Introverted Boss: Episode 11
The dots finally connect for Ro-woon in this episode as she learns that Mr. Smith was more than just the bearer of beautiful bouquets, but also her silent guardian. However, silence isn’t always golden since it can inadvertently breed misunderstandings and dismantle relationships that could have been. As the secrets start to reveal themselves, so too does our main couple, and they grow closer than ever before.
EPISODE 11 RECAP: “Mr. Smith’s Long Shadow”
Ro-woon extends her hand to a vulnerable Hwan-ki, encouraging him to only look at her during the presentation and pretend that there’s no one else in the hall to ease his nerves. He hesitates, so Ro-woon pulls him toward her, but in doing so, he knocks against the faucet, which turns on the shower and soaks them both. He’s reminded of when she told him never to change and proceeds to clasp her face and kiss her. She pulls back, but he goes in for a deeper kiss, and this time, she doesn’t refrain.
After the kiss ends, Ro-woon gets up and walks away, stunned and perhaps a tad ashamed. She’s still wet so she decides to throw on Hwan-ki’s hoodie and quietly slip out instead of returning to her team.
But then she realizes the presentation is imminent. She remembers Reporter Woo stating that Hwan-ki drove Ji-hye to her death, and Ro-woon determines that she can’t go on like this anymore.
Later, Hwan-ki, Sun-bong, Se-jong, and Kyo-ri are outside the venue for the marketing strategy competition for chromatic paints. Ro-woon’s not answering her phone, and Hwan-ki informs the rest that she probably won’t be coming. Woo-il’s group confidently steps out after presenting, which means Hwan-ki’s up next.
It’ll be a tough act to follow, and the Silent Monster team wordlessly heads inside. Hwan-ki steps onto the stage. The spotlight’s on him, and he gets off to a shaky start, his voice and breath uneven.
He barely manages to introduce himself, and the audience murmurs in confusion. Hwan-ki’s just about given up when he spots Ro-woon standing at the end of the runway holding up her phone with the flash on while smiling brightly at him. “Boss, I’m here. You can do it,” she thinks to herself.
Hwan-ki finds the courage to raise his mic once more. He focuses on Ro-woon, and his voice becomes steady as he talks about the occasionally foolish nature of adults — despite the futility, they still knock on closed doors, desperately hoping that someone will listen. We cycle through various scenes: Yoo-hee misunderstanding her sons’ scrawls on the wall, Hwan-ki’s shower kiss with Ro-woon, Yi-soo running into traffic, and Kyo-ri justifying fake-dating Se-jong.
“He heard my knocks,” Ro-woon narrates. “As long as there’s one person willing to listen, that’s all you need,” Hwan-ki states. Cut to a kindergarten where Yoo-hee sits in the audience while her son stands frozen on stage as his other classmates dance and sing with ease.
Yoo-hee calls his name and cheers him on, letting him know that he’s got this. Buoyed by his mom’s faith in him, he smiles and joins in on the performance (what funny costumes!). Back to Hwan-ki’s presentation: He proposes that mother and child doodle on the walls together to create art — instead of perceiving it as filling the walls with paint, he wants them to think of it as breaking down walls, which will turn into doors and windows that will open wide. Ro-woon narrates that Hwan-ki had looked at her after opening all the doors.
After the presentation, Hwan-ki hugs Ro-woon and thanks her, but she rejects his gratitude, saying that he got fooled by her. Despite her fear that all the opened doors will close after she reveals the truth to him, she starts to speak, but Hwan-ki suddenly faints. Next we see Hwan-ki at home in bed, looking weak and ill.
Kyo-ri brings him medicine, and Sun-bong plugs in a humidifier and shyly compliments him on his awe-inspiring speech. Hwan-ki appreciates their consideration, but he really just wants to sleep in peace.
Then Yoo-hee arrives with porridge like the doting mother she is. And then Se-jong comes to tuck him in and reluctantly commend him for conquering his fears for Ro-woon while instructing him not to make her cry. Thinking that’s the end of the visits, Hwan-ki readies to sleep and wonders why everyone’s calling him “Boss.” But then Ro-woon arrives last, heh, and answers that they collectively decided to call him that.
Hwan-ki’s fed up with visitors and is about to protest when Ro-woon catches him from falling backward. He’s still feverish, so Ro-woon feeds him ginseng extract, knowing he overexerted himself for the presentation. She urges him to recover soon so she can finish telling him everything.
While Ro-woon folds up the hoodie she borrowed, she thinks back to what Se-jong said about Hwan-ki doing the presentation just so Ro-woon could return to Silent Monster. Just then, Hwan-ki emerges, and she follows him to the kitchen. Ro-woon’s about to spill, but Hwan-ki interrupts and says he’ll talk first.
He says he’s fully aware that the two of them can’t be together, and that he knows who she is and how much she suffered because of the incident from three years ago. Ro-woon’s shocked to hear this, and then it suddenly dawns on her: “Mr. Smith? The one who sent me flowers for three years was you?” She grows emotional and asks him why he spent all this time quietly looking after her.
Hwan-ki tears up and finally utters the words he wanted to express for the longest time: “I’m sorry.” Ro-woon shakes her head, explaining that she’s the one who misunderstood him and that she should be the one apologizing, but Hwan-ki says she was only did what she had to. Ro-woon states that Ji-hye’s death wasn’t his fault, and that the real cause of death is one that people don’t know.
She asks him to back her up on this, but Hwan-ki maintains that he’s partially responsible for her death; it pains him that he can’t say more than that. She begs him to reveal exactly what happened that night three years ago, but he says he needs more time — although he can’t undo the past, he vows to do everything he can in the present and asks for her patience. After she leaves, Hwan-ki breaks down and sobs.
Ro-woon sniffles at the thought of Hwan-ki knowing all along and shouldering his burden alone. Behind her, Hwan-ki watches her walk home, where her father hears the catch in her voice and wonders if she cried. Hwan-ki lingers outside the barbershop before taking their garbage and sweeping the falling snow off the steps.
The next morning, Ro-woon’s father finds his trash missing, and his neighbor friends note that the trash thief and possible neat freak has struck again. Next, we see that Hwan-ki is still sick in bed, but the Silent Monster crew is ready to get to work; their presentation won, and Ro-woon’s transfer to Silent Monster has been approved. Downstairs, the Brain team reels from Woo-il’s surprising loss to Hwan-ki, and Woo-il’s looking every bit the sore loser.
Despite the approved transfer, Ro-woon’s absent and not returning calls. Yoo-hee allocates tasks to her team to prepare for the upcoming paint event and motivates them to work extra hard, since their win was the result of Hwan-ki’s efforts. Meanwhile, Ro-woon’s at home and still in bed.
Her dad quietly gifts her a pair of white heels after learning that she gave up musical theater for PR in order to follow in Ji-hye’s footsteps. He’s so proud of her, but Ro-woon informs him that she already quit. Meanwhile, Woo-il finds his future father-in-law all smiles after Hwan-ki won the competition.
Assuming he let Hwan-ki win, he thanks Woo-il and instructs him to devise a plan in order to protect themselves from Reporter Woo’s broadcasts — they feature Hwan-ki’s scandal along with mortifying clips from the aspiring politician’s speeches. He also orders Woo-il to step up his game now that Hwan-ki’s coming into his own.
Hwan-ki stops by Woo-il’s office hoping they could shoot hoops like old times, but Woo-il says he’s too busy due to the upcoming election of Hwan-ki’s father. Hwan-ki tells Woo-il that they need to come clean about what happened three years ago and beg for forgiveness, but Woo-il just turns combative.
He accuses Hwan-ki of feeling high and mighty after the win and reminds him that he’s still needed for his father-in-law’s election, even though Hwan-ki may have no use for him anymore. Hwan-ki insists it’ll be best if Woo-il confesses the truth himself and promises to wait until he’s ready, but Woo-il doesn’t want to hear it.
Yi-soo’s been discharged, and Hwan-ki congratulates her with a bouquet. He takes her home, notices her necklace, and asks her why she’s wearing it. She answers that when she loathes and wants to harm herself, the necklace calms her as if it’s protecting her — though, she’s quick to note that she still got hit by a car.
Hwan-ki’s voice rises when he asks if she ran in front of the car on purpose, and her lack of response confirms what he already knew. He proposes they get the right treatment for her and implores her to stop hiding her feelings, but Yi-soo cries that she’ll die if she can’t have Woo-il after holding onto him for so long. Hwan-ki tells her that forcing herself on him won’t amount to happiness, but Yi-soo states that all she needs is Woo-il in order to stay out of trouble (and the hospital), so she asks for her brother’s trust.
Over drinks with Reporter Woo, Ro-woon repeatedly expresses how much she misses Hwan-ki. He scoffs and reminds her that Hwan-ki admitted his responsibility in Ji-hye’s death, but Ro-woon counters that Hwan-ki watched over her for three years. Reporter Woo chides her for seeking revenge only to end up falling in love before telling her to lay low and leave everything to him, since Hwan-ki’s father catching on to him.
Cut to Hwan-ki at Ro-woon’s father’s barbershop as he constantly steals glances toward the entryway to her room. He prolongs his stay by asking for a trim, a shave, and styling, and the neighbor friends are shocked to learn that the man can speak, heh.
Hwan-ki gets up to pay Ro-woon’s father, but he refuses to accept since Hwan-ki brought him homemade food last time. Ro-woon enters and is surprised to see Hwan-ki there, and her dad and the neighbors are surprised that she knows who the regular is.
She’s shocked he’s frequented the barbershop before, and Hwan-ki swiftly exits. He runs away from her, making sure to collect her garbage on his way down, and the neighbors finally deduce that he’s the trash thief/snow sweeper/food giver. Ro-woon’s touched by his secret gestures and realizes that he not only sent bouquets, but he was always close by.
Hwan-ki receives a frantic call from Se-jong, and the next day, the Silent Monster team panics. Se-jong had accidentally booked the venue for next month instead of the next day, which means they don’t have a space for the paint event tomorrow. Se-jong says Hwan-ki will figure something out, but the team’s unsure if he’s capable of fixing crises, despite his smarts.
Then, Hwan-ki surprises all of them when he says he asked an acquaintance who has an atelier for help and acquired a space for the event. Everyone’s amazed to hear he has acquaintances, but they’re also so impressed by their boss that they jump right to work and carry out Hwan-ki’s orders, which makes Hwan-ki smile ever so slightly.
Meanwhile, Ro-woon scrambles out of the house after Se-jong’s desperate plea for help regarding the blunder he made. She bumps into Reporter Woo on the way, ignores his warning to stay away from Hwan-ki, and proceeds to run in her new white heels, eager to see Hwan-ki.
“When I thought I was alone, he was somewhere in the dark within the crowd… More than that, he was right here beside me,” she thinks to herself, and we see all the scenes where Hwan-ki looked after her, whether it was attending her musicals or listening to her cry in the bathroom stall.
Ro-woon finally arrives and greets Kyo-ri, who fills her in: Thanks to the power of love, Hwan-ki saved the day. Ro-woon’s not sure what she means by that, but Kyo-ri explains that his curator friend from college helped him find their new venue, and just then, Ro-woon spots Hwan-ki sans hoodie smiling with Yeon-jung and driving off somewhere. She wonders if the woman he’s with is the one from his past that may have caused him to start wearing hoodies.
Cut to Hwan-ki and Yeon-jung chatting over sushi. She’s surprised to hear that he started wearing his hood because of her and asks him what she did wrong. Flash back to their college days: turns out Hwan-ki was popular amongst the women, but he was totally oblivious. Yeon-jung had suddenly appeared and pulled his hood over his head and remarked that guys in hoods are sexy, with her ideal type being 90s hip-hop star Hyun Jin-young.
Hwan-ki excitedly decorated the walls with “Welcome Yeon-jung” signs and balloons. Yeon-jung sat inside an empty theater while Hwan-ki vigorously danced to Hyun Jin-young’s hit number “You in My Faded Memories” for her. He gave his all, and at the end, shouted that he’d be her Hyun Jin-young, heh!
“Really?” Yeon-jung chirped. Suddenly the lights went up to reveal a group of fangirls in the back. Turns out Yeon-jung wasn’t the only one who witnessed his performance. Horrified, Hwan-ki ran off stage.
Back in the present, Yeon-jung can’t believe that Hwan-ki couldn’t go around without his hood ever since because he felt so humiliated. He says she should’ve just rejected him instead of embarrassing him like that, and Yeon-jung’s amazed that that’s how he interpreted the situation. She explains that she wanted to brag to the other girls who crushed on him that Hwan-ki was hers.
Yeon-jung suddenly realizes that he had no idea about his own popularity, and his misunderstanding explains why he acted so cold around her; she thought he had lost interest in her so she stopped caring. She wonders why they never talked things out then and informs Hwan-ki that contrary to what he believes, holding back what he wants to say isn’t thoughtful — by remaining quiet, he’s being unfair to both himself and the other person. Hwan-ki agrees, and Yeon-jung says it’s nice that they’ve cleared the air now.
Understanding that something serious happened to him three years ago, she proposes that he forget about that injustice and instead do her a justice, since she couldn’t date him because of a big misunderstanding. “Isn’t the reason why you’ve been keeping your mouth shut is because no one listened to you? I can be a good listener,” she says.
The Silent Monster crew is hard at work setting up for tomorrow’s paint event. They break for a sushi lunch, and Ro-woon can’t help feeling inferior when envisioning picture-perfect Hwan-ki and Yeon-jung together. When asked why she was MIA the other day, Ro-woon apologizes and says she had a family matter, but Yoo-hee senses something else is up when Ro-woon leaves her food untouched.
Yoo-hee takes her aside and asks her what’s really going on, and Ro-woon admits that she came to Brain for revenge after her sister’s suicide three years ago. Yoo-hee realizes with a start that the slanderous power abuse article on Hwan-ki was all her doing. Ro-woon sheepishly adds that Hwan-ki knew her motives all along, but the biggest problem currently is that she thinks she loves him even though she shouldn’t, in addition to feeling jealous. And then out of nowhere, Yoo-hee starts gagging. Huh?
Hwan-ki returns from his lunch and helps Sun-bong and Se-jong transport a prop. He then asks that they call him by his first name, which he adorably enunciates. But Sun-bong and Se-jong’s hands fly to their mouths to stifle their laughter (or vomit? Uh oh. Bad sushi?!) and stagger away, leaving Hwan-ki bewildered. Ro-woon and Hwan-ki spot each other, but there’s little time for longing gazes because everyone else is suddenly violently ill.
Hwan-ki and Ro-woon quickly schlep Kyo-ri, Yoo-hee, Sun-bong, and Se-jong to the car where they all moan and dry-heave. Hwan-ki drives them to the hospital, urging them not to hurl inside the car. Meanwhile, Ro-woon resumes setting up for the event, except she starts feeling dizzy and collapses. Yikes, steer clear of bad sushi, folks.
She slips in and out of consciousness until Hwan-ki arrives and lifts her off the ground, and she scolds herself for feeling all fluttery at a time like this. She wakes up in the hospital and finds the Silent Monster crew recovering in the same room. Yeon-jung’s there, too, and she apologizes since everyone got food poisoning from the sushi restaurant she normally frequents.
Ro-woon worries that the setup for tomorrow’s event still isn’t complete, but Yeon-jung assures her that Hwan-ki’s at the venue handling it even though he ate the sushi, too — she’ll take care of him though, because she likes him. She knows Ro-woon likes him too, so she suggests Ro-woon go and take care of Hwan-ki first and jokes that they can always catfight later.
Ro-woon returns to the venue and finds Hwan-ki on the ladder affixing a banner. He loses his balance, but Ro-woon’s there to hold the ladder steady. “You’re working alone while no one’s watching again. You weren’t just watching. Now that I look back on it, you were protecting me,” Ro-woon says to him.
Later, Hwan-ki settles into bed and tells Ro-woon she can leave since it’s late, and he’s not as sick as the others. But she asks if she can stay instead. Hwan-ki sits up and tells her that he doesn’t deserve her sympathy since he hasn’t properly apologized, and Ro-woon answers with this: “You’ve been suffering alone for three years. How could you be more sorry than this? How could you apologize more properly than this?”
She’s not sure what happened three years ago, but she believes there’s a reason. Hwan-ki counters that she’s unaware of how cowardly he is, but she’s unfazed: “The part of you I don’t know about must be much nicer than the part of you that I do know. That’s how it’s always been.”
Flash back to Hwan-ki following Ro-woon closely behind when she left Ji-hye’s wake barefoot, him carrying drunk Ro-woon home, and him serving as her shoulder to lean on at the movie theater. Back to the present: “The weight must’ve been so hard on you. What other things are you trying to be responsible for? Whatever they are, I’ll support you no matter what. I’ll stay by your side,” Ro-woon says.
Hwan-ki sheds tears and embraces her before moving in for a long, tender kiss.
We opened and ended with a long kiss! Not the worst bookends to have, am I right? Who knew he was such a passionate kisser? But then again, there’s so much we didn’t know about him, and this episode was all about exemplifying that notion, which Ro-woon aptly articulated when she said the Hwan-ki she didn’t know was greater than the Hwan-ki she knew. Take the time to understand someone, lend them an ear, look past what’s visible, and you’ll start to see someone for who they truly are. And for Ro-woon, all of Hwan-ki’s previously cryptic actions suddenly made sense to her; for the past three years, when she thought she was alone and struggled with the loss of her sister, Hwan-ki was always there watching over her, checking to see that she was okay and making it through. She was his focal point, and when she realized that he was shouldering the immense burden and partial guilt of Ji-hye’s death by himself, I think that’s when she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hwan-ki was not the reprehensible man she believed him to be from the outset, not the one who drove Ji-hye to her tragic death, and thus, one wholly unworthy of her cruel revenge antics.
To be honest, I’m not sure how we got to this point with our main couple, although I have zero qualms with where they’re at. The kiss at the end definitely sealed the deal, but all the events that led up to this moment are a complete blur to me, but I think that could be said for the entire series so far. There’s no semblance of a natural, methodical progression in their relationship, and that’s largely because of the rewrite. Suddenly, whatever Hwan-ki suffered from became less debilitating, and Ro-woon’s brazenness got thrown out the window. Tonally, this show is still all over the place, and I find that there’s really no way to trace the through line, because there doesn’t seem to be one anymore. The dark, mysterious element to the show has disappeared, and what we have instead is something lighter, more pleasant, and safe.
I’m still curious about the circumstances surrounding Ji-hye’s death because I still find her suicide a very drastic and sudden move given how down to earth and sensible she seemed. I haven’t seen enough to believe that Yi-soo may have been involved, but I do know that she’s psychologically unstable with an unhealthy obsession with Woo-il. It became clear to me that Yi-soo and Hwan-ki are alike in that they both struggle to open up, but Yi-soo’s case is far more dangerous because of the physical harm she inflicts on herself; she has no outlet and doesn’t realize the severity of her condition. I feel so sorry for her, and Hwan-ki must feel so powerless and frustrated, unable to give her the help she needs because she doesn’t want it.
I’m really liking Yeon-jung as a second female lead, even though she clearly has no chance with Hwan-ki. That no-nonsense quality she has is so refreshing, and I think that’s also why Hwan-ki was attracted to her in the first place. She says what she means and is incredibly direct. She always makes the first move! In a way, she’s Hwan-ki’s polar opposite, but that’s why they’re compatible.
I loved the scene where Ro-woon held up her phone with the flash on, serving as Hwan-ki’s guiding light during his presentation. The shot where she and Hwan-ki were on opposite ends and the tables were completely empty? Beautiful. I honestly wish we had lingered longer on that shot. The background was completely dark except for the silhouettes of unoccupied tables and chairs, while the two were illuminated.
Now that Ro-woon has solved the Mr. Smith mystery, all she has left to figure out is the mystery surrounding Ji-hye’s death. I hope this gets solved in a satisfying way, and I’d love to learn that there was more to her death than what we’ve seen. As much as I like the budding romance, I think it’s time to go back to the central mystery and uncover the truth.