Introverted Boss: Episode 10
Hwan-ki finds himself at a crossroads where the need to protect the ones he loves makes him face the best and worst parts of himself. As Woo-il’s well-oiled survival instincts kick in, simmering rivalries in Brain surface again. Now, Hwan-ki has to weigh his fear of attention against his need to have Ro-woon close.
EPISODE 10: “The Pointless Yet Most Helpful Confession”
Hwan-ki cooks for Yi-soo, who visits him at the penthouse. She asks him to congratulate her on her upcoming wedding, but Hwan-ki just says: “Do you have to marry him?”
“I will marry him,” answers Yi-soo, and then says that if he doesn’t congratulate her, she’ll be very unhappy. Hwan-ki falls silent.
Yi-soo sits in her room and rings up Woo-il, asking him out on a date. He demurs and says he has work, and as always, Yi-soo cheerfully tells him she understands while hiding her hurt.
Woo-il is at the small theater where Silent Monster is holding a grand opening with a horror theme. He spies Hwan-ki and Ro-woon sitting close together while Ro-woon puts ghostly make up on Hwan-ki’s face. The awareness between them is apparent from a distance, and Woo-il turns to leave.
Just then, Yi-soo arrives and says she decided to have her date with him while he works. She takes Woo-il’s arm right when Ro-woon comes out of the room. She sees them and extends congratulations on the wedding, but then her eyes fall on Yi-soo’s necklace.
Ro-woon blurts out that she has exactly the same one, and Woo-il remembers drunkenly giving Ji-hye the necklace he’d bought for Yi-soo. Yi-soo smiles and says that the necklace has a special significance to her, at which point, Woo-il abruptly excuses himself and leaves the theater with Yi-soo.
They arrive at a radio broadcast station where Assemblyman Eun is being interviewed, and Woo-il shakes hands with the producer after being assured that only approved questions will be asked.
But the very first question asked by the interviewer is: “Didn’t you pass down the company to your son?” Woo-il looks at the producer, who shrugs. They’re on air now, and there’s little anyone can do to interfere.
The assemblyman explains that Hwan-ki used to be one of the CEOs but has stepped down now. The interviewer is persistent as he mentions that the current CEO is his son-in-law. He presses the politician about passing down businesses to family members of privileged upbringing.
Assemblyman Eun saves face by revealing that Woo-il was raised in an orphanage. As Woo-il sits stunned with a helpless Yi-soo beside him, the assemblyman toots his own horn about helping talented young men from poor backgrounds rise up in life.
Woo-il wonders if this is why the assemblyman was in a hurry to announce their wedding before his election. He leaves the studio room and washes his face in the bathroom and comes out to find Yi-soo waiting, but can’t look at her. He tells her that he’ll be away for a while, and when she stops him, he tells her he can’t face her… and he can’t go on like this.
Woo-il apologizes and leaves. After a stunned moment, Yi-soo runs after him. She finds him as Woo-il crosses a street, but when she tries to follow, the light changes. Yi-soo watches Woo-il walk away and thinks to herself that he can’t leave, he has to stay. From the corner of her eyes, she sees a car speeding towards her. Yi-soo closes her eyes tightly and walks straight into its path.
Woo-il stops as screeching tires and a loud crash are heard behind him. He looks back to see Yi-soo’s prone body lying on the road, blood seeping out of her head.
Ro-woon meets Reporter Woo and hands him her press release for the horror theater. He asks if she’s found out anything about Mr. Smith, which reminds Ro-woon that she hasn’t received any flowers recently. Her friend asks her if she intends to stay at Brain and give up performing for good.
This makes Ro-woon realize that though Mr. Smith hasn’t sent any flowers in a while, she didn’t even notice. She walks to her house and thinks to herself that looking for her secret admirer was just an excuse. “What was I doing?” she asks herself. “Did I want to be complimented by him or something?”
Ro-woon thinks of all the times she did something for Hwan-ki or looked forward to his arrival or prompted him to say something nice to her. She looks at her employee badge, while back at the penthouse, Hwan-ki looks at her number on his phone.
He makes the call, and Ro-woon receives it with surprise. “You did a good job,” he tells her. “And also… thank you for staying by my side.” Without waiting for an answer, he hangs up on the amazed Ro-woon, who’s now smiling to himself.
Ro-woon comes home at the stroke of midnight, her father sighing to himself as he tries to nonchalantly hide that he was waiting for her to come home. As always, he asks: “Have you eaten?”
Ro-woon stops and says that she got a job at a PR agency. She goes in, and her father smiles slightly to himself.
Hwan-ki gets the call about Yi-soo’s accident (suicide attempt?) and arrives at the hospital to see Woo-il sitting beside her. She opens her eyes and tells Woo-il that she didn’t see the change in traffic light.
The doctor tells Hwan-ki that Yi-soo’s injury isn’t serious, just a cracked rib, but the more worrying discovery was the scars they found on her thighs. The doctor asked if he knew that she’d tried to injure herself and he admits that he did. (Oh god.) Hwan-ki asks that this information be kept secret.
He sits with Woo-il in the hospital hallway, and Woo-il admits that he told her that he was leaving. Hwan-ki realizes that Yi-soo had jumped in front of the car on purpose, but doesn’t say so aloud. Woo-il says he feels this is his fault, but Hwan-ki stops him and pleads with him to stay with Yi-soo for now.
Hwan-ki apologizes for asking it of him, but he explains that Yi-soo needs Woo-il right now. In return, Woo-il asks Hwan-ki to fire Ro-woon.
Ro-woon arrives in office and stands in front of Hwan-ki’s massive office doors. She thinks to herself that initially, she wanted to open these doors at all costs, then at some point, she began waiting for them to open. Then, she was all right with them staying closed at times, and finally… She thinks back to Hwan-ki’s phone call. Finally, she thinks, he unexpectedly opened the door from inside.
Ro-woon sighs and steps back from the door, just as Hwan-ki really opens the door and comes out. He blocks her entrance and she looks at him shyly. Then — still working with her door metaphor — she asks him if she can come inside.
Before Hwan-ki can say anything, the Silent Monster staff comes out and informs her that she’s been reassigned. Se-jong hands her all her things in a box. Hwan-ki pulls up his hood and walks off, leaving Ro-woon flabbergasted.
She follows him to the elevator and asks him to explain. Hwan-ki thinks back to his conversation with Woo-il: Woo-il had pointed out that though Hwan-ki was asking him to stay with someone he didn’t love, Hwan-ki was trying to keep Ro-woon by his side. He has also said that sooner or later Yi-soo would find out about Ji-hye if Ro-woon remained in the office.
Knowing Hwan-ki had no concrete intentions regarding Ro-woon, Woo-il had directed him to step back and do nothing, and that he would find a way to fire Ro-woon.
Hwan-ki can’t meet Ro-woon’s eyes in the present and closes the elevator door on her face. She goes out drinking with Yoo-hee and Sun-bong that night and tells them she didn’t sense any impending reassignment during Hwan-ki’s call the night before. She’s clearly still pumped about the call, but it turns out Hwan-ki had called Yoo-hee and Sun-bong too. Heh.
Yoo-hee had received the call while her children made noise in the background, so she hadn’t heard him. But Sun-bong had a long one-sided conversation after receiving Hwan-ki’s compliment, where he explained his ideas about another project in excruciating detail.
Se-jong arrives and makes it clear that he got the same call as well, completely deflating Ro-woon. Everyone asks after Kyo-ri, who enters the restaurant looking deeply uncomfortable in flashy, expensive clothes and bold makeup. It becomes clear that the makeover was Se-jong’s idea, and Ro-woon huffs in frustration.
Ro-woon goes back to office wondering why Hwan-ki reassigned her. She notices Woo-il in his office and decides to ask him — only, she’s lost her special privileges now, and is stopped by her superiors who explain the office hierarchy to her.
Ro-woon is shown to an isolated office cubicle filled with paperwork. She’s told to go through all the articles and find relevant ones for their client by the morning.
In the meanwhile, Hwan-ki is seeing Ro-woon everywhere. Everyone in Silent Monster notices, and Sun-bong tells him to bring her back if he misses Ro-woon so much. Yoo-hee asks Hwan-ki to have lunch with the staff, but he politely tells her that he has plans and remembers to thank her.
Ro-woon finishes her work and gets up to find that everyone else has left. Yeon-jung walks in just then and tells Ro-woon she’s here to see Hwan-ki.
Hwan-ki sits alone in his office as someone saved as “kindergarten” calls Yoo-hee’s phone. She must have left it behind. Ro-woon walks in, and Hwan-ki tells himself that it isn’t really her. As he stands there blankly, Yeon-jung enters the room and walks up to him.
As Ro-woon wonders if she’s Hwan-ki’s girlfriend, Hwan-ki asks her why she’s there. Ro-woon explains that she thought she’d be having lunch with him. Then, as Yeon-jung apologetically shows the packed lunch she brought, Ro-woon explains that she meant her colleagues — the boss and her just exchange greetings, and they don’t even do that now. Looking almost tearful, Ro-woon leaves.
Hwan-ki sits with Yeon-jung, picking at his food. His thoughts linger on Ro-woon’s forlorn face, and he realizes she didn’t have anyone to lunch with. Yeon-jung asks what he’s thinking about, and he explains that he’s worried about an employee.
She suggests that he send the employee away, and when he says that he already has, she tells him to bring her back. Yeon-jung astutely guesses that he’s worried about the girl she met earlier, and says that he’s doing better than she’d thought he would, in caring about an employee instead of hiding.
She tells him not to wait too long to bring Ro-woon back, and tells him to take herself for an example: “Hitting on someone too late doesn’t work too well.” But when Hwan-ki offers to introduce her to Woo-il’s team since his team can only handle one project at a time (she’s trying to hire him to do work for her), she says that she’ll use personal instead of work reasons to get close to him then.
Yoo-hee’s phone rings again, and Yeon-jung points out that it might be urgent, so Hwan-ki takes the call. Turns out that Yoo-hee’s son is complaining of a pain and the school wants him picked up. Hwan-ki arrives at the kindergarten, but the teacher is reluctant to release the child to an unidentified man.
Yoo-hee, in the meantime, is visiting Ro-woon at her exiled post. At Ro-woon’s grumbling, she explains her theory that Hwan-ki was doing Ro-woon a favor by giving her a position in the main company, since Silent Monster will likely be dissolved in the future.
Ro-woon gets a call from Hwan-ki, who’s trying to reach Yoo-hee. Once the teacher gets assured by Yoo-hee that Hwan-ki is trustworthy, he grabs the kid and runs to his car. On their way to the hospital, Hwan-ki puts Yoo-hee on speakerphone so she can calm her crying son down and find out where he’s hurting. But Yoo-hee starts wailing as well, and Hwan-ki has to calm them both himself.
Hwan-ki correctly guesses that it’s constipation, and Yoo-hee arrives at the hospital to find her son being treated. Impressed at how quickly he figured out what was going on with the kid, Ro-woon asks if he’s telepathic. Hwan-ki admits that he used to be embarrassed to go to the bathroom during daycare too.
Yi-soo gets a message from Woo-il telling her that he’s dropping in for a visit, and this sends her into a panic. She shifts her IV drip to a wheelchair and tries to hurry out of her room, but is caught by Woo-il. As he tries to get her back to her room, Yi-soo coldly tells him to leave her alone.
Surprised, Woo-il agrees, but says he’ll leave after she’s back in bed. This crumples her, and Yi-soo admits that he hasn’t washed her hair recently. Laughing with relief, Woo-il takes her back to her room and washes her hair.
After tying up the towel in her hair, he asks if they still have to be this careful around each other. Yi-soo tells him that she knows he doesn’t see her as a woman, so she has to try harder. She tells him that she can’t let him go, and that since her father uses him, Woo-il should use their marriage to get ahead.
Hwan-ki cooks for Yoo-hee and her kids at her house, while Yoo-hee and Ro-woon watch. Yoo-hee asks Ro-woon if this transformation is through the power of love, which confuses her. As Hwan-ki tries excusing himself, the two boys plead with him to stay, so they all sit down to a meal.
Ro-woon says she can’t drink beer since she drove, and Yoo-hee tells Hwan-ki that he can drive Ro-woon home. She ends this with a wink directed at Hwan-ki, which makes his eyes twitch oddly. He catches sight of a wall of scribbles, and Yoo-hee tells him it’s the work of her son.
Yoo-hee apologizes for the mess, but Hwan-ki notices a story in the drawings — a child’s “present” day. He says that Yoo-hee’s son is trying to tell her something. Yoo-hee thinks back to a few days back when she scolded her son for drawing on the wall and never saying anything.
She asks her son if he’s trying to tell her to come to his “present” day, and he nods. She sighs that it’s the same day as a client’s presentation in their office. Ro-woon volunteers to do it for her, but Yoo-hee points out that she’s not part of their team any more. Ro-woon looks at Hwan-ki, who quickly looks away.
Hwan-ki looks at the disappointed faces of the kids and volunteers to do the presentation himself. Yoo-hee and Ro-woon are elated at this, and the kids rejoice.
While Hwan-ki drives Ro-woon home, she thinks back to Yoo-hee’s reference to the power of love, and asks: “Boss, do you love Yoo-hee?”
At his denial, she explains that love makes people do useless things like volunteering to present when he’s never done it before. He says: “The person who makes me do useless things is someone else.” Pfft.
Ro-woon asks if it’s the lady who visited him at the office, and Hwan-ki says no, not now. Before she can think too deeply into the “not now,” he clearly says it’s not Yeon-jung. Ro-woon pipes down with a smile.
Of course, at the next signal, she starts asking who it is again, and if she knows the person — Ro-woon says she wants to thank her for taking care of Hwan-ki. Then she smiles at him, and Hwan-ki nearly snorts in her face. Ro-woon has a bit of green stuck on her teeth, accentuating her broad smile.
His thoughts go into hyper drive, as he tries to suppress his laughter: He should ignore it, but how can he ignore it when her red lips make the green leaf stand out so much? He should tell her, but how can he tell her without embarrassing her?
His stare keeps going to Ro-woon’s mouth, until Ro-woon begins to wonder if the “person” is her. He finally says, “It’s the green light,” and points to his lips. To Ro-woon, this looks like he’s giving her the green signal to kiss him, and she asks, “Right now? Here?” Hwan-ki promises not to look. (Oh my lols. Why are these two so funny?)
He politely shuts his eyes to let her pick her teeth, but Ro-woon shifts close and puckers up to place a kiss on his lips. Then the signal on the road changes, and the cars around them begin to honk. Hwan-ki opens his eyes to find Ro-woon inches away from him.
Ro-woon moves back, embarrassed, and protests: “You’re the one who confessed. Why are you asking me for a kiss?” Hwan-ki blinks at her in confusion as she adds that her feelings for him aren’t there yet. Then, he realizes the misunderstanding, and instead of trying another roundabout explanation, he pulls down the mirror and tells her to smile at it.
Ro-woon finally notices the leaf, and runs out of the car in mortification. Belatedly, Hwan-ki realizes that Ro-woon had been about to kiss him and wonders what just happened.
Back in his penthouse, he swivels in his chair and recalls her words: “My feelings for you aren’t there yet.” Then where are they, he asks himself futilely. The only thing he realizes clearly is that those “feelings” are definitely coming along.
As Ro-woon reaches her home, writhing in embarrassment, Reporter Woo steps out of the shadows. He asks if she likes Hwan-ki and has forgotten that he drove her sister to her death. In the face of her silence, he tells her to get Hwan-ki out of her life.
The next morning, Ro-woon walks into the office with her resignation letter in hand, only to hear Woo-il’s team discussing the project Hwan-ki is supposed to present to the client. Hwan-ki meets Woo-il and asks why he’s taking over a Silent Monster project. Woo-il says that while Hwan-ki is exceptionally capable, he can’t do presentations, and this client is important for Brain.
Hwan-ki asks what happens if he does the presentation… without Woo-il. Woo-il asks if he’s implying that he’s been a roadblock for Hwan-ki all these years. Hwan-ki says that if he pulls off the presentation, then Woo-il will have to send Ro-woon back to Silent Monster. Woo-il puts a counter challenge: If Hwan-ki does the presentation, then Woo-il will do one too, that way Brain will have a backup when Hwan-ki fails.
Se-jong hears much of this and realizes that the two friends are fighting over Ro-woon.
In the penthouse, Hwan-ki has to convince his team that he’ll definitely do the presentation. When alone, he practices in front of the mirror in his bathrobe. Ro-woon watches him then intercedes, telling him to put on his jacket and meet her outside. In the night air, she encourages him to run, but all Hwan-ki can see are her lips, which had been so close to kissing him the night before.
Finding him staring, she gets behind him and pushes him to run while discretely checking her teeth for food debris. They stop at a point overlooking the city, where Ro-woon gives him pointers for standing with confidence. She tells him to flex his legs and stand so he can’t be knocked off his feet, then fakes a punch to the face to check.
Hwan-ki falls back, and Ro-woon catches him in her arms. They stare into each other’s eyes until they break apart awkwardly. Ro-woon explains that she’s trying to help him, and calls him “Boss.” Hwan-ki suddenly says that he never liked being called that.
He explains that he didn’t think he deserved the title. Ro-woon asks if that’s why he kicked her out. Hwan-ki tells her not to bother staying by his side, and gets scolded by Ro-woon for talking down to himself. She says that she was grateful for being part of her team, and silently adds that this is her last gift to him. She offers to train him to overcome stage fright and extends a fist to seal the deal, which he bumps with a smile.
Cue practice montage, as Ro-woon slowly builds up Hwan-ki’s posture and volume when he speaks. He does mock presentations in front of the team, where his voice keeps dipping, but they keep practicing his delivery.
On the day of the final rehearsal, he puts on a suit, and looking sharp, walks out in front of the team. He introduces himself confidently, earning applause from everyone. But then they wait for the next line, and Hwan-ki stands there fidgeting. With much effort, he pushes out a few words of the painstaking practice speech while everyone sits down in disappointment.
Hwan-ki falls silent, then turns and leaves. He walks into his bathroom and yells out his deep frustration. Ro-woon follows in and tells him that it’s nearly time. He looks up with red rimmed eyes and apologizes for wasting her effort.
Ro-woon sighs and tells him that she was going to resign after the presentation, but she might as well say her goodbyes now, if he won’t speak. Surprised, he asks why, and Ro-woon thinks to herself that she had opened a door she shouldn’t have.
As a final favor, she asks him to do the presentation regardless of consequences. She approaches him where he sits on the rim of the tub, and tells him to only look at her while he presents and pretend there is no one else in the hall.
She sits by him and takes his hand while he looks at her with a pained expression. She laughs and pulls him, trying to get him to stand, but he accidentally jars something and the shower turns on. Startled, they sit there getting soaked, until Hwan-ki looks up at Ro-woon.
They are inches apart, and something in the air changes. Hwan-ki thinks back to Woo-il saying that he always steps back and just watches. His hand moves up to Ro-woon’s face and he pulls her in for a soft kiss. Ro-woon pulls back at first, but when Hwan-ki goes in for a deeper kiss, she closes her eyes and falls into it.
Phew. This guy. I could watch him kiss a wall, but Ro-woon is infinitely better. I have been completely won over by Ro-woon and Hwan-ki’s chemistry in the last two episodes. While the initial road to Ro-woon’s sympathy with Hwan-ki was rocky at best, I can now understand how this easy interplay between two strong comic actors would attract the creators of the show to this casting. They just took their sweet time bringing it out on screen.
As I’ve said before, the show did Ro-woon a disfavor by introducing her to us as almost an antagonist, a character whose sole purpose was to torment and misunderstand Hwan-ki. For a period of time, Ro-woon lacked any other dimension, and that made it hard to sympathize with her. But now the puzzle pieces of her past have had time to settle into place, and her real character has undergone the litmus test of revenge and came out much more balanced. The only thing left wanting was a connection with Hwan-ki that would really sell us on their romance. And here, the show has outdone itself by using their wonderful ease with each other to build a camaraderie that feels real.
The “green light” confession is going down as my favorite not-a-confession scene in all of K-drama history. And this is why I watch these shows. How they come up with moments so ridiculous yet telling, I’ll never know. I adored the fact that in a very real sense, the show had Ro-woon confess her own feelings before Hwan-ki could admit his own. It’s only fair, given that Hwan-ki is perennially feeling wrong-footed by his lady love.
We got a very important answer in this episode, and I’m glad at how organically it came out. As fair minded as Hwan-ki is, his silence on Yi-soo and Woo-il’s relationship has always struck me as odd. I assumed he stayed out of it because he didn’t feel capable of supporting his sister through her grief, but it makes more sense that he remained quiet to save her life. His sister needs psychiatric help, but short of having her institutionalized, Hwan-ki’s only option is probably to hope Yi-soo ends the relationship on her own. Asking Woo-il to stay with Yi-soo is clearly the wrong move, yet it also felt like his last attempt at preserving the status quo. Woo-il is finally growing a spine and trying to break out of the deathly grip of his family, and Hwan-ki knows perfectly well that this is not a clock that can be turned back.