Oh me of little faith! Okay guys, I put myself in the show’s hands, because I found this pair of episodes utterly delightful, both in answering last week, and dancing so well between the lines of ridiculous and heartfelt. Well, maybe a little more to the ridiculous, but they’re so committed to it that it’s hard not to get sucked in. And when you throw in a side of sisterhood, a few long-overdue cats hopping out of bags… what’s not to love?
The difficult thing about recapping is being forced to leave out details, and this is a show built on its details. From the ever-changing inserts at the beginning to the little alien by-plays at the end, the musical cues, the overt symbolisms and the quiet subtexts… it’s a kind of poetry. The kind that involves masses of pettiness and petulance.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Na-ri serves up ramyun on her rooftop for the kids. Chi-yeol notices Hwa-shin’s lights on and says to Pal-gang that her uncle must be back. The man himself turns up, and he eyes Na-ri in a way Chi-yeol finds suspicious.
As she lies in bed that night, Na-ri recalls the last time she saw Hwa-shin, when he told her to date both him and Jung-won. Her thoughts are interrupted by a phone call from Hwa-shin ordering her out. He demands ramyun, and insists that she’ll do what he says in the end. He asks for ice cream, too: “Now.” Na-ri puts her phone down in disbelief.
Jung-won comes across his mom drinking liquor from the bottle, upset at how he got caught running to Na-ri by his father and Soo-jung. He says nothing and just hugs her.
Hwa-shin takes a last satisfied gulp of his ramyun at Stepmom’s store. Ohh, Na-ri, you’re hopeless! At least she’s grumpy about it. She brings him another ice cream after he rejects the first one, and he orders her to unwrap it, saying that the gesture would make him feel loved.
Shrugging, she just unwraps her own and asks what he’s been doing all month. Keeping tabs on her blind dates, apparently, as he lists how many she’s been on. And that’s when Jung-won arrives, swiping Hwa-shin’s ice cream. Hwa-shin glares as Jung-won unwraps it right away, allowing us to enjoy the subtext.
Na-ri announces, “I’m going to see a different man.” Someone without friends and without money, she adds pointedly. Both men call her back when she marches off, and Hwa-shin gets snippy that she comes back at Jung-won’s word rather than his.
“Let’s do it, the three of us,” Hwa-shin declares. She sighs. Acknowledging her wrongdoing, she begs for the three of them not to get entangled again, and tries to leave again. This time, Jung-won seconds Hwa-shin’s suggestion, “Go out with both of us.” Na-ri turns to him in disbelief.
Sung-sook eventually accepts a vitamin drink from Ja-young as they settle in for the night: “I’ll have it because you gave it to me.” The momance is alive! The bedroom light blinks, and they argue with each other about changing it.
Back to our threesome, Jung-won explains that he knows Hwa-shin will continue to pursue Na-ri, so agreeing to this madcap arrangement is the only way he can see to stay in her affections a little longer. “That’s settled, then!” Hwa-shin declares.
Jung-won points out that they want her to two-time them, but she still avers that it’s nonsensical. Getting heated, she asks them what they take her for, and rips into them for acting like they’re giving her a gift. “I will never do it,” she says, and goes away for real this time.
Glaring at Jung-won, Hwa-shin asks why he’s acting crazy like him, and Jung-won replies through gritted teeth that Hwa-shin made him that way. He leaves angrily, knocking over his chair. Aw, what did the chair do wrong?
Jung-won finds Soo-jung waiting for him when he gets home, angry about his behavior in front of her parents. She tells him that she’ll come back every night to torture him with just how head-over-heels Na-ri was for Hwa-shin for three years. She readily agrees when he asks if she has nothing better to do, haha.
Hwa-shin pops open a beer on his rooftop when Na-ri appears. He takes taunting swigs, whirling and twirling while Na-ri scolds and pleads at him to stop. He easily catches the soft toy she throws at him, and belligerently tells her to come over if she’s worried.
He tells her he doesn’t like sleeping alone. “Sleep with me,” he says. The words shock Na-ri, but her traitor heart begins to pound. She turns her back to him, and his words echo off the buildings at her. Taking a last swallow of beer, Hwa-shin goes in, keeping hold of the soft toy.
Jung-won catches Na-ri leaving an hour earlier than usual for work, and calls her out on trying to avoid him. She looks around, but denies that that she’s looking for Hwa-shin. Jung-won tells her to not to think of Hwa-shin when she’s with him, but Na-ri tells him that she can’t help it, just like when she’s with Hwa-shin, she thinks of Jung-won.
She complains that it’s tearing her conscience apart, and that’s why she doesn’t want to go along with their scheme. Nodding, Jung-won tells her to make sure she thinks of him when she’s with Hwa-shin, then.
He tells her not to call him by his title anymore, and says that he’ll let her break up with him if she calls him “Jung-won-ah”, or any other informal address, a hundred times. She tries it out, “Hey. Hey, Jung-won-ah.” He smiles. “Is this guy mad?” she shouts, and his grin widens. But when he wrestles her garment bag from her, she yells in dismay and runs off alone. Jung-won chuckles to himself.
As Sung-sook leaves that morning with her rubbish, Chef crosses paths with her and wordlessly takes the bag himself. She sighs, a mixed expression on her face.
Na-ri arrives at the station to find Jung-won already there, and he hands over her garment bag. He tells her about how some woman promised to tell him all about Na-ri’s crush on Hwa-shin. Flashing a grin, he says he’ll tell her who if she has dinner with him.
It’s Hwa-shin’s first day back at work. Na-ri reports that morning on the rising incidence of house-sharing among young people, and in the elevator, his eyes are plastered to the screen even as PD Oh, Sung-sook, Ja-young and Announcer Uhm get on. On their prodding, he gives them half-assed greetings without taking his eyes off Na-ri.
Sung-sook tells Hwa-shin to change their blinking lightbulb, and Announcer Uhm pipes up that he’ll do it, and says he’ll come around after the news. As Hwa-shin’s about to get off, PD Oh asks him if he got the notice, and tells him to do well with Hye-won. Oh?
In the canteen, Hwa-shin sits at Na-ri’s table again, but all Na-ri can hear when she looks at him is “sleep with me”. He asks her smugly if she slept well, but she only asks him if he’s been going to the hospital properly. His cockiness drops and he tells her he’s a man, not a patient.
His hopes are further dashed when she says doesn’t need any lightbulbs changing, and also can’t go to dinner with him since she has a blind date. He fails to stop her leaving the table, but gets some succor to hear she didn’t come to work in Jung-won’s car.
Hye-won reminds Na-ri about the blind date (since she’s going in Hye-won’s place), and then asks if Na-ri knew what Jung-won did to help her make the auditions.
Ohh, Hwa-shin is now anchor on the 7 o’clock news next to Hye-won, thanks to the original appointee being dispatched overseas. Thanks for the exposition, Announcer Uhm. PD Oh retorts that the only reason Uhm got the 9 o’cock is because Hwa-shin was suspended.
In an off-air moment, Hwa-shin asks Hye-won what kind of guy Na-ri is meeting, and she reveals that the other guy is also sending a substitute. She dares him to leave the broadcast right now if he’s that desperate to find out who it is.
Hwa-shin bolts up, and she observes that far from being the bastard he vowed he’d be, he’s a puppy. She tells him the address, and to PD Oh’s horror, Hwa-shin tears out his earpiece and leaves the newsdesk, surprising even Hye-won. But they have to go back on air, and the camera focuses on Hye-won.
Na-ri waits for her date, and I’m not surprised at all when Jung-won takes the seat across her. He holds out his hand in greeting. Puzzled, Na-ri takes it.
Emerging from the bathrooms, Hwa-shin returns to the studio and takes his seat. Beside himself, PD Oh comes up to the desk and tears into Hwa-shin, asking if he has some kind of bladder problem.
Announcer Uhm yells that an anchor must stay in their seat no matter what, while Hwa-shin coolly notes that they’re about to go back on air. Caught short, PD Oh and Announcer Uhm throw themselves on the floor before they end up on camera.
Na-ri tries to shoo Jung-won away, but he tells her that her that he’s here in place of her original date. He explains that he’d told that guy that she was going on dates because she was mad with him (Jung-won), and had described her as “the woman I even thought about marrying”. Even as she scoffs, her heart pounds as he leans closer, and she flees.
Taking a moment on her rooftop, Na-ri replays Jung-won’s words. She squees to herself that that’s the first time anyone ever said such a thing to her. But then she shakes her head as she remembers Madam Kim’s slap.
From across the way, Hwa-shin interrupts her thoughts. She comes over to the railing and muses to him that she never once thought about marriage, and Hwa-shin scoffs. He tells her to watch a movie with him tomorrow, but everything he says to her is followed by an echo of Jung-won in Na-ri’s head, though I’m not sure if it’s actual memory.
But her mind is definitely playing tricks on her when Jung-won pops up around and in front of Hwa-shin, countermanding everything he says. She groans, and tells Hwa-shin that her mind is spinning because of them. If she must two-time, she says, she’ll have this month with Jung-won and the next with him, which he refuses.
And if it’s mornings or nights, he wants nights. “I want to hold hands, hug you, kiss you and sleep with you,” he says in a rush. She laughs and says none of that will happen, day or night. How nice if he has just liked her back four years ago, she sighs, instead of making her crazy now. She reminds him of how mean he was to her, and says that it was so much nicer to receive love.
“Go Jung-won made [my heart] flutter so much, why did you come now to shake me up?” she says. “You like me more, though, right?” Hwa-shin asks, uncertain. She tells him that her feelings for him are buried so deep in her heart that even she doesn’t know their extent—she thought she’d got rid of them, but they keep popping up.
Announcer Uhm fails at fixing the light in Sung-sook and Ja-young’s room, and the women decide they have to call Chef after all. To their delight, he fixes it in a jiffy. Uhm pops to the loo and ends up blocking it. Sung-sook gets mad and he puts an arm around her in reassurance. Chef silently registers it.
Lying in bed, Na-ri thinks of Jung-won telling her to use his name. On her bedside calendar, where each day is allotted to one of the men by title, she now writes in “Jung-won” on the latest day.
In his own bed, Hwa-shin groans in pain from his chest. At the hospital the next day, Dr. Geum examines him and tells his he’s developed a seroma—he must have been doing all the things she told him not to do, like drinking and eating dairy, and she can even tell that he was fighting.
He argues when she says he’ll have to be checked in, and tells him off for not bringing Na-ri. He grumps that he wants her to treat him like a man, not a patient.
Ja-young and Sung-sook pop upstairs to Na-ri’s to use her bathroom that night, and they end up sharing soju on her rooftop. It turns out both women are well aware of her love-triangle dilemma: Sung-sook heard Hwa-shin asking her to sleep with him, while Ja-young saw Jung-won picking her up every day.
Na-ri confides that they want her to two-time them, which shocks both women. She hastily assures them that she would never do it, but Ja-young disagrees: She should. She explains that by going back and forth, Na-ri will be able to figure out who she likes more.
Sung-sook, on the other hand, tells her to date just one. She herself had two men chasing her (Announcer Uhm and Hwa-shin’s brother), and she doesn’t regret her choice even though it didn’t work out.
While the older women argue back and forth, both of them agree that she should pick Jung-won, and high-five over it. They tell her that you never really know a man until you live with him, and actually cackle when she asks what Hwa-shin is really like.
In the morning, Ja-young also has her moment of Chef taking her rubbish, and she’s left just as perplexed as Sung-sook.
Na-ri spots Hwa-shin leaving with an overnight bag and asks where he’s off to. “Why, you want to go together?” he asks wryly, adding that an overnight with him makes it game-over for Jung-won. But he’s rueful as he tells her, “Next time.” She cajoles him to take her, and he puffs up a little when even tells him how manly she finds him. “Nevertheless, next time,” he says to her.
Ohhh, because he’s checking into hospital. But alone as he is, whispers follow him down the hall and people recognize him as an anchor. He escapes into his room, but finds it occupied by a slightly unnerving choir group singing to the other patient. As a singer turns on him, Na-ri slips in, in hospital pajamas. He wails to when he sees her, and cries into his hands. Na-ri draws the curtain around his bed.
Jung-won pops into Rak Pasta where Chef (his uncle) is feeding the kids. He wants to move in with him to be close to Na-ri, because he likes her. Chi-yeol eyes him suspiciously, and Chef sends the kids out.
Na-ri tells Hwa-shin that the doc called her the day before, and asks him how he would have dealt with it by himself, or is he a woman for real now? Calling him “grandma”, she mock-scrubs his back, and for a second, he laughs despite himself, before turning on her with gritted teeth. In return, she scolds him for drinking.
Nurse Oh comes by to tell Hwa-shin to have his post-op bra ready, which of course he didn’t bring. Na-ri offers to fetch it and be back by the time the procedure is done, but he desperately wants her to just go away and stop acting like his guardian.
Chef mentions Na-ri’s long-time crush to Jung-won. He replies that everyone seems to know about that damn crush, and admits that he’s afraid she likes Hwa-shin more. Chef gives him the room, and encourages him to be his real self. He tells him he’s more charming up close than afar.
Since he’s there, Jung-won goes up to Na-ri’s floor and gives her a call. At that very moment, she happens to be in Hwa-shin’s place, getting the bra. But he catches sight of her coming out, just as she tells him that she’s too busy with work to see him.
…and follows her all the way to the hospital, where he finds her at Hwa-shin’s bedside. He stares at them in disbelief. Not the picture you expected to see, eh?
Jung-won emerges from the doctor’s office. If he’s any friend, he should stop Hwa-shin drinking and fighting, she had told him.
Returning to Hwa-shin’s room (where the other woman has now been discharged), Jung-won sits at his friend’s bedside. Both men avoid each other’s eyes until eventually, Hwa-shin tells him to go away.
But Nurse Oh arrives to give him a butt-injection and needs Jung-won to help uncover him, since Hwa-shin isn’t allowed to move his arms yet. Her cheerful yet threatening sing-song kills me. Both men eventually submit and Na-ri lingers at the door, watching. After the injection, she tells Jung-won to massage it vigorously for a long time.
Watching them, Na-ri recalls what Hye-won told her about Jung-won’s role in getting the audition delayed. “Shouldn’t you thank him?” Hye-won had said. Looking at them together now, Na-ri says to herself that it should have been like this from the start.
Hwa-shin tells Jung-won that he’s not giving up on Na-ri, and Jung-won agrees. At the door, Na-ri sighs. Squirming angrily, Hwa-shin tells Jung-won to quit the massaging now, and Jung-won holds his arms instead, changing his grip to a tender pat.
Na-ri chooses that moment to enter. She says they must have made up, but they deny it. She tells them she’s off home since Jung-won is here, but this time, Hwa-shin tells her to stay. He tells Jung-won that he can go. Na-ri sighs.
And so, Na-ri ends up on a divan between the two men. She tells them that she likes the three of them being together like this, but the two men disagree—they would rather each be alone with her.
“Should the three of us live together, just like this?” she asks. Not dating or two-timing, but properly—watching TV together, going to work together, smelling each other’s poop (ew). Then they can really get to know each other, and she adds that they might even end up disliking her, or she them.
She asks what they think. The men eye each other and turn over, away from each other. Half-laughing, she tells them to forget about it, and they turn back towards her. Before long, all three have fallen asleep.
Epilogue: Hwa-shin and Na-ri share a newsdesk and Hwa-shin makes a Very Serious report…on himself. “Although it’s late, I apologize,” he says, “I was wrong to call Anchor Pyo an easy woman.” He plans to make up for it by being an easy man, and admits that he did want to kiss her that time at the hospital. We know, Hwa-shin. WE ALL KNOW.
The headlines across the bottom form a lolarious second commentary: “Although [you] apologized, it’s already too late,” reads one. He concludes his report by saying he’s repenting, and hopes for another chance.
Once they’re off air, Hwa-shin tells a grinning Na-ri that she did really well, and winks.
The resolution of Hwa-shin’s great sacrifice is a little tidy with him landing the second-best anchor position, but in a way, it adds to his character. If last week showed us anything else, it was that he’s undeniably masterful at his job, even if he sucks at being a normal person. But I am much more satisfied that he landed himself back in hospital—all of that drinking and fighting and wilful lack of self-care just couldn’t not have a consequence, but I’ll admit I secretly wished it was more serious. In a way, the seroma is still a fairly tidy affair for him, more the narrative device to bring Jung-won into the know than karma. That said, it was interesting to see, still, just how easy it is to emasculate him, now with the added bite of being in love with Na-ri and have her see him as a patient again. But you’d think someone who cares so much about his image would take better care of himself, eh? You silly man!
This latest cohabitation scheme actually sounds like it might work, and it at least has the dubious distinction of being the least harebrained idea so far. I’m entertained by Jung-won’s “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to all this, although his descent into Hwa-shin-like pettiness isn’t necessarily healthy when you consider the total mess of insecurity and swagger that Hwa-shin is. But if his aim is to close the distance that lies between himself and Na-ri, it certainly seems to be working. A bit. Maybe.
Although Jung-won made some significant progress this episode by getting Na-ri to use his name, I’m afraid I can’t see him as a real rival for her affections anymore, but I can at least see the intention behind his character’s actions, so that’s how I’ll continue to read him. To be honest, Hwa-shin isn’t much of a rival either, right now (I guess one day of swooniness exceeded his quota), but how telling is it that Na-ri’s heart pounded at his blunt invitation to sleep with him? In that moment, you can almost see her hating herself for reacting to it, yet reacting all the same. And then she goes and reacts to Jung-won too! Hearts, eh. Treacherous things. But I think with Hwa-shin, it’s the raw emotion she reacts to, whereas with Jung-won, it’s the romance (and perhaps novelty) of the moment.
That’s not to say one is better than the other, but her problem is that she has no idea what her heart is doing. I actually love this conflict she has with herself—for unreasonably liking both men and not being able to choose, but also not being able to reconcile herself to actually two-timing with them, while at the same time seeing the tiniest draw in it (which she totally does! But what if you end up hopelessly in love with them both? Then what?). Gosh, I just wish Jung-won was more compelling that way so I could be properly torn. He has much more chemistry with Hwa-shin, and I’m pretty happy that he finally found out about the cancer. More than the possibility of romance (we all know how that will end), it’s the bromance that’s got me excited, and I’m sure that living together will have all sorts of unexpected results.
But what I liked most about this episode was the overarching idea that there’s a lot about intimacy, love and relationships that is unromantic and messy—it’s the back-scrubbing and the dirty toilets, taking out the trash and getting injections in your butt while wearing pink pajamas. It lays out yet another subtext that a relationship takes work—sometimes unpleasant and difficult work—and that in reality, the overt romance is only a part of a full relationship, which has to be underpinned by deeper things, and then find reality in the small, daily things. We’re once again shown this contrast of the relationship primarily grounded in comfort, versus the other grounded in romance. Each relationship strives for what it’s missing, but Hwa-shin has the advantage of his romantic potential being colored much more fully.
Of course, after all the man-tics, what she needs is a really good dose of girl-talk, and that short interlude of sisterhood was pretty fantastic. I love how the show has evolved Sung-sook and Ja-young from catty, shrieky archetypes, to women who are genuinely worthy of respect in ways we can appreciate. I especially like Ja-young’s turn as mentor to Na-ri, and surrogate mother to Chi-yeol, forging an unexpected bond with the siblings. But it’s the women’s odd-couple friendship with each other that is really my favorite relationship right now, and long may it flourish! Who needs men, anyway?