That smile on Eun Gi’s face gives me the shivers. Brrrrr. How do you reset something that has already been reset once? Does it go back full circle then? But what happens to all the things that happened during the interim? Everyone keeps wanting Eun Gi to regain her memories, warts and all with what happened in the past, but no one ever stops to wonder if that’s what she wants and if that’s what’s best for her. Episode 16 of Nice Guy shows us first hand that happiness doesn’t always require knowing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That would require our lives to be on trial and we are all sworn witnesses. But that isn’t how life works. We operate under limited knowledge all the time, in every facet of what we do. Those who seek to know everything surely find themselves unearthing unnecessarily painful memories that has no bearing on the present. What are memories without feelings attached to it, so those memories bring with it commensurate emotional price to pay.
This episode was stellar and riveting, the taut and tight NG narrative I’ve come to appreciate for its flow and deft touch. Once again we watch things unfold, looking at everyone’s reaction to truly gauge what is happening beyond what is being said. Maru and Eun Gi retrace the path of their relationship so that they can move forward together, a tentative hope for a happy future that is premised on a shaky past. Maru dares to hope, he dares to savor the happiness that he knows is not permanent, and he dares to put his own heart out on the line the way Eun Gi once did. But now the roles will be reversed as Eun Gi wrestles with her own demons and confronts her own failings. At the end of the day, these two people are flawed and wrong as much as they are right. Eun Gi once asked Maru in Aomori to tally up the debt between the two of them, which we now know with certainty can never be tabulated.
Episode 16 recap:
After kissing outside the police station, Maru and Eun Gi take a trip down memory(less) lane and head up the hill towards his old house. She tells him on the way that she remembers who he is to her. He is the man she loved with every fiber of her being, the man she gave everything to. Maru tears up to hear this.
When they arrive outside the door, Eun Gi asks Maru if he remembers what she said to him at this very spot during one rainy night. Flashback to the teary and gutsy confession.
Maru doesn’t say anything so Eun Gi asks again whether he remembers? Maru nods his head. Eun Gi asks what his answer is then? Is it possible, what she asked for, a simple life together with him? Maru is all teary-eyed as he remembers what she said to him.
He leans in and kisses her, which usually means yes when translated to people speak. After the kiss, Eun Gi asks Maru to get married. Not a pretend fiancée, but a real engagement to planning a real wedding. After they get married, she wants to be a real family for Maru, a warm and reliable family. She asks again if they can get married?
Maru looks torn but he says yes, let’s get married. Eun Gi asks to go somewhere else. They hold hands and walk to a wedding dress store, which is closed but they can see wedding dresses on display in the window.
Eun Gi finds them so beautiful and asks if Maru likes it as well. She wants to wear that particular wedding dress for their wedding and plans to start preparing tomorrow. Now that she’s got a wedding dressed picked out, they need to find a location. Maru just nods and agrees sweetly to everything she says.
Eun Gi brings up the honeymoon and Maru asks where she wants to go? Eun Gi asks him where he wants to go, and then segues in having kids and how many he wants and whether he wants boys or girls. She offers to bear him an entire baseball team in children. LOL, getting ahead of yourself, Eun Gi? Then Eun Gi backtracks and says she won’t decide their lives for them and wants to allow their children to choose their own path.
Maru keeps listening and agreeing with her, staring at her with love and sadness in his eyes. Eun Gi wants to ask Secretary Hyun’s help in planning the wedding but then remembers she’s never been married before. She wonders who to ask?
Jae Hee drives off from the police station after witnessing Maru kissing Eun Gi and she heads to a neighborhood joint to drink her sorrows away. A drunk guy goes to pick her up and she rages at him for being a piece of trash and to let her go. She asks how dare he stare at her.
Lawyer Ahn comes to extricate her from the situation and takes her home. Drunk Jae Hee wonders how he knew where to find her, and asks if he’s keeping a surveillance on her? Jae Hee reveals that that she used to work part-time at this restaurant, before she entered Tae San, and she used to come her often with Maru.
Eun Gi and Maru continue to walk hand-in-hand as they head home. Eun Gi brings up where to live after the wedding, at their current house or elsewhere, and wants to buy new household items. Maru finally puts a halt to all her jumping the gun planning and asks that the wedding take place after she regains her memory.
Eun Gi is confused and asks why? Maru brings up the possibility that she may change her mind about marrying him after she regains her memory. A person’s heart can change. What if after she regains her memory, she discovers there is an even more awesome guy waiting for her. Eun Gi assures him that won’t happen. This is usual when drama karma jumps out and goes BOO and screams “Ha, it’s totally going to happen now!”
Maru is firm and says the wedding will wait until she regains her memory. If after she remembers everything she still wants to marry a man like him and have kids with him and live with him, then they will get married. At that time, he will never ever let her go. Never. No matter what others may say, he won’t ever leave her. Maru pulls Eun Gi for a hug to reassure her.
Lawyer Ahn drags Jae Hee’s drunk ass back to her vast but empty mansion that she done stole from Eun Gi. Jae Hee mutters on and on – Eun Gi is a crazy wench for giving up Tae San for Maru, she’s clearly mentally unstable, Han Jae Hee gave up Maru for Tae San and that is totally normal and everyone would agree with her and would do the same thing as her. Jae Hee asks rhetorically what others would do if they were Han Jae Hee or Seo Eun Gi. Any one else would make the same choice as her, right? Lawyer Ahn puts Jae Hee to bed and tries to kiss her but she rebuffs his nasty lips.
Lawyer Ahn asks whether she wants to go back, if she wants to make the same decision as Seo Eun Gi, to give up Tae San for Kang Maru? Lawyer Ahn betrayed the Chairman who trusted him because of his desire for Jae Hee and he’s come so far. He reminds her of the road they have already traveled and asks her to please focus on getting rid of Eun Gi and not on Maru.
Maru is at home washing up and is deep in thought. Eun Gi sits on her bed and her mind flashes back to the bits and pieces from the accident that she’s remembered so far – her looking sad and angry as she drives, veering into another lane, but she still cannot see the face of the other driver.
Choco asks her unni if anything is wrong and Eun Gi lies that she’s fine. Choco knows how hard it’s been for Eun Gi and her oppa and assures her that things are only going to keep getting better. Eun Gi thanks Choco for her encouragement and remembers the doctor telling her that the memories are painful but she needs to have the courage to face them.
Eun Gi asks to use Choco’s laptop and she searches for news articles about her accident. In reading it, the newspaper only identify the other injured part as Mr. K. Choco is nervous and asks why she’s reading up on the accident? Eun Gi explains the doctor’s order for her to dig up her painful memories. She wonders out loud who Mr. K is? Was he severely injured? Did he died? Choco remains mum this entire time.
Maru is sitting at his desk working when Jae Gil reveals he knows about Maru’s medical condition. Jae Gil asks if Maru wants to die? Ehhhh, the answer would be yes. Maru tries to bluff but Jae Gil reveals he met with Maru’s doctor who was also his respected sunbae in medical school. So the cat is out of the bag and poor Jae Gil is truly torn up.
Maru tries to shush him but Jae Gil wants to wake the girls up because he plans on telling them. Maru begs him not to and assures him that he’s not dead yet. WHAT? That’s the point, Maru, you are not dead and Jae Gil wants to help. What’s the point of saying anything if you were already dead? Jae Gil wants him in the hospital immediately!
The bro talk moves to a restaurant and Maru says his doctor is prone to exaggerating and he lies that Choco and Eun Gi are not that important to him that he’ll risk putting off the surgery for them. Liar liar, pants with no socks on fire! Jae Gil tells him to shut up, clearly not buying his ridiculous excuses. Maru then suggests that the surgery could go wrong, he could die on the operating table, or end up losing his memory, and that would just be so unfair to himself.
Jae Gil asks why he keeps on thinking the worst case scenario and Maru ruefully notes that his life is just that shitty in terms of luck. Maru smiles and says that Seo Eun Gi, who he has been waiting for, finally returned to his life. Now they live together, eat together, go to work together. If something happened to him during surgery, everyone will just be sad.
Maru pleads with Jae Gil to allow him to delay the surgery for just a while longer. He wants to enjoy this wonderful time together just a bit more. Afterwards when he goes for the surgery, at least he’ll go happy. Jae Gil cries and Maru begs him to not cry anymore otherwise the girls will notice something is weird. Jae Gil calls him a lunatic and we see Maru’s eyes are all red-rimmed as well.
Eun Gi lays in bed and can’t sleep, so she thinks about what breakfast she’ll cook for Maru tomorrow. She vows that she will recover all her memories, so just wait awhile longer for her and not run away. We see Maru sleeping in his bed.
The next morning, Eun Gi and Choco are in the kitchen facing a bucket of squirming eel as Eun Gi plans on making eel soup for Maru. LOL, eel is supposed to increase male virility, and I’m just dying that kisses-on-the-brain Eun Gi chose this dish to make for her man. The girls stare at the eels and vow they can do it – cook it, that is. Jae Gil looks at them so happy and bites back his tears and says Maru is so lucky.
Jae Gil grabs a squirming eel and chases the screeching Eun Gi and Choco around the kitchen. Maru lays in bed and voiceovers – I can hear it, my friend, my sister, my lover, I can hear their laughter.
Jae Gil, Choco, and Eun Gi collectively prepare breakfast. Jae Gil chides Choco on not slicing the green onions correctly. Eun Gi sneaks away and goes to kiss a sleeping Maru on the cheek.
Maru opens his eyes after Eun Gi’s sneak kiss and continues his voiceover – They are the most magical and beautiful dream in the dream world I created. I am so afraid of this dream shattering so I don’t care to wake up. Giving me such a happy morning, I am so thankful. I will never want for anything else, I will never covet anything else, because right now I am truly very happy. *sobs, someone gimme a tissue*
Jae Shik pays a visit to Jae Hee at her house, after picking up Eun Seok at school and bringing him home. What kind of school is this, releasing a child to a non-verified adult! He asks for dinner and Jae Hee purposely tells the ahjumma to take all the food away. LOL, I love the snippy interaction between these two siblings.
Jae Shik grouses but concedes he stabbed Jae Hee in the back, though he asks her to just let it go. Jae Hee tells him she’s thinking of way to get rid of him. Jae Shik says he’s still her brother, and if she didn’t backstab him first, he wouldn’t be taking revenge against her. She tells him to get out! Jae Shik suddenly asks if she also wants Maru dead? Does she want Maru to disappear from this world?
Jae Shik heads to Maru’s house and Choco feeds him the food prepared earlier, though he complains about the lack of alcohol and the taste of the food. He sees Jae Gil and Choco together and tells Jae Gil to take care of Choco for the rest of her life. If Maru isn’t around anymore, he wants Choco to go with Jae Gil. Choco asks why her brother wouldn’t be around? Jae Shik says people can’t be around forever and will leave or die. He tells Choco and Jae Gil to just get married already.
At work, Jae Hee calls someone on the phone and then discusses with lawyer Ahn that she’s put in place a plan to get rid of Eun Gi without getting their hands dirty. Lawyer Ahn has heard that Eun Gi and Maru are planning to get married soon, and if she is found incompetent to handle her own finances, he will handle it for her as her husband. This is clearly a good back up plan for Team Eun Gi.
Jae Hee rushes to see Maru in his office and asks if he is really marrying Eun Gi? Maru says yes. Jae Hee asks why he didn’t ask the parents (i.e. her as Eun Gi’s stepmother) for permission or notification first? Maru says they could have married first and then release the news, though he wonders how word got out they are planning to get married. Jae Hee asks if his ultimate plan is to marry Eun Gi? What would Eun Gi do if Jae Hee told her everything about her past relationship with Maru? Maru offers to take a picture of him kissing Jae Hee and releasing it to the public, that’ll be even faster, no? He isn’t scared, because Eun Gi is the present whereas Jae Hee is the past.
Jae Hee asks him to cancel the wedding and reconsider. She wants him to buck up and think about why he’s getting married. There must be a different choice for him. Maru gets all up in Jae Hee’s face and lays it out for Jae Hee noona – he’s getting married for one reason only, which is that he needs Eun Gi, and without Eun Gi, he cannot live for even one more day. Maru then smirks and asks if his reason is good enough for the Chairman? Jae Hee starts to cry as digests what he just said.
As Jae Hee leaves Maru’s office, she passes Eun Gi in the hallway. She asks why Eun Gi is here since she handed Tae San to Jae Hee already. Eun Gi says she can still show up here. Jae Hee asks if she’s really marrying Maru? Does she really know what kind of man he is? Eun Gi says yes, she’s seen all of him clearly. Jae Hee suggests she learn even more about him first. Joon Ha comes and grabs Eun Gi for a meeting.
Eun Gi and Maru sit with Joon Ha, who apologizes for needing them to get married so that Eun Gi is not declared incompetent and lost her right to manage Tae San. Eun Gi doesn’t mind, she likes this. Maru tells Eun Gi to just follow the script they prepared. Eun Gi suddenly asks Joon Ha who the other driver was in her accident a year ago? Maru turns and stares at her while Joon Ha asks why she is asking now? Is she curious?
Eun Gi admits she’s curious and she also feels bad for that person. Joon Ha lies that it was a female driver and she’s fully recovered and moved to the US now. She recovered and was discharged earlier than Eun Gi. She’s living well and has been compensated. Joon Ha wants Eun Gi not to worry.
Afterwards, Eun Gi is in the bathroom and asks Secretary Hyun to investigate more about that accident, revealing that her flashes of memory show that the other driver was a man. Dun dun dun!
Jae Gil accompanies Choco to a singing audition. While waiting for her, he thinks back to Maru’s plea to keep his illness a secret for a bit longer. He suddenly enters the audition and offers to play the keyboard and accompany Choco. She does great during the audition and Jae Gil voiceovers that Maru is very exhausted right now and they need to work hard to become his strength.
Secretary Hyun discusses with Joon Ha about Eun Gi’s suspicions. Secretary Hyun finally learns that the other driver was Kang Maru and knows Eun Gi would be devastated if she found out. Joon Ha insists this needs to be kept from Eun Gi no matter what and they need to all stick to the story that the other person emigrated to the US.
Eun Gi is in her office and gets an envelope containing her accident report. She reads it and sees the name of Kang Maru as the other driver. She flashes back to her memories of the accident and this time she finally sees the face of the other driver, and it’s a sad smiling Maru. Eun Gi collapses on the ground and remembers everyone trying to keep the truth from her – Choco, Joon Ha, Maru.
Eun Gi is sitting silently at her desk when Maru comes to collect her for the meeting. He asks if she’s ready and she confirms it. Maru tells her not to be nervous and just follow what she memorized. During the walk to the meeting, she flashes back to her conversation with Maru at the beach when he reveals that he approached her because of Jae Hee.
Maru puts his hand on Eun Gi’s shoulder and she flashes back to when he also put his hand on her shoulder at the beach before he broke her heart. Eun Gi steels herself and turns to smile at Maru.
At the meeting, Eun Gi is being grilled by the Board member about the allegation that she embezzelled money from the company and on whether she is competent to handle company affairs. Eun Gi stands up and admits that she’s suffered memory loss since the accident which is why she needed Maru to assist her. If the Board doesn’t think she can run Tae San now, she’ll step aside. But she believes she can do it and asks for another chance.
During Eun Gi’s speech, Maru stares at her in shock, clearly knowing that she deviated from their script. I think Maru suspects Eun Gi may have regained her memory and is doing things her own way now.
After the meeting, Maru compliments Eun Gi on doing well and showing everyone that this is the real Seo Eun Gi. She thanks him, revealing that everyone else is yelling at her but he’s the only one who says she did well. He asks what she wants as a reward and it can be anything cuz he has lots of money. She asks for flowers, a bag, sangyeopsal (pork belly), and a kiss.
Maru goes to pick out the presents she requested, happily shopping for each item. We see Eun Gi visiting her dad’s altar, apologizing for coming so late.
Eun Gi flashes back to her childhood where her dad tearfully tells her to buck up. He doesn’t need a son because she’s all he needs. To become the owner of Tae San she cannot be weak. She must smile even when she is sad. If she wants to cry she’ll have to wait until she’s alone. She can never let another person see her weakness. That is the only way for the female head of Tae San to live. From now on, she is not a woman anymore! Even though her mother betrayed him, she will never do it. She is the only person in the world he trusts.
Eun Gi cries and tells her dad that she was wrong. She wasn’t able to come back because of Kang Maru, and for that she was wrong.
Maru waits at the park for Eun Gi, with all the presents laid out on the park bench. He waits and waits while Eun Gi sits before her dad’s picture and mopes.
Eun Gi finally shows up and Maru welcomes her with a smile. He asks if she saw the person she went to see? Eun Gi nods. He shows her the three presents he got her and asks if she likes it. Eun Gi looks and says its all really pretty and just her style. Maru smiles in relief while Eun Gi thanks him.
Maru says there is the fourth present now and then leans in to kiss Eun Gi. She closes her eyes and sinks into the kiss. During the kiss, Eun Gi suddenly opens her eyes.
Thoughts of Mine:
We’re at the 16th episode for Nice Guy already and normally this is when a lot of K-dramas wrap up. Yet in NG we’re actually still riding the crescendo to the top with the peak nowhere near in sight. Eun Gi has regained all her lost memories and she’s hiding it from everyone. She feels guilty towards her dead father, and her feelings towards Maru are clearly now longer love love happy unicorns and rainbows anymore. But I was waiting for this to come even knowing its going to end the happy times between the cute little family unit of Eun Gi, Maru, Jae Gil, and Choco. It’s not fair for Eun Gi to find happiness at the price of her past, and its not going to last for Maru if he can only be with a Eun Gi that doesn’t even realize the full extent of her feelings for Maru, both the love and the anger. These two are so screwed up but they can’t let go of their messed up past unless they confront it. Whatever Eun Gi has in mind, I’m sure Maru is ready and waiting for it. He clearly has a strong hunch that she regained her memory and is just hiding it. He knows her better than she knows herself, and in that conference room when she delivered that speech, you can see his eyes widen and the realization sink it. His pretense with her may be long over, and his heart is genuinely hers now, so this is the time for them to deal with the fallout of his earlier behavior towards her. After the meeting, everything Maru said to Eun Gi and did for Eun Gi was with complete understanding of the truth behind what she is asking for. He knows that she’s remembered and he’ll go along with her pretense because he’ll do anything she wants.
I thought it telling that Eun Gi asked Maru for a slew of presents and then a kiss. Remember that old Eun Gi only wanted one thing from him – a future that had nothing but him and her creating a simple family together. She wants nothing material from him, and yet she asks now for things that he can buy. Remember the first time Eun Gi tried to end things with him after that lunch with her dad and Jae Hee, he told her a handshake is a pretty weak break up gesture and to let him know when and where and he’ll give her a break up kiss. They never ended up doing it since Aomori happened, and that kiss on the bridge was not the break up kiss because Eun Gi never asked for it. But now she specifically asked for a kiss from Maru, and he knows and she knows what it means. They are both going to play games with each other, she to use him for whatever plan she has in mind, and him to allow her to use him without letting on that he knows. It’s so sad because Maru would give her a kidney if she needed one, and she wouldn’t ever need to play him to get him to do her bidding. But this time Eun Gi is reeling from the absorption of so many painful memories that perhaps her only outlet is to convince herself that she needs to play Maru as payback for him playing her.
I love how this drama continues to do such a brilliant job of bringing in previous moments and weaving it seamlessly into the present. The way Eun Gi snuck a kiss on sleeping Maru like he snuck a kiss on her once. The way he waited for her at the park and she arrived so late, like the way she waited for him on the bridge in Aomori and he arrived so late. The way they revisited the most raw and open confession in their relationship and tried to start over from that moment and move on. How every gesture from Maru after Eun Gi regained her memories triggered the painful version of it from before. Of course, that final kiss in the park was a complete redo of their Aomori kiss, except this time the played person that is Maru knows full well what is happening and still willingly invests himself in this relationship game. It’s like he’s finally free to express his true feelings because he knows that Eun Gi knows, so he’s not taking advantage of a memory-less Eun Gi who thinks he’s the world’s nicest guy. Jae Hee continues to elicit not a shred of emotion from me and its starting to look like the drama antagonists for this final stretch will be lawyer Ahn and likely Jae Shik. If Jae Shik ends up killing Maru for whatever reason because of Jae Hee (though not because she wants it), I will have to concede Lee Kyung Hee laid her foundation with that character, but it will send chills up my spine. Its almost like all the machinations have come to a point where everyone must pay a price, and the price is much too high to swallow.