Entertainer: Episode 4
Ha-neul sinks into a depression, ready to abandon his dream if it will protect those he cares about. But they don’t necessarily want to be protected, not if it means watching Ha-neul give up the thing he lives for. Seok-ho decides to take action and get to the bottom of Ha-neul’s problem, but he may not be ready for the secrets he unearths.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Ha-neul decides that he doesn’t want to endanger his new friends with his past and quits the band, leaving Seok-ho a Nirvana CD and a familiar box of caramels. These clues tell Seok-ho exactly who this kid is — the younger brother of Sung-hyun, a young musician he used to know.
He visits Sung-hyun’s final resting place, tears streaming down his face. Ha-neul also cries as he takes the train back to Seoul, leaving his musical dreams behind.
Both of them think of Sung-hyun, who’d dreamed of being in his own band. He’d indulgently promised his little brother Ha-neul that he could be in the band too, and his friend Seok-ho volunteered to be their producer. Now Sung-hyun is gone, and Seok-ho reels at the knowledge that the Ha-neul he knows now is the same little boy he used to treat like his own brother.
He heads back to Busan and calls Geu-rin to meet him at the station. He tells her that Ha-neul has decided never to sing again, though they both know that singing is the only thing that makes him happy. With a faraway look in his eye, Seok-ho says that Ha-neul always hides his own feelings to protect others.
Seok-ho is here to learn more about Ha-neul, and by extension Geu-rin, his “noona” whom he now realizes must not be actually related to Ha-neul. They agree to meet later when they have more time to talk, but first Geu-rin wants to talk to Ha-neul about quitting the band.
Ha-neul just says that he decided being in the band wasn’t fun, but after all of his angst about doing it in the first place, Geu-rin doesn’t believe that for a second. She tells Ha-neul that she’s planning to be his manager, but he says that he’s already applied to shipbuilding school. Well, yuck.
He says he can still sing as a hobby, but Geu-rin’s heard him sing, and argues that it’s a waste. She tells him to apply to university in Seoul, but Ha-neul just barks, “I’m not going to Seoul,” and storms out. Geu-rin watches him go, and vows to make sure he sings.
As Seok-ho waits for Geu-rin, he can’t help but think of Sung-hyun and the last fight they had. We’re only shown Sung-hyun asking Seok-ho why he makes him so miserable, but by the betrayed looks on both of their faces, it was pretty bad.
Back at the Mango office, Kyle finds the lyrics that Ha-neul wrote for his song, and he calls Seok-ho, who tells him that Ha-neul quit the band. Kyle keeps up his grumpy attitude, but snaps that he’s coming down to Busan to help Seok-ho talk Ha-neul out of it.
Ha, then he has to call Seok-ho back to send him some money for the train, and Seok-ho is so broke he tells Kyle to take the bus. “Rookies are supposed to endure hardship!” Yeon-soo wants to go too, and when Kyle complains that he doesn’t like traveling with kids, he’s on the receiving end of their identical father-son glare/hiss again. So cute.
Kyle and Seok-ho are both grouchy, though for different reasons, as they wait for Ha-neul outside his probation home. His guardian tells them that Ha-neul doesn’t want to see them, though he asks what happened. Ha-neul was so excited for a while, and now he’s depressed.
He’s a nice man, and he even pleads their case to Ha-neul, who still flat refuses to see them. So they visit Geu-rin at her convenience store job (where Kyle stuffs his face with ramyun, complaining the whole time, hee), and Seok-ho decides that they just need to wait Ha-neul out — he’ll be released from the probation home in two days.
They pounce when Geu-rin offers to let them stay at her place until then, too broke for a motel, though they’re not quite so excited when they realize that means sharing a room. Seok-ho delivers a beatdown when Kyle suggests Seok-ho sleep in Geu-rin’s room.
Seok-ho goes outside for fresh air when he can’t sleep, and is soon joined by Geu-rin, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to reach Ha-neul. Seok-ho admits that Ha-neul gave him a hint as to who he really is, which is why he rushed down here today. She asks what he means, but he wants to talk to Ha-neul first.
Geu-rin asks Seok-ho for his promise to make Ha-neul a successful singer and not just scam him, but Seok-ho just gives her this searching stare. He pulls her close and says he has a confession to make — she’s right that he’s a scam artist. He did plan to scam Ha-neul at first, but now he says he’s changed. Looking confidently into Geu-rin’s eyes, Seok-ho promises to make Ha-neul a gem that the whole world will admire.
Seok-ho seems lighter after having unburdened himself, and wishes Geu-rin a good night. She’s a little dazzled by the intensity he was putting off, and literally has to shake it off.
In the morning, Geu-rin makes her own confession, telling Seok-ho that she went to KTOP because she thought she saw Ha-neul’s accuser there. Seok-ho asks her about Ha-neul’s conviction, and she tells him the whole story.
Ha-neul and Ji-young had had a hidden hideout, an empty house where Ji-young would practice to become an idol, even though she’d already failed several auditions. The night of the incident, Ha-neul (who had his own key) went there after dark to retrieve his mp3 player that he’d left behind, but the door was unlocked and slightly ajar.
He’d gone inside, worried that Ji-young might be in trouble, and had seen her being assaulted (… or not? It’s hard to tell) by a young man. Ha-neul had tried to pull the man off her, but someone had come up behind him and cracked him over the head, knocking him unconscious.
The police where there by the time he revived, and he was arrested. Seok-ho believes Geu-rin’s version of events, but points out all the inconsistencies in the story — who was the second person in the room with Ji-young? Wouldn’t Ha-neul have seen the attacker’s face? And isn’t it interesting that after many failed auditions, Ji-young is a trainee at KTOP now.
Geu-rin admits that Joo-han told her that Ji-young isn’t at KTOP, but she’s certain she saw her there. She asks Seok-ho for help finding her, since she’s the only one who can clear Ha-neul’s name. Seok-ho promises to look into it for her, seeming to relish having an excuse to confront Joo-han again, and leaves her and Kyle to convince Ha-neul to change his mind.
Before he heads back to Seoul, Seok-ho gives Geu-rin a box to deliver to Ha-neul, telling her to do it as dramatically as possible, since it could affect his decision to return to the band. His one rule is that she can’t open the box, or she’s fired as Ha-neul’s manager.
Kyle camps out on the steps outside the probation home and finally catches Ha-neul on his way back from school. He snarks that he still doesn’t know why he’s here to convince Ha-neul, even after thinking about it all day. But when Ha-neul shoos him off, Kyle says that maybe he’ll just trust him anyway.
Ha-neul growls that Kyle should just give up and go — otherwise they’ll all end up hurt because of him, just like Geu-rin and her bleeding hands from trying to clean the graffiti. Besides, he couldn’t sing with that much pressure, even if he tried.
Kyle calls that out for a giant pile of BS — it’s arrogance, not consideration. He gets angry, saying that he saw how talented Ha-neul is at their audition, and he’d thought that giving up Julliard had been the right decision. He repeats that he came all the way here to tell Ha-neul that he wants to trust him, and that it’s arrogant of Ha-neul to push them all away as if they have no say in what happens.
Mr. Jeong rants to Min-joo about his bad fortune lately — he lost the chance to produce a Jackson album, and now there are delays with the ballad singer he’s been roped into investing in. Min-joo breaks the news that it’s a band now, and Mr. Jeong just hangs his head, then accuses Min-joo of convincing Seok-ho to create the indie band she’s been wanting to promote.
Back in Seoul, Seok-ho confronts a former coworker, a man he knows from KTOP. The man grows noticeably nervous when Seok-ho mentions Ji-young, but he’s so scared of Seok-ho that he spills his guts. Apparently, Ji-young was added to a five-girl group called Twinkle, but her addition angered one of the members and that girl left.
The really strange part is that they just let the other girl, Luna, go without a fuss. Seok-ho knows that it’s highly unusual for a company to let a trainee go that they’ve spent invested eight years training, especially in favor of a newcomer.
Since Mr. Jeong is determined never to produce an indie band, Man-shik thinks they should convince Seok-ho to drop the band concept, and just make Ha-neul a ballad singer. Min-joo’s response cracks me up: “Have you seen the bassist?!” Agreed, he’s such a dumpling — I couldn’t send him away again, either.
Seok-ho tells Man-shik and Min-joo about Ji-young, and Man-shik admits that he’s seen a new girl practicing with Twinkle. They wonder what Joo-han could be thinking, and note that it’s also strange that Luna has been so silent about it. Seok-ho thinks it’s all tied in with Ha-neul’s conviction.
Luckily Man-shik has Luna’s number (along with most of the other trainee’s numbers, ick), so Seok-ho asks her to meet with him. He asks Luna (cameo by Min Do-hee) why she left after spending so many years training to debut, and she says that they were planning to give half of her singing parts to Ji-young.
Seok-ho wants the truth — what did they have on Luna? She says that in her opinion, it’s more like Ji-young has something on Joo-han. Iiinnteresting.
Just coincidentally, Twinkle is debuting the next day, and CEO Lee checks in with Joo-han to make sure that Luna will keep her mouth shut. He’s not happy that Joo-han let her go, commenting that his work style is much different from Seok-ho’s.
Ha-neul gets to go home when his probation is over, but for some reason he hesitates outside the house. Ji-young’s little brother sees him and hides, and Ha-neul doesn’t notice him there.
He finds a note on the front door from Geu-rin, welcoming him home and telling him there’s a gift inside for him. He follows her cute little trail of notes all over the house, eventually finding the box from Seok-ho in his desk.
Inside the box is an old Nirvana CD, but not the same one he’d given to Seok-ho — it’s one that he’d pasted stickers on as a child, decorating the baby on the cover to look like he has sparkly wings. Ha-neul’s hands shake when he also finds an old note that Seok-ho had signed, a promise to little Ha-neul, to one day form a band for him. Oof.
Just the fact that Seok-ho cared enough to keep the CD and note all these years has Ha-neul gasping for air, and he collapses to the floor. He cries like a baby, no doubt missing his brother and overcome with the realization that all this time, he’s meant something to Seok-ho.
Seok-ho visits Twinkle right before their debut performance, and Ji-young stands out awkwardly as the only one who doesn’t know him. She introduces herself as Luna, having taken the real Luna’s stage name when she left, and Seok-ho gets reeeeal close to tell her that he’s having a hard time right now because of Ha-neul.
In private, Ji-young drops the fresh-faced rookie act, and pretends to have no earthly idea what Seok-ho’s talking about. Seok-ho messes with her a little, then says that when he left KTOP, he realized that the music industry is rotten. But, what goes around comes around, and he’s been punished pretty severely, so his time is coming.
He offers her a chance to come clean before he digs up whatever nasty deal she’s entered into to be here, but Ji-young is fully prepared to fight. Seok-ho warns her to remember later that he did offer her a chance, but before they can split, a voice thunders, “What are you doing?!”
It’s Joo-han, furious (and probably scared) to see these two talking, and he and Seok-ho go somewhere else to talk. Seok-ho tells Joo-han to drop the act, that he knows Ji-young is here because they’re hiding something, and that it involves Ha-neul. He demands to know what happened that night, and why Ha-neul is being sacrificed to hide it.
Unfortunately, he loses his temper, which gives Joo-han the upper hand. He refuses to tell Seok-ho anything, but as he makes his exit, Seok-ho warns him, “I’m onto you.”
Geu-rin is bouncing with curiosity to know what was in the box for Ha-neul, but he stays infuriatingly silent. She asks if it changed his mind about joining the band at least, and he just quirks a tiny smile.
They both freeze when they see Ji-young on television, dancing with Twinkle in their debut performance. Ha-neul is painfully confused, but Geu-rin feels vindicated… she knew she’d seen Ji-young at the KTOP building.
Geu-rin turns off the TV when Ha-neul grows genuinely angry, and she justifies his upset – Ji-young hurt him, and now she’s being rewarded for it, and it’s not fair. She thinks this gives him the right to pursue his own dream, but Ha-neul is just so scared that she and Seok-ho will get hurt. How could he knowingly hurt them?
Geu-rin shocks him by saying that she’ll just have to move out. She’s been here since she was young, when her parents died and his parents took her in. They’d made her feel loved, like a gift to ease the pain of losing Sung-hyun, and she’d only gone to college to make them happy.
She admits that she wanted to protect Ha-neul the same way his parents protected her. But now he’s willing to roll over and take it after being framed for something he didn’t do, and even give up his dream. She says that she has no more reason to be here.
Ha-neul grabs Geu-rin in a hug, begging her not to go. “Let’s go. Let’s go to Seoul. Let’s go, and sing.”
CEO Lee orders Joo-han to bring back Luna, and add her to an established idol group that’s about to release their third album. This is unprecedented, and Joo-han argues that the group will flip their lids, but CEO Lee won’t listen to any dissent.
Joo-han says that the real problem is Seok-ho — he’s caught wind of something fishy about Ji-young, and they should address that first. CEO Lee just smirks that Joo-han is scared of Seok-ho, and tells him to make a show of strength first, to show Seok-ho who’s boss.
Ha-neul visits the spot where he nearly tried to kill himself, this time smiling and thanking his hyung for sending Seok-ho back into his life. He promises to do his best, asking Sung-hyun to convince their parents to believe in him.
He calls Seok-ho and tells him that he’s standing in the place where he almost died, and met Seok-ho for the second time in his life. This time, he says, he’ll go to Seok-ho. Satisfied, they both look up to the sky and smile.
Seok-ho calls Geu-rin to congratulate her on her successful first task as Ha-neul’s manager. He tells her that he’s about to meet with Joo-han, and will let her know what he learns.
Joo-han claims to be here to make a confession, in the hopes that it will earn him some leniency from Seok-ho. But he takes sick pleasure in surprising Seok-ho, and announced that he’s brought the person who framed Ha-neul here today. There’s a knock on the door, and in walks — Jinu. What??
Jinu looks just as surprised to see Seok-ho, and tries to flee the room. Seok-ho screams at him: “Why are you here?!”
That was a pretty decent cliffhanger, and I honestly was expecting anyone but Jinu to walk through that door. He certainly looked guilty, though I have no doubt that even if he is involved, he’s more of a pawn can a co-conspirator. He’s made some questionable decisions, and seems like an awfully troubled kid, but the show has been careful to show us that Jinu does care about Seok-ho, and misses him. I suspected that he would play a larger part in Seok-ho’s story than just a former client, but this was a pretty good twist. I’m dying to hear his explanation.
Ha-neul is really carrying this show for me, which is surprising considering he’s only getting half as much screen time as Seok-ho. Though Entertainer is primarily about Seok-ho and his fall and (eventual) redemption, Ha-neul is really the emotional axis around which everything turns, and I do like how different that is from most dramas. Ha-neul manages to be closed-off to those around him, yet still completely emotionally accessible to the audience, which I’m finding extremely compelling and unique about him as a character. It makes me even more interested in his character arc than anyone else’s, because I can see how much he’s walled himself up in an attempt to protect those he cares about, but still struggles with his desire to share his love of music with the world. And I think that Kang Min-hyuk is just slaying this role, walking that tightrope of extremes very well, which helps us connect with him and care about what happens to him. And wow, the moment when Ha-neul realized that Seok-ho kept that “contract” was killer, he’s really pulling the emotional weight of this show quite well. (And I’m not gonna lie — Min-hyuk is the idol who made me a kpop fan in the first place, so I’m inclined to be biased towards him, but if he were a terrible actor I wouldn’t be afraid to call it out. I genuinely think he’s doing a fantastic job, better even than I expected.)
But there’s still something about the show that feels as though it’s keeping me at arm’s length. It’s a cute show, and engaging enough, but I just wanted it to be… better. I suppose I’m struggling with Entertainer because I badly want to like it more than I do, and I can sense that with just a bit more attention to detail I really could, but it feels like it’s getting in its own way. Details are fuzzy on so many important things, and not in a clever-storytelling we’ll-get-to-the-juicy-bits-in-good-time sort of way, more like a we-forget-to-tell-the-audience-what-we’re-thinking sort of way. It drops clues as to character motivations, but then has them behave in ways that seem to indicate that they actually feel the exact opposite — one example is Seok-ho telling Min-joo that he really just grabbed the first kid he found with a decent voice, and plans to use him to re-ignite his own career, but that he really doesn’t think Ha-neul is all that special. Then he goes to the ends of the earth to get him to sign with him, even after finding out about his conviction, when it would have been much easier to just find another good singer with a clean past. We were never given a reason why Seok-ho fixated on Ha-neul in particular, before he had a personal motivation for it.
When they first met, Seok-ho didn’t know that Ha-neul was his old friend’s little brother, so it made no sense for him to concentrate on signing this kid, since he admitted he didn’t think he was particularly special. At least now we have a proper narrative purpose for Seok-ho’s changing — his history with Ha-neul’s brother, his guilt over what happened to his old friend, and the promise he made to a young boy ten years ago. So whether or not the initial fuzziness over motivation versus behavior was because of lazy writing or what, now we can proceed with stability and clear explanations for Seok-ho’s insistence on Ha-neul being in the band. Seok-ho’s redemption story could be a great one, provided his actions match his emotions, which I hope now they will. I do like that he decided to trust Ha-neul’s side of the whole Ji-young issue before he even knew who he was, and that he’s willing to use whatever influence he has left in the music business to dig up the truth, whatever that happens to be.
Also, I’m heartened that some of the things which initially seemed like loose plot holes or sloppy story details were actually intended, when I see things like Seok-ho’s promise to a young Ha-neul to form a band for him one day. Until we saw that, it felt like Ha-neul’s determination to be in a band and not a solo singer was just sort of unfocused, that he was being stubborn for no real reason. Now we see that he actually had a very solid reason for wanting that, especially from Seok-ho, because he knew who Seok-ho was and he wanted that old promise fulfilled. I can’t fault the acting for not getting across the fact that this insistence was for a reason, because as I said, Kang Min-hyuk is certainly doing an excellent job with what he’s been given. I just wish the writing were a little tighter, so that if we’re being kept in the dark for dramatic purposes, at least we could relax and feel certain that our questions would be answered. But now that the show is pulling details like this together, I think I can trust that it will continue, so I’ll stop whining when I don’t understand something and, as Kyle says, I’ll just decide to trust anyway.
- Entertainer: Episode 3
- Entertainer: Episode 2
- Entertainer: Episode 1
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- Entertainer’s crabby producer throws a tantrum
- Ji Sung and Hyeri shake it in Entertainer’s first teaser
- Entertainer adds Chae Jung-ahn, Kang Min-hyuk
- Ji Sung confirms new SBS showbiz drama Entertainer