School 2017: Episode 2
I’m pretty happy with what I’m getting from School 2017 so far—it’s zippy, light, and entertaining, with just a dash of mystery to spice things up. I’m loving our main trio of students already, but I’m also pleasantly surprised by how quirky the adults are turning out to be. It makes for a well-rounded story overall, and I’m excited to hop onboard for the latest installment of this beloved series.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
After sneaking into the teachers’ office to search for her confiscated notebook, our heroine Eun-ho comes face to face with a hooded figure setting off a trash can fire.
Before Eun-ho has a chance to identify him, the figure tosses a beer bottle into the flames, causing a small explosion. Eun-ho takes cover, and the mystery man (or woman?) uses a folding chair to smash open a window and escape.
Eun-ho takes a minute to get her bearings, then rushes to the window, but the culprit is already gone. Just as she notices a trace of blood on a jagged piece of glass on the window frame, the lights turn on—and in comes stern Teacher Gu with a horde of police officers.
Predictably, Eun-ho’s pegged as the prankster, eliciting a wide range of reactions from the students, from admiration to disbelief. As Eun-ho’s led away by Teacher Gu to face the consequences, class president Dae-hwi remarks to his buddy Hee-chan that it seems they’ve got the wrong person. And outside, rebel Tae-woon has a similar conversation with a friend, telling him that Eun-ho couldn’t be the culprit—there’s no way she could have done those things on her own.
Eun-ho pleads her innocence before a panel of teachers and administrators, but things don’t look good—she was, after all, caught at the scene of the crime. Though Teacher Shim tries to convince the panel that they need more evidence, Principal Yang won’t be deterred—Eun-ho’s low student ranking is all the evidence he needs to prove that she’s guilty.
Eun-ho bristles at that, arguing that all the adults who are doing bad things out in the world were once really good students. Her words fall on deaf ears, and Teacher Gu tells Eun-ho that if she doesn’t confess, she should plan to drop out of school.
Afterward, Eun-ho wails to Teacher Shim that she can’t drop out of school. Teacher Shim is totally on her side, and as he sputters about how unfairly she’s being treated, Eun-ho wryly observes that it would have been helpful for him to speak up during the interrogation.
Teacher Shim tries to appeal to Teacher Gu directly, telling him that Eun-ho’s not the type of student to commit such a crime on her own. Teacher Gu agrees—he thinks she must have had an accomplice. Teacher Shim argues about the lack of evidence, but gets chewed out by the older teacher for thinking that a teacher’s role is to serve and protect his students.
Eun-ho attempts to cool off, splashing water on her face and mumbling to herself about dropping out of school. She’s interrupted by Tae-woon, who tells her that he believes that she’s not the culprit—because the criminal has to be much smarter than her, pfft.
Tae-woon does seem to genuinely feel bad for her, and asks if she wants some lemonade. Wary of his offer, she huffily tells him to mind his own business. When she looks up a few seconds later, Tae-woon is gone, but in his place is a bottle of lemonade. Okay, that’s adorable.
The whole school’s abuzz about Eun-ho, and during some downtime with classmates, Dae-hwi’s girlfriend Nam-joo wonders if Eun-ho could really be the culprit. Dae-hwi dispassionately says that that you can’t know a person just by looking at the outside.
His remark catches the attention of guitar-toting KYUNG-WOO (Seo Ji-hoon), who pipes up to say, “Like you?” The question obviously rattles Dae-hwi, who stammers out a “What?” in response, but all Kyung-woo says to follow up is that Dae-hwi should get closer to his true feelings.
Back in class, Eun-ho keeps busy by drawing, acting like nothing’s happened. She defiantly tells her BFF Sa-rang that she’s staying in school, and that she’s going to keep drawing and go to college. Sa-rang attempts to be supportive by echoing Tae-woon’s words, telling Eun-ho that with her grades, it would be impossible for her to be the culprit. Am I sensing a theme here?
The students scramble for their seats when Teacher Gu enters the classroom, but they’re disappointed by what he has to say: From now on, all personal belongings will be subject to inspection.
A handful of students get in trouble for harboring banned materials, and they take their frustration out on Eun-ho. As a result, Eun-ho ends up in a shouting match with one particularly nasty girl named YOUNG-GUN (Ha Seung-ri), while Tae-woon watches silently from his seat. When Young-gun moves to strike Eun-ho, Tae-woon stands up to intervene—only to be beaten to it by Dae-hwi, who blocks Young-gun’s arm.
Dae-hwi threatens to call a teacher, so Young-gun backs down. But the interaction proves to be too much for Eun-ho, who rushes out of class in tears. She heads straight for her bike, but nothing’s going right for today, as she discovers that her bike is busted from her recent crash.
She wails in frustration and turns her anger on Tae-woon when she sees him approaching. She tells him to take responsibility for her broken bike, and in response, Tae-woon tosses her a helmet.
He takes her for a ride on his motorcycle and the two end up on an overlook, enjoying the view of the city. When Tae-woon asks what was so important about the notebook that Eun-ho ended up sneaking into the teachers’ office, Eun-ho answers that it’s her dream. She likens her love of drawing to the reasons why Tae-woon rides his motorcycle: “Without it, I would have suffocated to death.”
Tae-woon agrees, but adds that it’s a problem that he looks so cool while riding, making Eun-ho laugh. Grinning, she tells him that whatever may have happened today, she feels great now. And as he watches her, he can’t help but smile too.
When Tae-woon drops Eun-ho off later that evening, she hands him a coupon for free chicken as a show of thanks. He asks if he calls this number, she’ll show up to deliver the chicken, but when she says she will, Tae-woon tells her that he actually doesn’t like chicken and speeds off, ha.
Tae-woon arrives home and is none too pleased to find Principal Yang there, schmoozing with his father. After exchanging a few terse words with the adults, Tae-woon overhears Principal Yang assuring his father that he’ll settle the Eun-ho issue no matter what, even if it means expelling her from school. At this, Tae-woon turns right back around and heads outside to smash the side mirror clean off the principal’s car.
Over dinner, Eun-ho’s mom begrudgingly asks Eun-ho how much the webtoon class will cost. Eun-ho fumbles for words, unsure of whether she should bring up the events of the day, but she’s unable to bring herself to tell her family about it.
Eun-ho paces around her room that night, wondering who the culprit could be. In a flash, she recalls a few details about the figure she saw—his dark hoodie and his white and black sneakers—and sketches out an image, vowing to herself that she’ll find him, kill him, and clear her name.
The next day, Eun-ho and Sa-rang stop every guy in the hall, comparing the bottom half of their faces with Eun-ho’s sketch of the hooded culprit. When they get to Dae-hwi, something about his face causes Eun-ho to pause, then lean in for a closer look—close enough that Nam-joo intervenes, heh.
The girls continue their “investigation,” and soon enough, Tae-woon’s their next target. Claiming that Tae-woon’s face is similar to her drawing, Eun-ho moves in to study his face. Tae-woon takes the opportunity to swoop in aggressively, getting really close—close enough to kiss her. Whoa there.
Eun-ho stumbles backwards, looking flustered and nervous, only managing to eek out a small, “Hey, you…” Looking smug, Tae-woon asks, “Your heart is fluttering so much you could die, right?” She can’t answer, so Tae-woon tells her to move, pushing her out of his way.
After Eun-ho recovers from that encounter (and squeals a little about how cool Tae-woon is), she tells Sa-rang that she’s going to find the culprit for sure—because she’ll definitely remember his lips. Sa-rang’s skeptical of this claim, as are we all.
We check in with Teacher Shim, who’s mustered up some courage to make a case for Eun-ho to the principal. But he chickens out quickly, running away when he overhears Principal Yang yelling about his inability to get rid of Eun-ho.
So Teacher Shim tries another tactic: He treats his students to sandwiches and asks them to fill out a petition in support of Eun-ho. The response isn’t very encouraging—only Dae-hwi offers to fill it out. Even his fellow teachers don’t give Teacher Shim much support, as the next day, a colleague encourages him to put an end to things and punish Eun-ho.
Elsewhere on campus, bully Young-gun, backed by her cronies, attacks a student for trying to back out of their plans to sell stolen study materials online. Young-gun’s attack is cut short when someone delivers a flying kick to her back—ha, it’s Officer Han! The girls all turn on the officer, but they’re no match for her as she proceeds to swiftly kick their butts.
Teacher Shim finds Officer Han in mid-attack and freaks out at her, um, unorthodox method of policing the school. She glibly tells him that the girls will be fine in a few days, citing her fighting prowess, but Teacher Shim is horrified and pulls out his phone to report her to her superiors.
HA, that’s when Officer Han pulls a move straight from Descended from the Sun, easily knocking Teacher Shim’s phone away with one hand and catching it with her other hand. She tells him she can’t let him report her, then warns the girls not to let her catch them fighting again.
Teacher Shim takes the girls inside for a talk, but one of the girls knows exactly what to say to quickly end the lecture. She promises Teacher Shim that they’ll return the study guide to its owner—the prickly Bit-na—and apologize, so he lets them loose. Of course, once they’re alone they force the bullied student, BO-RA, to take the blame for the stolen study guide by herself.
Bo-ra meekly returns the book to Bit-na and apologizes, but it doesn’t matter—Bit-na flies off the handle at the confession. She attacks poor Bo-ra viciously, pulling her hair and threatening to have her jailed.
Only Eun-ho’s willing to jump in to try to stop the fight, so then she ends up in a hair-pulling match with Bit-na. Teacher Shim appears in the nick of time to break apart the girls, but Bit-na’s not done yet—pulling out her phone, she puts in a call to her mom.
Cut to: Teacher Shim nervously entering the principal’s office to face some angry parents, including Bit-na’s mother. The parents demand that both Bo-ra and Eun-ho be expelled, pointing to Eun-ho’s “criminal” activities as more reason why she doesn’t belong in that school.
Teacher Shim tries to explain that Eun-ho was simply standing up for a friend, but Bit-na’s mom scoffs, telling him that in this world, students are competitors, not friends. She demands that “delinquents” like Eun-ho be removed immediately so others can focus on their studies.
As Eun-ho and Bo-ra write apology letters, Bo-ra wonders to Eun-ho if they’ll get expelled. She says that school would be better off without them, since they get bad grades and have no money, but Eun-ho pushes back, telling her that those attributes don’t make them bad people.
Dae-hwi rushes to Teacher Shim to deliver his filled-out petition in support of Eun-ho, then asks if Eun-ho and Bo-ra will be okay. Teacher Shim can only say he hopes so.
Sometime later, Officer Han examines the CCTV footage of the suspect with Teacher Shim, noting that the culprit’s no amateur—he knew exactly where the cameras were located. Though Teacher Shim hopes this means it’s not a student, Officer Han points out that students would actually know best where cameras are located on campus.
In need of a break, Officer Han suggests a ramyun run to Teacher Shim, who of course misinterprets her intentions, thinking she’s looking for something more than a snack. In response, Officer Han walks toward him suggestively, pinning him against a cubicle wall… only to tell him, “The culprit is within the school.” LOL.
At a test prep session, a student examines CCTV footage of the culprit on his phone, then sends a message to a few others: “We need to do something quick.” Another student responds, wondering if “this” will hurt them too, and a third message encourages the rest to lay low.
The next day, Officer Han calls over Eun-ho to examine the broken window from the teachers’ office, then points out the blood—could that be the culprit’s? Eun-ho gasps as she remembers the prankster escaping through the broken window, hitting his side against the glass.
And in flashback, we see that the culprit tended to his wounds in a bathroom, then tossed the bloody tissues in a trash can.
Dae-hwi and Tae-woon face off on the basketball court, and ack, both are wearing the very same black and white sneakers worn by the hooded figure. As the boys continue their game, Eun-ho watches from a distance, eyeing each player—specifically, their sides—suspiciously.
After the game ends, Eun-ho decides to investigate a bit more thoroughly, feeling up each boy’s torso and checking for injuries. When she gets to Dae-hwi, she lifts his shirt up herself, which does not sit well with Nam-joo.
Eun-ho runs out of guys to check until she spots Tae-woon up ahead. She hurriedly catches up to him and tries several tactics to get him to take off his shirt, leading Tae-woon to wonder if she’s a pervert.
Eun-ho’s nothing if not persistent though, so she trails after him to the outdoor sink. He manages to scare her off by splashing water on her, but when she hears the sound of the hose being turned on, she stops and hides in the bushes, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tae-woon’s sides. Aaaaaand cue the slo-mo water scene!
It’s not long before he catches her staring, but ha, she doesn’t look sorry at all that she got busted. She gets a good look at Tae-woon, but to her disappointment, he’s perfectly fine, with no injury in sight.
Sometime later, Eun-ho gets called into the principal’s office, where she’s told that her case is being taken up by the disciplinary committee, and her parents have been notified. As she numbly leaves the office, she gets a phone call from a “Ms. Kim”—her mom, maybe?—but doesn’t pick up.
It’s not long before Eun-ho’s mom pulls up to the school and appears before Teacher Gu, pleading with him to give Eun-ho another chance. Unmoved, Teacher Gu just tells her that the disciplinary committee’s decision will take three months, and that it would be better for Eun-ho to withdraw from school. Eun-ho’s mom turns more desperate at this news, so she kneels in front of Teacher Gu and begs for him to reconsider.
Unable to take it anymore, Eun-ho tells her mom to get up, saying that she did nothing wrong. “I didn’t do it,” she says angrily. “I didn’t do it, so why are you on your knees?” Now in tears, Eun-ho declares that she’ll just quit school, and she cries over and over that it wasn’t her.
As Eun-ho’s mom leaves campus, she can’t hold back her tears. But when Eun-ho calls out to her, she quickly wipes her tears away and barks at her daughter to go back to class.
Teacher Gu reports to Principal Yang that they’ll have to wait for the disciplinary committee’s decision before taking any action on Eun-ho, which does not sit well with the administrator. Sputtering in anger, he orders Teacher Gu to either get her to drop out or expel her.
Meanwhile, Sa-rang solicits Dae-hwi for help in clearing Eun-ho’s name, but he deflects by telling her the principal won’t listen to anyone on this matter. Sa-rang tries Tae-woon next, asking him to put in a good word with his father. But Tae-woon ignores Sa-rang’s request, muttering that Eun-ho did a stupid thing.
Back at home, Eun-ho tells her mom that she wants to drop out of school, adding that the school discriminates against students like her who don’t get good grades. Sadly, all her mom can say in response is that Eun-ho should have studied harder, since that’s the only way to be treated with respect.
The next day, Eun-ho faces the members of the disciplinary committee, made up of wealthy moms and dads who have already made up their minds about her. Ugh, these parents are the worst.
Afterward, she sits in an empty classroom with a blank withdrawal form in hand. She wonders why she keeps being told to write things when she likes to draw.
The next thing we know, she hands a piece of paper to Teacher Gu, who then calls over Teacher Shim to pass on the document—it’s the completed withdrawal form. Teacher Shim runs after Eun-ho, but he can only watch as she walks away.
In voiceover, Eun-ho narrates, “Getting bad grades meant you had no right to go to school. But the most devastating thing, even amidst that discrimination, was that I didn’t meet a single adult who said that this wasn’t what school is about, and that it was wrong. Not a single one.”
To illustrate Eun-ho’s point, we see Bo-ra at her convenience store job, unable to stop Young-gun and the bullies as they shoplift. The bullies run into a teacher outside of the store and brazenly crack open a beer right in front of her, but unable to say a word, the teacher averts her eyes.
As Teacher Shim prepares to clock out, Teacher Gu tells him that the real world is a much crueler place than school. Teacher Shim agrees, but notes that the school is pushing kids into that cruel world much too easily.
Over drinks with Eun-ho’s father, Teacher Shim repeats this sentiment, lamenting that the kids that are kicked out of school have nowhere to go. Teacher Shim apologizes for being powerless and unable to help Eun-ho, but Eun-ho’s dad says he’s grateful for Teacher Shim’s efforts.
Principal Yang convenes an assembly, where he proceeds to single out Eun-ho for the “crimes” she’s committed. But before he gets too far into his tirade, he’s interrupted by a loud buzzing, and the crowd gapes as they spot… a drone flying inside the building. Haha, the drone’s outfitted to look like a scarecrow of sorts, sporting a big photo of Principal Yang’s face and a black hooded cape.
Once they realize it’s another prank from the “hero,” the students react with laughter and applause, while Eun-ho breaks down in tears, relieved that her name’s been cleared.
In the midst of the chaos, a student notes the big “X” marked on the cape draped over the drone. Nam-joo remarks that the culprit must finally want to reveal his identity.
After a few minutes, the drone makes its way out of the hall, and everyone follows. Teacher Gu, however, stays behind, and catches a glimpse of a hooded figure upstairs on the balcony, working a remote control.
Outside, Officer Han and Teacher Shim split up in pursuit of the drone. Eun-ho, having caught sight of the culprit, runs off in a different direction.
Teacher Shim chases the drone to the entrance of the school, but curiously, he stops there and lets it go.
On the culprit’s tail, Eun-ho chases the hooded figure up the stairs to the roof of a building. She looks around, panting, and freezes when she spots someone emerging from a bunch of abandoned desks. The figure straightens… and it’s Kyung-woo. Shocked, Eun-ho asks, “You’re the culprit?”
Kyung-woo looks at Eun-ho innocently and tells her he’s not—he’s just there to retrieve his guitar. His matter-of-fact response leaves Eun-ho confused, and she follows him back downstairs. A few beats later, the real culprit—Suspect X—emerges from behind a doorway.
Later, Officer Han shows Eun-ho the CCTV footage from outside the auditorium, confirming that Kyung-woo was in the gym with them. Officer Han then notices something strange on another video—Teacher Shim stopping his chase—and asks him why he let the drone go. Teacher Shim explains, “I may be unable to do anything, but I can ‘not do’ something.”
Eun-ho returns to class, where she finds a post-it note inside her locker. Her eyes widen when she reads its contents, but she doesn’t have much time to react—at that moment, Tae-woon enters the classroom and calls her name, only to be followed by Dae-hwi, who does the same thing. As the two boys walk toward her, Eun-ho hides the note behind her back, which reads, “Dae-hwi and Tae-woon were not in the hall.”
Eun-ho crumples the note in her hands and eyes the two boys, looking scared, angry, and confused all at once.
Maybe it’s because I came to the show with zero expectations, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first two episodes of School 2017. I thought the second hour was even stronger than the first, as it does a nice job of speeding us along in the premise of the story (and the mystery) while starting to show us more of who our characters are, from the students to the school administrators to the parents. The show’s plotline is pretty straightforward, and while there’s nothing particularly new about this story, the execution is what matters—and so far, I have very few complaints.
I’m already all-in on our main characters, as I like that they’re being portrayed with some nuance, and strengths and flaws all their own. It’s more interesting that Tae-woon and Dae-hwi, for example, don’t fall neatly into their assigned stereotypes of “prickly rebel” and “model student”—Dae-hwi in particular is a mystery to me, as he hasn’t gotten as much screen time as Tae-woon so far. I’m sure there’s much more to uncover about his character, and I’m curious about what’s going on behind his perfect façade. As for the adults, I’m tickled by whatever’s happening with both Teacher Shim and Officer Han, though I’m not quite sure what exactly their deal is. Officer Han seems like an oddball, while poor Teacher Shim is such a coward, but so darn sweet. Even Teacher Gu, who’s been such a hardass towards Eun-ho, seems to have somewhat of a conscience, judging from some of the reactions we’ve seen from him—maybe there’s hope that he’ll come over to the other side?
I wasn’t expecting the misunderstanding around Eun-ho’s guilt to be resolved so quickly, but I think that’s actually a good thing, as the quick progression makes for a more exciting story. While it’s clear the show’s setting up Tae-woon and Dae-hwi as the possible culprits, I’m still wide open to the possibility that it could be someone else, like Kyung-woo (I just don’t trust him!), or an underground network of students. Whoever it is, I hope that Eun-ho will have a big role in uncovering his identity, and in the process, establish herself as someone worthy of respect, both from her peers and from adults. I know that Eun-ho does seem a tad slow on the uptake (maybe it’s the way she’s being portrayed?), but I hate that everyone keeps telling her how dumb she is—that’s just not okay.
Overall, I’m pleased with the performances our cast of mostly fresh faces is turning in. Kim Se-jung is green for sure, but she’s doing fine (and giving me some Answer Me 1988 Hyeri vibes, which isn’t a bad thing); Jang Dong-yoon has managed to make an impression on me, even though he hasn’t fully figured into the story just yet. Oh, and did I mention that I’m totally smitten with Kim Jung-hyun right now? I know Tae-woon’s supposed to be the gruff bad boy of the group, but why do I find him so adorable and squishy? I love that Tae-woon’s walls are down for Eun-ho right off the bat, and their interactions this episode were both funny and fluttery—the best combo, in my opinion. Though I’m not looking for this series to focus on romance—in fact, I’d prefer that it didn’t—I still can’t be mad about a teeny bit of romance if it means Kim Jung-hyun will keep delivering these faces on camera.
- Premiere Watch: School 2017, The King Loves, Man Who Dies to Live, Reunited Worlds
- Underdog student dreams of breaking into the elite ranks in School 2017
- A mystery, a suspect, and a hero for School 2017
- Riding bikes and motorcycles in School 2017’s first teaser
- Fresh faces for School 2017’s classroom
- School 2017 secures its leading bad boy, good boy
- School 2017 adds more students and a teacher to its lineup
- Kim Yoo-jung out, Gugudan idol Kim Se-jung in for School 2017
- Jealousy, Rebel’s Kim Jung-hyun up for School 2017