Mi Rae’s Choice: Episode 2

Mi Rae’s Choice (or Marry Him If You Dare, if you prefer the KBS English title) continues its no-holds-barred approach as more clues are revealed about the time-travel mystery, our heroine Mi Rae is pushed to the brink of her emotional endurance and the interaction between her and the two male leads increases. It’s enough to make one’s head spin, really, which is why it’s a good thing we have more Se Joo in this episode to keep us focused. Ahem.

EPISODE 2 RECAP

As Mi Rae and Shin stand frowning at each other over their now less pristine cars, her disadvantageous position begins to dawn on Mi Rae:

  1. The person who will kill the one she loves = YBS
  2. Her car is not covered by insurance
  3. Her brother will kill her
  4. Car repair costs may be as high as 40 million won (which Mi Rae remembers from a news report delivered by Shin’s favourite tongue-tied anchor replacement, ha)

What can a girl do in this situation? Fake a back injury, of course.

Shin is less than impressed by her dramatic pleas to be sent to the hospital and jerks her back straight; unfortunately he happens to be well-versed in such injuries and the fact that she could straighten just proved that it was a ruse. Oops. Mi Rae continues to stick to her story until a string of vulgarities from Shin shocks her so much that she recovers instantly from her “back injury” and grabs her phone so that she could capture the moment.

Incensed, Shin spits out that he’s just decided to skip insurance and take the matter all the way to the police station, which makes her backpedal. Too late; Shin demands that she get into her car and drive to the police station – he’ll follow in his. Mi Rae quickly complies and they swap driver’s licenses, but when she looks at his, her eyes widen.

Shin remarks sardonically on her dubious driving skills, noting that her license reveals her to be a mere beginner. In a deliberately off-hand tone, Mi Rae points out that she’d thought the same of his horrible driving: “I see that you were driving without a license.” When Shin looks confused, she adds, “Your license had already expired. Well over a year ago.” Talk about putting a spoke in his wheel, HA.

Noting his consternation, Mi Rae suggests cheerfully that they proceed with reporting this to the police and can barely hide her smirk when he asks her to wait.

Cut to: Shin pacing like a caged animal in the car park, while Mi Rae proposes that he give her 1.9 million won for car repair costs in exchange for her memory loss regarding the whole incident. She’s hopeful when Shin consents, until he adds firmly, “I’ll confess.” Now it’s Mi Rae’s turn to be dismayed – it certainly wouldn’t do for her monetary source to martyr himself and report her part in the car accident to boot.

He drags her towards the police station and doesn’t stop until she yells that she is a fan of his and wanted to see him return to work as an anchor as soon as possible – he can confess a year later and beg the understanding of his viewers, right? Shin doesn’t look too distressed about being thus convinced and agrees, only to burst her bubble a minute later by asking for her phone number so that she can pay him back his 40 million won. Pfft.

Changing tactics, Mi Rae quickly lies that she has to return to her car for her phone (“because I’ve recently changed my number”), jumps in and starts the engine (“I need to turn the light on so that I can see my phone”) before zooming off, leaving Shin spluttering and running for his own car. The engine fails to start, heh.

Later, Shin receives a text from Mi Rae apologizing for running away and promising that she’ll return the money “someday.” Shin scoffs, “Why would you block your number then?” Mi Rae had better not let him get his hands on her.

Mi Rae and Ajumma Mi Rae’s panic session back home is interrupted by her brother’s return. Ajumma stares at him for a long moment before calling out “Oppa” in a wavering voice, which causes both Mi Rae and her brother to stop in shock and clock the tears in her eyes. Curious. Very curious.

Mi Rae ushers her brother into another room to ask whether there are any job openings at YBS. He complains that there are always jobs, just a shortage of efficient people to do them – does she have any friends who know how to preview (preview the unedited tape and note down what shots are where so that it is easier to access and edit)? He dismisses the thought instantly with a disparaging comment about her friends and shoots down her offer to help. He adds that he’ll wreck the place if she ever tries to work for another broadcasting station: “Because it’s obvious that you won’t be able to do it, and I’ll be shamed as your brother. Instead of going to a broadcasting station, you should just get married.” Yeesh, isn’t he encouraging.

She cringes when he asks for the car keys and hands them to him in resignation.

Upstairs, she asks Ajumma jokingly whether her brother is the one who dies and mutters that it’d be great if he is, receiving a sharp look in reply. Hmm. Refusing to explain why she’d cried earlier, Ajumma instead makes Mi Rae promise that she’d never work at the broadcasting station. Mi Rae asks for more time to think over her career choices and Ajumma limits it to three days: “I don’t have the time. I risked my life to come here – to me, one day is like a month.”

Taking it metaphorically, Mi Rae comments blandly that time does speed up increasingly as one ages: “For Ajumma, it must be pretty fast.” LOL.

Ajumma crosses to the window after Mi Rae leaves, pulling back the curtains to reveal the chart scribbled on the glass. We see the plan to pair up Mi Rae and Se Joo (which Ajumma thinks is a bust – “What a waste!”), prevent a connection between her and Shin, and so on. Oddly, we also see two dates, January 6th and December 31th, noted as “D-day,” and down the bottom, a picture of her brother is accompanied by the words, “Oppa… I’m sorry… I love you.” This is getting weird.

Shin musters up the courage to confess at the police station the next morning only to have a newspaper article catch his eye before he does: the leader of an idol group, JQ, has been caught driving without a license.

A phone call right then from someone claiming to be a detective who “knows everything” leaves Shin stuttering… until the prank caller reveals that he’s actually one of the staff on Kim Shin’s broadcasting team. Haha. He’s called because he wants information on the JQ idol case and the wife of the policeman in charge is a fan of Kim Shin – could he fax his autograph over? Turns out everything at the station has been put aside so that they could cover this breaking news. Thoroughly unsettled, Shin drops the idea of turning himself in.

One can imagine what a tense experience the broadcast is for Shin, particularly when the PD asks him to produce his driver’s license for visual emphasis (Shin: “I left it at home!”) and then the footage of the idol leader being hounded by the media leaves him unnerved. He takes a deep breath before steeling himself to denounce the idol as a “speeding murder weapon” and “criminal of the roadway” for disregarding the responsibilities of a public figure.

He cuts a somewhat forlorn figure as he sits in the fire escape stairs after the broadcast, a mental horror reel playing in his head depicting himself in the same position when his crime is revealed and, even more galling, his tongue-tied rival announcer reporting on his disgrace before proclaiming himself Shin’s successor. Ha, and that’s the part that makes him jump up in indignation.

Suddenly convinced that it’s all a conspiracy to sink him, he sets off to begin his Na Mi Rae catching. Uh oh.

Shin’s method is to call every Na Mi Rae in the phonebook, none of whom admit to having curly hair or a white sedan. He even finds a male Mi Rae (to which he reacts with some shock, haha). Ignoring Writer Bae’s attempts to get his approval on a change to the script closing statement, he finally gets the right Mi Rae and greets her with: “Hey, ‘Hit-and-Run’! It’s 40 million won!” Yeah, I don’t blame Mi Rae for hanging up on him in shock.

Tired of waiting, Writer Bae finally reads the closing statement aloud and Shin perks up in the process of redialling: it is best to keep your enemy close and even better if you can bring them to your side.

Ding! A light-bulb goes off over Shin’s head.

In the midst of being grilled for sneaking into a lecture on broadcast writing, Mi Rae receives a text from Shin offering to help her become a writer if she’d meet him at YBS. Her desperation to become a writer wins out over her natural suspicion that it’s a trap and she ends up at the YBS lobby, starstruck at the sight of Shin Bora (of Gag Concert fame in a cameo role) and Crayon Pop. Or girls badly disguised as Crayon Pop, anyway – and here I wonder: couldn’t Writer Hong have made a few calls to her King 2 Hearts cast and gotten a cameo from Lee Seung Gi instead? Perhaps Jo Jung Suk? Hope springs eternal, you know.

Shin’s arrival startles Mi Rae out of her reverie and she hurriedly offers him a bankbook with 170,000 won in it, promising that she’ll pay the rest in 300,000 won-per-month instalments. He tells her to forget about it and asks for her resume instead – he’ll give her a job and teach her the correct attitude for someone in the broadcasting industry.

She winces when she finds out that she’ll be on the Morning Show team with him, remembering her brother’s threat and Ajumma’s warning. But hey, what’s a few warnings when your lifelong dream is about to come true?

Shin informs Writer Bae that he had found someone who “has the basics” to do the preview. Writer Bae is less than impressed to discover instead that she has a complete beginner on her hands and makes her displeasure loudly known, even suspecting Mi Rae of getting the job because she’s dating Kim Shin. She has no idea.

Meanwhile, Ajumma is at a dating agency to find a match for Mi Rae – if Se Joo’s out of the picture, then she’ll have to settle for second best. One look Mi Rae’s resume (“No job?”) sends the consultant reaching for the Category D candidates, but Ajumma cuts in and requests the Category A file with the list of young CEOs and chaebols.

Hilariously, she flips through it and immediately recognizes the candidates as they would be in her future: “He’s in jail! This one uses drugs! This one is a gambler! And he got arrested after conning his wife… This is a list of future inmates!” LOL.

She refuses the B file with the doctors and lawyers as well, saying that they’re all ruined because there are too many of them anyway (pfffft), and then asks for the Category E file instead. The consultant looks increasingly incredulous (probably wondering to herself what insanity she’s been saddled with) while Ajumma flips through the supposed dregs of society and finds future Hollywood stars, famous photographers and even a secretary general of the UN. HA. Ajumma asks the consultant to arrange meetings for Mi Rae and the Category E candidates, with one condition – she is to take out anybody involved in broadcasting.

Little does she know that Mi Rae is, at that very moment, busy at work previewing footage at YBS. Mi Rae whips out her phone to save Shin’s number, entering him as “40 million won” before changing her mind and saving him under “Announcer Kim Shin.”

Shin arrives at the hospital with a bouquet of flowers in hand, but stops in front of the TV in the lobby; it’s showing the news and his tongue-tied anchor rival is tripping over his script yet again on national television.

A flashback to his meeting with Miranda reminds us of her coldly realistic assessment of why Shin was replaced by his rookie counterpart: he might have the visuals, voice, style and technical proficiency, but the bottom line is that he’s too old. Fact and credibility are a luxury; what matters are the ratings.

A nurse catches him as he walks up to Yoo Kyung’s room and asks him whether he’s visiting “again,” a gleam in her eye as she suggests that there may soon be a marriage announcement on the cards. Shin quickly denies it and any further conversation is cut short when Yoo Kyung appears behind him, addressing him as “Sunbae!” and giving him a warm smile.

Mi Rae is still diligently previewing, compiling detailed notes and even counting the number of people appearing in each shot. At one point, her count is interrupted by the sudden view of Se Joo’s face popping up mere centimetres from the camera – the camera lens had fogged up during filming and he had stepped in to blow off the dust. Mi Rae writes that down as well.

I’d probably have stopped there so that I could fully admire his face and maybe taken some screencaps too, but hey. It figures that I only ever get spam pop-ups – some people have all the luck.

Stuck on what technical terms to use, Mi Rae walks down the hallway in search for help and… whaddaya know, she runs straight into her brother. Crap.

Mi Rae takes off as her brother gives chase and she ends up running into the editing room occupied by Se Joo. He stares in confusion as she hurriedly apologizes and manages to puff out, “I’m not here, okay?” before diving under the desk. Haha.

Se Joo quietly pushes the door shut before asking again, “Who are you?” She’s too flustered to do more than beg his silence, but by now Se Joo had gotten a close enough look for recognition to dawn on his face – she’s the girl he’d seen playing in the ocean at Jeju.

He has no time to say anything else, however, because just then Mi Rae’s brother throws the door open and asks whether a girl named Na Mi Rae had entered the room. Total props for Se Joo’s quick thinking and admirable reflexes – he swivels in his chair in time to block the sight of Mi Rae from view and replies easily, “Is she pretty? If you know a girl like that, Team Leader, you should introduce her to me.” HA.

Mi Rae almost crawls out a little too soon, but the crisis is averted. Taking her first look at Se Joo, she suddenly recognizes him: “You’re that guy!” Se Joo perks up visibly as he asks, “Do you remember me?” only to have her clarify that she had seen him on the preview reel and it is incredible – he looked exactly the same as he did on-screen! He laughs off his disappointment and tells her warmly that it is pretty incredible for him, too: “I didn’t think I would see you again.”

At home, Ajumma receives a call from Oppa asking for Mi Rae’s whereabouts; he explains that he’d seen someone who looked exactly like her at YBS. Ajumma assures him that Mi Rae would never go there, but starts seething at being tricked once she hangs up. That begs the question: what happens when one’s future self arrives to impart life advice… except she evidently doesn’t know herself very well?

As they step out of the lift at the YBS lobby, Mi Rae explains to Se Joo why her brother was so furious; she had completely wrecked his car. They share a laugh and Se Joo winces in sympathy at her plight: “Ah… That’s a bit…” Mi Rae: “I know.” Hahaha. I must say, I like the friendly rapport between these two already.

A loud voice is heard at the information desk and both turn to see Ajumma, who catches sight of Mi Rae before she could hide.

Cue: Ring-around-a-Se Joo as Ajumma scrambles to catch Mi Rae while the latter uses Se Joo as a human shield, and all I can think is that I would dearly love to be Ajumma at that moment. (Look at her hands!)

When Ajumma finally slows her pursuit long enough to realize who she’d been grabbing, she stops dead with a gasp and the opening strains of Libera’s “Sanctus (Canon in D)” can be heard as the following vision in light descends upon her:

Omg, hahahahahaha.

Ajumma finally recovers herself and quickly lies that they used to be neighbours. When Se Joo tells her that he’s a VJ on Team 3 of the Kim Shin Morning Show, she flashes back to the interview on which she had seen Se Joo and Yoo Kyung in her own timeline; he had admitted there that he had worked temporarily as a VJ, too.

A string of questions ensue (hilariously, she sounds enough like a harmless, nosy mother that Se Joo is just amused): “Are you dating anyone? Have you fallen in love with anyone at first sight?” Se Joo’s eyes focus on Mi Rae upon hearing the latter question and he smiles, but neither woman catches the implications of that response.

Delighted that Mi Rae will be working so closely with Park Se Joo, she drags her younger self outside and sits her down while she wonders whether Se Joo truly doesn’t know Yoo Kyung. The important point is that he is still single, though, and she reveals Se Joo’s real identity to Mi Rae – an extremely rich chaebol who will eventually rule a media empire that controls the whole nation. Ooh, that sounds good. Mi Rae is doubtful and asks instead whether Se Joo is the one who will kill the one she loves, which Ajumma dismisses quickly, “He is the rich man whom you should marry!”

The one whom Mi Rae must avoid is someone else, and then Ajumma lets slip that “the problem is that he is on the same morning show as you.” Oooops. Although, considering how frustrating it is when drama heroines remain oblivious to the facts for half the show’s run, I’m all for speedy reveals. Ajumma adds that something big will happen in three days, but refuses to give her the details and insists that Mi Rae concentrate on seducing Se Joo. Seduce, girl, seduce!

After Mi Rae leaves to carry out Operation: Seduce Se Joo, Ajumma pulls out her photo of Shin and apologizes, “I’m sorry, Honey. But I can never live like that again.” Is she referring to living in poverty, or something more?

Mi Rae finds Se Joo reviewing her preview notes in the audio storage room. He advises her kindly on the mistakes in her choice of words before asking her curiously about the highlighted segments. Mi Rae explains that she had picked out sections which she thought were important and had also included suggestions for improvement. She apologizes in embarrassment for being so presumptuous despite her lack of experience, but Se Joo compliments her on her ideas instead. Brightening noticeably, Mi Rae begins to chat about her ideas animatedly while Se Joo smiles at her. It’s sweet.

It turns out that they even share the same taste in background music; while they listen to a track together, Mi Rae thinks to herself that he’s kind of cute and a good guy, despite remaining doubtful over the veracity of his chaebol status. I’m thinking, “Nooooo, not the ‘good guy card’!” We all know how well that ends.

Unfortunately, Mi Rae is so busy enjoying the moment that the buzzing of her phone with calls from Writer Bae goes unnoticed.

Shin is informed of Mi Rae’s absence on his way home, and when he asks Writer Bae why she had changed the script closing statement about keeping one’s enemies closer, she replies that it simply wasn’t realistic: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… that is the way to proceed.” Shin: “Why are you only telling me that now?!” He orders the driver to turn the taxi around – he’s going back to the office. It’s funny how easily he accepts these things as statements of fact.

Ajumma calls the office just as Shin arrives and when he questions her, Writer Bae tells him that Mi Rae’s mother had called with a message for Mi Rae that “the problem is solved” and that she’d “found a way” and to meet her at the lobby. You can literally see the gears turning in Shin’s head as he concludes: CONSPIRACY! He snatches the phone from Writer Bae and informs Ajumma that he’ll meet her in the lobby.

He launches immediately into his complaints about Mi Rae’s behaviour upon meeting Ajumma, failing to notice her increasingly set expression until she bursts out in anger that people may be fooled by his deception for now, but soon they’ll realize how egotistical and ignorant he is. “You are full of ambition at the thought that you may become the anchor for the 9 o’clock news, right? Anchor? Don’t be ridiculous. The only way for you from here is downhill.”

Shin jumps to the conclusion that this was indeed a conspiracy, and frowns when Ajumma adds bitterly, now with tears in her eyes, “Why did you kill [him]?!” Despite what he wants to think, it was no accident and he saw [it], so why did he leave [him] there to die?! (Note that Ajumma remains gender neutral throughout.) Shin is stunned at the heated accusations and assumes that Mi Rae had painted herself as the victim.

Mi Rae and Se Joo finally leave the audio storage room and it is only now that Mi Rae discovers her missed calls after Writer Bae calls Se Joo to relay the message that the entire team has been put on emergency alert to look out for Mi Rae, per Shin’s instructions.

Back in the lobby, Shin accuses Ajumma of scheming with Mi Rae to threaten him with the knowledge of his expired license after their car accident. Ajumma, less emotional now, finally realizes that something is wrong – they had another car accident? Shin has no patience with what he perceives to be another ploy and stalks off with the promise to kick out Mi Rae. Ajumma is left staring anxiously after his retreating back.

Mi Rae panics over what could possibly have gone wrong for Writer Bae to demand her presence so urgently as she heads for the editing rooms with Se Joo – did the tape get destroyed or the machine break down? Haha. Se Joo just smiles and waves that aside…

And then the lift door open to reveal Mi Rae’s brother and Writer Bae. Dead silence reigns for a second while brother and sister stare at each other, before Oppa makes a grab for Mi Rae.

Guess who gets caught in the middle again as Mi Rae’s only line of defense? Se Joo should really start charging. Where do I go to get my own Se Joo shield?

Se Joo attempts to speak up in Mi Rae’s defense, but Oppa tells him to zip it and drags her off by the wrist. Mi Rae makes one last grab for freedom (by hanging onto Se Joo’s leg desperately, heh), but she’s towed off anyway.

Oppa is about to send Mi Rae packing until Writer Bae intervenes with grudging acknowledgement of Mi Rae’s good work on the preview and insists that she be allowed to finish the job before leaving; where else are they going to find someone to finish the preview? Oppa agrees, but delivers an ultimatum with a tone of finality: once she’s done with her work, Mi Rae will have to leave his house.

Shin paces back and forth in the editing room, making demands of Se Joo in his impatience to see Mi Rae. Se Joo responds with good humour and calm reason until Shin’s accusation that Mi Rae is a con-artist brings a slight edge to his reply: “That’s your opinion.” After all, it’s only right that she meets with the team captain first, since she’s one of the team members. Shin takes instant issue with Se Joo’s tone of authority and unknowingly hits the nail on the head when he asks whether Se Joo is Miranda’s relative. Or perhaps a spy? Eep.

It is obviously not in Se Joo’s plans to be unmasked at this point in time, so he quickly defuses the situation by offering to treat Shin to coffee as an apology for not knowing his place.

Mi Rae attempts to thank Writer Bae for coming to her defence, but the latter brushes that aside and tells her bluntly that she will have to quit. Mi Rae is too old at 32, and Writer Bae (30) simply doesn’t feel comfortable bossing around an assistant writer who is older than her. Ouuuch. It is that much harder for Mi Rae to hear because it was devoid of malice, but she holds back her tears and resolves to work at another broadcasting station.

Already emotionally vulnerable, she apologizes politely for her lateness when she steps into the editing room for her meeting with Shin and is met with water thrown in her face. Ugh.

Shin fires off his string of accusations and Mi Rae finally snaps. She asks him whether he had been in a car accident on the day before National Liberation Day, and when he asks how she knew, she says quietly: “So it was you. The one who kills the person I love. Is it me that you’re going to kill? Because the person I love most in this world is me.” She has had enough of pretending to be happy when she is not and resolves to go to any lengths to get what she wants; she’ll survive and show him and everyone who had looked down on her that she can succeed. I am so on-board with that sentiment.

She storms out of the room without noticing Se Joo, who had overheard the entire exchange from where he’d stood outside the doorway. He follows her to the dressing room which she’d turned into and stops her before she could leave, asking whether she’s okay. Mi Rae’s brave front falters as she confesses, “I’m not okay. I’m not going to pretend to be okay anymore.”

THOUGHTS

If Ajumma Mi Rae’s harsh comments at Jeju had brought Mi Rae closer to reality, this marks the final push Mi Rae needed to stop lying to herself with delusions of contentment. Even the most timid will bite back when they are backed far enough into a corner, and Shin’s abuse was the last straw for Mi Rae. Her emotional outburst is one that might resound with many viewers – how many of us have weathered difficulties in life by plastering a fake smile on our faces? It is one thing to decide to change and quite another to put it into action, though, so it will be interesting to see how Mi Rae will proceed from hereon. Considering that even her own brother is uninterested in helping her get back on her feet and actually about to evict her, I suspect Se Joo will have a large hand in giving her the support she needs. Dare I ask for some cohabitation hijinks?

It is impossible to ignore the many hints we have had that something will happen to Mi Rae’s brother (the message beside the photo on Ajumma’s chart, her reaction when she first laid eyes on him, etc.), but it remains to be seen whether that is the specific “death” that Ajumma has been referring to or whether there is something else in store. I’m trying very hard not to think about the potential danger that most of the main characters are in, but that’s also what makes the drama exciting.

As for Mi Rae’s human shield, Se Joo’s character is by far my favourite at this point – aside from being a genuinely nice guy to Mi Rae, he has his own strengths and faults – he’s quick-witted, observant and obviously extremely competent at what he does, but he’s also shown a tendency to slip up around Shin. His undercover persona also means that we aren’t limited to the usual portrayal of a chaebol in three-piece suits, and I like his friendly banter with Mi Rae (she’s fast becoming at ease around him). But most of all, it’s fascinating having a character who holds the power to manipulate the lives and careers of every other major character in the drama, but chooses to hide it.

On that note, I can’t wait for us to see more than a minute of Yoo Kyung so that we can also see Se Joo interact with her; she is his original(?) love, after all, and it will be key to see whether “fate” continues to take a hand in righting its course by pitching them together regardless of Ajumma’s intervention. I suspect it will.

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