Pinocchio: Episode 2
Agh, they’re so cuuuuute. Now that our backstory is in place, the second episode actually brings our leads together onscreen, and I’m happy to say that their dynamic is adorable—their bickering relationship is funny and heartfelt, and I really like both characters. It was impossible to tell from the first episode alone if the show would reel me in, but by the end of this hour, they’ve got me.
SONG OF THE DAY
Coffee Boy – “너는 깃털처럼 가벼워서” (Because You’re Light as a Feather) [Download]
EPISODE 2: “Ugly duckling”
Last-place student Dal-po wins his first round of the TV quiz show, wiping the smirk off of the first-place champion and surprising everyone in their class. As the audience claps and the cameras turn to him, he narrates in voiceover that after suffering those cruel events with his family, he vowed to never set foot in a broadcast station or exchange words with anyone even remotely associated with a network.
He says he was so resolute that he thought he’d never break his own rule. “The reason I broke that vow and am standing here now… was for a secret I wanted to protect more than that vow.”
Rewind two weeks. It’s an average morning at Grandpa’s house, as Dal-po and In-ha get ready for school. They try not to roll their eyes TOO hard when Grandpa makes Dal-po promise to look after his niece and for In-ha to listen to her uncle.
In-ha bursts into a bout of aegyo to ask Grandpa for allowance money to buy a bike of her own, but Grandpa just counters that she doesn’t need one when her uncle gives her rides every day. The silent look they exchange would say otherwise, but Dal-po snaps her mouth shut before she can tattle on him.
In-ha gets into the cart on the back of Dal-po’s bike—the same one he was too little to pull her in as kids, which is not the case anymore. They wave to Grandpa as they leave, the very picture of sweet country charm… until they’re out of sight and In-ha demands to be let out, and Dal-po complies readily.
He doesn’t even hesitate before riding off without her, and she stomps in frustration. Ha, is this what they do every morning? Dal-po does stop eventually and looks like he might turn back to pick her up, but then he spots Dad watching them from a distance, and keeps going without her.
Dad looks on as In-ha runs to make the boat to school, and she barely makes it before takeoff as always, earning another complaint from the captain about making the entire group late for school again.
She just glares at Dal-po who’s sitting on the boat leisurely, and asks why he hates her so much—what is she, some blood feud enemy of his or something? What a thing to ask. He deadpans that of course she is, and she gets even huffier, if that’s possible.
Dal-po’s quiz show opponent Chan-soo seems to have a little crush on In-ha, and when she arrives at school in a funk over her lack of a bicycle, he offers to give her an extra one from his house. He warns her that it’s old, but she’s so excited that she just clasps his hands in delight and says she’ll take it.
She’s over the moon when he brings her the bike, and when she sees Dal-po approaching and a puddle of water between them calling her name, she takes off with an evil glint in her eye. She runs right through the puddle to splash him… only he sees her coming and dodges out of the way, shielding the mud splash with her school forms that he was about to deliver. Foiled again.
In-ha looks over the form that asks what her dream job is, and when she sees that the counselor has suggested lawyer, prosecutor, and judge for her, she chooses lawyer and starts to write it down. But her friend asks how a person who can’t lie can be a lawyer, and Dal-po asks her to consider what would happen if a Pinocchio like her had to defend a murderer.
She doesn’t see what would be so hard about that, and imagines herself in a courtroom, defending serial killer Min Joon-gook (cameo by Jung Woong-in). She starts by saying that if there’s even a shred of doubt, he should be found not guilty… except he also told her he committed murder and wasn’t sorry about it. HA.
Suddenly Min Joon-gook roaaaarrrrs, and familiar music cues his outburst, as he leaps over the witness stand to attack In-ha. He strangles her neck, swearing that he’ll kill her and the bastard who gave her a lawyer’s badge too. Is it wrong that I miss Min Joon-gook a little?
In-ha shakes herself out of the waking nightmare and immediately erases “lawyer” from her page. Dal-po snarks that she’d be the kind of lawyer to get stabbed by the clients she defends, and when Chan-soo suggests she’s pretty enough to be an actress, Dal-po chimes in again to ask how she’d get through scenes where she has to play dead.
In-ha imagines herself as the heroine in a melodrama, where the hero carries her lifeless body through a field. But of course she hiccups through every single take, until the director has a total meltdown. She sighs and erases “actress” too. Chan-soo encourages her that there will be lots of future careers for her to choose from, while Dal-po tells her she’ll basically be unemployable.
Their teacher tells the class that their school will be sending a student to a TV quiz show, and they’ll all be taking a trivia test to find the contestant. After school, Chan-soo shows In-ha the bike bell he installed for her, and hems and haws before blurting out that if he goes on that quiz show, he’s going to confess that he likes her.
She’s startled and starts to answer him, but Chan-soo covers his ears and tells her he hasn’t said it yet, so she can’t answer yet. Ha, that’s adorable. He scurries away, and she’s so floored that she doesn’t notice Dal-po watching from a distance.
In-ha talks to her mother in voiceover (we don’t know if this is something she actually says to Mom or just thinks to herself), and says that she received her first confession from a boy today. But she thought it would feel different—fluttery—not strange like this.
That night, Dal-po finds her upside-down against the wall, which is her thinking pose whenever she has a problem.
Elsewhere, Hyung takes a moment’s pause along his water delivery route when he sees Dad’s wanted poster pinned up on a bulletin board. He asks what the date is today (it’s nearing five years to the date of the fire), and rips the wanted poster down.
Everyone in the class takes the trivia quiz, and Chan-soo beats In-ha by just a few points. But the real surprise is Dal-po, who decided at the last minute to break his All-Bbang streak, and scores 100. The whole class reels to find out the results, and Chan-soo is doubly deflated since he’s just lost his big confession moment.
Feeling vindictive, Chan-soo starts to spread the rumor that Dal-po cheated on his test, and even stole the original to do so. He doesn’t have to do much to fan the flames either, since the others are quick to jump to the worst conclusions about Dal-po.
He takes the scorn in stride, not caring much when they whisper about him being a cheater or a gangster or a psychopath. That is, he’s fine until one guy says he heard that Dal-po’s father was a criminal too. It strikes a nerve and Dal-po snaps.
He slams the other kid against the wall and growls at him to go ahead and say it again, and he’ll rip him to shreds. That only confirms the kids’ worst suspicions about him, and even the teacher refuses to believe Dal-po, having already decided that he’s a liar and a cheater.
He locks eyes with In-ha while the teacher scolds him out in the hall, and the minute she averts his gaze, she starts to hiccup uncontrollably. It lasts for days, and by the time Chan-soo is on the TV quiz show winning the first round to become the new champion, In-ha is still hiccupping.
The MC asks Chan-soo how it feels to win, and that’s when he points at the camera and says, “Choi In-ha, I like you a lot!” The whole class chants at her to accept his confession, but In-ha just sighs and looks over at Dal-po’s empty desk with a long face.
She hangs upside-down in her room again that night, and tells her mom (via text message) that she’s been hiccupping for days and it’s a new record. She knows what she has to do to stop, but doesn’t have the courage to do it, and wonders if anyone’s ever died from hiccups before. She decides to hell with it, and chooses survival over pride.
At school the next day, Dal-po gets called into the office to write an apology for cheating, and he asks why he should apologize for a thing he didn’t do when they’re just rumors. The teacher tells him to prove the rumors false then, and Dal-po flashes back to being surrounded by reporters demanding the same, and Hyung’s response then: “Why do I have to be the one to prove it?”
Dal-po repeats the words now, and the teacher responds exactly as the reporters did: “Because you’re the subject of the rumors.” Dal-po looks around the room and sees a female teacher standing nearby, and tells them he’s going to walk out of here and spread the rumor that he saw the two of them having an affair.
The teacher starts to stammer, and Dal-po tells him to go ahead and prove the rumor false. Teacher immediately asks defensively why he should be the one to prove it, and Dal-po makes his point beautifully: “Because you’re the subject of the rumor.” He slides the letter of apology over and tells him to write one too, and walks out. Of course, once outside, Dal-po starts to worry that he went overboard and yells in frustration.
Meanwhile, In-ha has been working up the nerve to do “it,” whatever it is that’ll stop her incessant hiccupping. Dal-po arrives in the hallway outside their classroom just in time to see her fill her cheeks with water, and spray it all over Chan-soo’s congratulatory cake.
The whole class comes to a dead stop, and In-ha beams to discover that her hiccups have stopped. She tells Chan-soo that she’s sorry but she can’t accept his confession, and tells all the kids to apologize to Dal-po for accusing him when all they have to go on is a rumor. Aw, were you hiccupping the whole time because you didn’t jump to his defense? That’s so cute.
Chan-soo tells her to prove it, so she counters that if she does, he has to split his quiz show winnings in half with Dal-po. Chan-soo agrees, but wants to add a condition if she can’t prove it. He searches for an idea, and comes up with the thing that Dal-po always says: “If I’m right, I get to slap you ten times.” (It’s the thing Dad always used to say, and the thing Dal-po in turn says to Chan-soo on the quiz show.)
Dal-po snarls and In-ha starts to get flustered, but before he can intervene, she declares that the bet is on. Chan-soo warns her that he’s not going to play nice just because she’s a girl, and when he throws a basketball past her, she lies that she’s not scared at all, and hiccups to a round of laughter from her classmates.
She stalks off, mortified, and Dal-po finds her on the stairs wondering to herself if she’ll really get slapped. She decides she’ll just take the hits then, and Dal-po watches her with a smile, not letting his presence known.
After school, Dal-po sees Chan-soo give In-ha’s bike a petty kick, and notices the creaky old bike’s brakes fall apart. He stops In-ha on her way out, but she launches into a defensive explanation about how she didn’t defend him because she wanted to—she had to do it to stop her hiccups.
She doesn’t let him get a word in edgewise, and tells him not to misunderstand, and she really really had no other choice. He asks what he would misunderstand about the situation, and she just says, “Do I have to say it out loud?”
He gives up and just sends her on her way, figuring that if she has eyeballs, she’ll see that her brakes are broken. Naturally, she gets on the bike and rides away without a second thought, and Dal-po is left to run after her.
It’s not until she’s riding down the road at a fairly high speed that she discovers her brakes are out, and she starts to panic. Dal-po rides as fast as he can to chase her down, and manages to cut her off before a bridge and yanks her off the bike before it goes crashing down into the ravine.
He breaks her fall, and In-ha yelps to see that her ankle is bleeding, only to turn around and realize that he’s bleeding from his head, and unconscious too. She shakes him repeatedly but he doesn’t wake up, and by the time he stirs awake, he’s riding in an ambulance with a bandage on his head.
He opens his eyes to see In-ha crying, asking the paramedic if her uncle is going to die. The paramedic says wryly that it’s really just a minor scratch, but she won’t be consoled, and wails that it’s likely brain damage: “He can’t become an idiot! He’s already the outsider—if he becomes a dummy too, he’ll be too pitiful!” LOL, her melodramatics are hysterical.
He finally mutters at her to be quiet, and she asks who she is and how many fingers she’s holding up. When he ignores her, she decides he has amnesia, and he finally has to squeeze her lips shut so he can apologize to the paramedic and ask to be let out.
They walk home in silence, and Dal-po finally notices In-ha hobbling behind him because of her ankle. He turns around and stoops down to offer a piggyback ride, and carries her the rest of the way.
On the boat ride back to their island, Dal-po takes his head bandage off because he doesn’t want to scare Grandpa, and tells In-ha to only tell Dad that she hurt her ankle riding her bike, and nothing more.
He asks her for a bandaid for his forehead, and when she helps him put it on, he tries not to look at her. In-ha confirms that Dal-po’s test score was really due to his skill, and realizes that it means he’s been playing dumb all this time. She asks why, and he says that her real uncle was dumb.
She can’t believe he pretended to be stupid just to keep Grandpa from collapsing, and then wonders why now—what made him break the act? He doesn’t answer, but tells her not to worry about getting slapped, because there’s no way that’s happening. She steals a little glance at him and smiles.
The next day, Dal-po kneels before his piggybank to say that regrettably it’s her lot in life to have her stomach split by the master who feeds her, and winces before taking a knife to cut it open. Hee.
He tells Dad that he’s spending the night at a friend’s house tonight, and In-ha wonders what he’s up to since he doesn’t have any friends. She snoops in his room and doesn’t find anything amiss (ha, his report card really is all zeroes), until she finds one academic book among the stash of comics that catches her eye.
She wonders what he’s doing reading something like this, and goes to the library where he borrowed it. She flips through book after book in the library, only to find that Dal-po has checked out every single one of them at one point or another.
She starts to collect the library cards (I’m cringing for the librarian who has to replace those), amazed that he’s read every volume in there. She begins the laborious process of photocopying all the library cards and making a poster to prove that Dal-po earned his perfect score legitimately.
Dal-po, meanwhile, has gone to Seoul—to broadcast station YGN, where he takes the trivia test to try out for the TV quiz show. We already know he gets chosen to be Chan-soo’s challenger, and he leads their speed-quiz round. All the kids in their class are amazed, and even In-ha’s dad sees the program on TV while shopping at the market.
It comes time for the final question, where either of the boys could win. Chan-soo leaps to answer first but only knows one of a four-part answer, and when Dal-po takes his turn, he purposely names the other three and pretends not to know the last. Everyone watching can tell that he’s doing it to mess with Chan-soo, who has no choice but to get the question right and win, but feel defeated all the same.
Everyone in the class is quick to jump ship and believe in Dal-po now, and In-ha looks around at her classmates with a smile, as it sinks in that Dal-po found the best way to prove the rumors false after all, and to save her from getting slapped.
She beams and declares it the coolest thing ever, and when her friend asks if she’s talking about Dal-po, she clarifies that she means the power of broadcast TV—in one fell swoop, Dal-po proved to anyone watching what the truth really was. Uh-oh, I’m pretty sure this is the last thing Dal-po wanted to have come out of this. She takes out her form and fills in the future career goal in ink, declaring that she’ll never ever change her mind about this one.
Dad calls Grandpa to make sure that he didn’t watch TV today, only now realizing why Dal-po had asked him to keep Grandpa busy that day. But what they don’t know is that Grandpa has discovered In-ha’s poster detailing why Dal-po is smart and earned that perfect score all on his own merit. Oh no. Gramps can’t die too! Don’t do it, Show.
The PDs of the quiz show program complete the final paperwork with Dal-po and Chan-soo, and Dal-po doesn’t seem to recognize reporter Gyo-dong, who’s now a PD. Gyo-dong asks why Dal-po threw the match when he could’ve won, and Dal-po tries to play dumb but Gyo-dong tells him that broadcast television isn’t some joke.
Dal-po holds the elevator door open long enough to answer, and his tone turns dark as he says that he doesn’t consider it a joke: “Broadcast television is the thing that can kill a person with just one word. So how could I dare think of it as a joke?”
He says he didn’t answer the last question because if he had, it would mean he has to step foot in this station again—a place where people arm themselves with microphones and cameras and repeat rumors based on hunches. He screams that it’s disgusting to be breathing the same air as those people, and that’s why he’d rather die than have to return to this place. He lets go of the door and the elevator heads down without him.
Dal-po’s outburst leaves Gyo-dong in a daze, and his thoughts naturally drift back to that cliff on the day they discovered Mom’s suicide note and Little Dal-po’s shoe. Hyung had railed at them, blaming every last one of the reporters: “You killed them! You killed my brother and my mother!” Chan-soo starts to apologize for Dal-po, but Gyo-dong says he’s right.
In-ha gasps when she comes home to find her Dal-po Is a Smartypants poster laid out on her desk, and hurries to check on Grandpa. He seems totally fine though, and accepts her lie that Dal-po is coming home from his friend’s house tonight, even though she has to suppress her hiccups. Grandpa says it looks like rain, and worries that Dal-po didn’t take an umbrella.
The bus ride home from Seoul is an awkward one for the boys, and finally Dal-po tells Chan-soo to say what’s on his mind instead of stealing glances like a boy with a crush. Chan-soo says he’ll just ask him three things then: Did he pretend to be stupid all this time? Yes. Why did he break his All-Bbang streak all of a sudden? To go on the quiz show.
Chan-soo doesn’t get it, and asks if he really hates going to the station that much. Dal-po confirms that he does. So when Chan-soo asks why he had to do the quiz show then, Dal-po says he already asked his three questions and doesn’t answer.
The clouds roll in as Grandpa predicted, and In-ha sees Dal-po’s umbrella still hanging on its hook. She shakes the idea out of her head and says that he deserves to be rained on, only to hiccup. I love that she can’t even lie to herself with this condition.
Dal-po gets to the bus stop in the pouring rain, wondering if he’ll freeze to death trying to get home. But then when the cars and buses clear out, he sees In-ha asleep, waiting for him. A smile creeps across his face, and we go back to the two weeks when all of this began…
When Chan-soo first offered his bike and In-ha held his hands in gratitude, Dal-po bristled, but pretended to be asleep. And then he overheard Chan-soo’s not-a-confession, and when it came time to take the test, he couldn’t help himself.
He thinks back to In-ha’s question on the boat: Why did he show his brains now, all of a sudden? Back in the present, he says it out loud though no one is around to hear it: “Because I like you.” Awwww.
In-ha wakes up and waves at him, and comes running out into the rain, only to find her umbrella broken. He chuckles and disappears, then suddenly reappears with two giant traffic cones that he sticks on her head.
He takes the other one and they wear them as hats, which is pretty impractical but so cute. She tells him not to misunderstand, because Grandpa forced her to come. He points out that she’s hiccupping, and she lies again that it’s because she’s cold.
She stops to ask what it is he meant to say, back on the quiz show when he addressed her directly but got cut off. He searches for something to say, and comes up with: “If I win, don’t get off my bike from now on.” She wonders what he means by that: “You’re not… possibly…”
They stand there in the rain staring at each other, and Dal-po narrates: “When I look back on it now, that’s the moment I should’ve left. It was a feeling I shouldn’t have kept in my heart, and a person I shouldn’t have met.” An insert to the form on In-ha’s desk reveals what she wrote down as her dream job: “Broadcast reporter. Reason: Because I can’t tell a lie.”
Back in the city, we see Hyung skulking outside their ex-neighbor’s house—the man with Pinocchio syndrome who reported that he saw Dad after the fire. He narrates addressing their father, that today the statute of limitations on his case runs out.
He hates the people who did this to them, but even if it were to make everything they said about him true, he’d prefer that because it would mean Dad were alive and could come back to him. He clutches Dad’s wanted poster in the rain and cries, “I miss you, Father.”
And now, five years after the fire, the rain washes away a mound of dirt to reveal the skeletal remains of one last firefighter. (I don’t know what Dad’s doing all the way out here when he was clearly at the center of the blast, but the point is that he died that day, without a doubt.)
Dal-po (voiceover): “Before those feelings grew bigger, when I could still turn things around, I should have left.”
Back at the bus station, when In-ha hesitates, Dal-po asks if she’s jumping to conclusions of her own. He says in any case, he didn’t win so she can just keep not riding his bicycle, and tells her not to misunderstand. She gets all huffy and insists she did nothing of the kind! *hiccup*
She hides in her cone out of embarrassment, and he just smiles as he watches her flail about. He narrates: “I thought that this thumping in my heart would quiet after time, and that once it did, I could leave. But that was childish misconception, and an excuse to linger by her side.”
Lee Jong-seok is never better than when he’s working with this production team, and I’m so happy to erase Dr. Whozit from my memory. The downside is that when he’s doing his voiceovers, I hear Park Su-ha (his I Hear Your Voice character), and that’s a connection that’s hard to shake. It’s a positive association, but it’s also very familiar, and I think the writer is going to have to stretch a little to differentiate Dal-po. I don’t find his character to be confusingly similar, but when he’s narrating, there’s something inherently Su-ha-esque about the internal monologue. Maybe it’s just a thing that’ll fade with time?
The high school story is where I’m feeling the first sense of attachment to the characters, and I’m loving In-ha’s begrudging sense of honor. I find it cute that she blames her Pinocchio syndrome for forcing her to stand up for Dal-po when he’s been wronged, when really, it’s her internal barometer of right and wrong that determines whether or not she hiccups. Because it’s not a condition that relies on absolutes—if she believes a thing down to her bones, it is truth, and if she doesn’t, it’s a lie. So the fact that she withstands ridicule by her classmates to defend Dal-po is a sign of her good character in two ways—that she finds it wrong in the first place, and that she then bravely speaks up for what she believes in. While I agree that she’d probably end up stabbed by a client, being a public defender might not be such a terrible career choice for her after all.
The one thing that made me look forward to their young adult years after high school was Dal-po’s scene with former reporter Gyo-dong. We all suspected that Gyo-dong would be our principled reporter based on his trajectory in the first episode, but I’m glad to know it’s true. He wasn’t very different from Cha-ok five years ago, when he was arguing for the same things that she was, and only had a more principled boss to stop him. But what’s important is how that event with Dal-po’s family changed him, and what he learned about his profession and the power of his voice. I’m curious to learn why he’s the PD of a quiz show now instead of a news reporter, and overall the Dal-po/Gyo-dong matchup is the one thing that doesn’t make me sad about leaving the high school years eventually. Well that and the possibility of Dal-po reuniting with Hyung, but I feel like they’re going to tease that for close to an eternity.
What got me about the central romance was how their feelings grew out of a genuine bond, because no matter how much they pretend outwardly to hate each other, they’re family and they look out for each other. I can’t believe Dal-po got such horrific grades all this time just to keep Grandpa in good health, but then it’s just as cute that after all that, he can’t let it go when the other kid might win In-ha’s heart. I do want to see him be more conflicted about his feelings, but I’m sure that angst is well on its way. For now their mutual feelings (and inability to confess, of course) is enough to get me onboard, especially when he looks at her like she’s the cutest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.
- Pinocchio: Episode 1
- Jung Woong-in reprises serial killer role in Pinocchio cameo
- Pinocchio’s fluffy fantasy posters
- Pinocchio teases small-town high school romance
- Who wants to be a Pinocchio
- First script read for Pinocchio’s newbie news reporters
- Newsroom drama Pinocchio secures rookie reporter cast
- Park Shin-hye headlines Pinocchio as reporter who can’t lie
- Pinocchio courts Lee Yubi and Kim Young-kwang to play reporters
- Lee Jong-seok and Park Shin-hye courted for Pinocchio
- I Hear Your Voice writer and PD reunite for fall drama