An old couple, unrelated to any of our characters, appears in this episode for the first time.
She’s ill and craving the Jin Sung beef soup. He, who is tending to her and can’t leave her side, calls to place an order. The manager (and increasingly I believe he was sent to the second branch by a power higher and wiser than Grandma) asks Hwan to deliver the soup. He does it a tad reluctantly at first, because the minimum order for home delivery should be two bowls but this customer orders just one.
Inside the couple’s dim and decrepit room, we see the old lady on the floor, her husband sitting next to her. He is delighted to see the soup. Apologizing to Hwan for his single order, he looks for the money to pay (and we see that he has just small change left after paying). Before Hwan leaves, the old man presses two mint candy into his palm. For all your trouble, he says.
In an episode characterized by frayed tempers and heightened tension, the scene with the old couple creeps out of nowhere and reminds us, once again, that the heart of this drama isn’t the romance between Hwan and Eun-sung, it’s Grandma’s inheritance. It’s Jin Sung Seolleongtang.
The company she built from scratch, one bowl at a time, insisting always that only the very best ingredients will do. The 1000+ employees, all doing their best to fulfill their president’s vision. The beef soup, so nourishing and longed for that an old man is willing to spend the little he has to buy it for his ailing wife.
Just another little scene that makes Brilliant Legacy such a gem.
A drama that is all fluff is forgettable even if it is entertaining. But a drama that makes me laugh and cry, and at the same time ponder the meaning of life and the things that really matter — our connectedness as fellow earthlings, love and thoughtfulness triumphing over abject poverty — is a drama I want to keep in a corner of my heart.
To a lesser man that delivery will be chalked down as just another inconvenient trip. (The time and effort it took just to traipse those back alleys!) But, and I know I’m sounding like a broken record, Hwan isn’t a lesser man now, he has changed.
This isn’t the same Hwan who spent like he owned the bank. This isn’t the Hwan who stepped on money as though it was discarded tissue. This Hwan could not afford a gift for his sister because the bulk of his salary went toward repaying Eun-sung and buying presents for his grandmother and mom. He knows now the value of hard-earned money. And he knows, too, that some things can’t be bought. Gratitude. Love hewn by life’s trials. Candy to sweeten a long trip. These things.
Let’s leave Hwan to enjoy that candy while we return to the end of Episode 21.
His eyes bloodshot from not sleeping, Hwan walks to where Eun-sung is standing on the suspension bridge. I trust you, I like you, I want you! He then reaches out for her and takes her in his arms, his lips touching hers, finally.
This isn’t your normal kiss, driven by love or lust. This is all of Hwan’s pent-up emotions spilling forth. His longing for her, his confusion, the pain of her rejection (running away, reminding him of everything that stands between them), his jealousy over her closeness with Jun-se, his fears that she might indeed leave and he would lose her forever… He holds her so tightly his veins bulge from the sheer pressure.
And thus Episode 22 begins.
They kiss, desire and pain all mixed together. Yes, pain, because when she pulls away abruptly, her eyes are wet. As she struggles to contain her tears, his face is ashen and he feels suddenly afraid. Surely her crying doesn’t bode well? She walks away and his own tears fall.
I told you this won’t work!
He stares after her, not comprehending her words. Why wouldn’t it work? Didn’t he say he believed her and that nothing else mattered? The way she returned his kiss… Surely she loves him, too?
I can’t give you up now. I can’t.
All this time that Hwan and Eun-sung are missing from the campgrounds, Jun-se and Seung-mi are searching frantically for them. Seung-mi, especially, is a pitiful sight, her high heels woefully wrong for the trek up and down the beach. So distraught is she at not finding him (and at the thought that he could be with Eun-sung), she even walks toward the waves, as though he might be scuba diving beneath the water.
The two eventually give up and return to the campervan. Just as Jun-se is giving Seung-mi a hot drink (he’s unceasingly thoughtful, isn’t he?), they see the objects of their search walking back slowly. Together.
It’s obvious from Hwan’s face that something has happened. (One of the reasons I love the guy is that he can never pretend. He’s as transparent as unfrosted glass.) Jun-se also sees Hwan’s necklace around Eun-sung’s neck and his face immediately becomes glum.
(Hmm, Jun-se’s reaction is puzzling because he shouldn’t be aware that the necklace is from Hwan, right? Hye-ri is the only one who knows.)
Eun-sung is evasive about where she was in the morning and Hwan doesn’t say a word, so the other two can only second-guess (internally) and smile gamely as if there’s nothing untoward. But at the bidding discussion with the cruise restaurant person, Seung-mi makes sure she is never more than one foot away from Hwan lest he slips away again.
During the discussion, Hwan and Eun-sung behave like the partners that they are, enthusiastically explaining why Jin Sung would be the best company for the catering contract. Watching them, it’s as though the dream-like hugging, kissing and crying that had taken place earlier never happened.
(Many of my favorite scenes of the two are when they are working together. Romance is the farthest thing from their minds and there isn’t that usual awkwardness. On the contrary, they have a natural chemistry and they bring out the best in each other.)
The discussion ends and our foursome wonder what they should do next. Thinking that Eun-sung looks tired, Jun-se asks gently if she would rather go back to Seoul. But since that would mean she goes back in Jun-se’s car, Hwan immediately interjects and asks to visit the local caves.
It’s chilly inside the cave, so when Jun-se sees Eun-sung rubbing her arms repeatedly to keep warm, he takes off his coat and puts it around her.
(Not for a second do I think Jun-se was trying to assert his claim over Eun-sung in front of Hwan. He’s just naturally attuned to her needs.)
Hwan sees what Jun-se does and of course his faces changes. Paying attention only to the two of them (and it was he who suggested visiting the caves, ha!), he does not notice that Seung-mi is also rubbing her arms. So oblivious is he to her, the poor thing can only rub her skin raw to generate some heat.
And then the cutest thing happens.
Because Hwan is staring only at Eun-sung, he soon realizes that droplets of water are falling from the roof of the cave onto her head. Plop, plop.
His sweetheart is going to get wet. He can’t let that happen, can he? So he stretches out his hand to catch the water before it can hit her. Silently and without her knowledge, his palm like a small overturned umbrella, he stands behind her.
I love this scene the most in the whole episode because it’s funny and yet sweet and thoughtful at the same time. It’s so Hwan!
He forgets momentarily that Jun-se is his rival and that he’s still hurt and bewildered by Eun-sung’s words to him on the suspension bridge. All he knows is that he loves her. Yet his way of caring for her is so atypical, quirky even. He could have simply tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to move away from the path of the droplets. It’s like that day on the rooftop when he saw her asleep on the bench and he started moving bench and plant for her. How I adore these little impulsive acts and his endless ways of surprising us.
Just as Hwan has eyes only for Eun-sung, so Seung-mi sees only Hwan. What happens next is both sad and comical, as if a mischievous cave god is playing a prank on Seung-mi.
As she is looking up at Hwan’s outstretched hand, she realizes water is now dripping on her bare arms. Plop, plop. These are bigger droplets than the ones falling above Eun-sung. They are falling at a faster rate, too.
I can’t help feeling sorry for her. Not only is Eun-sung warm and toasty under Jun-se’s coat, she is being sheltered by Hwan’s makeshift umbrella. Seung-mi, on the other hand, might as well be invisible.
Anger. Envy. Fatigue.
It’s all too overwhelming suddenly and she can’t stand it, literally, any longer. Her legs crumble under her.
Jolted out of their collective unawareness (of her), Hwan is the first to grab Seung-mi. As the other two rush to her side, he immediately carries her on his back and runs up the steps to the cave’s exterior.
It’s just a fainting spell, so Seung-mi leaves the hospital. Jun-se tells Hwan (reproachfully) to take care of her since she fainted because she was going around in circles searching for him in the morning. The foursome split, with Seung-mi and Hwan returning to Seoul in one car and the rest in Jun-se’s car.
What am I to you?
But as we already know from the previous episode, Hwan can’t multi-task when he’s driving. (Someone had to feed him, remember?) Thus he doesn’t hear Seung-mi’s question clearly, and he especially does not hear the plaintive tone in it. He asks her to repeat herself but she doesn’t. The rest of the journey she’s crying, but he does not seem to notice that as well.
(I’m sure half his mind is worried about Seung-mi, but the other more pesky half is mulling over everything that happened with Eun-sung and also the fact that she is now headed home… in Jun-se’s car. I don’t think he ever stops thinking about her.)
In the other car, Jun-se continues what he has been doing all morning: putting on a valiant face in front of Eun-sung. Although he does not ask, he is sure that something must have happened when she and Hwan disappeared. Moreover, she is still wearing that necklace.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, he tells her, how important Hwan is to Seung-mi.
As we will see shortly, Jun-se may be an angel, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t above trying to sway Eun-sung’s opinion of Hwan. Reminding her of the other two’s long history with each other may seem sneaky and a tad desperate, but as far as he is concerned, he stands as good a chance as Hwan. If being more direct and assertive can help his cause, then why beat around the bush?
Eun-sung, give me a definite answer about the cruise restaurant next week, okay? And if you are going to be leaving a place, don’t leave your heart there. I don’t want the road you take to be difficult. You are capable, but you are not cruel. Seung-mi is the sort of person who will do anything to make sure she gets Hwan.
She nods quietly. No one is more aware of Seung-mi’s claim on Hwan than Eun-sung herself.
Hwan sends Seung-mi home and is surprised that she has moved. But even in her dazed state, she still has the presence of mind to swiftly cook up a fib:
Oh, we moved because the debtors were hounding us.
We will see later in the episode, when Seung-mi meets In-young, that she uses the same lie to explain why the latter mustn’t reveal her telephone number to anyone who’s looking for Eun-sung.
What has happened is that Eun-sung’s dad has been looking for In-young at her old high school, hoping to find out if she knows Eun-sung’s whereabouts. At his meeting earlier with the witch, he had also asked her to contact Hye-ri.
Speaking of the dad, he is seriously driving me up the wall. When is he going to fill that space between his ears with something besides hair?
For crying out loud, STUPIDITY does not become you! Stop alerting the witch to every single thing that you’re doing! Isn’t it obvious that something fishy is going on? C’mon, this woman, to whom you were wedded seven years and who remains legally your wife since you aren’t ashes in an urn anymore, is irked whenever she sees you. She shows more concern for an earthworm than she does for you. Every opportunity she gets she blames you for starting the whole fiasco. Don’t you smell a stink in the air? Don’t you suspect anything at all?
Seung-mi goes to bed and that allows her mom to ferret some updated details from Hwan. The witch, being FAR smarter than her husband, has figured she needs a more reliable source of information than her ditzy high school friend Young-ran aka Hwan’s mom.
But to her dismay, she hears Hwan defending Eun-sung instead. It was Grandma who decided Eun-sung would be her new heir. It was Grandma who asked Eun-sung to return to the second branch to work. Stop saying it is all Eun-sung’s fault.
Later, after Hwan has left, the witch walks wearily into her daughter’s room.
Seung-mi, can you give Hwan up? Grandma does not believe us. All the tales we told — tales so outrageous the toads in our secret dungeon staged a mutiny — have not dented Grandma’s trust in Eun-sung one bit.
Seung-mi’s anguished response stuns her.
Mom, if I could give Hwan up, would I have gone to this extent? Look at what you have turned me into! Now you ask me to give him up? I won’t!
Ah, Moon Chae-won. You are so amazing in this scene. In a drama helmed by some truly standout acting (the actress playing your mom, for instance), you are right there with the best. You portray an unlikable, even despicable, character with such delicate strokes it’s impossible for us to truly hate you. When you cry, you cry from within. You convince us that Hwan indeed means the world to you. When he was such a royal jerk, your love for him made us think that perhaps beneath his odious exterior was a man we could learn to like. Take a bow.
Outside Seung-mi’s apartment, as he is about to get into his car, Hwan gets a call. It is Jun-se asking to meet.
(Aside: This is Jun-se’s face as he is waving goodbye to Eun-sung. This is his face right before he calls Hwan. Study it well, all ye fans, and remember: Whatever comes after, this is the real face of our darling. These are his eyes: soulful and loving. Don’t forget!)
Hwan drives to where Jun-se is. It isn’t your normal boxing ring, but it’s deserted land and that’s good enough for Jun-se. As soon as Hwan steps up to him, our angel sends a blow flying. And then another.
The first blow is for behaving childishly and refusing to admit your feelings at the noraebang the last time. The second blow is for not listening to me when I told you to sort out your feelings for Eun-sung!
I did warn you, didn’t I? Even if it was surreptitiously, I did ask you to brace yourself. So stop flailing your arms and stop wailing. Sing it with me now:
You may bare your fangs and change your twang.
Whatever you do, we’re still your gang!
(All right. I know that chant sucks. I know we aren’t gangsters. But you have better ideas?)
Reeling from the unexpected punches, Hwan yells back: I admit I was immature and I’m sorry I like the woman you liked first! But can you control your feelings? Is Eun-sung your woman?
This isn’t about me liking Eun-sung first or not, it’s about you bringing her pain! Why are you doing this to her when there’s Seung-mi by your side? After all these years, don’t you know how Seung-mi feels about you? Settle things with her first before you ditch her for someone else! Have you forgotten how Eun-sung was kicked out of your house because of Seung-mi and her mom’s allegations? You can’t compromise between Seung-mi and Eun-sung. If you believe one, you can’t believe the other!
Some thoughts on this scene. No matter the tension between the two men, I believe theirs isn’t a true animosity. Hwan still calls Jun-se “Hyung”; in a sense they are brothers because their families are close and they have known each other for at least twenty years. It’s unfortunate that they have fallen in love with the same woman, but time will heal the strain between them. Whoever Eun-sung chooses, the losing suitor will bow out graciously. In a crisis involving either guy, the other will rush to his aid. I can bet on it.
(I love this image of a Hwan deep in thought. Look at the long legs! By the way, between this episode and the previous one, his hair seems to have suddenly grown, hasn’t it? I have a feeling by the time the final episode rolls around, his hair is going to be what it was in Episode 1. Noooo!)
Back home, Hwan thinks about what Jun-se said about Seung-mi and realizes it’s time for him to come clean. But when he calls her the next day and asks to meet, she is gripped by fear that he’s going to “break up” (not that they were ever officially dating). I’m still unwell and I didn’t go to work, she says.
Meanwhile, Eun-sung has to come clean with Hye-ri, too.
As Eun-sung is putting her clothes away after the East Sea trip, Hye-ri notices the necklace that she is wearing. Oh! Did her prayer bounce off the ceiling and land behind the kitchen sink? Why then have her worst fears been realized? The devil has gotten her child!
Eun-sung hastily removes the necklace, but confesses that she does indeed like “that person.” Still, now isn’t the time for her to think about love and dating.
There’s still Eun-woo. There’s still living expenses to think about, still the work at the second branch that I need to wrap up. I will leave after I’ve achieved the 20% sales target. I will tell Grandma the truth, whether she believes me or not.
(Remember this whole thing about Eun-sung wearing Hwan’s necklace would not have come about if she hadn’t misplaced her own necklace? I’m not saying he won’t ever buy a necklace for her; I’m sure he would in the future, like on their engagement, wedding, birth of a Hwanlet, etc. But not now.)
Our butler, appropriately decked out like a forensic detective, is checking every nook and cranny to see if Hwan’s mom has done her cleaning properly. Lo and behold, he sees a necklace below the coffee table, thus confirming that his apprentice is still not cleaning under the carpets and rugs!
(Psst, it started with Hwan and then Jun-se. Now it’s the butler’s turn. All showing evidence of a recent trip to the barber. I do miss our butler’s former bouffant hairdo, don’t you? It’s looking kind of flat now.)
Butler Pyo shows the necklace to Hwan and says: Is this the thing “that can’t be thrown away” that you were discreetly asking about the last time? And the delighted Hwan responds: Wow, how did you know?
Of course I do. I know you only too well.
Did you notice the kindly way the butler spoke to Hwan? The gentle pat on the shoulder? Ah, the makings of a father-son bond!
Ever since they returned from the East Sea trip, Hwan and Eun-sung have been ill at ease around each other. It isn’t because of the kiss (we don’t see them having flashbacks of that morning on the suspension bridge), but rather all the reasons she gave for their relationship not working out. Seung-mi, Jun-se, the inheritance, the fraud allegations… So many things standing in their way.
That’s why Hwan is so happy when the necklace is found. That should win him some brownie points, shouldn’t it? Thaw the ice between them a teeny bit?
And indeed Eun-sung is close to tears when he hands her the necklace. My mom gave this to me before she passed away, she explains. It holds within it all of her pain and regret, and all of her love for me.
He’s shocked to hear that the necklace is so precious. As he has done with any little detail about her family, he stores that new information in his heart.
Hmm, I know someone who has a necklace just like that, he tells her. Young-suk’s cousin, Han Young-jae. He likes the piano so much he can’t live without it.
He sounds so much like Eun-woo.
Would you like to meet him?
That same day, the manager asks Hwan to deliver beef soup to an elderly couple.
When he returns to the second branch, Hwan goes up to the rooftop. He thinks of the couple and how the old man counted out the money for the soup so carefully, even looking under the bedcovers to find one more 1000-won note to make up the total amount. He remembers the mint candy in his pocket. All of a sudden he feels rotten.
As he is lying there on the bench, Eun-sung suddenly runs up. He has never seen her this happy.
We did it, we did it! We won the East Sea cruise contract!
This awesome moment.
I wanted to jump up and down with our couple, to give high-fives, to cry from sheer happiness. And my eyes did tear; I couldn’t help it. With this contract in their hands, the 20% sales target is now a reality. What a grueling two months and what an outcome!
Without even thinking, the two hug, giddy with joy. And then she realizes what is happening and tries to break free. But he holds her tighter.
Don’t go. Just stay like this for a little while.
He doesn’t tell her how badly he needs that hug. The delivery trip to the old couple’s house has unsettled him, his past as a money-flinging jerk suddenly fresh in his mind. He still hasn’t sorted out things with Seung-mi; he doesn’t know what Eun-sung is planning to do and if her plans will include him.
But with her in his arms, everything doesn’t seem as bleak anymore.
You’ve worked hard.
You’ve worked hard, too.
(And somehow these two lines make my eyes tear even more.)
Our wonderful grandma, the veritable President Jang of Jin Sung Food, receives the happy news from the second branch’s manager. Her faith in her grandson and adopted granddaughter vindicated at last.
They’ve succeeded. They did it.
But not everyone is thrilled. Jun-se’s dad is furious, because attaining the 20% target means Eun-sung is now entitled to the inheritance as stipulated in Grandma’s new will. It’s time to execute what he and the witch had discussed when they last met.
At their meeting, the witch had announced to her colorfully-clad accomplice (he’s in a pink shirt whereas she’s in drab gray) that Hwan had fallen for Eun-sung. There’s no time to dilly-dally now; either they act or Eun-sung gets everything, including the company that Director Park so covets.
I want only two things: Seung-mi not losing Hwan, and Seung-mi gaining financial control after she marries Hwan. If Grandma loses the company, there’s nothing to pass to Eun-sung. If she loses the company because of Eun-sung, the family will blame and hate her.
And so the plan starts rolling. On the pretext of enquiring about suitable shares to buy, the witch tells the stockbroker about a rumor that she had overheard. Apparently Jin Sung Food is experiencing some internal problems. The president is bypassing her grandson, the rightful heir, and is instead giving the company to a young woman with no experience whatsoever. Ze horrors!
Is that so? the broker says, clearly unnerved at seeing a real witch for the first time. That he takes her seriously is only proof that he bought his credentials from a degree mill.
Back at the second branch, Hwan’s earlier euphoria has dissipated. Seated next to him on the rooftop is the girl he had hugged earlier, now behaving not only as his supervisor (because she is), but like one about to take a long trip to a place he can’t follow. She passes him her notes on the companies that they have contacted for corporate deliveries. And then she tells him that she is leaving.
I’ll come back and clear up the misunderstanding with Grandma. Until that happens, I won’t be returning to Jin Sung.
Poor Hwan. He looks like he’s going to cry. Eun-sung can be so merciless sometimes!
The manager, who is omniscient only when things happen at his eye level, not up on the rooftop, tells the staff that they ought to celebrate their success. My friend owns a wine bar, Hwan says. Shall we go there? He doesn’t mention that he wants to give Eun-sung the opportunity to meet Piano. Perhaps seeing someone who is so like her brother will be comforting to her somehow?
And so to the wine bar they troop.
Piano (aka Eun-woo) isn’t at the piano when they arrive. Instead Hwan finds him in the room engrossed in a piece he’s composing.
Hey, Piano. Come out with me. Spy is here. Spy, the girl that Hyung likes.
But before they even step out of the room, Hwan receives a frantic call from his mom.
Grandma has fainted!