Extraordinary You: Episodes 11-12
The saying goes that “the truth will set you free,” but in the world of the Secret manhwa, the truth can be dangerous, even deadly. Our heroes have managed to make some pretty big changes, and at first, the results are encouraging and exciting. But they’ve ignored the warnings, and the manhwa is determined to set things right, no matter what it takes.
At Nam-ju’s birthday party, Haru spills a drink on Nam-ju, giving Do-hwa a chance to take Joo-da aside and confess that he likes her. Unfortunately, it means that both Nam-ju and Joo-da are missing when it’s time for their big public confession scene, so the Stage pulls Dan-oh and Haru into it instead.
But the person who saves Dan-oh from the falling cake isn’t Haru — it’s Kyung, who then makes what should have been Nam-ju’s speech: “From now on, Dan-oh is the only woman for me.” He turns to Dan-oh and says that he’ll accept her feelings, and do his best to like her back. Because they’re onStage, Dan-oh smiles hugely at him, and all Haru can do is stare in disbelief.
Something happens, and the Stage glitches, then ends. The scar on Haru’s palm starts to hurt and he runs away, and Dan-oh tries to follow him but Kyung stops her with yet another wrist-grab. She growls at him not to toy with people’s feelings, but he says that’s what she’s doing to him. Dan-oh snaps that she’s never liked him, she’s just been forced to say what the Writer wants, and Kyung finally lets her go.
Haru is experiencing exactly what Mi-chae warned him about — that the more he changes the Stage, the worse pain he’ll feel in his hand. Dan-oh doesn’t notice that he’s been crying when she finds him, because she’s too excited that they made such a huge change in the Stage. Haru grows scared, recalling how Mi-chae told him that he exists to stop Dan-oh.
Unfortunately for Do-hwa, the moment he confessed to Joo-da, the Stage stopped. Joo-da says that she likes him too — as a friend. Do-hwa tells her that that’s what the Writer wants, but that he chooses to like her. Joo-da looks confused and mutters that this doesn’t feel right, but Do-hwa urges her to think about how she feels, and he asks her, “Please, remember this moment.”
The Stage starts again as Nam-ju finds them. He tells Joo-da not to bother going back to the party because it’s over. Joo-da falls trying to follow him and Do-hwa runs to her, but she’s in character, staring after Nam-ju and crying.
Back at the house, Nam-ju’s mother slaps him for being so disrespectful in front of her friends. She says that his father would be furious if he’d been there, but Nam-ju accuses her of using his party for her own fame. Dan-oh and Haru watch from a distance, worried that they’ve changed too much.
At the school, Haru goes looking for Mi-chae, who’s in the kitchen reading about the party in Secret. Haru confesses that the pain was worse after he changed the Stage tonight, and he says that he’s helping Dan-oh because she knew his name even when he didn’t. He shows Mi-chae his sketches of Dan-oh and asks why the red flowers always appear when he sees her, and why both seem familiar to him.
He says that he thinks Dan-oh has the answers to where he’s from and why he feels this way. But Mi-chae says Dan-oh doesn’t have any answers — they’re just extras in a manhwa, there there are no answers or hidden meanings.
He adds that the Writer will eliminate any extras who interfere with the story. This causes Haru to worry about Dan-oh, but Mi-chae explains that with a name and a role, Dan-oh is on a higher level than him. If an extra is to be eliminated, it will be Haru.
In the morning, a Stage ~BLIPS~ into action before Dan-oh can talk to Haru. Everyone is talking about Kyung’s declaration at the party last night, and Dan-oh preens in-character as she’s surrounded by girls wanting to know all the details. Haru watches them, thinking about how Mi-chae said she’s more important to the story than he is.
His melancholy mood deepens when Sae-mi acts like she’s meeting him for the first time again in the Shadow, then Soo-cheol plays the video of Kyung’s confession at the party. Haru walks away, leaving Dan-oh confused, but she’s still happy that the three of them were able to change the Stage.
Nam-ju acts cold to Joo-da, and Do-hwa notices that Joo-da is bothered by it. He admits to Dan-oh that he feels bad for them both, and that he thought he’d feel better after confessing to Joo-da. Dan-oh tells Do-hwa that Haru is acting weird and wonders if the story change shocked him.
At recess, Haru watches Dan-oh from a distance as she tries to get away from her nosy classmates. He doesn’t hear the other guys calling out to him, so Kyung goes over to invite Haru to play soccer with them. He asks Haru why he’s alone instead of with friends, but Haru just snaps back that Kyung isn’t always with A3.
Kyung tells Haru that he’s closer with his fiancee than with A3. He tells Haru, that he’s actually just toying with Dan-oh, and Haru grabs him angrily. He asks if Kyung means that, and when Kyung says that Dan-oh would die for him if he was just a bit nicer to her, Haru draws back a fist. Kyung flings him off and asks who he is, but Haru growls that he wouldn’t know if he told him.
In class again, Haru is still avoiding Dan-oh’s eyes. She’s attacked by Kyung’s two biggest admirers who scream that she faked her illness to get Kyung’s sympathy, and they laugh when her heart monitor goes off and she grabs her chest in pain. One of them goes to hit her, but Haru is there to stop her and ask Dan-oh if she’s okay.
Witnessing this, Kyung pulls Dan-oh by the wrist to take her to the nurse’s office. But again, Haru makes Kyung let go, and he pulls her into the hallway. When they’re alone, Haru flutters all over Dan-oh, checking her temperature and holding her hand (and I love how far he has to lean down to get eye-to-eye with her).
It makes her heart monitor go off for a different reason, so she goes outside for some fresh air. She’s looking at her picture of herself with Haru when he joins her, and he asks if he can keep the picture. Dan-oh asks why he’s been ignoring her, so Haru says he was thinking about something. She assumes he means the changes they made to the story and her excitement makes Haru smile. He says he wants to follow his heart, too, no matter what it costs him.
That night, Haru goes to see Mi-chae again. Mi-chae assumes that Haru has been sufficiently scared away, but Haru says that he can’t stay away from Dan-oh. He says he doesn’t want to be just an extra, to be changed or eliminated at the whims of the Writer, and that he wants to be in charge of his own fate and to make his own answers with Dan-oh.
Mi-chae doesn’t comment, but after Haru leaves, we see that Mi-chae was reading the Flower manhwa again. In it, a male character is shown saying Haru’s exact words: “If there’s no answer as to how I came to this world, I will make my own answer.”
When Dan-oh gets home, she avoids her dad’s questions about Kyung and runs upstairs to look up the video, and she sees all the negative comments calling her desperate and a stalker. She gets upset that her character set-up hasn’t changed, so she starts to leave a positive comment, but she gets distracted looking at Haru in the video and her heart monitor goes off again, hee.
Nam-ju still isn’t speaking to his mother, who spots Joo-da as she’s dropping him off at school. She calls someone to ask for information on a student.
Joo-da approaches Nam-ju to talk about what happened at the party. He interrupts her and returns her keychain, then absolves her of running errands for him anymore.
On her way to class, someone tugs on Dan-oh’s backpack, and she whirls around to find herself inches from Haru’s grin. Her heart monitor goes nuts, so she stammers that it’s broken, and Haru gets all worried. Dan-oh swears she’s fine, so Haru smiles again (OMG he’s gotta stop that) and heads to class, carrying her backpack.
In A3’s hideout, Do-hwa tells Kyung that he envies the fact that he’s not self-aware, because it would be less painful. He gets up to leave when Nam-ju enters, and Nam-ju asks angrily if he’s going to see Joo-da. Do-hwa says he’s not, but Nam-ju tells him he can have her, because he doesn’t need her anymore. Do-hwa says that Joo-da isn’t a possession, and Nam-ju sneers that he thought they were just friends. Do-hwa punches him for speaking that way about Joo-da, and when Nam-ju asks what his problem is, Do-hwa yells, “Because I like Joo-da!”
~BLIP~ and a stage starts, with Nam-ju gripping Do-hwa’s shirt and growling that he said he and Joo-da are just friends. Do-hwa wants to tell him that he likes her, but he can’t speak as Nam-ju punches him, saying that he’s holding back because they’re friends.
Dan-oh tells Sae-mi that “a friend’s” heart races every time she thinks of a certain guy. She asks if that means her “friend” likes him, and Sae-mi assumes Dan-oh is talking about Kyung. He’s walking their way, and Sae-mi parodies his public declaration until Dan-oh freaks out and runs away.
She hides in the infirmary, but Kyung follows her, so she pretends to be asleep. Instead of leaving, he sits on the bed and asks why he keeps worrying about her, which she finds strange since they aren’t in a Stage. He leaves, muttering, “No way… me, with someone like her?”
Nam-ju announces to the class that as of now, Do-hwa is no longer a member of A3. He looks for a new third member and lands on Haru, but before Haru gives an answer, Joo-da tells Nam-ju that they need to talk.
On the roof, Joo-da says that if Nam-ju and Do-hwa fought because of her, then it’s a misunderstanding because she and Do-hwa are just friends. Nam-ju tells her not to get ahead of herself just because he associated with her a few times, and he guesses that she must like Do-hwa or she wouldn’t care if he’s kicked out of A3. She says that’s not true, but Nam-ju isn’t interested and walks away.
OffStage, Kyung tells Do-hwa to talk to Nam-ju, but Do-hwa says that Nam-ju won’t remember it and will just say the same lines over again. He says the same goes for Joo-da, but he likes her anyway. Dan-oh and Haru find him later in the music room, and he says it’s scary that they live in a world where a rom-com can turn into a horror story on the whim of the Writer.
Haru wanders over to the piano while Dan-oh and Do-hwa are talking. Dan-oh notices Do-hwa’s split lip and leans in for a closer look, and Haru slams the piano keys, hee. He covers his jealous fit and says that when one thing changes, others change too, and Do-hwa says it’s not knowing what will change that worries him.
He says that the one constant is his feelings for Joo-da, and he vows to keep liking her even if it’s from the Shadow. Dan-oh cheers with him and Haru bangs the keyboard again, making them wonder what’s up with him.
The students get test results, and Haru’s perfect score draws the admiration of the other kids. Between his test score and Nam-ju’s interrupted invitation for Haru to join A3, he’s definitely on the students’ radars now, and the name “Haru” starts to show faintly on his nametag.
In music class, the students mess around with reed flutes, mostly just making a lot of noise. Haru tries his and the whole class stares when he produces a perfect, lovely melody. The music teacher is enraptured and asks Haru’s name, and his nametag darkens a bit.
Later in art class, he blows the teacher’s socks off with his Joseon-era-style painting. Haru and Dan-oh are shocked when Sae-mi calls Haru by name, which is the first time she’s remembered him. Then the teacher also calls him by name, and Dan-oh points to his nametag — his name is there, perfectly clear.
PFFT, Haru gets super fidgety when Dan-oh gets close to check out his nametag. She wonders if this is the Writer’s handiwork or if they did it, then she actually touches him and he nearly spontaneously combusts. He holds up his hand to mop his forehead, and Dan-oh sees his scar for the first time. He says he’s always had it and it sometimes changes with the Stage.
They’re suddenly mobbed by girls, shrieking Haru’s name and offering him snacks. Oh nooo, lol. One girl asks his number, and he says that Do-hwa has given him two phones but they always disappear when the next Stage ends. The word “Stage” confuses the girls, but Dan-oh says it’s no use explaining and shoos them away.
Elsewhere, Do-hwa plays a song for Joo-da on his violin. She asks what it’s called, and he tells her it’s “Pleasure of Love,” representing his feelings for her. She says the exact words she said the last time he confessed about liking him too because they’re friends, and Do-hwa says them with her with a wistful little smile. Awww, he’s breaking my heart!
Haru and Dan-oh are bringing Do-hwa some snacks, and when they see that he’s with Joo-da, Dan-oh flails so hard she makes Haru drop the food, LOL. They wave awkwardly and Do-hwa motions to them to come save him, and when they’re alone, Do-hwa admits that he’s confessed and been friend-zoned seven times just today. Ouch.
Haru asks why when Joo-da won’t remember anyway, and Do-hwa grins that he has to because she’s just so beautiful. Dan-oh pretends to barf, but she’s hit by a sudden storyboard vision — this time it’s Kyung inviting her on a movie date, and while she’s waiting for him at the theater, he calls her.
She’s happy in the vision, which means she’s in character, but when it ends, she wonders why Kyung keeps pursuing her. Do-hwa starts to suggest that she accept Kyung’s feelings, but he notices that Haru appears to be trying to kill him with his brain so he wisely shuts up.
Dan-oh goes to see Mi-chae, who pouts that she told him to leave her alone. She gives him a really nice tea set as an apology for being rude to him, but he’s not so enthralled that he doesn’t hear her say that people are starting to remember Haru. Horrified, Mi-chae checks the character page of Secret, and he’s reassured that Haru doesn’t show up on the page. Dan-oh flips through the book to prove that Haru was named on the Stage. Oooh, that’s not good.
She finds herself onStage and sees Kyung nearby holding a red envelope like the one from her storyboard vision. She has to endure the scene, accepting a movie ticket and date invitation from him like she’s thrilled. Awww, Haru is there, and he’s forced to watch as Kyung promises that Dan-oh will never want to break off their engagement again.
Finally the Stage ends, and Dan-oh flips from simpering adoration to annoyance. She says she’ll go on the date, but only because it’s part of the Stage, then skips off to join Haru.
Kyung has another Stage after school where his father comes home early and praises him for his successful wooing of Dan-oh. Dad is so happy about Kyung’s date with Dan-oh that he gives Kyung all the money in his wallet so he can really impress Dan-oh.
Kyung’s stepbrother, Joon-hyun, was at the party and saw Kyung’s public confession. He asks Kyung if he really meant it, saying that he likes Dan-oh (it’s not clear if he means that romantically). Kyung grumbles that Joon-hyun’s mother won’t like that, and when Joon-hyun says that Dan-oh might be part of their family someday, Kyung objects to the word “family” and tells him to mind his business.
Sae-mi helps Dan-oh get ready for her date, and she tells her to make sure to brush Kyung’s hand as often as possible when reaching for popcorn. Dan-oh waits for Kyung at the theater, but LOL, she’s startled by her own reflection because Sae-mi put so much makeup on her.
On the way to his date, Kyung’s dad tells him to set up a meeting with Dan-oh’s father for him. He complains that Dan-oh’s father is only cooperative when Dan-oh is happy, and he asks Kyung if he’s certain she likes him. Kyung says he is, so his dad tells him to go ahead and move forward with a wedding.
Kyung says he can’t marry Dan-oh, reminding his father that he promised Kyung could quit pretending to like her once his business was concluded. He asks how long he’ll be exploited, and his father gets so angry that he kicks Kyung out of the car.
Kyung calls Dan-oh and tells her harshly that he’s not coming to the movie. She cries until the Stage ends, then she’s just mad, ha. She’s about to head home when she finds herself looking up (and up, and UP) at Haru, who says happily, “I found you.”
They see the movie together, and Haru explains that he came because Kyung was acting weird. He flusters Dan-oh throughout the movie, getting all up in her personal space with his broad shoulders, leaning in to comment on the film being upside-down because they’re in the Shadow, and touching hands in the popcorn bowl. Poor Dan-oh stops breathing when he reaches across her for the drink, bringing his face within inches of hers, but Haru doesn’t even seem to notice.
After the movie, Kyung runs into the theater lobby, and he has the nerve to be angry that Dan-oh didn’t wait for him. Dan-oh points out that he stood her up, but he yells that it doesn’t matter, because he’s her fiance. Haru tells Kyung not to speak with Dan-oh that way, because whether or not she’s Kyung’s fiancee, “She’s also my friend.” He takes Dan-oh’s hand and leads her out, leaving Kyung fuming.
Later, Dan-oh gets all giggly thinking about being so close to Haru during the movie. But she wonders why Kyung came back, since her storyboard vision clearly showed him standing her up.
The next day at school, Haru looks at the picture he took from Dan-oh and oh no, he’s fading out of the background. Kyung grabs the picture, and he grins this hateful grin and reminds Haru that Dan-oh is his fiancee.
Dan-oh has to sit out of swimming aerobics because of her heart condition, and she waves at Haru across the pool until the Stage ~BLIPS~ and she wilts sadly. Kyung sees her shivering and drapes his towel around her, and she tells him that she came to see him swim. He says to keep the towel on, but Dan-oh jumps up as soon as the Stage ends and trots over to talk to Haru.
Kyung goes over and violently kicks water at them, because he has the emotional maturity of a toddler. Haru tries to quietly lead Dan-oh away, but Kyung tells him to leave so he can hang out with his fiancee. He shoves Haru, but when he tries to shove him a second time, Haru uses his momentum to sling him into the pool.
Another Stage begins with the students deciding to race to see who buys ice cream. Nam-ju volunteers to swim for his class so Do-hwa steps up to race him, and they both notice that Joo-da shoots Do-hwa a cute little “Fighting!”
While the guys are racing, Dan-oh notices that Haru’s nametag is blank again. The fire alarm goes off and the rest of the students evacuate, and in the confusion, Dan-oh is pushed into the pool. Haru dives in after her, and he can hear her heart monitor going off as she sinks.
He reaches her and starts pushing her towards the surface of the water. As he swims, Dan-oh’s picture falls out of his pocket, unnoticed. When Dan-oh wakes up in the hospital later, her first thought is for Haru.
Kyung sits by her bed, gasping for air as he remembers his own mother dying in a hospital bed when he was just a child. Dan-oh pretends to be asleep, and thinking that she can’t hear him, Kyung says that everyone ends up leaving him. He wonders what will happen to himself and Dan-oh.
The next time he steps out of the room, Dan-oh sneaks out and goes back to the school. Another student is sitting in Haru’s desk, claiming that it’s always been his seat. Dan-oh checks the yearbook and sees the other student where Haru’s picture used to be. Oh no…
She runs to the pool, where she finds Haru’s sketchbook floating in the water. She fishes it out, along with the picture of herself and Haru that he took… only now, it’s only Dan-oh in the photo. She goes to Mi-chae, who says coldly that everything has gone back to its proper place. Dan-oh rushes to the library, and Mi-chae sighs, “At this rate, the next one will be…”
Dan-oh looks for Secret on its shelf but it’s not there. Nearby, Kyung is reading Secret, and when Dan-oh shows up, he asks if it’s what she’s looking for. He tosses the book to the floor at her feet, and she stares up at him in shock.
NO. I refuse to believe that Haru is gone. I reject the idea that he can just be erased like that. Obviously something happened in the past — a previous manhwa, it looks like — that caused Haru to gain a scar, lose his name and face, and be relegated to an extra with no memory. But there’s no way that what he’s done in Secret is worse than that… unless the Writer has decided that he’s just too problematic in general and got rid of him on that principle.
For that matter, let’s talk about this mysterious Writer. I’ve been assuming that the manhwa world exists within the “real” human world, and that the Writer is a thinking, rational, self-aware human being like we are… but we don’t really know if that’s true. What if, in Extraordinary You‘s universe, the manhwa world is as “real” as it gets and the Writer is more like the law of physics… it exists and has parameters that can be measured, but there’s no intelligent being behind it. What if the Writer is not so much a person, but more like a force of nature? In that case, there would be no way to reason with or placate this Writer, and if that’s the case, our characters are well and truly screwed.
I have some real reservations about Kyung, and I’m having trouble reconciling them with my personal love for Lee Jae-wook (who’s playing him so well!). I just hate Kyung so much. I don’t even “love to hate” him, I just hate him. I know he’s stuck in an untenable position with his abusive father, but that doesn’t excuse the truly horrible way he treats Dan-oh. There are only two things keeping me from writing Kyung off entirely: first, that Dan-oh doesn’t actually like him, so he’s not really hurting her feelings when he’s so cruel to her. And second, that I’m positive he’s slowly but surely becoming self-aware, and I have hope that his true personality isn’t as awful as his character’s.
Speaking of confusing characters, I really don’t know what to think about Mi-chae. He’s been so helpful in explaining how the manhwa world works to Dan-oh and Do-hwa, and he does seem to genuinely like them when they’re not actively causing trouble. But as much information as he’s given them, he’s obviously withholding a lot more. And when it comes to Haru he’s downright aggressive, even scary. For some reason though, I feel like Mi-chae isn’t trying to stop the self-aware characters from being happy or stifle their freedoms. My theory is that he was also a character in Flower, and that he witnessed whatever happened that scarred Haru and caused him and Dan-oh to be separated, and that he’s just trying to keep them from being hurt/punished again. But I still have so many questions, such as why he is the only one who appears to remember previous manhwas.
I’m probably stating the obvious, but I definitely think that Flower was a sageuk manhwa, and that Dan-oh and Haru were characters in that manhwa. Haru can draw, paint, and play instruments in styles that were popular during the Joseon era. And when the class visited the old Joseon-era site, Haru made sudden, rapid progress from a voiceless blank slate to having an actual personality. He seemed to recognize more than one location, including the old homes and the waterfall spring nearby (not to mention the flowered hair ornament), and he asked Dan-oh a couple of times if she found those places familiar. He even gave her a weird look when she joked that she used to be a princess. Plus, Haru is drawn to Dan-oh and feels sure that she holds the answers to his past. We know he doesn’t consciously remember anything — it all seems instinctive at this point — but I’m pretty certain that he and Dan-oh will eventually learn that they were the leads in Flower.
The scary part is that I don’t think it started there. The fact that the Flower character that seems so much like Haru says the exact same thing Haru says about wanting to know where he came from could indicate that before Flower, there was another manhwa, and maybe even one before that — who knows how far back it goes. Secret might just be the latest in a long string of manhwas that these characters have been recycled into. It’s possible that their self-awareness springs from the fact that they’ve been in so many stories together that they can now recognize each other in new stories, but the side effect to that is destructive to both them and their current story. Whatever it is, I love how rich and full of detail the world of Extraordinary You is, and I can’t wait to learn the truth.
- Premiere Watch: Tale of Nokdu, Extraordinary You, My Country: The New Age
- Kim Hye-yoon rebels against her storyline in Extraordinary You
- Kim Hye-yoon pieces the truth together in new promo for Extraordinary You
- Character stills from A Day Found by Chance
- First stills for fantasy youth romance Day Found by Chance
- Fresh-faced cast assembles for youth drama A Day Found by Chance
- Lee Tae-ri, Kim Ji-in head to high school with Kim Hye-yoon for new MBC drama