Go Back Spouses: Episode 2
Our formerly married couple both try to make the most of their miracle day in the past, which means that they have to try to make better decisions than their first 1999 run-through. We like to think that hindsight is 20/20, but it seems like all their forethought can’t keep them from running into each other all over again.
EPISODE 2: “Memories are remembered at your convenience”
In the present day, Ban-do watches a reality TV show about celebrity blind dates while his son, Seo-jin, sits in a baby ball pit nearby. Jin-joo is not pleased when she finds her husband on the couch, so she turns off the TV and admonishes him for not playing with Seo-jin. Jin-joo clucks that blind dates give her the creeps, and Ban-do counters that it’s not like he has fond memories of them either.
Jin-joo wishes that she had just studied hard so that she could have become a judge or a prosecutor, and Ban-do accuses her of ruining his own chances at a good life by seducing him. Jin-joo shoots back that it was Ban-do who seduced her, and the two argue over whether Ban-do was winking at her or if Jin-joo stared him down on their own blind date.
And now we’re back to 1999, and just before Jin-joo’s efforts to say hello to handsome athlete Nam-gil. Nam-gil struts down the hall as adoring ladies try to fawn over him, but he seems disinterested. Jin-joo approaches with her greeting, and everyone in the hall turns to stare. Nam-gil scoffs and gives her a hard stare as well, which comes as a surprise to Jin-joo.
Cut to: Bo-reum asking if Jin-joo has gone crazy, since she embarrassed Nam-gil by turning him down just the day before.
In flashback, we see Nam-gil marching up to Jin-joo and her friends on the quad before asking her on a date. Jin-joo declines, and when Nam-gil asks why, she covers her nose and says that he smells like sweat. The onlookers nearby gasp while Nam-gil pulls open his ROTC jacket to assess just how bad he smells.
Back in 1999, Jin-joo can’t believe her own actions. Bo-reum calls her out for being a germaphobe when poor Nam-gil had obviously just finished his ROTC workout, and Jin-joo agrees. Bo-reum just can’t register her friend’s change of heart, leading her to wonder if Jin-joo is sick.
We return to the engineering department to see that the punishment being dealt out by the seniors has intensified. All the juniors have to squat while Ban-do planks on the ground. Ban-do thinks about how it’s not just kids in the present who are bad—kids have always been scary.
Jae-woo asks when they can stop, and his seniors reply that they can stop as soon as a girl walks in. The whole group groans, since they all know that there are no girls in the engineering department.
But wait! Out in the hallway, boys gape at a figure with long flowing locks. The engineering juniors spot her shadow out the window, and Ban-do silently begs the figure to enter the classroom. The figure with flowing locks enters, but it turns out it’s not a girl at all—it’s Ban-do’s friend Dok-jae, with the most epically long mane of hair.
Dok-jae takes in the situation and apologizes for being late, but Ban-do totally loses it at the appearance of his friend (and his friend’s hair) and falls to the floor in a fit of giggles. At that, the seniors command everyone down into a plank as punishment.
Meanwhile, Jin-joo is internally berating herself for being so heartless to Nam-gil in the past, but she forgets her concerns once she steps back in a classroom and takes in the nostalgic setting. Jin-joo can’t stop staring when she spots another old friend, CHUN SEOL (Jo Hye-jung).
Seol points out that everyone seems to be gossiping about Jin-joo today, and Bo-reum sighs at how quickly the Nam-gil confrontation has spread. Meanwhile, Jin-joo recalls that Seol will eventually take a leave of absence for unknown reasons.
Today’s class debate is about historical figure Heungseon Daewongun versus Empress Myeongseong, and who was at fault for toppling the Joseon Dynasty. Jin-joo enjoys the lecture and her classmates’ presentations, until she realizes that she is the chosen speaker for her group. At the front of the classroom, Jin-joo splutters that she’s forgotten what her group debated (which is true), so the professor asks her to give her opinion.
Instead of sticking to the debate between the father-in-law regent and the empress, Jin-joo blames Emperor Gojong for not sticking up for his wife against his father. She compares it to her own married experiences, and the class erupts in laughter when she calls herself a daughter-in-law. The professor seems amused with Jin-joo’s fresh perspective, but the big red “F” the group receives for the project indicates that it wasn’t enough.
Jin-joo complains that they did this project too long ago, but Seol chimes in that they debated just yesterday. Jin-joo can’t help but think about her own father-in-law, prompting a flashback (flash forward?) where Ban-do’s father had thrown a tantrum over the kimchi Ban-do’s mother made, which wasn’t to his liking.
Back in the present, Jin-joo stands firm on her response to the teacher while her friends stare at her in disbelief.
Over in the movie club room, Ban-do rifles through the piles of VHS tapes and film reels. He chortles when he spots a ’90s Brad Pitt poster on the wall and recalls that Dok-jae’s hair is an attempt at copying Legends of the Fall-era Brad.
Ban-do finds his two friends adorable, but Jae-woo is still pretty pissed about the punishment they received thanks to Ban-do. Jae-woo holds his scrawny wrist and whines about how it nearly broke from the strain.
Jae-woo asks if Ban-do is drunk or just bored, so Ban-do leans in and decides to tell them what’s really going on.
Over on the quad, Jin-joo has come to the same decision and tells her friends that she’s really 38-years-old and has traveled back from the future. Bo-reum cackles out, “Thirty-eight? With that face?!” Jin-joo appreciates the compliment, but nods all the same.
Ban-do picks up the conversation at the same spot, and the movie club boys make a comparison to Back to the Future. Jae-woo asks what he’s like in the future, and then whimpers for Dok-jae to massage his hurting hand.
We see a flash forward through Ban-do’s eyes, where the now-ripped Jae-woo is on a baseball field batting while Ban-do and Dok-jae watch (oh man, this muscle padding). Jae-woo mumbles about his batting looking great even though the director says that he’s lost it, and then throws his team shirt on. But then Jae-woo walks off, revealing that the back of his shirt reads: “Cheerleading Fairy.”
Back in 1999, Ban-do assures Jae-woo that he gets really healthy. Jae-woo then asks about Dok-jae’s fate as he flips the guy’s long locks. But Ban-do, who knows about Dok-jae’s future balding concerns, intercedes. Ban-do encourages Dok-jae to perm it, dye it, whatever he wants while he can. Aww.
Dok-jae asks if he has a girlfriend in the future, and we see another flash forward. In it, Dok-tae escorts a woman off his yacht. As he’s walking, he runs right into his wife, but there’s a twist: She’s there with her own lover. Dok-jae and his wife do their best not to make contact as they cross paths, and Ban-do narrates that Dok-jae has both a wife and a girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Bo-reum considers her future as an aerobics instructor and women’s rights activist. In Jin-joo’s flash forward, Bo-reum coaches her aerobics class, asking the ladies to think of their husbands as they punch, kick, and slap the air.
Back in 1999, Jin-joo amends that Bo-reum isn’t exactly a women’s rights activist, but she’s something similar. Her friends seem willing to listen, and Jin-joo catches herself before she admits that she was married to Ban-do.
Over in the movie club room, Ban-do laments that the time travel happened before he could heal from his wounds. He asks his friends to understand that if he’s acting weird, it’s because he’s from the future.
Bouncing back and forth between the men and women, everyone seems sympathetic to the time travelers’ sadness, until that empathy dissolves, and both Ban-do and Jin-joo’s friends call them crazy liars.
The girls head out for lunch, and as Jin-joo scurries after the girls, a hand reaches out to grab her wrist. She’s confronted with a gentleman with the most ’90s hair and earrings ever (cameo U-Know Yunho), and he admits that he’s been watching her for a while since she’s so pretty.
Jin-joo is beyond flattered, but she murmurs that she doesn’t have a cell phone or pager when he asks for the number, and then says that she can’t recall her home phone when he asks for that.
At this point, the guy assumes she’s trying to blow him off, but Jin-joo frantically denies it. He asks for her department and home address, but at that exact moment, Jin-joo’s pager (which she didn’t know she had) starts to go off. The guy can take a hint, and he’s marching off before she can give him her now-found pager number.
Bo-reum and Seol return to Jin-joo’s side to ask if she blew off this guy too. Jin-joo’s still caught up in the moment, but then it triggers a flash forward for her:
Jin-joo is insisting to Ban-do that there’s a guy in the neighborhood who always stops her to tell her that she’s pretty. Ban-do thinks that the guy is obviously selling something, since Jin-joo certainly isn’t pretty.
Ban-do saunters ahead, and just like the campus scene, a hand reaches out to grab Jin-joo’s wrist. It’s the same guy from the campus it seems, all grown up. The man tells Jin-joo that she’s pretty, as always.
Ban-do watches from afar as another man approaches his wife, his face pained. And then… the man pulls a textbook out of his bag and tries to sell it to her.
A beat later, we see that the guy has found another woman to ply with compliments. Ban-do loudly announces that there are so many pretty ladies in the neighborhood, then tells “Pretty Lady #1” (Jin-joo) to head home with him. Jin-joo just drops her head in embarrassment.
Back in 1999, Jin-joo remains amused and asks her friends, “I’m really pretty, aren’t I?” Bo-reum mistakes Jin-joo’s slowly returning self-worth for arrogance, and teasingly says that Jin-joo needs a beating.
Ban-do and crew grab sodas and head outside, where they encounter Nostradamus Doomsday believers. Ban-do laughs at it, but Dok-jae prattles on about it even as Ban-do calls it all a lie. Ban-do is distracted, though, when he sees (who will be) Doctor Park stroll past them.
Ban-do follows Doctor Park (just Park Hyun-suk in 1999) across campus, recalling that last encounter the day the doctor hit him, until Hyun-suk stops to talk to his girlfriend (and future wife, Kim Ye-rin).
Ban-do slams into Hyun-suk on purpose and sends him to the ground, but then apologizes immediately for the “accident.” Ye-rin yells at Ban-do, but Hyun-suk doesn’t want to start a fight and says that it’s fine. As an apology, Ban-do gives Hyun-suk the soda he still has.
Ye-rin says that Hyun-suk is too nice, but he says it was just an accident. But then Hyun-suk opens the soda from Ban-do, and it explodes like a geyser in his face.
Crossing the quad, Ban-do triumphantly thinks back to how he vigorously shook the can the whole time while crossing the campus.
The ladies have made their way to the cafeteria in the meantime, and Jin-joo exclaims that a whole meal is as cheap as a bag of chips in her time. Seol points Jin-joo toward the signs covering the wall that demand the administration respond to the recent price hike in the cafeteria, and Bo-reum asks if Jin-joo’s chips are made of gold, ha.
Jin-joo scarfs down her meal while her friends wonder what’s become of her. In a flashback, they recall a prissier Jin-joo of 1999, who ate like a bird.
Back in the current 1999, Jin-joo even dips her spoon into Bo-reum’s soup to give it a try. Bo-reum wonders if Jin-joo has been starving herself, and Jin-joo waves off her comment, saying that Bo-reum will understand when she has kids. This gets her a confused stare from Bo-reum.
Exiting the cafeteria, the girls continue to question Jin-joo’s change of heart about eating a full meal, and Jin-joo mentions that life with a baby has changed her. This gives her friends pause, but they’re starting to roll with their friend’s new weirdness, and Bo-reum claps Jin-joo on the shoulder for finally starting to change her ways.
Jin-joo spots Ban-do and friends. Ban-do wants to know what they’re doing after lunch, and Dok-jae reminds him that they’ve got a blind date meetup. Jin-joo glares at Ban-do as he passes, while Ban-do gives her a more lingering glance, wishing that they’d stop crossing paths.
He doesn’t get his wish, however, and finds himself directly across the table from Jin-joo at the date meetup. All our guys and ladies are there, plus a few others from their respective departments. Jin-joo and Ban-do realize at the same time that they are at the blind date where they first met.
Dok-jae has something critical to say about most of the ladies, going as far as calling the chubby girl a “bomb.” Across the table, one of the ladies whispers about the color streaks in all of the guys’ hair (except for Dok-jae and Ban-do). Even without a color streak, she deems Dok-jae the worst of the bunch.
While the others gossip, Jin-joo and Ban-do are having a staredown, each determined not to get involved with the other.
The guys go down the line introducing themselves. Dok-jae’s joke about his name isn’t well received, so he screams out that there’s a cockroach to scare Jae-woo. Jae-woo squeals in panic, ruining his otherwise cool introduction. When it’s Ban-do’s turn, he manages to get a real laugh out of the others when he makes a joke, and Jin-joo glowers at his smarminess.
With the introductions done on their side, Ban-do passes it over to the ladies and calls out Bo-reum’s name. But this is supposed to be the first time that they’ve met, and Bo-reum asks how he knows her. Jin-joo catches the slip as well, but Ban-do covers quickly that her name is written on the side of her book.
Ban-do spots Jae-woo showing interest in Bo-reum, and worries about the sad fate he knows his friend will meet. Ban-do slips up again when the next girl, Go Eun-bi, introduces herself, and Ban-do says that she looks like Suzy. Eun-bi thinks he means Kang Soo-ji, and Ban-do responds that there’s someone beautiful named Suzy that they’ll know about when they grow up. Now Jin-joo is truly onto Ban-do’s time-traveler status.
In the bathroom, Dok-jae reminds Ban-do that he’s on the “bomb squad” tonight, and he knows who the bomb is, meaning the chubby girl, Seol-hyun. Ban-do tries to get out of it by saying that he has no way of knowing which item will belong to which girl, but Dok-jae insists.
Back at the table, the ladies have each set a personal possession on the table for the men to choose from, and each item is pretty obviously identifiable. Ban-do catches Jin-joo glaring at him, and he wonders if she picked him as her date. He nods to himself, confident that he was right that she was the one who flirted with him first.
Jae-woo volunteers to go first, aiming for Bo-reum’s hoop earring. Ban-do recalls Jae-woo’s tears in the future and can’t let his friend choose heartbreak again, so he nudges Jae-woo’s arm until it lands on the giraffe earring from Go Eun-bi instead. But Bo-reum quickly interjects that the earring is hers, and Eun-bi backs her up. Jin-joo watches as Ban-do warns Jae-woo that this will ruin his life, but a smitten Jae-woo and Bo-reum are still matched.
It’s just Dok-jae, Ban-do, Jin-joo, and Seol-hyun left, and Dok-jae keeps winking at Jin-joo (haha, not Ban-do like she thought). Ban-do starts to reach for Seol-hyun’s flower barrette, but sweeps up Jin-joo’s handkerchief instead.
Dok-jae takes Ban-do aside in the stairwell, but Ban-do swears that he did get rid of the bomb. Dok-jae insists that Seol-hyun was the bomb, and calls her the “flying pig” (geez, dude). But Ban-do tells Dok-jae that everyone knows that Jin-joo is a shopaholic germaphobe with anger issues. Dok-jae still hesitates, but then Seol-hyun calls him over with several menacing come-hither looks.
She takes him out into the alley, and punches him right in the face several times for calling her a “flying pig” and the “bomb.” Bo-reum and Jae-woo see the two as they pass by, but after Dok-jae’s earlier attempts at sabotage, Jae-woo has no interest in helping his friend. He shuffles after Bo-reum shyly instead, who asks him to join her for a drink. Dok-jae’s grunts serve as their background music as he continues to get pummeled.
Meanwhile, Ban-do and Jin-joo haven’t left the restaurant, because his plan is to dump her once and for all tonight. He hesitates when he realizes how pretty Jin-joo looks, and he wishes that she had stayed just the same as she aged. Jin-joo starts to wonder if he’s trying to get back together with her, but Ban-do shakes himself out of it and proceeds as planned.
He suggests that Jin-joo spend her time studying instead of dating so that she can become a judge or prosecutor, using her own words from the future against her. He presents it to her as thinking only of her future, but as he starts to walk away, he can’t resist turning back and telling Jin-joo that he has indeed dumped her, very harshly. Jin-joo remains seated, flabbergasted.
On the stairs, he congratulates himself for heroically saving several lives. Then, he spots a young woman on the street and wonders, “Min Seo-young?” Ban-do recalls Seo-young as a ballet dancer while his conversation with Jae-woo and Dok-jae about his first love plays in voiceover. Ban-do specifically recalls saying that if he went back in time, he’d definitely date her, and he now sees his chance.
Back in the restaurant, Jin-joo stews over Ban-do’s words and then rushes out after him. But by the time she spots him, he’s already approached Seo-young.
Ban-do grabs Seo-young by the wrist, but releases her when she reacts in surprise. He asks if she knows who he is, and she says that she knows of him a little. That’s a satisfying answer for him, and Ban-do smiles broadly, Jin-joo watching the whole time.
Jin-joo walks home alone and wonders if she was given this miracle just to see that her husband had been pining away for his first love for their entire relationship. She shrugs that she has closure now, but a voice behind her calling out to Seo-jin stops her in her tracks.
For a moment, Jin-joo sees her son Seo-jin running down the street toward her with that signature sweet smile on his face. But the fantasy soon fades, and it’s just another mother with her own Seo-jin to chase. Overcome with conflicting emotions, Jin-joo drops to the ground and sobs.
She eventually makes her way to a taxi, and her driver just happens to be Nam-gil. Jin-joo’s too busy crying to notice, and Nam-gil just cranks the music up to drown out her sobs. She still won’t look at him when they arrive, and just hands over a credit card as payment. It’s 1999 though, so Nam-gil can’t accept credit and just hands it back to her without a word.
Watching Jin-joo walk away, Nam-gil recalls his own version of the night she rejected him. His father shows up and asks him why he’s shaming him by doing everything he tells him not to do, like being in the ROTC and majoring in English. His father says he should go on a date now, and Nam-gil declares that a great idea.
This is the moment that prompted him to ask Jin-joo out, and he selects her randomly from those passing by. When she calls him smelly, his father grumbles that his son is a fool.
Back in the current 1999, Nam-gil wonders just what’s wrong with this girl, and then we spot Jin-joo’s abandoned wallet on his front seat. Awww, he’s got a reason to go talk to her again.
Ban-do’s at home as well, and he’s worried that falling asleep will be the end of his time travel. When his sister asks if he’s going to bed, he nods to himself in understanding.
Meanwhile, Jin-joo has the same assumptions and writes her mom a goodbye letter. Afterward, Jin-joo joins her family as they watch TV together, but she’s busy watching her mother lovingly instead of the program.
Once Mom goes to bed, she worries about her daughter’s actions with her husband. The camera pulls away to reveal that Jin-joo is still right there, curled next to them on the floor. Jin-joo tells her mother it was good to see her again, and then snuggles in close to Mom’s side.
While Jin-joo is savoring every last second, Ban-do’s approach is to try to not fall asleep at all. He’s got matchsticks holding up his lids, but he still keeps nodding off.
Morning arrives, and it dawns on another day in 1999. Jin-joo is shocked, while Ban-do is giddy to give the past another go.
Epilogue: What really happened in 1999
Back in the restaurant, Ban-do has his own dyed hair streak, and Jin-joo is decked out in curls and a beret. Dok-jae is still winking to catch Jin-joo’s eye, but she and Ban-do can’t stop staring at each other.
Dok-jae reminds Ban-do that he’s the bomb squad, but Ban-do is way too smitten. He scoops up Jin-joo’s handkerchief without hesitation, and they beam at each other.
The waitress offers to take a group photo and says that some people here may end up getting married. The group gathers for a sweet photo, with Ban-do insisting on standing right next to Jin-joo. Awww.
I’m so glad that we got that epilogue to see what happened in the “real” 1999. Part of the fun of traveling back in time is seeing how things go differently from before, and since our story’s starting point is the do-over, the only way back to the real past is through flashbacks. The show has been generous in giving us quite a few to help inform the character’s backgrounds, while also balancing them with new mysteries along the way, so I’m pretty satisfied with that.
Jang Nara is the perfect pick for a baby-faced “old” woman. Each “Oh, you kids” from her made me giggle. It’s like listening to the voice of a grandmother come out of a teen, and I love it. It’s also interesting to see the flashbacks that show her as a much snobbier version of herself. In comparison, Ban-do doesn’t always seem that different in 1999, so has Jin-joo changed the most with age? And is it for the better or worse?
I also really enjoy that the main couple are basically outsiders, so their clothes and mannerisms are just a little off. They are the epitome of the future trying to capture the look and feel of the past and getting it not quite right. That’s what makes that final photo from the real 1999 really neat, because they’re both so much more awkward in their real ’90s style.
Even though Ban-do seems to be the one really relishing the opportunity to change his fate, he also seems to be the one most heartbroken by the breakdown of their marriage. He wasn’t the one to end things the first time through, so I get his triumphant declaration to Jin-joo that he was the one who dumped her at the meetup, even though it was totally inappropriate and horrible to do. He’s hurting and lashing out.
The fact that Jin-joo has figured out that Ban-do is also from the future sets up a nice power imbalance that I am really looking forward to seeing Jin-joo exploit. I really hope they drag it out for a few episodes at least before he finally figures out that she has knowledge of the future too.
And even though I’m totally on board with the couple finding their way back to each other, I’m also completely ready to watch them interact with their other love interests for now. I think it’s that the show has done a very good job at making all of the side characters seem intriguing, without actually telling us much about any of them yet. I’m ready to see Nam-gil be a little heartbroken, but also to see him get a little better at dealing with his father. We haven’t learned much at all yet about the delicate Seo-young, but I don’t think we’ll be in the dark for long.
And man, Seo-jin is so cute. How can a toddler already have such a winning smile? I really enjoy that both Jin-joo and Ban-do are enamored with their son—it would have been such an imbalance for only Jin-joo to dote on him or miss him, so every fawning moment is a win for Ban-do in my book. I do hope, however, that the two are able to find more in common than a desire to see their son again when it comes to reconciliation.
The one part of the episode that left a bad taste in my mouth though was the fat shaming. Calling Seol-hyun the “bomb” and the “flying pig” was rough. Even when she gets her revenge on Dok-jae, I wasn’t really happy with it, since it just reduced her to another stereotype of the tough, sloppy girl. I really hope that we get a future flash forward where she is gorgeous and successful—and that doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight, since I’d be fine if she just ends up confident and happy with life.
And perhaps the biggest question for me right now: Is Doctor Park evil when he’s just the medical student, Hyun-suk? Was he always evil, or was he made, and if so, can Jin-joo and Ban-do’s meddling change his future?
- Go Back Spouses: Episode 1
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