Wooooooo. We did it! We made it to the end without tearing our eyes out! That probably had a lot to do with all the pretty boys, but To the Beautiful You certainly proved to be this year's token "Little Drama that Thought it Could but Really Couldn't." Not a great place to be, but at least it looked nice, right? And it didn't make me as angry as Big, which is definitely saying something.
Watch TTBY Episode 16 on DramaFever!
Episode 16 Recap
It's the morning before the competition, and Jae-hee pulls a reluctant Tae-joon out of bed and then makes him breakfast. After this, he heads out for a run, running into Hyun-jae outside.
The boys race each other and then go to the gym for training, where Tae-joon gives Hyun-jae some pointers about his jumping. As they talk, Tae-joon takes note of Hyun-jae's old jumping shoes, all sorts of worn out and torn up.
Meanwhile, Jae-hee pays Dr. Jang a visit to ask about how to give Tae-joon a leg massage. It takes some convincing, but Doc eventually gives in and starts to teach her about the muscles in the leg. When asked whether her chest bindings are still giving her issue, Jae-hee assures him she's gotten used to it by now.
Han-na gets released from the hospital and Seung-ri pays her another visit. She asks him to tell her something interesting, so Seung-ri relays the rumor about there being a girl at Genie. Han-na perks up at this and asks Seung-ri how he'll figure out whether the rumor's true or not.
Seung-ri shrugs, and explains that he'll probably just make the guys in his dorm train shirtless. That way, the girl is sure to be exposed. Han-na bursts out that he can't do that--and then covers quickly by going on to say that the boys could catch cold running around shirtless.
Seung-ri misinterprets her exclamation as concern for him, and smiles at the thought. Aw. He goes through another gag in an effort to make her laugh, and finds his efforts are successful this time around as Han-na bursts out laughing.
Back at school, Jae-hee overhears some guys talking about the girl rumor and becomes uncomfortable. Tae-joon tells her not to worry, because he'll protect her from anything. Sweet. The conversation turns to Eun-gyul, and Jae-hee admits they haven't hung out in a while, and she hasn't been in touch with him either.
Tae-joon figures Eun-gyul would put on a happy face regardless of what's going on and advises her to leave things as they are.
Later, Eun-gyul himself asks Jae-hee to accompany him shoe shopping. Tae-joon invites himself along for the trip, partly because he doesn't want his lady love spending the afternoon in the company of another man, but he's also got ulterior motives--he wants to buy Hyun-jae a new pair of shoes to replace his ripped up pair.
Hilariously, as Jae-hee and Tae-joon put their heads together to discuss a pair of jumping shoes, Eun-gyul hops right in between them to break up their little party. The hijinks continue as, while they're eating ddukboki, Puppy realizes he and Jae-hee are both wearing the couple shirts he'd bought a while back. This naturally makes Tae-joon cranky, and he excuses himself in the middle of dinner.
Turns out, he felt a little left out of the loop, because he presents Jae-hee with a new bag to match his own when they return to school. Haha, couple backpacks, huh? Subtle. He tells her to use it everyday, and she promises she will.
He gets ready to head to bed after this, which is when Jae-hee offers to give him a leg massage. He tells her it's fine--she really doesn't have to, but she pushes him onto the bed anyway. As she starts to massage his legs, he looks up at her with a horrified expression, his heart beating a mile a minute, until he finally can't take it anymore and sits up.
Tae-joon tells her firmly that while they're in the dorm room, Jae-hee's to stay at least one meter away from him at all times. She refuses, but he won't budge. He excuses himself and leaves the room.
Hilariously, the next morning when Doc walks into the infirmary, he finds Tae-joon sleeping on one of the patient beds. Tae-joon defends himself by saying it's more comfortable there. UH HUH. Jae-hee questions him about his whereabouts when he returns to the dorm room, as a good girlfriend should. Haha.
Tae-joon and Hyun-jae have another nice moment in the locker room later that day. Hyun-jae's pretty confident that the prodigy jumper everyone's been talking about is no match for him, and that TJ will definitely beat him and make it to the Olympics.
Tae-joon disagrees a little, telling him they'll go to the Olympics together, since he has no intention of going alone. He presents Hyun-jae with the new shoes, and Hyun-jae stares at him, touched at the gesture.
It's the morning of Tae-joon's departure for the comp after this, and Jae-hee helps him pack his bag. She finds the shoelaces she'd given him already inside, and makes him promise to jump well. Tae-joon stands up to leave, and Jae-hee promises not to be late on competition day.
He walks out, but Jae-hee runs him down before he can make it out of the room and plants a surprise kiss on him, making him drop his bag in shock. She pulls back, citing the 1m rule, and Tae-joon turns to go again. Adorably, he runs back in a second later to grab his bag off the floor, stuttering for her not to be late. So awkwardly cute. Haha.
Outside, Teacher Lee presents Coach Baek with a container of food, blowing it off as leftovers. Even so, Baek is giddy at the thought that she might care after all and takes it happily. He suggests they carpool from now on, since he moved into her part of town last week because he wanted to carpool with her. Haha. Teacher Lee tries (and fails) to keep a smile off her face.
On the way out of the city, Tae-joon texts Eun-gyul asking him to keep an eye on Jae-hee. At the same time, he receives a message from Han-na, telling him she's headed to rehab, wishing him luck at his competition, and tacking on a question about whether Jae-hee's okay. He assures her Jae-hee's fine, and thanks her for worrying.
Meanwhile at Genie, our leading lady is suffering from some increased "breast strain" again, which is further irritated when Seung-ri pushes her too much at track practice. She collapses in the hall afterward, and when the boys go to unbutton her shirt to allow her to breathe a bit, they find her bindings, cluing them (and Seung-ri) in on who the real dorm traitor is.
Angry, Seung-ri texts Eun-gyul asking him whether he knew and Puppy sprints across campus to meet up with him. He admits he knew about Jae-hee, and when asked if anyone else knew, Eun-gyul gives up Tae-joon's name.
Seung-ri is rightfully very angry, and wonders whether Eun-gyul realizes this means they'll all be expelled. Eun-gyul replies that it doesn't matter. Seung-ri kicks a trashcan.
Jae-hee wakes up at the infirmary a little while later, and Doc tells her it's probably time to give up the charade. She's been at Genie long enough, and this wasn't her mistake to have made. Eun-gyul swings by the visit her, and Jae-hee cries, asking him over and over what she should do.
Seung-ri spends some time at the gym to cool off, and he thinks back to a conversation he had with Jae-hee. She'd made him promise not to involve Eun-gyul and Tae-joon, and had vowed to take full responsibility for her actions. Even in his anger, Seung-ri had managed to ask about her health, and all Jae-hee could manage to eek out was, "I'm sorry, Sunbae."
The news that Jae-hee's the girl spreads like wildfire through the school and eventually gets around to Young-man and Chul-soo. Jae-hee is ostracized from the other guys, and everyone stares at her as she walks through campus. But have no fear, Puppy is here!
Eun-gyul saves her from the stares of her classmates and drags Jae-hee back to the dorm room. He promises he won't let her leave like this.
Young-man and Chul-soo head over to the teachers' lounge/office, but Seung-ri runs up at the last minute, wishing to talk with them. He asks the pair of sunbaes to keep the Jae-hee thing a secret, offering to take responsibility for all of it himself. Since the problem arose in his dorm, he wants to see it through to the end.
When he returns to the dorms, Jae-hee's outside waiting for him. By this time, Seung-ri's anger has fizzled out, and he tells her he'll keep her identity a secret from the rest of the school. With a reassuring pat on the shoulder, he tells her not to worry and to get some rest instead.
Jae-hee pays Dr. Jang another visit to let him know she's decided to leave Genie. He tells her she should watch Tae-joon's comp before she goes, but she refuses, explaining she's going to head out after the first round ends because if she stayed to see it, she wouldn't be able to make herself leave. She begins to cry, and softening up for the first time, Doc puts an arm around her shoulder and tells her things will get better as time goes by.
Tae-joon calls her later while she's packing up her things and asks her why he hasn't been able to reach her all day. He tells her he misses her, and she half-heartedly banters back. Even so, that's enough to clue him into the cracks in her voice, and he asks whether there's something wrong.
Jae-hee assures him she's fine--it's just that Seung-ri pushed her around too much at practice, that's all. Just then, Coach Baek calls over to Tae-joon, and so he goes to hang up, promising to be up late so she should call him if she gets scared being alone. Jae-hee tells him to go to bed early and they hang up, but the tears keep falling even after she disconnects the call.
Later, she makes the walk of shame through the halls after turning in her transfer forms. The guys stare at her as she walks back to the dorms, but Eun-gyul manages to catch up with her again and pulls her outside. He wants to know whether it's true that she's leaving, and Jae-hee confirms his fears.
Eun-gyul tells her again that he won't let her leave like this--there has to be another way, and he'll do his best to find it. Jae-hee pulls him into a hug, and Eun-gyul protests that he just wants her to stay by his side. She can only apologize, and he walks away, frustrated.
At the competition, Tae-joon has a brilliant training session, and Coach Baek tells him and Hyun-jae to take a break and get some rest. It's as the boys are heading back to their rooms to do just that when Tae-joon spots Jae-hee.
She explains that she missed him, which is why she decided to pay a visit. Jae-hee tries to leave after this, because, you know, that's what she does, but TJ stops her, asking her to go somewhere with him.
The pair of them head out for a Last Supper type date, which involves romantic bike riding, hand holding, and spontaneous kisses by fountains, with Jae-hee wearing a "Someone kicked my puppy" expression on her face all the while.
They sit down on a park bench and, when TJ catches her staring at him, he teases her, wondering whether she finds him handsome. She replies (a little sadly) that there's no way to describe it--he's her miracle and every day spent with him is a miracle too. Tae-joon, genius that he is, senses the cracks in her voice, but when he asks her what's wrong, she answers with an evasive, "It's late and I have to get back" comment.
She rushes off on her bike, but he's quick to catch up, and plants a kiss.
They arrive at the bus stop, where he tells her to come early the next morning. Jae-hee promises, and then asks to shake his hand, telling him the equivalent of, "Be well" or "Take care of yourself," which, as TJ points out, is an odd comment if they're to see each other the next day.
Jae-hee shakes her head, brushing it off as nothing special. Honestly, she could paste a sign on her head with the words, "Sayonara, sucker! Here's to never seeing you again," and he'd still scratch his head in confusion. Talk about oblivious.
Anyway, Jae-hee can't seem to bring herself to leave, and turns back for a hug when the bus arrives. Tae-joon hugs her, surprised, and then pulls her away to ask (again) what's wrong. She explains that she hates parting with him. Aw. TJ assures her they'll meet again the next day, and Jae-hee finally gets on the bus.
It's D-Day the next morning, and we get a montage of memories as Jae-hee looks around the dorm room. She heads out after this, dragging her bag across campus on her way to the parking lot. As she's walking, Seung-ri calls out to her in his usual "Hey, Transfer Student!"
She stops and turns around to find a gaggle of guys from Dorm 2 standing behind Seung-ri. He calls her by name, finally, and then sticks out his hand for a shake, making Jae-hee promise not to forget them because they definitely won't forget her.
She searches around for Eun-gyul, who's conspicuously missing. The boys say goodbye, and Jae-hee bids them farewell with a smile on her face.
She continues on her trek to the parking lot, which I'm thinking must be a mile or two away, good gosh, when she hears Eun-gyul's characteristic, "Squishy!" He runs over to her with Sang-chu in tow.
Eun-gyul grumbles out that he wasn't going to come see her off. Jae-hee pulls him in for a hug and thanks him. Eun-gyul asks her whether she's really not going to see Tae-joon before she goes, and Jae-hee replies in the affirmative, explaining that it's just better this way.
Holding on to the urge to cry, Eun-gyul manages to joke that him being here isn't a sign of his forgiveness. He'll see her again and get his revenge. Jae-hee smiles: "I'll be waiting." She sticks around for a lingering second, and then finally walks off.
Eun-gyul waits until she's down the hill before he makes a call to Tae-joon (who's been waiting for a call from Jae-hee all morning). He explains that even though Jae-hee didn't want Tae-joon to know, Eun-gyul figured it would be best to tell him--Jae-hee left for America.
Without another word to anyone, Tae-joon makes a break for the locker room and begins packing up all his stuff. Hyun-jae barrels in after him, reminding him that it's just minutes before the beginning of the comp. But TJ's beyond hearing silly things like that, and continues trying to leave.
Hyun-jae grabs Tae-joon's bag, and out spills Jae-hee's diary--the one she'd been looking for the day before. Tae-joon opens the diary and finds all the records that Jae-hee had made of his jumps. Landing on the last page, he finds a drawing of him clearing the 2m 31cm mark.
Meanwhile, Jae-hee's on a bus headed to the airport. The passenger beside her is watching the competition on her phone and Jae-hee borrows an ear bud to listen in. Tae-joon's up for his next jump, and there's a close-up of him tying Jae-hee's red shoelace.
He readies himself for the jump, putting a hand to his heart as Jae-hee watches on in the bus. He runs up and flies over the pole, clearing it for a winning jump of 2m 31cm. Jae-hee can't help the happy tears that roll down her face as she exclaims ecstatically for his win.
Meanwhile, Tae-joon is assaulted on the field by the paparazzi and he manages to yell out to Jae-hee to wait for him. Wait for him, because he'll come to see her.
The screen fades to white and we find ourselves a year later in California. Jae-hee's back to being a girl, full-time, and she spends this particular afternoon walking her dog around the neighborhood. She heads home to find an email from Eun-gyul waiting for her--it's a video letter.
In the video, Eun-gyul explains that he hasn't been able to email her since he's been so busy with the National Team. He assures her they're all doing well--that Coach Baek and Teacher Lee are engaged to be married the following year, and Seung-ri's become a slave for Han-na. They're dating, but it's supposed to be a "secret relationship." In other news, Dr. Jang suddenly made the decision to move to Paris to study fashion and left Genie.
Eun-gyul finishes up with a request for Jae-hee to email often. Just as she thinks the video's over ("Huh? What about Tae-joon?"), Eun-gyul tacks on a passing comment that Tae-joon has decided to travel somewhere during the upcoming vacation--Jeju Island, or something like that. He bids Jae-hee goodbye and the video ends.
Jae-hee's one-track mind continues to muse about Tae-joon after this, as she wonders what he's been up to. She drops her diary and bends down to pick it up. A shadow falls over her as she does, and she glances up to find Tae-joon himself standing before her.
He grins down at her: "I told you I was going to come see you, didn't I?" Jae-hee stands up and TJ pulls her in for a hug.
Well, it only took a couple months, but here we are! Now for a short, sweet analysis, because there's no point in beating a dead horse, right?
It's not necessarily that the writer dropped the ball in the last episode so much as it is that he just had too many things to resolve and not enough time in which to do it all. There were a lot of threads that got dropped between Episode 15 and Episode 16: Tae-joon's big bad interview with Reporter Yang never had any repercussions with the media or Director Jang; Eun-gyul bought that hairpin for Jae-hee that never really amounted to anything; Jong-min and Director Jang, who were staple characters in the beginning, got written out of the story in favor of other side plots; and Tae-joon's rival for the national competition (that new high jumper that Baek was warning him about) was mentioned only as a passing reference in this episode which, again, begs the question of why it was included in the first place, other than to create empty dramatic tension. It's just that whole plot sense thing that the writer didn't seem to be familiar with, lol.
Tragically, the drama suffered from chronic under-utilization of its characters, with the most interesting ones of the lot getting the least amount of screen time. That's really a shame, since the source material afforded so many colorful (though admittedly 2D) personalities that the writer had a lot of leg room to create interesting side plots. Instead, everything about the side characters was either glossed over, forgotten, or altogether omitted.
Speaking of characters, let's talk about our leads for a second. I think Eun-gyul wins for most-developed character, and Lee Hyun-woo wins for best acting. Kim Ji-won held her own, but her character was so flat that she couldn't really show her talent. Minho was certainly more comfortable in the second half than he was at the outset, and Tae-joon was more likable in the latter half as well. As for Sulli, I commend her for making an easily unlikable character more endearing, though she left a lot to be desired (especially as the female lead).
I won't get into plot and plot sensibility because there really was none of that in this show, and talking about it will only serve to bring all its flaws to light. What the show did succeed in was beautiful lighting and cinematography, but as I said before, I'll attribute that (and its gorgeous scenery and sets) to SM's massive budget. The acting was really on the green side, but TTBY did what it set out to do--bring these kids into the acting arena through their own vehicle. I'm sure Lee Hyun-woo and Kim Ji-won might be wishing they'd never signed on, but it was cute while it lasted!
As a side note, I did say I'd get this recap out even if it killed me, so here you are! :)