Friday, August 31, 2012

To the Beautiful You: Episode 5 Recap

So, the cute comes back in full swing (thank goodness), but we have some plot regression that's starting to wear on my nerves a bit. This episode really made me wonder what the hell we're going to fill the next eleven episodes with, and whether we'll even make it or not. Still, we're leaving emo Tae-joon behind (albeit slowly) and he's starting to get back on his horse, which is good to see.

Watch TTBY Episode 5 on DramaFever!

Episode 5 Recap
So, Jae-hee walks out of the dorms, ready to leave for America and Tae-joon broods a bit at his desk. He looks at the light-up bracelet that she gave him, and then gets on his laptop, where a video pops up. It's addressed to "Coach Holten," the man whom Manager Jang wanted to train Tae-joon for the Olympics.

In the video, Jae-hee explains that when she was living in America, she'd been bullied and harassed by all the kids at school for being "different" and that she'd locked herself at home, unwilling to go out and face people anymore. It wasn't until she'd seen that video of Tae-joon at the Olympics that she'd mustered up the courage to return to the world. She joined track--and was good at it--as a way to regain her confidence and stand up to the people who'd made fun of her. For the first time in her life, she decided to believe in miracles.  She asks Coach Holten to help Tae-joon fly again, in the same way he'd helped her to come out of hiding.

Outside at Sang-chu's doghouse, Jae-hee wonders if it was a mistake for her to come here in the first place. She remembers back to when she'd found out that Tae-joon had gotten injured. She'd taken it upon herself to decide that it was her job to return to him what he'd given her--the courage to get back out there.

Tae-joon watches the video, a little flabbergasted. It seems he'd taken Jae-hee--and his own desire to high jump--for granted. He gets up and runs out of the dorm, catching her on the school steps before she has a chance to leave, and tells her not to go: "Didn't you say that you were going to see me jump again? You're just going to leave like this after saying that? Don't go, Gu Jae-hee."

Meanwhile, Eun-gyul sits distracted in bed back in his dorm room while Hyun-jae does sit ups. When he sighs for the umpteenth time, Hyun-jae stops and asks him what the deal is. Eun-gyul says it's nothing and he's going to bed. But then, he sits up again, wondering, "By chance..." Frustrated, Hyun-jae chucks his towel at him and tells him to just spit it out. Still stuttering, Eun-gyul asks, "Well, what I was saying is... Somehow, if you get pulled into a situation so that... you want to lock lips with a guy..."

Hyun-jae freezes: "Lock lips... with a guy?" Eun-gyul puts on his best shit-eating grin and furiously shakes his head, telling him to just forget it. He gets into bed, ready to sleep, and Hyun-jae starts exercising again (but not before pulling up his shirt and putting on a hoodie to hide himself from Eun-gyul's prying eyes, haha).

There's a funny moment after Tae-joon and Jae-hee get back to their dorm when Jae-hee's in the shower. Tae-joon nearly opens the door (because the lock doesn't work, remember) but then hears the shower and jumps back out. Now that he knows she's a girl, things have become a lot more awkward. He thinks back to the second time he'd met her, when he'd actually walked in on her in the shower and seen her wrapped in only a towel. Now, the image is almost burned into his head. Haha.

It seems he's decided to get back to jumping, because he's already out training by the time Jae-hee wakes up the next morning. Out on the track, he falls to the grass, exhausted, and pulls out the ring he always wears around his neck, asking, "You'll protect me, won't you?" He heads into the gym after this, and calculates a jump in his head before making a run for it. The crossbar is set at 2m 40cm, which is way over his personal record, so of course, he doesn't actually clear the jump. Still, he's not discouraged and gets up to try again.

Jae-hee gets up to head into the shower, and finds that the lock on the bathroom door has been mysteriously fixed (aw, haha). This is great for her, but inconvenient for Eun-gyul and Seung-ri who have both been mooching off Jae-hee and Tae-joon's bathroom lately. Stuck with no other alternative, the guys head out to try and find another bathroom somewhere, Eun-gyul grabbing a trashcan on the way out just in case. HAHA.

Later that morning, as they're walking to class, Jae-hee gets shoved into Eun-gyul by a mysterious passing sunbae. This bodes badly for Eun-gyul, of course, who happens to catch her in his arms. This seems to happen to him a lot, doesn't it? Poor Puppy.

At the gym, Hyun-jae comes in for practice, only to find Tae-joon already using the high jump equipment. He tells Tae-joon to leave since he's no longer on the track team. They tussle a bit before Coach Baek finds them. He sides with Hyun-jae, explaining to Tae-joon that he can't just come and go as he likes. It doesn't work that way. Tae-joon bows out without protest, knowing that Coach Baek has a point.

Jae-hee and Eun-gyul take a walk outside, on their way to feed Sang-chu when Daniel calls. Jae-hee ignores the call and explains to Eun-gyul that it's not important. He protests, saying there are no calls that are unimportant. But then, he gets a ring of his own from Da-hae, the childhood friend he'd asked to meet up with in the last episode. He ignores the call as well, and Jae-hee peeks over to see who it is. She tells him to pick up since it's his lady friend, but Eun-gyul merely explains that he's playing "hard to get." Girls like guys who are aloof, so that's what he's doing.

Obtuse about matters of dating, Jae-hee doesn't understand why, if he likes the girl, he'd bother playing hard to get. She warns Eun-gyul that if he keeps going like this, he's bound to lose Da-hae for good and will end up regretting it. He replies that she doesn't know a thing about girls at all, does she? And when Jae-hee tells him she might understand a thing or two, he laughs doubtfully, unbelieving. Haha.

Tae-joon heads over to his management agency to tell Manager Jang that he wants to start jumping again. She's not so sure it's a good idea. In her opinion, he's past his prime and might not be as talented anymore. She asks him whether he's spoken to his father about it. Tae-joon tells her that it doesn't matter--his father has nothing to do with him. Manager Jang wonders if he has the confidence to get back out on the track and Tae-joon firmly replies that he does. Reluctantly, she agrees to let him start over, telling him to be better than ever.

In a mostly random Han-na scene, she manages to get her manager oppa to drive her back into the boys' school. She performs some stylized gymnastics and finds her way to Tae-joon's dorm. As she's looking around, she spots the light-up bracelet that Jae-hee had given him earlier. Jae-hee walks in, startled at Han-na's presence. Han-na mentions her missing school uniform (the one that Jae-hee had stolen in the last episode when she was pretending to be a girl for Daniel), and Jae-hee gets defensive, assuring her the thief must have had a  legitimate reason for taking it.

Han-na tells Jae-hee she's going to go take a nap on Tae-joon's bed. Of course, this is about the time Jae-hee realizes the bag of clothes that has Han-na's uniform in it is peeking out from the top bunk. She dives over to push out of sight, which come across odd. Han-na stares at her, wondering what she's doing. Thinking fast, Jae-hee points blindly into the wild blue yonder and screams the magic word, "COCKROACH!" Han-na leaps off the bed and grabs Jae-hee in a choke hold, screaming in fear.

That afternoon, Jae-hee sneaks back out to Han-na's car and returns the uniform. She walks away clean, and then gets a call from Daniel. She ignores it (she's been ignoring his calls all day), but this time, he's standing right behind her and calls her out on it. He knows she's been avoiding him and wants to speak to the principle of the school about her transfer right away.

Hilariously, the first adult figure they see is the bumbling dean. Daniel starts to speak to him in English, explaining that Jae-hee disguised herself as a boy and entered the school. He wants to take her home and would like to know where the office is. The dean, of course, only understands a couple words in English and turns to Jae-hee asking, "What is this guy trying to tell me?" Jae-hee replies that it's nothing important, and leads Daniel away.

She tries to explain to him that Tae-joon's finally decided to start jumping again, which is why she can't leave just yet. Daniel argues that she was the one who told him Tae-joon was suffering from Yips. If that's the case, his athletic career is done and there's no reason for Jae-hee to stay anymore. As they're arguing, the three dorm leader sunbaes walk by, wondering what the sibs are talking about.

Seung-ri takes Young-man and Chul-soo to the ritzy cafeteria and the boys argue back and forth a bit about Jae-hee and her talent at speaking English. It's all conjecture, of course, since none of them understood what was being said. Irritated, Seung-ri tells them he wants to get to the point: Genie's going to enter the regional athletic championship and since it's such a huge event, he wants everyone to participate.

Lucky for Jae-hee, the next person they run into is Doctor Jang. They go back to his office and Jae-hee convinces him to help her out with Daniel. Instead of getting right to the point, Doc hedges a bit and asks Daniel how good he is at drinking. The boys head to a bar, ha.

Meanwhile, Eun-gyul goes out to meet up with his childhood friend, Da-hae. She's a really cute music major. This surprises Eun-gyul, who only knew her in elementary school as the little girl who liked to fight. Da-hae takes this as her cue to pull out her violin and give him an impromptu performance. At first, he's a little embarrassed at her doing this in public, but when she starts to play, he can't help but be taken in. Aw, Puppy. When they split up after their date, Da-hae corrects one of the words in Eun-gyul's last status update online (letting him know that she's one of his followers), and leaves him smiling goofily, surprised that even that little girl he used to know could grow up to be a woman.

Word starts to get around back at Genie that Tae-joon has decided to make his comeback. This is news to Jae-hee, who overhears a group of guys talking about it and gloating at the fact that the "divine" Kang Tae-joon wasn't allowed back into the athletic club. Meanwhile, Tae-joon is at the gym, reorganizing the equipment and cleaning the floors.

When he comes home after training that night, Jae-hee presents him with a cute sneaker cake, congratulating him on his comeback. He doesn't want to play along at first, but then Jae-hee trips over her own feet and drops the cake, landing right on top of it, face first. By now, Tae-joon feels a little bad and agrees to make a wish on the broken cake. Jae-hee sneaks in a little icing on his cheek, so he picks up the cake and chases her around the room with it.

At the bar, Doc and Daniel take turns taking shots. Doctor Jang asks Daniel whether he absolutely has to take Jae-hee back with him. Daniel says he does, prompting Doc to tell him he's a stubborn mule with a stick up his ass, haha.

Doctor Jang: "You've never thought about it from your sister's point of view, have you? Just like you said, it's absurd for Jae-hee to have come here. But haven't you ever thought about what made your sister do what she did? To a country where she doesn't know a single soul... and straight into a boys' dormitory on top of that. It's a story that seems like it came out of a comic book. But I'm asking if you ever thought about why your sister had no other choice but this?"

He thinks Daniel doesn't trust Jae-hee. Daniel falters at that and asks whether Doctor Jang believes in her reasoning behind wanting to stay at Genie, then. Doc tells him that it doesn't matter whether he believes in Jae-hee, it's only important that Daniel believes in her.

The next morning, Jae-hee finds Tae-joon's necklace in the bathroom. He wears it all the time, and it has a ring on it. He barges into the bathroom and snatches it angrily out of her hand without any explanation. It's not until they're on their way to class that Jae-hee asks him about it.

Tae-joon explains that the ring was given to him by his mother when she was sick in the hospital. She asked him to look after it for her, and that's why it's so important to him. As they're walking, Daniel arrives and cuts off Jae-hee, asking to speak with her.

He tells her she can stay at Genie for right now, but when he leaves the following week, she'll have to come with him. He's only letting her stay until Tae-joon's high jump preliminaries are over. Her reason for coming here was to see him jump, so once the qualifying round ends, she'll have to leave.

Jae-hee goes to the locker room to get her stuff and finds that all her clothes are sopping wet. Later, as she attempts to carry a bag of soccer balls to the gym, Tae-joon comes up and takes the bag out of her hands. She thanks him for the help, and then tells him about her gym clothes being wet when he asks her why she hasn't changed for class yet. His face tightens at this, and she tells him to forget it. For helping her, she offers to buy him a soda.

She heads back to the dorms and starts getting some laundry together. In a total girl move, she comes across one of Tae-joon's shirts and picks it up to smell it... just as Tae-joon walks in. She stutters out that she just wanted to help him with his laundry. Pfft.

She runs into Eun-gyul in the laundry room, who's avoiding texting back Da-hae and instead looking through his pictures from the pension again, and asks him how he'd feel if he were to ever dress up as a girl and live in an all-girls' dormitory. He imagines it and decides it would probably be awesome, haha. Jae-hee asks him how his date with Da-hae went, and in true guy fashion, Eun-gyul admits that she's totally fallen for him. He pulls out some chocolate that Jong-min gave him at soccer practice earlier and offers some to Jae-hee. Jong-min spots them from outside the laundry room and a sour expression comes across his face.

The following morning, as Tae-joon is getting ready to go out, Jae-hee (knowing that her days with him are numbered) asks him whether he can't just stay with her for the day. He simply puts on his suit and tie and tells her not to wait up for him that night. In fact, he's headed to his house for his mother's memorial (anniversary of her death).

At home, he stays for dinner, which is when his father brings up the issue of his comeback. Not wanting to deal with all that, Tae-joon gets up to leave. And then Dad drops the big question: does Tae-joon still blame him for his mother's death? Before Tae-joon can give dad the answer he deserves, Han-na comes stumbling into the house, flower basket in hand, and breaks the tension in the room.

At Genie, Eun-gyul swings by Jae-hee's dorm asking for toothpaste and mentions that Tae-joon went out because today is the anniversary of his mother's death. This is news to Jae-hee, and she regrets bugging him to go out with her that morning. Just then, she gets a text from the boy in question, telling her to come out to the swimming pool. She tells Eun-gyul she's got to go, and rushes out.

It actually wasn't Tae-joon who texted her, because Eun-gyul runs into him out in the hall soon after. He never sent Jae-hee any text... Which is when the light bulb goes off. He recalls Jae-hee telling him about her wet uniform and makes a break for the pool, sensing that something's off.

Of course, some Mr. Sketchy McSketcherson is lurking in the pool area. Jae-hee walks in to find him standing on the highest diving platform. She mistakes him to be Tae-joon and heads up there. As she's looking around, the person sneaks up behind her and pushes her off the platform.

Moments later, Tae-joon and Eun-gyul run in (just as Sketchy McSketcherson runs out), and find Jae-hee floating, unconscious, in the middle of the pool. Both boys dive in and pull her out of the water. Tae-joon's necklace (with his mother's ring on it) falls into the water and drops to the bottom of the pool. They get her out of the water and Jae-hee's unresponsive, so Eun-gyul immediately bends down to perform CPR. Only, he takes one look at her and can't do it anymore, his feelings entirely getting in the way. Frustrated, Tae-joon pushes him out of the way and administers the CPR. Jae-hee wakes up, and Eun-gyul watches her shakily, unable to believe his own hesitation.

Back at their dorm, Eun-gyul and Tae-joon decide they need to put a stop to the prankster before things get worse. The situation is getting out of hand. Eun-gyul heads back to his own room, and Jae-hee notices that Tae-joon's necklace is gone. He eeks out that it's fine, but when he turns away from her, his expression is clearly upset.

The next morning, she wakes up early and heads back out to the pool to look for the ring. Tae-joon gets woken up by her alarm and seeks her out. When he finds her swimming around searching for the necklace, he dives into the pool and yanks her out, telling her off for being stupid and worrying about it when he told her not to.

They sit by the pool and Tae-joon dries her hair for her with a towel, telling her she didn't need to be so concerned. Jae-hee blames herself for it, of course, and apologizes. He tells her it's not her fault and not to worry.

Later, Coach Baek finds Tae-joon again in the gym and asks him why he wants to come back. Tae-joon says he found a reason to jump again. This strikes a chord with the Coach, and he tells Tae-joon to win the qualifying round the following week. If he can do that, he'll consider letting him back onto the track team. Tae-joon continues to practice, and Jae-hee watches on, touched at the sight of him working so diligently.

The day of the prelims (and Jae-hee's departure) arrives. She runs into Eun-gyul in the hallway before the comp and he tells her to cheer on Tae-joon for him since he won't be able to make it out to watch it himself. As he turns to walk away, Jae-hee grabs him from behind in a hug and Eun-gyul freezes. She thanks him for all he's done for her, and leaves him with a goofy grin on his face. Aw.

Meanwhile, Tae-joon finds a note and a set of red shoelaces from Jae-hee in his bag as he gets ready for the preliminaries. In the note, she tells him:

I'm going back to America. There's a chance I may not even be able to stay for the match because of the flight. These shoelaces are the ones that I used for my first and last track and field match. Even though my luck isn't worth even a handful, I'll share it with you. Take care.

Outside, Daniel comes by to pick up Jae-hee and she gets ready to leave (again).

I'm getting deja vu, lol. That last scene is so reminiscent of the end of episode 4 that I'm left wondering how we could go an entire hour and still end up back at the same place.

This episode was good because we finally get out from under that dark cloud that was looming over us for much of the first two weeks, and Tae-joon's finally started being cute. Now that he knows Jae-hee's a girl, all the hijinks can finally start in earnest, which will make for a much more entertaining show.

Even so, with all the tension that's being built up, I'm wondering how the rest of the story will be stretched out over eleven more episodes. That's a lot of time to fill, and I feel like they're running out of story already. There aren't as many characters as there were in the manga, and so there's less time taken up by side stories (or at least, side stories that we actually care about).

One of the subplots I do find myself intrigued by is the relationship between Tae-joon and Manager Jang. I'm so used to celeb managers in Kdramas being a little greedy that it honestly surprised me to find out how much Manager Jang seems to really care about Tae-joon. As she said in the last episode, when she signed him on to work with them, she was taking him in as a part of her family. It speaks volumes about her character (and her relationship with him) that the first thing she mentions when he tells her he wants to jump again is that it'll be hard for him, things might get worse for him, and asks whether he's confident, rather than worrying about what will happen to the company should he fail. She plays mom to the boy who no longer has one, and there's something really heartwarming about that.

I say this almost every episode, but only because it's true. Eun-gyul remains the best written character, not only because he's likable, but because there's depth to the conflict he's dealing with. It's relatable and real... something that many teenagers are dealing with outside of the drama realm today. It's because he's written so well that the holes in the other characters become more apparent.

In this episode, we got to find out the real reason behind Jae-hee's decision to come to Korea. Initially, when I'd watched the opening scenes of the series, I'd thought she was in a hospital or sanitarium. If they'd gone that route and presented an issue like that--of Tae-joon bringing Jae-hee out of a clinical problem and helping to motivate her to get back out into the world--I might have believed in her reasons a bit more. Instead, the writer went the typical, "Westerners are evil" route, and that's a bit upsetting for a drama that's so geared toward a younger, more forward demographic.

Of course, being a foreign viewer, I'm more sensitive to these kinds of things and thus, find more to nitpick about them. But objectively speaking, I would have liked a deeper conflict. Perhaps something that Jae-hee is still dealing with. If she was thrown into an irreconcilable depression because her schoolmates picked on her in America, then how is she so able to deal with the bullies at Genie? It doesn't make much sense, and a deeper problem might have helped pull the story forward a little more. Instead, Jae-hee remains the least developed character (in the same way that Ashiya was in the Japanese version), which is a problem because she's the protagonist.

Hopefully, they'll find a way to flesh her out more in the coming episodes. Otherwise, we'll be left with a two-dimensional Kang Tae-joon ultra fan without any substance.


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