Fight My Way: Episode 3
There’s nothing wrong with living an ordinary life—unless you can’t forget the dreams of your youth, then that ordinary life can begin to feel like a prison. But even though it seems as though realizing your dreams would solve everything, sometimes those wants and desires bring with them a whole host of new problems to face.
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Round 3: “Don’t touch”
We watch as all four of our misfits wake in the morning, some more easily than others. Ae-ra watches the news, snarling jealously at the scantily-clad weathercaster. Her roommate Seol-hee knows that Ae-ra is cranky because it’s nearing open recruitment time for announcers, and she urges Ae-ra to apply.
Ae-ra takes breakfast across to Dong-man’s apartment, letting herself in when he doesn’t answer the door. She can hear him singing (badly) in the shower and chuckles that he’s going to be so embarrassed when he comes out.
Dong-man finally exits the bathroom with just a towel slung around his hips (hooray!), singing his little heart out. He sees Ae-ra and squeals that he told her not to just come in like this. Ae-ra is a bit flustered by the sight of so much bare skin, so she turns around to reach for some bowls.
She nearly drops the bowls straight on her head, causing Dong-man to run across the room to grab them. All of those lovely muscles end up pressed against Ae-ra’s back and she turns around, wide-eyed. They both freeze, the proximity affecting them both.
Ae-ra goes a little starry-eyed and even puckers up a bit. Dong-man just blinks at her weird eyebrow treatment, and suddenly he can’t even look at her. When they sit to eat, Ae-ra scratches her head, wondering if she’s so itchy because she hasn’t showered. Dong-man deadpans, “Let’s try not to see each other in the mornings.” PFFT.
He declines a call, obviously lying that it’s just spam when Ae-ra asks about it. Ae-ra launches into a tirade, saying that it had better not be “her,” because she threatened to kill “her” if she ever bothers Dong-man again. They must be talking about Hye-ran, the announcer whose divorce is making the news.
Ae-ra finds that a mysterious package has been left for her when she gets to work, but she hesitates to open it. She’s worried that it’s not really for her, and that the true owner will show up and demand compensation if the expensive packaging is ruined.
Dong-man continues to dodge the mysterious phone calls throughout the day. He just sighs when the caller texts him, threatening to show up on his doorstep if he doesn’t answer.
At lunchtime, Hye-ran enters the restaurant where Ae-ra is eating and makes a beeline for her. She joins Ae-ra and ignores her own food, saying that she’s dieting and that the food is for someone else.
Ae-ra doesn’t believe Hye-ran’s claim that their meeting is a coincidence. Hye-ran just asks for Dong-man’s phone number—or even better, his address. Ae-ra fibs that she doesn’t have Dong-man’s number anymore, because they’ve lost touch since he got married and moved away. HA.
She growls that it’s proper etiquette for a single woman not to call a married man. She fakes as if she’s going to throw her drink in Hye-ran’s face, causing Hye-ran to betray a satisfying flinch, then tells her forcefully to leave Dong-man alone.
At a job, Dong-man’s senior tells Dong-man to do all the work, saying that it’s the Korean way to follow proper hierarchy. Dong-man takes the guy’s sprayer and accidentally-on-purpose sprays him with it, pretending not to know how it works, hee.
At the home shopping network, Seol-hee is tapped to appear in a short video of people enjoying some cherries. While filming, she notices her boyfriend Joo-man talking with Ye-jin, the pretty employee who’s interested in him. Seol-hee chokes on a cherry, and Joo-man runs over to give her the Heimlich (in slo-mo, with the theme song from “The Bodyguard” giving the scene a little extra hilarity).
The cherry goes flying but Seol-hee isn’t breathing. Joo-man dramatically sweeps the bowls of cherries from the table, throws her down on it, leaps on top of her, and starts doing chest compressions. He even performs mouth-to-mouth, right there in front of everyone.
Unconscious, Seol-hee relives a memory from a grade school play, when she’d been chosen to play Snow White to Dong-man’s Prince Charming. Dong-man had been unable to kiss Seol-hee/Snow White, whining and making Seol-hee cry. Ae-ra, in the crucial role of “the tree,” had whapped Dong-man upside the head and ordered him to kiss Seol-hee.
Seol-hee, whose fantasy had always been to be Snow White, opens her eyes to see her very own Prince Charming standing over her after kissing her back to life. Joo-man screams about the cherries in yogurt (the snack Seol-hee choked on), lashing out from the adrenaline rush after seeing her nearly die.
At the department store, Ae-ra hears that the girl who normally makes store announcements took a leave, and sees an opportunity. She approaches MANAGER KIM (In Gyo-jin) with an energy drink, making it clear that she’s interested in the job opening.
Seol-hee helps Joo-man clean up the cherry-filled studio, grinning happily—until Ye-jin tells Joo-man that she wishes she’d been the one who choked. Joo-man gives a noncommittal response, but Seol-hee still throws cherries at him to express her displeasure, hee.
Dong-man does his work, muttering about his annoying, high-handed senior. He barks into the phone when Ae-ra calls him to come to her store, saying that she has big news, though of course he goes.
Manager Kim gives Ae-ra a chance to do the announcements, and if she does well, the job is hers. She asks Dong-man to record her first announcement, and at first he complains that it’s silly, but then he gets all excited and says he needs time to scout out a good location near a speaker.
She does well, and listens to the recording later with Dong-man. Ae-ra bursts into tears, thrilled at the way it felt to do what she loves. Dong-man thoughtfully asks if doing what she loves is really that amazing.
A mysterious man comes by the store asking for Ae-ra, and the information attendant says that she’s the one doing the announcement. He leaves, taking the sinister package with him.
That night, as she’s leaving work, Ae-ra gets the feeling that she’s being watched. She thinks of the three men whose cars she vandalized, regretting having given them her name and place of employment. She breaks into a run, but a black van cuts her off and at the same time, the man catches up and clamps a hand on her shoulder. Ae-ra grabs the man-beating bag that Dong-man bought for her, giving it a mighty swing and knocking the man down.
She smacks him with the bag over and over, screaming at him to leave her alone. A woman and her young son get out of the van, proving that it wasn’t as dangerous as it seemed. Ae-ra stops swinging and looks at the man—it’s Moo-bin, the mild little sweetheart she met at the wedding.
They get Moo-bin cleaned up and Ae-ra asks why he was following her. He presents her with the package that was left for her earlier, and Ae-ra opens it to find a pair of pretty pink sneakers. A heart-shaped note asks her to wear them after work and meet him at the store entrance. Awww.
Moo-bin remembers that she broke a shoe kicking out those jerks’ side view mirrors, so he explains that he got these for any future kicking plans she may have. Not at all charmed, Ae-ra asks angrily if this is a new bet between him and his friends, but Moo-bin insists that it’s not.
He says earnestly that he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Ae-ra, so he came up with this plan. He babbles that he got a new jacket, a haircut, and made reservations for dinner. Taken aback, Ae-ra admits to herself that he’s kind of cute, especially the part where he filled his car up with gas in case she wanted to go for a ride.
Moo-bin asks if Ae-ra has a boyfriend, and she’s all, What if I don’t? Moo-bin seizes the moment and asks her to go out with him ten times, saying that he’ll do his best to impress her. He can tell that she’s flustered, and with a smile, he urges her to put on the sneakers. He even kneels to help, and although Ae-ra knows that her feet are too big for them, she slides a foot into one shoe.
Ae-ra’s words about doing what you love have strongly affected Dong-man, and he finds himself at Coach Hwang’s gym again that night. He works up the nerve to go inside, and he breathlessly asks Coach Hwang if he’d be able to make a lot of money if he got back into martial arts.
It’s the wrong question for Coach Hwang, who says that Dong-man should be thinking about things like his dreams and doing his best at life. Dong-man argues that he needs money to realize his dreams, like buying his mother a house and his father a new car.
Almost frantically, he adds that he needs money to protect Dong-hee, adding that he can’t afford to try this if he’s just going to fail. Coach Hwang tells Dong-man that if his goal is to make money, then he needs to stay far away from him.
Distraught, Dong-man thinks back to that day in 2007, the day that changed his life. He’d fought in a match, and we see his opponent arguing with Coach Hwang before the fight, refusing to do… something.
Ae-ra calls her father to tell him about making the announcements today, and her dad is thrilled and offers to come to the city to hear her. Ae-ra complains that her dad is super lame, but she’s obviously excited that he’d come so far to see her.
She jumps on the bus to find Dong-man already there, and he hilariously pretends to be asleep so he won’t have to give her his seat. She knees him in the leg, then pinches his nose and mouth shut and sweetly bids him to get up. He obeys, then spends the ride home glaring at her while she simpers.
They run into Seol-hee outside their building, whose takeout ddukbokki pairs well with the beer and soju they’re carting home. The girls do a little happy dance while Dong-man complains that they’re bonkers, then they head up to the roof through a secret entrance.
They have a whole bar set up there, which they worry may be discovered by the new landlord, who recently moved into the building. Ae-ra wonders if she’s a ghost, since nobody has seen her entering or leaving her apartment. The new landlord is strange—we wee her slip outside wearing a dramatic flowing dress and clutching a crucifix necklace. She looks around nervously, wondering why she keeps hearing voices.
While Ae-ra makes soju bombs for herself and Dong-man, Seol-hee pleads for something stronger than her yogurt drink. Ae-ra refuses on the grounds that Seol-hee gets sloppy drunk after only one shot, but Seol-hee snatches her drink and swallows a sip.
Ae-ra asks if something happened today. Seol-hee says that nothing happened, but then she complains about girls who wear jewels on their fingernails and seem to come to work just to dress up. Oblivious, Dong-man keeps asking if the girl is pretty, but Ae-ra knows what this is about and asks if the girl is after Joo-man. Seol-hee decides she’s being silly and waves away Ae-ra’s concern.
Dong-man says that he has a very important question: Do girls like mixed martial arts? LOL. Once again it’s Ae-ra who intuits what he’s trying not to say, and she pins a suspicious eye on Dong-man and asks what he’s up to.
Seol-hee shuffles off to bed, Ae-ra and Dong-man advising her not to drunk-dial Joo-man. Ae-ra stays behind to listen to the recording of her announcement again, and Dong-man urges her to try for an announcer’s job. But Ae-ra refuses, and when Dong-man presses her for a reason, she says that she doesn’t want to be just a pretty prop. She knows that with her specs, she doesn’t stand a chance at getting the job she really wants.
She asks Dong-man about his dream, which he says is to be rich. He lies down next to her on the table and steals the roll of toilet paper she’s using as a pillow, so Ae-ra grabs his arm to rest her head on. She continues chattering at him, barely noticing that he’s gone stiff, his hand clenched. She tells him to relax his arm, and he says it is relaxed, even as his face goes red from the strain of making a fist.
They talk about their school days, and how their dreams had changed daily. Dong-man decides that it’s better to pretend not to have a dream, and Ae-ra agrees that it makes no sense to have a dream when your reality sucks. She closes her eyes and turns to face Dong-man, and with alarm, he warns her not to fall asleep.
He stops griping to get a close look at her, then says, “You have tiny nostrils.” (HA, nobody ever accused him of having any game.) He also notices her soft skin and reaches out to touch her face, but Ae-ra’s eyes fly open and she tells him he’d better not.
She sits up, reminding him that she told him this the other night when he hugged her (after getting him out of jail). She tells him again not to ever touch her, and Dong-man yelps incredulously that the way she’s acting, someone would think he’d groped her.
To prove that skinship means nothing to a dope like him, Ae-ra leans in to hug Dong-man tightly. She says that of course he doesn’t feel anything, not the way a sensitive girl like her does. But by the dumbstruck look on Dong-man’s face (not to mention the fact that he’s stopped breathing entirely), I’d say she just broke his brain. Ae-ra leaves him and heads down to her apartment, wondering when it got so hot.
Joo-man wakes to find Seol-hee in his bedroom, packing his laptop into a new bag. He complains about how much it cost her when she’s still carrying around a tattered old purse, saying that it makes him feel like she’s his mom. Seol-hee pouts, asking if he doesn’t like her anymore, and he rushes to assure her that he does.
The four friends head to work and notice Coach Hwang’s soondae cart outside their building. They wave Dong-man over to talk to the coach, who pretends not to see Dong-man. He teases Coach Hwang, saying that he’s not his type, earning a butt-bump from the grouchy coach. He asks why Coach Hwang is here, but the coach just says, “Will you do it?” with no explanation, so Dong-man turns to leave.
Coach Hwang peevishly throws a couple of mixed martial arts championship tickets at Dong-man, yelling that he came here to give him those. He calls Dong-man a traitor for not granting him a simple wish, but Dong-man just asks what time the fight starts.
As Ae-ra struts into work, she’s shocked to hear another voice making an announcement. She goes to the sound booth to find Manager Kim hovering over a pretty girl, who tells Ae-ra that she’s the new announcer. Manager Kim tries to push Ae-ra out of the booth, but they’re joined by the store owner, who asks what’s going on.
Ae-ra says angrily that she was told she would at least get an interview, calling this a breach of trust between labor and management. She notices the store owner’s discomfort, so she adds that this could turn out to be a labor issue. It’s enough to scare the store owner into ordering Manager Kim to give Ae-ra a fair interview.
Dong-man tries to talk to his senior about the way he’s making him do all the work. His senior tells him to pull over just so he can kick Dong-man in the shin, then poke him in the shoulder, trying to push him to quit. Tired of being subservient to this ass, Dong-man just barely controls himself.
The announcer school graduate goes to the restroom to call her sister, who happens to be the wife of the store owner, screeching at her to make her husband give her the job. She doesn’t know that Ae-ra was in a stall and overheard everything.
Ae-ra and the other candidate have to recite something for their interview, and the other girl does well with her news bite about gas prices. But Ae-ra’s off-the-cuff (but more relevant for a department store) announcement of a sale in the food department impresses them.
But the store owner decides to go with the other girl, and he tells Ae-ra to go back to the job she was hired to do. Ae-ra agrees that she’s older, didn’t graduate from announcer’s academy, and has no connections, so of course she’d lose. But as she stands, she says that the owner should never had raised her hopes by giving her an interview if she wasn’t going to be fairly considered.
She goes back to her information desk, and every time the new girl makes an announcement it’s like a dagger in her heart. She texts her dad not to come visit, and as she assists customers, something in her eyes dies a little.
Later she goes outside to find Dong-man waiting for her, looking very serious. He says he just wanted to have lunch, noticing that she’s wearing her information desk uniform. They go up to the roof, where Ae-ra tells Dong-man that she can’t sit still all day like the announcer’s job requires, so she turned it down.
Seeming to know that she’s not telling the truth, Dong-man just listens, then he slides over to lean his back against her. He says that his back is wide enough to hide her, telling her to cry when she feels like crying. Ae-ra’s chin wobbles, then she starts to ugly-sob as Dong-man murmurs about how mean those people were to give her the job and take it away when it made her so happy.
Dong-man puts an arm around Ae-ra, stretching it across the back of the bench to avoid touching her. He holds up his jacket collar awkwardly, making sure that nobody can see her crying. Eventually he gives up and pushes her head onto his chest, patting her shoulder and letting her get it all out.
At his gym, Coach Hwang eats sausages with an adorably chubby little boy, who says that his mom wants him to stop learning martial arts. Coach Hwang pulls a note off the boy’s back, left there by bullies, and sends him to practice his kicks. Dong-man walks in and sits down like it’s no biggie, announcing that he got hit (by his senior).
Whining that his students keep getting beat up, Coach Hwang offers Dong-man a sausage just like the little boy before him. Dong-man casually mentions the martial arts fight, saying breezily that he’ll go once to watch since it’s Coach Hwang’s wish.
When they get to the arena, Coach Hwang is like a happy little bunny, while Dong-man tries to act like none of this is affecting him. He says that this is the end of their martial arts history together, and that from now on he’ll call him hyung instead of coach. Coach Hwang just says no and leads Dong-man inside.
Dong-man is bored by the fights, or at least he claims to be. Coach Hwang makes him stay, saying that the last fight will be better. He watches Dong-man carefully as the star of tonight’s fight is announced—Kim Tak-soo, the very fighter that Dong-man faced on the night he gave up martial arts for good.
Dong-man’s expression goes eerily still as he watches Tak-soo strut into the fighting cage. Memories of their fight push their way into his mind, and he looks like he may cry. But Coach Hwang tells Dong-man to look at how well Tak-soo is living now, asking why Dong-man should hang his head in shame when Tak-soo is practically a rock star.
In a quiet voice, Dong-man pleads, “Coach, why are you being so cruel to me?”
On the steps of their building, Dong-man tenderly pats Ae-ra’s hair, unperturbed when she complains that he’s touching her again. He just says in an adoring voice that she’s ugly, then sniffs his hand to smell her hair. He reels at the stench, which sets off another round of bickering before they stomp off to their apartments.
Poor Dong-man—I see what Coach Hwang was trying to do, but I’m not sure this is the right way to go about it. I know the coach wants to snap Dong-man out of his apathy when it comes to martial arts, and to light a fire in his belly by showing him how well his former rival is doing. But Dong-man seems just as likely to boomerang in the opposite direction, swearing off martial arts for good from the shock. For a tough guy, Dong-man is surprisingly sensitive, and approaching him from even a slightly wrong angle could ruin his chances of ever going after his dream again. I really hope this doesn’t backfire.
I just can’t get over how cute Ae-ra and Dong-man are together, and how well they know each other inside and out. Ae-ra knows that Dong-man will do pretty much anything she asks, being the clear alpha in the relationship. And even though Dong-man grumbles and complains every step of the way, there’s never any question that Ae-ra’s wish is his command. In fact, his dopey whining is flat-out adorable, the way he shifts from complaints to support to complaints again, all in the same irritated tone of voice. His younger self was a whiner too, but he’s learned to cover it up with bluster and fake gruffness, so his delicate temperament has matured into an endearing sort of reluctant, grouchy devotion.
And Ae-ra has changed, too—she’s no longer the brutally blunt, loud and bossy tyrant she was when they were kids. Now she uses her security in their friendship to get what she wants from Dong-man, but never in a manipulative way. She knows that his objections are all for show and that he’ll do anything she asks, so it’s more like she’s just having fun with him, enjoying the grumpy act he puts on. It’s a very different way of bickering than we usually see in dramas, and I find it super fun and entertaining.
It’s also fun to see how much they each affect the other; even if their hearts haven’t figured out their feelings, their bodies sure have. They can barely stand to touch each other without getting all hot and bothered, and I can’t wait until they figure out that it’s attraction, and not the weather, heh. Their internal feelings play out in the physical as well, with Dong-man continually trying to initiate (what he tells himself is) casual skinship, and Ae-ra curtly ordering him to just keep his hands off altogether. But they have such a great emotional connection too, each knowing what the other is feeling before they do. The way Dong-man made it okay for Ae-ra to stop being strong and just cry was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever seen in a drama. These two are just such soulmates, it’s amazing that they don’t know it yet. I love that, when many dramas would focus on how romantic feelings begin between old friends, we’re dropped into the middle of an already-blossoming romance. In Dong-man and Ae-ra’s case, nothing will change—all the need to do is acknowledge what already exists.
Speaking of romance, I really like the way the show makes so many parallels with fairytales, like Seol-hee’s Snow White fantasy and Ae-ra’s Cinderella conundrum. The comparisons can be a bit heavy-handed, the way scenes from the originals are acted out exactly and even the songs from the Disney versions playing at precisely the right times, but somehow it works. The show itself is a bit like a Disney movie, bright and simple yet bigger-than-life, so the moments feel at home within the story.
Sadly, unlike Seol-hee’s prince saving her with true love’s kiss, Ae-ra’s Cinderella story doesn’t quite work with her would-be Prince Charming. As cute and squishy as Moo-bin is (and as tickled as I am that Choi Woo-shik seems settled in for an extended cameo), he’s not the right fit for her. The too-small sneakers he presented to Ae-ra are a big red flag that these are the wrong glass slippers, and this is the wrong prince. Ae-ra isn’t your average princess, and she’s never going to be happy with an average love story.
- Fight My Way: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Circle, Fight My Way, Lookout
- Life is rosy for the youths of Fight My Way
- Oh Snap! A friend to lean on when things go sideways
- Suffocating best friends in Fight My Way’s new teaser
- The cute and the petty in Fight My Way’s second teaser
- KBS schedules drama shorts, delays Fight My Way’s premiere
- Finger hearts in new stills for Fight My Way
- Bickering besties Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won for Fight My Way
- Kimbap and charged looks on the set of Third-Rate My Way