My October drama present season continues with the premiere of Marry Him If You Dare (Mirae’s Choice) on KBS Mon-Tues timeslot. This was an odd week ratings-wise since MBC had to pre-empt its new episode of Goddess of Fire due to an overly long baseball game, so for the first episode MHIYD came in with a decent 9.7% ABG ratings while The Suspicious Housekeeper jumped into the double digits for the first time at 10.6%. Ratings aside, did episode 1 live up to my expectations? Can I have a “oh hell yes!” and the a drool bucket please. Yoon Eun Hye seamlessly slides into the role of Na Mi Rae, average call center employee with a pluck personality but not much motivation, while Lee Dong Gun makes his acting return with a decisive bang as the fascinating news anchor with determination and a quick temper. Drama fans need to do multiple rounds of high fives and maybe a thank you ceremony to the drama gods for bringing him back to the world of acting. Words fail to describe how perfectly he nails the character of prickly and principled news announcer Kim Shin, and looks drop dead gorgeous doing it. This drama is all about Mi Rae and Shin and their complicated married life which results in future Mi Rae time-traveling back to change it. The thing that went wrong between them interests me as much as I can’t wait to see them fall in love even in a new twist on their inevitable love story. I thought the editing was really chopping in the first episode but the directing is comes off as fresh and easy to watch. The writing deftly balances exposition with character development so that the viewers gets to know each of the four interesting leads as the story progresses. Right now future Mi Rae is stealing the show but she’s just setting things up so that the leads will take different roads that still lead to the same ending? Or will it? However things unfurl, the drama took a confident first step that leaves me excited for what’s to come.
Episode 1 recap:
The camera pans over Seoul into a high rise office building and the call center of a company. Na Mi Rae (Yoon Eun Hye) works there in a nondescript cubby and is on the phone. She sings on cue when a demanding customer asks while watching shows on the computer to pass the time.
Mi Rae switches online channels to the YBS network when she can’t find the drama she’s looking for. The production team is in the control room complaining about announcer Kim Shin’s perfectionist and difficult attitude. He’s refusing to answer them in the control room because he’s pissed that this is his last 9 am news broadcast before being forcibly moved over to host the Morning Show with his name on it.
She watches Kim Shin on air and he veers off script, saying that this is not his last broadcast as a news announcer and he’ll be back. Unlike others who just want to be famous or use fame to marry into a rich family, he wants to be a news reporter who always speaks the truth. So for his thank you and farewell message, he’ll wait for the day when he gets Alzheimers and can’t do this job anymore. This is not goodbye for him and his news career.
Mi Rae watches him with a hint of sympathy. The customer yells at her to sing again and the complies. The screen freezes at the two of them, then splits open to show Mi Rae walking down the aisle towards Kim Shin at their wedding ceremony.
Shin goes over to take her hand and they turn and pose for the guests.
The picture fades and is now in the hands of future Mi Rae. She rips it down the middle and apologizes to her hubby, saying there is no other choice. She is in an old elevator that must function as a time machine. The time clock on the side starts whirring and then stops at 2013.
Future Mi Rae walks out of the elevator and she’s in a tunnel. She has a black bag in her hand and is dressed in all black. She exits the tunnel which looks like the Batcave.
Mi Rae is walking down the street and sees a camera crew filming and runs over. She helps them block the pedestrians and gets a thank you. Then she fantasizes that she’s the writer for this program and gives her instructions, garnering lots of hearty claps for her natural aptitude in broadcasting.
Turns out this second part is just her daydream and after she snaps awake, she finds out this filming is for Kim Shin’s Morning show. She asks the writer how she became a show writer and whether she can also be one? She’s asked what job she does and Mi Rae flashes back at the office call center. Mi Rae goes back to work and gets chewed out by the customer who had asked her to sing and Mi Rae goes to the bathroom to cry.
Mi Rae gets a call from her oppa, who is a producer at YBS, asking for his car. During the call, his production team heads back to the office. Mi Rae plans to drive it over for him later but he hangs up because he’s so busy.
Mi Rae goes to get his car and when the garage door opens, she sees future Mi Rae waiting for her in the driver’s seat. Future Mi Rae drives the car out of the garage and gets out to talk with Mi Rae. Mi Rae thinks she’s a random customer and tries to placate her but future Mi Rae reveals that she is also Na Mi Rae.
Mi Rae thinks she’s crazy and tries to run away. Future Mi Rae tells her not to take a car today and to take a bus with her instead. Future Mi Rae warns that Mi Rae cannot drive today!
Mi Rae runs into the car and tries to avoid the crazy ahjumma. Future Mi Rae yells that she needs to avoid the Sung San Bridge lane number 3 if she insists on driving. After Mi Rae drives off, future Mi Rae stands there and says “they” can’t meet right now.
Scene switches to Shin in the elevator leaving the station. He’s on the phone with Producer Na (Mi Rae’s hyung), complaining about the dubbing being wrong. Producer Na wants him to re-record but Shin needs to go to bed in three hours for tomorrow’s show. Producer Na calls him a bastard and Shin returns it back with an expletive-laden diatribe in the elevator that freaks out the random other passenger. She tries to leave and Shin stops her to explain that he’s just human with feelings. The woman scurries away and Shin adorably reminds himself to speak in a civilized manner.
Mi Rae is driving and she keeps thinking about what future Mi Rae said. We see that Shin is driving behind her, and Seo Yoo Kyung is in a red car ahead of her. Shin is distracted while watching the news broadcast with the guy who replaced him and bitching about his pronunciation.
There is a little fantasy genie goading on Mi Rae, and she finally decides to change lanes out of lane number 3, which is when an accident happens right behind her. Shin rear ends the Yoo Kyung’s red car instead.
Mi Rae gets out of her call and looks at the accident before driving off. Shin gets out of his car and goes to the red car, and we see that Yoo Kyung is dazed with a bloody forehead.
Mi Rae goes home and when she opens the door, she sees future Mi Rae inside waiting for her. Mi Rae tries to run away and call the cops but future Mi Rae stops her. Future Mi Rae asks if a car accident happened? Since Mi Rae is home safely, it must mean she did what future Mi Rae told her to. Future Mi Rae keeps trying to remember the past facts about herself to convince Mi Rae who she is.
Future Mi Rae then remembers little Mi Rae’s nickname of Little Blackie from their dad because she was so dark from playing outside. She and dad decided to keep it a secret otherwise oppa would get even more jealous. Mi Rae then takes out half of a torn $2 bill and future Mi Rae has the other half. Future Mi Rae convinces Mi Rae that she is her own self from the future.
The two Mi Raes sit down to have a drink and chat. Future Mi Rae can tell exactly what Mi Rae is thinking. Future Mi Rae says she came from year 2038 and Mi Rae is shocked that she’s 57 years old. Future Mi Rae says she doesn’t have money so this is the best she can look. Mi Rae thinks she’s dressed in designer duds and Mi Rae explains this stuff is everywhere. Future Mi Rae says North and South Korea have united and is doing well, the only kicker is the all the guys have been stolen by North Korean women who are great at aegyo and obedience.
Future Mi Rae says the most important thing for Mi Rae to do now is to find a good husband. Mi Rae asks how future Mi Rae’s husband is? Future Mi Rae takes out the same journal that Mi Rae keeps and reads that Mi Rae wants to go on vacation and relax. Future Mi Rae says she can help Mi Rae take a vacation.
Future Mi Rae helps Mi Rae win first place in the company talent show competition, with the grand prize a trip to Jeju. Mi Rae must perform first and sing “I Will Survive”. She does so and the audience loves it and she wins the prize.
The two Mi Raes take a plane to Jeju. Mi Rae wants to win more prizes but future Mi Rae is not here for that, she is here so that Mi Rae can marry the right guy. She wants to change Mi Rae’s life so that future Mi Rae’s life also changes. Mi Rae claims her current life is very happy. Future Mi Rae thinks about Jeju and mutters Park Se Joo’s name, but doesn’t think Mi Rae will run into him there. What’s most important is keeping Mi Rae away from “him” and buying her more time.
Mi Rae asks which guy future Mi Rae is talking about? Future Mi Rae explains that the car accident Mi Rae avoided is for the best, it was a bad destiny. Mi Rae asks what kind of bad destiny? Future Mi Rae says the person Mi Rae loves will die because of the bad destiny with that guy.
The camera flashes to Shin going to the hospital to visit Yoo Kyung.
Present Mi Rae is super excited to arrive in Jeju. Future Mi Rae asks why Mi Rae can be so happy knowing that the person she loves will die. Mi Rae says she doesn’t have any one she loves, she doesn’t love her oppa either. Mi Rae takes out a bikini but future Mi Rae pulls down her shirt to expose her scar and asks if she plans to wear a bikini. Future Mi Rae tosses a bunch of books at Mi Rae and tells her to start studying and improving herself. A rich good looking man will not like Mi Rae like this, she needs to first get a good job. Mi Rae is shocked that the books are for a 7th level civil servant. Mi Rae would rather future Mi Rae go back another time to win the lottery for then. Future Mi Rae says that is not possible, a person can only time travel once and her life is on the line. She’s already violated the rules.
Future Mi Rae heads out and tells Mi Rae to think about what else she can do if she doesn’t want to be a civil servant. Mi Rae tells her to prepare a nice outfit, she might meet a good looking guy today. Mi Rae gets excited and future Mi Rae says all she knows is that it will happen today in Jeju but she doesn’t know the details. But it involves water, so she tells Mi Rae to head to the water, the man will get attracted because of something involving water. We see Park Se Joo walking in the hotel courtyard.
Future Mi Rae goes down to the lobby and shows the receptionist a picture of Park Se Joo and asks if he’s here? The receptionist doesn’t know all the guests staying here. She then shows the receptionist a picture of Yoo Kyung and asks if she’s here. It’s clear the pictures are two halves of a happy couple picture.
Yoo Kyung is in the hospital and watching Shin’s news broadcast. Nurse asks if she’s sad she can’t be on TV but Yoo Kyung is more sad about missing her vacation. She tells the nurse that this accident caused her to miss her long awaited trip to Jeju.
Shin is interviewing a guest on his Morning Show. It’s a government official and Shin asks him if he’s been at a bar and is currently involved in prosecutorial investigation? Shin then shows a picture of the government official watching porn on his cell phone during an official event. The guy tries to explain but Shin ends the interview. Shin explains how the government wants to raise their taxes but they need to act like this government official and feign ignorance and refuse to accept it.
Future Mi Rae walks around Jeju. She flashes back to a television interview with happy couple Se Joo and Yoo Kyung and remembers that they said that they met in Jeju and it was a Sunday. Se Joo says it was love at first sight and involved the beautiful water. Future Mi Rae says its fine as long as that Seo Yoo Kyung isn’t here to seduce Park Se Joo. Future Mi Rae walks past an outdoor tent and doesn’t see that Se Joo is inside. He walks out after she leaves. Mi Rae is in the pool enjoying herself.
Se Joo goes to the same poolside to meet his classmate who chased him all the way here. He tells her to leave and she asks him for money to buy a plane ticket. Se Joo doesn’t care since he’s not wealthy, the money is his grandmother’s earned wealth. And even if he had money, why would he give it to her, who followed him here to ruin his vacation.
Mi Rae realizes that her top has fallen off and is trying desperately to re-clip it. Se Joo’s date sees it and points it out to him, deriding Mi Rae for wearing a bikini with a scar on her back. Se Joo gets up and leaves, telling her that he thinks she’s less attractive then even a scar.
Future Mi Rae walks over and sees Mi Rae flailing around in the pool. She walks into the pool and helps herself re-clip her swimsuit and then slaps Mi Rae. Se Joo, who has walked over to ask a hotel employee to help her, sees this.
The two Mi Raes goes back to the hotel room and argue. Future Mi Rae is upset that Mi Rae is just having fun and not focused on the task at hand. Mi Rae says she likes her life right now. She knows Mi Rae pretends everything is fine just because she doesn’t have confidence in herself. Future Mi Rae knows all Mi Rae does is sing for customers and go to the bathroom to cry.
Mi Rae asks what she’s supposed to do! All her friends have succeeded and she’s always failing, so she can only tell herself that she’s fine. Future Mi Rae says she needs to bring forth her desire, or she can keep running away from her own life. Future Mi Rae gives her a few hours to think. Mi Rae cries that she doesn’t have the courage to face changing her life. Future Mi Rae tells her to give up then, right now Mi Rae looks even older than her, just someone who cries and is a burden on her oppa. She might as well quietly end her life.
Future Mi Rae goes to the bathroom and asks herself how could have told young Mi Rae to go kill herself. Mi Rae walks out to the beach, leaving her sandals behind and walking into the ocean. Se Joo is at the suite bar and pours himself a drink. He sees Mi Rae walking into the ocean and calls the front desk.
Mi Rae looks around in the water and notices fish swimming around her. Se Joo grabs his camera and starts filming her as she starts to play in the water trying to catch the fishes. Mi Rae makes up her mind and takes off her top and tosses it away.
Se Joo stops filming once he realizes what she’s doing. Mi Rae dives into the water and goes nude swimming with the fishes. Se Joo watches her as she swims in the night sea.
Mi Rae wakes up in bed with future Mi Rae staring at her. Future Mi Rae cries and wonders if Mi Rae went to kill herself. Mi Rae explains she saw fishes last night and those little things swim so hard to survive. She just went to play with them and shed all her baggage. Now she feels like she can do anything. She takes future Mi Rae’s hand and promises to work hard, asking that she not give up on her.
Se Joo goes to YBS to talk with his grandma, the Chairman of YBS. She asks why he wants to be a lowly VJ rather than just taking over the company. Se Joo tells the Chairman to stop visiting the fortune teller so much. Se Joo also reveals to his grandma that her nickname at the network is Miranda for the Meryl Streep character in The Devil Wears Prada. The Chairman orders a copy of the DVD and Se Joo tells her to watch it to better understand how others see her.
Se Joo walks out of the Chairman’s office to go see the company lawyer and passes by Shin who is there to see her. He even had to make a formal reservation and gets a reservation number. Her assistant first check out Shin to make sure he’s not bugged before letting him in.
Shin talks with the Chairman, who says that he’s even more handsome in person than on TV. They sit down and she explains that all the formalities are necessary to keep up the chairman image. She has heard that he wants to stay an anchor, and he explains that other networks just air the gotcha moments of any news without the insightful reporting. The chairman says that is what the audience wants, no one wants worthwhile news. She mentions Shin’s 5 o’clock news is in second place and suggests he sell his looks and six-pack if necessary to garner the viewers. Shin asks if she wants him to take off his shirt? The chairman asks if he has a six pack? Shin asks if that is why she replaced him with a kid who can’t even correct pronounce words. The chairman says he’s a looker and his mistakes are cute. The Chairman offers to tell Shin the real reason he can’t be a news anchor but we don’t hear what she says.
Mi Rae goes to work late and there is a customer wanting her to sing. She sings, then chews him out, and then quits her job. I love it when she actually curses at him before hanging up. Her manager asks what she plans to do at 32 years old and Mi Rae shows him the book on learning to be a screenwriter. Future Mi Rae hears that Mi Rae quit but is shocked that she wants to be a television show screenwriter.
Shin leaves the Chairman’s office and runs into Se Joo, who introduces himself as the newest VJ to join his team. Shin worries about Se Joo being up here and tells the Chairman assistants that this kid is new and is lost so don’t punish him. He takes Se Joo along as he heads downstairs.
Shin walks through the production floor and stops everyone from goofing around or doing other things. He introduces Se Joo to the three production teams, each in charge of two days of the week. Se Joo introduces himself to everyone. Shin tells Producer Na to move the production meeting to later in the day so he can attend. Producer Na is annoyed that Shin as the MC even wants to be involved in production meetings.
The Morning Show team sits down for a production meeting and Shin announces that he wants to garner 20% ratings. Everyone thinks it’s ridiculous, but Shin explains that he initially wanted to say 15% but his pride wouldn’t let him so 20% is the show’s goal. Shin wants to a serious topic like poverty despite his writer saying the 6 am show, no one wants to hear about national poverty. Se Joo says it’s about running a business and how to sell a product. Shin chastising him for being so mercenary while Se Joo counters back that a show isn’t art and needs to have a profit. Shin leaves the meeting, but not before saying that Se Joo needs to be sent away because Shin doesn’t like him. Se Joo can be sent to the cafeteria or wherever that he can go make money. Heh.
Mi Rae is at an employment agency and hears that the resume submission process has ended for this cycle. She ignores a text from future Mi Rae asking if she really wants to be a show screenwriter. Mi Rae goes to a café to sit down and study for the next test date.
The alarm goes off at 3 am and Shin wakes up. He immediately grabs a dictionary to start reading it and practice his diction. Man, this guy is intense.
Mi Rae drives home and is on the phone with future Mi Rae, who is trying to get her not to go to YBS studios. Mi Rae doesn’t understand why not, she’s not interested in being a civil servant and this is what she is really interested in. Future Mi Rae says she can’t go to YBS because “that guy” is there. Because of that guy, Mi Rae will lose the person she loves. Mi Rae says not to worry, her oppa works at YBS and she would never go there anyways.
Mi Rae is driving and makes a turn and we see Shin’s car also turning onto the same street. Their cars collide and Mi Rae takes off her ear phones and goes outside to check.
Shin also gets out and can’t believe it’s the second time this is happening this month. He starts cursing and Mi Rae sees the YBS sign on his dash and asks if he works there? Shin says he is MC Kim Shin and says that he works there, what does she want to do about it? Should he be polite after getting in a car accident just because he’s an MC?
Future Mi Rae keeps talking on the phone to tell Mi Rae that she needs to avoid YBS because there is an ill-fate there. But ill-fate is still fate, and people who are destined to meet will still meet. Future Mi Rae says this is why fate is so scary, and we see Mi Rae and Shin staring angrily at each other.
Thoughts of Mine:
This was one of the best rom-com first episodes I’ve watched in a good long while. The ending scene was absolutely perfect in both the execution and the importance. I love how the drama wait until the very end of the episode for Mi Rae and Shin to meet, made all the more thrilling because we know that future Mi Rae has already thwarted their original fated car accident meeting on the bridge. The way Shin and Mi Rae was shooting daggers at each other is the very rom-com staple of the hated first meeting that I love when executed by two people who have chemistry galore. Lee Dong Gun and Yoon Eun Hye are as comfortable in front of the camera as two seasoned actors can be, but their first scene sold me on how well their acting styles spark right off the bat. What’s funny is that Mi Rae and Shin individually already give off vibes that they would be attracted to each other. Their go-getter attitude when each had decided on something, their lack of fear in bucking norms, and their hilarious predilection for cursing. I love that, this professional news anchor who gives his emotions free reign when he’s off the job. When Mi Rae similarly chewed out that horrible phone customer who kept making her sing, I was so ready to high five her for that little victory even knowing she’s got a long ways to go in her quest to make a better future for herself.
I quite like second leads Se Joo and Yoo Kyung as well, he’s a smart and hard working chaebol heir who wants to earn his inheritance right through experience and skill and she’s a pretty and charming reporter who I can see having all the boys eating out of the palm of her hand. Setting aside the mystery of why future Mi Rae wants to keep Mi Rae away from Shin and push her into Se Joo arms, I’m sure she has a good reason but I’m annoyed she actively ruined Se Joo and Yoo Kyung’s first meeting as well. To know those two fall in love and now future Mi Rae has meddled annoys me, because future Mi Rae can change her own future but she shouldn’t be meddling with others. Especially not a couple that appear to be happily in love down the road. Unless the reason for future Mi Rae’s trying to change the future involves Se Joo and Yoo Kyung as well, which would make her actions a lot more interesting and understandable. So far Jung Yong Hwa doesn’t annoy me when he shows up, which is as high as compliment as I can give him since he has basically not learned much from his last acting foray. He still lapses into facial paralysis acting, but it’s infrequent and he’s got a good character and manages to occasional drop moments of decent animation. He’s especially better whenever he’s around Shin, which leads me to believe he’s learning on the job from watching Lee Dong Gun bring forth Shin as effortlessly as breathing.
I wonder if the drama will keep doling out the time-travel reason and drag it out until the end, or reveal it to Mi Rae or the audience early on so that we can all decide if it really is necessary for Mi Rae to fall for Se Joo and avoid Kim Shin? So far Choi Myung Gil is doing an amazing job of selling future Mi Rae, her demeanor and attitude so different than present Mi Rae yet I glimpse the same fire inside of her that ties the two Mi Raes together. I want this drama to make it a genuine Sophie’s Choice for present Mi Rae on which guy she picks, and not some idiocy on the part of future Mi Rae that can be resolved by an easy out. I can believe that Mi Rae can have feelings for the sincere and decent Se Joo once future Mi Rae pushes her to pick him, but it’s clear that even future Mi Rae acknowledges that Mi Rae’s fate with Shin is strong indeed and it would be even more interesting to watch them fall for each other while getting off on the wrong foot. So far MHIYD has a funny and lovely charm wrapped about a substantively interesting storyline.