Thursday, August 30, 2012

To the Beautiful You: Episode 4 Recap

We get a little more of the initial setup in this episode, so that by next week we can get into the real meat of the plot. I'm okay with that, because there were still things happening in this episode that needed to happen in order for us to move along, but beyond that, there was a lot of filler material as well.

Watch TTBY Episode 4 on DramaFever!

Episode 4 Recap
Tae-joon wanders around at the pension looking for Jae-hee and Mega Creeper, neither of whom are anywhere to be found. He asks Seung-ri's mom about it and she mentions that she hasn't seen them and that the car is gone too. This sets off a bell in Tae-joon's head and he makes a break for it on one of the pension's bikes to look for Jae-hee.

Meanwhile, in the car with Mega Creeper, Jae-hee realizes she should probably call Tae-joon to ask his shoe size (he asked her to buy him new flip flops). She asks Mega Creeper for his cell phone, but he nervously fibs that he forgot to bring it. Unfortunately for him, his phone is sitting in the cup holder on the dash, and Jae-hee picks it up to call Tae-joon.

Frantic, Tae-joon asks her where she is but before she can give him all the details, Mega Creeper snatches the phone out of her hands. Jae-hee finally clues in to the fact that something is definitely awry with this guy, and eyes him wearily. He's not totally inept, however, and  has the sense to lock the doors so she can't even get out.

He drives them to an abandoned house or pier or something, and drags her out. She tries to fight him off to the best of her abilities, and Mega Creeper finally loses it. He hits her across the face, and then leans over over, ready to pounce again, telling her to go ahead and scream for help... which is when Tae-joon finds them. He takes care of Mega Creeper with a few well-placed, overly-stylized kicks, and Mega Creeper runs off. In his haste to leave, he runs over (and subsequently breaks) the bike that Tae-joon had ridden over.

Tae-joon apologizes to Jae-hee for being so late and pulls her into a hug. With the bike broken and no other way to get home, Tae-joon bends down and offers to piggyback Jae-hee when he realizes she's hurt. My God, will this girl even be able to walk by the end of the series? I'm losing count of the number of times she's been injured. And since when did Tae-joon get so chivalrous? He carries her for a while, until it gets dark, and then ends up falling and they have to stop for a little bit.

They take a seat by the roadside to talk, Jae-hee asking him why he ever decided to start high jumping. When Tae-joon replies that it's something that just happened, Jae-hee tells him that's not a suitable enough answer. He explains that he picked high jumping because it's a sport in which he doesn't have to get dirty. There's not sweating involved, no sand or dirt. He asks her if she was born in America and Jae-hee replies that no, actually, she'd gone there with her mother in elementary school. Her father had passed away and her mother had remarried. Tae-joon concedes that it must have been very hard on her. She tells him it was fine--thanks to him.

She wants to know what it feels like when he soars through the air while he's jumping. Tae-joon recalls a memory of when his mother asked him a similar question. He'd told her it felt like he was flying--like he could almost touch the sky. Back when his mother was still alive, he'd jumped because it had made her happy.

Meanwhile, everyone back at the pension starts to worry about Tae-joon and Jae-hee's whereabouts, and Doc suggests they go looking in the nearby area. Eventually, Eun-gyul and Han-na run into Jae-hee and Tae-joon in the woods and they all head back to the pension.

Doc wraps up Jae-hee's ankle, and when asked what happened, Tae-joon jumps in to explain that he just got into a fight with Mega Creeper (whose name is Chang-hyun). The group breaks up, and Jae-hee lays on the bed in their room, understandably upset. Eun-gyul comes in and tries to cheer her up with a song. From outside, Tae-joon peers in, holding a plate full of sandwiches for Jae-hee. He walks off, dejected.

Everyone gets ready to leave the next morning. Doc's nowhere to be found, but that's because he left early to attend a seminar back in the city. Han-na speaks to Jae-hee alone, telling her there's something about Jae-he that just inherently bothers her. She doesn't know what it is, but her woman's instincts are buzzing like crazy. She warns Jae-hee to be a bit more careful in the future.

On the way home, Jae-hee borrows Tae-joon's tablet to check her email and understandably freaks out when she finds one from her brother, who wants to see her that week.

Manager Jang has filled up Tae-joon's schedule with multiple CFs, but wonders whether they should move up his retirement since he doesn't plan on jumping anymore. Back at the dorm, Jae-hee reads her through her brother's email, and finds out that he's in the country to give a seminar and wants to check in with her and see how she's doing.

There's a funny moment at one of Tae-joon's CF shoots where the director of the commercial gets frustrated by Tae-joon's lack of enthusiasm and starts to tell him off. So then, the school's dean/principle intervenes, telling the director he should treat Genie's star athlete better. At the school, Tae-joon has tons of fans and he's considered their Jang Dong-gun or Won Bin, so the director had better get his act together. I'm not sure if it was supposed to, but the scene definitely gave me Secret Garden flashbacks, haha.

Jae-hee wonders how in the world she'll be able to pull off fooling him. Eventually, she ends up stealing Han-na's uniform and wig from the CF shoot (which is being held on campus) and waits over at the girls' school for her brother (whose name is Daniel Dawson) to come pick her up.

Back at Genie, Hyun-jae spends some time in the gym, training with Coach Baek. Baek sets Hyun-jae's high jump crossbar at 2m 30cm, which is Tae-joon's record, and tells Hyun-jae to start getting the feel for it early. Hyun-jae jumps, but doesn't clear it and gets frustrated at himself.

He takes her out shopping and buys her a cellphone and clothes, and then mentions that they're in luck today, since Jae-hee's idol, Kang Tae-joon, is at the mall signing autographs. In spite of her protests, Daniel drags Jae-hee out to the signing. Jae-hee tries her best to keep her face hidden in front of Tae-joon, and when he asks for a name, she tells him, "Goo-jil," which is his nickname for her. Han-na (who's also there) stops her before she can leave, noting that the girl looks incredibly familiar. Tae-joon vouches for Jae-hee, saying it's probably just because she's wearing their school uniform and Han-na's probably seen her on campus or something.

I think that at this point, Tae-joon at least senses that there's something off, from the look on his face when Jae-hee walks away. Especially since she used the name Goo-jil.

Meanwhile, back at school, Eun-gyul looks through his pictures from the pension, smiling when he stops at one of Jae-hee. When he realizes what he's doing, he shakes himself out of it and tosses his phone away. Even so, his curiosity is starting to get the better of him, and he decides to look up the word "gay" online. The first definition tells him that gay means "mirthful joy" and he scratches his head in confusion.

He imagines a life with Jae-hee, including their wedding and afterward. Some years in the future, they have a son together and the little boy comes running in to complain to dad that all his friends at school keep ragging on him for having two dads. Eun-gyul genially tells the boy that having two dads isn't anything to be ashamed about, that it's a happy thing. When the little boy then asks him which of his dads was the one to give birth to him, Eun-gyul gets stumped and doesn't know how to answer. HAHA. BEST. DAYDREAM. EVER.

By now, Manager Jang has decided that it's probably for the best if Tae-joon retires. She recounts that when she'd met him back when he was in middle school, she'd told him that the contract between them wasn't just a simple contract. She was taking him on as a member of her family. Now, she wants him to trust in her again and follow her direction one more time. He doesn't argue the fact at all, and heads to school to empty out his gym locker.

As he's clearing out his stuff, he happens upon a picture of him with his mom, and a book full of newspaper clippings and articles of him. Coach Baek wanders into the locker room, surprised that Tae-joon's really quitting. He tells Tae-joon that once he leaves, he won't be able to come back, so he'd better think things through carefully. Even so, Tae-joon unflinchingly bows out, saying that it's time for a better athlete to take his spot. He heads back to his dorm, too cranky to play along with Jae-hee when she tries to talk to him. Jae-hee stays up late that night on her computer, doing something.

The next day, she and Eun-gyul both get into trouble with Coach Baek during class (her for yawning, and him for getting a call on his phone during class) and get sent out into the hall. Eun-gyul gets another call from the mysterious caller, and this time he answers it to find out it's from a girl named Hong Da-hae. Coach Baek hears them talking out in the hall gets mad again. He banishes them to the track to run laps.

As they run, Eun-gyul asks Jae-hee what she was up so late doing that she's so tired now. Did she, perhaps, find a good video to watch? Wink wink. LOL. Jae-hee answers that it's not so much that she found a video--she was actually making one of her own. Eun-gyul stumbles over himself and gapes at her: "M-Making it? Your own video?" Jae-hee, of course, doesn't get his line of thinking and brushes it off as nothing important.

Turning the questioning around on him, she asks who the person that's been calling him is. Is it, perchance, his first love? Cue flashback to kindergarten and cute Mini Eun-gyul. We find out that he was a totally obnoxious little booger--the pull-your-pigtails-because-he-lurvessss-you kind, whose lady friend had moved away to America.

Cutting their conversation short, Jae-hee gets called in to the infirmary by the Doc, who needs her help translating some information about Yips Syndrome. He tells her that he met a doctor at the seminar he went to who is an expert on the condition. Cue Daniel.

He walks in, being invited there by Doc Jang, only to find Jae-hee, no longer in girl clothes and with shorn hair. He's understandably furious and takes her back to her dorm to talk to her. He confronts her about just what the hell she thinks she's doing--how could she ever assume that lying and entering a boys' school was an appropriate course of action? Did she do it for Kang Tae-joon? Considering that he might have Yips, Tae-joon's athletic career is as good as over. But what about her? Jae-hee still has her whole life in front of her, and it makes no sense for her to throw it away like this.

Jae-hee argues that she didn't do this just for Tae-joon, but if it hadn't been for Tae-joon, she'd never have been able to return to the world like she did. If it hadn't been for him, she never would have done it. But Daniel still isn't convinced: "How does it make any sense for a girl to live in a boys' dorm?"

He doesn't want to hear any more excuses and tells her he's going to take her back to the States with him when he leaves. There's nothing Jae-hee can really do to help Tae-joon, is there? Jae-hee doesn't have an answer for that.

Tae-joon stands outside in the corridor and hears the entire conversation. Later, he sits outside with Sang-chu, trying to make sense of everything he heard. He decides that he shouldn't hold onto Jae-hee and ruin her life. It's for the best if he sends her back to the U.S. where she belongs.

And so he does just that, telling Jae-hee that he can no longer live in the same room with her anymore, so she should pack her things and leave. Jae-hee brushes him off, thinking he's just being crabby as usual, but he tells her firmly that he's not joking. She keeps trying to do things for him, but he's already quit high jumping so there's nothing left for her to do. She should just accept that as a fact and leave.

Jae-hee argues that if it's because of his injury--Tae-joon bristles, telling her that's not the reason. He'd been considering quitting for a while. He storms out, leaving Jae-hee in tears.

Crying, Jae-hee ends up outside, which is where Eun-gyul finds her. He sits down next to her to find out what's wrong, and she mumbles that it's probably true that she's just a burden to other people. She always does things impulsively when people don't need help, and that's why everyone gets annoyed. She lays her head on his shoulder, and Eun-gyul tells her that's not true. He looks down at her for a moment, almost leaning in, and then realizes what he's doing and jumps up, excusing himself.

He goes out to the track to burn off some of his adrenaline, and then collapses, exhausted and breathing hard. After a moment, he pulls out his phone and calls up Da-hae, asking her if she wants to meet up.

Jae-hee heads back to the dorm and forlornly gets her things to leave. Tae-joon pretends to sleep, and listens as she apologizes for being such a nuisance. She tells him that despite the fact that their time together was short, she was happy.

She heads outside to leave.

Talk about leaving the cute behind. Was this episode angsty or what? Sure, it had its fair share of the jokey, but the funny parts felt forced in light of the other, heavier things that were happening.

Again, we have plot points being picked up and dropped without anything really coming of them (or, in this case, with them being made light of). This week, it was the bracelets that Jae-hee got from the festival in Taean. They popped up throughout the episode, but nothing was done with them in the end. She gave one to Tae-joon after he saved her and they ended up using them as flashlights to find their way in the dark. Not so romantic at all.

Now, I feel I should address the big pink elephant in the room. The opening scenes. I think what makes the squick factor so much higher in this version is that Mega Creeper seems a lot more creepy than the guy in the J-remake. He was dangerous, yes, but Mega Creeper has a predetermined plan; he knows exactly what he's doing, and he does it in a malicious way. With the guy in the J-remake, while he was creepy, he seemed a lot more bumbling than Chang-hyun here. The controversy here lies in the fact that none of the adults even got to know about the problem at hand. At least in the J-remake, Io-san (Nanba's mother) had the chance to tell off the creeper and let him know that what he'd done was illegal.

Despite all this, I think it also made more sense as a plot point in the J-remake (and subsequently could have been dropped here) because, by the time it happened, Sano already knew that Ashiya was a girl. Here, Tae-joon saves her despite not knowing she's a girl, which makes his motivation unclear and his actions difficult to understand.

I know I shouldn't compare the two series as much as I am, but I do it only insofar as things that make sense/don't make sense for each version. The two shows are clearly separate entities, not to be confused with each other at all, and I don't compare them for production value or acting reasons, but only for plot and story.

Let's talk about Tae-joon for a moment, shall we? I feel like I've been neglecting him lately. So, Minho has been consistent so far (acting-wise) but as his colleagues fall more and more comfortably into their designated roles, his awkwardness becomes more and more apparent. I give him a pass for just about everything since this is his first lead role ever, and in the face of Julian Kang's atrocious turn as Daniel, just about anyone would look good. Minho's not bad by any means, he's just been unable to keep pace with everyone else. That's not to say we're seeing high levels of acting all around... we're not. It's a teen drama with a cast of idols. No one expects there to be fantastic acting. Still... Minho's lagging a bit, which is a shame, since everyone else is falling into their niches.

Over all, I think the underlying problem with the series and what makes it  hard to connect with, is that most of the characters just lack motivation for their actions. If you asked the writer why Tae-joon saved Jae-hee from being splashed in the last episode, or why he ran out to save her in this episode, or why any of the characters are doing anything at all, I don't think he would have an answer. Things just happen to happen, not because there are reasons behind them, and that makes it harder to believe and to empathize with the characters.

One thing I do think they're nailing, however, is Eun-gyul and the "gay" issue. It's taken as a joke most of the time, and played out for funny more than moralistic, but there are definite undertones of seriousness and real conflict under all the comedy, and that is a huge deal. Eun-gyul is meant to be a funny character, and he generally is, but his confusion and doubts are very much real. While there are moments that are distinctly inserted to make light of the situation (like Eun-gyul daydreaming about being married to Jae-hee), there are also quieter moments where Eun-gyul faces the "problem" realistically, as when he goes to the soccer field and calls up his old girlfriend. I'm so thrilled with the way this issue has been portrayed, and even at the fact that it's being addressed at all, especially in a show targeted at such a young demographic.


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