Familiar Wife: Episode 9
Joo-hyuk’s mistakes are coming back to bite him in some unexpected and interesting ways. He used to think that nobody cared what he did but himself, but he’s realizing that his actions affect a lot of people in a lot of ways, not all of them positive. One particular realization changes the whole game for Joo-hyuk, and every decision he makes from here on out.
EPISODE 9: “Behind”
After learning that Joo-hyuk lied to her about where he’s been all night, Hye-won confronts Joo-hyuk by throwing his car’s black box microchip at him. She asks angrily if he lied in order to stay out all night with Woo-jin, and she tells him that Woo-jin’s mother called his phone, calling him “Cha Son-in-Law.”
She asks flat out if Joo-hyuk is having an affair, but she barely lets Joo-hyuk deny it as she rants about how much she disliked Woo-jin on sight. She threatens to ask Woo-jin directly, but Joo-hyuk stops her. He explains that Woo-jin’s mother has dementia, and she disappeared last night.
Hye-won asks why he felt it was his job to help Woo-jin all night, shrieking, “Are you her family?!” That hits a little too close to home, and Joo-hyuk stammers nervously that there’s really nothing going on like she’s imagining, that he only wanted to help Woo-jin and her mom.
He apologizes for lying to her, but Hye-won refuses to be calmed and storms out. She goes for a drive, and after awhile she pulls over and calls Hyun-soo. He meets her at a bar, looking thrilled to have heard from her, though she snaps that she only called him because she has no friends.
Hyun-soo asks if she had a fight with her husband, and Hye-won says that Joo-hyuk doesn’t fight with her, he just obediently does as she says, which is why she married him. Hyun-soo asks if something changed, maybe involving another woman. Hye-won barks at him to stop making wild guesses, unwilling to admit how close he is to the truth.
He says that he’s thankful to her husband anyway, since now he gets to see her. He asks her to hang out with him tomorrow since he doesn’t need to work… quickly correcting himself that he doesn’t have class.
Later when Hye-won stumbles home drunk, she steps on the black box chip and frowns at it like it’s the source of all her problems. She gets on the computer and blearily makes a profile on the office gossip website everyone was talking about on their weekend trip. Oh, no, this is going to be very bad.
Jong-hoo shows up at Woo-jin’s house in the morning on his bike, only to learn that she’s finally bought a car. He’s so proud of her that he forgets that he’s supposed to be mad at her, then he adorably resumes pouting. Woo-jin promises to pick up his calls from now on, no matter what.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t driven in ten years, and they’re both so nervous about her driving that they’re sweating and screaming at other cars before they get halfway to the bank, hee. Woo-jin forgets to check her mirrors and uses the wrong blinkers, and poor Jong-hoo looks like he wants to cry.
Woo-jin is called to Branch Manager Cha’s office, where she gets a bonus for impressing the new vice-president. She does a little happy dance in the bank lobby, though she playfully chastises the others for going out to dinner without her.
Team Leader Jang arrives and deliberately shows everyone but Woo-jin a post made on the office gossip website last night. It names Woo-jin and the bank, and talks about how Woo-jin craves male attention so much that she seduced a married coworker. It even claims that her transfer to the branch from headquarters was due to a scandal with a man, and accuses her of having had plastic surgery.
At home, Hye-won sleeps in after her late night, but the moment she wakes, she remembers what she did and leaps out of bed to race to the computer. She stares at her own post in horror, seeing that it’s already gotten tons of responses. She feels horrible about it, but since there’s nothing she can do, she tells herself that it’s not like she made it up.
At the bank, Jong-hoo is beside himself over the slanderous post, but Joo-hyuk is downright furious. He blames the website, which allows people to say whatever they want anonymously, without proof, ranting loudly until he realizes that everyone is staring at him. He immediately backpedals, explaining that he’s just upset about the state of society these days.
Woo-jin stays calm and apologizes for being the source of upset, but everyone seems to be on her side, blaming the writer for causing problems. Woo-jin says that the claims are too ridiculous to even bother her, since she didn’t have any issues at headquarters and her face is the same one she was born with.
Team Leader Jang points out that the real problem is that someone is holding a grudge against Woo-jin. Woo-jin can’t think of anyone she’s wronged enough to have done this, but Joo-hyuk’s eyes suddenly snap wide open. He escapes to the hallway to call Hye-won, who denies having written the post, and even has the nerve to get angry at Joo-hyuk for thinking she would do such a lowly thing.
Team Leader Jang, the cash team, and Manager Byun all decide that the problem is Woo-jin’s good looks. Hye-wonan wonders if there’s something to the accusations, because even though Woo-jin doesn’t seem like that type of person, it’s uncommon for someone to be transferred from headquarters to a branch.
Jong-hoo and Woo-jin end up on the roof reading the comments on the nasty post (eek, never read the comments!). Jong-hoo is concerned, but Woo-jin keeps cracking jokes since there’s nothing else she can do. She assures Jong-hoo that this will blow over soon, but instead, the post starts to go viral.
Woo-jin ends up in Branch Manager Cha’s office for the second time today, swearing that this is just an unfounded rumor. Branch Manager Cha says he believes her, but that headquarters only cares about the bank’s image, so they need to figure out how to get the post taken down.
But the slanderous post is spreading beyond the original website. Someone even uploaded a photo of the entire team, which upsets everyone, especially since it predates Woo-jin’s addition to the team. Hyang-sook and Hye-jong are annoyed that people are commenting on their looks, and Team Leader Jang is annoyed that her looks aren’t being commented on, ha.
Interestingly, the picture is the thing that finally makes Woo-jin lose her temper, and she shocks everyone by cursing. Jong-hoo and Joo-hyuk try to get her to sit and calm down, but she angrily swipes an arm at them and storms out, driving straight to the police station.
Hye-won and Hyun-soo spend their day together shopping for expensive workout clothes, and Hyun-soo just happens to have forgotten his credit card. He claims to feel bad as Hye-won pays for his things, but it seems obvious that he never had any intention of paying.
They make plans to eat together, and Hye-won calls Joo-hyuk to tell him she won’t be home for dinner. He tells her honestly that Woo-jin reported the post about herself to the Cyber Crimes Unit, so he and Jong-hoo were sent to the station on behalf of the bank.
Hye-won looks freaked out and quickly hangs up. She tries to delete the post from her phone, but she can’t log onto the site because there’s too much online traffic. She tells Hyun-soo that she has to delete the post immediately, so they head to an internet cafe.
Meanwhile, Woo-jin is told that the issue probably won’t be handled today since it’s already late. Jong-hoo and Joo-hyuk beg the detective to do something right away, since it’s causing problems for their employer. The poor detective caves under the combined pressure of three sets of puppydog eyes, and he gets to work identifying the owner of the IP address.
Hyun-soo and Hye-won frantically race to find an internet cafe, but when they finally get access to a computer, they still can’t access the site due to heavy traffic. The site does finally load and Hye-won manages to delete the post, and they celebrate excitedly. Jong-hoo is the first to notice that the post was deleted, while still at the police station.
Joo-hyuk gets home later as Hye-won is getting into bed, and he tells her that the post was deleted before they could identify the poster. He says that their goal was to get the post removed anyway, not get the original poster in trouble. He apologizes to Hye-won again for lying to her, and when he leaves the room, she slumps in relief.
Woo-jin and Jong-hoo go to Sang-shik’s bar for dinner, where Joo-eun gets loud and angry on Woo-jin’s behalf when she hears what happened. Woo-jin just chows down, not having eaten all day, then she steps outside to take a call from the detective. He says that they were able to identify the poster after all, and asks if she wants to press charges.
When she hears Hye-won named as the poster, Woo-jin obviously knows exactly who she is. But she tells the detective that she doesn’t recognize the name and doesn’t wish to press charges.
Joo-hyuk gets a work-related message from Hwan, so he gets on the computer to check his email. He notices an unfamiliar icon on the desktop and clicks it, and it takes him to the log-in page of the gossip website. When he clicks in the username field out of curiosity, it autopopulates with the username Hye-won used to make the slanderous post.
It seems familiar, so Joo-hyuk calls the detective to ask if they learned who made the post. He’s told that it’s confidential information, but he does confirm that the post was made from an IP address in Joo-hyuk and Hye-won’s neighborhood.
That night, Woo-jin finds Mom out of bed, whining that she’s tired but can’t sleep. She tucks Mom back into bed, then goes to the kitchen for a bottle of soju, haunted by the knowledge that it was Joo-hyuk’s wife who wrote that horrible post about her.
In the morning, Joo-hyuk finds the doomsayer at the subway station pretty easily this time. He sits with the doomsayer, who mostly ignores him as he talks: “It was Hye-won. She says it wasn’t her. I’m sorry to Woo-jin. Although Hye-won is a little self-centered, she doesn’t harm other people. I think I am ruining her.”
He asks the doomsayer why he’s here, guessing that he’s not supposed to be. He suddenly seems to realize something, and asks incredulously, “Did you go through the same thing I did??” The doomsayer just stands and walks away, leaving Joo-hyuk to remember the sign by the road on the way to the tollbooth — suddenly the man on the sign seems very familiar.
Luckily for Woo-jin, once the nasty post was deleted, everyone seems to forget about it. Her coworkers want to know why she didn’t press charges, and she says she just wanted to move past it.
Joo-hyuk follows her to the storage room to say he’s sorry and to thank her, and when she asks why, he says, “I just wanted to say it.” He turns to go, but she calls his name softly and says she’s sorry too, and thanks him, but she’s equally vague about her reasons.
Joo-hyuk gives her a knowing little look before going back to his desk. He finds the fever reducers he bought for Woo-jin while on their trip in his bag, and he gets up again.
Later, Woo-jin is in the break room with Hye-jong, who’s putting bandages on her feet where her new shoes gave her blisters. Woo-jin notices a bottle of fever reducers in the first aid kit, the ones that help when she’s running a fever. She says they’re hard to find, and Hye-jong tells her that Joo-hyuk put them in there.
Branch Manager Cha is in a great mood at the end of the day, having had a prophetic dream, and he invites the team out to dinner after work. Jong-hoo and Woo-jin both claim they have appointments, and Joo-hyuk also says he’s got plans. While Branch Manager Cha calls his wife, everyone else silently play rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to leave, hee.
Joo-hyuk only gets as far as his car, and he spends the evening sitting there, lost in thought. Hye-won tries to call him but he doesn’t answer, and she gets a call from her mother to remind them that her father is having a party to celebrate publishing his memoir in two days.
In the morning, Joo-eun calls Joo-hyuk to tell him that their mother is in the hospital with a hurt back and needs surgery, and he promises to visit soon. Hye-won makes appropriately worried noises when he tells her, but when he asks her to go to the hospital with him, she says she’s busy getting beauty treatments with her mother today for her dad’s party.
Joo-hyuk talks her into coming for just a few minutes, but Hye-won looks like she’d rather be anywhere else. Joo-hyuk’s dad mentions that the doctors want his mom to stay in the hospital for a few days after her surgery, but that she’ll probably go home right after.
Hye-won says she has plans and has to go, and slips Joo-hyuk’s mom some money for herbal medicine. She makes Joo-hyuk drive her to the salon, and on the way he asks Hye-won if his mother can stay at their place for one night after she’s discharged. Hye-won whines and refuses, even when Joo-hyuk says he’ll take care of his mom himself.
She reminds Joo-hyuk that he’s expected at her father’s party tomorrow, her tone warning that he’d better not think of missing it. He says he’ll be there after making sure his mother is discharged safely, but Hye-won whines that Joo-eun can do that.
She’s much more upset at the idea of Joo-hyuk missing her father’s party than about his mother having surgery, and she demands that he stop the car. Hye-won warns Joo-hyuk that if he’s not at her father’s party, they’re through, then jumps out of the car to walk. She’s furious when Joo-hyuk actually drives away and leaves her there. Serves her right.
But Joo-hyuk is too nice so he stops the car, just as it starts to rain. He grabs an umbrella and goes looking for Hye-won, but she’s not where he left her. Joo-eun calls to ask Joo-hyuk if he can come back to the hospital to stay with their mom tonight, because her baby has a fever.
Woo-jin takes Mom to her doctor’s appointment, where her insomnia and general crankiness seem to indicate that her dementia is worsening. The doctor recommends they hospitalize Mom for two days for testing, and Mom manages to slip right out from under Woo-jin’s nose as she’s settling her into her hospital room.
Woo-jin finds Mom in a room down the hall, sitting on the bed with Joo-hyuk’s mother, and Woo-jin apologizes and explains that her mom has dementia. Joo-hyuk walks in while she’s still trying to pull Mom out of the room, and while Mom is thrilled to see “Cha Son-in-Law,” Woo-jin is mortified to realize that the people her mother is bothering are Joo-hyuk’s parents.
Before long, the women are playing Go on Joo-hyuk’s mom’s bed while the men watch, Woo-jin warning Joo-hyuk’s mom that her mother cheats. Joo-hyuk looks utterly charmed as his dad asks if Mom really has dementia, since she seems so sharp with the cards. His dad likes Woo-jin too, and Joo-hyuk tells him that she lives nearby and is even friends with Joo-eun.
Jong-hoo gets a text from Hyang-sook (I think?) about work, and while he’s on his phone, he sends Woo-jin a text asking about her mom and saying he misses her. He finishes it off with some heart emojis, then belatedly realizes that he accidentally sent it to Hyang-sook. He curls up in horror, then writes a lame and completely transparent text that it was supposed to be a joke sent to a friend.
While picking out a dress for the party, Hye-won gets a text from Joo-hyuk saying that he’s going to spend the night at the hospital. Her main concern is that she’s only getting a lousy text from him after he “left her in the street,” never mind that she’s the one who threw a fit and demanded he let her out.
Later that night, Woo-jin watches her mom sleep while hooked up to the monitoring machines and wonders what she’s dreaming about. She smiles, thinking about how much fun mom had today with Joo-hyuk’s parents, as a few doors down, Joo-hyuk also affectionately watches his mother sleep.
They end up heading to the TV room at the same time, and Woo-jin asks Joo-hyuk about the medicine he put in the first aid kit at work. He says breezily that a pharmacist recommended it to him, but something about it still seems to bother her.
They sit together to watch TV, and at one point, Woo-jin moves her hand and their fingers accidentally touch. Neither of them moves away, and Woo-jin stares at Joo-hyuk, who seems at first not to have noticed. But then he slowly turns to look back at her, and Woo-jin looks away and pulls her hand back.
They sit silently for a while before heading back to their mothers’ rooms. Both of them lie awake for a long time, unable to sleep.
These two and their longing looks are just killing me. I love the slow burn of their feelings, as Joo-hyuk remembers what it felt like to fall in love with Woo-jin in the past, and Woo-jin learns what it feels like to fall for Joo-hyuk now. No passionate kiss could have been as meaningful as that tiny finger-touch, and even though all Joo-hyuk did was turn to look at Woo-jin, there was so much emotion in his expression in that moment — love, sorrow, and especially regret. He broke my heart in that tiny moment.
Until now, I haven’t really felt much about Hye-won one way or the other, aside from considering her an unpleasantly spoiled inconvenience to Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin’s happiness. But her selfishness is really in large part her parents’ fault, and the fault of the version of Joo-hyuk she’s lived with all these years. He allowed her to continue to live off her parents’ money, and catered to her every whim up to and including neglecting his own family, in exchange for the luxury and security that her family connections brought him. And that gets sticky because it’s not this version of Joo-hyuk that did all that, but some other nebulous, possibly-not-even-real version of Joo-hyuk who married Hye-won and let her get away with her selfish behavior. And now this Joo-hyuk (let’s just admit it) is lying and emotionally cheating on her and suddenly being annoyed with her for being the exact same person she’s always been, and I don’t really blame Hye-won for being confused and tempted when some cute young guy starts giving her all kinds of attention.
But what she did to Woo-jin by posting lies about her online was absolutely not okay, and being drunk at the time is no excuse. It’s not Woo-jin’s fault that Joo-hyuk is behaving badly to Hye-won, so to ruin her professional reputation that way was completely unforgivable. I’m glad that Woo-jin went to the police and disappointed that she chose not to press charges, because even though Hye-won did regret what she did, she then decided it was fine and left it there. She even had the nerve to threaten divorce if Joo-hyuk missed her father’s party (for his memoirs of all things — apparently the selfish apple doesn’t fall far from the self-centered tree) to take care of his mother after surgery!
At that point, in my mind, Hye-won crossed the line from benignly unaware of her own harmless selfishness into deliberately manipulative and cruel. It takes an immensely self-righteous and self-centered personality to go out and spend a bunch of money on a cute boy who openly admits he wants her, when not one day earlier, she was yelling at her husband for helping a colleague find her missing, mentally ill mother, then ruining someone’s entire professional life simply for accepting that help. And then to demand such unwavering focus from your partner that you insist he neglect his family’s genuine needs for a freaking party, and threaten divorce if you don’t get your way… I’ll only say that just the threat would have been a dealbreaker for me, if I were Joo-hyuk.
But it was another big wake-up call to Joo-hyuk to see how his behavior is affecting Hye-won, just like it affected Woo-jin in the original timeline, though in different ways and for different reasons. And I give him lots of credit for seeing it right away this time instead of it taking years. Of course, he’s not responsible for Hye-won’s lashing out online any more than he was responsible for Woo-jin’s decision to express her unhappiness with screaming and violence, but he’s understanding that what he does can cause others to change as people, and do things he never thought they’d do. Woo-jin went from a bright, happy, funny girl to a miserable, angry woman, and now Hye-won is doing things to hurt someone else when she’s never been vindictive in that way before.
It should have been a huge clue to Joo-hyuk, when he saw Woo-jin with his mother, that what he needs to do is to go back to the original timeline and make things right. It’s telling that Woo-jin was nicer to his parents in one afternoon than Hye-won has been in over a decade. I feel like, if Joo-hyuk goes back and works on making Woo-jin happy again, between the two families, they should be able to handle whatever happens with Woo-jin’s mother and her mental illness. The original Woo-jin’s main issue was that she felt alone, so she isolated herself even more out of fear of even more rejection. But seeing her with Joo-hyuk’s parents, it’s clear that there’s no need for her to be alone if Joo-hyuk is willing to step up and bring their families together.
I wasn’t expecting the revelation that the doomsayer has been through the same thing as Joo-hyuk, and from the way things look, he must have decided to just take himself out of the lives of those he was making unhappy. It’s what I’m afraid that Joo-hyuk may choose to do — to play the Noble Idiot card and leave both women, since they both seem happier without him. But that can’t be the answer to all this, because then nobody learns anything, least of all Joo-hyuk himself. Clearly it didn’t work out for the doomsayer, who now wanders both timelines, alone and homeless and half insane. I don’t want that to be Joo-hyuk’s future, but I can’t think of a solution that will allow him and both women to live their best lives. It makes me nervous, but I also love that I can’t predict how this will all turn out.