Age of Youth 2: Episode 4
I tend to have doubts with any drama sequel or spinoff, but after four episodes of pure awesome, I’m all in. Age of Youth is officially back, and dare I say, better than ever. This episode, the girls decide to kick it up a notch with the old and new guys in their lives and it is hi-freaking-larious. We’ve got awkward first meetings, reluctant interest, and some classic longing with a side of jealousy. And how do these girls get through it all? With each other, of course.
EPISODE 4: “I survived” #selfishgenes
Jin-myung goes out for a company dinner, trying to keep up with her co-workers as they down their drinks. She’s dragged into a karaoke session as well and though she seems pretty uncomfortable, she claps along anyway. Once the long night is over, she helps one of her drunken sunbaes stagger out and heads into a convenience store.
As she checks out, she catches the young cashier longingly staring at her company ID card. It brings Jin-myung back to her own cashier days, when she would do the very same thing with office workers who would walk in. After giving the cashier a small smile, Jin-myung hurries out to put her sunbae in a cab home.
The following morning, Ji-won trudges out of her room and joins Ye-eun and Eun-jae in the living room. It turns out an old friend of hers is getting married and Ji-won is super jealous that this friend now gets unlimited access to sex while she remains a virgin. Heh.
Eun-jae suddenly shrieks in terror, realizing that her department is having a get-together soon… and Jong-yeol is sure to come. She asks the girls what she should do, with Ji-won saying to suck it up and go and Ye-eun saying it’d be too awkward to go. Though Eun-jae wants to stay strong, she eventually decides on the latter.
Just then, Eun comes barreling out of her room, the most excited smile on her face, and asks the girls if Jin-myung really works for the Oh & Park entertainment company. Pfffft… Don’t tell me. She’s a fangirl?
At Oh & Park, a huge pack of fangirls are crowding around a van as idol group Asgard (of which HEIMDAL, the guy that keeps bumping into Jin-myung, is a part of) arrives. Jin-myung and Heimdal arrive as well, and Jin-myung just zig-zags her way through the commotion with him right on her tail.
While she and Ye-ji have lunch, Eun rambles on about Jin-myung’s awesome job. She starts talking about the other housemates too, referring to both Ji-won and Eun-jae as “sunbae,” clearly ruffling Ye-ji’s feathers. When Eun doesn’t stop, Ye-ji slams her chopsticks down and yells that she’s acting annoying—did she already forget why she moved into the house? Ye-ji gets up and leaves, with Eun just staring after her in surprise.
Eun later returns to the house, noticing someone’s shoes by the door and clothes lying outside the bathroom. She assumes it’s one of the girls, but when the door opens, out comes a young man—fresh out of the shower and buck naked.
This is Seo Jang-hoon (the gas station worker that Yi-na had talked to in Episode 1) and he seems totally at home until his eyes find Eun’s. They stare at each other for an awkward beat before he lets out a horrified scream and escapes back into the bathroom, while Eun just stands frozen in place.
Ji-won, Ye-eun and Eun-jae come running in, having heard the scream, and let out their own screams when Jang-hoon quickly opens the door to retrieve his clothes. The girls cower behind a still frozen Eun, urging Eun-jae to call the police.
Before she’s able to dial the number, Jang-hoon comes back out and carefully explains that he’s their landlady’s nephew and that he’s here to be her representative. His father had told him that the owner’s unit was on the second floor. Still standing behind Eun, the girls tell him that the owner’s living quarters is on the first. (Whoops.)
Jang-hoon calls his father, chiding him for giving out the wrong info, while the girls look up at Eun and praise her for her bravery. But Eun is barely listening to them; she’s still staring at Jang-hoon. And even though he’s fully clothed, all she can see is him naked. The image makes her gag and she frees herself from the girls to run into the bathroom and throw up.
Jin-myung comes home to find the girls chatting with Jang-hoon. Once everyone’s introduced, Ji-won notes Jang-hoon’s name (which he shares with a pro basketball player), and he sheepishly makes a joke about the name mocking him.
The girls notice Eun is looking a bit sick, and again, she can’t help but stare at Jang-hoon and imagine him naked. The girls stare in confusion as she gags and makes another beeline for the bathroom. Jang-hoon takes this as his cue to leave and quickly says goodbye so he can find his actual room.
Ye-eun watches him go, her gaze still a bit scared. She later tells her friends about Jang-hoon as they walk towards their cafe, where she spots the guy who had grabbed her last time, sitting in the same spot. Her nerves building back up, she suggests that they go elsewhere.
Later at the house, Eun is kicking back with a book when Ji-won heads out to pick up Ye-eun from the bus stop. Eun makes sure Ji-won is really gone and then sneaks off into her and Ye-eun’s bedroom. She searches through both girls’ desks, stopping at Ji-won’s open laptop. She presses play on what Ji-won had left running: porn.
Ji-won and Ye-eun return to the house and are surprised to see Eun standing in their room, staring at Ji-won’s laptop in utter shock. Ye-eun looks at Ji-won in disgust, but Ji-won just smiles, completely unashamed as usual.
Eun finally breaks out of her trance and runs to the bathroom for the third time today, ha.
Heimdal comes running out of Oh & Park with his clown makeup, now in his complete performance attire. He curses to see that his band’s van has already left without him. He sees Jin-myung leaving work and recognizing her, he urgently asks to borrow her phone. When she looks him up and down, he merely says, “You know me, right? I’m Heimdal.”
It doesn’t click for Jin-myung, so he explains that he’s a sub-vocalist in Asgard, the band repped by her company. Frustrated, he even sings and dances to his band’s song to get more of a reaction. But Jin-myung just cuts him off and hands over her phone.
Heimdal calls his manager and demands that they turn around and pick him up, but the manager just spits back that if Heimdal can’t make it himself, then they can deal with one less member. At that, Heimdal panics and says in a hushed tone that he’ll be over right away.
To Jin-myung’s annoyance, Heimdal follows her to the bus, even sitting next to her. His appearance gets a lot of people snickering and snapping pictures, making him extremely uncomfortable.
He mutters to Jin-myung that she should step in and tell people not to take his picture, but she sees no reason to—she doesn’t even know him. She puts her earphones in, which just annoys him even more.
Once Heimdal gets off at his stop and runs the rest of the way, Jin-myung does glance back a few times.
At the Belle Epoque house, Eun-jae rushes into the living room to ask Ye-eun and Ji-won about a movie someone posted online. The girls tell her that the movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a sci-fi romance about a man who gets his memories of a past relationship erased, only to realize that he may not want to forget after all.
A smile creeps onto Eun-jae’s face, delighted to hear that. The girls teasingly ask if this is about Jong-yeol, and Eun-jae confirms that he made the movie his profile picture. Eun, who’d been observing from the side, asks, “Didn’t you break up with your boyfriend?” She wonders why Eun-jae is practically stalking the guy online. Eun-jae gets defensive, saying it’s not like that. She starts to say something else, but Eun shoots up as soon as Jin-myung comes through the door.
Eun follows Jin-myung like an excited duckling, asking if she’s seen any of her favorite bands. Jin-myung merely says that she’s only encountered Heimdal of Asgard, earning blank looks from the girls. She tries a half-hearted imitation of Heimdal’s dance from earlier, and it hilariously takes everyone aback.
The next day, Eun-jae is too busy observing Jong-yeol to pay attention in class. She remembers what the girls had said about the romance film and how the main character had kept loving this woman despite his memories of her fading. That satisfied smile returns to her face as Eun-jae pictures Jong-yeol watching the movie and crying his eyes out.
After class, her smile finally falters when she realizes it’s time for the class get-together.
Eun-jae just can’t seem to enjoy herself during this party; her ears perk up to hear Jong-yeol talking to another girl, and when she hears them laughing, she makes a big exaggerated show of laughing at her own table, weirding out the people she’s sitting with.
What’s funny is that almost everyone seems to sense the tension between Eun-jae and Jong-yeol. They get into some outrageous drinking games and any time the attention is turned toward them, it’s immediately awkward.
A representative decides to ease the tension with karaoke and Jong-yeol goes first with Lee Moon-sae’s ballad “Old Love.” As Jong-yeol sings, Eun-jae takes every single lyric to heart, as if he’s talking right at her. Fire in her eyes, she scolds him in her head for having the audacity to be “angry” or “sick of love.”
Eun-jae is up next and she chooses So Chan-whee’s “Tears” as a way to respond to Jong-yeol’s song. She energetically dances about with her tambourine, singing that he should forget her and move on.
She gets really into it, though Jong-yeol hardly ever looks up from his table. She then reaches the last line of the song, “I love you,” and her confidence deteriorates right on the spot. Oy, the secondhand embarrassment is strong on this one…
Somehow, the two survive the night and see that their friends leave safely in cabs. The end up the last two on the sidewalk, and being alone with Jong-yeol actually seems to zap all the energy out of Eun-jae. He gently asks if she’s okay and she nods, her mind drifting off to a memory of him offering to walk her home.
Jong-yeol tells her to get home safely and again, she nods, her eyes full of swirling emotions. They go their separate ways, on different buses, both looking completely drained from the night’s events.
As they lean their heads on their respective bus windows, it’s clear that they’re both pretty miserable with the way things are.
Cut to: Ji-won having the time of her life at her friend’s upbeat wedding. She also uses this opportunity to ask some of her old friends about the mysterious Moon Hyo-jin from her childhood photo.
Luckily, the bride remembers Hyo-jin and the fact that she’d transferred out of their school. She leans in to whisper the reason, though we don’t get to hear it. Whatever it is, it wipes the smile right off of Ji-won’s face.
Eun sits outside the house, conflicted about sending a text to Ye-ji, who’s still angry with her. Jang-hoon walks out and freezes at the sight of her, especially since her eyes go directly there. Before he can get a word out, she moves past him and hurries inside.
Jang-hoon then heads up to the roof, where Ye-eun is hanging up laundry. He runs over to help her and she instinctively flinches away. Jang-hoon doesn’t notice this and continues to hang her laundry, mentioning that his father had already told him about the girl who’d been assaulted.
He voices his worries that his unexpected grand entrance might’ve really frightened her. And now he thinks that her vomiting was triggered by him. Wait, what?
Ye-eun looks up in surprise. She realizes that Jang-hoon has Eun mistaken for her, but she doesn’t correct him. She just listens as he continues to say how bad he feels and how he wants to help however he can.
He asks her what he can do and Ye-eun seems to look at him with new eyes. She sincerely thanks him (which only confuses him) and shuffles back down to her room. As she stares at herself in the mirror, Jang-hoon’s words sink in and perhaps even soothe her nerves.
Ye-eun builds enough courage to revisit the cafe, and sure enough, the boy with glasses (whom we’ll come to know as KWON HO-CHANG) is sitting in the same spot. He’s surprised to see her again and doesn’t really know how to react. Ye-eun cautiously asks why he took her from her friends and ran the other day, bracing herself for his answer.
Ho-chang looks up, stammering, “T-They were your friends?” He stands up, mortified, and apologizes for his misunderstanding. Because of Ye-eun’s expression reminding him of his own when he was bullied, he’d assumed that she was being bullied as well. A little calmer now, Ye-eun admits that she was feeling attacked in that moment.
Ho-chang smiles, glad to know that he’d been right after all. Ye-eun quietly says that it’s not exactly something to smile about, making him flustered all over again. So she changes the subject, asking what he’s always working on. He beams at that and begins to explain the programming he’s been doing, but Ye-eun has to cut him short when she notices two of her friends waiting outside.
Ye-eun tells him he can show her later and his expression changes to one of hope. She thanks him for saving her that day, a small smile on her lips as she gets up to join her friends. But Ho-chang goes after her, hoping to get her phone number since she said “later.” She hesitates at first, but seeing the expectant look on Ho-chang’s face does get her to give her number.
During Sung-min’s meeting with his news underlings, Ji-won keeps making snide comments until Sung-min has to drag her out. He suggests she start looking for a job instead of always butting into his meetings, but she pouts that she doesn’t want to. He sighs and asks if anything came out of her friend’s wedding then—did she find out about her past?
Ji-won starts hearing that bizarre ringing sound as she remembers what her friend had told her: Hyo-jin had transferred after some strange rumors had spread. Apparently, the art teacher had claimed that Hyo-jin drew a strange picture. A naked picture. However, Ji-won only tells Sung-min that Hyo-jin transferred and nothing more.
Eun starts getting worried when Ye-ji misses school. And with Ye-ji gone, the absence of a friend really seems to weigh down on Eun; she walks home a little more down than usual. While on his bike, Jang-hoon sees her and catches up to her for a much-needed confrontation.
She tries to wave him off, but he demands to know why she’s been acting so weird around him. Eun: “After seeing that, of course I’m going to feel bad.” Jang-hoon: “You think I showed you that because I wanted to?” He continues that in this case, he’s the one who should feel bad. He catches her staring there again, but she covers her ears and hurries off before he can say any more.
The two arrive at the house and stop to find a veeery drunk Ye-ji huddled on the ground. Eun tries to get her up, but Ye-ji just shoves Eun off and angrily slurs that she’s been acting so annoying lately.
Seeing no other option, Jang-hoon gets Ye-ji on his back and carries her inside as she shrieks at Eun, “You’re all I have!” Once Jang-hoon carries her past the rest of the girls and into Eun’s room, Eun tells him to get out.
He doesn’t get a thank you from her, but he does get a fist-bump from Ji-won, who notes that it’s nice to have a man in the house. Back in her room, Eun looks over Ye-ji as she starts crying in her sleep, “You keep changing! Don’t change! I like you so much…”
Ye-ji wakes up the next morning, the horror washing over her as she remembers what happened the previous night. She moves to jump off the bed but stops at the sight of Eun fast asleep on the floor.
All the girls are still asleep, so Ye-ji tip-toes her way to the front door. But first, she takes one last look around, imagining what it would look like if all the girls were up and bustling about.
She can even imagine Eun there, smiling as if she’s a part of the Belle Epoque family. Something about that image softens Ye-ji’s expression and she finally turns to go.
The first thing Ye-eun does when she wakes up is gather all of the dark and baggy clothing she’d been wearing outside the house. Ji-won, Eun-jae, and Eun are watching her as she throws the clothes out, so she happily states that they don’t have to pick her up from the bus anymore. Understanding what this means, Ji-won and Eun-jae smile at their friend’s sudden progress. Eun doesn’t look so sure though.
Eun is happy to see that Ye-ji has returned to school. They’re able to smile at each other freely and even link arms again. Although, Ye-ji does wish that Eun would leave the house, saying she gets a bad feeling from that place.
That night, Ye-eun steps down from her bus and we see that she is back to her pink, girly style. She makes her way down the street, ready to head out alone, only to freeze at the sight of a man nearby. The image of her ex-boyfriend flashes through her mind and she immediately pales and takes a step back.
Eun finds Eun-jae passed out on the couch after having one too many drinks. (More Jong-yeol woes?) She hears Eun-jae’s phone beep with a new message: It’s Ye-eun and she can’t make it back alone. Eun tries to shake Eun-jae awake but it’s no use. So Eun just throws the phone down and heads back to her room. Ack, no! Don’t just leave Ye-eun like that!
Ye-eun sends texts to Ji-won and Jin-myung as well, but they’re both too busy to come get her. Unsure of what else to do, Ye-eun just stays put at the bus stop.
Jin-myung is still at work and she studiously keeps her head down, even when a co-worker clearly wants to vent about something. Jin-myung pretends not to notice, so her co-worker vents to another colleague, and Jin-myung thinks to herself, “I always measure my distance so that I don’t get closer than necessary… so that nobody can get closer than necessary.”
After work, she stops by her usual convenience store and has her usual run-in with Heimdal. They ignore each other this time, though Jin-myung does take notice of Heimdal not being able to pay for all his items. Her thoughts continue, “Keeping at a distance is self-isolating. Keeping at a distance is lonely. It was my survival strategy. I lived like a fenced-in horse. I survived that way. And I will survive that way.”
After Heimdal leaves, Jin-myung adds the rest of his stuff along with hers and runs out to catch up to him. She wordlessly hands over his bag and walks away, leaving him somewhat confused. His expression is unreadable as he goes his own way.
Another man walks by the bus stop, causing Ye-eun to hunch over, on the verge of tears. Just then, someone stops in front of her and Ye-eun slowly looks up to see that it’s Eun.
Eun explains that Eun-jae was unable to come, hoping that Ye-eun is okay with walking back with her. Ye-eun looks more than okay with that, letting out a small “Thank you.” Eun lets Ye-eun hold onto her sleeve as they head home together.
The next day, Jin-myung sits in a company meeting, where the CEO explains that Asgard keeps losing them money and that they might have to dissolve their contract. She decides to put it to a company-wide vote, in which everyone must participate. Jin-myung stares at the band’s picture on the board, her gaze zeroing in on Heimdal as she narrates, “I had to keep my distance.”
The phones of all five girls are laid out in an orderly display, showing off their online profile pictures and as a result, their unique personalities.
Jin-myung’s picture is a shot of several meerkats and captioned “Survival.” Ye-eun’s is a cheery old selfie with the affirmation “Be positive in yourself first.” Eun-jae’s is a baby photo and her caption reads “You were born to receive love.” Eun’s is a shot of a simple sun hat: “Nobody knows.” And Ji-won’s, of course, is a meme-famous Chihuahua with the line, “Isn’t it funny?”
I can’t even begin to express how pleased I am with this show so far. Oftentimes, drama sequels can feel somewhat detached or separate from the original, but here, it just feels like a straight continuation of the show we fell in love with last year. A lot of that has to do with the show keeping (most of) its cast, but a majority of that has to do with the fabulous writing. Thinking back, I feel like the reason Season 1 was a little all over the place is because this writer had so much to say beyond the original 12 episodes and she just couldn’t squeeze it all in. And now she has an extra 12 to work with, meaning much more wiggle room. I wanted that wiggle room for Ji-won and I’m glad we get to see that with this interesting Hyo-jin storyline.
I have a lot to say about the boys and what we’ve seen of them so far, so let’s dive right into it: The girls still have this mysterious aspect to them, but I really like that the boys are given their chance to be a little mysterious too. Sung-min is wonderful as always and Jang-hoon is a welcome edition (his scenes with Eun killed me), but I was actually surprised to realize that I was most intrigued by not-so-popular idol Heimdal. Since he was technically introduced in Episode 1—pictured as the son of the serial killer’s captives at the vacation house—I’m curious if any of that will be brought up again. It has to be, right?
The serial killer plot was super funny, but it obviously wasn’t funny to his parents. I wonder if that one night influenced how he is today; despite being ignored by his fans and even his band, he surprisingly takes it like a champ. He just accepts the punches like he’s fine as long as he stays where he is in the industry. That makes him a very interesting character, but I’m still wondering why he’s here. Since Jin-myung seems to be dating her beloved chef from last season, adding this new love interest just feels a bit random. But I trust that it’ll all make sense when we get the full picture.
Ironically enough, my favorite couple from last season has the least of my attention here. The maknae couple’s plotline, while funny, is actually getting under my skin a bit. I really wish the two would just sit down and talk about all the unsaid feelings, but both seem too hurt or too resentful to even think about talking. Eun-jae has all the confidence in the world when she’s off to the side, watching Jong-yeol pout, but once she’s standing right in front of him, she becomes soft again. My guess is that she’s not sure how to feel and rather than letting herself be vulnerable, she’s choosing to puff out her chest and be tough. And while I think it is best that Eun-jae and Jong-yeol figure this out on their own, it doesn’t make the viewing experience any less frustrating.
Last but not least, we have Ye-eun’s love interest Ho-chang, who I find very cute and endearing. I like this duo a lot because their traumatic pasts give them the potential to understand each other on a deeper level. That little promise of “later” was so sweet because both seemed so happy to have taken a small step to what may be a new friendship. I was afraid of the show dumping Ye-eun into a new relationship as a quick way for her to heal, but I can see that this storyline may be much more than that. I think this will result in some great character development for the both of them.
Ye-eun made a big decision to get back out in the world, and I believe it was those interactions with Jang-hoon and Ho-chang that gave her the reassurance that she could do it. It gave her a boost of courage and inspired her to go big. Unfortunately, the road to healing can’t always be done in leaps. It takes many, many small steps. It takes time. She can’t return to the old Ye-eun just like that—in fact, she can never really return to the old Ye-eun. All she can do is move forward, at the pace that feels the most comfortable. And thank goodness Eun was there to help her out. With Eun, we got to see the human behind the thirst for revenge. She’s observing the girls to find her “culprit,” but she’s also observing them and learning to like them. And who can blame her? These girls are pretty darn lovable. So while she may not like the idea of it now, she’s already showing signs of a true Belle Epoque housemate.
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