My Strange Hero: Episodes 21-22
I. Love. These. Kids. Just when I think the big baddies have the advantage, the class of misfit Wildflowers somehow get the advantage back. They can be dense and lazy, like their fearless leader Bok-soo, but when they really set their minds to it, anything is possible. Even… *gasp* studying.
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Bok-soo barges into the teachers’ office and tears up Teacher Park’s resignation letter. He turns to Se-ho and tells him that he’s not the owner of this school. Se-ho doesn’t see what that has to do with anything–a teacher falsely accused the school, so he should pay the price. Besides, Se-ho continues, Bok-soo shouldn’t be interfering when he’s just a student.
Having had enough, Teacher Park grabs a piece of paper and writes up a new resignation letter. “Director,” Park sighs, “You know very well that that accusation wasn’t false.” He says that Se-ho can finalize his letter at any time, but until then, he’ll be doing his best at Seolsong. Se-ho takes the letter and replies that Park better think about what his “best” should be. He then leaves the office, with Bok-soo right behind him.
Dropping the honorifics, Bok-soo stops Se-ho in the hall and asks what he’s trying to do by firing Teacher Park and transferring the Wildflower Class. Even if his class left the school, there would be different students at the bottom. Se-ho blankly says that’s not his business.
In that case, Bok-soo guesses the only way to solve this is to get better grades. Se-ho laughs, “You?” and Bok-soo says, “No. Us. If we improve our grades, what will you do then?” Se-ho is willing to take this bet, but only because he’s sure it’s impossible.
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We just have to raise our grades?
Vice Principal Song is informed of this bet and tells Soo-jung that the Wildflower Class won’t have to transfer if they can raise their average from 29.5 percent to 50 percent with the next exam. She and Bok-soo head to class and suggest they all start studying, but the kids find the idea ridiculous.
Either way, Seung-woo says, there’s nothing they can do when the owner of the school wants them out. Soo-jung disagrees, as she believes that the students are the true owners. Bok-soo adds that they should at least try to study; they can’t let everyone look down on them. The kids see their point but remain doubtful.
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Oppa, I like you, but you can’t make me study!
Bok-soo and Soo-jung get Gyung-hyun and Min-ji on board, and the four come up with a game plan. Since the Wildflower kids aren’t used to studying, they’ll have to start with the basics. Math will be too difficult, so Soo-jung suggests they focus on Korean and English. Thankfully, Bok-soo totally has that covered. He calls Teacher Ma (the English teacher) in and shocks his friends when he addresses him by first name.
Ma smiles shyly and says that it’s him–their old classmate Ma Young-joon. Soo-jung gasps, having had no idea the entire time they’ve worked together, and apologizes.
Meanwhile, Teacher Park sits at his desk, his heart heavy as he remembers Se-ho confronting him earlier. Soo-jung breaks his train of thought, however, to invite him back to the Kang restaurant for drinks.
Teacher Park is worried about Bok-soo’s bet with Se-ho, but Bok-soo reminds him that he was able to raise his grade once, with Soo-jung’s help. Park smiles and agrees that his two former students really are strong-willed.
Our couple leave Park alone with Bok-soo’s mom, who notices he’s not looking so well. He drinks his soju, admitting he’s having a hard time because of a misbehaving student he could never get through to. Mom figures that if he let go of this student by mistake, all he has to do is grab hold of them now. Perhaps their bad behavior is a cry for help. Park nods, knowing she’s right.
Unfortunately, things don’t get any better for Teacher Park. The next day, Principal Kim hands him a list of complaints ranging from parents who question his teaching methods to Ivy students who are still offended from the debate contest. The principal wants him to cease his lessons for now and handle cleaning duties. Though Park thinks this is unfair, he has no choice but to follow orders. Bok-soo finds him throwing out trash and wonders why he’s the only one who has to suffer.
Park says that there’s definitely something going on with Se-ho, and he feels bad that he wasn’t able to help him when he was a student. Bok-soo brings up In-ho and the fact that his entire family had no idea what he was going through–it’s the same with teachers.
Teachers can’t know everything, but they can be that person that students count on, just as Park has always been. Bok-soo suggests he face Se-ho instead of wasting his time worrying about all of this.
So Park ditches his cleaning and visits Se-ho in his office, calling him by name. Se-ho reminds him to call him by his title, but Park says, “No, I’m speaking to my former student Oh Se-ho.” He goes on to say that he’s sorry for not embracing Se-ho back then.
He’d thought that outside, Se-ho looked like a sweet and innocent kid, so he never realized that inside, Se-ho might’ve been screaming. But he can hear that screaming now, and all he wants is another chance.
Park asks if Se-ho regrets the past, and when he snaps that he doesn’t, Park promises that he can still change the future. He concludes that he will continue fighting to make that change, leaving Se-ho speechless.
Elsewhere, Bok-soo goes crazy trying to convince his classmates to study. He tries catching them in the halls and in class, but they keep dodging him. Frustrated, Bok-soo and the Your Favors duo set out to initiate Plan B: Straight-up kidnapping.
LOL, it’s already funny that these three snatch the Wildflower kids off the streets so easily, but what’s even more hilarious is that these kids are genuinely trying to run for their lives, as if studying means death. But soon, Bok-soo gets the entire class to the Kang restaurant, and he immediately begins their training.
Back at school, Se-ho learns from his secretary that Teacher Park tried (and failed) to get the story of Seolsong’s corruption to the reporters. But Se-ho doesn’t have time to think about that–he has a meeting with the mothers of the Wildflower Class, including In-ho’s mom. The moms are, naturally, reluctant to have their kids transferred, but Se-ho eloquently explains how leaving Seolsong will benefit their kids and their grades.
Late that night, Teacher Park heads over to the Kang restaurant to support the kids, and he’s delighted to see everyone (reluctantly) studying together.
When they express how exhausted they are, Park just smiles and encourages them to show the adults that they’re better and stronger than they think. Their hard work will be meaningful because it will make a difference and because it’s spent with their friends.
“To make this time more meaningful,” Park announces, “I’ll treat you guys to jjajangmyun and tangsuyuk!” When the room erupts into applause, Park quickly changes his mind and says he’ll just pay for jjajangmyun, ha. Bok-soo beams, satisfied with the positive atmosphere.
EPISODE 22 RECAP
Chae-min and his minions burst into the Wildflower Class to taunt them, saying they might as well give up and clean out their lockers. Young-min stands, his fists clenched, but Seung-woo warns him that they shouldn’t get into trouble. Chae-min smirks and walks out, making In-ho sigh that he’s getting tired of being belittled.
At home, In-ho’s mom asks him if transferring would really be so bad, and he reminds her that he wouldn’t have any friends if he transferred. His mom nods, understanding his feelings. However, when the other Wildflower kids pretty much tell their moms the same thing, the moms won’t listen; Se-ho’s speech has already gotten to them.
At school, the kids wonder if they can really succeed, when Bok-soo pops up from nowhere and says that they can–they can totally prove their moms and everybody else wrong.
Commence studying, Wildflower edition! The kids are now ready and motivated, though they have to work from a beginner’s level and work their way up. And knowing her kids all too well, Soo-jung rewards the guys with snacks and girls with pictures of Bok-soo every time they get a right answer. She’s pleasantly surprised when Seung-woo gets every question right.
After a long day, Bok-soo offers to walk Soo-jung home. Once they arrive, Bok-soo gets all flustered and asks if she’s really going in alone. If she slept over at his house, shouldn’t he be allowed to sleep over at hers? Soo-jung coolly tells him to stay the night then. As he follows her inside, Bok-soo smiles to know that his girlfriend is so open-minded.
Bok-soo gets comfortable in some ajumma pajama pants (hee) and joins Soo-jung on her bed. Sensing his awkwardness, Soojung says, “Don’t be nervous. We’re just going to hold hands and sleep.” But when they actually interlock fingers, it looks like she’s the one who’s nervous.
Some time later, Soo-jung glances over at Bok-soo, and her jaw drops to see that he fell asleep. Offended, she asks out loud how he could just hold her hand and sleep at a time like this. She regrets ever suggesting a platonic relationship.
“Hey, Sohn Soo-jung.” Bok-soo rolls so that he’s hovering over her, their faces only inches apart. “I was really going to hold back, but I can’t because of you.” He closes the distance between them, kissing her softly as he grasps her hand again.
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I regret teaching you what platonic means
The following day, the couple are all smiles as they walk to school. Those smiles fade, however, when they see Teacher Park standing by the gate with protest signs. As other teachers watch him with sad expressions, he explains that this is the only method left. Bok-soo offers to stand out with him, but Park urges him and Soo-jung to go inside and fulfill their own duties as he fulfills his.
Later, we see someone sneak into the teachers’ office and snap pictures of the Ivy Class’s upcoming test. We then cut to Bok-soo and Teacher Park meeting at a cafe to look over more evidence of Seolsong’s corruption. Park sighs that this is his business, but Bok-soo firmly states that this is his revenge too. He then hands Park a bag full of cold weather gear. Touched, Park asks that Bok-soo become his son, and Bok-soo snaps that his mom would never marry a guy like him. Oh, you.
They get back to reviewing the documents, not realizing that someone from afar is snapping pictures of them.
The next day, Teacher Park dons the scarf and earmuffs Bok-soo gifted him as he stands out to protest. Se-ho watches, pensive, as all the students sweetly greet Park, some even handing him hand warmers.
Meanwhile, Bok-soo leads his group of Wildflowers through the school, all of them looking ready for battle. They begin their testing, most scratching their heads while Seung-woo zips through each question. Nevertheless, the students have never been more focused.
Afterwards, the Wildflowers are feeling exhausted but surprisingly refreshed. Bok-soo silently hopes that they’ll soon receive a miracle. Soo-jung hopes the same as she braces herself and opens the test results. She gasps when she sees that the class average has gone up to 51.8 percent and gasps even louder when she sees that first place in the whole school goes to Seung-woo.
The students see the rankings for themselves, completely floored to see Seung-woo’s name listed over Chae-min’s. Chae-min is, of course, outraged, but the Wildflowers don’t let him kill their good mood. Soo-jung joins in to make things even better; she gathers everyone around and reveals that they successfully raised their average score.
But it looks like they celebrated too soon. Se-ho calls Soo-jung and Teacher Park into his office to tell them that they’re investigating the test scores. Soo-jung tries to defend her students, but Se-ho outright accuses them of getting information from Park.
Se-ho shows them the photos of Bok-soo and Park looking over documents (though the actual documents are strategically illegible). He also has evidence of someone breaking into the safe, where the test answers were, and the only people who know the password are Teacher Park and Principal Kim.
With this much against them, they’ll have to expel Bok-soo again. Soo-jung blurts out how unfair Se-ho is being, but Teacher Park holds her back. He takes Soo-jung aside and explains what the documents were and why they can’t say anything about them. Furthermore, they can’t let Bok-soo get misunderstood all over again.
Teacher Park promises to take care of the situation and heads back to Se-ho’s office. Se-ho smirks and wonders what he’s in for this time, but Park simply says that he’ll take responsibility for everything so long as Bok-soo doesn’t get hurt.
Tired of hearing about Bok-soo, Se-ho orders Park to just fill out the rest of his resignation letter and leave. Park complies but he’s not finished. “Se-ho, making others suffer won’t make your own suffering disappear,” he tells him. “You’ll only suffer more.”
He starts to leave, but Se-ho shouts that he should stop pretending to be a good teacher and scold him. Se-ho messed with Park and his precious Bok-soo to this degree, so he can’t just walk away.
Park can’t scold Se-ho, though–not when he knows that Se-ho’s heart is still hurting. He brings him into a hug and sincerely apologizes that he wasn’t able to help him. And Se-ho is still as a statue, even as Park releases him and leaves. He stares at the closed door, a tear falling down his face.
In the teachers’ office, Park is cleaning out his desk when Soo-jung places her hand on his, shaking her head and tearing up. Park pats her hand, smiling sadly, and walks past. Soo-jung numbly returns to her classroom and runs into Bok-soo. When he sees her crying, he asks what happened.
After hearing the whole story, Bok-soo finds Teacher Park and demands he hand over his belongings. The two struggle over the box until it falls to the ground. And with that, Bok-soo breaks down, saying he’ll just drop out.
Park holds Bok-soo back and yells that he can’t let anything happen to him. If Park fails to protect him, then he doesn’t know what he’d do.
Bok-soo turns away to cry, and as the bell rings, Park calms down to say, “Bok-soo, you must graduate this time.”
Park then picks up his belongings and continues down the hall, getting teary-eyed as well. He walks out the doors of Seolsong, while Bok-soo can only stand where he is and watch.
No, no, no, no, no. I will not tolerate this! How dare this show mess with my feelings! Things were going so well for our Wildflowers, and once again, Se-ho had to snatch it all away. I want to be furious with this man, but anytime he gives me a reason to hate him, he just gives me another reason to pity him. I’ve praised the show (and Kwak Dong-yeon) for the complexity of the character, but I’m tired.
I’m tired of going back and forth with him, just as Bok-soo and Soo-jung must be. They’ve tried so many times to get through to him, to try to fix what was broken nine years ago, but he keeps giving them reasons to hate him again. It’s like Se-ho wants them to know that he’s broken, but he doesn’t want anyone to come near him, much less fix him. He’d rather brood in his office, alone with his own suffering.
I wonder if Se-ho has ever realized that his actions were only making him feel worse. Sometimes he seems self-aware, but other times, like when Teacher Park embraced him, he doesn’t. He’s a smart person, so he has to know to some degree that ruining the people around him won’t make him happy. Because once those people are ruined, what is it that he has left? His cruel, patronizing mother? His dark, corrupted high school?
There is no reward for those who simply want destruction. Yet all Se-ho has done is move forward, tearing down Bok-soo, then Soo-jung, and now Park, the only teacher that’s really cared for him. He keeps telling these three, and himself, that he doesn’t want to live in the past, but that is literally all he does. He lives with the hatred he had with 2009 Bok-soo, the longing he had with 2009 Soo-jung, and the overwhelming feeling of neglect he had with 2009 Park. If only he could learn to communicate with the 2019 Bok-soo, Soo-jung and Park.
It’s hard to tell, but I think Se-ho is starting to crack. While everyone else has tried to get to him with threats or challenges, Teacher Park approached him with kindness and sincerity. Park continues to do so, no matter how much Se-ho talks back, because he sees the hurt little kid hidden in the shadows of this cold, calculating man. That last scene with Park and Bok-soo broke my heart (the two actors are truly amazing together), but if anyone brings Park back to Seolsong, it better be Se-ho. Park is an important asset to Seolsong, and Se-ho needs to see that.
But enough about Se-ho–I at least want to stay mad at him until next week. Right now, I want to talk about the awesomeness that is the Wildflower Class. I have never seen that many students that desperate to avoid studying; it was the funniest bit in the show by far for me. And though it took some time, I’m glad that the class came to their senses as a group, as if they fight as one. In this school, they are one force, and they are a force to be reckoned with. Sure, we hit a speed bump in those last few minutes, but I have no doubt that these kids can prove themselves. Again.
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