Oh I am in so much trouble. I knew this might happen if I decided to recap both Lie to Me and Best Love (The Greatest Love), which is once the romance started in earnest, I would have OTP-confusion and have a hard time putting one set of OTP down to recap the other. It took me a good ten minutes into BL before I was able to shake a certain kiss from my foggy brain and focus on Ae Jung and Jin, who frankly, deserve my undivided attention.
By the end of this episode, I was once again quaking in my heels from the wonderfully gripping story development. I’m glad to see the issues between Jin and Ae Jung to be so meaty, with so much thoughtful considerations to ponder through. Plus their every interaction either makes me angry if they fight or swoon when they are so tentative and tender with each other. It appears I now spend 5 days out of the week acting like a love-sick school girl. Which I guess isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Episode 7 Recap:
Jin stares at Ae Jung crying on Pil Joo’s shoulder, her sadness palpable and unbidden. He palms the potato in his hand, turning himself around with a command not to look. He is Dokko Jin, he should not look (and be affected by this). He staggers away (really, he staggers, his feet tripping over itself), and when he tries to turn around his hand pulls on his sweater to keep himself from looking over his shoulder. Jin goes home and sees the spilled bag of groceries, which contains not just potatoes, but ingredients for making curry rice.
Ae Hwan and his dad have a conversation about Ae Jung, the album, and asking for Jin’s help. Ae Hwan thinks Jin wants to help Ae Jung so it’s not wrong to ask him. Dad reminds Ae Hwan of what happened to Ae Jung last time – she dated an actor, was accused of using his fame and stealing him from another woman. Ae Hwan thinks it’s different this time, because Jin and Se Ri are breaking up. But that was what the guy said as well, but when push comes to shove, he betrayed Ae Jung to the media and the public. Dad warns Ae Hwan to consider his actions carefully, and Ae Hwan asks his dad if accepting the medicine from Pil Joo’s mom was the right thing to do?
Pil Joo and Ae Jung are at an overlook enjoying the Seoul night lights. Ae Jung tells him she is fine, she wasn’t actually sick, she cried because she was so embarrassed. Today she felt cheap and poor, so she was so embarrassed she cried. Pil Joo cheers Ae Jung up by reminding her that she is a national treasure #1 worth 10 billion won, she is not cheap at all. Ae Jung smiles at his kindness.
He also reminds her that he promised to treat her if she wasn’t feeling well, right? She smiles and confesses that she was actually national treasure #2 when she was part of the group, based on age. Pil Joo discusses the various national treasures in Korea with Ae Jung, and the two of them banter with each other.
Jin is sitting at the table eating a plate of curry rice. He takes a bite and criticizes the curry for tasting bad…..because there are no potatoes in it. The camera pans over and we see all the potatoes still sitting on the table. Ae Jung is in her room and talking to the Pororo lie detector. She asks the microphone whether it’s okay to mistreat a person just because one is a top star?
Jin’s agent (henceforth Agent Moon) is discussing with Jin about how she’s heard that he’s helping out with Ae Jung’s album. Jin wonders if she heard it from Ae Jung, but is told that Ae Hwan has been going around telling people. Suddenly Ae Jung arrives at the dinner, having been invited by Agent Moon to discuss how to resolve the potential bad PR surrounding the anonymous A, B, C gossip column.
Jin thinks C (Ae Jung) should be punished because she caused the problem. When Agent Moon wonders why Jin is purposely embarrassing Ae Jung right now, Jin says that Ae Jung doesn’t get embarrassed. Ae Jung confirms that she just ignores this type of talk. When it comes time to order and Ae Jung wants to order one dish instead of a set course, Jin derides her for pretending to be frugal in front of Agent Moon to curry her favor since she’s helping Ae Jung release her album. Agent Moon walks out to take a call, thinking to herself that Ae Jung and Jin are cold towards each other.
Jin gets up to leave since the album discussion is between Ae Jung and Agent Moon. Ae Jung tells him to stay since he’s going to help her with it. When Jin looks taken aback, Ae Jung reminds him that he told Ae Jung to ask for his help last night. Ae Jung tells Jin there are two options – he can star in her MV or she can tell the world what he propositioned her last night in a sure to be blockbuster tell-all book. Ae Jung turns the tables, telling Jin to choose higher-class option, and then she gets up and leaves.
Jin chases after her, pulling her aside and asking whether she is threatening him to help with her album, or is she doing this to get back at him for what he said last night that hurt her pride? Jin thinks she’s confusing people with her actions, and Ae Jung tells him there is nothing to be confused about, he can go ahead and think what he wants. Since Jin made her a fool by accusing her of using him, then he should let himself be used by her. Jin agrees, allowing himself to be used, but tells her not to confuse him anymore. He calls Agent Moon and tells her to find Ae Jung the best music producer in the industry.
Agent Moon shows Ae Hwan and Ae Jung her plans for the album, which worries Ae Hwan a bit about what the media might think. Agent Moon pooh poohs any media worries, since this was Jin’s decision. She tells Ae Jung to sign the contract so the album production can commence immediately. Jin sits in his house and looks at the potatoes, telling the spuds that if Ae Jung signs the contract, then his spuddy friends will mean nothing.
Ae Hwan tells Ae Jung to sign, but she remembers what Jin said to her (to pick either her ambition or her pride), and thinks this is all a test by him. Ae Hwan asks Ae Jung to think carefully about how her career can be resurrected, and she finally signs the contract. Once Jin hears that Ae Jung signed the contract, he tells the potatoes he has confirmed why they came to his house that night.
He proceeds to cook the potatoes, this time he’s the one calling Gu Ae Jung the bad person. He holds the last potato as his heart rate spikes. He decides not to take care of all the potatoes at once, or else he might go into shock. He puts the last potato in a ceramic bowl and covers it with a lid, proclaiming the lone potato to be locked in this prison for now.
Agent Moon asks if Ae Jung battled her own pride before signing this contract? Ae Jung confesses that she can’t turn down a opportunity like this, and Agent Moon is pleased, since she would have stopped representing Ae Jung if she had been foolish enough not to sign. Jenny chats with Ae Jung about how Agent Moon is like Ae Jung’s mother-in-law. Jin is like her own son, whose interests she puts first and protects, and Ae Jung is like a daughter-in-law, who she helps, so long as it doesn’t go against the interests of her son Jin.
Jenny warns Ae Jung that Jin doesn’t just have one mom in Agent Moon, the entire nation of Korea views Jin as its son. Ae Jung thinks if Korea stepped on her, then she’d be a goner. Jenny says it won’t happen, as long as she doesn’t see Jin anymore. Jenny confirms that Ae Jung doesn’t like Jin, and Ae Jung says of course she doesn’t like him. She suddenly trips over the Pororo lie detector and it warns her not to tell a lie.
Se Ri goes to the clinic to meet Pil Joo, asking for more of the medicine he prescribed for her because it worked. She wants to stay thin, so can she take two at a time? Pil Joo tells her that it’ll give her diarrhea if she takes so much, and she’s already skinny and beautiful enough as it is. Se Ri tells Pil Joo that she’s planning to break up with Dokko Jin, since he was so curious before.
Ae Jung’s dad goes to meet with Pil Joo’s mom, to return the remaining medicine, which he has only eaten three from the box. He was planning to clear up the misunderstanding that his daughter is Ae Jung, but when the server at the restaurant brings out expensive beef and starts to cook it, Ae Jung’s dad can’t bring himself to tell the truth.
Ae Jung is at a noraebang with Ae Hwan and Jenny, the latter having come here to cheer Ae Jung up. Jae Seok is at Jin’s house when he gets a call from Ae Hwan to come join them at the noraebang to celebrate Ae Jung’s album deal. Jae Seok offers to bring a cake. Jin finds out that Ae Jung is feeling quite down, and Jenny organized a party to cheer her up. Jin thinks to himself that at least Ae Jung has a conscience and isn’t up to celebrating.
When Jin and Jae Seok arrive at the noraebang, from the outside it looks like Ae Jung is dancing when in truth she’s shaking off gum on her sole and swatting at flies. This gets Jin in a bad mood. They go inside, and Jin makes the excuse that he just came to congratulate Ae Jung and was going to leave. When Ae Hwan asks that he stay, Jin quickly sits down.
Jae Seok starts to sing, and Jin joins in to belt out in a very exaggerated way (i.e. he is seriously a freak) a song about someone being a heartbreaker and doing something wrong. All the excessively theatrical singing gets Jin’s heart rate worked up and he has to walk outside to rest. Ae follows to see if Jin is okay, and in turn thanks him (for the album). He accepts her thanks since he thinks he earned it this time. Jin takes Ae Jung to a separate room to talk with her.
Jin tells Ae Jung since she signed the contract, he’s going to think that Ae Jung came to see him that day for the album. She quietly tells him to go ahead and believe that. Jin thinks that if Ae Jung came over to make him curry, then he will understand everything, but Ae Jung refuses to explain herself and again thanks Jin. He asked if she is trying to turn him into someone laughable who can be used? She says he is not someone to be used, but someone to be thanked.
She tries to leave and he wraps his arms around her and asks for a minute of her time. He puts his heart rate watch on her wrist, telling her that he will accept her thanks if in one minute her heart rate doesn’t go beyond 60-90. The watch starts to tick upwards as Ae Jung’s heart beat increases with Jin’s arms wrapped around her.
Finally she slaps her hand over the watch face and moves away, telling Jin that she cannot afford to fall in love with him. She has to make a living. She asked him to please just let her find a way to exist in this world. He sighs and takes the watch back.
Jin finally gives the pen back to Ae Jung, explaining that he managed to find it. But once he heard Ae Jung claim to have given the pen back to Pil Joo, Jin got upset knowing that Ae Jung would lie for Pil Joo. Jin is upset that Ae Jung managed to turn him into a fool, and warns her never to let this be known or else he will sue her. Jin literally has unshed tears in his eyes during this scene. He wants to tell her there is something in the cake box, but he changes his mind and just walks away.
Ae Jung opens the cake box and takes out her missing purple shoe that Jin also found. Jenny swoons over how Pil Joo bought a new pen and pretended it was the found pen to make Ae Jung feel better. Ae Hwan and Jae Seok discuss how rude Jin was towards Ae Jung. Jenny calls Jin a bad guy, to which Jae Seok remarks that all girls like bad guys. Jenny says she wants a man who treats her well. Suddenly Ae Hwan and Jae Seok turn their attention towards Jenny and offer her drinks and asking if she needs anything. Jenny takes the drinks from both of them, saying she wants both of them, leading Ae Hwan to call her the bad girl.
Pil Joo gets a call from Ae Jung and goes to meet with her. He confesses that he bought another pen and orchestrated the return because he didn’t want Ae Jung to be worried and upset over it. He didn’t mean to make the situation worse for her. Ae Jung confesses that it did create a misunderstanding, one which she can’t clear up. All she can do now is hope the other person comes to his senses.
Jin sits in his house and stares at his phone, realizing that Ae Jung knows about the pen but still she’s not calling to explain what happened. Jin looks at the last potato and tells himself to accept that this is just a one-sided love. No matter how much he pursues Ae Jung, she’s not going to like him back. Suddenly Jin sees something sprouting from the underside of the potato. Aw, obvious love is growing metaphor, but still very cute.
Ae Jung sits outside of Jin’s house, holding her one sneaker which Jin had also found and returned to her. She confesses that she didn’t lie, she had come that day to rescind her proclamation that she would never like him.
Jin dresses in a dapper three-piece suit, commending himself for looking so damn fine. He vows to look more dashing and cool because of his one-sided love. At MBS studios, Ae Hwan discusses the album with Ae Jung, who is dressed in a frog suit for a program. Ae Hwan is off to hand Ae Jung’s sneakers to the production of Couple Making Season 3 to auction off, much to her dismay because those kicks have special meaning to her.
Jin and Agent Moon are meeting with the president of MBS. Ae Jung decides to retrieve those sneakers after Ae Hwan has already delivered them, and swap it out for something else. As Ae Jung runs back into the studio, she slips right in front of Jin, Agent Moon, and the MBS president. Jin catches Ae Jung mid-fall.
When Ae Jung cannot pass through the turnstile because of her frog costume belly, and she is having a hard time climbing over, Jin picks her up and deposits her on the other side. He asks if she’s planning to do a sexy dance in that costume, and she tells him it’s for a jumping performance. She reminds him that others are waiting for him, and he tells her to jump well and leaves. Ae Jung decides not to get the sneakers back. If she put those shoes on, she will want to run (towards Jin).
Pil Joo finds out from Se Ri that she can’t just end things with Jin because of their endorsement contracts and public image. Pil Joo wonders if a third party getting between Se Ri and Jin would get into trouble with the public. Se Ri asks Pil Joo why he is so curious, and is told that he’s just worried someone will get hurt.
As Jin is leaving MBS studios, he runs into an assistant from Couple Making Season 3. He sees that she’s holding Ae Jung’s sneakers, and is told that Ae Jung donated it to be auctioned off for the show. Jin mutters that he went to all that trouble to find her sneaker and now she’s donated it. Suddenly Pil Joo steps out of the elevator and starts talking with the assistant, also noticing Ae Jung’s sneakers. This is Pil Joo and Jin’s first face-to-face meeting.
The assistant accidentally drops the sneakers and one shoe lands near each guy. Pil Joo picks up the shoe next to him and hands it back to the assistant. He stares at Jin and the sneaker next to Jin’s foot. As Pil Joo leans down to pick that shoe up as well, Jin purposely uses his leg to block Pil Joo. Jin bends down to pick up the shoe.
Pil Joo asks Jin to hand it over to him for safekeeping, but Jin purposely bypasses Pil Joo and hands it to the assistant. Jin tell the assistant to take good care of it, because if the shoe were lost, then random unrelated people will pop up wanting to take responsibility for it. He gives Pil Joo a smirk and turns to leave. Pil Joo tells the assistant that he will take the sneakers, because he’s not some random unrelated person, now is he? DAYUM, the boys have dropped the gauntlet.
Both Jin and Pil Joo are tracking the Couple Making auction, or more specifically they are tracking Ae Jung’s sneaker auction. Jenny hopes the sneaker goes for at least 10 million won, but Ae Jung is happy if it goes for 3 million won. Pil Joo places the first bid at 50 million won, and Jin sees the bid and starts to counter, telling himself that since he found the sneaker, not anyone can just buy it. Pil Joo sees the immediate counter-offer, wondering if it’s just a fan or maybe Jin?
Jin considers stopping the counter-bidding since he is DOKKO JIN and shouldn’t be engaged in such nonsense. But then he has a daydream that Pil Joo bought the sneakers and gave it back to Ae Jung, telling her that he’s not just some random unrelated guy, right? Jin refuses to allow that to happen, so he keeps bidding. Cue gladiator-type background music.
The two guys engage in an awesome dick-off via the online auction, out-bidding each other in turns. The production of Couple Making see this insane spike in the price of Ae Jung’s sneakers and are stunned. Pil Joo is so engrossed in bidding that he barely registers patients coming in, one of whom accidently trips over the computer power cord and cuts off the power to Pil Joo’s computer. He runs outside to use the nurse’s computer to place another bid, only to find the bidding has ended.
Ae Jung sneakers are won by Jin for 1 billion won. Jin is thrilled to have won, until he realizes what he just paid for a pair of sneakers. He pokes himself in the eyes for the insanity he just engaged in. Pil Joo looks so deflated to have lost the sneakers. Jin looks at the sneakers sitting in front of him, telling himself that he can’t give it back to Ae Jung even if she comes to ask for them.
Ae Jung wonders if something went wrong during the auction, but Ae Hwan thinks it was Jin’s handiwork. But they realize that someone else kept countering? Ae Hwan thinks it must be a prank then. Se Ri finds out that Pil Joo was the other bidder for the sneakers, and finally considers the possibility that Pil Joo likes Ae Jung, especially when he kept asking her about national treasures. When a reporter asks Se Ri who the winner of the sneakers is, she refuses to divulge the identity, but drops a suggestion that it could have been self-directed and self-acted (i.e. Ae Jung did it).
Ae Jung considers the possibility that Jin did this, but more pressing matters emerge when Ae Hwan comes to deliver the bad news – netizens are going crazy and accusing Ae Jung of pulling this stunt herself. The production team has a giant headache and aren’t sure how to pacify the clamoring hordes. Jin tells Jae Seok that Ae Jung doesn’t have the money to pull this stunt, but Jae Seok says it doesn’t matter, until the real winner steps forward, it will all be blamed on Ae Jung.
Ae Jung’s dad tells her to just tell the media that she didn’t do it, since they don’t have any proof. Suddenly Ding Dong asks Ae Jung what a sponsor is, and tells her that people are saying Ae Jung’s sponsor bought the sneakers. Ae Jung asks Ding Dong not to read the internet. Ding Dong heard from his dad that Jin has the sneakers, and the boy offers to go find out from Jin. Ae Jung tells him not to.
The media is camped outside MBS studios over this scandal, waiting to ambush Ae Jung, who is inside apologizing to everyone at the production of Couple Making Season 3. Pil Joo arrives and sees her bowing down to everyone. Se Ri thinks Ae Jung needs to take responsibility, but PD Kim suggests hearing what she says to the media first.
Ae Jung stands before the media and tries to explain that she doesn’t know how this happened. But the media is pushy and won’t give her space to move. In the ensuing melee Ae Jung loses a shoe. Pil Joo makes a move to go help Ae Jung, but Se Ri stops him, telling him that it will get worse if Pil Joo gets involved.
Suddenly the media collectively turns to see Dokko Jin standing on the sidewalk. Jin holds up Ae Jung’s sneakers and announces to the world that “it’s here, Gu Ae Jung’s sneakers are here.” Jin walks through the media throng and goes to stand next to Ae Jung, who stares at him. Jin tells the media that he bought Ae Jung’s sneakers.
Then Jin kneels down and puts one sneaker on Ae Jung’s shoeless foot, and then takes her other foot out of her remaining shoe and puts it in the other sneaker. The crowd is going wild, gasping in shock, Ae Jung looks down at Jin kneeling by her feet. Jin looks up at her and winks.
Thoughts of Mine:
The writing for Best Love continues to sizzle, taking scenarios and what-ifs that are scarily realistic to the Korean entertainment industry, and building the character relationships and emotional development around it. We’ve now added more layers to the Jin-Ae Jung conundrum (which is still anchored by Ae Jung being afraid of reciprocating Jin’s feelings), namely whether Ae Jung could ever date Jin without it being taken as she’s using his fame for her career.
I like how Jin actually considers that possibility before coming to accept that even if Ae Jung has no such intention, the end result would be the same. He needs to accept that it’ll always be like he’s helping her career if they become a couple, and be okay with that, because she is the solace he seeks in private when he’s not Dokko Jin superstar. She also needs to be okay with that, accepting that she has a famous boyfriend and knowing that having such a thing help her career is okay because they have privately chosen each other.
Ae Jung is nowhere at that stage yet, and has way more landmines to cross before she even can fathom that possibility. Which is why Pil Joo is such a perfect choice for her – their friendship and comfort with each other in a real, non-image dominated world is the salvation for Ae Jung’s entertainment prison. Ae Jung remains a celebrity to support her family, and it’s just not fair she has to keep enduring slings and arrows when it appears that she has never done anything wrong.
This was an episode where Jin straddled two complete ends of his personality, going from manic in the noraebang to utterly tender when he picked froggy Ae Jung up and deposited her over the turnstile. It’s hard to accept the crazy and over-the-top Jin sometimes, other than as comic relief, which is really a Hong Sisters specialty. Don’t tell me Hwang Tae Kyung getting chased by a wild pig going 2 mph didn’t make him totally ridiculous, but somehow all the more adorable. Jin’s character is that, times about 100.
It’s a testament to Cha Seung Won that he can anchor this character in gravitas and tenderness so thoroughly that the comic Jin becomes the exception and not the norm. The real Jin isn’t a freaky loon, which is just his persona to mask all his insecurities and fears. The real Jin is a lonely man who has found the first real emotional connection in his life, and it’s with a wonderful woman. No wonder he’s so confused, in turns talking and acting in ways that seem contradictory.
Pil Joo has it much easier, though him being late to the game puts him at a distinct disadvantage. I hope BL doesn’t launch any shipping wars, which I always hate. Liking Pil Joo is fine and dandy (I love Pil Joo, and I love Yoon Kye Sang even more), but BL is not a drama where there are two male leads and the heroine decides towards the end which one to choose. BL is the story of Dokko Jin and Gu Ae Jung, and it’s their every interaction that propels this drama forward.
The Hong Sisters lavish so much attention on creating nuanced lead characters, and always have a reason behind why they are so very perfect for each other. This is how I see this drama – Pil Joo is the perfect guy for Gu Ae Jung the D-list actress, to get her out of the industry and back into the real world; Dokko Jin is the perfect guy for Gu Ae Jung the woman, leading her to discover that she deserves and can find real love in a fake entertainment world.