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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 12

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 12

EVER so much better. Does one writer get the odd-numbered episodes, and another the even ones? Because this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed Tuesday episodes are much better than Monday ones. (Only one person is credited for scriptwriting this series, so this is a rhetorical question.)
Don’t get me wrong, it was still flawed and cheesy, but I don’t mind cheesiness. Over-the-top cornfluffery is part and parcel of this drama at this point. It just has to make sense in the context of the story. Episode 11, in its context, did not make much sense — and we shouldn’t have to fanwank a story to make it comprehensible.
I think I’m just going to excise Episode 11 from my memory, to the extent I can without plot difficulties.
SONG OF THE DAY
Youme – “참” (Very) [ Download ]
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EPISODE 12 RECAP

Jae-ha admits his villainy and claims credit for everything. He points out the irony of a guy losing his girl at his own mother’s order. It’s too bad Jan-di turned him down, because Jae-ha was planning on splitting the money (from Madam Kang) with her. But, “The moment you rejected my proposal, the goal in my game became one thing: Gu Jun-pyo.”
Jan-di asks why he’s bent on revenge — what exactly did Jun-pyo do to him? Jae-ha answers that technically it was his brother who was wronged — he was F4′s rooftop victim. He’s nearly crippled now, “but he smiles whenever he talks about you.”
It seems his feelings for her were genuine, however: “Yeah, I wanted revenge, but as we became friends, I thought that if you came to me, the revenge didn’t matter.”

Jun-pyo bursts in, his foremost concern for Jan-di’s safety, and asks Jae-ha to let her go. At Jae-ha’s instruction, the guys beat the heck out of Jun-pyo. Sobbing, Jan-di screams for them to stop.
Jae-ha offers to send Jan-di away — if Jun-pyo begs for mercy on his knees. Since begging won’t help Jun-pyo (ostensibly they’ll continue beating him after letting her go), Jan-di yells at him not to do it.

More thrashing. Now Jae-ha instructs him to vow, on camera, that he’ll give up Jan-di. Jun-pyo spits blood (and whoa, fake-blood overload there), saying, “I can’t do that.” Incredulously, Jae-ha asks, “Do you want to die?” Jun-pyo responds, “I don’t want to die, but if you’re going to kill me, what can I do.”
For what it’s worth, since he’s being paid off by Mama Kang, I doubt Jae-ha means to kill him — just maim him a little. Or a lot. Grabbing a chair, Jae-ha demands that Jun-pyo give up Jan-di.
As he swings the chair downward, Jan-di jumps forward to protect Jun-pyo, crumpling to the ground when the chair breaks across her back.

And then, F4 to the rescue! (Arg, no, this is not ALMOST PAAAARADIIIIIIIIIIIIISE. Perhaps the production heard our complaints, because at least we get the instrumental version of the song. But still.)
On the upside, we get to see the F4 boys kicking some ass. Woo-bin takes out several thugs, while Yi-jung is so smooth he delivers a few swift kicks with his hands in his pockets. Even the gentle Ji-hoo gets a bit of action, but in keeping with his sensitive image, he subdues Jae-ha by twisting his arm rather than throwing a punch.

Jun-pyo, badly injured, clutches an unconscious Jan-di.
When she awakens, she’s in a hospital bed, while Jun-pyo sits in a wheelchair at her bedside. He says she nearly scared him to death, which is a sentiment she returns: “Why did you just take the hits? You said you could take on more than ten guys like that with no problem. Liar.”

Jun-pyo: “Idiot. Stupid. Double-digit-IQ dummy. How could I do that when you were captured? I’d rather get all my ribs broken than let them damage one of your fingers. But still, why did you rush in when I was letting them beat the hell out of me? What if something happened?”
Jan-di repeats his words back to him (double-digit IQ, dummy), and they proceed to bicker, which is how we know that all is well.
When Jan-di returns home, her mother and brother are sobbing and their home is in shambles. At first I thought this was Madam Kang’s doing, but turns out Dad got dragged off by loan sharks. (I assume the family took out private loans to stay afloat, although we know there were gambling issues in the past too.) The debt collectors threatened to sell Dad’s organs if they don’t come up with the money right away.

Without other options, Jan-di’s mother swallows her pride and begs for help from Madam Kang. True to her warning, Madam Kang does not issue second chances easily, and coolly says that everything has its systematic order: “Wrongs must be apologized for, debts repaid, then help given. I am a businesswoman, so I cannot abide calculations and procedures that are not conducted properly.”
Mom prostrates herself on the floor; Madam Kang looks pleased behind her paper but shows no emotion to Mom, who takes out a parcel. It’s a bowl of salt, which she pours over her own head, pleading for forgiveness.

Even Madam Kang looks surprised at that. Satisfied now, she extends a hand to Mom. Knowing how frightening she can be, any sign of kindness coming from her is especially ominous.
With Madam Kang’s money, Jan-di’s father is freed. With somber faces, Jan-di’s family explains to her how they got the money — and everyone knows what that means for Jan-di’s relationship with Jun-pyo. Mom argues to keep the money but Dad insists upon returning it, saying that he’ll handle their debt one way or another.

Feeling guilty, Dad asks, “You really like Jun-pyo, don’t you?” She answers, “You’re more important, Dad.”
Dad: “I’m sorry, for being a burden to my daughter’s love.”
Jan-di: “Who said anything about love?”
Dad: “It is. That’s love, Jan-di. That makes him as dear a person to you as your dad.”
Jan-di: “If I’m not sure of that myself, how can you know?”
Dad: “I’ve been Dad to my pretty daughter for 19 years, how could I not know?”

I really like this scene, when Jan-di returns the money — the emotions are played just right, not too extreme or melodramatic. Jan-di’s tone is respectful, and Madam Kang’s is likewise measured and civil. She suggests that in Jan-di’s situation, it would be wise not to stand on her pride foolishly. But Jan-di turns to go, and Madam Kang seems almost a bit desperate when she offers more money.
Madam Kang: “Fine, let’s make a deal.”
Jan-di: “Please don’t insult me or my family anymore.”
Madam Kang: “Then do you really mean to date my Jun-pyo?!”
Jan-di: “I think that’s between the two of us.”
Madam Kang struggles to maintain her composure, then offers, “Fine, let’s be honest with each other. I admit that we have caused problems for you and your family. So please accept that you are not suitable for Jun-pyo.”

Jan-di nods: “Yes, Gu Jun-pyo and I are very different. I admit that.” Thinking Jan-di is agreeing, Madam Kang smiles, but it fades as Jan-di continues, “But do you know this? The two of us are in the same place, looking at the same thing. I made him a promise that you would never be my excuse for breaking up with him.”
Madam Kang says that this is an unprecedented opportunity to collect a high price on a “worthless” commoner family’s pride. Now Jan-di’s insulted: “I hadn’t known pride had a price. Then how much is your pride worth?” Madam Kang: “Unbelievable.”
Jan-di: “I hope you will change your thinking that commoners’ pride can be bought with money. People’s hearts can’t be bought, either. You don’t know that, do you? But Gu Jun-pyo knows that now.”

Jan-di is so distracted on her way out that she doesn’t even notice Ji-hoo, walking right past him. Sensing yet another Jan-di emergency, he cheers her up by making pancakes (using her recipe), which is his cure for the blues.
You know what else is a cure for the blues?
Skiing, apparently.

All of a sudden, our main cast is enjoying the snow at a winter resort, where Jun-pyo teaches Jan-di how to ski (she’s by far the worst). It’s kind of cute how she’s going so slowly that he walks alongside.
Later that night, the guys notice Jun-pyo fiddling with a necklace, contemplating it intently. Woo-bin jokes that Jun-pyo’s bound to screw up when he tries giving Jan-di the gift, and although Jun-pyo tells the guys to knock it off, he seems worried about that very thing.


Therefore, Ji-hoo takes it upon himself to set things in motion, to help Jun-pyo get over his nervousness by forcing them together. Ji-hoo first sends Jan-di on an errand — getting coffee — then calls Jun-pyo out.
The tactic works, and gets the ball rolling. Jun-pyo manages to figure out the rest on his own — he drapes his jacket around Jan-di, deliberately putting her hand into the pocket so she finds the necklace, which she draws out curiously.
Idiot Jan-di is back for a moment, because she thinks it’s HIS, and teases that it’s way too feminine for him. (Jun-pyo’s facial reaction is hilarious.) He tells her it’s hers.

He says, “There’s only one like it in the world, so if you lose it, you’re really dead this time.” Jun-pyo had designed and ordered it himself, and explains its meaning: He’s the star, and she’s the moon inside, because Jun-pyo the Star won’t ever leave Jan-di the Moon. Somehow that sounds rather possessive in English, but it’s pretty sweet in Korean.
Taking advantage of the romantic moment, Jun-pyo leans in to kiss her, but cough/sneezes at the last moment. Jan-di returns the jacket and puts it over him; Jun-pyo reaches a happy compromise (symbolism!) by sharing.


Jan-di worries to Ga-eul, because hearing that Jun-pyo made the necklace specially for her adds to the pressure to keep it safe. Ga-eul thinks that’s a happy problem: “If someone told me, ‘I made this for you’ and gave me a one-of-a-kind keepsake, even if it’s just a piece of glass, I’d be so happy.” (Yi-jung, are you listening?)
Speaking of whom, Ga-eul spots Yi-jung heading out with Woo-bin and has a sudden desire to ski, dragging Jan-di onto the slopes.

The Jin-Sun-Mi Trio, who happen to be at the same resort, overhear the necklace conversation. As always, they are overcome with envy, particularly Ginger (whose real name isn’t actually Ginger — I think it’s Jin-ju; it seems they use the English names as their shtick).
Keen to stir up trouble, Ginger orders her underlings to swipe the necklace, which they do by knocking Jan-di down, then helping her up clumsily. With Jan-di distracted, they swipe the pendant.
Having skied further down the slope, Ga-eul looks up at Jan-di in concern, so when a careless snowboarder barrels down the slope almost drunkenly, Jan-di notices first. She shouts a warning.

Nearby, Yi-jung hears Jan-di’s yell and spies Ga-eul about to be hit by the snowboarder. It’s a good thing he just happens to be unstrapped to his snowboard at the moment, as we all do in the middle of a ski run, so he can run at her and push her out of harm’s way.
Worriedly, Yi-jung asks, “Miss Ga-eul, are you okay? Wake up! Can you hear me?”

Ga-eul slowly opens her eyes, obviously not hurt but taking her time to appreciate this. LOL. It’s adorable how she can’t hide how much she’s enjoying this situation.
Hey, it’s hard having a crush on a guy like Yi-jung; let the girl savor the moment, right?

There’s trouble brewing at home, referenced indirectly in a phone call from Madam Kang to her husband. Something’s wrong with Shinhwa Group, and Madam Kang insists she’ll manage the problem, only to have the line suddenly go dead.
Worried, she tells Mr. Jung that things don’t look good, and instructs him to locate Jun-pyo. They’ll have to leave the country immediately.
Back at the resort, Ga-eul notices Jan-di’s missing her necklace, which sends Jan-di on a panicked hunt all over her room. The Mean Girls find Jun-pyo, slyly saying that they’re pretty sure she lost his special necklace. Or maybe she threw it away.

Jun-pyo comes upon Jan-di mid-search, and asks why she isn’t wearing the necklace. She hems and haws at first, then comes clean and begs for forgiveness: “I’m sorry. I was definitely wearing it, but I don’t know when I lost it.”
He asks, “It wasn’t because you wanted to lose it?” — because this is becoming a pattern, and he’s growing frustrated. “You do this every time. Whenever I try to get closer, you trample my heart like it’s nothing. Do I still mean so little to you?”
I can see his point, but Jan-di’s got one too, since this really wasn’t her fault. She says, “Don’t misunderstand. That’s really not how it is.” But he tells her that her behavior is getting really tiresome, and leaves.

I was a little worried that his words sounded so serious, but he’s just venting; he seems much less upset outside. (He gives a snowman (snowgirl?) a Jan-di-like hat and flicks snowballs at it in irritation.)
Hearing footsteps, he thinks it’s Jan-di and starts to go off on how the necklace was one of a kind — but they’re his mother’s employees, here to collect him. Jun-pyo refuses to go, beating them off when they try to force him to leave. Ultimately, though, he is subdued into going.
Jan-di goes around the ski lodge asking everyone if they’ve seen her necklace, and runs into the Jin-Sun-Mi girls. They give her a “tip” — someone posted a notice about finding the necklace — and direct her to the location.

Using that information, Jan-di heads off, leaving just before the latest blizzard warning comes in. Okay, wandering outside is pretty stupid of her, but for once I can’t be too irritated with Jan-di because I would probably want to do the same thing. The thing that DOES irritate me, though, is that apparently the cold has also robbed her of the ability to walk upright, because she falls over every few feet for no discernible reason.
Ga-eul finds Jan-di’s note and alerts F3. Although they worry for her safety, they’re unable to go out looking for her because the paths have been blocked.

With the weather worsening, one of the Mean Girls starts feeling bad. They didn’t intend Jan-di physical harm, but Ginger maintains the hard line and says Jan-di had it coming.
Ji-hoo overhears this, and guesses they’ve done something to Jan-di. Eyes bulging (sorry, not his best look), he demands to know what they did.
F3 call Jun-pyo to let him know the situation. As he’s currently being driven away by his mother’s men, he has to lie to get them to pull over (for a bathroom break), at which point he gives them the slip by disguising himself in someone else’s clothing.

He hitchhikes back to the resort, then takes a snowmobile to the slopes, pleading with Jan-di mentally to hang in there — as he promised (with the star-moon analogy), he won’t ever be able to ditch her. I wonder if Lee Min-ho is getting tired of delivering bad dialogue. It’s to his credit that he commits to it fully.
When the snowmobile breaks down, Jun-pyo continues on foot until he finds Jan-di collapsed in the snow. She must be emitting her mysterious power to call heroes to her side whenever she’s in trouble. She needs a beacon like the Bat Signal. A Jan-Distress Call, if you will.

Barely conscious, Jan-di recognizes Jun-pyo and mumbles weakly, “I came to find your heart. I didn’t lose it on purpose.” (Okay, that line was kind of sweet.)
Jun-pyo carries her on his back, urging her to stay awake. Coming upon an empty cabin, he tries to warm her up quickly, stripping off her soaked outer clothing. Holding her to him, he tells her, “Don’t worry, it’s fine. It’ll be fine. I’ll protect you.”


Wow, they were just itching to get Lee Min-ho topless again, weren’t they?
Some time later, Jun-pyo has built a fire and given his dry clothing to Jan-di to keep her warm, shivering while he remains cold. When she pushes the jacket toward him, he rejects it. She urges him to take it, so once again they (symbolically) share the covering.

Jan-di: “I’m sorry.”
Jun-pyo: “If you’re sorry, that’s good enough. Don’t forget I saved your life this time.”
She asks (half-joking, half-meaningfully), “How should I repay you?” A bit surprisingly, he answers, “A lunchbox,” by which he means the ones she eats every day: “Actually, the first time I saw it, I wanted to try it.” Jan-di promises to make it for him: “Let’s pack lunches and go on a picnic, the two of us.”

(The Law of Kdramas says: If a kiss in a semi-romantic moment is messed up earlier in an episode, it must be made up for in a more romantic moment later.)

In the morning, Jan-di and Jun-pyo make it back to the lodge, relieving their worried friends. Ji-hoo hands over the star-moon necklace, which may be symbolic of his letting go of Jan-di (I think?).
It’s nice that Jan-di and Jun-pyo have already resolved their issue with the necklace, so its return doesn’t magically “solve” their relationship problem. Instead, Jan-di and Jun-pyo trade small smiles, which Ji-hoo notices with a little sadness.

So when they return home, Jan-di packs the lunchboxes for their promised picnic, and omg it’s JUN-PYO RICE!!
I had thought the Jun-pyo-face chocolates in Episode 10 were the adorablest things ever, but the Jun-pyo dosirak totally wins the Jun-pyo-face-shaped-foodstuffs category.
Jan-di waits for a while, although she does so uncomplainingly, remembering how Jun-pyo waited in the snow for four hours. She isn’t aware of the latest news that Daddy Gu has suddenly collapsed while on a trip to China.

Jun-pyo, who’s about to leave with his mother to his father’s bedside, asks Ji-hoo to pick up Jan-di. Ji-hoo urges Jan-di to hurry, because they only have half an hour before the plane leaves.
Unfortunately, they’re too late. Some distance from the airport, Ji-hoo pulls over and Jan-di watches the Shinhwa plane take off.

Jan-di cries (saddened at not having the chance to say certain things to him, like how much she likes him), while Ji-hoo comforts her.
From the plane, Jun-pyo sends her a text message, which reads:
“I’ll come back soon.
Stay there, and wait for me.
I love you, Geum Jan-di.”


COMMENTS
This is a tiny point, but one thing I was disappointed about was the fact that we won’t get to see Jun-pyo’s reaction to the Jun-pyo Rice Face Lunchbox.
I really appreciate how Madam Kang is being portrayed, particularly in this episode. Lee Hye-young is acting the hell out of the character, and she gives her a complexity I wasn’t expecting. I thought the Japanese Kaede was fantastic, but Madam Kang manages to be scarier, yet also more vulnerable at moments. That’s unexpected. Case in point: the conversation when Jan-di returned the money, which both actresses acted with nuance.
Yes, I love that Mama Kang is evil, and scary, and possibly a little too obsessed with her son. But I also love that she’s being acted as a human, not a live-action Cruella de Vil (pointy collars notwithstanding).

You know, I’m a fan of the Ga-eul and Yi-jung pairing, but I agree with sentiments that this relationship is being built on shaky ground. I’m not sure their development is occurring completely logically, although I don’t blame this on writers throwing them together based on fan response. I’m pretty sure they were going to make this match from the beginning (although they were probably waiting to see how viewers reacted). It helps that they’re a side couple, so fans are more willing to accept bumps in continuity. (Arm socks? Where did THAT come from? I know they were a present from Ga-eul — but more importantly, WHY?)
Still, despite the shortcomings I find myself rooting for them — I think part of why the Ga-eul and Yi-jung pairing is compelling is because it hasn’t been done before. (Yes, some complain that this isn’t “canon,” but if it DID follow canon I’m sure we’d get complaints on the other end saying that this is yet another disappointing non-romance. If fans were disappointed that the two never got together in the other two dramas, why disappoint a third time for the same reason?)
Since they may be diverging from the previous storyline, we don’t know how this is going to end. Maybe they won’t end up together, but because this feels like new ground, it keeps people interested. At least it does for me.
SPOILERY(?) SPECULATION
Stop here if you don’t want to read speculation for future episodes.
As you may know, Episode 13 is going to jump ahead in time. Apparently F4 will be attending university, but as they are already in their last year of high school, I’m not sure if they’re jumping one year, or several. But if Jun-pyo’s father ends up dying, this sets him up nicely to take on the mantle of Shinhwa Group leadership. I’m sure he won’t take over completely — his mother is more than capable — but I can see how this presents a different kind of conflict. As much as I enjoyed the Japanese Hanadan, I never really bought Doumyouji as running the company, but I can see Jun-pyo take this position believably. It probably has to do with how Jun-pyo has been shown to be serious and smart on occasion.
 

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