Lee Jin-wook has never been on screen in any drama as much as he is in Nine. What strikes me is that he seems so natural in this role. Sun-woo’s really just a guy who has been thrust into a crazy situation where something impossible set in motion a chain of unfortunate events. He’s no classic hero, but he’s not an anti-hero, either. Maybe that is why I feel so bad watching him deal with all the crap he has been handed, and with every fiber my being I just want him to be happy again.
EE and I thank you for all the encouragement you have been giving us to complete these recaps. They were right in Kindergarten – it is so much more fun to share!
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We begin the episode with Adult Sun-woo sitting in his car on adrenalin overload.
Across the decades, his dongsang’s anger has not left him; Sun-woo slams his hand on the steering wheel and restarts the car, and, well, we know where he’s headed and who he has unfinished business with.
Back in ’92, Hyung looks at the blood on his hands, acutely feeling the consequences now, and sobs.
Still at dinner, Jung-woo shows how unsettled his brother’s accusations made him and sits quietly while the others talk about ordering more wine. Up the stairs comes Sun-woo walking fast, making a beeline for the man he just had by the shirt collar in an alley. Knocking past a waiter and his sister-in-law, he starts pummeling Jung-woo, while everyone watches in shock. Seriously, he landed a dozen full on belts before he stops himself. Finally, some of them men try to pull Sun-woo off and drag him away. Jung-woo’s wife is crying.
Chul-min walks into the CBM studio and sees Min-young reading the news in the anchor chair. She leads into a story about pop music and idols and PSY’s big hit. He asks what’s going on. The PD tells him how Sun-woo just ran out all of a sudden. There was nobody else, so they put Park Min-young in. She has been fine so far.
Chul-min asks where Sun-woo went; nobody knows. They tried to call but he’s not answering.
“He’s nuts. Last broadcast of the year. He wasn’t even drinking.”
Chul-min asks about the closing, which I am guessing means sign-off.
Sun-woo was going to talk about health issues as the reason for leaving.
From the anchor desk, Min-young calls into them and asks about it, too. She wants to do it anyway, as an homage. The director’s too pissed and refuses, saying he’s the one who ran out on us. She makes the argument that he’s been doing the show for a year and…
(We hear see and PSY sing Gangnam Style in the background.)
But the PD tells her to shut up and stick to the script and that her ass in on the line. (That’s what the Korean sounded like, anyway.)
She says, “Fine,” but looks down disappointed.
Chul-min agrees with Min-young, however, and allows her to read Sun-woo’s sign-off.
She brightens considerably. She informs the audience that due to health issues, Sun-woo would be stepping down and that Yoon Suk Hyun* would be taking over from tomorrow. She reads Sun-woo’s prepared goodbye about how arrogance has brought down a hero. (I will fill in the words later, but my take was who he wrote was about Choi, but ironically, after what Sun-woo’s experiences, it sounded like he was talking about himself) She says good night. (*This is LJW’s character’s name in I Need Romance 2012.)
PD grumbles about how weird it is that Sun-woo who did something bad isn’t getting punished, but Chul-min doesn’t want to hear it and dismisses him with a “Good job.”
PD rants a little, complaining that if he were to walk out on a show, he wouldn’t get no stinking homage! “That it’s only cause he’s the boss’s favorite!”
The tall one says, “I love you Park Sun-woo, only Park Sun-woo!”
The PD replies “I hate Park Sun-woo I hate I hate!” like a little kid. I lol.
Chul-min walks out calling Bum-suk over, asking him to check all the ERs in Seoul for Sun-woo. The kid seems surprised. “Why would he go to an ER?”
Chul-min, says, “I don’t know. Just do it.”
Min-young pulls her phone out calling Sun-woo. Her mom answers, and Min-young asks why she’s answering Samchoon’s phone.
“What?!” she asks when her mom tells her.
We see Sun-woo unconscious, getting wheeled into the ambulance.
Yoo-jin fills Min-young in. They can’t go to Jung-woo’s hospital, so they are going elsewhere to prevent gossip. Yoo-jin doesn’t know why he came in and beat up her husband. There wasn’t exactly time to ask.
Yoo-jin hands over Sun-woo’s phone to the driver saying she will see them at the hospital.
Min-young looks perplexed.
Inside the restaurant, the waiters sweep up, and Yoo-jin and Hyung talk. She tells him Sun-woo ran out of the broadcast suddenly — just to come here and beat him up. It doesn’t make any sense, and it isn’t anything like Sun-woo. She knows something is up, so she asks if he really doesn’t know, or he is pretending he doesn’t know.
Hyung asks after Sun-woo, too dazed to listen to her response.
Sun-woo wakes up en route to the ER. He asks where they are going. The ER worker wants to check some things, but Sun-woo interrupts, asking for the time. They tell him 1:10am, and he gets up, even though he is holding his head in pain. He orders them to pull over, ripping the IV out of his arm (ouch!) When they stop, he gets out and zombie walks away.
Yoo-jin hears about Sun-woo escaping. She is at a complete loss. She tells Hyung, who just stares, showing no reaction at all to anything. He’s lost in a fog, and Yoo-jin tells him to pull himself together. She’s looking for the car keys, which he doesn’t have. She tells him to stay put and goes back into the restaurant.
Sun-woo calls his Hyung who braces himself before answering.
Hyung tries to approach his brother normally, but Sun-woo immediately starts with recriminations. “You son of a bitch. You lied for twenty years? How can you call yourself a person? How could you have done it?”
Hyung doesn’t deny anything, but wants to know how he found out.
“Answer, me, you bastard! How do you go on after killing your own father?”
Mom told him to, he says. Mom threatened to kill herself if he went to the police He’s been living in hell ever since, wanting to die every day.
Sun-woo asks “You’re crying?” Hyung apologizes.
Sun-woo lays out all the bad things that happened as a result of father dying. Sun-woo lost father, he lost Mom, and then Hyung deserted him. “You come back from the dead, plus you let me hate Choi. I wasted all those years. You introduced me to the incense which led me to find out these horrible secrets I didn’t want to know. You ruined my memory and took away my girl. It is beyond the point of no return.”
Sun-woo swears to never forgive him. Hyung drops to the ground near the car, where his wife finds him.
Min-young is driving in the car – recalling when Sun-woo passed out at the restaurant, what her mother said about Sun-woo beating up her father and fainting. She remembers telling Sun-woo he has been acting cool when it is obvious something is bothering him. He admitted it. He said he made a mistake. Mistake? She wonders. She’s still puzzling over, “I changed Joo Min-young to Park Min-young.”
She repeats “Joo Min-young” forcing it to mean something. (God I hope that works!)
Her mom calls her again and tells her Sun-woo didn’t go to the hospital after all, nobody knows where he is. Min-young tells her she intends to find Samchoon, but Yoo-jin wants her to go home. Min-young says she is worried about Dad and wants to go home to be with him, but her father doesn’t want to see anyone.
Dejected, sad, burnt out Sun-woo pulls up hear the hospital and lights one of the few remaining incense sticks. This time, he isn’t trying to stop anything. He goes back to his father’s office and kneels by the dead body, a pool of blood under his father’s head. He holds his father’s face in his hands and cries.
We see him watching the surprising conversation between his parents with Jung-woo listening. It really is gut-wrenching.
“Love?” He spits, “You’re both crazy.” Dad drops the big one, that Mom was pregnant when she married him. “You know who your father is? My friend: Choi Jin-chul.” Hyung is shocked. Mom slaps Dad, who retaliates, striking her soooo hard. Dad’s a bastard, isn’t he?
A struggle breaks out. “I never should have married you!” Dad attacks Mom, Jung-woo trying to break it up. Mom ordering him to leave. Scuffling off camera.
She insists that Jung-woo tripped. It was an accident. Choi stops her from calling the police.
He walks Mom over to a chair, and convinces her in a strangely not soothing voice. Mom berates herself that it is her fault. Choi tells her to get a hold of herself. Does she want Jung-woo to suffer in jail?
We see Hyung in the alley weeping over his bloody hands when he gets a call on his beeper. Choi is pacing over the dead body. He seems to be putting together a plan.
He tells Hyung to listen to him. The fact that Jung-woo made a mistake is not important. If he doesn’t want to cause Mom any grief, do what he says. Jung-woo wants to turn himself in. Jung-woo says, “I killed father.”
Choi tells him he would serve in prison for a minimum of three years. He has to think of his family’s reputation… pull yourself together. How would Sun-woo be able to handle it? I’ll help you. Leave everything up to me. We just need to make sure all our stories match.”
Hyung washes his face and hands. Then sneaks back into Yoo-jin’s apartment, hangs his coat. We hear Choi instructing him to go home and act like he knows nothing. “None of us were there, not me, not your mother, not you. It was an accident.”
Hyung rips through his desk and finds some drugs to shoot up. He spaces out and his head falls back on his chair.
Watching the recording of the fight, then hearing Choi’s disgusting plan, and finding out even more horrible family truths have a staggering effect on Sun-woo. He sits – tears streaming down his face.
A sound makes him turn his head. Some guy with a ball cap goes into Dad’s office. The guy makes a phone call and asks someone if there is anything he needs (to take), pours gasoline over everything, and drops a lit match.
Sun-woo, motionless, watches this through the cameras.
More tears as he closes the laptop. Flames engulf the office, and smoke creeps into the room where Sun-woo sits.
Another replay of Young Sun-woo on his bike riding to the hospital. Adult Sun-woo stands there – unable to do anything – letting the events play out as they have already a few times. He turns and leaves. Again, Young Sun-woo opens his father’s office door, again, he gets blown back.
Choi lies asleep in his office when Secretary Kim comes in and tells him Sun-woo is there. “He wants to see you. Should I tell him to come back?”
Sun-woo breaks in and says he wants to talk to him. When Secretary Kim tries to stop him, Choi tells the minion to get out. Sun-woo strolls over and sits on a visitor’s chair.
Choi mocks him asking why he looks so beat up instead of crowing in victory?
He says he’s been waiting for him. He didn’t know what he would have found out from twenty years ago, but he waited anyway. He’s a patient man. “So did you find anything?”
Sun-woo says, “Yes, you’re not a complete liar. You didn’t kill him or hire someone to do it. That surprised me, I apologize for suspecting you.”
“Did Jung-woo tell you?” Choi wonders.
Sun-woo says he only believes in facts and hands over the flash drive.
Sun-woo lists a bunch of Choi’s crimes: accessory after the fact, getting rid of the body, destroying evidence, obstruction, arson, blackmail etc.
He announces he will keep hating Choi, thank you very much. He suggests Choi reconsider making any offensive moves towards Sun-woo. Because Sun-woo could hurt him a lot more. Sun-woo says he’s not bluffing, like Choi does. He has facts.
Choi appears as confused as ever – but after watching the video, his eyes almost pop out the head seeing and hearing him talking to Jung-woo all those years ago.
Young Young-hoon is at the train station with the two girls.
They are not pleased that Sun-woo didn’t show up. (Apparently they know nothing about the death…hmmm.) So-ra leaves, while Future Wifey threatens her behind her back. Young-hoon attempts to flee, but Future Wifey doesn’t let him go, calling them “Partners.” She mocks him for using polite language with her, and drags him towards the train. She tells him she has money so he doesn’t need any.
Flash to present – the happy family is in the car. The littlest one doesn’t have her mittens. Young-hoon, who is paying less attention than usual, was just about to pass the school, when they yell at him to stop. He looks very sad.
He takes his phone and finds a message from Sun-woo.
“My last message to you, Young-hoon. I know you are curious, but I can’t tell you the secret about my brother. You were right – I couldn’t help, so I give up. The incense sticks are a curse not a blessing. I shouldn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit. Some secrets are meant to stay hidden. Bringing back someone from the dead is not up to man. I know it now and I feel like a fool. But that’s the way I am. And I’m…”
The call is cut off. Stranding his wife, Young-hoon drives over to Sun-woo’s house, even climbing over the wall when Sun-woo doesn’t answer the bell. (It is quite impressive.)
He runs upstairs and finds Sun-woo passed out, phone in pieces on the floor of the bathroom. He tries to bring him around, but his friend doesn’t regain consciousness.
Min-young is talking to her mother on the phone as she approaches Sun-woo’s house. She sees his car, and announces she is going in to talk to him.
Back in Sun-woo’s room, Young-hoon is desperately searching for something. He knows this will be the end of his friend if he cannot find the incense. He asks where the container is. “You said you were going to find a way to live! Why are you dying?”
Sun-woo says he got rid of them because he doesn’t need them anymore.
Young-hoon is upset. He shakes Sun-woo asking why did you throw them away?
“Guess,” Sun-woo says. “It’s a riddle.”
Young-hoon keeps asking where the incense is and for Sun-woo to snap out of it!
Sun-woo tells him he’ll never find them.
Flashback. We see Sun-woo take his laptop, flash drive. He pulls out the incense holder with the two remaining sticks and leaves it on the table deliberately.
“The sticks are back in 1992, and we are back where we started. We didn’t know about the sticks a month ago. It’s no big loss. It was all a fantasy anyway.”
His friend, knowing there is no hope, sits on the rug by the bed, hands in his hair.
In the past, we see flames encasing the incense. Young-hoon despairs.
He hears someone come in — Min-young. He asks why she came and she tells him.
He lies that they were out drinking the night before so he stayed over.
She says she tossed and turned worrying that Sun-woo didn’t answer his phone, and you guys were out having fun?
Young-hoon tells her Sun-woo is sleeping. She wants to see him. With no reason not to, he lets her to go upstairs. He’s probably hoping as much as I am that she can revive him.
She goes into his room and lets out a sigh.
Downstairs Young-hoon sits. He calls and schedules a surgery.
“Joo Min-young?” Sun-woo says barely above a whisper. She turns even though it isn’t her name. “When did you come?”
“Just now,” she replies.
“What, are you a stalker? Why are you always where I am?”
She says “I’m not a stalker, just concerned about you.”
He sits up and asks her to come closer, then pats a spot near him on the bed for her to sit. She seems reluctant.
“What happened with the news broadcast? Did it go well?”
Of course it did.
Can I ask you a question? He says, yes.
Will you answer me? He says he will try.
Why did you run out? Secret.
Why’d you hit dad? Secret.
Are you sick? Secret.
You said you’d try. Ask me an easy one.
Why did you call me Joo Min-young? Did not.
You just called me Joo Min-young. Don’t you remember?
He considers the word and their love and her existence for a moment.
I’m Park Min-young.
No, you are Joo Min-young. He says it with complete confidence.
You just don’t remember.
He puts his hand tenderly near her face. I only remember Joo Min-young.
What does that mean?
Try to answer it. It’s a riddle.
She complains, if it’s not a secret, it’s a riddle.
And you’ll never get them right.
He stares through her again, his eyes well up.
She takes all the emotion he is giving her and returns it, but she doesn’t know why or how she feels this and she cries, too.
Why are you crying? Secret.
And I am very very upset. Even after the fifth seventh time.
This was a dark episode, both in tone and in visuals.
Whenever things get bleak, I look for the tiniest hope like a spot of brightness up there in the dark clouds. If we go back to the first episode, first scene, we saw a hopeless Sun-woo find his spot of brightness all the way up there in Nepal. He grabbed onto her and assured himself a companion through his final battle with life. I feel like that is where we are again. Lots and lots of badness happened between those two moments, yes, but at least we have the essentials: Man Woman Love. He just needs to remind her brain what her heart already knows. That she and Sun-woo were MFEO.*
I can’t talk about what I saw in the preview, but I will tell you, I look ahead with dread – knowing our hero has some darkness to get through still, as well as faith – knowing that at least he has a light to help guide him.
*Made For Each Other
I felt this ep was almost Shakespearean in terms of tragedy. Hello, is Hyung Jung Woo Lady Macbeth or WHAT? We still don’t know for a fact who pushed Daddy Park (even though Hyung takes responsibility) and I think there may be something to the identity of the hired hand who started the fire. His face was obscured, so I get the idea that he is someone we know or WILL know but haven’t met yet. Maybe it is my inner cynic, but he had lines of dialog, therefore he is not some nameless extra. I find myself believing in Park Sun Woo, even when he doesn’t. We see the clinic going up in flames and the canister with the incense burning . . . and it reminds me that Hyung had a similar canister on the mountains in Nepal. It wasn’t blue, but a tarnished gold color. Maybe he was given the canister after the fire. I hate that things are going to hurt more before it gets better, but it is this soul torturing stuff that makes redemption so sweet.