Marriage Contract: Episode 14
The current changes at last as Hye-soo’s insistence on being alone is worn down by Ji-hoon’s insistence on staying by her side. Movable object, meet irresistible force. But as hard as it was to be alone, it’s just as hard being together when biology and pesky chaebols continuously conspire to keep you apart. But the two of them haven’t fought so hard to come this far for nothing, so a pox on anyone getting in their way now.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Ji-hoon wakes up next to a still-sleeping Hye-soo. Smoothing her hair, he drops a kiss on it and quietly tiptoes out. While he shops for breakfast, he messages Jung-hoon to meet him later.
Jung-hoon gloats about making Ji-hoon roast, and Madam Yoon wonders what he’s so pleased about. He chortles that if you sin, receiving punishment is only natural.
Ji-hoon cooks breakfast quietly, even breaking every egg softly, so as not to wake Hye-soo up. He looks over at her every few seconds, unable to keep the smile from his face. When she rouses, she finds a note on the pillow beside her, inviting her to breakfast. Adorable.
Touched by the spread, she thanks him, and he asks for a kiss in return. She just laughs. Seriously, this dimpled grin is going to break his face. He tells her not to pay mind to the jerk threatening her, because he’ll take care of it. He doesn’t tell her the culprit, but reassures her that they didn’t do anything illegal.
He also hopes to have good news for her soon about her illness, and tells her he’s sent her charts off to a renowned specialist in the U.S. In exchange, he asks for a pinky-promise that she’ll never run away.
When she extends her finger, he slips on the ring she once rejected, and reveals his own matching ring. They seal the promise and Ji-hoon angles for a kiss again, turning at the last moment to receive it on the lips. Smiling, he tells her to just try running away again — he’ll go to the ends of the earth just to kiss her. Hye-soo can’t help tearing up, and he wipes her eyes.
Ji-hoon drives her back to pick up Eun-sun and is pumped about seeing her, but Hye-soo stops him from coming out. Next time, she promises, not wanting to spring him on Young-hee. She waves at him from the house, motioning him to go, and at last, he does. But ain’t nothin’ gonna wipe dat smile off his face.
It’s news to her that Ji-hoon was there the night before. From how urgently he looked for her, it’s obvious he really cares about her, Young-hee says. More importantly, Eun-sung adores him, so he must be a pretty okay chap. She urges her to take him back, insistent that Hye-soo not feel uncomfortable about it for her sake, because she’s all for it. Aww bless you, you’re such a hero. Eun-sung chimes in agreement.
Chairman Han congratulates himself for Ji-hoon’s business acumen (“He’s just like me!”), but is unpleasantly surprised to hear that rumors are circulating about Ji-hoon illegally trading organs.
Jung-hoon barks over the phone at Shark, who’s loitering around Promise, to get Hye-soo’s signature on that damned paper. But he’s cut short by the sudden arrival of his father. The Chairman knows he started the rumors about Ji-hoon, and scorns his jealousy. He throws an envelope of his misdeeds at him: It has complaints from his mistreated former employees, which Dad had blocked, and evidence that he embezzled company funds.
Dad also knows Jung-hoon’s plot to remove him from office, which brings him to his knees before his father. Dad charges him to clean up the mess he’s made, or he’ll make sure they both go down together. Jung-hoon cowers in defeat.
Back in the Chairman’s office, his secretary delivers the secretly-snitched report from the U.S. specialist (did he hack Ji-hoon’s email or something?) about Hye-soo’s prognosis.
The rumors of Ji-hoon’s illegal organ-trading have even reached Promise. Chef loudly decries him — what’s next, murder? But Seung-joo and Ho-joon both leap to his defence.
Hye-soo suffers another bout of vomiting, to Joo-yeon’s concern. She just needs to take her meds, she reassures her, but the worry remains in Joo-yeon’s face. Looking lovingly at her friend, Hye-soo thanks her for everything, and promises to repay her when she’s recovered. Joo-yeon brushes off the serious moment and tucks Hye-soo in to rest.
Ji-hoon reads the email from the American specialist, all the happiness gone from his face: The location of the tumor is too risky for surgery. He tries to take it in, and barely hears Ho-joon telling him about the widespread rumors about him. He heads to the office.
Chairman Han reads the translated report, looking disgustingly smug. Ugh I hate him. Ji-hoon enters and lays down his resignation, apologizing for bringing trouble on the company. Dad refuses it, telling him the matter’s already under control. But Ji-hoon believes he ought to take responsibility for his own actions. He gives a final thanks, and after a solemn bow, leaves.
As the door closes behind him, his flustered father tears the letter to shreds.
Ji-hoon encounters his brother in the lift, and they share it going down. He tells Jung-hoon he’ll back off like he wanted, but he’d better leave Hye-soo alone. But newly-subdued Jung-hoon tells him it doesn’t matter — anyone can make a mistake, after all. He makes it out like he’s letting Ji-hoon off the hook as a brotherly gesture. Ji-hoon takes his words at face value, and leaves him almost warmly. These brothers never really got a chance, did they?
Hye-soo gets home and finds Chairman Han waiting to meet her. He heard she was ill, and found out Ji-hoon even consulted a specialist in the U.S. for her. He gives her an envelope with the report, telling her it’s not good news.
Oblivious to her distress, he goes on to tell her that Ji-hoon’s about to be ruined if she doesn’t take responsibility for the whole matter. He promises to compensate her generously, twisting the knife by adding that she’ll need the money for her kid after she dies. This worm in man’s clothing. I can’t even. But at least he says there won’t be any adverse consequences for her either, because he’s already taken care of that. He gives her a day to think about it.
Ji-hoon arranges a job interview for himself. Ho-joon overhears and asks if he’s leaving. Upbeat, Ji-hoon claps him on the shoulder and tells him to take care of Promise. Plus, they should be holding a farewell for him and Hye-soo. Ho-joon gasps at the state of affairs this implies.
Hye-soo takes the report to her doctor, who says that it’s not really any different to what they’ve already said. Hye-soo’s face falls , but Doc tells her not to be discouraged — they’ve only just started treatment, she’ll get better. Desperately needing hope, Hye-soo asks her to just tell her that she’s getting better already, even if it’s a lie. Her doctor can’t say anything.
Shark (can’t we just call him Na Suk-chul?) catches up to Hye-soo at the hospital and hounds her to sign his stupid document. She’s exhausted and sick of him, and laughs darkly that so many people want to give her money. Tiredly, she tells him to go away, but of course he doesn’t.
She shows him the envelope with the report, and tells him she’s dying. Shocked, he can’t quite compute it, and she tells him one last time to get lost. He tries to stop her leaving, but Jung-hoon phones him just then to call him off — he doesn’t need her signature anymore.
Chairman Han is busy with making damage-control calls, but when Madam Yoon comes in with tea, he confronts her — she told Jung-hoon, didn’t she? He warns her that if things go awry, Jung-hoon’ll be the first to fall.
Since playing dumb doesn’t work, Madam Yoon snaps that nothing he said was untrue, and Ji-hoon did wrong. The Chairman retorts that it was to save his mom — not that Jung-hoon would do the same for her. That silences her.
Ji-hoon anxiously waits to hear how his mom’s surgery went, and receives good news from the doctor. Happiness lights his face and he goes to see her.
She’s just regained consciousness, and through the glass, he congratulates her and tells her Uncle is good, too. She manages a smile in return, and reaches out a hand as if to touch him. He touches his to the glass, and they share a moment.
Hye-soo puts away the unhappy report. She presses the promise-ring to her lips and struggles silently against her tears. By text, Ji-hoon calls her out to see her face.
Ji-hoon knocks on the window of the nail salon and Eun-sung thrills to see him. She leaps into his arms, and he asks after Hye-soo — did she come back from the hospital? From his question, Joo-yeon wonders if he knows everything. He smiles in reply, and takes Eun-sung for ice cream.
Joo-yeon looks in on Hye-soo, who’s meant to be sleeping but isn’t, and tells her that Ji-hoon came and took Eun-sung. Joo-yeon nestles down and asks Hye-soo for the skinny: Is she dating him? She doesn’t even need Hye-soo to answer. She figures out they were together on her trip, too.
Hye-soo looks very much like she got caught sneaking out the window at midnight by her mom, haha. Joo-yeon speculates on their renewed relationship, but curtails her own questions, “Never mind. Later, when you want to tell me, tell me.” The two women smile at each other in understanding. Joo-yeon jokes that she’s jealous of how much Eun-sung adores Ji-hoon.
Eun-sung asks Ji-hoon if he’s made up with her mom, and basks in her praise. Solemnly, she tells him that Mom’s sick. Coming to sit beside her, he agrees she’ll definitely get better — she’s the strongest and awesomest person he knows.
He says he used to be a coward, but since he met her mom, he gained strength and courage. “Because your mom told me I was a good person. That I was a good person…I lived not knowing that.” Eun-sung immediately concurs that of course he is, like it goes without saying. Aww. Moved, he thanks her, and says that the three of them should live and be happy together a long, long time.
They play a game of hide-and-seek, and Ji-hoon panics when he can’t find her. But to his relief, she springs out of hiding, giggling, and puts a flower in his hair. They’re deciding who’ll hide the next round, when Hye-soo surprises them. The two girls celebrate meeting each other with an adorable dance and song.
Ji-hoon comes to her with a smile, and offers her the flower Eun-sung picked. He chides her for going to the hospital alone. Smiling back, she agrees to tell him next time. Ji-hoon adds that the punks who keep chasing her won’t anymore.
Hand slipping into his, Hye-soo casually asks if he’s heard from the U.S. She tells him not to feel down even if the news is bad. He loudly insists it’s not, and she smiles at his bluster. He makes her pinky-promise to beat her illness and they’re just about to seal it with a kiss when Eun-sung pops up cheering them on. Hee hee. They squish her with kisses instead…or messy raspberries, in Ji-hoon’s case.
They walk back under the cherry blossoms, with Eun-sung now asleep on Ji-hoon’s back. He asks her if there isn’t anything she wants to do with her boyfriend. She indulges him (and herself): walking together holding hands, watching cherry blossoms together, riding bicycles together. There’s so many things that he’s amazed she’s held it in all this time. If she treats him well, he’ll do those things for her, he grins.
She tries out using his name, and Ji-hoon helpfully chips in with an “oppa”, haha, keep trying! Mischievously, she asks if he reeeally likes her. Stepping provocatively closer, she keeps up the questions: Why? How much?
He answers with a peck on her lips. If she keeps talking, he’ll keep kissing, he threatens. Hee. Woken up by their friskiness, Eun-sung sleepily deadpans from his back that she doesn’t like all this kissing. The adults chuckle embarrassedly.
Na-yoon gets another unwelcome visit from drunken Jung-hoon, who mocks her for chasing Ji-hoon even though he’s in love with his faux-wife. He grasps her arm when she attempts to leave, and she throws him off to land flat on his back.
She asks him if he’s even once loved someone pure-heartedly, with all of his being. He scoffs that there’s no one in the world who can. But there is, contradicts Na-yoon: Ji-hoon is someone who loves like that, and so she can’t stop liking him. She smiles pityingly at him — he doesn’t know what she means, does he? Dignity in every inch, she leaves him yelling after her.
Shark tracks down Jung-hoon (now even drunker) to collect his fee for stalking Hye-soo. But he’s met with rejection and insults, which raises his ire. Following Jung-hoon into a club, he calls insultingly back. Jung-hoon runs at him in a rage and Shark socks him full in the face, but he tumbles down the stairs when he fails to land his return-punch, haha. Disgusted by his crybaby-ness, Shark warns him to pay him, and points out in parting that Jung-hoon wasn’t pushed, he fell all on his own.
Uncle, also recovering from surgery, gets waylaid by Chairman Han’s secretary (bearing a showy bouquet) just as he’s about to visit Mi-ran. The secretary passes on a message that the Chairman has something to discuss with her about Ji-hoon and would like to visit. Uncle rightly tells him to buzz off. Mi-ran gets the message (and the bouquet), but she’s not happy about it.
Hye-soo meets with Chairman Han. He thanks her for making the right choice. Offering her the document to sign, he asks how much she wants. But she places an envelope before him instead, returning the money she previously took.
She explains that she’d taken it in desperation for her daughter’s sake, but it weighed on her conscience. There’s no need for compensation this time, either. To save Ji-hoon, she can put her name on anything, and easily signs over the document before her. The Chairman thinks it’s all an act to achieve some other pernicious end. You would.
Ji-hoon asks about the bouquet and Mi-ran says it’s from his father, the irony of a gift from the man who wanted her dead not lost on her. She’s sure he wants something from her, probably about Ji-hoon. In curiosity, he asks what his mom liked about his father.
She answers that he didn’t used to be like he is now. He had a purer spirit, before he had too many things to protect. “When people have a lot of things to protect, they lose the truly precious things,” she says, and tells Ji-hoon not to be like him.
Ji-hoon consults with Hye-soo’s doctor about operating on the tumor, but that would only be possible if it got smaller, she says. He’s disappointed to hear that the treatment has had little effect on it so far. He shows her the report from the U.S., and is shocked to find out that she’s already seen it from Hye-soo.
Ji-hoon heads straight to his dad’s office, but he’s not there. Instead, a laid-up Jung-hoon tells him that “that woman” confessed to the false marriage fiasco taking responsibility for the attempted organ-selling. The Chairman is holding a board meeting about it right now, in fact.
Going directly there, Ji-hoon pauses outside the door. He hears his father reading out the statement, and enters just as he’s showing directors her signature. As soon as he sees Ji-hoon, he attempts to usher him out, but fails.
Ji-hoon crumples the paper up, and addresses the room: The statement is false and the woman is innocent. He did it all, knowing it was illegal, and he apologizes for bringing the company into disrepute. For that, he’ll step down. Bowing deeply to the directors, he leaves the room.
Ji-hoon confronts his father about what he said to Hye-soon, and why he gave her that report. Dad condemns his ingratitude, and he’s sure her motive for returning the other money is because she intends to squeeze Ji-hoon dry. How she must regret losing the catch that was his inheritance! He marvels at her greed, and I marvel at his inability to see good in anything.
Ji-hoon doesn’t know how he’ll face her after this, but Dad emphasizes how hard he’s working to save his hide. Tiredly, Ji-hoon tells Dad, “I don’t need any of that. If I’ve done something wrong, of course I should be punished.”
Dad tells him he can’t ruin his life for one woman. Does he even know what a frightening world it is out there? Ever more tired, Ji-hoon tells Dad that he’ll take his chances in that world: “However frightening that world is, I don’t think it can be as frightening as you, Father.”
He takes his leave, and Dad yells after him that he’s no longer his son. Outside Dad’s office, Ji-hoon takes one last look backwards, before heading out. In the foyer, he takes off his tie and loosens his shirt. With each step, his face grows lighter and lighter.
Ji-hoon runs through the cherry blossoms until he reaches Hye-soo, a simple bouquet of calla lilies in hand. (Is he going to propose?!) She lights up to see him. Radiant with joy, he walks straight up to her and wraps her up in his arms. Hye-soo hugs right back, and Eun-sung runs up. He expands the circle of hugs for both his girls, and it’s a moment of perfect happiness for our little patchwork family.
Ahh. That’s a contented sigh. Can we just end the show now?
I think we all knew, when she took back the ring and kept it on, that it marked a sea-change in Hye-soo. I think it’s worth examining in retrospect why her long rejection was actually meaningful and, by my interpretation, genuinely necessary. Ji-hoon’s pursuit of her was based on answering his own needs, but she needed an assurance that he could be what she needed. She needs a rock-solid guarantee that he’ll stick, no matter what. It isn’t enough for him to just like and want to be with her. Because of her situation, she needs him to be so much more a merry-weather boyfriend. And even if he would always have been dependable, he had to make her be able to believe in him. And at last, he does. Everything he’s already been through at this point to be with her isn’t even the real test — that’s yet to come. He needs not to be just a hundred percent in, but a thousand percent, because things are going to get really, really hard.
I think ever since Ji-hoon discovered his mother was about to die, he set down the road of growing up. But this episode was his true coming of age. He’s always remained restrained, inscrutable and outwardly acquiescent to his father, but facing him down was a last leap in maturity that finally allowed him to free himself. I do love how these small actions are so rich with symbolism — Hye-soo cuts her hair, Ji-hoon takes off his tie. It’s clear he’s taking off the yoke he’s worn all these years, and as it comes off, the man he can and wants to be emerges. It’s a moment that gives truth to Na-yoon’s description of him as someone who holds nothing back when he loves, and the love that gives really is the most virtuous of virtues.
Speaking of Na-yoon, for a change, we finally saw something real and sympathetic in her, and it makes me a tiny bit sad for what her character could have been. Kim Yuri has a natural spark for making complicated, prickly characters likeable, but she was written into a box with her standard-issue second-lead. A little more complexity would have made her appearances interesting, at least. Instead, I’ve steadfastly refused to talk about her until now. I so enjoyed her being badass, plus whiny (or is that…winey? Excuse me while I chortle) Jung-hoon deserved the put-down. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse every time I talk about Jung-hoon or his father, but I still couldn’t help noticing the routine low-level public humiliation his father serves him with on a daily basis. With that kind of treatment, why would the company employees give him any respect?
I find it fascinating that Hye-soo and Ji-hoon are both opposites of the Chairman, and how it comes out differently with each of their respective encounters. Hye-soo, as LollyPip noted before, automatically sees the good in people, and it lays a stark contrast to the Chairman, who can’t see it even when it’s quite literally staring him in the face. He truly is frightening, because he’s a prisoner to his own fears and suspicions, locked in his own head. And what’s scarier than that? The most precious thing that Dad lost is himself, and I think that’s Mi-ran’s true warning to Ji-hoon, who as his father rightly recognizes, has all the qualities that would make him as incisive and successful as him. But unlike his father, he can’t drown out his own heart, and crucially, he refuses to.
I’ve observed how mean-spirited Dad is in a previous recap, but he takes actual pleasure in other people’s sorrows. His schadenfreude makes him infinitely worse than your average avaricious dramaland patriarch, and he’s a man with very little to redeem him. I don’t expect it, either: He’s been a heartless shell for so long, he has no idea how to be a person. When Hye-soo was telling him why she couldn’t accept his money, all I was thinking was that he didn’t deserve to hear such soulfelt words. This is a woman who cries because she’s treated well!
Young-hee deserves a shout-out, too. She’s another opposite to the Chairman, with so many feelings that she struggled to handle them. Although she’s a much smaller secondary character, her journey has been deeply moving. It’s rewarding, therefore, to see her reach this place of inner peace, full of hope for the future, all thanks to our little catalyst Eun-sung. It’s sweetly funny how she says totally opposite things to Hye-soo, all to support her whichever choice she makes. Like the best of girlfriends (aka Joo-yeon), she wholly agrees that Hye-soo was better off without Ji-hoon when they broke up, but was a hundred percent supportive when they got back together. That’s a gem in a girlfriend, but priceless in a mother-in-law.
I think I’ve reached a point where I’ve analysed the characters to death (if you’ll pardon the pun), and now all there is left to do is let the remaining story unfold. I do at this point truly fear for Hye-soo’s survival in a way I didn’t before — until now, I always thought she would live (that’s WHY they changed the title, right?). But maybe that really isn’t as important as knowing that they’ve all decided to live as happily as they can in the present — together — come what may.
- Marriage Contract: Episode 13
- Marriage Contract: Episode 12
- Marriage Contract: Episode 11
- Marriage Contract: Episode 10
- Marriage Contract: Episode 9
- Marriage Contract: Episode 8
- Marriage Contract: Episode 7
- Marriage Contract: Episode 6
- Marriage Contract: Episode 5
- Marriage Contract: Episode 4
- Marriage Contract: Episode 3
- Marriage Contract: Episode 2
- Marriage Contract: Episode 1