Booyah! This episode was simply da bomb. I just love the post topping screen shot of Maru and Eun Gi in episode 8 of Nice Guy. The way they sit next to each other, not arm-touching-arm but with a distance that is closer than just friends. The way they both look out towards the ocean, the way his bruised and battered face reflects on both their scars from within. This was a moment that was 8 episodes in the making, and didn’t even involve the dramatic K-tropes such as passionate kissing to affirm feelings or loud declarations that punctuate what the characters have long suspected. Instead what we got in the entirely of episode 8 was a game change, a course correction for all the main characters. Jae Hee learns that one door may have closed and she tries to open another door she closed herself, only to discover it’s locked now. Maru acknowledges his weaknesses when it comes to Jae Hee, and then makes the conscious and calm decision to rise above it all and move on.
Eun Gi finds happiness and heartbreak one after another, coming from the same guy, but its all beyond her control to continue or stop. She’s the one who is operating under what we like to believe is the meaning of love – to desire and long for without any hope or expectation. Perhaps she is the catalyst to wake Maru up so that he can stop himself before he falls into yet another Jae Hee-created abyss. We can say Maru isn’t good enough for her, but what if she knows how damaged he is and all his hidden secrets and still wants him, because she knows that deep inside is still the Maru who was capable of loving Jae Hee without reservation, and perhaps there is a chance that Maru will return and she will be the one who that love is directed towards. We can all hope alongside her.
Episode 8 recap:
We see Eun Gi running to see Maru, juxtaposed with Jae Hee putting on makeup in her dressing room while the sick Chairman slumbers in the bedroom. Maru listens to Eun Gi’s candid confession of her dreams with him, and when she’s done, he steps forward and pulls her into his embrace. Jae Hee walks towards Maru’s house.
Maru looks shaken but the hug feels sincere, that is until he looks up and sees Jae Hee standing off to the side under an umbrella. At that moment, his eyes harden and he stares at her while embracing Eun Gi as if it’s a challenge to her. It could either be that he’s warning Jae Hee off from harming Eun Gi because he’s on her side, or showing off to Jae Hee that Eun Gi wants him so much. Jae Hee turns and walks away, but not before she leaves the package of food she prepared for Maru by the lampost.
Maru takes Eun Gi inside ands tends to her cut soles. He towels her off, then offering her Choco’s dry clothes to change into.
Eun Gi stares at the beaten up Maru and worries about him. She asks how badly he got hurt but he doesn’t clarify. He tells her its not a big deal and offers to go out and get food for her to eat since he has nothing in the house. Maru says that he quite likes this face since it gives him some character. In fact, he was getting bored with his handsome face.
Maru goes to change out of his wet clothes while Eun Gi rests. Eun Gi wonders if her mother will tell her that she did well in choosing this path even though it is a hard one? Will her mother encourage her and give her strength? Maru walks outside and looks at the package of food Jae Hee left. He leaves it there and keeps walking. Jae Hee has been sitting in her car watching this the entire time. Jae Hee falls asleep in the car and we see lawyer Ahn walk up to her car and stare at her.
Maru walks inside and goes to check on Eun Gi. He finds her fast asleep on the ground and he gently lays her down to sleep on bedding.
Maru looks up and notices an old picture of a beach, but it has a note from Eun Gi inviting him to visit with her. Maru flashes back to happier times with Jae Hee noona when they made plans to visit the beach together.
Maru sits besides Eun Gi and stares at her while she sleeps. He gently leans in and kisses her on the cheek.
Back on Anmyungdo, Jae Gil was crying because he was told that Choco died, which is when the not-dead Choco arrives and explains that the dead Choco was the dog of the pension owner who ate rat poison. She reveals that Choco was the name of a few dogs in their old neighborhood and her dad really could care less about her hence he named her Choco like she was no more that a stray dog.
Jae Gil continues to baby sit Choco and they walk along the beach. He changes her name to Ji Jae for smart but she teases that she wants to be re-named Jeon Ji Hyun. During this entire completely superfluous scene, I kept thinking it was Lee Kyung Hee’s inside joke towards the complaints about how extraneous Choco and Jae Gil are so she threw in something even more out there, and then made a nudge nudge acknowledgment of Choco’s accidental demise. Too bad it was just the dog.
Maru goes shopping and he picks out clothes for Eun Gi, using his fingers to approximate her correct shoe size from when he tended to her cut feet. We see Eun Gi still fast asleep at home. We see Maru has washed the clothes from last night and hung it out to dry, making the house feel homey like Eun Gi naturally lives there.
Jae Hee is at the Seo family beach house and she flashes back to her conversation with lawyer Ahn last night in her car. He showed her the images from the CCTV of her kissing him and reveals that the Chairman knows already. Jae Hee is frantic with worry, asking lawyer Ahn what will happen with Eun Seok.
Lawyer Ahn says the Chairman plans to leave everything to Eun Gi. He suggests Jae Hee leave that house as soon as possible before the Chairman deals with her. He also reveals that Eun Gi also knows, and that may be while she’s clinging onto Maru.
Jae Hee calls Maru but he ignores her call and turns off the phone. Maru is paying for Eun Gi’s clothes when he sees in the newspaper the article about Jae Hee’s impending nuptials.
Jae Hee calls Maru with a desperate plea to come help her because her brother is beating her up. She then proceeds to wreck the room herself and make it look like she was attacked. Grrrr, this woman needs to be put down like the rabid dog she is. Eun Gi wakes up finally and marvels at how well and late she slept. She wonders if this house is really that comfortable? As Maru walks home, he gets a text from Jae Hee and calls Jae Hee and gets her “come help me” set up plea. Initially he tells her to call the cops but then hears she’s hurt and decides to go to her.
We see Eun Gi wake up and smile as she happily waits for Maru to return home. Eun Gi waits in the courtyard and then opens the front door to see the bags of clothes set outside but no Maru.
Maru drives to see Jae Hee while Eun Gi eagerly opens the bags and finds the new clothes and shoes. In the clothes is a note explaining that he needs to go somewhere today and they can go travel tomorrow. Eun Gi changes into her clothes and then gets an unknown text telling her “Han Jae Hee, Kang Maru, Beach House.” Oh my god, you horrible skank ho, Jae Hee!
Maru arrives at the beach house and walks inside to find Jae Hee cowering on the ground and the room turned upside down. Her face is bruised and she has a bloody cut lip. She claims her brother found her and beat her up.
Jae Hee looks up pitifully at Maru and he looks around before going to get a first aid kit. Eun Gi sits at home and stares at the text.
Maru gets a call from Jae Hee’s brother, who is at the police station, and finds out that he didn’t touch Jae Hee and she staged everything since he’s in police custody because of a dispute between two of his lady friends. Ahahahaha, this is beyond awesome, and clearly the drama world’s shortest duration faked plot ever.
Maru still goes and patches Jae Hee up as Eun Gi pulls up outside the beach house. Jae Hee and Maru have a calm face-to-face discussion. Maru says Jae Hee knows him so well, she might know him even better than he knows himself. She knows exactly what buttons to push to get him running to her. Maru reveals that he never intended to seek revenge against her, it was still his desire to see her that kept him in her orbit and down this path.
Eun Gi walks into the beach house and finds it ransacked. She stands in the living room and can hear Jae Hee and Maru talking inside and hears the first part of the conversation where Maru says he still comes when Jae Hee summons him in a way he can’t ignore. When Jae Hee called, he left his feverish little sister and went running to her 6 years ago. For Jae Hee he would have done anything and forgiven her for everything. He accepts that weakness in himself now. Maru says it was like he had gone crazy, or Jae Hee had put a cover over his eyes.
Jae Hee claims that she will do what he asked and leave that world. She claims that this world isn’t right for her like Maru said and she will leave it now. Eun Gi walks out and sits outside in the car and doesn’t hear the rest of the conversation. Maru tells her not to do that because from now on he will not care anymore about what she does. It doesn’t matter where Han Jae Hee ends up in life, in Hell or in a pit of fire, it no longer has anything to do with him. Maru gets up to leave and reiterates to Jae Hee that his words now means that his heart that used to belong to Jae Hee is finally dead. Can we all say a prayer and throw some salt on that dead love so it doesn’t resurrect like some creepy horror movie villain.
Maru walks outside and his eyes fill with tears as he thinks back to his history with Jae Hee and all their happy moments together. But he’s not angry anymore, this is him mourning for what is done and dead and never coming. This is him finally coming to grips with letting Jae Hee go in every way and moving on himself.
Eun Gi sees Maru walking out and looking sad. She drives away and Maru spots her leaving. Jae Hee calls Maru from inside the house and he answers from the courtyard. Jae Hee asks if this is because he met Eun Gi. She asks if he is in love with Eun Gi? Maru confesses that he made a mistake and regrets bringing Eun Gi into this.
Joon Ha sits beside the ever sicklier Chairman who is laying in bed. The Chairman tells Joon Ha to speed up what he asked Joon Ha to do, likely because he knows he doesn’t have much time left. He needs to do this now otherwise leaving Eun Gi alone will be hard on her.
Maru calls Eun Gi’s cell but she doesn’t pick up. Maru goes home and finds Choco’s clothes folded up which means Eun Gi put on the new outfit he bought for her. Maru looks at the picture of the beach.
Jae Hee goes to the bank safety deposit box and takes out some documents. Who wants to bet its some dirt on the Chairman or Tae San Group and Jae Hee has been keeping it as an insurance policy. Sure enough, Jae Hee takes out the manila folder from six years ago.
Turns out that she was covering Tae San Group news six years ago and was called to the hotel room with meet with the now-dead guy who claimed to have dirt on the Chairman. During the discussion, Jae Hee refuses to air the dirt on the Chairman.
As she gets up to leave, the guy tries to rape Jae Hee and she smashes a bottle over his head. That doesn’t kill him but she pushes him off her and he falls back and hits his head against the corner of a table and bleeds out. How she could let Maru take the fall for her when she clearly would get off with a justified defense claim is beyond me.
Eun Gi arrives at the beach from the picture. She gets out of the car and sits down on the sand as she stares out at the rock outcropping in the ocean. Maru sits at home waiting for Eun Gi when get gets a text from her with a picture of the very beach she is at. Maru grabs his jacket and rushes out.
Maru speeds towards the beach while Jae Hee returns home with the secret documents. Maru pulls up at the beach and gets out of the car. He walks up to Eun Gi sitting on the sand and asks why she came? She replies that she wanted to see the ocean. Eun Gi thanks him for the clothes and calls him a player for picking out clothes that fit her perfectly. Joon Ha is digging into Jae Hee and her brother’s background while Lawyer Ahn is packing up his belongings in his office.
Maru sits down and Eun Gi asks if this is his first time here. He confesses that this is his first time at the beach because he never got to go with the woman he used to loved. Eun Gi asks him directly who she is. Maru is silent for a moment before he says “Han Jae Hee.” They turn and stare at each other intently.
Thoughts of Mine:
Awesome awesome episode of NG. It was exactly what this drama needed to take it to the next level, and though quiet on action nevertheless felt like a shot of adrenaline in the heart. Everyone knows everything now, and that always leave the best part of a drama narrative, that being “what are you going to do about it?” If the person is Jae Hee, she scrambles to find herself another safe haven. She tries to break up Eun Gi and Maru as well as try to bring him back to her side. If that person is Maru, he finally makes the hard but right decision to walk away from Jae Hee. If that person is Eun Gi, then she is like a punching bag that absorbs even more punches but is brave enough with her own feelings to reach out one more time to Maru. And he does not disappoint her. He tells her the truth at long last, and owns up to his own failings to the girl who has finally pierced through his deadened soul.
It’s quite a testament to how far Park Shi Yeon has come as an actress from her godawful start in My Girl, to see her performance as Han Jae Hee is to watch the screen come alive with emotions that are complicated and dirty and selfish and scared. She is delivering a powerhouse knock out punch as Jae Hee, making us hate her yet can’t look away. Her character could have become just the token manipulative evil ex, and she is definitely that, but she also feels alive and we can see where she is coming from. It’s from a place of self-preservation, of greed, of longing, of clawing her way to the top, and we disdain all of that, but it’s not something that defies explanation. In contrast, Eun Gi’s character still needs some analysis to piece together her motivations and action, while Maru just frustrates the heck out of us because he doesn’t do what we want him to do. But in this episode, everything came together and took a big step forward. Jae Hee gets backed into a corner and the claws come out, Eun Gi confronts the hard to stomach truth about Maru and Jae Hee, and Maru finally cuts the cord with the Jae Hee in his heart.
I’m really wondering how that amnesia subplot is going to work its way into this story. The drama hasn’t hit the halfway mark yet, and there is still so much to deal with, but there has been so far no foreshadowing of why and how Eun Gi might go from a feisty lovelorn emotionally tense girl to someone who for all intents and purposes starts over with a blank slate. What does that mean for Maru and Eun Gi, and how will that affect the Chairman’s plans to leave everything to Eun Gi and kicks Jae Hee to the curb? The doom and gloom of the last few episodes has finally subsided a bit and I see a bit of sun peeking through the dark clouds, making episode 8 such a cathartic one to watch. But then the preview for episode 9 was all sorts of shocking and nerve wracking, leaving me sure to gnaw on my arm anxiously until next Wednesday arrives. Nice Guy, you hurt so good.