There’s a sweet, lingering wistfulness about this episode, as Hwa-shin plunges deeper into his feelings. It’s a lovely examination of one-sided love, where we explore the happiness of just being able to be near someone, even when they don’t return your feelings. But the real happiness, I think, is making peace with your own heart, as our friends struggle to do this hour.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Hwa-shin grips Na-ri’s hand and rushes her to the helicopter. We flash back to the conversation they had in the elevator earlier, where Na-ri told him not to like her. Silently, he replied, “I love you.” Out loud, he asked what would have happened if he’d said those words three years ago, adding, “I’m sorry, for realizing too late.”
In the present, Na-ri tells him he’s lost his mind. Over the helicopter’s beating, he yells that it’ll take just three minutes like this. She tells him not to do anything else for her: These three minutes will make up for the last three years.
They reach the station fast. Before she hops out, she gives Hwa-shin a subdued thanks and he shouts after her to do well. Eyes now alight, he tells the pilot to head for Busan.
With no time to waste, Na-ri flies down the stairs. The time is 7:52 a.m. and in the waiting room, Dong-gi hands out the audition scripts to the candidates. Na-ri is meant to be up first, and Joo-hee looks smugly over at her still-empty seat.
Just as Na-ri finally reaches her floor, we see Hwa-shin following right behind. Catching her arm, he sits her down and tells her to listen carefully. He says that the audition will most likely be conducted as it would happen on a real news-day, and warns her that the script can change in a moment due to the large amount of breaking news coming in. She may also have to improvise to fill time.
He drops down and, holding her face between his hands, instructs her that she must look into the camera for her first and last lines. He tests her pronunciation, and coaches her on the correct tone to use, impressed by how quickly she masters it. Lee Hwa-shin, you have never been so attractive as at this moment.
Finally, he warns her never to reveal that she came by ‘copter, and leans down to cup her face again. To confirm her breathing is even. Suuure. Taking her hand, he sees her through the door.
Two minutes before eight, and Madam Kim has yet to show up at the judges’ panel, where everyone’s waiting for her. In an empty corridor, Na-ri clutches her chest. “Why am I trembling?” she asks herself.
Madam Kim finally reaches the station, as does Jung-won, who follows her inside. Furious, she rages at him for undermining her suitability as a judge by making her late. When she curses him out for picking a girl over his own mother, he only replies, “Please don’t be any more disappointing, Mom.” Lip curling, she tells him to just watch what she does now, and storms away.
Joo-hee wonders why they still haven’t started, and glares at Na-ri. Getting in some last-second practice, Na-ri tells herself that her trembling is from nerves. Ohh, her scarf has little rainclouds on it!
She gets a phonecall from Jung-won. Quietly, she tells him she’s arrived, but hangs up before he can wish her good luck. Jung-won blinks for a second, but then smiles, and Secretary Cha sags in relief. Cha suggests they find a screen to watch her on the live in-house broadcast. “Watch?” asks Jung-won. “Cheer on?” Cha corrects, and both men grin. Aww, you’re bros now.
Back in the helicopter, Hwa-shin checks with the pilot that he reported the detour as instructed, namely, that Na-ri was never there. He asks it as a favor, and explaining that Na-ri would be penalized if found out.
Dong-gi announces the test process over the intercom, telling the candidates to proceed to the test studio with their scripts, and starts by calling in first candidate, Na-ri. As Na-ri gets wired up, Dong-gi chuckles to himself that she got lucky with a judge being late.
Throughout the station, people tune in. In the weathercasters’ lounge, the girls gather around the screen and Mi-young gives a fierce cheer when Na-ri appears. Aww. You’re a good egg.
Almost immediately, Na-ri’s script is swapped out for a new one, just as Hwa-shin predicted. We’re treated to a flash-forward montage of how the other candidates fare: Most of them fight viciously to keep hold of the original script, and all of them panic.
When Na-ri looks up for the camera, Hwa-shin is right beside it. He tells her to think like she owns the newsroom, and advises her to keep things natural. He’s got to be a figment of her imagination.
Flashforward again, and Joo-hee makes a mess of her pronunciation and delivery, and trips up on the numbers. In the judges’ room, Madam Kim tears her apart, and it looks like she’s already been written off.
Imaginary Hwa-shin repeats Real Hwa-shin’s earlier instructions to Na-ri, and she scans the script for numbers as per his warning. She begins a smooth reading, to everyone’s surprise. Ja-young observes that Na-ri must have taken in the beginning and ending lines, since she delivered them looking at the camera.
Next is a crisis management test. Candidates report a foiled snake-smuggling where one snake remains missing, when suddenly, a snake drops right in front of them…! What! Ha! Oh, it’s fake! Pretty much everyone fails that; they scream, fall off their chairs, and Joo-hee curses on camera.
But Na-ri picks it up with a smile, saying she’s found the last one. The judges quietly approve, and even Madam Kim is grudgingly admiring. Grinning at her sheer nerve, Imaginary Hwa-shin sends her a thumbs-up. She recalls the last thing he said to her before he left—that if she did well, he’d be an anchor beside her one day. “You should feel honored, you know” he had smiled. Ever himself, eh?
It’s pronunciation next, and the candidates are given a script full of tongue-twisters and difficult names. Needless to say, they all suck and even Na-ri has a few stumbles, which Madam Kim is smug about. But Ja-young really seems to be rooting for Na-ri, bless her.
For the closing test, Na-ri reads a report on a scam on the elderly. But juuuust as she’s about to deliver the closing line, Dong-gi pipes into her ear to keep things rolling for another forty seconds, exactly as Hwa-shin warned. She continues seamlessly, augmenting the report by adding on-the-fly commentary, all while looking straight at the camera and keeping time. Dong-gi gives her a whoop as she wraps up.
Finished, Na-ri looks around for Imaginary Hwa-shin, who is now Tinkerbell-sized as he waves from his perch on a camera. He winks, and she winks back, smiling.
The judges unanimously agree that Na-ri nailed it—apart from Madam Kim, who proposes that Na-ri is too pretty for news. I swear those judges are embarrassed by drivel she spouts about how it’s not skill that counts, but how you look on camera, and goes on to pick out mistakes Na-ri didn’t actually make.
Na-ri heads out to the stairwell and starts to cry, thanking the absent Hwa-shin.
Real Hwa-shin hurries back to the station, and tries to phone Na-ri. She answers…Jung-won, who’s been waiting for her, and they exchange warm smiles. Across the foyer, Hwa-shin sees them, and puts his phone away.
Na-ri tells Jung-won that she flew there, which he takes metaphorically. She adds that one of the judges was late, and Jung-won grins. They head out hand in hand, and Hwa-shin turns back before they can spot him.
Jung-won hands Na-ri into the backseat of his car, where Beom’s lone surviving drawing still lies. Her eyes widen, and she quickly secretes it in her bag while Jung-won sends Secretary Cha off to appease his mother. He gets into the driver’s seat and calls a distracted Na-ri up front.
He tells her they can go anywhere and eat anything, as long as it doesn’t involve her being alone. She confesses that her mind’s been blank since the test finished. “Just stay with me,” she says to him.
Hwa-shin replays Na-ri’s cozy departure with Jung-won and grumbles that she should have told him if she was finished. Poor Hwa-shin, not even letting himself be sad.
Catching Hye-won, Hwa-shin asks her how Na-ri’s audition went. She swears at him, and then relents and tells him that Na-ri nailed it—her only mistakes were the same as everyone else’s. That’s enough for Hwa-shin, who strides off.
“Damn, he’s hot,” Hye-won says to herself, although not quite in those words, lol.
At Jung-won’s office, Na-ri tries to get him to eat with her, but his work has piled up and he can’t join her. She takes their sandwiches to his desk, and is full of questions when she sees him working on Chinese documents. He’s pleased that she’s finally curious about him, and she says she always was, but didn’t ask.
Smiling, he sits her down on the desk beside him. Sharing the sandwich, she tells Jung-won that she always wanted to split a sub with her boyfriend. Jung-won realizes, now he thinks about it, that he’s always the one initiating things with her, and wonders if that means he likes her more than she likes him. She pointedly doesn’t answer and he laugh-sighs that girls usually like him more.
Na-ri believes that, and confides that she fell for him at first sight, too. He marvels at her fearlessness, and recalls the snake. She reveals that she had a friend in props who told her that Dong-gi had asked for it, so she somewhat expected it. Real snakes are scary, she laughs. Taking her hand, Jung-won says she worked hard today.
Chef Rak comes hunting for his ladies at the SBC building. He finds Ja-young immediately, since she’s about to head out, and she tells him she has definitely already eaten, but why doesn’t he eat with Sung-sook, who definitely hasn’t? Sung-sook spots him just in time, too, and hides behind some other guy.
Chef asks Ja-young directly why she’s avoiding him, and she looks caught—made worse when Hye-won comes by, wondering why she hasn’t gone to eat yet. Meanwhile, the guy Sung-sook’s hiding behind whirls her around into his trench coat, but Chef calls out that he can see her. Ha.
Hwa-shin is working late when PD Oh tracks him down. He rages at Hwa-shin for changing the helicopter’s course and says he’ll have to face disciplinary action for it. As if he didn’t hear him, Hwa-shin happily shows him the dolphin footage he got from Busan instead.
Na-ri arrives home that night and finds Hwa-shin’s windows dark. She returns to the station and overhears PD Oh telling Hwa-shin that he could lose the chance to even audition for the 9 o’clock anchor. Smiling like a dopey, Hwa-shin insists that the reason they turned back was because he had to pee. Oh doesn’t believe it, and smacks him in frustration.
Na-ri jumps when Sung-sook catches her eavesdropping. She checks that Na-ri’s still doing the weather tomorrow, and making a backhanded compliment of it, regrets that she wants to leave.
Home again, Na-ri lies on her roof a while. She unfolds the drawing from Jung-won’s car, and remembering Hwa-shin telling her to be honored, she smiles a little.
“Who are you thinking of that you’re grinning like that?” Hwa-shin calls out, just returned himself. He asks if she did well today, and she nods. He looks like he wants to say more, but instead, just wishes her a good night. But then he turns back to her and says, “Hey, buy me an ice cream.”
They sit at separate tables outside Stepmom’s store (which is confusingly called “Grandma’s”), and Na-ri is surprised to discover Hwa-shin is attending his treatment properly. She thanks him for his help, and wonders if the day will really come when they’ll be anchors together.
While she looks up at the stars, Hwa-shin asks, “Is it okay if I like you?” Just a one-sided love, like hers had been, he says. He tells her to treat him as he used to treat her, and do well with Jung-won. “Don’t ever waver because of me,” he warns her, and walks off into the night.
The next morning, the whole family is gathered around Pal-gang’s table—her two moms, Grandma, Hwa-shin. Everyone is shocked by Grandma coddling Hwa-shin and calling him her baby. Pal-gang can’t stand it and goes back to her room, and Grandma follows.
Hwa-shin positively beams even as Sung-sook and Ja-young make fun of him by calling him “baby.” Now there’s a love-starved kid.
Meanwhile, Grandma asks Pal-gang to be kinder to her uncle, and reveals that he has breast cancer. She says she can’t bear to lose another son, and says they should forgive him now, after everything he’s put himself through. Pal-gang is stricken.
At work, Na-ri spends all day hiding from Hwa-shin. He notices her avoidance with some satisfaction. At lunch, he sits opposite her and she immediately moves tables.
Elsewhere, Jung-won searches for the drawing that was in his car, and Secretary Cha tells him he saw Na-ri with it.
That night, Na-ri passes Stepmom’s store where Hwa-shin’s chilling with Beom. He badmouths Na-ri to her baby bro, and Na-ri marches back to them in a temper. She rants at Beom to stop with those drawings, and yells, “Don’t love me, okay? Don’t love Pyo Na-ri!”
Smiling slightly, Hwa-shin wonders how he can miss her when she’s right there. “You understand, huh?” Na-ri snaps, stepping up to him with a glare, before sweeping away.
Hwa-shin is called into PD Oh’s office where Sung-sook breaks it to him that been he’s suspended for a month. The PD says he should be glad he didn’t get fired outright. Thrown, Hwa-shin asks if that means he can’t audition, and PD Oh yells that of course he can’t, he’s disqualified.
After a long breath, Hwa-shin accepts it quietly and leaves the room. Sung-sook speculates to the PD that the shock silenced him. “He’ll come back,” she predicts.
Hwa-shin gets stopped by Dong-gi, who heard about the suspension. But Hwa-shin notices Na-ri listening, and denies it. If he’s suspended, he won’t be able to audition, Dong-gi flails. Hwa-shin just walks away, and Na-ri looks after him in shock.
In an elevator with Ja-young, the older woman tells her with a smile to expect a call from Human Resources tomorrow. Na-ri asks if she’s failed. Amused, Ja-young replies that she’d hardly tell her bad news in advance. Once alone, Na-ri starts sniffling again.
Madam Kim complains to Jung-won that his little girlfriend is going to be an announcer, and he tells her that Na-ri made it because she was qualified. Putting his arms around his mom, he tells her that he feels alive these days because of Na-ri. He cajoles her to let him date, and she sighs in resignation.
Na-ri hunts through the station for Hwa-shin. Looking at the time, she realizes that it’s nearly 5, when his hospital appointments are. She runs outside into the pouring rain, to the corner she used to meet him.
She tries calling Hwa-shin, but he purposely doesn’t answer. But then he sees her on the corner, getting drenched. Just as it looks like he’s about to drive past, he U-turns back for her. She gets in, intent on going with him to the hospital. He doesn’t object, only remarking on the irony of a weathercaster getting rained on.
While Na-ri waits for Hwa-shin at the hospital, Jung-won texts her to say that whether she gets good news or bad, he wants to be the first to hear it. Hwa-shin’s warning not to waver plays in her mind, and coming to some kind of decision, she stands up.
Hwa-shin’s changing into his hospital pyjamas when Na-ri’s voice rolls in. Standing outside the door, she tells him she absolutely won’t waver for him, “I will never like you again.” He takes it, but when she finally asks if she’s crazy, he tells her that’s enough.
But the curtain sweeps open and Na-ri comes inside. She unfolds Beom’s drawing and says she wouldn’t come back if he drew her a thousand of these. She tears the drawing into shreds (that’s his heart you’re tearing up!) and Hwa-shin moves to pick them up, but stops himself. “I understand, so go,” he tells her, and draws the curtain against her.
But she comes back in, this time telling him how much better his friend is than him, in every possible way: He’s warm and gentle, manly, handsome, rich, and she even throws in that he has a nice, even chest. She says she likes Jung-won more than he likes her (liar), and tells Hwa-shin that he’s the exact opposite of his friend.
Increasingly agitated, Hwa-shin finally smacks his head against the locker. Yes, everything she said is true, he agrees, is that what she came here to say? Close to tears, she says he can’t audition because of her, but he doesn’t want to hear it and pushes her out.
She comes back in again. “I’m really a terrible woman,” she says. Eyes darkening with emotion, he warns her that it will be dangerous if she doesn’t go now. “I passed,” she tells him, “I wanted to tell you first.”
He warns her again, but Na-ri carries on. Jung-won is a good person, she says, Hwa-shin is a bad one. “Acknowledged,” he says, now coming closer. “You’re a bad friend,” she says, their faces inches apart. After a tense pause, he says, “Also acknowledged,” and…kisses her. Nooo! She kisses right back.
They finally come apart. “Are you crazy?” Hwa-shin breathes. She nods and says, “For now at least,” and they kiss again, longer, while the sky cries outside.
I’ve been so furipus, YES FURIPUS, for the last two days, but I figure that I need to break down coolly exactly why this ending made me so angry. Firstly, I can appreciate the intellectual validity of the argument that every story should be told, but I disagree that this served that. It’s a climax that’s inconsistent with who these characters have been all this time, the choices they’ve made and the way they’ve developed. I also think it’s important not to conflate telling the story with selling it as a good thing. And that is what this ending does, and I hate it all the more because everything preceding it was so very nearly perfect. Everything about the longing, the conflict, the tension, it was so well done, but the actual kissing crossed a line that the show itself drew.
The more I think about it, the more random the kissing seems—practically shoehorned in. It’s as if the showrunners realized that they’d reached episode 14 and panicked that the endgame couple wasn’t together yet. But hey, did you forget this is (unnecessarily) a 24-episode show? Yes, of course the tension is building, that’s the name of the damn game. It’s not called Affairs Incarnate, you know. How much more could you have played with that tension or drawn it out or just done it some other way that didn’t break the story? The chemistry was insane, of course it was, but kissing was not the answer. And even if it were, don’t sell this to me as romantic, Show. It’s not. I don’t care how cute or right for each other they are, whichever way you cut it, it’s cheating, and infidelity is something I’m incapable of finding romantic value in. And they didn’t kiss once, but twice. With the first, you could say it was a mistake. But the second time, they made an actual, active decision.
At the most basic level, I feel betrayed by the show—the same way I felt betrayed by Who Are You—School 2015 or God’s Gift—14 Days. The show went back on its premise, and its implicit promise to see Na-ri’s relationship with Jung-won through. It’s true the shine’s come off Jung-won in the last couple of weeks, but how much better would it have been to see that relationship reach the end of its natural life? I was so stoked to see a show that was finally going to let the heroine be with someone else properly, but now I think about it, they’ve treated the Jung-won/Na-ri relationship in a half-assed way for a while.
The character derailment was strong this hour, especially in Na-ri’s face-heel turn, as she goes back on the promises she’s made to herself all this time. They erode a little more each time she goes back into Hwa-shin’s dressing room, each time pushing him a little further past his limit. But at the same time, looking back on the last few weeks, I think I have to acknowledge, as many of you have noted over the weeks, the way Na-ri really has often flagrantly disregarded boundaries. There were always other ways to explain it then, and I liked her so much, but this changes it all, because it crosses a line—one that Hwa-shin never crossed.
I’d like to blame Hwa-shin more, but it really is all Na-ri. She knew what she was doing, and she pushed him on purpose and took advantage of him. She went there knowing—I’m sure she knew—that she had only to crook her finger and she had him. It wasn’t even Hwa-shin, in the end, who broke faith. She’s playing mindgames with herself, and therefore with both men, too, and that’s pretty close to unforgivable for me. There’s a difference between genuinely not knowing your own mind (Hwa-shin), and knowing your mind but lying to yourself.
I think she wants to prove to herself that she’s not a flake, but maybe it’s a sign of her emotional immaturity that she thinks she can force her feelings to do what she wants. Where Hwa-shin has been painfully earning his self-awareness, it seems now like Na-ri completely lacks insight into her own character. In this last quarter-hour, she’s been like an earlier version of him, saying one thing while meaning the opposite, but crucially, she lets that opposite hang unspoken in the air.
On the other hand, there’s a kind of raw sincerity in Hwa-shin that was always there even when he was a jerk, like how he’d be mean as sin to her and hate himself afterwards. I think it’s telling that he’s had the chance, over and over, to try to take her away from Jung-won (especially after she finds out his real feelings) but he resists acting on it, one-sided love notwithstanding. Hwa-shin was manipulated into kissing her—he begged her to leave because he knew he’d be helpless. As much as we can argue that he wanted to do it, it would also be true that he really didn’t.
But let me end by going back over the best scene this episode, which made me jump ship to Hwa-shin. Although both men adorably do their part to help Na-ri, how lovely is the way Hwa-shin instructs her in the stairwell? With the exception of the last few minutes, Hwa-shin’s interactions with her all episode have been just…everything. That’s the Hwa-shin I want to see more, bravado stripped away and heart is in his eyes every time he looks at her. There’s something about his steady presence that makes you forgive every time he was ever a jerk. So show, if you want me to swoon, give me that. And also undo the last five minutes.