Last week’s episodes of Heartstrings were all about Shin getting there and Kyu Won staying there. The there being “in like” with one another. It’s been fun watching Shin thwarting all of Kyu Won’s attempts to stay away from him, all the while pretending it was all perfectly natural and casual and not at all him seeking her out and wanting to spend time with her. The chase and budding of feelings added some warm, playful goofiness to Shin’s character and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Also, grandpa? Totally my hero. When he said Shin reminded him of himself when he was young, he wasn’t kidding. He takes the same pleasure in torturing people for his own amusement as his younger counterpart. Grandpa intentionally boring Shin and Suk Hyun to death? Absolutely priceless. Grandpa inviting himself as a traditional music consultant (once a week only because of his busy schedule, HA!) had me worrying I’d bust a rib laughing (instead of falling down a flight of stairs). But grandpa wanting to tag along on the field trip and then grumbling about how Suk Hyun didn’t get the message? Well, that had me wonder why THIS version of grandpa didn’t have more screen time so far in the drama because he is utterly hilarious. Oh, and he also asked Suk Hyun whether he’s seeing anybody. All hail grandpa, king of the awkward!
I was curious to see how they’d incorporate PSH’s accident into the show and I like that they chose to go with something as banal as tripping and falling down a few stairs and not something more contrived. I also like the fact that this accident made Kyu Won a little fragile – physically, which gave Shin a chance to be all manly and protective of her while her spirit and spunky disposition remained more or less intact.
When last week’s episode ended, I thought Kyu Won would leave with the director, letting Shin steam in his own (bitter) stew for a while, but it seems like Shin was way ahead of me (us, them) and managed to get a ride from the director as well. HA! Gotta hand it to Shin, it was well played. That doesn’t save the trip home from a healthy dose of awkwardness, so much so that it even makes the director ask if anything is going on between them. On the other hand, the director is taking Kyu Won home at the cost of not making it in time to see a show with his ballerina girlfriend. Yes, that just screams healthy relationship, right?
When Kyu Won gets home, grandpa is shockingly calm and understanding, maybe because Kyu Won tells him from the start that she lost to someone better and also that she really wants to do the show, promising that she will practice the gayageum extra hard from now on if he just lets her. Grandpa’s reply is asking for the director’s phone number. I have to say, I think grandpa is a little intrigued by this whole show thing, considering that after the way he’s been portrayed so far, no amount of begging would have sufficed if there wasn’t something in it for him.
The director asks the ballerina (I think I will call this couple Direina, mostly because naming it Dire-ballerina would defy the rules of couple name amalgamation, much as I would like it) why she supports Hee Joo so much, calling the latter a doll who lacks the talent to move people. Ouch. Later in the episode, he goes further and says Yoon Soo is supporting Hee Joo because she reminds her of her younger self. Double ouch, especially in light of the ballerina’s earlier confession to the drama professor – that what she had always wanted was to be acknowledged by the director. I know it’s wrong to hit someone when they’re down (and the point that she is down has been made ad nauseam throughout the show) but that felt oh, soooo good.
Back at his house, Shin’s sister asks him about the pumpkin’s audition and how it went, and Shin considerately tells her not to call Kyu Won a pumpkin anymore, to the brat’s dissatisfaction. He goes further and waits for Kyu Won in front of her house the next day, checking to see if everything had gone well with grumpy gramps the previous evening. Kyu Won assures him things were fine and they both head to school, but when Kyu Won asks him why he is following her, he snaps back into “I’m so cool” mode and says he left his bike at school because of her. Yes, because she forced you to catch a ride home with the director. Shin darling, if you’re going to keep up with the cool act much longer, you should probably restock that transparent excuses supply.
He keeps following her at the bus stop and around the school, making her extremely relieved when their roads finally separate. Turns out Shin didn’t even have to go to school that day. But, you know, he’s SO not into her.
Elsewhere, the bespectacled conspirator’s minions (now there are two of them) are talking about Kyu Won being featured in the newspaper and singing her praises. Wow, that can’t feel good, having the apple of yer eye seen as rotten by everybody else, even your own acolytes. Instead of giving him a reality check, this only motivates the drama professor further, making him go to Yoon Soo to ask her to join his team.
Hee Joo takes a chance to ask Kyu Won to withdraw from the show now that she hasn’t been cast as the lead because her presence apparently bothers the great diva. Of course, we all know why Kyu Won’s presence bothers Hee Joo but instead of earning her some sympathy points, that makes it all the more irritating. I really don’t think the whole “I’m an aggressive bitch because I’m insecure” thing is in any way redeeming, if anything, it’s the worst possible way to deal with her insecurities.
Kyu Won takes it seriously though and goes to ask the director to let her rehearse with the musicians instead of the actors, which pisses the director off, more or less justifiably. What I LOVE about this scene is that before Kyu Won enters, Ki Young is rehearsing and having trouble finding the right emotion. He reaches out with his hand and at that very moment the door opens behind him and Kyu Won walks in. I don’t know if they intended it to be symbolic like that but I thought it was rather neat. On the other hand, while I do want Kyu Won and Ki Young to get closer and develop warmer feelings, I’m thinking that if they were going to go that way, they might have done it already. Meaning that if they don’t start getting closer by next episode, it’s either not going to happen or will have no credibility when it does.
Hee Joo learns that a lot of people, including the journalists present at the audition don’t think she was the best person to get the part. The Scene Stealers wait for her at school and make it a point of reading one of those articles loudly so she can hear it. I’m not sure about everybody else, but as far as the Scene Stealers are concerned, I’m pretty sure if Kyu Won had gotten the part, they would have said Hee Joo had been better because that’s pretty much how they operate. Regardless, Hee Joo runs off crying and Joon Hee runs after her to console her. I get it, he likes her, though heaven help me, I still don’t know why, and she is warming up to him or at least is hurt enough to accept his help, but now that the parallel between Hee Joo and the ballerina has been clearly drawn, I can’t help but see a trainwreck in the making whenever I Hee Joo and Joon Hee together. I mean look at how Direina are faring. She feels unappreciated and insecure and he’s crushing on a (livelier and 1000 times better for him) student. So Joon Hee who is all heart and loves food with the emotionless doll with an eating disorder? I get that opposites attract but… I just want to reach through the screen and slap some sense into that little drummer. And then maybe point him towards Bo Oon, who, by the way, is ADORABLE.
The girls have to perform in a show for the elderly, which causes Kyu Won to tell Shin she won’t be able to work with him for the day. Shin, of course, gets all flustered (I love it) and storms off. But then he finds out he gets to go too, as suggested by his music teacher, to learn about traditional music and carry the girls’ instruments – HA! (is she trying to play matchmaker for Shin and Kyu Won by the way, or just likes the mixture of modern and traditional music? Either way, mission accomplished). The event is a mix of awkward and weird from a viewer’s standpoint, but the girls seem to be having fun and so does the audience, and even Shin seems to be quite taken with what is going on, though that’s mostly to Kyu Won’s credit. They get accosted by senior citizens and coerced into traditional dancing. Watching Shin’s awkward/sour/forced expression here is priceless. What? Am I praising Jung Yong Hwa’s acting and loving a scene based on his performance? Well, stranger things have happened. To the boy’s credit, his acting has been considerably improving throughout the show and more so these past episodes. Might it be because of the director change?
At the post-performance party, Kyu Won drinks a tad too much, gets an offer to marry a 12-year old, which she only half-way declines, falls asleep on the stairs and on Shin’s shoulder (which he doesn’t mind at all) and ends up piggybacked home by the same Shin. This offers the opportunity for the traditional drunken piggyback ride love confession/cursing of the object of one’s affections that is present in like every drama ever but still manages to somehow remain cute.
The next day, he waits for her again in front of her house, to make sure she’s okay and to let her know he had to wear three patches to treat his back, sore from carrying her. He walks away with a satisfied grin as she is left feeling embarrassed.
The drama professor meets with Hee Joo’s mother to discuss their evil plan. Mommy’s plan seems to have changed. She now deems the formation of the two teams useless, since all the focus is on Kyu Won anyway, and she asks the professor to get rid of Kyu Won if he cares about his job. This just goes to show that no matter how bad a baddie is, there will always be a badder badass just waiting to out-bad them. The plot, it thickens!
Shin asks Kyu Won to summarize all the traditional music books she had piled on him claiming he couldn’t understand them even after reading them (revenge reversed?). She claims it’s impossible but he pulls the “I piggybacked you home when you were drunk and THAT seemed impossible” card so she can’t not accept. Fair enough, Shin, my dear, but then, why were you smiling as you were carrying her, eh?
They are both early for practice (or all the rest are late) and he takes the opportunity to ask her about the gayageum. She starts explaining and it’s a really great moment because it kind of encompasses what this show or at least the OTP is all about, two young people, both passionate about music being inspired by one another and learning from one another. The moment is cut short by the arrival of the rest of the gang and the groups start playing. It’s the fusion version of Habanera that we’ve heard in the beginning of the series, and I find it a nice touch that back then they were singing it separately, showing us their potential if they joined forces and now they are actually singing it together. It’s got a nice, full circle feeling to it. Unknown to them, grandpa and the director are watching, which I find hilarious, and grandpa already picks up something he’d like to improve. He then talks to the director, telling him his life story/bragging about his greatness/applying boredom torture. Grandpa also offers to assist the kids in arranging the song and mixing up the modern and traditional instruments. Thinking about the comedic potential of unleashing grandpa onto our gang is making me giddy with anticipation.
While the director and grandpa talk, the kids are surprise-celebrating Kyu Won’s birthday. All except for Shin who is standing on the side, wearing poopy-pants face. When he finally decides to congratulate her on her birthday, they are already on their way out and she is standing at the top of the stairs. His happy birthday literally knocks her off her feet, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs. Well, not really, she actually stumbles all on her own, but you know. She ends up in the hospital with a cracked rib and a twisted ankle.
Funnily enough, within a matter or days both Shin and the director have been in Kyu Won’s room, first Shin when he deposited her drunken self there after piggybacking her home and now the director who is helping grandpa pack her bags for the hospital stay. The director takes a peek around at all her diplomas and stops to look at a goofy picture of Kyu Won, which makes him smile. Why don’t you smile like that for your ballerina, eh? EH? It’s okay, you don’t have to answer that.
The hospital stay gives the two guys a chance to hover over Kyu Won and neither mind very much. When it’s time to see who gets to keep watch over night, both try to push each other out. The director tells Shin pretty soon it will be too late for him to take the bus (in other words, go home you little car-less kid) but in the end the dispute is resolved with both guys getting kicked out of the ward by a nurse. See? This is why in situations like this, you lie and say you are in fact related to the patient. Pah.
The two guys talk outside about Kyu Won and the show, and the director says Kyu Won will heal fast because she is very strong, something Shin doesn’t agree with and replies that she might not be as strong as the director thinks. I love that we get to see a crack in the director’s shell of perfection this episode. Does this make me love him less? No way. So far we have seen that he is ambitious and driven but now we get clued in on the fact that his focus makes him oblivious to some of the feelings of the women in his life. It happened with the ballerina and it is happening with Kyu Won. Shin on the other hand seems very receptive to that very fragility the director seems unable to detect. Guess being the only guy in a family of women has its perks.
The next day, mr. Smooth Operator, aka Shin visits Kyu Won in the hospital. If we needed more proof that he is in love, just check out that outfit. Nobody in his right mind would think those sneakers and that top make a good match.
However, prince charming is still trying to convince people he is still mr. Cool, so he claims he came by the hospital to be tutored on traditional music. Yeah, that’s what they call it these days. He claims not to get it so Kyu Won explains over and over again, to her exasperation and his sadistic delight. Eventually he falls asleep, but his study nap is interrupted by the arrival of the rest of the gang. Everyone goes to the hospital balcony to light firecrackers but the fun is interrupted by a meddlesome security guard who causes everyone to scamper off. Shin thinks fast on his feet and grabs Kyu Won’s chair, wheeling her to safety.
When it comes to love confessions, however, Shin needs some lessons from the director. He tells Kyu Won he doesn’t want her to stop liking him, which she takes the entirely wrong way. Can you blame the girl? I mean it was just two episodes ago that she saw you bawling your eyes out in the arms of the woman you had been chasing like mad for ages. Then, when she asks if you like her, you stay quiet. Sorry, narcissistic prince, you got what was coming to you.
Kyu Won is left fuming at the hospital while Shin is taking another one of his bike rides of pain, thinking about what happened to him. Obviously, the rejection didn’t sit well with him. So much for the perks of playin’ it cool. He runs home to his sister and asks her what was wrong with his confession. Well, he doesn’t use these exact words but that’s the gist of it. The brat sister makes herself useful again, filling him in on the fact that his way? SO not the right way. He tries to deny his question is about him, but she snaps back saying that if it wasn’t about him, why’d he ask? She’s got a point there, my friend.
Back at the hospital, Kyu Won is thinking about what Shin said, suspecting he said it in order to get her to be his slave again. Suk Hyun interrupts her monologue, having come to offer her to be the lead’s understudy in the show. He also warns her not to try harming Hee Joo the day of the performance just to become the lead. Is it okay that I want Suk Hyun to be the one she ends up with? I will have my wee heart broken but… but… so cute… so sweet… so talented… such awesome playful chemistry. How can I not love these two together, HOW?! He also tells her about the MT they are planning on organizing and tells her she can’t go with all her injuries anyway, as she pouts and my heart bursts with more love for the adorableness that is Suk Hyun.
And then, then, to explain to the cast what it’s like to convey emotion through a song, as if wanting to seal me into fandom forever, he starts to sing. I don’t know what to do, ask him to stop, beg him for more or, you know, book a flight to Korea and stalk the living daylights out of him, but as I ponder this great existential question, and Shin ponders his feelings for Kyu Won, the focus of the show moves to Hee Joo, and I live to ponder another day.
Hee Joo is dealing more and more with the fact that as an actress, she can’t exactly make people connect with her in any way, and it becomes more obvious when the director singles her out during practice. The director and Hee Joo have a discussion where he advises her to open up and feel with her heart. Problem? Yes.
Hee Joo asks Ki Young to help her convey emotion on stage, which is akin to Pinocchio asking to become a real boy, except the task of making her emote feels even more daunting. Ki Young, for some unknown reason, or, as he puts it, because they have to act together, accepts. I wonder how things will evolve from here with these two. For some reason I’m starting to suspect that neither Hee Joo or Ki Young will be able to perform and that Kyu Won and Shin will have to take the stage.
Shin visits Kyu Won at the hospital and under the pretense of tutoring, he tries to right his wrongs. Kyu Won however, doesn’t give an inch so he responds in the only logical way (if you’re in 3rd grade), by saying that he doesn’t want her to like him anyway, or something equally mature.
Kyu Won comes home from the hospital, accompanied by her father and grandfather. Naturally, they run into Shin, but since they aren’t aware of the story of the parental entanglement, the levels of awkwardness are tolerable.
Except when they are all preparing to go their merry ways, grandpa interjects and asks that he enlighten Shin in the ways of the gugak. Of course, Shin jumps at the chance, like a little cartoon mouse jumping at the piece of cheese the old, sneaky cat has laid out. Countless tales of yore and considerable feeling-loss in his limbs later, he comes to regret his decision. Kyu Won is very amused at how things have turned out but eventually decides to come to his rescue, not without some satisfaction. On his way out, he asks if she is joining them for the MT and she replies she probably won’t be able to, aware that she will in fact be going. Haha, I love role reversal.
Apparently grandpa’s lecture was of some use, because Shin goes home smiling and is more willing than ever to learn about gugak. I’m sure that has more to do with Kyu Won than grandpa, but still, thumbs up to boredom techniques.
Back at Kyu Won’s, she is thinking about Shin too, quite resentfully, which leads her to punch her stuffed animal calling it by Shin’s name. Why is it that when someone beats up a huge toy called Lee Shin, I automatically think about Goong?
The next day, everyone’s preparing to go on the MT, including grandpa. He calls Suk Hyun to have himself invited but is disappointed by the director’s denseness in perceiving the message, so much so that gramps is considering taking him off the potential son-in-law list. How much do I love the fact that gramps wants to get involved in the kids’ activities? Much!
The bus seating situation gives way to another forced Shin-Kyu Won pairing, because, incidentally, the only open seat Shin could find was next to her. He assures her he’s as displeased about it as she is, though. Of course you are. I’m sure you are both heartbroken on the inside.
The drama professor keeps adding to his plan to bring Suk Hyun down, following the old adage “If you can’t beat them, slander them”. His newest idea? Digging up dirt from his time on Broadway. The funny thing (or the oh, so coincidental thing) is that something very similar to what is happening now happened back on Broadway as well, raising some questions about the director’s integrity. Or, not really because frustrato-man knows better but it does give him a good opportunity to cast a bad light on the director, Kyu Won and everyone staying in his and Hee Joo’s path. I swear, this becoming more and more like a match between mediocre wannabees and talented people who let the former get away with too much stuff. Or if you really want to go crazy with the comparisons, and let’s face it, who doesn’t, it’s like a watered down version of Amadeus with Salieri as the bespectacled conspirator and Suk Hyun as Mozart, only without the debilitating illness and the dirt poverty, and keeping in mind that this IS just a school play.
The field trip is cause for more cute banter between Shin and Kyu Won and for some less interesting developments between Hee Joo and Joon Hee.
Shin and Kyu Won get sent to buy watermelon, which causes them to become separated, Shin to get really worried about her and in turn act in way that Kyu Won assumes to be angry but Yoon Soo guesses to be concerned. I’m not sure whether or not she can guess her own boyfriend was acting rather worried too, but let’s not dwell on that.
I’m sure the whole MT deal would have been more interesting had PSH not injured herself but it was still a great change from the usual set-ups while maintaining things cute and adorable as ever. I actually loved the field trip idea because it’s such a youthful/college thing to do and I think it was just another element this show got right in terms of setup and atmosphere.
When the girls are about to perform, Shin stops Kyu Won and tells everyone that she’s in too much pain to go on. They go to the back of the room and sit there quietly, stealing a glance or two at one another. This might be my favorite scene of the episode because it’s somehow quiet in an episode with a lot of dialogue, a lot of banter hiding the real emotions. This time belongs to the two of them and it serves to let whatever they are truly feeling come to light. Shin is becoming increasingly aware of the nature of his feelings for Kyu Won, and Kyu Won, in turn, is beginning to accept the fact that Shin might not just be playing with her heart and that he might have genuine feelings for her. *heart*
Shin’s feelings are made even more clear when he is asked to perform and he chooses “Lucky”. The lyrics say it all and Yong Hwa’s voice fits the song like a charm. I really wish he did a full cover of the song instead of just the chorus but I’ll take whatever I can get.
The end of the episode finds Shin and Kyu Won unable to sleep and both grabbing some fresh air outside. Shin tries his luck again with his earlier confession, now with the help of a hypothetical wish upon a star. He repeats that he wishes she wouldn’t stop liking him, but this time he takes her hand before uttering the words, which pretty much underlines the idea that it’s all in the delivery.
I can’t wait for Wednesday because the preview shows they will go out on a date and start holding hands. EEEEP!