Eighteen Again: Episode 12
It’s getting so difficult to watch our youthful family man struggling to hold in his emotions, and keep his growing regret and guilt to himself. He can’t stay away from his ex-wife even as he tells himself he must, for her happiness, because she’s having regrets of her own. Meanwhile, she’s aghast at the fact that she’s having such inappropriate thoughts about a teenager
EPISODE 12 : “Half-moon”
Seven years ago.
Dae-young starts his day angry, yelling at Da-jung for not waking him up early like she promised. He insults her intelligence and rushes out the door, completely missing that she’d made seaweed soup for breakfast because it’s her birthday. He only remembers later when he sees a note in his planner, and when Da-jung comes home from work, she finds that he and the kids have made the cutest homemade party for her. Awww.
Later they sit on their stairwell and Dae-young apologizes for his behavior this morning. He gives Da-jung a beautiful crystal necklace in the shape of her favorite constellation, and says romantically that he wishes he could give her the whole galaxy. Da-jung notices the half-moon in the sky, and says it looks lonely, but Dae-young says that its other half is right there next to it even if she can’t see it.
In the present, Dae-young finds Da-jung drunk on the stairwell, and when she sobs, “Dae-young… I’ve been waiting for you,” in that sad voice, he can’t help himself and he kisses her. Da-jung wakes up in horror the next morning, remembering the kiss but thinking that she dreamed it. She overreacts any time a family member talks to her, and she’s disappointed when they’re out of chocolate milk, her favorite hangover remedy.
At the bus stop, she’s whining over her upset stomach when Dae-young shows up with chocolate milk, saying that he just got it as a two-for-one deal. To her dismay, Da-jung can’t stop looking at his lips as Dae-young drinks his own milk, hee. She tries to be cool on the bus when Dae-young compliments her show last night, but she loses her composure again when the driver stomps the brakes and sends her careening into his arms.
When she gets to work, Da-jung learns that her show has been picked up as a regular program. Ki-tae says that she’s been on the real-time list all day, and when Yu-mi grumbles that it’s no biggie, he tells her that she was on the list too, as “Typhoon Girl,” for a whole ten minutes. LOL!
Woong-ki congratulates Da-jung on her professional demeanor on TV last night, and makes sure she’s okay with the few mean comments online. She says that she expected them, and he tells her that she’s a really nice person. He leaves and calls a reporter friend, offering them an exclusive story. Uh-oh.
At school, Bo-bae doesn’t have enough money for lunch, but Dae-young buys her food and tells her not to skip meals. She catches up to him in a classroom and tells him that she knows he likes her by the way he’s been treating her, and that she likes him back. Poor Dae-young is shocked that Shi-ah’s friend mistook his looking out for her so wrongly.
He tells her vaguely that she has the wrong idea, thinking about the girl he really likes, Da-jung. But Bo-bae just jumps to an even worse conclusion — that he likes Shi-ah. He denies it and hurries away, but he leaves his phone behind, and when Bo-bae sees that a picture of Shi-woo and Shi-ah is his lock screen, she’s even more convinced.
Bo-bae returns Dae-young’s phone while he’s in science class, and seconds later, Shi-ah burns her hand and shrieks in pain. Dae-young rushes to her side and yanks her over to the sink to cool her hand, but she says it’s fine. Ji-ho heads to a pharmacy to pick up some burn medicine, and Dae-young shows up to buy the same thing, and he can’t understand why Ji-ho seems so grumpy towards him.
Dae-young still manages to return to Shi-ah first and sits her down to doctor her burned hand. His nagging and tenderness remind her of a time when she’d burned her hand at home, and her father had acted the exact same way.
Poor Ji-ho… when he heard Shi-ah reject Ja-sung’s confession, she’d said that she likes someone else. Ji-ho had hoped she meant him, but now he’s not so sure.
Oh, how funny — the exclusive story Woong-ki offered to his friend wasn’t about Da-jung, but revealing his own divorce! He’s clearly expecting a lot of backlash once the story publishes, so he interprets his coworkers’ avoidance as them just being considerate.
Director Moon calls Woong-ki to his office to talk, and Woong-ki braces himself for an explosion. Director Moon asks if Woong-ki thinks that someone who uses their personal life to get attention is worthy of being a JBC anchor, and Woong-ki offers to take responsibility and quit. But Director Moon is talking about Da-jung, whose heartfelt reveal about her own divorce on TV last night has gotten a lot of attention.
HAHA, Director Moon saw the article about Woong-ki’s divorce and really doesn’t care. He tells Woong-ki to think about how Da-jung would be as a full-time anchor, and Woong-ki leaves, a little disappointed that his own news isn’t very newsworthy. It’s hilarious that the only comment under Woong-ki’s article is someone posting the obligatory and annoying, “First!”
Da-jung gets a call from Duk-jin asking her to have dinner with him tonight so he can congratulate her on her show. On her way out of work, Da-jung imagines her “dream” of kissing Dae-young playing out on the jumbotron. She does a full-body shiver of horror, and Woong-ki sees her and assumes she’s bouncing with happiness.
She heads to the fancy restaurant where Duk-jin made a reservation, but only Dae-young is there. He says that Duk-jin invited him to dinner, but canceled last minute — oh Duk-jin, you shipper you! Dae-young suggests they reschedule, but plates of food are set down and the waiter explains that Duk-jin ordered and paid in advance, so Da-jung feels obligated to stay.
She digs into the steak enthusiastically, as Dae-young watches her with the saddest, most wistful expression on his face. He thinks, I had forgotten that if I treat her like a gem, she can shine so brightly, like now. Dae-young remembers that Da-jung once said she wanted to eat at this restaurant, and he’d promised to take her on her birthday, but he’s never done it.
I wanted her to be loved all her life, but I used my busy life as an excuse and made her into my wife and the mother of my children, Dae-young realizes. Da-jung catches him staring and he says reflexively, “… beautiful,” then catches himself and claims he’s talking about the view.
Ha, Duk-jin sends Da-jung a text explaining that something urgent came up, then he sends one to Dae-young saying, “You owe me one!” He’s at another cosplay party dressed as Aladdin, but Teacher Ok calls to cancel on him, saying that it’s not right for a teacher to date a student’s father. He gets another call, this time from Ae-rin, inviting him to have a drink with her.
After dinner, it’s raining hard, but Dae-young says he forgot an umbrella. He offers to walk Da-jung home and share hers, so they set off on foot. Awww, up in the dining room, the waiter finds the umbrella Dae-young deliberately left behind.
As they walks, Da-jung suggests they get a cab. But Dae-young says that she never does that, to save money, and she wonders how he knows that about her. A car drives by and sends a wave of water in their direction, and Dae-young swoops in front of Da-jung to take the brunt of the splash. He ends up holding her tightly, and it takes them a moment to break apart.
Da-jung lets Dae-young come inside and offers him one of Shi-woo’s shirts. He removes his wet shirt, revealing a very young, healthy body and making Da-jung stammer and hide in her room, hee. Dae-young kicks himself for forgetting this isn’t his house anymore.
Ji-hoon calls Da-jung to say that he’s outside and wants to see her for a minute, and when she steps out, he presents her with a congratulatory flower bouquet. Standing in the doorway, Dae-young glares at Ji-hoon as he calls himself Da-jung’s “number-one fan” and gives her an invitation for Shi-ah to the party Duk-jin’s company is throwing for his newest video game’s premiere (Da-jung was already invited by Duk-jin). Ji-hoon is the model for the game’s main character, so he’s holding a signing event that night.
Ji-hoon finally notices Dae-young lurking nearby and asks if he’s going to the party. Dae-young says he’s not, and Ji-hoon is surprised since Duk-jin told him that “Woo-young” is his fan, but Dae-young grumbles that it’s part of his embarrassing past, hee.
Da-jung smiles at Ji-hoon, thanking him for the flowers, and Dae-young snaps at her not to smile at just anyone and stomps off. Confused, Da-jung wonders what’s wrong with him, and she’s surprised by Ji-hoon’s theory that the boy likes her.
At the convenience store, Bo-bae reveals to Shi-ah that she thinks “Woo-young” likes her. Later, the women in the family watch a drama together, but Shi-ah and Da-jung are barely paying attention, preoccupied by “Woo-young’s” supposed crush on them. Eventually they both give up and retreat to their rooms.
Duk-jin joins Ae-rin at a bar for a drink, where she advises him to forget Teacher Ok and find someone else. He whines that nobody else gives him butterflies, so Ae-rin offers a bet — if she can seduce him, he’ll give up on Teacher Ok. Ae-rin writes something on a piece of paper, then turns her attention back to Duk-jin, saying that when he rescued her from her ex-boyfriend, she thought he looked manly and reliable.
With a big smile, she tells him that he’s a good man and should be confident. She drops her pen and does a full bend-and-snap right in his face, then saunters away while Duk-jin’s eyes practically roll back in his head. He looks at the paper she handed him, which says If you got butterflies, find someone else. PFFT.
When they leave the bar, Duk-jin is glaring suspiciously at Ae-rin like she might bite him, hee. The elevator stops working, and Duk-jin ends up on the floor, gasping about trauma. He passes out and stops breathing, so security tells Ae-rin to give him mouth-to-mouth. She really tries, but she can’t bring herself to touch his lips with hers. Thankfully, the doors open just in time.
Duk-jin hallucinates that he’s in a luxurious bed in the middle of a garden, and Teacher Ok approaches him dressed as Princess Jasmine. He wakes up in the hospital, surprised that she’s really there looking over him. She explains that Ae-rin called her, and from around the corner, Ae-rin chuckles to herself.
In the morning, Dae-young is waiting outside when Da-jung leaves for work, so she decides it’s time to draw a line. She bristles at him when he hands her a bag, but it’s only the shirt she lent him, though she believes it’s only a lame excuse. She stomps off as Shi-ah leaves for school, and Shi-ah also snaps at Dae-young, thinking he’s there for her.
Ha, Da-jung’s mom witnesses everything and wonders what’s wrong with mother and daughter. Shi-woo leaves last, and as he and Dae-young head off to school together, Mom marvels that they look so alike.
At their work building, Ae-rin snaps at Duk-jin when he tells her that. Despite coming to see him at the hospital, Teacher Ok still wouldn’t agree to date him. Ae-rin tells him again to give up on Teacher Ok, but he loudly refuses, and when the elevator doors open, his assistants witnessing him yelling at Ae-rin, “My love is sincere!” Naturally they think that he has feelings for Ae-rin.
The new game’s launch party is tonight, and Duk-jin has one more Hail Mary move. He texts Teacher Ok, inviting her to the party and asking for one last chance to talk to her.
The party turns out to be huge, with people in costume and posters of Ji-hoon dressed as the Spartan protagonist of the game. As soon as Da-jung arrives, Ji-hoon finds her and tells her how beautiful she looks. He leaves for his signing event, and as Da-jung looks around, she spots Dae-young nearby.
Da-jung tries to avoid him, but she gets so flustered that she bumps into someone and topples right into the pool. Dae-young and Ji-hoon both dive in to save her, and they reach her at the same time… just as she realizes that the water is only about three feet deep and stands up just fine, heh. The fountain turns on, spraying water on them and turning the scene beautifully romantic.
The guys end up in the men’s room at the same time to dry off, shirtless (yay!) and grumpy at each other. Ji-hoon asks if Dae-young came after all just to see Da-jung, and when Dae-young asks why he cares, Ji-hoon admits that he likes Da-jung himself.
He tells Dae-young that his crush is from his immaturity and to stop, and Dae-young is suddenly done taking disrespect from this younger (from his perspective) guy. He growls at Ji-hoon, “What you see isn’t everything. Pick your battles carefully.”
Shi-ah is at the party with Bo-bae, and when they see Dae-young, Bo-bae takes his presence as proof that he likes Shi-ah. Da-jung overhears the girls talking about it, and she watches Shi-ah pull Dae-young aside to talk. She asks Bo-bae if “Woo-young” really likes Shi-ah, and Bo-bae tells her that he always takes care of Shi-ah at school. Da-jung suddenly feels stupid, now that she sees all his attention lately as attempts to get closer to Shi-ah.
Shi-ah bluntly asks Dae-young if he likes her, and he says that he does, because they’re friends. She’s relieved that he only thinks of them as friends, and she eagerly accepts his friendship. Awww, Dae-young looks like he’s going to explode with happiness that his daughter wants to be his friend.
Next, Da-jung asks to speak with Dae-young privately, so they head to an empty balcony. She apologizes for being rude this morning, and she thanks him for everything he’s done for her and the twins. Dae-young asks if he did something to offend her, and she tells him no, that seeing him just reminds her of her past.
Dae-young asks tentatively if she hates him because he reminds her of her ex-husband. Da-jung says that her ex is something she should apologize to, and that, rather than resent him, she has a lot to thank him for.
She looks up into the night sky and sees the half-moon, and she notes that it’s been a long time since she’s seen it. She says wistfully, “I hope the other half is doing okay… even if I can’t see it, I hope it’s doing well.” Dae-young is moved by her words, clearly referring to him, and he impulsively kisses her.
Down at the party, Duk-jin gathers the guests and gives a short speech about his game’s launch. He continues that he’s planning to confess his feelings to someone, and we see that Teacher Ok did make it to the party. After joking about being a gamer too awkward to find a girl, he credits Teacher Ok with being his reason for coming out into the world.
He formally asks her to date him, and he kneels, dramatically holding out a ring box. Just as she’s about to step forward and accept, Duk-jin’s assistants shove Ae-rin onto the stage, assuming that he’s confessing to her. Both Ae-rin and Duk-jin protest that she’s not the one, but it’s too late — Teacher Ok storms off in a huff.
They chase after Teacher Ok, catching up to her in a nearby courtyard. Duk-jin and Ae-rin assure Teacher Ok that there’s been a huge misunderstanding and that they’re only friends. Duk-jin shows Teacher Ok the ring he was going to give her, which wins her over, since it’s the Reality Stone, one of Marvel’s Infinity Stones.
She takes the ring and lifts it up to look at it in the light. But something catches her eye — Dae-young and Da-jung on a nearby balcony. Teacher Ok, Duk-jin, and Ae-rin all gasp in horror as Dae-young kisses Da-jung, then Da-jung hauls off and slaps him.
I’m definitely ready for Dae-young to tell Da-jung who he is, now. First of all, he’s going crazy being so near her and not being able to talk to her so openly like he badly wants to, and his sad little face is starting to get to me. But Da-jung is also suffering, she’s missing Dae-young and thinking of him constantly. Instinctively, I think that Da-jung senses that “Woo-young” is really her husband, but of course he looks like a teenager, so she’s trusting her senses. I want her to either know who he truly is, or for Dae-young to turn back to himself so that he can start to truly do the work he needs to do to heal his family.
As I say that, I think that a major reason this show is so lovable is because it’s done such a great job of establishing the fact that Dae-young my look young, but he never feels young. I was wondering why a kiss between a 37-year-old woman and a boy half her age doesn’t feel gross, because I think it would in any other drama. But Eighteen Again has made it so easy for the audience to remember that looks aside, Dae-young is actually Da-jung’s husband, and her same age. Also, they are married, and have been for literally half their lives, so it’s not as if a teenager is putting the moves on his friend’s mom, like it would appear to anyone else — we know that it’s just Dae-young giving in to his feelings and kissing the wife he misses so much. The whole situation has just been so perfectly balanced, by the writing and the actors, so that Dae-young’s advances feel ill-conceived but never inappropriate.
However… only three people in the world know that Dae-young isn’t who he appears to be, and none of them is Da-jung. And now someone else who doesn’t know Dae-young’s secret has seen him kiss Da-jung. I’m scared that Teacher Ok will say something to someone about it, and Da-jung will get in real trouble professionally. I did like Da-jung’s reaction to what she thought was an inappropriate advance on Dae-young’s part — it’s not her fault that she didn’t react with outrage when he kissed her while she was drunk, but sober, I think that slapping a kid who kisses her without permission is entirely correct of her. One thing we know about Da-jung is that her moral compass is perfectly tuned, but I’m afraid of the fallout if someone finds out who can harm her or her career.
The big message of this show is so simple… love isn’t just in what you feel, but in what you do. It’s so painfully obvious that Da-jung and Dae-young love each other deeply, but they’d stopped doing those things that showed each other how much they love them (for example, Dae-young promising to take Da-jung to that restaurant, then forgetting her birthday entirely). Eventually they felt alone and misunderstood, and without that communication that Da-jung spoke of, they let things fall apart, assuming it was what the other wanted. But now Dae-young knows that he didn’t show love to his wife, or his father and children, either, not in the way that would have made them feel loved. Now he’s trying to make up for it, even if they don’t know it’s him, and it’s getting harder and harder to watch. The more Dae-young gives, the sadder he gets, because now he’s falling into the opposite trap — showing his love, but being unable to communicate. He’s not going to heal his family without speaking up and telling them who he is.
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