Perfect Wife: Episode 19
Though things seem to be back to normal now that Jae-bok has handled her little Eun-hee problem, she can’t help but feel like it’s only the calm before the storm. A mother’s instinct is stronger than logic, and no matter how many times she’s reassured that Eun-hee can no longer hurt anyone, nothing can convince Jae-bok that there’s not something even worse looming on the horizon, threatening to harm her children.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Jae-bok goes to visit Eun-hee in the hospital, insisting even when the nurse seems reluctant to allow it. Jae-bok watches Eun-hee through the barred window in her door, and she goes pale with horror when she sees Eun-hee playing with Hae-wook’s favorite stuffed rabbit.
But when she calls Eun-hee’s name, the face that turns to her is a stranger’s. Jae-bok yells that this isn’t Eun-hee and looks for help, but she sees her own children standing in the hall a short distance away. This has got to be a dream.
In her white patient’s gown, Eun-hee moves to stand behind the children, smiling and caressing them possessively. Jae-bok runs after them when Eun-hee leads the children away, but when she turns the corner, they’re gone.
Little Hae-wook wakes her mom from the nightmare, which seems to go on when Jae-bok doesn’t see Jin-wook in the bedroom. Thank goodness, he was only nestled under the blankets. Jae-bok hugs her children tightly, grateful that it was only a dream.
Jung-hee gets ready for work that morning, haunted by memories of Eun-hee being carted off to a mental hospital. He even sees her downstairs for just an instant, though it’s only his mother, who asks if he’s sure Eun-hee is locked up tight. Jung-hee tells her that he verified it, and after he leaves, she wonders greedily if she and Jung-hee will be able to remain living in this grand house.
His day starts out badly when his driver quits, then gets worse when he finds his office being cleaned out by his assistant, Mr. Oh. Mr. Oh informs Jung-hee that his position at SJ Construction has been eliminated, taking satisfaction in telling him that he’s nothing now that Eun-hee is gone.
Jae-bok calls the hospital to reassure herself that Eun-hee is still there, unsettled after her horrible dream. Bong-gu and Sam-kyu both hover, worried about Jae-bok’s distracted state of mind. Bong-gu reassures Jae-bok that Eun-hee has to stay and receive treatment so that she can be questioned.
But Jae-bok thinks it’s strange that every time she calls, the nurse says the same exact thing. Even when Sam-kyu says that he checked on her himself, Jae-bok can’t shake the feeling that Eun-hee’s not really at the hospital. To ease her fears, Bong-gu decides to take her to see Eun-hee.
Jung-hee arrives back at Eun-hee’s house after being fired to find his belongings packed. He’s handed a phone with Brian on the line, who tells Jung-hee to vacate the house now that Eun-hee is gone. When Jung-hee barks that he’s engaged to Eun-hee, Brian scoffs, aware that Jung-hee was disgusted by his sister. Unfortunately, Jung-hee has nowhere to go, since his mother gave his brother her fancy apartment to sell and start a business, assuming she would be moving into Eun-hee’s home.
Bong-gu and Jae-bok are allowed to see Eun-hee, who looks weak and helpless in her hospital pajamas (and she’s in a much nicer hospital than she locked Jae-bok in, I was mistaken about that). She meekly comments that Jae-bok doesn’t look well, asking if it’s because of her. Jae-bok admits that she had been anxious, and that she came to confirm that Eun-hee is safely in the hospital.
Eun-hee offers a more sincere apology than any Jae-bok has seen from her, but Bong-gu is unconvinced. Eun-hee tells him that she genuinely regrets her actions, as well as what happened to Na-mi. Turning to Jae-bok, she adds that she’s sorry to all of the people she hurt, but Jae-bok tells Eun-hee that her mental illness doesn’t grant her an automatic pardon.
Bong-gu wants to know if what happened to Na-mi was truly not of Eun-hee’s doing, but before Eun-hee can answer, the nurse steps in to end the visit. Before she goes, Eun-hee tells Jae-bok that she’s not the same person anymore, but Jae-bok still doesn’t believe her.
Eun-hee’s taken to music therapy, and Jae-bok and Bong-gu watch for a minute. Jae-bok says that Eun-hee is just putting on a more elaborate act than before, but Bong-gu is more concerned about Jae-bok. She says that she’s fine because she has to be in order to face Eun-hee.
Sam-kyu buys an expensive purse for Won-jae via a lengthy PPL scene, then waits for her in a fancy restaurant. She stops for a moment to admire him from afar, looking infinitely sad, which makes sense when Hye-ran shows up and discovers that Won-jae is setting her up with Sam-kyu.
Hye-ran refuses, telling Won-jae to go date Sam-kyu, which sparks a loud argument. Sam-kyu comes running to see what the commotion is about and throws his arms around their shoulders. He looks pleased as punch to have two beautiful ladies fighting over him, hilariously unaware that they’re trying to give him away, ha.
Jae-bok confides to Bong-gu that she’s exhausted because her nightmares are keeping her from sleeping well. He makes her sit on a bench and wraps her in his jacket, telling her to sleep for just ten minutes. He grumpily pushes her head onto his shoulder, and Jae-bok smiles and closes her eyes.
The close contact makes Bong-gu nervously chatty. He tells Jae-bok how he raised himself after his parents split up, and that he used to get nightmares sleeping alone in a basement apartment. He says that hearing about her nightmares upsets him and makes him wish he could go into her dreams and fight for her. Awww.
Jae-bok gently chides him for talking and keeping her awake, so he puts her head back on his shoulder and promises to be quiet. He watches over her, holding vigil while she finally gets some sleep.
That night, Jae-bok soothes Hae-wook when she calls for her daddy in her sleep. It makes Jae-bok worry about Jung-hee, so she calls him. He and his mother are staying the night at a sauna, and he doesn’t answer Jae-bok’s call.
A month passes, and Eun-hee seems to be doing well in the hospital and is, by all accounts, a model patient. Jung-hee is back working construction jobs, clumsy and fumbling as ever. Some boys about Jin-wook’s age walk past the job site, which makes Jung-hee miss his son terribly.
He goes by Jin-wook’s school to see his son walking home with Che-ri, and they accidentally spot him. He manages to hide again, then Jin-wook denies that that scruffy man could be his dad anyway. They go on their way while Jung-hee watches them with tear-filled eyes.
Later, when Che-ri and Won-jae are grocery shopping, Won-jae is surprised to see Sam-kyu waving at her from a nearby aisle. Che-ri shocks Won-jae by handing Sam-kyu their shopping list and leaving them alone, but not before reminding her mom that love is all about timing. HA, love this kid.
Jae-bok goes to see Jung-hee’s mother, who now lives in a tiny one-room apartment in a bad part of town. Jung-hee’s mother asks to borrow some money, promising to pay it back when Jung-hee finds a steady job.
Jung-hee arrives home early and is shocked to find his ex-wife there. They go to the roof to speak privately, and Jae-bok offers to have dinner together to let him visit with the kids. She explains that she only forbade him to see them because of Eun-hee and that they miss him. Jung-hee declines, ashamed to see them when he’s such a mess, but he promises to visit when he’s more settled.
Jae-bok asks if Jung-hee resents her for having Eun-hee locked up and causing him to be in this position. Jung-hee admits that he did blame her at first, but then he realized that none of what he lost was ever really his, anyway. He apologizes for temporarily losing his mind in regards to Eun-hee, explaining that he just wanted to be the cool dad for once.
Jung-hee sees Jae-bok off toward home, but a call from Bong-gu telling her that Eun-hee has been released from the hospital stops her cold. Jung-hee sees her upset and comes running, so she breaks the news to him. Jae-bok is scared that Jung-hee will see Eun-hee again, or that she may try to hurt Jung-hee to get back at him, but he tells her to just keep the children safe.
Eun-hee arrives home and calls for her mother, seeming to have forgotten that she’s still in jail after confessing to killing Na-mi. But then Eun-hee realizes that she has the house to herself, and she goes up to her craft room. She stares at the now-blank wall that used to hold Jung-hee’s pictures and caresses it as if she can still see the photos there.
Jae-bok storms into SJ Construction in a cloud of fury, determined to get some answers from Brian about Eun-hee’s release. When Bong-gu tries to calm her by saying that Eun-hee really seemed to have changed, she rounds on him angrily. She asks if he actually believes that, and Bong-gu wisely shuts his mouth.
Brian explains to Jae-bok that their father had Eun-hee released when the hospital reported that she was improving. Taking Jae-bok’s side now, Bong-gu says that it’s ridiculous to think that she was cured in a month. Even when Brian promises to check on her, Jae-bok says that it’s not enough to reassure her that everything is okay.
What’s interesting is that Brian seems as worried as they are, and he does go to check on Eun-hee. She’s happy to cook for him the smiley-face omelette that she used to make when he was a child, which he recalls was her attempt to make him smile after their mother’s beatings.
Brian is almost desperate to believe her when Eun-hee swears that she’s really cured this time. He asks her to visit their mother, and Eun-hee agrees that she should go and make up with her in order to forgive her and find peace.
Brian breathes a sigh of relief, but instead of going to see Hyung-sun, Eun-hee shows up at Jung-hee’s job site. He consents to speak with her, if only to tell her that he’s not going back to her, even when she bemoans the way he’s living. He says that it may be tiring, but he feels at ease.
Eun-hee says that she’s changed and promises to be a good wife if he comes back, but Jung-hee’s heard that line before. He tells Eun-hee that if it’s true that she’s changed, then she should go and live a good life. Eun-hee asks tearfully how she can do that without him, but Jung-hee only tells her goodbye.
Jae-bok’s friends are alarmed to hear that Eun-hee is roaming free, though they vow to be there for her no matter what happens. Jae-bok even seriously considers leaving the country, too scared to live where Eun-hee can get to her and her kids.
The doorbell gives them a good scare, but it’s just Sam-kyu and Bong-gu, offering to stay with the ladies for a few days and guard the door so they can sleep. Okay, that’s got to be the sweetest thing ever. Won-jae and Hye-ran shoot silent raised-eyebrow glances at Bong-gu’s utterly transparent attempt to act casual, though they let themselves be convinced.
Jae-bok has another nightmare about Eun-hee stealing Hae-wook that night, only this time when she wakes, the terror refuses to let go of her. It takes several minutes for her friends to calm her enough to stop her screaming while Bong-gu can only look on helplessly.
Once the kids are asleep again, Jae-bok confesses to her friends that seeing Eun-hee meek and quiet was terrifying. Won-jae confirms that it’s a bad sign if Eun-hee is suppressing her mental issues, and they agree that they need to keep an eye on Jung-hee, since he’ll probably be Eun-hee’s target again soon.
Eun-hee drops in on Jung-hee’s mother at her janitorial job to tell her that she’s cured and that she’ll be a good daughter-in-law now. Jung-hee’s mother initially tries to shoo her away, but eventually she succumbs. When she calls Jung-hee later, she tells him that Eun-hee has brought her back to live in her big fancy house, making a big deal about how Eun-hee is cured and how they should forgive her.
Jae-bok arrives at work to find Eun-hee waiting for her. They let her in, but she’s faced with Jae-bok, Bong-gu, and Sam-kyu all glaring daggers at her as she tries to make her apologies. Jae-bok makes it crystal-clear that she doesn’t believe Eun-hee is cured, and Bong-gu snaps at Eun-hee to stop pretending to be a nice person.
He says that if she’s truly better then she’ll let the police investigate her involvement in Na-mi’s death. Sam-kyu even helpfully provides her with a handy file of all the cases they’d like the police to look into. Eun-hee quietly agrees to cooperate, then promises Jae-bok that she won’t hurt her children.
She starts to leave with a polite bow, but Jae-bok says one more time that she’s not falling for this. She tells Eun-hee that she’ll be watching her closely.
After she goes, Bong-gu sees Jae-bok shaking with rage and goes to her, while Sam-kyu turns on the CCTV cameras outside the office to see how Eun-hee behaves once she’s alone. They all watch Eun-hee stop to wipe away a tear, but Jae-bok is sure it’s all an act and that Eun-hee hasn’t changed.
The fear and stress overwhelm Jae-bok and she crumples, so she’s taken to the hospital to rest. When Jung-hee comes to see her, Bong-gu tells him that she’s exhausted from anxiety and lack of sleep. Jung-hee says this is all his fault, and as he leaves, he realizes that he’s the only person who can do something about it.
He marches straight to Eun-hee’s house, thinking that if he wants to protect Jae-bok and his children, he has to step up and stop Eun-hee. He tells himself that even if he’s sacrificed, it’s the least a real father can do to save his family. It’s pathetically easy for him to convince Eun-hee that he wants her back, and as she hugs him happily, there’s a new resolve in Jung-hee’s expression.
He reclaims his position at SJ Construction, and when Mr. Oh whines that he was only doing as he was told, Jung-hee says kindly that he understands. He finds his office back in perfect order, and he thinks back to last night.
Eun-hee had told him that she removed the bug on his phone and fired her spy. She’d promised not to track Jung-hee or record his conversations anymore, vowing to trust him because she loves him. Jung-hee had thanked her and promised to cut ties with both Jae-bok and his children. He’d pulled Eun-hee in for a searing kiss, though his eyes had stayed open, hard and determined.
Jung-hee cuts off the memory there as a look of disgust ghosts across his face. He takes out a notebook to begin a secret observation log on Eun-hee. He admits that he can’t tell if she’s cured or not, but for Jae-bok and his children’s sake, he’ll do whatever he can to stop her. When he’s finished, he locks the log away in a small safe.
Jae-bok hears that he’s moved back in with Eun-hee and insists that they meet to talk. He says that Eun-hee is different, but Jae-bok refuses to believe it and urges him to move out. She’s beside herself with fear that something could happen to him, but Jung-hee only says that there’s nothing he can do.
She assumes that he’s gone back out of greed, and to protect her, Jung-hee lets her believe it. She nearly collapses again as she breathes that she thinks he’s gone crazy too.
They’re interrupted by Bong-gu, who snarls at Jung-hee. Jae-bok recovers enough to tell Jung-hee that there’s nothing more she can do to help him. But she says that she’s still his friend, so if he needs anything, he can always call her.
She leaves, but Jung-hee stops Bong-gu from following her. He asks Bong-gu to take care of Jae-bok and his children, admitting that he plans on not seeing them again. Confused, Bong-gu follows Jae-bok, and Jung-hee looks back only once to watch them go.
That night, Eun-hee creeps into Jung-hee’s room to watch him sleep, then sneaks back out again. He opens his eyes, having known she was there the whole time. Eun-hee heads downstairs to a locked door, which leads downstairs to a mostly empty basement. The only thing in the room is a large ornate chair, almost a throne, covered in cobwebs.
Jae-bok wakes from another bad dream that night, and while she’s awake she thinks back on the meeting she, Bong-gu, and Sam-kyu had with Brian earlier. Brian had reported that Jung-hee’s work is slipping and he has no drive, and he’d admitted that he’s worried Jung-hee plans to do something drastic.
That statement from Brian clicks with Jung-hee’s comment that there’s nothing he can do if something happens to him. It makes Jae-bok afraid for him all over again, so she tries to call him. He sees her calls but doesn’t answer them.
Meanwhile, Eun-hee works happily in the locked basement, decorating it with her creepy monogrammed “K&H” items. She spends hours cleaning the room, taking particular loving care with the throne.
When she can’t reach Jung-hee by phone, Jae-bok enlists Bong-gu to drive her to the house. She calls again while Bong-gu rings the doorbell over and over. Jung-hee goes downstairs but doesn’t open the door when he realizes that it must be Jae-bok. And in the basement, Eun-hee looks at the monitor to see who’s at the door.
What on earth is Eun-hee doing now? Is she setting up a murder dungeon? A freaky love nest? Actually, I think it’s a place to hide her kidnapping victim. The way she’s lovingly cleaning and setting up opulent decorations feels like the space is for someone she cares about, but the way it’s in a locked space deep underground definitely gives me the chills. My bet is that it’s for Jung-hee and that she’s setting that room up to lock him away so that he can’t leave or be tempted away from her again. Whatever she’s planning, it’s been her goal for a very long time, judging by the cobwebs on that chair/throne. Finding out that the room is meant to be Jung-hee’s new home wouldn’t surprise me one bit, while at the same time, it terrifies me.
I just can’t get over how Jae-bok’s response to anything that upsets or scares her is to barge in, guns blazing, and confront it head-on. Even when she was suffering from crippling nightmares over just the thought of Eun-hee getting out of the hospital, when it actually happened, she went into full-blown rage mode and demanded answers. And I love even more the way Bong-gu lets her rage, supporting her to the end (even if he does add some eye-roll commentary) and never jumping in to take over a battle for her or try to change her mind. He does his best to talk her down when he can, but once that switch has flipped, Bong-gu knows his lady well enough to understand that she won’t stand for anything but his complete support. And it’s so awesome how it’s all instinctive for both of them — Jae-bok just knows he’s right behind her without even asking, and it never even occurs to Bong-gu to try and take charge. They just know where they belong with each other.
I guess that watching dramas for years has acclimated me to seeing characters who avoid problems, which just leads to silly misunderstandings and unnecessarily drawn-out conflicts. Creating a character who charges forward fearlessly makes more work for a scriptwriter, because when you solve issues quickly, you have to think of more roadblocks in order to give your characters more to do. But it sure does make the show more interesting for the viewers when we aren’t forced to watch the characters circle around the same issues for several episodes in a row, or blow up what would be a minor setback in the real world into a supposedly insurmountable problem.
That’s not to say that the show hasn’t had its fair share of plot holes along the way—we did see the same character killed off twice, and in roughly the same way. (Not to mention, whatever happened to Kyung-woo after he was pulled into that van by those thugs?) The show has been far from perfect, and as much as I’ve enjoyed it, there were a few glaring issues that did pull my focus at times. The worst offense is Jung-hee’s professional capability — or lack thereof, whichever the plot seems to call for at the moment. We were used to seeing him barely holding a job for most of the show, unable to even work a simple manual labor position, which went along with his weak personal character. But then he suddenly became confident and commanding when he got a big boy haircut and a nice suit, which was jarring. Even though the show told us that he was only getting respect at work because of his association with Eun-hee, he also lost all of the meek, subservient demeanor that defined his entire character. But even if we explain that away by saying that he found his confidence when he was given some responsibility, it doesn’t help that when he lost that position and went back to construction, he instantly reverted to the old, bumbling Jung-hee.
That said, the Jung-hee who’s decided to put himself in the line of fire to try and save Jae-bok and his children from Eun-hee is finally the Jung-hee I’ve been waiting to see. I was never a fan of his giving Eun-hee what she wanted for money and prestige, because that smacked of exploiting a mentally ill person’s vulnerabilities for personal gain. But I think he was correct when he realized that he’s the only person who can make Eun-hee stop her relentless pursuit of him, and the only way to do that is to sacrifice himself and give her what he wants. I wasn’t on board with his actions when they were for selfish reasons, but to see Jung-hee walk back into that lion’s den, knowing the danger to his own personal safety yet still willing to do it for the people he loves? Now that I can get behind.
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