Nutshell Recap Episode #13:
Lee Gun (Jang Hyuk) has lived the 3 years since the fateful accident where Mi Young (Jang Na Ra) lost their baby and their marriage imploded NOT moving forward. He is friends with Se Ra and visits Mi Young’s mother for a weekly meal. His grandmother wants him to get married and have children but he refuses. In his private study he still has the baby’s crib. He studies clippings of Mi Young, now known as Ellie the painter. He is proud of the woman she has evolved to be.
Mi Young and Daniel Pitt (Choi Jin Hyuk) get ready for her art exhibit in Macau. Initially you cannot tell if there is romance between them. But soon you see the Daniel is still in the friend zone, albeit a dear and close friend zone. They do hold hands a couple of times in the episode.
Lee Gun travels to Macau and wants to stay in room 2006, the room he and Mi Young had their initial encounter in 3 years prior. Irony of ironies, it is Mi Young that is in room 2006.
Lee Gun pumps himself up to attend Mi Young’s art exhibit. He is nervous at the possibility of meeting Mi Young. He presses forward and attends the art exhibit. He sees the painting of their baby DP making “snail” fingers and immediately purchases it. When Mi Young learns the painting has been sold, she requests the contact information of the buyer as she had no intention of selling this particular painting. Lee Gun quickly discerns it is Mi Young when she calls and claims to be sick so they communicate via text. He does not agree to an art swap or to meet her.
Lee Gun goes to the hotel bar and spies on Daniel, Mi Young, and the art exhibit workers celebrating their first successful day of the exhibit. The workers press Daniel and Mi Young for romantic details. Turns out they have not kissed yet. Daniel pretends to try and kiss her but pulls away whispering to Mi Young he would not do something so private in a bar. Lee Gun (as the DP painting buyer) texts Mi Young to meet him at the park. She goes but he does not reveal himself. Instead they text / talk and he observes her from a distance. He still does not agree to an art swap.
Lee Gun pounds some alcohol marveling that Mi Young said their time together was a “bright and shining jewel” in her life. He believes he only gave her sorrow and heartache. Drunk he tries to enter room 2006. Mi Young is understandably concerned at the man pounding and yelling at her door. She opens the door armed with a high heel shoe. She and Lee Gun collide in the hall. They recognize each other and are stunned that they meet again.
Comments are a chronological stream of consciousness I jotted down while I watched the episode:
* The writer and production team took idea of a restart/reboot seriously. We begin this episode as we did episode 1, with the production of a shampoo commerical, where Lee Gun makes a surprise visit to the set and shares his thoughts. But this time, his concern is NOT for the product being sold but for the actor’s handling of the infant in the scene. He carefully shows the actor how to hold the baby properly.
* I liked that Mi Young saw Lee Gun first in the restaurant with Se Ra. She obviously came to the conclusion that they were a couple. Only later do we find out the Se Ra and Lee Gun are only in the friend zone (his choice not hers). You can see Mi Young is riveted by Lee Gun as her eyes are drawn to him again and again.
* Lee Gun’s visits to Mi Young’s mother’s eatery (smaller than the first one in Seoul) are obviously encounters they both enjoy. Lee Gun is the “snail” that has burrowed into Mi Young’s mother’s heart. She notes to herself that he never asks about what he really wants to know about (Mi Young).
* Something about Mi Young’s older sister’s hair bugs me. Is it a wig or just the styling?
* I was touched and surprised when in the privacy of Lee Gun’s study you see he still has the baby crib, the toy horn, and clippings that follow Mi Young’s successful career as an artist. His stuckness (by Hyuk) to those memories and Mi Young is affecting.
* In Macau the hotel room setup was another reboot moment. This time Mi Young is in 2006 and Lee Gun is in 2009. But now he desparately wants to be in 2006 to relive those moments that have now been rendered precious in his mind.
* I did not understand all the references to past Jang Hyuk works (the music video) or the Inspector Gadget reference.
* A bit of the ridiculous with him rolling into the art show and buying the huge flower stand to duel with Daniel’s. But that is Lee Gun folks. Flamboyant flare at times. Though I must say this was a 50% powered Lee Gun. Is Mi Young the only one that can spark Lee Gun to full power?
* I was touched when he saw the baby / DP art with the baby making the snail fingers. Loved the meta and his complete understanding of the art and the subsequent need to purchase and own that art. Mi Young’s distress at someone buying this precious piece of art was also understandable. Why? Because in the past 3 years their lives have moved forward evidenced by their work accomplishments. However, their personal lives are in limbo due to the abrupt end to their relationship and lack of closure that has left unresolved feelings and longing for each other.
* I back Mi Young’s mother refusal to accept Daniel as Mi Young’s significant other. She keeps him at arms distance and addresses him in a more formal manner. She is obviously on “Team Lee Gun” versus “Team Daniel”.
* Color me surprised when step-brother Lee Yong day dreamed about Mi Young during his marriage date. I was surprised again when Ji Yeon showed up and was upset he was on a marriage date. Too bad the show’s stylist did not do much for refreshing her look.
* The stylist’s choice of Lee Gun’s jacket and larger bow tie was a terrific combo in the bar scene. The last episode the stylist put him in an equally compelling black suit with houndstooth tie with the knot not completely tight. Lee Gun gets the best styling of all the characters on the show.
* I could not get enough of Lee Gun calling Daniel “gigolo oppa” or “gigolo bastard”. I chuckle just thinking about it. Even so, Lee Gun appreciated that Daniel had taken good care of Mi Young the past 3 years.
* I smiled when Jang Hyuk used his real name when Lee Gun caused a distraction in the bar to divert Daniel and Mi Young from kissing.
* I liked Daniel pulling away from what looked to be their first kiss telling her he would not have their first kiss in a bar. However I was not stoked that he pretended to try to kiss her in a bar. His actions belied his words. Mi Young’s body language was clear…she did not want to kiss Daniel.
* The production choice of having Lee Gun interact more directly with Mi Young during the texting session was interesting. I also liked that when the conversation started flowing they were no longer staring at their phones but speaking their words. As actors, that gave them the ability to inject more into scene. Well done director / producer / writer / whoever made that choice. Mi Young did not look directly at Lee Gun because she thought she was texting / speaking with someone she had never met. However Lee Gun was directly texting/speaking with Mi Young allowing Jang Hyuk the latitude to directly address and look at Jang Na Ra during their conversation. Nice!
This was clearly the reboot and reset episode. It was quiet and understated. In my episode 12 recap I made a list of what I wanted from the second phase of this series. Let’s see how this episode maps to my list.
As we enter the second phase of this series and their romance you will not be surprised that I want:
1) the brain disease to be a non-issue. Kinda…Dr. Octopus said Lee Gun’s tests show remission. I am NEVER going to like the brain disease card the writer has saddled Lee Gun and this show with. I hope it remains minimized.
2) a more confident Mi Young that does NOT lapse when she encounters Lee Gun. To Be Determined…I will say Mi Young did not seem any different to me. I was hoping for a more overt sassy confident woman. But that woman may not be possible for this character. We should wait and see how Mi Young deals with Lee Gun next episode. Mi Young was always the most direct with Lee Gun. One more thing, Mi Young’s willingness to share that her past was precious and shone like a jewel in her memory says quite a bit about where her head and heart are.
3) a Lee Gun that has grown to be more caring. Well…he is stuck in the past and unable to move on. He lost the love of his life by his own actions and cannot get over it. This is a subdued Lee Gun. He is going through life but not living it with zest or zeal. I see his pain and regret from past events as well as continued tender caring of her. His text / talk interchange in the park was particularly tender. Jang Hyuk gently interacted Jang Na Ra during that scene. Subtle and impactful acting is what Jang Hyuk does best in this series. He matches Jang Na Ra’s aesthetic perfectly. I am all for Lee Gun’s tenderness towards Mi Young. Lee Gun and Mi Young are right for each other, I do not doubt that. I do not relish the line “you complete me” but it does seem to apply to them.
4) a supportive Daniel that listens to what Mi Young tells him and does not push his own agenda if it does not match hers. Not Sure…He obviously has been supportive of her and has not pushed a romantic agenda in 3 years (that is patience in action or should I say inaction) but it is clear he would like to. Daniel is a gentleman. He has the kindness handcuffs on. He is hinting he wants romance. They did hold hands a couple of times. There were knowing looks between them indicating they are important to each other. But dear, dear Daniel, if you could only see that you are forever a friend NOT a romantic interest.
5) I do not really care about Se Ra but she and Daniel need to find each other as brother and sister so he is not alone at the end of this series. Not Applicable…this was not addressed this episode. I was thrilled the Lee Gun and Se Ra are NOT a couple! Thank you writer!
7 episodes to go…let’s see if Lee Gun and Mi Young still have that sweet magic!