Will you be surprised if I tell you that this is the most indelible image from this episode for me? I cry when I see it.
Episode 18 is all about resolve and remembrance and this image encapsulates everything that is meaningful about the episode. Hwan’s left hand steadying his right. Hwan finding strength from within himself.
The image is from one of two scenes that I love the most in this episode and possibly even in the whole drama so far. Two scenes that break my heart. Let me begin with the first one.
It’s just another day in the second branch. The staff are absorbed in their tasks: taking orders, replenishing water and kimchi, clearing the tables. A young girl tells Hwan that she enjoyed the food. He laughingly tells her not to call him “Ajusshi” but “Oppa.” Their banter is witnessed by Eun-sung and she smiles at the sight.
Just as Hwan is walking away, a male customer at the table in front turns and crosses his leg. It’s too late for Hwan to see the outstretched leg and he trips and falls to the ground, dropping his tray and the bowls and plates on it. Remnants of soup and kimchi splatter everywhere.
The customer, who had earlier grumbled about being brought to the restaurant by his friend (apparently the smell of the beef soup is too pungent for him), looks at the stains on his pants and scolds Hwan: “Don’t you have eyes?” But his friend tells him it’s his fault for tripping the waiter; moreover, there are more splatters on the waiter’s clothes.
Without apologizing and with unmistakable arrogance, the man holds out a check to Hwan and says, “Hey, take it.” When Hwan does not reply, the man adds, “It’s for your cleaning and medical bills.”
Eun-sung sees what is happening and is about to march over, but the manager stops her. The two stand and look from a distance, waiting to see how Hwan will handle the situation.
“Take it,” the man continues tauntingly. It’s clear from Hwan’s face, as he picks himself up from the floor, that he is angry. He clenches his fist, the same way he clenched it right before he punched Jun-se in Episode 16, and bites his lower lip. In what seems like minutes but is really just mere seconds, he fights to compose himself. The struggle is both internal and visible: his eyes seem to fill with tears at the effort.
There’s no need… Sir.
It was the long pause and the quiet “Sir” that did it to me. I cried.
What a test and what an outcome. If there are any doubts that Hwan is a changed man, this incident dispels them all. A demeaning and potentially explosive situation handled with dignity and humility, with his rage firmly under control. I thought my heart would burst with pride.
Months from now, if you ask me at what point I can say with certainty that I love Lee Seung-gi’s Hwan in Brilliant Legacy, I will tell you that it is the moment he reined in his anger before a man who had treated him with condescension. This very moment.
Hwan’s meekness before the customer is all the more laudable when we see how angry he really is. He goes up to the rooftop and lets it all out, grimacing and cursing silently, unaware that Eun-sung is behind him. He turns and sees her with a washcloth in her hand.
I’m sure the scene that follows is a favorite with many people who are eager to see any little progression in Hwan and Eun-sung’s relationship. To them this scene is perhaps second in this episode only to a certain road scene (which I have lots to say about).
But I didn’t find the scene particularly romantic, just amusing.
Eun-sung takes the washcloth and wipes the stains from Hwan’s top. Her gesture startles him and he takes the cloth away from her rather roughly.
As he’s cleaning the kimchi stains from his clothes, Eun-sung launches into a tirade against the customer who had tripped Hwan. As she flails her arms and rattles on nonstop, getting angrier by the second, she does not realize how comical she looks. Her overreaction is just typical of her erratic behavior around Hwan lately.
Fortunately for Eun-sung, Hwan is pretty dense when it comes to anything related to her, so he doesn’t see it as the behavior of a girl who’s trying to camouflage her feelings. Instead he thinks she’s indirectly chiding him because he used to behave exactly like the customer. Didn’t he cause Eun-sung to trip and fall at the nightclub when she was working as a waiter there and didn’t he behave like a complete jerk with her?
(This episode is full of flashbacks: some poignant, some revealing, some downright chilling. I take back what I wrote in my last recap about Hwan’s hairstyle never changing. It has, thank goodness it has! Will you just look at what it was like BEFORE? *insert screaming*)
Eun-sung defends herself and says she isn’t the petty sort to rehash old grudges. Then why are you so angry, he asks. You have no reason to side with me.
The two mull over the unspoken implications of his words (and her weird behavior). Shouldn’t she be delirious with joy that he’s being served a lesson? Instead she’s behaving all aggrieved on his behalf. As if she’s his mom or sister or… girlfriend.
Our embarrassed girl blurts out “Because we’re partners!” and is thankfully rescued by a summon to go downstairs. The manager wants to speak to them.
Just as Hwan’s response to the odious customer made me cry, it apparently also moved the manager and he conducts a graduation of sorts in his office.
Our sweet manager (love him!) unpins the scowly-face lapel button from Hwan’s uniform and pins the smiley-face version in its place. No longer is Hwan an oddity, a part-timer working full-time, wearing a lapel button that sets him apart from the rest, like a badge of dishonor. He is now officially a valued member of staff. Yes!
Everyone cheers as Hwan thanks the manager shyly. He touches his new button in wonder, amazed that a little thing like that can make him and the others so happy.
Hwan and Eun-sung return home from work and she sees the family busy in the kitchen. What day is it today, she asks Hwan’s mom, but the latter ignores her and talks to Hwan instead: You do remember that today is your dad’s memorial day, don’t you?
Yes, Hwan remembers. He had marked the date on his calendar.
Earlier in the morning, as Grandma and Hwan’s mom discussed the memorial preparations, they had talked about how this would be Hwan’s first attendance at his dad’s memorial. The last few years he had been studying abroad and did not return to commemorate the day.
Upstairs in his room, Hwan changes into his black mourning clothes. His hands tremble as he buttons his suit.
The memorial ceremony gets underway.
As his father’s only son, Hwan comes forward to pay his respects, his face drawn. As he attempts to pour the tea, his right hand holding the teapot begins to shake. The trembling is visible only to Eun-sung who is standing at a distance. The other members of the family are behind him. She looks at him and remembers what Jun-se had told her about the accident, about how it had affected Hwan and how he had erased it from his mind.
As his right hand continues to shake, Hwan uses his left hand to clasp the right wrist tightly. He pours the tea into the cup and brings it in front of the ancestral tablet. His left hand is still on his right wrist, still clasping and calming it. For the second time in this episode, my heart feels like bursting. How I wish I can reach inside the screen and give him a hug.
After the ceremony, the family gathers in the living room to talk about the dad’s passing. Just as she did during the memorial ceremony, Eun-sung stands a distance away.
(Not including Eun-sung in the ceremony is understandable since she isn’t related to the deceased man, but excluding her from the discussion seems unnecessary and even cruel. She need not talk, but surely she can sit with them and simply listen? Isn’t she Grandma’s granddaughter, albeit informally adopted?)
As they talk, Hwan’s mom wonders aloud about the hit-and-run accident. Why did the dad come out of the car, leaving Hwan alone inside? What vehicle hit him? What exactly happened that night?
Before I die and while I still have my wits around me, I want to know how your father died. You must try and remember.
Hearing his grandmother’s words, Hwan nods, as if saying, Yes, I will try to remember. His eyes are wet.
That night, in the darkness of her room, Grandma clasps her son’s photo to her bosom and sobs. Outside, a man sits on the garden bench and cries like we have never seen him cry before. In the distance a girl watches.
The next day Hwan and Eun-sung come down dressed in the same colors (mere coincidence?), ready to meet with their first corporate client.
Grandma passes the car keys to Eun-sung and insists she takes the car. At the second branch, everyone is excited as Hwan and Eun-sung collect the food samples and set off for the Shin In Dong factory. Hwan reminds Eun-sung teasingly that he’s the one who initiated contact with the company.
The food testing goes well and a catering contract is signed between Jin Sung Food and Shin In Dong. Our triumphant pair can’t stop smiling (1520 bowls a week from this contract alone!) and Hwan tells Eun-sung for the nth time: It was all my idea. But just as they are about to leave, the president of the company arrives. To their chagrin, they find out that he is Jun-se’s friend and that Jun-se is the one who told him about Jin Sung Food doing corporate deliveries.
As expected, Hwan is livid.
Accusing Eun-sung of colluding with Jun-se, he refuses to listen to her explanation that Jun-se must have merely made the introductions and it was still the proposal sent in by Hwan that sealed the deal.
You sure approve of Jun-se. Is he that great? Cancel the contract! Why must it be Jun-se? You’re accepting his help so that you can achieve the sales target, isn’t it? Why must you go to that extent to get Grandma’s inheritance? If you covet it so much, at least use legitimate means!
Stung by his words, Eun-sung pulls the car over abruptly and storms out. Unprepared for what she just did, Hwan hurriedly gets into the driver’s seat and drives alongside her, yelling at her to get back in. She ignores him and turns and crosses the road instead. Stopping the car, he yells: Where are you going? Get back in, it’s dangerous!
Standing in the middle of the road, Eun-sung turns around and yells back at him:
I want to use legitimate means, too, and I didn’t ask for Jun-se’s help. Am I someone who is so thick-skinned? I’ve always felt sorry toward you!
Just as she finishes her words, a truck tears down the road. Eun-sung freezes. In that very moment, Hwan suddenly recalls how his father’s accident happened.
On that night so long ago, as his dad was driving, little Hwan dropped his toy boat out of the car. He got out to retrieve it (quite unthinkable that his dad would let him do something so unsafe), but a truck was coming down the road. His dad ran out to save him but got hit instead. That was how the father lost his life.
All the while that Hwan is having his flashback, I’m thinking: Hurry and finish it! Eun-sung is going to be roadkill by the time you’re done!
But this is a drama, so our hero remembers all the details of the accident, is frantic that the same thing that happened to his father is about to happen to Eun-sung, and he runs and grabs her out of harm’s way. They stand dazed on the road, his arms still wrapped around her. When he recovers sufficiently, these are the words that tumble out:
Are you crazy? What are you doing? Why are you doing this in front of me? Do you really want to see me go insane?
I’m sure that this scene, henceforth called The Hug, is the highlight of Episode 18 for many, many people. After all, it’s already eighteen episodes and we are way overdue for some loving bodily contact. His one-of-a-kind hand-holding doesn’t count; let’s dismiss Episode 17’s Ride of Terror as well. This hug is the real thing, at last!
But at the risk of being hit with a tray of rotten eggs, may I say that The Hug did nothing for me at all?
I don’t mean to be flippant, but the image below reminded me of the dance elective I took one summer in college. I emerged from that course red-faced, acutely aware that I possessed the agility of a hippo on crack. Others could dance fluidly, but I was as stiff as a signpost.
Could you get a more posed picture than that?
I burst out laughing the instant I saw it. Look, it’s as if our couple are taking waltz lessons conducted in the middle of the road and all of a sudden their wacky coach yells, FREEZE!
But the posing is just a teeny quibble. I don’t really mind it because it’s so Hwannish anyway and I’ve come to love all of Hwan’s little awkward quirks. What made me cringe was his overreaction after The Hug. He pulls away from her and then he goes ballistic. The overacting sticks out like a smoking chimney.
He winces, he throws his head back, he shakes it, he sighs loudly, he shouts. His face looks like it’s going to crumble into tears, or explode, or both.
What’s going on, Hwan? You were doing awesome thus far in this episode. Your restrained and powerful acting in my two favorite scenes moved me to tears. Then suddenly, this? You need to stop because you are scaring Eun-sung. Did you see the blood drain from her face? The poor thing is about to faint because of you.
I soon noticed one thing in all that drama:
Hwan’s coiled scarf never becomes uncoiled in the commotion. No wonder he doesn’t let it hang loose like how most people would wear it. There was a reason after all!
A traumatized Eun-sung realizes Hwan is connecting her near-miss to his dad’s fatal accident. I’m sorry, she says, but he walks away without answering.
He stands by the roadside, maybe to let his anger subside, and she reaches out to touch his back but stops herself. They drive back in silence and arrive at the second branch glum-faced, a total change from how they left that morning. The manager, ever so sharp-eyed, stares at them befuddled.
After they return to their office, Hwan leaves in a huff. Eun-sung herself goes off to find the one who had caused Hwan to blow his top in the first place.
Let me pause here because I need to gasp… twice.
I don’t need to explain the first gasp; I already did in my last recap. The second gasp is because of what he has around his neck.
Jun-se, listen. I understand you’ve been feeling threatened by Hwan lately and you think of him as a serious competitor. But you don’t have to emulate his dressing. You have your eyes. What other adornment do you need? Remember what you wore earlier in the week when your dad came to meet you and issued you with an ultimatum? Stop seeing Eun-sung or you’re not my son anymore! Your eyes were like daggers when you heard your father’s words, but not for a moment did that affect your dishiness. You didn’t need a scarf then and you don’t need one now!
Eun-sung asks why he went behind her back to establish that contact with Shin In Dong Company. He explains that networking is important in business and will benefit both sides. Don’t do it again, she says, too hypnotized by his eyes to remain upset. (Oops, that last line is actually mine. Sorry!)
In-young, a mutual friend of Eun-sung and Seung-mi, arrives to meet Eun-sung for a meal together. Jung is visibly irritated when she sees Eun-sung at Jun-se’s cafe, but she has to serve them because Hye-ri is not around.
I’ll have the most expensive item on the menu, In-young says. It’s my chaebol heir friend’s treat.
Her words infuriate Jung who thinks Eun-sung has been going around gloating about getting Grandma’s inheritance. Eun-sung apologizes and tells Jung they’ll order later. She then scolds In-young. But the latter in turn reprimands her for being greedy and stealing the inheritance from Jung and Hwan. How can you ruin someone’s family like that?
Speaking of greed and theft, it’s time to talk about our resident witch. To do that, we need to return to the first scene in this episode.
Remember how Episode 17 ended with Eun-sung’s dad chasing after her bus? Well, Episode 18 picks up from there and we see the poor man running in vain. The bus is just too fast for him. So he goes dejectedly to where his wife is waiting, inside her exy-looking car bought with money that belongs to Eun-sung and Eun-woo.
He tells her he’s not going to leave Seoul now because he just saw Eun-sung on the bus. She’s not in America, she’s here!
Good grief, your eyes must be playing tricks on you. How can a person in America be in Seoul at the same time? She’s not David Copperfield! Anyway, she’s such an ingrate of a daughter cutting off contact with you and all, so you best forget about her. To the orchard you shall go, hoho!
He replies: No way, Jose, I’m staying put here until Eun-sung herself tells me to scram. Until such time I’m going to search every nook and cranny in Seoul.
The witch promptly pulls her hair out.
Returning home after her Mission To Ruralize Husband fails, the witch walks into Seung-mi’s bedroom and is shocked to see a photo of Eun-woo on her daughter’s computer screen. What are you doing, she screams, why is his photo there? Delete it at once! Stop wavering and come to your senses. Stop doing such worthless things!
Why am I doing such worthless things? Because I want Eun-sung to think well of me. She’s a kind-hearted person. If I can find Eun-woo before Eun-sung finds out about Hwan’s feelings for her and before she herself develops feelings for Hwan, she wouldn’t take Hwan from me.
Moon Chae-won’s acting is fantastic in this scene. She cries so naturally you can’t help feeling wretched with her (for about ten nanoseconds). Too bad about her parentage on the maternal side.
Apparently witches lack a compassion chromosome (to compensate, they possess rub-it-in chromosomes in spades). Instead of consoling her distraught daughter, the mom makes her feel worse by blaming her. What have you been doing all these years that you haven’t been able to grab Hwan’s heart?
Well, Mama Witch, it isn’t your daughter’s fault so stop the guilt trap.
Seung-mi is competing with the cutest thing this side of kdramaland, so the outcome is a foregone conclusion. In fact, do you know that your prized Hwan is so smitten with this cutie he even tries to dress like her?
You see, what happened was that Eun-sung wore that checkered top one night while having a work discussion with Hwan. All the while he looked like he was churning out ideas to drum up sales for the second branch, but the truth was he kept studying Eun-sung.
So convincing was Hwan’s charade, his sister Jung even ran downstairs shrieking to her grandma and mom: Oppa is having a work meeting with Eun-sung!
It was like the ultimate betrayal, y’know? Hobnobbing with the enemy, tsk tsk! What was Hwan thinking?
But like I say, it was all a farce. All he was doing was studying her clothes (and her face). The very next day, lo and behold see what he wore! I rest my case.
On the day of the memorial ceremony, while Butler Pyo and Hwan’s mom are in the kitchen, he unwittingly makes a confession of sorts to her.
For the last thirteen years, he has observed that she will fall ill within the week after the memorial. It’s as predictable as seeds sprouting after the rain. Wow, whatever made you pay attention to something like that? she asks innocently. Just because, he replies, his tone clearly indicating End of Discussion.
Like the good butler he is, he supervises her cleaning and washing. So out to the garden they go, to hang the just laundered sheets.
Stop jumping about or you are going to fall, he warns. But she’s too giddy to listen to him. Today is Marketing Day, which means she gets to spend money. Yippee!
True enough, she trips over the laundry stand. There to catch her as she falls is our butler.
Oh my goodness, she whispers as she stares into his face. Oh my goodness…
Another unplanned confession is coming up, this one from her son.
After our dramatic The Hug scene, Hwan is moody (for a few reasons: Jun-se, Eun-sung, his dad, his own jaw-dropping outburst) and he leaves the second branch without saying where he is going. He receives a call from his friend Young-seok, the one harboring Eun-woo and using him as a cash cow. Come help me watch my nephew (ya right) for two hours because the inspection people are coming and I need to clean the bar.
Ramyeon Hyung, says Eun-woo when he sees Hwan. (I like the nickname, don’t you? Hwan does cook decent noodles even if he doesn’t add anything nourishing to them, not even an egg.) Hey, Piano, slow down! shouts Hwan when the boy starts running, so excited to be out on the streets.
As they are eating in a fast-food joint, Hwan starts to ruminate aloud.
I have a friend who has a brother just like you, who also likes to play the piano. You only like the piano. Isn’t there a girl you like?
Piano is better.
Ah, I see. Well, that’s good to know. The piano’s not going to dislike you, right? Do you know the feeling of liking a person who dislikes you? Among the girls I know, there is someone called Spy.
Little brat. You haven’t seen her, so how do you know she’s pretty? But you’re right, she’s as mysterious as a spy. The thing is, whenever I’m with her, I’ll forget these realities (that she’s mysterious; that I don’t know who she really is; that she complicates my life so much). Anyway, it feels good to say what has been in my heart.
The feeling of liking a person who dislikes you.
Aww, he confesses!
I wrote at the beginning of this recap that I have two favorite scenes from this episode. Make it three.
I love how Hwan looks (his cute dimples when he smiles), I love how Eun-woo is paying attention even if he seems intent only on eating, I love how comfy the two are in each other’s presence. They are building a natural bond with each other — a bond that is going to be very important in the future. I can’t wait for the moment when Hwan realizes Eun-woo’s missing brother is Piano!
As Hwan is talking boy-girl stuff with Eun-woo, Eun-sung is doing the same with Hye-ri, except Eun-sung isn’t relaxed like Hwan.
Still upset by In-young’s accusation that she’s stealing the inheritance from its rightful heirs, Eun-sung wonders if she should give it up. Increasingly she is feeling sorry toward Hwan. He is trying so hard to change and he is changing, so the more she looks at him, the more uneasy she feels.
Hmm, your behavior is weird, says an astute Hye-ri. You sound like you’re talking about a person you like, but you have no reason to like him. And don’t tell me about him dating Seung-mi. You can still like him!
It’s nothing like that! It’s just that he doesn’t seem hateful anymore.
But more troubling than the inheritance and Hwan is an unexpected meeting at the second branch with a man who turns out to be her father’s friend.
From him Eun-sung learns that her father had bought life insurance before his death. Hearing how he had contemplated suicide just so his family could benefit from the money brings tears to her eyes. How he had loved them!
Go check on the insurance, her dad’s friend urges. And Eun-sung does. That’s how she learns the huge payout had been collected by a person called Baek Sung-hee.
So there you have it: an awesome Episode 18. It made me cry and laugh. The best episode so far.