Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! This pair of episodes throw reveals at us faster than the speed of light, almost, and I don’t know about y’all, but I am left in a suitably impressed, dizzy heap. 🤩 I mean, honestly, Show gets so much done in an hour!
I hope you guys are ready to chat about Money Flower episodes 7 & 8! Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Woof. We get some pretty shocking reveals this hour, and, not gonna lie, I could barely keep my jaw from hanging open, as the reveals hit me in the face. 🤯 This is the benefit of giving yourself lots of time between rewatches – you tend to forget the details, and everything feels fresh again. 🤩
First of all, it becomes clear that Pil Joo understands Mal Ran like the back of his hand. He’d known, that once she heard that he’d lived with Ahn Ho Kyung for a time, that she would become suspicious of his identity, and he pre-empted that, by having Yong Goo sprinkle his own hair on Pil Joo’s bed, for Secretary Oh to find, and submit to the DNA lab.
I know it can come across as a bit of a stretch to some viewers, but given that Pil Joo has spent years closely observing Mal Ran, and himself has a startling ability to psycho-analyze others with a penetrating level of accuracy, I’m not even that surprised that Pil Joo would be one step ahead of Mal Ran, even in this.
Also, I still find it remarkable that Pil Joo’s able to keep such a cool, unruffled demeanor, even while Mal Ran’s talking about his mother. That look of pure, blank innocence is so.. affecting, to me. I feel like this is a glimpse of the innocent boy who’d been swallowed up by Pil Joo’s resolution of revenge. And, I also feel like there is so much pain and dysfunction that he hides, beneath that pure, clear-eyed expression.
That said, I notice that there’s a hint – just a tiny hint – of tears in his eyes, as he asks Mal Ran what she plans to do, when she finds Eun Cheon, and this makes me wonder if part of Pil Joo hopes – yearns? – for welcome and acceptance, from the family that had once thrown him away.
How startling, though, that at the end of the scene, that look of pure innocence morphs into one of pure menace, in a matter of seconds. Again, Jang Hyuk blows me away with his masterful control of his micro-expressions. 🤩
As it turns out, Secretary Oh is much more intimately involved in Pil Joo’s history than he’d seemed to know, since, this episode, we see Pil Joo make the connection that Secretary Oh had been the man on the boat who had thrown him and his mother and brother into the water. Yikes. Talk about finding your enemy nearby.
This episode, I’m also paying close attention to the relationship between Mal Ran and Secretary Oh. She’s clearly toying with his feelings, to her advantage.
For example, she thinks nothing of saying to him, that only Pil Joo would be able to find Eun Cheon for sure; this, when Secretary Oh is the one who’s been managing that task for her all these years. That’s a metaphorical slap in the face for Secretary Oh, and Mal Ran delivers it with apparent thoughtlessness, as if it’s an afterthought. On further thought, however, I do think that she is being very deliberate in toying with Secretary Oh’s feelings and self-esteem. I think that’s how she’s kept him in the palm of her hand, all these years.
And now, when she decides that she wants him to kill Eun Cheon, whom she thinks they’ve found, she takes Secretary Oh’s hand, even though she’s appeared to have pushed him aside for so long, like she knows he’s helpless putty in her hands.
I’m both repulsed and fascinated by Mal Ran, honestly. I find it quite disgusting that she uses sex as a tool to control the men who are close to her; we’ve seen how she is with Pil Joo, and now, we see her use the same tactics on Secretary Oh as well. It seems like her modus operandi, and it feels like a cheap trick, that she’d literally prostitute herself for power. At the same time, I do find her intriguing, in her messed-up dysfunction.
I also wonder at Secretary Oh, as in, why does he choose to be blind in the face of Mal Ran’s manipulation? Because she’s beautiful and sexy, and she’d come on to him, when he’d been her righthand man, and he couldn’t bring himself to say no? I mean, from where I’m standing right now, it sucks to be him. He seems hopelessly devoted to Mal Ran, while Mal Ran’s clearly turned her favor elsewhere, in Pil Joo’s direction. I have to wonder at how Secretary Oh feels, towards Pil Joo. 🤔
I have to say, though, that I found it pretty darn satisfying to watch Pil Joo outsmart Secretary Oh this episode, particularly when he lay in bed, in fake Eun Cheon’s gosiwon room, and then beat up Secretary Oh, while foiling the assassination attempt. I guess Mal Ran’s correct in her assessment of Pil Joo’s capabilities versus Secretary Oh’s, after all. 😆
On another note, I have to agree with many of you, that Boo Cheon appears to be genuinely happy with Mo Hyun. For all of Mo Hyun’s wide-eyed innocence, which can feel rather jarring to watch, her wholesomeness does seem to rub off on Boo Cheon. The look on Boo Cheon’s face, as he tells Mo Hyun over the phone, that her promise to stay with him no matter what, has given him confidence in everything that he does, is one of genuine happiness. In this moment, I do believe that he’s sincerely happy to be marrying Mo Hyun.
I believe him too, later in the episode, when he looks at Mo Hyun with a sense of wonder, and asks if she could move in right away. Their exchange of “I love you”s feels heartfelt and true, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d be convinced that this was a love match for real.
But, Seo Won is still very much in the picture, and she’s making sure that she stays in the picture, what with her efforts to reach out to Mo Hyun, so that they can be friends. I have to say, I agree with the general sentiment among you guys, that Seo Won is much more suited to Mooshimwon than Mo Hyun.
Ah, on a related tangent, I know that Mo Hyun and Boo Cheon explain this episode, that Mooshimwon means “a hill where you live without greed,” while I’d earlier mentioned that Mooshimwon literally translates to “heartless garden.” The thing is, both can be correct. “Shim” (the hanja of which is “心”) can mean heart, and it can also mean intent. Therefore, the lack of “shim” (ie, 無心) can mean heartless, and it can also mean without intent.
Now that I think about it, since Boo Cheon mentions that Grandpa Chairman had been the one to name Mooshimwon when it was built, taking inspiration from a Great Monk, it makes me wonder if Grandpa Chairman had always intended the double meaning, since he’s all about that upright facade, while nursing a viper heart underneath..? 🤔
I love that Pil Joo stays in such complete control, through all the various upheavals and reveals. When President Jang tries to threaten Pil Joo into calling off the marriage between Boo Cheon and Mo Hyun, I love that Pil Joo just threatens him right back, with Yeo Cheon’s embezzlement of the slush fund money, and then excuses himself. Ha. Our Pil Joo; he’s always so prepared. 🤩
Also! What. A. Reveal., that Boo Cheon isn’t even related to Pil Joo! 🤯 This means that Pil Joo, the rightful blood heir of Cheong A, has been serving a fake heir all these years, while plotting his revenge. The implications of that are.. complicated, to say the least. In this moment, as the information sinks in for Pil Joo, I feel like there are shades of.. reproach in his gaze, as he looks up at Boo Cheon. Poor Pil Joo. I can only imagine how wronged he must feel, in this moment. 💔
I’d like to take a moment to give our music PD some love, because the way the music is managed in this show is nothing short of spectacular. Not only is the music itself perfectly suited to our story, it’s applied so meticulously, to create the perfect impact, at the perfect moment.
For example, in our opening scene, while Boo Cheon talks with Pil Joo, the music is restrained, even as it pulses, and then, the moment Boo Cheon leaves the room, and Pil Joo is alone with his thoughts, the music amps up and starts to swirl. I practically feel like I’m experiencing Pil Joo’s thoughts, as they hit him, wave after wave, while he processes this new information, that Boo Cheon is not his father’s son. Beautifully done, and so brilliant.
It feels significant to me, that Pil Joo, who’s observed Mal Ran for years, and at close range, actually seems to be at least a little bit blindsided by the realization that Boo Cheon is not his father’s son. The way Pil Joo mutters, “Jung Mal Ran-sshi.. My gosh, you are a piece of work,” makes me think that Mal Ran is even more messed up and dysfunctional than Pil Joo had thought – and that’s saying a lot, since Pil Joo, as we’ve seen, knows her very well indeed; well enough to predict just about her every move.
This intimate understanding flows both ways, at least to some extent. Even though Pil Joo has been carefully impassive around Mo Hyun, Mal Ran’s managed to pick up on Pil Joo’s soft spot for Mo Hyun. That’s pretty impressive, actually. She really does know him.. well, quite well.
And once again, the dysfunction in the relationship between Mal Ran and Pil Joo rises up to hit me in the face. Given how Mal Ran appears to jealously guard her position as Pil Joo’s lover, it’s quite surprising to me, how she tells Pil Joo to treasure his feelings for Mo Hyun, because it’s important for a man to have such a memory.
Does she mean that, I wonder? Or is she just saying that serenely as a form of power play with Pil Joo, while hating Mo Hyun with the fire of a thousand suns, for daring to catch Pil Joo’s eye? I’m.. kinda leaning towards the second possibility, since I don’t see Mal Ran as the kind of woman who would generously tolerate the wandering eye of a man whom she sees as her own.
I do think that Mal Ran is being honest in her answer to Pil Joo question about whether she’d loved her husband. How interesting, that she would be vulnerable like this, to Pil Joo. That definitely tells us quite a bit, about his standing with her.
I’ve been quite fascinated by how Pil Joo alternates between allowing signs of intimacy with Mal Ran, and withholding it. It strikes me as his way of controlling her, and it seems effective too, because Mal Ran definitely seems to crave his affection and attention. And in this instance, it seems to me, that Pil Joo puts his hand to Mal Ran’s cheek, because she’s picked up on his feelings for Mo Hyun. This feels like he’s doing this to distract her, and convince her that she has his attention, and no one else.
The way Mal Ran removes his hand from her face, and states that he always gives her the right answers, and that’s why she likes him, makes me think that she knows he’s lying to her, but she chooses to pretend to believe him anyway.
Given how twisted it is that Pil Joo, the rightful, blood-related heir of Cheong A, has been serving a fake son of Cheong A all these years, I’m quite stunned at the relative kindness that Pil Joo shows Boo Cheon, in revealing the truth to him. I mean, even though Pil Joo could have told Boo Cheon the truth in malice, he doesn’t; I feel like Pil Joo’s perhaps even sorry for Boo Cheon, as he tells him the truth.
Not only does he give Boo Cheon some of that nostalgic candy, he actually hesitates, before telling him. And, as Boo Cheon points out, that’s something that Pil Joo rarely ever does. And, as Boo Cheon reels from the news, and acts out in various ways, Pil Joo just stands there waiting for Boo Cheon, with an expression that appears both troubled and rueful. This seems very.. humane and sympathetic of Pil Joo, I feel, considering the implications of the reveal to him personally.
Credit to Jang Seung Jo’s delivery, Boo Cheon’s reaction at learning that he’s not his father’s son manages to land quite sympathetically, for me. Even though he’s still whiny and weak, and therefore more than a little annoying, he also feels genuinely shocked, forlorn, wretched and lost, and that makes my heart go out to him. Very nicely played, I feel.
Given Boo Cheon’s sudden loss of his blood ties to Cheong A, I feel like I can understand why he would now reach out to Seo Won, and start showing interest in the baby that she’s carrying. This baby now represents the blood ties that he’d “lost,” so to speak, and it makes sense to me that Boo Cheon would now want to hold onto his ties with this baby, more than ever.
As usual, Pil Joo is way ahead of the game, with his anticipation that President Jang would make an attempt to test Boo Cheon’s DNA.
I’m quite blown away by the fact that Pil Joo is the one who creates that opportunity for President Jang, by having Boo Cheon orchestrate an accident on purpose. It makes sense to me on hindsight, though. Because it’s when the situation is initiated by Pil Joo, that he has more room to control the situation, and create the space for Yong Goo to swap Boo Cheon’s blood sample with Pil Joo’s, thus foiling President Jang’s attempt. Our Pil Joo; he’s just so shrewd and so prepared.
Pil Joo is also very shrewd, in getting Boo Cheon to tell Mo Hyun the truth about his parentage. As Pil Joo proves, he understands Mo Hyun really well, while Boo Cheon truly doesn’t know Mo Hyun very well at all, because she doesn’t take it badly like Boo Cheon had expected, and instead sympathizes with him, and pledges her loyalty to him even more fiercely than before.
Again, though, as with each occasion when Pil Joo’s pushed Boo Cheon towards Mo Hyun, Pil Joo ends up relegated to the sidelines, with that sadly wistful look in his eyes. Which is exactly how Pil Joo looks, during the wedding as well. 💔
I can only imagine how completely messed up Pil Joo must feel on the day of the wedding, because, not only is the woman he loves marrying the fake son of Cheong A, whom he, the real son of Cheong A, has been serving all these years (like, that could have been him marrying Mo Hyun, no?), but also, his kinda-sorta stepmother (since she was his father’s wife) is clinging onto him and looking at him with “don’t leave me” eyes.
This is the most explicit and direct Show has been, in indicating a sexual relationship between Mal Ran and Pil Joo, and honestly, even though Show doesn’t show us more than Mal Ran holding Pil Joo’s hand in an unspoken request to stay, and the subsequent shutting of the bedroom door, it’s plenty clear what we are meant to assume is happening behind those closed doors. It’s completely messed up, but also completely compelling. I have to wonder what’s going on in Pil Joo’s mind, as he seduces his stepmother, who is the very person who’d essentially asked for him and his mother and brother to be killed. 😳🤯
I’d kind of forgotten about the 5-year time skip, so it did take me by surprise, a little bit. It makes sense for our story, though, because Boo Cheon needed to put in the time in New York, and our story only really rolls forward, when he’s in Korea with Pil Joo.
Given how Boo Cheon’s been showing us that he seems sincerely grateful to be marrying Mo Hyun, I have to admit that I kind of gasped, when Seo Won showed up in the rest area on the plane, to share a drink with him. Dang. This means that he’d taken Seo Won and the baby to New York with him, and had housed them and provided for them, and likely taken time to nurture a family life with them, all while Mo Hyun was innocently and faithfully fulfilling her wifely duties by his side. 🤯
Honestly, it makes me question everything Boo Cheon’s ever said to Mo Hyun about loving her and being grateful for her, because he’s literally living a lie with her, and has been doing so, for 5 whole years. Even the way he excuses himself on the plane, while Mo Hyun gets a drink, feels like he’s trying to get away from her. I feel so bad for Mo Hyun, who seems clueless about Boo Cheon’s betrayal, and appears to still be wistfully yearning to have a child with him.
Now that Pil Joo’s caught sight of Seo Won and her son at the airport, it does feel like things are going to get complicated really fast. Because, surely Seo Won didn’t come all this way, just so that Pil Joo could get rid of her? 😬