Manhole: Episode 8
This week, we soldier on with Pil’s ever-present goal of trying to figure out where his relationship with Soo-jin went wrong. Except this time, while hunting for the truth, he’ll have to face a secret that he never even saw coming. A time is quickly approaching when he’ll have to choose between the love he’s wanted all his life and a friendship that could become something more, so he better get himself figured out, and soon.
EPISODE 8: “Confession, that difficult homework”
It’s a bright sunny day at the manhole, and two women with smoothies walk by, talking about the handsome (but strange) part-timer at the juice stand. As they pass the manhole, the current date flashes across the cover: 12:00 p.m. on August 31, 2017.
Out of the manhole, Pil jerks awake to find himself sitting at Jin-sook’s juice stand, wearing an employee apron and facing a line of grumpy customers demanding juice. Taking it all in stride, Pil makes their orders before taking in his surroundings in this new future. Remembering his most recent trip to the past, Pil frets about how he was still unable to confess his feelings to Soo-jin back in 2012.
Still, Soo-jin did say that she liked him, so Pil is certain that things must have worked out between them this time around. He gets up to go find her, but is immediately yanked back down by… the manacle around his foot, chaining him to the stand. (Umm, wut?)
Just as he starts freaking out, Jin-sook arrives and reminds the shocked Pil that she had to tie him down to keep him from constantly running away from work. Pil calls her insane, but Jin-sook leans in close and growls that he’s that one who made her so crazy.
Jin-sook reminds him that she always pays him on time, so he should do his work accordingly, driving home the point/threat with a cleaver pointed at Pil’s face.
Pil gapes at Jin-sook, but quickly rallies and tries to use the old “I have to pee” excuse to get her to release him. She just tells him to go ahead and pee, handing him an empty bottle to use. Heh… and ew.
Jin-sook heads out to pick up more fruit, and while she’s gone, Pil spies the keys to freedom hanging just out of reach. He tries to get them down (creatively using a banana when his arm proves too short) but only succeeds in knocking them out of the truck.
Luckily, two young boys pass by, and Pil calls them over to help. And so, Jin-sook returns to find her truck stand sans one part-timer.
Pil heads off to look for Soo-jin, believing that everything between them is now fixed. He finds her coming out of her house and greets her warmly, remarking on how pretty she looks. Strangely though, Soo-jin gives him a decidedly chilly welcome, leading Pil to ask if they fought.
Soo-jin just sighs at him, but before she says anything, a car drives up, and a nicely dressed Jae-hyun emerges. Soo-jin happily walks over to him while Pil stammers out that she can’t possibly still be dating this guy.
With an eye roll, Soo-jin jumps into Jae-hyun’s car and the two drive off, leaving Pil completely confused.
Checking in with the Jung-ae, Dal-soo, and Gu-gil triangle, we find that Jung-ae is currently staying/living with Dal-soo at the DVD rental store. The two are having lunch together and Jung-ae is not-so-subtly dropping hints about marriage, though her face falls when Dal-soo philosophically muses that he’ll save marriage for his next life.
Gu-gil comes into the store and makes a few pouty digs about the two of them living together, then plops himself down, grabbing food away from the lovebirds in spite of Jung-ae snapping at him to leave.
Pil arrives at the store as well and everyone jokes that he “escaped” from Jin-sook’s stand yet again. Pil asks if Soo-jin is still getting married to Jae-hyun, but Dal-soo points out that Soo-jin has been too busy to get engaged, reminding Pil that her studio opening is today.
Soo-jin goes to see Jin-sook, who is apparently catering her studio opening celebration later. Soo-jin casually asks how Pil is doing, but when Jin-sook snarls that he ran away again, Soo-jin lies that she hasn’t seen him.
Soo-jin asks how it’s going with him, and Jin-sook sighs that it’s like raising a son, since he’s always running off into trouble. Jin-sook is distracted to see Jae-hyun waiting at the car, and congratulates her friend on her good luck to find such a boyfriend.
Pil’s mom and dad have bought a massage chair, and are happily trying it out when Pil runs past both of them up to his room. He goes through all of his clothing and, thinking of the sharply dressed Jae-hyun from earlier, despairs that he doesn’t have a single nice outfit to wear to Soo-jin’s studio opening. But then he recalls Jin-sook saying she always paid him on time and hurriedly digs his account book out of his nightstand.
Pil grins to see that he’s saved a small fortune, praising himself on apparently living a good life. Then he sees that the most recent transaction wiped out the entire account, turning the current balance to zero. He worries how that could have happened, and downstairs, Mom twitters happily over their new massage chair. (Oh no they didn’t!)
While Mom and Dad gush over how lucky they are to have married one another, Pil trudges downstairs and asks his parents if they know anything about his bank account getting cleaned out. Dad readily answers, “These days, filial duty is self-serving.” Pil gapes at them and then stutters out that they couldn’t possibly have used all his money to buy themselves a massage chair, right?
But of course, they have. Mom grins, saying that she’s finally proud to have a son, but Pil rants that they had no right to take his salary money. Dad argues back that they gave birth to him, raised him, and fed him, so of course they have the right. Mom even points out that all he uses the money for is alcohol anyway.
Pil huffs that he needed that money to buy new clothes for Soo-jin’s studio opening, so Mom digs out one of Dad’s old suits. The parents coo over how handsome their son is, but Pil looks aghast at the ill-fitting, thirty-year-old suit.
He grumps that he’ll just wear his own clothes, and Mom agrees that it doesn’t really matter if Pil looks nice, since Soo-jin has such a great boyfriend now. They both advise him to finally let go of his crush, telling him to be good to Jin-sook instead since she gave him a job and takes such good care of him.
Jung-ae, her boys, and Seok-tae arrive at Soo-jin’s studio opening, and the friends all happily congratulate her on her success. Pil enters behind the group and frowns to see Soo-jin holding Jae-hyun’s hand.
Pil listens as Jung-ae plays exposition fairy, revealing that the studio actually belonged to a friend of Jae-hyun’s who was moving abroad. Jae-hyun had convinced him to let Soo-jin have it, and Jung-ae sighs over Soo-jin’s lucky love life.
Pil finally make his presence known, though Seok-tae yells at him for coming alone when he was supposed to help Jin-sook bring the catering food over. Seok-tae starts to run out, but Soo-jin stops him, saying she’ll go instead.
Pil runs out after her and asks Soo-jin how she could be dating Jae-hyun when she had said that she liked him. Soo-jin scoffs that that was a long time ago, but Pil insists that he thought they both knew that they liked one another.
We flash back to that night on the bench when Pil had started to return Soo-jin’s feelings, but the manhole had pulled him away before he could finish the words. He’d disappeared right in front of Soo-jin, and she had leapt up looking around for him.
Back in the present, Soo-jin asks how she could know how he felt as he never once said that he liked her, always running away during those important moments. (Um, he didn’t run away – he vanished! Are we really just glossing over that?!)
Soo-jin starts to brush past him, but Pil grabs her arm, asking if he did something to make her be so cold toward him. Agitated, Soo-jin snaps that he didn’t, then walks back inside. Around the corner, Jin-sook arrives in time to see Pil running after her.
Soo-jin returns to the studio, and suddenly all the lights turn off. A movie screen lights up, and everyone turns to see Jae-hyun on the screen. Addressing Soo-jin, he reminds her of when they first met and jokes that if she feels bad about making him work so hard to woo her, then she can make it up to him now.
The lights turn back on, and Jae-hyun comes out from behind a curtain holding a bouquet. Walking right past Pil, Jae-hyun goes to one knee in front of Soo-jin and proposes to her. Soo-jin hesitates a moment, but as all her friends urge her to answer, she accepts with a smile.
Everyone claps while Soo-jin happily hugs her fiancé, and Pil watches from the doorway, looking absolutely heartbroken.
The friends (sans the newly engaged couple) go out for ice cream after. Everyone is chatting about the proposal, but both Pil and Jin-sook sit solemnly. Pil asks the others if there is anything he did wrong to Soo-jin, but they soundly answer that he didn’t do anything wrong – he just can’t compete with someone as great as Jae-hyun.
Dal-soo argues that Soo-jin and Jae-hyun are destined, since he was the one who returned her lost camera. Both Pil and Jin-sook look up at that, and Pil is confused, thinking that if Soo-jin found the camera, then she must have seen his video.
Afterward, Dal-soo and Jung-ae walk back together, and Jung-ae coyly wonders out loud if she will get proposed to soon. Dal-soo quickly changes the subject, but this time, Jung-ae will not be deterred.
She asks him if he has any intention of marrying her, but Dal-soo argues that they’re both still young — and besides, they don’t need to get married. Jung-ae barks that lots of people get married and live happily, and angrily asks if he sees her as anything other than someone who just cooks and cleans for him.
Dal-soo asks how she can think that, but she yells back that he’s never once even said that he loves her. Muttering that she’s getting tired of this, Jung-ae marches off.
At her Juice truck, Jin-sook thinks back to the night that she’d seen Pil’s video confession to Soo-jin. As it turns out, Jin-sook had almost deleted the message, but pulled back at the last second, unable to do it. She left the camera behind on the bench, video intact.
In the present, Jin-sook wonders why Soo-jin never saw the video if Jae-hyun returned the camera to her.
Her musings are interrupted by Seok-tae, who’s stopped by on his way to the study hall. He sees that her blender is broken and eagerly grabs it from her, promising to fix it.
Pil goes to see Soo-jin as she’s cleaning up the studio from the party. She isn’t really welcoming, but he asks why she didn’t see the video he left for her even though she got her camera back. She says that she checked the camera, but there was nothing there except the pictures they took that day.
Pil chases her outside asking if the video was deleted, but Soo-jin pushes past him, snipping that maybe the video was never there in the first place. He stops her, suggesting that maybe her fiancé had deleted that video to have a chance with her.
Soo-jin takes offence at the accusation and growls back that it makes more sense that Pil never actually recorded a video. The argument gets heated when Pil snarks that Soo-jin cares more for successful pharmacists than part-timers like himself. This is too far, and Soo-jin, glaring, stalks off.
Soo-jin storms back into her studio, but immediately grabs her old camera to once against check the memory card, wondering if she possibly missed something. Still finding nothing, Soo-jin yells, frustrated at Pil for bringing this all up now as she worries about why she’s feeling so conflicted.
On his way back, Pil crosses paths with Jae-hyun and finally gets to confront his mortal enemy. He asks if Jae-hyun saw the video he left for Soo-jin in camera, but Jae-hyun blandly answers that he didn’t really look through the pictures, so he doesn’t remember seeing it.
Pil accuses Jae-hyun of deleting the video so he could pursue Soo-jin, but the pharmacist calmly responds that maybe someone else erased it before he found the camera. Jae-hyun starts to walk off, but Pil stops him with an arm to the chest, pushing him back. Getting in his face, Pil warns, “Maybe you were able to deceive other people, but you can’t fool me.”
Pil is certain that it was him, and Jae-hyun answers that if that’s the case, nothing he says will make a difference. He says that with the opening of her studio, Soo-jin is getting a fresh start on life, so he wants Pil to let her go. Jae-hyun promises to take care of her from now on before striding away.
After her fight with Dal-soo, Jung-ae is found by Gu-gil when he runs up with ice cream for her. He tries to ask her what she sees in Dal-soo, but Jung-ae honestly asks how she can answer such a question in good conscience, when she knows how Gu-gil feels toward her.
That night, a smartly dressed Gu-gil waits for Jung-ae in front of her home, holding flowers and a teddy bear. Using the bear for practice, he rehearses his dating proposal to Jung-ae, promising to always make her smile. And, he adds, “I will always let you have meat.” Oh, you adorable dummy.
Jung-ae is walking home, wondering if she should stay out tonight to make Dal-soo worry, when she collides with someone carrying a giant bear and bouquet. She tries to hand the bear back, but the man keeps pushing it into her arms. He slowly lowers the flowers, and lo and behold, it’s Dal-soo, looking sweetly nervous.
Apologizing for never telling her his feelings before, Dal-soo kneels down and presents her with a couple ring. He asks her to continue on this journey together, promising to consider marriage further down the road.
Jung-ae giddily accepts, but when Dal-soo tries to put the ring on her finger, it’s almost too tight, making her wince. (Why hello, Symbolism.)
Dal-soo puts the bear on his shoulders, and the happy couple walks off. Behind them, Gu-gil watches them go, sadly clutching his much smaller bear and bouquet.
Jin-sook is closing her truck for the night when Pil shows up, dejected from his confrontations with both Soo-jin and Jae-hyun. He apologizes for bailing today, saying that these days, he’s “literally living life by the day.” Heh, Jin-sook remarks that that’s a new excuse.
The two of them go to the BongBong Pub, and Pil gets thoroughly tipsy. He reveals to Jin-sook that Soo-jin had confessed to him the day before he left for the army, and slurs that if only she had found the video he left, then things wouldn’t have gotten so messed up.
Jin-sook tries to get him to go home, but Pil keeps whimpering softly that a part-timer like him has nothing he could offer Soo-jin, and the only thing he ever did was steal his parents’ camera for her. Pil passes out on the table with Jin-sook looking on sympathetically.
At his study desk, Seok-tae fixes Jin-sook’s blender, getting all excited when he succeeds in spite of the other people shushing at him.
Pil wakes up at Jin-sook’s house and groggily tries to pour himself some water, but spills some on the floor by accident. Pil starts combing Jin-sook’s drawers for a towel, but stops short to find a small stack of the letters that he had sent to Soo-jin from the army.
As Pil processes this, Jin-sook returns home, cheerfully noting that he’s awake. Slowly, Pil holds up the letters. He asks why she has them, and Jin-sook’s face immediately pales.
Jin-sook grabs the letters and starts to tell Pill off for looking through her things, but Pil wants to know what’s going on – did Soo-jin ask Jin-sook to hold these for her? Jin-sook quietly ekes out that Soo-jin doesn’t know, and Pil puts together that Jin-sook intercepted the letters.
He yells at Jin-sook, demanding to know why, and she yells back that she had to. We flash back to when Pil was in the army: Soek-tae’s postman father had run into Jin-sook while she was on her way to Soo-jin’s and asked her to drop off her friend’s mail for him.
After he’d driven away, Jin-sookhadt looked at the letters from Pil (which were covered in hearts) and walked away, taking the letters with her.
Back in 2017, Pil assumes that Jin-sook did it as some kind of joke and shouts at her for taking things so far when she knew what Soo-jin meant to him. Jin-sook answers that it wasn’t a joke: “I did it because I like you.”
Pil is dumbstruck for a moment, then feebly tries to pretend that Jin-sook is still jesting. Face serious, she reveals that she’s liked him since high school. As Pil stares, Jin-sook adds, “You were too busy looking at Soo-jin to notice, but I’ve always liked you.”
Another flashback, this time to their high school years. Jin-sook is smiling as she draws a picture of Pil in chalk on the school steps, but quickly hides the sketch when Pil joins her to ask for a favor. Taking her hand and holding it tightly, Pil asks if she’ll help him. Clearly flustered by the handhold, Jin-sook agrees. Later that day, Pil tries (and seriously fails) to confess to Soo-jin with his balloon bike.
Returning to the present, Jin-sook admits that seeing his unfailing love for Soo-jin for over twenty-eight years, she thought that she should give up. But each day, when she saw his face again, she fell for him once more. Pil murmurs that he honestly had no idea.
Jin-sook continues, saying that she thought that if Pil was with Soo-jin, then she would finally be able to give up. But as the years passed, he and Soo-jin remained only friends, so she just couldn’t stop.
Pil starts to say something, but Jin-sook cuts him off, pointing out that Soo-jin has Jae-hyun now. Looking poignantly hopeful, she asks him, “So give me a chance, please?” Pil apologizes, but admits he can’t answers her right now.
Saying they can talk another time, Pil leaves Jin-sook’s apartment. She follows him outside and watches as he walks away, tears streaming down her face. Just then, Seok-tae runs up with her fixed blender, but stops to see her looking at Pil.
It’s a one giant relay of sadness, with Jin-sook staring after Pil and Seok-tae watching her. Finally, Seok-tae (ironically wearing a shirt with a broken heart on it) turns away when Jin-sook starts crying.
Later, Soo-jin comes home to find Pil waiting outside her house. She tries to walk past, but he immediately asks if she stopped liking him because he never returned any of her letters from the army.
She says it was, asking why he never wrote back. Pil says that he did write, but, hesitating to implicate Jin-sook, says that there must have been some kind of accident with his letters. Soo-jin doesn’t buy it, but when he tries to explain further, she tells him to just forget about it, since she already has.
Pil stops her, asking how it was so easy for her to get over her feelings. He says that he hasn’t forgotten a single moment of their time together, and everything is still fresh in his mind. He maintains that it was clear they liked each other, so how could she not know his feelings just because she never saw the video? He made it so obvious, so there was no way she couldn’t have known.
Looking at her almost desperately, Pil confesses:
“I haven’t stopped liking you for twenty-eight years. I may have skipped my meal, but my heart for you has never changed. I may have stayed up all night, but I’ve never stopped thinking about you. I’ve slacked off on my studies for twenty-eight years, but I’ve never slacked off with my feelings for you. Soo-jin. I like you. I like you, you fool!”
Soo-jin listens to everything, then calmly answers that she doesn’t care: She’s moved on. She says that he may have been living in the past for the last twenty-eight years, but she has to live in the present. Asking him to please stop this now, she heads inside.
Pil sighs, discouraged, and down the street, Jae-hyun steps out from around the corner and stares at Pil, having heard everything.
In her room, Soo-jin sits at her desk and takes out the old digital camera that Pil gave her (the one he stole from his parents). Looking at it, Soo-jin speaks to the camera like it is Pil, apologizing for behind so harsh to him. She admits that the more he tries to get close, that harder it is for her. “So, let’s please stop now.”
Soo-jin takes out a picture from the same drawer the camera was in — it’s a photo of her and Pil from high school. Using her hand, Soo-jin covers herself in the picture and, without her as the focus, we can clearly see Jin-sook in the background, gazing at Pil. (Oooh! So, she knew?)
Pil walks back that night, checking the time and wondering if he should try and fix things here, or jump back in the manhole for another redo. He decides that he shouldn’t risk missing the manhole and getting stuck here in this time, but then he comes upon Jin-sook.
She’s sitting outside her apartment right where he left her, sobbing like her heart has been torn apart. (Oof.) Seeing her, Pil wonders how he can return their friendship back to the way it once was.
Pil stands there looking at his heartbroken friend, and on the other side of town, the light above the manhole gives its telltale flicker. The wind blows across the manhole cover, but Pil is still standing outside Jin-sook’s house, watching his friend cry.
Epilogue. Jae-hyun sits at a desk in his darkened apartment and watches… Pil’s video confession! (Ack! It was him!) Eyes narrowing at the screen, he scrutinizes Pil as he pours his heart out to the camera. When he gets to the part where Pil admits his love for Soo-jin, Jae-hyun stands up and angrily throws the computer off his desk, sending it crashing into the wall.
The computer screen freezes on Pil’s face and Jae-hyun glares at him, growling, “He keeps annoying me.”
Yikes! Well, we’ve covered comedy, tragedy, and rom-com, so I guess it’s time to add some spine-tingling suspense to the smorgasbord that is Manhole. I have to say though, that epilogue was quite a surprising character change for our mild-mannered, possibly cheating pharmacist.
So I’m equal parts proud and disappointed in Jin-sook this week. I completely understand the jealousy and pain that led her to consider deleting Pil’s video, but I’m relieved that she couldn’t go through with it. However, even though she didn’t delete it, she still left it on some random bench. Glossing over the fact that it was a very expensive piece of equipment belonging to her friend, leaving the camera behind was pretty much the same thing as deleting the video – either way, Soo-jin will never see it. It would be one thing if – like she claimed — she had only waited to see if Pil and Soo-jin would come together before confessing, but between the camera loss and letter theft, she played an active role in keeping them apart.
I am glad that it was Jae-hyun and not Jin-sook who deleted the video, except it does show an alarming level of manipulation if he started their entire relationship on such a large violation of trust. That means he eliminated a rival, purposefully approached Soo-jin, and manufactured a “meet-cute” with her, all based on a few photos he saw of her in the camera. And now he’s chucking computers into walls while looking rather psychotic. Seriously, where are we going with this? Do we need to call in Bong-soon?
One thing that became clear to me in this episode is that the show is exhibiting a clear lack of direction and purpose. I’m all for a character-driven plot, but to do that, you need fully developed characters with consistent story arcs. Instead, the exaggerated butterfly effect means that our character’s storylines are constantly changing, making it so each timeline has its own agenda without an overarching goal to tie them all together. I had thought that the endgame had been for Pil to stop Soo-jin’s wedding, but now I just want him to save Soo-jin from the potentially psychopathic pharmacist.
With the ever-changing timelines and no solid central plot to anchor us, I’m feeling rather adrift while watching the show. I do enjoy the characters, but I find myself asking what the point of it all is. Will Pil just keep jumping back and forth until he runs out of alien time-traveling fairy dust? We’re now halfway through the show and it is past time for some answers, gosh darn it! And I will not be distracted, no matter how many beautiful stares Jaejoong directs my way.
Well, okay… maybe a little distraction is fine. *Sigh.*
- 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