This was an interesting episode of Protect the Boss, one that is starting to make me notice that the love triangle might be the weakest link in the story. While it was refreshing to see Moo Won and Ji Heon honestly declare their feelings for Eun Seol out in the open, and for their pursuit to be candid and direct, somehow I feel like there has been no real forward momentum in 5 episodes. Whereas there has been a purposeful movement on the business side of things, with Ji Heon’s professional maturation and personal growth really making leaps and bounds. I like how the drama balances all the elements deftly, but do long for some emotional breakthrough sooner rather than later.
Episode 11 recap:
Ji Heon asks if he can enter Eun Seol’s world, whereas Moo Won declares that he will change his world so that Eun Seol is satisfied with it. Ji Heon thinks Moo Won is breaking the rules. Moo Won complains that it’s Ji Heon who keeps interjecting himself. Both guys tell each other to finish their business here and scram.
Eun Seol is just so frustrated by so much attention heaped on her and tells them both to be quiet. She is grateful for their attention, but it’s making her feel suffocated. Ji Heon tells her to stop being so dramatic and calm down. Eun Seol gets pissed and punches Ji Heon.
She asks Ji Heon if working part time for a few days makes him think he can come into her world? She concedes he’s making a lot of effort. But he comes from such a rich family, what does he know about the world! She asks again if he wants to come to her? He says yes, so she tells him to go ahead because Korea is a country with free will for all. But she warns Ji Heon that if he asks her for charity, she’ll slay him.
Eun Seol turns around and goes to threaten Moo Won as well, asking if he’s scared of her now? This is her real personality – violent and unreasonable, someone who lives the way she’s always wanted to live. But because of them two, she can’t do what she wants now. She can’t cut herself in half for each of them.
Finally Eun Seol pokes herself in the head, confessing that she’s the worst one of the lot. She punches herself in the face and the boys worry about her. Suddenly she realizes that she may have just punched the guys a moment ago. She just apologizes for losing her temper and goes inside. Ji Heon asks Moo Won to talk with him, and when Moo Won refuses, Ji Heon drags Moo Won off to talk.
Na Yoon watches wrestling on TV with Myung Ran, not understanding why Myung Ran participates in this sport. Myung Ran scolds Na Yoon for being born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Na Yoon snerks that this sport isn’t even popular in Korea. Myung Ran gets excited about the fight and waves her arm around, which smacks Na Yoon in the face.
The girls see Eun Seol come in looking pretty wiped out and lurking behind the wall. Na Yoon scolds Eun Seol for sneaking in without making herself known. Eun Seol knocks her head on the wall, saying she wants to get rid of her complicated thoughts. She can’t continue this way for much longer. Na Yoon sprays her relaxing mist on Eun Seol. Heh.
Ji Heon offers to invest his money in Moo Won’s mom’s bid for the company. Moo Won asks why? Ji Heon says it’s for Eun Seol, otherwise Eun Seol will worry about Moo Won’s situation. Moo Won doesn’t want any pity investment from Ji Heon, who says this is not pity, he’ll give Moo Won a air tight business contract for the investment.
Ji Heon also asks for a truce with Moo Won. Moo Won concedes that it’s driving Eun Seol crazy. If Moo Won is tired by all this, Ji Heon offers to comfort him. Moo Won laughs at Ji Heon. Ji Heon grabs Moo Won for a hug, which Moo Won breaks free of in shock. Moo Won asks if Ji Heon is crazy, to which Ji Heon huffs at Moo Won’s ungratefulness towards his gesture.
Moo Won goes home and asks him mom if she’s been plotting against the Chairman. Moo Won’s mom confesses buying Director Park as a spy to meet with directors to get them on her side and dig up dirt on the Chairman. But she doesn’t think the Chairman could have possibly found out. The Chairman was pretty obtuse about Eun Seol, no way he could have sussed her plotting out. But later Moo Won’s mom calls Director Park and tells him to be careful. She tells Director Park that the Chairman appears to be keeping things from him recently, which is odd.
The Chairman is flipping channels when grandma walks over to smack him. Grandma asks him to help Seok Hee. The Chairman refuses, wondering which side his mom is on. Grandma tells him that both boys are her grandsons. The Chairman asks why grandma supported making Ji Heon the successor then? Grandma confesses that she backed Ji Heon to help him get over his phobia. The Chairman whines that his mom ought to be protecting him and Ji Heon, because they are the kind and good party.
Grandma walks away and the Chairman follows. He sits her down to give her a shoulder rub. Ji Heon watches this and smiles, announcing that he’s home. Ji Heon goes to talk with his Eun Seol cut out. He sighs that she’s lost her spirit recently, where did the bun head girl go?
Ji Heon promises to keep summoning his patience to pursue her, so she has to wait for him. The Chairman peeks into the room and sees his son talking with it and yells at Ji Heon for being a pervert. The Chairman says he has consented to Ji Heon and Eun Seol because he wants Ji Heon to work hard. He’s making an effort, so Ji Heon needs to make the effort. Before leaving, the Chairman suggests Ji Heon get himself a bigger card board cutout.
Eun Seol and Na Yoon chat during the night as Na Yoon crawls into bed with Myung Ran because she’s sore from sleeping on the ground. Eun Seol wonders how two guys managed to make the once fearless Eun Seol into a coward lately.
Na Yoon mentions a movie where the lead lives with two men happily, dreaming that she’s laying in bed sandwiched between Moo Won and Ji Heon. Na Yoon tells herself to wake up, she’s no longer the heroine of this story anymore. Eun Seol imagines herself laying between Ji Heon and Moo Won, but remembering her dad’s warning that not choosing will only hurt both guys in the end. She tells herself it’s got to end now, she won’t be a coward anymore and will live her life as she wants to.
Eun Seol arrives at Ji Heon’s house to wake him up, reminding herself to be honest. She runs into the Chairman in the yard, who asks her to treat Ji Heon better, otherwise why is his boy taken to cuddling with that “thing” (card board Eun Seol). She runs into Ji Heon’s room to find him dressed and sleeping on the recliner. She leans down to watch him sleep.
Ji Heon stirs so Eun Seol prods him to get up now. Ji Heon informs Eun Seol that he’s going to change her back to the crazy bun head girl of yore, because she’s been so dispirited recently. From now on, he will cease all liking No Eun Seol activities until she returns to normal. He has her chant the boss as teacher mantra again. He reminds her of ALL the rules he laid down when she first came to work for him.
Eun Seol smiles and says today she has lunch planned with Uncle Bong already. Ji Heon can’t stand this Uncle Bong who keeps monopolizing Eun Seol’s time. Eun Seol waits for Ji Heon to change, murmuring that just when she intended not to be fearful anymore (i.e. she intended to accept Ji Heon’s feelings)…..
Moo Won apologizes to the Chairman for what his mom did, and for his rudeness towards his elder the other day. But he reminds the Chairman that what he did to Moo Won’s mom was wrong, and so Moo Won has no choice but to take action via the law for the Chairman interfering in the bid.
Moo Won begs the Chairman to please stop now and fix things before it can’t be fixed anymore. The Chairman doesn’t answer. Moo Won decides to take legal action against the Chairman for interfering in the bid and aligning with the other company. He consults a lawyer, and meets with his mom on the next steps.
Moo Won surprises Eun Seol coming out of the elevator and explains he’ll be busy in the near future and won’t be able to surprise her or torture her much. She has faith in his ability to accomplish his goal. He thanks her for supporting him.
The secretary informs the Chairman that Moo Won and his mom have managed to get the funds necessary for the increased winning bid. Though Moo Won’s mom’s company stock is suffering, the public isn’t happy with the Chairman either, calling this a dirty family feud aired in public.
Eun Seol meets the Chairman who gives her money for doing her job well. Eun Seol teases, asking if she ought to act surprised if the amount is too high. He smiles and says she earned it. The Chairman asks to head out to continue their chat because it’s stuffy in his office. They run into Director Park in the elevator, who worries that the Chairman is onto him.
The Chairman notices marks on the back of Director Park’s neck, who confesses he’s seen a doctor recently. The Chairman tells Director Park that he considers him along with Secretary Jang to be his right and left hand at the company. The Chairman purposely engages Eun Seol in a conversation about trustworthy people and the need to punish betrayers.
After the Director steps out, Eun Seol asks the Chairman if Director Park was the traitor in the midst. The Chairman realizes that Eun Seol knew what he was getting at, which is why she played along. He’s even more taken with her intelligence and perceptive abilities. She wonders if the Chairman is really going to punish the Director. The Chairman says he’s not crazy, wanting to avoid another bout of community service. This time he’ll let the Director punish himself.
Director Park staggers out of the elevator and finds Secretary Jang, asking if the Chairman mentioned him recently? Secretary Jang says of course, the Chairman treats them like his right and left hands. If anyone betrayed him, the Chairman will dice him into pieces. Or so he said after watching a sageuk last night. Hahahaha. The Director is officially freaked out.
Eun Seol and the Chairman eat neong myun and she takes his bowl to prepare it for him, showing him the best technique. When Eun Seol blows on her noodles, the Chairman wonders why since the noodle is already cold. Eun Seol apologizes, she just eats too much ramyun that it’s become a habit. The Chairman tells her to take better care of her body, since she’s going to be his family soon.
The Chairman tells Eun Seol that he approves of her dating Ji Heon now. She wonders why he changed his mind? The Chairman says that he’ll get rid of her background and lack of education by sending her abroad to study after Ji Heon is all better. He wants to clean her up. Eun Seol declines. Does the Chairman think she’s dirty therefore needs cleaning?
The Chairman says the problem isn’t Eun Seol, it’s the people who will be judging Eun Seol. He just wants to get rid of that obstacle for her. But the Chairman has one condition, Eun Seol has to help Ji Heon become the successor. Eun Seol doesn’t know how. The Chairman says all she needs to be do is stay beside Ji Heon.
The Chairman says it’s only been Moo Won and his mom that have given him headaches, but now Eun Seol has joined the ranks. Eun Seol asks for a favor – once Ji Heon gets better, she wants to transfer to another department. It doesn’t matter if she dates Ji Heon or not, staying in the secretary office isn’t ideal. The Chairman asks if she’s worried about how Moo Won will feel?
Eun Seol heads to the coffee shop to find Ji Heon. At the coffee shop, Ji Heon sees a purposely difficult customer who is rude to his coworker. The guy wants to make a scene, so Ji Heon reveals his identity as the person in charge at this coffee shop, and his dad is the famous Chairman Cha Bong Man. Ji Heon schools the customer on treating employees with disrespect. Eun Seol watches this scene and smiles.
The coworker wonders why he was the only one kept in the dark? Eun Seol walks up and refers to Ji Heon as a man, which makes him totally giddy. They head out to sit at the park bench and she mentions how employee benefits are never given to part timers, which Ji Heon agrees to change if he runs the company.
Ji Heon keeps staring at Eun Seol so she averts her face and asks him to stop looking. Ji Heon smiles that she appears to have gotten her spirit back a little. Ji Heon confesses that he made a pact with Moo Won that he’s going to break right now. Ji Heon leans in to kiss Eun Seol on the forehead, while his hand caresses the side of her face. Seriously? So damn romantic.
Eun Seol tells him to cease, she needs to figure things out first. Ji Heon agrees to summon all his patience to keep waiting for her. He heads back to work, saying goodbye to his pet rock. Ji Heon runs back to the coffee shop and grabs his coworker for a bear hug, confessing he’s so happy he wants to hug anyone in sight.
Na Yoon summons up her courage to go visit her mom at her mom’s art gallery. Na Yoon’s mom sees her errant daughter and immediately gets all teary. Na Yoon asks her mom if she’s crying because she misses her? When she tries to hug her mom, her mom is still angry and pushes her off. Turns out Na Yoon is here to ask her mom to support Moo Won without any conditions.
Na Yoon says she won’t be coming home. Her mom says supporting Moo Won is business and Na Yoon shouldn’t interfere. Moo Won arrives and asks Na Yoon’s mom which side she intends to align with, his mom or the Chairman, because her shares alone are not enough to have a majority stake in DN Group. Na Yoon’s mom says she’s buying stocks purely as a security.
Na Yoon walks out with Moo Won, complimenting him on being really cool back there, but her mom is not so easily cowed. Moo Won confesses he’s resorted to borrowing money left and right these days. Na Yoon wonders if Moo Won has seen Eun Seol lately? He says he’s been too busy, but he’s avoiding her because he’s afraid she’ll reject him. Na Yoon is annoyed and says Moo Won’s in such a sad state lately. When Na Yoon gets up to leave, her heel gets stuck in a grate and requires Moo Won to bend down and extricate her shoe. He laughs at her as she thanks him.
Grandma has the entire clan assembled for dinner. The Chairman and Moo Won’s mom glare at each other across the table, until grandma tells them to stop it. Grandma asks Moo Won’s mom how much more money she needs, and says she’ll lend it to her. She tells her son to also lend money if he can, to which Ji Heon pipes up that he’s already offered to lend his money.
Moo Won confirms Ji Heon lent him money, but it was a very small amount. Hahaha. Grandma asks Moo Won to withdraw the lawsuit. Moo Won’s mom thanks grandma, who she felt was not often fair before. Grandma warns them that if they pull this stunt again, whether it’s her son or daughter-in-law, she won’t forgive either of them. The Chairman and Moo Won’s mom are cowed.
Grandma announces that all the original founders of DN group are still loyal to her, so if she got them all aligned with her, she can topple either warring side. She asks both sides to battle fairly once and for all. She will support the person with the ability and character to succeed the company. The Chairman thinks this criteria is not fair to Ji Heon, who asks his dad to be quiet.
Grandma tells her son and daughter-in-law to make up now – and sincerely make up and not just pretend to make up on the surface. Moo Won’s mom sits down to tea with the Chairman and grandma checks up on them to make sure they are making up. They both notice and agree to stop fighting.
Moo Won is in Ji Heon’s room and checks out his toy figures collection. Ji Heon offers to give Moo Won what he wants. Moo Won takes more than one. When Ji Heon raises his hand and tells Moo Won to take what he wants but don’t go overboard. Moo Won asks if Ji Heon broke the rules already (with Eun Seol). Ji Heon’s silence answers that question, and Moo Won gives Ji Heon a kick in the rear end as he huffs out of the room.
Eun Seol goes home bearing groceries, which are knocked to the ground when Na Yoon purposely bumps into her. Na Yoon grumbles that she’s allowed to be jealous, no? Eun Seol tells Na Yoon to just hit her, since the fruit is expensive. Na Yoon confirms that she’s allowed to hit Eun Seol in the future if she’s jealous, right? Eun Seol says sure, but she’s not to blame if her reflexes make her hit back.
Moo Won holds a press conference announcing that it was just rumors that they didn’t have the funds for the bid. Eun Seol reads the news and is pleased. The other secretaries remind Eun Seol that it’s time for her English class. Her English teacher asks why she’s down lately, and tells her to cheer up.
Eun Seol passes Moo Won in the corridor and he just nods hello. Ji Heon grabs Eun Seol and takes her to a staff meeting with the coffee shop employees to hear their suggestions on improving work benefits. Eun Seol and Ji Heon dive right into preparing for Ji Heon’s upcoming presentation on running the coffee shop enterprise. They go to the public park where Ji Heon practices his speech.
Moo Won and his mom attend a meeting finalizing the acquisition. His mom is happy and pats her son on the behind. She notices her son is pretty down lately, and confirms that it’s because of Eun Seol. Though she wonders why her son won’t lie in front of her that it’s about something else.
Ji Heon gets ready for his presentation, with Eun Seol telling him that he’s put so much effort into it, he can do it. He asks what to do if he starts shaking, and she tells him to go ahead and shake. Ji Heon grabs Eun Seol and asks her to look at him, so that he can get used having eyes trained on him during the presentation.
Ji Heon enters the board room and walks up to the podium. He takes a deep breath and remembers what Eun Seol said to him. The Chairman worries is about to offer to present on behalf of his son when Ji Heon starts talking. Ji Heon nails the presentation as everyone watches, especially the Chairman who beams with pride and happiness at seeing his only son accomplishing so much and trying so hard. Eun Seol waits outside nervously. When he finishes, the Chairman starts clapping first and everyone follows suit.
After the meeting, Ji Heon walks out and immediately high fives and hugs Eun Seol, who confesses she listened to the presentation through the crack in the door. Moo Won heads back to his office and finds out from his secretary that Eun Seol has requested a transfer to another department and there is a job notice out to fill her position. Moo Won gets a call from Eun Seol.
Ji Heon and Eun Seol walk out and she declines his offer to take her home. He wonders if she’s meeting that Uncle Bong again. Said Uncle Bong/the Chairman walks out and mutters about that Uncle Bong feller. He compliments Ji Heon and the friend of Uncle Bong for both accomplishing a commendable goal today. Ji Heon smiles to get this validation from his dad.
The moms meet, with Na Yoon’s mom wondering why Moo Won’s mom upset since everything got resolved in the end. Moo Won’s mom is upset that her Moo Won might lose to Ji Heon. Na Yoon’s mom says Moo Won’s mom ought to just get back at the Chairman. Moo Won’s mom wisely declines, saying she’ll get in trouble with her mother-in-law if she’s bad again. Then Moo Won’s mom wonders what she can do to cause trouble?
Ji Heon finds out from his dad that Eun Seol is transferring to another department. Ji Heon immediately rushes out, but yells at his dad for not telling him earlier. The Chairman thinks Ji Heon has a right to lose his temper today, especially after what he accomplished.
Moo Won asks Eun Seol to please cancel the transfer, if it’s intended to avoid Moo Won. He concedes that he knows how she feels and has put a lot of thought into it. It might be lame, but he hopes that they can be friends. Even if they can’t, he wants to make the effort. If Eun Seol just disappeared like that, Moo Won worries he might get lost. He asks Eun Seol just to stay within his line of sight.
Moo Won drives Eun Seol home. Eun Seol confesses that she doesn’t know what the right thing to do is. But she will take into consideration what he asked of her. Moo Won asks Eun Seol if it’s okay, if just once, it’s okay? In front of the staircase to her apartment, he pulls her in for a hug. Eun Seol lets Moo Won hug her.
The camera pulls away and we see Ji Heon watching all of this from where he is standing higher on the staircase.
Thoughts of Mine:
I think the Chairman might just be my favorite character in this drama. I can’t say anymore that his actions surprise me, because he’s been consistent in his behavior since episode 1. It’s really that his character construct surprises me – the way he loves Ji Heon without doting on him, the way he banters with his mom, the way he respects and appreciates Eun Seol. All of that I have never seen before, and really treasure the most in PTB. A well-written father figure that feels human and not a paragon of virtue is definitely a keeper.
I’m not surprised the betrayal arc and the acquisition infighting was resolved so quickly, because this drama never lets a plot point fester and mold. Grandma finally laid down the battle rules, and it’s really up to Moo Won and Ji Heon to convince the company they are the best person to take over the reins. While I know Moo Won’s mom might be up to more shenanigans, ultimately I understand her frustration, and am content knowing she’s not truly dastardly and does things more to annoy the Chairman.
I like Na Yoon so much that I want her character development to get some more screen time. I don’t care if she pairs up with Moo Won anymore, because I like her for who she is, not who ends up with. Same goes for Moo Won, who I find a little too mopey over Eun Seol in this episode. Maybe it’s Jaejoong’s lack of heady romantic chemistry with Choi Kang Hee (whereas Ji Sung has more chemistry with her), but I just don’t get any strong emotional projection from Moo Won onto Eun Seol. Moo Won says it, but he doesn’t make me feel it. So I can’t really feel all that bad for him losing out on the girl. I do get a very strong good friends vibe between Moo Won and Eun Seol, so I hope they can manage to be friends in the end.
Sometimes I find PTB so meta, like when viewers bemoan Eun Seol for turning weak willed and passive, she immediately chides herself for the same behavior and tries to overcome it. I’ve noticed that Ji Heon gets the lion’s share of character development. Eun Seol gets more screen time, but her character ultimately hasn’t changed much since episode 1, which is a gripe I now have with the drama. But if I treat her character as the catalyst and not the persons being changed, then it’s understandable. I’m thrilled with how the plot continues to be so charming and satisfying, but find myself eager for a little romantic catharsis that comes with the OTP taking their relationship to the next stage.