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[2013] Trung Tâm Mai Mối Cyrano Dating Agency: Cyrano - Lee Jong Hyuk, Choi Soo Young, Lee Chun Hee

Trung Tâm Mai Mối Cyrano

Trung Tâm Mai Mối Cyrano

Dating Agency: Cyrano (2013)

  • Quốc gia:Phim Hàn Quốc
  • Thể loại:phim tình cảmphim hài hước
  • Thời lượng:16 Tập (47 phút / tập)
  • Trạng thái:Full 16 tập
  • Tập tiếp theo:
  • Diễn viên:Lee Jong Hyuk, Choi Soo Young, Lee Chun Hee
  • Đạo diễn:Kang Kyung Hoon
  • Năm phát hành:2013
  • Điểm IMDb:7.1/ 10
  • Lượt xem:7913 lượt
  • Cập nhật lần cuối:31/03/2017

Phim Trung Tam Mai Moi Cyrano là bộ phim truyền hình dựa theo phim điện ảnh cùng tên, kể về một đội ngũ được thuê để giúp những người đang gặp khó khăn trong cuộc sống tình cảm. Họ lập nên những kế hoạch tỉ mỉ, giúp khách hàng có được người yêu.

Trung Tâm Mai Mối Cyrano OucPhnk

Ở đời có bao nhiêu cái ngu chứ? Hãy cùng Trung tâm mai mối xem những éo le và tình huống dở khóc dở cười của những ông tơ bà nguyệt. Được xem là người có tay nghề cao nhất và xác suất chính xác là 100% cho mọi khách hàng tìm đến trung tâm xin hỗ trợ, vị giám đốc Byung Hoon có nằm mơ cũng không ngờ được chính mình lại đi phải lòng cô gái khách hàng của chính mình. Những pha hài tréo ngoe sẽ khiến bạn cười ra nước mắt với dàn diễn viên xinh đẹp và tài năng trong Trung tâm mai mối.
Những pha hài tréo ngoe sẽ khiến bạn cười ra nước mắt với dàn diễn viên xinh đẹp và tài năng trong Trung tâm mai mối.Những pha hài tréo ngoe sẽ khiến bạn cười ra nước mắt với dàn diễn viên xinh đẹp và tài năng trong Trung tâm mai mối.
102 May 28, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 1

by gummimochi

A zippy and fun opening for Dating Agency Cyrano, the fourth show in the Flower Boy series on cable network tvN. With likable characters and a story that’s easy to follow, one can easily forget how quickly forty-five minutes can pass in the blink of an eye. Oh, and there’s plenty of eye candy. As if I needed to remind you.

They say that good things come in fours and Cyrano is no exception. With four experts of love running this ship and a coolheaded captain at the helm, we’re on course for what might be a delectable series ahead.

EPISODE 1 RECAP

In a dimly lit restaurant, a man breaks into a nervous smile in front of the woman sitting across from him, who smiles bashfully in return. The wine, the flowers, the mood – everything is perfect.

At a nearby table, GONG MIN-YOUNG (Sooyoung) looks on encouragingly. We hear her narrate: “There are so many things in this world where the time and place are crucial. But what could compare to this moment — the moment you confess your feelings?”

She tells us there is a principle that one mustn’t forget: True love can only be achieved through sincerity. Then she gives her client (Ji Jin-hee) his cue.

He launches into his confession, nervously stuttering his words of admiration towards his date. It doesn’t matter if things don’t work out later on down the road; he believes that there’s merit in a confession of love. With one last burst of courage, he asks her for a chance to prove himself.

The camera briefly cuts to a mysterious man sitting at a different table before the woman (Lee Chung-ah) gives her answer. She thanks him for his bold confession, which now gives her the courage to face her own cowardice.

Then she downs the rest of her glass, rises from her seat, and confesses her own feelings to the sommelier. HA.

We pause to learn more about Min-young, a bright-eyed young woman who works at a bustling matchmaking company. Her dream is to help those find their love match before they’re left forever alone. There’s a streak of idealism in her that I like, and she tells us with a smile: “That is what I wanted to do.”

Her clientele is a different story, however, as they name qualifications like a good family background or a successful career. She strains to keep a smile on her face until another voice cuts in, asking if there is such a thing as sincere feelings.

That voice belongs to the man we saw earlier, who asks for a chance to confess his feelings to a fellow client whom he believes to be his perfect match. He recognizes that she’s out of his league but he’ll regret it if he lets her slip away.

Min-young contemplates his words against her boss’s strict reminder to stick to the methodical system of relying on statistical data and analysis for creating matches. She makes a decision and grabs the necessary file before heading out.

The sight of the woman in question leaves Min-young to wonder whether she’s doing the right thing or not. Just then, a man bumps into her, causing her to drop her things, and she sneers at him when he leaves without a word.

She isn’t surprised to find that the lady isn’t keen on participating in yet another blind date, especially after a string of unsuccessful matches. But Min-young insists that this is a perfect match, adding that it could be destiny.

They’re interrupted by the crashing sound of a dropped wine bottle. Interestingly, the woman changes her tune and agrees to the date, to Min-young’s delight.

Min-young gives her client some last-minute words of encouragement before sending him out to the battlefield. Now we replay the opening scene in a different light, and SEO BYUNG-HOON (Lee Jong-hyuk) smirks at Min-young’s wide-eyed wonder from a nearby table.

He keeps a watchful eye out with the help of a camera and listens in on their conversation, thanks to the microphone hidden in the flowers. On cue, Byung-hoon sends in the sommelier to congratulate the potentially happy couple, and at the woman’s words of gratitude, he says aloud: “There’s no need to thank me.”

Byung-hoon keeps a tight rein on the entire operation, feeding the appropriate lines to seal the deal. Then he orders his team members to pack it up, and leaves an utterly shocked Min-young in his wake.

Min-young and her client sit on the steps, completely baffled by the situation. She pulls her hair out trying to figure out exactly what went wrong – everything was perfect, wasn’t it?

Her client tells her not to beat herself too much about it, and places the blame on himself for going after a Grade A woman when he himself is a Grade F man. He does, however, thank Min-young for giving him the courage to own up to his feelings and helping him find closure.

He sweetly adds that he admires the fervent passion she has in her line of work, and hopes that it will find a home.

Min-young gets an earful from her team leader about the unapproved pairing over the phone. She slumps against the back of the van. When she rests her head against the window in defeat, the back door unexpectedly opens.

Her mouth falls open at the sight of the van’s interior, lined with hi-tech equipment, including audio equipment and computers. Then her eyes grow wide when she sees an image of the woman her client was trying to woo that evening on a monitor.

Min-young backs away, but she jumps when she finds herself face to face with the van’s owner. He furrows his eyebrows as she tries to explain herself. He tells her, “Stop…”

…which is when she accidentally slips and knocks herself unconscious.

The night’s events flash before Min-young’s eyes and she wakes her with a start. Ominous music plays as she surveys her unknown surroundings. She jumps when a machine suddenly comes to life, its gears whirring. Then a friendly voice asks brightly: “Noona, are you okay?”

Let’s introduce the Cyrano crew members: ARANG (Jo Yoon-woo) ignores Min-young’s subsequent questions about where she is, and the reappearance of MOO-JIN (Hong Jong-hyun) spooks her. Frightened, she backs away just as Moo-jin tries to warn her: “Stop…”

But it’s too late, and Min-young falls backwards. The fake wall comes down (Moo-jin continues: “…it’s gonna fall.” Heh), and we get a glory shot of Byung-hoon, donned in his trademark black trenchcoat. He deadpans: “A loud entrance, as expected.” HA.

Her fall jogs her memory and she finally recognizes their faces. After a quick scan of the whiteboard which outlines the details to the entire operation, she asks if they’re conmen, scamming others for a living.

Byung-hoon answers: “Con artists? I’d like to call ourselves an agency.” Their job is to merely open doors for their clients who are in love.

Min-young is appalled to find a picture of herself on the board, and Byung-hoon asks her how it feels to act of her own accord, outside of company protocol. She points out that their interference ruined everything, and turns the question on him: How does it feel to stomp all over someone’s sincere feelings?

“And what about our client’s?” Byung-hoon counters. He argues that love isn’t always about sincerity and there are times when people don’t know how to express their feelings. That’s where he comes in.

She argues that his tactics are impolite, to which he tells her that those so-called romantic overtures are the ones that are impolite. In other words: “If you want to achieve sincerity, you have to understand that person.”

Reading his client’s file like a textbook in her presence won’t get you very far, Byung-hoon explains. We see that he intentionally broke the wine bottle so that the smell would trigger her memory about their previous awkward encounter. Then it was his agency who fed him the lines of his confession of love.

He summarizes that this is what it means to fully understand someone: If sincerity is to be valued, then one must be thorough.

When Min-young scoffs, asking where he gets these ideas, he taps his temple as if to say, From this think bank. Hahaha.

He tells her that her words of encouragement will eventually hurt her client in the long run. Feeding him false hope is like poison in the world of dating.

Min-young admits that her intentions were good, but what is it to anyone now? Then Byung-hoon flashes a business card – how about a job then? She scoffs at the offer – she would never subject herself to such grunt work.

In response, Byung-hoon reminds her of her dream: “Didn’t you want to help people fall in love without relying on the specs written on their resumes?”

He then explains that he was merely trying to help someone else in need. And a moment later, she receives a text indicating that she’s fired.

Byung-hoon says that her name suits her, and he draws close to ask about her surname: “Does it stand for ’empty’ Gong?” Haha.

Thankfully, Min-young’s boss looks favorably upon her and instructs her to stick to protocol next time. But that triggers her client’s words of admiration about building destined relationships and her original dream. She quits on the spot.

We’re introduced to another character – chef CHA SEUNG-PYO (Lee Chun-hee) – whose restaurant sits across from the Cyrano dating agency. He breaks into a small smile when he sees Min-young loiter outside the agency entrance.

However there’s none of that warm demeanor when he finds her using her restaurant as a temporary place of refuge. He mistakes her as another potential customer and tells her to take the last courageous step towards Cyrano.

Min-young gives herself a pep talk, and turns around when an actual potential client shows up to ask “if this is the secret place where they make people fall in love.”

Min-young ushers the client inside to Cyrano Agency with great enthusiasm. It’s adorable how Arang lights up to see her, and Byung-hoon tells her she’s right on time.

A few telling clues on the man’s clothes and hands is enough for Byung-hoon to deduce that their potential client is a veterinarian. He’s sharply observant, that’s for sure.

The team listens as their interviewee, Joon-hyuk, recounts about how he fell in love with a local librarian the day he found her feeding a stray cat in the rain. Min-young loses herself in her empathy with her descriptions about all of the overwhelming feelings that come with falling head over heels in love.

It’s Byung-hoon who puts them back on track, and he commends Joon-hyuk for retracting his casual invitation to dinner. He remains resolutely professional and declines any further information – they’ll do the research on the target from here on out.

Then he tosses the car keys to Min-young and asks if she can drive.

So it’s on the job training at the library where Min-young insists that she hasn’t fully committed to working at the agency yet, though her actions have clearly said otherwise.

They keep an eye on their target (Lee Yoon-ji), and avoid her gaze when she gets up and furiously marches through the aisles. Turns out she’s looking for the culprit who’s been ripping pages out books, calling it an “act of terror.”

That gives Byung-hoon an idea, and promptly tears out a page before handing the book back to Min-young. Off she goes, then. Ha, I love her shocked Who, me? expression.

The situation goes as well as you might expect and the librarian is startled at the damning evidence before her. As Min-young insists upon her innocence, Byung-hoon lurks behind their target, gathering clues in the brief moment of distraction.

Min-young pelts Byung-hoon with questions once they’re out of the library, her voice filled with annoyance. Instead, he counters that he noticed Min-young jot notes on their subject, and asks her to brief him on her observations.

She happily reports that librarian Jae-in is an quick and efficient worker who loves her job. Her face falls when Byung-hoon tells her that her report falls far below his expectations.

She asks him to enlighten her then, and Byung-hoon amuses her. In truth, Jae-in finds her job boring and could care less about the library patrons, let alone her admirer. Thus, in a desire to break free of the monotonous routine, she enjoys crime-mystery novels and is highly skeptical.

Min-young excitedly asks if Byung-hoon has a strategy in mind, and he gives a knowing smile.

So she’s thunderstruck and confused when Byung-hoon declares that they’ll reject the case. The boys aren’t surprised in the least, and Arang quips, “It’s a money issue, isn’t it?” Heh, I love that they can see right through him.

Byung-hoon sends him a look and avoids giving a direct answer, spouting roundabout excuses instead. It’s an effort to keep what’s left of his pride, he firmly insists, NOT a money issue.

Cut to: Byung-hoon hanging off of a rooftop ledge, held by a rope as a couple of gangsters who threaten him to pay up. Hahaha. Byung-hoon vows up and down that he’ll repay his debt.

It seems that this is a common occurrence, though it’s highly amusing to see the suave, collected team leader left to the mercy of a pair of thugs.

Down below, Min-young wonders if Byunghoon will be all right, and Seung-pyo assures her that with though the men might threaten him, they won’t kill him. She’s surprised to hear that Byung-hoon is a former genius theater director.

Seung-pyo is far more pleasant this time around, and he’s impressed to hear that the newbie has already been out in the field. He figures that Byung-hoon must find her competent then, and introduces himself as “Master.”

It’s worth noting that Moo-jin casts a dark expression in Master’s direction, though we don’t know why just yet.

And up above, his life hanging on a literal thread, Byung-hoon hollers: “Guys, prepare the case!”

Inside, the Cyrano team members brief Byung-hoon on Jae-in, a librarian who knows hapkido and enjoys reading crime novels in her spare time. She often gets in trouble for her strong sense of law-keeping within the library, hasn’t been in a relationship for some time, and shuts down her suitors.

Byung-hoon takes all of this information and deduces that Jae-in will be drawn to the characters in her favorite detective novels. Thus, their client must also have an air of mystery about them.

Their tactic? “Hard-boiled Dr. J” – a hard-boiled-type character much like the fictional private detective Sam Spade, from the novel The Maltese Falcon.

Team Cyrano implements the first step of their plan to stall Jae-in at the train station, like how Arang deliberately runs into her to slip Joon-hyuk’s library card in her purse.

She naturally misses the train, which is when Joon-hyuk steps out to the platform, looking like a character who just stepped out of a 1930’s crime novel. She barely has time to gaze longingly before a crowd gathers, and the same thugs menacingly walk past her.

Her suspicion radar pings, and Jae-in takes the bait. They run into a small wrinkle, however, when she initially searches for the police officers, and Min-young runs ahead to create a distraction.

Jae-in roams the platform until her eyes fall upon Joon-hyuk sitting mysteriously on a bench. Byung-hoon instructs his client to lift his head and wait ten seconds…

Like clockwork, Jae-in rushes forward to lead Joon-hyuk away. Without a word, he gently pushes her into the train just before the door closes.

Caught up in her own whirlwind, she finally discovers the hidden name card. And on the sidelines, Min-young casts Byung-hoon an impressed look.

Byung-hoon commends his team on a job well-done, and he assures Joon-hyuk that he’s made a lasting first impression. Which is why they’re all surprised to see Jae-in get off on another platform, having doubled back to find her mystery man.

They disperse and Min-young teases about how Byung-hoon didn’t expect this outcome, to which he defends himself, saying that he can’t control for all the variables since Jae-in’s behavior is atypical for a civil servant.

He spots Jae-in approaching, and swiftly pulls Min-young close to him, telling her that their target will readily recognize her. Now it’s his turn to tease her, asking if the close proximity makes her nervous.

Min-young denies it, and pushes him away from her. But she starts to lose her balance, and Byung-hoon grabs her just in time, pulling her in closer.

 

COMMENTS

What an adorable show. The show’s setup and characters may be new to some or familiar to those who have seen the 2010 movie Cyrano Agency. You can place me in the latter camp, although I purposefully kept myself in the dark in order to watch this show somewhat blind. So I was pleased to find that this show satisfies my recent craving for a breezy romantic comedy with quippy dialogue and an idealistic heroine who wants to see her clients find happiness in love.

I like that her dream is a simple one, almost naive and purely optimistic in nature. What’s more is that we’re introduced to Min-young when that her dream has suffered under realism, which has taken over her day-to-day lifestyle. Then it takes a realist for her to challenge her to do what she originally set out to do. Furthermore, I like that we don’t get the classic side characters attached to our heroine. There’s no mother to nag her about her career or a best friend who yaps on about the mundane everyday bits of dramaland.

It’s this sense of independence around Min-young that I love, where her decisions are her own and doesn’t have to answer to anyone. In that same vein, I’m surprised that Sooyoung folds in nicely with the rest of the cast, given that I haven’t seen any of her previous projects.

What I love is that each character seems like an integral cog to the narrative, including the clients the dating agency serves. It’s no easy feat, considering how little we actually know about these characters. Take for instance, the Cyrano boys, who barely got a few lines in the episode and were never actually addressed by name. However, the brief glimpses that we got dropped enough clues to inform us that they understand Byung-hoon better than anyone else, and even then, he’s still a mystery.

There’s still so much to know about Min-young and the rest of our characters, and yet it already feels like we’ve gotten to know them on a first-name basis. If anything, the character descriptions hint that there is always more than what meets the eye.

Lee Jong-hyuk may not be the typical flower boy you may have imagined in your head, but boy does this man ooze charisma. A character like Byung-hoon with a distant and calculating personality may sound very dramaland hero cookie-cutteresque, but Lee Jong-hyuk adds some much needed depth to the character. Not only is Byung-hoon super observant and practical, he gets people and knows what makes them tick. Which explains why the role calls for an older actor to play a character who understands people based upon years of various experiences.

I love that we’ve already zoned in on the dating agency setup. This is really where the meat and potatoes are at, and I can only begin to imagine the hijinks that will emerge from these four. Not only that, this allows for encapsulated mini-arcs of story as the Cyrano team tackles a new client who has a unique story to tell. What they’ll make of the story below, only time will tell.


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75 May 29, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 2

by gummimochi

Helping people fall in love is all in a day’s work for the love experts over at Cyrano Agency, where you’re in the capable hands of those who don’t believe in the lofty ideals of romance. They’ll gladly fill in the gaps of that mysterious someone that fulfills your greatest fantasy, but don’t be surprised when they can attribute your emotions to hormones or calculate the rate of success of what you thought was your best pick-up line.

Because you see – making love matches isn’t their goal; it’s just a job. So be careful where you tread and make sure that it’s not just a trick of the eye.

SONG OF THE DAY

Dating Agency: Cyrano OST – “CHANCE!” by Peppertones [ Download ]

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EPISODE 2 RECAP

The sudden embrace takes Min-young by surprise, and a few more seconds of awkward silence pass before she speaks up. Although they’re both aware of their close proximity, Min-young seems to be the only one noticeably affected by it. Once the coast is clear, Byung-hoon casually lets her go.

He then uses this opportunity as a teaching moment to illustrate how perfect his plan was. When Min-young grumbles over the fact that it was all staged, he once again points out the importance of a lasting first impression.

He asks, “Do you know the probability of successful dating relationships thanks to a lasting first impression?” She doesn’t and he’s like, Google it. Cheeky.

Meanwhile, Seung-pyo sips coffee at his restaurant. He muses over the pile of paparazzi-like photos of Byung-hoon and Min-young lying on the table, and he slams his cup over Byung-hoon’s face. Eek, are you two not friends?

Then the same pair of gangsters who threatened Byung-hoon to pay up in the previous episode walks through the door. Huh? Are you the one pulling the strings, Master?

Back at Cyrano HQ, Min-young entertains the boys with her swashbuckling tale of courage at the train station, only to have Byung-hoon burst her bubble.

She excitedly asks Moo-jin about their next course of action, and pouts slightly when he ignores her. They haven’t heard back from Jae-in yet, but Byung-hoon reassures his team that his “rescued chick” strategy has never failed him.

Thankfully for Min-young (and us), Arang cheerily explains that this phenomenon occurs when the target finds herself growing curious about the well-being of the one she saved from danger.

…which is exactly what Jae-in is doing this very moment, and she looks up the identity of her mysterious man in the library system. Heh, I love that she has a Sherlock Holmes screensaver.

It’s no surprise that Byung-hoon finds Min-young’s suggestion to let the potential couple meet absolutely ridiculous – how will they ever get paid that way?

Astonished by his pragmatic answer, she argues, “You’re in the business of helping people fall in love! That should be your goal!” He corrects her – that’s their job, not their goal.

He pegs her for a romantic, and is hard-pressed to believe that everyone in the world longs for romance. Something that can be easily explained by hormones like romance is just a media ploy, he flatly replies.

Min-young can hardly believe her ears, and she leans down to ask if Byung-hoon ever wanted to be in love. Byung-hoon: “Of course not.” She gets the same answer from the Cyrano boys, and Min-young is astounded to learn that the so-called love experts are a bunch of robots who don’t believe in the idea.

Just then, Byung-hoon’s phone rings (he set it up so that both he and the client would receive calls simultaneously) and the boys spring into strategizing mode, ignoring Min-young, who protests in an annoyed voice as the phone continues to ring: “Aren’t you going to get that?!”

A little while later, Seung-pyo finds Min-young sitting by herself at the bus stop. He offers to give her a ride, since it looks like she’s had a rough day.

In the car, he cautiously asks about how work is going, and when Min-young says that she may pack up her things because she doesn’t get the Cyrano boys, he tells her that he thinks she’ll stick around for a while.

He invites her to drop by the restaurant if ever she needs a place of refuge. Hm, why are you so keen on having her stay?

Using the analogy that someone who hates potatoes can still sell potato soup, Min-young doesn’t understand how the romance experts who don’t even believe in the idea can be in charge of other people’s love lives.

She loses Seung-pyo in her analogy, but he figures that if you can’t trade out the person who hates potatoes, you may as well hire someone who loves them.

She’s surprised when they drive up to the library, and he explains that there’s little that goes on in Cyrano that he doesn’t know about. I’ll bet.

Then they spot Jae-in trying to hail a cab with a cat (named after another mystery novel character Philip Marlowe) in her arms. It takes about two seconds for Min-young to realize that she’s off to see the vet, aka their client, Joon-hyuk.

Byung-hoon rushes out as soon as he receives the call while Seung-pyo and Min-young tail the taxi. In an effort to stall for more time, Seung-pyo swerves in front of the cab, cutting them off.

The near-accident doesn’t deter Jae-in from climbing out of the taxi and march towards the animal hospital on foot. Min-young chases after her, leaving Seung-pyo to deal with the supposedly injured taxi driver.

Once Min-young is out of earshot, Seung-pyo drops the polite act, and warns the man not to exaggerate his non-injuries lest he actually wishes to end up paralyzed. Okay seriously, are you evil or not?

With Byung-hoon still on his way, Min-young thinks fast and tries to stall Jae-in by the front desk. But Jae-in is a woman on a mission, and she charges past her in order to see the doctor.

And who should turn around to greet her but Byung-hoon himself. Oh whew, you made it! Then Min-young surveys the room to find Moo-jin hanging around and their client safely out of sight.

Turns out Byung-hoon is allergic to animal fur which explains why he stopped Joon-hyuk from approaching him at their first meeting and avoided to touch the cat. Min-young, however, finds Byung-hoon’s allergy highly amusing as he sneezes and scratches in front of the mirror.

She all but rolls her eyes when Byung-hoon rattles on about how worried he is that their target might fall for him instead, given how cool he looked in the doctor gown.

So she argues that if the gown makes the man, “…then we could have had our client see her instead.” HA – the lady has a point there.

Then I love how vain Byung-hoon actually is. He’s all, No, no, it HAD to be me. *sneeze* *scratch*

It’s hard to tell whether Min-young’s visit to the library is part of Team Cyrano’s plan. Jae-in isn’t exactly happy to run into Min-young for the third time in such a short time span.

Once Min-young introduces herself, she launches into this long-winded explanation: See, it was the on-call doctor whom Jae-in met last night, not Dr. J (their client), who by the way is perfect, talented, a great man of character, and did I mention perfect?

It’s clumsy, but it gets the job done, and Jae-in seems reassured that the animal is in good hands.

Meanwhile back at the hospital, Byung-hoon hilariously plasters himself to the glass at the sight of the cat. Then he slyly moves behind the glass to place even more distance between the animal and himself.

He pops out from behind the glass he’s hiding behind when Joon-hyuk expresses his doubts. Even if Jae-in ends up falling for him, he can’t shake off the nagging feeling that they deceived her to do so.

But Byung-hoon explains that all they’re doing is creating an image in order to pique Jae-in’s interest. In other words, they’re merely attempting to impress her, like how a poor man would excessively spend money he doesn’t have on a woman he likes.

In the car, Moo-jin breaks his usual silence to ask Byung-hoon why he hired Min-young to work with them. When Byung-hoon answers that they needed another team member, particularly a female, Moo-jin counters, “Is that all?”

It seems that Min-young’s words affect Byung-hoon more than he lets on. For now he answers: “We’ll see.”

Then he acts all annoyed when they stop to pick up Min-young to carpool back to the agency. Ah, so the visit to the library wasn’t part of the plan at all, and Byung-hoon voices his complaints from the backseat.

Min-young prevents another oncoming lecture with the suggestion that they should have a welcoming party for her as a new hire. Byung-hoon immediately disapproves of the idea, but as soon as Min-young mentions that she’ll foot the bill, he asks: “Where?”

Next thing we know, we’re at Seung-pyo’s restaurant where an inebriated Min-young sits at the bar while Byung-hoon provides critical commentary on her character.

She joins the boys and belabors the point of why she wants to help others find love: She’s here to create true love matches, not arranged ones.

At Byung-hoon remark that that’s considered satisfaction by proxy, Min-young angrily rises from her seat, yelling that he helped her realize that she’s a far better person than he is. Omg, I kind of love drunk Min-young.

Min-young stumbles back to the bar, rifling through her bag to find an appropriate gift for Master. She presents him with her treasured Swiss Army knife “to use to peel potatoes.”

That’s both adorable and hilarious, and I love how Seung-pyo lights up. Then she ruffles his hair like a puppy. Hee.

The Cyrano boys carry Min-young out of the restaurant, and Byung-hoon frowns over the ordinary gift. Oho, is our team leader feeling a bit jealous?

Although the two speak politely to each other in jondae, the air is noticeably tense between them. Seung-pyo retorts that the unexpected gifts are always the ones that are most fun. “Or do you not know anything about that?” Something tells me we’re not talking about the knife anymore.

He acknowledges that he’s pretty skilled with knives, and he mysteriously adds that there may never be a chance to properly show them off.

Seung-pyo removes his glasses once Byung-hoon leaves. He then calls his two lackeys out of hiding, who address him as “hyung-nim.” Ah, so they act as spies while they help out with the Cyrano missions. Makes you wonder if our restaurateur really is a mob boss, doesn’t it?

When Min-young wakes some hours later, she stumbles across Byung-hoon watching old high school movies by himself on a projector. Her presence doesn’t go unnoticed, and Byung-hoon shoots her a point-and-look that basically says, You, come here. Ha.

He’s given her a new nickname “Airhead,” given that there’s nothing but air (gong-gi) in that head of hers. He promptly changes the subject when she mentions the movies, scolding her for hanging around the workplace instead of going home like normal people do.

But Min-young disagrees with him and admits that people become completely real in their drunken state. Therefore, she meant every word she said earlier and genuinely wants to find what she really wants to do while working at Cyrano.

Those drunken words still bother him, so he beckons her forward to ask exactly why she thinks that she’s a better person than he is. Her answer: “Because you don’t have a heart.”

That’s the exact reason why he’s so good at this job, Byung-hoon retorts. All he has to do is give what the client wants without his emotions dictate his actions.

So if she wants to save herself from getting hurt in the future, she can chuck that idea of sincerity out the window.

Everything goes according to plan in their next scenario. Arang reports from the subway that Jae-in is on her way to her weekly book club when she catches a brief glimpse of Joon-hyuk at the station.

Byung-hoon instructs their client to follow the script as Jae-in trails behind her mystery man, careful to remain unseen. At the designated location, she witnesses two suspicious men (including Moo-jin) converse in the street. Recalling the strange note she found at the library some time ago, she wonders: “Is it drugs?”

She runs forward when she sees Joon-hyuk spring into action. The men disperse and Moo-jin gets on his bike and rides in her direction. Just before he’s about to run her over, Joon-hyuk pulls her out of the street. Now that’s a swoonworthy moment.

Min-young is surprised that Jae-in is the one to suggest dinner, and Byung-hoon corrects her, saying that the issue wasn’t dinner per se, but rather whom she shared it with.

He points out how ironic it is that Min-young is in the business of creating love matches when in reality, she constantly gets rejected. He gives her a word of advice: “The most important thing about romance is to fulfill the other person’s fantasy.”

To do so requires a certain kind of mystery, and for transparent girls like herself, they always end up getting dumped. “Why?” Byung-hoon answers, “Because they tire of you right away.”

That statement puts Min-young on the defensive, and she proclaims that her charm is hidden deep DEEP inside where no one can readily see it. But that’s the very problem, Byung-hoon replies. “That’s not charm, but a delusion.”

He tells her to watch and learn from their client. Min-young scoffs – how is she to believe the words of someone who doesn’t even believe in romance?

We catch up with the budding lovebirds at dinner, where Jae-in acts like a giddy teenage girl around Joon-hyuk. She hangs on his every word until Joon-hyuk is suddenly called away.

Her thoughts drift, and we get a peek inside Jae-in’s mind as she fantasizes about where he’s gone. We see Joon-hyuk engage a roomful of gangsters in a fight, and whips around at the sight of Jae-in.

HA – I love that the audio and video track are in sync with the time period, and it takes the waiter’s interruption to bring her out of her reverie.

While she’s stuck in her fantasy, Joon-hyuk is painted with theater makeup before he’s sent back inside. He feigns injury which triggers her fantasy once more, and remains mysteriously vague when she asks about his line of work.

His elusive nature tugs at Jae-in’s curiosity, but she lays the subject to rest, adding that no matter what he does, she’ll always be on his side. Hook, line, and sinker.

At Seung-pyo’s restaurant, Min-young confides in him, saying that though things are going well for their client, the situation still makes her feel uneasy. Initially drawn to the idea to help people fall in love when she quit her job, she admits that she’s confused whether her job at Cyrano is based on something real or just an illusion.

“And what if it’s not real?” Seung-pyo asks. She falls back on her potato metaphor, and asks what happens if the potato lover gets caught meddling with the restaurant. Will she be fired?

He puts her worries to rest, telling her that she can always come work at his restaurant if she’s ever fired. It’s sweet, but is this a moment of foreshadowing? Then he rises to attend to another customer whose face is hidden from view.

Min-young visits Joon-hyuk at the animal hospital to convey her thoughts about the case. She suggests, “How do you feel about showing Jae-in the real you?” Uh-oh, I’m not getting a good feeling about this.

It’s time to execute the third and final chapter of the operation and Byung-hoon narrates that the secret around Joon-hyuk’s double life will leave confuse Jae-in, which will make her fall in love with their client.

Byung-hoon tries to call Min-young for an update, and isn’t at all surprised when she doesn’t answer. Then we see that it’s because she’s still trying to convince Joon-hyuk that he can win the lady’s heart without Team Cyrano’s help. He agrees.

When Joon-hyuk doesn’t pick up either, Byung-hoon puts an emergency call to the other team members to initiate Plan C.

So Moo-jin drops by the library in order to grab Jae-in’s attention, who recognizes him from the other night. She starts to panic over how to contact Joon-hyuk, and receives a text from him a minute later.

Jae-in calls him back, but since a call to Joon-hyuk also gets automatically forwarded, it’s Byung-hoon who intercepts the call.

Min-young is taken by surprise when Byung-hoon suddenly grabs her by the arm as soon as she arrives at the library.

He says that he thought of executing a new plan since he expected that Min-young would backstab him. To find out what she was up to was child’s play, given that her actions were predictable as usual.

She should know what this means for her future at Cyrano, but he’ll spell it out for her: She’s fired.

 

COMMENTS

Ack – this show keeps on getting better. There’s so much material to glean from a single episode that often times, I feel like I’m missing out on a minute detail that turns out to be crucial to the team’s operation. Every word seems to hold its own weight, and with so many bees at work in the hive, it’s almost like you need two pairs of eyes to keep track of everything that’s going on. This allows for the story to move at a brisk pace that I dearly hope sustains for the rest of the series.

The various perspectives surrounding love and romance is a (sometimes belabored) recurring theme in this series, personified by our leads. Min-young’s idealistic take on romance clashes against Byung-hoon’s realist viewpoints more than once in this episode, and we’ve seen how her meddling has left her jobless twice now. Though her intentions are good, it’s Byung-hoon who drives the point home that her actions do more harm than good. At least for the agency, that is.

Not only does Min-young now have to try and get her job back, she’s tasked to learn how to earn Byung-hoon’s trust again. Best of luck to you there, sista.

Speaking of whom, Byung-hee is an intriguing character to unpack. Already we can see the cracks in that supposed calm and collected temperament of his, and can almost guarantee that he’s harboring some deeper issues. Not that you’d notice of course, given his roundabout and defensive answers regarding anything that hits remotely close to home.

Although he says that he doesn’t believe in romance and love, it may be safe to assume that he doesn’t believe in it anymore. He’s like the electrician whose light bulbs at home are broken or the deli owner whose refrigerator is empty. So you could call him a ringleader who doesn’t house a heart of love nor possesses a desire for one at present. Which is why it’s so entertaining to watch how much it bothers him that Min-young’s words affect him so much. Aw, this Dorothy is just trying to help the Tin Man find his heart.

We still don’t know what the deal is with Seung-pyo aka Master, who is still much of a question mark. All we can assume at this point is that he has some sort of vendetta against Byung-hoon that we have yet to find out. Though we know little to none about their history, we can assume that Moo-jin knows about it. Seung-pyo’s hot-and-cold personality leaves me wanting, and I absolutely love his interactions with Min-young so far. It’s hard to pinpoint where his intentions lie at this point, but he seems to enjoy her presence, and I can’t wait to see how their already chummy relationship continues to develop. Please don’t be evil, Master!

Though there’s still so much to figure out about Lee Chun-hee‘s character, there is of course, one thing that I know for certain: Chunderella, you’ve never looked better.


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53 June 5, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 3

by gummimochi

There are some things in life you can’t say is a sure thing, like love or emotions. The Cyrano team continues to face new challenges with their next client with variables that no one saw coming. The game of love isn’t always about being able to pitch a fastball, but learning how to adapt when an unexpected curveball comes your way. Love isn’t always an easy place to maneuver, so it’s always nice to have Cupid shoot an extra arrow to help you out.

SONG OF THE DAY

B2ST – “You” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

EPISODE 3 RECAP

Thanks to Min-young’s interference with Team Cyrano’s plan, Byung-hoon tells her that she’s now out of a job. To this, Min-young scoffs, “Out?!” A drama heroine who doesn’t take this kind of news lying down? Am I dreaming? *pinches cheek*

She argues that she can’t be cut from the team this easily as a sports coach would do to one of his players. Their argument escalates until they realize that they’ve drawn unwanted attention towards themselves at the library.

Min-young remain resolutely stubborn as she climbs into the car afterwards, to Byung-hoon’s annoyance. Not only is she determined to see the job through, she’ll decide on her future at Cyrano for herself thankyouverymuch.

She’s surprised when Byung-hoon declares that they’re off to see Jae-in so that their client can come clean just as they’d hoped. Wait a minute – our ringleader wouldn’t given in this easily.

Elsewhere at Seung-pyo’s restaurant, Jae-in tries her best to remain inconspicuous at her table until Joon-hyuk arrives. She motions towards the suspicious-looking Moo-jin at the bar, and confused when Joon-hyuk lets him walk out scot-free.

Back at the van, Min-young is dumbfounded to discover that Byung-hoon is still pulling the strings of the operation. They monitor Joon-hyuk closely as he musters the courage to tell Jae-in the truth…

Just then, a sudden explosion erupts from behind the bar, and the potential couple find themselves locked inside, enveloped in smoke.

Min-young rises from her chair, concerned for their safety. But Byung-hoon tells her to sit tight, adding that this is all part of Plan C. Her meddling has forced him to change the finale which now has a lower but acceptable success rate of 80%. He adds, “I guess it’s still better than your way.”

They’re joined by Seung-pyo, who marvels at the high-tech gear in the van. He’s here to keep a close eye on the state of his restaurant and returns the used smoke device to its rightful owner. Byung-hoon scowls.

Back inside the restaurant, Joon-hyuk’s persistent efforts to shove the door open prove futile. Regardless, his heroism sweeps Jae-in off of her feet. Then the door unlocks on cue and they stumble outside.

Once they catch their breaths, Joon-hyuk admits that his vocation isn’t as alluringly dangerous as she believes – he’s just a vet. To his surprise, she matter-of-factly answers: “I know.”

As Jae-in explains how she recognizes him as a regular library patron, a flashback teaches us about the previously intercepted call by Byung-hee which confirmed that her mystery man was no more than an everyday veterinarian.

Jae-in takes the first step to openly confess her feelings (“You know that I like you, right?”), and in the van, Byung-hoon snaps his fingers: “Bingo.”

Joon-hyuk can only stare in amazement at her admission that she didn’t understand at first why she never took notice of such a strange and interesting man like himself. His face falls as he fixates on the word “strange” but her words don’t end there.

With a smile, Jae-in admits that she poured herself in detective mystery novels because she found fiction to be far more interesting than her boring reality. But ever since she saw Joon-hyuk at the train platform, she became intrigued and grew curious to learn more about him. “Thanks to you, I realized that the world is full of interesting things if I take an interest in it.” Aww.

Moved by her words, Joon-hyuk reaches for her hands… and then Jae-in asks if the “act of terror” in the restaurant was the work of the shady man they saw sitting at the bar earlier. Ha, still suspicious of her surroundings as ever.

Now that the operation is a wrap, Byung-hoon leans back in his chair to ask Min-young how it feels to see something fake turn real before their eyes. She returns a forced smile in response.

Byung-hoon grumbles when Seung-pyo acknowledges that he’s honored to have been a witness to the team’s impressive handiwork, and hands over the bill to use his restaurant on such short notice. The staggered expression on Byung-hoon’s face is enough for us to gather that it costs a pretty penny.

Seung-pyo takes his leave and when Min-young tries to follow suit, her bag inadvertently knocks over the smoke device and it hits the floor. BOOM.

Once they’re back at headquarters, Min-young causes further trouble when a marionette’s strings accidentally break at her touch. When Byung-hoon reminds her that she’s a former Cyrano employee, she immediately back-pedals and apologizes for her rash actions.

Her hand raised, she vows to never go rogue on their missions again and promises to be a true team player from now on. Although he finds those words hard to believe, Byung-hoon reluctantly takes her back in, to her delight.

A little later, the boys watch as Min-young scratches her head over the previous operation. When she overhears that their client added in an extra bonus because of her efforts, she quickly retracts her gratitude, horrified.

The following morning, Byung-hoon makes good use of Min-young’s reinstatement and tasks her to be his driver. When Min-young asks in an annoyed voice why he can’t just drive there himself, he gruffly answers: “It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I don’t.”

We learn more about Arang when he declines a ride to school, and Min-young is legitimately surprised to hear that he’s a high school student. She’s further impressed to learn that Arang moved out to the city on his own because of his passion for theater.

That prompts Min-young to ask why Arang joined Cyrano Agency instead of a legitimate theater troupe. Byung-hoon tells her: “He was moved by our play.” She guesses that his use of “our play” refers to the former theater director, but Byung-hoon refuses to answer anything on the subject.

Their trip takes them to a puppet repair shop and they both protest when the old man asks if they’re romantically involved. It seems the puppet in question holds some sentiment, and Byung-hoon’s face darkens when he’s told to ask a certain Yi-seol to repair the marionette herself.

We catch up with Arang at school, and it should be no surprise that he has his own set of admirers. However the class president, Min Se-kyung, isn’t one of them. Placing a mountain of schoolwork on his desk, she asks in an irritated voice why Arang skips out on school so often.

She cocks her head towards the television where an idol group performs onscreen – she gets why he doesn’t show up, but what’s his excuse? When Arang simply smiles warmly back at her, she stalks off more annoyed than before.

That same idol boy is Yang Ho-yeol (cameo by Lee Tae-min), who receives a distinguished award from the school in the presence of the media. Ho-yeol shakes off his handlers to hang back at school, reassuring them that he can take care of himself.

The sight of Se-kyung through a window as he walks down an adjacent corridor triggers a memory of the time she once mended a minor cut on his hand. Smiling, he trails behind her.

Arang reads from his copy of Cyrano de Bergerac in an empty theater and buries his nose in his book to hide when Se-kyung walks in, promptly followed by Ho-yeol. Completely unaware that they have an audience, Ho-yeol boldly asks her out.

He misinterprets her reluctance as fear of public scrutiny and tells her that she needn’t worry since it will only become harder for her if they do. You sure make it hard for a girl to say no, lover boy. She shuts him down.

Once she leaves, Arang pops out of his hiding place. He tells Ho-yeol that he’s here to help and whips out Cyrano’s business card. Look who’s our next client.

Ho-yeol surveys the Cyrano theater as Min-young turns into a giddy fangirl in the idol boy’s presence. (She calls him by his stage name Ray but I’ll mostly stick to his real name.)

Arang cheerily declines her suggestion that he become an idol too – he’s only interested to become a stage actor. The sight of the two adorably handsome faces sitting side-by-side sends her in another fit of giggles.

Then Byung-hoon sits down and starts off their initial consultation with one important question: Who manages his money?

As expected, Byung-hoon later gets called out on the question as Min-young chides him for his fixation over finances. Byung-hoon counters that it’s a legitimate question – what if they find out that their client is penniless after they finish the operation?

He threatens to fire her should she continue to spout such nonsense and frowns when Seung-pyo answers for her saying that she can work at the restaurant instead.

This is how we’re introduced to Master’s new part-timer, HYE-RI, who arrives early for work. In her eagerness to get to work right away, she accidentally splatters food on Moo-jin’s face. Hee, I love how uncomfortable Moo-jin gets when she leans in too close.

We get a peek into Arang’s living quarters at the theater which is lined with stage production posters. He shares that his dream is to travel around the world to see every play with his tent filled with teddy bears. Gah, why are you so adorable?

Though the boys aren’t necessarily friends, they do have a somewhat friendly rapport with each other. Ho-yeol asks if there’s anyone that Arang is interested in and he puffs up with pride when he learns that he’s the sunbae in the girl department.

Then he invites Arang to seek him out whenever he runs into girl trouble. Arang reminds him: “You’re the one getting dating advice from me, aren’t you?” Touché.

Still not completely convinced, Ho-yeol asks it’s really possible that Se-kyung will fall for him. Arang assures him that it’s a sure thing; the team has had a 100% success rate thus far. Uh-oh, why do I get the uneasy feeling that this record is about to be broken?

Using the knowledge that their target arrives early to school to their advantage, Se-kyung walks in the classroom to find Ho-yeol casually sitting by the windowsill as the curtains billow in the wind.

But Se-kyung is a smart cookie and Ho-yeol flusters when she points out the oddity: “Why is the wind only blowing from that window?” And just outside, Arang and Moo-jin turn off the fan. HA.

Ho-yeol’s foot acting doesn’t help either and Se-kyung hardly bats an eyelash after he awkwardly delivers his prepared lines.

In the van, Byung-hoon finds their target’s lack of reaction strange; there’s no way to tell whether she likes their client or not. He all but rolls his eyes when Min-young gapes that it’s ridiculous that anyone would reject the ever-perfect Ray.

At her theory that Se-kyung must have previously suffered from some kind of idol trauma, he tosses her a bag and tells her to get dressed. Min-young takes one look inside and balks, “Are you nuts?!” Ha, it’s a school uniform isn’t it?

Byung-hoon grabs her by the collar to stop her when she charges outside. He reminds her of the promise she made when she rejoined the team – she’d do everything that was asked of her, remember?

They bicker back-and-forth for another minute until a ripping sound of her shirt makes the both of them freeze in place. Then Min-young hurls her bag in his face. HA.

Byung-hoon nurses his injury as he waits for Min-young to change. She pops her head out and asks guiltily why he tugged on her clothes in the first place, and Byung-hoon defends: “I didn’t tug at it. I was just holding it.”

He holds the door open and orders his “sister” Seo Min-young to get out of the van. He tells Min-young that this is her lucky day – she can consider this as a chance to relive her days as a teen.

Then he barks at her to hurry up and Min-young trudges along after him like the reluctant high-schooler she is.

Their target high school also happens to be Byung-hoon’s alma mater and they run into one of his old teachers. As they catch up on old times, Min-young sticks her tongue at him before she slips away.

She doesn’t get very far before she runs into Seung-pyo, who explains that he’s here to take photos. But Byung-hoon is right on her tail and as he drags “his sister” back to school, Master takes a few quick shot of them.

He wonders aloud: “A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.” Looking through his photos, he scoffs, “You look like you’re having fun lately.”

Min-young bites her lip in embarrassment as she’s introduced to the class, who immediately react to her slightly older features. At least Se-kyung sends a friendly smile her way when she’s assigned to help Min-young get acclimated.

They walk around campus after class and pass by an old theater that isn’t used anymore, though there’s talk of it getting remodeled. Named Arrow Theater, rumor has it that couples would secretly hold their dates there and a place where Cupid might shoot an arrow.

Min-young cuts to the chase and mentions Ho-yeol’s name with excitement. She flattens to discover that there’s no idol trauma in Se-kyung’s past after all since the girl is neither interested in idols at present nor has ever been.

The girls rush off to class, and Byung-hoon emerges from behind the wall, having overheard the entire conversation. He wonders if this is an impossible mission after all.

Just then, the echoing sound of footsteps grab his attention, and we see a teenage boy run up the stairs to the roof where his friend is waiting for him with a poster for their next stage production entitled “Cyrano.”

Ah, so we’re in Byung-hoon’s memory and his friend, Go Do-il, explains that Byung-hoon’s new stage name (“Seo Il-rok”) is a reference to his childhood nickname “Sherlock.” He adds that if anyone has a problem with it, they can take it up with him. Aw, I like him. Is he our former theater director?

He agrees to be the Watson to Byung-hoon’s Sherlock, and the boys smile. In the present, Byung-hoon reminisces on the memory with grim fondness.

Byung-hoon walks in Arrow Theater, unaware that Seung-pyo is just a few steps behind him. Once inside, his eyes rests upon a faded mural of a group of teenagers on the wall. For a brief minute, we see the back of a teenage girl painting on the same wall some years ago and cut away as soon as she turns around.

Byung-hoon surveys the rest of the room and smiles when he sees Arang walk past, his nose buried deep in his Cyrano de Bergerac book again. Then he freezes when he spots Se-kyung walking in the same direction. Uh-oh.

He pulls Min-young back when she approaches, having followed Se-kyung here from class. They silently watch from behind the door as Se-kyung walks towards Arang in the empty theater and confesses, “I like you.”

 
COMMENTS

Well that certainly adds a wrinkle to our master plan. On the bright side, at least the team discovered this important detail in the reconnaissance phase of their operation rather than later on down the road. The surprise confession isn’t particularly novel in dramaland by any means, but we’re aware of how this variable further complicates the relationships between our characters and cranks the difficulty level to a factor of ten. Ack, I should have known that Cyrano’s perfect record would be tainted as soon as Arang mentioned their guaranteed success.

In that same vein, I like that the team is now faced with the very real possibility that this mission could fail. Young love can be a difficult thing to contain and the team is up against the toughest target they’ve dealt with thus far. She’s neither easily manipulated nor foolish, so how is a group of romantics to sweep her off of her feet? Not only that, she has eyes for another flower boy who – from what we can tell so far – is a better all-around guy.

I particularly enjoy the broad spectrum of love and romance we’ve covered in a few short episodes (thanks to our countless cameos) and this particular mini-arc allows for a fantastic opportunity to explore Byung-hoon’s past in his old stomping grounds. His childhood nickname “Sherlock” helps us understand his Holmes level of observation and sharp deductive reasoning skills. His previous relationship with Do-il is so wonderfully sweet and serves to remind us that Byung-hoon is a Sherlock who once had a Watson in his life along with a group of friends he truly cared about.

I love that we got a proper introduction to Arang’s backstory, even if it was given to us through a bit of exposition. Up to this point, the Cyrano didn’t feel like a collective unit in terms of their relationships. We know how well they work together, but how well do they really know each other?

Now that we’ve learned a bit about Arang, I so hope that we get to crack Moo-jin’s silent exterior. Also, I appreciate that these details aren’t grim or tragic, but they’re just enough to round out our characters even further. And why yes, I would love to go camping in a tent filled with teddy bears, wouldn’t you?

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50 June 6, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 4

by gummimochi

Playing Cupid is never easy when you throw emotions into the mix. The operation at hand becomes exponentially more difficult after a confession of love throws this ship off course. And though our eye mostly remains on Arang, we’re left with more questions than answers that leaves our characters shrouded in mystery.

SONG OF THE DAY

B1A4 – “Beautiful Target” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

EPISODE 4 RECAP

Arang is rendered utterly speechless by Se-kyung’s unexpected confession of her feelings for him. We flashback to when she had first taken notice of him a year ago, and he had unintentionally been hit by a rogue puck that flew in her direction. His friendly concern for her had sent her swooning.

This is also the same memory that Ho-yeol recalled in the previous episode, and now we replay the scene through her eyes. She had been too busy staring out the window to catch a glimpse of Arang and considered it a bother to mend Ho-yeol’s cut.

So the other day, she had left during class in order to find Arang in the theater to tell him then. But Ho-yeol had walked in after her, and we know the rest.

When Arang stammers in response to search for the right words, Se-kyung interjects to tell him to take his time—he doesn’t have to give her an answer right away. She looks up expectantly when Arang rises from his seat. He’s ready with his answer now—it’s a no. She’s crushed.

Se-kyung hides the hurt of the rejection, thanking him instead for the warm, fuzzy feelings and for butterflies in her stomach she felt. He smiles warmly back at her, and they shake hands.

Once she’s outside, she gives into her tears. Aw sweetie, we’ve all been there.

On the other side of the door, Byung-hoon and Min-young scuttle away to a nearby stairwell to avoid getting caught. Min-young wonders what would be the appropriate thing to say in a time like this, and Byung-hoon tells her that it’s best not to mention it.

When Min-young says that it was cruel of Arang to dump the girl like that, Byung-hoon corrects her, saying that Arang did her a favor with his rejection. In that moment, Min-young realizes just how close they’ve been standing next to each other and silently pushes him away with her finger. Hahaha.

Later that night at the restaurant, Min-young collapses at the bar, tired and hungry from her grueling day at school. As Seung-pyo whips her up something to eat, Hye-ri admires Min-young’s uniform. However, that sense of nostalgia of her school days isn’t enough for her to go undercover in Min-young’s stead.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any time to chat or eat since Byung-hoon walks in to drag Min-young out to implement the next part of their operation. As the team heads out, Moo-jin and Hye-ri exchange silent greetings.

Elsewhere, as Arang daydreams about the times that Se-kyung was seemingly annoyed with him, he thinks to himself: “A reversal. I thought that she hated me.”

At the convenience store, Se-kyung sighs over her own rough day. She’s momentarily confused when Ho-yeol suddenly appears next to her and doesn’t buy his excuse that he was just “passing by.”

Thankfully, his delivery is far more natural now. He laughs, “You don’t think I followed you here, do you?” But it’s not long before they find themselves surrounded by a throng of crazed fangirls and Ho-yeol hastily hides his face.

In the van, Min-young wonders if their plan will actually work—their target already mentioned that she doesn’t like idols and someone like Arang is more her type. But Byung-hoon argues that it’s stranger for a teenage girl who doesn’t realize the magnitude of what it means for an idol star as an admirer.

As Ho-yeol gets chased by the screaming girls with Se-kyung’s hand in his, we see glimpses into Byung-hoon’s memories which depicts a similar situation with the girl in his past, who speaks this time: “I hear you’re looking for a Watson.”

Min-young is sharp enough to deduce that Byung-hoon must have used the same tactic on someone else. Who was it? A first love? She doesn’t let him off easy, and when he evades the question, she matter-of-factly replies that people don’t ever forget their first love.

She isn’t easily deterred when Byung-hoon reacts in his usual gruff manner and asks what happened with his first love. She finally drops the subject when he clams up again.

Meanwhile, Ho-yeol and Se-kyung struggle to catch their breaths as they hide in an alleyway. They both become aware of the close proximity and she quickly pulls her hand away from his.

A long minute passes before Ho-yeol gently tries to wipe away her sweat with a handkerchief. He doesn’t miss that she instinctively pulls back at his touch. He winces slightly with disappointment when she scurries off with an excuse.

Moo-jin has been in the vicinity to keep an eye on them. He hops down from his hiding place and offers Ho-yeol a lollipop to lift his spirits.

Back at headquarters, Min-young tsks over the irony of an idol star suffering from unrequited love. She guesses that Byung-hoon speaks from personal experience when he agrees that nothing else in the world matters when it’s not the one that matters.

So she attempts to ask about his first love again—did he confess his feelings and get rejected too? That strikes a nerve and Byung-hoon snaps back before dismissing her for the day.

But once he’s alone, he finds himself ruminating over Min-young’s words once more. Taking out his cell phone, he plays with the charm—a Sherlock Holmes figure.

We travel back again to Byung-hoon’s memories and see his teenage self staring at the sunset on the rooftop. Then a cheery voice calls out behind him: “I hear you’re looking for a Watson.”

The girl introduces herself as Yoon Yi-seul, an art student here to help out with the production, and Byung-hoon flushes with embarrassment when she calls him by his stage name. Yi-seul has a bright and outgoing personality and she suddenly takes him by the hand to join the others.

In the present, Byung-hoon searches through his contacts for Yi-seul’s number. He contemplates whether to call her or not for a moment before he decides against it.

Little does he know that Min-young has witnessed his moment of indecisiveness, having doubled back to the agency to retrieve her phone. She feels a distinctive wave of emotion but later dismisses it for hunger pangs. She does notice that the lights are off in Master’s restaurant and wonders where he’s gone off to.

Then we see that Seung-pyo is taking his frustrations out on a punching bag at the gym. With his shirt on. I know; I’m just as disappointed as you are. There’s nothing to see here, so we’ll move on, shall we?

The following morning, Min-young is immediately annoyed when Byung-hoon kicks his feet up in her car when she picks him up outside the agency. He tells her that she should be studying and tosses her prepared school ID card in her direction.

Min-young reels when she sees the awkward photo of her younger self wearing glasses. She asks where he got it from, and he answers: “Your national identification card. I was shocked too.” Ha.

She calls it an invasion of privacy, but he tells her to drive, claiming that he’s still in shock from her photo. Pfft.

At school, Ho-yeol asks why Arang wasn’t there the other day with the rest of the Cyrano team, and Arang answers that he was working at another part time job. He asks Ho-yeol what he likes about Se-kyung and gets the answer: “Everything.”

However, he raises a suspicious eyebrow at Arang’s sudden question—why does he ask? Then he jokingly warns Arang not to like his girl. Ooh, why do I get the feeling that his joke may not be far from the truth?

Se-kyung watches the two boys from a distance with Ho-yeol’s handkerchief, recalling the close encounter with Ho-yeol the previous night. Hmm, does our target like someone else now? And all the while, Byung-hoon observes the scene from a balcony.

Elsewhere, Min-young is determined to dig up some dirt on Byung-hoon’s past to crack that supposedly flawless armor of his. So she heads to the library and scours the aisles until she stumbles upon an old yearbook.

She recognizes Yi-seul as the girl from Byung-hoon’s old movies and wonders if she was Byung-hoon’s first love. She’s soon joined by Se-kyung and the girls relocate to search through the yearbook together.

Pleased that Se-kyung agrees that the girl in the photo must be Byung-hoon’s first love, Min-young tsks, “You can never hide the fact that you like someone.” Se-kyung’s face darkens at that—if liking someone is that obvious, then there’s no point to confess one’s feelings.

Min-young pauses before she answers that it’s true that keeping your feelings hidden makes things less likely to work out. And yet, the courage of that confession stirs the other person’s heart. She adds, “You have to like someone enough to overcome that fear of rejection, don’t you?”

Se-kyung asks her if it’s possible to like someone you already rejected. Min-young replies that it is, especially if she started to see that person in a different light.

Byung-hoon meets with Arang in secret to inform him that they’ll be moving ahead with the operation. Interestingly, he gives Arang the last chance for an out—there’s no turning back from this point on.

When Arang assures him that he’s fine and has no regrets, Byung-hoon calls their client with the greeting: “Hey, idol!”

Moo-jin is already on location on set, and he adds a few cue cards to the interview questions when the staff aren’t looking. His presence doesn’t go unnoticed by Ho-yeol’s CEO, who is impressed by his good looks.

She invites him to seek her out in case he’s looking for “the secret place where they make people into a star.” Huh, that catchphrase certainly sounds familiar.

So when the interviewer asks Ho-yeol if there’s anyone he currently likes, Ho-yeol quickly glances towards Byung-hoon before answering yes, but she doesn’t like him back.

His handlers panic from the sidelines—this question wasn’t included during rehearsals. Thankfully, after a few sympathetic words, the interviewer moves on. And in the crowd, Byung-hoon thinks aloud that the entertainment company should thank him for the free press.

The PR move achieves the intended effect and a group of fangirls protest outside the school the following morning. In the classroom, Min-young turns around to face Se-kyung, sighing that Ho-yeol’s crush is a lucky girl, whoever she may be.

Then she pointedly adds that if it were her, she wouldn’t reject a guy like that. Her comment adds the seed of emotion that the team is hoping for, but when Min-young looks towards Arang, she catches him mid-gaze in Se-kyung’s direction.

As the team keep watch of the same alleyway later that night, Min-young lifts one of Byung-hoon’s earmuffs to ask what they should do if Arang does like Se-kyung—shouldn’t they reconcentrate their efforts to get them together instead? Then she snaps the headphones back. Hehe.

It’s worth noting that Byung-hoon doesn’t deny the possibility (I’d even venture to say that he already knows that it’s the case) but tells her that teen love is fleeting since emotions are charged by hormones. In other words, Arang will soon forget how he feels about her.

Min-young counters, “Do you really mean that?” Byung-hoon: “Of course I do.” After she leaves, she calls Byung-hoon a liar under her breath.

When Min-young arrives at Master’s restaurant, she’s shocked to find the same gangsters who hustled Byung-hoon for money earlier sitting at the bar. We know that’s they’re just Master’s spies, but Min-young doesn’t.

So she pulls him over to whisper if he owes them money too. He whispers back: “A little.”

Seung-pyo smiles at her concern (“What’s wrong with everyone lately?!”), and he reassures her that it’s not much. But Min-young tells him that borrowing money from loan sharks is a slippery slope, and offers to bring in more customers in order to boost business. Aw.

Min-young runs into Arang outside the agency after dinner. She cautiously asks him if Se-kyung is weighing on his mind. His usually sunny disposition fades ever so slightly before he denies it in his typical happy-go-lucky manner. But dare I say, does the boy doth protest too much?

She replies that it’s a relief if that’s the case but reminds him of something that Byung-hoon once said that words can be extremely powerful. She gives an example of a swoon-worthy statement: “The moment you called my name, I became a flower.”

Then she blurts that Arang can’t feel the same way after he heard Se-kyung’s confession, which basically outs her for having overheard their conversation at the theater.

“So you knew about it too?” Arang smiles. Min-young sheepishly nods. But Arang sticks to his story that he’s unaffected because he heard plenty of those same confessions from his other admirers before.

Min-young slings an arm over Arang’s shoulder as they pass by the van. Then the camera pans over and we see Moo-jin sit up on the roof of the van, having overheard their conversation. He silently watches Hye-ri close up shop at the restaurant.

We get a nice musical interlude when Moo-jin returns to Cyrano a bit later. He stops to look at the puppet theater and ruffles the back of Arang’s hair. Then Byung-hoon tucks the broken marionette into a box.

Meanwhile in the restaurant, Seung-pyo rifles through his pictures from his visit to the high school, smiling at the photos of Min-young. Then he picks out a zoomed in photo of the mural in Arrow Theater. Hmm.

The situation with Ho-yeol has been weighing on Se-kyung’s mind lately, as evidenced in their previous run-in at the alleyway. So Se-kyung furrows her eyebrows in concern when Min-young deliberately sighs that it looks like Ho-yeol will drop out of school.

The lines are enough to prompt Se-kyung to rise from her seat and set off to the teachers lounge where Ho-yeol is already in talks with the principal. Min-young texts Arang that their target is on their way.

There’s no need to worry of course since in actuality, Ho-yeol is there to apologize for causing unnecessary trouble for the school. On cue, he steps out to the corridor and Arang lets out a sigh.

Things continue to go according to plan, and the two students arrive at the theater. Just then Byung-hoon notices an oddity on the monitor—reporters—and rushes out.

Meanwhile, Min-young hurries towards Arrow Theater when she suddenly notices the faded mural on the wall. A voice calls out behind her and she turns around to see a mysterious woman walk towards the wall.

At the same time, Arang runs into the theater to warn Ho-yeol that reporters are at school and on their way here. Ho-yeol runs out.

Se-kyung turns to leave too but Arang grabs her by the wrist to face him. He tells her: “Forgive me. Because I think this might be my last chance.” Omo.

Now it’s his turn to make a confession: “Min Se-kyung, I started to like you.” Before she can register the situation, he kisses her.

So it appears that it wasn’t the reporters that caught Byung-hoon’s attention as he bursts inside the mural room. The mysterious woman turns around (Kim Jung-hwa) and smiles.

Min-young watches carefully as Byung-hoon steps forward and recognizes her: “Yoon Yi-seul.”

 

COMMENTS

Before anything else, I’d like to say: AHHHHHH!! I feel better now, don’t you? Though I expected Arang to own up to his feelings all episode long, his confession still took me by surprise. From a narrative standpoint, it serves a wonderful purpose to bookend the episode as we see the full range of Se-kyung’s emotions (even if we can’t really tell by her expressions) from the hurtful rejection to an one-sided love being returned after all.

And yet, whenever love blossoms, there’s someone else left broken-hearted. I admit that I had a hard time feeling sympathetic towards Ho-yeol’s predicament when were initially introduced to his character. In fact, I feared that his enormous ego would prove a hindrance to the mission at hand and Arang seemed to be the better man by comparison. Because what could an idol wish for than thousands of adoring fans? And to this, I feel that Byung-hoon’s comment was so apropos for this situation: “Nothing else in this world matters when it’s not the one that matters.” Thus, like everyone else, I thought his love for Se-kyung was shallow and baseless and wondered why Byung-hoon chose to take the case. Because we’re not going to believe that he was just in it for the money.

Not only that, I’m honestly surprised to realize that I’m just as bothered with Cyrano’s tactics as Min-young is in these particular scenarios thus far. Though her idealistic arguments have been easily dismissed thus far, she brings up an important point that the agency is toying with the emotions of their matches. What happens when the foundation that you’ve built your relationship on is sustained by a web of fragmented lies created for a fleeting fantasy. In that sense, I’m worried for our very first pairing—how long will it be before the tower of lies come crashing down on them? Additionally, where do you draw the line between drawing two people together and denying someone’s heart to sway them in a different direction?

We’re beginning to see the Cyrano de Bergerac tie-ins to the drama with Arang’s growing feelings towards the girl he’s supposed to set up with his buddy. Yunno, with less of the large nose and more of the mega-watt smile that slays the masses. And though, Arang keeps his feelings at arm’s length and (mostly) hidden from everyone else, I love that when push comes to shove, he’s forthright about his feelings, client be damned.

And even though I know that that means that someone’s heart will be crushed and also possibly means the end to an adorable bromance (I know! *tear*), I want to root for Arang’s happiness no matter what.

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89 June 11, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 5

by javabeans

We had to do a little reshuffling in order to appease the fourth dimension, which frankly is kind of being a bitch lately, by the way, and that means I’m taking over recaps for Dating Agency Cyrano. I’ve been enjoying the light-hearted fizzies that this drama has been steadily doling out, along with the amusing operations, cocky puppetmaster Lee Jong-hyuk, and the budding camaraderie, so I’m looking forward to the task. It had better be worth all the sleep I’m giving up. No pressure or anything.

SONG OF THE DAY

Eluphant – “별사탕” (Star candy) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 5 RECAP

We pick up at the high school, where Operation: Idol Crush is supposed to be heading toward its happy ending. But things appear to be skidding sideways with our mastermind Byung-hoon dashing off to catch up to that first love he never got over, Yi-seol. Meanwhile, Arang makes a last-ditch confession to Se-kyung, throwing a wrench into the works. Is he really messing with the target’s feelings just before she’s about to reciprocate Idol Boy’s?

Byung-hoon looks less thrilled at the reunion than Yi-seol, who lights up at the sight of him. Min-jung clocks the tension and backs away slowly, leaving them to some privacy.

Out in the hallway, she sees reporters peering into the theater. Assuming they’ve spotted the idol romance, she tries unsuccessfully to stop them.

The reporters push their way inside to get their money shot of the kissing couple. Arang blocks Se-kyung from view as the reporters get click-happy with the cameras, and they belatedly realize that there’s no star here. They walk out muttering about how fast kids are these days (spoken like an old fogey, no?), and Arang apologizes to Se-kyung—this was the best way he could think up to deal with the reporters.

Se-kyung realizes that he faked this (to help Ho-yeol escape the reporters), and it’s duly crushing. She gives him a kick in the shin, then runs out on the brink of tears.

Idol boy Ho-yeol finds her outside, and though he sort of acknowledges her, he continues on his quietly dejected way. We can see her wanting to follow him or engage him, but she doesn’t know what to say.

Min-young finds Arang in the theater and guesses that he really does like Se-kyung, but played it the opposite way for the sake of the mission, giving the twist another twist. So the kiss was real and impulsive, but the brush-off following it was for the team. Arang denies it at first, and then confides that it’s true. But he can’t betray the client for his feelings, and worries what his hyungs will say about breaking from the plan.

Hearing that Byung-hoon missed it because he got distracted, Arang asks her to keep it a secret. Moo-jin did see the kiss from his surveillance van, but Arang says he’ll talk with him.

She doesn’t agree right away, musing that she would rather root for his romance to succeed. He insists that it was just a mistake. She points out that mistakes born of sincere feelings are no accident.

Time to find out about Byung-hoon’s mysterious past love. He asks Yi-seol if she’s well now, and she answers that she’s healthier than ever. They haven’t seen each other in years because she never made it to a certain funeral, and Byung-hoon never visited her in the hospital. She’s back for good now, and states her intention to live “like I did before”—having fun and working hard.

Without warning, Yi-seol whirls around and initiates a game of rock-scissors-paper. Byung-hoon’s hand reacts reflexively and beats her, just like always. Some instincts you just can’t dull.

Yi-seol asks if their Cyrano Theater is still going strong. They relocate to the theater, where we find that Byung-hoon hilariously hasn’t told her the truth—he lets her believe all is as it used to be, and he’s still directing plays.

When she sees his strategy boards, he whips up lies on the spot, saying he’s planning upcoming projects. He throws out philosophical sounding words about how the Idol’s First Love project is really a production exploring the meaning of this generation’s delusions, et cetera. Ha. I love seeing the cocky bastard so off-kilter.

She recognizes Arang, who is the sole remaining member of the old troupe, and assumes that Min-young is one of the current members. Then Yi-seol notices the space where her marionettes used to sit, which Byung-hoon packed away the other day. Figures she’d show up just as he decides to put the past behind him. First loves sure have killer timing, don’t they?

Byung-hoon offers to bring them out again but she declines, adding that they were gifts from Do-il. Hm, was high school buddy Do-il the one who died?

The debt collectors come by again, and to preserve the ruse Byung-hoon introduces them as more troupe members whose gangster appearance is a product of Method acting. Ha.

The gangsters head next door to report the new arrival to their hyungnim, and Seung-pyo sees them walk by—and recognizes Yi-seol by name. Hello, plot thickener. He corrects their assumption: “She’s not Seo Byung-hoon’s girlfriend—she’s his friend’s girlfriend.” (I admit to harboring suspicions that Seung-pyo is Do-il, though I recognize that this may be overly melodramatic since that would require him to have maybe faked a death or gotten a new face. It’s possible I’ve been watching too much Shark.)

Byung-hoon sees her off, and she hands him an envelope that Do-il had wanted to give to him personally, which bears the Cyrano logo. Calling him Sherlock, she tells him to feel free to ask her anytime he needs help. In turn, he tells her she can come by anytime since Cyrano is part hers.

Min-young pops up after Yi-seol leaves, having followed them out. Totally not spying, are we? She says in her chipper way that she was right and that was his first love and basically annoys him batty. She then calls Moo-jin for an “emergency meeting” to figure out what to do about Arang’s thwarted love. Should they persuade the boss to give up Operation: Idol?

I love that Moo-jin just sits through it stone-faced, clearly not on her wavelength. She asks hopefully, “Are you maybe answering through telepathy and I just can’t hear it?” Her brand of ditziness cracks me up.

She asks Seung-pyo what he’d do if he made a dish to order, but suddenly wanted to eat it himself and couldn’t ever make another one like it. Would he give it up to the client anyway? He points out what’s wrong with her example: In it, he would be cooking for his own pleasure and not the diner’s. She concedes that he’s right.

Pretty waitress Hye-ri arrives for her shift, and Moo-jin visibly stiffens, which is remarkable since he’s so reticent and stiff to begin with. I can’t wait for this romance to get cookin’. The waitress’s brand of cheer is just what Moo-jin needs to unwind.

Byung-hoon contemplates Do-il’s letter, then shoves it in a drawer unread.

It’s team meeting time but Min-young drags her feet, undecided on how to approach this idol case. She doesn’t want to hurt Arang and leave him with a painful first love experience. Seung-pyo casually fishes for info about their guest, and files away her answer—Byung-hoon called Yi-seol “just an old friend.” But she thinks it was his first love.

She sighs that it’s especially complicated when your first love is part of a love triangle, because it enhances the memory in a painful way. She’s talking about Arang, but it looks like Seung-pyo’s fixated on Yi-seol.

Min-young asks what you do when two friends fall for the same person. Is there any way to make a happy ending out of it? He replies, “Then one side has to die.” Whoa, this conversation took a turn. (Also, is my Shark-influenced theory not so far-fetched after all?)

Byung-hoon reviews the footage from today’s operation and sees Arang’s kiss. Uh-oh.

It also triggers a flashback of high school Do-il offering to tell Byung-hoon a secret: “I like Yoon Yi-seol.” He doesn’t see how Byung-hoon’s mood immediately darkens, and wonders whether he ought to confess. Byung-hoon curtly tells his friend to take it up with Yi-seol and rides away.

Caught between the two boys, Se-kyung is lost in her dilemma. She touches her lips in memory of the kiss, then looks over at Ho-yeol’s handkerchief.

Speaking of whom, Ho-yeol is in a terrible mood at rehearsal and messes up his dances. Oh no, it turns out he had seen the kiss after all—after running out of the theater to evade the reporters, he had seen them through the glass doors. He punches the wall in frustration.

Byung-hoon finds him here and says he ought to have punched Arang, not the wall. Ho-yeol says resignedly that he intended to pretend he hadn’t seen anything, and the girl had liked Arang for a long time anyway: “Even though I liked her first.”

Flashback to the day when Se-kyung had first noticed Arang, thanks to the hallway hockey he’d been playing. Ho-yeol had been trying to impress her, but Arang had gotten hit with the puck instead of her and earned her admiration.

He tells Byung-hoon that he doesn’t care about his pride, because he likes her: “I’m going to do everything I can.” Byung-hoon says approvingly that he’s got spirit, and starts rattling off instructions, starting with not going to school.

Min-young urges Arang to take all the time he needs, offering her moral support. Then she asks about Yi-seol (oh so casually), and hears that she was going to marry the other theater head, Do-il.

Then Moo-jin informs them that the boss must have seen the video footage, which means he knows about the kiss. Arang hangs his head.

Byung-hoon joins them and first offers Arang a Cyrano business card (and an employee discount, HA) to have them work on the case for him. Arang declines to be a client, so Byung-hoon announces that they’ll get going on the idol’s case, then. Hm, was this a test? I wonder.

Min-young sniffs that it’s all about money for Byung-hoon—he won’t help if Arang won’t pay the fee. Byung-hoon says it’s not about money (and for once I believe him), adding that Arang just had his chance.

She stops him in his tracks by asking, “You’re hoping he’ll just run away, like you, aren’t you?” She has figured out that he never confessed to his first love, watching from afar because his friend liked her. She calls him a coward, shrinking back after saying it.

Byung-hoon says, “All actions begin from one’s own decisions. I can’t help someone who doesn’t know what he wants.” Then he exits and smiles to himself: “She’s not wrong.”

High school. Se-kyung arrives early and lights up to see Ho-yeol sitting there in that window again… only to realize that it’s actually empty, and the curtain is flapping by itself. She deflates. (We see Moo-jin sitting outside with the fan, creating the romantic breeze. HEE.)

Still, Moo-jin wonders, “Is this wind blowing Arang away?” And Min-young sees how Arang avoids Se-kyung all day and sighs in sympathy.

Ho-yeol drops by Arang’s room that afternoon and asks if Arang likes Se-kyung. He sees through the denial and says that he saw everything. Plus, he’s known for a while that Se-kyung liked Arang. But he still likes her.

It’s Arang who proposes to the team that they enter the final stage of Operation: Idol tonight. Byung-hoon checks that he’s okay with it while Min-young tries to get him to reconsider, telling him that first loves can stick with you a long time. But Arang tells her he won’t regret this choice and says he’s sure.

And so we begin. Er, end. Begin the end. Arang comes to Se-kyung’s apartment complex and apologizes for his behavior earlier. She suggests they count the score even, since she did kick him, and they smile.

But then Byung-hoon feeds him his lines over the comm: “What will you do if I meant those words about liking you?”

He tells Arang to tell the target his honest feelings, which makes Min-young’s day—so he is giving Arang a chance after all. She looks like she wants to kiss him, or maybe hug the emotionally stunted man for growing some feelings, and gives him a big proud thump on the shoulder: “Of everything you’ve said till now, I like that best.”

Meanwhile, Ho-yeol waits with bated breath near the alley where they had previously hidden from his fangirls. His only instruction is to let the target make her choice.

Arang is so flustered at this unexpected chance that he’s silent for long moments, and Byung-hoon yells at him to do it already. Heh. He finally speaks, telling Se-kyung that he likes her for real:

Arang: “But that could be because you confessed first, or maybe it’s because I knew how much [Ho-yeol] liked you and you started to shine in my eyes. But I’m even more bothered about him than about you, because he really likes you. I could never like you as much as he does. I’m sorry. You were starting to like him, but I interfered, didn’t I? You’ve made him wait a long time. Just as your feelings have changed, what if his do?”

Next thing we know, she’s running down the street to meet Ho-yeol. She arrives at the alley, but finds it empty. Sigh.

The light starts to flicker, and she walks closer to see something stuck to the wall—that band-aid she’d given him. Aw, he kept it all this while? Se-kyung runs on, searching the neighborhood for sign of Ho-yeol.

Moo-jin rides up to find Arang sitting alone nursing his broken heart, and gives him a shoulder to lean on. Good hyung.

It takes her a while, but finally Se-kyung comes to that convenience store where she’d once run into Ho-yeol. There he is again, sitting with a lonely cup of ramyun, head hanging.

She raps on the glass, then sticks that band-aid on the glass. It lights up his face in the most heartwarming way.

Watching from the van, Min-young wipes away happy tears, happy with the fulfilled romance and with Arang’s maturity. She guesses that this whole thing was Byung-hoon’s design, including the part where he called Ho-yeol to the theater to provoke Arang. He also told Ho-yeol the girl wasn’t coming, and she wonders what they’d have done if he hadn’t left the band-aid behind. The girl might have just left. Byung-hoon just replies that the guy was going to make things happen, but had to suffer a bit for it.

He sinks into melancholy thoughts, and looking at that Sherlock Holmes charm triggers a flashback of when he first received it. The memory makes him decide, “Turn the car around.”

Min-young drops him off at a storefront, and he bursts inside where Yi-seol is at work with her marionettes. He asks if she remembers what she’d said to him as she gave him that Sherlock charm. She smiles to see it.

 
COMMENTS

I’m in the mood for a breezy romantic comedy, and Dating Agency Cyrano is fitting the bill—it moves quickly, offers up enough comedy without feeling like a gag reel, has a dash of intrigue, and shows character growth. And while it may be light and swift, it’s not entirely without substance. There are poignant beats scattered throughout, which I appreciate.

For instance, despite the fact that Byung-hoon is masterminding everything (to a level of precision that even his teammates don’t always know about), he lets the feelings breathe in the end, which is a good sign. I suppose you could argue that it’s all manipulative and designed to elicit the outcome he wants, but I do think there’s a hand of restraint in there that recognizes that people’s emotions matter. He let Ho-yeol believe that Se-kyung wasn’t coming, and as a result his reaction when she does arrive is 100 percent real. It’s so much more valuable that way than if he’d let Ho-yeol wait smugly and play the part of the thwarted lover without ever believing that. The outcome is important, but his comment about the kid needing a little bit of suffering along the way speaks to the process having merit as well. I like that.

I also like how the Client of the Week allows the show to offer a variety of perspectives about love, which is also shown in the very different personalities running Cyrano Agency. These kind of story-of-the-week shows have a certain procedural element to them, which can be both a positive and a negative trait. On one hand, it keeps stories short and sweet, enough to satisfy with a small dose without needing to get bogged down in too many details. On the other hand, these clients are in and out, so when procedurals are clumsily handled they can feel like emotional drive-bys. We don’t know them, so why should we care?

So it’s encouraging to see that the show is working in the other characters with the clients’ stories, to varying degrees. I don’t expect that they’ll all deal with the employees directly as the Arang storyline did, but that isn’t necessary. The best procedurals use the episodic thread to shed light on its main players, which is a great framework to get our two leads arguing about their diametrically opposing views on romance. Then there’s Arang with the youthful first love (and sacrifice) that echoes with Byung-hoon’s own youth. And I’m eager to see how Moo-jin’s loveline plays out.

Master Seung-pyo is an interesting one, and they’re keeping him in the shadows for the time being. I do like the tiny snippets we get to see of him, and the flashes of ominous glares. He turns on a dime with unnerving ease, one second being friendly and helpful to Min-young, then next clenching his jaw and shooting daggers at Byung-hoon. Are you a mobster? Are you legally dead? Are you interested in Min-young or just amused by her, or using her? Are you friend or foe?

The pacing of the show is brisk enough that we keep from sticking to one particular character or emotional beat for too long, which I consider an asset. For instance, it helps soften the melancholy vibes surrounding Byung-hoon’s first love, which feels a bit heavy for my taste; I’m not averse to the story itself, but I don’t want this to be one of those shows. I want him cheeky and full of bravado, not moping. The balance right now is just fine, and I’m crossing my fingers that the show doesn’t tilt that in the other direction.

Most of all I’m enjoying the rapport of our main cast, and I find myself liking the heroine a surprising amount. I was extremely wary of this character from promos and descriptions, because she seemed way too naive on paper and very been-there-done-that as far as dramaland heroines went. How many more overly romantic chronic dreamers do we have to see butting heads with cynical heroes, right? But her bubbly nature is turning out to be the glue of the agency—and the restaurant too—and I’m enjoying how the two younger guys are bonding with her as well. Sure she’s sort of annoyingly idealistic at times, but the drama seems to be settling on a middle ground between her sunniness and Byung-hoon’s pessimism (or realism, however you see it). And that means growth on both sides.

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77 June 12, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 6

by javabeans

We wrap up one case and acquaint ourselves with another, while relationships get cookin’—and on multiple fronts. This show is deftly juggling its brisk rom-com-iness with its subtle character moments, and I’m really loving the balance. There’s the risk of bogging down a show like this too much with the client cases because that plotting occupies so much of the screentime, but in a good show you find ways to make those those matter. Thus far I’m classifying Cyrano as one of those good shows because its main characters remain at the heart of the story, even when they’re working to make other people fall in love, though I’m not blind to the fact that there’s no guarantee it’ll stay this way. But hope springs eternal.

SONG OF THE DAY

Standing Egg – “Miss Flower” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

Min-young watches Byung-hoon dashing into a shop to confront Yi-seol with his feelings, and she wonders if the sudden tight feeling in her chest is indigestion. So close, but so far.

Byung-hoon prods Yi-seol to recall what she’d said as she’d given the Sherlock pendant to him. A flashback shows us Young Yi-seol offering it and asking, “Do you know what the gift of a pendant means?” Hearing that now, Yi-seol laughs at her youthful innocence, like it’s all so silly. Her reply takes the wind out of Byung-hoon’s sails, poor guy. His reaction also proves that Byung-hoon hasn’t actually lost that sense of youthful romance; he’s just buried it way, way, way down under a teflon-coated armor of cynicism.

So now he blusters that he didn’t come all the way over here just to tell her that, nuh-uh—he was in the neighborhood. He pretends that the old pendant just made him think of buying one from her (I guess she makes them) and returns to the car in a huff.

Min-young complains about him ordering her around without explanation, and he holds out a necklace to her: “Your driving fee.” Ha. She scoffs, “I see you couldn’t say what you went there to say. You just did something dumb and came right out.” She’s got his number, that’s for sure.

Yi-seol watches him go and calls him a dummy: “If you were going to ask, you should have asked then.”

Min-young wonders if Arang is doing okay after losing the girl, and Byung-hoon tells her he’ll be fine—just think of it like getting vaccinated. Uh, against love? Which makes her scoff, of course, calling him Empty Can again.

He makes a jab at her history of being dumped, and she retorts that at least she experienced it rather than doing nothing. Byung-hoon says, “Oh, I’m sorry for getting it wrong—so being dumped is something you’re proud of?” HA. I’m about to give him the point here, but she bounces right back by saying it’s better than being a coward like him, leaving him without rejoinder.

Moo-jin takes Arang home on his motorcycle, and during the ride Arang thinks of how he sent off the girl to the other guy. She had left him with a sweet comment—that liking Arang proves she had good taste. It’s a nice thing to say, albeit still a rejection.

We move on to a new scenario, joining a TV studio for the final reveal of a Top Chef-like reality show. One finalist is a gangly, nervous man (Lee Kwang-soo), the other a mean-looking woman (Gu Eun-ae). The announcer says, “And the winner is…”

Cut to: Cyrano Agency, where the male finalist is now a client. “At first, I wondered how such a terrible woman could exist,” he starts to explain. “I thought I had met my worst nightmare.”

Back to the final, where the judges taste dishes. The woman, Mi-jin, gets some nods for her dish, but it’s our client Dal-in who gets the big “Wow” reaction. Incensed, Mi-jin barks at the judges for having (literally) no taste.

Dal-in wins the competition and Mi-jin shoots him a hateful glare, just before she takes her losing dish and dumps it in the trash. Wow. Now there’s a sore loser.

It’s a wonder that the nice guy would fall for someone like her, and in fact Dal-in is trying to wrap his head around it too. He says that he intended to never think of or see her after the competition, but fate kept thwarting him: Her restaurant was in the same neighborhood as his bakery, and he kept thinking of her. Finally, he had to admit: “I fell in love with that terrible woman.”

Min-young points out (having watched the reality show) that Mi-jin really hated him, which he knows. Still, he was recommended to the agency by his uncle… who turns out to be one of their loan sharks. Haha. It’s a clever way to force the agency to take on an impossible case, because the loan shark happily threatens them with pain if they don’t make his nephew happy.

Byung-hoon makes a dramatic promise to fulfill this love, and the adorable geek hugs him in gratitude.

Of course, the minute he’s gone, Byung-hoon is punching the wall (wearing Hulk gloves), growling, “Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit!” It’s not looking great as a financial choice, since he can’t gouge this client for expenses and failure means nonpayment. So he tells his team that this mission’s keywords are low-cost and efficiency. If any of them make a mistake that ends with him on the roof, he’s taking them with him. I love Min-young’s very practical response: Then they can just quit.

Next door, the two loan sharks cackle as they inform Seung-pyo about the case. Byung-hoon is going to have to suffer to make this love connection—especially since they sent the client to him purposely knowing it’s an impossible task.

Heh, then waitress Hye-ri arrives and the three jump up to disperse the cozy scene. Seung-pyo immediately goes from nonchalant boss to penitent debtor, and the loan sharks growl at him to pay up or die. It’s adorable how the gangsters strut their way out, but turn back to quickly bow to Seung-pyo behind Hye-ri’s back. I love these little details.

Byung-hoon takes to his planning board, while Min-young asks if it’s possible to change loathing into love. He snaps at her not to be so impatient, because he’ll figure it out. Her cheeky response: “I’m not at all impatient. It isn’t me who’ll have to go up on that roof.”

Step one: surveillance. Byung-hoon and Min-young scope out the neighborhood where Mi-jin and Dal-in both work, taking note of the target’s habits and mannerisms. They deduce that Mi-jin is efficient and in charge, never betraying weakness or faltering.

Min-young recalls that Mi-jin was cool all throughout the surprises on the TV show, while Dal-in had sweat up a storm. Too bad Min-young explains this just as Dal-in arrives and says defensively that he was sweating because of the studio lights.

Byung-hoon sends him down to engage with Mi-jin so they can observe the interaction. As he commences with small talk, she’s curt and dismissive, then turns fierce when her employee is late yet again. As he watches her scold, Dal-in starts fidgeting and sweating nervously.

Byung-hoon asks a few follow-up questions about the client’s personality and confirms his hunch: He’s an “M.” I laughed out loud at Min-young’s response: “An M? Like with the green eyes and everything?” (She’s thinking of the ’90s horror drama titled M where Shim Eun-ha was possessed and her eyes famously glowed green.) Byung-hoon clarifies: He’s a masochist.

Min-young asks if that makes Dal-in a pervert, and Byung-hoon chides that everyone’s got a little of that in them. She muses, “Well, I do know one sadist…” He balks to be named as such and threatens to show her what a real sadist is, and she chirps, “You pervert ajusshi.” LOL. I do enjoy their banter.

Then as they watch the disgruntled assistant complaining about wanting to quit, a gleam enters Byung-hoon’s eye. Min-young takes this as proof of his twisted mind. He tells her she’s about to get very busy.

Byung-hoon assigns tasks to the team members, and Min-young is sent out to make contact with the target. She sidles up to her while Mi-jin is on a shopping run and calls herself a fan from watching the show, while Moo-jin futzes with her car so that it won’t turn on.

So Mi-jin is stuck with fresh groceries and an insurance company that’ll take an hour to respond, and starts to walk instead. Min-young drives by and offers her a lift, and somewhat against her better judgment, Mi-jin ends up accepting.

Introducing herself as an aspiring chef, Min-young works her way into the target’s favor by complimenting her talents and referencing a dish Mi-jin unveiled on TV. Right on cue, Mi-jin gets a call that her assistant quit. Convenient opening, that. (They were tipped off by Dal-in, who knew the assistant was planning to skip out for a new job.)

Byung-hoon isn’t too worried about sending Min-young into the kitchen—they need her since Mi-jin only hires women. Plus, Min-young had assured them her cooking skills were at least average. Moo-jin points out that she had said her drinking tolerance was also average, and that induces a brief flash of panic. Hee.

The ladies make a stop at Dal-in’s bakery, and Mi-jin does allow that although she dislikes the man, he makes great bread. She cuts off his attempt to converse and flatly declines his request for her to appear on his upcoming show; she’s cold, yet Dal-in looks blissful. Masochist indeed.

Min-young doesn’t have the job yet, but she broaches the subject of the assistant opening when Mi-jin thanks her for today’s help. I’m warming to Mi-jin, who seems to have a niceness hidden deep under that steely exterior, and she’s pretty friendly to Min-young by this point.

Thus Mi-jin allows the help and gives her small tasks. Too bad Min-young is terrible. Watching in the van, Moo-jin wonders, “Should we dress Arang as a girl and send him in?” Haha. Byung-hoon calls her to order her to leave asap.

Min-young does, however, prove to be inadvertently helpful. Mi-jin’s assistant failed to prepare ingredients that needed to be done in advance, and Min-young offers a common-sense approach that Mi-jin supposes might work. As a result, Mi-jin offers her the job, starting tomorrow.

At the agency, Arang has unearthed some rumors about Mi-jin, though they sound like tabloid gossip. Byung-hoon says any info is worthwhile and keeps him on the task. Meanwhile, he watches clips from the cooking show and seems to appreciate Mi-jin’s no-nonsense, prickly nature (he would, wouldn’t he?). He also realizes, “It wasn’t only the client she disliked.” I’m getting a suspicion…

Min-young returns to the agency feeling mighty proud of herself, calling herself a potential genius in the making, and Arang thanks her for sparing him a crossdressing excursion. Still, Byung-hoon sets her before a table of ingredients and orders her to practice her abysmal knife skills. “Have you only lived eating ramyun?” he asks. She banters back, “We’re a delivery culture. What is there that isn’t delivered these days?”

Moo-jin gets an idea and goes digging through supplies to find a heart-rate monitor worn like a wristwatch. He jumps up and down to test it out, but the number remains stuck at a modest 80 beats.

On his way out, he stops by Min-young’s workstation and surveys the vegetable carnage there. Basically, she’s got zero shot in hell of not getting fired on the spot.

She concedes that her innate genius is clouded by her lack of actual experience, and Arang laughs that it seems like she’s turning into Byung-hoon with her bravado. She protests: “I’d rather you cursed at me.”

Bravado notwithstanding, Min-young knows she’s doomed tomorrow and wonders what to do. And gets an idea. She heads next door to ask Seung-pyo to be her teacher, saying that she needs to learn how to cook quickly. Perchance he can clue her in to a secret that’ll turn her into Dae Jang-geum overnight. Oh, is that all?

Moo-jin heads to a restaurant supply store, and Hye-ri happens by and offers a hand. I love the way he reacts to her presence, wary and nervous but in his robot-alien-boy way. Like he’s waiting for his processor chip to compute what to think about her.

Seung-pyo begins the lesson with knife skills, showing Min-young how to cut vegetables. She tells him of their unusual client, who likes when the target is being mean, which she finds curious. Seung-pyo offers the point of view that it doesn’t have to be viewed as sado-masochism when a similar dynamic is present in many relationships. At the outset when one side’s feelings are much stronger than the other, it’s easy for the smitten side to become debased while the other side becomes cruel. Sad truth.

Min-young says it would be better if everyone could treat each other equally and lovingly. If only it were so easy.

As Moo-jin and Hye-ri walk back from their shopping trip, she comments about the client being in love with such a woman—she’d always thought men didn’t like women who were so tough. What about Moo-jin, then? What’s his ideal type of woman?

He’s never thought of it before, so he asks which type Hye-ri is. She calls herself a cute type and urges him to think it over, I suspect while hoping that she’s it. Instead he peers into his shopping bag just as she trips, and thus gives absolutely zero reaction when she tumbles out of view. HA. I love that shot.

She has to call out to get his attention, but he does turn back to help her (in his plodding robot way). As he reaches to help her up, he stops, confused: “It’s strange.” He checks his wristwatch monitor, and now his heart is beating like crazy.

While finishing their dish, Min-young asks if there was ever a person Seung-pyo wanted to cook for. He says that there was, but he hadn’t been able to because (s)he “disappeared from this world.” Hmm. Note that he doesn’t use a gendered pronoun so he could be talking about a guy, although the assumption is that he means a girlfriend.

Byung-hoon heads next door to peek at the cooking lesson, scoffing like this totally means nothing to him. And that’s how he sees two very suspicious figures lurking outside the restaurant, crouching just outside the windows. At least they’re terrible at the lurking, and scatter the moment he calls out to them.

Everything Seung-pyo does has a tendency to creep me out (or at least make me suspicious), but I think it’s fair to say he’s working a suspicious vibe as he opens the window, then asks Min-young, “Would you like to date?” And standing just outside the open window to hear this is Byung-hoon.

 
COMMENTS

Hm, so what is Master’s deal? He’s definitely rockin’ a shady vibe and I think we’re supposed to be suspicious of his motives, though the question may be(come) about where the line gets drawn between his real feelings and whatever plot he’s cooking up. There have been enough curious shots of Seung-pyo looking at Min-young with an inscrutable expression that I’m sure this is all part of his master plan, but I do also think he finds her amusing and cute and entertaining to be around. Will he fall for her too? (K-drama rules say: It is decidedly so.)

I do hope that it takes Byung-hoon a while longer to fully realize he has any interest in Min-young, because tracking his jealousy and denial is half the fun. She’s had her moment to feel twinges of envy (with Yi-seol), so now it’s his turn. Let’s just see if he thinks it’s indigestion, too. Given that she’s the airhead and he the genius, I’d say no… but I wouldn’t put it past him to consider it a mental condition.

I liked that we got a glimpse into Byung-hoon’s softer underbelly, though not too much—just enough to show us that it’s there. He worked up his gumption, finally, to head over to Yi-seol and do something, only to be deflated the minute she kept him at arm’s length. And the fact that he deflated was hugely telling, because the indifferent “love is fantasy” Empty Can persona he projects would have laughed at the high school boy who walked in there, who couldn’t muster up the courage yet again and bought a dumb necklace to cover up his embarrassment. Here’s a lesson he could learn from actual high schooler Se-kyung: You doesn’t make a confession for the sake of the listener, but for the sake of yourself. You do want a positive result, of course, but mostly you confess because you can’t stand NOT confessing.

Even so, I’m glad we didn’t spend much time on the first love. It’s part of Byung-hoon’s story, but I’d rather it didn’t constitute the whole of it. He’s too interesting for that.

I’m also really liking the pacing of the show, with two or three episodes dedicated to a case before moving along. I don’t have any problem with the clients’ cases depicted thus far, because I’m not being told to buy into their love stories; they aren’t being sold to us as happy ever afters with nice neat endings. The agency gets the ball rolling and allows the relationship to begin, and then they take their paycheck and step out of the picture. There are no guarantees for the future. What the stories do is act as devices that draw out our main cast’s characters and spur personal development, so they have a purpose other than the romances themselves.

So for me, I enjoy the cases as cute, cleverly executed little examinations of human nature. My favorite part is seeing where the machination meets real human response, because I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive. There’s a spectrum, and inasmuch as you can’t force anybody to feel something they don’t feel, the agency can’t manufacture a love connection. They’re paving the pathway for the romance to take root, only covering their tracks carefully so you don’t see the road.

Is it manipulative? Oh hell yeah. I’m not arguing that it’s natural or without ethical questions, not at all. But I do find it a fun exploration of how people can be steered into a certain mindset or pathway by the power of suggestion. (The Shape of Things is a great example of that concept.) Are they con men or salesmen? What constitutes trickery, and what constitutes persuasion?

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48 June 18, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 7

by javabeans

Another cute, funny episode with a case of the week that works to push our main characters on the romance train. You know, I wasn’t sure how this love triangle would work out, and I think we still have a way to go before declaring it ultimately successful or not, but I find that it’s working better than I thought. It could be because Lee Jong-hyuk is a sexy bastard, but I’ll give credit where it’s due: Chunderella’s a sexy bastard too. Okay okay, and Sooyoung has been doing a pretty solid job as the plucky lead—I figure since she’s playing this potentially aggravating cliche of a heroine and hasn’t yet annoyed me, this is a victory.

SONG OF THE DAY

Yoo Seung-woo – “한심한 남자가 부르는 노래” (A song sung by a pathetic man)
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

Late at night, Byung-hoon sees two shifty-looking goons lurking outside the restaurant. They scram when they see him, and as he pauses as he passes by the glass doors of the restaurant, which puts him in Seung-pyo’s eyeline. Master gets a gleam in his eye.

Hm, I had thought he was working a much more detailed con but perhaps I gave him too much credit—he’s making up this plan on the fly. So Seung-pyo slides the door open to give Byung-hoon the chance to eavesdrop as he asks Min-young out. She’s startled, and by the way she seems reluctant to believe that he’s being serious, I’d say she is less interested in him than I thought she might be.

Meanwhile, Byung-hoon looks surprisingly disturbed by this turn of events, turning grumpy at the thought of them dating. I’ll venture the guess that his crankiness is as much a surprise to him as to the rest of us, since I don’t think he’s aware of his interest in Min-young, or at least not acknowledging it.

Min-young asks whether this is a joke, and Seung-pyo answers that depending upon her response, he can turn it into one. To my ears that sounds like a real proposal, but she plays obtuse for long enough that Seung-pyo clocks Byung-hoon’s exit and then withdraws the proposal. He plays it off like an off-the-cuff joke, and Min-young just about falls over in relief.

The thing is, Seung-pyo was in fact up to something, even if this last-minute dating offer was pulled out of the blue. His two goons escape the scene (they’re the two loan sharks, of course) and gripe at Byung-hoon’s sudden appearance, which ruined their plans. (They also complain about the stuffiness of wool ski masks and want to complain to the hat-making industry: “Don’t people rob banks in summer?”)

They wonder whether Seung-pyo’s attentions toward Min-young may be tinged with real attraction, and why Seung-pyo’s got such an animosity for Byung-hoon. For now, they’ll remain unanswered questions.

The next morning, Byung-hoon is grumpy as Min-young heads off for her first day on the restaurant job. Okay, grumpier than usual, since a certain amount of grumpy is a fixture of his soul. She reminds him of how hard she worked with Master last night, which is just the thing to get him sniping at her, Oh, were we working, or working it? He’s being such a little boy.

Then Moo-jin comes by with her cooking supplies, and asks her for a favor. He gets all up in her personal space and says in his robotic way, “Touch my face.” So she does, albeit amidst much confusion, and he checks his heart rate monitor. No change in pulse. He actually looks perplexed by this, as though this makes little sense. Min-young is left grumbling, “I need a translator for everyone here!”

Seung-pyo drops by the agency with chef’s knives to offer Min-young, but she’s already gone and Byung-hoon takes great satisfaction in telling him they got it covered. This leads to an amusing dick-waving session with both men shooting barbs at each other. Byung-hoon makes a pointed reference to shady figures lurking about, and Seung-pyo returns that all he’s seen is a bad-tempered tomcat on the prowl. After Master leaves, Byung-hoon has a fit of the itchies at the mere mention of cats. Haha.

On to the restaurant. Chef Mi-jin isn’t expecting great skills of Min-young after yesterday’s terrible performance, but she says she hired her because she shows some potential. Mi-jin is a tough but fair boss, and sets her to slicing onions. Min-young is much better today, and explains her bad display as a case of nerves.

Watching from the surveillance van, Byung-hoon gives her the go-ahead to begin their actual mission. Min-young casually brings up the cooking show and praises winner Dal-in, but the response is, as usual, unequivocally negative. When asked why, Mi-jin says plainly that first off, he’s a man, and that in itself is a mark against him.

She’s not without reason for her dismissal, though, having encountered numerous workplace degradations merely for being female. She warns Min-young about her future hardships and describes the unfairness of most of society’s women doing the cooking at home, but the haute cuisine world being ruled by men. Men who are cruel and mean and prejudiced, who fire women for being women, who care about power and fame more than their food.

Min-young commiserates a bit with the part about the arrogant, thinks-he’s-so-awesome man who looks down on you. From the van, Moo-jin recognizes who she’s talking about, while Byung-hoon balks: “What? When have I ever acted like I was awesome? It’s just that I’m awesome to begin with.”

Patissier client Dal-in joins them in the van, and now it’s time to explain how the team will get suss out Mi-jin’s real stance on male chefs. Moo-jin stages an encounter with her on her daily run, approaching with his slo-mo action hero shot and then professing great respect for her work. He takes her hand, allowing his special ring to get a read on her pulse, and asks if he could work in her kitchen.

As Moo-jin smiles on cue and recites pretty words (“I would love to be a part of your beautiful chef world”), her pulse rate does go up. I love how this is simultaneously good news (she doesn’t hate all men chefs) and also bad news (Dal-in develops an eye twitch at the flirting). Still, she turns him down, saying that it has nothing to do with him specifically—it’s her personal credo not to hire men. She can’t trust them, and she can’t work with someone she doesn’t trust.

This provides Byung-hoon with a helpful starting point, since what will attract Mi-jin is a trustworthy man who will be reliable in times of crisis. Now all they have to do is turn Dal-in into her “super airbag.” Uh, metaphorically.

Step 1: Send in the goons! The two loan sharks assume the role of snooty food bloggers and head into Dal-in’s bakery, where they order a huge spread and start tasting. This is timed to coincide with Mi-jin’s bread run, and as she and Min-young arrive, the goons stuff a rubber band into a half-eaten pastry.

Step 2: Kick up a huge fuss with the bakery employees, which includes insulting them and acting self-important. (They’re posing as the “Thumb Brothers,” who can make or break a business with their thumbs-up or thumbs-down ratings.) They’re as obnoxious as possible, demanding that the employee kneel in apology.

That sparks Mi-jin’s sense of righteousness and she steps in to deal with their douchery. I love the moment when Min-young acts timid, saying, “Chef-nim, please don’t…” all while pushing her forward with her index finger. Funnier still is how terrible they are at “acting,” suddenly turning wooden and monotone now that they’re in the spotlight.

They make sure to insult her for being a woman, and that gets her hackles up even more. Which leads us to…

Step 3: Enter Dal-in, all smoothness and exaggerated confidence. He adopts a hero pose and steps in, noting that it appears the Thumb Brothers fixed the tainted bread. When they bluff that they’ll write about this online, Dal-in spouts legalese about the prison sentence they could earn for libel and defamation of character.

Dal-in demands an apology for his employee, saying, “You cannot mistreat someone just because she’s a young woman.” When one brother raises a hand to Mi-jin, Dal-in grabs it and demands another apology for her. The goons apologize and slink out, Mi-jin starts to regard Dal-in through new eyes, and Byung-hoon is satisfied. Now that she’ll feel indebted to Dal-in, that’ll keep him in her thoughts.

Arang, meanwhile, is on a reconnaissance mission of his own. Disguised as a deliveryman, he drops off some supplies in a busy kitchen—whose kitchen, it’s unclear—then sneaks around to investigate. He snaps photos of a certain chef and sends those to the team.

At Master’s restaurant, waitress Hye-ri daydreams about Moo-jin, unaware that their sole customer is busy mooning over her. He’s the curious fellow who’s been in many of the background shots, and this is the first time we focus on him (albeit only for a second or two).

Seung-pyo’s also thinking of romance; he smiles at the sight of Min-young walking by, which makes him think of his proposal to date, and that in turn fades his smile. So… he’s starting to like her for real, then?

Min-young is the first back at the agency, and in looking for Byung-hoon she spies his letter sticking out of his drawer—the one from his friend Do-il. Seeing that it’s still unopened, she can’t quite push aside the impulse to peek…

She sets out to steam the envelope open, though she doesn’t get very far since she’s just imitating the movies, ha. Hearing Byung-hoon’s voice outside, she starts running with letter in hand to put it back… and comes face to face with him at the door.

His face darkens and he accuses her of snooping. He’s legitimately angry, and she’s legitimately confused with her own actions, wondering what the hell possessed her. “Why am I curious about a card that you received? What does it matter to me whether you still like your first love? Why do I care, and why do I have to do something as shameful as stealing someone else’s little card?”

Oof, that’s so plainly honest that I’m cringing for her, even as I’m rather gratified that she’s able to get that out there. She’s mortified, of course, and hurries outside; he follows her, though no longer angry. He notes the backwardness of him consoling her when she should be begging his forgiveness.

It clicks for Byung-hoon, who asks, “Do you like me?” (And then has to go and add, “Well, that’s plenty possible.”) Min-young recovers her composure and tells him nope, not at all. He actually lets it go at that, choosing not to fuss over her breach of his privacy, though he warns her that he won’t let it slide the next time.

Listening just around the way is Seung-pyo, who’s a little surprised by the scene, but also amused. Not gonna lie, his smile creeps me out. Stop creeping me out, Master!

Byung-hoon does at least finally open the card, which is an invitation to Do-il and Yi-seol’s wedding. With a sigh, he puts it away.

The next day, Min-young roundly denies (to herself) that she could like Byung-hoon, and huffs that it was arrogant and presumptuous for him to think so. Hmph.

As she watches Dal-in work, she wonders what he likes so much about Mi-jin, who was so mean to him. Dal-in admits that he doesn’t know exactly—it’s just that he misses her, and she makes his heart flutter. Plus, even when there were “strange rumors” about her during the show filming, he doesn’t care about any of that. Hm, this is the second time we’re hearing about those rumors. Act 3 plot twist?

Dal-in adds wistfully that he’d really love for Mi-jin to be the first guest on the show he got as the prize for winning the competition, and that gives Min-young an idea.

She heads back to Mi-jin’s kitchen armed with a sigh and a story, about how Dal-in is in such a lurch right now. He’s having trouble finding a guest for his show, and he’s worried about the recipe he’ll have to develop, and man, if only there were somebody who could lend a hand…

Mi-jin wonders if she should help—you know, just to pay him back for helping her. Min-young eagerly encourages her to go ahead, and when Mi-jin says she can’t tonight because she has to make the broth, Min-young insists on handling it. Uh-oh. This could end badly.

Min-young calls Byung-hoon to request backup on her broth-making duties, only to be told that the boys are busy, so she can handle it on her own. Byung-hoon takes up his position in the Van of All Knowing, smirking that she’ll be roughing it alone tonight—only to be told that she isn’t alone.

Master to the rescue. Seung-pyo is once more her gracious tutor, assuring her that he enjoys cooking together. (Byung-hoon wants to turn on the cameras covering Min-young, but doesn’t get his way when Moo-jin points out that both target and client are together, so they don’t need that one. Byung-hoon actually pouts.)

Over at the bakery, Dal-in lights up in the cutest way when Mi-jin steps inside. He keeps shooting her these doofy smitten looks as they cook together, although really she’s the one doing the cooking and he’s mostly whisking air.

Byung-hoon instructs Dal-in to dab some whipped cream on his lip, and Dal-in proceeds to smear a whole gob all over his mouth like a fool. I almost can’t watch—it’s hilarious, but so secondhand-embarrassing. But Mi-jin just wipes it off his face with a finger… and then licks the cream off her finger. It’s very matter-of-fact, but Dal-in completely geeks out about it.

By now she’s finding him pretty cute, and Mi-jin offers casually to be his first guest. He literally double-takes, and then flips out in giggles and thanks. Aw.

As Min-young tends to the broth, she mentions her family, which prompts Seung-pyo to ask whether they’re close. She says that they want her to move back home and help with the family fig orchard, and promises to send him the best of the next crop in thanks for being her teacher.

There’s an interesting change that comes over his demeanor as he says she must have grown up in a happy family. She doesn’t notice, but we see the shift—wistful? Sad? She answers that a person always considers their own family to be the best, and he muses, “Hyung always said that too.”

At the bakery, Dal-in and Mi-jin work companionably for a while, and then he says happily that it’s like a dream to be working on a recipe together. That seems to trigger a negative response, perhaps a bad memory, and she says, “There’s no such thing as a recipe made together.” She excuses herself right away.

Confused, Dal-in asks the guys whether he did anything wrong. But Byung-hoon is smiling, and assures him that he did very well. He says his hunch was right, and Moo-jin adds, “It’s a good thing we sent Arang.”

With this leg of the operation over, Byung-hoon immediately gets up to leave with an obviously lame excuse about prep. You’re so going to crash that kitchen date, aren’t you?

Speaking of which, our broth-makers are enjoying pleasant conversation when the door opens. Min-young panics—they have to do something before Mi-jin sees him here—and in her haste she sends some soup flying. Seung-pyo whirls her around to get her away from it, and that’s how they end up in each other’s arms. For Byung-hoon to see.

 
COMMENTS

What I respond to about this show is the banter and the humor—it’s light and effervescent and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s in those moments that the show is at its best, I think, which is why it’s such an easy watch for me.

It’s less convincing as a romance, in that I can see where we’re headed and don’t quite feel it ringing true. I have no problems with this setup—it’s only that in this case I feel like I’m being pulled along by the show, rather than believing the emotions. I can sort of buy that Min-young is developing a very unwelcome crush on her difficult boss, because there are elements to the character that support that dynamic. She’s the hopeless romantic, the optimist, the fixer. So when she sees a rumply curmudgeon of a cynic who has lost his sense of romance, it makes sense that she’d be drawn to him, even when he’s often aggravating and unlikable.

The men, on the other hand, I don’t buy. Again, I have no problem with the setup(s)—in fact, I actively like them. On one hand you have the Byung-hoon finding himself preoccupied by his annoyingly chipper employee, and that’s just an awkward enough situation to be entertaining from a viewer standpoint. And on the other hand you have the cryptic possible-con-artist (or at least just liar) who’s using the girl to annoy his nemesis, only to find he might like her for real. I’m a fan of both scenarios. But they feel too hastily developed, so I find myself just going with the plot because I ought to, and not because it feels true.

This is such an enjoyably fluffy show for me that those complaints aren’t big detractors, since I don’t need deep emotional commitment to this show. The witty dialogue and cute, clever setups are sustaining the drama pretty well, and I’m happy to have a show breeze by and remain fun the whole way through. That’s not always (or often) the case in dramaland, as we know, so I’m not about to look gift horses in mouths. In fact, here’s actually a case where I like the drama better than the original movie, because the drama has avoided the pitfalls of adaptation (see Level 7 Civil Servant for a master list of all the things you can get wrong) and cherry-picked the best of what made the movie fun and left behind the rest. But hey, the story ain’t a classic for no reason.

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64 June 19, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 8

by javabeans

This episode wraps up our chef romance with a particularly satisfying conclusion, inasmuch as a revenge payoff adds an extra dose of gratification. We’re also getting glimpses of Byung-hoon’s past trauma, the details of which remain cryptic for now but are at least a cut more interesting than a mere case of thwarted first love. ‘Cause after a certain point a grown man really needs to just move on from that first love, no? How I wish more of dramaland would take that hint. Ahem.

SONG OF THE DAY

Big Baby Driver – “In the Same Storm” from the drama OST. [ Download ]

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EPISODE 8 RECAP

Byung-hoon’s unexpected arrival in the kitchen makes Min-young and Seung-pyo freeze in their places, looking mighty cozy in each other’s arms. But she sees that Seung-pyo’s arm has gotten scalded by the soup and fusses over it, which makes Byung-hoon sniff that it’s a measly little non-injury. Seung-pyo retorts that it was quite painful, actually, and they’re about to launch into another petty sniping session, I can just feel it.

But there’s no time for that today because Mi-jin arrives, forcing the men to duck behind the counters. Min-young blocks her entry and blurts that she wants to wrap up her very first dish on her own, entirely on her own merits, and urges the boss to go home.

Crouched uncomfortably together, the men grimace and squirm, hoping not to get caught. I’m not convinced Master isn’t smooshing Byung-hoon’s hand on purpose, taking advantage of the moment. Boys.

Unfortunately, Byung-hoon loses his balance, and the loudness of his fall means the jig is up. He pops up to confront the scenario head-on, and Mi-jin asks if he’s Min-young’s boyfriend. Min-young all but yelps, “What?” at the mere idea, but Byung-hoon sure does look smug to say yes. He is the boyfriend.

Mi-jin is pretty cool about his unauthorized presence, considering. She merely warns Min-young to remember her cardinal rule in the future: No men in the kitchen.

Then it’s back to Byung-hoon being the third wheel as they all leave the restaurant, and Min-young resumes fussing over the burned arm. She thanks Seung-pyo profusely for his help, who offers more of it anytime she needs.

Now the tables are turned, and Min-young asks why Byung-hoon called himself her boyfriend. He could’ve said he was her brother, like last time. Enjoying the reversal, she turns his own words back on him: “Do you like me? Well, that’s plenty possible.”

This leads to some jokey poking and pushing, and then a light-hearted slap fight. Byung-hoon ends up with his hand pushing Min-young’s head away as she makes ineffectual swipes at him, both of them laughing and having fun.

Watching at a distance is Seung-pyo, who may be more bummed about their flirtiness than he’d like. It’s hard to tell since he’s working the whole inscrutable angle, but I’m going with bummed.

Now to get at the source of Mi-jin’s guardedness, which is linked to the scandal rumors dogging her past. At the center of the scandal is her former sunbae, Chef Yeom Chi-moo, which is an awesome name because it literally means No Shame.

Mi-jin had been worked for Chef Shameless’ restaurant, gotten fired, and then was accused of stealing a recipe from him. Arang’s recon work shows them the secret locked room in the restaurant, which is where he supposedly makes the sauce from that stolen recipe. Nobody else goes in.

Min-young is firmly with her fellow woman and complains that men are so quick to look down on successful women. Byung-hoon quips that she’s lucky—she’ll never have to encounter that kind of attitude.

And now, Byung-hoon puts the pieces together: Mi-jin doesn’t cook with crab, she doesn’t collaborate on recipes, and she doesn’t trust men. He looks to the premiere of Dal-in’s new TV show as the perfect opportunity to set this ship right.

The next day, Mi-jin tastes Min-young’s broth and gives it her approval. She also offers a few words of caution, saying that her boyfriend is quite a bit older and gives off the vibe of someone who’d use and lose his women. She advises her to be careful and not give everything of herself, lest she wind up hurt. It sounds like talk born of experience, though Mi-jin doesn’t elaborate.

Chez Shameless, Arang is disguised as one of the employees and lets “delivery guy” Moo-jin in. Using his high-tech gadgetry, he unscrambles the lock code and lets himself in, then sends video back to the surveillance van. Byung-hoon’s practiced eye picks out the likely hiding place, and Moo-jin opens up an empty book cover to find couple photos of the chef and Mi-jin. Also a recipe notebook. And huh, wouldn’t you know—all the recipes include crab.

That evening, Dal-in spots the two ladies walking by and pops out to greet them, exchanging pleasantries. The broadcast is approaching, and while he’s a bundle of nerves at the thought of live TV, Mi-jin is cool and collected. And then after they leave, Dal-in makes a phone call… to Chef Shameless.

Min-young asks Mi-jin if she’d consider dating Dal-in, since it’s plain to everyone that he likes her. Mi-jin supposes that Min-young hasn’t been hurt by love before; as for herself, “I trust my experience.” She’d rather not repeat her mistakes.

Min-young says that she heard all about the rumors, and that’s why Mi-jin toughened up so much and became determined to prove herself on skill alone. And nobody believed that the stolen recipe was hers, because she was the woman, the employee, the younger one. However, it’s also not right to see all new people through that prejudiced lens, and what if she misses out on somone great? That only hurts her.

It looks like those words land with Mi-jin, though she cuts in sternly enough that Min-young remembers with dismay that she’s talking to her boss. Is she fired?

But on the contrary, Mi-jin approves of her pluck and elevates her from temp to real employee.

Min-young takes that news to Seung-pyo, mock-worrying about how being too skilled can have its drawbacks since now it’ll be harder to quit after the case is over. Since this is largely due to Seung-pyo’s help, she invites him to the show taping, and it’s so cute how the loan shark ajusshi perks up at this—he’s mentioned having unfulfilled actor dreams, which is why he enjoys participating on the agency’s cases from time to time.

He’s so enthusiastic that he blurts out, “Hyungnim!” without stopping to think that this is really suspicious coming from a loan shark to his debtor. So he covers it up (terribly, at that) by ordering Seung-pyo to go.

Waitress Hye-ri perks up at the thought of having a day off from work, and moves to check her phone as it dings. Almost at the same instant, a second phone dings—this time belonging to the curious and ever-present Hawaiian-shirt-wearing customer eating nearby. Hmm.

Byung-hoon is totally waiting up at the office for Min-young, wondering why she’s so late to make her daily report. When she does drop in, he’s less than thrilled to hear she dropped by Seung-pyo’s restaurant first, and even less happy at her inviting him to the show. She just sticks out her tongue at him saying that there’s no harm in having more of their team there. Byung-hoon balks, “Who said he was on our team?”

Moo-jin is still obsessing over his heart monitor, and tells Arang that machines don’t lie. So he finally arrives at the possibility: “Was my ideal woman the cute type?” That’s what Hye-ri called herself, after all. Arang asks if he means someone like Min-young, which is so foreign a concept that Moo-jin wonders, “Is she that too? Then… that’s not it.” Ha.

At least Arang has a read on the situation and offers up the advice that ideal types aren’t set in stone. Instead, your heart will let you know when the fire is lit.

On to the broadcast. Our Cyrano team is seated in the studio audience, and Min-young leans close to Seung-pyo to comment in a low voice, which has Byung-hoon all but rolling his eyes. Then when she turns to him, he makes it a point to lean allllllll the way over to talk right into her ear. (And then it’s to insult her for her “grandma smile.” Haha.)

The show begins, and the two chefs ease into things with some scripted lines that allow for them to deviate with natural conversation. The chit-chat helps soften Mi-jin, who smiles to recall her unsporting attitude on the other cooking show and admits she’s rather embarrassed to think of the finale.

Then Dal-in veers from script by saying that it’s understandable—she was probably motivated to win and dispel those “unpleasant rumors.” Uh-oh…

This a part of the master plan, of course, but I can’t help but feeling a little pinch for Mi-jin, left there in the lurch like that. Now the Cyrano team pipes up from their seats, with the loan shark goons loudly spreading the rumor to the rest of the audience and causing a stir.

And then, Dal-in introduces a surprise guest. In a series of flashbacks, we see how the team made this happen, with Dal-in inviting Chef Shameless on the show to address those rumors. The cocky chef was more than happy to accept the offer, prat.

Mi-jin is totally blindsided when Shameless is brought out to join them, and Shameless aggravates it by being his condescending and self-righteous self. But when she starts to leave, Dal-in stops her and whispers, “Please, trust me and hang in there just a little longer.”

She stays, and they begin the interview. Shameless speaks of Mi-jin like an unimportant sous chef who toiled in the shadow of his genius. Dal-in brings up his famous crab dish, which Shameless claims as his solo creation while Mi-jin tries to kill him with her death glare. Dal-in gives her the opening to speak, and she declares, “I could make it right now, because that was my recipe.”

Shameless smirks that that’s true because she stole the recipe. With Byung-hoon feeding lines (and setting the trap), Dal-in gets Shameless to name his inspiration as Barbados, the country. And then informs him: “But Barbados chili crab isn’t named after a place, it was named after a person.”

Then our Cyrano boys freeze the live broadcast and force the PDs to cut to commercial, so the rest of the scene can play out a bit more privately. Dal-in presents the furious Chef Shameless with Mi-jin’s recipe notebook—found in his possession—and our peanut gallery fans the flames of scorn. With time ticking and pressure mounting, Dal-in offers his deal: Apologize to Mi-jin and acknowledge the truth, and he won’t endure (further) humiliation on air.

Shameless takes the deal and storms off.

Dal-in assures Mi-jin that he never believed the rumors, and vows to become her super airbag from now on. Aw. She’s containing her reaction but it’s plain to see she’s moved.

Min-young tells Seung-pyo that it’s in moments like these that she’s glad she came to Cyrano, then turns to Byung-hoon for a hi-five. I love how frowny he is that she’s so chummy with Master, like he’s annoyed she turned to him second.

The broadcast resumes and the chefs finish their cake. They take a taste, and in his clumsiness Dal-in winds up with cream on his lips. I see where this is going…

Unaware of the cream, Dal-in wraps up with closing comments, and now it’s Mi-jin’s turn to veer off-script—she says she’s not quite satisfied, and then grabs his face for a big ol’ kiss. Aww.

Back at Cyrano, Byung-hoon declares this one more perfect mission completed, while Min-young is still giddy at the romance of it all. She says she thought Dal-in was going to need emergency care earlier, and wonders if he heard bells ring with that kiss. It’s an idea Byung-hoon finds thoroughly ridiculous, but she says that she’d love for something like that to happen to her—it would be like a confirmation that she’d found her mate.

Min-young plans to sleep at the agency tonight since she’s worn out from the day, which Byung-hoon argues against, telling her that wandering around instead of going home will get you struck by lightning. Just then, thunder rumbles and they both freeze—and Min-young declares that she’s not going out into a storm, so she has to stay. Ha.

There’s somebody else wandering outside tonight, and she stands just outside the agency, looking both scared and scary. Ha, it’s Jung Yumi! I knew she was lined up to feature in the next episode, but I guess they’re getting the jump on the new case.

Everyone’s sound asleep in the agency, but Byung-hoon’s sleep is fitful. We get a glimpse into his dream:

A body falls into a lake. It’s Byung-hoon, and as he’s sinking he calculates the rate of his descent, which is faster than his potential rate of ascent. Knowing of the shutdown his body will soon experience, he comes to the cold conclusion: “I am drowning.”

The question: Is this a dream, or a memory? Byung-hoon’s drowning self reaches for the bright sunlight, just as his present self jerks awake (thanks to the bright lamp that falls on his face, ha). Min-young sees that and laughs, saying that his awful personality has inanimate objects lashing back now.

But Byung-hoon is seized by an alarming thought, and without warning he engages Min-young in a rock-scissors-paper bout, which she handily wins. And wins. And wins. He grabs his calendar to start counting days. “Ack, it’s started.”

Moo-jin explains that Byung-hoon believes that he’s got a cycle of bad-luck energy. Min-young teases him for believing in such silliness, but he tells her to follow along—he’ll show her.

This leads to a lot of waiting outside for some sort of misfortune, and finally Min-young gets tired and walks away. Just then, the sprinklers turn on, soaking him and not her. Ha, were white pants really the best choice for a drenching scene? Not a complaint, mind you.

He says he’s not stepping foot outside the agency until the bad energy passes, though she still scoffs at him for being absurd. She heads back inside, walking through the now-dry sprinkler area unscathed, and he follows… and gets doused again. And this time, Min-young gapes in surprise.

She heads to the restaurant for breakfast, but wonders why the air here feels drearier than usual. Cut to a customer sitting nearby, the scary-looking woman from last night, hidden behind her veil of hair. Ack, stop that! She’s so creepy.

Seung-pyo tells her that the woman must be a prospective agency client, having seen her standing outside its doors last night. Min-young forces a pleasant smile in greeting, but the woman gets skittish and turns away, looking panicked.

Hye-ri passes by the agency on her way to work, peering inside the door and not seeing what she’s looking for. Or should I say whom. Moo-jin spots her from the top of the van, where he’s working on repairs, and she greets him cheerily. She says she was looking for him, though just to say hello: “It seems like a while since I’ve seen you.”

And wouldn’t you know, up goes his heart rate again. Honey, if you don’t connect those dots soon, I’m revoking your genius status.

Byung-hoon finds Min-young on the roof, peering curiously at the woman in the restaurant. He says they aren’t taking on her and her dark energy as a client, and then gets shat upon by an overhead bird. Hee.

A strange energy sweeps through the agency, and that can only mean one thing. They’re about to meet their new client.

Byung-hoon insists on blocking her entry and heads over to lock the door. Min-young yanks him back, he barrels forward, and that causes them to fall. Him on top of her, naturally.

They freeze and stare for long moments, awkwardly still (though, if I may point out, making no move to get up offa each other). Which is the position they’re still in when their visitor walks in, only it’s not Scary Hair Lady, but first love Yi-seol. Ha, that’s actually really satisfying.

 
COMMENTS

Hm, so we’re dealing with a potential near-death experience in Byung-hoon’s past, which I am interpreting as a literal flashback though it’s shot in an ambiguous enough way that I suppose it could be a dream-metaphor. Did his friend rescue him, and then die himself? That would explain his reluctance to act on his feelings toward Yi-seol, because guilt is a lot more compelling than mere cowardice. It wouldn’t be merely a simple case of survivor’s guilt, but also the burden of responsibility for contributing to that death, and I can see how that would be a cockblock of the highest cosmic order.

Of course, I’m presuming things. We’ll have to wait for the show to deny or confirm.

I have no reason to dislike Yi-seol, who loved a guy who died and has fond feelings for his best friend. She hasn’t done anything to merit a negative reaction, and she’s not mean or obtuse. She’s just symbolic of Byung-hoon’s present-day emotional paralysis, and that may be the reason I’m not caring so much about this budding love triangle (er, square). Because I feel nothing for her and Byung-hoon missing their chance, or feeling angsty, or crossing their wires.

By the same token, I don’t feel particularly positive feelings about the Byung-hoon and Min-young romance, but by sheer virtue of comparison to the alternative pairings, I’m drawn to rooting for them. Yi-seol feels like a downer (because she dredges up all sorts of painful memories) while Master… is is still shady as all get-out. Heck, he could fall for her for real and still give me the willies. Lee Chun-hee has a way of being so cordial and personable while exuding a menacing undertone.

Thus I like our main couple’s rapport and their bickering, and I do buy that they’re feeling stirrings of attraction—so while I don’t feel like there’s enough of a bond to really sell it as a strong romance, I’m still going with it. At least they’re cute and funny, and they’re starting to light up when they’re around each other, which brings a smile to my face too. It’s feeling like a cotton candy romance—fluffy, sweet, dissipates quickly—but there’s no reason not to enjoy it while it’s here.

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92 June 25, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 9

by javabeans

The case is short but sweet today, and showcases some really nice character beats for everyone. The show continues to use the weekly cases as vehicles for our main cast’s developments, while managing to get us invested with the guests who come in and out rather fleetingly. I’m liking the little steps we’re seeing our tin men make, who aren’t perhaps as empty-hearted and tin-canned as they first appeared.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Ye-rim – “Caller Ring” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

So the first love comes back. Yi-seol chats with Byung-hoon, and it appears they’re ignoring the elephant in the room—the whole whoops-I-fell-and-landed-on-top-of-you couch embrace she witnessed—but it’s not so easily forgotten. Byung-hoon finds himself looking through the window at Min-young, and Yi-seol clocks his distraction.

Min-young tries to pretend she doesn’t care about the cozy couple, and notices that they have a visitor: that scary woman who’s been lurking around (cameo by Jung Yumi).

She calls Byung-hoon to deal with the client, which is when Yi-seol notices that Min-young wears a particular necklace. It’s the one Byung-hoon bought from her, which suggests (somewhat erroneously) that these two are closer than he’s letting on.

Byung-hoon insists on sending this client away, while Min-young wants to take her on. When the client starts to ask whether this is the dating agency, he cuts her off before Yi-seol catches on that they’re not a theater troupe and instructs Min-young to see her out.

Instead, Min-young sits with her at the restaurant next door, eager to hear her story. The client—her name is Su-ah—wants the agency’s help in changing herself, with no interference needed for the target. As in, Su-ah wants to win his affection the good old-fashioned way by expressing her sincere feelings, but she needs guidance getting there.

This speaks to Min-young’s love of romance, and she promises to do everything she can to help. Watching from outside, Arang notes in voice-over, “Up till that point, Min-young noona looked full of confidence.” I’m assuming that means we get a twist.

You can’t quite blame Byung-hoon for wanting to pass on Su-ah, because she seems haunted by an air of morbid forlornness. She’s also dogged by a bad luck streak, though she says she’s used to it, as though it’s no big deal. For instance, the tab of her soda can pops off, and Moo-jin steps in to fix it—and the moment Su-ah meets his eye, she keels over unconscious. Ha.

Byung-hoon agrees to a compromise of sorts, leaving the case in Min-young’s hands, warning that she’d better not come running to him for help. Su-ah thanks Min-young for taking on her case, and then runs into a street sign. Again, she assures Min-young that she’s used to stuff like this happening to her, which I’m not sure is much reassurance.

Min-young briefs the team on the stats: Su-ah works as a ghost in an amusement park (how fitting), lives with only women (mom, grandma), and only attended all-girls schools. She’s also curiously tight-lipped about her target, choosing not to reveal who it is.

Byung-hoon mocks Min-young for her inability to identify the target, and she huffs to her skeptical team that she can pull this off. This leads to a bet: If she succeeds, she can order Byung-hoon to do one thing. If she loses, she has to do something for him.

And again, Future Arang narrates, “Noona didn’t know then that she’d just made a big mistake.”

Min-young shares the bet with Seung-pyo, who throws his support to her. She points out that even if she isn’t positive she’ll succeed, she can’t work with a client thinking of failure first. Seung-pyo offers a bet of their own, though since they’re both rooting for her to succeed it’s kind of a faulty wager from the start: If she wins, he’ll grant her one wish, and if she loses, they’ll have a consolation drink.

Min-young films herself as she begins the mission, adopting a romance guru tone as she offers advice. For instance: It’s on the inside that counts… but in order to get to see that inside, how about we not scare off people with our outsides? That’s her reasoning behind the hairdo makeover session (“It’s like watching The Ring”), but Su-ah isn’t quite ready to shed her hair-curtain, saying that showing her face is like how others would feel walking out of the house naked.

They move to the next step: making eye contact. Using Moo-jin as a test subject, Min-young coaches Su-ah to think of him as a girl and look him in the eye. But Su-ah’s too timid to go through with it.

Byung-hoon has been watching all this while, looking like he’d do sooooo much better. I love that he was so smug about not helping and then can’t help himself. He steps in and instructs Su-ah to consider Moo-jin a mere rock… but even then she can’t meet his eye.

Frustrated, he’s all, “Is this hard? Why is this hard?” He turns to demonstrate with Min-young, only now they’re gazing into each other’s eyes and hearts start thumping. He excuses himself and hurries away looking perturbed, as Omniscient Future Arang narrates, “The mistake… wasn’t only made by noona.”

Min-young asks about Su-ah’s hairstyle, and Su-ah explains that it just naturally ended up this way. Before, people would whisper about her or treat her like an outcast, so she hid behind her hair. Then, she found that it was less difficult being feared than being ignored.

But something happened recently to make her change her mind and decide to buck up her courage. We see it in flashback:

Su-ah gathers to watch a magic show at the amusement park, but gets shoved around and pushed back. She shrinks back in her usual way, until someone taps her shoulder, then clears the way for her to step forward.

Her helper is the magician performing here (whom we know is Gong Yoo, though we don’t see his face), and that brief encounter leaves a lasting impression. It also leaves behind his old watch, which she finds dropped on the ground.

Su-ah says that she’s most comfortable in nature, so to ease some of her anxiety, Min-young puts her in Arang’s tent… and then locks (er, zips) her in with Arang for an hour. If Su-ah bolts before then, she’ll get stuck with the “ghastly ajusshi” (Byung-hoon) next. HA.

Su-ah comments that having a tent in your room is strange, and Arang muses, “Is it?” He shrugs, saying that he doesn’t mind what people think as long as he’s happy, and Min-young (who watches from the surveillance station) smiles approvingly. Of course, she doesn’t know that he’s being fed dialogue by Byung-hoon, hee. She thanks Moo-jin for his great idea, not seeing Byung-hoon smiling smugly behind her. Just couldn’t keep his nose out of it, could he?

Turns out Min-young is taping everything because she’s come up with the idea to provide future clients with a guide of sorts. Ah, that’s cute, and kind of clever. She asks Byung-hoon to film her, but they’re interrupted by the loan sharks, here for another round of rooftop threatening.

The thugs find Su-ah in the main room and put on their intimidating gangsta faces to demand Byung-hoon’s whereabouts. She stutters that she doesn’t know, which they assume is a lie. So they get ready to menace the information out of her… until she stammers, “I saw you calling the restaurant Master h-hy-hyungnim.”

They immediately jump up and make nice, calling her noonim. Haha. Byung-hoon and Min-young catch some of the exchange, but not enough to get the real story. Thus Min-young assumes that the loan sharks were scared off by Su-ah’s hair, and decides she’ll have to do something about it.

Her methods are questionable—surprising Su-ah with the scissors before she can protest—but I’ll admit that Min-young has a way with the gentle explanation. She encourages Su-ah to accept herself and not hide, because those who don’t love themselves won’t be able to receive love from others. And so, Su-ah puts herself in their hands.

Next, it’s a test date in a restaurant with Moo-jin as her partner. Min-young gives Su-ah instructions over the earpiece, walking her through the exercise. Su-ah fights down panic at the thought of being watched by others, but Moo-jin explains that a person’s gaze can feel different based on how you let it affect you—and interpreting them as negative can become a habit.

Min-young is impressed with his long-winded and wise explanation… which is, of course, being secretly provided by Byung-hoon.

Su-ah says she’s plagued with bad luck, but Moo-jin answers (on his own, this time) that she isn’t unlucky—if she were, she wouldn’t have met someone who spurred her to come out of her shell. He encourages her to tell herself she’s cute, have confidence in herself, smile brightly… and it’s starting to sound like Moo-jin is drawing upon someone specific for this example.

That’s when Su-ah gets a text message, and she frets, “But I’m not ready yet.” Moo-jin tells her that timing is more important than preparation, because it’s hard to get that moment back once you’ve lost the timing. Su-ah takes that in, and looks him in the eye. Moo-jin says, “I finally see.”

He means he’s seeing Su-ah’s eyes for the first time, but perhaps he really means he’s seeing his own situation clearly, because after work that night he’s waiting outside the restaurant for Hye-ri.

He takes her on a motorcycle ride, arriving at the top of a hill overlooking the city lights. Moo-jin offers her his helmet, fiddles with some dials, and has her look at the city through the visor. The view activates a show of lights, which he’s rigged himself.

Hye-ri oohs and awws, and asks if he’s going to look too. He says he only has one, “Because until now, one was enough.” Aw.

As Seung-pyo locks up that night, he’s visited by some smarmy-looking gangsters. They’re obviously on familiar terms, though it seems Seung-pyo’s been tucking himself away; the leader scoffs to find him running a restaurant instead of being part of whatever shadiness is in his past.

Seung-pyo warns them to take a hike, they don’t, and a fight breaks out. He’s the fastest and quickly knocks down the minions and whips out a switchblade—whoa, where’d that come from?—and holds it to the leader’s throat.

The leader loses his bravado and calls off his goons. Seung-pyo warns them to get lost for good, which makes me wonder if maybe he’s the boss of this bunch, too.

He sends them off and turns around… and sees Min-young standing there, eyes wide. Whoops. He realizes he’s still holding the open knife and starts fumbling for an explanation, only the excuse sounds flimsy and panicked and Min-young instinctively backs up away from him.

He actually looks quite lost and scared, and Min-young puts on her reassuring face to tell him he doesn’t have to explain if it’s awkward. She says, “I know you’re a good person,” though her voice shakes. Then she hurries away, spooked, while Seung-pyo gets drunk in his empty restaurant.

Su-ah’s text message the other night turns out to be a notice of the magic show’s last night at the park. Hence her dilemma about timing versus preparation. So she calls Min-young to explain that she’s on her way to confess her feelings, which panics Min-young, who says that it’s too early.

Su-ah knows that it is, but today may be her last chance. She’s not expecting him to return her feelings: “Looking at his eyes and expressing my feelings honestly—right now, to me that’s the most important thing. It’s thanks to you that I can summon my courage like this. Thank you.”

Min-young grabs her things and runs out, determined to get there in time, and Byung-hoon growls a curse to realize he’s gotta leave the agency while he’s still in his unlucky phase if he wants to follow her. But he wants to follow her, of course, so off he goes.

Arang narrates, “And that’s when I knew that thinking everything had been a mistake… had been my mistake.”

Su-ah arrives at the magic show and works up her courage to approach, calling out to the magician, whose face we finally get to see. She asks if he remembers her, but he looks at her rather blankly, even when she says she watched every one of his shows here. Oh no. Is this going to end badly? He’s looking at her in puzzlement, polite but not exactly encouraging.

She explains, “That was my happiest moment of the day, like I was a different me in a different world. And so, I was always thankful to you, and I wanted to tell you how I felt.”

He just keeps standing there with that stoic face, and Su-ah returns the watch he’d once dropped. He says nothing. So she wishes him well and starts to walk away, whereupon he calls her back.

He holds out the watch and says that it’s stopped, and she’s embarrassed at her bad luck striking again; she explains that she didn’t break it, not seeing that he’s smiling now. Oh phew—I was afraid for a second that he was going to be an ass. Instead, he tells her she ought to fix it and return it the next time they meet. Okay, so that may sound a leetle assy still, but it’s all in the delivery. It’s sweet.

Min-young scours the park without finding Su-ah and arrives at the pier that must be part of the premises—which also looks just like the pier in Byung-hoon’s drowning nightmare, by the way. She doesn’t realize that as she dabs the sweat from her neck, the necklace falls off and lands in a boat.

Byung-hoon arrives at the same pier a bit later and tells himself to stay away; it’s bad luck to go near water while he’s still in his unlucky phase. From his reaction, I’d say the drowning wasn’t a memory after all, but a premonition. Despite the foreboding Byung-hoon approaches anyway, all while muttering, “This feels unlucky…”

That’s how he sees the necklace in the half-submerged boat, and grumbles at Min-young losing his present so carelessly. He reaches for it, stretching himself toward the water—and falls in.

Now we replay the scene we’d seen previously, as Byung-hoon sinks underwater. He reaches for his Sherlock pendant, but it remains out of his reach.

Min-young returns to the pier in time to see the danger, and dives into the water. She reaches out a hand to him, signaling for him to grab it… Byung-hoon opens his eyes… and throws a V sign. HAHAHA.

His scissors beats her paper, which is the most hilariously inappropriate response to your rescuer as you’re halfway to drowning, but SO HIM.

It’s also a nice way to put a period on his unlucky phase, since he’s back to winning. She shoots him this exasperated look even in the water and drags him back up (with his hand clutching her dropped necklace).

On the pier, Min-young rouses first and starts slapping his face and yelling at him to wake up. He doesn’t move, and she starts to administer CPR. Still he remains unresponsive.

Finally he opens his eyes just as she’s breathing into his mouth, and they both freeze.

 
COMMENTS

I really liked the case of this week, even if it was a pretty skimpy cameo on Gong Yoo’s end. But from a story standpoint, it was actually very effective to cast the big star, build him up in our minds just as our client did, and then to have the great big sinking sensation in the moment that we realize he’s just a guy. Who doesn’t know who Su-ah is, who never registered her presence before, who isn’t a jerk because of it but certainly not the heroic guy who merits the slo-mo reveal highlighted by angelic choruses and glorious backlighting. It’s a case where the show actually played with our meta expectations and used them to subvert the moment, which I really appreciate.

At the end of the day this was an episode about Su-ah, which was poignant and sweet—not for the way she found herself a cute potential boyfriend, but because this mission spurred her to loving herself and stepping out into the world. Whether she won the guy’s heart was, as she said, not the point of the story, and I think I would’ve been fine had she walked away from the confession a rejected but braver person. It’s just icing on the cake to have a hint of hope. And I like that the hope isn’t for their relationship to work out, but for Su-ah to simply even have a relationship.

What made the case even better was the way it utilized each member of the team and spurred them to their own little growths. Min-young has always been heart over brain, hope over cynicism, and sometimes you can see how that needs a little grounding. In this case, though, her brand of acceptance and encouragement were just the push Su-ah needed.

Truth be told, none of the actual events that the team planned were all that remarkable—a haircut, a makeover, a mock date—and so, the success was in the little bits of advice that came from the heart. Byung-hoon provided some of that on the sly, while Moo-jin had his little epiphany as well. And Arang’s narration had a clever twist too, by starting out seemingly all about Min-young’s errors and ending up with the understanding that his assumptions were the erroneous ones.

Now, if we could just get to the bottom of the Master mystery.

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69 June 26, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 10

by javabeans

Ah, time for the major complication to show up and throw our agency into a tizzy. Muahaha. Not that I haven’t been enjoying the breezy romance-of-the-weeks thus far, but there was a level of emotional conflict in the inherent Cyrano premise that hadn’t been integrated into the plot just yet, and really, you can’t have a show about Cyrano without the Cyrano.

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Taru – “Kiss You” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 10 RECAP

So Byung-hoon comes to, and Min-young asks if he’s okay. He says gruffly, “I’m fine, so be quiet… it’s embarrassing.” He shades his face with his hand, all, If I can’t see my shame, maybe it’s not there.

He hands her the necklace, declining to explain how he got it, only saying that now its got the value of a person’s life. So don’t lose it. I like the sweet little moment where they’re walking without speaking, and Min-young reaches over to wring some water out of Byung-hoon’s sopping wet coat. He shrugs off her help, but wrings some more.

Seung-pyo replays last night’s conversation with Min-young, where she assured him not to feel bad about whatever secret he’s harboring. Reading into his expression as he sees her arriving with Byung-hoon, I’d guess that it bothers him more than he’d like to have possibly lost her good opinion of him. Or at least shown himself in a less-than-sterling light.

His dark mood has his two underlings more nervous around him than usual, and given last night’s flash of violence, I’m thinking there’s a good reason they fear him. He just asks whether another person has ever made them feel uneasy before, and while we know he’s thinking of a woman, that question gets interpreted as a possible reference to those thugs.

Upon returning to the agency, Byung-hoon declines to offer an explanation for his bedraggled appearance and just heads off in his usual cranky way. Min-young complains to the boys about how ungrateful Byung-hoon was, and after she’d saved his life and performed CPR… at which point she freezes in embarrassment and clams up.

Min-young excuses herself, wondering why the mere thought of CPR has her all aflutter. Before she can delve too much into that uncomfortable thought, she gets a text that makes her happy, and she runs to show it to Byung-hoon. It’s from Su-ah, and shows a photo of her hand holding her crush’s, with that broken watch clasped between them.

It’s sweet of Byung-hoon to give her proper credit (“I knew you’d do a good job,” he says, and not even grudgingly!), and he asks about the final result. But Min-young is plenty happy without such a solid “result,” so to speak, since it’s satisfying enough to know that Su-ah broke out of her shell and confessed her feelings.

She muses that she’d really worried that Su-ah would end up alone and hurt, always looking one-sidedly at her unrequited crush. It’s no coincidence that the camera focuses on Byung-hoon as she says those telling words, catching him smiling at Min-young while she remains oblivious of his gaze.

When Arang resumes filming for Min-young’s dating tips video, she decides she won’t continue with the project. What’s the point in making a guide when everybody’s cases are different?

Still taping, Arang finds Byung-hoon in the camera lens and notices that he’s smiling… and looking at Min-young. “As I watched them, I became curious all of a sudden,” Arang narrates. “How many fates in this world are made of chance and mistakes?” Ah, so is Arang’s narration from this video project, which he’s taking rogue?

Min-young heads next door to greet Seung-pyo with a tentative hello. She’s trying to resume their easy rapport and shares today’s success with him, though now he’s acting awkward and distant. Since she won their “bet,” he recalls that he owes her a favor, but he says it with such reluctance that it makes you think he being forced to walk the plank.

Min-young leans in close to whisper encouragingly that he made the right choice in leaving behind his previous life, and adds, “You know I’m always on your side, don’t you?”

He asks hesitantly, “Weren’t you… scared of me?” She says cheerily that she has no reason to be, since she knows he’s a good guy. Watching incredulously are the two thugs, who realize that Master was all twisted up in knots over her. And it really is very sweet to see Seung-pyo smiling again, almost in wonder.

Our new Cyrano client seems like a hoot right from the get-go: She’s a raspy-voiced sassy granny who used to be a famous actress and has no qualms about identifying herself as the most beautiful in her day. But she’s also no-nonsense enough to shoot down Min-young’s attempt at flattery, since she’s old now and not so crazy to insist she is still the hottie she once was.

Then she identifies each employee with uncanny details: Byung-hoon is the cocky, self-assured one; Min-young likes to butt her nose into things; and Arang is a student busily saving up his money like a good little squirrel.

The unasked question gets answered a second later when Moo-jin arrives and recognizes “Madam Hwang”—aka, his grandmother. She’s not here for herself, however (“I’ve got old men lined up wanting to be with me, why would I need help?”), but for a sweet woman she knows named Lee Hae-shim, or literally, Understanding. (The Dickensian names on this show crack me up.)

Hae-shim (cameo by Yeh Ji-won) is a kind, understanding nurse who takes care of Grandma in the senior ward. She also likes a firefighter named Chul-soo (Im Won-hee), whom she runs into every so often on fire drills at the hospital.

One day Hae-shim gets stuck doing the second-story balcony jump demonstration (onto pads below) and Chul-soo encourages Hae-shim to fight her fear and jump. She musters the courage and asks, “If I jump… will you go on a date with me?”

But Hae-shim walks back down, and glumly tells Granny that she really did intend to jump if he said yes. Aw.

So Granny has been trying to play Cupid—but even though she thinks Chul-soo may be interested, he’s resisted invitations and attempts to put them together.

Byung-hoon is eager to talk fees, which earns him disapproving looks from his team. He awkwardly offers a discount, which I find adorable because when was he one to be shamed into politeness before? Thankfully for him, Granny’s rich and doesn’t care about discounts; she just wants results.

First the team needs to check whether the couple is even interested in each other, to rule out the possibility that Grandma’s spinning romances out of thin air. I do appreciate that this is a consideration, since the matchmaking meddliness of elders is no joke. Moo-jin offers to take the recon trip to the hospital to confirm, since he can visit his grandmother as a cover story.

On his way out, he runs into Hye-ri and asks her to come along, which she’s happy to do—until she sees that their destination is a hospital and freezes up. He apologizes, not having realized this would put her so ill at ease, but Hye-ri tells him to go on and run his errand while she waits outside. She sends him on with a cheery smile, but that fades as soon as he’s gone.

Moo-jin observes as an ajusshi rips into Nurse Hae-shim for some imagined offense or another—he’s the guardian to one of the seniors, but mostly he’s an asshole. Firefighter Chul-soo sees the exchange, and while he doesn’t step in right away, he does wait outside for the ajusshi to emerge, then accidentally-on-purpose knocks into him and kicks away his car key. The ajusshi takes one look at Chul-soo’s scary don’t-fuck-with-me face and backs down.

Granny finds Hye-ri sitting alone and offers her a lollipop to help with the gloomy face. She’s already heard that Hye-ri came with Moo-jin (to all the nurses’ dismay), and asks about the long face. Hye-ri explains that her older brother spent the end of his life in a hospital like this.

Grandma has some sweet words for Hye-ri, telling her to live as cheerfully as she can because life is short, and to think of her brother when she’s feeling happy, which will ease his spirit too.

Moo-jin takes back his surveillance footage to the team, and it’s pretty clear that the firefighter is interested, but for some reason is not acting on it. Byung-hoon declares that they’ll have to set a fire in his heart, and pulls up a still clip of one of the makeout scenes in Nine to illustrate. Ha.

Min-young scoffs that men are so animalistic in their thoughts, Byung-hoon counters that women like skinship too, and then they have another awkward moment where they get stuck looking into each other’s eyes.

On to the mission. That night at the hospital, Grandma sends Hae-shim on a trumped-up errand to look for something in storage, and then happens across Chul-soo as he’s conducting a routine check of the fire extinguishers. She sends him to retrieve Hae-shim, and then Moo-jin locks the door on them after cutting the lights.

They decide to wait it out for now, and in the meanwhile Moo-jin takes his grandmother out for some air. She advises him to treat Hye-ri well and be nice to her, chuckling that since this is the first girl he’s ever brought to see her, of course she’s going to look favorably on her.

The air in the locked supply room gets stifling, probably more from the tension than anything. Mirroring the scenario is the one in the surveillance van, with Min-young and Byung-hoon feeling similarly awkward and ignoring the reason for it.

Hae-shim admits that the one nice thing about this is that they get to be alone together. Aw, she really is trying; it’s Mr. Firefighter who’s the brick wall. When she comments that he must have had some interest in her if he noticed her clothing in the past, he blurts that he’s not interested in her. She’s disappointed, but still keeps trying to break the ice despite his rebuffs.

Moo-jin finds his grandmother’s wheelchair empty and realizes, “She’s back.”

Ah, so Grandma has an ongoing condition, and when she opens the locked supply closet, she’s already in a different reality. She grabs Hae-shim by the hair and drags her out, then tells the “director” that she can’t get into the scene properly. Then she advises Hae-shim like she’s a junior actress, and the other two play along to appease her.

Moo-jin tells Byung-hoon about the episode, saying that he didn’t think it was relevant to disclose earlier. Byung-hoon points out that they can’t take clients who are dementia patients, but Moo-jin balks at the wording and tells him to ease off; besides, Grandma’s spells are over quickly and he chooses it to think of her briefly visiting her past, that’s all.

Using last night’s spell as an excuse, Grandma guilts Chul-soo into going on a “date” with her to Namsan Tower, which of course is yet another bait and switch opportunity to get him together with Hae-shim. She pretends she was fooled by Granny too, and though he seems pretty aware of the ploy, he agrees to stick around.

The Cyrano team is dispatched to various areas of the tower to keep an eye on the couple. Byung-hoon and Min-young get commandeered by a man in a stuffed bear suit into sitting on a couple bench (the kind that slides you together)—and we see that it’s Arang in the suit, doing a little matchmaking on the side. Cute.

Hae-shim takes a look at the thousands of locks fastened by happy couples as little tokens of their love, but the sight makes Chul-soo even more uncomfortable, if possible. Hm, a painful past experience, perhaps? Or a lost loved one? In any case, he excuses himself with an apology and runs off.

Seung-pyo looks to be warming up even more to Min-young after her show of faith in him, and he calls her just as she pulls into the driveway with Byung-hoon. He invents an excuse to ask her over, while Byung-hoon sniffs in his pettily jealous way.

Seung-pyo makes a dish with thyme, which he uses as a segue to explain that courage (one of the meanings of thyme’s name) is something he could use right now. He reminds her of her earlier question, asking if he had anybody he wanted to cook for. Well, he does now: “Min-young-sshi. I like you very much, not as a teacher, but as a man. I’d also like to always be on your side. Can you accept my heart?”

The hopeful look on his face dims by degrees as she says that she likes him very much, but doesn’t want to change the relationship they have. He asks, “If someone like me showed up at the agency, would you say that?”

Moo-jin follows Chul-soo from the Namsan Tower date and reports back: Mr. Firefighter has a woman. Byung-hoon instructs him to keep tabs on him.

Min-young is confused, since her research had him being single for the past few years. Byung-hoon clocks her flushed face and assumes she’s feeling ill, and feels for fever. The contact makes them freeze, and Min-young escapes with pounding heart.

Meanwhile, Seung-pyo mulls over Min-young’s response just a few minutes earlier, when she had decided to use her one wish. We don’t get to see what that is just yet.

Seung-pyo makes some kind of decision and barges into Byung-hoon’s office: He’d like to hire his services. Aww, yeah. Time to shake up this joint.

 
COMMENTS

When I first heard the premise of the movie version, I was all about it, and recall thinking it could make for a juicy romantic drama as well. It’s a classic story with a meaty conflict—the love messenger falling in love with his target—and jazzed up with a cute spy-theater-modern component to keep things fresh. So when the drama adaptation of the movie was then announced, I was pretty sure there was plenty of story potential here.

So it’s perhaps a little puzzling that the show took this long to get to what is, in all other story adaptations, the central conceit. But mostly I haven’t minded, because if you watch this show as a light rom-com series and not with the expectation that it’s gotta hew closely to the trajectory of the famous story, then there’s no reason it can’t be enjoyed for what it does rather than doesn’t do.

Thus it hasn’t upset me that we haven’t played with the conflict of interest inherent in the premise. But now that we’re here, I realize that there’s a new energy here that wasn’t here before—the story just got a LOT more interesting. It’s not really a rearranging of the movie’s plot, but a twist on it on a more fundamental level: Here, have the feelings engaged on all three sides before the case is even brought to the table.

I like that we can obviously see the budding attraction between Byung-hoon and Min-young, but because Seung-pyo realized his first (and was assertive enough to make the first move), Byung-hoon is locked in by his own denial. The third party interference throws things out of whack, but in a good way—I’m not sure Byung-hoon would be propelled into acting at all without a little provocation.

Based on how long he carried his torch for Yi-seol, I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’d get around to admitting his feelings in anything resembling an appropriate time frames. Though it was a nice touch, symbolically speaking, for him to lose his Sherlock pendant as he’s rescued by Min-young, which does signify that there’s hope for him yet. It’s just that Mr. Slowpoke Denialpants needs some kicking in the rear to actually get the ball rolling.

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75 July 2, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 11

by javabeans

Ah, clues get filled in about the mysterious past haunting several of our characters, and why there’s enough guilt, resentment, and blame to power a small city. Maybe a really unpleasant city. In any case, I was thinking this show would have to produce something pretty darned compelling to make the reveal worth all the cryptic setup, and I was worried it would get way too makjang to be worth the build-up. Thankfully I think the conflict works, adding depth to the emotional responses but not getting too heavy-handed with the dramatics.

SONG OF THE DAY

Dickpunks – “Viva 청춘” (Viva primavera) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 11 RECAP

Seung-pyo requests the services of Cyrano Agency in winning over Min-young, although perhaps requests is too mild a word, since he and Byung-hoon are engaging in a glare-off the whole way through. Min-young and Arang can see the confrontation through the window, though they can’t hear and are left wondering at the animosity.

Byung-hoon asks if Seung-pyo is so lacking in confidence that he’d need other people helping him. Seung-pyo doesn’t let the jibe corner him and answers that yes, he’s got a soft spot where Min-young is concerned and he’d like to take whatever help he can get. He gives Byung-hoon time to think it over and stalks out with his tough face on… and then slumps over once he’s outside, like it took all his energy to put on the fierce front.

Time to turn their attention back to the case of the week, with the reluctant firefighter Chul-soo backing out of his date with nurse Hae-shim. He was seen meeting a woman at another fire station—his previous workplace—and it turns out she’s the fiancée of a firefighter friend who died in the line of duty. Chul-soo, the friend, and the woman had been a tight trio until the friend died, and hm, this setup rings a bell…

The day of the abandoned date, Chul-soo met the fiancée and headed down to his friend’s grave. So despite his interest in the nurse, he hurried off anyway.

Nurse Hae-shim is disappointed when Chul-soo doesn’t come by to the hospital anymore. Byung-hoon and Min-young are on it, and head over to the gym to find him.

Byung-hoon takes one look at the buff firefighters pumping iron and blocks Min-young’s path, telling her to wait outside. He makes up the lame excuse that it stinks of sweat so he’s sparing her the ordeal, and I do enjoy that he’s satisfied because he’s kept her away from all the hard bodies (and, more importantly, the feeling of inferiority that inspires in him) while she’s pleased at this sign of consideration. I guess this is what they call a win-win.

So Min-young agrees to wait outside, while Byung-hoon assures himself, “It’s okay. My face and brain are sexy.” Yes, that’s true, but it’s also hilarious how he looks askance at all the abs and sniffs that they’re too busy working out to put out fires.

Yi-seol drops by the agency unannounced and finds it locked. She recalls Byung-hoon telling her that the theater is partly hers, so she takes out the key to let herself in.

Seung-pyo happens by and helps her when she drops the keys. But then she asks, “Are you by any chance… Seung-pyo?” Ooh. Interesting. Well, this scratches the brother theory out.

Byung-hoon introduces himself to Chul-soo as a specialist in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), giving the wrongful impression that he’s counseling the fiancée in the wake of her loss. I know he’s not a real shrink, but shouldn’t there be more suspicion about patient confidentiality breaches? Chul-soo doesn’t question the explanation and says that she’s having a hard time and could still blame him for his friend’s death.

But it seems more likely that it’s Chul-soo who’s still haunted by blame, because he says that while his friend was dying in a fire, he was out on a date. Ah, that would explain his guilt reflex. It’s worse because he should have been on call that day. Hence he decided to devote his life to firefighting, and not leave anybody behind like his friend did.

Those words resonate with Byung-hoon, who falls into flashback to the time he was working on a show in England. He argues with his best friend Do-il on the phone, telling him not to come because he’s so swamped that he won’t have a chance to talk. Over the phone, he hears Yi-seol urge, “Tell him we’re on the way to the airport.” But then there’s the sound of a terrible crash, and we all know what happens next.

Seung-pyo and Yi-seol chat at the restaurant, and we get a few more hints about his identity, but not the whole enchilada. They would have met on the day of her wedding, and thus Seung-pyo didn’t expect her to recognize him now. She asks if Byung-hoon knows who he is. He says that he mentioned it once, but Byung-hoon appeared not to recognize him so he didn’t say anything further. He asks her not to tell, either.

Moo-jin and Arang head over to the hospital and keep Grandma company. She mentions his super-pretty girlfriend, and Arang guesses that’s why he was so fixated on that heart rate monitor. Moo-jin smiles and says, “Now I know without looking at it.” So cute.

Byung-hoon and Min-young get back to the agency and find it open, and inside is a furious-looking Yi-seol who has figured out what the agency does. She asks how Byung-hoon could mess around with the theater like this, adding accusingly, “Don’t you feel sorry to Do-il at all?” Yes, clearly he’s so unaffected by that death that he’s developed this whole emotional paralysis for nothing. Yeesh.

Min-young tries to smooth things over in her well-meaning way, but that just makes Byung-hoon snap at her to butt out. She does, though his harshness hurts her feelings.

He says that the theater will make its comeback, but Yi-seol argues that he’s always like this—doing everything on his own, without ever once being honest with either her or Do-il. He asks what that would have accomplished, and she says, “At the least, the three of us wouldn’t have turned out this way.” Oh, that’s the least, huh? Gah, starting to hate her now, whereas before I just didn’t care.

He concludes, “So you think it’s all my fault too.” She doesn’t have an answer for that, which is enough of an answer.

After she leaves, Min-young urges him to explain the full truth—that he’s running the agency to pay off the debts that Do-il left behind. But he says that Yi-seol believes the debt was settled, and telling her would just worry her.

Min-young asks tentatively, “Do you still… like her?” He asks why she cares to know, and tells her that she ought to put a lid on her nosy interference. He leaves her feeling dejected, and she notes, “He didn’t say no.”

Byung-hoon sits in his empty theater and sighs, “I want to produce shows too.” It’ll only be a little bit longer, he says.

Min-young trudges out of work, thinking wistfully that chatting with Seung-pyo used to be the best for days like this. Today she just walks on, which goes noticed by just about everyone in the restaurant. In particular the two loan shark minions, who decide to get involved.

They step right into Min-young’s path, looking like gangsters but sounding like twelve-year-olds as they ask, “What do you think of Master?” They rattle off his positive attributes, like how he’s good-looking and tall and rich. She guesses that they knew Seung-pyo from before the whole supposed debt (which they’re terrible keeping a straight story about), and Minion #1 blurts, “How could we have known hyungnim?” At the hyungnim slip, Minion #2 chides, “What are you going to do if hyungnim finds out?” Ha.

They plead for her not to let on that she knows, and she agrees. They’re so relieved that they take back their earlier words about Min-young being a “downgrade” of Seung-pyo’s taste in women, and vow to help the couple get together. These two lugheads are such doofs, but cute.

Nurse Hae-shim decides she’s tired of waiting for Chul-soo to come by the hospital, and goes to the fire station. It’s with surprise that he finds her passing out drinks to the firemen, and he mumbles his way through the request to stop coming by like this, which he finds burdensome.

Hae-shim replies that it would be nice if he returned her feelings, but she’s happy enough just to have those feelings on her own: “So can’t you just accept what I give?” Does he like someone else? He assures her that he doesn’t dislike her, but that he’s not in a place to date anyone.

Chul-soo’s co-workers give him some guff about rejecting a good woman, and then he gets a call from his friend’s fiancée. She shows Chul-soo an old pair of musical tickets, which are her proof that he shouldn’t blame himself for switching shifts and getting his friend killed. Actually, she’d gotten his on-duty days mixed up, and told him to swap shifts. She admits that she hadn’t told him about the swap all this time because she didn’t want to feel alone in her loss, and apologizes.

…and then, we see her with Min-young, marveling at their skills in mocking up such realistic old tickets. She’s happy to do whatever she can to help Chul-soo, because Min-young has presented herself as part of the fire station’s counseling program helping Chul-soo work through his grief.

Byung-hoon follows Chul-soo into the elevator, which then gets roped off with a construction sign. Byung-hoon feigns shock when the elevator stops, and watching from the surveillance van, Min-young notes that the boss sure has terrible acting skills. Moo-jin decides, “We have to help him act more realistically.” HAHA. I don’t even know what you’re going to do but I’m all for it.

Moo-jin gives the elevator a few extra shakes and drops, though it doesn’t cut down on Byung-hoon’s hamminess. He rips out a piece of notepaper and asks Chul-soo to convey his last words to his beloved in the event he should die, then bangs his head on the wall, asking, “Why did I not say these words before? WHYYYY?”

Byung-hoon pours out a few anguished “I love you”s with an eye on Chul-soo, who seems to be swayed by his regrets about never having said the words to his loved one. Byung-hoon clocks his response and sends a wink at the camera, straight at Min-young, who gets a little moony-eyed in response. With the seed thus planted, the elevator doors open and let the men out.

Byung-hoon exclaims that he feels he’s been given a new lease on life. He comments that Chul-soo is well-prepared mentally for the future (say, in the event of his death), and therefore he has nothing to fear. So why not live in the moment, with the person you love? That’s the best thing he can do for himself.

Seung-pyo broods, his thoughts on his meeting with Yi-seol, which we see in flashback: She comments on his very dramatic first meeting with Do-il, back in the days when Do-il had been taking out loans left and right to keep the theater afloat. Yi-seol sighs that she’d been so glad when she heard the debts were cleared, which puts an uncomfortable expression on Seung-pyo’s face. I wonder if he isn’t telling her because it isn’t his place, or if it’s because it would make Byung-hoon’s life easier, and clearly Seung-pyo is not in the business of making Byung-hoon’s life easier.

But Seung-pyo says that it was “thanks to that” that he got his head on straight and set up the restaurant. I have an automatic skeptical response to anything Seung-pyo says but I can credit this for being truth, that perhaps after Do-il died he realized he didn’t want to live as a loan shark anymore and threw himself into his new livelihood.

Almost on cue, Chul-soo pulls up to the hospital just as Moo-jin is apprising his grandmother of the latest developments. She chuckles that all they need is a kiss scene to finish off this scenario, and Moo-jin sets the mood with a song (product placement opportunity!).

Chul-soo takes Hae-shim aside and starts with an explanation of his friend’s death, and how he decided he wouldn’t fall in love and leave behind anybody to grieve for him if he died. But he’s found a reason to change his mind, and he apologizes for making her wait.

Hae-shim takes a long moment to absorb his explanation… and then laughs. In a cavalier tone, she says she was interested in him because he said he never looked at women, then scoffs that this was “too easy.” She’ll pretend they didn’t have this talk, she says, and saunters off to work.

Huh. That’s unexpected. There’s gotta be more to this plotline, right?

Standing in the empty theater, Seung-pyo relives the moment he first saw it, back when he was in the loan shark business. Past Seung-pyo comes upon Do-il (aw, cameo by Lee Min-woo), who’s on the phone arguing with Byung-hoon to come back to Korea. Do-il says that he’s figured out a way to settle the problem, and now their theater can produce the plays Byung-hoon wants to produce. To that end, Do-il insists on flying over to England right away to talk him into returning.

Byung-hoon finds Seung-pyo standing there and asks what he’s doing, loitering in someone else’s theater. Seung-pyo dissects that: “Someone else’s theater? I don’t think you’re in a rightful place to tell me it’s someone else’s theater.”

Seung-pyo reminds Byung-hoon that he’s waiting for his answer about taking his case. But he makes a barbed comment about the former theater owner, and how Byung-hoon wouldn’t be standing here if he hadn’t died.

Byung-hoon warns Seung-pyo that he’s running his mouth off about things he knows little about. Seung-pyo challenges, “I don’t know what I’m talking about?” Seung-pyo just fumes and fumes until Byung-hoon dismisses him, saying, “If you’ve got nothing else to say, please leave my theater.”

That pushes his anger over the edge, and Seung-pyo shoves Byung-hoon against the wall. “Then shall I tell you what I know?”

 
COMMENTS

The romance of the week is a little odd this time around, because even though I’m expecting that it’s not over yet, I don’t really care about the nurse and the firefighter. I do appreciate that it gave us a twist at the end, because otherwise it would have seemed too plain and straightforward, and inserted purely as metaphor fodder. After all, its real purpose was to set the stage for the past conflict to come to the fore, and to force Byung-hoon to address some of his own residual guilt. And on that front I think it works pretty well. I’m not all torn up with the emotions of it all, but I can understand how things came to be the way they are now.

I’m also relieved that there is much more to Byung-hoon’s lingering survivor’s guilt than mere first love feelings. Because yes, first love is painful and unforgettable and all that, but at a certain point you’re kinda like, Dude. The living have to keep living. Move on. It’s especially so in this case where we aren’t given much context for his feelings for Yi-seol; we just know that was the case. (As opposed to the kind of drama where the first love setup is really laid in there.)

And to add to that, I’m glad that there was a more compelling reason than feeling guilty for the car crash, because while I get that, it’s just not enough. You’re all adults, and shit happens, and it’s not your fault your friend was in an accident on his way to see you. But when the episode revealed the reason for the visit, well, I admit my heart gave a little squeeze, and that was the mark of a great conflict.

Because yeah, Byung-hoon was selfish and self-absorbed, as all of his friends have pointed out, and fixated only on his career. So when you see that Do-il ran into debt to save the theater, so that he could bring Byung-hoon back, so that they could work together… awww. That’s sweet, and a goddamned shame.

I’m curious to see where Seung-pyo fits in, because up to the point where he first meets Do-il, he seems like a sharp, cold-hearted mofo. What changed? What made him identify so strongly with Do-il that he wanted to mend his ways, set up shop next door, and now hold Byung-hoon responsible for the death? I don’t really think he’s intent on revenge, at least not as an end goal; I’m more inclined to believe that Seung-pyo can’t help his hate from bubbling up and needling Byung-hoon whenever they butt heads.

The backstory also gets me understanding Yi-seol’s blaming Byung-hoon, to a limited extent (it’s misplaced, but I get it), and also Byung-hoon’s current burden. It’s why he’s determined to save the theater and bring it back, and why he’s taken on the debt as his own. He owes his buddy, and while reviving Cyrano isn’t going to bring back the dead, maybe it helps to mitigate the loss. Maybe he didn’t die for nothing then.

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65 July 3, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 12

by javabeans

Honesty is the name of the game this time around, and we have that to thank for the swift advancement in the main plot and romance. In a world populated with too many people harboring secrets and hiding their real feelings and putting on fronts, it’s refreshing to have one open book to read, isn’t it? True, the heroine can be a bit of a ditz, but I think it works with this mix of characters. ‘Cause sometimes, you just want a thing to be a thing. That spade? It’s a spade.

SONG OF THE DAY

Jessica – “그대라는 한 사람” (You’re the one person) from the drama OST. [ Download ]

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EPISODE 12 RECAP

Temper boiling over, Seung-pyo shoves Byung-hoon and offers to explain what he knows. He demands to know why Byung-hoon returned to Korea after his friend died—guilt? Byung-hoon catches on that he knew Do-il pretty well. “We were closer than you think,” Seung-pyo fires back. He wants an answer to his question—why did he take over the theater from his dead friend?

The brewing fight gets broken up when Min-young bursts in, here to apprise the boss of the nurse’s case. The men break apart and act normal while she explains that Hae-shim rejected the firefighter’s confession, which sure strikes them all as odd.

Grandma certainly can’t make heads or tails of it, and she follows Hae-shim around the hospital asking why she turned down the guy she was so crazy about. Hae-shim answers that her feelings just poofed when he confessed, and chalks it up to a latent femme fatale propensity.

Of course, that’s just an excuse, and she gets teary-eyed once she’s alone. Please don’t tell me she’s dying or cancerous or being a noble martyr. I don’t know if I have the patience for that, although that was my immediate thought at her reaction to his comment about not wanting to leave anybody behind.

Min-young asks about the strained air between Byung-hoon and Seung-pyo. Rather than address that, he turns it around on her and notes that she was equally awkward. Rather than address that, she mumbles an excuse about just being surprised to see Master there.

They review the video footage of Hae-shim’s rejection and wonder at the turnaround. Byung-hoon wonders that if the feelings haven’t changed, then perhaps it’s the circumstances that have. Grandma just wants them to fix it—they got Chul-soo onboard, so they can get Hae-shim too.

Then she beckons Byung-hoon near and grabs onto his hair, shaking him furiously and insisting that he take responsibility. Ha, she’s having one of her actress flashback spells, and Byung-hoon has to shout “Cut!” to get her to let go.

Min-young watches her leaving and says sadly that she wants to succeed with this case because it could be Grandma’s last wish. Byung-hoon scoffs that conning Min-young is the easiest thing in the world, which is a comment that goes over her head… and as Moo-jin wheels Grandma away, we see that her “spell” was all an act. Ha.

Byung-hoon senses that something else is bothering Hae-shim, and tests out his suspicion by approaching her as a friendly visitor with extra coffees to hand around. He spills some on her wrist and dabs at it apologetically, which allows him to glimpse the monster bruise on her arm. Ack, don’t tell me it’s The Cancer after all.

We get another flashback revealing more of Seung-pyo’s past friendship with Do-il, as he thinks to the day they scoped out the restaurant space together. Do-il had been the one to bring it to his attention, and they’d both smiled at the thought of fate and circumstances arranging for them to set up their respective businesses right next door to each other.

Seung-pyo had wondered, “Maybe it’s to make up for time we spent apart all this while.” Hm, so they knew each other from even before debtor days? Are we back to the long-lost brothers theory? The memory makes him look all the grimmer now, as he asks himself, “Should I just get rid of him?”

Byung-hoon assembles the team to inform them of his hunch regarding Hae-shim’s health, suspecting that Grandma and Hae-shim knew each other previously. He instructs them to gather all the info they can on her past.

That turns up a recent record of chemotherapy, due to a recurrence of her previously treated cancer. She has very low survival prognosis, and this makes Min-young insistent that they hurry to make the most of her remaining time. Byung-hoon points out that they have the problem of Chul-soo being left behind, but the others all argue that it would be better to let the couple have their time. Byung-hoon warns that they don’t know what it feels like to lose somebody and makes the executive decision to drop the case.

Min-young tearfully pleads to keep trying, because it’s too sad for the nurse. Byung-hoon: “You feel sorry for Lee Hae-shim, but Kim Chul-soo is fine? When he’s alone and hurting later on, who’ll take responsibility for that?”

Grandma catches Hae-shim retching and guesses that she’s relapsed, putting the pieces together. She chides Hae-shim for pushing Chul-soo away anyway, since she should live her life to the fullest while she has it—we all die in the end anyway. But Hae-shim says she couldn’t do that to him, and laments the timing of falling for someone just before she found out she was sick again.

Byung-hoon tells Grandma of his decision to drop the case. Grandma chides that everyone thinks of people with terminal illness as those already dead, just waiting to head on to the afterlife. But no, the sick are just like everybody else, wondering what to eat or do or see today: “The only difference is that we’re aware of the time that we’re living.”

Byung-hoon challenges her stance by asking whether she’s ever considered that it could be selfish. Grandma laughs: “Remaining behind is nothing to fear. Dying without ever sparking those embers—that’s something to fear.” Still, Byung-hoon replies that he can’t turn spark Chul-soo’s embers and then immediately turn them into ashes. Grandma is displeased and grumps that he won’t receive one penny for the case.

Min-young wonders whether her imminent interference is too, well, interfering, but she musters up the nerve anyway and visits Yi-seol’s workshop. Seung-pyo happens to drive by to spot her, and takes mental note of the visit. Hm.

She wants to clear up the misunderstanding between the old friends and says that Byung-hoon doesn’t mean to continue with his current line of work—he’s only doing it temporarily until he can get back to producing theater. She doesn’t betray any confidences or slip about her own feelings, but Yi-seol catches on anyway, finding her concern for Byung-hoon rather telling.

On the way out, Yi-seol asks outright if she likes him. Taken aback, Min-young takes a moment to come up with a denial, but Yi-seol says, “It seems to me that you do.” She adds that she’d like for a woman like Min-young to like Byung-hoon.

So Min-young goes home in a bit of a daze, and wonders if it’s true that she does like him.

Grandma takes the matchmaking into her own hands, and puts in a frantic call to Chul-soo pleading for help from the strange people who are trying to take her away. Chul-soo races to the hospital, and finds Grandma sitting down for a nice chat with Hae-shim.

Grandma sits them down with a stern word to both: Chul-soo should buck up and give it a proper try instead of taking his first rejection, and Hae-shim should be honest about how she feels. Then she moves aside to give them some privacy… only to bark at them from one table over to get going already. Haha.

Moo-jin arrives at the hospital with Hye-ri today, and asks if she wants to wait outside. But Hye-ri has taken Grandma’s advice to heart (old lady gives good advice) and is her usual cheery self today, saying she wants to say hi to Grandma.

Chul-soo starts speaking first, explaining that Hae-shim had been the reason he’d come to the hospital so much, because he’d been looking for reasons to see her. Only he’d been a coward and fooled himself into ignoring his feelings.

Just then, Grandma grabs Hae-shim by the hair and starts hurling curses at her, in another of her spells. Chul-soo jumps in to break them up, and then Grandma seems to realize what she’s done and beats her head with her fists in frustration. Hae-shim cradles her protectively and urges Chul-soo to leave, and pretend today didn’t happen.

But Grandma tells the pretty lady not to cry, and that bodily wounds heal—it’s the heart wounds that she should take care of. Don’t worry about a little cancer lump, she says: “You’re not dead now, so don’t live like a dead person.”

Moo-jin arrives in time to witness the display, and Hye-ri takes his hand to offer some support. The news shocks Chul-soo, who returns to work in a daze.

The two loan shark goons chuckle to themselves over a clever scheme they’ve cooked up (which means it’s probably stupidly sweet) as they fix up the Cyrano Theater box office, then call Min-young out. Playing dumb (admittedly not difficult for them), they ask what the structure is for and insist she demonstrate, then lock her inside the box office with the newly attached latch.

They leave her inside while chortling to each other, then head inside the restaurant to wonder loudly what disturbance is going on at the box office with Min-young. So Seung-pyo heads out curiously to find her asking for help, and agrees to let her out.

At the last second, he pauses to ask her to answer a question first: “Was the reason you rejected me… because of [Byung-hoon]?” She says no: “Why would I like him?” Seung-pyo notes, “I didn’t ask if you liked him.” Aw. I guess he has his answer.

Seung-pyo asks her to come by again, and to forget he every said anything so they can be like they used to be. He uses his wish now, which is for her to drop by the restaurant like she used to. With that, he lets her out.

Min-young spots Moo-jin arriving outside with Hye-ri, and that makes her smile. They’re cute. She chirps to Moo-jin that she saw it all, but he’s got more serious matters on his mind and gathers the team: He wants to continue with the case.

Aw, it’s three against one, and I love that Moo-jin is taking the lead in this push. Arang argues that all they want is to get the two people to be honest with each other, and Moo-jin states that if they don’t do it, he’ll quit.

Chul-soo goes out drinking with his firefighter buddies, and as he pulls out his wallet, he sees a scrap of paper. It was Byung-hoon’s request from the elevator stoppage, when he was acting desperate to tell his sweetheart he loved her before he died. So he calls Min-young, AW, to convey the message that Byung-hoon asked him to pass along: “He said he really loves you.”

Yes, she knows it was just part of the act, but it still brings a smile to her face to hear the words, and to realize that it was her phone number he’d scrawled in the moment. She returns to the team meeting more determined than ever, and the three of them pester him into agreeing. He gives in, though he tells them all to remember that he’s not doing it because he likes it. Yes, Mr. Grumpypants, I’m pretty sure you don’t have to clarify that about anything.

The operation centers around the next fire drill, which starts with Arang asking Chul-soo to help with someone who collapsed. He leads him away, wonders where the ill person went, and tags Chul-soo’s walkie-talkie with a bug device. Thus it sounds real when a report comes over the walkie-talkie line about a real emergency situation with a woman on the roof, and Arang wonders, “Could it be that sick nurse?”

Chul-soo goes running for the roof, and finds a woman standing on the roof. “Don’t do it! Life is precious,” he says, panting for breath.

But it’s just Min-young, dressed as a nurse, who says she’s on the roof to play hooky from the drill. Meanwhile, a separate announcement blares down below about Kim Chul-soo being injured on the roof, and he grumbles at the wrong report.

Min-young asks whether he’s curious to see who would be the first to run here after him. He says stiffly that it would just be the person closest in vicinity, but Min-young says she thinks it would be the person who cares the most. And right on cue, Hae-shim comes running up calling his name and asking if he’s okay.

So now, Hae-shim admits that she’s very ill, and doesn’t have much time left. She didn’t want to trouble those around her. Chul-soo says he had thought the same way, and avoided situations to spare them hurt. “But now I realize,” he says, “that it’s greater pain and trouble to be without the person you live.”

He asks her not to worry about the future, and to not give up. He promises to stay with her till the end, then corrects himself: “No, please be with me for my sake. Please trust me. We’ll have a happy ending, until we die.”

Hae-shim says there’s one thing she wants to do with him, and that takes them right back to that ledge. She asks the same question she did the last time: “If I jump with you, will you go on a date with me?” Today he answers yes, and offers his hand. They jump, and land together, whereupon he grabs her hand again and says, “If we’re together, there’s nothing to fear.”

As she watches the happy couple, Min-young thinks to herself that if you want to have that feeling of being able to overcome anything when you’re with somebody else, you have to be honest about your feelings in the present moment.

On the drive back, Min-young is in chipper spirits, and Byung-hoon teases her about her useless chatter at the restaurant. She wonders why he’s so curious about Seung-pyo these days, wanting to know if she knows anything about him. All she can recall is him mentioning a hyung he can no longer see, which made him sad.

That rings some sort of bell with Byung-hoon, and he makes the sudden decision to head to Yi-seol’s workshop. That’s disappointing to Min-young, who asks if they have to go—he still likes her, doesn’t he?

Now it’s his turn to ask about her sudden interest. She dutifully drives them to Yi-seol’s, and watches glumly as he gets out with out a word. Then she makes up her mind and follows him out the car, and admits, “It keeps bothering me. I think I must like you.”

 
COMMENTS

This was probably the least interesting of the agency’s cases, but it served its purpose and for that I’m okay with it. It’s too bad it could have been quirky or unexpected like the other cases, which all had some element of humor or offbeatness to add some unpredicability to the proceedings. Like the dorky chef, the mystery-loving uptight librarian, the scary and scared Ring girl…

I like the themes of the nurse-firefighter plot, though they were fairly on-the-nose. The comparison to Byung-hoon’s past is smart in the way that it allows us to get more of the backstory out without dwelling on them as the centerpiece of the show—this drama is better when the emotions come out in little moments, rather than trumping them up as the main point. So I like that they constructed a story to act as the mirror for Byung-hoon’s issues. I just didn’t love the story itself. The biggest flaw, I think, is that it was just predictable. Cancer? Yawn. That’s a terrible thing to say, but I mean in the context of a K-drama, where cancer is all but a parody at this point. Surely there could’ve been a better way to draw out the life-goes-on message. Yes? …no?

But no matter, since we’re two weeks out from the finale and this story has wrapped. Time to move on.

I’m relieved that Min-young was so forthright with her confession—another example of the case of the week’s message tying in well with our main characters—because she’d just connected the dots that honesty is the only way to get what you want. Granted, we’ve been watching Min-young and Byung-hoon bumble around their growing attraction for a few weeks so it’s hardly news to us, but at least she didn’t take forever after coming to her realization to actually act on it. Left entirely to Byung-hoon, I think they’d be flirting and tiptoeing around it for years to come. Somebody’s gotta take the wheel, right? Appropriate since she’s the physical driver of the pair.

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50 July 9, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 13

by javabeans

Despite a pretty expected progression into our final arc, the path to romance is populated with enough meddlers, interlopers, and busybodies to make the trip a fun one. What’s the point of being the brilliant boss-man when everyone’s out plotting behind your back? It’s a tangle of intercutting motives and motivations, but fun in a sweetly bumbling way.

SONG OF THE DAY

The Black Skirts – “좋아해줘” (Like me back) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 13 RECAP

Min-young admits that she likes Byung-hoon, just moments before an ambulance pulls up to the curb, sirens on. Paramedics rush into the workshop, and they see that Yi-seol is clutching a bloody hand in a towel, looking shaken.

She says it was just an accident while sculpting, but there’s certainly more to it based on the way she loses her composure refusing to go to the hospital: “I don’t want to go there again!”

Byung-hoon must understand what her fear is, because he just cradles her comfortingly while she cries. He talks soothingly about the injury being no big deal, calming her down. There’s no space in the proceedings for Min-young, who leaves quietly.

Byung-hoon gets Yi-seol to the hospital, where the doctor informs him that it was caused by a flare-up of her neuritis. Byung-hoon understands that the threat is eventual paralysis of her hand, and that this condition was caused by the accident. Ack, more guilt to shoulder. The doc advises that Yi-seol ease the use of her right hand and quit sculpting altogether, lest she injure herself further.

As they leave the hospital, Yi-seol is much calmer and admits that although she’d pretended her hand was all better, that was mostly out of hope that it would heal. The doctor had advised her in the past to quit her work, but she says she has nothing without it. Plus, everyone’s so busy pitying her that she doesn’t have anyone to hang out with.

Byung-hoon says he’ll stay with her, “So don’t do any work that will hurt you.”

He returns to the agency, where Min-young is waiting to ask whether he intends to pretend he didn’t hear her confession earlier. Points to her for being straightforward about that—it drives me nuts when characters make the grand statement, then negate their actions immediately.

Byung-hoon dismisses her feelings as sentimentality spurred by the firefighter-nurse couple, which, boooo. She refuses to accept his patronizing words about how she’ll realize eventually that she’s confusing herself. She knows herself, and it’s Byung-hoon who’s fooling himself. His inability to admit his feelings is why Yi-seol chose his friend to begin with, she points out.

Min-young challenges him to be honest with himself, even if that leads him to Yi-seol instead of herself. She leaves, and just around the corner, we see that Moo-jin has heard the whole thing. Aw, is the robot genius going to meddle? Go forth and meddle!

Seung-pyo grows impatient at Byung-hoon’s lack of an answer about his case, and his muttering goes heard by his doofy sidekicks. Seung-pyo tells them not to go around behind his back doing pointless things, and the doofs grin that looking after hyungsoo-nim (hyungnim’s woman) doesn’t count as pointless. One glower from Seung-pyo is enough to shut them up, but the thought of Min-young being a hyungsoo-nim makes him smile.

Junior Goon takes Seung-pyo’s words at face value, but Senior Goon says that what he really meant by “don’t do anything stupid” was to continue to advance his suit with Min-young. I don’t actually know if that makes him dumber or smarter than he looks. Still, it’s sweet of them.

The next day, Moo-jin tells Arang that Min-young might not come in to work today because of the confession that got rejected. Arang’s disappointed, though not surprised, since both boys know that the boss regularly ignores his feelings.

True enough, Min-young waits at the bus station with suitcase in hand. Her absence has Byung-hoon fidgeting a bit, and when Moo-jin wonders if she’ll quit he shoots him a look.

But then, it’s time to meet (finally) our mysterious Hawaiian-shirted man, who puts in his first appearance at the agency. There is a distinctly creepy vibe to him, I’ve gotta say, from his vacant gaze to his vaguely menacing air. He pokes his nose around and Byung-hoon asks him to leave, calling him Hawaiian Shirt, and the guy gives his name as Jung Il-do. Is it pure coincidence that we have another Il-do in this show?

All he does is hover creepily and tell them to remember his name. Then he leaves with a random smile and Byung-hoon wonders, “What’s up with that unpleasant guy?”

Min-young doesn’t leave after all and ends up rolling her suitcase in to work. Let it be noted that a worried-looking Byung-hoon suddenly lightens up to see her, though he puts the gruff face back on. As explanation for the suitcase, Min-young says she’ll be living at the theater now, saying that she forgot to pay rent and she got kicked out.

Her cheerful face is back in place, so when Byung-hoon calls her out for lying about her apartment, she just says she wants to be closer to him. Did he forget her confession already? It’s rather hilarious how alien this whole process is to him of saying what you mean, and he wonders how she can be so shameless. Well, at least one of you is!

She tells him that she’s not shameless, she’s just honest: “So you get used to me.” Ha. I knew I liked her for a reason. Or he could just be clear, she adds—say, tell her distinctly that he wants her gone. She smiles at his non-response: “I see you can’t do that.”

It would be better if he just said he likes her, she says, and Byung-hoon is so taken aback he just looks at her in confusion.

Hye-ri calls Moo-jin out, and he gives her a snack with a little note, on which he’s written a quote from a book. Aw, you romantic robot you. The quote reads, “Life is a first time for everyone. The world contains hidden gifts of turning points. If we can turn those into opportunities, we can live a life without regrets.”

Hye-ri hears about Min-young moving into the theater, which she relays to Seung-pyo. That just reconfirms his suspicions that she likes Byung-hoon, which puts his frowny face on.

Min-young does some organizing of boxes and finds an old marionette. Byung-hoon grumps at her, per usual, though today she sighs that his annoying ways just look cute now. Then he shows her how to operate the puppet strings in romancelandia’s time-honored tradition of putting your arms around the girl when a simple hand gesture would suffice. Not that she’s about to complain.

Then as he turns to leave, Min-young purposely rocks the wall of boxes and exclaims in concern, and Byung-hoon goes rushing at her to take the brunt of the falling boxes. HA, did she purposely stack a bunch of empty ones to prove a point? She grins from ear to ear while he gapes that she did it on purpose. He can’t exactly be mad, though; she points out that she’s a perfect fit for this job and has taken to engineering situations herself. Lol.

Min-young tells him to stop just staring after Yi-seol and try seeing her appeal. He lashes out and says she can’t compare to Yi-seol, and that being this transparent about her feeling is both unattractive and the reason she keeps getting dumped. Ouch. That hurts, and is compounded by the fact that he then takes a call from Yi-seol.

Byung-hoon meets Yi-seol, and she muses that she once quite liked him—but before he could figure that out, she’d fallen for Do-il. She wonders, “If you’d recognized how I felt then, how would we have turned out?”

He answers that nothing would have changed—he hadn’t been unaware of his feelings. “But I pretended not to know, and didn’t act. It may have been because of Do-il. But we would have ended up as friends, like now.” He clarifies that when he promised to stay with her, he meant as friends.

She smiles and notes that he’s changed a bit—she’s never heard him be so open about his feelings.

Then he asks if she knows anything about Do-il’s younger brother, and Yi-seol guesses, “So you did know about Seung-pyo.” DUN DUN. Well he does now.

Min-young takes a jog by the river that night, feeling down about the Yi-seol comparison. The goons note her gloominess and decide to head into their next matchmaking phase, which consists of jumping into her path and offering her a soju juice box with sippy straw.

A short while later, they send Seung-pyo a text with a photo of Min-young drunk by the river, hinting at impending trouble. He mutters, “What have they gone and done now?” and heads to the river, where he finds the three of them singing loudly at the waterside.

The goons take off the minute Seung-pyo arrives, leaving him to play the gallant hero. She calls him cool and handsome, and he wonders why she won’t accept his feelings if she thinks so. She wonders the same thing, and laments liking the weird money-grubber instead.

Min-young falls asleep in his arms like that, and he resists the urge to kiss her anyway. Instead, he carries her on piggyback to the agency, where Byung-hoon bristles to see them thus.

Seung-pyo puts her to bed and heads out, just as Byung-hoon stops him by asking why he hid that he was Do-il’s brother. Seung-pyo lets his disgust show, calling Byung-hoon the cocky bastard who betrayed his friend for his personal fame, leaving him behind and in the lurch. “You all but killed hyung yourself,” he says.

Byung-hoon tells him to believe that if it’ll make him feel better, which just raises Seung-pyo’s hackles further. Fuming, he stalks out.

Byung-hoon checks on Min-young, clearly wanting to accept her feelings but feeling blocked. He says that being with him will only bring her trouble, which is either nobly idiotic or an excuse. I suppose it could be both.

Then he heads next door to continue the conversation with Seung-pyo. His question: Are Seung-pyo’s feelings for Min-young completely separate from their issues? And can he be responsible for those feelings through the end? “I want to make sure her feelings aren’t hurt,” he says.

Seung-pyo bristles at the line of questioning, but assures him that he doesn’t hide or fake his feelings. So Byung-hoon decides, “I’ll take your case.”

And so, Byung-hoon gathers the team sans Min-young and fills them in. Arang and Moo-jin immediately refuse, knowing Min-young’s feelings, but Byung-hoon declares that he’ll go forward without them. And to keep her out of their hair, he’s put her on a decoy case: a stakeout of a supermarket clerk. Ha. She stands there yawning, watching the endless tedium.

Byung-hoon sets the boys on the task of finding what’ll move Min-young’s feelings. Moo-jin mutters that he’s cold and asks straight out why Byung-hoon can’t accept Min-young himself. Byung-hoon says, “It’s for her own good. Master is much better for her than I am.” Oh, except for the part where feelings matter. But that’s a lesson for him to learn.

Arang and Moo-jin are both opposed to the mission, and tell each other they won’t be participating. Not when they know the couple likes each other. Moo-jin makes a suggestion: Byung-hoon will be working to get Master and Min-young together… so can’t they work to get Byung-hoon and Min-young instead?

Arang nods, and they agree: Their target will be Byung-hoon. Muahaha. “We’ll use his operation against him,” they decide.

So in the debriefing meeting where they report on Min-young’s background, the boys make hilariously dry (but straight-faced) comments about her at every turn. And Byung-hoon takes the bait, feeling appropriately outraged on her behalf for the bastard first love who used her feelings to hook up with her best friend instead. (“What a jerk,” he mutters.) Then there’s the boyfriend who cheated on her (“Why would she get hung up on a damned bastard like him?”) and spread some nasty rumors that dogged her till graduation.

Byung-hoon grumbles, “She really has no taste in men!” Moo-jin: “Not now, either.” Byung-hoon: *shoots glare*

Seung-pyo comes up to Min-young as she arrives outside the agency that night, and she thanks him for his help the night before.

Meanwhile, the boys chime in to talk up Min-young and shoot each other these cute knowing glances. Byung-hoon decides his plan of attack: create an awesome romance for her. Mission title: “The Best Romance of My Life.”

 
COMMENTS

This episode’s plot moves probably come as a surprise to nobody, and some of the motivations for behavior are a little eye-rollingly predictable (“It’s for her own good” and “She’s better off without me”), it’s true. What keeps it interesting for me is the number of romance operations going on at once, which is like this big meta whirl of plotting and double-plotting and counter-plotting and maybe some more plotting on top of that. It’s like the rake gag—you step on a rake once, it’s mildly amusing. Twice, less so. But then you keep it going and going and going, and it becomes so ridiculous that it’s funny again.

So we’ve got the main operation: Byung-hoon engineers Seung-pyo’s romance with Min-young as the target. The two goons have their own blockheaded plot to get Master his girl. Min-young is working her own mini-gig to advance her suit with Byung-hoon. And unbeknownst to everyone is that Arang and Moo-jin are undermining Byung-hoon’s mission to change up the love triangle’s legs. C’mon, that’s funny, right?

I don’t buy the excuse that Byung-hoon doesn’t feel good enough for Min-young, but the secondary reason holds a little more water—that he’s indebted to Seung-pyo. I liked that he didn’t seem to believe the accusation that he’s responsible for killing Do-il, because that’s a whole level of misplaced blame I don’t want to see—I get it coming from the little bro, but would have little patience for Byung-hoon blaming himself. He’s doing as much as he can to live with himself in the aftermath by trying to revive the theater, and that’s enough for me. Still, his attitude changed upon finding out who Seung-pyo is and finally understanding the underlying source of his animosity; the butting heads and antagonism has faded and now it’s solely coming from one direction. I don’t think he’s fulfilling the request to make things up to Seung-pyo, but there’s got to be an element of that mixed in.

And it’s sweet that Byung-hoon’s driven to concoct this amazing romance to end all romances for Min-young, to create for her what she never had in real life. Misguided, yes, but also really sweet. I can see how he might feel that he’s being selfish taking it for himself when he could “do better” as the engineer, not the subject. It still drives me a little batty when grown people sacrifice (and make decisions for other people based on what they assume is better for them), but as a final-arc setup, I can roll with it. Especially since it basically amounts to everyone running around undermining Byung-hoon. He may be the genius director, but it’s everyone against you, buddy.

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43 July 10, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 14

by javabeans

Ah, there are a few nice twists in this episode, zipping us nicely into the final stretch. My favorite aspect of this show is its quick, light touch, which comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s also the reason why this show doesn’t get under my skin and doesn’t feel addictive in the way that others might, but it’s nice to have a break from that sometimes. The pacing allows us to dip into conflict here and there, but it never drags the angst out long enough to feel tiresome. It’s essentially the drama equivalent of a beach read, maybe with margarita in hand.

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EPISODE 14 RECAP

Byung-hoon takes on Master’s case, and as he wraps up the debriefing meeting with the team, Min-young arrives. The three guys all scramble to look nonchalant, which they’re terrible at, and she wonders why they’re so scattered. Arang blurts, “Why would be be hiding anything from you?” Min-young: “I said scattered, not hiding… Wait, are you hiding something from me?”

She reports on her day’s worth of (totally irrelevant) surveillance on the decoy not-a-real-target, which amounts to eight hours of supermarket clerking. Byung-hoon orders her to repeat the process tomorrow, which, ha.

The real surveillance job goes to our boys, who head out to collect intel on Min-young’s ex-boyfriend from university. But since the boys are totally undermining Byung-hoon’s plans, I guess it’s not a real mission, either: Arang even tells Moo-jin to half-ass the job. Moo-jin is all, “Whoops. Working hard has become a habit.”

Arang comes up with one idea to erase Byung-hoon’s work—after each scheme designed to make Min-young fall for Seung-pyo, the boys will swoop in to negate its effects. I love it.

On to the ex, who works in marketing and seems like a bit of a prat. He’s got a name but I might just call him Douchey Ex, which is probably all we need to know about him. That, and he plays baseball with a team of college buddies and loooves his car.

Byung-hoon’s first step is for Seung-pyo to engage Min-young’s help in delivering lunch orders. It’s a way for them to enter the Douchey Ex’s orbit and, I presume, allow Seung-pyo to shine in comparison. Byung-hoon gets to the baseball field first and watches the team warming up, and gets passive-aggressive about throwing the ball back at the cheating ex. That’s so cute.

Douchebag heads down to pick up the lunches with a couple bro-dudes in tow, and they all snigger to recognize Min-young and automatically assume she’s working a part-time delivery job. Guh, I’m sure we all know dickweeds like this, and I just want to slap them.

Seung-pyo steps up and says she’s helping just for the day as a special favor, and puts his arm around her. She isn’t a liar so when Douchey asks if this is her boyfriend she says no, though Seung-pyo adds, “Not yet” and clarifies that he likes her one-sidedly.

The guys do the frat-boy thing of telling Min-young that she’s playing too hard to get, which is “unlike her,” which also, RAGE. Douchey steps in to give Seung-pyo some bro-to-bro “advice” about thinking twice, because Min-young could turn stalker on him, like she did in school.

Min-young does try to stand up for herself by saying that he’s misrepresenting things, but it’s a feeble attempt in light of his ridicule. She gives up and urges Seung-pyo not to kick up a fuss, so Seung-pyo shoots them a glare and joins her in the car.

Byung-hoon watches from around the corner, fuming on her behalf, and comms over to Seung-pyo that they can’t leave on this note. Seung-pyo checks with her, asking if she really wants to leave things like this, and she admits that she has a hard time talking back to this guy.

Just then, Douchey does the supremely douchey think of rapping on the car hood (ugh, hate people who do this) and tells her she forgot to give them lunch: “You can’t let your humiliation keep us hungry.” Oh really? That spurs both Seung-pyo and Byung-hoon to (simultaneous, split-screened) rage, and Seung-pyo screeches forward… and smashes into Douchey’s car. Omo omo! Now that I wasn’t expecting. I’m sad for Seung-pyo’s car to be sacrificed thusly, but also really gratified.

Seung-pyo tells Min-young that he’s now gotten his message across, and this is her chance to do the same and tell jerkwad what she feels. So while her assface ex is crying over his car (literally), she musters her courage and faces him.

She says she’d truly liked him at one time and therefore kept quiet, but she was the one who dumped him when he cheated on her. Was he so embarrassed to be dumped that he had to go around spreading lies and treating her like a stalker? “Did you have to be this pathetic?”

McDouchebags mumbles a little, though he’s got no leg to stand on, and she shoots him a disdainful glare before getting back in the car feeling much lighter. Seung-pyo gives her a thumbs-up, and she thanks him for his help.

Seung-pyo pauses to tell the Douchenozzle to bill him for the car repairs, then drives off like a cool mofo. Byung-hoon mutters to himself that Seung-pyo had to go off-script and be extra-cool for no reason. Lol.

Min-young suggests a little baseball break for themselves, which takes them to the batting cages. As she bats, Seung-pyo asks how she can remain so positive about romance given her experience, and she says that there were more good memories than bad. After all, those moments of being in love with somebody are your happiest.

Then it’s his turn at bat, and he’s hilariously terrible. (He flings away the bat entirely on one swing.)

Byung-hoon returns to the agency, where the two boys have a ready excuse for their failure to show up at the mission locale: They’d gotten into a fender-bender and had to wait for insurance. Byung-hoon walks off silently with shoulders slumping, and Moo-jin wonders, “Did he not know the mission would make him feel bad?”

Min-young and Seung-pyo return to the restaurant (with their stacks of boxed lunches), and trade thanks for having such a pleasant day together. Aw. I almost wish they could end up together, because they really are cute and well-matched. But the heart wants what the heart wants…

Seung-pyo’s happy smile fades when Yi-seol appears, though, which is a feeling I understand. I don’t know why I dislike her because she hasn’t done anything to make her objectionable, but… eh. That’s all I can say about her. Eh.

While Byung-hoon checks his watch for the umpteenth time and grumbles about how late Min-young is to return, the boys announce that they’re heading out. It’s all part of Arang’s counter-mission, and they intercept Min-young at the door. He asks her for a favor, and she readily agrees to do some doll-eye-gluing for him (one of his many part-time jobs).

Moo-jin sets a timer to the fuse box, then heads out for a date with Hye-ri. Power outage in 3… 2… 1…

Yi-seol and Seung-pyo sit down for an awkward chat. She tells him that Byung-hoon and Do-il were quite close—so much so that Seung-pyo might not understand. Which is quite similar to what Seung-pyo said to Byung-hoon about his own relationship with his brother. She does have a lingering question, though, which nobody has explained clearly: What is going on with Cyrano that prevents its reopening as a theater? If there’s no debt, why not restart it right now?

Seung-pyo stiffens at the question and gives a vague “I don’t know,” and has a question in return. It’s more of a hunch he’s confirming, that Yi-seol seems quite concerned about Byung-hoon, and that’s something he says can’t happen.

She understands what he’s getting at, which is a misplaced sort of blame toward two people he holds responsible for his brother’s death. (She was driving the car.) She guesses that if she were to stay with Byung-hoon (or be with him), he’d hate them both. He doesn’t disagree.

Moo-jin takes Hye-ri to a restaurant with a view on their date, and she guesses that they’re matchmaking with Byung-hoon and Min-young. There’s something a little bitter in the way she comments on Byung-hoon not knowing his own feelings while dictating other people’s, maybe disapproving or maybe even derisive. Hm.

Then she confirms whether Moo-jin likes her before saying she hopes he won’t hate her in the future, “No matter what I do.” He doesn’t linger on that because she surprises him with a kiss, but alarm bells are ringing all over this scene.

Min-young freaks out at the power outage and sticks close to Byung-hoon, not wanting to be left in the dark alone. He doesn’t know how to work the fuse box so they’re stuck waiting it out, and work side by side amidst candlelight. She even comments on how this feels like they’re in the middle of one of their operations, designed to get the couple closer together, and sidles closer. He shuffles away and wonders where the boys are.

Outside, of course, prepared to wait it out all night. Ha, they’ve set up a tent and camp stove and everything.

Inside, Min-young nods off while Byung-hoon pulls out an old photo of his high school trio. He burns it, recognizing that it’s time to let go of those feelings, but assures Do-il that he’ll still revive the theater.

Then Min-young drops her head on his shoulder, asleep. Byung-hoon leans her the other way and tucks her in with a blanket… but tells her (ergo, himself), “I’ll stay since you’re scared of the dark.”

The boys see this from their computer screen, and send Seung-pyo an unidentified text: Go next door to the agency right now. So he does, and his jaw clenches to see the cozy scene of Min-young sleeping on the couch, with Byung-hoon also asleep on the other end. And there’s the half-burned photo, which looks ominous taken out of context like this.

Thus in the morning, Seung-pyo declares his new decision: He’ll have to take over the theater.

Min-young wakes up in the empty theater, where the possibly unhinged Hawaiian shirt man reappears. This time he’s ready to request their services, and names Hye-ri as his target. Min-young gently refuses, saying that she’s already got a boyfriend, and her teammates arrive to back her up.

But Hawaiian Shirt sneers that their so-called principles never stopped them before. He was referred here by a “friend” who isn’t the type to lie. Hm, is this a revenge thing then? A mission gone awry?

Byung-hoon doesn’t know what he’s talking about, which gets Hawaiian shirt even more upset: “You don’t even remember the things you’ve done?” We’re not left to wonder too long, because then Chef Mi-jin storms in clamoring for “those con men.” Aw, and hers was the story I liked best. Bummer.

Byung-hoon and Min-young try to reason with her gently, saying that they understand how she might feel upset but the mission turned out well and her chef boyfriend Dal-in is a decent guy. Byung-hoon adds that they got her revenge on her bastard ex, too.

But Mi-jin isn’t hearing it—the ends do not justify the means, and what they’ve done is profited off of manipulating people’s emotions. She slaps Byung-hoon and storms out with a warning that this isn’t over. Hawaiian Shirt sneaks a device onto a shelf, then follows her out.

The guys wonder how she found out, and it isn’t because chef client Dal-in said anything. (Byung-hoon confirms it, and notes that Dal-in can’t do much other than cry. Aw.) Apparently somebody sent Mi-jin an email to tip her off, which is certainly strange.

Then the loan shark goons swing by for another trip up to the rooftop. Byung-hoon protests that he made the payment this month. But since crafty Seung-pyo’s behind all this, I’m sure he’s thought of all the loose ends.

The goons tell Byung-hoon he no longer has to make payments—all he has to do is move out of the theater within ten days. Orders from the hyungnim. That’s when Seung-pyo makes his entrance. Oh, we’re outing him now? Interesting.

Min-young rifles through paperwork trying to locate receipts to prove payment… and finds a business card for Douchey Ex. She wonders why would Byung-hoon have this. Next to it is Seung-pyo’s business card. Not incriminating by themselves, but now this is pinging her suspicion-o-meter and she delves deeper, looking for casefiles.

And there it is: her dossier.

Seung-pyo identifies himself as both Do-il’s younger brother and the loan shark who took on his debt. Now he means to take the theater back, since he can’t leave it in the hands of his brother’s betrayer and killer.

The sneering raises Byung-hoon’s hackles, and he sends a fist into Seung-pyo’s jaw: “Do you know what I meant by coming back?” Seung-pyo returns the punch, saying he doesn’t much care.

Byung-hoon wonders why Seung-pyo changed his mind so suddenly, and guesses it was because of Min-young. He drops the case.

Seung-pyo calls it an excuse, saying that he never had any intention of working on the case properly from the start: “You were always a coward. To my brother, and to Min-young too.” He tells him to move out.

Byung-hoon returns to the office to find Min-young clicking through the computer files. It’s all a lie, right? She asks him to tell her it’s all a misunderstanding. Instead, he confirms it.

Hurt, she asks if he did it to get rid of her, knowing how she felt about him. He tells her he’ll be quitting, to which she asks, “Do you think quitting makes it over?”

In frustration, he retorts, “What did you expect from me? Did you think you mean something to me?” Stung, she calls him the worst, operating with brain and no heart. “Fine, I’ll disappear from your sight, forever.”

She leaves in tears, and the boys hang their heads. Byung-hoon tries to call and waits all day, but there’s no sign of her. Eventually a car pulls up to the side of the road, presumably to give her a ride, though we don’t see who.

And later, Byung-hoon gets an ominous text message with an attached photo, of a bound and gagged Min-young.

 
COMMENTS

Uh… that’s scenario’s gonna twist, right? Because a last-minute kidnapping… meh.

Everything up to that, though, I enjoyed. This episode was like a collection of every aspect of the whole agency premise, explored just a little to give us a taste of potential conflicts without belaboring any one in particular—an efficient episode, in that sense.

It’s nice to have a case come back and bite them in the ass, especially after they’ve patted themselves on the backs and forgotten all about it. The lives of the clients go on, though, so Hawaiian Man’s outrage seems fitting—you manipulate a life and then you can’t even be bothered to remember when I’m yelling at you about it?

To play the apologist briefly, I’ve never had deep moral qualms about the nature of this business. Part of that is because Cyrano is a pleasantly breezy watch that never lingers on any one bit of angst for long enough to cause me any level of grief, but it’s also because I feel like there was enough wiggle room in the scenarios to explain it, mostly.

Certainly in a real-world scenario an agency like Cyrano is just asking for litigation, but in a drama sense I actually think they have done a fairly good job establishing scenarios and then allowing for their clientele to shine. In the firefighter-nurse storyline, the team made sure that both sets of feelings were engaged, and ready to step back when they thought one side might not want the match. There’s a line there between outright scamming and persuasion, and there’s a case to be made in defending the persuasion end of things. Some cases are definitely better than others, such as the one with Jung Yumi, who only wanted help in bolstering her own courage. Others are potentially more problematic, as Mi-jin argues.

Even in the best scenario, though, you have to admit that knowing situations were engineered takes the luster off, even if the feelings engaged were genuine. For instance, Seung-pyo’s lunch delivery mission—he behaved exactly as I would have expected him to act, with or without a director pulling strings. In fact, you could argue that Seung-pyo has no need of the agency’s “help,” and might be doing it more to stick it to Byung-hoon than for the actual romantic aid. But once Min-young knows that the case was set up, there’s no getting around the feeling that she’s been manipulated. If only Seung-pyo had continued his suit on his own merits… He may have still ended up without the girl, but at least she wouldn’t have questioned his sincerity. Which may be exactly why the Seung-pyo thing was doomed from the start.

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38 July 16, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 15

by javabeans

We’ve got a bit more action than we’re used to as the final plot gets underway and lives are put on the line. It’s not just our kidnapping victim who suffers but also her two heroes, who have to confront some old demons in order to rise to the occasion and help her out. So inasmuch as I hate the damsel in distress routine, at least it serves a purpose here and sets us up for the big resolution. I guess. Grumble grumble.

SONG OF THE DAY

Mary Story – “It’s You” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 15 RECAP

Min-young wakes up in a strange room to find her hands and feet tied with rope. The walls are lined will photos and notes of the Cyrano members, all serial-killer-like. Aw man, so the kidnapping was straight-up and real? I was hoping for a twist, since, blah.

Given that it’s real, it makes sense for the Hawaiian shirt man to be behind it, and he chats on the phone about preparations for “showtime.” He sees that Min-young is awake, and she asks why he’s doing this. All he says if for her to ask Byung-hoon, and gags her mouth.

Then the photo text message gets sent to Byung-hoon, with the message “Are you looking for Gong Min-young?” and a photo of her in hostage mode. Just gonna say, if you wanna look scary, maybe you don’t decorate your threatening texts with cutesy bopping skulls?

Then comes a call from the kidnapper, whose voice is garbled electronically to sound gruff and unrecognizable. Through a few chuckles and taunts, he issues Byung-hoon directions on how to locate a bus seat, under which his next message will be taped. Hello, goose chase.

Byung-hoon growls that he’d better not touch a hair on her head, but Kidnapper Batman warns him to do as he says, and also to move solo. The boys are to remain put at the theater.

Byung-hoon thinks fast and issues instructions on leads for them to follow. But he doesn’t have a lot of time, and has to get moving asap to catch that bus in time.

This requires him to take the wheel, which is no easy feat. His hand shakes and he reels in the driver’s seat—no go. He gives up and opts for a taxi instead, managing to catch up to the bus just as it pulls in to the stop.

He jumps onboard, scrambles around and gets mistaken for a pervert, and finally pulls a bulky package from under a seat. Everyone freaks out, asking if it’s a bomb, and he assures them that it’s not. And as he gets off with the package, an obscured face takes note of his actions and puts in a phone call. Hye-ri?

It’s just a huge stack of photos—of Min-young, of himself, of the agency. In the follow-up call, he barks that there’s no info here on where to find her, and Hawaiian Shirt laughs that he was dumber than he gave him credit for. Also: “After interfering with other people’s lives so much, you should pay the price.” He instructs Byung-hoon to head back to the theater to figure out the clue.

The three boys pore over CCTV footage of Min-young getting into an unregistered car, as well as the stack of photos, which include snapshots taken during missions. It’s curious; how did he get access to their surveillance van, for instance? Byung-hoon figures that Min-young is safe, because she’s not the target—they are.

Since Hawaiian Shirt specified the bus by route and license number, those must be clues. They get to work narrowing down their former targets and clients, but the numbers don’t turn up. So the kidnapper isn’t a client or target, but has been watching them consistently.

An address search using those numbers turns up a certain vault, though, of the kind housing ashes and urns. The man housed there was a former racecar-driver client, and while he left behind no relatives, there’s a curious echo of the word “friends” that gives Byung-hoon the tip-off that Hawaiian Shirt is their culprit.

Byung-hoon thinks back to his last confrontation with Min-young, when she’d agreed to disappear from his life. Now he mutters his hopes to himself that she’ll remain safe—a scene that Hawaiian Shirt gets to witness in real time because of the tiny camera he slipped into the agency during his last visit. Time for the next phase, he decides.

And then they’re joined by a third person, whose arrival has Min-young gaping in shock. It’s a woman, and although we don’t see her face, we all know who this is, right? I do wish the show was handling this reveal quicker, since it’s not really much of a secret.

Arang drops by the restaurant to see if Hawaiian Shirt is here today, and asks the loan sharks for their help (since, as debt collectors, they’re pretty good at tracking down people who are trying to hide). He tells them of Min-young’s kidnapping, and Seung-pyo orders him to relay the story, details and all.

Moo-jin reviews old tapes of their ex-client, one which was shot at a hospital, presumably in his last days. The client cuts the video short to avoid his little sister seeing, and the camera catches her face: Hye-ri.

So it’s Hye-ri who joins Min-young now, explaining that she won’t be harmed. This is all to show the Cyrano members what they’d done: She promised her dying brother to get payback on the people responsible for making his last days lonely.

Moo-jin hides the Hye-ri connection for the time being, and then the three guys get simultaneous text messages. It’s a riddle of sorts, containing veiled directional clues and also famous quotes. The clues shake out to: library, cul-de-sac, Cyrano. All references to their prior cases.

Another call comes in, and based on his comments they realize he’s watching them. He gives them an hour to come find Min-young: “And don’t forget, what I want is the truth.”

Wearing his grim face, Seung-pyo decides to go “there,” which is enough to get his two goons crying that he can’t, not there. Uh-oh. Is he revisiting his shadowy past?

Sure enough, he turns up at a den of gangsters, making his way to the head boss. He asks for his help finding someone, and while the boss isn’t all that inclined to help, he is curious enough to go with it. What could make Seung-pyo come back for the first time in two years?

To their shark, one of the gangsters recognizes Hawaiian Shirt immediately—it’s Detective Jung. Or rather, just Jung now, and “a total psycho.”

The boss isn’t about to let a golden opportunity pass him by, and before he gives up any info, he offers up a trade: He’ll talk, if Seung-pyo comes to work for him again.

The agency guys split up to get to work on meeting their targets, as indicated by the clues. On his way out, Moo-jin runs into Hye-ri outside the restaurant, who feigns ignorance of everything and pretends it’s a normal day at work. He approaches with a stone face and tells her he has someplace to take her.

Arang races to the alleyway where they’d staged the teenage idol romance, and to his surprise the girl arrives too—she’d been called here by fake Arang. A text arrives to inform Arang what he is to do: Admit that they’d contrived the whole situation.

Moo-jin takes Hye-ri with him to the library, where he gets the same text. She’s still pretending to go along with it, but he asks her outright, “Do you have to go this far? Do you want to ruin things for everyone we’ve helped together?”

Hye-ri nervously tries to leave and act confused, and he guesses, “So you’re just going to pretend you don’t know.” So he catches her the other way: By pointing out that she can’t know the librarian’s name or case, because it happened before she started working at the restaurant.

Seung-pyo tells his ex-boss that he made a promise not to return to this life (to his hyung, perhaps?), and doesn’t want to break it. The boss sneers, but Seung-pyo kneels before him and asks again for the favor.

Idol girlfriend slaps Arang when she hears his confession. He explains that it wasn’t all fake; the idol boy’s feelings and words were all real, and they just helped him express them. She isn’t exactly comforted by that, since it means idol boy deceived her.

Byung-hoon’s clue takes him to Yi-seol’s workshop… where he admits to his very first Cyrano gig. Omo wut. Was he playing Cupid for his best friend all those years ago, then? Byung-hoon admits to regretting it later, not having fully understood his feelings for her at the time he agreed to help Do-il.

But Yi-seol hardly seems shocked, and asks if he really thinks she fell in love with Do-il because of some letter: “I knew you were the one who wrote that letter.” Ah, so his first mission really was Cyrano de Bergerac, down to the (sorry) letter.

Turns out Do-il told her years ago. He was always open and honest with her, and that’s probably why she fell for him. She wonders what prompted him to come here today, and urges him to stop running away. Instead, think about the person who forced him to confront his feelings—a scene that Min-young watches with shiny eyes from her hostage lair.

Mob Boss offers up the perp’s home address, which Seung-pyo accepts gratefully. Only, it doesn’t come free, the boss reminds him. He burns the photo of Min-young, and then as he starts to burn the address, he tells Seung-pyo, “There’s no such thing as an unbreakable promise.” Gulp.

Back to Moo-jin, who guesses that Hye-ri’s motivation was her brother. She finally admits to it, then accuses him of making her dying brother lonely in his last days—didn’t they know that the target already had a boyfriend? Or did they not care because he was dying?

Moo-jin tells her she’s the one who has it backwards: “Your brother was the client.” He requested that the agency set up his girlfriend with his colleague.

She calls him a liar, but he has video proof. He hands over his phone, and she watches as her brother pleads with Byung-hoon to take the case, not wanting to leave his girlfriend behind alone. Furthermore, the couple knew that her brother was the one pushing them together.

She struggles with denial, but Moo-jin tells her, “I don’t lie to the person I like.” He holds her as she starts to break down, realizing, “If you’re telling the truth, then everything I’ve been doing…” He assures her that it’s okay, and that she can still reverse things.

Hawaiian Shirt watches on his screen, not entirely pleased with the way things are shaking out but laughing in his creepy serial killer way nonetheless. He sympathizes with Min-young for being another of the agency’s victims, even though she defends their work as helping people show their honest emotions. So she hazards a guess: Is the agency working on a case involving a woman he’s in love with?

It’s close enough to get him in a rage, and he orders her to shut up.

Moo-jin calls Byung-hoon to let him know where the hostage lair is, but by the time they arrive, it’s empty. Hawaiian Shirt is making his getaway in a car when he calls again, this time with a demand to set up a meeting with a woman named So-yeon: “You guys messed around with my woman.”

Byung-hoon demands to talk to Min-young, and tells her he’ll come get her soon. With that, Hawaiian Shirt sets the time and place for their next meeting, two hours hence. He hums to himself cheerily about getting them good. And from the backseat, Min-young’s eyes widen to read something—a clue about what’s next, which we don’t get to see.

Seung-pyo and his two goons make it to the hostage lair, thanks to the boss’s address (oh no, he took the deal?), and find the serial killer wall of photos. They rifle through his notes, and among his papers is a letter written to Yi-seol, from Do-il. Seung-pyo furrows his brow—why is that part of this case? He connects the dots: Then did Byung-hoon play matchmaker for his brother?

A note scrawled on a page identifies the the plan’s last stage: Cyrano Theater. And then on the wall, the goons find plans for a familiar-looking “final stage” scenario. The diagrams include a theater stage, and a bomb.

Then Minion Two opens up a cabinet, which explodes in his face and sends him flying with a bloody arm. Eeeek. The boys urge Seung-pyo to hurry to the agency asap and put a stop to the crazy man.

Byung-hoon arrives at the address indicated, but hears from the woman living there that the person in question has been living abroad for over a year. That’s strange, and Byung-hoon deduces the rest: The crazy man sent him on a wild goose chase to get him away from the theater. (Note: Byung-hoon’s deduction is correct, but the logical is totally nonexistent. But this is drama climax. Who cares about logic. Let’s get to the boom.)

So everyone’s arriving at the conclusion at about the same time, and Seung-pyo calls Byung-hoon to warn him. Byung-hoon makes a desperate request of the lady to use her car. Ready to confront our fears, are we?

Hawaiian Shirt takes Min-young back to the theater and tells her to take a good look around since it’ll be its last day. “You know why I’m doing this to you and not Seo Byung-hoon?” he asks her. “Because they have to feel for themselves what it’s like to lose everything. Somebody who toys with other people should’ve been prepared for this.”

Min-young makes an attempt to knock him aside and make a run for it, but he grabs her and shoves her head-first into a metal locker. Yeeeouch. She goes out cold.

Byung-hoon struggles behind the wheel, but manages to get it turned on. He chants to himself to think of Min-young, and powers through.

 
COMMENTS

I have a giant pile of MEH for this episode, although I recognize that it’s not quite a mess. It’s not a slapdash collection of makjang twists, and it’s not random or last-minute. The plot feels like it was planned in advance, and it brings together overarching themes in a nicely roundabout way, and as an added bonus, the characters’ emotions rise and fall with the dramatic events.

It’s just that I can’t be moved to really care about it. Maybe because it feels maneuvered, like the contents of one of Cyrano Agency’s missions—everyone says and does the right things, but it’s lacking that last 2 percent to make it feel whole.

On a purely intellectual level, I think it works just fine. Let’s look at it from a narrative-building perspective. Byung-hoon’s trajectory of personal growth has been leading to this point, where he’s been pushed out of his emotional comfort zone all series long, and now the reason for that growth is also the one thing to spur him into action. He’s gonna face his stubbornness and fears and Just Do It to save her life, because he can’t be the coward when something this important is on the line.

That dovetails nicely with Seung-pyo’s arc as well, because he’s carved out a slice of comfort for himself with the shady past firmly behind him, and thinks of just moving forward with his new career and new love interest. And then the past rears its ugly head, and it’s love of the girl that pushes him to action. (Although I have to admit I was dismayed at the idea of his hard work taking a big step back if he were forced to work for the boss again, especially since we know that Min-young’s gonna get saved without his help. But he doesn’t know that, and I suppose that’s why the sacrifice hurts.)

Hye-ri’s misunderstanding and the Crazy Kidnapper’s plot aren’t terrible in the scope of things. I like that they challenge the agency on their fundamental principles, and point out the downside to their work, albeit one seen through a twisted and incomplete lens. But since the question of manipulating emotions is a valid one, good on the show for bringing it up itself, rather than ignoring it in favor of the fantasy.

What makes it fall flat, though, is perhaps because the show is so light and feel-good that I don’t believe any of the dire consequences. The kidnapping scenes start feeling laughable rather than menacing, and it’s not the fault of the acting or even the directing—but taken in context of the show as a whole, it’s a jarring contrast and I don’t buy it. But we’re heading into the final stretch now, so thankfully this disbelief need not remain suspended for too much longer.

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77 July 17, 2013January 24, 2016

Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 16 (Final)

by javabeans

Oh phew, this series ends on a high note. I was worried when yesterday’s episode took a precipitous dip into crazy dramatic territory, but the resolution is full of sweet and cute, which is really what Dating Agency Cyrano is all about. It’s a big relief to see the show getting back to the rom-com, and doing it in a thematically resonant way as it ties up the Cyrano connection.

SONG OF THE DAY

Baek Ah-hyun – “Because of You” [ Download ]

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FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Min-young wakes up in the theater, still tied up, still gagged—only now there’s a flashing countdown clock hanging around her neck. Must be Mr. Crazy’s bomb. She’s been stuffed behind a grate into what looks like a crawlspace in the main theater wall.

Seung-pyo arrives first and runs in, but sees nobody. He calls Byung-hoon, who’s en route and directs him to look on the roof, while Min-young watches him run off helplessly, trying to make some kind of noise.

Seung-pyo finds the roof empty too, and while his back is turned Mr. Crazy rushes him with a baseball bat. Byung-hoon can hear the sounds of the scuffle over the phone and drives faster, though thankfully Seung-pyo can hold his own. Thank you, gangster past.

Mr. Crazy laughs in his face and calls him stupid for going to such lengths for a woman in love with someone else, but Seung-pyo just wants to know where Min-young is. The fight heads indoors and Mr. Crazy tosses out a few lies about where he’s hiding Min-young. Thankfully Seung-pyo is on his guard after that cabinet blew up in his buddy’s face, and he pushes the perp along ahead of him.

Min-young manages to make a thump with her foot, and that’s enough to get Seung-pyo’s attention. He sees her shoved behind the grate… and turns his back on the perp—and his knife. Ack! Don’t ever turn your back on Crazy!

Byung-hoon arrives at the theater, staggering from the ordeal of forcing himself to drive, and Moo-jin joins him. Not soon enough, though, because Seung-pyo gets a knife to the side. Eeeeek. I didn’t think they were actually gonna stick him!

Seung-pyo fights back and knocks Crazy aside, then collapses clutching his abdomen. When Byung-hoon and Moo-jin rush in, he gasps out where Min-young is hidden, and they find the opening to the crawlspace.

They’re so fixated on pulling her out that they don’t see Hawaiian Shirt reaching into his pocket to pull out his bomb remote—what did I say about turning your back on Crazy?. Seung-pyo does and tries to make a grab, but he’s weak and bleeding. Crazy gets Byung-hoon’s attention, announces the “beginning,” and presses the button. Beep. The timer starts counting down—ten minutes till boom.

Byung-hoon orders him to disarm it, but Crazy laughs that he doesn’t know how—he just learned how to make it. Moo-jin gets busy examining the bomb and says he may be able to stop it… but since he’s not sure, they’d all better get out.

Those words heighten Min-young’s panic, and Byung-hoon sits by her side and says reassuringly that it’ll be okay. Poor Seung-pyo, bleeding on the floor watching, while his heart gets trampled for good measure.

Moo-jin manages to disable the bomb with a few minutes to spare, and Min-young rushes to check on Seung-pyo. He tells her he’s fine, obviously not fine, and adds that he’s glad that she’s safe.

Soon the police arrive and Seung-pyo is loaded into the ambulance. Now it’s Byung-hoon’s turn to look sad when she goes in the car as Seung-pyo’s guarantor.

Mr. Crazy is escorted out in handcuffs, and tells Byung-hoon that it’s not over because guys like him will have to pay for messing with people’s lives. Byung-hoon just agrees with him, though, saying that it’s a tough job moving people’s hearts, especially when he can’t even move his own. What really moves the target’s heart is the client’s sincerity. Ha, Min-young wins this round, even if she’s not around to witness it.

Everyone convenes at the hospital while Seung-pyo undergoes surgery, and his two goons rush in crying about hyungnim’s plight. At least Junior Goon is, but Senior Goon chides that there’s no shame in a man begging on his knees or getting stabbed to save his woman.

The surgery is successful, and now they can relax. When Byung-hoon returns to the theater after his trip to the police station, he finds Min-young asleep at the table, having waited up. He thinks of Yi-seol’s prodding—that Min-young was the reason he was spurred into action—but also of her emotional reaction to Seung-pyo’s injury.

In the morning, she wonders where he is and hears that he’s already out and about. Arang tells her how worried Byung-hoon was when she went missing, and encourages her to not give up on her feelings.

Seung-pyo’s faithful goons are at his bedside, and inform him that the gangster boss dropped by—he’s not going to hold him to the earlier promise.

They adorably clear out in a flash when Min-young drops by. She’s grateful and thankful, naturally, but he jokingly warns her against saying that any more than she already has. Aw, and then his face falls a bit when she asks if Byung-hoon has been by, disappointed.

Byung-hoon is currently visiting Do-il’s grave, where the headstone is marked with a Cyrano de Bergerac quote. He says Do-il has a cool kid brother, then adds, “I think I’m going to end up repeating the same thing.” Aw. Let me guess—you’re going to stand aside and let the other guy get the girl?

Byung-hoon drops by the hospital later that night, and now that the big drama is over I find it pretty cute how they’re back to their gruff ways—they still don’t like each other, but it’s rather unsporting to continue the antagonism in light of things, isn’t it? So Byung-hoon manages to say an apology, with a straight face and everything, but he does it quickly and with his face averted. Seung-pyo can’t quite believe it and asks him to repeat himself, so Byung-hoon restates his apology—quickly and with his face averted. Haha.

Seung-pyo comments that it’s just about worth being stabbed, just to hear him saying he’s sorry. Heh. And now Byung-hoon declares it time to head into the final stage of their mission. Seung-pyo points out that he’s already been rejected, but he isn’t going to argue against it, though he does ask why—is it because he feels sorry?

Byung-hoon answers, “No. It’s because I don’t think she’ll be able to find a better man than you.”

Min-young catches Byung-hoon outside the theater on his way in, and thanks him for his help. She tries to broach the topic of their relationship (or, at least, their feelings), but he’s back to his curt mode, diverting her thanks to Seung-pyo instead of himself.

She tells him she heard his conversation with Yi-seol during her kidnapping, when Yi-seol had urged him to come clean with his feelings. He tells her soberly, “I can’t be a good person for you.”

On to the final step. Byung-hoon sets the stage with beautiful scenery and watches grumpily from his van while Seung-pyo and Min-young take a walk. Arang and Moo-jin wonder if he’s really going to go through with this, then both refuse to participate. Aw.

Seung-pyo begins his confession speech by recalling the day they met, and how he’d watched her hovering outside the agency and laughed. “That was the when you first came into my heart,” Seung-pyo recites. It’s Byung-hoon feeding him the lines from his own heart:

Byung-hoon/Seung-pyo: “Before I met you, I thought loving someone was something I didn’t need in my life, because I was living as though tied up in my past. But thankfully, you found me first. I didn’t let on, but seeing you every day made me happy. After you arrived, every day was enjoyable. That feeling—that somebody I might’ve lived never knowing was becoming more precious than myself…”

By this point we get intercutting scenes of both men and their encounters with Min-young, since the speech really does suit Seung-pyo’s trajectory, even if he isn’t the one crafting it. And Byung-hoon finishes up by saying, “If not for you [Rockhead], I might never have felt that.”

Seung-pyo pauses before taking that last line… and it’s with a bitter smile that he repeats it word for word. Aw! He purposely keeps Byung-hoon’s nickname for Min-young intact—he’s throwing the match.

She realizes what’s happening and starts looking around for the camera, finding it in the lamppost. “Coward,” she calls him, for ignoring what she said and doing this anyway.

He says into his mic, “Because I want you to be happy.”

Seung-pyo chimes in, “Coward is right. If you really want the person to be happy, shouldn’t you do as they want? And not as someone else plans?” The words may as well be directed toward himself as much as to Byung-hoon.

He gets up and says to the camera that maybe Byung-hoon needs to lose her in order to come to his senses… and then the camera screen blacks out and Min-young screams. Byung-hoon panics and runs out of the van to charge in…

…while the two conspirators smile at each other, totally having planned this. Oh cute, they out-Cyranoed Cyrano.

Byung-hoon finds them standing there perfectly fine, and Seung-pyo says that he was all set to go along with the plan if Min-young seemed at all partial to him. But nope, he’ll have to give up. He tells Byung-hoon to be honest with her directly, and not hide behind his mission.

What endears me to Seung-pyo in this moment is that he’s totally playing the hero role, but not accepting the hero praise/sympathy that comes with the move. He just warns Byung-hoon that he’d better not assume Min-young will stay with him forever, and that he might lose her if he gets complacent. And if he really wishes for her happiness, he ought to consider what she wants. Then he makes his cool not-a-hero exit.

Byung-hoon tells her that she’ll regret letting a man like Seung-pyo go. She replies cheekily, “If you let a woman like me go, you’ll regret it too.” Touché.

Even now, he can’t do the cheesy romantic thing and concedes, “If being with me makes you so happy, then do that.” Lol. She has to scoff in his face, “That’s it?”

She pesters him for something, some kind of romantic declaration that she can remember forever. Arang and Moo-jin put in a bicycle drive-by to shove them together, and he concedes, telling her to listen up good since it’s just this once. So Byung-hoon leans in to whisper into her ear, and whatever he says makes her glow and throw her arms around him.

Aww, and then the goons chime in with their two cents, by skulking close with their huge cloud of balloons, which they release behind the hugging couple. The goons sigh that it’s too bad Min-young didn’t respond to Seung-pyo’s grand confession, but Junior Goon says that Seung-pyo at least looked super cool today. Senior Goon corrects: “Hyungnim is always cool, always!”

Arang wonders what would’ve happened if Seung-pyo hadn’t taken action, but Moo-jin supposes it would have still worked out for the couple, “Because her sincerity would have moved his heart.”

Back at the theater, Byung-hoon collects the agency files to put away, now that he’s shutting down their services. Min-young prods him to keep it going, arguing that they do good work. He rejects that flat, saying that he’s going to focus on new stage productions exclusively from now on. She can be his assistant, he says, and then bans her from his office for the next month while he works.

Pouting, Min-young heads out with the files to be trashed and pauses to read the bulletin board with all their mission plans on it. She gets a little teary-eyed to think it’s over now.

Seung-pyo moves on with his new career and gives cooking lessons, and from the way his class is packed with admiring young ladies, I’m gonna guess they’re not very much interested in the cooking part.

Moo-jin has been trying to call Hye-ri to no avail, and she’s moved out of her apartment as well. He finds her working at a new restaurant, saying that while he likes cute girls, he’s not too fond of the ones who run away. But he’s willing to overlook that, and assures her that he doesn’t hate her. He makes her promise not to disappear again, and hands her theater tickets… and her pink bike helmet. Cute.

The show is, appropriately, Cyrano de Bergerac. Both Seung-pyo and Yi-seol arrive on opening day, as do Moo-jin and Hye-ri. The two goons have roles in the play, which is sweet given how much they enjoyed acting during the missions. So does Arang, who attracts the notice of his co-star, who confirms that he’s single.

Byung-hoon watches as the play gets underway, and from the audience reaction it’s a hit. He wonders where Min-young went…

…just as a woman enters the theater from the back entrance and asks, “Is this the Cyrano Agency that makes love come true like magic?” HA! Min-young’s totally gone rogue, and even tweaked the Cyrano catchphrase (which used to be “so secret that no mouse or bird will hear it”).

Min-young welcomes the prospective client, just as Byung-hoon interrupts to remind her that they’d closed shop. She chides him not to turn away a client who’s already here, and when he starts grumbling his protests, she shuts him up with a kiss.

Min-young’s ending narration echoes the voiceover that started the series, with her statement that all people have in common the dream for romance. As we see clips from all the cases they’ve worked on, she allows that while the dream sometimes ends sweetly for the pair who come together to create their own universe, sometimes it ends in pain and hardship.

She concludes, “But giving up is prohibited! Because when you gather those moments together, in the end they’ll bring you to your true mate. And at Cyrano Agency, I made my universe, my romance.”

And when she ends the kiss, Byung-hoon grabs her close for another.

 
COMMENTS

Yesterday’s detour into kidnapping and bomb threats was a decided low point, yes, but thankfully it was a one-episode stop to Crazytown before we got back on track for the much improved finale. As I said, yesterday’s developments felt in keeping with the plot progression, so it was really the sudden tone shift that was jarring. Too much whiplash, going from upbeat romance to crime thriller in one forty-five-minute chunk.

What the finale does that Episode 15 faltered at is wrap up the thematic elements and resolve our character arcs in a neat and satisfying way without sacrificing tone. I really did enjoy how the romance played out, and while it wasn’t hugely surprising, I like that there was a bit of a twist on the twist—that Byung-hoon would repeat his prior decision and then get outmaneuvered by everyone. Ha!

Let’s take that in pieces. First, Byung-hoon’s decision to ultimately withdraw. Aside from being nobly stupid (a familiar hero’s affliction), it does fit with his character and sets him up for tragic fool-dom. The first time he stepped aside, you could see why he chose that path and lived with it, and even though he later regretted it, he didn’t know in the moment how he would come to feel later. Plus, I don’t think he would have chosen differently even in retrospect. The second time, he knows exactly what he’s setting himself up for since he’s lived it once already, which makes the decision both stupider and sweeter—it’s a conscious sacrifice, albeit misguided. Because it’s always annoying when people decide things for other people “for their own good.”

But thank goodness everybody else has better plans, and they conspire against the mastermind. The mission-within-a-mission wasn’t a mind-blowing twist of Keyser Soze proportions, but it was a nice tweak to an expected conclusion. In fact, it single-handedly makes the kidnapping plot less terrible (mind you, it’s still terrible) because the ending beat is no longer “Boy almost loses girl, realizes he loves girl, keeps girl.” That’s fine and all, but rather simplistic. Instead we develop an added character layer when you have “Boy almost loses girl, realizes he loves girl, decides he loves her so much he’ll send her away, then is outsmarted by girl and friend and foe because boy really needs a severe kick in the pants. Kiss and fin.” I like version 2 much better.

Overall, Dating Agency Cyrano was a really refreshing summer romance that always breezed by in a flash and was super easy to watch. It felt perfect for the moment and was just the thing to mitigate the stress of a packed season, drama- and life-wise. The tvN rom-coms have been pretty solid across the board, but I admit to being wary of the endings; when Cyrano hit its last-stretch lag I had flashbacks to Flower Boy Next Door’s finale slow-down. So I absolutely don’t take for granted that I got a fizzy, gratifying end to a series that made me smile for the couple and wish good things for all its characters,from the lonelyhearts second lead down to the doofy loan sharks who just want to act. Except Mr. Crazy, that is. He can get dumped away into the Never Happened Nope file. At least for this drama, it’s a pretty slim file.

Granted, not all the romances ended well, and we didn’t ever see a resolution to Chef Mi-jin’s blow-up after discovering the agency’s role in her romance. It’s likely that doesn’t end with a kiss and a smile, but I’m okay with that, and perhaps that beat was a necessary one to allow us to have the agency up and running again—they’ll have a fresh reminder to keep in mind that while they do engineer scenarios, sincerity is always the goal. Nobody’s interested in manufacturing love out of thin air, not that it’s even possible. And even when you succeed in conveying those feelings, it’s up to the couple to keep the romance alive, day by day.

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