Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 4
With the backstory firmly established, we get to spend more time in the present and move beyond initial misunderstandings and crossed wires, and I’m enjoying the way our characters interact now that the initial icy layer has been breached. Not that we’re anywhere near the warm gooey center, mind you (I don’t know why this drama turned into pie a la mode, but there you go), but we’re seeing cracks in everyone’s steely armor—especially our hero’s—and I’m liking how it throws everyone else a little off-kilter.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
As Joon-young drives up and down every single bridge over the Han River, Eul peers over the railing on the bridge that she’s on. She spots something curious underneath, and brightens to see a young couple taking a picture together. Ha, it’s Lee Yubi and 2PM’s Junho, and Eul gasps.
She quickly takes out her phone and leans precariously over the edge to get a good picture of them, murmuring brightly to herself that the heavens haven’t forsaken her yet. Lol, they’re putting in cameos as themselves, and Eul guesses that they must’ve started dating while shooting their movie together.
It’s then that Joon-young spots Eul and yanks her back down, shouting at her for taking her life so easily. He screams that he’ll shoot the documentary, calling her crazy, while she just stares up at him like he’s the crazy one.
Back in 2011, Eul nearly dies on the operating table, but is revived at the last minute. The surgeon comes out to tell her little brother Jik that the surgery went well and the worst is over, and down the hall, Joon-young hears them and sheds a tear, though he still looks agonized. Ji-tae also watches from a distance and hears that Eul made it.
Joon-young goes straight to his law school advisor, his finger still bloody from him picking at it all night, and announces that he’s dropping out of school. When his teacher asks why, Joon-young says that if someone like him became a prosecutor, this country would really be hopeless. It’s what Eul had said about him in high school, though now his guilt has made him believe it.
He walks the tree-lined street through campus one last time, soaking it in before leaving it all behind.
Fast-forward to 2016, after Joon-young has agreed to do the documentary. Best friend Nari totally overdoes Eul’s hair and makeup for the first day of her documentary shoot, and Eul reminds her that Joon-young is out their league now and starts wiping off the lipstick.
But Nari says this isn’t about seducing him—it’s about pride, and she can’t have Joon-young looking down on Eul when all of them were once friends on the same level. Eul sees her point and asks for the gold dust.
Joon-young gets out of the shower and spends a gloriously gratuitous amount of time checking himself out in the mirror. He asks his reflection how someone so healthy could be sick.
Manager hyung Gook-young runs in to tell Joon-young that Eul is outside the front door, and whatever he’s picturing right now, reality will be better than that. Joon-young sees what he means when they get to the video intercom, and Eul is standing there looking like she’s dressed for a nightclub. In 1989, or thereabouts. Whatever era it was, there sure was a lot of glitter.
Gook-young cracks up at Eul’s idea of dressing up to impress Joon-young, but Joon-young just takes it in silently and sends hyung to go feed the dog. He watches Eul take a bunch of selfies and declare herself so pretty that it must’ve been difficult to hide it all this time, and he can’t help but crack a tiny smile.
Eul is surprised when Nari pulls up in her scooter, insisting that they swap out Eul’s fake-designer purse and earrings for the real deal (which she’s borrowed from a friend). Eul doesn’t see the need, but Nari says Joon-young would know the difference and might look down on her.
Eul argues that Joon-young will look down on her regardless of designer anything, and adds that his terrible personality is even worse than it was back in school. He’s listening to all of this, of course, and his face darkens.
Nari gapes at the size of Joon-young’s house, but quickly reverts to pep-talk mode and reminds Eul that she’s got just as bad a temper as Joon-young and is practically a dog once she goes crazy (lol, this is a weird pep talk), so she should consider any rants from Joon-young as nothing more than a dog’s bark.
Nari encourages Eul to make the most of this opportunity, given that she faked a suicide to get it, and Eul corrects her that she never said she was going to kill herself; she just never corrected his misunderstanding.
Now THAT makes Joon-young angry, and he leaves her standing outside his door in the freezing cold in retaliation. Eul waits and waits, and just as she’s about to kick his door, Joon-young comes out to take Pororo for a walk and catches by the arm.
He’s back to speaking formally with her, so Eul follows suit, though she’s perplexed when he calls the documentary off. He confronts her about the fake suicide attempt, and she points out that it was his misunderstanding, and she meant to tell him the truth… but forgot.
She argues that he made her lose an exclusive on Junho and Lee Yubi’s date, which would’ve paid for two months’ wages. He tells her to send her bank info to his manager so he can give her twice what she would’ve made then, and she says he might as well give her a hundred million won.
He scoffs at that and says he could give her a billion won, and a car, and the house, and everything he has, and screams at her for asking for something so little as a hundred million. He thoroughly stomps on her pride, and Eul shouts back that it must be nice to have so much money that he can look down on everyone and go back on his promises like a bastard.
She punctuates it with a kick to his shin, and trusty sidekick Pororo reacts like it’s an attack on his master and charges at Eul. Next thing we know, Joon-young has her slung over his shoulder as he carries her inside.
He flops Eul down on the couch and tells Gook-young that she’s probably just faking it, because all Pororo did was charge at her, and she fainted. He heads out to exercise and tells Gook-young to send her home, only to have Gook-young shout worriedly that something’s really wrong.
Eul is feverish and covered in rashes, so Joon-young has his doctor make a house call. The doc says she’s allergic to dogs and suffered a shock, and should be fine after taking medication. The doc notes that Joon-young looks healthy, and Joon-young says it must’ve been a bad diagnosis. He jokes that he won’t sue the doctor, but neither of them looks convinced.
Joon-young ties Pororo up outside and thanks him for the defensive strike, but tells him not to attack Eul anymore, because biting her will get him kicked out of the house. Pororo whines in response.
Joon-young goes to check on Eul and peeks at her ringing phone, which says that “Husband” is calling. That certainly gives him pause.
It turns out that Husband is Ji-tae, who shows Eul’s little bro Jik a nice apartment and says he and his sister can stay here for free because it belongs to a hyung he knows. Jik turns down the offer, saying that Eul is becoming more shameless about money these days, and getting something like this for free would just solidify her belief that working hard is pointless.
Jik doesn’t want his noona to rely on get-rich-quick schemes and luck and chance, and says that he’s already found a friend to stay with, and Eul can stay with Nari until they save up enough for a new apartment.
Ji-tae is even more embarrassed when Jik hands him an envelope, saying he got a bonus from the mom of a student he tutors. Jik tells Ji-tae to buy himself a new winter parka and points out the hole in the one he’s wearing. Ironically, Jik says that Eul is so materialistic that Ji-tae’s poverty is preventing him from winning her over, and he suggests buying a nicer jacket to impress her, so that he can become Jik’s brother-in-law. Oh, if you only knew how rich he really is.
When Ji-tae arrives at home that night, he looks like a totally different person head to toe. It’s a family memorial dinner, and Jung-eun is there cooking the entire lavish spread. Mom and the housekeeper ajumma are thoroughly impressed, though little sister Haru outwardly shows her disapproval.
Haru goes to Dad and complains that nobody could be that perfect and not have something else going on, and speculates that Jung-eun might have come from another star, or eat snakes when no one’s around. When Ji-tae comes home, Dad tells him to say something nice to Jung-eun for doing all the cooking.
Ji-tae agrees pleasantly, though in his room he looks distraught over having to make nice with Jung-eun. In a flashback, we see that Ji-tae had asked his parents to call off the arranged marriage to Jung-eun, asking for a chance to marry someone he loved. Surprisingly, Dad had been understanding, and said that no matter how important his own career was, it wasn’t more important than his son’s happiness.
Now in the present, it’s unclear what’s changed, because he comes out of the bathroom and rubs Jung-eun’s shoulders like a boyfriend. She asks for a kiss, and when he doesn’t reciprocate, she calls him out on only being with her out of a duty to their parents, and when he doesn’t argue, she feels insulted.
He suddenly grabs her by the arm and says, “Let’s get married.” He wants to skip the engagement and just marry her, but she wants to know if he loves her. All he says in response is, “As long as you don’t push me away, I won’t leave you.” Ouch.
Jung-eun says it’s okay because she’ll just love enough for the both of them, and pulls him in for a kiss. He couldn’t look less into her if he tried (lol, this writer and her open-eyed kisses).
Joon-young wakes up at the foot of his bed and is surprised to see Eul gone, though he finds her right away stuffing her face with ramyun in his kitchen. He just gapes for a moment and then asks if fainting is her shtick. She says that she got into a car accident some years ago, and had to undergo three surgeries—since then, her body’s been all messed up. He gulps at the mention of that accident.
Eul hems and haws and then brings up that offer he made before she fainted, and asks if he really meant it when he said he’d give her everything. He asks what she wants, and she asks for a hundred million won, which she says is the biggest amount of money in her world.
Joon-young doesn’t say a thing, but she negotiates the amount down lower and lower, and then suggests a loan if he won’t give it to her outright. But he asks why he should just give her money when she could earn it herself, and she argues that he took away the one job she managed to score.
At that, he calls his agent and says he’ll shoot the documentary, and they can add a clause in the contract that if he changes his mind again, he’ll pay them a thousand times the contract breach fee.
Ji-tae gets a message late that night about a pair of sneakers, and Eul calls to say that they’re his present, in honor of her new job. He’s happy for her, until he hears that it’s a documentary on Shin Joon-young.
Clearly Ji-tae knows something, because he’s too shocked to answer her, and Eul hangs up thinking he fell asleep. She must really like him, because she ends the call with a kiss to her phone.
The next morning, Joon-young builds Pororo a doghouse outside, and he explains that it’s just for three months while they shoot the documentary. Really though, couldn’t the dog have his own wing of the house and be fine?
Pororo is not pleased, and Joon-young offers to swap houses and let Pororo have the big house. Well that’s just adorable. He then spends the day cleaning up alllll of the dog hair in his house because of Eul’s allergy.
Eul gets called in by her old boss, who butters her up using Eul’s own tea-with-a-side-of-aegyo tactic. She quickly discovers that he heard about her scoring Joon-young’s documentary, and he offers her twice the pay as the other production house and a full-time job with benefits. She lights up at that.
Her boss heads outside to take a call from someone he calls “managing director,” and we see that it’s Ji-tae. He’s made an offer to invest in their company as long as they secure Eul. Hm… what are you up to?
Joon-young’s manager and agent are surprised to see that Joon-young redecorated for the documentary shoot, and they wonder where he went. But ack, Joon-young is throwing up in his toilet at the moment, and writhing in pain on his bathroom floor. As he crawls to the shower and writhes in unbearable pain, he narrates:
“I wanted to ask, why now? I was fine all this time, eating well, sleeping well, and I shortened my record up to the peak of Cheonggye Mountain by three minutes. Eul is supposed to come today. I’ve waited for this moment for so long. Why now, of all times? But then I remembered a promise I had made long ago: ‘If you save Eul, if you only save Eul, I will give up all of the happiness allotted to me.’ I will give up all of the happiness allotted to me.”
Back in her ex-boss’s office, Eul thanks him for the offer, and he’s pleased that she doesn’t hold a grudge. But Eul corrects him—she does hold a grudge, a mean one in fact—and turns down the job. She clarifies that it’s really because if she were to betray Joon-young now, he’d kill her. Ji-tae must’ve been trying to get her away from Joon-young’s documentary, because he doesn’t look pleased to hear that Eul turned the offer down.
Ji-tae’s flashback brings us back to the night of Eul’s accident in 2011, and this time we see that Ji-tae had been outside Eul’s house too, and he saw Joon-young eavesdrop on her blackmail phone call to their father.
Ji-tae watched from a distance as Joon-young followed her out, and he saw the whole accident play out right in front of him. At the hospital, he’d seen Joon-young crying and washing up in the bathroom, and he’d picked up the phone Joon-young left behind, with a picture of him and Mom on the screen.
Ji-tae had ordered an investigation into Joon-young, confused about why he’d nearly kill his own girlfriend to protect Ji-tae’s father. He’d gotten a swift confirmation that Joon-young was likely his half-brother, and in the present, Ji-tae takes out an old photo of his father hugging Joon-young’s mother.
At the hospital, Joon-young congratulates his doctor on not being a quack. Pff. Doc says his condition is declining rapidly, and Joon-young asks how long he has to live—six months, or three? Doc avoids answering and suggests checking into the hospital and beginning chemotherapy right away. Ah, so it’s cancer, is it?
Joon-young confirms that he’d die anyway, and just asks for medication to manage the pain, “So that no one knows that Shin Joon-young is dying. Even me.” He says that if the doc can make it painless until the day he dies, he’ll sign a hundred autographs for his daughter.
Ji-tae’s mother happens to cross paths with Joon-young on his way out, and she wonders why he’s at the hospital. Joon-young calls Mom, who doesn’t answer and sends back one of those automated messages saying that she’s in a meeting and can’t take calls. He scoffs at the idea of an ajumma at a restaurant holding meetings.
Mom is in fact holding a meeting, of what appears to be an anti-Joon-young fan club. She and two of her employees (one of them is Gook-young’s sister and Joon-young’s stylist) are busy writing bad comments about him online, and Mom schools them on being a proper anti-fan.
Ajusshi catches them in the act and threatens to report them all, and chides Mom for her childish method of trying to get Joon-young to quit acting. Ajusshi points out how ridiculous it is to think that if Joon-young became a prosecutor, his father would suddenly break up his loving family and take Mom and Joon-young back.
But Mom has a bone to pick of her own, and says that Joon-young didn’t choose to become an actor—he did it because Gook-young got himself into trouble and Joon-young signed with his talent agency for the money, to save Gook-young. Ajusshi is shocked that Mom knew all this time, while Mom feels chastised in turn when she learns that Joon-young knows all about her being his anti-fan.
Apparently Joon-young’s fan club has been tracking his antis too, and Haru in particular is ready to go after Mom (not knowing that it’s his mom, of course, because who would guess that?). But more pressing news steals their attention: They discover that the PD for Joon-young’s documentary is too young and pretty to be left by his side ’round the clock.
Haru gets her group to rally their efforts into finding out whatever they can about this PD Noh Eul, and nearby, a café employee lifts his head at the name. It’s Jik, of course, because this must be one of those shows where there is One Café, One Restaurant, and One Hospital in all of Seoul.
Jik hides the fact that that’s his sister they’re planning to bring down, and he exchanges numbers with Haru, promising to give her some dirt on Noh Eul.
Meanwhile, Eul gives a dreary presentation on the documentary concept to Joon-young, the documentary team, and his staff, and they all nearly pass out from boredom. Joon-young interrupts to ask her to summarize the point like he’s stupid, and that finally gets her to speak like a normal person and not a robot.
Eul says that the concept is an uplifting message to young people to fight for life, using Joon-young’s bucket list. Suddenly they all realize it’s a cool idea, though Joon-young stills when Eul says the message is: Live, however you can, and don’t die, because no matter what life throws at you, it’s worth living.
Joon-young gets up abruptly and says he wasn’t told that this would be the concept, and storms out of the room. He retreats to his bathroom floor again, his mind swimming with thoughts.
Outside, everyone takes bets on whether Joon-young will bow out of the documentary yet again, and the crew is ready to pack up and leave. Eul says she’ll try to convince him one more time, but to everyone’s surprise, Joon-young walks out with a smile and says they should start.
Eul begins the interview by asking what Joon-young would want to do most if he only had a year to live. He doesn’t answer for the longest time, making everyone in the room tense. Finally he breaks the silence by suggesting that a year is too long, and he’d prefer to say it’s three months.
Eul says that’s fine, so then he says he’s going to live recklessly, and kill everyone he doesn’t like. She says that’s not really the goal of this documentary, but he ignores her and says that he’ll go to clubs and sleep with a different woman every night.
His agent tries to stop the interview, but Joon-young barrels on and insists he’s serious. Eul asks why he’s not including drug use or drunk driving or gambling then, but he counters that he’s not joking—he’s speaking sincerely.
Then he suddenly says, “Will you date me, Noh Eul PD-nim? Let’s say I’m going to die in three months, so just for three months—really passionately.”
The final moment had less impact because we’ve seen a version of that confession (er, proposition?) in teasers for the show, but it does take on a whole new meaning now that we know Joon-young is really dying. It makes the whole documentary project much more interesting, because we can explore his impending death and all his angst about it on a character level while he gets to save face and act like he’s not really dying. It works, though I wish it had all been less coincidental. There’s just really not a strong reason for Eul to have come up with the bucket list idea, so it seems a little convenient that she happened to come up with the concept when he’s just been given a terminal diagnosis and in denial about his death.
In fact, there’s a lot of coincidence in this drama, and I’d prefer it if we could let characters intersect in a slightly more organic way. I feel like the web is sticky enough without having Eul’s little brother run into Ji-tae’s little sister, or to have Haru gunning for Eul because she’s in love with her half-brother (which, um…), because I think the leading love square is plenty complicated as it is. I’m just grateful that things move so quickly in this show, and that traditional melodramatic plot points are played undramatically. If birth secrets had dragged on, I would have less tolerance for the family stuff, but every week the reveals come fast and loose, and it’s refreshing that a character like Ji-tae just knows the score from the start.
That also makes him dangerous though, and I’m intrigued by Ji-tae’s duality. He seems like such a sweet oppa to Eul and Jik, and up until today I thought he was acting benevolent out of guilt for his father’s actions. I think that’s still the case, but then there’s also this very cold, calculating side to him, who’s willing to manipulate Eul’s livelihood to keep her away from Joon-young, or marry Jung-eun for who knows what end. Is it really because of his father? Or is he trying to get close to her because of Eul? Ji-tae and Eul seem to genuinely like each other, so if he’s doing this to take Jung-eun down, he’s shooting himself in the foot romantically. But then he clearly wouldn’t do anything to harm his father. I don’t know, but he’s definitely an enigma.
I think it really helped to see Joon-young show palpable signs of his terminal illness today, because he’s been so flippant that it’s easy to forget he’s actually dying. But that’s the thing that makes his character a loose cannon, and I felt a surge of energy in the story when we got to see him break down in pain and then act out at Eul because she was poking him where it hurts. Every time I get tired of his jerky antics, there’s something to bring it back around and make me utterly sympathetic, like when he smiles at Eul when no one is looking, or when his mom is mean to him, or when he breaks down physically. I’m hoping that it spurs him to actually spend his remaining time making things up to Eul. It’s what he ought to do and what he wants to do, not that his stubbornness will make it very easy. The problem is, Ji-tae is seemingly trying to do the same, except the two half-brothers are at odds with one another even with the best of intentions. I guess this is what they call a pickle. Or in dramaland, Thursday.
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 3
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 2
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 1
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