Love All Play: Episodes 5-6
Our leading lady is tempted by a job offer from another team, which doesn’t bode well for our favorite mixed doubles partners. But if they can’t be together on the badminton court, maybe they can still be a romantic couple, right? I sure hope so, because these two are so sweet they are cavity inducing, and the more we learn about them and their pasts, the more obvious it becomes that they are stronger in badminton — and in life — when they’re together.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
We pick up where we left off last week, with Tae-joon and Jung-hwan taking their fight outside. Jung-hwan admits that he did have a hand in Tae-yang getting scouted by the Somang coach, and the boys exchange insults and a couple of punches. But other than matching bruised lips, they remain unharmed.
Can’t say the same for the vending machines, though, because they looked like they took a bit of a beating, but inanimate objects have a tendency to get damaged when Jung-hwan pisses off people. Case in point: his car, which was scratched when Yoo-min took out her frustration on his SUV instead of him. After his scuffle with Tae-joon, Jung-hwan decides to pay his misery forward and give Yoo-min the repair bill for the damage she caused to his vehicle.
She’s aghast that he would have her pay for his whole car to be repainted because, like she says, it’s a bit overkill — like redoing your whole face of makeup just because your mascara is smudged. Despite the hefty repair bill, though, she agrees to have dinner with him afterwards, partially because she’s still crushing hard but also she saw the bruise on his lip and correctly guessed he was feeling lonely after getting into a fight. She’s curious about what happened, but Jung-hwan will only say that he’s the cause, revealing another glimpse of the decent human that’s been hiding behind his cocky sports diva persona.
Tae-yang texts Jung-hwan that she will leave the team quietly, just like she did “last time,” and we flashback to sometime shortly after Joon-young’s injury. She hasn’t been returning Tae-yang’s calls, and Jung-hwan is the one who angrily explains to her that Joon-young’s injury was career ending. Joon-young dumped Jung-hwan, went into hiding — not even her family knew where she went — and Tae-yang subsequently quit badminton out of guilt.
In the present, Tae-yang explains to Tae-joon that she’s decided to join the Somang team, where maybe her teammates will hate her less. He supports her decision, but his motives might have been a wee bit selfish. Our boy immediately takes advantage of the fact that she’s no longer his teammate — and fair game to date — and tells her that he likes her.
His sudden confession leaves Tae-yang adorably flustered — she’s never had a boy confess his feelings to her! — and she’s too shy to give him an answer at the moment. She requests a day to think about her decision, but the extra time makes her hesitate even though she likes him, too. Sadly, she chooses to focus on her career with her new team instead of starting a romance. (Why not both?!)
Although Tae-joon puts up a brave front while parting ways with her, he’s the personification of a sad Taylor Swift song once she’s gone. He only perks up when his phone rings, but then he immediately descends back into his depression when he realizes the call is only spam. Tae-joon’s trainer finally has enough of his lovesickness and Judo flips Tae-joon over his shoulder to snap him out of it. It appears effective.
Tae-joon isn’t the only one being mopey over a woman, though, and Jung-hwan makes a rookie mistake: mixing misery with too much alcohol. A night out drinking with GOO HYUK-BONG (Park Doo-sik), his teammate on the national team, reopens some of Jung-hwan’s old emotional wounds regarding Joon-young. And blackout drunk Jung-hwan decides to process those emotions by talking — and occasionally singing — through them… with the entire world watching via a live stream. (Tae-joon calling to tease Jung-hwan after the fact. *snickers*)
Meanwhile, things are also going poorly for Tae-yang. Somang wants to use her as a public relations puppet, and she’s resigned to accept the offer in order to appease her father, who — from her perspective at least — seems to only care about her if she’s playing badminton. There’s a lot of history and baggage to unpack here, and it’s hard to say just yet how much of her perception of events is skewed by her own insecurities.
A flashback reveals that the only time her father contacted her during her three year hiatus was when her mother was dying. He asked her to come home and acknowledged that his wife wasn’t always nice to her. Clearly she has at least one valid reason to believe her adoption wasn’t entirely out of a loving desire to have a child, but we’ve also seen how Man-soo cares for her behind the scenes, making it hard to believe his love for her is conditional on her badminton performance.
When Tae-joon finds out the terms of Tae-yang’s contract, he’s incensed and determined to keep her on team Yunis, where she can continue playing the sport she loves. His desperation causes him to stoop to new levels and beg Jung-hwan for assistance. Together — although it was mostly Jung-hwan’s promise not to FaceTime with the company owner — they successfully convince Coach Lee to take her back.
Coach Lee interrupts Tae-yang’s meeting with the Somang coach and rips up her partially signed contract. Afterwards, they share a touching moment when he calls her “his athlete,” and Tae-yang cries happy tears. (I got a little misty-eyed myself.)
She’s even happier when Tae-joon texts that he wants to meet up with her. He plays it cool — like he didn’t just single-handedly save her badminton career — and feigns ignorance when she reveals she’s back on the team. When she alludes to his confession, he also pretends to have no memory of such an event, which earns him a lot of playful punches from Tae-yang. When he protests and asks why she keeps hitting him, she blurts out that it’s because she likes him, leading to a squee-inducing back hug in the snow.
Now that our boy has her in his grasp, he’s determined to hang onto her. They go shopping together for the household items he’s been neglecting to purchase (because of his sneaker addiction) and the scene is part product placement and part him trying to convince her to move in with him. Tae-joon, your excitement is cute, but slow down.
Jung-hwan, however, is having less luck with the ladies. Even after witnessing his embarrassing live stream incident, Yoo-min miraculously accepts his invitation to dinner, and he actually seems eager to have the date… until he receives an email from Joon-young, who felt compelled to reach out after seeing his live stream.
He mentally checks out after reading Joon-young’s email, and with very little prying from Yoo-min, he explains the situation. After hearing him ramble on about his ex-girlfriend, Yoo-min ditches him. She has enough self-respect to not remain on a date with a man whose mind is clearly on another woman.
When Tae-yang returns to Yunis, she’s prepared to grovel, but her return is less controversial than expected because — behind the scenes — Jung-hwan asked Young-shim to be nice to Tae-yang. Even before his interference, she’d already started to soften. She figured out on her own that the bribing scandal wasn’t true, and so she continues to protect Tae-yang from bullies in her own subtle way, which Tae-yang sees right through.
While our couple continues to get flirty in and out of the gym, they also prep for another tournament that is on the horizon. Team captain YUN SEUNG-WOO (Choi Seung-yoon) suggests they have a selection match to determine who will participate in the tournament, and the non-national players find themselves facing off against the members of the national team. Most of them are intimidated and underperform, but not Tae-young. She’s cool as a cucumber and provides emotional support for her more nervous doubles partner.
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, everyone — except Tae-young, who has a stomach that even a goat would envy — winds up in the hospital with a debilitating case of food poisoning. Tae-joon’s parents visit him while he’s hospitalized, but after he admits that he heard from his sister, their concern is redirected to Joon-young. He overhears them discussing how they wish he had been the one who had been injured because — unlike his sister — he would have been able to get over it easily.
Affected by their conversation, he leaves the hospital and seeks out Tae-yang, who is enjoying her alone time and some ramen in the dorm. When he sees her, he passes out in her arms, which leads to him waking up in her bed while she draws him a picture of his future grave. He tries to coax her into bed with him — *eyebrow wiggles* — but he has to settle for her sitting next to him. With her by his side, he becomes vulnerable and reaches for her hand. He asks her to love him, and she admits that she already does.
It’s a bit too soon to drop the L-word, but I don’t mind because it seems to align well with their innocence and mental state. Plus, you know, every moment they are on screen together is squee worthy, which makes it easy to overlook the shortness of their relationship timeline.
Although I suspect their own insecurities are largely at play with how they are perceiving and interpreting their families’ actions, it makes sense that they would quickly attach themselves to one another in order to fill the emotional void that isn’t being filled by their families. Unfortunately, for those reasons I also worry about what will happen once Tae-yang discovers Tae-joon’s sister is Joon-young. I need squees, not heartbreak!