Marriage Contract: Episode 9
Change is in the air, as nearly everyone starts to see how the consequences of their actions could affect those they care about. A lot of eyes are being opened and hearts altered, and it all can be traced back to one amazing woman. Let’s just hope that someone take a good look at her soon, because she’s the one who needs their help most of all.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Hye-soo shows up for the surgery date, but instead of Mi-ran, she finds an empty hospital room and a note. In the note Mi-ran apologizes to Hye-soo, but asks that they forget about the surgery. She promises to call her later, and tells her to go home. Hye-soo learns from the nurse that Chairman Han visited a few days ago, and that Mi-ran has been agitated since then.
Ji-hoon spends the day simultaneously impressing his father and angering Jung-hoon, by giving an impressive speech about restaurant management. He’s not answering his phone when Hye-soo tries to call him about his mother’s disappearance.
Jung-hoon confronts Ji-hoon after his speech, causing a scene by demanding an apology in front of a group of executives. This time Ji-hoon answers his phone — it’s Mi-ran calling to tell him that she’s cancelled the surgery.
She knows she doesn’t have much time, but she’s feeling peaceful about her decision, and plans to live out her life on her own terms. She promises to call Ji-hoon when the time comes for her to die, and asks him to go and live a meaningful life. She hangs up, and boards a ferry.
Hye-soo is still at the hospital when she gets a text from Ji-hoon, letting her know that the surgery was cancelled. She starts to call him back but decides against it, and heads home.
Ji-hoon goes to his mother’s apartment, and this time he ignores a call from Na-yoon asking him to dinner. He stays there until after dark, remembering how desperate she had been when she’d begged him to save her life. Frustrated, he looks for a while at a photo of himself with Mi-ran when he was young, then tosses it to the floor to shatter.
Ji-hoon reports back to the chairman, who tells him that his speech was a big hit. He’ll most likely be appointed as the new company director.
Chairman Han asks about his mother’s surgery, and has the gall to act shocked when Ji-hoon implies that she cancelled it because of something he said. He calls her a troublemaker, having put her son through all this for nothing (hilarious coming from the guy who is manipulating everyone).
He tells Ji-hoon to go divorce Hye-soo now, since she’s no longer needed. Ji-hoon asks that he be allowed to see Hye-soo one last time, to say goodbye. After that, he’ll consent to the divorce.
Hye-soo sits up with Joo-yeon, wondering what on earth happened to cause everyone to cancel the surgery. Joo-yeon notices how Hye-soo is nearly obsessively checking her phone and asks if she still gets butterflies thinking about Ji-hoon, but this time Hye-soo says that she’s just worried, and anyway he’s got a girlfriend.
Ji-hoon just happens to be standing right outside Joo-yeon’s shop, and he calls Hye-soo. Awww, neither of them can hide their happiness to see each other.
He takes Hye-soo to the park to talk, and it’s sweet that the first thing she asks about is his mother. He lets her think that Mi-ran is okay, and asks her to listen to his final request — would she and Eun-sung come with him to see his mother?
Mi-ran has gone to see her parents, who are buried on a beautiful island overlooking the ocean. Her brother finds her there and approaches, surprised to see her lowering herself to come here.
He tells Mi-ran to leave, though she argues that she has every right to be here. He fusses at her, thinking she’s here to try to convince him to donate part of his liver to her, but she assures him that’s not the case. He tries to push her away from the gravesites and she shoves him off, finally losing her temper, crying that she plans to die here near their parents.
Hye-soo agrees to go with Ji-hoon, and they find themselves on the ferry to the island. Hye-soo tells Eun-sung that they’re going to see Ajusshi’s mother who isn’t well, and Eun-sung asks, if they make her happy, will she get better? Hye-soo says she will, and they’ll ask her to go back to the hospital with them.
As soon as they get off the ferry they hear a commotion — it’s Ji-hoon’s uncle, trying to literally drag Mi-ran off the island. Uncle tells Ji-hoon to take his mother and go, but she breaks free of his grip and runs off, upset that Ji-hoon came here.
Ji-hoon introduces Hye-soo and Eun-sung as his wife and daughter, and Uncle again makes the assumption that they’re all here to beg him for his liver. Ji-hoon says they don’t want anything from him, and the three of them follow Mi-ran.
She’s adamant that she’s not going through with the surgery, so why are they here? She practically screams that she loves it here, near the ocean, though her voice doesn’t sound happy at all. Finally Ji-hoon snaps and says that he’s just here to give her his last gift, the photo that Mi-ran wanted to take with her son and his family.
He promises that he’s not here to force her back to get the surgery, he just wants to spend a few days with her and his family, whether or not it’s real. Awww.
Na-yoon goes looking for Ji-hoon at Promise, and she’s surprised to hear that he left on a business trip. She also asks after Hye-soo, and the story that she’s been sent to another branch doesn’t seem to sit right, especially when Soo-chang makes a point to say that he saw Hye-soo and Ji-hoon leaving together with Eun-sung. Have I mentioned that I love him?
Frustrated, Na-yoon heads back to her car, thinking about how easily Hye-soo seemed to congratulate her and Ji-hoon. She’d seen Ji-hoon jump to Hye-soo’s defense when Jung-hoon pawed at her, after practically ignoring it when he’d insulted Na-yoon herself.
Hye-soo and Eun-sung do an adorable song-and-dance routine for Mi-ran, who is still upset over their presence. They’re brought fresh seafood by the owner of their cabin, who coos over Eun-sung and says how much she looks like her father. But Mi-ran can’t be charmed out of her mood, and goes inside to rest.
Joo-yeon again spills the beans to Seung-joo, telling him that the surgery was postponed, though she tells him to ask Hye-soo if he wants to know any more. Young-hee overhears and asks what surgery Hye-soo is having, figuring that this is what the “work trip” excuse is about. Seung-joo fibs that she’s just having her appendix out.
Meanwhile Na-yoon goes to Chairman Han for answers about Ji-hoon’s relationship with Hye-soo, and the chairman isn’t happy to hear that they’re together right now.
Eun-sung, bless her sweet little heart, tries to think of a way to cheer up Mi-ran, and asks Hye-soo to take out her makeup. Soon there are two kittens meowing at Mi-ran’s window… it’s Hye-soo and Eun-sung, with kitty whiskers drawn on their faces, hee. That makes both Ji-hoon and Mi-ran laugh — success!
Hye-soo leaves Eun-sung to talk to Mi-ran and runs off to buy snacks, forgetting about her whiskered face. She goes shopping and drops a bag of snacks, suddenly aware that her hand is shaking badly. Ji-hoon finds her outside the store, and she suddenly realizes that she’s still made up like a cat, and cringes.
Ji-hoon buys some tissues and cleans her face himself, and when the tissues don’t work he jokingly spits on his hand, making Hye-soo squeal. Oh his smile, it’s just gorgeous.
He’s pretty transparent about trying to find ways to delay going back to their cabin, like complaining that Hye-soo didn’t buy enough snacks and griping that she’s walking too fast. She says that she and her late husband grew up in a place like this, and were athletes — runners, in fact.
She offers to race when Ji-hoon scoffs at that, and he takes her up on it. They race to the beach, and though Ji-hoon technically wins, it takes all of his energy. He plops down on the sand, and when Hye-soo offers him a hand up, he instead pulls her down next to him. Smooth.
They watch the sun set, and the romantic setting affects them when they catch each other’s eye and can’t look away. Ji-hoon leans in just a bit, as if inviting a kiss, but Hye-soo looks away and makes a feeble joke about how long they’ve been gone. She gets up and heads back, Ji-hoon trailing behind her.
They find Mi-ran giving piggyback rides to Eun-sung, and she defends the little girl when Hye-soo fusses at her. HA, Mi-ran is now wearing kitty whiskers, too.
After dinner that night Ji-hoon asks the cabin owner to take a family picture, and he has to prod Mi-ran to smile. As soon as it’s taken she slips away, and Ji-hoon follows her while Hye-soo puts Eun-sung to bed.
He calls Hye-soo outside later, though he doesn’t seem to have a real reason to see her, and she declines his offer of a beer. He shows her the picture they took on his phone, but a call from Na-yoon pops up, and he walks away to answer it.
Na-yoon tells Ji-hoon that she knows everything, about his mother and about Hye-soo. She asks if he’s on this trip alone, but the cabin owner comes to ask if his “daughter” is asleep. Na-yoon overhears, and Ji-hoon quickly ends the call.
While lying in bed, Hye-soo’s hand starts to shake again, which wakes Eun-sung. She settles her daughter and says “It’s okay,” over and over, though it sounds more like she’s trying to convince herself.
Ji-hoon goes to his mother’s room, and she tells him that she’s thankful to him and Hye-soo — but she’s not changing her mind about the surgery. She tells him that this situation has made her think about how she’s lived her life, and how she’s always tried so hard but it felt like building a sandcastle.
She’d lived her life telling herself that she loved Chairman Han, and that he didn’t mean the way he treated her, because if he didn’t love her back then what was she living for? But now she knows that was just an illusion, and that she’s lived her whole life blaming others for her problems.
Now she knows that if she goes through with the transplant, knowing it will end her relationship with Ji-hoon, then she’ll just spend the rest of her life miserable. She asks him if he doesn’t agree that it’s better to live one day well, than ten years with regrets. She’s not willing to sell her son for her own life.
She tells him in a soft, sincere voice, “Ji-hoon, you already saved my life.”
Jung-hoon storms into his father’s office, full of righteous indignation that Ji-hoon has gone off on his own without permission. But the chairman claims that he sent him off on a business trip, so Jung-hoon wants to know if it’s true that Ji-hoon is about to be promoted. The chairman says it’s the board of directors’ decision, not his.
Madam Yoon takes over the conversation, sending the whiny Jung-hoon to his room like an errant child. She refuses to pour Chairman Han a glass of water, saying that when they were young, he made her upset over Mi-ran. Now that they’re older, he favors her son.
She asks if he really plans to leave the company to Ji-hoon, but the chairman claims there’s no such plan. Madam Yoon makes her position very clear: Jung-hoon is the elder son of this family. She doesn’t even want to think about Mi-ran laughing at her while her son inherits everything.
Chairman Han tells her that Mi-ran won’t be laughing, since she’s dying, but that doesn’t get the reaction he expects. Madam Yoon is horrified at the news.
Na-yoon heads back to Promise and confronts Ho-joon, demanding to know exactly where Ji-hoon went.
Ji-hoon goes for a walk on the beach that night and runs into his uncle, who’s heading out for some night fishing. Having overheard their conversation earlier, Uncle asks why his mother is here, and why she said that woman is his wife. He immediately figures out that Ji-hoon paid Hye-soo to marry him, and Ji-hoon can’t deny it.
He accuses Ji-hoon of being just like his mother, using people and pretending to care about family. But he admits that Ji-hoon is a good actor — if he said he loves Hye-soo, Uncle would believe him. He tells Ji-hoon that nothing good comes from trying to solve problems by throwing money at them, and walks away.
Hye-soo seems like she’s suffering from a wicked headache when Eun-sung asks for the bathroom. Eun-sung wants to sleep with Mi-ran, and runs off to her room when she’s told No, and Hye-soo is stopped from chasing her by a sharp pain.
Mi-ran isn’t asleep and is more than happy to let Eun-sung sleep in her room, and Eun-sung tells her she’s too happy here to be sleepy. She asks Mi-ran where she hurts, and Mi-ran sighs that when you get old, everything hurts. Sweet little Eun-sung offers to blow the hurt away, and Mi-ran sings her to sleep.
Outside, Hye-soo goes for a walk and finds Ji-hoon at a campsite. She wants to stay out so he goes back to his room first, but when he sees Eun-sung sleeping in his place, he gets some medicine and takes it out to Hye-soo for her headache. She declines the medicine, since she intends to convince Mi-ran to have the surgery and can’t take anything that would hinder that.
He tells her they’re going back in the morning, without his mother. Hye-soo says that she doesn’t have much time, backtracking when Ji-hoon wants to know what she means by that. She gets upset, insisting that Mi-ran has to come back with them, and Ji-hoon notices her shaking hands.
He thinks she’s cold and gives her his coat, and Hye-soo insists again that they need to convince Mi-ran to have the surgery. He says calmly that it won’t happen, and he plans to respect her decision. But he tells Hye-soo that since he breached their contract, he won’t ask for the money back, and will still pay her the balance. Their contract is over.
He thanks Hye-soo for coming this far, and tells her that he really felt like this was a family trip, and he enjoyed it. He’s smiling, but his eyes look so sad, and Hye-soo’s eyes also fill up with tears. He offers for them to shake on the end of their contract, and wishes Hye-soo a happy life.
They shake hands, but when Ji-hoon turns to go and starts to slide his hand from hers, Hye-soo’s fingers tighten on his and stop him. He grips her hand tightly, and turns back to her with so much hope on his face, it just hurts to see. Without a word, Hye-soo reaches up and kisses Ji-hoon on the cheek.
They stand there for a long moment, then Ji-hoon grips Hye-soo by the collar and pulls her close for a real kiss. He releases her, but only long enough to gauge her reaction. He puts his arm around her neck and pulls her in again, for an even longer, deeper kiss.
Well, if there were any doubts left regarding whether these two have chemistry, I think we can put those fears to rest. We’ve felt the stirrings for a few episodes now, and it’s incredible what happens when Hye-soo and Ji-hoon just make eye contact. Even that little moment on the beach at sunset, when Ji-hoon leaned in as if asking Hye-soo if she’d be interested, made my stomach flip. But that kiss… whoa. I mean WHOA. Now that’s how you do it. You could feel every bit of their desperation, and love, and hope, and just everything they’ve been building up to until now. All of it landed in that kiss, and I think I’ve watched it at least ten times (so far).
There’s been a lot of discussion about the surgery, and whether it’s a good idea in a narrative sense to let Hye-soo and Mi-ran go through with it. I absolutely agree that story-wise, while the whole transplant contract setup served as a great tool to get our two leads together and spark their feelings for each other, it’s probably best if the show finds a way not to let the surgery actually happen. Until now, all Ji-hoon and Hye-soo have done is plan an illegal transplant, but as of yet, no crime has been committed. As long as the surgery doesn’t go through, they have the moral high ground of having thought about it and discussed it, but not having actually done anything wrong. Once they commit a crime together though, the whole tone of their relationship changes, and not for the better. Until last week I fully expected the surgery to actually happen, but now that I’ve thought about it further, it’s really better if it doesn’t.
Especially in light of Ji-hoon’s feelings of self-worth (or lack thereof) — he’s called himself trash repeatedly, just a criminal who would use a woman and pay for her organs. As long as he doesn’t go through with it, there’s a chance he can be redeemed in his own eyes, but if the surgery actually happens, then it will just cement his opinion of himself as scum who doesn’t deserve to be loved. I want Ji-hoon to feel worthy of being loved by someone like Hye-soo, not to mention deserving of the near-hero-worship Eun-sung feels for him. If he truly becomes a man who uses his father’s money to take advantage of a desperate woman, not just in thought but in deed, it may push him over the edge and we could never get him back.
So it’s well-done that it’s written into Mi-ran’s arc to refuse the surgery, because it solves a lot of Ji-hoon and Hye-soo’s moral dilemmas while giving us some lovely character growth from the mother who’s always lived a selfish life, but now wants to die a better person. I loved Mi-ran’s moment with Ji-hoon, when she told him that it wasn’t worth it to her to sell her relationship with her son, just to save her own life. She’s lived a selfish, miserable life until now, and she’d rather spend her short time left being a better person, than earn more time forcing her son to do something illegal. When she told him that he’d already saved her life, I wanted to cry and cheer at the same time — cry that she only just realized that she wants to be better, but cheer because she knows that gaining more time isn’t worth it if she has to do it at the expense of Ji-hoon’s soul.
I also agree with what Saya said about Chairman Han, because while I initially thought he had a point in his objections to the surgery, by the end of the last episode he’d ruined it, and I reserve the right to hate his face. While he wasn’t exactly wrong to bring up his objections about the surgery and Ji-hoon’s fake marriage, and his reasoning that he had a whole company to think about was sound, in the end he still used the surgery to get what he wanted — Ji-hoon’s slavish obedience. He was willing to let the surgery happen if it netted him the prize of a thoroughly beaten son, one he could control and use as he pleased. So for that, I call Shenanigans on his whole “I’m just thinking about the good of the company” schtick, because that turned out to be a red herring so that he could flip the script and call Ji-hoon to heel. For that, Daddy Dearest wins my everlasting disgust.
But aside from him, I’m enjoying the emotional growth in all our characters, with the notable exception of Hye-soo. And honestly, Hye-soo gets a pass because she really doesn’t need to do any changing, she’s pretty amazing as she is. She’s strong and capable, gentle and nurturing, and always willing to do whatever it takes for those she loves. Her best quality is the ability to see the best in people — and I don’t mean she looks for their good side, she just automatically sees others as their best selves without even trying. I’m ready for her to share the fact that she’s ill with someone, and allow them to help her, because more than anyone, Hye-soo deserves to live.