’ll get to skip).
Byul teaches Chun-hee how to play the “connecting the story” game, where someone starts a story and the next person has to speak the next line, continuing the story. The story the two create is basically their own story of waiting for their father to return home, and Byul even adds the wish that their mother would come home, too. But not just their mother — Ahjussi, too. Chun-hee tucks her sister into bed, smiling to herself at the “happily ever after” ending her sister envisions.
At Coach Bang’s restaurant, Tae-song and Chul-man square off in a machismo contest where their faces appear less intimidating and more like they’ve lost control of their motor skills. They both leap up to help serve (themselves, ha!), but Chul-man snatches the tray of soup away when Coach Bang points out that Tae-song’s “girlfriend” has arrived.
Distressed at having lost his chance, he distractedly tells Pil-nyeo that instead of vacation, he’s instead going to Shine Star’s overnight team-building event.
Joon-hyun has no plans to attend, dismissing it as tacky and pointless. That’s the response Tae-song assumed he’d give, but Tae-song is all set to go because he’s sharing secretary duties with Chun-hee. As soon as Joon-hyun hears that Chun-hee will be there, he suddenly changes his mind, declaring that the members of Shine Star should spend time with the “god of music.”
There’s one catch: because Tae-song didn’t think Joon-hyun would go, he only reserved one VIP room. Joon-hyun tries to claim it for himself because he’s a star, but Geon-woo reminds him that he’s the president of the company. Joon-hyun follows him (and they have a tug-of-war to see who can get through the doorway with their suitcases first), insisting that he can’t sleep anywhere that isn’t a VIP room.
Geon-woo knows better, and says that Joon-hyun is capable of sleeping wherever — but laughs to himself when he remembers that Joon-hyun has no memory of sharing a house with Chun-hee. Nevertheless, Joon-hyun claims a bed, but is beaten out by the chance to use the shower first as Geon-woo rushes past and locks him out of the bathroom (and Joon-hyun gets his petty revenge by shutting off the lights, ha).
Chun-hee and Soo-in share a room, which Soo-in says is because she was the only one who was willing to share with Chun-hee. Tae-song is happy to be in his own room as he rolls around in the bed, until a knock on the balcony door gets his attention: It’s Pil-nyeo!
That night, the Shine Star family sit around the fire with their dinner and glasses of wine, cheering for a toast from their president. Instead, Joon-hyun pulls out his guitar and sings his MJ song, to the delight of everyone except Chun-hee. And Geon-woo, who notes Chun-hee’s discomfort. And possibly Soo-in, who knows that song isn’t for her, despite everyone assuming it is.
Director Wang discovers Pil-nyeo is there as well, and he reminds her that she was kicked out of the company. She points out that she only got kicked out because she did what he told her to do, and he threatens her to keep quiet or things will get worse for her. Their exchange is overheard by Tae-song, and just as Pil-nyeo is all packed up and ready to go because she doesn’t want to see Director Wang, Tae-song arrives with a bag of alcohol and snacks. Aw, what a perfect guy.
Geon-woo and Chun-hee are the only ones left around the fire pit, and she teaches him how to play the story-connecting game. In the middle of the story (which is based on “The Little Mermaid”), Soo-in and Joon-hyun arrive, seeking shelter from the rain. Joon-hyun, unbidden, joins in on the game, and soon their story takes on more meaning as their personal stories are wrapped up in their version of “The Little Mermaid” — which Chun-hee keeps more true to the original Hans Christian Andersen version as she says the mermaid (that is, herself) turns into bubbles and disappears after the prince (Joon-hyun) falls in love with another princess (Soo-in) after he forgot about the mermaid.
But Joon-hyun insists that’s now how the story ends, because he saw the movie! Ha. Geon-woo gives him a hearty forehead flick because Joon-hyun couldn’t finish the story, and ends it his own way: The other prince (Geon-woo) wouldn’t let the mermaid become bubbles. “The End.”
Tae-song and Pil-nyeo are sloppy drunk, and both waver between laughing and weeping as they curse out Director Wang for telling her that she would never make it as a singer. He reminds her that she’s the “ballad goddess” and she reminds him he’s the “trot god,” before suddenly attacking him with drunken kisses.
Joon-hyun tries to fall asleep by counting sheep. But just outside his window, Chun-hee sings “With You” over the phone to Byul as a goodnight lullaby, which also lulls Joon-hyun into a happy, peaceful slumber. He once again dreams about the mysterious woman, but this time he can see her face: It’s Chun-hee.
In the morning, he stops by Soo-in’s room — but he’s more curious about the whereabouts of Chun-hee. Soo-in says she didn’t see her all night, and at the sight of her walking with Geon-woo, Soo-in implies that the rumors about Chun-hee’s tangled-up romantic relationships must be true. Joon-hyun spots her hair clip on the table, and remembering that her boyfriend bought it for her, he chucks it as far away as he can.
When Geon-woo and Chun-hee return to the lodge, Joon-hyun demands to know where they’ve been all this time. In his lighthearted teasing way, Geon-woo tells him he was out enjoying a stroll with Chun-hee, and the reason he wasn’t in the room was because he couldn’t sleep due to Joon-hyun’s snoring. Pffft.
A bleary-eyed Tae-song wakes up and realizes that between his state of undress and the woman in his bed, he and Pil-nyeo must have had a little too much fun last night. Pil-nyeo wakes up just as Tae-song is hurrying to get dressed (OMG is he wearing 10,000 won print boxer shorts?!), and he tries to tell her nothing happened between them. But she seductively sticks her leg out from under the blankets and tells him him differently. HA!
As everyone boards the ferry to return to Seoul, Chun-hee discovers her hairpin is missing. She confronts Joon-hyun about throwing it away, asking if he knows how precious it is to her. He assumes it’s precious because Geon-woo gave it to her, dismissing it as just a cheap pin. She leaves the ferry to go find it and he hurries after her.
After the ferry departs, Geon-woo discovers that Chun-hee is no longer onboard, and thanks to Tae-song, realizes that Joon-hyun is with her. They’re both back at the lodge, searching through the grass to find her pin, but it’s nowhere to be found.
Joon-hyun demonstrates how he threw it, and they realize it must be lost in the woods. They find it hanging from a tree branch, and Joon-hyun lifts her up to get it — which she finally does. And then they topple to the ground, with him landing protectively on top of her.
Both are definitely aware of how close they are, but Chun-hee quickly scrambles away, more delighted to have her hairpin back. Thanks to her beaming smile and the happy way she pats his head, Joon-hyun is reminded more and more of the woman of his dreams.
They learn that the next ferry won’t depart for another three hours, so to kill time Joon-hyun begs her to buy him some food. She finds a cute couple of kids selling some fresh seafood (and fans of Golden Rainbow might recognize as them as the same kids from that drama). They’re both tired and ready to go home, but they need to sell everything first.
Chun-hee quickly leaps up to volunteer her services, since she knows the power of trot music in the marketplace. As she sings Lee Mija’s “Island Village Teacher,” she attracts enough of a crowd to sell the children’s seafood. Using the styrofoam cooler lid as a drum, Joon-hyun stares at her in gobsmacked wonder. Perhaps he’s recalling a similar experience when they were trying to earn enough Shine Star balls to be admitted into the company?
With all the seafood sold, Chun-hee and Joon-hyun happily wave goodbye to the kids. The couple settles in to wait for the ferry to arrive, and Chun-hee grumbles that her hairpin no longer stays clipped since he threw it into the woods. He affixes it to her hair for her, and the two share an awkward (yet charged!) moment of being aware of how close their faces are, until Chun-hee pulls back.
Regaining his composure, Joon-hyun asks about “The Little Mermaid” — does it really end with her turning into bubbles? Chun-hee asks him what else can the mermaid do if the prince doesn’t remember. Besides, how would he like to to end?
With a kiss, apparently, and Joon-hyun leans in. But the arrival of the ferry interrupts their intimate moment, and as they hurry to stand up, Chun-hee loses her footing, falling into Joon-hyun’s arms as he steadies her. But he refuses to let her go, telling her that he remembers how the story ends: “As soon as the mermaid turned into bubbles, the prince’s memory returned.”
At just that moment, Geon-woo and Soo-in arrive and see the two in each other’s arms.
So… his memory has returned, yes? I suppose we have to wait until next week to see if it’s official, but I’m really hoping this means the end of the amnesia. Which also means that maybe it will get a little more exciting as Soo-in will now have to face up to her actions, because I don’t know how Mommy Dearest is going to be able to bail her out of this, now that (I’m assuming) Joon-hyun no longer has amnesia.
All in all, this episode was pretty lackluster for me. Perhaps it was because I was still bummed that, yes, the writers did choose to go the amnesia route. But it also just felt flat. I think it mostly had to do with Chun-hee — because she had to hide her feelings for most of the episode, I really missed the energy and joie de vivre that Eun-ji normally brings to each episode. I didn’t really find myself interested until the very end, when she got to do what she does best: sing trot to make others happy, and make Joon-hyun own up to his idiotic mistakes. (Throwing that hairpin was a ridiculously petty thing for him to do, even at his most petty.)
However, I did really enjoy the Tae-song/Pil-nyeo side plot, especially since we got a glimmer that he might actually care about her. Not to mention that I keep rooting for her to overcome her difficulties and continue to be awesome. Or at least get revenge on Director Wang.
I was disappointed that Geon-woo didn’t get to do more than look pretty and be a convenient plot device. I thought he would at least be more than just cheerful fodder to make Joon-hyun jealous — I thought he’d start to feel like a serious contender for Chun-hee’s affections, and not just settling into the bland second-lead. That said, his moments with Joon-hyun were some of the highlights for me, and I would like them to be roomies for more than just one night, please.
Overall, I just felt disconnected from our characters. They’ve begun to feel more like disjointed caricatures and less like people I truly care about. I can handle absurd plot-lines provided the characters are compelling, and for this episode, they just weren’t compelling enough. Everything that made me fall in love with this little drama at the beginning was washed out with that convenient “reset” button of amnesia, and I’m trying to convince myself that these characters are worth my time and attention. I think a part of me is afraid I’ll fall in love with them again, and then get them wrenched away from me at the last second with some ridiculous drama trope.
I mean, I was totally side-eyeing the use of “The Little Mermaid” (a story that I adore, especially the original non-Disney-fied version) because the use of children’s storybooks as a mirroring plot device has been done to death. Not to mention it feels rather late in the game to be introduced as an underlying theme. While I don’t necessarily require all my dramas to be original, I at least like to feel as though the writers are truly trying, and not just slapping on anything that remotely seems like a good idea because it worked in a previous drama. (Which is also why I couldn’t get enthused at the cute little Golden Rainbow crossover, because instead of being charmed by a couple of cameos, I was more inclined to believe the writers just couldn’t come up with anything new.)
Even so, I haven’t totally given up on this drama; not yet. I still have hope that it will return to the cute and fun that it does so well, although (like LollyPip) I have decidedly lowered my expectations for the last couple of episodes. With four episodes left, and with the amount of plot the writers can normally can cram into a week, anything could still happen (although if Chun-hee’s mother turns out be still be alive — or a mermaid — I’ll begin to wonder).
But onward we charge, with hopes for a more coherent plot and, as always, lots more cute.
- Trot Lovers: Episode 11
- Kolorful Palette: Second first kiss [Trot Lovers]
- Trot Lovers: Episode 10
- Trot Lovers: Episode 9
- Trot Lovers: Episode 8
- Trot Lovers: Episode 7
- Trot Lovers: Episode 6
- Trot Lovers: Episode 5
- Kolorful Palette: Loving Trot Lovers
- Trot Lovers: Episode 4
- Trot Lovers: Episode 3
- Trot Lovers: Episode 2
- Trot Lovers: Episode 1