Perfect Wife: Episode 9
We slow down a bit to get some background on why Eun-hee is orchestrating so much of what’s happened until now, and discover the answers to a few of Jae-bok’s burning questions. Even things that seemed random turn out to be part of Eun-hee’s plan, making Jae-bok realize that she’s up against something even bigger than she originally imagined. And though she may think she’s all alone in the world, if she can relax enough to trust, she might find out she’s already got a friend standing by just waiting to help her.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Bong-gu finds Na-mi alive and well and sneaking around his apartment. Before he can even process whether she’s a dream or a ghost, Jae-bok walks in and sees Na-mi. Bong-gu realizes that Na-mi is really here, then notices that she has a large bruise on her face. Scared, Na-mi tries to leave, but Jae-bok and Bong-gu grab her in a three-way bear hug.
Meanwhile, Hyung-sun (formerly referred to by her alias, Deok-boon) paces her room, worried about the brooch that Jae-bok found and used to threaten to out her as Na-mi’s killer. We see that Hyung-sun was at Na-mi’s place the night of her accident, trying to stop Na-mi from leaving town.
Na-mi had returned the money and begged to be able to leave in peace with Jung-hee. Hyung-sun had attacked Na-mi, who had run out into the rain to escape. She’d turned her ankle on the wet stairs and fallen, so Hyung-sun had fled the scene, leaving her brooch behind.
Eun-hee gives Hyung-sun a credit card and orders her to leave the country immediately. She says that she can’t have everything ruined now, not when “he” is finally with her. When Hyung-sun begs her to reconsider and promises to make sure Eun-hee isn’t harmed, Eun-hee says it’s too late and asks if Hyung-sun wants Brian to be harmed as well.
Things calm down at Bong-gu’s place, though he refuses to admit that he was saddened by Na-mi’s supposed death. Na-mi says her face got bruised while she “was escaping,” but she avoids giving details. She begs Jae-bok not to tell Jung-hee or anyone else that she’s alive, or she’ll be dead for real this time.
Na-mi hides when the doorbell rings, and Bong-gu finds a young man at the door who claims to live downstairs. He’s wearing a hat to hide his face and keeps trying to look inside the apartment. Na-mi suddenly rushes past them both and out the door, and the young man slams the door to stall Bong-gu before chasing her down the hall.
Na-mi hides once she gets outside and the man runs off in the wrong direction. Bong-gu and Jae-bok see Na-mi running into the street, and they both gasp as a large truck barrels down on her. The truck slams on its brakes, and when it moves on again, Na-mi is gone.
At home later, Jae-bok goes to set her boots in a cabinet in the house’s entryway and sees Eun-hee’s shoes there. She tries on a pair, then another, but they’re all much too small for her. It’s strange, since the day Eun-hee traded clothing with Jae-bok, she’d made a big deal about how well her shoes fit Jae-bok.
Jae-bok overhears Eun-hee and Hyung-sun arguing while Eun-hee angrily packs Hyung-sun’s things. Again, Hyung-sun accidentally calls Eun-hee by the name “Eun-kyung.” Just then, Eun-hee realizes that Jae-bok is watching them.
Jae-bok asks if Hyung-sun is going somewhere, and if it’s because of the brooch. Jae-bok drags her out of the room, but only after Jae-bok spots an old photo of a younger Hyung-sun with two children, a small boy and an older girl.
Pretending idle curiosity, Eun-hee asks if Jae-bok has found any more evidence in Na-mi’s case. Instead of answering, Jae-bok asks if she can borrow some shoes for a special meeting the next day, and Eun-hee looks cornered for a second, knowing her real shoes won’t fit.
Jae-bok grabs a pair, tries them on, and finds they’re too small. She wonders out loud why the other shoes fit her so well and why Eun-hee said they were the same size. Eun-hee thinks fast and explains that she was actually taking those shoes to exchange them that day because they turned out to be too big.
Jae-bok asks why Eun-hee said they could be twins if the shoes didn’t fit her, so Eun-hee fibs that she wanted Jae-bok to feel close to her. Jae-bok asks if she did that so she’d move in upstairs, but before Eun-hee can think of an answer, they’re interrupted by Jung-hee.
Jae-bok drops the issue for now, but then Jung-hee’s phone rings with an unfamiliar number. He answers at Jae-bok’s urging, and as she suspects, it’s Na-mi. She doesn’t speak, so Jae-bok grabs the phone and shoos Jung-hee upstairs.
She finds a private place and asks where Na-mi is right now. Eun-hee follows her, interrupting to say that she’s worried Jae-bok misunderstands about the shoes, so Jae-bok says they can discuss it later. But when she goes back to the call, Na-mi has hung up.
Bong-gu hangs around his stepmother’s hospital room, hoping to catch Na-mi visiting her. He takes a call from a friend who works in the morgue, though he’s already guessed that Na-mi was definitely listed as deceased, and the person who recorded it is gone.
After everyone is in bed, Eun-hee slips upstairs, finds Jung-hee’s phone, and retrieves the number that called him earlier. She then leans over Jung-hee where he’s sleeping on the couch and pulls the covers up to his chin.
She narrowly escapes being seen by Jin-wook on her way out, but she’s caught red-handed by little Hae-wook. Back in her craft room, which now has fabric monogrammed with huge “K&H” initials swathed across every surface, Eun-hee tries to call the number that called Jung-hee, but the phone is turned off.
While getting ready for school the next morning, Hae-wook tells Jae-bok that she dreamed that Eun-hee came out of Jung-hee’s room. Jung-hee brings Hae-wook an old photo of himself playing guitar for Hae-wook to take to school, and Jae-bok snarls that she was pretty in her old pictures, before Jung-hee ruined her.
Later, Jung-hee heads out to a job interview that Won-jae arranged for him. Eun-hee offers to let her driver take him, so he reluctantly accepts, only to be surprised when the driver delivers him to the company where he used to work instead of taking him to his interview.
He’s told that they want him back, which makes him confused as to why he’s eligible for rehire when he was on the layoff list and was asked to resign after his boss collapsed. The interviewer explains that the company director specifically asked for Jung-hee to be brought back.
It all makes sense when Jung-hee meets the director — Eun-hee. (Because of course she owns the company.) She says that she never would have allowed him to be let go if she’d known he worked there.
Jung-hee asks why she’s helping him this way, so Eun-hee says that she wants him to be a cool man again. Jung-hee points out that she didn’t know him before recently, but when he thinks of all the times he’s been insulted and dismissed by others, he can’t resist accepting the job. He even agrees not to tell Jae-bok that Eun-hee is involved in this.
Jung-hee ignores a call from Jae-bok, so she texts him, asking why he didn’t show up for the interview Won-jae arranged. Bong-gu teases her for caring so much even after filing for divorce, though she defends that she’s just worried on behalf of the kids.
Sam-kyu calls Jae-bok to discuss the mountain of files he left on her desk to be summarized by morning, offering to pay her overtime for working late. Bong-gu grabs the phone to confront Sam-kyu for not paying the office rent, but Sam-kyu just stammers and hangs up.
He’s with Eun-hee, and it turns out that the extra work for Jae-bok was her idea. She asks if Jae-bok and Bong-gu work alone together often, and Sam-kyu assures her it’s strictly business, mainly because Bong-gu only dates rich women. She instructs Sam-kyu to make Jae-bok work late often, offering a very thick envelope of cash for the favor.
Eun-hee is in perfect wife mode when Jung-hee arrives home, and she insists that they all eat dinner together to celebrate his new job. She tells the kids that Jung-hee’s old company asked him back because he’s so good at his job, which makes Jin-wook so proud of his dad that Jung-hee ignores his discomfort at lying to his children.
Later, as Jae-bok works on the files, she suddenly realizes that this is work she could do from home. She ties the remaining files together and starts to head out, pridefully refusing Bong-gu’s offer to carry them for her.
He convinces her to let him carry the heavy files if she wins a game of rock-paper-scissors. They’re hilarious about it, taking the game super seriously, ha. They both throw scissors the first round, then throw rock the second round.
In the third round, Bong-gu delays his throw just long enough to see Jae-bok choose scissors, then he puts out a flat hand for paper, losing the round deliberately. Awww, Bong-gu looks so pleased to have “lost” as he hoists the heavy files, and judging by Jae-bok’s knowing smile, she knows exactly what he did.
Bong-gu insists on carrying the files all the way to the house, then lingers like he’s reluctant to leave. His face lights up when he spots Hyung-sun, and he can’t resist asking her if she’s heard from Na-mi, enjoying her discomfort. He pretends to take a call, but he only pulls out his phone to snap a few shots of Hyung-sun.
Jung-hee, Eun-hee, and the kids sit at a table covered with enough food to feed an army. They toast to Jung-hee’s new job, then realize that Jae-bok is standing in the doorway, glaring at them. Jae-bok notices that Eun-hee seems surprised to see her home before reminding Eun-hee that she told her not to do this anymore.
Jung-hee mumbles that he got his old job back, but Jae-bok fusses at him anyway for not showing up to his interview and for making Won-jae look bad. Jung-hee says he got rehired because he’s a good worker, but Jae-bok reminds him that his old boss used to pick on him for having low sales numbers.
Jung-hee loses his temper and yells at Jae-bok for not respecting him, then calms down and invites her to join them for dinner. She declines, then complains when he and Jin-wook head back to Eun-hee’s food instead of spending time with her.
Upstairs, Jae-bok makes her family a simple meal of leftovers, while they look ready to cry thinking of the feast being wasted downstairs. Hae-wook slips away from Eun-hee to join them, and they eat in resentful silence.
Downstairs, Eun-hee sits alone at the table, shocked and furious at having been abandoned. Suddenly she starts shoving food into her mouth, barely stopping to chew or swallow as Hyung-sun watches her, looking unsure of what to do.
That night, Hyung-sun is woken by a nightmare of Na-mi standing over her. She falls out of bed in terror while Na-mi looms closer, asking, “Why did you do that to me?”
Hyung-sun flees through the house with Na-mi following, asking over and over why she did it. But then Na-mi gives away a tiny smile at seeing Hyung-sun’s fear — she’s really there, isn’t she?
She is, and she enjoys chasing Hyung-sun down the halls, asking why she killed her. She frightens Hyung-sun into a blind panic, demanding she bring her back to life — until Eun-hee steps between them. She slaps Na-mi across the face, proving that she’s no ghost.
The lights come on, and all three women turn to see Jae-bok. Both Jae-bok and Na-mi are surprised to see the other here, and it’s not until Jae-bok says Na-mi’s name that Eun-hee realizes that this is the “dead” girl.
Deciding to get some answers, Jae-bok points Na-mi at Hyung-sun and asks if she knows her. Both Eun-hee and Hyung-sun brace themselves for the inevitable accusations, but Na-mi says that she doesn’t know Hyung-sun. Hyung-sun reminds Na-mi in a sickly-sweet voice that they worked together at the cleaning service, her tone carrying a clear warning.
For some reason, Na-mi pretends not to know Hyung-sun at all. Eun-hee plasters on a concerned expression and asks why they held a funeral for Na-mi, but Jae-bok just says she’ll explain later. Hyung-sun asks why Na-mi was chasing her, but Na-mi only asks where Jung-hee is.
Jae-bok yanks her out of the house and drives her around the corner to talk privately. Na-mi asks if Jae-bok knows how she survived, and when Jae-bok says she doesn’t, Na-mi wonders, “Then why did you…” With his usual terrible timing, Jung-hee jogs around the corner, and Na-mi is cut off when Jae-bok pushes her face down.
In the house, Eun-hee screeches at Hyung-sun, demanding to know what’s going on. Hyung-sun is just relieved that Na-mi is alive, but Eun-hee yells that even though Hyung-sun won’t go to jail for murder, she herself is about to take the fall for everything. She wonders who at the hospital declared Na-mi dead, and she and Hyung-sun both suddenly realize something.
Jung-hee comes in from his jog and apologizes to Eun-hee for leaving her nice dinner, and she pretends to be all understanding. Jung-hee offers her a small jar of candy as a thank you for all her help, and Eun-hee takes the candy, as breathless as if they were precious jewels. She says cryptically that Jung-hee will get good news very soon.
She runs back to her room with the candy, dancing in place with excitement over the gift. She remembers when a younger Jung-hee had given her a box of candy long ago, and she’d reacted by throwing her arms around him and declaring her love. Now she thanks him tearfully for coming back to her.
Jae-bok delivers Na-mi to Bong-gu, where she admits that she lied about not knowing Hyung-sun because someone threatened to kill her if she said anything. But she doesn’t know who the person was, and she tells them about a strange encounter.
Na-mi had woken after her accident and supposed death to find herself in a villa. Someone had been sitting by her bed — the same young man (VIXX’s N) who had followed her to Bong-gu’s house that night. He’d told her she was still alive, but if she wanted to stay that way, she had to stay in this villa until told otherwise.
He’d said that he was told this was the only way to ensure that her stepmother and Bong-gu also remain alive. When Na-mi asked who told him that, he’d just said vaguely, “Someone.”
Na-mi doesn’t know any more than that, so Bong-gu walks Jae-bok to the elevator. He gives her his sweater then assures her that nobody will harm Na-mi now that everyone knows she’s alive, since it would just out them as the guilty party.
He fusses at Jae-bok for trying to do everything on her own. She says a bit sadly that she has to because nobody else will, but Bong-gu says that attitude is why she’s dressed in only her pajamas right now.
Jae-bok snuggles into his sweater and gets in the elevator, and Bong-gu says softly, “You’re not alone. You have me.” He sends her a sweet little wink and a smile, and Jae-bok rewards him with a tiny, grateful smile of her own.
Back at the house, Jung-hee runs into Eun-hee on her way to the third floor. She invites him up to see the audio room, which piques his interest. He goes wide-eyed at the sight of the room, and gushes over a famous limited edition guitar on the wall, confessing that he wanted one in high school — but by the time he saved the money, they were sold out.
Jung-hee sits at the piano to play, and Eun-hee leans close to pick out a few notes. They play together, bodies and hands close but not quite touching, the sudden tension between them palpable.
When the song is finished, Jung-hee turns his face to Eun-hee, and she slowly leans in to kiss him. At the last second he turns away as a memory flashes through his mind — a car careening towards a ravine, sudden brakes, an arm reaching out to shield him.
He asks Eun-hee if they’ve really never met before, and this time she asks in return, “Do you really not know me?” She goes in again to kiss him, but just before their lips touch, Jae-bok walks in.
Jung-hee jumps away from Eun-hee. Jae-bok angrily apologizes for interrupting, and when Jung-hee tries to go to her, Eun-hee grabs his arm possessively. Jae-bok asks if she’s seducing Jung-hee because she’s lonely, but Eun-hee says that she wasn’t the one doing the seducing. Jung-hee hotly denies the implication that it was his idea, and Jae-bok agrees, knowing what she saw.
She grabs a towel monogrammed “K&H,” reminding Eun-hee that she said she still loves her husband. Jae-bok remembers that she filed for divorce and tells Jung-hee and Eun-hee to do whatever they want, but to remember that the children are downstairs. She storms out of the room, and Eun-hee picks up the monogrammed towel, laughing crazily at Jae-bok’s idea that it stands for Kyung-woo and Eun-hee.
The next day, Jae-bok’s friend Won-jae finally notices her daughter, Che-ri, has cut her finger, and listens to her story about Eun-hee telling her to get lost. She confronts Eun-hee about hurting her child, demanding to know exactly what happened.
Also interested, Jae-bok sits everyone down to get to the bottom of this. Hae-wook joins them to show Che-ri the art she made of her dad’s picture, and Che-ri recognizes it as the same photo she found in the third floor room. She tells the adults that this is the picture Eun-hee flew into a rage over.
Che-ri leads them to the door on the third floor, which is locked, but Eun-hee throws herself in front of it anyway. She refuses to open it when Jae-bok says that she wants to see what could make Eun-hee so angry that she’d hurt Che-ri. Jae-bok tells Eun-hee that if she truly has nothing to hide, she’ll open that door.
While I definitely think the twists and turns this drama delivers have been fun, I’m sort of ready now for it to settle down, choose a direction, and stick with it for a while. We’re almost to the halfway mark, and at this point in a story I want to start seeing some of the mysteries fleshed out and explained a bit. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing — if we aren’t allowed time to process the information we know so far, then the twists stop feeling like shocking revelations, and start feeling like deliberate attempts to manipulate our emotions. Not to say that I don’t think some more fun surprises would be great, because I’ve enjoyed them… but maybe later. If I were plotting the show’s direction, this is the point at which I would lull my audience into a sense of complacency, let them think they know everything about Eun-hee’s motivations and plans, then BAM, hit them with my biggest twist right at the end.
So, having said that, I’m glad that this episode did exactly that and worked to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge (though we did get a new mysterious character — I have a feeling I know who he is, too). Even if it’s just little hints, like seeing Jung-hee giving Eun-hee a gift in the past, those hints can still explain a lot — that they did know each other at one time, that Eun-hee was in love with Jung-hee back then, and that Eun-hee has changed her appearance and identity. I actually appreciate how the show lets us discover things ourselves rather than spoon-feed us obvious information or insult our intelligence. Just a small scene like that one can offer a lot of insight, when presented well.
I’m amazed at just how deeply Eun-hee has infiltrated into Jae-bok and Jung-hee’s life, even going to far as to acquire the company Jung-hee works for. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if she was behind his boss’s “collapse,” since it was an obvious fake, and Eun-hee owning the company would also explain how Na-mi’s being hired was timed so perfectly for her to seduce Jung-hee. It would fit right into Eun-hee’s plans to arrange for Jung-hee to be fired so that his family would be desperate for an inexpensive place to live, and also make her the savior for hiring him back later, thus ensuring that Jung-hee is doubly thankful and dependent on her. It seems as though nothing that’s happened to Jae-bok and her family since the show started has been accident or coincidence, and it just goes to show how deeply obsessed Eun-hee is when it comes to Jung-hee. She’s obviously been planning this for many, many years, and has carefully orchestrated each detail to maneuver Jung-hee and his family right into her waiting hands.
I’m very interested to see where things go now that Eun-hee has tipped her hand to let it be known to Jae-bok that what she’s really after is Jung-hee. Though she knows something is terribly wrong and that Eun-hee is up to no good, Jae-bok still second-guesses her instincts, because she’s had nothing concrete to tie Eun-hee’s actions to a specific purpose. Now that she knows why Eun-hee has been going to such great lengths to integrate herself into Jae-bok’s life and get her into her house, Jae-bok has a motive for Eun-hee’s strange behavior. I fully expect to see Jae-bok ramp up her counterattack, now that she knows what she’s fighting for.
I still don’t understand why Eun-hee is spending all this money and energy on a man who is so lackluster, unless she’s just seeing his old “rock star” persona and has never seen Jung-hee for who he really is. I have a feeling that a lot of questions will be answered when we learn how Jung-hee and Eun-hee knew each other when they were younger, and whether his reason for not remembering her is more complicated than a different haircut and a new name. But Eun-hee must know how he is now and where his weak points lie, because otherwise she wouldn’t be able to manipulate him so easily. And she knows Jae-bok as well — it was very clever of Eun-hee to set Jung-hee up as a cheater before inserting herself into Jae-bok’s life, because now when Jae-bok sees him with Eun-hee, it just seems like a thing that Jung-hee does. I do think it makes the whole situation more interesting to see Eun-hee going through all this for a man who is a lackluster husband and a poor provider, because it adds a whole layer of mystery to her plans. And it will be just as interesting to see if Jae-bok decides to let Eun-hee have Jung-hee, since she’s filed for divorce and decided to end things anyway, or if seeing him through another woman’s eyes will remind her of why she fell in love with him in the first place.