Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha: Episode 14
Our couple might be happy together, but they’ve hit an impasse in their relationship that threatens their future together. While our dentist hits the brakes, our village chief is left shell-shocked, and forced to come face-to-face not only with the wall around his heart, but with his past.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
We open up with the same painful scene between Hye-jin and Doo-shik — she confronts him on why he won’t open up to her. She says he’s changing and drifting away (is he though?) and that she doesn’t know him anymore. All of a sudden it’s put up an iron wall between them; Hye-jin leaves upset. Doo-shik stands there in shock with his eyes welled with tears.
The upsetness hits Hye-jin once she’s outside. She runs into Hwa-jung and can only keep on her happy face for so long. She weeps openly. Hwa-jung is kind and encourages her over breakfast.
However, Hwa-jung is nobody’s fool and knows there’s a lovers’ spat going on. She offers to be Hye-jin’s confidant, and shares what she knows about Doo-shik’s past. She relates how when he returned to Gongjin after college and military service he was broken. Hye-jin says that Doo-shik has told her nothing about himself; Hwa-jung counters that she’s never seen him happier and very maturely explains that it’s not easy for him to trust and open up to others.
Doo-shik is distressed; he calls Hye-jin, but gets no answer. Instead, he heads out to help in the village, walking past a woman who’s driving into town — it’s the same woman in his hidden photo.
The woman is JI SUN-AH (Kim Ji-hyun), Sung-hyun’s older sister. She’s brought her adorable son for a visit, and he clearly adores his uncle. The two catch up with some good old-fashioned sibling banter. We learn that Sung-hyun missed her wedding all those years ago because he was working out of the country, and that Sun-ah has long been meaning to visit Gongjin because “someone she knows” always talked about their hometown. Uh-oh.
Hye-jin’s taken a nap and wakes up to see the missed call from Doo-shik. He apologizes and wants to meet up with her right way to finish their conversation, but Hye-jin says she doesn’t want to see him and they need some time apart. Not to break up — just because she says they need time to get to a place where Doo-shik no longer says “Sorry” as a replacement for opening his heart.
Eun-chul delivers a gift to Mi-sun at the clinic and she squeals with happiness after he leaves. Hye-jin gloomily tells her to enjoy the honeymoon phase, but their discussion of her relationship with Doo-shik is interrupted by Cho-hee’s arrival. Her wisdom teeth are only just coming in, and Hye-jin links it to the very unscientific theory that they emerge as you get wiser about love. Cho-hee looks disconcerted.
A flashback shows us Cho-hee and Hwa-jung bonding back in the day. They’re interrupted by her desperate and scolding mother. She says she can see what’s going on with Cho-hee and that if she keeps it up her brother will have her locked up in an institution (geez!). Hwa-jung was around the corner and probably knows it all.
Hye-jin encourages Cho-hee to be brave and face it (her tooth extractions, but we know what Cho-hee is really hearing). Meanwhile, Doo-shik gazes sadly at Hye-jin’s alcohol fermenting on his shelf.
Later that night, Doo-shik sneaks over to Hye-jin’s house and lingers outside, hiding behind a column when she pokes her head out the window. The next morning, Mi-sun is flitting around in the adorable dress that Eun-chul bought her. It’s expensive and trendy, and Mi-sun happily relates how Eun-chul’s been spending a ton, wooing her with well-researched and constant gifts.
Later, she tries to tell him that it’s not necessary, and that his intentions matter more. When Eun-chul steps away and Mi-sun overhears his phone conversation, she assumes he’s taking bribes to earn the money for her designer gifts.
Young-guk and Cho-hee do some village duty and Cho-hee takes the opportunity to tell him how surprised she was to hear that he and Hwa-jung had gotten divorced. We flashback yet again to their happy times as a threesome in the past, but for what feels like the first time, we see Hwa-jung and Young-guk being cute together.
Back in the present, Cho-hee tells Young-guk how much she envied their relationship and wished she had someone who was by her side in the same way. Young-guk admits that he now realizes he took his relationship and marriage for granted, and didn’t realize how precious it was at the time. Cho-hee urges him not to lose Hwa-jung a second time. They agree to muster up courage together.
Hye-jin is also on village duty, and runs into Doo-shik at the recycling. He tries to help her but she’s cold as ice. She asks if he has anything to say to her, and his silence confirms what she already knows. Doo-shik watches her walk away.
That night, Mi-sun stakes out Eun-chul’s mysterious errand. Once she sees the exchange of a briefcase, she freaks out and jumps into the scene begging him to not take bribes for her sake. She thinks she’s selling a gun illegally, but it turns out to be a toy, and Eun-chul is a collector who’s been selling off his replicas (quite legally).
The incident resolves with a nice heart-to-heart where we see their earnestness towards each other. Mi-sun says they should date with the intention of marrying and Eun-chul says that was his intention all along. He then announces he’s skipping a few steps and gives her a nice smooch.
Nam-sook heads to Hwa-jung’s restaurant and sees her sitting there alone in the dark, drinking. The two share drinks and Hwa-jung opens up, saying that the emotions she ignored for so long are rotting inside her.
Nam-sook knows that Hwa-jung still loves her husband, and Hwa-jung remembers how good Young-guk was to her ailing mother. She believes that she married him for the wrong reasons and even though Nam-sook tries to talk sense into her, Hwa-jung says she agreed to a blind date and then falls down drunk at the table.
Nam-sook tells a handy white lie and gets Young-guk to rush to the restaurant at top speed (thinking his ex-wife is drinking till all hours with her blind date). When Hwa-jung wakes up she’s flustered, but then even more so when Young-guk tells her not to go on the blind date.
He then offers her an incredibly heartfelt apology, followed by a confession, followed by an earnest request for them to start over together. Hwa-jung takes out 15 years of emotions on him, but pretty soon they are hugging and crying together.
The next day, Sung-hyun runs into Do-ha, who says they need some items for the shoot. Sung-hyun takes out his phone, opens it up into a handy PPL note-taking device, and is ready to go when he hears the town gossip about Doo-shik and Hye-jin’s falling out. He drops everything and runs to Doo-shik.
Sung-hyun doesn’t beat around the bush, tells him what he heard, and the two share thoughts. Sung-hyun is anxious for them to get back together, but Doo-shik says he doesn’t feel worthy of Hye-jin, who he says is transparent, honest, and brave — unlike him.
Sung-hyun teases him but also encourages him to do the same, and put his cards on the table. Doo-shik worries that she’ll be disappointed in him, but Sung-hyun tells him that Hye-jin isn’t like that.
Sung-hyun heads out with Ji-won, who’s annoyed to hear that he’s distracted solely because of the fact that Doo-shik and Hye-jin have hit a rough patch. Ji-won chews him out and tells him to focus on healing his own heartbreak instead of worrying about theirs.
He tells her that he’s actually fine — he feels great, actually, and the perky music that pops on in the background convinces us that it’s true. Then Sung-hyun almost gets them in a wreck while staring at Ji-won instead of the road ahead.
There’s a cooler full of home cooked food at Hye-jin’s front door, and her step-mother says she made extra so she could share it with Doo-shik. Her parents are so invested in her relationship that it gives her a new perspective. She thinks back to all their meaningful times when Doo-shik really did display his heart, and Hwa-jung’s words echo in her head: You can be his rock and someone he opens up to.
At home, Doo-shik is staring down at the photo he had tried to hide from Hye-jin. Oh boy, and this time we see Sun-ah, along with her husband and son when he was still a baby. “Hyung…” whispers Doo-shik.
In flashback, we see that his hyung was PARK JUNG-WOO (yay, cameo by Oh Eui-shik). In Doo-shik’s university days, the two were friends, and Jung-woo even set up the table for the memorial service of Doo-shik’s grandfather. It’s clear they had a deep friendship.
At long last we see the inception of the black suit that’s been haunting Doo-shik’s mind (and closet). He was in the store trying it on awkwardly, and Sun-ah (whom he calls noona) tells him it looks great. Then Jung-woo (who’s clearly married to her at the time due to how she addresses him) pops up around the corner and teases him about how great he looks. Jung-woo buys him the suit as a congratulatory gift for his new internship at the company where Jung-woo also works. They promise to go fishing together at Gongjin. It’s very touching, which most likely means tragedy is on the way.
Sure enough, the next scene is Sun-ah at Jung-woo’s funeral sitting there in despair with their young son. Doo-shik struggles to get himself to go into the room (wearing the black suit no less), and when she sees him, Sun-ah jumps to her feet and takes out her grief (as anger) against him. Sun-ah screeches that Doo-shik should have been the one to die, not her husband. All poor Doo-shik can do is stand there and cry and say he’s sorry.
Back in the present, Doo-shik wipes away new tears over the photograph when he hears a knock at the door. It’s Hye-jin, and a flood of emotions pass over Doo-shik’s face (nice job, Kim Sun-ho!). Hye-jin asks if she can come in.
Sung-hyun and Ji-won are pulling yet another all-nighter. When her glasses fog up over her hot beverage, he sweetly pulls them off and wipes them for her. Ji-won prickles up (I love her) and asks why he took off her “shield” without her permission.
Sung-hyun starts negotiating with her over salary, but he admits that he not only heard that she hasn’t signed a new contract yet, but that he can’t imagine working without her. There is so much more they dreamed of producing together. She warms up when they’re discussing all their past passion projects. Sung-hyun says he’s going to court her like all the other directors are. He values her more than he realized. She pretends she’s unmoved, but then burns her mouth on her tea.
Back at Doo-shik’s house, Hye-jin is delivering half of the side dishes. Then she announces she’s done thinking about their relationship. Patience isn’t her strong suit, she makes quick decisions, and hates ambiguity (all this checks out pretty well with what we’ve seen of her). That being said, she tells Doo-shik that if he can promise to open up to her one day, she is willing to wait for it.
Her gentler approach of hoping he’ll open up one day instead of forcing it now works for her, and she tells him she doesn’t need the break anymore. Doo-shik can barely get a word in here if he wanted to, but it’s enough for Hye-jin that he confirms that she is what he wants in his future.
Sung-hyun and crew wrap up their shoot, and everyone is very thankful to Doo-shik for his help on the project.
Gam-ri borrows a stock pot to make food for the big wrap-up party, and this serves as a way for Gam-ri to share more wisdom with Doo-shik: Just go tell her you’re sorry and give her a hug. She encourages him not to lose such a special relationship and to spend his life with someone that makes him happy. Doo-shik asks if he’s allowed to be that happy, and Gam-ri insists that he put the past aside; he deserves to be happy.
At her clinic, Hye-jin gets a call from a sunbae who offers her a professorship at her school — in Seoul.
On her way to the wrap-up party, Hye-jin runs into Doo-shik, who gives her a meaningful smile (Kim Sun-ho killing it with the eye-acting in this episode!). “Let’s go,” he says as she returns his smile.
The wrap-up party is very sweet and full of home cooked food. June adorably asks to visit Gam-ri, something is different between Young-guk and Hwa-jung (for which Nam-sook rightly takes credit), and Sung-hyun gives a thank you speech and is then forced to sing. His voice is gorgeous, and the song is full of meaning. Doo-shik gives a long yearning look over at Hye-jin.
After the song, Doo-shik makes a beeline for Hye-jin and leans over her, asking if they can talk. He walks far away at top speed with her trailing behind him. He then asks her to come over after the party and says he has something to tell her and it will take a long time. Hye-jin agrees and seems touched. The two agree to talk about everything later.
While our pair is away, the rest of the village gossip about them, pointing out that Doo-shik now calls her “Hye-jin-ah,” but also rightly pointing out that Hye-jin still only calls him Chief Hong.
This causes Do-ha to hear Doo-shik’s full name for the first time. When Doo-shik and Hye-jin return, Do-ha runs up to him aggressively, asking if he worked at YK Asset Management and if he knows Kim Ki-hoon. Doo-shik’s face drops (which Hye-jin notices) and the music gets sinister.
In flashback we see Doo-shik at his fancy job, stopping on the way into the building to give the security guard a drink he picked up. We call back to Do-ha explaining that his father is paraplegic.
Doo-shik looks shocked, while Do-ha calls him a bastard and punches him. Doo-shik looks so horrified he doesn’t even feel the blow.
Doo-shik pours over “Doo-shik and Hye-jin’s Bucket List,” adding a #6 entry that reads, “Make you happy.” But then he crosses it out with a smile and changes it to read: “Be happy with you for a very long time.”
Let’s start from the top, shall we? I’m no fan of the requisite break-up, and that early confrontation between Hye-jin and Doo-shik didn’t work for me much at all. I know she’s frustrated with his closed-off-ness, but her sudden and huffy reaction seemed pretty off-putting to me. So, while I can completely understand her frustration with Doo-shik on paper (and I would probably be with her IRL), in the drama, it was hard for me not to side with Doo-shik. Poor guy is nothing if not earnest, and trying to fight off his demons as best he can.
Luckily, their breakup (or “pause,” if you will) was subtle compared to other dramas, and I like where Hye-jin landed at the end of the episode (and that this wasn’t dragged out longer than a single episode). Her new willingness to wait for him made a lot more sense, and I only wish she had brought a little more gentleness to the table, since she does know more than she thinks about his emotional scars.
Kim Sun-ho really got me this episode — must be those sad, worried eyes! I loved him in almost every scene, particularly when he’s looking over at Hye-jin while Sung-hyun was singing. But then again, there’s nothing quite as riveting as a tortured hero (in my book, anyway).
While I have no doubt the two will have their heart-to-heart, the evening plans seem a bit bungled at the moment. Do-ha having a bigger role to play shocks me — in a good way! I like to think the drama was being purposeful where it seemed tangential, so that makes me happy, and makes me want to forgive the laggy script last week.
We’ll have to wait for our final week for all of Doo-shik’s backstory to come out, but I like how much was teased out with Sun-ah and Jung-woo in this episode. The warmth we saw in those flashbacks was well-represented, and so the hurt that scars that Doo-shik stings all the more.
In addition to what we saw of Hye-jin and Doo-shik in this episode (or rather, didn’t see of them), we got a lot more plot movement for our supporting village characters. The newborn might not be mentioned at all (weird, right?) but there’s forward motion with Young-guk and Hwa-jung, with Sung-hyun and Ji-won, and all-but-confirmation of Cho-hee’s heart.
I wish I could say I’m deeply invested in these side characters and their travails, but I’m honestly not. Perhaps they’ve dragged on a bit too long, and my interest has waned. And the one side story that would have been a hoot (a June and Joo-ri friendship) wasn’t touched at all in recent episodes. For shame.
With two episodes to go, we have a lot of backstory to fill in, a lot of Hye-jin/Doo-shik matters to resolve, and a happy ending to land on. Because after all the time we’ve spent in the happy, gossipy Gongjin, I don’t think I’ll be satisfied if this drama doesn’t end with a colorful village wedding.
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