Monday, January 02, 2012

You’ve Fallen For Me: Episode 3

Who’s that guy, you ask? Why, no other than my new favorite character in this drama, as of today. It’s 26-year-old Lee Hyun-jin (who was great in the queer short Boy Meets Boy), completely stealing his scenes and doing so with some powerful charisma. Now this is a guy I want to root for, with an interesting backstory that should take him through some solid character development. We hope.


“나 가거든” (If I leave) as sung in today’s episode. [ Download ]

EPISODE 3: “Champion”

In the club, Shin sings his song — about being unable to let go — while thinking about dance instructor crush Yoon-su, as well as his father. Kyu-won watches with new appreciation, although their usual bickering dynamic is back as she tells him that she got caught trying to cover for him in roll call. Now they’re both assigned to write essays in punishment.

Shin tells her to write his, and when she balks, he mutters, “Useless slave.”

Yoon-su perks him right up, though she reminds him that she doesn’t want him lurking around anymore. Shin is only here to say, “I met my father today. I just wanted to tell somebody” and Yoon-su understands that that’s good news, and tells him so.

The musical commemorating the school’s 100th anniversary heads into planning and posts audition notices. Seok-hyun is introduced to the other instructors on his production team, and the meeting is that special brand of awkward that’s laced with politeness to mask the pointed words. The instructors dislike that an outsider has been brought in to replace one of their own, and Seok-hyun doesn’t help the atmosphere by making a barb at Yoon-su about how they ought to keep pretending they aren’t acquainted in situations like this.

The teachers bristle when he confirms that he’ll be reworking the entire concept, but he says it won’t be impossible, since the story is simple: A girl loves a boy, but leaves him to go pursue her dream. When that comes to an end, she returns in disappointment. A clear reference to his failed romance with Yoon-su.

Seok-hyun’s sunbae Tae-joon — the one who wanted to direct the musical — calls him aside to warn him not to hurt her, which makes Seok-hyun guess that Tae-joon likes her. He retorts that she’s not the weakling she appears, and that she’s stronger than either of them. This friendly “advice” rubs Seok-hyun the wrong way, making him even more determined to see this production through.

Shin and Kyu-won are called before their professor, this time for the punishment essays. I love that the professor is more amused than offended and asks if they’re dating, or if it’s a one-sided affair. (Shin smirks, the assumption being that his isn’t the side in love.)

They’re told to read each other’s essays, and while hers may have been written in all earnestness, now it sounds silly in his sardonic voice: “I’m so so soooo sorry. I’m really really reeeeeally reflecting on my wrongs. Next time, I will really really really, never ever ever do this again.”

Kyu-won starts reading his, but stops short at mention of a “dumb girl” he blames for not properly explaining his absence. They start bickering, and the professor decides they haven’t been adequately punished yet. So they’re ordered to clean up the theater department’s prop room.

The room’s a mess, and Kyu-won sighs at the amount of work they’ll need to do by the end of the day. Shin agrees: “How will you do it all alone?” Invoking slave privileges, he settles back while she gets to work, and decides it’ll be fun to make her dress up in ridiculous costumes. He reminds her that if she didn’t want to be his slave, she could’ve just won that bet. Arg. She can’t argue with that.

He may treat her rudely for his amusement, but he does display concern when the situation calls for it, like when she trips on her costume and falls. Then the lights cut out briefly, and when they turn back on, he’s uncomfortably close to her face, which unnerves him.

Ha! I’d be mighty gratified if he’s the one who falls for her first, given his behavior. And really, that’s the way for this story to work, since it’s so much more satisfying to watch the cold jerk trying to deal with this spoiler emotion while she’s blissfully unaware, rather than having the klutzy girl fall for the cool, rude boy. And no, bringing up Playful Kiss isn’t an example of an exception; I’d say it illustrates the point rather nicely, in fact.

Shin orders her to have his bike’s tires pumped with air, since they went flat after she “cursed” him the other night, wishing the flat on him. That’s hilarious to her, and she giggles at the sweet feeling of justice. Next time can you curse him with something more humiliating, please?

Hee-joo sees Kyu-won with Shin’s bike, which gives her jealousy tingles. She asks how they know each other, even pulling out the ol’ “Don’t you know who I am?” chestnut. Gah. That question guarantees you automatic douche status, regardless of context or qualification. Hee-joo warns her to stay away from Shin, and that director Seok-hyun, for that matter (she wants that lead role and sniffs a threat).

Kyu-won delivers the bike to Catharsis and returns the keys to Shin inside, just as he’s being scouted by Seok-hyun for the musical. She’s not interested in auditioning until Shin smirks at the idea that she could be cast as the lead, and that gets her hackles up. I do believe that look below is one of my favorite in Kyu-won’s arsenal, the Pshh-You-Think-You’re-So-Great-But-I-Don’t-Really-Give-A-Damn.

But as he leaves, Shin mollifies her by saying, without mockery, “I’d like to hear you play the gayageum again.” Seok-hyun jumps in to play on her reaction, telling her that Shin was very much mocking her, adding that there’s scholarship money as well.

Kyu-won confers with Dad, admitting that Shin’s mockery is part of the reason she’s considering auditioning. But it’s his comment about wanting to hear her play that she replays in her mind as she practices, and ultimately drives her to decide in favor of tryouts. The Windflower girls are excited at Kyu-won’s decision — which will have to be kept secret from Grandpa — and, with ten days till the audition, they begin practicing.

Seok-hyun tracks down a former student, Ki-young (Lee Hyun-jin), intending to cast him as the lead. However, there are a few hitches in the plan: sunbae Tae-joon opposes the idea, Ki-young is on leave, and he’s declared himself through with acting. Oh, and there’s also his history of ruining multiple productions because of debilitating stage fright.

Ki-young immediately shoots down the offer, having shut down his dream of being a musical actor. But Seok-hyun doesn’t buy it, and says it’s plain as day he’s still got the bug, and tells him to audition. Clearly Ki-young’s convinced that he’s unfixable, while Seok-hyun believes him too talented to lose. He’s warned, though, that the kids won’t like the idea of Ki-young being cast — especially Hee-joo, who’s practically a lock for the lead. She’s supposedly “frighteningly talented” and won’t enjoy her moment being ruined.

Jun-hee shows up to offer Hee-joo a ride home from school on his scooter, and thanks to his sharper dressing choices today — he’s in Drummer Jun-hee mode, not Rumply Jun-hee — Hee-joo grudgingly agrees.

It doesn’t stop her from complaining the whole way home, though, with the slow-as-molasses scooter, the rain, and everything about the world that isn’t about her. Her pissiness doesn’t dampen his lovesick adoration, which tells us that he’s either way too nice or a missing a few IQ points. Despite his adorable boyishness, I’m gonna have to go with the latter on this score… (Really? Her?)

The rainy bike ride gives Hee-joo a fever, though, and the next morning she’s barely able to stand, despite her insistence on making the audition.

Seok-hyun can see that Ki-young isn’t going to come to the audition on his own, so he tells his friend Soo-myung to drag him here, by any means necessary. That he does with a few lies, and shoves him into the auditorium, to Seok-hyun’s satisfaction and the other judges’ surprise (they know his story and don’t expect him to come back).

Ki-young stoically declines to audition and turns to leave, ignoring Seok-hyun’s urging to go ahead and sing. Sunbae Tae-joon, on the other hand, has thought this a Very Bad Idea from the outset and orders the next auditionees to take the stage, and ushers the Windflower quartet in.

The girls make their greeting and settle down to play, but pause uncertainly when Seok-hyun continues to yell at Ki-young, provoking his temper, yelling that this is his last chance. And it’s not like Ki-young doesn’t want to sing himself, so for a few tense moments, he stands there fighting himself, clenching his fist.

The girls start to play their song, which is “나 가거든,” posted above, sung by Jo Sumi in the 2001-02 sageuk drama Empress Myeongseong. And after a few fraught moments, Ki-young begins to sing, almost against his own will:

Kyaaaaa. It’s pretty great — both his singing, and the intensity with which Lee Hyun-jin plays the moment, his eyes closed the entire time. Afterward, he walks out silently, and the girls marvel at his amazing voice. Kyu-won wonders if this is what performing is all about.

Hee-joo had insisted to her mother that she didn’t want her father pulling strings for her, but now that she’s missed her audition she grudgingly lets Mom call Tae-joon to ask for a makeup session. But Seok-hyun throws Tae-joon’s own words in his face, reminding him that nobody who misses the audition should be allowed into the production, and shuts that down.

When Jun-hee hears about her illness, he’s wracked with guilt and races to the hospital, where Hee-joo predictably blames him for everything. Not that he doesn’t disagree — he’s convinced that it’s his fault, and decides he has to make it right. Commence: Operation Harass Seok-hyun.

Seok-hyun isn’t persuaded by Jun-hee’s pleas to give Hee-joo another chance because he’s the reason she missed her audition. That makes Jun-hee exclaim, petulantly and with that youthful conviction that you’re the first person to feel feelings, ever, “You don’t know love!” Seok-hyun has to laugh at that and wishes him well with that, but maintains his stance.

So on to Plan B it is. Jun-hee calls in a favor with his bandmates, then collects Jun-hee from the hospital to give her that missed chance, no matter what. He takes her to school, where he’s set up a makeshift stage in an outdoor auditorium. The Stupid is already there, and he tells her to put on the show of her life.

Hee-joo protests that there’s nobody around to see her perform anyway, but Seok-hyun speaks up to indicate that he’s here. So Hee-joo takes the mic and belts out a song like a star.

As he watches, Seok-hyun concedes, “It’s love.”

That goes a long way to earning Hee-joo’s favor, not that she has a lot of it to give. She warns Jun-hee that this puny little gesture is hardly going to change things, but that’s mostly her saving (bitch)face. Once she’s out of sight, she’s able to smile freely and thinks to herself that now she can say she has no regrets if she fails the audition, because she’s just had the performance of her life.

Audition results are posted, and the Windflower girls have all made the cut. As has Ki-young…and Hee-joo. That provokes a few upperclassmen to grumble since they all know she’d missed audition day, but Hee-joo puts them in their place (and possibly lower) with her usual haughtiness. I’m not sure if I dislike her more for her snobbiness, which is plentiful, or like her for her sassy setdowns, which are amusing in a smartassy way.

To Shin’s surprise, the Stupid boys are called to the auditorium along with the musical participants, who are divided between actors (who sing) and musical performers (who play instruments).

Cutely, Bo-woon seethes to see Jun-hee approaching Hee-joo cheerily, although she interprets reality in a bit of a skewed way, saying that Hee-joo is setting her sights on Jun-hee. Kyu-won asks skeptically, “Does that seem like flirting to you?” Bo-woon, bitter: “Of course!” Hee.

Shin wonders why he’s here, having no interest in the musical. Another instructor speaks up to say she recommended him and his band — and it’s that cougar-like professor who keeps trying to flirt with Shin.

No matter: Shin rejects this plan flatly… Or at least he means to, until Yoon-su walks in. A second shocker arrives when Seok-hyun asks Kyu-won to stand on the other side of the room — with the actors, not the performers.

She’s puzzled, not understanding why he’d request that, and is about to press the matter when she notices Shin staring at Yoon-su…who’s staring at Seok-hyun…who happens to be talking to her. Ahh, it’s the K-drama merry-go-round of Meaningful Glances!


I like the light-hearted feel of this drama; it’s not the most meaty of stories, but what’s there is presented with a refreshing lightness. It’s sweet and breezy, but has a plot with a solid trajectory. Like Mary Stayed Out All Night could have been, if it had had a brain. Or Playful Kiss, if it had had a narrative throughline instead of just sketches slapped together.

I confess that it was really Lee Hyun-jin’s appearance as Ki-young that perked me up, because he injected some welcome intensity into the drama. Oh, we’ve got Angsty Backstories and Tense Staring already with the director and failed ballerina’s dead romance, but I’m not so much interested in them. Or at least, not in the downer half of that pair; Seok-hyun on his own is a delight. Especially when he’s being cute and charming and slightly immature (though not immature enough to be irritating. Just enough to be amusing).

But the portrayal of Ki-young injected such a nice burst of energy into the musical plot that now I have a reason for wanting the production to pull through and be a success. Kyu-won and Shin will be fine — she’ll have some grandpa clashes and he’ll be indifferent with a dash of mooning loverboy — but it’s Ki-young who’s got the stakes and the drama. I know he’s not the lead, but surely he’s gonna be one someday, right?

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