The Liar and His Lover: Episode 2
Palpable chemistry, lovely music, well-rounded characters — The Liar and His Lover is off to a smashing start in its first week. Han-gyul has to watch as the people closest to him become alienated by his driving need to produce the best music he can, but while everyone else is walking away from him, So-rim keeps popping up to remind him to love the songs he creates. The hardened cynic who puts his music before the people in his life finds that’s it’s damnably hard to ignore the hopeful eyes of a girl who loves his song.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
So-rim’s band is disqualified as she stands frozen, unable to sing past the memories of her childhood. Her friends leave the stage, but she stays rooted to her spot, tears streaming down her face. Then her eyes fall on Han-gyul as he walks through the crowd and out the rotating door of the lobby, and her entire focus shifts to him.
In an attempt to stop him, she begins to sing the first few lines of the song he’d recorded on her phone. Deep in thought, Han-gyul almost leaves without hearing her, when he suddenly notices a small, stuffed toy at his feet. It’s So-rim’s Jeje, and as he picks it up, he registers the familiar lyrics and tune. Company CEO Jin-hyuk and band bassist Chan-young recognize the song as well and stop on their way to see who is singing it.
So-rim grins widely at Han-gyul’s astonished face and jumps off the stage to run to him. Her momentum pushes them out of the building, where So-rim reminds him of their meeting by the river. She smiles up at him as she asks, “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Realizing that the question sounds weird, she explains that she hasn’t been able to get him out of her mind since that day. She tells that she thought about putting his song up on the internet to find him, but at his evident panic, she assures him that she won’t do it.
Han-gyul tries to take her phone when she admits to still having the recording, but seeing her clutch the device protectively, he says that he only wants her number. Studying her face, he adds, “It’s because I do believe in love at first sight.”
So-rim visibly melts and then gets very excited at the sight of Jeje in his hands. They exchange names and numbers, and So-rim floats back to her friends to tell them about meeting her crush. They ask about his age and employment, to which So-rim has no answers.
Han-gyul ends up at the Crude Play members’ house to discuss the leak with band leader Shi-hyun. He tells his friend that he’ll just have to charm and persuade So-rim to delete the song and scoffs at the idea of telling her the truth. Shi-hyun says that he admires the girl for going for Han-gyul even though she doesn’t know who he is. Han-gyul picks up a beer, and Shi-hyun gripes that he makes life hard for him when he drinks.
So-rim is giddy at the thought of meeting Han-gyul the next day and thanks her late mother for helping her find him. Her grandmother walks into her room to find So-rim dancing happily on her bed.
Chan-young comes down at the sound of loud piano music to find Shi-hyun sitting with headphones on and Han-gyul banging away at the keys. He figures out that Han-gyul got drunk on half a can of beer again (ha) and asks Shi-hyun why he hangs out with someone so boring. Shi-hyun retorts that it’s because Han-gyul is his friend, but just then, Han-gyul passes out on the keyboard and misses a call from Yoo-na.
She’s practicing a piece in a music room, but a particularly demanding portion keeps tripping her up. Yoo-na throws her music sheets in frustration just as Jin-hyuk enters the room. He offers to play the piano for her and playfully declaims any intention of wooing her with his skill on the instrument. Yoo-na laughs that all men in the music industry use this technique to flirt, and Jin-hyuk asks if Han-gyul does it too.
After a moment’s pause, Yoo-na admits that Han-gyul only plays the piano for her when he does something wrong. She says that she used to try and hear his apology and his love for her in his music… words he never said to her. Tears fall from her eyes as she says that she’s tired of waiting for Han-gyul to express his thoughts aloud.
Jin-hyuk stands up and puts his hand on her. Yoo-na asks him if he’s the type to make a woman wait, and he answers that he’s never cared enough for anyone to find out. Then, looking down at her tear-stained face, he says that he can promise that he’ll be there for her to lean on, just as he’s always been. Slowly, Yoo-na leans forward and kisses him.
Han-gyul waits at a mall for So-rim, still hungover. So-rim lets out an excited noise when she spots him, and it seems to catch his attention in a special way. Then he notices her and the vague look fades from his eyes. Glancing at a large Crude Play poster, she asks if he’s a fan. At his dismissal of the band as a group of boys trying to be popular, she defends their songwriter, asserting that it’s clear to anyone that the guy cares about music.
Han-gyul seems pleased by her defense of him and asks if she would like to have coffee. Before she can answer, she spots her friends in the distance, clearly looking for her. It was Jin-woo’s idea to come and monitor So-rim’s date, and even though Gyu-sun makes fun of him, both seem to agree that Han-gyul sounded fishy.
So-rim grabs Han-gyul by his jacket and drags him behind a pillar to get away from her friends. He asks if they’re being chased, but she laughs it off and pulls him into an empty elevator, just in time to escape Gyu-sun and Jin-woo’s pursuit.
Han-gyul asks suspiciously why she wants them to be alone, and she says that she wants to ask about his song, since she tried searching for it online but couldn’t find it. She closes her eyes and hums it, and Han-gyul gets that distant look on his face again. But when the elevator door opens and more people start pouring in, he springs into action to stop the song from being heard by others.
He puts a hand over her mouth and then gets squashed into a corner with her as the elevator fills up. From outside the glass doors, Jin-woo sees the back of Han-gyul’s head and, assuming that he’s kissing So-rim, the poor boy faints. Pfft.
The elevator starts moving as the two stand awkwardly close. So-rim’s cheeks heat up and Han-gyul can’t help but smile a little at her blush. Awww. When the car finally empties, So-rim runs off, too embarrassed to face Han-gyul. He follows and apologizes, explaining that he didn’t want anyone to hear his song.
Realizing that he must be a composer, she gets excited, but Han-gyul puts the song down, claiming that it’s garbage and that he’s ashamed he sang it in front of her. He’s clearly trying to douse her interest, but So-rim takes offense on behalf of the song and makes him promise not to call it garbage. Han-gyul agrees with an arrested look on his face.
Back home, he gets a call from Shi-hyun, who wants to know if he erased the song from So-rim’s phone. Han-gyul admits that he couldn’t bring it up but snorts when Shi-hyun asks if he wants to see the girl again. His friend asks about So-rim’s age, which he guesses to be twenty, and he wonders if Han-gyul is her first love.
So-rim uses a cooking analogy to ask her grandmother why someone would say their music is bad before anyone else had a chance to hear it. Grandma guesses that the person is afraid, and that it’s easier to hear the worst criticism of their music from their own mouth.
Han-gyul has a meeting with the band (and Jin-hyuk) about the arrangement of the title track, which Yoon refuses to attend. After the rest leave, Jin-hyuk tells him that so long as Han-gyul “plays friends” with the band, he will keep facing unprofessional behavior like this.
Jin-hyuk suggests composing a song for Yoo-na to cheer her up. Han-gyul remembers spotting the two outside her house and asks Jin-hyuk if he’s been paying personal visits to Yoo-na lately. He denies it with a laugh, and Han-gyul doesn’t challenge the lie.
Outside the office, he gets a text from So-rim, and then another a few minutes later. He huffs in annoyance, but answers back. As soon as his text comes in, So-rim calls him, much to his chagrin. She introduces herself by reminding him that they met three times before, and Han-gyul answers that his memory isn’t that bad.
She asks to meet him because she has something to tell him about the song. He reluctantly agrees, and So-rim heads over immediately. As Han-gyul leaves Sole Music’s building, he meets CEO Yoo, who asks to speak to him alone. She hands him an album and says that the singer is releasing the songs again. She asks if he’s in touch with his father, and Han-gyul says that he doesn’t even know where the man is now.
Turns out that the songs in that album were originally written by Han-gyul’s father, though he never received credit for them. CEO Yoo asks Han-gyul to arrange the songs, which makes him mockingly ask if she’s planning to finally admit in public that she stole his father’s work.
She claims that Han-gyul’s father had sold the rights to the company, but Han-gyul angrily counters that he had only signed away the royalties, and CEO Yoo even took the credit away from him.
Outside, while waiting for Han-gyul, So-rim gets drawn into a crowd listening to a street musician. It’s KANG IN-WOO (Choi Min-soo), Han-gyul’s dad, playing a cheerful melody to an admiring audience. He beckons So-rim to come sing with him, and the two have a lovely impromptu duet.
Han-gyul tells CEO Yoo that he’s not like his father — he’ll never let his work be stolen and he’ll only create the work that he is uniquely capable of. CEO Yoo smiles tightly and apologizes for hurting his feelings. Han-gyul leaves, still fuming.
In-woo brings So-rim a cup of coffee and thanks her for singing with him. He asks if she’s a runaway, and So-rim confesses that she’s just waiting for someone. With a knowing look in his eyes, In-woo says that if he’s making a girl wait, then he’s not a good guy.
Clearly having forgotten So-rim, Han-gyul sits in the music studio as he thinks back to the time when he stood outside a music store looking at an album of his father’s songs, which had the credit given to another singer. The stolen song playing at the store mingles with another memory of his father singing it on stage to Han-gyul. The young boy in the flashback pelts a stone and breaks the window of the store. Returning to the present, Han-gyul gets to work, while So-rim’s calls go unanswered.
Hours later, when Han-gyul emerges from the studio, he checks his phone and remembers So-rim. He calls and apologizes to her, but So-rim assures him that she’s back at home. In reality she’s still standing outside the building, with Crude Play’s music video playing behind her on a large screen.
She decides to tell him on the phone what she wanted to say in person: “Even a jewel becomes worthless if one doesn’t treasure it.” It’s her grandmother’s saying, and to this, she adds that even if no one else likes his song, she’ll always love it.
As they say their goodbyes, Han-gyul realizes that he can hear the same song through the phone. Looking around, he spots her, then disconnects before she makes the same association.
When she’s home, she lies in bed and thinks back to that last moment. She’d seen him too, but since he clearly didn’t want to be seen, she’d quickly looked away. She hums Han-gyul’s song under her breath until a few more lines come to her, and she sits up to note them down.
Over the next few days, she works on her arrangement of the song all the time — even scribbling in the margin of her test paper while Teacher Bong gives her a thumbs up for focusing so hard on the exam, ha. Meanwhile, Han-gyul works on his own composition of the same song.
So-rim and her friends watch a video released by a copycat band who create covers of Crude Play songs while calling themselves “the Real Crude Play.” Jin-woo and Gyu-sun are critical of them, but So-rim is happy to follow any music lover who appreciates her favorite band. When her friends wonder if they should release a video of their own song, So-rim jumps up in excitement and says that she has just the song in mind.
Her bandmates point out that they don’t have any instruments now that their access to the club room is restricted, but at So-rim’s persuasion, they decide to stage a break-in. Unfortunately, the alarm goes off and all three are immediately caught. Teacher Bong calls their families in, and everyone gets a scolding.
While Teacher Bong is happy to let things go at this, another teacher who enjoys bullying the trio arrives before Teacher Bong can let them go. He’s clearly looking to get the parents to grovel before him, but Grandma apologizes with such earnestness that even he is embarrassed.
Meanwhile, In-ho practices the title track on his drums with the covers on and ends up hurting his ghands. Chan-young records his bass portions with barely any sleep. He banters with Han-gyul about being irreplaceable, since he took Han-gyul’s place as bassist. Though there is an undercurrent to his jokes, Han-gyul laughs good-naturedly.
One of the producers comes in to tell Han-gyul that they found a replacement band for the recording, thanks to Chan-young. Even as everyone sighs in relief, Chan-young points out that he might get stabbed in the back, since Han-gyul is known to make trouble.
Grandma finds So-rim and her friends a place to practice their song in their local church. They record So-rim’s version of Han-gyul’s song, and Jin-woo gets an odd look on his face as she sings. Afterward, he confronts her about the song, guessing that it belongs to the guy she has a crush on.
Jin-woo clearly feels betrayed that she used them to record a song for Han-gyul and accuses her of faking her love for music. Unable to defend herself, she walks out, and Gyu-sun goes after her. Alone with So-rim’s phone, Jin-woo’s evil genius prompts him to send Han-gyul a message asking him to meet So-rim at the observatory.
When So-rim comes back with Gyu-sun, she sees the message Jin-woo had sent. Hurrying to reach the observatory, she calls Han-gyul and tells him to come outside. Before they can talk more, Jin-woo reaches the place and asks him if he’s Han-gyul.
Jin-woo accuses him of seducing a school girl, and Han-gyul is astonished to see So-rim arrive in her uniform to shout at her friend for the trick he pulled. Han-gyul asks in shock if she’s really a high school student, and Jin-woo assumes that she’s lied about her age to him. He warns Han-gyul away and grabs her hand to make her leave.
Han-gyul catches Jin-woo’s arm and looks at So-rim. Silently, she breaks their grip and turns to follow Han-gyul. Jin-woo starts shouting again, but Han-gyul shuts him up by pointing out that So-rim is extremely embarrassed. When Gyu-sun says politely that they still can’t let So-rim go with him, he tells them it’ll only take a minute, and they can keep an eye on them.
Outside the observatory (with the two friends watching them through a window), Han-gyul asks her why she lied about her age. So-rim says that she lied because he was lying about being interested in her, and if he knew her real age, he wouldn’t give her a chance. Han-gyul admits that he was only interested in the song, which makes So-rim ask why it bothered him when others listened to his music.
He says that he gets embarrassed and even scared, and there is a ring of truth to his words. She protests that his music brings joy, and he retorts that people like her assume that talent comes without effort, and that no one bothers to find out how he’s struggling. Tears track down her face as he asks her to delete the song.
Back at home, she deletes the original file, then copies her rendition into a flash drive before deleting it from her computer as well. She wraps the flash drive in a paper with her lyrics written on them.
Han-gyul tells Shi-hyun about finding out So-rim’s age and claims that he’s glad he no longer has to meet her. Just then, In-ho brings Yoon into the room, and the other friends try to patch things up between Yoon and Han-gyul.
Han-gyul refuses to bend though, and he asks Yoon if he wants the world to know how bad his guitar playing is. Yoon points out that he’s a member of the band as well, and he wants to be treated according to his worth. Han-gyul coldly breaks down Yoon’s worth to just over a minute’s playtime in his own five-minute single, at which point, Yoon walks out.
Shi-hyun laughs in hurt disbelief and asks his friend how much he’s worth in Han-gyul’s eyes. Calling him a jerk, Shi-hyun leaves.
Han-gyul arrives at Yoo-na’s house to see Jin-hyuk kissing Yoo-na goodbye. He rushes at Jin-hyuk with a yell, but Yoo-na stops him. She tells Jin-hyuk to leave while giving Han-gyul a choice to come inside and talk to her or go on his way.
Stunned, he walks inside and asks for an explanation. Yoo-na suggests that they break up. This makes Han-gyul think that Jin-hyuk was the real reason she wanted space from him, and he raves at her for making him feel guilty for not being there for her. She snaps back that she knows she was just someone he used to pass time with when he wasn’t making music.
Yoo-na tells him that she realized that he never loved her and only used her as a muse. Han-gyul seems to feel real panic as he explains that he had to work hard for the band and the company, but Yoo-na is beyond listening.
She tells him that in his need to make the best music, he’s stopped treating people as human beings, and instead only sees them as tools. She ends things with him, saying that she can’t be with someone like him any more.
On his way back from Yoo-na’s, Han-gyul considers deleting her number. As Yoo-na and Yoon’s words reverberate in his head, he gets a message from So-rim asking to meet because she has something to say about the song. He groans in frustration.
They meet by Han River, exactly where they met the first time. She shyly hands him the envelop with the lyrics and flash drive. She tells him that the drive contains a recording she made with her friends, and though it might be bad, she hoped he would listen.
Han-gyul can only focus on the fact that she let her friends hear the song, despite him telling her not to. She apologizes, but he asks if she expected him to start liking the song because she sang it. He tells her that she’s living in a fantasy and that she knows nothing about him. So-rim tears up, but says, “Still… I do care about you.” As she walks away sobbing, Han-gyul throws away the envelope.
When Han-gyul gets home, he takes off all of Yoo-na’s posters from his wall. Apparently, he had picked up the envelope again, since he takes it out of his backpack and contemplates throwing it in the trash this time. A memory of So-rim’s tear-streaked face pops into his mind then, and he decides to give the song a listen.
As the notes begin to play, he mutters that it’s bad. But as he sits up to stop the music, So-rim’s voice hits him, and he listens intently to the song.
I’m wary of dramas where protagonists misrepresent themselves to their love interest. Lies and deceit may make for interesting storytelling, but they can leave the foundation of a romantic relationship hollow. Usually the liar grovels, the heroine forgives, and the story moves on. What caught me about this show was the story’s clear intention of getting to the root of the lying hero’s motives.
On the surface, he’s protecting his intellectual property from a fangirl who can inadvertently leak a track that is worth a lot of money. When you plumb a little deeper, Han-gyul’s obsession with protecting his creation becomes apparent. When he told CEO Yoo that he would not let his music be stolen, his words had the determination of a child who had watched his father be robbed of what belonged to him. That the show bothered to weave a layer of motive under the obvious one makes me love the drama even more.
Joy is a revelation here. It may simply be a matter of the perfect casting, but her expressive eyes and wide smiles make So-rim a character I can root for. She’s naive but stubborn, and despite the starry eyes through which she looks at Han-gyul, So-rim speaks up when she thinks he’s wrong. Her defense of his song and her desire to make him see the beauty in music has created a character whose idealism brushes up sharply against the painful realism of Han-gyul’s world.
Her love for music is untarnished, whereas Han-gyul has clearly spent years in an uncompromising mission to create music that is so unique that it can never be taken away from him. His self-worth is clearly tied to his success as a songwriter, so when So-rim tells him that music is about fun, all he can think about is the painful struggle that has gotten him where he is now.
The people around our protagonists are slowly becoming fleshed out — Yoo-na and Shi-hyun are already my favorites, while Jin-woo and Gyu-sun are probably the best friends a girl can have. I can see that Jin-woo’s actions were spurred by his jealousy, but without the confrontation he forced, So-rim’s deception might have lasted a lot longer. And I would have been seriously uncomfortable with that, given the adorable way Han-gyul was smiling at her in the elevator. He needs to know how young and vulnerable she is.
I find it interesting that Han-gyul isn’t immune to his friends’ words. He cares about their welfare and knows how much of themselves each member is putting into their work. Yet he can’t seem to help himself when he cuts down Yoon to get the compliance he wants. A self-aware hero is more fascinating than an obtuse one, and I can’t wait to find out more about what makes this genius songwriter tick.
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