Cheer Up: Episodes 7-8
We’re at the mid-way point and our show is digging into the fundamentals of family and feelings. While our heroine has no trouble being honest where she stands, our male lead needs a little coaxing. As he gets up his courage, broken backstories take a front seat, and the deadly third prophecy rears its ugly head, threatening to tear apart the team that’s finally finding its footing.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
We focus on a few major threads this week and begin to shed light on the murky mystery pieces we’ve seen so far. One focus is on Jung-woo and his realization of feelings for Hae-yi. We ended last week with a hug in the middle of the street, where neither party was exactly sure what it meant. Sun-ho breaks up the hug, with the pretense of helping Hae-yi get where she needs to go, and the two leads look longingly at each other has Hae-yi leaves.
After the next practice, Jung-woo and Hae-yi are still trying to make sense of that hug. Our always-honest heroine asks Jung-woo point blank if he likes her. He’s awkward and says that in other countries hugs are used as greetings — you can just hug any time. He demonstrates by hugging her again. This time we hear loud heartbeats and the wall-mounted fan passes over them just as they might be starting to sweat. Yoo-min enters and the two break apart abruptly. Jung-woo can barely catch his breath and it’s clear this was no friendly hug.
For another upcoming festival, the Theia team divides in two, with each side prepping a new routine. They will compete internally before the event and whichever side wins gets to perform on stage at the festival. Yoo-min sticks around to help with the prep, which means she and Jung-woo are spending a noticeable amount of time together and Hae-yi can’t help but be jealous.
Hae-yi doesn’t hide how she feels and reminds Jung-woo that there’s no dating allowed between team members. When he says his feelings for Yoo-min are in the past, Hae-yi is like, “Well, rules are made to be broken.” Haha, I love that she has no qualms about letting him and everyone else know she likes him.
One day while Yoo-min and Jung-woo are working alone, she says she can tell he likes Hae-yi. It’s obvious because he acted the same way around Yoo-min three years ago when he liked her. But she issues a slight warning by saying she often wonders what would have happened if she never dated the freshman on the cheer team back when she was captain. Would none of the terrible things (like getting hit with the stage light) have happened?
Jung-woo can’t stop thinking about the Hae-yi hugs and decides he wants to start living his life more. This is following an interview with a former Theia member (cameo by Jang Nara) who tells the current team to “be wild” in their young lives. Jung-woo texts Hae-yi and asks her to meet tomorrow night because he has something he wants to tell her.
It seems obvious that Jung-woo made the date in order to confess. But once the two are face to face, Jung-woo simply apologizes for any misunderstandings about the hug and says it won’t happen again. When his words are not a confession, Hae-yi can’t help but cry and leaves before she loses it.
What we’ve learned is that Jung-woo is trying to protect Hae-yi. Not only does he take Yoo-min’s words to heart when she wonders if nothing bad would have happened without dating, he’s also figured out who has been sending him those awful texts telling him to dismiss Hae-yi from the squad.
As viewers, we learned last week that the texts were coming from another teammate, KIM MIN-JAE (Hyun Woo-seok). Jung-woo puts this together and confronts Min-jae. Min-jae says that he sent the texts because he didn’t like Hae-yi, but he doesn’t feel that way now. (We know he was concerned about Hae-yi being on the team only to be paid. Since she tore up her contract, we haven’t seen any further problems between them.)
At the same time, Jung-woo has just found a series of photos that someone put up like an exhibition in his office, making it clear that someone is watching him and Hae-yi. We get a brief image of Min-jae standing in front of those photos. When Jung-woo asks him about the pictures, though, he says he doesn’t know anything about them. Separately, we get a scene of Min-jae looking through his own photos, one of which shows Yoo-min in her cheer uniform with her arm around Min-jae. At their meeting, Min-jae cryptically tells Jung-woo to be careful to not let it look like he’s favoring anyone (the way Yoo-min was believed to be doing when she was captain).
One day while Hae-yi and Yoo-min are in festival prep mode, they both admit that they like Jung-woo (although, it seems Yoo-min is saying she likes him as a person, not a partner). Yoo-min tells Hae-yi not to take their relationship any further. We know she’s worried about inter-team dating because of what happened to her and is likely trying to look out for Hae-yi. Later, Hae-yi acts smug, saying that she and Yoo-min are different — she’s resilient, so there’s no need to worry. This seems presumptuous since she (and we) don’t really know anything about Yoo-min.
Another major focus this week is on family. We dig into Sun-ho’s backstory as well as see more of the dynamic in Hae-yi’s household. Hae-yi tries to play the parent to her younger brother, DO JAE-YI (Lee Min-jae), even when their mother is in the room. Jae-yi tries to reject her parenting and the two end up fighting all the time.
When Jae-yi gets into a fistfight and winds up at a police station — owing the other party compensation and threatening his prospects for university — Hae-yi takes the responsibility on herself. She wants to find a way to pay the compensation and get the charges dropped so he has no criminal record. Their mother also tries to come up with the money by becoming a regular day-drinking buddy of Sun-ho’s mom, Jin-hee. However, she can’t get up the nerve to ask for the money when Jin-hee says they’re not really friends — they’re escaping the responsibilities of friendship together.
Sun-ho, without Hae-yi’s knowledge, meets with Jae-yi and cuts a deal. Sun-ho will pull his privileged strings and get the charges dropped in return for information about Hae-yi. Sun-ho wants to know how to get to her heart. He asks Jae-yi what her soft spot is and Jae-yi responds that she’s weak to people with wounds. Sun-ho goes to Hae-yi’s study session with coffee and kimbap hoping to get closer to her, but can’t open up and show any of his hurts.
We find out in these episodes that Sun-ho hates his father. I had wondered in an earlier weecap if Sun-ho also had an absent father, like Hae-yi and Jung-woo, but it turns out he’s just a jerk. He shows no love or concern for his wife and he seems to have fathered another child (while married) with a woman he used to work with. No one acknowledges it, though, and that child believes his father is the man his mother is married to. All of this gives us insight into why Sun-ho has been a player in dating relationships — he doesn’t want to be the pathetic one (begging for love like his mother).
One day at practice, Hae-yi is about to confess to Jung-woo and Sun-ho steps in the way. “Instead of him, can’t you look at me?” Hae-yi is taken aback at how he’s asking her out, and Sun-ho tries to pretend he’s talking about watching his practice moves. He’s lying, but just can’t show vulnerability. He asks Jae-yi if there’s another way to get to Hae-yi instead. Jae-yi asks why he likes his sister so much anyway, given he’s so popular. Sun-ho, unfortunately, gives an atrocious answer. She fascinates him because she works so hard — he’s never been that desperate.
Sun-ho doesn’t seem to realize he’s being offensive, not only to Hae-yi, but to Jae-yi who’s sitting right in front of him. As Jae-yi walks away, he tells Sun-ho that he’s kind of annoying — maybe that’s why Hae-yi doesn’t like him. I love this moment because it’s one of a couple we get this week where even though brother and sister fight like crazy, Jae-yi sticks up for his big sis when it comes to anyone else talking about her. Although, he gets slapped in the back of the head by their mother when he says the same things about Hae-yi for which he defended her against. The situation is complicated, and totally realistic.
When Sun-ho actually talks to Hae-yi, he puts a different spin on how he feels. He tells her she’s cool for owning being poor and not being embarrassed. He always feels like he’s going to disappoint someone and he could never do what she does. He confides in her that he hates his father. She tries to empathize by saying sometimes she resents her family but it’s because she actually loves them. Sun-ho cries and asks why she can’t like him. Why doesn’t anyone he likes like him back? Hae-yi hugs him to try to comfort him, and Jung-woo arrives at that moment to see it. Jung-woo also notices that the two are sitting in the half-moon spot on the stage, which superstition says will mean they end up together.
I like that these episodes were more about relationships than the prophecy mystery. They felt uplifting and gave us some glue to stick this story together. Almost everyone is being honest about their feelings, and all the possibilities of pairings feel right for a college campus. I just hope we get some backstory for Jung-woo soon so we can place him more evenly with Sun-ho emotionally.
Also, it was nice to see the team getting tighter by working on new routines this week. The small squad that remains are all people who really love what they’re doing. I’m looking forward to seeing them perform again since we’re halfway through and have only seen their stage game one time. The camera is purposefully chopping up the practice routines so we can’t see them in full. I hope this is because the show is planning to surprise us with awesome full routines later.