Chocolate: Episode 11
Despite our hero’s growing feelings, he’s been pushing the woman he likes further and further away, while our second lead has been pulling her closer. This unlikely friendship has been sparking changes in our second lead, changes that, perhaps, were already waiting to happen. If we’re lucky, one revelation could help guide him to the good side, where he truly belongs.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Kang hurries over to Director Kwon’s office, having heard that his uncle Seung-hoon is there. He finds the two arguing as Kwon pricks Seung-hoon’s finger to relieve his indigestion. Once Kwon heads out — tired of Seung-hoon’s whining — Seung-hoon looks up at Kang (who’s hiding a smile).
“Who do you take after?” Seung-hoon asks him. Does he take after his father, who didn’t care for power, or his mother? Seung-hoon keeps getting this feeling that Kang isn’t his real nephew, but the paternity tests Grandma had done years ago say otherwise. Ignoring the question, Kang leaves as well.
Up on the roof, Joon’s concern for Cha-young is distracting him from work. He snaps out of it when his dad comes from out of nowhere and kicks him in the shin. Seung-hoon can’t stand the sight of Joon doing laundry when he should be doing surgery.
But the real reason Seung-hoon is upset is because of what Grandma told him. He reveals that Grandma wants Joon to take over the silver town once it’s developed. Meaning, he shouts, that Joon will be stuck with the silver town while Kang gets Geosung.
At Geosung, Joon’s mom Hye-mi is fuming as Seo-hoon rambles on about Kang being Grandma’s new favorite. Seo-hoon suggests Hye-mi just sweet talk Kang into giving her what she wants, since he’s kind-hearted, and Hye-mi answers, “Do you think I’m a beggar?”
While eating lunch, Min-yong offers Kang his sandwich to make him happier. Kang asks if he looks unhappy, and like Ji-yong did before, Min-yong says, “Yes, a little.” Min-yong then tells him he got in big trouble for revealing Nurse Na-ra’s crush, making Kang’s eyes go wide.
Kang has a total oh, crap moment as he realizes that he misunderstood Na-ra’s crush as Cha-young’s. He thinks back to his big speech to Cha-young, about being Min-sung’s friend, and groans with embarrassment.
After lunch, Kang sneaks over to the kitchen and peeks through the door. He sees a smiling Cha-young guide Michael’s adoptive mom Susan in cooking seaweed soup.
Young-shil joins him at the door, making him jump, and he lies that he’s just checking in since the patient in room 303 has food allergies. Young-shil reminds him that that patient passed away a few days ago, and he’s embarrassed yet again.
Kang walks away, bumping into none other than Na-ra. He sighs at the sight of her and keeps walking, haha. Young-shil goes into the kitchen and, seeing the seaweed soup, asks if it’s Michael’s birthday.
Susan just smiles and says that the soup is for someone else. Cha-young’s smile, however, falters as she looks at the food. She asks Young-shil to taste test it, having no answer when Young-shil asks why.
As Seon-ae walks over to the hospice, she struggles to figure out what it is she’s forgetting. Ye-sol sees her and runs over crying, saying she left her all alone at her grandfather’s restaurant.
Ye-sol says that she waited and waited because Seon-ae promised to do all the talking. Her grandfather completely ignored her, and she was so scared that she couldn’t give him the wedding invitation she made. She stalks off, leaving Seon-ae in a daze. “What do I do?” she says to herself. “I don’t remember any of that.”
In the kitchen, Cha-young tries to smell and taste various sauces and seasonings — but still, nothing. Seon-ae then bursts in, talking on the phone about her replacement; she asks that the new chef come in earlier than planned. Once she hangs up, she encourages Cha-young to quit too, saying she’s too talented a chef to stay.
We then cut to Young-shil and Susan trudge up a hilly neighborhood carrying food containers and flowers. They stop to take a rest, when some random guy with a guitar case passes by.
Romantic music swells as Young-shil and the man turn and stare, clearly recognizing each other. But before Young-shil can say anything, the man freaks and runs away, arms flailing. O…kay, weird.
Young-shil and Susan get to walking again, eventually arriving to their destination — Michael’s mother’s house. They smile at her and explain that they brought food because they heard she was sick. Though Mom isn’t all that pleased to see them, she lets them set up all the food on a table outside.
Susan tells Mom (with Young-shil translating) that she read Michael’s adoption papers and that she understands it was a difficult time for Mom. Susan figured that after Mom gave birth to the twins, Mom wasn’t able to fulfill the Korean tradition of eating seaweed soup.
Susan also thanks Mom for giving birth to Michael, and Mom scoffs that she shouldn’t feel grateful. Mom continues that the boys’ father ran off after she got pregnant, and she only had the boys because she had no choice. Smiling awkwardly, Young-shil sugarcoats her translations to Susan.
Both moms tear up, and Susan embraces Mom. But Mom pulls away and cries that they shouldn’t be acting friendly considering she abandoned her own son. “You should grab my hair and yell at me,” she says. “Why make seaweed soup for me? I don’t deserve it!”
As Mom cries, Michael’s twin comes sauntering in and asks what they’re doing. He scowls at the food, saying Susan should just leave them the money meant for Michael — he’s going to die anyway. At that, Mom starts smacking him and crying that they have no right to ask for anything.
Back at the hospice, Michael tells Kang that he once went to a Korean restaurant in LA with Susan. At that restaurant, they had a dish that Michael says “was sujebi but not exactly sujebi.” Since Susan really loved that dish, Michael hopes to see her enjoy it one last time before he passes. Aww.
That night, as Joon gets into his car, he gets a text from his mom saying she’ll make sure he gets Geosung. Before he can call her, he sees Kang rushing to his car (after Grandma called him over for dinner). The two lock eyes for a tense moment, and then Kang drives off.
Just as he’s about to take off too, Joon sees a disheartened Cha-young walk out of the hospice. He remembers her saying that she wouldn’t let her condition break her, but looking at her now, he seems doubtful. He follows her as she wanders off to a nearby market filled with all kinds of street food.
Even in that environment, Cha-young is unable to smell anything. So she heads into a restaurant and asks for several dishes. Joon watches from afar as she stuffs her face until she nearly chokes. When Cha-young heads into a chocolate shop next, Joon finally makes his presence known. He admits that he was following her, saying, “Because I was worried.”
They sit down with some sweet treats, and Cha-young mentions that even now, she’d still know the taste of chocolate. She reveals that she’d been trapped after a department store collapsed and that the woman trapped with her had given her chocolate. Thanks to that chocolate, she was able to hold out and come out alive. And then it clicks for Joon; he leans forward and asks what happened to the woman.
When Cha-young says that the woman died, Joon flashes back to that day. Kang’s mom had told the young Joon to relay to Kang that she’d be going out to buy chocolate for him. And that after that, they’d be returning to Wando Island. Oh man…
Meanwhile, Grandma and Kang have dinner alone, eating Kang’s dad’s favorite dish. Hye-mi comes over and eavesdrops just as Kang tells Grandma, “I’d like it if you didn’t shut down the hospice.” Grandma is clearly peeved, but she pretends she didn’t hear him. She just places food on his spoon and tells him to eat.
Afterwards, Kang comes out to the driveway at the same time that Joon pulls in. At first, Joon asks what he’s doing there in that petty tone of his, only to pull back and gently ask if his mom would be proud of him right now. After all, Joon reveals, his mom wanted to buy chocolate for him and take him back to Wando Island.
With that, Joon passes Kang and heads inside. We see the rest of his memory from that day, with Kang’s mom asking Joon not to hate her son so much. After all, she said, Kang hated competing with Joon. She then apologized for all the adults giving them a hard time, taking his hand lovingly. Outside, Kang sits in his car, letting this new information sink in. He lets out a sigh before driving off.
Joon stops just outside the living room, hearing his mom talking to Grandma. Hye-mi has this sly smile on her face, saying she knew Grandma had already picked Kang as Geosung’s successor the day she dragged him from the island. And the only reason Grandma didn’t outright say it was because she wanted Joon to be the pacemaker that provoked Kang.
On top of that, Hye-mi knows that Seung-hoon isn’t actually Grandma’s husband’s son. (WHAT.) Grandma starts hyperventilating, but Hye-mi continues, “Father-in-law didn’t die because he was shocked by his siblings’ betrayal. It was because he was shocked and betrayed by the fact that his eldest son wasn’t actually his.”
Grandma clutches her chest, as does Joon, who’s so shocked he looks like he might pass out. Hye-mi then gets to her point, getting on her knees and reassuring Grandma that she will keep all of this a secret as long as she makes Joon the successor. Grandma tries to stand but collapses back on the couch, unconscious.
Kang returns to the hospice for some late night work and finds Cha-young there waiting for him. She gives him a sad smile and says that she waited for him because she wanted to say goodbye. The chefs’ replacement will be coming tomorrow, she explains, and both she and Seon-ae will be quitting.
Kang’s surprise is taken over by hurt, especially when Cha-young wishes him good health. Desperate, he stops her from walking away and asks, “What do you call sujebi that isn’t exactly sujebi?” Cha-young blinks as Kang tells her Michael’s story. Hesitant, she lists three different dishes that it could be, and he asks that she make them. “One last time,” he adds, his eyes pleading.
Cha-young leads Kang over to the kitchen and gets to work on some dough. Kang offers to help out but ends up getting flour all over his pants. So Cha-young grabs an apron and puts it over his head. Tying the apron’s straps, Cha-young has to lean in awfully close. She’s more careful than necessary, which Kang seems to notice. Once he’s all set, she looks away and gets back to work, and he follows suit.
Meanwhile, Grandma is wheeled into the ER, with Joon left in the waiting room. His dad comes running in moments later demanding what happened, but all he can do is mutter that he doesn’t know. He plops down on a nearby bench and leans against the wall, emotionally exhausted.
Back in the hospice kitchen, Kang is so out of it that he bumps into a bunch of pots and scares them both. Cringing at himself, Kang asks if he can steal one of the kitchen’s soju bottles. He takes a shot and then pours another one, asking if she’s returning to Greece.
When she doesn’t answer, he sets his glass down and turns to face her. “I’m sorry,” he tells her, his head low. “I misunderstood you.” She asks what he misunderstood, and now it’s his turn to remain silent. Getting frustrated, she asks for him to leave so she can concentrate on cooking.
Kang quietly agrees and starts to head out, when he gets a phone call. The caller introduces herself as his old neighbor from Wando Island, fisherman Dong-gu’s niece. She says that she’d been going crazy trying to get Kang’s number — to tell him that Dong-gu passed away in an accident.
The niece cries that the burial is tomorrow and that Dong-gu waited so long for Kang’s return. Without another word, Kang hangs up and rushes over to the parking lot. Cha-young chases after him, concerned, and gives him the car keys he left behind. Before he gets into his car, she reminds him that he just drank alcohol.
He numbly says that he has to get to Wando Island by tomorrow for a burial, and she notes that all public transportation will be done for tonight. Making up her mind, she gets in the driver’s seat and says that if they go now, they can make it in six hours. She urges him to climb in, but he stays where he is, eyes locked on her.
And the hits just keep on comin’. I can’t say it’s not needed, though. I’ve enjoyed the past few episodes — the slow burn romance and the poignant patient stories — but it’s crunch time. We’re over halfway done with the series and our heroes are still afraid to move forward. My heart breaks for Cha-young, Kang, and Joon (hell, everybody) and their respective issues, and I can tell that despite those issues, they are concerned for each other. Whether they want to admit it or not. Now, with tragedy striking yet again, they’ll have no choice but to come together somehow and deal with it. I’m sure that all three are tired of having solo pity parties.
Kang, especially, has to be tired of pushing Cha-young away when that’s the last thing that he wants. His realization of the whole Na-ra misunderstanding was pretty funny, but it was also a much needed wakeup call. He’s always acting like he knows everything and that he’s the one who has to set everyone else straight. He’s constantly doing this with Cha-young, yet he still hangs onto her like a puppy. I felt so bad for him when she was trying to say goodbye, because I could see that he just wanted to keep her there as long as possible. If he wants to keep that up, if he really wants to be with her, he’s gonna have to learn how to own up to his mistakes.
Because of Seung-hoon’s comments about his brother at the beginning of the episode, I thought that was foreshadowing to them actually being true. But having that trope thrown at Seung-hoon himself was an interesting twist. I still think that Grandma is the absolute worst, but this big family secret helps me understand so much about her and about a lot that’s happened so far. She didn’t recruit Kang for fair competition; she recruited him to, essentially, set things right. At least in her mind. I find it even more hypocritical that she was so harsh on Kang and his parents when she was hiding something this big. I’m guessing she’s carrying shame on top of some serious denial.
I don’t know how Joon is going to respond to this. He’s been changing, sure, but this is a big blow to his side of the family. So he could fall back, right into the petty trap that is his parents, or he could embrace the maturity he’s been nurturing all this time. Besides that one scene where he and his mom pretty much stood there while Grandma collapsed (seriously?), Joon was a wonderful surprise this episode. I loved that he followed Cha-young just to make sure she was okay, and I loved that he was trying his best to be a friend. He’s especially gentle with her, but like @teriyaki, I don’t see it as romantic. She’s simply a good person who’s bringing the good out of him.
The birth secret was the big twist this episode, but it was an earlier twist that really got me in the feels. The fact that Kang’s mom had been planning to take them back to the island, only to die in that terrible accident — it’s soul crushing. I do wonder, however, why Joon kept that from Kang all these years. If he’d revealed Mom’s true wishes, he potentially could’ve gotten his competition out of the picture. So why keep it to himself? Why keep Kang there? Heck, why tell Kang now? While I don’t know the answers to these questions, one thing’s for sure: Joon is tired of the family drama. If only he’d realize that he’s the only one who can pull him out of it.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won begin a romantic journey in Greece for JTBC’s Chocolate
- First teaser for JTBC’s Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Jang Seung-jo confirms JTBC drama Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang up for JTBC melo Chocolate