Boys Before Flowers, episode 7

There are still odds-n-ends about the episode that aren’t perfect, but overall, this was a much better one than episode 6. The acting from the one character who really needed to step it up this episode — Hyunjoong and Ji Hoo — did step it up and made the continuation of the plot all the more interesting and engaging. There were no glaring flaws in the storytelling this go-around and I look forward to the next episode.

Bonus — a rant about a character whose flaws I usually overlook, but did not this time: Yi Jung.

Recap of episode 7

So we’re back at Shinhwa after the intense “Ji Hoo and Jandi are to leave the premises for ever and ever and ever” bits from episode 6. We see Jandi lingering around various F4 parts of the school — their lounge, the boys’ special classroom. She waits outside in the cold in front of the school and it becomes obvious as we see Jun Pyo come out of the school that she was waiting to see him.

Jun Pyo, upon seeing Jandi, disregards her and hops on his prince-mobile to ride home. Little does he know, or expect, that Jandi is a freakish biker and bikes all the way to his house in the same amount of time it takes him to get home in a car. HA.

Jandi has something to say to Jun Pyo. Jun Pyo says he doesn’t. Jandi says she does. They bicker and then in a really ridiculously cute scene, they chase each other in front of Jun Pyo’s mansion. Then Jun Pyo gets into his car and riiiides away and Jandi is helpless to go after him when suddenly, a blingin’ white car pulls up. Who could it be?

Why, it’s Jun Pyo’s older sister, Gu Jun Hee to the rescue!

Jun Hee tells Jandi to get on the car and then we’re shown the longest, most lackluster car chase in the existence of man (I mean, it doesn’t help that SHINee’s “Stand by me” plays during this scene). Of course, Jun Hee whips out her noona skills at the last moment and wins the little race. Jun Pyo gets out of his car in rage, and then Jun Hee BACKFLIPS OVER AND STARTS BEATING HIM WITH A STICK.

Did you get that?

SHE BACKFLIPS OVER AND STARTS BEATING HIM WITH A STICK.

After she stops hitting him, she scolds him and asks him if that’s how she taught him to treat girls. Then, on Jun Pyo’s behalf, Jun Hee apologizes to Jandi, who all this time was watching in shock. Jun Hee invites Jandi over to the house, much to Jun Pyo’s objections.

Jandi and Jun Hee have dinner at the Gu’s place, along with Yi Jung and Woobin. Ji Hoo is obviously absent and Jun Pyo says he doesn’t want to come down to eat. After dinner, Jun Hee sends Jandi home and before she parts, Jandi thanks Jun Hee for the help and wonders why she’s so good to her. Jun Hee explains that for reach people, “making friends is just as hard as trying to get into heaven.” Besides, their mother doesn’t see the need for Jun Pyo to make friends anyway. Jandi is slightly puzzled about that because doesn’t Jun Pyo have F4? Jun Hee does admit that this is true and recognizes how much of a miracle it must be that Jun Pyo even has these friends because of his personality.

Meanwhile, Jun Pyo is starving in his room because he was too prideful to go downstairs to eat with everybody. Then he gets a text from Ji Hoo saying that they should talk. The two meet at a movie theater where a film is playing.

Ji Hoo: This movie . . . do you remember how many times we watched it? Should be about 10 times. (Pause.) Sorry. I don’t wish to appease you with just one word of “sorry,” but–
Jun Pyo: But?
Ji Hoo: Regarding Jandi–
Jun Pyo: Regarding her, what?
Ji Hoo: I will protect her.
Jun Pyo stands up abruptly and starts to leave
Ji Hoo: I will definitely protect her.
Jun Pyo: It’s 11 times. If you were a friend who remembered that we watched this movie 11 times, this would not have happened. You best be careful.

Cut to the next scene, we see Jun Pyo sitting on Shinhwa High’s principle’s desk. He threatens the principle by saying that if he doesn’t expel Ji Hoo and Jandi, then he will be fired. Right at this moment, Jun Hee storms into the room to see what kind of rascal behavior Jun Pyo was engaging in now. She retorts back to Jun Pyo that if he fires the principle then fine, she’ll step in as principle. Surely he doesn’t want that to happen?

She grabs Jun Pyo and tells the rest of F4 and Jandi to follow her back home. At home, Jun Hee proposes a way to settle all of this — some friendly sports competitions. The three people entangled in this whole affair are to each randomly draw an event in which Ji Hoo and Jun Pyo will compete in. Winner has it his way. First up — horse racing.

Jun Pyo and Ji Hoo each completes their own preparation for the race. Jun Pyo goes at it in a more aggressive manner, whereas Ji Hoo is more laid back. The horse racing coach says to Ji Hoo at one point that he doesn’t want to have to teach the both of them [horse racing skills] just so they can compete with each other.

On the day of the race, at a mid-point in the competition, we see an obstacle that Jun Pyo faces. He can take the shorter route with his horse, which will probably guarantee his win, but it would require going through treacherous terrain and Jun Pyo has been given adequate warning beforehand that if the horse is to brave through the mountain, it might not make it out alive. Jun Pyo ignores these warnings and proceeds on.

He wins the race, but gets no satisfaction out of it. His horse will probably never be able to run again and Jun Pyo expresses grief over this. Meanwhile, Ji Hoo and Jandi are the losers, but they are definitely not experiencing the same down Jun Pyo is. Ji Hoo does the whole “Wanna ride mah horse?” thing and they’re not weighed down with HORSE CRUELTY burdens.

Next competition. We’re not immediately privy to what the competition is, but we’re given a scene where Ji Hoo has a nightmare and dreams about the car accident that took place when he was a little kid, where his parents both died and left him behind. Since then, Ji Hoo has presumably been unable to drive or deal with automobiles.

The next morning, Jun Pyo is in an amazingly good mood. He comes down for breakfast, mixes up his four-character sayings, and all is right in the world. Obviously, he knows he’s going to win the next competition and has not a worry in the world.

It’s only when Jandi gets confronted by the Tarty Trio that she finds out Ji Hoo’s apparent inability to compete in a task as challenging as this one. She ponders with Ga-eul about the right thing to do. She doesn’t want Ji Hoo to suffer for her like this, so maybe she should just leave Shinhwa. Ga-eul suggests asking Jun Hee for help on the matter, but Jandi rebuts saying that she’s already done so much for her.

Then, we’re shown Ji Hoo . . . sitting around and watching Jun Pyo race his car instead of actually doing some practice himself. Jandi visits him and she tells him to just give up. Ji Hoo doesn’t see why he should give up, but Jandi tells him that this isn’t really worth it and she doesn’t really care about staying at Shinhwa anyway. Ji Hoo responds,

Be with me. I don’t know whether I can win or not, but I will give it my all. Right now, I want to win.

While the two are giving each other prep talks, Jun Pyo circles around the racetrack multiple times and catches the two of them acting friendly. Of course, this is not to his liking and the second time he sees Jandi being attentive to Ji Hoo, he loses his concentration and his car swerves dangerously on the road. Jandi reacts to Jun Pyo’s near incident, whereas Ji Hoo looks like he’s come to a realization, and smiles.

It’s the day of the race. While Jun Pyo gets ready, Woobin comes in and tells the crazy SOB to be careful. Likewise, Yi Jung goes to tell Ji Hoo that he shouldn’t force it if he can’t do it and to be careful. (Woobin’s “Be careful” to Jun Pyo is more like “Look, you crazy bastard, don’t do anything stupid on the racetrack” whereas Yi Jung’s to Ji Hoo is more like “Dude, I know you go crazy phobiatic in a car, so if you can’t, stop trying to act cool and force it.”)

Ji Hoo with Yi Jung step out of the locker room where they see Jandi and Ga-eul, who showed up to dole out some moral support. Ga-eul asks Ji Hoo, “A secret weapon . . . do you have it? You have one, right?” Ji Hoo is confused as to what she’s referring to, and at the same time, we see Jun Pyo step out with Woobin from the adjacent locker room. Ji Hoo looks over at Jun Pyo and yes, yes he does have a secret weapon.

He then puts his secret weapon into motion. Aware that Jun Pyo is watching, he steps forward and gives Jandi a hug. Jandi seems uncomfortable with the hug, but Ji Hoo tells her to stay still. He then leans in to whisper to Jandi that while this may seem a bit childish and naive, this is his plan of attack, and asks her to play along. Ji Hoo then goes for in for the kill — he very deliberately gives Jandi a kiss on the forehead while Jun Pyo is watching.

Jun Pyo absolutely seethes in anger upon seeing this. He reasons that Ji Hoo really must be crazy. This is second time — no, wait, third time he’s done this (in reference to the kissing). The bastard is dead. As Ji Hoo walks away, we hear his voiceover, “Jun Pyo, sorry. I just want to protect her.”

Show time. Ji Hoo and Jun Pyo race the hell out of each other on the track and then BAM — Jun Pyo starts thinking about what took place between Jandi and Ji Hoo right outside the lockers and his attention is severely diverted. His car swerves and he’s off the track. With that, Ji Hoo leaves him behind to win the race. This is the aha moment — that was Ji Hoo’s secret weapon. He knew that being friendly with Jandi would short-circuit Jun Pyo somehow and short-circuit him it did.

Fast forward to the third task. Dun dun dun — it’s swimming. Jun Pyo throws a fuss upon hearing the results, accuses Jandi of messing with the draw, blah blah blah. Jun Hee maintains that Jun Pyo can forfeit if he wishes. These games were put forth with the intention that the results be respected, no matter who wins or loses.

This is where I laugh really hard at the absurdity of the writing/directing — Yi Jung believes that this is unfair and volunteers himself to take Jun Pyo’s place. Yi Jung is totally serious in that I-firmly-believe-in-bros-before-hoes business and really looks like he wants to take Ji Hoo down.

Upon hearing that Yi Jung is to replace Jun Pyo in the contest — which Jun Pyo wholeheartedly agrees with — Jandi volunteers to take the place of Ji Hoo. It’s only fair. Jun Hee reminds her that this is Yi Jung, A Man, and he’s a Man With Skill at that. ‘Fraid yet, girl? Jun Pyo objects and exclaims that this can’t be a proper competition if it were with a girl. Jandi maintains that this is in regards to her expulsion from Shinhwa, she’ll do what it takes to affirm her innocence.

Jun Hee then suggests that this should just be a 2 vs. 2 match — Woobin and Yi Jung versus Jandi and Ji Hoo. Ya?

Then we cut to the obligatory preparing-for-a-swimming-match scenes. Somewhere in the world, Michael Phelps feels a SHARP pain on the right side of his abdomen and doesn’t know what it is. (Maybe it’s just the horrible way the PD tries to make it look like Jandi/Yi Jung/Woobin are all suave swimmers.) Jun Pyo, being the baby he is, is keeping track of Woobin and Yi Jung’s swim times and I just want to pet Jun Pyo for being such a short-tempered idiot.

At the Geums’, the family has found out that Jandi has to take a leave from Shinhwa. Obviously, they’ve all been very in love with the idea of Jandi attending such a school and are in disbelief at the actions Jandi took that warranted her expulsion. They express their disappointment with her and demand that she apologize to Jun Pyo.

When Jandi leaves her place to go take a breather, she finds Jun Pyo rolling up in his car. The two have a (pretty one-sided) conversation,

Jun Pyo: It’s already so late, where are you going?
Jandi: Off to practice. Can’t I?
Jun Pyo: You want to win that badly?
Jandi: We don’t have a choice.
Jun Pyo: “We”? Why does it have to be Ji Hoo? As long as it’s not Ji Hoo.
Jandi: Gu Jun Pyo–
Jun Pyo grabs Jandi into an embrace
It’s not too late. Just one sentence is enough. Say you like me. Just one sentence.

Annnnd scene.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’m starting to come to the conclusion that I really don’t like Yi Jung’s character too much. Yes, Kim Bum is beautifully distracting and charmingly addictive, but the Korean version writes in a lot messy stuff for the Yi Jung character because I presume they want to take advantage of having Kim Bum on the cast. He’s a great actor and he’s capable of much, much more than a run-of-the-mill playboy so it’s only logical that they give him more lines, give him more face time, create more of a story arch for the character, create more of a character, period.

But by adding all these extra things into the Yi Jung character, it becomes so blatant that this guy is sexist as haaaaale. His sexism is not really in his actions, but more his words. A few episodes back when he first grabs Ga-eul away from work, he remarks to Woobin that “girls like her” always end up in a bad situation whether it be a comedy or a melodrama. In New Caledonia when Yi Jung and Ga-eul are in the raft, Ga-eul talks about the notion of soulmates. Yi Jung immediately dismisses this notion and says that this is why women “can’t do” — AKA, women are weak, women are naive.

Now in regards to his taking Jun Pyo’s place in the swimming contest, he does it out of loyalty to Jun Pyo — which is great and all that, but while I enjoy male camaraderie, I get the sense that Yi Jung is more disgusted by the fact that one regular ol’ Geum Jandi has the ability to shake up the F4 dynamics than he is being loyal to the F4 establishment.

In the scene where Ga-eul goes to convince him to lose on purpose to Jandi, there’s more of a problem with the writing as a reflection of Koreans’ ways of thinking than with Yi Jung being sexist, though there is that. Ga-eul insists that it’s embarrassing for a guy to “compete” with a girl anyway, and Yi Jung shoots back that it’s even more embarrassing for a guy to lose to a girl. From the perspective of an American who’s been raised with the ideas of gender equality and individual well-being being independent of others’ actions, it personally annoys me to listen to this sort of logic: that it’s not a real contest if it’s a boy versus a girl because the girl, it’s assumed, must need a crutch in order to overcome the very fact that she’s a girl.

There’s a lot more issues with gender in this particular Korean adaptation of the story, as well as issues that are very inherent in the story itself that I won’t go into, so for now, those are my remarks.

  • Melissa

    Finally saw it and agree about Yi Jung being a sexist. There were actually a lot of things that annoyed me in past dramas that I’ve shrugged off as culture differences but meh, it is annoying to watch when you’re raised with different ideas. (I swear if I were Jandi and everyone kept stressing the fact that I was a girl about to swim against a “M”an, I would have made a point that vaginas don’t hinder your speed in swimming.) >:|

    But I was even MORE uncomfortable at the injured horse scene. Not when it was laying in the ground but his… horse-agony face. I needed a disclaimer… “No horses were harmed in the making of the most fail episode.”

    The writing is getting very bad. I’m not one to actually enjoy dramas when they have the most dumb circumstances to resolve their issues. Granted, they’re DRAMAS. They’re supposed to be dramatic, moving, and full of crap you won’t ever face in your life. But I scoffed at the idea of deciding your school fate over stupid contests. The idea seems to far-off from reality and just plain… dumb… that I couldn’t really enjoy this episode. It just got too silly. Oh whatever. Here’s hoping for a better ep. 8.

    Your recaps are hilar btw. Bros-before-hoes. I spit out my drink.

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