To Jenny: Episode 2
It’s a good thing this show is only two episodes, because I don’t know if I can handle much more of these two adorkable singers as their friendship grows. It’s time for them to face their fears, both personal and professional, but the strain of trying to reach their dreams might end up being too much for them to handle.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
After learning that Nara has a boyfriend one day, then that she got dumped for another girl the next day, Jung-min starts composing a new song for her. He’s so busy, he doesn’t notice that his mother is so exhausted that she has to go to the hospital for an IV.
His uncle gets angry and drags Jung-min outside the convenience store to the street. He tells Jung-min that if he can sing a song, right now, then he’ll support his musical dream. But Jung-min chokes up, still unable to sing in front of even a small audience.
Jung-min is feeling pretty bad when Nara comes into the store, but he pretends that he doesn’t know about her breakup. She invites him out for a drink, and once she’s a bit tipsy, she tells him that she got dumped after five years of dating the same guy.
She admits that she’s scared — scared that she’ll fail to debut again, and scared of being forgotten and disappearing. Jung-min tells her that she’s charming, likable, and pretty, and awww, he gets a little emotional and Nara has to wipe his tears away.
He says that at least she got to debut, because he hasn’t been able to sing in front of more than two people since his voice cracked at that talent show. And forget his love life… she may have been dumped, but at least she hasn’t gone ten thousand days without a date, hee.
They start walking home, and Nara squishes Jung-min’s cheeks and asks how he’ll get along in the world when he’s so nice. She sees a sign for an open mic night (and drunkenly knocks it over, ha), and she promises to come see him sing if he signs up.
Jung-min overcomes an attack of shyness to give Nara the score for the song he just wrote (called Your Song). She beams, chirping that she’s never been given a song as a gift before, and Jung-min nearly combusts with happiness over her reaction.
The following morning, Jung-min is woken by a text from Nara, with a video attachment of the song he gave to her. It’s his best song yet, all about how he’s there for her, and when he imagines himself singing backup, their voices blend beautifully.
Ok-hee lets Jung-min know that Nara also posted the song on her Instagram, and it’s getting a lot of positive attention from her followers. She even gets called to her CEO’s office, and he tells her that he wants to release it as a single, and if it does well, he’ll have her record a full album.
On her way out of his office, Nara runs into Aileen. She asks if Aileen really didn’t know (that she was dating Ji-ho), but Aileen appears to have no idea what Nara is talking about.
Nara bounces into the convenience store and tackle-hugs Jung-min, then chirps that they’re going to let her make his song into a single. She asks if it’s okay, but he’s thrilled for her and tells her that it’s her song to do with as she pleases.
After she leaves, Jung-min’s friends practically murder him for getting so much attention from Nara, but he’s too happy to care. He gets even goofier when she sends him a cartoon text of herself asking him to go on a picnic tomorrow.
In the agency CEO’s office, Aileen runs across Nara’s song on her phone and the CEO says casually that he thinks it will be a big hit. I don’t like that expression on Aileen’s face.
That night, Jung-min sings giddily while making kimbap for his picnic with Nara. On the bus to their destination, Jung-min feeds Nara the kimbap, and she says it’s better than her mom’s. An ajusshi (cameo by Kim Jun-ho) sits across from them and stares at their snack until they offer him a bite, then shovels the pieces into his mouth until there are only two left.
In thanks, he offers to tell their fortune, and Nara lets him think they’re a couple. The ajusshi stares at Nara for a little too long, then declares that she’s too nice, so he admonishes Jung-min to be extra good to her. He sees the conductor and steals one more bite of kimbap before scurrying away.
Nara ends up taking Jung-min to a halibut festival, where they spend the day eating and playing together. After sundown, Nara sneaks them into an empty auditorium, then jumps onstage and informs Jung-min that this is where her idol group, Cocoa, performed for the first time.
She says there were only fifty people in the audience, but that she was still really nervous and excited. She plays their song on her phone and performs for him, which is freaking adorable, and when she’s finished Jung-min quips that she really needs more practice, ha.
They hear the caretaker coming and hide in a closet. The caretaker soon leaves, but Jung-min and Nara don’t move, frozen by their close physical proximity. Nara starts to look nervous and says they should go, but Jung-min makes his move and kisses her.
After her initial surprise, Nara’s eyelashes flutter closed. But Jung-min abruptly pulls away and apologizes, so Nara slips out the door. The bus ride home is super awkward, and Jung-min drops Nara off at her door without much more said between them.
At home, Ok-hee jumps at Jung-min, excited to hear about his big date. But he just pouts at her and says that he’s gone completely insane. Nara texts to ask if he got home okay, and when she says it’s not fair, he launches into a guilty apology.
But ha, she’s only joking that they didn’t get any hot dogs today. Jung-min grins like an idiot, and Ok-hee is so alarmed by Jung-min’s complete change in mood that she calls worriedly for Mom.
A short time later, Nara records Your Song and is told that it will be released next month. Jung-min tries to work up the courage to sign up for that open mic night, but when he steps into the coffee shop, he chickens out and just orders juice. GAH.
Nara calls — her apartment is under renovation so they have to have her guitar lesson at his home. Jung-min’s mom hardly knows what to do with a girl in the house, and she naturally assumes they’re dating, but they correct her that they’re just friends. Ok-hee hilariously grips Nara’s hand and thanks her dramatically for being nice to her brother, and poor Jung-min looks like he’d love to sink into the floor.
During Nara’s lesson, they catch Mom and Ok-hee peeking in the door, hee. Jung-min steps out to get some snacks, leaving Nara alone in his room. She finds his Cocoa album, which proves that he’s been lying about not really knowing who they were.
When he returns, Jung-min huffs that he only has it because his classmate became an idol. But Nara grins and asks, “Did you like me ever since then?” Jung-min tries to grab the album, but Nara holds it out of his reach, and he overbalances and ends up falling on the bed on top of her. LOL, Mom and Ok-hee are peeking again!
On another day, Nara texts Jung-min to meet up after work as she’s leaving her agency offices. She follows some music to the recording room, and there’s Aileen, recording her song. Nara confronts her, so Aileen tells her that the song is going to be on her next album.
Nara goes to the CEO’s office to ask him why Aileen is singing her song without permission. The CEO basically says that the song suits Aileen’s voice better, and her album is more important. He says that Nara can just ask her friend for another song, but Nara has had enough of being dismissed.
She tells the CEO that the song belongs to her, but he says it’s actually her friend’s song. He tells her that he’s planning to renew her contract, as if that makes up for his theft, but Nara points out that she’s only performed once in seven years. She declares that she’s tired of being pushed aside for newer trainees, and that she’s not planning to renew her contract.
Jung-min grows worried when Nara never shows up for their dinner, nor does she answer his texts or calls. DY tells him helpfully that Nara is way out of his league anyway, ha. He takes a call from Nara’s agency about buying the rights to his song for Aileen, and he quickly figures out what’s wrong.
He runs full speed to Nara’s place and pounds on her door, but she’s too depressed to answer. He waits on her steps for hours, not going home until well after dark. He finally gets a text from Nara saying that it’s not his fault, but that she doesn’t want to see him.
The next day, someone calls through Nara’s door that he’s here with the fried chicken she ordered. She says it’s not hers but the guy leaves it anyway, and when she picks it up, the receipt says Leave it at her door if she says she didn’t order it – Park Jung-min. Over the next few days, the same thing happens with pizza, tangsuyuk, and ddukbokki, and if Nara doesn’t want him, can I keep him?
Meanwhile, Jung-min gets over himself and signs up for that open mic night, then goes home to moan to Ok-hee that he’s in trouble again. He whines that he wants to cancel, but Ok-hee reminds him that he promised Nara and offers to help him practice.
She takes him, along with DY and Min-bong, to a spot on the Han River where nobody else is around. As soon as he starts singing, more people show up and settle in to listen, so Jung-min freaks out and runs away. They try again on other days, with the exact same results every time. The only time he’s able to sing a single note is when Ok-hee is the only person within hearing range.
Jung-min texts Nara that he’s keeping his promise to her to perform at open mic night, and says that he hopes she’ll come. Next he goes to his uncle’s house to tell Uncle that he’s going to sing, and to promise that if he can’t go through with it, he’ll finally give up music. Uncle sighs that he’s heard all this before and that he doesn’t care anymore.
Dae-sung and Min-bong are at a PC room when they realize it’s time to go watch Jung-min sing. They go to the counter to pay, and they realize that Nara has a new job working there. She asks them not to tell Jung-min where she is, and when Min-bong tells her that he’s performing tonight, Nara grumbles that she’s not going.
Dae-sung calls her cruel and selfish for doing this to Jung-min after everything he’s done for her, but she doesn’t turn around until the guys leave. She sits back in her chair, and Min-bong quietly returns to put a piece of paper on her desk with a web address written on it.
When it’s Jung-min’s turn to perform, he scans the crowd, but Nara isn’t there. He does get one big surprise — Uncle shows up! His support gives Jung-min the courage to begin his song, so he closes his eyes and starts to sing Your Song.
When Nara looks up the website, she finds herself on Jung-min’s Instagram page, where every song he’s posted is dedicated to Jenny. She leaps up to try and catch his performance, but she’s too late… he’s there, in the PC room. He looks at her with hopeful eyes as he starts singing a new song, a heartfelt confession of his feelings for her.
Nara listens to Jung-min’s entire song, and when he finishes the last note, she smiles.
Some time later, Jung-min changes his Instagram dedication from “to.Jenny,” to “Jenny&mini.” He begins a livestream where he sings Your Song, and halfway through the first verse, she joins him on camera and sings with him.
Okay, I’m officially declaring Jung-min’s song in the PC room the Best Confession Ever. The moment was so meaningful on so many levels! He was conquering his fear of singing in front of an audience and his fear of rejection all at once, and yet his voice sounded so strong and full of confidence. He was laying it all out on the table for Nara to accept or reject, with little promise of a positive response considering that she had been rejecting him for a while already.
I’m not sure I fully understand why Nara cut Jung-min out of her life like she did, except that I think she was just confused and overwhelmed. She’d just been dumped after five years, her new friend had kissed her and changed their relationship just when they were getting comfortable with each other, then to top it all off, her agency went back on a promise for one too many times. I think that Nara was right to decline a new contract, and I think that she was going through a sort of mourning for the dream she’d been blocked from realizing. Jung-min reminded her of that dream, as linked as he is to music, and it was just too hard for Nara to see him knowing that he’s so talented in a way that she isn’t.
I love dramas that don’t necessarily offer anything new (and this one is chock-full of rom-com tropes), but that do it in such an endearing way that you don’t even care. A wise woman that I greatly admire once said — and I paraphrase — that it doesn’t really matter what a drama is about… if you make me care about the characters, I’m all in. And the best thing about To Jenny is the characters, with their very real and very big feelings, their sky-high dreams, and their absolutely adorable relationships with each other.
Of course I’m mostly talking about Jung-min and Nara, who completely charmed me every moment they were together, but they’re not the only ones. Jung-min’s close relationship with his spunky, precocious sister was a perfect way to introduce his sweet accepting personality, and his dorky-ass friends added humor with pitch-perfect timing. Even the smaller characters, like Jung-min’s disapproving uncle and Nara’s nemesis Aileen, didn’t need a lot of screen time to make a strong impression. This is one of the biggest joys of drama specials… their ability to get us emotionally invested without making a three-month investment in a complicated story. And on that level, To Jenny may just be my favorite drama special ever.