For me the experience of watching Protect the Boss has felt like a deflating balloon. Once floating so high in cheer and happiness, but slowly drifting to earth as the energy was sucked out of the story when the plot was extended for the sake of time filler rather than organic development. Episode 17 was simply there, existing as a means to complete the story, but still unable to bring this once delightful drama back to its roots. Nevertheless, there were moments sprinkled here and there that reminded me of why I so loved this drama, and still appreciate it when the flash of brilliance whizzes by.
Episode 17 recap:
Eun Seol drops Ji Heon off in Seoul. He asks if he should just leave like this, confessing that he regretted what he asked of Eun Seol. Does she? She says she’s fine. Ji Heon gets out of the car and walks away. Eun Seol is frustrated and mutters that it’s not fine, accidentally sounding the horn with her head when she bangs it against the steering wheel. Ji Heon turns and runs back to her.
Eun Seol tries to back the truck up but Ji Heon stops her, confirming that things aren’t fine with her. He grabs her chin and tells her that she needs a kiss, should he do it now? He tells her to get out of the car because the door is open already so she can’t leave. If she’s upset, she should get out and take him to task for it.
Eun Seol gets out of the truck and tumbles into Ji Heon’s arms. He teases that she feels substantial. When she pushes him and he almost falls into traffic, she grabs him and pulls him to the side of the road. She suggests that if something happened to him it would make the newspapers. He doesn’t care.
Ji Heon says he’s an inconsistent weakling, deciding things he can’t follow through on. His mind keeps thinking about Eun Seol and he can’t do anything about it. So he wants to stop taking a break. She asks if he thinks she’s the kind of girl he can just take back, because she won’t do it. Ji Heon smiles and says that is why he likes her, and he’s happy she’s being honest now.
Eun Seol asks Ji Heon if he knows how she feels lately? Like a Joseon era girl, knowing no one around her, just working hard every day to exhaustion. She’s tired and scared. He hugs her and apologizes. She tries to struggle out of his arms and pushes him away. Ji Heon agrees to give her some time and asks to combine their day.
Ji Heon goes with Eun Seol to deliver the products in the truck. He complains that no third generation chaebol has done what he’s done. She says she’s done even harder labor than this, though the hardest job in life was having nothing to do. They sit in the park and rest. He wants to quickly transfer her back, telling her that he will go pick her up personally.
Eun Seol gets a call from Secretary Jang looking for Ji Heon. Ji Heon has to go to the hospital to visit the Chairman, while Eun Seol wants to visit some friends since she’s back. Ji Heon reminds her to meet him back at the park in three hours once they are each done. He doesn’t want her to go back to the countryside herself.
Eun Seol first finds Myung Ran, who is thrilled to see her. Together they go visit Na Yoon at her new apartment, and the three girls happily squeal and hug. Moo Won is at work and his secretary delivers to him a new work assignment for Eun Seol to transfer to. Moo Won thinks back to spotting Ji Heon at the warehouse waiting for Eun Seol. He tells his secretary it’s not necessary anymore, he wants to leave Ji Heon and Eun Seol to deal with their issues by themselves.
Na Yoon’s mom comes to find Moo Won’s mom about buying the subsidiary. Moo Won’s mom says no, because she got this position without the help of Na Yoon’s mom, who thinks she did inadvertently help. When Moo Won arrives, Na Yoon’s mom leaves, but not before warning Moo Won that he’s not allowed to date her Na Yoon. Moo Won’s mom is fine with that, since she doesn’t approve of Na Yoon.
Moo Won’s mom tells her son that she’s found directors willing to be her left and right hand man at work. He warns her to do everything properly. If he discovers she’s doing anything wrong, he’ll report her. Maybe he’ll end up sitting in the Chairman’s seat one day since his mom will end up in the same situation as the Chairman.
Ji Heon arrives at the hospital and finds out from the doctor that the Chairman is undergoing a full physical and might have serious medical problems, though his recent chest pains are stress related. The Chairman watches the movie The Bucket List and decides to make his own.
Ji Heon walks into his dad’s hospital room and sees the bucket list. He picks it up to read, remarking that it’s so juvenile, but smiling as he says this. The Chairman walks out and asks why Ji Heon has time for romancing Eun Seol when his dad is suffering medical problems. He wants Ji Heon to work hard and get his position back from Moo Won’s side of the family.
When the Chairman tells Ji Heon that he’s not to see Eun Seol, Ji Heon says that is the one thing he can’t agree to. The Chairman wonders what will happen if he doesn’t make it? Ji Heon says that won’t happen. The Chairman says people already look down on Ji Heon, if he dates his secretary, who is also rumored to have been the whistleblower, he won’t be able to have a leg to stand on at the company. The Chairman refuses to allow that to happen to his son.
The Chairman doesn’t expect Ji Heon to do anything more than maintain his position. If he loses it, then the Chairman will not be able to die peacefully. Ji Heon agrees to get his position back, and everything else they can discuss later. The Chairman is pleased with Ji Heon’s resolve.
The girls are munching on snacks. Na yoon tells Eun Seol to just dump Ji Heon and find a better guy there. When asked how things are going with Moo Won, Na Yoon says there is no progress, and laments her earlier decision to dump Moo Won and pursue Ji Heon.
Eun Seol arrives back at the park and waits for Ji Heon, telling herself to watch what Ji Heon does and then make her decision then. Ji Heon drives back, hitting his steering wheel in frustration. After being kept waiting for some time, Eun Seol finally gets up to leave, which is when Ji Heon runs up asking where she’s running away to.
Ji Heon grabs Eun Seol for a backhug, asking if she’ll wait for him. She says it’s too late. He says since it’s already too late, then could she still wait for him. He tells her that he needs to work hard as a son, so it’ll take some time. Can she wait for him? Even if she doesn’t think he’ll come back to her, he believes she’ll wait for him. Eun Seol finally senses something is off, asking Ji Heon what happened? He pulls her in for another hug, needing the reassurance and comfort despite knowing they have not resolved anything between them.
Ji Heon heads back to the hospital and watches his dad sleep. He touches his heart with his hand, then touches his dad’s chest, finally putting his hand on his dad’s hand. Eun Seol drives back to the countryside.
Eun Seol writes in her journal that even though she vowed not to wait for Ji Heon, today is the 11th day she’s been waiting. As Eun Seol works, she thinks she sees Ji Heon walking past, but when she chases him, that Ji Heon is gone.
Eun Seol is at the beach and beating Ji Heon up for not calling for over a month. Ji Heon says that he asked her to wait for him. Eun Seol continues to beat up Ji Heon, telling him she’s out of patience and growing wrinkles already. Finally Eun Seol drop kicks a can into Ji Heon’s forehead and he falls backward. Which is when he disappears, and this entire sequence is only Eun Seol’s imagination. She wonders if something bad happened to him?
Ji Heon makes appears on TV and the news as he’s introducing a new tablet device from DN Group. Eun Seol doodles on his face in the newspaper and smiles knowing he’s okay. Eun Seol says her goodbyes to her colleagues at the warehouse, who are sad to see her go. Eun Seol murmurs that she can’t let him wait any longer.
Eun Seol rides a motorcycle in Seoul while delivering fried chicken. She sees a want ad for a job and writes it down. She reminds herself that it’s her third month of waiting for Ji Heon, and she’s back to looking for jobs again.
Moo Won is at work and gets a call from Na Yoon, who is impatiently waiting for him at a café. Just as she’s about to leave, he walks up and apologizes for the delay because things came up. She asks why he couldn’t call to let her know. He asks if she really needed to call him out at a time like this, when he’s swamped.
Na Yoon asks what she means to him? Probably not even half as much as his work? He passes on answering this question, which makes Na Yoon grumble. Moo Won asks about Eun Seol, but Na Yoon doesn’t know how she’s doing. When asked about Ji Heon, Moo Won says Ji Heon has his own ideas.
Moo Won gets a work call that he takes during the meal, which upsets Na Yoon. She says he does this all the time, and it’s clear that she doesn’t mean anything to him. She’s just a bother, a stalker who pursues him when he’s heart isn’t with her anymore. The phone keeps ringing and Moo Won looks torn. She tells him to answer the phone and then walks off.
Director Park meets with Na Yoon’s mom, who says she’s been satisfying his every request. Director Park says he’s worried about his future, whether he get to stay at the company or leave with the Chairman. Na Yoon’s mom doesn’t want to deal with his issues anymore and has her security drag Director Park out, who vows that it’s not over since he’s a water ghost who will drag everyone down with him. Na Yoon walks in and sees this.
Na Yoon’s mom tells her that Moo Won cannot be. Na Yoon agrees and says she’ll listen to her mom and go on a matseon. Na Yoon sits and cries to Eun Seol and Myung Ran about what a horrible bastard Moo Won is. She asks if the two girls will spend the night and they agree.
Na Yoon asks Eun Seol later that night if she can end things Moo Won? Eun Seol doesn’t think Na Yoon can. When Na Yoon asks about Eun Seol and Ji Heon, Eun Seol confesses that she’s not over him yet even though they have no contact. They reassure each other across Myung Ran’s sleeping body, who wakes up and hugs both Eun Seol and Na Yoon closer.
Eun Seol gets a call to meet with a company headhunter, who wants to recruit her because as Cha Ji Heon’s former secretary, she’s shown to have great fortitude in dealing with prickly people. Eun Seol finds herself at the DN Group department store, leading her to wonder if it’s Moo Won looking to hire her.
She walks into the office to find herself facing Ji Heon. He says that he missed her. Eun Seol throws her purse at him as he stands up and walks towards her, thanking her for waiting for him. Eun Seol throws a few punches, which Ji Heon manages to dodge, She asks if he treats people like this, and why she needs to put up with it.
Ji Heon pulls her closer and thanks her for waiting, apologizing for things taking longer than he anticipated. Eun Seol leaves the office with Ji Heon trailing after her. He stops her at the elevator banks, offering to accept some of her punches. Eun Seol isn’t interested, she just wants him to step aside and leave.
Eun Seol says she doesn’t want him to think she’s just kidding and everything can be blown over like this. Ji Heon grabs Eun Seol’s head and tells her than the Chairman is sick. Though it’s not serious, but to allow his father to be less worried, he wanted to work for awhile. Eun Seol says this reason isn’t good enough because she’s endured so much. She tells Ji Heon that the door is closed between them for good now. Eun Seol walks away, leaving Ji Heon standing at the elevator banks. He wonders what he can do now?
The Chairman gets an update from his doctor that things are fine and the surgery was a success. The Chairman wonders if his doctor is lying. The doctor says he’s willing to take a lie detector test. When the Chairman asks if the doctor can write a note that he’s a cancer survivor and get him out of the rest of his community service, his doctor suggests he do it and treat it like good exercise for the body.
The Chairman looks through his bucket list, including one item which is to get Secretary Jang a wife. He’s decided that since he narrowly avoided death, he’s going to go ahead and make his bucket list come true anyways. Another item is to find his lonely mom a boyfriend. Mwahahaha, so cute! When he gets home that day, he finds his mom outside gardening and piggybacks her inside the house.
Ji Heon returns to his office the DN Group headquarters. He chats with Moo Won about how he was able to come back because of his own hard work. Moo Won says he helped behind the scenes, though he ribs Ji Heon on being unable to handle his female problems. When Ji Heon if Moo Won knows a way to get ladies to stop being angry, Moo Won says he’s not sharing it with Ji Heon.
Moo Won sits in the car with his mom, who wants to make sure Moo Won isn’t meeting with Na Yoon. She reveals that Na Yoon went on a matseon today so clearly Na Yoon isn’t a good girl and is quick to move on from Moo Won. He hears this and gets out of the car.
Na Yoon is at a matseon with a guy dressed like a biker dude. He tells Na Yoon that he’s heard all about her scandal with the Cha men and he’s willing to overlook it. Na Yoon suggests they end this matchmaking date right now. He thinks she’s being rude, but she says he’s the one being rude, spending the last 20 minutes belittling her and despite the power of her education, she’s not putting up it anymore.
When Na Yoon gets up to leave, he follows her out of the restaurant. Na Yoon runs to hide behind Moo Won, who tells the guy that he ought to count his blessings to avoid being with such an immature and needy girl. Moo Won’s done for already, but at least he can avoid this trap. Moo Won raises a fist and asks if he wants to go one-on-one, but the guy raises his hand and makes a finger gun and says Moo Won’s rock beats his scissors. He laughs and walks away.
Moo Won asks Na Yoon why she went on a matseon? She says he’s not interested in her, so why wait? He pokes her in the forehead and asks her why she’s so insistent on getting him to say certain things, when actions speak louder than words. Has he ever met with any other women, or gone on any matseons, during this entire time? Na Yoon concedes he hasn’t. Moo Won reminds her than he told her he’s going to be super busy recently. Yet when she called him to meet, he still went to meet her. So whe is in the wrong?
Na Yoon admits that she’s wrong. Moo Won pets her and says she’s being good now. Na Yoon tries say that she wasn’t the only one in the wrong. Moo Won asks if she’s not planning to tag along as usual, since he’s cancelled all his events for the rest of the day because of her.
Ji Heon finds Eun Seol at her chicken delivery place and offers to buy enough chicken so it’s worth the remainder of her work hours. Ji Heon follows Eun Seol out the store and asks her to quit her job and become his secretary again. It’s a professional request he’s making because she is good at what she does, not because of any personal feelings.
Eun Seol won’t because she has her own pride. He wonders why she’s letting her ego get in the way. Ji Heon offers a hefty raise and Eun Seol is still reluctant. Ji Heon follows her home that night and keeps increasing her salary. When Eun Seol goes on yet another failed interview, Ji Heon is waiting for her outside with an even better job offer but Eun Seol continues to ignore him.
Eun Seol confides in Myung Ran about how Ji Heon is wooing her back to DN Group but she’s resisting. Myung Ran tells Eun Seol to be honest with herself, going back would allow her to stick by Ji Heon’s side.
Ji Heon tells his dad that he’s planning to rehire Eun Seol as his secretary. His dad is willing to give him any reward for doing a good job, anything other than Eun Seol. Ji Heon says his dad is going against what he promised. The Chairman relents, with the condition being Ji Heon works hard and beats Moo Won, and gets the Chairman back his position. Also he’s not agreeing to anything about Eun Seol other than as Ji Heon’s secretary. After Ji Heon walks away, the Chairman smiles that Ji Heon is getting quite a backbone.
Eun Seol accepts Ji Heon’s job offer with the condition that there be no personal interaction between them. Ji Heon agrees. Eun Seol finds herself walking back into the DN Group headquarters. She puts on her badge and heads inside with a smile. She walks into the secretary’s office and greets everyone with a smile.
Moo Won walks out and happily welcomes Eun Seol back. She walks into Ji Heon’s office and starts to clean it thoroughly. Ji Heon walks in and Eun Seol says he’s late. He blames it on the excitement of working with her again causing him to oversleep. He does an inspection of the office and everything passes muster.
Ji Heon sits down and shows Eun Seol all the projects he handled while she was away. She needs to get up to speed on it so she can assist him better. Eun Seol walks out with stacks of papers and glares at Ji Heon’s office. He sits inside and smiles.
Eun Seol gripes about why Ji Heon can’t just apologize for doing something wrong. Myung Ran thinks the both of them are just wasting their time being petty and creating issues. The next day, Eun Seol nods off while Ji Heon is going through documents. He smiles and sneaks a long look at her, before harshly waking her up and chiding her for not doing a good job.
Moo Won’s mom gets an update that Ji Heon is back and going through all the documents. He’s also gotten Eun Seol back as well. They discuss the possibility of Ji Heon trying to get rid of Moo Won or his mom now that he’s back.
Moo Won reads online a breaking story about Ji Heon dating Eun Seol. He asks his secretary to check to see where the leak came from. Eun Seol is mobbed by the press outside the office, all wanting to know if she is dating Ji Heon and she is the whistleblower.
Ji Heon arrives, and instead of denying the story, he tells the media that he fell in love with Eun Seol at first sight because she’s so honest and forthright. Eun Seol stares at him in shock.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’m finding myself at a loss on what to write after watching this episode. There really isn’t anything meaningful left. Eun Seol and Ji Heon’s relationship impasse is just like what Myung Ran called it out as, two people creating problems because they have nothing better to do. They are still in love, there is nothing Eun Seol really needs from Ji Heon before forgiving him, and there is nothing Ji Heon can do other than continue to try his best at balancing all the different aspects of his life and work to make room for Eun Seol permanently.
It’s nice to see Na Yoon still as immature as ever, because it would be shocking if she suddenly became this non-needy mature person because of Moo Won. He’s still the same as ever, a man reluctant to explain himself, always expecting action to speak louder than words. But it’s clear they are a couple, whatever that means at this juncture, but clearly Moo Won’s feelings for Na Yoon are there again. I so wish Ji Heon and Eun Seol’s relationship angst was as consistent with their character development.
I’m really underwhelmed by the entire corporate plot of this drama for the last few episodes, and that translates to confusion about how glossed over it was and resolved so simplistically. Not sure how I’m supposed to feel about Moo Won and Na Yoon’s moms anymore, other than indifference to their final outcomes. The Chairman lost me for a bit, but managed to return to form with his bucket list which involved finding a wife for his long suffering secretary and getting his lonely mom a boyfriend. I’m happy this drama looks to end on hugs and kisses all around, even if the thrill of the watch has been replaced with ennui.