Greasy Melo: Episodes 5-8
Everyone seems destined to end up at Chil-sung’s restaurant (or building) one way or the other. Even though we get introductions to a few of the quirky minor characters that will undoubtedly give the show some seasoning, it’s a little odd to think we’re two weeks in and we still don’t know much about everyone. But each episode is so fun and flies by so quickly that I can’t complain — except I’m left hungry for more!
EPISODES 5-8 WEECAP
Sae-woo and Poong both avoid reading their fortunes, perhaps more out of fear of what it might say than anything else. Sae-woo’s overprotective horse freaks out when it seems like Poong will leave the emotionally fragile Sae-woo on her own (why yes, the horse can understand what’s going on, and he can talk).
Poong assumes the horse is acting up because he’s hungry, and Sae-woo reminds Poong that he still hasn’t fulfilled his jajangmyun promise. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about, because he doesn’t recognize her since she’s still wearing her fencing mask. But he agrees, nevertheless, since she’ll be his first customer.
Chil-sung also doesn’t recognize Sae-woo due to her mask, but gruffly agrees to wait on her. He’s baffled when she asks why he’s always around her, pointing out that she’s the one at his restaurant. When he threatens to have her horse removed from the premises, Sae-woo realizes that she’s about to enjoy a delicious meal at a time when when she should still be suffering, and leaves (but remembers to take some radish for her beloved horse!).
Poong is furious, reminding Chil-sung that in order for his revenge plan to work, he needs customers, and they won’t get customers if Chil-sung keeps scaring them away. Poong forbids Chil-sung from interfering with the kitchen or do anything that would disrupt the restaurant.
Thanks to her family’s funds being frozen, Sae-woo is broke, so she goes upstairs to the loan offices. Chil-sung finds her there, and they’re both like, “You again?”
He doesn’t want to give her a loan and tries to kick her out, but she pleads. He reluctantly agrees, but only if she takes off her mask. She does, and Chil-sung’s gobsmacked to realize this masked woman is Sae-woo. He does a complete 180 from grouchy gangster, suddenly filled with tender concern about why she would need to borrow money. She explains that she needs 10,000,000 won for surgery due to cancer.
Meanwhile, Chil-sung’s boys are out drinking and grumbling about how they’re supposed to be Poong’s underlings from now on, even though to them he’s a nobody. That doesn’t sit right with any of them, so they make a plan to capture Poong — and force him to get a matching gangster tattoo.
They also make him get a tattoo of the Big Dipper constellation — or the “Seven Brothers” — and they put his name on the last star as a permanent reminder that, no matter who he is in the kitchen, to them he’s just the maknae. Ha!
Sae-woo visits her father in jail. He’s outraged to discover that Sae-woo’s groom skipped out on the wedding, and says she should just get divorced (since they’re technically married due to registering it a month prior to the actual ceremony). It also means there’s no one to take care of Sae-woo, but Dad tells her to hang on a few months and he should be out in time. He was framed for the corruption, and once it’s proven that he’s innocent, Sae-woo can go back to her old, comfortable way of life.
Dad is also worried when he finds out she borrowed money, but she says it came from a good guy. She then shows her father her fortune. It’s a quote from Stephen Hawking that says, “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” Sae-woo says a different good guy gave her the fortune. Haha, now Dad’s worried because she knows so many good guys.
He asks her which guy is the better guy, and Sae-woo decides it’s the one who gave her the fortune cookie. But Dad thinks it must be the one who loaned her money, because what use is a fortune cookie?
Back in the kitchen, Poong declares that he’ll only teach the boys how to cook when there’s a customer. They scoff, pointing out they never have customers. Everyone’s surprised, then, when they hear a voice from the restaurant, asking to order.
It’s the gum-peddling granny. Even though the gangsters scoff that she’s not a “real” customer and try to kick her out, Poong insists that she’s still a customer, so they’ll fulfill her order. As the boys reluctantly hustle under “Head Chef” Poong’s orders, who should walk into the restaurant but Dal-hee and Seung-ryong.
Gum Granny takes their order, but they’re only really there to kill time until they can rent out the clinic space in the building so Dal-hee can set up her own practice. Because of course we need everyone under the same awkward roof!
Now that she has the money for the surgery, Sae-woo goes to the doctor to ask him to perform it — on her horse. Bwahaha! So her horse is the one with cancer, even though she was moping around like she was the one who needed it (making everyone — including us viewers and Chil-sung — think she was the one with cancer).
Back in the kitchen, the gangster boys are getting more and more irritated at Poong’s exacting orders. Poong takes over the noodle-making when one of the gangsters hurts his shoulder, and that’s when he spots Dal-hee in the restaurant. He hides, trying to come to grips with the fact that his (ex)wife is there. Poong becomes a total control freak, desperate to make the most perfect dish ever.
He learns that the boys wash the woks with soap — a big no-no, since the soap particles linger and make everything taste like dishwater. The gangsters are defensive: “We’re hygienic!”
Poong flies out of the kitchen to stop Dal-hee from eating her jajangmyun — but it’s just an oppurtunity for Seung-ryong to smirk and tell him how terrible the food is, and that Poong will never be successful and beat Giant Hotel. Ouch.
At least Gum Granny thinks Poong’s food is delicious, and even the gangsters are won over when they finally try the food. They’re now supportive of their new maknae, but Poong fires them all because of the lazy mistakes they made. Poong points out that just because the loan contract with Chil-sung said Poong had to work with the gangsters, it didn’t say he couldn’t fire them.
Chil-sung orders Poong to leave, but Poong instead puts up a “help wanted” sign. Sae-woo walks up just then, delighted to realize that there’s a way she could earn her living expenses. The gangsters straight-up call her crazy when she says she needs to be paid 15,000,000 won a month, but Chil-sung does his best to shush them.
Just before she leaves, Sae-woo asks Poong what his fortune said. He has no idea that she’s the same woman from the bridge and just blows her off.
The gangsters want to get back at Poong, but Chil-sung just orders them to think long and hard about what they want to do with their lives. Then he books it out of the restaurant, chasing full speed after Sae-woo, only to pretend that they “just happened” to meet at the same bus stop.
Gah, I love how pun-filled their conversations are. When Sae-woo tells him having a crush on someone is no big deal, Chil-sung is elated. He’s essentially been given permission to have a crush on Sae-woo, even though she’s still technically married.
After her horse’s surgery, Sae-woo sends Chil-sung a text letting him know the surgery went well. Oh, and that he can’t ever have a crush on her because she’s a married woman. Then she’s sad when he doesn’t text back. Ha!
Poong finally pulls out his fortune and reads it: “The one before you now is your true love.” Hmmm.
A woman walks up to the restaurant, looking for a job. She is CHAE SEOL-JA (Park Ji-young), and her knife skills are on the same impressive level as Master Wang’s — to no surprise, considering they were trained in the same kitchen (and even had a torrid affair!). She’s been a private chef for the past ten years, but now is looking for a new job and a place to live.
The gangsters, who have been secretly watching, are in awe of Seol-ja skills, but they also are determined to get their jobs back. They pull out the contract Poong signed with Chil-sung, pointing out Chil-sung has the real authority. Chil-sung demands his boys go through a test just like Seol-ja. He pits Maeng-dal against Seol-ja, and if Maeng-dal wins, then the boys get their jobs back.
Seol-ja makes the requested dish to utter perfection, and Poong hires her. As for Maeng-dal, well, he’s still in the walk-in cooler, trying to hide from everyone. Is it from embarrassment due to his lack of skills? Or is it because he wanted Seol-ja to win since he fell in love with her at first sight? Who knows, but because he lost his chance to get his boys hired back, Chil-sung orders Maeng-dal to stay there and freeze to death.
Poong’s annoyed that Chil-sung hired Sae-woo to work at the restaurant, despite the fact she has no experience. He rudely tells Sae-woo that she’s useless and he doesn’t want to work with her. Poong immediately promotes Sae-woo to general manager, which means that not only will she make more money, Poong won’t be able to fire her.
Pffft, Chil-sung and Poong have a childish “You can’t do that!”, “Yes I can!”, “CAN’T!”, “CAN!” screaming match. It only ends when Chil-sung says that if Poong has a problem, then he can take it up with a lawyer.
Poong leaves to do just that, but Sae-woo stops him, still curious to know about the fortune he received in his cookie. He ignores her, and she wonders if he really hates her that much. Poong bluntly tells her that it’s infuriating she only got a job because of her connection to the building owner. So, yeah, he hates her.
Seol-ja finds Maeng-dal shivering in the walk-in cooler. She assumes that he must have stayed in there so that he could make sure she’d win and get the job. She then asks if he’d like her to help him melt his lips — with her own lips. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
They head to a nearby hotel (Giant Hotel, of course) because, as Maeng-dal explains, he lives with roommates and doesn’t want to, ah, disturb them. Seol-ja is shocked that someone his age doesn’t have his own place, and walks off in a huff.
Poong goes to the lawyer, but the lawyer is on Chil-sung’s side, so Sae-woo gets to stay as General Manager. Poong is, of course, angry about it, and returns to the restaurant, looking for Sae-woo — but she’s nowhere to be found.
In limps IM GEOK-JUNG (Tae Hang-ho), who Seol-ja worked with previously and is now unemployed and down on his luck. Feeling embarrassed about his bad leg, Geok-jung timidly asks about the position of noodle maker. Since he comes with Seol-ja’s approval, Poong hires him on the spot. When Geok-jung points out his disability, Poong is like, “What, do you cook with your feet?” Aw, Geok-jung’s thrilled to finally have a job.
Poong is still angry about Sae-woo becoming manager, but finds a plate with a fortune cookie. Instead of a fortune, it contains Sae-woo’s resignation.
Poong realizes that Sae-woo is the woman in the mask from the bridge, and re-reads his fortune (“The one before you is your true love.”) Now it’s his turn to sprint out of the restaurant and chase after Sae-woo. He finds her at “their” bridge, worried that she’s considering jumping. She’s not — she’s just drowning her sorrows in beer.
He’s definitely relieved, although they bicker some more. He admits that he couldn’t stop thinking about her, his first customer in the fencing mask. She’s still curious about what his fortune said, and he lies that he threw it away without looking at it, afraid whatever it was might come true.
I love this weird and wonderful show. There are so many odd little moments that make you go, “Wait, what?” (like the CGI gangster wings!), but I’m hoping we’ll find out they mean something important later (maybe our gangsters are really angels?). I mean, I don’t know why “poop” or “gum” is a running theme in this show, but I’m actually kinda enjoying it as a weird kind of symbolism. Maybe the show is trying to teach us that when your life has become total crap, the only way to move forward is to stick together, like gum. Or maybe it’s just odd moments being odd moments, nothing more.
I do feel like there’s legit magic in this show, though. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Gum Granny turned out to be a mythical creature in disguise, here to sell her gum and make sure everyone’s dreams actually come true (just, y’know, not in the way they’d originally planned). There’s certainly a ton of history that still needs to be untangled first, starting with Seol-ja and her relationship with Master Wang from ‘way back when. I’m really looking forward to getting to know all the minor characters that have cropped up this week, and how they fit into our one big “Happy Wok” family — or at least keep track of how many characters Lee Mi-sook is playing. I think I’m gonna need a cheat sheet for that, though.
All the weird little character details are so delightful, though. I cackled when we found out that Chil-sung even sleeps in his sunglasses. But that actually makes the moments when he takes his sunglasses off seem all that more meaningful, as though they are his own mask he wears to deal with the scary world. When he doesn’t wear his sunglasses, suddenly the scene feels so much more intimate and sincere. I also love that he has a huge picture of Al Pacino in The Godfather on his wall, just because I still want him to be the fairy godfather for all the down-on-their-luck folk that are flocking to his building, hoping for another chance. (Although, I was surprised that it wasn’t a picture of Nietzsche.)
I’m not really expecting deep messages from a show with a talking horse, but I do appreciate that there is enough heart (you gotta keep chewing through the sour to reach the sweetness) to prevent the wackiness from going too far off the rails. The only thing that makes me hesitate is this dang love triangle. The adorable chemistry between Sae-woo and Chil-sung makes me so happy — I get a silly grin on my face during their playful banter, and my heart melts over the fact that he’s clearly head-over-heels for her and concerned about her and wants to help, and that she’s a little charmed by him, too.
So now I’m groaning that the show is literally telling us she’s apparently Poong’s “true love.” But he doesn’t deserve her! He’s been so mean to her, and is still obsessed with getting Dal-hee back. Sae-woo has her own troubles to deal with, she doesn’t need his drama added to her own! She hasn’t even been able to eat jajangmyun yet!