Mi Rae’s Choice: Episode 4

Major battles are fought and won in this episode as Shin and Mi Rae takes their individual stands at work, while Ajumma’s schemes are temporarily put aside as the criss-crossed relationships take a different turn to allow us a glimpse of how things might originally have been. This also means that we are shown fascinating new facets of our four main characters’ personalities, and the layers to these characters certainly make compelling studies.


EPISODE 4 RECAP

We begin from where we left off in the previous episode with the successful wrap of Mi Rae’s first work as a broadcast writer. Se Joo leans in close to Mi Rae and puts his arm around her (a smooth operator, this one) as he guides her around to the TV so that she could see her name come up in the ending credits. Mi Rae then ups the ante by ecstatically glomping the laughing Se Joo when she realizes she’s made the team, and all the while we can see behind them…

A furious, glowering Shin (LOL). He slams the table with a hand so loudly that the two jump apart in surprise, while he lectures in a ringing voice on his “no dating” policy within the team – it leaves him confused and he can’t concentrate! Not so smooth, ha. Hilariously, Shin digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole as he flounders on in the face of his two stunned and uncomprehending spectators and ends up stalking off with a last peevish reprimand. Mi Rae just shrugs it off, but Se Joo is much quicker on the uptake and sends a long look in Shin’s direction.

Shin mentally kicks himself for the embarrassing outburst once he reaches the corridor outside, but can’t help shooting one laaaast peek in the direction of Mi Rae and the studio anyway. Hee.

Team Leader Na makes the announcement that Mi Rae has been voted in as maknae writer, but she still has to go through a one-week probation period before Writer Bae makes the final decision on whether she could stay.

Yoo Kyung hits her usual bar hangout and spots Se Joo sitting nearby, doing some work over drinks. Now here’s a guy who knows how to combine work and fun. She sidles closer with interest when she hears that he frequents the “really expensive” bar; his family must be wealthy, right? Her aegyo mode switches on instantly as she asks for his help with work while she surreptitiously slips her credit card to the barkeep with a wink and a nod – she’ll pay for the gentleman’s drinks.

Mi Rae is scared out of her wits that night by the sight of Ajumma (dressed in all black, I might add – where on earth did she get those creepy robes?) scowling at her in the bathroom mirror reflection. Ajumma’s evidently decided that drastic measures must be taken to convince Mi Rae, because she throws back the curtain to reveal her Secret Plan written on the window.

Ajumma broke some serious rules when she meddled with Mi Rae instead of observing as she had been instructed to as part of an experimental time travel program, not to mention she is in danger of dying from age because every day is the equivalent of a month to her. And why? “In order to save you, and also to live my life!” She fears that Mi Rae will lose Se Joo to Yoo Kyung again, because they were originally fated to be together. And she has good cause for worry.

At the bar, Se Joo moves to pay his bill only to be told that it has been paid for him, and Yoo Kyung says serenely that she’s “just helping out a VJ who has no money.” All those airs and graces go flying out the window in the next instant, however, because Se Joo’s quizzical response that he had “three drinks, though” sends her scrambling over to check the bill, almost spitting out her drink in shock. LOL.

The total amount printed in large letters on the receipt starts a chain reaction in which Yoo Kyung systematically unravels – her horrified gaping and barely coherent stuttering is followed by exclamations of utter disbelief in banmal (“Hey, are you crazy?! Did you not even look at the menu?!”) and finally outright swearing (“You only chose the expensive brands… you crazy bastard!”). HAHA. The real Yoo Kyung behind the cutesy image has finally revealed herself, and she’s a hoot. I think the plan to seduce Se Joo with her sophisticated womanly charms has just disintegrated.

Se Joo can barely hide a grin as he offers to pay his bill himself, but Yoo Kyung just waves it off with little grace as she continues mourning over the new dent in her account balance. Se Joo’s next suggestion – “What if I buy you some udon at the place across the street?” – is met with a threatening raised fist from Yoo Kyung as she yells that he’d better not try to make up for it with something cheap after he just drank 200,000 won worth. Hahaha. Se Joo’s outright laughing now and he assures her that it’s expensive, too, before ushering her off despite her protests.

Imagine how much easier it would have been for Ajumma had Mi Rae seen this exact encounter; Mi Rae is perturbed at the knowledge that Se Joo and Yoo Kyung were originally supposed to marry, but remains sceptical that Se Joo could be a chaebol. Ajumma gives up in exasperation – frankly, she must have superhuman patience if she hasn’t tried to strangle her bull-headed younger self yet.

Nevertheless, Mi Rae’s doubts are aroused. She whips out her phone to call Se Joo, but stops just short: “Why am I trying to juggle multiple men?” What a delightful conundrum, I must say. I’d be happy to fill in if she’s not up to the task.

The shocks to Yoo Kyung’s system continue at the Japanese restaurant; Se Joo wasn’t kidding when he promised that it’d be expensive. Yoo Kyung: “Don’t you know that the dishes here start at 15,000 won?” Se Joo: “The food we’re having costs 25,000 won.” She just gapes, ha.

He’s obviously amused when she launches into a lecture on the danger of maxing out his credit cards if he spends like a celebrity while on a VJ’s salary (now that she’s been unleashed, words just stream out of her mouth nonstop, HA), but his expression turns serious as she automatically starts pouring him water and setting out his eating utensils. Taking her gently by the wrist, he says quietly, “Don’t do this. Did this become a habit?” Yoo Kyung is confused; she does this for all the producers (all the men, really) and they expect it of her and the other reporters.

She starts to add lightly that this gets her more work, only to meet his somber gaze. Se Joo: “From now on, don’t do this, even for me. We don’t have an employer-employee relationship; I’m a person, and you’re a person. Why only the women? Why is Yoo Kyung the only one who has to do something like this?” Aww. He sets out the utensils for her instead, and it’s a touching gesture.

The words bring tears to her eyes – you get the sense that this is the first time someone has seen right through the cutesy act and disregarded status or gender considerations to recognize Yoo Kyung as simply a person who is deserving of respect.

Mi Rae is still troubled by the criss-crossing relationships (and she’s not the only one, seriously) until she drops off to sleep. In her dream, she’s awoken by playful pokes to the nose and opens her eyes to see Shin lying beside her on the hospital bed. He tugs teasingly on her curls and tickles her chin as the two flirt adorably…

Until Oppa’s voice cuts in: “What are you guys doing?” They turn to find Oppa lying on the sofa behind them, obviously having been there the whole time. LOL.

Mi Rae is jolted into awareness and sits bolts upright in bed… as does Shin, who clutches his chest in shock. Shared dreams? Hmmm. Mi Rae searches up Shin’s profile on her phone while Shin grabs the dictionary and thumbs through for the definition of “mirae (future).”

Both are disturbed by the dream and there’s an awkward silence when they bump into each other in the YBS lobby later that morning. Shin hesitantly asks whether she knows her way around and jumps at the chance to offer a personally-guided tour of the YBS building, because “the foundation of a writer is to know every nook and cranny of the broadcasting company.” Suuure. At one point on the tour, they pop their heads into the barbershop only to find an unimpressed Team Leader Na sitting inside getting his hair cut, and Shin quickly slams the door shut. Ha.

Their tour takes them to the prop room and Mi Rae zips off like a 5-year-old at Toys’R’Us, amazed at the collection of props. Shin’s attention is drawn to a Darth Vader costume and he strokes it with a wondering, almost reverent expression.

Cut to: Shin WEARING the Darth Vader costume, inspecting his reflection as he strikes a pose with the lightsaber. “I am your father.” HAHAHA.

Mi Rae startles him by responding, “I am your mother!” before popping out from behind a corner, all decked out in a pink princess dress. OMG, LOL. Shin isn’t particularly impressed and comments that she rather resembles “Mulan, who stole Cinderella’s clothes.” Pfft.

Their antics are cut short when the lacy sleeve of Mi Rae’s dress gets caught on Shin’s Darth Vader costume and they’re forced to cut the sleeve in order to free themselves. Mi Rae has a freak out, assuming that she’ll be blamed for the damage, but Shin states calmly that he’ll take care of it. What?

Next thing we know, Shin is sewing her sleeve back together with expert familiarity. Mi Rae marvels at it and frankly, so do I – a drama hero who can sew! Kim Shin has just risen in my estimation. Now if he could just cook and clean as well, Se Joo will have some serious competition.

It is a tender moment and the romantic atmosphere affects them both; neither are eager to part despite Mi Rae being called to work. Shin tentatively suggests that they continue the tour… uh, “studying” to “build her foundation” another time (That’s an interesting new way to ask a girl on a date – just saying). Mi Rae answers shyly that she’d like that.

The atmosphere in Miranda’s office, on the other hand, is downright Arctic as she rails and rages, pelting her hapless staff with eggs. It turns out that a careless mistake on their part has landed a VVIP in hospital with an allergic reaction to egg in his food, and now the whole Young Geon Group will feel the repercussions. Seething at the monetary losses, her gaze turns lethal as she comments that there really are far too many staff in the company. Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?

At home, Ajumma flips to a diary entry in which her younger self worries that Kim Shin would be at risk in the YBS restructuring and she remarks bitterly that it would be good if he was fired.

Mi Rae cautiously hands Writer Bae her completed assignment at work, only to be told to redo it. We catch a glimpse of a sticky note on Writer Bae’s laptop with the message, “If you get caught by the “Black Man,” (i.e. the devil) you will be punished.” Curious.

In the upcoming days, Mi Rae is kept running to and fro like a headless chook as she makes coffee runs, completes errands and submits and resubmits preview drafts to Writer Bae. All of Ajumma’s attempts to demand updates on Operation: Seduce Se Joo go ignored, and what Mi Rae doesn’t notice is that time is definitely taking its toll on Ajumma’s body.

In a rather amusing gender reversal, Se Joo ends up playing the mother hen to Mi Rae’s headless chook as they work together outside – he’s trying to keep her fed because she’s been skipping meals to get her work done, HA.

Mi Rae is definitely cracking under the pressure, however, and ends up lashing out at two passing school girls, yelling her insecurities after them like an ill-mannered fishwife until an irritated Se Joo shouts her name loudly enough bring her up short. The disapproval is so unexpected from the gentle and kind Se Joo that it effectively cuts through Mi Rae’s self-absorption.

Shin and Yoo Kyung are eating together when she pulls out a handwritten coupon and thanks him for it. Shin has no recollection of it, pfft, and Yoo Kyung has to remind him that she had asked for 10 meal coupons from him instead of monetary compensation for the car accident. He signs things and then forgets about them afterwards? Maybe that’s the line Mi Rae should’ve taken rather than faking back injury – whip out a written statement and get his signature on it, ha.

Yoo Kyung’s thankful that he’d said good things about her and Shin shrugs it off as stating the truth, though he notes that she should tone down the aegyo. Haha. He’s dismissive of rumours of their impending marriage until he hears that Mi Rae has heard of them and his feigned nonchalance wouldn’t fool a pre-schooler, let alone Yoo Kyung, who promises to tell him what Mi Rae thought… if he made her 10 more coupons. Shin doesn’t back down and Yoo Kyung eventually lies that Mi Rae had congratulated them.

Shin is irritated, and of course what should he see then but Mi Rae having lunch with Se Joo? Ha. Yoo Kyung tries to convince him to join them, but Shin hedges while huffing jealously, “Tell them to film a drama about dating in the broadcasting station.” LOL. His inner 5-year-old makes an appearance and he pops up between Mi Rae and Se Joo, startling both out of their chairs – unfortunately, Mi Rae’s unseating is far less elegant than Se Joo’s and she ends up flying onto the floor in an ungainly heap. HA. Cue barbed exchanges between Shin and Se Joo while the two ladies engage in their own verbal sparring.

The fun is interrupted by word spreading quickly about the restructuring and there’s soon widespread panic as everyone tries to work out whether their own jobs are in danger. Se Joo’s expression grows increasingly grim and he finally strides off in the direction of Miranda’s office after the announcement that only one writer could stay in Team 3 results in awkward silence and apologetic glances in Mi Rae’s direction.

“NO!” is Miranda’s reply, summarily dismissing Se Joo’s arguments that YBS cannot function under further staff cuts. With increasing heat, Se Joo yells for her to see reason – does she not see that trying to scrimp on labour expenses by firing staff will only result in decreased product placement revenue when their program quality suffers? Does she want them all to go down together?!

But logic clearly does not work with this woman and her only concern is to prioritize the profitable hotel resort business. In her most infuriatingly indifferent manner, Miranda just retorts that there’s no need for writers or FDs – the PDs should be able to handle it all themselves.

His face taut with barely suppressed fury, Se Joo’s tone turns icy as he delivers his cutting assessment of Miranda’s actions through gritted teeth: “You really are ignorant, Grandma. Were you running this place like that all along?! This is why I’m working from the bottom as a VJ; because I don’t want to be like you!” His disappointment is only equalled by his disgust, and he makes no attempt to mask it. Despite having been aware of her shortcomings, it is quite another matter to be slapped in the face by her bald and unabashed ignorance.

Miranda takes umbrage at his words and snaps that he can succeed her immediately if he doesn’t like her handling (knowing that he would refuse) or else he’s merely a lowly VJ who has no right to criticize her. What can he say to that?

Inside the lift, Se Joo takes a deep breath as he grips the handholds, his expression deadly as he maintains a semblance of composure with great effort.

Too wrapped up in his own thoughts as he strides off angrily, he fails to notice Yoo Kyung, who stops curiously at the sight of Se Joo coming from the lift that leads up to the Chairwoman’s level. I don’t think Se Joo’s undercover spy project is going too well, personally.

Ajumma had overheard the argument between Se Joo and Miranda and there’s definitely a speculative gleam in her eyes at the words that Miranda is looking for a new fortune teller. She finds Mi Rae sitting outside and attempts to convince her to focus on Se Joo; why work when she can marry a chaebol? Mi Rae counters, “You’re telling me to live my whole life leaning on a man?” She’d rather stand on her own. Atta girl!

Rookie tongue-tied announcer leads a group of colleagues who try to persuade Shin to intervene by speaking to Miranda; he’s met her before, hasn’t he? But Shin tells them quite bluntly that he’s already had two strikes – do they want him fired so badly that they’d ask him to risk a third? He has to survive as well.

When he walks past the editing room, however, he catches sight of Mi Rae winding and rewinding to her name in the Morning Show ending credits. The smile on her face is heartbreaking, and Shin flashes back to her sincere promise to put 120% effort into doing a good job. He comes to a decision.

Miranda marches into YBS at the head of a troop of besuited staff the next morning, looking for all the world like a mafia boss on a mission, ha. Her first victims are the members of Kim Shin’s Morning Show team, who are all lined up and ready to meet her. She smilingly disarms any attempts at dissent with not-so-subtle hints at future promotion, while Se Joo watches uneasily from the back row.

Hilariously, Miranda zooms past the ladies to shower Se Joo with enthusiastic praise: “Omo, whose son is this, to look so prince-like? And so modest, too!” Everyone just stares in shock, which isn’t helped by Se Joo’s abrupt replies about being in a hurry to go back to work.

Se Joo’s undercover identity is just about on its last legs when Shin’s entry answers Miranda’s pointed jab about the announcer being a no-show. He expresses with dramatic regret that he simply couldn’t find the desire to arrive punctually after hearing the news that his team members will be fired. DEAD SILENCE.

The gauntlet has been thrown, and you could cut the tension with a knife as Miranda and Shin dance around each other with weighted repartee, neither giving an inch. And what about that live broadcast? Shin: “If you don’t promise me, I’m just going to stay here.” They reach a deadlock and Team Leader Na is in a tizzy – they only have 3 minutes before Morning Show has to go on air!

It is exactly what Shin has counted on, though, and he points out that Miranda must have planned on this “the show must go on” mentality as well, which is why she arrived minutes before the broadcast. Shin takes advantage of Miranda’s need to maintain a façade of civility in the public face-off and casually invites her to sit down and talk it over; they can just air pre-recorded episodes instead or even film their chat over the restructuring fiasco. Team Leader Na looks like he’s about to have apoplexy.

Under pressure, Miranda grits her teeth and guarantees the safety of Team 3, but Shin wants all or nothing. Team Leader Na practically has a conniption as he screams down the line – 15 seconds left!

Miranda finally concedes defeat, her face now bearing a stark resemblance to a thundercloud; they’ll pretend that the restructuring idea never happened. Shin spins around on his heels and is immediately ready for the live recording (his professional experience is really showing now). Looking straight at the furious Miranda, he proceeds to report on the dangers of callously firing staff and exploiting labour. In a glorious moment, their eyes meet with tacit meaning: Kim Shin 1, Miranda 0.

Writer Bae notes that Shin is adlibbing and Mi Rae gushes, thoroughly smitten, “He’s so cool!” Ajumma looks on, disconcerted. But who can blame the girl? If Shin continues being this awesome, he’ll have to toss out that Darth Vader costume and find a Han Solo outfit instead.

Throughout the whole exchange, Se Joo had looked speculatively at Shin and an almost imperceptible smile on his face at the end marks his renewed respect for the latter after his hard-fought battle.

Writer Bae asks for Mi Rae’s drafts later and Mi Rae flashes back to her conversation with Shin, in which she had outlined her plan to save her best draft for last. Shin had instead advised honesty over underhanded tactics, and it is that advice that she now takes as she comes clean to Writer Bae about what she’d done.

It turns out that Writer Bae had known all along and would have fired Mi Rae had she not admitted to her fault. Writer Bae then surprises the whole team by proudly introducing Mi Rae as the new maknae writer – she’s good at her job, is smart and most importantly, she’s honest.

Mi Rae shares the news with Ajumma excitedly when they next meet, but Ajumma merely warns her to check the guest list for the upcoming show. Alarmed, Mi Rae finds out that there is indeed a guest missing… and it’s a fortune teller. Well, we know where this is heading, don’t we?

Ajumma is of course conveniently on hand as Writer Bae attempts to find a replacement; by this stage, she’d already made a name for herself within YBS as someone who can tell fortunes. Replacement found!

Mi Rae instantly senses that something is amiss when Ajumma enters the studio and exchanges careful greetings with Shin, first apologizing for her previous behaviour before promising in a loaded statement that he’ll be “really surprised” by her fortune telling abilities this time.

When Mi Rae attempts to tell Oppa the truth (though how she thinks he’d believe her story about Ajumma being a time traveller, I would never know), he’s too busy with work and waves her off.

Ajumma ascertains from Shin that the Chairwoman would be watching the broadcast – and sure enough, Miranda joins Se Joo on the couch at home in time for the Morning Show. Se Joo recognizes Ajumma with a start.

When she names herself as “Na Mi Rae,” startled glances are exchanged in the studio and the thrumming of nervous tension in the atmosphere escalates when Ajumma begins to deviate from the script.

As proof of her ability, she proceeds to cite first the story of Shin’s father and then his pronunciation exercises in the morning, the veracity of which he reluctantly confirms, before her final pronouncement that he had looked up the word “mirae” in the dictionary yesterday leaves him clearly discomfited. A flashback shows us that Ajumma had referenced the incident in her diary when she was younger.

At home, Grandma Miranda is impressed, but Se Joo is sharp and senses that something is off – he quickly calls Mi Rae and, noting the agitation in her voice, heads immediately to YBS.

In the studio, Shin now challenges Ajumma to read into his future; what does his future look like? There’s a pregnant pause as Ajumma turns to stare directly into the camera before declaring, “You’ll be destroyed.”

THOUGHTS

There is some discussion as to whether Episode 4 was an improvement or a step backwards from the first three episodes, but I’d have to say that I am of the former opinion. It is different from what we received in the first three episodes, certainly – the first three episodes had Se Joo and Mi Rae as the romantic focus while Shin and Mi Rae started off on the wrong foot. If it continued in that vein, I would have wondered why Mi Rae would even have to “choose” between Se Joo and Shin; the choice would be obvious!

But Episode 4 is all about turning these preconceptions on its head; I found the Miranda restructuring face-off scene quite significant for displaying a different side to Shin – Mi Rae’s silent acceptance that her dreams are once again dashed is what really spurs him to stand up against Miranda’s high-handedness. It’s a powerful moment for Shin as a character and for the first time I can see why Mi Rae might have fallen in love with him originally.

Similarly, we see a different side to Se Joo, who previously had no cause to show anything other than sympathetic kindness to Mi Rae. Yoo Kyung provokes a harder, slightly more sarcastic edge to him and the awesome confrontational scene with Grandma highlights that Se Joo is not only a man who combines principles with solid business sense, but that he also has his flaws – he has a temper, like everyone else. It differentiates him from the typical forever-kind “white knight” character, particularly when he has no qualms about delivering a sharp rebuke if Mi Rae steps out of line. That’s one aspect that I have appreciated about Se Joo’s character so far, actually – while he does help Mi Rae as much as possible, he also knows when to step back and allow her a chance to stand up for herself. He is not given to excess of protectiveness.

We also clearly see in the scene with Grandma that Se Joo has the fundamentals that would eventually see him sitting at the top of his own media empire with control over the nation (as “predicted” by Ajumma Mi Rae). He is the type of boss who would achieve success not through shady business dealings or ruthlessness, but because he has a discerning eye for talented people and has what it takes to garner not only good results but loyalty from his staff.

One curious point that stood out to me in Episodes 3 & 4 is the seeming difference between Mi Rae’s personality and that of her future (Ajumma) self – Mi Rae’s drive to succeed in her career without relying on either Kim Shin or Se Joo, plus her all-consuming interest in writing, is in stark contrast to Ajumma’s fixation on marrying the right man so that she could live easily. Or is Ajumma’s difference in outlook the result of making the wrong choices by taking the easier route in her past? Has this timeline begun to change so much that even Mi Rae’s current choices are departing more and more from what she had done before?

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