Rating:
Average user rating 3.2
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Lucky Romance: Episode 5

He smiles! A smile is a face he knows how to make! Today we finally start to get to see more of what makes our stoic genius tick, and it’s not just all gears and computations. (Although he’ll never be without his comforting computations.) We also get a bit more of the light sensibility I’d been missing in recent episodes, which I’m glad to see, even if it does also come with a more emotional serious side as well. Still, it’s a promising improvement in my book.

Episode Grade: B+

 

 
EPISODE 5 RECAP

As Bo-nui and Su-ho’s first contract date comes to a close, Bo-nui proposes to use some extra time now, asking him to sleep with her tonight.

Su-ho isn’t sure he heard right, but Bo-nui adds that if he spends the night with her, they can end the three-week agreement now and save his precious time. Su-ho clarifies that when she says “sleeping” she actually means sex, and that the hotel room dinner was just an excuse, since sex was what she was after all along. He does have a way of distilling facts down to the coldest, plainest version, doesn’t he?

Bo-nui owns up to it, and Su-ho asks incredulously if she’s man-crazed. She asks him to consider her just a stranger he picked up at a bar or a club, since men supposedly consider sex as sport.

Su-ho agrees that it’s certainly possible for people to behave that way, and that he’s in no position to judge her for her actions—but he also wants nothing to do with it, since he’s not that kind of person. He turns to go, and she literally gets down on her knees to beg.

He tells her to find some other guy, but Bo-nui says earnestly, “It has to be you.” He stops and stares for a long moment… and then silently walks out the door.

Outside, he leans against the wall for a long moment, looking pretty rattled from the encounter, and her plea rings in his ears as he drives home. Bo-nui thinks of his rejection and sighs that she’d like to date like ordinary people do too, with someone she likes.

It’s a testament to how perturbed he is that Su-ho braves a nightclub to find Ryang-ha, then sits numbly at the bar with a drink. Su-ho denies that anything’s the matter, but it’s pretty obvious that’s a lie, even if Ryang-ha’s assumption is that his behavior is a reaction to the sudden reappearance of agent/first love Amy.

Su-ho denies that and fiiiiinally works up the nerve to ask how a woman can just propose sleeping together like it’s nothing, and Ryang-ha leaps up and crows, “You slept with a woman?! For the first time?!” Su-ho shushes him, and Ryang-ha works out that Su-ho rejected a woman who made the first move, shaking his head in disappointment. Su-ho protests that it’s not at all weird for him to reject someone he doesn’t care about; going for it would make him no more than an animal.

Ryang-ha shakes his head and asks if she was drunk, or high, or pretty, and Su-ho mindlessly answers no-no-yes. Haha. Ryang-ha tsk-tsks that he hurt the feelings of a pretty woman, arguing that it isn’t easy for a woman to make the first move, and doubly so if she were sober. Su-ho thinks back to Bo-nui’s proposal and counters that she made the proposal pretty easily enough.

Ryang-ha guesses that Bo-nui was the woman, wondering if this was part of her bucket list. Su-ho argues that she’s not dying and that it wasn’t her, which doesn’t convince his buddy at all. Instead, Ryang-ha just says it’s okay to be scared his first time, and that he’ll wish him good luck. Ha.

Gary finds Bo-nui out on the terrace brooding, and asks if her boss was very angry with her. Then he asks with a hint of jealousy whether the boss is a tiger, asking what exactly she needs from a tiger man.

Bo-nui answers plainly, “Sleep with him.” She knows it sounds absurd, but when her sister’s life is on the hook, she can’t just ignore the fortuneteller’s words without giving it a try. She sighs that she ruined things with Su-ho by rushing them, though, and now has to find a new tiger man, which is a daunting prospect.

Gary thinks it over a minute, then grabs her wrist and suggests going “to a good place.”

While washing his hands in the bathroom, Su-ho catches a glimpse of the protective symbols Bo-nui had drawn on his hand, and suddenly imagines her standing right there, saying, “It has to be you.” It spooks him and he scrubs the writing off his hand, muttering that he doesn’t like her.

Gary takes Bo-nui to an empty tennis stadium, stating that working the body is the best way to clear an overworked mind. He sends her running all over the court, and she accuses him of teasing her and chases him around in mock outrage. They run around the court laughing until she trips and falls, and he rushes over in concern.

Bo-nui shakes aside his helping hand and blinks back tears—it wasn’t a hard fall, but seems to have set off her emotions, and she buries her face in her hands, choking back her sobs. Gary just sits next to her and encourages to cry it all out until she feels better.

Bo-nui starts crying audibly at that, then lets out a scream. Gary shouts out Bo-nui’s name, calling her frustrating, and she shouts out his, calling him a dummy. Then Gary adds, “Choi Ho! Where are you?” Must be his father.

Bo-nui adds one last plea: “Bo-ra! Wake up!”

As Su-ho arrives at his building, the security guard stops by with a gift carton of carp juice that had been delivered for him with notes written all over the box. Mom, perhaps? Su-ho gives it to the guard, uninterested.

He imagines hearing Bo-nui’s voice one more time, then turns on the TV to watch Gary… and only now puts things together, realizing that the guy he fought accidentally, who’s friendly with Bo-nui, is the guy he’s been courting for his video game.

Lying down on the tennis court, Bo-nui asks if Gary ever wants to return to a previous point in his life. He replies that he’d want to go back to the night before he left for Canada, when his father had suggested living together (rather than splitting up so that Dad could support them from afar). At the time, Gary had said no.

He asks her the same question, and she replies that she’d want to go back two years to that morning before Bo-ra’s accident. She’d do anything to go back, she says wistfully, and Gary starts to reach for her hand consolingly.

Just then, squeals break out: “Oppaaaaaa!” A group of teenage fans run up to ask Gary for his autograph, and it’s only now that Bo-nui realizes that her plain ol’ childhood buddy Gun-wook is also the world-famous tennis star.

She asks why he lied about his identity, and he points out that she just never bothered to ask. She beams at him and thanks him for growing up so nicely, and he puffs up in pride, saying that he’s got lots of money now and can help her with anything she asks for. Of course, then Bo-nui starts to ask about his Canadian tiger friend (which he’d offered before knowing what she meant to do with the tiger), which replaces his smile with a grimace. Heh.

That night, Bo-nui crosses Su-ho off her list of tigers and notes that she failed. Then she writes her resignation letter.

In the morning, Su-ho’s arrival is greeted with the usual chorus of hellos, but he throws up a hand to block Bo-nui from sight and hurries into his office, where he closes the blinds. “Okay,” he assures himself, “You acted natural.” HA. Natural like a Twinkie in outer space, maybe.

Then Su-ho peers through the blinds to see Bo-nui on her way toward his office, and trips all over himself trying to run away and/or act natural, which he does about as well as we can expect, which is to say not at all. He fakes an angry phone call just as she opens the door, indicating that he’s busy, and then assures himself again that he acted natural.

Bo-nui keeps one eye on Su-ho’s office as she works, trying to catch a good moment to deliver her resignation. At one point Su-ho literally jogs out of the room to avoid her… and then gets cornered on his way back from the bathroom. He makes up an excuse to hurry off (in the wrong direction, no less), then skulks around to avoid her.

Bo-nui asks him if he’s avoiding her, which he denies, though at least this time he invites her in to say what she’s been waiting to say. She hands over the letter and apologizes for last night, calling her resignation her way of taking responsibility for her mistake.

You’d think Su-ho would welcome her decision based on all his complaints, but he turns it around on her, saying that she isn’t showing proper responsibility or attachment to her creation. Insisting that she honor her responsibility to the If game, he returns her resignation letter and orders her to get Gary for the project. Bo-nui asks if he’ll be okay seeing her around, and he replies (without looking at her) that he respects her personal life

Bo-nui agrees, and adds that she truly does care for her game; she merely thought it would be overstepping her bounds to take a more active role. She hopes the game will do well and allow its users to experience a really wonderful life through it, which was why she created it in the first place.

After she leaves, the most adorable smile breaks out onto Su-ho’s face, which he quickly hides.

Amy sets up shop in the same building as Zeze Factory, where a delivery is blocked at the gated lobby because of security. Ryang-ha points out that she’ll have to move the boxes herself, and Amy turns her brightest smile on him instead.

He ends up carrying the boxes all the way upstairs, and lets her into Zeze’s office (using his retinal scan) so she can greet her new neighbors. He doesn’t realize who Amy is until she introduces herself to the employees, and he belatedly sends Su-ho an apologetic face, knowing he’s screwed up.

Dal-nim drags Ryang-ha out to take him to task for bringing the antagonistic femme fatale in when he’d bragged about being Su-ho’s guardian angel before. He lies that he totally did recognize her but just didn’t want to address the CEO’s personal life with his staff.

Then he chides Dal-nim for being overly into her job and urges her to have a life outside of it, date people, and remove her braces. Just to nettle him, she huffs that she’ll neeeeever take them off and smiles extra-widely. Hee. If ever a person could smile violently, she would be the one.

Su-ho remains stiff and avoidant with Amy, and asks why she moved into the building. She asks if he thinks she did it because of him, as though that’s a silly notion. He replies that she’s taking her time persuading Gary about the game, so they’ve started looking into alternate avenues, which is news to Amy. She reminds him that she handles everything for Gary and urges him to trust her. Moreover, she says that she consider this reunion to be more than coincidence.

Su-ho avoids eye contact and dismisses her, but Amy wheedles anyway, dropping the jondae speech and talking like his old noona friend. She proposes that if she gives him Gary’s approval, he’ll give her a pass into Zeze. He tells her to start with Gary, and she takes that as a positive sign.

Su-ho flips through a book idly, and finds the talisman Bo-nui had snuck between its pages, at his mother’s request. He crumples it up, grumbling, “Mother.”

Gary continues his search for his father, printing a missing persons flyer to post, telling Bo-nui that he’s hopeful that it’ll yield results. Bo-nui broaches the topic of that game offer he turned down, asking him to reconsider and explaining that it’s her company’s project.

Gary’s put out to realize that the guy making the proposal is the jerk who punched him the other night, but Bo-nui says that her boss picked up her game that others had discarded and calls it a good project.

Gary takes that in, but apologetically declines, telling her to find a better, cooler person to base the game on. He says a little shamefacedly that he’s a son who’s searching for his father for the first time in ten years, and that he’s not at all that great.

Bo-nui tells him he can find his father now, and he agrees—but that means he has no time for her project.

Su-ho’s mother finds her husband brewing up a fresh batch of carp juice and comments on his habit of holding back one box (aha, so it was a gift from Dad, not Mom). She heads out to see Su-ho, ignoring Dad’s advice not to go, ready to sneak past security. But when the gate beeps in error, she slinks away quietly.

Mom pouts outside the building, just as Bo-nui steps out and recognizes her. Mom asks after that talisman, which Bo-nui assures her she hid successfully in a book. Mom wonders why it isn’t working, since it was meant to chase away the “raccoon” preventing him from being close with women, which she’d hoped would also allow her to get close to her son.

When Mom sighs about the wily raccoon that’s supposedly harassing Su-ho, Bo-nui thinks back to her game presentation—when she’d donned a raccoon head. Mom worries about the raccoon causing Su-ho to fall and hurt and feel mentally harassed, and Bo-nui thinks of all the encounters she’s caused that fit that description.

Bo-nui makes the connection, but she doesn’t admit it to Mom and tries to excuse herself hastily. Mom asks for her phone number, and despite her reluctance, Bo-nui can’t quite refuse. (Mom enters her into her phone as “Girl who has a clue.”)

Then as she’s leaving, Mom spots an older man pulling up on a delivery bike, and her eyes widen to recognize Chicken Ajusshi. She gasps, “Young-il… oppa?”

Bo-nui continues her tiger hunt online during her lunch break, but finds that she’s been banned for inappropriate posts. Conscious of her ticking clock, she frets at this added stress, just as Su-ho drops by her desk to ask a question.

But he doesn’t voice the question he really wants to ask, thinking to himself: “When you asked to sleep with me—was that really with no feelings attached?” Bo-nui thinks to herself, “Why am I agonizing like this when I’ve got a tiger right in front of me?”

Aloud, all Su-ho can do is ask what kind of sandwich she’s eating, and then promptly rejects her offer of the other half. Heh.

He’s distracted throughout Dal-nim’s presentation, asking for things she’s already sent, and when he returns to his desk he finds a sandwich left on his table with a note from Bo-nui. He eyes it like it’s the world’s most confounding mystery, wondering why she’s acting like this. He’s too distracted to focus on work, and when he drops his pen underneath his desk, he bends to retrieve it and sees… the talisman she stuck there on her first day.

Dal-nim guesses that Bo-nui did more of her weird luck habits to bother the boss, and calls to ask what she did this time.

Bo-nui walks up to her building just as Gary comes tearing down the street, flustered because he’s just gotten a call locating his father. All he has is an address and no sense of direction, so Bo-nui offers to go with him.

Su-ho contemplates the talisman all day, trying to puzzle it out. He recalls running into Bo-nui in his office early that first morning, and also how he’d interrupted her when she was fiddling with that book.

Bo-nui and Gary arrive at their destination, and he pauses nervously outside the house, wondering if his father will recognize him. The good news is, the landlord knows who he is, but the bad news is, Dad doesn’t live here anymore. Gary’s shoulders slump in disappointment.

The landlord shows them Dad’s old room, still containing the belongings he left behind. Bo-nui steps aside to give Gary privacy, and takes a call from her gambling ex-boss, who seems to be at it again; he pushes her to lend him money, which she flatly declines.

Gary reads through his father’s diary, which had followed his life and career diligently over the years. Gary furrows his brow to read the entry where Dad describes leaving his last rented room and buying a plane ticket—as far as he knows, Dad never came to Canada.

In flashback, we see Gary winning a junior tournament and Dad waiting nearby to congratulate him. But Gary had waved at someone else and run past his father to his mother, her husband, and the rest of the family, not even noticing Dad standing right there.

Flipping to the end of the diary, Gary reads the entry: “He looked happy. That’s enough.”

Gary breaks down into tears, and Bo-nui comforts him. He’s subdued on the bus ride back, and Bo-nui says reassuringly that his father will be fine. She encourages him to sleep, and he rests his head on her shoulder. Just then, the bus hits a bump in the road and her mirror goes flying into the aisle, shattering. Not a good sign.

Su-ho heads to the bookstore to raid the fortunetelling section, selecting a mound of books to study. Back at the office, he examines Bo-nui’s workstation and all the figurines and charms she’s placed around her—and comes across her notebook and the page with the note “Zeze Tigers.”

Flipping through the pages, he reads list after list of names with their corresponding birth years, all crossed out… and his own name, circled.

Putting the pieces together, he considers Bo-nui in light of this new information: her talismans, superstitions, tiger hunting. He computes this all in coldly calculating terms, and lands on the conclusion: sacrificial offering.

Arriving at their apartment, Gary thanks Bo-nui with a heartfelt hug, and heads inside. That’s when she gets a call from Su-ho and heads outside to meet him, and he confronts her all worked up over his revelations.

Insisting that she answer honestly, he asks if the reason Bo-nui said “It has to be you” was because he was born in the tiger year. That is to say, if it’s true that like the barbarians of the past offering women and beasts in prayer rituals, she was using him as a sacrifice.

She apologizes, hurriedly explaining that she should have told him everything but thought he’d treat her like an insane person.

Su-ho calls her frightening, asking how far back her scheme went, and why she’d said he was a warm person and that it could only be him. He raises his voice, and Gary suddenly appears to step in between them, asking why he’s so angry when nothing ever happened.

“It couldn’t be that you thought she loved you, could it?” Gary asks. From the stricken look on Su-ho’s face, I’d say he hit the nail.

Gary leads Bo-nui away, and Su-ho stares after them looking shaken.

But Bo-nui pulls away, feeling the need to go back and explain to Su-ho her reasons. Gary points out how Su-ho had accused her just now, saying he’d never understand her. Talking to him now will only result in being insulted.

But she says she wants that—that she wants to give Su-ho the chance to express his anger, which she considers justified. She sends Gary on without her, and runs back to Su-ho. He’s sitting in his car, looking defeated, and looks up to see Bo-nui approaching again.

Epilogue. Su-ho takes photos of the two talismans in his office and looks them up online. The one in the book (from his mother) is meant to ward off what’s getting in the way of an earnestly desired thing. And the one under his desk is meant to seduce a man.

 
COMMENTS

Okay, so I’ve figured out that I really only have one broad grievance about this show: the tone. Everything else is workable, but for a rom-com based on a zany premise, the show feels shockingly serious-minded. It feels like the director either didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to be filming a rom-com, or the director has no sense of humor.

Lucky Romance actually feels more like a romance melodrama to me (one on the lighter end of the melo spectrum), and the editing, music, and mood are all in that vein. That seems like the strangest creative choice to make, because Bo-nui’s despair feels so heavy and real compared to the screwball things she does, and it’s like the show doesn’t acknowledge the comedy inherent to the premise.

This was a pretty grave disappointment for me in the previous weeks, because I kept seeing what the show could have been—it felt like the show was missing such obvious moments to be bright and enjoyable and trading them for somber realism instead. Why sign up to make this drama if you didn’t find it funny?

But now that we’re in Week 3 and the tone has been established and consistent, I figure this is the point where we accept things and move on, or don’t accept them and leave. So with that in mind, I think I’ll have more success adjusting my expectations and seeing this as a romance drama with a few humorous moments, rather than a comedy.

To be honest, I’m not sure I would have been willing to stay onboard if not for the latest development with Su-ho’s feelings, because until that point I didn’t really feel an affinity for the characters. I thought Hwang Jung-eum was doing a pretty credible job making Bo-nui feel grounded in some truth rather than some random crazy person, and Gary’s a cute puppy with a crush on his noona, so nothing to hate there. But emotionally, it’s Su-ho who finally made me feel something with his contradicting reactions to Bo-nui’s proposal—you’d think he’d have been glad to be rid of her, but he was oddly reluctant to accept that resignation, and that’s when I knew I was in.

The show has done a good job (by which I mean mostly Ryu Joon-yeol has done a good job) making Su-ho’s curt, brusque mannerisms part of his defensive (and socially stunted) personality and not so much a jackassy trait. I’ve enjoyed seeing him being cool and logical and unmoved one moment, and then struggling to contain his panic in others. So my curiosity was piqued to see him get so angry with Bo-nui’s plan, because he could have just written her off as a weirdo and been done with her.

So the minute I realized that he was actually hurt, that he felt offended and betrayed that he isn’t someone one-of-a-kind and necessary… well, that just hurt my heart. It isn’t that he’s disappointed that she doesn’t love him, but I can see how he started to wonder about opening up his feelings the teeniest bit, only to have reality slap him in the face: You’re not special after all. His conflict and reaction feel real and interesting and something worth exploring, and when you get me good like that, I don’t care (…as much) that the joke opportunities are flying away left and right and that we’re in a heartfelt coming-of-emotional-age melo instead. I guess that’s really the true law of K-drama: Just make me care, and I’m yours.

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The leads have no chemistry. The guy is not that outstanding looking. I've seen this lady with two different leading men, all prettier than her. You put her with a pretty boy and the romance sizzles. This is plain and plain. Flat as a blueberry pancake. And boring to boot.

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