Manhole: Episode 15
Although the end is near, Pil and Soo-jin’s fate as a couple is as unclear as ever, and their moments of unbridled joy are short-lived. Is it enough that the two love each other, or do too many missed chances from the past signify that they were never meant to be? While they face this conundrum, danger rears its head again, further complicating their lives.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
We open on a freeze frame of Pil and Soo-jin in the middle of the road. Time unfreezes, and Pil and Soo-jin find themselves back in the past, mere seconds before the hit-and-run incident. This time, Pil quickly spots the car speeding toward Soo-jin and pushes her out of harm’s way.
Luckily, both of them avoid impact, and when Soo-jin informs Pil that Jae-hyun is the driver, the two hop into Pil’s car and drive off, leaving Jae-hyun looking none too pleased that he lost them. He then spots Soo-jin’s phone on the ground and picks it up.
In the car, Pil and Soo-jin catch their breath, with the latter reeling from deja vu. She tells Pil that she remembers everything, from Pil holding onto her while she was dangling off the hospital’s rooftop to saving Pil from the charging car, only this time, Pil saved her. Pil sighs and explains that they probably fell down the manhole together, and a quick rewind to the events leading up to the manhole trip confirms his belief.
Jae-hyun returns home and furiously flings items to the ground. He glares at the smiling Soo-jin in their wedding photo and wonders if she was trying to report him. Soo-jin’s phone rings (it’s Jin-sook), so Jae-hyun picks up and casually informs her that Soo-jin went out, agreeing to have her call back when she returns.
Seok-tae arrives at Jin-sook’s restaurant and asks her why she looks so concerned, and Jin-sook says that a very distressed Soo-jin came by earlier. He figures that Soo-jin and Jae-hyun had a marital spat and assures Jin-sook that they’ll reconcile soon, expressing more concern for Pil, who’s still not over Soo-jin.
Soo-jin and Pil pause at a rest stop, where Soo-jin tries to wrap her head around the time-travel trip. Pil is incredulous that Jae-hyun was the hit-and-run driver and that he still has the audacity to stay by Soo-jin’s side. Shaken but firm, Soo-jin states that Pil was right about Jae-hyun being the assailant randomly committing violent acts, and explains that finding the black articles of clothing inside Jae-hyun’s car trunk prompted her to call Pil for help.
Pil asks her if they should report Jae-hyun now, but Soo-jin doesn’t want to just yet, since she’s too overwhelmed and unable to think straight.
They return to the car, and Pil decides to drive to his uncle’s house outside of Seoul to see if he’d let them sleep over. Despite the late hour, his uncle is happy to see Pil and Soo-jin and welcomes them in.
Pil carefully dresses the wound on Soo-jin’s ankle, incurred from when they dodged Jae-hyun’s car. Soo-jin becomes upset when she notices Pil’s arm injury and tells him to look after himself first, because she hates that he gets hurt because of her. Touched by her concern, he gazes tenderly at her.
Pil suggests that she call her parents to update them, but that’s when Soo-jin realizes that she doesn’t have her phone on her and must’ve left it behind somewhere. She borrows Pil’s and sees that she’s saved under “My Precious.”
Over at a junkyard, Jae-hyun’s setting all the incriminating evidence ablaze. He silently answers Soo-jin’s phone when a call comes in from Pil, and hangs up upon hearing Soo-jin’s voice, furious that she’s spending the night with Pil. Then a guard arrives and reprimands Jae-hyun for starting a fire, and Jae-hyun retaliates by punching and kicking the guard repeatedly.
Back at Pil’s uncle’s place, Pil hands Soo-jin some bedding. Suddenly, the lights turn off, frightening Soo-jin and prompting her to latch onto Pil for security. Turns out that Pil’s uncle is outside, shutting the power on and off in a playful attempt to bring the couple together, hahah!
When the lights finally do go on, Pil earnestly asks if they should stay here instead of returning to Seoul, admitting that he doesn’t want to be apart from her.
An awkward beat of silence passes between them before Pil offers to buy stuff from the convenience store and steps out. And of course, once he’s outside, Pil immediately regrets saying that, while Soo-jin dejectedly sits in her room.
When Pil returns, he finds Soo-jin already fast asleep, so he covers her with a blanket and smiles at her calm, sleeping face before turning off the lights and exiting the room.
The next morning, we see that Pil spent the night outside on a bench sans blanket or pillow. Soo-jin rises first, and when she sees that he slept out, she covers him with her blanket and grows emotional when she looks at him.
Moments later, Pil stirs awake and spots Soo-jin sitting on a bench facing the ocean, and takes a seat beside her. Soo-jin turns to him and wonders why she didn’t heed his warning that Jae-hyun was dangerous, reasoning that things would’ve turned out differently had she listened. But Pil is understanding, and says that she had no choice but to trust the man she chose.
Pil explains that he learned that Jae-hyun was trouble through his time travels, but found it difficult to bring it up to her when she grew closer to Jae-hyun in every situation; plus, believing him would have required Soo-jin to accept his time travel stories.
Soo-jin listens intently and says that she finally understands how frustrated Pil must’ve felt. She asks him what transpired during his travels, and Pil smiles as he answers that many events she never knew about took place, such as rescuing her from danger and communicating with her as a spirit. Soo-jin’s surprised to learn that she even asked him to marry her, but he informs her that every time he entered the manhole, everything that happened disappeared, and they only grew further apart.
Soo-jin scolds him for thanklessly risking his life for her, but Pil brightly replies that he was always willing to do it. What frustrated him the most was the fact that his professions to her were futile even after they both found out their feelings were mutual, no thanks to the mechanics of the manhole. But now that they both share the same memories, Pil tells Soo-jin that he’s happy, adding that the hardships were ultimately worth it.
Soo-jin apologizes for making him suffer, and the two sit in silence in front of the calm waters. Meanwhile, Jae-hyun’s at home, clearly with a lot on his mind.
Police examine the junkyard where the victim was viciously beaten, and Pil’s older colleague digs through the fire pit and discovers a charred broken keychain, which reminds him of Pil’s claim that the assailant had a broken key accessory.
At home, Pil’s parents are dismayed to learn that Pil has been suspended for hitting Jae-hyun, and that nothing seems to be going right for their son. Soo-jin’s parents angrily barge in and express how furious they are at Pil for abducting Soo-jin in front of Jae-hyun. Naturally, Pil’s parents are alarmed to hear this so they call Pil for answers, but he doesn’t pick up, and they don’t know where he is.
Jin-sook and Seok-tae frantically run to the juice truck and ask if Jung-ae and Gu-gil know Pil’s whereabouts before filling them in on Soo-jin’s “abduction” by Pil. They say Soo-jin and Jae-hyun were supposed to fly out to London today, but that Jae-hyun hasn’t been able to reach Soo-jin. Gu-gil doesn’t believe this and calls Pil, but once again, the call goes to voicemail.
Back at the beach, Soo-jin chats with Pil’s jovial uncle, who informs her that Pil is busy cooking up a storm for her. He suggests that Soo-jin accept Pil’s feelings already, but Soo-jin merely smiles and asks if she can borrow his camera for the day.
Jae-hyun’s feeling antsy at home until Soo-jin’s phone buzzes with a text notification of a recent credit card purchase she made — she bought coffee at Pil’s uncle’s shop — which clues him in on where to find her. He hops in his car, outright ignoring the police officers who came to investigate him. But luckily, Pil’s older colleague spots a nearby security camera.
In the car, Jae-hyun’s fraught with worry, unsure why the cops showed up. He worries that Pil reported him, which prompts him to shut off his phone.
Pil shows off his egg frying skills to Soo-jin and offers to serve as her handsome model when he spots Soo-jin’s camera that she borrowed. Once lunch is packed, Pil piggybacks her when he notices that she’s still slightly limping, and she quips that he’s a man now, since she used to piggyback him in kindergarten. Heh.
At the beach, Pil and Soo-jin happily take turns taking photos of each other. They’re all smiles and laughter as they ride an ATV together and simply enjoy each other’s company. Pil can’t stop carrying her, and it’s pretty adorable.
But as Pil’s frolicking by the water, Soo-jin watches him through the camera’s viewfinder and fights back tears.
They sit down on a beach blanket to eat, and Soo-jin grows serious when she tells Pil that she has to return to Seoul today because she can’t stay here forever. Pil asks if she can stay a bit longer, but she returns the camera to him and says that this will probably be the last time she’ll be able to spend time with him; she thought about his time-travel stories and concluded that they were never meant to be, since he was always suffering or in precarious situations because of her.
She adds that not once during his time travels did things work out between the two of them, and the fact that she’s already married further proves her point.
Pil protests, reminding her that he only needs her to be happy and that Jae-hyun is dangerous, but Soo-jin says her reason for not choosing Pil had nothing to do with Jae-hyun; it was just her decision.
She earnestly wishes Pil happiness and hopes he’ll never choose her whether or not he time travels again, because she can’t bear to see him suffer on her account anymore. And with that, Soo-jin gets up first, leaving Pil reeling from her words.
Soo-jin cries as she walks along the beach and even removes her wedding band, dropping it in the sand. Go girl! Then, Jae-hyun arrives and slowly approaches her, his face contrite, and asks her to hear him out. Ugh, here we go.
They sit on a bench, and Jae-hyun appears pitiful for once as he apologizes for frightening and disappointing her. He admits to intentionally accelerating in order to hit Pil with his car, as well as his inability to control his rage, hence his random acts of violence. Soo-jin calmly says his actions can’t be overlooked and urges him to turn himself in and receive treatment, because only then can he get better.
Surprisingly, he agrees to do just that, but he only asks that Soo-jin accompany him. Gah, don’t fall for this, Soo-jin!
Pil’s uncle’s riding his bike when he spots Soo-jin sitting next to Jae-hyun. He later runs into Pil and says that Soo-jin was with a tall and handsome visitor, and Pil sprints, knowing that Jae-hyun’s around. But Jae-hyun drives off in his car with Soo-jin in the passenger seat before Pil can get to them.
Over at the police station, Pil’s older colleague watches security footage from Jae-hyun’s parking garage, which captured Jae-hyun’s face as he removed his assailant garb. The older colleague remarks that Jae-hyun is indeed the culprit.
They visit Soo-jin’s parents house hoping to speak to Soo-jin about her husband, but only her parents are home, and they’re alarmed to hear that their perfect son-in-law is the prime suspect of the random attacks around the neighborhood.
As Jae-hyun’s driving, Soo-jin appears extremely uneasy next to him. He’s relieved that “his Soo-jin” didn’t share the same room with Pil last night, which is when Soo-jin notices that he’s driving away from Seoul.
She reminds him that he has to turn himself in, but to her disbelief, Jae-hyun says he wants to take things slow and spend some quality time together, since they missed their flight to London. Oy.
In his car, Pil searches for Jae-hyun and Soo-jin when his older colleague calls and instructs him to return to Seoul with Soo-jin so that she can testify, since Pil was correct in asserting that Jae-hyun is the culprit. The stakes are even higher now that Soo-jin may be in danger, and Pil reports that Jae-hyun is on the run with Soo-jin, adding that he’ll find them.
Pil hangs up when he spots Jae-hyun’s car in front of him, but Jae-hyun sees Pil as well, and accelerates. Pil speeds up as well, but a red light stymies the chase, and Pil loses him.
Having stopped at a house, Jae-hyun happily cooks steak for Soo-jin while she sits at the table, her face screaming dread. She pleads with him to return to Seoul now and turn himself in.
Jae-hyun’s eyes turn steely, and he wonders if she hates being around him that much. But then he lightens up and sits her back down in her chair, reminding her that it’s been a while since they spent time alone like this.
Soo-jin’s clearly distressed, so while Jae-hyun has his back turned to her as he’s hovering by the stove, she grabs her phone from Jae-hyun’s jacket and turns it on. Immediately, an incoming call from Pil appears and she answers it without saying anything, making sure it set it down on her chair so that Pil can hear what’s going on.
Once dinner’s ready, Jae-hyun joins Soo-jin at the table, and Soo-jin calmly engages Jae-hyun in a conversation about his parents’ summer house that’s located by Sky Lake (the one they’re currently in). Pil listens attentively, which gives him enough information to locate the house.
After identifying Jae-hyun’s car in the driveway, Pil carefully nears the house. Meanwhile, Jae-hyun asks Soo-jin if they should leave Korea. He grabs her hands and says that he has to go to jail if he turns himself in, which means that Soo-jin will be lonely. And so, he proposes that they live by themselves in some remote place.
Jae-hyun insists that all he needs is her, and Soo-jin tries to break from his grasp, but he doesn’t let up. Just then, Pil spots Soo-jin through the window, and she sees him, too. He quietly motions for her to stay calm, but Jae-hyun follows Soo-jin’s gaze and wonders if something’s outside.
Well, that’s an uninspired way to end the penultimate episode!
For every episode of Manhole, I never knew what to expect, because I had no idea where the show was heading. And initially, that feeling of not knowing did heighten my anticipation until it quickly became very clear that this poorly conceived story lacked as much direction as Pil’s adult life. Did you notice the sudden disappearance of titles and the capricious epilogues?
At the end of every episode, I was always so dissatisfied by what “happened” — if anything of worth actually did happen — and was just befuddled by how little substance and story there was. I think the actors, for the most part, tried their best, but it’s hard to elevate a story that’s so light on, well, story. The element of time travel is a handy vehicle for character growth if utilized properly, but for Manhole, I wondered what the purpose was for many of Pil’s manhole trips, especially if everything reset at the stroke of midnight. Has Pil matured? I think so — either that, or exhaustion from too many disappointing trips to the past finally hit him, and he consequently lost all that frenetic energy.
If I thought the characters were being dim last week, they were even dimmer in this episode. I can’t believe Pil’s friends — save for maybe Gu-gil, who at least had doubts — actually believed that Pil had “abducted” Soo-jin. They’ve known Pil for how long? Sure, his time-traveling manhole talk didn’t do him any favors, but they should know that at the very least, Pil is an upstanding guy and wouldn’t do such a thing.
Admittedly, I did like Soo-jin’s line about how Pil’s time travel trips revealed that the two simply weren’t meant to be. It did for a split second make me wonder if the two would ultimately go their separate ways, but then Soo-jin decided to hop into Jae-hyun’s car against her better judgment, ignore all the red flags yet again, and endanger herself. Again. I got the impression that the show wanted to include one last moment of glory for Pil so that he could rescue Soo-jin from big bad Jae-hyun and then, at the very, very, end, throw in a happily ever after for SooPil.
Despite how cute and sweet the beach scenes were with Pil and Soo-jin having the time of their lives, I couldn’t fully comprehend how they could be having that much fun while volatile, psycho stalker Jae-hyun was still out and about. The fact that they decided to delay reporting Jae-hyun boggles my mind, especially when Pil readily agreed with Soo-jin’s suggestion to do so. Priorities, people! Safety over beach frolicking!
I’m not sure if the finale will take place in the current timeline which is the year 2018, but I think if SooPil were to happen, it would only make sense in 2018, despite it being the future. If the manhole took Pil back to the present (remember the present?), then Soo-jin would still be engaged to Jae-hyun and ready to wed him, and she definitely wouldn’t have any shared memories with Pil from the manhole trips. I hope that at the very least, the finale is fun, because most of Manhole was such a drag. Why not throw in one last manhole belch just for kicks?
- Manhole: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Manhole, Live Up to Your Name
- Jaejoong goes back to high school for Manhole
- Manhole gang’s funky new character posters
- Manhole goes retro for the ultimate beach holiday
- UEE and Jaejoong cozy up under the sun in new Manhole stills
- Cast of Manhole throws dignity out the window for new dance teaser
- First look at Jaejoong’s time-slip rom-com Manhole
- News bites: July 1, 2017
- Baro up for Jaejoong and UEE’s time-slip rom-com Manhole