Behind Every Star: Episodes 3-4
Nothing is what it seems this week as our cast of characters prove to be as skillful in acting (re: lying) as the stars they manage. With the fate of the company still up in the air and everyone trying to save Method Entertainment (or themselves), surely some secrets are bound to be exposed in the process, right?
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
After having their president die unexpectedly and leave Method Entertainment to his eager-to-sell widow, our already floundering agents aren’t prepared to handle yet another company curveball — but when it rains, it pours. Joong-don, Tae-oh, and JANG MYUNG-AE (Shim So-young) are appropriately concerned when tax auditor LEE SANG-WOOK (Noh Sang-hyun) shows up and sets up shop in President Hwang’s old office — especially when there’s a pretty good chance that President Hwang used company funds for personal reasons. Je-in, on the other hand, is more than happy to roll out the red carpet for the oh-so-delectable auditor.
One look at Sang-wook and his sexy glasses (yummmmmm), and she eagerly volunteers to keep an eye on him while he digs into Method Entertainment’s financial statements. Her motives are purely unprofessional, of course, and she cranks up her flirting game to an eleven. Her technique is comical in its overt innuendo, but it’s effective. As much as Sang-wook tries to rebuff her — still smarting from her recent rejection via a dating app — the sexual tension between them is so thick, you’d need a chainsaw to cut through it. He may be saying no (for now), but his eyes linger on her in a way that indicates his pride is the only thing holding him back.
While Je-in is off playing seductress, Joong-don and Tae-oh are busy trying to sign mother-and-daughter-in-law duo KIM SOO-MI and SEO HYO-RIM (as themselves) to the same drama production. At first, the actresses are eager to sign on with the project, but then they both intentionally tank their meeting with the screenwriter. Hyo-rim has second thoughts about working on a drama with her mother-in-law, feeling extremely pressured to live up to her expectations, and Soo-mi is tired of being typecast as characters whose only defining trait is their maternal connection to another character.
The screenwriter is willing to give them both a second chance because she believes their real-life dynamic will translate well to her drama, but neither Soo-mi nor Hyo-rim is a fan of her interpretation of their personal relationship. Things get a little violent, and — for the second time — the screenwriter decides she doesn’t want to work with either of them. On the bright side, the whole situation mended the broken fences between mother and daughter-in-law. However, they are less happy with Tae-oh when they find out he manipulated them in order to sign both of them to the same drama and — therefore — make twice the money.
Although — from a business standpoint — Tae-oh’s motivations are logical and understandable, his methods continue to be amoral and carry over to his personal life. Under the guise of an apology (for his aggressive confrontation with Hyun-joo in Episode 2), he gives Hyun-joo tickets to a So Ji-sub movie premiere. In reality, though, the movie tickets are just a means for Tae-oh to introduce Hyun-joo to another agent so he can pawn her off on a different company.
He’s not very discriminatory about who he introduces her to either, as the other agent is extremely handsy and disgusting. Did Tae-oh not know he was sending Hyun-joo into a lion’s den? I guess it doesn’t really matter because his reaction to the aftermath of Hyun-joo publicly throwing a soda on her harasser says it all. Tae-oh admonishes her for disturbing the peace and making him look bad. Ugh, poor Hyun-joo. I really hope by some makjang-level twist he isn’t her father, but if he is, then I’d like to see her burn his perfect life to the ground.
To be honest, the way this drama keeps strongly hinting at Hyun-joo’s birth secret without explicitly confirming Tae-oh is her father is a bit frustrating, but it became apparent with this week’s episodes that the writers enjoy toying with our expectations. In another example, they are now teasing us with a potential relationship between Joong-don and Hee-sun.
Joong-don finally attended Hee-sun’s play, and he’s so moved by her performance that he offers her a contract with the agency. But how much of his attentiveness should we attribute to his new role as her agent? Well, it’s hard to say at this point because the writers keep creating moments where we think there is some romantic chemistry developing between them, only for it to turn out to be — on the surface at least — professional interest and pride. I find this particular tug-of-war with the writers decidedly less irritating than Hyun-joo’s birth secret, though, because there is no risk of incest with this couple.
And, man oh man, the writers are really running with the dramatic irony of pairing up a (presumed) sister with her brother because I’m not the only one rooting for Eun-gyul and Hyun-joo — assuming they aren’t siblings, of course. Tae-oh’s wife, SONG EUN-HA (Jung Hye-young), wants to know all about the new, young employee who seems to have caught her son’s eye, but Tae-oh derails that train of thought. (Hmmm, I wonder why?)
But without giving a legitimate reason — *cough* incest *cough* — for her to not play matchmaker, Eun-ha is all too eager to have Hyun-joo stay over for dinner and unknowingly make things awkward for everyone. Even Eun-gyul, who witnessed Hyun-joo’s argument with his father at the movie premiere, knows something is going on and seems subdued at the dinner table.
Back at Method Entertainment, Tae-oh’s position is up in the air as he weighs his options and plays the professional field. He’s been offered a job with competing agency Star Media if he can bring all of his clients with him, and that seems to be the direction he’s leaning. Especially since his original plan to pool his money with the other agents and buy Method Entertainment from President Hwang’s widow may not pan out now that there’s a Chinese company interested in buying the agency — assuming the audit goes well.
Secrets never stay secret around Method Entertainment, though — not with Eun-soo, Tae-oh’s nosey wannabe work-wife, reading his texts and emails. News of Tae-oh’s defection spreads through the company and everyone gives him the cold shoulder — except for Myung-ae. She gives him a resounding slap across the face when she finds out that he is also the whistleblower who triggered the financial audit.
He claims he did it to delay the Chinese buyout, but there’s just one problem with his plan that he didn’t account for: the fact that President Hwang totally embezzled company funds. To pay for a hotel room. Where he shacked up with his mistress. (Wuh oh. Looks like he did expire during some bedsheet calisthenics.)
On the client side of Tae-oh’s story, he busily trying to help actress SOO-HYUN (as herself) make a comeback in Korean action cinema. With most of her support system back in the United States, she finds it hard to balance motherhood and her career — especially when she can’t find a decent nanny to take some of the load off of her plate.
To make matters worse, a video of her beating up a street gang goes viral for all the wrong reasons, but when it’s proven — thanks to Hyun-joo’s slow-mo version of the video — that Soo-hyun doesn’t use excessive force, she rises in popularity. Although she misses out on the big action flick she was gunning for, Soo-hyun finds a happy medium starring in stunt-filled commercials with more flexible filming schedules. Oh, and she donates all the money to a women’s charity.
Meanwhile, Joong-don and Je-in try to arrange a meeting with the hotel to find out the extent of President Hwang’s embezzlement, and they’re spotted by Sang-wook. Not realizing Je-in has been trying — and failing — to seduce the company auditor, Joong-don puts on an act and pretends that the two of them are there for a secret romantic rendezvous.
Considering Sang-wook is already under the impression that Je-in is allergic to commitment and a habitual liar (like everyone else at Method Entertainment), it’s understandable that he doesn’t believe her when she says she and Joong-don are “just friends.” He coolly dismisses her advances… until she finally opens up and tells him the truth.
On the one hand, yay for honesty and passionate kisses! But on the other hand, I’m not so sure it was a wise move to admit to the auditor that your deceased former boss used company funds on a love nest. Is it too soon to raise a celebratory flag that at least one romantic ship has left the harbor? But what if Sang-wook uses her confession against her and Method Entertainment?
Once word got out that Tae-oh was moving to Star Media and taking all his money-making clients with him, the Chinese company decided to bail. The rest of the senior agents wonder if, perhaps, this was all a calculated plot on Tae-oh’s part to lower the market value of the company so that they could afford to purchase it from President Hwang’s widow. Considering how manipulative he is in his day-to-day business, it definitely seems within his wheelhouse. Buuuuuut he’s also extremely self-serving — the kind of guy who would toss children overboard on a sinking ship to ensure he got a spot on a lifeboat.
Sure enough, Tae-oh fully intended to abandon Method Entertainment for Star Media, and the drop in the company’s value was entirely unplanned. He doesn’t correct everyone’s misconceptions, though, and he instead basks in their praise. But the celebration is a bit premature, as Je-in drops a bombshell on them all: President Hwang embezzled A LOT of money from the company. And, in short, they’re screwed.
It feels a bit erroneous to compliment this drama for creativity and ingenuity when I know it’s a remake, but — ignoring that fact — Behind Every Star is one of the few dramas that finds a solid balance between it’s overarching story and it’s formulaic set-up. It wisely keeps the larger plot line (the fate of the company) simple, and everything else fill in the gaps.
I’m particularly pleased with how the episodic celebrity cameos are woven into the plot. They’re given just enough attention to be interesting and shine a light on some less glamorous aspects of Hallyu life, but they aren’t so complex that I’m left feeling like they were rushed. Unlike Shooting Stars, which was decidedly a romance set in the world of talent management, this drama feels more like a true slice-of-life peek at all the behind-the-scenes chaos. Admittedly, much of the chaos is exaggerated for our entertainment, but I don’t find that it detracts from the realism. Instead, I’m extremely invested in these characters — good and bad. There was a lot of bad this week, though. Obviously, Tae-oh continues to be a massive dingle-berry, but I was also disappointed in Je-in.
As nice as it was to see nice to see an independent woman in her late-thirties confidently go after what she wants, I found her flirting “technique” off-putting. Sure, I had a good laugh over the coffee machine bit, but after that, her behavior crossed into sexual harassment — lots of unreciprocated touches and invasion of space and privacy. If it weren’t for the camera and music score emphasizing Sang-wook’s intense I-want-you-but-you’re-wrong-for-me bedroom eyes, I’d be hard pressed to believe her advances were reciprocated. Thankfully her advances were (eventually) welcomed, because that was one helluva on-screen kiss. Noh Sang-hyun is a relatively new actor, but he really held his own against Kwak Sun-young. I can’t say for certain that I’m rooting for this “couple” — but I am definitely cheering for more Noh Sang-hyun.
- Premiere Watch: Behind Every Star, Revenge of Others, The First Responders
- Chaos and hard work are Behind Every Star in new stills for tvN comedy
- The unglamorous life of a celebrity manager in new teaser for tvN’s Call My Agent
- First look at tvN’s Call My Agent with Lee Seo-jin and Kwak Sun-young
- Lee Seo-jin, Kwak Sun-young being courted for Korean remake of Call My Agent!
- News bites: October 19, 2022
- News bites: October 15, 2022
- News bites: October 13, 2022