We begin episode 1 with the musings of Yoo Jin who remembers discovering his love of classical music as a boy in Europe. He met a maestro who befriended him. He hoped to return to Europe one day to study with the maestro. European architecture is stunning.
Present day at the music school, good looking Yoo Jin has all the girls swoon but he pays no attention. At the bulletin board he sees his rival student Han Seung O will be studying in Europe soon. Seung O taunts him that maybe he will study with the maestro.
Yoo Jin is the best pianist at the music school but does not get along with Professor Do (who I recognize from Dream High). They argue over Yoo Jin’s lack of focus on piano and potential interest in conducting. Yoo Jin does not like Professor Do’s one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Yoo Jin storms out of the lesson. Outside he fills out a withdrawal application and hears someone playing the piano, and playing well. Like a moth to flame he searches for the pianist. As he stares in the practice room at the back of the mystery pianist, his girlfriend pulls him away and rips up his withdrawal application.
Our mystery pianist is Seol Nae Il, a quirky free spirited girl that plays instinctively with emotion as the driver. She realizes she is late for her part-time job which turns out to be playing piano while telling stories to kindergarten children. I would be spell bound if someone told stories mixed with music like that.
The girlfriend listens Yoo Jin complain but notices with disdain when he flashes back to a memory of a particularly bad plane ride as a child. Is he afraid of planes and unable to fly? The girlfriend breaks up with him. Yoo Jin gets drunk.
The next morning Yoo Jin dreams of himself in a field listening to beautiful piano music. He wakes to find himself in Nae Il’s bed. Much to his horror her apartment is a pig sty complete with flies and cockroaches. He runs out in disgust. He showers vigorously to get the remains of whatever he touched off him.
Professor Ahn’s teaching style is completely different from the dictatorial style of Professor Do. He teaches Nae Il in a collaborative manner. Music is fun to her.
Yoo Il Rak is a crazy violin player (I recognize him from Flower Boys Next Door) with bleach blond hair (does not look that good blond). His lesson with his teacher does not go well. She tells him he either performs with a pianist or she will hold him back next term.
Yoo Jin is horrified when the garbage from Nae Il’s patio leeches onto his. Even worse the cockroaches invade his space. He promptly kicks Nae Il out of her apartment and cleans it top to bottom. Wow, he can clean my place any day! Nae Il notes the piano sounds much better in a clean apartment.
Dean Song tells her staff she has invited a maestro to be a visiting professor.
Duet practice between Nae Il and Yoo Jin is difficult. He pushes her to be rigid and exact. She hates it. Desparate for a break she starts to leave. He grabs her hands and holds them over the piano. This triggers a flashback to another person forcing her to play. She bites him (literally) and runs away.
Yoo Jin is an artist in the kitchen! He brings the food to Nae Il who hungrily eats the food in exchange for these promises from Yoo Jin: 1. He will not yell at her, 2. He will cook her meals, 3. She can learn the music through memorization of how it sounds. In fact, he has recorded her part of the duet. Nae Il in return apologizes for biting him and promises to memorize the music.
Once they sit down to listen to the music, Yoo Jin notices her hair smells terrible. Nae Il states she washes her hair twice a week. She claims she is cleaner than she looks. Ha! He drags her into the bathroom and washes her hair vigorously. As he blow dries her hair, Nae Il claims “I feel like a princesss served by Abdula”. Yoo Jin retorts “I feel like I am drying a wet dog”. Nae Il inquires what kind of dog? Yoo Jin in turns blows hot air form the dryer into her mouth. Unbelievable chemistry and banter for a first episode!
The Maestro shows up at the music school and watches Dean Song from afar. In a flashback, you see they have a history. He says “Mi Na, you still make my heart beat”.
Duet practice between Nae Il and Yoo Jin is completely different. He tells her to play however she wants. Na Il asks about the harmony of the duet. Yoo Jin says “I will follow you. Let’s have some fun.” Outstanding response!. As they play together Yoo Jin thinks that Nae Il’s performance is special because she does not follow the rules. He notes her music is like cantabile or ‘as if to sing’. Yoo Jin wants to fly with her.
We come full circle, he day dreams of being a boy in Europe thinking that Europe was the only place for real music magic to occur. His earlier daydreams where he was searching for something reoccurs. But this time, he is out of the woods, into a field, and finally onto a clearing where he finds her playing the piano. He thinks “Maybe I can find something here as well. Something to make my hear flutter”. Nae Il looks up at Yoo Jin. She smiles, he smiles (and I smile too).
* A flawless first episode. Simply awesome. Every character hit the right notes in episode one. The music selections to underscore each scene were perfect.
* Joo Won as Yoo Jin was controlled, uptight, but with an underlying passion and yearning to be understood. Little did he know his pig sty neighbor was an amazing free spirited pianist that may unlock his inner passion. I loved Joo Woo’s performance of this fascinating character. I was amazed that by the end of the first episode he saw Nae Il’s particular genius and allowed her to be who she is. He only wants to soar with her. Wow!!
* Shim Eun Kyung as Nae Il was the perfect blend of quirky and passion for piano. She has to be the luckiest girl in the school. The best pianist lives next door. He cleaned her apartment, he cooked food for her, and he learned that her particular genius for the piano should not be curbed but respected. I loved Eun Kyung’s performance. When she sang and played for the children, it was darling.
* Ko Gyung Pyo as Il Rak was packed with personality. From his hair color, to his personal style, to his violin style, this guy is all about putting himself out there. I responded positively to this character and look forward to learning more about him. Plus he has a crazy knife welding cook of the father who looks like he will be interesting too.
* The music school staff were all likable or unlikable as warranted. I respected Dean Song’s desire to make a name for the music school. She cleverly got Yoo Jin out of the restrictive clutches of Professor Do and into the open-minded Professor Ahn. I loved the bet between Professor Do and Professor Ahn about getting Yoo Jin to play a duet with Nae Il. I appreciated that Professor Do is not a villain but a driven person that demands his standards be met. By contrast Professor Ahn is the kind one, flexible and amenable to his students having their own musical voices heard. The maestro’s initial communications with the cab driver uoon arriving in Korea was funny stuff!
* Looking forward to episode 2!