You’re Beautiful: Episode 8

If a pig stole the show in Episode 7, monsters will take center stage this time in Episode 8.

Monsters? you sputter, choking on the drool that’s pooling in your mouth as you watch yet another Jang Geun-suk YouTube clip. (Who knew the guy’s so cute? He sure didn’t look that way when you glimpsed him in his last two dramas. Now, thanks to a pig, you are making mental notes to salvage those two dramas which you had hurled into that pit called Good Riddance.)

Yes, monsters. One you can’t see (clue: it has green eyes) and the other you can’t bear to see (clue: it starts with the letter M).

The green-eyed monster rears its head in the opening minutes of this episode, triggered by the sight of Mi-nam in Shin-woo’s arms. Just minutes earlier, like a volcano spewing forth its latent contents, she had stunned everyone in the recording studio with her powerhouse of a performance.

Only Shin-woo knows why she sings that way, pouring all of herself into the song, and why she is now running out of the studio, crying. So he chases and pulls her close, and they stand there, lost in the moment, until she looks up.

There, right in front of her, is Tae-kyung, looking more incensed than we have ever seen him.

But she does not see the anger on his face; all she sees is him, the one responsible for the tumult in her heart. So she pulls away from Shin-woo and runs off, averting her face so that Tae-kyung can’t see her distraught state. He is about to go after her, but Shin-woo stops him. “Leave Mi-nam alone for now.”

So Manager Ma was right. He said Mi-nam’s heart was exploding for Shin-woo and indeed it seems that way, she running into his arms the first opportunity she gets and clinging to him like one starved of attention. The absurdity!

And the monster within snorts and says, “Yes, looking good, Hwang Tae-kyung. Fume away, let your jealousy explode!”

But the guy isn’t aware that he’s jealous. I know, you wrote previously that he isn’t obtuse and I agree. This episode will show us how quick he is at sizing up certain situations, but don’t you think he’s dense when it comes to his own feelings for Mi-nam?

Oh, I’m not allowed to describe him as dense? Getting all protective now that you’ve discovered his charms? Fine, whatever. Just remember that you’re not recapping this episode, I am. Write anything you want when you do Episode 9. Now, go back to your Jang Geun-suk ogling and that pig scene that you’ve been replaying ad nauseam!

Okay, where was I before I got so rudely interrupted? Ah, yes, so Tae-kyung is completely DENSE about why his blood is boiling when he sees Mi-nam and Shin-woo all entwined. All he knows is that she’s nothing but a truckload of trouble. And now she’s all worked up because of Shin-woo? Well, as A.N.JELL’s leader and her self-appointed minder, he’ll just have to get her out of this fix.

So he draws up a chart for her, outlining how Shin-woo might respond when she tells him that she likes him.

First, she must own up to being a girl, of course. Next, she declares her feelings and wait to see if he reciprocates or rejects. If the former, great, they can sail off on their love boat together. If he rejects her, she must persist so that he will eventually cave in. Either way, she goes with Shin-woo and leaves him, Tae-kyung, in peace.

Ah, that’s not how it is. You misunderstand, Hyungnim.

Never mind, you just tell him how you feel. Work hard, Go Mi-nam.

He does not know that she is working hard, not to do as he instructs but the opposite. If she could just disappear slowly, then she wouldn’t have to grapple with her feelings for him. Mother Superior, what should she do?

But it isn’t the kindly nun who supplies the answer but two unlikely people.

You have to control yourself, Manager Ma tells her. If you feel your feelings for the other person overwhelming you, push the tip of your nose upwards. Yes, like the snout of a pig. The more overwhelmed you are, the harder you press.

And so she does, startling the jumpy Tae-kyung. Trying to remind him of that pig, is she?

Manager Ma’s method isn’t going to work, however, because that’s one pressure point that he conjured up himself. Suppressing her feelings is only going to make her more acutely aware of them. No, the best thing to do is to accept her emotions and find a way to release them. It has worked for Jeremy, why not for Mi-nam?

So our sweet boy, who hasn’t figured much in the last two You’re Beautiful recaps on this blog because someone happens to be besotted with Hwang Tae-kyung and is devoting an excessive number of words to him, surprises Mi-nam and us with his sweetest act thus far in this drama.

What, I’m maligning you? But you mentioned Jeremy only in passing the last two recaps and you implied he isn’t very bright. Moreover, his total screencaps can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare! In contrast, how many captures did you take of Tae-kyung for the pig scene alone? Case closed.

Mi-nam is sitting despondently on a park bench when she sees a familiar figure in front of her. It’s Jeremy, his hair now an improved version from the bowl imitation in Episode 7. (All three A.N.JELL guys started sporting new hairdos at varying points in that episode. Tae-kyung’s went limp, no doubt from having lost all its strength standing up during the pig chase. Shin-woo’s went lighter in color and more layered; I preferred the old hairdo. Jeremy’s was the weirdest, so obviously wig-like.)

He tells her* that he’s been sitting there watching her for a long time. Aww, the darling. Can you imagine Tae-kyung observing her across the path and not moving an inch? The guy will march up to her and say, “Go Mi-nam, get up.”

Will you just let me finish? I’m not done describing the scene!

(*I’ve decided to just use “she/her” when describing Jeremy’s scenes with Mi-nam. Of course he still has no idea Mi-nam is actually Mi-nyu.)

Apparently Jeremy has overheard Mi-nam’s muttering about wanting to be invisible. “You can’t disappear. It’s your first recording and we need to celebrate.”

Off they go, on a buddy date that makes me sigh with envy. (At least five guys jump to protect Mi-nam this episode. Wouldn’t that make anyone feel a tad jealous?) A bike ride is the first order of the day, with Jeremy encouraging her to forget her inhibitions and just yell “Hello!” to people on the streets.

Although she tries, it’s obvious she isn’t in the mood to be exuberant, so their next stop is a restaurant famous (notorious?) for its super spicy food. He knows that she needs to cry, so what better way than to torture her senses with food so fiery her tear ducts go into overdrive?

(Ah, what an excellent tip. The next time I feel in need of a good cry, I’m not going to huddle in a corner bawling. No, I’ll treat myself to the spiciest food in my favorite K-restaurant, the one that plays Lee Byung-heon music videos. Tears and drool all commingled, who can tell I’m a weepy mess inside?)

Since milk soothes tongues that are on fire, the two enjoy ice cream as they stroll on the streets. “You cried so much earlier, it’s now time to laugh,” says Jeremy, taking her to a games arcade. There, they play their hearts out, laughing and yelling. “I’m having so much fun,” she tells him.

But he knows she’s still hurting inside, so he has saved the most meaningful part of the day for last.

To her surprise, they board a bus with hardly anyone inside except the driver. It’s his magic bus, the one he takes whenever he’s feeling blue. A round trip takes an hour, and in that time whatever turmoil is in his heart begins to feel less overwhelming. He wants her to try it, too. See you in an hour, he says, his words a tacit way of telling her to forget his presence.

And so, eyes shut, hand on chest, her head leaning against the window pane, Mi-nam allows Jeremy’s magic bus to take her on that one-hour ride. Behind her, his face drawn now because she’s not looking, Jeremy wonders to himself:

Can my own heart calm down in an hour? Within this one hour, I like you.

He isn’t freaking out over his feelings for Mi-nam anymore. So what if his feelings are unfamiliar, forbidden even? He likes her and it pains him to see her upset. He wants to protect her, it’s as simple as that.

Protecting Mi-nam… Ah, isn’t that what Shin-woo has been doing all along?

Will you stop interjecting? I’ll get to Tae-kyung soon! Look, there’s dribble on your chin. It’s gross, wipe it.

Mi-nam is mulling over the chart that Hyungnim/Leader gave her when Shin-woo comes out. She immediately pretends she’s making a paper airplane but gives herself away when it’s obvious she knows nothing about origami.

“Here, this is how you fold it so that no one can see the words on that side,” says our most perceptive one. He then proceeds to tell her a story about a clueless girl with a big secret.

This girl joined a group, but her secret was soon found out by one of the members. He didn’t expose her but simply watched to see what she would do. At first it was all just for amusement, but he soon saw how clueless the girl was and he started to feel sorry for her. He watched her closely; it was the first time he had watched someone that way. Whenever it seemed like her secret would be found out, he would help her discreetly. For the sake of the group and for her own safety, he did not tell a soul about her secret.

Aww, I about floated out of my skin when Shin-woo told the story. Talk about an overdose of Shin-woo awesomeness! Did you see the scene where he throws the towel over her head so that other people can’t see her open mouth as she dozes? The way he rests her head on his shoulder so that she doesn’t fall over? How he smiles ever so slightly because he can’t help feeling proud of himself?

What do you mean, Shin-woo isn’t as awesome as Tae-kyung in this episode? And by the way, will you stop rapping your fingers on the table in that impatient way? It’s affecting my train of thought.

Meanwhile, Tae-kyung is all out of sorts, as though he ate a jar of sour prunes. He can’t concentrate on his music because the mathematical half of his brain is adding up the odds of Mi-nam revealing her feelings to Shin-woo. Has she or hasn’t she? And anyway, where is she at this time of the night? Sleeping under the baby grand again?

An SMS quickly puts his mind at rest. “Hyungnim, please don’t push me to Shin-woo.”

Better yet, he returns to find her in his room, the bedcovers over her head. The lost rabbit back in its hutch. Don’t take up too much space when you sleep, he chides in mock annoyance, the smirk on his face contradicting his words. Now that she’s within snoring distance, he can sleep in peace.

Blissfully unaware of the mind and heart games that the A.N.JELL foursome are playing, President Ahn, Manager Ma, Coordinator Wang and the music director are brainstorming ideas for a music video to promote Mi-nam’s single. Hottest Couple, Hwang Tae-kyung and Yoo He-yi, will of course be the leads.

Since Mi-nam sang so explosively, the manager suggests an explosive music video filmed in Paris and Egypt. But the boss pooh-poohs the idea, saying it’s too big-budget.

If money’s the issue, how about an erotic adult MV with the couple as sexy killers caught in a passionate love affair? All filming takes place in a hotel room and you don’t even need to worry about costume costs since the couple will be clad in cheapo nightwear that will soon be ripped off anyway as passions run high.

President Ahn can’t believe the coordinator’s words. This is wholesome A.N.JELL we’re talking about, with its newest wholesome member singing a wholesome song. Absolutely no bed scenes!

So the four adults (one with the idea and three with non-veto rights) settle on a wholesome theme of first love. The setting? A wholesome school with a cast of wholesome students, of course. Tae-kyung and He-yi will play the couple while Mi-nam plays Tae-kyung’s buddy. As for the other two A.N.JELL guys, they will be busy with an unrelated photo shoot.

I love that photo shoot scene, don’t you? The two look so droolsome, ah!

Suitably decked out as students, Tae-kyung and Mi-nam are walking together pre-filming when President Ahn comes up to them and teasingly reminds Tae-kyung not to concentrate so much on his girlfriend that he neglects Mi-nam. He has to remember to take care of Mi-nam as well. His words set the pair off, when he’s out of earshot.

When Yoo He-yi’s here, I’ll stay far, far away.

No, when she’s here, you stick closely to me!

The cameras roll, with the first scene inside the classroom. Tae-kyung is supposed to stare out the window, his mind on He-yi. Mi-nam is next to him. But Tae-kyung’s a singer, not an actor, so he gets distracted and looks at Mi-nam instead. That’s when he realizes that one of the cast, a guy acting as a student, is staring at Mi-nam.

I’m not dissing his acting! Stop being so defensive every time I talk about a Jang Geun-suk scene! What are you, his singer mom? Oops, I didn’t mean that.

Why is that guy staring at you? You know him?

And the green-eyed monster nods approvingly at Tae-kyung’s visible irritation. Oh, this is going to be good.

It turns out the guy looking so intently at Mi-nam is her brother’s best friend in high school. Uh oh. What to do now? She can’t possibly pretend not to recognize him, but what’s his name?

Trust Tae-kyung to hit upon an idea to…

Trust brilliant Tae-kyung to hit upon a brilliant idea. (You happy now?)

He pretends that the guy is staring at him instead of Mi-nam and it’s because the guy wants an autograph from him. So he forces the guy to blurt out his name. Thus Mi-nam learns he’s Kim Dong-jun. The latter is so happy that she remembers him, he grabs her in a bear hug.

The death stare that Tae-kyung shoots at the guy is so priceless the green-eyed monster bottles it for an upcoming exhibition: Timeless Manifestations of Jealousy.

Because his invisible antennas are working overtime, Tae-kyung notices every little thing that is happening between Mi-nam and Dong-jun. That obsession will translate into an unusually astute Tae-kyung who comes to Mi-nam’s aid again and again that day.

When Dong-jun is surprised that a scar on Mi-nam’s hand has vanished, Tae-kyung quickly says that it’s because of plastic surgery. When Dong-jun wants to relive old memories of him and Mi-nam peeing together, Tae-kyung rescues her from that most awkward of situations by joining the pee party and distracting Dong-jun. Unbelievable presence of mind, Hwang Tae-kyung!

But nothing prepares him for the bombshell that Dong-jun drops: Mi-nyu is his first love and he hopes to marry her when he sets up his own pharmacy after the two years in the army.

Hearing Dong-jun’s words, the green-eyed monster can’t stop chortling. Oh, this is way better than expected. Don’t hold back, Hwang Tae-kyung!

In my favorite laugh-out-loud scene this episode, Tae-kyung and Mi-nam film in the school yard where they have to rake the fallen leaves on the ground. (The scene reminds me of a similar leaves-raking scene in Winter Sonata and I suddenly giggle at the memory of Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-woo playing high school kids.)

As they work, he alludes to her being a pharmacist’s wife and adds sarcastically, “Don’t forget to send some vitamins and supplements to me.”

Why he keeps harping on the subject she has no clue. Is he still sore that he’s playing a poor student and had to eat anchovies during the lunch scene earlier? Nah, he can’t be that petty. Anyway, they are supposed to be best friends in the MV and it’s time she reminds him of that fact. So, as the cameras roll, she flings an armful of leaves at him, he returns the favor, and soon the two are wrestling on the ground. The rough play is not in the script, but the director is delighted. The realism!

Because he’s taller and stronger, he wins the wrestle and sits on her. The picture is innocent and yet suggestive. (And I giggle some more, remembering the extremely chaste high school scenes in Winter Sonata. Can you imagine Bae Yong-jun playing Hwang Tae-kyung and sitting on Mi-nam?)

Oh, you’re insulted that I’m discussing Yonsama and your darling in the same breath? My apologies.

He-yi has arrived and she’s peeved. First, because the pesky reporter waylaid her and implied that her “scandal” with Tae-kyung is merely a publicity ploy for her latest movie. Second, because she sees (again!) Tae-kyung and Mi-nam’s closeness. You’re such good actors, she coos.

That wasn’t acting, he replies.

Years from now, He-yi will recall Tae-kyung and smile bemusedly. Was he that attractive that she had to be jealous of any girl close to him? How else to explain why she sent the reporter to Dong-jun just to get Mi-nam into trouble?

Earlier, during a break in filming and because she’s a celebrity now, Dong-jun asks Mi-nam to sign on his shoe. Then, because he’s been hit all day with an aching nostalgia for their buddy days, he grabs her shoe playfully and compares it with his. That’s when he realizes something is odd.

Their feet used to be the same size, so how is it that her shoe is now significantly smaller than his? There’s surgery to shrink one’s feet?

In an episode chock-a-block with guys looking out for Mi-nam (Shin-woo, Jeremy, Manager Ma, Tae-kyung), the fifth guy to leap to her protection is the only one to make me teary, because his kindness is so unexpected.

I was in tears too when Tae-kyung got chased by the pig, satisfied? No, I’m not elaborating on what kind of tears they were!

Mi-nam is my closest friend. He’s a good kid and the coolest guy.

Just like that, with neither script nor fanfare, Dong-jun allays (temporarily) the reporter’s suspicions about Go Mi-nam. No skeletons to unearth, nothing to suggest he is anything but an ordinary guy suddenly thrust into fame.

In a final hug, Dong-jun assures Mi-nam implicitly that he will guard her secret. “I really liked your sister,” he adds shyly. And then he runs off, waving goodbye, as Mi-nam and Tae-kyung watch.

Filming over, everyone prepares to leave. Tae-kyung wants to get away from He-yi as quickly as possible, but the latter sticks to him like glue. Hold my handbag, she orders. Over my dead body, he counters.

Back and forth they go, arguing about how to go back (separately for him, together for her). In the end, because she hints that he shouldn’t rile her unless he wants her running to the reporter and spilling the beans, he has no choice but to take over the wheel of her car. As they pull away, he sees Shin-woo. The latter has come for Mi-nam.

Ah, Shin-woo. Sweet and strong Shin-woo.

Who knew that beneath his quiet and gentle demeanor lay muscles of steel? Not Mi-nam’s aunt. Unlike her, thankfully, every self-respecting A.N.JELL fan knows this legend (or tall tale) by heart: Shin-woo once fought off 17 men single-handedly with nary a bruise to show for it. Pow, wow!

The fans also know that Jeremy has a sad tale to tell.

In order to pursue a singing career in Korea, he sacrificed being wedded to a Scottish princess (23rd in a very, very long line to the throne). Imagine, an A.N.JELL member was once engaged to a real princess and he gave her up!

A few fans, the devoted ones who fall ill if they are not privy to EVERY bit of gossip news about their idols, report eagerly on fan forums everywhere that the jilted princess now hates boyband music so much she listens only to Gregorian chants.

Shin-woo’s and Jeremy’s legends accounted for, but what about Tae-kyung?

Sadly, as the fans tell Mi-nam’s aunt, the A.N.JELL leader’s past is shrouded in mystery. You can’t concoct a legend even if you bribed the people closest to him. His mom is purportedly a beautiful and famous woman, but no one knows who she is. Even his date of birth is unknown.

How sad, cries the aunt, making a mental note to tuck a stuffed pig or rabbit toy under his pillows. Those things are so adorable and should bring him plenty of comfort.

Look, I decide the screencaps for this recap, all right? Just because the fans are discussing Tae-kyung’s story does not mean I have to insert his face here. Seriously, what’s your problem?

It turns out today is Tae-kyung’s birthday.

Arriving home, Mi-nam finds a parcel addressed to Hwang Tae-kyung which her aunt has opened. Inside is an album and a note. The sender? His dad.

Today is Hyungnim’s birthday, she tells Jeremy. Aren’t we throwing a party for him? The ex-fiance of a princess looks up at Mi-nam in puzzlement.

Huh? It’s not his birthday today. We celebrated it some months ago. Anyway, he’s at the studio. He’s going to be there all night working.

So Mi-nam skips cheerfully to the studio, pleased to be bringing a present for Tae-kyung from his dad. She rounds a corner of the building and then stops. Soon her palm will be covering her mouth. Soon her tears will be falling.

Standing there, their eyes like daggers as they face each other, are Tae-kyung and Mo Hwa-ran, the singer whose albums fill the shelves in his room.

Earlier, as he was driving He-yi to her favorite spaghetti joint, he had received a call from his mom. Ah, she remembered his birthday. The last time that happened was ten long years ago.

So he went, and when he got there, she wasn’t alone. Two reporters were with her. She didn’t call him out for his birthday after all; it was to publicize their upcoming collaboration, the one he had refused. So he left, and she came after him. And now they stand outside the A.N.JELL studio, mother and son, unaware that Mi-nam is just a few feet away.

How dare you humiliate me, leaving the restaurant like that!

Are you so mad that you came all the way here to find me? Why, aren’t you afraid of people seeing us like this?

To his surprise, she tells him that she’s thinking of revealing to the world that he’s her son. He doesn’t know, but a certain recklessness has overtaken her of late; she wants so badly to remake the song that her beloved wrote for her. That will preserve this precious song, which means the world to her, and preserve the memory of her love, who was and continues to be everything to her. Giving birth to Tae-kyung had been horrific because she lost the man as a result. The least her son can do for her now is accede to her request and remake the song with her.

If you’re going to claim some credit for giving birth to me, at least you should remember when that day was.

The mom is stunned. Today’s his birthday? She knows she’s been absentminded lately, but to experience the onset of dementia at her age? Dammit.

To know he was birthed by this monster of a mom is too much for Tae-kyung. He walks away, his footsteps quick at first and then slowing down. His shoulders sag noticeably.

In a heartbreaking scene, he leans against the wall, presses his fist hard against his mouth (so that no one can hear him), and breaks down. A short distance away, Mi-nam watches, her heart as broken as his.

Mother Superior, my star is crying in the darkness. What should I do?

What do you mean, I did not do justice to that last scene? I said it was heartbreaking, didn’t I? Oh, I didn’t praise Jang Geun-suk’s acting? But isn’t it obvious from the images? What did you want me to write? That I was floored? He was good, I was moved, end of story. Don’t expect me to cry like you did in that scene, using up an entire box of tissues!

Please. Just because you look like me and have the same name, you’re not me. Stop telling me what to feel and how to write. I’ve been watching kdramas for years, but you… Okay, you started watching at the same time. Still, it’s my prerogative to analyze and recap dramas my way so stop quibbling with me over this and that!

Unable to restrain itself any longer, a still small voice said:

Manifold quarrels are vexatious to the spirit. Manifold quarrels over kdramas are…

Oh, shut up, we said.

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