Perfect Wife: Episode 11
It’s as if finally hearing the word “crazy” has unhinged something inside Eun-hee, and she makes no more pretense of being the friendly, helpful landlord. Jae-bok thought she couldn’t be surprised by anything Eun-hee does anymore, but she was so wrong… Eun-hee is letting her psycho flag fly for all to see. And though you’d think transparency would be less frightening, it goes to show just how far Eun-hee is willing to go to get what she wants.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Stunned to see Eun-hee and Jung-hee together at the gala, Jae-bok confronts them. Eun-hee freely admits that she likes Jung-hee, but Jae-bok tells her that she can’t do that. She says that he may be her ex-husband but he’ll always be her friend and the father of her children, so he needs to stay healthy.
Eun-hee asks why she can’t like him, and her superior expression falters when Jae-bok tells her right to her face, “Because you’re a psycho.”
Bong-gu’s been watching from close by, and he moves closer when Jung-hee grabs Jae-bok by the wrist. He’s whistling casually and seems relaxed, but the way he eyes Jung-hee’s hand makes his meaning clear: Let go, or else.
Jung-hee and Jae-bok go somewhere private, where Jung-hee asks if calling Eun-hee a psycho wasn’t a bit harsh. Jae-bok reminds him that they aren’t even legally divorced yet and Eun-hee is already trying to stake a claim on him. Jung-hee admits that of course he’s trying to gain Eun-hee’s favor, adding that he has no choice if he wants to be a better man and father.
He’s called away for a meeting, and Jae-bok calls after him that nothing in life is free. Jung-hee just says he’ll do whatever he has to do to succeed. Jae-bok watches him walk away with Eun-hee, no longer the pathetic, submissive man she thought she knew.
Bong-gu offers to let Jae-bok punch him to release her anger, then regrets it when she takes him up on it. He gets a call with some info on Brian, and leaves the building without a word to Jae-bok.
Speaking of Brian, Na-mi somehow escapes him and hides in the gala crush. When she spots Jung-hee across the room she yells his name over and over, but when he looks her way, her face is obscured by the crowd. She screams, “It’s Na-mi!” and he looks again, but Eun-hee is onto her and hustles him into the elevator.
Once he’s gone, Eun-hee whips off her heels and starts running after Na-mi, stepping on some broken glass from a dropped wine bottle on the way. She pulls the glass out and just keeps going, shoving party-goers out of her way and leaving bloody footprints behind her.
Eun-hee cuts Na-mi off in an empty hallway to ask her why she’s here. Na-mi asks if the rumors are true that Eun-hee and Jung-hee are getting married, and Eun-hee says with a smirk that that’s what she believes. But when Na-mi asks if Eun-hee had Hyung-sun hire her to seduce Jung-hee, Eun-hee goes all wide-eyed and plays innocent.
She adjusts her grip on her heel so that she’s holding it like a weapon, then lunges at Na-mi. Na-mi grabs her arm, so Eun-hee uses her other hand to get a handful of Na-mi’s hair, and the two grapple to gain the upper hand.
Having seen Na-mi at the party, Jae-bok follows them and breaks up the fight before anyone is seriously hurt. Eun-hee says she was only warning Na-mi not to make a scene and that Na-mi attacked her first, but Jae-bok doesn’t believe that, and says so.
She warns Eun-hee that if Na-mi is harmed, she’ll know it was her or Hyung-sun, but Eun-hee just scoffs and asks if she’d be responsible if anything happened to her, then. Jae-bok retorts that she wouldn’t touch an insane person, and Eun-hee’s confident smile slips. She collects her shoes and her composure and sails off as if they’d been discussing nothing more upsetting than the weather.
Hyung-sun gets a call from a spy that Na-mi showed up at the gala, then another call from Mrs. Park (Hye-ran’s stalker and Hyung-sun’s old schoolmate). Annoyed, she hangs up on Mrs. Park without a word.
Eun-hee fixes her hair and clothes and makes her way upstairs to the meeting, where Jung-hee is being congratulated on his new chief director’s position. He shakes hands around the room, except for Boss Jo, who he ignores again. Ha.
After the meeting, Jung-hee and Eun-hee hang back to talk, and he notices that she’s limping. He makes her sit on the desk and checks her foot, using a handkerchief to bandage her still-bleeding cut. She stops him from going for help and asks him to stay with her for a bit.
As they sit silently, side by side, Eun-hee remembers one time when she’d waited for him after a concert. They’d obviously been dating, judging by the way they kiss and cuddle. Eun-hee had gone by a different name then, Eun-kyung, and she’d looked different enough that Jung-hee doesn’t recognize her anymore.
While Won-jae is lecturing her class on human sexuality, she halts when she thinks she sees Sam-kyu sitting with the students, giving her the eye. He disappears, only to reappear lounging in the windowsill, and the sight of his kissy lips makes Won-jae’s heart race.
The real Sam-kyu is with Hye-ran, currently giving her a ride to Won-jae’s house, where she’s still living. He asks if it’s true that Won-jae is still single (her husband died), and Hye-ran teases him, encouraging him to make a move if he’s interested. He throws an arm around Hye-ran and says she’s more his type, though he quickly ditches her when Won-jae walks up to them.
She says she had to walk because she couldn’t get her car through some construction, and Sam-kyu comes to her rescue by offering to drive her car around. Won-jae seems to enjoy watching Sam-kyu expertly reverse her car away from the construction, and in the backseat, Hye-ran observes them shrewdly.
Jae-bok is called to Jin-wook’s school, where he’s been caught in possession of two cell phones. She tells him that she’s known about the smartphone for a while and asks who gave it to him. When Jin-wook hesitates, Jae-bok says she already knows the answer, but she was hoping he would be honest. Jin-wook admits that it was Eun-hee and asks Jae-bok not to be mad at her.
Eun-hee skips around Jae-bok’s family’s part of the house, giggling happily to herself. She directs workers to bring all new furniture into Jae-bok’s bedroom and fills the closet with suits for Jung-hee, right next to her own clothing.
She’s ironing Jung-hee’s shirts when Jae-bok arrives home and sees Eun-hee behaving as if she’s already Jung-hee’s wife. She finds her room redecorated, and Eun-hee explains that since Jae-bok moved out, she wanted to make the room nice for Jung-hee to sleep in.
Jae-bok demands to know why she got a king-sized bed when Jung-hee sleeps alone before tossing Eun-hee’s clothes out of the closet. She waves her rental agreement under Eun-hee’s nose, loudly reminding her that even if she and Jung-hee are divorced, this room is still hers.
Next, she shows Eun-hee the phone she confiscated from Jin-wook and asks if it was a bribe to make him like her. Eun-hee gave him the phone knowing that Jae-bok is trying to limit Jin-wook’s gaming, and she sweetly argues that it’s important for kids to develop hand-eye coordination.
Downstairs, Hyung-sun approaches Jin-wook while he’s waiting for his mother. She tells him that he should have been more careful not to get caught with the phone and wonders out loud if Jae-bok will hit Eun-hee again.
Jae-bok informs Eun-hee that her son’s development is none of her business, but Eun-hee serenely says that she’ll be his mom soon, when the divorce is final and she and Jung-hee get married. Jin-wook overhears and angrily accuses his mom of lying about the divorce. Jung-hee arrives home and hears them fighting, and when he gets upstairs, Jin-wook blurts out that he wants to live with his dad.
Strangely, for all the interest she’s shown in the children thus far, Eun-hee doesn’t look one bit pleased at the idea. Jae-bok is initially stunned, but then she says that maybe it would be best for Jin-wook to be with his father. She tells Jin-wook that it’s his decision, but he’s still expected to obey her rules, like the limits on game-playing.
Jae-bok sends Jin-wook back downstairs where he runs into Won-jae, her daughter Che-ri, and his sister, Hae-wook. Hyung-sun asks Won-jae how she got in, so Won-jae says that Jae-bok gave her the code and repeats it (020321). Che-ri notices that it sounds like a date: March 21, 2002.
Won-jae agrees and thinks it must have been an important day to Eun-hee when she was in college. Hyung-sun goes stiff and snipes at Won-jae not to sit on the leather couch because she just polished it. Just to be ornery, Won-jae tells the kids to rub their butts on the couch to help the leather absorb the polish, hee.
Jae-bok insists that Eun-hee sign an oath not to interfere with the kids again. Jung-hee objects to the way Jae-bok is treating Eun-hee, but she points out that a normal neighbor wouldn’t develop feelings for the man next door, or give him a promotion at his job, or redecorate his bedroom.
Eun-hee agrees to sign the oath. She writes that she won’t contact the children, and Jae-bok instructs her to add that she won’t come upstairs for any reason.
Once they’re alone, Jae-bok mentions that it hasn’t been long since Na-mi died (as far as Jung-hee knows), and yet he’s living such a nice life already. She grumbles that he’ll have to learn the hard way, but he swears he can keep Eun-hee under control.
They go downstairs, where Jae-bok repeats that Jin-wook should stay. She asks if Hae-wook wants to stay too, but Hae-wook says she’ll go with her mom. Jin-wook looks like he regrets his rash decision, but he’s caught in his own bluff.
Eun-hee brings milk and cookies to his room later (so much for the oath) and tells him in a kind voice to go to his mom. He refuses, so she takes him by the arm and says she’ll even drive him. Jin-wook wrenches his arm out of her hand, and her expression goes cold.
Jae-bok’s words haven’t fallen on deaf ears — Jung-hee thinks about everything she’s said, and wonders what he’s doing. But then he tells himself not to be weak, adding that he can put up with this much, at least.
Eun-hee brings him some milk and pouts that she’s upset at how Jae-bok still acts like his wife. She grabs Jung-hee’s hand and surprises him by blurting out, “Let’s get married.” Jung-hee looks unsettled, but we don’t hear his answer.
A few minutes later, Eun-hee runs downstairs and orders Hyung-sun to remove her wedding photo with Kyung-woo, because her real husband is here now. Hyung-sun begs Eun-hee to let her do the dirty work, but Eun-hee sneers that Na-mi showed up at the gala today, so Hyung-sun’s track record isn’t that great. She says that she’ll take care of everything and make sure it’s done right.
That night, Hyung-sun has another nightmare. This time it’s of Bong-gu showing up at the door with a couple of policemen, there to arrest her for the attempted murder of Na-mi. They drag her off while Eun-hee just watches.
Hyung-sun leaps out of bed in a panic, runs out, and somehow gets into Bong-gu’s apartment. She attacks Na-mi while she’s sleeping and begins strangling her, determined to make sure she’s dead this time. Apparently Brian has been following Hyung-sun, because he comes to Na-mi’s rescue.
Bong-gu comes home a few seconds later to pandemonium. He grabs Brian when he tries to run, twisting his arm and slamming him against the wall. He calls Sam-kyu, pretending to be calling the police, but suddenly Na-mi tackles him, allowing both Brian and Hyung-sun to escape.
Na-mi sobs that Brian saved her life, and that he told her (probably at the gala) that he would pay for their stepmother’s expensive treatments if Na-mi promised not to turn Hyung-sun in. Bong-gu wonders how Brian and Hyung-sun are connected, but Na-mi doesn’t know.
Hyung-sun follows Brian all the way out to the street, where she’s more focused on the fact that he’s holding her hand than on his anger. He yanks his hand away and she comes to her senses, accusing him of being the one who saved Na-mi’s life. She screams at Brian, but he says that he couldn’t stand to see her arrested for murder.
She yells that nobody knows she’s his mother, but he says it would still be a problem. He asks if she’s willing to see Eun-hee ruined again, which has Hyung-sun looking cornered. Brian adds that whatever she does, she’s in the palm of his hand, just as she locked them up in the palm of her hand once.
Whatever he means by that, it causes Hyung-sun to dissolve into heartbroken tears. But a car pulls up and a chauffeur jumps out to open the door, and in seconds, Brian is gone.
Upstairs, Bong-gu mutters that those people’s money doesn’t give them the right to interfere with people’s lives. Na-mi reminds him that he likes money too, which is why he sorts his women according to their wealth. That earns her a death glare, ha.
But after she falls asleep, Bong-gu looks at his call list on his phone — and sure enough, he has his women saved not under their names, but under their net worth. He puts his phone away without returning any calls and gives himself a long, hard look in the mirror.
Won-jae finds Jae-bok doing Jin-wook’s laundry, and she asks if it’s okay that Jin-wook is still in the same house as Eun-hee. Jae-bok is sad, but she’s comforted by the fact that Jung-hee’s mother is supposed to be there (meaning that Jin-wook won’t be left alone with Eun-hee).
Hae-wook has an accident in bed, and Jae-bok tells her that she did that a lot as a child too. But after Hae-wook is asleep, Jae-bok asks Che-ri if Hae-wook has had accidents before, and Che-ri says that she has.
Sam-kyu meets with Jung-hee and tells him that Na-mi is alive, claiming to have overheard Bong-gu talking about her. He also informs Jung-hee that Na-mi was paid to seduce him, and Jung-hee remembers the thick envelope she dropped once when he startled her at the hospital.
Bong-gu decides to let himself be used by Eun-hee just to see how far she’ll go, so he calls her to meet. She’s guarded but curious, and she asks what he’ll do for her in return for her support. Bong-gu says he’ll do anything she wants. Eun-hee gets a text from Sam-kyu then, reporting that he told Jung-hee the truth about Na-mi.
Jung-hee sits on the floor of his fancy new office, shaking and crying as he realizes that Na-mi was paid to seduce him. He calls Boss Jo in, who insinuates that Na-mi also dated him for money, and worse.
Bong-gu draws up a chart to explain to Jae-bok how he’s connected all the players. He outlines how Hyung-sun paid Na-mi to date Jung-hee, but Na-mi made a mistake and developed real feelings for him. Jae-bok deduces that that’s why Hyung-sun tried to kill Na-mi, and Bong-gu says that it was Brian who faked Na-mi’s death, though he can’t find any information on him.
Jae-bok continues that Eun-hee is at the center of it all… but why? Bong-gu thinks it’s because she wants Jung-hee, though that seems a simple goal for such an elaborate plan. He says that he’s working on Eun-hee, but just as Jae-bok asks what he means to do, Sam-kyu barges in. They barely get their info board flipped over before he sees it.
Che-ri sees Jin-wook at school and asks if he really likes Eun-hee so much that he’d give up his mother. Jin-wook snaps that he’s angry because his parents lied about getting divorced. Che-ri wisely tells him that his parents’ divorce has nothing to do with him.
Jin-wook goes home that afternoon and asks Eun-hee to make him an after-school snack, like she’s done many times before. But instead of cheerfully complying, she’s all, Why should I?
Won-jae gives Hae-wook a psychological test and determines that she may have separation anxiety from her parents’ split. Worried about Jin-wook, Jae-bok calls Jung-hee’s mom, who says she took him to prep class. She doesn’t reveal that she’s in a designer shop with Eun-hee, who has her smiling with her good daughter-in-law face back on. Jae-bok senses that something is wrong and rushes out while Won-jae is still talking.
Hungry and home alone, Jin-wook tries to make himself some ramyun. He spills the pot all over the floor, splashing the boiling liquid on himself. His first thought is for his mother, and how he’s been so awful to her lately. Jae-bok’s maternal instinct has her showing up right as her son needs her, and they hold each other, crying and apologizing.
Once the crisis is over, she goes straight to find Eun-hee and Jung-hee’s mother still shopping. She confronts Jung-hee’s mother for lying about taking Jin-wook to prep class, but before things get heated, Eun-hee sends Jung-hee’s mom off for a facial.
Jae-bok asks Eun-hee why she knowingly left Jin-wook home by himself. Eun-hee says with feigned innocence that Jae-bok made her promise to stay away from the children, and that she’s being good to Jung-hee’s mother because she’ll be her mother-in-law soon.
Jae-bok asks how Eun-hee is able to drop Jin-wook so fast, when just recently she was bribing him with phones and pretending to be his mother at school. Eun-hee just says flippantly, “He’s not my child,” and adds that both kids have been getting tedious lately.
Jae-bok is horrified that Eun-hee could be so dismissive of Jung-hee’s children in front of their mother. Eun-hee gives a derisive laugh at the word “mother” and asks if a mother is really such a big deal. She says that giving birth doesn’t make you a mother, then her attention is drawn by a woman nearby who’s spanking her crying child.
The spectacle draws a crowd, and Jae-bok is disturbed, but Eun-hee is pulled into an old memory. She recalls her own mother spanking Brian like that when he was small while shrieking that she was sick of him and wanted him to just die. Eun-hee had thrown her arms around her brother, shielding him from their mother’s blows, while Hyung-sun screamed at them to get lost.
Seeing the same thing happening to another child, something inside Eun-hee snaps. She runs over and grabs the woman’s arm, asking furiously why she’s taking her anger out on a child. She looks like she might actually hurt the woman, but Jae-bok pulls her away, and Eun-hee turns her outrage to the gawking crowd.
She yells at them for watching as a child is physically abused, then starts screaming at them and flailing wildly. Jae-bok grabs Eun-hee in her arms, trying to calm her down, but Eun-hee shoves her away. She snarls at Jae-bok, “You get lost, too,” and when Jae-bok stares at her, unsure what to do, Eun-hee screams at the top of her lungs, “GET LOST!!”
For the first time, I find myself just as scared for Eun-hee as of her. If her mental illness stems from childhood trauma, then it gives my reaction to her behavior an element of pity that it didn’t have before. Particularly if it was her mother meting out the abuse, and if Eun-hee felt that she had to protect Brian by taking his share of abuse onto herself. I can imagine that Jung-hee was probably the first person to ever show Eun-hee love the way it should be, and so when she lost him, she may have felt that she lost the one person who ever loved her without also hurting her. It makes her obsession with him understandable if not justifiable, particularly if she wasn’t mentally healthy to begin with. And it makes me scared of what she might do if she “loses” him again, because she’s already beginning to behave erratically.
At the beginning of the episode, I kept thinking about how much Jung-hee has changed from the submissive, begging, whining husband that Jae-bok knows to this confident, determined person we see now. Last week I said that a fancy suit and a haircut don’t make a person change overnight… but the more I think about it, the more I realize that for someone like Jung-hee, it really can happen that way. When he said that he’ll do anything if it leads to success, I suddenly understood that rather than changing, he’s actually just doing the same thing he’s always done, which is to give people what he thinks will work with them. He begged and whined because that’s what worked with Jae-bok. But then it stopped working, and Eun-hee showed up, and what she wanted was a Jung-hee who stands up for himself, who is a leader, who is confident in his abilities. So that’s what he gives her. He hasn’t changed at all, he’s only doing what he’s always done — reflecting how others see him.
I’ve been assuming all this time that Eun-kyung was just a crazy fan of Jung-hee’s in his rock band days, or at most a close friend with a crush. I never anticipated that Jung-hee actually returned Eun-hee’s feelings, and it explains so much. No wonder Eun-hee is so possessive and determined not only to get “her” man back, but to do it in a way that does the most damage to Jae-bok in the process. I’m unsure why she felt she had to do this under a different identity, unless she just went completely off the rails when Jung-hee left her and she did something that she knew would make him stay far away if he knew who she was. Considering that even Hyung-sun’s casual acquaintances at the time knew that Eun-hee had some sort of psychotic break, I’m guessing that if she did do something, it was pretty spectacularly bad.
I still think that Brian is the key to the whole truth, both of Eun-hee’s past and of her present. He knows what their mother did when they were children, and what happened to Eun-hee when she lost Jung-hee. Brian obviously has money too, judging by his chauffeured car and his ability to travel around the world at a whim, and I can’t help but think that the source of their money also has something to do with all of this. I find it interesting that Brian is always hiding his face whenever he interferes with Hyung-sun’s plans, and it was even more interesting when Hyung-sun reassured him that nobody knows they’re related. Why does Brian have to hide his identity and family ties? Is he famous? Or possibly, his and Eun-hee’s father could be someone influential (I suspect they’re the children of an affair, as Hyung-sun was previously accused of being someone’s mistress, and we never hear any of them mention a father).
It’s brilliant how the show continues to lead our assumptions in one direction only to drop the truth on us and have us gobsmacked that we were wrong all along, thinking we had all of the relevant information when in fact we only had tiny pieces. The way the plot is written has a way of making the audience believe that we know everything we need to know in order to draw reasonable conclusions. But like a talented illusionist, it deliberately points our attention in one direction while the real information is actually very different. I think that’s why it’s always such a surprise when we learn the truth, and why that surprise never gets stale, because the show isn’t just dropping twists, but actually changing what we already believed was true. That’s what makes this show so exciting to watch, for me anyway — the way it keeps gleefully crowing, “Nope, you thought you were right, but you’re SO wrong!” But for once, I’m not impatient to uncover all the answers, because the journey itself is such a fun ride. I’m actually enjoying being toyed with, and I’m comfortable trusting the show to pay off in a way that won’t betray that trust.