True Beauty: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread
Our adorable couple has shared their feelings for each other, but that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. Any semblance of normal dating is turned into True Beauty-style hijinks as they deal with everything from jealousy and insecurities, to competition from our second leads, to our heroine’s own parents joining us in the shipping wars.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
We ended last week on Soo-ho’s heart-thumping confession and kiss — but the scene does not close there. When Joo-kyung pulls away, she hits a moment of adorable embarrassment and self-consciousness and takes off for the hills (literally). Soo-ho bolts after her, perplexed by her reaction. And though the necklace is finally given, and they part with the warm fuzzies, this scene is only the beginning of the conflicts these two will hit as a brand new couple.
Joo-kyung is understandably self-conscious about dating the hottest/smartest/most popular boy in school, and is afraid her past will come back to haunt her. As such, she spends most of their first few days of dating doing everything she can to hide, cover up, and disavow. It’s hilarious and a lot of fun, but their lack of openness does start to set up some unfortunate patterns for our couple, too.
I know this week is supposed to be about all the cuteness and complexities between Joo-kyung and Soo-ho, and while I love them together and accept them as the drama’s OTP — for me, this week was all for the second lead syndrome. There’s just something about a second lead hero telling himself he’s trying to get over his crush (while simultaneously doing everything he can to get closer to her) that’s hard not to fall for.
One reason I love Joo-kyung is because she always wears her heart on her sleeve — she opens up to Seo-joon because she genuinely sees him as a friend (and a friend she can accidentally drool on while sleeping). And between her sweetness and openness, and his desire to protect her, Seo-joon can’t seem to untangle himself — even though he knows he’s doomed.
Seo-joon pretends to be gruff and irritated with Joo-kyung, but it’s clear that it’s the only way he knows how to hold back his attraction (and he’s only hanging on by a thread). There’s no better example of this dynamic than their couple photoshoot: Seo-joon’s resistance to engaging with her during the shoot, and then the explosion of chemistry when he finally gives in, pretty much says it all.
The same can be said for the shoelace-tying scene: Joo-kyung treats him like a pal, Seo-joon balks but secretly swoons — and the SLS alarm goes into red alert. But the more Seo-joon falls for Joo-kyung, the less she seems to notice. And it hurts!
Seo-joon and Joo-kyung are around each other more and more (mostly thanks to the coffee shop job, and Joo-kyung avoiding her new boyfriend), and Seo-joon soon becomes her default sounding board. And so, Seo-joon not only learns about Joo-kyung’s hangups (viz., that she’s learned Soo-jin also likes Soo-ho), but he becomes the one to counsel her through.
The camaraderie he offers to Joo-kyung is all prickly cuteness, but when he’s with Soo-ho, it turns into pure competition. Whether it’s winning over Joo-kyung’s parents, making the better dumplings, or more straight-forward threats to take Joo-kyung from Soo-ho if he can’t protect her — these two are clashing more than ever.
Part of True Beauty’s charm, though, is that it takes a pretty common drama scenario (this love triangle and bromantic conflict) and turns it into hilarious fun — all without killing the feels. The dumpling-making scene, and it’s Iron Chef-level drama, is a great example of this, and I continue to enjoy the way True Beauty elevates its tropes with meta references and this free-handed zaniness.
Another thing that adds to the richness of this show is that it circles back on its world a lot. So, for instance, during the boys’ dumpling-making misadventures, details from previous moments of the drama return — like retrieving the big table from upstairs (why do I love this so much?), and the toenail-cutting apology session.
These details were great enough on their own, but returning to them with different characters and dynamics adds to the drama ten-fold. In fact, the world-building is so good, I don’t want to leave.
However, there’s one plot element we saw this week that I would like to leave, and that’s the direction we’re taking with Soo-jin. Dammit, I really liked her up until this point. Even though we were heading towards some friction over their shared affection for Soo-ho, I didn’t expect us to go into two-faced back-stabbing territory. It’s even more worrisome now that Soo-jin learned about Joo-kyung’s makeup-free face. She was awesome and supportive, but I’m honestly not sure how long that’s gonna last. Ugh.
The other huge turn of events is in the realm of our broken-up bromance — and this plot arc is much more welcomed. In fact, I love it. Hee-kyung discovers the theft of “Leo” and Se-yeon’s unreleased song, and this overlaps her (and Soo-ho’s father’s) world brilliantly with Soo-ho and Seo-joon’s tragic past.
Both boys react to this event with the same amount of fury, and while I’m hoping to see them reconcile over a common enemy, I do not know how I feel about that BOGO car accident.
In fact, while watching, I told myself it wouldn’t happen. They’re just distraught and running into the street without thinking: they won’t get hit. Wrong. Oh, maybe one will save the other from getting hit, thus healing the rift? Wrong. Instead, they both get hit, and fly through the air in slow motion. This intersection of gracefulness and violence is a bit odd, right? But then again, this is True Beauty, and the manhwa aesthetics here are so strong that I can see where this is coming from.
A final thought occurred to me as all these plot points hit their peak (and our cliffhanger): I’m reminded of the wonderful Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Something about the drama’s tone — with these friends torn apart by tragedy, and meaningful song compositions lingering between them — pulls me back to some of my favorite things in that drama. And there’s nothing I don’t like about that.
- Premiere Watch: True Beauty, Hush, Mr. Queen
- High school romance and mishaps in new True Beauty teaser
- Moon Ga-young primps and preens for tvN’s True Beauty
- First script reading for tvN’s True Beauty with Moon Ga-young, Cha Eun-woo, Hwang In-yub
- Cha Eun-woo, Moon Ga-young youth rom-com drama in the works