Eighteen Again: Episode 8
Get your hankies ready, guys, because this one is a tearjerker many times over. Secrets can’t be kept forever, and our newly-youthful dad is beginning to feel tired of keeping his. He’s accomplishing a lot as he tries to be a better father and husband than before, but when faced with his reality as a son, he realizes that he has a lot to make up for in that area as well.
EPISODE 8: “The story only I didn’t know”
Da-jung tries to record Il-kwon taking money in exchange for letting her son play basketball, but he catches her in the act. He tells her a secret regarding Dae-young, and by the time Dae-young shows up, having heard what Da-jung was planning, she’s crying and heartbroken.
Da-jung runs out and Dae-young asks Il-kwon what they were talking about, but Il-kwon says that it’s none of his business. Dae-young follows Da-jung out to ask her, but she gets a call from Ae-rin and tells Dae-young to go. Still shaken, she tells Ae-rin that she’ll talk to her later and heads to a bar to drink.
Il-kwon did tell Da-jung a huge secret about Dae-young, but it’s about something that happened in 2009, when their children were still young. Il-kwon had been at the tryouts for the KBU basketball league and had recognized Dae-young as one of the hopefuls. Unfortunately, because he no longer had time to train, Dae-young hadn’t been able to keep up with the younger players.
Even though he didn’t make the team, Dae-young had shown up at practice daily to clean up, then use the court to practice. Then one night he’d run out after getting a call that Shi-woo was in the hospital, and had learned that his small son had asthma.
The team’s coach had been so impressed with Dae-young’s tenacity that he’d sent Il-kwon to invite Dae-young to participate in their practices. It was a chance to finally play professional basketball, but Dae-young had turned down the offer, because he needed to work as much as possible to pay for Shi-woo’s treatment. Il-kwon had been incredulous that Dae-young would give up his dream for a kid, but for Dae-young, there wasn’t any question of what he would choose.
So when Da-jung was crying, it was from the knowledge that Dae-young didn’t give up his dream for his family once, but twice. To make things worse, Il-kwon had pressed on her the idea that if Shi-woo also failed to play basketball, it would be because of money, just like his father.
Da-jung realizes that that’s about the time when Dae-young had started drinking, but she’d just assumed he’d changed for the worse. She remembers how she would berate Dae-young every time he drank, but now she feels guilty that she never asked him if he was having a hard time. Dae-young follows her home to make sure she makes it okay, keeping a respectful distance.
The following day, Ji-hoon holds a press conference to talk about his situation and his daughter. He reveals that he’s actually Seo-yeon’s uncle and that he adopted her two years ago when his brother died. The reporter who broke the story asks if he’s planning to retire, but Ji-hoon says that he wants to show his daughter that he takes responsibility and doesn’t quit.
He starts to leave, but the smug reporter asks if it’s true that the girl’s mother is still alive. The other reporters start asking about the mother, but Ji-hoon ignores them and ends the press conference. From her home, Seo-yeon’s mother watches on television and looks deeply worried.
After basketball practice, Il-kwon makes Dae-young and Shi-woo clean up. Dae-young sends Shi-woo home, insisting on finishing up himself. Meanwhile, Ja-sung is still outside the school when he notices his father’s car pull up, and he goes back inside to see what’s going on.
Ja-sung witnesses his father giving Il-kwon more money to put him in the starting lineup for the upcoming playoff preliminary game. He confronts his father in the hallway, and his father says he has to pay because Ja-sung isn’t a good enough player. Ja-sung snaps that that’s not something a father should say, so his father slaps him and says that he won’t make it to college without basketball.
Unafraid, Ja-sung tells his father not to pay Il-kwon anymore, and that he just won’t go to college. He yells that he’s embarrassed of his father, which gets him hit again, hard enough to fall to the floor. His father snarls at Ja-sung to do as he’s told or he’ll be kicked out like his mother, and Il-kwon, who’s been watching, turns and walks away.
But Dae-young is also watching, and when Ja-sung picks up a baseball bat to attack his father, he roars Ja-sung’s name and stops him. A while later, Dae-young and Ja-sung sit together outside. Ja-sung complains that Dae-young and Shi-woo always show up at times like this, and Dae-young figures out that Ja-sung must have been bullying Shi-woo because he witnessed something like what happened tonight.
He hands Ja-sung a beer, showing up as his older self as he takes on a fatherly demeanor. He tells Ja-sung that his father hit him a few times, too, after his mother passed away. He says that Ja-sung did nothing wrong so he shouldn’t do something he’ll regret, and he promises to keep what he saw to himself.
Still feeling defensive, Ja-sung accuses Dae-young of pitying him. Dae-young just tells Ja-sung that he’s a good enough player on his own, but his father just fell in with the wrong people. Thinking of his own father’s rejection, Dae-young says that turning your back on someone, even someone you hate, can bring more pain than you think.
Ja-sung sits thoughtfully, then takes a drink of his beer. He immediately topples over, passed out cold (that is so adorable OMG), and HAHA, Dae-young grumbles that it’s non-alcoholic beer. Unsure what else to do, Dae-young piggybacks Ja-sung to Duk-jin’s house and flops him down on his bed to sleep.
Ji-hoon checks his phone after a long day of practice, and he rolls his eyes to see that all the people who were criticizing him yesterday are now sending supportive messages. One of his buddies sends a picture of a group at a restaurant and asks him to show up, but what makes him go is that he can see Da-jung in the restaurant in the background.
She’s there with Ae-rin, discussing how to get evidence against Il-kwon when she doesn’t have a recording of him. Ae-rin says they need a parent who paid Il-kwon to come forward as a witness, but they both know that’s pretty unlikely.
Ae-rin gets a call from an ex-boyfriend (cameo by Heo Jung-min). He’s seen her at the restaurant and motions her outside. Annoyed, Ae-rin refuses to go anywhere with him, but when he asks her to get in his car just to talk, he drives away with her. He takes her to a hotel saying that it’s where their love story began, then wails dramatically, “you’re my first love!” LOL, this is soooo awkward.
Ae-rin gets out of the car, but her ex follows her and hangs onto her arm, declaring her daintier than Kim Haneul (pfft), prettier than Kim Tae-hee, and cuter than Suzy. He yells at her to take responsibility for his feelings, but suddenly a voice calls out, “Let go of her, she said no!”
Coincidentally, Duk-jin is at the same hotel for a meeting, wearing the best/worst suit I’ve ever seen in my life. He comes to Ae-rin’s rescue, and he interprets her “don’t you dare” glare as a cry for help, so he announces that he’s her boyfriend. Ae-rin is forced to go along with it, pronouncing Duk-jin the sexiest man alive, and her ex drives away laughing.
After thanking Duk-jin for his help, Ae-rin leaves in a taxi. Duk-jin spots Il-kwon in the hotel lobby with a young woman, and because he still thinks Il-kwon and Teacher Ok are dating, he winds, up, runs over, and clocks Il-kwon.
While all this is going on, Ji-hoon arrives at the restaurant and walks right past his friends to sit with Da-jung. He asks why she’s alone and she explains that her friend hasn’t returned. Ae-rin calls Da-jung to say that she’s tired and going home, so Ji-hoon walks Da-jung out. He offers her a ride home, which she predictably declines because his friends are waiting for him.
Ji-hoon accepts her decision, but he says gently that she doesn’t always have to think so much. Da-jung says she’s going through something complicated, but that talking to him has helped clear her mind. Ji-hoon reminds her that he’s her first fan and that he always has her back.
As Da-jung is walking away, a man on a scooter rides too close, and Ji-hoon sweeps her aside and into his arms. He lets go and says again (with the sweetest smile) that he has her back.
Il-kwon and Duk-jin end up at the police station, Il-kwon making a big deal about being punched first even though he looks untouched and Duk-jin’s face is bruised and bleeding. Duk-jin calls Teacher Ok to tell her that he punched Il-kwon, and Il-kwon practically tackles him to take his phone away (OK I hate Il-kwon, but that was funny).
They settle and leave the station, where Teacher Ok meets them outside the door. Duk-jin tattles on Il-kwon for being at a hotel with a woman, saying that her boyfriend is cheating, and Teacher Ok confusedly denies that she and Il-kwon aren’t dating. Il-kwon accuses Duk-jin of lying, but Teacher Ok says that she doesn’t so much believe Duk-jin, as disbelieve Il-kwon.
She also tells Duk-jin firmly that she’s not interested in him romantically. Il-kwon says that Teacher Ok has been leading him and Duk-jin on, and for the insult, Duk-jin punches him again. Soon they’re right back in the station, but this time Duk-jin refuses to settle.
In the morning, Ja-sung wakes up to the sound of Duk-jin yelling and leaps out of the strange bed. To him, it sounds like Duk-jin is threatening Dae-young with a beating, but in reality he’s just playing a VR game and pretending his opponent is Il-kwon. Duk-jin and Dae-young spot Ja-sung, and Dae-young tells Duk-jin that he’s a nice kid. Ja-sung sees Duk-jin’s battered face and remembers Dae-young saying his father hit him, and marvels that this meek little guy would do such a thing, hee.
The Serim High principal brings Il-kwon into a meeting of school officials, concerned about another school that was busted for illegally bribing college sports scouts. They were caught because the baseball team wasn’t doing well, since the coach only let players whose parents had paid play in the games (instead of the best players).
He’s suspicious of Il-kwon because the basketball team’s performance has been slipping, but Il-kwon maintains his innocence. He invites the school officials to observe practice this afternoon, when he’ll be choosing his starting lineup. That afternoon, Il-kwon names his best players for the starting lineup, including Ja-sung and, reluctantly, both Shi-woo and Dae-young. Awww, Dae-young is so proud of his boy!
Da-jung sends out a group text to the parents of the basketball team, asking them to meet and discuss Il-kwon’s accepting bribes for their sons to play. But nobody shows up except for Dae-young, who heard about it through Duk-jin. He says that he’s glad Da-jung is trying to make things better, even if none of the other parents care.
Da-jung is moved, but she tells Dae-young that this is something the adults should handle. Dae-young notices her rubbing her stomach and wincing, so he runs off to get her some medicine. He massages a pressure point in her hand, which reminds Da-jung of how her husband used to do the same thing when she was stressed, so she pulls her hand away.
When she gets home, her mom is there, and she can tell that something is wrong. Da-jung denies it, and Mom grumbles that she never shares how she feels. We see them together just after Da-jung found out she was pregnant, and Mom had told her that she was no longer a child and had to take responsibility for her own child now. Da-jung had tearfully apologized and cried on her mother’s shoulder.
Shi-ah comes out of her room and starts yelling at Da-jung for moving things in her room. Shi-ah turns to her grandmother for backup, but Mom barks, “Hong Shi-ah, why are you acting like that to my daughter? I won’t forgive anyone who upsets my daughter, even if that person is my granddaughter. Apologize!” Yes, go Grandma!
Taken aback, Shi-ah apologizes and shuffles back to her room. Da-jung marvels that she had a daughter just like herself, like her mom said she would. Mom says that even though she’s a mother and grandmother, when she’s with her own mother, she’s just a daughter, so Da-jung will be her daughter forever. Awww, I love them.
On his mother’s memorial day, Dae-young visits her gravesite and remembers her fondly. She was a sign language teacher, which explains why Dae-young is fluent in sign language. She she began to get sick with pancreatic cancer, she’d begged Dae-young’s father not to tell their son, but Dae-young had noticed things like his father’s increased drinking and his mother’s refusal to talk about her health.
Before a big away game, Dae-young had asked his mother if she was sick, but she’d told him to focus on the game. While he was gone, she’d undergone surgery, but something went wrong and she hadn’t survived. She was gone by the time Dae-young got home, and he had screamed angrily at his father for not telling him his mother was sick.
That had been the beginning of the relationship breakdown between Dae-young and his father. When Dae-young found out that Da-jung was pregnant, he and his dad had their biggest fight yet, and his dad had hit him. Dae-young had asked why he’s pretending to care, when he didn’t care enough to tell him Mom was sick. His father had tried to stop him from leaving, and had threatened to disown him if he walked out the door, but Dae-young had left without another word.
On his way out of the cemetery, Dae-young runs into his father. He tells the truth, that he’s visiting his mother, and Dad notes that Dae-young’s mother and his wife died on the same day. Dae-young accompanies his dad back to his mother’s grave, where Dad admits that he used to come the day after his wife’s memorial day, to give Dae-young privacy on the actual day. Awww.
Dad expresses regret that he didn’t tell his son about his mother’s illness so he could prepare for her death, and says that this year Dae-young is out of town so he’s visiting on the actual day. But there are flowers on the grave so he assumes Dae-young has already been here, because they’re the same flowers he always leaves. Dae-young says that they’re hyacinths, which represent a plea for forgiveness.
On the bus ride back to town, Dae-young muses that he didn’t want to be like his father, who was selfish. He recalls Shi-woo saying that his dad won’t be able to make it to their big game, but that he’s used to it because his dad is selfish. Dae-young admits to himself that he became his father anyway, drinking too much and nagging his kids — it was out of worry, but it had only pushed them away.
As he walks his father home, Dae-young invites him to come see him and Shi-woo play tomorrow. But just before the game, Il-kwon changes the lineup and puts Shi-woo and Dae-young on the bench. As a result, the other team gets an early lead and Shi-woo and Dae-young can do nothing but watch.
At halftime, the principal yells at Il-kwon for the team being fifteen points behind and warns that if they lose this game and get eliminated from the playoffs, he’ll be finding a new coach. Il-kwon has no choice but to let Shi-woo and Dae-young play, just as Dae-young’s dad arrives in time to catch the second half of the game.
The boys immediately turn the game around, passing the ball to each other to make basket after basket. At one point Ja-sung passes the ball to Shi-woo and guards him as he makes a difficult basket, then goes to him with a high-five and a giant grin. Oh, my heart.
From the stands, Dad watches Dae-young play and realizes that he seems very familiar. He even imagines his wife beside him, bragging that their son is the best.
At the last second, Dae-young sinks a three-pointer that pulls Serim one point ahead, winning the game and landing them in the playoffs. Shi-woo runs over to give him an excited hug, but all Dae-young can think about is how Shi-woo used to hug him when he was just a little boy, and he has to fight back tears.
Dae-young turns to see his father staring at him in shock. They both begin to sob as Dae-young says in sign language: Dad, you said you were the happiest when you watch me play. I wanted to show you again. I’m sorry that it took me so long. I’m sorry, Dad.
Dad waits for Dae-young outside the locker room, and Dae-young walks into his father’s arms. Dad says that he’s sorry, and they hold each other for a long time, crying happy tears.
Da-jung is on the phone with Shi-woo as she makes her way to the game. When she hangs up, she realizes that she’s on the bridge, in the exact spot where she and Dae-young stood when he gave up basketball for her and their child. She stands frozen as she watches her memory of that moment when Dae-young ran to her in his basketball uniform and told her that she was his future.
Still feeling raw, Da-jung finally arrives at the stadium. She looks up to see Dae-young standing in front of her, wearing the same uniform and looking exactly like he did that day, so many years ago.
Please, please let Da-jung finally figure out what’s going on, I don’t think I can take a fifth cliffhanger only for it to be something else. I’m not even really ready for her to know, because I love the trust and companionship that she and Dae-young are building, but I just can’t deal with another of these endings. It was so bittersweet when Da-jung learned that Dae-young gave up basketball not once, but twice — when he found out about Da-jung’s pregnancy, and again when Shi-woo got his asthma diagnosis. I want Da-jung to have a few more revelations about how much Dae-young truly cherished his family before she finds out that he’s still around. I do wonder if that final scene happened before the game (it seemed so) and if so, where she went during the game.
But Dae-young’s dad definitely knows now, and that makes me happy. There’s so much pain and regret between them, so I had a feeling that Dae-young was going to break and tell his dad the truth. He’s been able to hold onto his teenage persona pretty well around Da-jung and his kids, but every time he’s with his father, he seems so vulnerable and broken. And no wonder, after everything that’s happened between them over the years. They deserve a chance to heal, even if it’s under bizarre circumstances.
What this show does best, in my opinion, is make me fall completely in love with its characters. Even characters I thought were bad news at first, Ji-hoon and Ja-sung, have turned out not to be the jerks I initially judged them to be. Ja-sung really got to me in this episode — he’s shown signs that he isn’t the tough bully he portrays, but seeing his squishy underbelly in the wake of his father’s attack and Dae-young’s acceptance just hurt my heart. He’s growing up with no mother (because of his father), and a father who is abusive and cruel, so it’s no wonder Ja-sung is afraid to let anyone close. But it took such a small amount of attention from Dae-young to crack his tough guy veneer that it just proves how desperate he is to show his true self. I loved seeing them play together, how Ja-sung was smiling and enjoying himself for the first time, and even the way he shared the court and grinned at Shi-woo. He’s a good kid, and I can’t wait to see him blossom even more.
I’m really glad that we’re getting to see more of adult Dae-young than we did in the beginning, and not just because I love Yoon Sang-hyun. It’s nice to see Dae-young as his true self when he’s being particularly caring or paternal, because it reminds us of who he really is on the inside. Lee Do-hyun and Yoon Sang-hyun are doing such an amazing, loving job of playing this character together that I have no problem recognizing both of them as Dae-young, but it lends some scenes a bit more poignance to see Dae-young relax into himself in certain situations. Plus, the transitions are so creative and slick (I loved how older Dae-young carried Ja-sung into Duk-jin’s house then smoothly switched to his younger self as he walked behind something) that I sometimes don’t even notice there’s been a change right away. It just goes to show how well-developed this character is, and how perfectly cast, that it doesn’t even matter anymore who is playing him at any given time — we still know exactly who it is.
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