Brilliant Legacy: Episode 21

I know. I know what you are saying as you shake your head in disbelief.

This is Episode 21. TWENTY-ONE! For your main image, how can you NOT be using a certain screencap which elicited a collective “Aww, finally!” across the globe? Instead it is this comical one of Hwan eating dukbokki? THUNDIEEEEEE!

But wait. Hear me out.

You have no idea how this scene of Eun-sung feeding Hwan made me giggle like a loony. He was so naughty when he asked, and so gleeful when he received. He was just so cute! I wanted to reach into the screen and squeeze his cheeks, except that would make him choke on that spicy rice cake. In an episode packed with memorable scenes, this one was hands down my favorite. But fret not. “Aww, finally!” images aplenty coming up in the later part of this recap.

Okay, let’s get started on this fantabulous episode.

At the end of Episode 20, just as she is about to sleep, Eun-sung is startled by Hwan banging on her door and yelling her name. Fearing the din he’s creating will rouse the neighbors, she opens the door and he staggers in. He leans heavily on her and both of them crash onto the floor.

Struggling to get him off, Eun-sung shouts: What are you doing in my room?

Hwan’s answer, even in that drunk state, is telling. Holding up the necklace that she had returned to him, he says:

You came in first. You came in without asking and now you refuse to accept this?

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He, the rightful heir to the Jin Sung wealth, waiting on tables in a restaurant? He, who didn’t care about people, drinking himself drunk because a girl has hurt his feelings? Who was she to come into his heart without his permission?

Get up, get up! But no amount of shaking can wake Hwannie.

(Hmm, maybe he’s just pretending to be in a dead faint so that he can sleep in her room? Otherwise how does he manage, away from the camera, to move to a more comfortable position later? Nah, think pure thoughts. He’s too innocent to pull that one, so she must have moved him. Speaking of pure thoughts, I confess to an impure one. I really wanted him to kiss her when he fell on her. Wasn’t that scene crying out for a smooch? But then again, she might reciprocate by hitting his head with the nearest hard object. Okay, we’ll save the kissing for later, perhaps in a more romantic setting with fog and all?)

What follows is my second favorite scene in this episode, after that dukbokki scene. ( I know, I’m weird!)

As Hwan is lying there, sleeping as soundly as a bear in winter, Eun-sung creeps up to him and just stares. With no one to see or judge, she does not need to hide. All of her feelings for him are on her face.

She reaches out to touch his face, but he stirs slightly and she quickly withdraws her hand. (He really is asleep, because otherwise he would have remained absolutely still so that she could continue stroking his face, and then maybe he might pull her close and kiss her, and then we wouldn’t have to wait till later to witness a bluish you-know-what scene.)

Eventually he awakes. (We learn from this episode that Hwan doesn’t sleep fitfully for long when it isn’t his own bed. It’s worse when he has to sleep in close confines, such as a campervan, with someone who’s competing with him for someone’s heart. I’m just saying.)

Opening his eyes, he is shocked to see himself in Eun-sung’s room. (She has fallen asleep at her small table.) He gets up to leave, then changes his mind. Moving slowly so that he does not wake her, he puts a comforter over her shoulders. (I love how gentle he is!) Like hers earlier, his eyes are tender as he gazes at her.

Unknown to Hwan, Eun-sung isn’t really asleep. She feels him putting the comforter on her and touching her shoulders. She knows he isn’t lying down anymore but is sitting on the floor, leaning against the kitchen cabinets and looking at her. Both will fall asleep thinking of nothing else but each other.

And thus our couple spends the night. It’s a memory that only they will know.

Morning breaks and Hwan awakes, the comforter on him this time. (Playing “Pass the blanket” at night? How sweet!) Eun-sung has left for work and not a moment too soon. Hwan’s hair has gotten more attractive in recent episodes, but occasionally it can still make us jump.

Hwan arrives at work, unsure of Eun-sung’s reception. She’s cleaning the glass doors as he approaches and both look awkwardly at each other, last night’s unplanned get-together very much on their minds. She speaks first, more coldly than he expects, and asks for her house key. And then, to his surprise, she lashes out:

If I’d been a little stronger, I would have dragged you outside to sleep. Pull the same stunt again and I’m calling the cops!

Ah, fibbing here, aren’t you, Eun-sung? The distance from the inner doorway (where Hwan’s long legs were draped over) to the mattress is the same as from the doorway to the outside. If you could turn him around, you could have easily dragged him out to the garden. Just come right out and speak the truth. You’re upset because of another reason, right? Because you left breakfast and a toothbrush for Hwan, but you forgot to leave a comb. Just look at his hair!

If you’re so mad, why did you put a blanket over me? Made soup for me?

Excellent rebuttal, Hwan. Present the incriminating evidence: blanket, breakfast, toothbrush. Now let’s hear what Eun-sung has to say. She has no choice but to admit that she likes you. Time to come clean, ha!

Because you’re Grandma’s grandson, that’s why!

Don’t be sad, Hwan. At least she didn’t kill you, like you thought she would. More importantly, a business trip is coming up that will take you two away from Seoul for two days and one night. Just you two together, can you imagine? Yahoo!

The trip is for a cruise catering contract that the second branch wants to bid for. Eun-sung’s new plan is that to secure the bid, Jin Sung will include a special breakfast menu to go along with the beef soup. The menu will consist of traditional food items unique to the East Sea coast where the cruise ship will be berthed. But first, the plan must be approved by Grandma.

Ever since the night evil crows flew over Grandma’s house and dropped two stink bombs in the form of a witch and her witchling, Grandma’s behavior toward Eun-sung has been cold and business-like.

She listens to the East Sea bidding plan impassively, neither approving nor dismissing it. Leave it here and I’ll look at it, she says. It’s only when Eun-sung has left and Grandma is alone in her office that we see a slight smile on the latter’s face. It is just as she expects. Eun-sung taking the initiative, working hard, and going the extra mile by including food that nourishes more than just the body. Grandma is quietly pleased.

A startled Seung-mi sees Eun-sung leaving the head office and runs after her. Didn’t you quit? she asks, barely able to conceal her disappointment.

Earlier in the day, Seung-mi had seen the first version of the bidding plan on her manager’s desk. (She does admin work at the head office and her department is handling the paperwork for the bid.) Two names jump out at her from the document cover: Sun Woo Hwan and Go Eun-sung (Persons in Charge of Project).

What’s this? she asks the manager, and thus learns of the bid and the upcoming field trip. Hwan and Eun-sung away together for two whole days!

Seung-mi isn’t alone in feeling threatened.

Her mom has been to see Hwan’s mom, ostentatiously to show her the creditors’ IOUs that will prove that Eun-sung’s dad was indeed heavily in debt. She learns, erroneously, that Grandma will soon revoke her will bequeathing everything to Eun-sung. (Tsk, Madam Witch. Don’t you know Hwan’s mom is always two steps behind the latest developments?) That’s so awesome, she beams. But her pal adds that Eun-sung is still working at the second branch. WHAT?

(Feel free to enlarge this image and use it for target practice. Make copies for your friends, too.)

As the witch is mulling over the unhappy turn of events and cursing Grandma’s magnanimity, her object of displeasure has gone from the head office to a place where flowers bloom and angels prance. Jun-se has something to tell Eun-sung.

(Aside: I went berserk with the Jun-se screencapping. Can you blame me? Apparently our angel put two and two together and realized Hwan had become more of a threat on account of his appealing new hairdo. So guess what? Yup, Mr. Perfect transcends perfection this episode by turning up in a to-die-for haircut! And matches it with a to-drool-for white top! HAVE MERCY!)

Jun-se tells Eun-sung that he’s considering running a cruise ship restaurant.

(How coincidental, right? Our writer goes to extraordinary lengths this episode to make sure all four leads end up on the East Sea outing. Wait a minute. All FOUR? That’s right. Although the other three do not know it yet, by hook or by every devious means one desperate witchling is going to gatecrash their party, you can be sure of it.)

The cruise ship is at the East Sea area, the same one where Eun-sung is going… with Hwan. I’ll see you there, Jun-se says, trying to look cheerful even though he isn’t. Hwan and Eun-sung driving up together? Hmm, no good. No good at all.

While Eun-sung is meeting Jun-se and Hye-ri, Hwan has gone home, ready to be scolded by Grandma. He’s not allowed to sleep overnight outside.

But surprisingly Grandma does not press him to tell her where he spent the night. (I suspect she knows. What do you think?) He tells her he drank until he passed out, and she leaves it at that. Go Eun-sung told me to buy those wildflowers, he adds, trying to change the subject.

What follows is the most open conversation yet between grandmother and grandson. He asks why Eun-sung is allowed back at the second branch. Is it because she can be trusted? I can’t even trust my own family, Grandma replies. Then what made you trust her enough to want to give her the inheritance in the first place?

Because she has compassion. Anyone can display sympathy, but the one with compassion does not forsake one who is needy. During that one week when she took care of me, she had little but she gave me what she had. She gave, not from her abundance, but from her hunger. I knew her for just that brief period, but you have spent much more time together. What does your instinct tell you? Can you trust her? That is something you must ponder carefully.

I love this scene. Possibly my third favorite in this episode? It’s just so meaningful and revealing.

I love how Grandma explains the difference between sympathy and compassion. This is the first time, since she met Eun-sung, that we understand why she made that shocking decision to give her inheritance to a person she had known for just one week. I love how Hwan listens to her, absorbing everything she says. I truly believe that her words are instrumental in dispelling the last of Hwan’s doubts about Eun-sung. If you love the final scene in this episode (and I’m getting to it, trust me!), thank Grandma for making it possible.

The next day, Hwan surprises his mom and sister by coming downstairs with a travel bag.

Like a double-edged sword, his mom swoons over how he really looks like a man now, because there’s nothing like hard work to make a guy all manly. (Thus implying that in his lazy bum days, Hwan was less than a man. Haha.) He reminds her of her late husband, bless his soul. How Min-suk had toiled for his family!

Jung then proceeds to spoil Hwan’s mood by mentioning how manly Jun-se is. (In this episode, the words “Jun-se” to Hwan is the equivalent of a red flag to a mad bull.) Mom asks where Hwan is staying for the night and shrieks when she learns Eun-sung is going with Hwan. (Told you I love this family.)

Over at Eun-sung’s house, Hye-ri is praying for God to protect her friend from the devil’s snare. Is Hwan a devil? Eun-sung asks, laughing. Hye-ri retorts: How can a mother watch her child playing by the water’s edge and not be afraid? (Hye-ri is such an awesome friend. If the Eun-sung cloning fails, she’ll be a good match for Mr. Perfect.)

And so the trip to the East Sea coast begins.

Hwan and Eun-sung are in good spirits, although he pretends to be grouchy just to get her attention. (He’s such a kid at times, isn’t he?) She incurs his wrath when they stop for lunch and she asks him to eat by himself while she buys finger food.

As Eun-sung is happily eating her dukbokki in the car, Hwan grows moodier and moodier. How can she eat alone? Is she trying to starve him to death? (Hehe, Hwannie can be such a drama queen, too.)

You want this fried squid?

Nope, squids smell.

You want walnut cookies?

Nah, too much sugar. Give me the dukbokki.

Here, take it.

How can I drive and eat dukbokki at the same time? You want me to get into an accident? Are you going to be responsible for my life? Feed me the dukbokki.

Aigoo. Will you just look at that smile on our silly boy’s face? He can hardly contain his delight!

But then Eun-sung’s cell phone rings and it’s Jun-se on the line, telling her that he’s on his way to the East Sea cruise ship. He will see her when the bidding meeting is over.

What’s this, a vacation? Hwan grumbles. You had to bring Jun-se along?

And just like that the glee from being fed dukbokki disappears. Sulking, he turns on the radio in the car — a signal that he doesn’t want to talk anymore. The song that plays is called “Will You Marry Me?” The singer? Lee Seung-gi.

Okay, a confession.

Have I heard of Lee Seung-gi before I started on Brilliant Legacy? No. Have I listened to any of his songs prior to watching Episode 21? No. Am I addicted to Will You Marry Me? Good grief, yes!

Blame it on fansubbing duties. (By the way, I had no idea this episode was going to be so good and that I was going to be so lucky. I was assigned this before it aired.) I had to insert the lyrics for the song and that meant listening to each line over and over. By the end of the day I couldn’t get the dang jingle out of my head. I’ve even memorized the meaning of each line, help!

As the song plays and as they drive along the coastline, Eun-sung gasps: Wow, it’s so gorgeous! (She means the scenery, not your song. Sorry, Lee Seung-gi!) Our girl unwinds the window and stretches her hand out, as if to catch the ocean breeze. Soon Hwan follows suit. Soon he’s smiling.

They arrive at their destination with plenty of time to spare, so the two hop out of the car and explore a sand sculpture exhibition on the beach.

Hmm, Hwannie, look at all the naked sand statues! Not making you squirm with self-consciousness? So why were you so bashful at a recent outing to a lingerie store?

Eun-sung takes off her shoes and asks Hwan to do the same. When our stick-in-the-mud refuses, she kicks sand onto his shoes and runs away giggling. He runs after her.

(Note how happy and playful Eun-sung is. It’s very important that we remember her mood in the car and on the beach so that we can compare it with what will come later.)

Not only is Eun-sung happy, she is radiant. She is so beautiful, she literally takes Hwan’s breath away. No wonder he stands there and stares even after he is done with the photo-taking. It’s as if he wants to capture that sight of her and etch it on his mind forever.

As they are strolling along the coastal road, Hwan tells Eun-sung he will print the photos and give them to her. He deliberately omits to mention that he’s making multiple copies to display in his room. Shhh.

Just then, who should interrupt our couple’s animated chatting but Miss Wet Blanket herself. Surprisingly unscathed after driving like a demon (I guess the devil cuts his own kind plenty of slack), she lies that she got there in a cab. Her reason for popping up like mildew on a damp day? Oh, Grandma sent her to deliver the revised documents for the East Sea catering bid.

Seung-mi’s surprise appearance has dampened Eun-sung’s mood a little, but she puts it aside to concentrate on the bidding meeting. Other companies are present and the competition will be intense.

At the meeting, Seung-mi sits behind our couple. The more she sees them discussing the bid in such a comfortable and familiar manner, the more she stews. The smartest thing would be for her to leave the room since she isn’t involved in the presentation. But no, like a voyeur she stays on. There’s a term for this and it’s called self-torture.

When the meeting ends, guess who is waiting for them (well, for Eun-sung)? A sight more glorious than the scenery.

Oh, you want one without the shades? I’m happy to oblige of course!

Oh, that’s too far away? Gosh, pardon my bad manners! Here’s a close-up of him saying hi to you.

(You don’t mind a little Jun-se indulgence, do you? As we move closer to the final episode, it’s going to get harder to find an image of him smiling and happy. Our hearts are going to break for him, so before that happens, let’s enjoy Mr. Sunshine for now.)

As expected, Hwan turns into Mr. Scowly the instant he sees Jun-se.

Jun-se says he’s taking Eun-sung up to the cruise ship. He adds, pointedly at Hwan no doubt: “You can come, but you don’t have to.” (Haha, he’s funny.)

Hwan says: “We’re coming!” (Hehe, he’s so obvious.)

The visit to the cruise ship is over in just a few minutes. (And I’m glad, because I hate when a drama or movie scene becomes a blatant marketing ploy for some product or touristy destination.) Everyone oohs and aahs appropriately at the luxurious fittings. Funnily, although they examine the cabins and deck, the one place I think they ought to visit they don’t: the ship’s restaurants.

They leave the ship and make their way back to land. As they climb up a flight of steps on the footpath, Jun-se reaches out to hold Eun-sung’s hand. Hwan sees it and his face suggests he might leap off the cliff in disgust, but he reins it in and is rewarded by the witchling holding his hand.

(I realize that no matter Hwan’s mood, he never rejects Seung-mi when she holds his hand possessively. He is exceedingly well-mannered when he’s with her, isn’t he?)

The foursome form a peculiar procession: two unwilling couples hand-in-hand, their thoughts and longings all mixed up. As she’s walking, Eun-sung glances back to look at Hwan.

Near the top of the steps, as they are admiring the scenery below, Jun-se tells Eun-sung that he would like her to work in the cruise restaurant that he’s planning to run. She’s leaving Jin Sung Food at the end of the month anyway, so it’s time for her to consider her next options. Hye-ri and she can manage the restaurant together, and she can create the fusion cuisines she desires.

Eun-sung is taken aback. Agreeing in a tentative and hedging sort of way, she says a cruise restaurant sounds like fun. But before she and Jun-se can discuss the matter further, their conversation is brought to an abrupt halt by Hwan’s “I’m hungry!”

Just like that, a discussion that did not involve him in the first place screeches to a stop. The effect is similar to a headmaster shouting to a group of children who are running giddily in the schoolyard: Stop playing! Back to class!

Poor Hwan. His sunny mood fled the moment Jun-se arrived and he won’t smile again until the next episode. (That does not stop him from sending the “Awww!” meter soaring skyward later.) But a cranky Hwan is a funny Hwan. A cranky plus jealous Hwan is hilarious and adorable.

Jun-se has booked two campervans, one for each gender. Not exactly Hwan’s idea of comfy accommodation (as will be obvious later), but at least the four of them are together, not Jun-se and Eun-sung going off to stay somewhere as he had earlier assumed.

It’s the guys who cook on such outings, Jun-se tells Hwan, although we see that it is Jun-se who prepares the whole barbeque.

The meal, complete with wine and seafood, is awkward from start to end.

First, Hwan nearly causes Seung-mi to choke when he stops Jun-se from giving Eun-sung the grilled clams. She’s allergic to clams, he asserts. Jun-se’s face falls.

Just a morsel of a statement, but the implications stop everyone in their tracks. How close are Hwan and Eun-sung to each other that he should know this personal fact about her? It was just a meal that they had together long ago, but he remembered she couldn’t eat clams. He remembered.

And we, who do NOT want to remember, have no choice. THAT HAIR!

The second reason for the unpleasant mood? Seung-mi decides midway through the dinner to behave all saint-like.

Eun-sung, I apologize. Although I think you meant well, it led to all these misunderstandings and I’m sorry. Mom is doing her best to try and clear things up. Please wait for her.

Oh, great. Remind everyone again of the fraud allegations. Imply that Eun-sung is culpable. Paint the witch as someone earnest and sincere. Make us all want to throw up.

Seung-mi’s words cut deeply into Eun-sung and she struggles to hold back her tears. Jun-se, who had earlier ordered Seung-mi to shut her gob, notices how Eun-sung’s hands are shaking as she’s trying to cut her steak. He immediately (and gently) moves her plate over so that he can do the slicing for her.

(Why not just slice the witchling up at the same time? Feed her to the sea carnivores. On second thought, no. That would be murder on an oceanic scale.)

No one is in the mood to eat anymore so to bed they go.

Just as dawn is breaking the next morning, Eun-sung gets up from her bed and leaves the campervan. Her fellow insomniac, who is counting stars and sheep from a bench outside his campervan, notices her walking away from the campgrounds.

The next scene is all blue, as if we are looking at a seascape… from under the sea. I would think the colors of dawn are mostly orange, but for some reason the PD bathes the final act in this episode in hues of blue. Even Eun-sung and Hwan are dressed in blue (his is a very dark shade of blue, almost black) with the same rectangular neckline. The whole atmosphere feels cold and gloomy and yet strangely invigorating at the same time.

Some thoughts about Eun-sung’s clothes. We rarely see her in a dress, so it feels odd that she’s wearing one straight out of bed. Moreover, this one is sweet and very girly. Not something we would pack for a short trip to the coast.

Maybe she has an intuition that something momentous is going to happen and she needs to be dressed for it? I don’t know… The whole setup in the last few minutes of this episode is pretty surreal, to be honest. It’s meant to be dramatic, but it also feels like make-believe, like a dreamscape.

Standing at the lookout post near the lighthouse, Eun-sung gazes at the scenery below. She then puts on the heart necklace that Hwan had left in her house the night he stumbled in all drunk.

At that moment, Hwan appears from below. Seeing him, Eun-sung proceeds to do the weirdest thing: she runs.

I don’t know why she runs from him, do you? She just put on his necklace, so she must have been holding it all this time, perhaps even to bed. Wearing it is a tacit acknowledgement that she accepts his feelings for her. He’s going to see it and he’s going to arrive at the same conclusion. They didn’t fight the night before. On the contrary, she was teasing and playful with him on their way to the East Sea. Seung-mi said some things that made her really upset, but Hwan wasn’t involved in the terse exchange. So why run?

What I’m trying to say is that she seems to be overreacting to his presence, running away as soon as he appears and playing a queer game of hide-and-seek with him. It’s really sweet, of course, but it also feels jarring somehow.

As she’s hiding from him, he comes up suddenly from behind her.

Don’t do it, he says. Don’t have anything to do with Park Jun-se and don’t run the cruise restaurant with him. Don’t do anything, just stay by my side!

It takes a while for his words to sink in.

But what about all the people between us? Jun-se and Seung-mi. Grandma, Mom (his mom) and Jung who think I’m a swindler. Eun-woo and my dad. What do we do with all of them? Please stop.

Just then he notices the necklace she is wearing. The necklace he bought. The heart representing his own heart.

But before he can say anything more, Eun-sung turns and runs off.

Down the steps she goes, toward a suspension bridge. He follows, she running, he walking briskly. She’s almost at the other end of the bridge when he yells:

Stop right there!

Oh, how I love the scene that follows. She turns back to face him. He strides purposefully forward, his face grim.

What do those things matter?

I trust you.

I like you.

I want to have you.

I love suspension bridges.

Movies tend to portray them as dangerous and try to milk every ounce of thrill from them (characters dangling from burning bridges, for example), but I see them differently. The ones I’ve walked on are so sturdily built I’ve never felt afraid. Standing on a suspension bridge, I’m suspended between earth and sky and that fact empowers me with a certain recklessness: I want to yell at the top of my lungs, I want to jump up and down. It’s exhilarating.

I believe Hwan feels that same recklessness. Nothing else matters now except the woman standing before him, the Eun-sung he trusts and desires. He wants her, and if it means he must overcome a thousand obstacles between them, so be it.

He crosses the bridge toward her and as soon as she’s in his arms, the planks stop shaking, all is still. She is safe.

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Categorised in: K-dramas, Recaps

33 Responses »

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