Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 8

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Ratings continue to rise; this episode posted the highest numbers thus far (25.9%), widening the gap between now-second-place East of Eden (21.8%).

Just to clarify, I know what generally happens in the original story, but when I’m talking about this drama, I don’t care so much what’s supposed to happen, or how a certain event is construed in another version. I care what does (or doesn’t) happen now and how events are construed HERE.

Moving on: I think I giggled through at least half of this episode. Some of it intentional, some not

EPISODE 8 RECAP

 

After a moment, Jan-di pushes away from Jun-pyo’s hug and says, dully, “I’m sorry.” Jun-pyo takes a moment to let this sink in, then: “Do you understand what I’m doing? The Almighty Gu Jun-pyo is pleading with you.”

Jan-di answers that she can’t help it. He wonders, “How did I come to like someone like you?” as though wishing he didn’t. He tells her she just threw away her last chance, because from tomorrow on, she won’t get any more. Jan-di returns, “That’s what I want.”

He leaves. Jan-di repeats to herself, not very convincingly, “I won’t regret it. I won’t ever regret it.”

 

Race day. Schoolmates gather poolside to spectate, mostly betting on (and cheering for) a Jun-pyo victory. The Tarty Trio, naturally, solidify their Mean Girl image by dressing as vapid cheerleaders. Well, I suppose the vapid part is already built-in.

The swimmers take their positions and the relay begins; Ji-hoo takes an immediate lead over Woo-bin. Thus when Jan-di begins her lap, she’s got a head start over Yi-jung, and at the turn, she’s leading by a full body length.

 

But Yi-jung starts closing the distance, and in the final stretch, her lead has been narrowed so they’re almost even. (Hey Jan-di, if you volunteered to take Ji-hoo’s place, shouldn’t you have been, uh, better than him?) Ga-eul urges Jan-di to hang in there, and Jun-pyo watches the tightening race as tension mounts.

The situation starts to mirror the scenario described in the restaurant ajusshi’s hazy dream (so he’s not just kooky, but also psychic!) — Jan-di and Yi-jung are neck and neck as their hands reach out toward the wall… and everything goes dark. The lights have been switched off. When they flicker back on, everyone looks around in confusion and wonders who won, but nobody was able to see the crucial final moment.

Glancing around, Jun-hee spies Jun-pyo walking away, and smiles knowingly.

Right before the lights went out, our last glimpse of the swimmers had shown Jan-di ahead by just a hair, but given that Yi-jung was gaining on her, this suggests that Jun-pyo turns off the lights not because he is afraid of losing, but because he realizes he doesn’t actually want to win.

The reason I believe that’s the case (rather than Jun-pyo doing it because he didn’t want to lose) is because of what follows: It is decided that Ji-hoo and Jan-di get to stay, thus winning the competition.

 

Jun-hee announces the results to everyone minus Jun-pyo (who has left on his own), and thanks Jan-di: “My stupid brother seems to be growing up nicely because of you.”

Yi-jung congratulates Jan-di on a good race, then punches Ji-hoo in the stomach. But as he does so with a smile, it’s like saying, “You kinda sucked there for a while but we’re still friends.” Ji-hoo seems to accept this good-naturedly as his due.

 

After the others leave, Jan-di and Ji-hoo both speak up at the same time, intending to thank the other.

They laugh and try saying their thanks again, and then, somewhat out of the blue, Ji-hoo asks, “Do you want to go on a date with me?”

 

When F2 drops by, Jun-pyo is contemplating a toy robot and musing aloud, “Gu Jun-pyo, you sure are paying back your debt.” By way of explanation, Jun-pyo brings up a wooden robot Ji-hoo had once had as a kid, which Little Jun-pyo wanted to play with. Little Ji-hoo didn’t want to give it away, but he’d grabbed it anyway, then tripped on the ground. The robot clattered to the pavement, and an incoming car flattened it with its tires.

As Little Ji-hoo cried, Mr. Jung had told Little Jun-pyo that it had been a gift from Ji-hoo’s deceased father.

 

Jun-pyo explains that ever since that day, he’d felt that he had an outstanding debt with Ji-hoo. This is his way of paying it back — letting Ji-hoo and Jan-di win the competition and dropping the grudge.

Jun-pyo: “After all, I can’t destroy Jan-di just to prevent anyone from having her, like I did back then.”

Yi-jung and Woo-bin are impressed — and relieved — at this display of newfound maturity. Listening at the door, Jun-hee smiles, too — looks like a certain idiot brother learned his lesson with the ill-fated horse.

 

In the morning, Yi-jung and Woo-bin try to wrangle a resistant Jun-pyo out of bed. Not in the mood to go out, he refuses, stubbornly remaining under the covers. The guys look at each other knowingly and mention the one thing sure to rouse Jun-pyo’s interest: Ji-hoo’s date with Jan-di.

They oh-so-innocently speculate over what will happen during the date: “Maybe they’ll take in the sunlight and nap together?” “And she’ll sleep on his arm?”

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It’s not an accurate prediction, but it does the trick in spurring Jun-pyo to action. Meanwhile, the actual date starts off nicely with a ride on Ji-hoo’s horse, which is followed by walking and conversation. Jan-di’s rather enjoying herself — until Ji-hoo steers them to Namsan Tower.

Suddenly assailed with memories of the day she spent here with Jun-pyo, Jan-di glances over to the spot where Jun-pyo had waited for her in the snow, her mood subduing.

 

She remains quiet as they head inside and, at Ji-hoo’s suggestion, take the cable car. Ji-hoo enjoys the view, but Jan-di doesn’t even look outside, distracted with memories of the night spent in the cold car with Jun-pyo. Something catches her eye, and we finally see what it is that Jun-pyo had written on the wall with Jan-di’s pen:

Gu Jun-pyo ♥ Geum Jan-di
“Our first night!”

 

Meanwhile, Jun-pyo has followed the couple to Namsan Tower, watching unhappily from his car. (Ji-hoo notices that they’re being trailed and finds Jun-pyo’s behavior humorous, though Jan-di remains oblivious.)

When the couple heads to Ji-hoo’s house, Jun-pyo can’t quite decide what to do with himself — interrupt them? Go home? Instead, he paces outside indecisively, trying to tamp down his frustration. (Again, Ji-hoo notices Jun-pyo on the security monitor, and finds it amusing.)

Jan-di looks around at the luxurious house, noting pictures of Ji-hoo with Seo-hyun as children. When asked why nobody’s around, Ji-hoo explains that he prefers his staff to be gone when he’s home: “But it’s strange, I’m not uncomfortable around you. For some reason, I find you comfortable and fun. Something about you is warm.”

The flattery flusters Jan-di, her uneasiness growing when Ji-hoo looks at her meaningfully to say, “I think I understand why Jun-pyo likes you.” He leans in to kiss her.

Jan-di shrinks back, then pretends to be distracted, leaving him hanging. Rather than being upset at her reaction, Ji-hoo finds it telling.

He admits that the guys may have been right in thinking that if not for Seo-hyun, his relationship with Jan-di might not have developed this way. It turns out Seo-hyun isn’t marrying her French fiancé after all, but still, “That doesn’t change anything. I think it’s time for me to let her go.” He thanks Jan-di: “Because of you, I could let go of my first love.”

By way of consolation, Jan-di tells him, “They say that there’s a kind of fate where people may break up multiple times, but they end up meeting again in the end. You’ll meet her again. Because… the two of you…”

Jan-di trails off just as Ji-hoo’s head lands on her shoulder — he’s fallen asleep. But that makes it easier for Jan-di to finish her thought honestly; relieved, she relaxes a bit and says, “Thanks to Seo-hyun unni, I think I’ll be able to let go of my first love, too.”

While Ji-hoo sleeps, Jan-di leaves the house, turning back to murmur, “Goodbye, Ji-hoo.” After she’s gone, Ji-hoo addresses his poster of Seo-hyun on the wall: “I may regret it, but I should let her go, shouldn’t I?”

Jun-pyo, however, misses seeing Jan-di leave, because he gives up just moments before she emerges from the house and drives off in disappointment. Assuming the date is going swimmingly, Jun-pyo is therefore in a dark mood when he, Yi-jung, and Woo-bin get the same text message from Ji-hoo, suggesting a friendly game of ice hockey.

 

(I think this drama has decided to give us as many different uniforms and costumes as humanly possible. What’s next, folks? Scuba gear, circus acts, floofy tutus? Bring it on! I say this drama isn’t complete until I’ve seen all these boys cross-dressing at some point.)

When F4 is gathered on the rink, Jun-pyo says in a challenging tone, “Thought this was date night for you. Why’d you call us out?”

Coolly, Ji-hoo answers that he’d planned on a nice date night, but things got boring: “I don’t care for easy girls.” Jun-pyo’s hackles raise at this insult toward Jan-di and the other two warn Ji-hoo to cut it out, but Ji-hoo continues carelessly, painting Jan-di as eager and clinging. Because of Seo-hyun, he’d almost been tempted to take her up on the offer — “But she wasn’t good for anything other than passing the time.”

This, my friends, is what we call a death wish. Having deliberately pushed Jun-pyo’s buttons, Ji-hoo takes to the ice and the four begin their “game,” only it’s not really much of a game so much as it is Ji-hoo taunting Jun-pyo with the puck. Hampered by his anger and a singular goal to body-check Ji-hoo at every opportunity, Jun-pyo’s fury trips him up (literally) and Ji-hoo out-skates him. When he finally does slam into Ji-hoo, Jun-pyo flings off his helmet and starts pounding him.

(Btw, who else finds it hilariously inappropriate whenever they use the song “Paradise” in entirely un-paradise-like conditions? Like, say, to score a bloody fight on an ice rink?)

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Ji-hoo points out, “She doesn’t matter to you now.” Jun-pyo: “She does! Even if she doesn’t, it matters!”

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Woo-bin and Yi-jung hold Jun-pyo back as he bites out, “If you hurt Jan-di, I’ll kill you!” Ji-hoo sighs, “You should have just said that from the start.”

At that, the guys all stare. Ji-hoo continues, “See? You can’t give her up. You should’ve been honest so I didn’t have to do all this.” Far from appeased, Jun-pyo glares at him, calls him a crazy bastard, and storms off.

On the other hand, the other two are somewhat relieved that Ji-hoo isn’t entirely crazy and/or a horrible friend, although they do think he used rather extreme methods. Woo-bin wonders why he hadn’t said anything before, and Ji-hoo replies, “He owed me a debt. That punk broke my robot.” You just don’t get between a boy and his toys.

That night, Jan-di is lost in thoughts of Jun-pyo when she gets a call from his phone. In an effort to (over)compensate for nerves, Jan-di is about to launch into their customary bickering, but stops short to hear Yi-jung on the line.

 

Jan-di rushes to the hospital, so frazzled she’s wearing mismatched shoes, panicked about Yi-jung’s news. Arriving at a private hospital room bearing Jun-pyo’s name, Jan-di starts to tear up. Preparing herself for the sight, she enters, and Yi-jung greets her with a solemn look.

Woo-bin sits bedside by an unconscious Jun-pyo, begging him to wake up. Ji-hoo’s there as well.

 

Making her way to his bedside, Jan-di holds Jun-pyo’s hand and cries, cautiously at first, then growing in intensity:

Jan-di: “Wake up. Why won’t you wake up? I have so much to say to you, to fight with you about, to explain to you. What’s wrong?”

They explain that Jun-pyo had been depressed all day. The accident occurred after he rushed out saying he had to apologize to Jan-di. Starting to sob in earnest, Jan-di pleads:

Jan-di: “I’m the one who should apologize. Gu Jun-pyo, I wronged you. I lied to you. When you left after asking me to say those words, I regretted it. Gu Jun-pyo, wake up! Now I think I can tell you those words you wanted to hear, but how can I when you’re like this? Wake up!”

Happy to oblige, he does. His eyes pop open and he asks, grinning, “For real?”

 

As I am sure many of you guessed ahead of time (I was HOWLING with laughter throughout this scene), this was an elaborate ruse to get Jan-di to admit her feelings. Ji-hoo apologizes for his part, but they’re both so stubborn that extreme measures were required.

Jan-di blinks in bewilderment as the guys marvel at Jan-di’s proof of devotion. Jun-pyo leans toward her eagerly, wanting to hear her make good on her promise: “Say those words you just promised you’d say.” Jun-pyo thoroughly enjoys the moment, and Jan-di beats him up in retaliation.

I think if Jan-di had been seriously upset with them for manipulating her, I would have been behind her in thinking this was kinda mean. But she seems to take it well, after the initial surprise. At least, she doesn’t protest his attentions anymore.

  

Case in point: Jun-pyo takes her away for their own date day. First, he teaches her how to play golf (she is not good). (Also, can I say: I understand the desire to dress the lead actress in cute outfits without contradicting her poor character, but I would prefer they stop with the whole rich-guy-buys-his-girl-clothing thing. It seems proprietary.)

Then, he takes her out to eat some really awesome-looking sashimi, appreciating the sight of Jan-di stuffing herself silly. When dinner is over, Jan-di gazes longingly at the huge spread still left uneaten.

Feeling it would be a waste to leave all that behind, as they’re leaving, Jan-di tells Jun-pyo to go on ahead, then sneaks back inside to get the rest wrapped to go.

 

On her way out, Jan-di bumps into someone, who turns out to be part of a group date including the Three Musketeerettes (Amigas? Furies? Witches of Eastwick?). Jan-di’s boxed leftovers spill out onto the ground, and seeing that she’s alone, the girls waste no time mocking her for taking people’s leftovers. They’re caught up in laughter when Jun-pyo enters, sees the food on the ground, and takes stock of the situation.

 

The guys are vaguely acquainted with him and josh him for his new (read: plebeian) taste in women. As with all Jan-di-related insults, this is precisely the wrong thing to say; Jun-pyo threatens, “Want to shut up nicely, or would you like to read the news tomorrow morning about your company going under?”

If only we could all wield such power over our enemies. The guy hurries to apologize to Jan-di, and Jun-pyo leads her away.

 

Next, they watch a movie in the car at Jun-pyo’s private drive-in theater, where the pressure of being alone starts getting to both of them. Neither can look at the other; Jan-di squirms in embarrassment, while Jun-pyo tries to muster up the courage to make the first move. Their internal monologues are pretty hilarious, particularly with the normally-so-authoritative Jun-pyo trying to psych himself up:

Jun-pyo: “Gu Jun-pyo. Now’s the moment. Turn to her.”
Jan-di: “No! Don’t look at me. Gu Jun-pyo, if you turn toward me, you’re so dead.”
Jun-pyo: “Damn, I can’t do it! I’ll just have some popcorn.”

 

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Their hands accidentally meet as they both reach for popcorn, and Jun-pyo takes that as his signal to make his move. He leans in closer, their hearts start to race, Jan-di closes her eyes in anticipation…

…and then her phone rings. Immediately, Jun-pyo retreats and the moment is broken.

Turns out her family is calling to exult over the latest extravagance: When Jan-di arrives home that night, they’re eating a lavish spread just like the one she had for dinner, sent courtesy of Jun-pyo.

 

She gets a text message from Jun-pyo that night, which he has sent to offset her reaction to sending all the food: “I’m saying this in case you get mad again, but that wasn’t for you. So don’t eat any of it.” Funny how his grand gestures often get her riled up, but a little thing like this (which shows he’s getting to know her enough to predict her reaction) makes her smile.

On the other hand, now she’s completely embarrassed by the almost-kiss and doesn’t know how to act around Jun-pyo. When he calls, she fakes static noises and rattles off a litany of lame excuses before hanging up on him. Oh, young love. Silly, stupid, young love.

 

Ji-hoo finds her swimming at school, and wonders why she’s there when they’re on break. When she replies that swimming makes her feel better, he asks if something’s bothering her (which she avoids answering).

Ji-hoo takes a phone call from Jun-pyo, but when he assumes she’ll want to talk to him, Jan-di hurriedly motions for him not to mention her presence. Jun-pyo is on his way over, so Jan-di invents an excuse to rush off, leaving Ji-hoo puzzled at her behavior.

 

Thus she reacts with alarm to Jun-pyo’s unannounced arrival at home that night. Her family welcomes him enthusiastically, completely won over when Jun-pyo addresses her parents as “Father” and “Mother.”

She protests when Jun-pyo makes the rather unorthodox request that they put him up for the night, but she’s outnumbered: everyone else jumps to accommodate him.

 

It’s a little silly to show the five of them all settling in for the night in the same room, although I suppose they kind of explain it when Jan-di’s brother offers to share his room with Jun-pyo and his mother balks at that. (Perhaps they all want a piece of the Jun-pyo love? Can’t say I don’t understand.)

Although this is a far cry from Jun-pyo’s palatial estate — he laughs that his bathrooms are bigger than their bedroom — Jun-pyo is oddly enjoying himself.

 

While everyone else sleeps, he tells Jan-di, “I came without really planning anything, but this is a ton of fun.” He jokes about the sleeping arrangement, but muses, “Still, with everyone sleeping under the same blanket, doesn’t it seem like a family?”

In order to avoid continuing the conversation, Jan-di pretends to have fallen asleep — leaving Jun-pyo to fend for himself against her snoring, mumbling, crowding father and brother.

COMMENTS

Okay, I’ve made a conscious effort not to bring Hana Yori Dango discussions into this drama, but I’ll depart from that rule for just a second. I knew Rui’s meddling in the Doumyouji–Makino relationship turned out to be his way of prodding them to admit their feelings for each other, and I’d wondered if Ji-hoo was doing the same… But it didn’t seem so up through Episode 7. (For one, Jan-di and Jun-pyo were getting along when he showed up, so if anything his presence was an inhibitor, not a facilitator.) Also, Ji-hoo admits that he was acting out from losing Seo-hyun, which pushed him to become closer with Jan-di. Thus Ji-hoo had no secret motives when he kissed Jan-di — he liked her, he was rebounding, ergo kiss.

That wrecked everything with Jun-pyo, and to keep Jan-di from expulsion, Ji-hoo went along with the competition. He wanted to win to protect Jan-di, and somewhere along the line (when Jun-pyo lost control of his car), he figured out that Jun-pyo didn’t really want to cut Jan-di out of his life.

So as I see it, Ji-hoo’s manipulations began after they won the competition (or Jun-pyo conceded, however you choose to look at it), when he asked Jan-di out on the date — that’s when he began working to bring Jun-pyo and Jan-di back together, after contributing to their breakup initially.

However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like Jan-di. Judging from his reaction after she left his house, I think we are to take that he does have feelings for her, but is willing to step back because the couple so obviously likes each other. (Although Jan-di is looking at the poster of Seo-hyun in the photo above, I think the image rather perfectly captures her relationship with Ji-hoo at that point, doesn’t it?)

I didn’t hate Ji-hoo in this episode, nor did I really like him — I guess he’s back to fading in as one of the F4 members, so he doesn’t register as strongly either way. I think I can live with that.

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