Lucky Romance: Episode 4
Things do pick up now that the setup is complete and the romance can actually get going, albeit in the form of a cold hard business arrangement. I suppose stranger things have led to romance in dramaland, and if there’s one trope I always enjoy, it’s the contract relationship that forces people into coupley situations and leads to genuine feelings. I’m still not laughing out loud like I want to be (where did the zany of the first episode go?) but there is some cuteness to be had, and the possibility of a real connection between our leads.
Episode Grade: B
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Contract in hand, Bo-nui bites the bullet and makes her soon-to-be boss Su-ho an offer: She’ll sign and work for his company for three months, and he gets the rights to the game she developed… if he dates her for three weeks. He takes a really long time to react, probably because his brain is short-circuiting.
His mom calls and pouts over the birthday breakfast she’s prepared for Su-ho, which he’s obviously not coming home to eat. She blames Dad and his drunken ramblings, and sighs that she was told it’s because Su-ho doesn’t have a girlfriend that he’s becoming increasingly cold and unfeeling. Dad just gets mad at her for wasting her time with a fortuneteller again.
Back at the office, Su-ho asks Bo-nui to repeat her terms, and comes away with, “So, you like me?” She immediately answers no, which is even more confusing. She says they wouldn’t be dating for real-real, but she wants to go on dates like other people do, and see movies, have tea, and make ramyun (code for inviting someone over for sex).
She calls it beta-dating, like the beta version of a game. Su-ho flat-out says no, wondering why a programmer would use her own game like this, comparing it to a parent holding her own child hostage. All she tells him is that someone’s life is on the line. I think you should’ve just gone with pretending you like him?
He still says no, but when Bo-nui threatens to pack up her desk and leave, he asks for one more day to think about it.
Tennis pro Gary goes for a swim with his agent Amy, but he runs off when he gets a call. She asks if it’s the noona next door again, but all he says is that he doesn’t want to lie to her, so she shouldn’t ask.
Gary races to a coffee shop where he bumps into a man on his way in, and meets with a private investigator he’d hired to track down his father. Apparently he was just here, but he ran out when he heard that Gary was on his way. Gary gets mad, but the investigator says that wasn’t really his father anyway—he was a homeless man looking for a con. Gary asks him to do whatever it takes to find Dad in the next two months.
Su-ho has his buddy Ryang-ha over to play video games (aha, so he DOES have a house outside his office!) and Ryang-ha laughs to hear about Bo-nui and her beta-dating contract. He’s convinced that Bo-nui fell for Su-ho at first sight, which Su-ho agrees is entirely possible.
But he fixates on Bo-nui’s words about it being a matter of life and death, and he asks what it means if she said that she’d end it cleanly after three weeks and disappear. Ryang-ha’s eyes widen and he says it must be her bucket list—she’s got a terminal illness, and her surgery is in three weeks, but the chances are really bad, so she wants to do all the things she’s never done before, like date. Ha. Thank goodness for Ryang-ha and his overactive imagination.
Su-ho gasps, but then he points out that she’s got perfect skin and rosy cheeks and clear eyes and shiny hair—not the signs of a dying patient. Ryang-ha just wonders when he noticed all those things.
Ryang-ha sighs when he opens the fridge to find no sign of life, and gulps down the only beverage in there. He wonders why it’s sour, and Su-ho looks over and says his mom put that there in the summer… of last year.
Cut to: the hospital, with Ryang-ha dramatically overreacting like Su-ho tried to poison him for his company shares. Now that he’s lying in a hospital bed, Ryang-ha decides that Su-ho should date Bo-nui because it’s just too sad for someone to die at that age without ever having a boyfriend.
Bo-nui comes to the same hospital to visit her sister and pass out snacks to the nursing staff, and she announces happily that she just got a job, so she’ll be paying her backed up hospital bills soon. She and Su-ho just miss seeing each other by the entrance, where she pauses to help out a frazzled mother collect her shoes. Bo-nui says with empathy that everything will be okay, and lingers there for a little while, choked up with emotion.
Gary is waiting outside the apartment building when Bo-nui gets home, and he asks her for a chat because he’s had a really rough day. She invites him over and digs up old photos of his father, who came to her junior high graduation after he found out about her parents’ death.
Gary sighs that he doesn’t have any photos like this with his dad, and he hated him for a long time, wondering if he meant nothing to his father. But now he worries that he waited too long, and that he searched for him too late.
Bo-nui gives him a stuffed owl and says that it’s a guardian spirit that’ll keep its eyes open all night in search of his father, and Gary smiles. She knows that most people just call this stuff superstition, but she says that for some people, all they have is hope and yearning, and no power to do anything else.
Gary asks if that’s why she was looking for a tiger sign, for superstitious reasons, and she says that it’s apparently good for her sister if she dates a tiger man. Gary just warns her that all men are wolves besides him (that’s what all guys say!), and when she asks about Amy, he swears that it’s just a business relationship. He insists that he’s not into wrinkly noonas, which earns him a beating from the noona sitting next to him.
It’s a really awkward morning at the office, with Su-ho silently avoiding confrontation, and Bo-nui anxiously awaiting his decision. He happens to overhear her on the phone with her sister’s doctor discussing an increase in medication—it’s the confirmation he needs to believe Ryang-ha’s theory that she might die.
He finally calls her into his office later that day and agrees to the deal. Su-ho calls it an exchange of hours, since he’s contracting his precious, expensive time in exchange for hers. He offers three hours a day on weekends, but Bo-nui scoffs that it’s not nearly enough time to set the mood and do stuff. Su-ho: “W-what mood?”
They deal back and forth, six hours a day, four hours a day, and finally settle on five hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays, for the next three weeks. It’s the oddest conversation, but Bo-nui agrees happily and says with a bow that she’ll never forget this, even when she’s dead. To her it’s just a thing you say, but he winces at the mention of death, thinking that it confirms his assumptions.
Gary looks over the game proposal from Zeze and turns it down like he does with most offers, but he surprises Amy by asking if he should do a TV appearance, and what program might appeal to the fiftysomething age bracket.
As he walks her out, Amy asks him again to reconsider the vacation, and he wonders if there’s something else going on with her. She just says it’s a waste not to compete right now, and checks his shoulder muscles.
Bo-nui arrives and sees them, and from a distance it looks like they’re hugging, or at least getting weirdly handsy. Bo-nui smiles and assumes that they’re dating after all. She comes home with a big stack of books all about dating, which advise her to eat meals with the man she’s interested in. If you had to learn that from a book, we’ve got a long ways to go.
But the next day, Bo-nui discovers that Su-ho never eats lunch with the rest of his staff, who add that he doesn’t eat, sleep, or laugh ever. Dal-nim is the only one to defend Su-ho for being a genius who also works hard, but no one else shares her opinion. Aw, does Dal-nim have a crush on him?
Su-ho tenses when he discovers Amy at the Zeze offices, and asks for tighter security and walks right past her. But she surprises him by saying that she’s here as Gary’s agent. So they’re forced to sit across from each other in a tense meeting, with his employees wondering why the air is so icy in there.
Amy says in banmal that a genius must naturally be the best no matter what field he’s in, and Su-ho tenses at that but ignores her. She admits that Gary turned down their offer, but she came anyway, “Because there’s someone I want to see, but he won’t give me the opportunity.”
Su-ho wants to deal with Gary directly, asking who would take responsibility if she betrayed them. It’s clearly a barbed comment, but she skips right over it and says that she can convince Gary of anything. Su-ho pauses at that and then says pointedly that she must still be using younger, successful men, since that’s her specialty. Ouch.
He says coldly that he’ll make sure the contract is airtight, so that neither party can betray the other and run off. She reminds him that this is business contract, not a personal one, and he says he knows the difference, unlike her.
It finally gets tense enough for the other employees to run out of there, and Dal-nim races down to the café to tell Ryang-ha about it. He recognizes that she’s talking about Amy with hilariously scant details from Dal-nim like, “She’s got this body, and this face!” and he calls her a femme fatale.
Amy says that after leaving San Francisco, she switched majors because astrophysics never suited her, which he ought to know. Su-ho just asks why she didn’t stay, since she could’ve had him write her a dissertation and get her a Ph.D. “Naïve Je Su-ho would’ve offered it all,” he says bitterly. He gets up and tells her to speak to his staff from now on, and not to call him by name anymore.
The staff gossips about it over drinks that evening, most of them amazed that Su-ho ever had a girlfriend. Speculation runs wild over whether they’re still dating, or she used him, or she cheated on him and broke his heart, and all the while Bo-nui sits there quietly, wondering what this means for her catching her tiger.
Su-ho broods by himself and flashes back to the first time he met Amy, when she’d rescued him from a lake after some bullies threw him into the water. He was always picked on because he skipped grades and was the kid genius, but she’d introduced herself as his tutor’s daughter, and offered to be his friend.
Bo-nui comes back to the office to check on Su-ho, but Ryang-ha gets to him first and takes him out for beers, and she worries about how he’s doing as she watches them leave.
Su-ho’s mom shows up at the office the next day, but she can’t manage to get past security and even Ryang-ha plays interference, calling Su-ho an angry hedgehog right now. Mom sees Bo-nui arriving for work and asks her to deliver a talisman for her without Su-ho knowing, and Bo-nui surprises her by knowing what the talisman is for. She takes the opportunity to ask Mom what Su-ho likes to eat, and Mom says seafood since he grew up near the ocean.
So Bo-nui sneaks the talisman into one of Su-ho’s books, and fakes a coughing fit when he walks in on her. He just takes it as another sign that she’s sick, which she denies. She leaves him a tuna sandwich, but he tosses it into the trash instantly.
She sees it happen because she turns back around, and he at least seems to feel a twinge of guilt about it. He explains that he doesn’t like fish, which seems odd in light of what his mother said.
Bo-nui just reminds him about their first date tomorrow, and says she’ll pick the place. She plans everything out the night before, and on Saturday she gets all dressed up go out.
She runs into Gary on her way, and hesitates before asking him to give her a bit of encouragement because she really needs it right now. He gives her a weak cheer at first, but then adds a heartfelt “Shim Bo-nui, you can do it! Fighting!” which lifts her mood.
Bo-nui waits outside a hotel, and Su-ho schleps over to her in bare feet and slippers and his normal casual clothes. It’s not so much the outfit as it is his attitude—basically he’s being bratty to make it clear that he doesn’t want to be here and doesn’t care about any of this.
She says he looks tired, and he confirms that he’s been shortchanged on sleep, “Because I signed a strange manual labor contract recently. But what can I do? I made a promise, so I have to keep it.” He leaves the rest unsaid, but it’s abundantly clear: But I don’t have to like it.
Bo-nui forges on ahead and suggests dinner up in one of the hotel rooms, which might have turned him into stone, because he doesn’t move. She adds nervously that she won a drawing and got a free room, and the view is supposed to be amazing, and she wants to do something fancy like eat in a luxury hotel room once before she dies. He gets up and agrees to it when she brings up death.
He doesn’t touch a single thing at dinner though, because she ordered all seafood. Apparently he wasn’t lying about not liking fish, so Bo-nui asks what he does like to eat. Su-ho says that as soon as he retires, he’s going to invent a pill you can take so that you don’t have to eat. Hm, this sounds crazy and familiar.
Bo-nui wonders what he enjoys in life if he doesn’t like food, while he counters that liking carbs and sweets is an indication that she’s unhappy and low on serotonin. Omg, dating this guy in real life would be so aggravating!
She takes it in stride and admits that she is unhappy, but when she says she’s going to think positive thoughts from now on to counteract that, he calls that denial. She grits her teeth and stops herself from snapping back at him, and instead takes advantage of a moment when he looks out the window.
Bo-nui grabs her wine glass and sloshes the contents all over her dress, and uses the excuse to go wash up. Is she really intending to jump his bones tonight? I don’t think this is going to go well…
She braces herself in the bathroom and has a moment of hesitation, but she gives herself a pep talk and argues that logically, he’s a man and she’s a woman, so things should proceed in that direction.
Bo-nui comes out of the bathroom in just her slip and doesn’t even meet Su-ho’s eyes as she starts to say nervously, “What I want to do is…”
But then she finally looks at him and realizes he’s fallen asleep. She deflates and says he actually looks nice when he’s sleeping, and he shocks her by asking what it is she wants to do. Ack, he wasn’t asleep? Embarrassing!
She gasps and tries to hide behind the couch, and he suddenly leans in close like he’s about to kiss her… and then says, “Time’s up.” Urg.
She argues that they still have time left, but he wants to factor in driving time and gets up to leave. In a mad dash to try and stop him, she runs for the door and falls instead, and when he makes repeated attempts to find out if she’s hurt, she blurts out that she’s just mortified.
Bo-nui hurriedly throws her trench coat over her slip and just carries her dress in hand so she can leave with him. Down in the lobby, Su-ho is recognized by a crowd of people who are bizarrely excited about him (maybe there’s a gamer convention in the hotel?) and his trauma resurfaces when they surround him and start taking pictures.
He looks so distraught that Bo-nui notices, and she breaks through the crowd to take his hand and lead him away. She sits him down in a quiet corner of the lobby, and he belatedly realizes that he’s still clutching her hand. He lets go, and when she comes back with a glass of water, she finds him hunched over and reciting multiplication tables.
On the drive home, Bo-nui pounds her chest for what seems like indigestion, and she asks about the multiplication tables. He says simple calculation helps clear his head, but when she brings up the fainting incident at the product launch, he abruptly changes the subject and says they’ve arrived.
Su-ho declines her offer for tea because he doesn’t want to waste any more time, and Bo-nui looks sad as she admits that she thought they’d gotten a little closer. After a long beat, he calls her name and turns to her like he’s about to say something meaningful… and asks, “Are you not getting out of the car?” Wah-waaah.
He drives off and touches his hand for a second before going off on a rant about how he would’ve been fine calming himself down without her holding his hand and stuff. He decides he’s going to have to get some kind of restraining order to put an end to the physical contact, and gets all riled up again at the memory of her touch.
Gary is waiting with ice cream at the bus stop for Bo-nui to come home, and when she says she’s already at their building, he runs back happily. He creeps up behind her and also happens to be wearing a mask over his face, and it startles her for a second until she sees Gary smiling back at her.
But then out of nowhere, another hooded man flies through the air and launches himself at Gary. It’s a pretty swift and one-sided fight, and Gary gets the other guy pinned to the ground easily. Bo-nui starts to call the cops when Hoody coughs out her name, and she gasps to see that it’s Su-ho.
They all relocate up to Bo-nui’s apartment, where Su-ho examines his cuts and scrapes and looks jealously over at Gary, who’s currently getting every little cut bandaged by Bo-nui and enjoying the attention. I love how Su-ho so clearly wants the same treatment, but can’t admit it and insists that he’s fine.
Gary takes issue with Bo-nui’s boss showing up at her place at night, and starts getting all accusatory until Bo-nui has to physically shove him out, promising an explanation later. Once he’s gone, Bo-nui helps Su-ho with his bandages, and draws protective characters on his hand to help him heal.
He says he doesn’t believe in that stuff, but she argues that she does. It’s the physical contact that he’s more concerned with, and he pulls away the second she’s done. He says he’s going to add a contract stipulation that keeps her from touching him, and she argues that dating will naturally lead to skinship. He says it’s fake anyway, and turns to go.
Su-ho finally remembers why he came back and tosses a pharmacy bag at her feet, because he noticed her indigestion earlier. Aw. He even bought two kinds in case of drug interaction with whatever other meds she’s on. She’s confused at that, so he confronts her about it and asks directly what her illness is.
He lays out all the signs, like her taking medicine outside the hotel (which was an herbal calming remedy for her jitters), coughing (when she’d choked on her own water from nerves), hiccupping, or falling over.
I don’t know why, but I like the way he asks, “What’s broken?” He prods, asking if she’s getting surgery in three weeks and if they say she’ll die. She’s still confused, so he finally tells her that he knows about her terminal illness.
Bo-nui laughs and says it’s a misunderstanding, and Su-ho is mortified at the mistake. He covers up his embarrassment by saying he’s going to add that clause about no skinship, and even takes back the indigestion medicine.
She laughs again and says that he’s unexpectedly nicer than she thought at first, agreeing to her crazy contract because he felt bad about her dying, and bringing her medicine, and jumping in to save her even though he can’t fight. Hee.
She says now that she thinks about it, he’s pretty great. He doesn’t know how to react to the direct compliment and just stands there staring back at her. She adds with a smirk that if he just said things nicely, he’d be perfect.
Su-ho awkwardly points to his watch and says they’ve run overtime, so they’ll cancel tomorrow’s date and add an hour and a half to next week’s date. But Bo-nui asks, “Can’t we use that now? That hour and a half—let’s use it up now. Sleep with me tonight.”
Back at the hospital, Su-ho had noticed Bo-nui there after all, which had solidified his assumption that she was ill. He saw the emotion in her reaction as she told the worried mother that everything would be okay, and again when she repeated it to herself.
I didn’t think she’d put it out there like that and ask him to spend the night, but maybe the show will surprise us and do something unexpected for a change. That’d be nice, since the last few episodes have really drawn out the setup, which I thought was already done in the first episode. But the workplace drama really weighs down the story, and part of me still can’t believe it took this many episodes to get Bo-nui officially working for the company. Because that’s just not the part we care about. I just wish that the main characters were actively funnier, because right now Ryang-ha is the only one carrying the comedy. I like the characters and especially the actors, but I still feel like the story is a step behind. Things did pick up the second that Bo-nui and Su-ho went out on their first date, because now we’re FINALLY done talking about it and doing something; it just shouldn’t have taken this long.
The date was a series of disasters, but I honestly wish it had been more embarrassing and more of a disaster. Is that weird? It’s just that if it were going to go down in flames (which of course it was), I wanted epically embarrassing hilarity to bring it down. As it is, she bruised her ego, but Su-ho seems so clueless that I don’t think her intentions registered with him at all. The handholding and his reaction to it was a definite upswing, because I was beginning to worry that he didn’t like her, even though he said her hair was shiny (I do like that he fixates on little details like that, even if he misses the big picture entirely). And maybe having Gary around will be a good thing, if it brings out his childish jealousy.
I’m disappointed that the terminal illness misunderstanding didn’t go on longer, since there was so much effort put into Su-ho’s thought process and all the little confirmations he thought he’d seen. I thought it seemed like a plausible reason for her to want a three-week beta-boyfriend, and now I’m not sure what excuse she’ll come up with for why she made him do it. I still think it works in her favor if she lets him think she has a crush on him, but maybe she thinks that’s more embarrassing? Three weeks just doesn’t seem like a lot of time, especially considering Su-ho’s personality. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll tap into his feelings and fall for her first? I know, don’t hold your breath.
I just hope there are more contract relationship hijinks in store, because that’s the only part of the show I like, and right now it’s surrounded by a lot of filler side stuff that’s unnecessary. It’s kind of like getting a jelly-filled doughnut and having to go through ninety percent of plain doughnut to get to a dollop of jelly in one corner. Don’t be stingy with the jelly! The jelly is why we buy the doughnut!
- Lucky Romance: Episode 3
- Lucky Romance: Episode 2
- Lucky Romance: Episode 1
- Lucky Romance’s charm-filled (literally) promo posters
- Lucky Romance gets ready to test its fortunes and fates
- Hwang Jung-eum traps her tiger man in Lucky Romance
- Ryu Joon-yeol and Hwang Jung-eum get handsy for Lucky Romance
- Sneaking good luck charms in Lucky Romance’s first teaser
- Lee Soo-hyuk, Lee Chung-ah complete Lucky Romance’s love square
- Lucky Romance’s leads get cozy