It’s disappointing for me to discover that Episode 3 of Lie to Me didn’t make any moves to improve on the first two episodes. It moved the plot forward in the most perfunctory of ways, without laying any solid emotional groundwork. Of all the May dramas, this was the one drama I personally wanted to love the most, but I fear greatly that it may end up being the turkey of the bunch. That would piss me off to no end.
Right now the biggest glaring problem is the script, which is all over the place and focused on nothing that feels important. Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye continue to do their best, but both are dragged down by tired dialogue and repetitive scene variations, not to mention an unnecessarily large supporting cast that I would trim by half. I need this drama to get to the “Ki Joon and Ah Jung agree to be in a contract marriage” parts pronto, because it’s a quickly sinking ship unless it reach shore.
Episode 3 Recap:
Ah Jung, having been insulted and dismissed by So Ran as not worthy of having a successful husband, waves to Ki Joon accompanied by the sure-to-be-misunderstood endearment of “Honey, I’m over here.” Ki Joon’s hand freezes in mid-wave, along with his smile. So Ran and Jae Bum turn around to stare at Ah Jung. The folks at the party notice Ah Jung and come outside to clap and congratulate Ki Joon’s new wife.
Ah Jung wonders to herself what the heck did she just do? So Ran clutches her stomach in pain brought on by confirmation of Ah Jung’s advantageous marriage. Ki Joon stalks towards Ah Jung and pins her against a column, demanding that she repeat what she just said. He incredulously asks whether she just called him “honey”?
Ah Jung quickly demurs that it’s all a misunderstanding. She tells Ki Joon that she didn’t mean to do it. Suddenly Jae Bum piggybacks So Ran past Ah Jung to get her some medical treatment. Ah Jung uses this as a perfect opportunity to escape. Ki Joon chases after Ah Jung, who manages to get into the elevator with Jae Bum and So Ran before Ki Joon can catch her.
Ah Jung helps Jae Bum put So Ran in the car, who thanks her for the help. Ah Jung mocks So Ran as pretending to be a queen even when she’s clearly sick, ordering Jae Bum around. Ah Jung takes off just as Sang Hee walks out of the hotel, wondering to himself what exactly is going on? A farce, Sang Hee, a farce in the making is what is going on.
Aunt comes to see Ki Joon at his office, finding out from Park Hoon that Ki Joon is working outside today. Aunt demands Ki Joon be brought back immediately otherwise Park Hoon better start looking for employment elsewhere. Ki Joon is not cowed, but he’s not planning to head back to the office in these current circumstances, when a crazy woman has just confirmed the ridiculous rumor of their marriage on Ki Joon’s home turf, no less.
Ki Joon is fuming inside, but he has to control himself for the time being. Hoon blames himself for suggesting that Ki Joon negotiate calming with Ah Jung, getting Ki Joon deeper into this mess. Ki Joon doesn’t take kindly being played for a fool, and vows to deal with Ah Jung. Hoon actually pities Ah Jung, since the Chairman (Aunt) now knows the situation, she’ll likely deal with Ah Jung severely.
Ki Joon goes to the office to see his Aunt, explaining that the marriage rumor is simply a practical joke. Aunt knows the woman’s name is Gong Ah Jung, but Ki Joon keeps insisting that Ah Jung is just a victim as well. Aunt wonders why he is defending her, but Ki Joon says he’s just speaking the truth. There is no benefit to Ah Jung for lying about being married to Ki Joon. He tries to down play the situation, asking Aunt to let it go.
Aunt is even more suspicious now, asking what his relationship with Ah Jung is? Ki Joon asks her calmly if he can resolve it himself, because it’s his own situation. Aunt warns him not to do anything that will make the family lose face. Aunt wonders if this rumor is started by Ki Joon, as a way to avoid going on more matchmaking dates. Ki Joon thinks she has been watching too many dramas. After Aunt leaves, Ki Joon asks Hoon to get the lawyer, ASAP.
Ki Joon wonders if this Chun Jae Bum is the best lawyer around. Hoon asks if Ki Joon is certain he wants to litigate in court. Ki Joon arrives at the lawyer’s office, and he runs into Jae Bum at the elevator banks. Ki Joon thinks back to last night when So Ran fainted. Jae Bum introduces himself as Ah Jung’s friend, and someone who lived together once……at the same cram school. Jae Bum asks Ki Joon if he needs a lawyer, and Ki Joon says no. Ki Joon then pointedly informs Jae Bum that he is not Gong Ah Jung’s husband. Jae Bum misinterprets that as Ki Joon requiring him to refer to Ah Jung as “madam” (or the honorific for the wife of an executive).
Ki Joon leaves the law firm, telling Hoon to find another lawyer, since Chun Jae Bum is close friends with Gong Ah Jung. Ki Joon wonders whether Jae Bum and Ah Jung have been in cahoots since the very beginning, since Ah Jung demanded that Ki Joon bring evidence before accusing her of starting the rumor. Hoon wonders if maybe they should alert the police. Ki Joon considers it carefully.
Ah Jung is at work when she is arrested and handcuffed. It’s yet another Ah Jung fantasy moment, as she is standing before a poster about taking responsibility for one’s actions. Her co-worker wonders if Ah Jung was thinking X-rated thoughts while looking at a poster involving handcuffs. Ah Jung pretends to whip him. At work, Ah Jung frets over why it’s so quiet, which worries her more. Shouldn’t Ki Joon be calling?
Ah Jung is told that someone is waiting for her downstairs, and he claims to be her husband. Ah Jung grimaces and heads downstairs, thinking that Ki Joon is finally here to deal with her. Her co-workers all are amazed that Ah Jung is married. Ah Jung tries to stay calm, telling herself that everything will be fine. In the lobby, Ah Jung looks around for Ki Joon, instead finding that Sang Hee has come to find her. He thought declaring himself her husband was better than saying he was her friend. When the co-workers coming barreling downstairs, Sang Hee greets them as Ah Jung’s younger brother.
Ah Jung and Sang Hee go to a café, where he whips out his just purchase cell phone and calls her phone to leave a number. Sang Hee claims that last night’s mishap wouldn’t have happened if he had a phone on him. Ah Jung is in no mood to flirt, telling him not to use a cell phone as an excuse for why he ditched her last night.
Sang Hee asks if the man Ah Jung was planning to dump was Hyun Ki Joon? She wonders why he cares, he agreed to help her and then changed his mind mid-way. Sang Hee protests what happened, but is worried that Ah Jung went to put out the fire and ended up fanning the flames. He claims to have been present but didn’t know when to show himself.
Sang Hee claims to somewhat know Ki Joon, and Ah Jung tells him not to dare claim to be his brother simply because they have the same last name. Ah Jung worries that she may need to emigrate now, but Sang Hee tells her to just go apologize, though he’s not sure if Ki Joon will be gracious enough to just let it go. Ah Jung asks Sang Hee to either comfort her or say something useful.
Jae Bum arrives at the café and says hello, telling Ah Jung that So Ran has stress-related gastrointestinal problems that will be fine with some rest. Jae Bum informs Ah Jung that So Ran is likely stressed from preparing for her upcoming trip to Canada, where she’s headed to do some studying. Jae Bum notices the dessert Ah Jung is eating, wondering if it tastes good, because he wants to buy some for So Ran.
Jae Bum then tells Ah Jung that he ran into her husband, and Ah Jung’s non-denial leaves Sang Hee looking at her oddly. Jae Bum tells Ah Jung that her husband appears to not like other men calling her by her name. Jae Bum suggests a double date before So Ran leaves for Canada, and Ah Jung just nods her head. When Jae Bum steps aside to take a call, Ah Jung books it, with Sang Hee following her.
Ah Jung’s co-worker are eating dinner, wondering why Ah Jung would ask her brother to pretend to be her husband. They think Sang Hee is probably just a cousin. Her boss says that he feels pity for Ah Jung, who needs to pretend to be married for validation. He continues saying that he’s not nitpicking on Ah Jung, he thinks it’s the fault of the civil service examiner for allowing Ah Jung to pass the test and become a civil servant. When the other co-workers consider that it was just joking around, Ah Jung’s boss persists in using it to paint Ah Jung as a empty woman seeking emotional validation through lying about her marital status.
Ah Jung and Sang Hee are at a playground. Ah Jung is looking at a study center, where she lived for two years. She remembers it as being a happy rather than stressful time, because she could live with the man she liked. She wanted to impress him but she didn’t know how, so she made a vow that when she passed the exam she would confess to him. But after she passed, he was already dating someone else. Sang Hee notes that the guy in question must’ve been Jae Bum.
Sang Hee thinks this sounds just like Ah Jung’s personality. Ah Jung confesses to being a very emotionally dense person. She gets up and climbs on top of the slides to enjoy the view. Ah Jung slides down and walks away, but is accosted by a bum asking for a cup of coffee. Sang Hee grabs her and runs away. They stop to rest, with Ah Jung telling Sang Hee that she lives close by. He offers to walk her home to keep her safe, but she tells him not to bother.
Sang Hee asks the taxi driver what today’s date is, and he’s told that it’s the 16th. Sang Hee remarks that he almost forgot. He walks up to an apartment building, asking Yoon Joo is she’s doing well? Yoon Joo is in Paris where her roommates wish her a happy birthday. They ask if she’s sure that she is going home, and she says that it’s been three years and it’s time she goes home.
Ah Jung looks through travel brochures, telling her nosy co-worker that she’s not traveling to a particular place, just looking to get out of the country. Ah Jung wonders what it means for someone who is very angry not to do anything, but instead remain quiet. Her co-worker suggests that perhaps the man in question is simply too busy to get mad? Ah Jung is relieved and tosses her travel books, accepting the rationale that Ki Joon is just too busy to deal with her.
Ah Jung is called to meet with the Minister of Culture, who takes her to the World Hotel for lunch because he feels bad that she took the blame for the bee mishap at the festival. Ah Jung tries to hide her face as she walks through the lobby, convincing herself that she won’t run into him. During the walk to the restaurant and the meal itself, Ah Jung keeps imagining that random guys are a very angry Hyun Ki Joon.
As Ah Jung is walking out of the hotel, she sees Ki Joon get out of the car. She assumes it yet another hallucination, until she blinks a few times and realizes that it really is him. She follows him back inside the hotel asking to speak for a few minutes. Ki Joon is unwilling until he realizes that they are inadvertently causing a scene, so he takes into a stairwell to talk.
Ki Joon accuses her of trying to purposely trying to embarrass him. Ah Jung immediately apologizes for what happened the other day, again explaining that she didn’t do it on purpose. The friend who she told that she was married happened to be at the hotel that day, and everything just happened. Ki Joon isn’t interested in hearing about Ah Jung’s life, but she wants him to understand that she’s not some strange woman.
Ah Jung asks for another chance, and she’ll explain everything this time. Ki Joon tells her not to worry about it anymore, the matter has been taken care of. Ah Jung wonders if this means Ki Joon is no longer mad at her? He smirks at her and leaves, walking away muttering that he hasn’t even gotten started on how to deal with her.
So Ran’s friends visit her in the hospital, sharing news that Ah Jung is not married to Hyun Ki Joon when they asked the hotel staff. But So Ran tells them that she saw them together and they are indeed married. So Ran assumes they are keeping it secret because of the Chairman’s objections. So Ran says she’s not feeling well and her friends leave. The friends note that because of Ah Jung, they are feeling regret about how their lives have turned out.
Ah Jung comes to visit So Ran, bringing her some treats. So Ran asks if Ah Jung wants to torment her, since she’s not allowed to eat. Ah Jung says that she ran into Jae Bum, who told her So Ran wants to smell the treats. Ah Jung starts to try and explain that she’s not really married to Ki Joon, but So Ran asks if Ah Jung is pretending to be pregnant and entrapped Ki Joon into marriage. Ah Jung ends up not dispelling the rumor.
So Ran wonders why Ah Jung is here fishing for information, is she trying to steal Jae Bum while So Ran is in Canada? Ah Jung tells her to stop assuming everyone desires her husband. The saying goes, if even a pair of grass sandals has its mate, and So Ran has Jae Bum, then now Ah Jung as Ki Joon, and all is well with the order of the universe, right? So Ran seethes, trying to get rid of Ah Jung, who luxuriates in being able to stick it to So Ran. Ah Jung eats some of the waffles she brought for So Ran and leaves. So Ran fumes in her hospital bed. Ah Jung walks out of the hospital skipping in happiness.
At Ae Kyung’s café, Suk Bong brings in coupons for a jjimjalbang, and Ae Kyung confesses that she’s never been to one before since there was no one to go with. Suk Bong asks if she wants to go today since it’s raining outside. She agrees, but then Ah Jung’s dad arrives, asking Ae Kyung to go have a bowl of udon with him. Ae Kyung apologizes to Suk Bong and heads out with Ah Jung’s dad. Poor Suk Bong is disappointed.
Ah Jung’s dad and Ae Kyung ended up going to a movie, but he ends up leaving when he gets a call to head back to work because another attorney just passed away. Ae Kyung is left at the movie theater without even an umbrella. Suk Bong is commiserating to Sang Hee about his sad romantic prospects. They drink to each other’s romantic woes.
Ae Kyung ends up at the jjimjalbang with Ah Jung, complaining to Ah Jung about how her dad just ditched her at the movie theater. Ah Jung tells Ae Kyung that if she wants to marry her dad, to go ahead and do so, not to worry about what Ah Jung thinks.
It’s morning time and Ah Jung’s time has just gotten home. He lays down in bed to rest, and Ah Jung tells him that she was his substitute yesterday. Dad thanks her, while Ah Jung thinks that her dad is the oldest looking of all his friends. Ah Jung wonders if Ae Kyung is refusing to marry him now? Her dad says that they are just friends now. When Ah Jung leaves, her dad wonders what has gotten into her, since she used to oppose the marriage so vehemently.
At the café, Suk Bong keeps sneaking glances at Ae Kyung. He asks if she had fun yesterday, and she says the jjimjalbang was quite clean. Suk Bong is disappointed that she went with Ah Jung’s dad when she had promised to go with him. He leaves before she can explain that she went with Ah Jung. So Ran is freaking out that Jae Bum is not picking her up from the hospital, when her friends arrive in his stead.
The ladies head to So Ran’s place and she opens an expensive bottle for wine. A friend wonders if they should call Ah Jung over, but So Ran claims that Ah Jung came to visit her in the hospital to upset her. One friend finally calls So Ran to task for mistreating Ah Jung for so long, pretending to be her friend to her face but bad-mouthing her behind Ah Jung’s back. So Ran tells her friends to leave.
Ah Jung gets a call at work that there is a package waiting for her. She goes down to sign for it, opening up an envelope to find that she’s been served with papers. Ah Jung storms into Ki Joon’s office, demanding to see him. Hoon tries to stall her, telling her that she needs to communicate through lawyers going forward.
Ki Joon is informed that Ah Jung came by, and he appears a little disappointed that Ah Jung could be taken care of that easily. Ki Joon is told that the guest in the presidential suite has been complaining non-stop since she arrived. He tells his manager to handle it, until he’s informed that the guest is Gong Ah Jung. Ah Jung keeps demanding to see the president.
Ki Joon arrives and everyone else leaves so that he can speak with her privately. Ah Jung demands to know why she received the court papers. Ah Jung keeps trying to explain, and Ki Joon is not interested in privately resolving things anymore. Ki Joon is about to leave when Ah Jung stands up to ask whether he will agree to marry her? She asks for him to pretend to be married to her for just a month or two.
He asks why, and she begs him, pretending that she doesn’t have too long to live. Ki Joon turns her down, telling her to enjoy her stay and that he will see her in court. Sang Hee comes running to the hotel and sneaks in to visit Ah Jung. She’s drinking in her suite, complaining that she just asked for a month, and he can still sue her afterwards, but he refuses.
Ah Jung confesses to Sang Hee that it’s the first time her friend So Ran has been so upset upon hearing that Ah Jung is married to Ki Joon. Ah Jung confesses that she’s so angry. For the last three years she’s done nothing, not able to fall in love with anyone else. She wants revenge. Sang Hee tells Ah Joon that she’s very desirable, and if she wanted she could be married soon. Ah Jung cries that she just wants to be a married woman right now.
Ah Jung falls asleep, and Sang Hee smiles down at her as he covers her with a blanket. He asks a sleeping Ah Jung if she knows how expensive this room is for a night? He considers her predicament – she needs to be married and it has to be to Hyun Ki Joon.
Ah Jung wakes up the next morning hung over. She gets a shock when she looks up to find Sang Hee in the room with her. He asks her if her wish is really to be married to Hyun Ki Joon? If that is indeed what she wants, then he can help her make her wish come true.
Thoughts of Mine:
I don’t know what to make of LTM? Lots of my drama friends have checked out since the first two serviceable albeit rather unoriginal episodes, but I don’t want to do that. I love Yoon Hye and Ji Hwan, and their acting together continues to make me smile simply by seeing them in the same frame. But that glaring weakness in the story is becoming this pink elephant that threatens to swallow my OTP, killing the drama by sheer boredom alone.
Unlike episodes 1 and 2, where I found some genuine mirth in some scenes, and a few inspired and memorable moments here and there, episode 3 was a giant waste of an episode, doing nothing of import. I didn’t need Ah Jung to taunt So Ran to glean that her being married drove So Ran nuts, ergo she would ask Ki Joon to be in a pretend marriage with her. All of that could have happened in ten minutes and we’d be well on our way already.
Too much time is spent on unnecessary throwaway scenes, most of which don’t even involve our OTP or the central story, no less. I’m flummoxed with this script, which is thus far not clicking at all. I want LTM to succeed so bad, and I worry more and more viewers are going to be tuning out. The PD has a sure hand, and the execution is perfectly decent, but as a viewer I don’t see the story delving deeper into the substantive issues.
Ki Joon remains a cipher, his personality clearly portrayed by Kang Ji Hwan but I don’t see the writer showing his depth. Ah Jung is turning out way more whiny and knuckleheaded than the initial impression I got. All her attempts to deal with Ki Joon are so cartoonish. And So Ran, don’t even get me started – a total and complete cardboard villainess who might as well adopt a signature cackle.
The only person who emerged from episode 3 intact was Sang Hee, who may be immature and now plotting to get his brother pretend married to Ah Jung, but at least talked and thought like a normal human being.
This is my third contract marriage premised drama of this year alone, and the only way to properly handle this outlandish premise is by allowing the whys and hows of the marriage contract to remain absurd, but have the main characters talk, think, and behave like rational and relatable human beings. Thus far the writer of LTM is letting her premise dictate the story, rather than have her characters drive the momentum.