School 2017: Episode 9
School 2017 keeps delivering excellent character development, and I keep throwing confetti every time Tae-woon and Eun-ho show up to protect each other like the impossibly adorable pair they are. While I’m sad that so many of our students seem to be passing the point of no return, I refuse to lose hope in our characters just yet. You can’t go around believing every rumor you hear, after all, and until they prove that they’re unwilling to help themselves, I won’t lose faith.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
As Tae-woon shields Eun-ho from the rain, he begins to move closer… and closer for a kiss…
But Eun-ho pulls away nervously at the last second and stammers for him to stop playing around. He assures her that he’s being extremely serious right now and stares at her intently.
…Until Eun-ho’s nervousness gets the better of her, and she slips past him and sprints away. Aw. Tae-woon sighs in dismay as he watches her disappear into the rain.
Discomfited by the failed kiss, Tae-woon meets Byung-gu at a café for advice, pulling the classic “my friend has a love problem” ruse. He asks Byung-gu what his “friend” should do to mitigate the awkwardness, and Byung-gu advises that Tae-woon avoid the girl at all costs, like by going to school earlier than everyone else. Tae-woon listens intently… before snapping: “This is about my friend, not me!” Ha, smooth. Byung-gu acccepts Tae-woon’s lie and then adds that his “friend” is pretty pathetic to ask Tae-woon of all people for love advice.
Eun-ho rolls around in bed that night as she recalls the near-kiss. When her brother barges into her room to ask for some money, he finds her wrapped in a blanket on the ground, squirming around in mortification.
Noting her flushed face, he guesses that she’s been confessed to, and advises her to play hard to get. She starts to whine that things are already awkward enough, but he’s already left to snitch to Mom that Eun-ho is dating a boy. Lol. She chases after him, vehemently denying it.
Eun-ho leaves for school unnaturally early the next morning, followed immediately by Dad. Mom stares after them, wondering at their collective strange behavior.
Unfortunately for Eun-ho, Tae-woon seems to have had the same idea as her, and they arrive at school at the same time—ages before everyone else, LOL. They share stilted, awkward greetings and make flimsy excuses about why they’re so early, nervously avoiding each other’s gazes. Tae-woon finally speed-walks away before things can get any worse.
Eun-ho and Tae-woon wander the school grounds, each reluctant to go to the classroom in case the other is there. Except… they both end up wandering until they run into each other anyway. They jump at the sight of each other before Tae-woon quickly hurries in the other direction and Eun-ho immediately starts leafing through a bush as if she’s lost something there. Haha.
Unexpectedly, however, Eun-ho does find something under the bush: a diary with Bo-ra’s name on the front. Picking it up, Eun-ho narrates: “Rumors are born in strange places; even if you try to kill them, they survive. And they reveal their weight through unexpected ways.”
That morning, Teacher Shim informs Bo-ra that she’ll have to take dropout classes for the rest of the week before she leaves. He urges her not to give up hope yet, and promises to find a way to let her stay, though Bo-ra sighs that it’s pointless.
As Bo-ra packs up her belongings from her locker, Eun-ho approaches to return the diary she found. Noting how tired Bo-ra looks, Eun-ho encourages her to reach out to her for help anytime. Bo-ra smiles gratefully before leaving, while Hee-chan listens in silence.
That afternoon, Tae-woon finally attempts a wave to greet Eun-ho awkwardly, when Dae-hwi beats him to the chase. Tae-woon watches in dismay as the two walk away together, joking and teasing each other about the shaved ice that’s owed.
Tae-woon retreats to his hideout, deep in thought and looking extra grouchy. But then he starts imagining Eun-ho by the window, pulling her hair into a ponytail and smiling at him, and he positively lights up. Imaginary Eun-ho even winks at him, heh.
Eun-ho lies in bed that night, restless as she recalls all of her moments with Tae-woon and unable to calm her thumping heart. She shouts at a bunny pillow as if she’s talking to him, complaining that they were supposed to be friends: “But… what is this feeling?”
Too frustrated to deal on her own, Eun-ho finally picks up her phone to ask Sa-rang to meet her at a park. Sa-rang is still grumpy about Eun-ho’s recent negligence, however, and starts to greet her peevishly, before finally deciding to take Kyung-woo’s advice.
She confesses honestly that she felt snubbed by Eun-ho’s inattention lately. Surprised by Sa-rang’s feelings, Eun-ho immediately apologizes and snuggles up to Sa-rang, admitting that she’s just been so wrapped up in a sudden bombshell.
Sa-rang immediately guesses that it’s about Tae-woon, and Eun-ho gasps at her acuity. It’s not long before they’re right back to being best friends. Sa-rang is a little off the mark though, and guesses that Tae-woon is annoying Eun-ho. She notes that he’s always looking at her with lasers in his eyes, and Eun-ho perks up at that. Hee.
Eun-ho arrives at school the next morning in a giddy mood, but when she spots Tae-woon waiting at his motorcycle, she goes right back to being awkward. This time, though, Tae-woon goes right up to her, telling her that he can’t bear the awkwardness and will be doing whatever he wants from now on, so she can just keep doing whatever she wants too.
He gives her a smug smile before stalking off, and Eun-ho notes to herself that this is the usual Tae-woon.
To the students’ dismay, Teacher Shim announces that final exams will be in ten days. As Dae-hwi immediately gets to studying, Nam-joo watches him silently.
That afternoon, Hee-chan walks through the halls when he notices other students whispering about him. As he heads to the classroom, he notes Bo-ra on the other end of the hallway, staring at him.
Meanwhile, the class discusses the newest hot gossip: There’s a rumor that Hee-chan and Bo-ra used to date. They’re shocked at the fact that Hee-chan would ever date a loser like Bo-ra, and further appalled when someone mentions that Bo-ra was spotted outside of a hospital around then, too. They leap to the conclusion that she was pregnant and got an abortion, and they share scandalized looks.
Bo-ra listens in dismay at the back of the classroom, but when Hee-chan comes in, he immediately denies the rumors: “You think I’m crazy enough to date a loser like her?” Hurt, Bo-ra runs out of the room, while Hee-chan grips his pencil until his knuckles turn white.
Eun-ho walks around the school grounds when Tae-woon appears out of nowhere, blocking her path with his leg. When she asks what he’s doing, he explains that he’s showing off how long his legs are. Lol.
She pushes him away, but he twirls right back, this time scolding her for letting her emotions get in the way of her dream. He tells her to update her webtoon (“A serial publication is a promise to your readers!”) before noting that she needs to understand X’s feelings better and attract more fans. He offers to teach her alllll of X’s feelings, acting like she’s stumbled upon an incredible opportunity, and leads her into the hideout. Eun-ho rolls her eyes, but follows with a smile.
Cut to: Eun-ho scrolling through her webtoon while Tae-woon grins at her like a fool, his face inches away. Hee. When she complains about his excessive proximity, he obliges like a gentleman, promising to maintain a respectful and professional distance at all times.
That doesn’t last very long, as he just starts hovering behind her. And as soon as she asks a question about X’s feelings, he bounces right back to her side. When she notes the proximity again, he counters, “Separation between work and love life! A clear division of public and private… that is NOT the kind of person I am! That stuff is extremely vague.” LOL. This time, he scooches up to her, insisting that he’ll stick to her like glue and never move away again. Eun-ho shoves him to the wall, telling him to stay away, but Tae-woon just grins at her.
That night, Eun-ho draws a conversation between X and her webtoon heroine. In a speech bubble, the heroine says: “It’s not that I don’t like you. I’m just afraid of truly understanding someone’s feelings. It’s the first time I’ve received a confession like this.” Aw.
As soon as Eun-ho updates her webtoon, Tae-woon starts writing a comment: “Wow, it really feels like X is giving me advice! He must be a very handsome person!” LOL. Thankfully, he immediately deletes the words, realizing how ridiculous he’s being.
His father bursts into his room at that moment with a box of fried chicken in hand. Acting as if it was given to him for free, he awkwardly tells Tae-woon to eat as he studies, before hurrying out again. Tae-woon just stares after him in bewilderment.
Meanwhile, Hee-chan’s mother chews him out over dinner at a fancy restaurant. She tells him that he’ll never succeed at Seoyul where he’ll be surrounded by the best if he can’t even rank first at his measly high school, and demands to know what else she needs to do (or buy) for him to beat Dae-hwi. Yikes.
That night, Hee-chan studies alone in his room before his overwhelming stress gets the better of him. He drags his pen across his notebooks until the pages tear and the pen snaps in half in his hand.
The next day at school, Eun-ho asks Dae-hwi for his literature notes from last class. Instead, he gives her his entire exam outline of what to study for, and she stares at it like she’s holding a goldmine. Noting the exchange jealously, Nam-joo gets up to ask Dae-hwi to talk in private.
Outside, Nam-joo demands to know if Dae-hwi has been investigating her background. He tries to tell her that it wasn’t on purpose, but she explodes that he should have told her if he already knew the truth about her family so she wouldn’t keep pretending.
Dae-hwi yells that she should never have told those stupid lies, then: “How do you think I felt, suspecting you?” He tells her that he’d given her multiple chances to be honest with him, but that only angers her further. She scoffs at the idea that he’s as honest as he acts: “Weren’t you just dating me so you could show me off?” she demands. “Did you even really like me?”
Too frustrated to continue the conversation, Dae-hwi tells her that they’ll talk later before storming away. As he leaves, Dae-hwi recalls all the times he caught or suspected Nam-joo in her lies. In flashback, we also see that he’d written a card for their 200th-day anniversary, but struggled to say what he wanted for the future of their relationship.
Sa-rang eats lunch with Kyung-woo when she overhears a pair of girls gossiping about her idol oppa Issue—there are rumors that he’s an outcast and might be kicked out of his group. Furious, Sa-rang stands up to defend Issue when ex-Principal Yang joins them. He asks who Mr. Lee is, thinking it’s “Lee-sshi,” and when Sa-rang angrily tries to correct him that it’s Issue, he near-curses, “Isshi!”
As Sa-rang vehemently insists that Issue isn’t an outcast, the real Issue appears behind her, asking why she’s the one getting all riled up.
Sa-rang follows Issue outside, dismayed to hear that the rumors are true. Sa-rang insists that she didn’t know, but everything she says inadvertently comes off like a guarded insult. When she asks timidly if he’ll be kicked out, then, Issue tells her that he plans to leave on his own.
Kyung-woo perks up behind them, remarking that Issue won’t have anything to do then. Before he can say anything else, Sa-rang snaps at him for adding insult to injury, hustling Issue away. Kyung-woo watches them leave, noting to himself that it would be fun to work together.
Ex-Principal Yang entices students into his temporary closet office, now thoroughly decorated with anti-X posters. He offers the students a mountain of snacks and drinks in exchange for rumors and suspicions about who X could be, but doesn’t find anything helpful.
Meanwhile, a classmate approaches Nam-joo in the classroom, asking if it’s true that her father owns a cab company. When Nam-joo nervously confirms, he notes that his mom told him that the CEO of that company was single. Eek. Dae-hwi leaps to her rescue, insisting that it’s a baseless rumor, and shoos him away. As soon as he leaves, Nam-joo squeezes her eyes shut in dread.
Meanwhile, Hee-chan confronts Bo-ra in private, demanding to know if she’s the one who’s been spreading rumors about them. She denies it, snapping that she would never spread rumors about a fake pregnancy. When she turns to leave, however, Hee-chan grabs her arm with a desperate expression and asks again if she really didn’t tell anyone.
Bo-ra starts to deny it again before remembering that Eun-ho found her diary recently: “The one where we wrote letters to each other.” Ooh. Though she insists that Eun-ho didn’t seem to have read it, Hee-chan goes livid, screaming at her for losing something that vital. He storms away to find Eun-ho.
Meanwhile, Tae-woon wanders around the school grounds, also looking for Eun-ho. When he spots someone who looks like her from behind, he bounds up to her, only to discover that it’s someone else entirely. Suddenly annoyed, he tells her to buzz off like she’s the one at fault, lol.
Hee-chan finds Eun-ho drawing in her sketchbook behind the school. Accusing her of reading Bo-ra’s diary, he grabs her shoulders and orders her to tell the other students that the rumors she spread were lies. Bo-ra watches from a distance, looking terrified.
When an irritated Eun-ho shakes him off and walks away, however, Hee-chan starts to push her around violently, and then he shoves her, HARD, right into a wall. Eun-ho yells over and over that it wasn’t her, but he isn’t listening.
Tae-woon finds Bo-ra looking nervous, and then overhears Hee-chan and Eun-ho’s argument. He goes running in their direction.
Eun-ho accidentally scratches Hee-chan’s face in an attempt to get away, and he pushes her to the ground in a rage.
Tae-woon appears at that moment, screaming Hee-chan’s name like bloody murder. He starts to launch himself at Hee-chan, but Eun-ho scrambles up to assure him that she’s okay. He just keeps barreling toward Hee-chan, so Eun-ho grabs him from behind in a backhug, begging him not to do anything.
He’s livid, but he obeys, glaring at Hee-chan with fury in his eyes. Eun-ho holds on for dear life, and when she feels Tae-woon calming down, she slumps against his back in relief.
Tae-woon fusses over Eun-ho’s wounds in their hideout, tutting at her for always getting into trouble and never having one quiet day. He wonders what the big deal is about rumors about Hee-chan and Bo-ra dating, before muttering, “I’d like it if someone would spread rumors about me…” HAHA.
Another look at Eun-ho’s wounds has him growling Hee-chan’s name. He tells Eun-ho to stay here while he takes care of Hee-chan, but she stops him, snapping that he can’t always act according to his emotions. Annoyed, he counters that he’s angry and doing this for her, before storming away.
Eun-ho’s mom and Hee-chan’s mom come into school to discuss the fight, but neither parent is willing to back down, each defending her child’s side of the story. When Hee-chan’s mom notes that Eun-ho is a known problem child, Eun-ho’s mom snaps back that Eun-ho was proven innocent.
Hee-chan’s mom threatens to bring in her prosecutor husband to deal with this, pulling the “Do you KNOW who my husband is?” card. But Eun-ho’s mom just tells her to bring it, shooting back her husband’s name as if Hee-chan’s mom should know who he is. Lol, I love her.
In the classroom, meanwhile, Eun-ho goes up to Hee-chan to peer at the tiny scratch on his face. She asks if he’s happy that he’s made her the perpetrator, refusing to leave him alone until he apologizes for hitting her.
She says it loudly enough for the whole class to hear, and they look up to stare at him in shock. When an infuriated Hee-chan gets to his feet, looking quite ready to hit her again, Dae-hwi hurries to break up the fight and calm him down.
Eun-ho spots Tae-woon coming into the classroom at that moment, but he pointedly ignores her and hurries to his seat without a word, dropping his head to his desk for a nap. Eun-ho returns to her seat, giving him a look.
After class, Hee-chan starts to head out of the classroom when Tae-woon blocks his path. He asks if Hee-chan makes a habit of hitting girls, and when Hee-chan tries to say that it was a misunderstanding, Tae-woon just scoffs: “If I misunderstand you now, then can I hit you?” Nice.
Tae-woon draws back a fist and Hee-chan flinches. When Hee-chan asks why he’s protecting Eun-ho, Tae-woon replies, “Why do you think?” Tae-woon warns, “If you ever touch Ra Eun-ho again, you’re dead.”
He storms away, only to freeze at the sight of Eun-ho and Sa-rang watching him silently from the hallway. Relaxing at the fact that she doesn’t seem angry, he passes her with a smile, muttering a self-congratulatory “I’m not messing around,” and she smiles to herself. Agh, cute.
Hee-chan brings Bo-ra behind the school to demand that she give him her diary. When she guesses that he’s going to destroy it because he doesn’t want anyone to know the horrible things he’s done, an infuriated Hee-chan draws back a fist to hit her.
In flashback, we see that it’s not the first time he’s hit her. When a younger Bo-ra had ordered him to apologize for spreading rumors that she was an easy girl, Hee-chan had retorted that he knew she flirted with guys behind his back. At that, Bo-ra had snapped that this obsessive behavior was exactly why she’d dumped him.
Hee-chan had slapped Bo-ra across the face for those words, and she’d noted bitterly that he didn’t even apologize when he hit her anymore. When she’d threatened to report him to the school, his parents, and all their classmates, Hee-chan had told her to try: “You know what will happen if you do, right?” The thought had sent Bo-ra quivering in fear.
Back in the present, Hee-chan raises a fist to hit her again when Tae-woon appears to stop him. Hee-chan tells him to mind his own business, but Tae-woon refuses: “Sorry, but I’ve become really interested in other people’s business recently.” As Bo-ra takes the opportunity to slip away, Tae-woon steps closer to Hee-chan, telling him to stop here or else.
That evening, Hee-chan sits in the classroom alone, stressing over the whereabouts of Bo-ra’s diary. When he finds her locker empty, he begins to smash it with his fist before falling to the ground in fury.
When Hee-chan leaves that night, near crazed with stress, he spots a shadowy female figure watching him from behind a tree. As he hurries away, the figure vanishes. Oh man, is he hallucinating?
The next day, Teacher Shim and Officer Han ask Bo-ra to testify about what happened between Eun-ho and Hee-chan. When Bo-ra insists that she doesn’t know anything, Officer Han tells a startled Bo-ra to judge wisely and reconsider whether playing dumb will actually make her life easier.
Eun-ho finds Bo-ra in the halls, begging her to attest to what she saw. But Bo-ra insists that she doesn’t know anything—and she doesn’t want to know, either. At Eun-ho’s dismay, Bo-ra asks if she really thinks she can win against Hee-chan.
At that, Eun-ho guesses that Bo-ra is refusing to speak because of the rumor circulating about her and Hee-chan. Bo-ra hurries away without answering.
Bo-ra runs into Dae-hwi outside, and asks in exasperation whether Hee-chan sent him again. He swears that he’s just worried, but Bo-ra scoffs at the idea. “I’m doing just as you told me to last time,” she says bitterly. “Since I’ll lose against Hee-chan anyway, I’m keeping my mouth shut.”
Bo-ra tells him that she’d only listened to Dae-hwi back then because she thought he was being sincere—she didn’t know he was such a selfish jerk. Dae-hwi tries to apologize, but Bo-ra just tells him to tell Hee-chan not to worry since she won’t inconvenience him.
Teacher Shim looks over Bo-ra’s witness report, which says that she didn’t see anything and ends with a request not to question her any further.
Teacher Shim sighs that he feels like he’s conducting a criminal investigation more than counseling his students, noting that he wants to protect their liveliness since they’re still young. But Officer Han notes that eighteen isn’t that young, reminding Teacher Shim that kids can be frightening when they start to become cruel. Still, Teacher Shim insists, eighteen is when kids can reflect and return from their mistakes.
Teacher Jung enters the room at that moment to ask Officer Han to eat dinner with him, and scowls to see that Teacher Shim is still there. Officer Han just hides a smile as she watches the boys exchange dirty looks.
As Teacher Jung and Officer Han eat dinner in the teachers’ office, she asks if he’s ever been a guidance counselor. He scoffs, saying that he’d never do such stressful work, and points at Teacher Shim as an example, currently passed out at his desk. Aw. When he notes the sympathy in her eyes, though, Teacher Jung quickly takes back his words, noting that there’s no reason to look that sorry for him, ha.
Officer Han announces that she’s off to do some patrolling for exercise, and Teacher Jung leaps to his feet to join her. Teacher Shim immediately jolts awake at that, insisting that they can’t go alone. LOL.
Dae-hwi ignores a call from Nam-joo that night only to run into her outside his house. Eep. Nam-joo tells him that she doesn’t want to break up like this, and explains that she didn’t mean to lie from the start. The other kids just assumed that she was rich, and she didn’t want to admit that she wasn’t.
But Dae-hwi assures her that he understands exactly why she did it, and can’t judge her for her actions. At his words, Nam-joo asks for another chance, asking whether he ever felt anything genuine for her.
Dae-hwi confesses that he did really like her—he thought her smile was pretty and got nervous when she sat next to him. But, he admits solemnly, it wasn’t the only thing he liked about her. He sighs her that there must have been a reason why he didn’t want to acknowledge her lies—because he liked the rich Nam-joo more than the poor one. “So how could I have the right to like you?” he asks sadly.
Hurt, Nam-joo runs away in tears. That night, Dae-hwi scrolls through pictures of them together, while Nam-joo sobs alone at the bus stop.
The next morning, Hee-chan signals for Dae-hwi to meet him outside. Dae-hwi reluctantly obliges, and seeing them leave, Tae-woon follows to listen in on their conversation.
In private, Hee-chan tells Dae-hwi to deal with Eun-ho “the same way” he did with Bo-ra. But Dae-hwi tells Hee-chan that he doesn’t feel right about it and doesn’t want to be involved any longer. When he turns to leave, however, Hee-chan stops him: “If the truth of last year’s events come to light, you’ll get hurt too. Is that fine with you?”
Dae-hwi hesitates for a moment before insisting that it’s fine. But Hee-chan snaps that he’s just acting brave. “To be honest,” Hee-chan drawls, “I can still go to college or go abroad if things go wrong. My family can reset my life for me. But it’ll be the end for you.” Damn. With that, he suggests that Dae-hwi resolve this properly.
Tae-woon is waiting for Dae-hwi around the corner, and demands to know whether he isn’t ashamed: “You threatened and ruined the life of a weak girl, and act all nice and righteous in front of everyone. It’s entertaining—our class president’s true face.”
At that, Dae-hwi spins around to glare at him, and the boys glower at each other in mutual fury.
Though it’s not narratively surprising that Hee-chan followed a dark trajectory into violence, I was surprised and strangely excited that the show is bringing us to this area of questionable redemption. I still firmly want our characters to come back from their horrible mistakes—yes, even Hee-chan and Bit-na—and hope that the drama hasn’t given up on them. Admittedly, as Officer Han reminded us in this episode, eighteen isn’t so young an age that we can shrug off all their actions as childish blunder; though these kids are still learning and developing, I’m sure they’re familiar with time-worn axioms like “hitting people, especially your girlfriend, is NOT OKAY.” It’ll definitely be hard to forgive many of our characters for what they’ve done (lying, cheating, slander, violence) unless they seriously repent for it. But the idea that they could enter an irredeemable level of immorality at the age of eighteen just totally breaks my heart. It’s why I loved Teacher Shim’s counter to Officer Han’s argument—that it’s also an age where they can return from their mistakes.
In the same vein, I appreciate how the show has managed to demonstrate the stakes in this drama. The conflict isn’t really that someone will get expelled or get a bad grade on a test; it’s the fear of what happens when someone gives up on you when you’re eighteen. While there is still the possibility that the drama could relegate its characters to permanent villainy, at this point I have enough faith that the show won’t abandon its themes (and Teacher Shim’s ideals!) without proper reason.
With that in mind, I think School 2017 really is getting better and better with every episode. I loved the way this episode handled the theme of rumors, because of the way different characters in the cast dealt with the same topic in such polar ways: funny and lighthearted for some, dark and terrible for others. School 2017 just keeps getting better at putting substance to its humor, giving it an amazingly poignant twist whenever I laugh at something only to be heartbroken by the same thing a few scenes later.
Similarly, I love that there’s no dragging of plot or unnecessary conflict through misunderstanding or noble idiocy, making for a show where all of its characters are just trying to navigate daily life as it is. I cheered at the scene in the park when Sa-rang admitted her feelings of negligence to Eun-ho, Eun-ho apologized, and Sa-rang forgave her right away; and again, when Tae-woon and Eun-ho’s halting awkwardness stopped after only a quarter of the episode (though it was admittedly hilarious while it lasted). So refreshing. Whenever the characters are simply honest with each other instead of spiraling down tired, exasperating tropes of miscommunication, it demonstrates that the show doesn’t need such minor plot fodder to fill in the gaps, and really gives the viewer the faith to sit back, relax, and enjoy each episode as an assured ride.
- 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