Cheat on Me, If You Can: Episode 1
With a mix of cheekiness and grim humor, Cheat on Me, If You Can is about a famous crime novelist and her divorce attorney husband. To the public, they make the happily married pair, but in reality, he’s a charming scoundrel who meets women in droves while she’s a blank-faced beauty with a penchant for all things murderous. Right out the gate, the show delves into their marriage and reveals that something darker lies behind their perfect masks.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Rain pelts a blood-stained street, and at the end of the crimson trail, lies a body. In a warehouse-cum-office, two men comment on the downpour when their doors swing open. The body from before walks in, and gritting his teeth in agony, he requests for a hit on his wife, Kang Yeo-joo.
Three months prior, a figure approaches KANG YEO-JOO (Jo Yeo-jung) who’s sleeping on the couch, and a pillow hovers above her head as if to suffocate her. At the last second, the pillow goes under Yeo-joo, and her husband HAN WOO-SUNG (Go Joon) smiles down at her.
Woo-sung offers to write her next novel in her stead, and Yeo-joo groggily tells him that her publisher would sue her. He reminds her that he’s a lawyer, and she jokes about having no worries then. Seeing him dressed in his tracksuit, she asks if he’s going out to exercise, and he replies, “No, I’m going out to cheat.”
Yeo-joo questions his claim since he’s wearing sweats, and he cheekily responds by pointing out that he won’t be wearing clothes, anyhow. She chuckles at his retort and plays along, advising her husband to keep on his pants since his gut has been showing.
While Woo-sung enjoys his morning run, he locks eyes with a female jogger who smiles back at him, but as they get closer, Woo-sung zooms past her without so much as a glance. She huffs at his attitude, but then he stops and asks if “she” is okay. Much to her chagrin, Woo-sung was addressing the homeless person behind her.
When the homeless person faints, Woo-sung administers mouth-to-mouth and accompanies him to the hospital. His good deed, though, makes him late for his tv show appearance, and Woo-sung runs at full speed to the recording set. He makes it with a few minutes to spare, and dresses into a suit right there. Smiling, he tells PD Oh that his wife told him to keep his pants on, but she’s in no mood for his jokes.
Show Host BAEK SOO-JUNG (Hong Soo-hyun) introduces Woo-sung as a “nation’s husband” and begins their interview with a question about his recent pro bono divorce suits. He tells the audience that he offers free services for women in abusive relationships, and Soo-jung asks if it is a ploy for a political campaign. She laughs off the comment as a joke and changes topics to his marriage.
Yeo-joo and Woo-sung’s housekeeper YEOM JIN-OK (Song Ok-sook) scowls at Soo-jung from the kitchen and sets up breakfast for Yeo-joo which Woo-sung prepared. Yeo-joo watches the interview as well, and Woo-sung talks about the first time he met his wife eight years ago.
While studying for the bar exam, Woo-sung watched over the entrance of a goshiwon (tiny, one-room housing) for his friend and read a book to pass the time. Terrified by the plot, Woo-sung called the author a psychopath, but when he saw Yeo-joo’s picture in the author bio, he was awed by her beauty.
As fate would have it, Yeo-joo entered the goshiwon right at that moment, looking for a special room: one where a person died. Though the building didn’t have what Yeo-joo was looking for, Woo-sung lied that a homicide occurred here and showed her to the least popular room.
Yeo-joo asked for more details on the case, and Woo-sung spun her a tale about an unsolved murder. Looking around, she noticed a spider in a corner—a “witness” to the dreadful incident—and imagined the gruesome scene playing out in this very room.
Yeo-joo rented the room and stayed for nights, clacking away on her keyboard. Standing outside her door, Woo-sung listened to her typing, which sounded like music to his ears.
In the mornings, Woo-sung watched her leave, smitten by her stone-faced appearance, but his older friend SOHN JIN-HO (Jung Sang-hoon) just thought she was rude. He warned his Casanova friend against any funny ideas, but Woo-sung told him that this time was different.
Five months after their first encounter, Woo-sung attended her book signing event and asked for her number. She stared at him for the audacious request, and the soft backlit light washed everything in warm glow.
Soo-jung asks if it was love at first sight, and Woo-sung comments on how he usually falls in love right away. His comment makes it seem as if he fell for multiple women, and Woo-sung quickly corrects him, telling his wife that he only loves her.
He sends two finger hearts to her, but Yeo-joo’s attention is drawn to Soo-jung rather than him. Nine years ago, Soo-jung yelled at Yeo-joo for seeing her off at the airport. She blamed her for her situation and vowed to get her revenge.
Back in the present, Ms. Yeom warns Yeo-joo to watch out for foxes like Soo-jung and advises her to always be wary of Woo-sung since you can’t trust husbands too much. Yeo-joo says that you need trust to live together, and Ms. Yeom calls her too soft-hearted. She informs Yeo-joo that her publisher is coming by today, and outside her house, the whole publishing company discusses their plan of action to capture the author.
Opening a few buttons on her blouse, Soo-jung tosses her papers in front of Woo-sung and leans in close when he bends down to help her pick them up. Playing up her feminine wiles, Soo-jung invites him out for lunch, but he declines her offer because he’s busy.
She asks if dinner or breakfast works better for him, or maybe they should exercise together? She laughs at his flustered response, and her ploys catch the eye of the PDs on set. PD Oh tells Soo-jung that her target will be difficult since he’s a devoted husband, but Soo-jung scoffs at the statement.
In order to avoid Editor Yang, Yeo-joo slips out of the house in shades and a mask, and walks to the convenience store to drink canned beer. The part-timer, CHA SOO-HO (Kim Young-dae), snaps photos of her from a distance, and not long after, her editor comes to pick her up—quite literally.
Woo-sung and Jin-ho (who’s now his paralegal) lay out their client’s demand to Attorney Park Hye-kyung. She denies their allegations about her client having an affair, so they present her photos of her client with another woman. She dismisses the evidence, saying that the two are just friends, but a closer look at one of the photos reveals her client in the nude—so clearly, not just friends.
He negotiates their terms again, but their demands have gone up since time is money. Attorney Park concedes to their conditions, and Woo-sung almost feels bad about his one-sided win. She suggests he treat her to a meal, then, but Woo-sung goes grocery shopping on Thursdays.
After swapping clothes with Editor Yang, Yeo-joo deems it impossible to go through with the event without any troubles since her outfit is awful. She walks onto the stage for the book talk, and despite the crowd of cheering fans, she remains emotionless.
Woo-sung goes to the grocery store where another customer recognizes him from the show. He autographs her store pamphlet, but afterwards, he hides his face and slinks away to the elevators.
Soo-ho attends the book talk as well, and the questions from the audience revolve around her personal life. They want to know what she would do if her husband cheated on her, and Yeo-joo answers, “Divorce has never crossed my mind. I’d rather be a widow.”
While Yeo-joo explains how she would commit the perfect crime, Woo-sung knocks on a door, and Attorney Park greets him, dressed in her lingerie. Yeo-joo finishes her answer by telling the audience how she wouldn’t want such a situation to arise… because she looks terrible in mourning clothes.
The host plays off her response as a joke and asks her to send a video message to her husband. Staring straight at the camera, Yeo-joo tells Woo-sung that she was serious. If he doesn’t want to be found as a dead body, then he had better act well. She ends with an “I love you,” but even that has a spine-chilling note to it.
Soo-ho asks about her next project, and Yeo-joo tells him that she’ll have it out within the year since her publisher threatened to sue. Not exactly the change in pace Editor Yang wanted, but things get worse when a mob of protestors stomp towards the stage and throw eggs at Yeo-joo.
As the first egg sails throw the air, Soo-ho catches it and then uses his back to shield her from the rest. All the while, Yeo-joo hardly bats an eyelash, and even when Soo-ho lifts her off her feet to escape, her face stays still.
When he carries her out, Yeo-joo tells him that she has feet, so he places her on the ground to run. However, she trips on her high heels, so Soo-ho whisks her up into his arms once more as the protestors chase after them.
While Woo-sung gets dressed, Attorney Park asks why they only meet on Tuesday and Thursday. He tells her that he goes jogging on Monday and Wednesday, which actually means jogging to his other mistress’s apartment: Soo-jung.
Attorney Park wraps Woo-sung into a hug, suggesting a trip to Japan, but he tells her that a reporter caught whiff of their relationship. She ends things with him right there, and Woo-sung hides his smile until he’s safely in the hall. At his car, he meticulously cleans every inch of his jacket, making sure to destroy any signs of his affair.
Photos of Yeo-joo from interviews, around the neighborhood, and even her yard cover a wall, and its owner steps out of the bathroom: Soo-ho. He opens the doors to his large walk-in closet lined with suits, but when he arrives at the after-party, he’s back to his poor part-timer’s outfit.
Soo-ho hands Yeo-joo a canned beer since she doesn’t drink bottled and introduces himself as the convenience store worker. Rather than feel grateful about before, she labels him as the informant and partly blames him for the rotten day. Breaking the awkard tension, Yeo-joo’s phone rings, and she answers a call from Soo-jung.
Woo-sung comes home with his ordered groceries, but his spine tingles when he smells food. He cautiously approaches the kitchen, and Yeo-joo smiles at him—a bad sign. She speaks to him with honorifics, and Woo-sung knows that something is wrong.
She tells him about the protestors from the book talk, and as she leads him to their room, she places her hand on his back, a mere inch away from a lipstick stain. When Woo-sung undresses, he notices the mark and wonders if Yeo-joo saw it.
Yeo-joo comes by to pick up his laundry, and Woo-sung distracts her long enough to grab another shirt. She finds the overly wrinkled shirt odd, and without a word, she sniffs Woo-sung all over. Woo-sung is confident that there were no mistakes—he carries around his toiletries in a kit for this very reason—and as expected, she doesn’t seem to catch anything amiss.
Unbeknownst to Woo-sung, the couple has a guest coming over, but the real surprise is who… Soo-jung. Yeo-joo asks if she knows Woo-sung, and Soo-jung comments on how they meet every Monday and Wednesday. She hands her host a gift, and Yeo-joo thanks her for the perfume, wondering how she knew about her favorite brand. Soo-jung shoots Woo-sung a withering look since it’s the same present he gave her.
With every dish Yeo-joo prepares, the sound of her knife makes Woo-sung squirm as his wife and mistress stand in the same room. While Yeo-joo cooks, Woo-sung takes Soo-jung on a tour of their house and drags her out to the veranda.
He wants to know why she’s here when they ended things last week, but Soo-jung never agreed to their breakup. He claims to be a faithful husband now, and she laughs at his joke. Enjoying her tour, Soo-jung marvels at the poisonous plants in the garden and then makes her way to their bedroom.
Away from prying eyes, Soo-jung hugs Woo-sung, but he pushes her away. He suddenly takes off his shirt, and she chuckles at his bold move, assuming he likes the thrill. However, Woo-sung warns her that Yeo-joo has excellent vision and cleans his shirt for any stray strands of hair.
At the dining table, Yeo-joo finds Soo-jung’s visit strange since they left on bad terms, but Soo-jung claims to actually feel sorry towards her now. She places her hand on Woo-sung’s thigh, and he stabs her with his fork. Pfft.
Overstaying her welcome, Soo-jung asks for more wine, and Yeo-joo sends her husband to fetch another bottle. Unwilling to leave the two women alone, Woo-sung pesters Yeo-joo with questions until she gets up to get it herself.
Once Yeo-joo is gone, Soo-jung offers to leave the house if Woo-sung promises to come to her apartment again. When he refuses, she threatens to spill their relationship to his wife, and Woo-sung agrees to visit one last time. When Yeo-joo returns with the second bottle, Soo-jung excuses herself since she’s drunk enough.
With thunder rumbling outside, Woo-sung wakes up in a start and notices the empty bed besides him. He goes out to find his wife and overhears her arguing over the phone. Before he catches the rest of the conversation, she closes the door, and in the privacy of the veranda, she tells Soo-jung that she’ll come to her.
When Monday morning arrives, Woo-sung goes out for his morning jog and arrives at Soo-jung’s apartment as promised. When she doesn’t answer his calls nor the door, he unlocks it himself and walks inside. She isn’t there, and he wonders if she changed her mind.
Woo-sung tells Jin-ho about his predicament, and his friend scolds him for his constant infidelity. Woo-sung defends his honor as a devoted husband, pointing out that he always slept at home, but their nonsensical conversation comes to a screeching halt as they find a strange man in the office.
Political Consultant Nam Ki-ryong sits down with Woo-sung and offers his services to him. He will take care of everything related to Woo-sung’s political campaign, and all the attorney must do is maintain his good public image. Woo-sung asks for the consultant’s number, but Consultant Nam says that he will contact the lawyer when necessary.
After sharing the good news with Jin-ho, Woo-sung begins his new task right away: destroying all evidence of his affairs. He buys a new chip for his phone, deletes all his dashcam footage, resets his GPS history, and chucks his cheater’s kit to the trash. As for the final touch, he gives his car a thorough wash.
Woo-sung enjoys the sound of his new title, “Assemblyman Han,” and sets out to live the life of a devoted husband for real this time. He momentarily hesitates when he considers how lonely he might get, but he marches forward since he has hundreds of videos to keep him company.
When Woo-sung comes home, he doesn’t see Yeo-joo around, so he follows the sound of the printer to find her. What he discovers, instead, is a pile of papers, and they all contain the same thing: a disclaimer waiving away his physical rights.
Woo-sung reads the document, “If I cheat, I die,” and looks around the room with fear in his eyes. He frantically tries to stop the printer, telling himself that he hid everything perfectly, and fails to notice his wife creeping up behind him.
Holding a knife, Yeo-joo smirks at her husband and whispers, “He hasn’t figured it out. Now is the chance.” With gleaming eyes, she charges at Woo-sung and thrusts the knife into his back.
A quirky opening for an unusual premise filled with eccentric characters. The show takes your typical k-drama storyline of the cheating husband, but instead of the routine hairpulling and makjang shenanigans, it centers the story around an oddball heroine who stabs her husband by the end of the episode. Granted, Yeo-joo hasn’t killed Woo-sung—at least, not yet—since he was shown alive (though not well) three months in the future. While the final scene is clearly a misleading cliffhanger to pull viewers in, it does set the tone of the show: slightly grim and absurd, all at the same time.
Yeo-joo is an enigmatic lead, revealing very little about her inner workings or emotions to the audience. She does not care for social niceties, and her bluntness isn’t due to a lack of awareness but a deliberate choice. Her pointed remarks to her editor are meant to hurt, and she sees through Soo-ho’s “white knight” actions, deeming him as nothing more than an interloper. However, Yeo-joo isn’t indiscriminately mean to everyone around her. She listens to Ms. Yeom’s advice patiently, even if she doesn’t agree, and she treats Soo-jung with respect as a host should. Yeo-joo knows how to act like a respectable member of society, so she’s clearly choosing not to be one on purpose. What makes Yeo-joo odd, though, is her peculiar lack of response to situations. She never once spared a glance at the protestors at the book talk, and when Soo-ho carried her out of there, she barely blinked. During the moment where she found Woo-sung’s behavior suspicious, she sniffed him all over, and afterwards, acted as if nothing strange happened. In scenes where viewers have been conditioned to expect a reaction, Yeo-joo subverts those expectations and gives us nothing. Her expression stays blank, and it’s up to the viewers to decide what to make of her from there.
Contrasting against her usual emotionless front, Yeo-joo does occasionally break this façade. When she’s angry or peeved, it shows on her face, but what makes her eccentric (and slightly frightening) is the timing of her smiles. Thus far, her smiles have all been odd. She smirks while writing about a murder in a room where she believes someone died, forces a smile after threatening to kill her husband if he cheats, smiles when she’s angry, and at the very end, gives her largest smile yet as she stabs Woo-sung. Yeo-joo and her strange behavior are the heart of the show, making it much more dynamic and interesting whenever she’s on screen. While it isn’t quite clear what route the show will take, it is obvious that Yeo-joo is the protagonist of this tale, and wherever she takes this story, the viewers will follow along with her.
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