Oh my squee, was this a good episode. Moments of needed introspection leading to events of progression, episode 8 of Playful Kiss (Mischievous Kiss) was a satisfying episode from start to finish. Everyone took a big step forward, even if a certain little muffin ended up taking a half step back, which still ends up being a big half-step forward. [Edit: I added some new screencaps!]
After an entire episode of Ha Ni sporting her mature mid-length waves, I miss Ha Ni of the multi-hairdos. This episode doesn’t bring her back, but does introduce Joon Gu with a SuJu-member hair style. I approve, Joon Gu, the transformation belies your added determination to make yourself into a man Ha Ni can take seriously, and consider entrusting her future happiness to.
For those of you hoping that the loss of Ha Ni from the Baek house would propel Seung Jo to examine his frozen heart and compel him to take action, does a second piggyback ride satisfy your cravings for some Seung Jo shows of affection? This time he doesn’t have to be prodded, he happily volunteers to piggyback Ha Ni. I think I’m back to cutting El Genioso some slack.
Episode 8 Recap:
A meaningful montage opens the episode – a flashback to all the moments big and small between Ha Ni and Seung Jo which have so affected our little adorable muttonhead. Ha Ni narrates the montage. Her glorious high school days are over, and she is now entering into her twenties. She remembers high school as glorious because of Baek Seung Jo.
She says that even though it was tough, and hurt a lot to be rejected by him, she can’t control her heart. She is but a tiny star chasing behind Seung Jo (which makes Seung Jo a freaking planet, I suppose). She says it’s finally time to let Seung Jo go from her heart.
It appears that Ha Ni and her dad have moved into the living quarters above his restaurant. Her dad checks in on Ha Ni, who is rather subdued and staring out the window. Dad tells her to make do until the new house is ready, but she sweetly tells dad that she likes it here. The neighborhood is tight knit and comfortable. Ha Ni comes down to eat, and Joon Gu happily welcomes her and sets a plate of food before her.
At the Baek house, Mom is laying listlessly on the bed, still saddened by Ha Ni’s leaving. Seung Jo tries to get her to eat, but she replies that she has no appetite. Seung Jo is like a parent, telling Mom to go outside and meet her friends and have some fun, while Mom replies there is nothing she wants to do, nothing that makes her happy.
Mom asks how Seung Jo is doing, and he says that he is doing fine, it’s peaceful around here. Mom sits up and just openly states that what Seung Jo means by peaceful is that there is nothing out of the ordinary happening, everything is within Seung Jo’s control. But isn’t that why Seung Jo was so bored, and decided to change things up by attending Parang University instead of the top school. She remarks that wasn’t Seung Jo himself tired of a living such a peaceful life.
Ha Ni’s dad and Joon Gu are both worried about her feeling so down, and Joon Gu asks dad for permission to take Ha Ni out on a date. He promises that he can bring back the smiling and cheerful Ha Ni. Joon Gu calls Ha Ni, who is upstairs in her room but doesn’t move to answer the phone. Joon Gu is saddened (and I was yelling at him to just walk upstairs and drag her out!).
Eun Jo tells Seung Jo that their dad has decreed both brothers need to help with household chores (making it clear that Mom is on strike or too depressed to do much). Seung Jo puts his coat away and sees the present of the fork Ha Ni gave him the night before the college entrance exams. Ha Ni announces to her friends that she has made the decision to stop loving him, and she says an official goodbye to him in her mind.
Ha Ni worries that she’ll run into Seung Jo in the cafeteria, but her friends encourage her to run into him and get used to it, like jumping right into a cold pool. As the girls are walking to get lunch, they notice that everyone who passes by them start and stare at Ha Ni. They wonder what is going on, until they notice that Joon Gu has posted a banner in the cafeteria announcing that Ha Ni has broken up with Seung Jo.
When Seung Jo and Hye Ra walk into the cafeteria, Hye Ra happily snarks about how immature this is and how it must have been such a burden for Seung Jo to have dealt with. Seung Jo reads the banner but remains quiet. Ha Ni confirms that she no longer has any connection with Seung Jo. She say that she has forgotten him, and since they don’t even live under the same roof, he’s akin to a stranger to her. You can tell that Seung Jo is perturbed by this, just the slightest change in his bland expression shows that what Ha Ni is saying affects him.
Ha Ni still sucks at tennis and only chases loose balls around the court. When she comes back to the club room, she sees Seung Jo sitting there and is shocked. Me, too, since Seung Jo supposedly is a special member of the club and doesn’t need to attend practices – methinks he has suddenly developed a hankering for practice he didn’t have before.
Tennis sunbae comes in and asks Seung Jo to come with the club next weekend when they go off for a 3 days 2 night retreat. Seung Jo declines, wanting to continue being a loftier-than-thou special member. Tennis sunbae decides to schedule a doubles match, and pairs up Ha Ni and Seung Jo on a team. If Seung Jo can beat tennis sunbae and Hye Ra, then Seung Jo doesn’t have to go. If Seung Jo loses, he has to go.
Mom learns that Ha Ni and Seung Jo are in the tennis club together, and she sneaks onto campus and tries to find the club room. She first meets some random students, and when she asks about Oh Ha Ni, they all know her name because of some banner in the cafeteria stating that she has ended things with Baek Seung Jo. Mom tells the students that the banner is not true, that Ha Ni and Seung Jo would never break up, and are in fact madly dating. She wants them to go spread this news around campus. Heh.
She then runs into Ha Ni’s two friends, who had hoped that Seung Jo and Ha Ni would develop further in college since they have kissed before. This makes Mom positively ecstatic, especially upon hearing that Seung Jo initiated the kiss! She is hopeful once again her beloved two kids will get together in the end. Mom is determined to bring Ha Ni back to the house, and says that it doesn’t matter what Seung Jo says anymore, since they have already kissed. Likely Mom is thisclose to decreeing her son must take responsibility for Ha Ni.
Ha Ni and Seung Jo play hard, but they lose the match to tennis sunbae and Hye Ra, because Ha Ni sucks so bad that not even Seung Jo’s extraordinary tennis skills can compensate for her lack thereof. Seung Jo thanks Ha Ni after the loss. Because of her, it’s the first time in his life he’s ever lost at anything, and that is a novel experience.
Seung Jo tells tennis sunbae he’ll pay him back for this loss. Tennis sunbae tells Seung Jo they should have a rematch at the retreat, which is in one week. Seung Jo agrees, which means it’s up to him to raise Ha Ni’s skills in a very short period of time. Tennis sunbae – you may look like a pervy ahjusshi, but you are one awesomely astute dude with your little ideas.
Ha Ni runs into Seung Jo, who reminds her that she has one week to get better. Ha Ni is not very optimistic this can happen. Seung Jo remarks that she was so confident that one time when she asked Seung Jo to tutor her so that she can test in the top 50 students. Where did all the confidence go? Uhm, Seung Jo, you keep squishing her confidence like a little bug under your shoe, so maybe you ought to look there before asking rhetorical questions.
Cue our Ha Ni cute tennis training sequence. Hye Ra notices that Ha Ni is indeed working very hard, but what could possibly happen in one short week. Seung Jo doesn’t think that way. Whatever Ha Ni does, it’s rather curiously interesting for him to watch. Ha Ni has a unique perseverance and works hard when she puts her mind to it. Ha Ni does unexpected things, and that is rather amusing in Seung Jo’s limited world view.
He smiles as he says this, and Hye Ra gets her first glimpse that Seung Jo may not wholly find Ha Ni a pest. She points out that this must be interesting for Seung Jo to see, since Seung Jo is someone who has never had to work hard for anything. Seung Jo remarks that it’s the same way for Hye Ra, isn’t it? She concurs. Oh, you poor paragons of perfection.
At home, Ha Ni has strung up a strength band on her door for her to practice on increasing her arm strength, and she further practices with a dumbbell to increase her wrist strength. Joon Gu is worried about Ha Ni going on the retreat with Seung Jo there, and asks Dad for some time off so he can follow her and keep an eye on things.
Dad gets angry with Joon Gu, telling him that it’s time he stops following Ha Ni around. Joon Gu should stop thinking about going after Ha Ni, and make Ha Ni come after him. Joon Gu needs to gain some presence before Ha Ni. If he keeps tagging along, she will never notice him in her life. Gah, Dad needs to give Ha Ni this talk, except Seung Jo does notice Ha Ni (quite a lot, in fact), which is why Ha Ni tagging along after Seung Jo is OTP, and Joon Gu tagging along after Ha Ni is doomed to fail. Yes, it’s unfair, I know. Love is but a four letter word for unfair.
As Ha Ni heads to her tennis retreat, Joon Gu runs outside to catch her before she leaves in order to give her a lunchbox he packed. He’s all serious when tells her that he will always be a home for her. A home that she can come back to when she is tired and weary, when she is sad and lonely. Joon Gu is calm and very manly at that moment, when he drops his trademark goofy grin, and you can see how much he thinks about what he can do for Ha Ni that she needs. After Ha Ni leaves, Joon Gu drops his mature routine and remarks that being a man with presence so isn’t his style.
Mom goes to the restaurant to visit Ha Ni’s dad. She rides a bicycle there and asks Dad to give it to Ha Ni. Mom asks whether they are happy living by themselves. She notes that before they arrived, she was the only one happy and goofing off around the house. Her pair of Mr. Roboto sons aren’t mischievous or lively, and her husband was always working late. Without Mom trying to make the house feel live, it would be dullsville.
Mom really thought that Ha Ni and Seung Jo were perfect for each other, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Mom notes that Ha Ni must be lonely by herself. Her dad concurs, but said that he was worried that once Seung Jo got a girlfriend in college, it would be quite awkward and hard on Ha Ni. So he moved them out before she got further attached to him. Mom can only sigh in agreement with that sentiment.
Tennis sunbae tells Ha Ni that she doesn’t need to attend evening practices during the retreat. Since she was the only regular club member who was late to arrive for the retreat, she needs to make dinner for the club every night. Tennis sunbae tells her that she should be happy with it, since it means she can skip practice. Seung Jo wonders whether this is a tactic by tennis sunbae to prevent Ha Ni from practicing to improve her skills.
Ha Ni proceeds to make dinner for the club, and we all know how well she can cook (Hawaiian loco moco burnt heart-shaped patty, anyone?). She asks Seung Jo for help, telling him the sooner she gets done, the sooner she can go practice with him. The perfect one deftly chops vegetables, stir fries it all, and whips up a delicious meal.
Everyone is so awed by the feast Ha Ni prepared, oohing and ahhing over the food. Seung Jo stands back and doesn’t take the credit, instead smiling a little smile (for Ha Ni). When someone tells Seung Jo to also compliment Ha Ni, Seung Jo stands up and tells Ha Ni they need to go practice now.
The remaining Baeks are at home, and Mom wonders whether the retreat will bring Seung Jo and Ha Ni closer. Even Daddy Baek comments that the house feels empty and dead now that Ha Ni is gone. He agrees to go speak with Ha Ni’s dad about asking them to move back in. Eun Jo states that even if they move back in, he will NOT give up his room this time. Nope. I have a solution, Eun Jo you little twerp – when Ha Ni moves back in, she’ll be your sister-in-law, and another room will be her permanent residence. Does that make you feel better? Now go pout some more, it’s becoming your trademark expression.
During the retreat, Seung Jo continues to train Ha Ni and pushes her very hard. Seung Jo watches Ha Ni practicing diligently, and smiles that secret little smile he always smiles when he thinks no one can see. I can see you, Seung Jo. And so can you heart, if you can locate it first. Back at the restaurant, Joon Gu stops himself from calling Ha Ni, and instead looks at her picture on his cell phone and smiles contently. Oh, Joon Gu, I can see your smile, too! But I can’t clone a Ha Ni for you, mores the pity.
The next night, Seung Jo is warned that he skipped the previous afternoon practice and no one is allowed to miss any group activities. This means Seung Jo can’t go help Ha Ni make the food for dinner – and Seung Jo tells the tennis dictator that he is going to regret this, and that he should go buy some ramen. What the club sits down to eat that night resemble charred bits of indistinguishable meat particles. Which leads to Ha Ni confessing that Seung Jo prepared last night’s delicious meal.
During dinner, Hye Ra walks outside, and Seung Jo follows. They sit and have a conversation, with Hye Ra coming straight out and confessing that she likes Seung Jo, and asking what he thinks about her. Ha Ni sneaks out and hides behind a ledge. She and tennis sunbae run into each other lurking behind the same ledge, and realize their mutual understanding of each other’s plight. The pair of perfection hear some noises coming from the ledge, and Seung Jo gets up to investigate.
He walks over only to see tennis sunbae’s hand on Ha Ni’s face (he was trying to quiet her) and mistakes it for the two of them getting too close. He jerks Ha Ni out of tennis sunbae’s arms and drags her off insisting she needs to go practice. He never responds to Hye Ra’s question, and seems all of a sudden pissy. The next morning, Seung Jo smiles as he watches Ha Ni practice tennis. She is getting better, and can actually hit a few serves.
Ha Ni is so excited at her marked improvement she jumps around and slips on a tennis ball, twisting her ankle. Seung Jo comes over to compliment her on her progress, which makes Ha Ni happy inside all over again. She has worked so hard because she wants to see Seung Jo smile at her, and tell her she did a good job.
Seung Jo notices that Ha Ni turned her ankle, stating that simply falling down isn’t Oh Ha Ni’s style, she has to seriously injure herself. He forfeits the tennis rematch right there. She apologizes to Seung Jo, and he replies that he never thought they would win the rematch anyways. Ha, this coming from a dude who lost for the first time in his life just last week.
He helps her up and piggybacks her to get some medical attention. Tennis sunbae tells Seung Jo that they have a promised match, and Seung Jo says the match can wait for another day. As he turns to walk away, with Ha Ni on his back, his brief smile of contentment just radiates from the screen. Ha Ni smiles and snuggles on his back, and Seung Jo leisurely walks off the tennis court with her.
Back at the restaurant, new-and-improved Joon Gu comes strolling out, with a fab haircut (omo, is he manly) and some new threads. He’s not silly Joon Gu anymore, he’s studly Joon Gu, and Seung Jo better watch his back. Everyone is admiring the new and improved Joon Gu when Seung Jo and Ha Ni take a taxi home.
Seung Jo notes that Ha Ni’s ankle seems to be weaker since the accident, and that if she uses a rehab machine it should help her recover quicker. Joon Gu steps in to chastise Seung Jo for letting Ha Ni get hurt, and Ha Ni cuts in to say it’s not Seung Jo’s fault. Joon Gu leaves after hearing Ha Ni take Seung Jo’s side yet again, and goes out for drinks with Ha Ni’s friends that night.
The friends note that Ha Ni didn’t even notice Joon Gu’s makeover, most likely because Seung Jo was right there. He’s rather melancholy at the continued rejection of his affection for Ha Ni, and reminisces about all the times during high school where all he saw was Ha Ni and all he did was for Ha Ni. Joon Gu even thinks about Ha Ni when he’s working to encourage himself. He made an adorable egg omelet that is shaped like her face and he talks to it. Oh, Joon Gu, you are killing me with your love for this girl, gah!
Ha Ni overhears Hye Ra inviting Seung Jo out to a movie, and she can’t help herself but sneak along. Ha Ni notes that it has been her dream to go on a date with Seung Jo: watch a movie, go shopping afterwards, have coffee together. All of this has become Hye Ra’s reality now.
She’s covered her hair and worn glasses, and is lurking behind a pole when she runs into fellow disguised stalker tennis sunbae! They decide to team up on the stalking, and enter the movie to sit behind Seung Jo and Hye Ra (who are watching Cyrano Dating Agency, cute). Tennis sunbae says they need to prevent those two from any skinship, since Hye Ra is so sexy that even Seung Jo won’t be able to control himself around her in a darkened movie theater.
They notice Hye Ra leaning in to put her head on Seung Jo’s shoulder, and they wedge a magazine between the seat backs to impede her. After the movie ends, they all exit, and instead of continuing to stalk them, Ha Ni pulls of her disguise and stops right there. She doesn’t want to continue this fruitless endeavor.
Ha Ni feels totally lost, wondering what she has turned into. Stalking someone else’s date, preventing them from skinship. She tells tennis sunbae she doesn’t want to watch anymore, it’s too hard on her. She doesn’t want to become even more pathetic. As she turns to leave, she runs into a guy and causes the ice-cream he is holding to smush into his suit jacket.
The guy is a total asswipe, who wants a lot of money to clean his ruined suit jacket, money which tennis sunbae doesn’t have on him. Ha Ni tries to get the guy to let tennis sunbae go, and the guy pushes Ha Ni down. Seung Jo comes over, and asks Ha Ni if she is alright. A gaggle of lackeys come walking over, clearly belonging to the ticked off guy.
Seung Jo motions for tennis sunbae to grab Hye Ra and run, and then he takes off with Ha Ni. Seung Jo holds Ha Ni’s hand as they run pell mell for the exit, leaping over a small bench in their way, with Seung Jo clearly enjoying the crazy excitement of the moment.
Thoughts of Mine:
The final scene freezes with Seung Jo and Ha Ni in a mid-leap escape, suspended in the air – symbolizing perhaps the two of them about to cross that metaphoric hump in their relationship, and take it to another level? Yeah, I wish that were the case. No previews means one week of wondering whether Ice Prince Seung Jo or Reluctantly Caring Seung Jo will show up in episode 9. I’m starting to get whiplash.
Each episode of PK has thus far ended on introspective moments or mellower scenes, but not anymore. Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of a million PK-fans’ hearts thumping in unison over the excitement, thrill, and long-awaited K-drama patented swoony action OTP scene we just saw at the end of episode 8. Seung Jo, grabbing Ha Ni’s hand, together running away from pursuing thugs. Said it isn’t so, K-drama trope, except….I freaking love it!
This was a great episode, with moments that are small but meaningful. The second piggyback ride was lovely, especially the marked change in attitude of the same piggybacker. The story is definitely moving forward, isn’t it? Everyone is taking steps towards getting what they want: Joon Gu with his makeover and attitude transformation, Hye Ra being herself and confessing her feelings to Seung Jo, Ha Ni working hard in little ways to make Seung Jo proud of her, tennis sunbae….eh, he just ratchets up his stalking of Hye Ra.
After last night’s epic angst fest for Ha Ni, this episode moves both Ha Ni and Seung Jo closer again. I was a tad disappointed that she reverted to stalking him, but once again it was because he dropped the cold routine and started paying attention to her again, which raised her hope a millimeter.
Bringing Seung Jo and Ha Ni in proximity again wasn’t because of contrivances such as they both belong to the same tennis club, because Seung Jo has no reason to go to the club with his exemption. He goes to the club, agrees to a match with tennis sunbae, all of it is because he wants to. And he wants to because of Ha Ni, even he isn’t stupid enough to pretend otherwise, even though no one has caught on yet. I suppose thus far he still thinks it’s because she is a source of amusement and curiosity in his boring staid life. Well, I’ll take Seung Jo’s emotional development at the glacial pace it continues to evolve, because robots take eons to grow a heart.
It was finally time for Seung Jo to start being a smidgeon more open about how he views Ha Ni – not as a nuisance, but really as his own personal burden. A burden, yes, but his and his only. The final step is for Seung Jo to realize that he won’t and can’t have it any other way. He cannot be happy if he didn’t have Ha Ni in his life, as opposed to Ha Ni being a fun little toy to have around. And he’s getting there, yes he is. Ladies and gentlemen, the boy can be taught!
[credit: screencaps from MBC stills and soompi.com].