Best Love (The Greatest Love) is a shining example of what I keep saying about rom-coms. The basic premise is always the same, all the elements are recycled in various iterations, and the end result is a foregone conclusion. The only way to create a memorable and engaging rom-com is to understand the inherent limitations and use it to your advantage. Don’t throw out tropes and expect it to be sufficient – do it correctly and uniquely, and suddenly the world is your rom-com oyster and I a paying customer.
Episode 4 Recap:
After a tense moment, Pil Joo smiles and hands the remaining rose to Ae Jung. Ae Hwan immediately starts clapping in excitement, but the rest of the production team and the audience are stunned. Kim Hee Jin is eliminated, and she immediately walks off the stage, stalking past Dokko Jin. Ae Jung is still so happy when she turns her head and makes eye contact with Jin.
Jin is furious (at his own situation), going back inside the studio and muttering that this can’t possibly be happening. He theatrically stumbles into the hallway, asking himself whether it’s possible that he, gasp, loves Gu Ae Jung? On the wall of the hallway is a series of drama posters from real K-dramas of the past. So when Jin asks that question, we see the drama poster title “I Really Really Like You” pop out of the drama to taunt Jin. Oh lord this is precious!
He asks why he would be doing this, and the poster title for “My Life’s Fantasy” pops up. He rolls over to the next poster, all the while muttering that he is Dokko Jin, this has never happened in his life before, what is going on? So the poster title for “The Prince’s First Love” emerges to answer his question. Jin grits his teeth and rolls again, asking what he should do, and the title “A Man in Danger” emerges to warn him.
Just then, Ae Jung walks inside and calls out to Jin. She’s happy and runs after him, while he is trying to run away. He turns around ready to snap her head off in his current bad mood, but she’s leaning against the poster for “You’re So Pretty” and Jin loses all his verve at that moment. Ae Jung is happy to show off her rose to Jin, asking for a high five for how well she turned things around back there.
Jin slaps her hand super hard, yelling at her that it’s not possible that she, a woman that is Gu Ae Jung, could possible get his….. He stops himself before revealing his feelings for her, but Ae Jung mistakenly thinks he’s upset that she got a rose that a woman like her isn’t supposed to get. Jin says that he refuses to accept it (meaning that Jin likes Ae Jung), to which Ae Jung replies that her getting a rose from Pil Joo does not require Jin’s consent.
Jin’s so frustrated he wants to wring Ae Jung’s neck, calling her a nuisance. Ae Jung finally realizes the oddness of seeing Jin at the studio today, asking whether he came just to see her embarrassed. God I love it, he came for the exact opposite reason, except he can’t tell her. He explains that he came because he was worried she would be eliminated, not because he cares, but because if she was kicked off the show, she’ll come bug Jin again.
Ae Jung says that Jin should be happy for her then, getting the rose. Jin says that he’s just unhappy to see Ae Jung so happy is all. Ae Jung shoves the rose under his rose, telling him that she’s thrilled to have gotten a rose. Jin swats the rose away, causing it to fall on the ground and petals to be strewn everywhere. Ae Jung looks like she’s about to cry, calling Jin a meanie for doing that to her rose.
Jin sits in the lobby holding a few discarded rose petals. He tries to throw it into the trash, but one petal is particularly attached to his palm, refusing to drop into the rubbish. Jin tells the offending petal to stop clinging to him. He drops the petal in and turns the trashcan lid. All the petals fall in except that one petal, which remains on top of the trashcan lid.
Jin mutters for that petal (and for Gu Ae Jung) to quickly get away from him. But after a few more turns of the lid, he quickly stops it and picks up the rose petal. He puts it inside his hankerchief and folds it, all the while with an odd and tender expression on his face.
Ae Hwan is sitting and watching the other three ladies flirting with Pil Joo. Ae Jung comes back and grabs the beverage Ae Hwan is holding to drink it, but Ae Hwan tells her that it’s not meant for her, he wants her to bring it over to Pil Joo. All the ladies are feigning one ailment after another, wanting Pil Joo to check them out. Ae Jung refuses to over and be so obvious, but she agrees to try hiccupping per Ae Hwan’s suggestion.
Ae Hwan goes over to ask for advice from Pil Joo for his bad intestinal problems, and he lets out this horrifically loud and smelly fart. He follows that with a second fart, which scares all the three ladies away. He tries to wave to Ae Jung to come over now, but Ae Jung refuses and runs off. Pil Joo notices her sitting her and smiles.
Ae Jung goes to the vending machine, deciding to throw a coin to determine whether she pretends to hiccup in front of Pil Joo, or just bring him a beverage. Ae Jung tosses the coin which flies over her head. She backs up to catch it, which is when Pil Joo walks up behind her. He catches both Ae Jung and the coin, telling her that he was sent by Ae Hwan to check out her hiccupping.
Ae Jung sees the coin has fallen on heads, which means she has to hiccup. She starts to hiccup, and Pil Joo correctly determines that she’s faking it. Ae Jung drops the pretense, asking what to do if she really had the hiccups. Pil Joo shows her a spot on her throat she can press down on, but warns her not to press too hard or else she can die. He laughs that she appears to take everything to the extreme.
Ae Jung promises Pil Joo that no matter what he does, she will promise to give him a great reaction. He’s confused until she explains that all programs are about getting a reaction. For example, if he tells a lame joke, she’ll pretend it’s extremely funny and laugh at it. Ae Jung shows him her pretend laugh, and her expression of excitement if Pil Joo does something super cute. To thank him for not eliminating her today, Ae Jung gives him the coin he’s still holding to treat him to a beverage.
Pil Joo asks to be paid 100 billion won instead. Ae Jung suddenly becomes really serious, telling Pil Joo that she wasn’t exaggerating about the 100 billion won, because she can’t be bought even with that amount of money. Pil Joo apologizes when Ae Jung laughs, showing him that was her serious reaction to something he said. Ae Jung laughs about how effective it is when the timing is just right.
Jin is drinking when he thinks back to how he swatted Ae Jung’s rose out of her hand and how upset she was. Jin’s manager arrives in the van to pick up Jin. The door opens to reveal Ae Jung and Ae Hwan inside. Jin’s not happy to share the van, but Ae Hwan confesses that he drank and can’t drive, and since they live so close, wouldn’t Jin just agree to let them hitch a ride with him? Jin is about to refuse when he spots a rose in Ae Jung’s purse.
Jin tosses something at Ae Hwan, not happy to have the van stinky and filled with so much stuff. He tells his manager to clean the van thoroughly before tomorrow. The manager wants to drop Ae Jung off first, but Jin insists he be dropped off first. Ae Hwan asks Ae Jung if they should go have a drink at Jenny’s place, to which the manager realizes it’s Jenny from Treasure Girls, announcing that he’s a fan. Jin continues to be extra testy and tells them to all be quiet. Ae Hwan whispers to Ae Jung that apparently Pil Joo lives in their same neighborhood. Ae Jung confirms that she knew it already, and had made plans to go eat at Jenny’s with him sometime in the near future.
Ae Hwan compliments Pil Joo as a great guy, noting that he and Ae Jung have gotten real close real fast. The manager also echoes the same sentiment – Pil Joo is the perfect guy. Jin listens to all of this with a smirk. When Ae Jung is asked if she might really fall in love with Pil Joo, before she can answer the van arrives at Jin’s house. Jin gives a grimace to be so thwarted from hearing Ae Jung’s answer.
Everyone gets out, and Jin realizes that the three of them are all heading off together. They all wish Jin a good night and walk off. Ae Hwan continues the conversation asking Ae Jung whether she can fall in love with Pil Joo. Jin starts to inch forward trying to eavesdrop, but stops when Ae Jung looks back. He’s unhappy that no one even bothered to ask him if he wants to go with them. He calls them stingy, and he yells at the dogs in the neighborhood to be quiet.
Jin goes inside and takes off his jacket. He looks at his hankerchief (with the rose petal inside), thinking back to the moment when Pil Joo handed the rose to Ae Jung. He takes out the rose, asking himself why he picked it up? He opens the hankerchief to see that the rose petal has left a heart print behind. He asks himself how something that has been thrown away can leave a stain behind?
At Jenny’s restaurant, Jenny is thrilled to discover that Jin’s cutie pie manager was the middle school fan who asked for Jenny’s signature on a marriage certificate. Jenny still remembers that incident, and the manager still has the signed marriage certificate. He suggests that he can submit it now, and Jenny teasingly agrees. Ae Hwan is not pleased with this possibility, and tells Jenny to stop kidding around the kid. They all joke that if Jenny married her former middle school fan, they would be front page news. Jenny is so happy she decides to treat today, telling the manager to come over anytime he wants.
The manager’s phone rings and it’s Jin calling asking for water to be delivered to his house right now. The manager asks if he can bring it tomorrow, or if Jin can drink another beverage? Jin barks that he is thirsty, NOW. The manager hangs up the phone, grumbling that Jin knows he’s hungry but clearly won’t let him eat.
He tells everyone that if Jin wants something, he wants it now. He gets up to leave, but Ae Jung suggests Ae Hwan to go instead. Ae Hwan doesn’t want to leave the other two alone, so Ae Jung offers to go. Ae Jung uses the manager’s door card key and enters the house. And we get our second shower scene of the drama, with Jin in the shower. Ae Jung walks in calling Jin’s name, wondering if he’s asleep? No, but he’s currently naked.
Ae Jung puts the water in fridge, noticing a pack of Oriental medicine in the fridge which Ae Jung had given to Jin when she was under the mistaken assumption that Pil Joo was an ass. She’s holding the medicine when she hears a noise from upstairs. She’s about to say hello when a wet Jin walks out with a towel around his waist that he is about to remove.
Ae Jung averts her eyes and tries to hide, as Jin comes downstairs. He opens the fridge to see it stocked with water. He takes one and goes upstairs. Ae Jung gets up out of her hiding place under the stairs, wondering why she decided to hide in the first place? Jin puts on his watch, telling it to wake up and behave. He doesn’t want to see the watch display over 100 for Gu Ae Jung anymore. He tells the watch to maintain a heart rate between 60-90.
Jin starts to chant and meditate (of sorts), telling his dirty heart not to wildly beat without permission. Ae Jung continues to look for her cell phone, which is when her phone rings and the songs begins to play. Jin hears the song and sits up, wondering if he’s hallucinating right now. His heart rate races above 120. Jin slowly walks down the stairs, just as Ae Jung manages to grab her phone and turn it off.
Ae Jung goes back hid behind the stairs as Jin slowly walks down and turns on the lights. He looks around nervously. He pokes his finger in his ears, and jumps around a few time shaking his head. Jin turns on the alarm before going back upstairs. Jin lays down on his bed, and we see Ae Jung trying to sneak out. But she makes a noise and Jin gets back up.
Jin tries to pretend there are lots of other people in the house with him to scare the intruder. Ae Jung tries to hide again, which is when she breaks open the bag of medicine in her purse. It’s dark and she grabs something to wipe it up. She’s horrified to discover that she used Jin’s underwear to wipe the floor. She tries to run out of the house and triggers the alarm. Jin comes running down wielding a golf club, which he puts down once he realizes it’s her. He asks her what she’s doing here, and realizes that she’s holding his underwear in her hand.
Jin tells the security service who have arrived because of the alarm that all is well. Ae Jung thanks him for not turning her in. Jin notes that Ae Jung showing up in his house to steal his underwear and being discovered by the security company Jin filmed a CF for, none of that can show up on the news. Ae Jung assures him she didn’t come to steal his underwear, and she only hid because she saw him naked. Once she hid, she ended up continuing to hide.
Jin oooooohs that Ae Jung came to view his naked self then, and he accuses her of perhaps taking cell phone pictures while she’s at it. He grabs her phone, asking again how she saved his information in her phone this time. He scrolls through the list, finally landing on “bad-luck bastard”, which he dials, and his phone rings. HA. Jin demands to know why he’s a bad-luck bastard, to which Ae Jung says that he is. Ae Jung offers to delete it, telling him not to call her again.
She suddenly realizes that the call she missed earlier was from Pil Joo. Oh god, the irony. She giggles because the time stamp on that call was 11:11, and she tells Jin that the same string of numbers like 1111 is always a good sign. Jin tells him that he was scared by that 1111, his heart almost stopped. He shows Ae Jung his heart watch with his excessive heart beat reading of 120 because of her phone ringing.
Ae Jung asks what the watch is for, since it’s not like a regular watch. Jin claims it’s because he wants to control everything about himself so he wears it. Ae Jung doesn’t see Jin as someone always in control, to which Jin yells that it’s all because of her that he’s now outside of the safety zone. Jin gets a little anxious and asks why she came inside his house. Ae Jung profusing apologizes and agrees to leave right away.
Her phone rings right then and it’s Pil Joo, letting Ae Jung know that her brother has a pen of his, which was a gift from a friend. Ae Jung offers to bring to back to him at the hospital. Ae Jung lies that she drank the soup he gave her. Jin suddenly gets up off the couch, where he has been listening to this convo, and announces loudly to Ae Jung that she needs to leave his PANTY before she can leave. He keeps repeating the word PANTY in every sentence, very loudly, for Pil Joo’s benefit.
Ae Jung pretends that her brother and nephew are fighting, and she throws Jin’s underwear at his foot. He kicks it right back to her, demanding that she wash his panty, it can’t smell like Oriental medicinal soup, his POOR PANTY. I am dying here, people. How the hell can I write this recap if I can’t get off the ground?
Ae Jung washes his underwear, muttering to herself that Jin is so damn immature, why is he claiming to try and control himself. Jin sits outside wondering why he didn’t just let Ae Jung leave back there? Ae Jung finishes washing the underwear and informs Jin. He looks at her, asking how a special person like himself, Dokko Jin, could let someone like Gu Ae Jung barge inside? Ae Jung assumes he’s referring to her entering his house, and she promises never to enter his house again.
Ae Jung tells him to let her leave, since he had locked her inside by activating his house alarm. She asks for the code, and he refuses since he control his life so well and will never let anyone intrude into his secure life. He turns around to walk away, only to hear the alarm deactivate. Ae Jung easily deactivated by pushing the code 6090, since Jin told her earlier that the standard heart rate is between 60-90. She tells him to change the code if he doesn’t want a person like her entering. Ae Jung leaves, and Jin sits downs stunned, realizing that Ae Jung broke his security code.
The media reports on Gu Ae Jung being picked by the bachelor. At the hospital, a nurse tells Pil Joo that he’s now famous. Pil Joo realizes that all the patients in the waiting room are snapping his picture and that he is now famous. The nurse asks him if he can get a singer to come and sing for her wedding next month. Ae Jung’s dad and nephew (wearing BOTH of Joo Won’s tracksuits from Secret Garden), arrive at the hospital to check out the bachelor.
They see Pil Joo’s mom, so Ae Jung’s dad walks up to introduce themselves. Pil Joo’s mom whispers to her lady cronies that “here comes knock-off Hyun Bin”, and I know the SG jokes are mined to death by I still giggled nonetheless. The two parents discuss their kids who are both on Couple Making Season 3, complimenting each other’s son and daughter as handsome and beautiful. Turns out Pil Joo’s mom has mistaken Ae Jung’s dad for Se Ri’s dad. When asked by other ladies why Pil Joo picked Ae Jung to remain, his mom claims its for ratings and her precious son would never like a woman like Gu Ae Jung.
Jin is at home when he gets a call from MBS. He’s initially dismissive, telling the person to call his manager instead, but gets interested when he hears that the caller is calling for Couple Making Season 3. Turns out Jin had indeed cast a vote for Ae Jung that day, and now he’s been selected to receive Ae Jung’s autographed products. God this is priceless. Jin is told that he has the exact same name as a famous celebrity, and actually sounds a lot like him. Jin holds his nose to raise his voice 100 octaves higher.
Jin is told that a package with Ae Jung’s autographed items will be mailed to his address. Jin realizes where it’s going, and rushes off to his agency. At the agency, Ae Hwan and Ae Jung are going through fan mail and gifts. Jin runs in and grabs the box sent from Couple Making before Ae Jung can open it.
Jin asks why his agent continues to keep Ae Jung with the agency, since they already placed her on Couple Making Season 3. The agent assumes having Ae Jung around brings back bad memories for Jin. She hands him a script of a manhwa adapation, and Jin declines because it’s just not his image. The agent suggests he change his image, to something more “bling, bling.”
Ae Jung is at the hospital to return the pen to Pil Joo. She looks up to see her former Treasure Girl mate Mina, who has a little baby with her. Ae Jung wants to say hi, but hesitates when she remembers the past, for whatever reason Mina was so unhappy she wanted to kill herself but was stopped by Ae Jung. Pil Joo comes out to see Ae Jung, telling the nurse that he’ll ask Ae Jung to sing at her wedding.
Pil Joo finds Ae Jung hiding from Mina, and he calls her name out loud. Mina turns around and Ae Jung asks Pil Joo to block for her and Mina leaves. Pil Joo and Ae Jung overhear two nurses discussing how Pil Joo doesn’t have any taste.
Ae Jung tells Pil Joo to let it go, to cover his hears and pretend that he can’t hear that. The nurse then discuss that asking Ae Jung to sing for her wedding is not suitable because she’s got such a negative public image. Pil Joo reaches out and covers Ae Jung’s ears.
On her way out, Ae Jung teases Pil Joo that people will think he has no taste because of her now. Pil Joo looks solemn, but Ae Jung smiles and tells him she’s okay, she’s heard this all before. Plus the nurses are right, it’s not suitable for someone with a negative public image to sing at a wedding. She puts his pen inside his pocket, and he grabs her hand and shows her where to press down to calm herself.
Pil Joo tells Ae Jung that he’s always had a good image of her, and he doesn’t see her using the perception of an entertainer. He apologizes for causing her to feel bad. He presses down on her hand some more.
Ae Jung talks with Jenny, discussing how they have been in the industry for ten years. Jenny doesn’t want that kind of entertainer life, so she’s happy to have left the industry early. Jenny asks whether they can have a getogether for their ten year anniversary.
Se Ri and Jin are meeting with their agents, and are told their new CF endorsement requires them to remain a couple. Se Ri thinks if one party has a scandal, that party needs to pay the penalty. Both Jin and Se Ri confirm they won’t have any scandal for the next year. Se Ri wants Jin to be her guest of honor at her 10 year fan meeting. Jin asks his agent wasn’t it that Ae Jung debuted with Se Ri in the same group. The agent confirms it, but notes that they’ve reach different levels in their career.
Jin goes to Ae Jung’s house. He calls her, and her phone rings with the identifier 6090 (hee) and she refuses to answer the phone. Jin goes up to her house, finding Ding Dong in the courtyard. Jin looks around the crowded yard, asking Ding Dong how long he’s lived in this house, and is told since birth. Jin wonders how much the monthly rent costs, and then he realizes that he’s talking to a 7 year old kid. Ding Dong asks if ahjusshi is planning to marry his Aunt Ae Jung, since his grandpa told him that people getting married ask questions about things that are private.
As Jin is leaving, Ding Dong sends a paper plane down at him. Jin warns him to cease, looking down to realize that the paper plane is a flyer for a nightclub event, with Ae Jung as a performer. Ae Jung goes to a night club and prepare for her performance, while Se Ri is preparing for her fan meeting. Jenny, Se Ri, and Ae Jung all get an unmarked package, which they open up to find that it contains their Treasure Girl CD and a laminated four leaf clover.
We flash back to the girls’ first performance, where they are so nervous. Even their manager is nervous, but he tells them to do their best, that even S.E.S. and FinKL made mistakes. Mina shows the girls a four leaf clover she found that morning, which reminds her that they will have good luck. Ae Jung wonders if Mina sent the package.
Jin arrives at the night club, noticing how tawdry it is, and seeing Ae Jung’s face on a banner outside. He thinks that it’s fitting for Ae Jung to finally be back at the level she belongs. Ae Jung chokes on a kimbap, which continues to bother her throat even after she drinks water. Ae Hwan tells Ae Jung to go rest in the car first, and he’ll come get her when it’s her turn to perform.
As Ae Jung is walking outside, she’s stopped by a waiter who wears the name tag Dokko Jin and has a very obvious Jin goatee. He show Ae Jung his Jin impersonation, which is very gentlemanly and sweet. Ae Jung is happy to see such a polite Dokko Jin. The waiter turns around to leave when he bumps into Jin! He starts stammering, and Jin tells him that he doesn’t look right at all, so he better get rid of the entire look.
Ae Jung sits in the car, seeing her Treasure Girls CD. She mists the window and draws a four leaf clover in the glass. Something is still bothering her chest so she thumps it a few times. Finally she closes her eyes and takes a nap. Jin walks outside and looks down at her sleeping in the car. He bends down and puts his hands on the car window right next to where Ae Jung’s cheek is resting. Ae Jung turns her cheek a few times, and Jin smiles as he looks at her.
Thoughts of Mine:
I don’t know how the Hong Sisters manage to shove in so much dialogue and action into one measly episode. They wear me out from their brand of drama crack, they do. And the acting! Oh lord is the acting from the two leads all-out brilliant. Every emotional twist and turn, from the funny to the quiet, from the zany to the serious, it’s all brought to life by Cha Seung Won and Gong Hyo Jin in the most effortless of ways. Actually everyone is doing well, but since the majority of the juicy character development goes to Jin and Ae Jung, that’s where all the heavyweight acting stands out the most.
What more can I say? This drama is getting better concurrently with its narrative progression. I can totally buy Jin’s attitude towards his inexplicable attraction to Ae Jung. Hear me out. He’s not a robot as much as he’s always been a self-absorbed ass, someone who I can believe has never been in love (the selfless romantic kind), because he’s always been in love with only himself. Dokko Jin is #1, right? So it’s not that he doesn’t know what love is, it’s that (1) he can’t self-diagnose the symptoms of falling in love, and more importantly, (2) he cannot fathom that he could be feeling those feelings for Gu Ae Jung, of all people.
But I love how he doesn’t actively force himself to stop, he merely has a hard time coming to grips with it. I think this episode pushes him right over the edge, and looks like he’ll be testing the waters soon and expressing his feelings. Though I don’t think he realizes how serious it could be, and may continue to think of it as a passing fancy (for now).
As much as the Jin-Ae Jung moments make me squee, it was actually the Pil Joo-Ae Jung scenes in this episode that were solid romantic gold. While Ae Jung burrows under Jin’s well-ordered life and makes a home in his heart, and he sometimes helps her in his own bumbling ways, Pil Joo and Ae Jung make my heart flutter. The way she talks to him, like a friend, like a normal person in her abnormal life. The way he looks at her, like she’s someone pure, someone good inside, a beautiful person instead of a media punching bag.
I LOVELOVELOVE the scene when he put his hands over her ears to shield her from the hurtful remarks, which actually made me tear up, because it was so perfect, and so sweet, and so protective, and gah, he’s not going to get the girl so I should just shut up now, right? Grrrrr, I’m on the OTP ship, don’t worry, but damn if Pil Joo isn’t going to own a part of my allegiance and my soul before it’s all said and done.
I like seeing the backstory of the Treasure Girls revealed little by little, and how all four girls have ended up in completely different places in life. It appears the most successful, Se Ri, is the least happy, and that the farther away from the entertainment industry, the more content the girls are (Jenny and Mina). I suppose Ae Jung couldn’t have lasted as long as she did without her awesome, sweetheart of a brother. Ae Hwan is a solid gold support for his sister, and I adore how much he cheers her up and encourages her.
I know we’re going to travel a long ways with this story before the Hong Sisters bring it in for a sure to be happy ending. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds, not just for the OTP, but for all the secondary and side characters, who are so wonderfully distinctive even in the little screen time some of them get. I love everything about Best Love, from the fuzz on Dokko Jin’s goatee all the way to the rims of Pil Joo’s dork glasses.