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Boys Before Flowers: Episode 6

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Oooh, things just got good. (Finally!)

Episode 6 got off to a rocky start (I laughed along embarrassedly for the first part), but then they kicked up the angst — and given how this drama fails when attempting cutesy or slapstick humor, this is a much welcome turn. The cast is much better as dramatic actors than comic ones, so that gives us some nice scenes from just about everyone.

EPISODE 6 RECAP

 

Jun-pyo undresses. Jan-di nervously tells him to cut it out. Laughing at her reaction, Jun-pyo calls her a dummy and heads toward the water in his swim trunks.

Jan-di gets back at him by telling him there’s a snake by his feet, then laughs as Jun-pyo dashes off fearfully, believing her joke.

 

There’s a really clumsy transition as everyone lazes on the beach. Ga-eul looks out at the water and senses something amiss; she grows more concerned as she shouts Jan-di’s name, which rouses Jun-pyo from his nap.

Jan-di is struggling to remain afloat (in, like, FOUR FEET of water), suffering a muscle cramp. Jun-pyo tries to go after her, but his feet won’t budge in the shallow water. A brief flashback of a body struggling in the water tells us that there’s something traumatic in Jun-pyo’s past that explains why he can’t swim.

Instead, Ji-hoo darts past and swims out to rescue Jan-di. (Based on how far Ji-hoo swims, I think she’s supposed to be out in deeper waters, but the effect is totally ruined when the camera shows the ocean floor, and Jan-di is clearly tall enough to stand above the waterline.)

 

Ji-hoo brings Jan-di in, and now that she’s safe, Jun-pyo keeps at a distance, upset with himself for not being able to do anything.

Back in Korea, Jun-pyo’s mother asks Mr. Jung what Jun-pyo is up to. (Her name is Kang Hee-soo, but it seems disrespectful to call a Korean mom by her first name — so I’ll be referring to her as Madam Kang, unless someone has a better suggestion.) Feeling sympathetic toward Jun-pyo, Mr. Jung tells her of the weekend trip with F4, leaving the girls out of it.

 

Awash in self-loathing, Jun-pyo takes to the hot tub alone, and as he slides underwater, a flashback shows Little Jun-pyo flailing in water and crying out for help.

Woo-bin and Yi-jung explain to Jan-di that when Jun-pyo was six, he’d been kidnapped. The car was chased and went into the river — with Jun-pyo in it. Yeah, I think that would do it for me too.

  

Perhaps compensating for his inability to save Jan-di, Jun-pyo takes extra care with elaborate dinner preparations. He particularly fusses over Jan-di, saying that her muscles cramped because she’s not eating properly; he fills her plate and instructs her to eat up.

Quieter than usual, Ji-hoo leaves the table without eating. Concerned, Jan-di follows him out to the pier, watching as the flower girl from the village hands him a potted flower and tells him to give it to his girlfriend.

 

At dinner, Yi-jung teases Ga-eul, under the mistaken impression that she likes Jun-pyo. Confused, Ga-eul tells him that’s ridiculous. Referring to their hilltop conversation, Yi-jung asks why she cares so much whether Jan-di and Jun-pyo get into trouble, then. Ga-eul blurts, “That’s because there’s someone else Jan-di li…”

She cuts herself off, but it’s enough for Yi-jung to guess what she was about to say.

  

More horrible music (are we even surprised anymore?) as the group enjoys the party, until Jun-pyo draws their attention to his specially planned fireworks display. He sneaks a look at Jan-di, then looks away quickly when she glances at him.

Jan-di smiles in appreciation, her good mood lasting until she comes out of her bathroom later that evening to see Jun-pyo unexpectedly in her room. Immediately nervous, she backs away and remembers the psychic’s prediction that she’ll be losing “something important, as a woman.”

But Jun-pyo surprises her by kneeling at her feet and fastening an anklet on her leg. It’s a cheap trinket from the marketplace, but he warns, “It may be cheap but if you lose it, you’re dead.” His tactics may lack a certain finesse, but Jan-di looks touched at the gesture.

Jan-di heads next door to Ga-eul’s room, but when her knock goes unanswered, she wanders the pier. Spotting Ji-hoo alone on the beach, she heads down to talk to him.

 

Ji-hoo shows her the flower and explains that it means the recipient will be happy, which is why you’re supposed to give it to someone you love. She wonders what happened with Seo-hyun, and he answers, “I realized how pathetic I was. There was nothing for me to do but wait all day in an empty apartment.” Bitterly, he adds: “Do you know what it’s like being nothing but a burden to the woman you love? You called them pathetic fools who can’t do anything on their own.”

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Those are the words she flung at him at the airport; he says she was right, and other than loving one woman (“like a habit”), “I don’t know how to do anything. I’m pathetic.”

 

Ji-hoo offers the flower to Jan-di. Knowing what that symbolizes, she declines it. She says it’s meant for Seo-hyun, but I think part of her is thinking of Jun-pyo, and she turns to leave.

Ji-hoo grabs her arm and whirls her around in a hug. “It’s so cold, I can’t take it.”

After a moment, Jan-di draws back and walks away, flustered.

She hurries back to her room, outside which Jun-pyo is waiting, worried that something happened to her. As soon as he sees her, he scolds her for going off without notice.

 

Feeling guilty, Jan-di tells him, “I’m sorry.” Jun-pyo tells her not to swim or go off on walks alone, and leaves Jan-di to brood about her encounter with Ji-hoo.

Back on the beach, Ji-hoo picks up her anklet from the sand (which Jan-di doesn’t realize is missing until morning).

Jun-pyo, however, sees it on Ji-hoo’s wrist at breakfast. He grabs his arm to take a closer look, but covers up his alarm and doesn’t elaborate.

 

Trying not to jump to conclusions, Jun-pyo notices Jan-di isn’t wearing her anklet and asks where it went. Nervously, Jan-di lies that she left it in her room, since he’d give her hell if she lost it. He doesn’t really believe her but tries to let it go

Later, however, when the guys are having fun in an energetic game of volleyball, Jun-pyo asks Ji-hoo what’s up with the bracelet. Ji-hoo hands it over and tells him, “It’s Jan-di’s. She must have dropped it last night. Return it to her.”

At this proof that Jan-di met Ji-hoo last night — and worse, she lied — Jun-pyo is shaken so badly that he loses all concentration in the game.

 

Completely distracted as he puts together her lies, Jun-pyo doesn’t react when the ball hurtles toward him. It hits him in the face, bloodying his nose. He mumbles that he’s fine and stumbles away drunkenly, walking into the net before managing to head off to wash up.

(I suppose this is to show us how shocked he is, but come on — he’s heartbroken, not drug-addled.)

 

As he takes in the situation, Jun-pyo’s dazed reaction turns dark, and he sets off to find Ji-hoo, who is paddling calmly out to sea in a kayak. Jun-pyo grabs another one and paddles madly to catch up.

When he reaches him, for a moment it’s uncertain how he’ll act, but Jun-pyo passes him like this is some kind of heated race with no finish line. Maybe it is. Perhaps Ji-hoo figures it’s better to avoid provoking a confrontation, but I think it’s pretty wimpy for him to turn around silently and head back to shore.

When Jun-pyo turns around to see Ji-hoo paddling away, he throws his paddle in frustration.

I guess all that exertion wears out his anger, because the next thing we know they’re both back on the shore and nobody’s beaten to a pulp. While Jun-pyo sleeps, Jan-di finds Ji-hoo preparing a sailboat to head out for some fishing. He invites her along and (ignoring my repeated exclamations of “DON’T GO YOU IDIOT”) she goes.

Ga-eul is starting to find Yi-jung’s persistent attention aggravating (which I’m sure none of us understands, eh?), so when he finds her on the beach, she hurries away. To a TWO-PERSON BOAT. Good intention, but maybe you oughtta work on unmixing those messages.

Yi-jung hops aboard and brings up Ga-eul’s comment last night, asking about the guy Jan-di likes. He doesn’t seem too worried about it, since he’s fairly certain Jan-di’s type leans toward bad boys: namely, Jun-pyo.

 

Ga-eul retorts that the guy Jan-di likes might turn out to be her soulmate (then cringes at blurting out more info inadvertently).

Yi-jung doesn’t make an issue of that, though, asking instead whether Ga-eul actually believes in soulmates. She answers, “Of course. Playboys like you can’t understand, but there is such a thing as a true love who stays with you all your life.”

Yi-jung: “Have you met your soulmate?”
Ga-eul: “Not yet. But when he shows up, I won’t let go, because I’d regret losing someone like that for the rest of my life.”

 

Whatever anger Jun-pyo felt earlier, he seems to work it out, because he takes Jan-di along in a helicopter ride to show her something. In the air, he points out a field that’s shaped like a heart: “I’d decided that when I found a girl I liked, I’d bring her here.”

She registers the meaning of those words as Jun-pyo smiles, asking, “Can you see my heart?” He seems very pleased with everything, but Jan-di looks away uneasily.

  

That night, Woo-bin and Yi-jung announce a Ji-hoo emergency: They’ve learned that Seo-hyun is engaged.

This explains why Ji-hoo has changed, but Jan-di feels awful: “Ji-hoo’s going to hate me.” By that, Jan-di means her wish that Seo-hyun marry a famous foreign husband, which she’d told Ji-hoo before knowing of their relationship.

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She’s lost in her distress when Jun-pyo finds her, and asks if she’s accepted his feelings.

He leans in closer as though to kiss her, but she pulls away. Disappointed, he stops, then tells her, “Don’t make me wait too long.”

Feeling bad for Ji-hoo, Jan-di heads down to the beach to find him. She asks with tears in her eyes if the rumors of Seo-hyun’s engagement are true, and tells him she’s sorry.

 

He sounds so defeated as he tells her he can’t compare to Seo-hyun’s fiancé that Jan-di insists he’s wrong. Seeing how much his pain affects her, Ji-hoo gathers her in a hug.

She entreats, “Please be happy… because if you’re unhappy, I am too.”

Wondering, “How could I not like a girl like you?,” Ji-hoo leans in and kisses her.

The kiss lasts for a few seconds, but when Ji-hoo pulls back, Jun-pyo stands there. Gulp.

Jun-pyo asks: “Is that what was going on?” He approaches slowly, then suddenly punches Ji-hoo. Jan-di pleads with him, but he turns to her in a cold fury. “I wanted to believe you.” He’d tried his best because he didn’t want to regret not trusting her.

 

Jun-pyo: “I showed you my true self. But this was your answer?”
Jan-di: “That’s not it. It’s not…”
Jun-pyo: “It’s really over now. Geum Jan-di, don’t act like you know me anymore.”

Ji-hoo tries to call him back. Jun-pyo yells at him to shut up: “If you say one more word, I’ll kill you.”

The next morning, Jun-pyo is gone. The others wonder what could have prompted him to ditch them all, and Woo-bin asks Jan-di if she has any guesses. Uncomfortable, she says nothing.

On the boat later, Ga-eul takes out a bracelet like the one Jan-di lost, which she’d bought it in the marketplace. Apparently it’s supposed to be given to the person you want to spend your life with, and Ga-eul wonders, “Maybe it’s like asking them not to run away.”

At home, Jan-di puts her anklet away in her drawer, which reminds her of the auctioned swimming goggles lying there that Jun-pyo had given her. That sends her down memory lane: she recalls the night they were locked in the cold together, how he saved her from the bullies, how he took her up in the helicopter to tell her he liked her… Sorrowfully, she says, “I’m sorry, Gu Jun-pyo.”

 

At school, Jan-di apologizes to Ji-hoo for the incident on the beach; she shouldn’t have gone looking for him. Ji-hoo says he should be the one to apologize. She replies, “I’m the one who hurt Jun-pyo.” I’m pretty sure they’re both guilty on that score, but I suppose she has a point.

Picking up a piece of chalk from the ground, Ji-hoo doodles a picture of Jun-pyo on the wall. Jan-di takes over, adding an angrier scowl and curlier hair. She laughs at first, but the smile fades and she fights tears.

 

During lunchtime, Jun-pyo strolls into the cafeteria with Woo-bin and Yi-jung and rings the bell to command everyone’s attention. He has an official F4 announcement to make: “Yoon Ji-hoo is no longer part of F4.”

Everyone gasps, and even Woo-bin and Yi-jung are shocked. Jun-pyo continues coldly, “In one week, Yoon Ji-hoo and Geum Jan-di will be expelled from this school.”

 

The mean girls assume this is Jan-di’s doing and blame her for messing everything up — it’s all her fault that F4 has been disrupted and Ji-hoo kicked out of the group. She must take responsibility!

Ji-hoo interrupts: “I’ll take responsibility.” He denounces the girls for ganging up on Jan-di, to which Ginger protests, “If you act like this, we can’t take your side.” He shoots back, “Who asked you to?”

 

So now both Ji-hoo and Jan-di are in the same persona non grata boat. Jan-di figures that Jun-pyo won’t go through with his threat — she may be expellable, but surely not Ji-hoo. Ji-hoo reminds her whose school this is.

She wonders if there’s a way out of the mess, and he responds, “I’ll have to find one, because now I have a reason not to sit back and concede quietly.”

Ji-hoo says that last bit with a meaningful smile at Jan-di, which she takes to mean that he wants to reconcile with F4. Ji-hoo laughs and calls her dumb, because that’s not what he was referring to: “I don’t care about that.”

 

I love this next scene: Yi-jung drops by to tell Ji-hoo in a hard tone that he’d always understood what Ji-hoo did, and even thought Jun-pyo was sometimes hard to take. That’s why he never expected to be saying these things now.

Yi-jung: “Why did you do it?”
Ji-hoo: “I just felt like it.”
Yi-jung: “Jun-pyo liked Jan-di—”
Ji-hoo: “—and I knew it.”

That angers Yi-jung: “I can’t tolerate you messing with a friend’s girl.” Ji-hoo says he is sorry to Jun-pyo, but he can’t let him kick Jan-di out of school.

Yi-jung: “So? What are you going to do?”
Ji-hoo: “I have to do something.”
Yi-jung: “You’re not going to have anyone on your side this time.”

 

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Meanwhile, Woo-bin appeals to Jun-pyo, saying he understands his anger but that he’s going too far. He reminds Jun-pyo that Ji-hoo’s not himself right now, and that he’s acting out because of what happened with Seo-hyun.

Jun-pyo answers, “That jerk didn’t do that because he really likes Jan-di. He was just using her because of Seo-hyun. That’s more unforgivable.” When Woo-bin tries again, Jun-pyo snaps, “Don’t defend that jerk anymore. One more word and you’re out too.”

TANGENT

You know, Boys Before Flowers kinda reminds me of the whole Twilightphenomenon — which is surprising to me since I like Boys Before Flowers but remain staunchly anti-Twilight.

Both have this compelling story at the core but are obscured by flawed storytelling. The hunky lead males are by all rights not supposed to be hero material and yet are, perhaps largely because they’re just so damn beautiful and charismatic. It doesn’t hurt that they’re devoted to their ladies — to a near-disturbing extent, but which somehow becomes transformed in fiction as appealing. Also, both franchises attract widespread fervor among its core audience — and just as much disdain from those who feel superior to what they regard as trashy stuff.

Yet, you can’t deny that it’s got a mighty pull. For people who hate it, no amount of persuasion will convince them that it’s worthy, while for those who love it, criticism won’t keep them from loving it. In both cases, the material is told in a clunky and clumsy way — if only more skilled artists were telling the story!! — but is still undeniably able to tap into something deeper that stirs up intense emotions. While the target audience may be teenage girls, I think it’s reductive to say that that’s the ONLY audience. (Helloooo, points at self.) It’s part fairy tale, part escapism, and part basic human longing. Even if the first two don’t get ya, the last one just might.

Oh gawd. I think I just wrote a semi-defense of Twilight. Curse you, Boys Before Flowers!

COMMENTS

I think that what’s been holding back the series in the first five episodes is a borrowed feeling it couldn’t quite shake off entirely. Personally, I think Boys Before Flowers is best when it takes its own spin on things — Jan-di’s entrance to Shinhwa, Jun-pyo’s character — and falters when adapting too literally.

But I felt a shift in this episode, which moved us from comic adaptation into (more of) a thing of its own. It’s starting to feel like its own series, with its own characters and own conflicts. Maybe it’s just me, but this episode was the first time I didn’t think, “Well the other version did it another way…” I hope this is a good indication of the future, and think (hope) that the comparisons may start to die now.

I like this plot turn, because just as Jan-di starts to enjoy all of Jun-pyo’s attention, it gets taken away. She was taking it for granted, and now that it’s gone, she starts to realize how much she likes Jun-pyo. Now the dynamic is all messed up and different and I really, really like that. Jun-pyo gets to be a cold-hearted bastard again (yet understandably so), while maybe Jan-di will have to exert herself a little now — she’s been on the receiving end all this time without giving. It’s not her fault because Jun-pyo has been giving without considering her opinion, so it’s like forced receiving, but the point remains — she’s gotta step it up now.

On the other hand, just as Kim Hyun-joong’s acting improves marginally, they give his character a pretty shitty turn. (Kim isn’t wonderful, but at least he’s not as distractingly bad as he was in the first few episodes.) How is he supposed to be Jun-pyo’s best friend when he seems to be actively undermining Jun-pyo’s relationship with Jan-di? In his (brief) defense, he’s being deliberately self-destructive because he’s so affected by losing Seo-hyun — lashing out at something covers up the hurt of the other thing. Well, he can be as SELF-destructive as he likes but that doesn’t excuse betraying a best friend willfully. Isn’t “bros before hos,” well, sacred male code?

Jan-di still sucks for not pulling away from Ji-hoo’s kiss, and I’m annoyed about that, but her betrayal of Jun-pyo is nothing compared to Ji-hoo’s. I hope this is resolved satisfactorily, because while I do love the angst — it feels real and palpable, for once — I hope they didn’t go too far in making Jan-di and Ji-hoo unlikable.


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2 Comments

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