Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! This was a pretty mindblowing pair of episodes, but before we get into that, can we just take a moment to appreciate how handsome Pil Joo looks in this screenshot? He just has this hypnotic effect on me. 🤩
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. I’ve put up a brainstorming post here, where we can discuss what shows we’d like to consider for our next group watch – if you guys still want to keep the group watch going, that is. Please take some time to pop on over, to share your thoughts! 😃
2. 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.
3. 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! ❤️
Grandpa Chairman coming face to face with his real eldest grandson is an event that we’ve been waiting for, all series long, and I must say, this meeting does not disappoint.
Watching these two come face to face like this, feels like watching an aging dragon, old but still in possession of enough stature and power to be a force to be reckoned with, and a young dragon, healthy, strong and yet with enough experience and maturity about him to be considered fearsome, circling each other, and just beginning to spar. It’s compelling, edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff, because even though we know Pil Joo’s formidable, well, so is Grandpa.
It’s an almost throwaway moment, but outside the room, Ms. Han remarks that Grandpa and Pil Joo have been silent for an hour, and wonders what is going on. This means that Pil Joo’s rendered Grandpa speechless, for a whole hour. That’s quite something, yes?
Of course, when Grandpa does speak, he’s not at all amicable, and is extremely suspicious of Pil Joo’s intentions. What impresses me, is that no matter what Grandpa says, or how unwelcoming or annoyed he becomes, Pil Joo remains completely calm and unruffled. There’s a soothing vibe about him which I really like. In response to Grandpa’s question of why Pil Joo’s revealing his identity now, Pil Joo says in serene, even tones:
“Grandfather, for me to make a bow to you I needed time to prepare.” … “When I revealed myself as a son born out of wedlock, I needed power to protect myself and endure the trouble. As you know, I am in charge of eliminating people born out of wedlock. So I thought about how I could survive without being eliminated as one of them. I figured out a way… and prepared for it. It took me 20 years.”
He’s respectful, but also, steady as a rock, and I love it. And just as Grandpa tells Pil Joo not to address him as “Grandfather” without his permission, I am rather thrilled at how Pil Joo counters it calmly with a similar request, that Grandpa not refer to him as his grandson, without his permission. HA. I’m sure Grandpa hadn’t seen that coming.
And then when Grandpa gets upset at the stack of incriminating evidence that Pil Joo presents him with, and demands, “Are you threatening me??,” I love how Pil Joo politely answers, “Yes, sir.” Ahaha. This is so great.
I love how Pil Joo maintains that composure, while suggesting a DNA test to confirm their relationship, and then stating his demand-request, that Grandpa sell him stock of Cheong A Bio at a preferential rate – and the consequences he has planned, if Grandpa refuses. Pil Joo is such a coolheaded badass. 🤩
I love that when Boo Cheon and Yeo Cheon interrupt this conversation, and Grandpa becomes furious at Boo Cheon for overturning his order for Yeo Cheon to work in exile in Myanmar, it’s Pil Joo – who’s just outright threatened him – that Grandpa turns to for input. HA. That just goes to show how much Pil Joo is needed in Cheong A, much as the people of Cheong A don’t like to admit it.
And again, I love how unmoved Pil Joo is, in the middle of the storm, even as Grandpa loses his cool, and Boo Cheon and Yeo Cheon cower nervously in the face of his fury. Also, trust Pil Joo to provide advice that sounds perfectly logical, but which, if followed, would only further Pil Joo’s own cause. He’s really savvy, our Pil Joo.
On the other hand, Boo Cheon’s clearly trying to establish himself apart from Pil Joo and Mal Ran, though it doesn’t seem like he’s getting very positive results, overall. The way he talks about wanting to get rid of Pil Joo, and having the power to do so now that he’s Vice Chairman, feels like a child who insists that he doesn’t need to go to school, now that he’s learned his ABCs. It’s all very naive; he has no idea what he’s up against.
All those evil side-eyes that he keeps throwing in Pil Joo’s direction this episode feel so.. weak and ineffectual, honestly.
I’d say the same about Boo Cheon’s efforts to mend his relationship with Mo Hyun. He has no idea what he’s dealing with. He thinks that by spending more time with Mo Hyun, and driving her to work, will help to heal the rift between them, but little does he know that this is far too little, too late. I do feel a tiny bit sorry for Boo Cheon, because he has no idea that he’s already lost Mo Hyun.
I’m suspicious of what it means, when Mo Hyun finds her family home’s gate ajar, when she arrives. Is there.. someone in the house with them, without their knowledge..? 😬 Eep. That’s creepy. And if there’s someone snooping around, I suppose it would be someone sent by Grandpa Chairman..?
When the DNA test confirms that Pil Joo is indeed Grandpa Chairman’s grandson, I find the subsequent vibe between them very interesting. After the initial displeasure, there’s a ruefulness about Grandpa, as he talks about how it must have been his son Soo Man, helping him to meet both his grandsons on the same day – Soo Man’s memorial day. In this moment, he almost comes across like a regretful old man.
I’m even more intrigued by Pil Joo’s tone of voice, as he answers Grandpa’s question about whether Pil Joo had stayed around Boo Cheon intentionally since the accident, and also even as he continues to remind Grandpa of his demand-request for Cheong A Bio shares. Besides the unruffled calm, there’s also a distinct gentleness in his voice. I find that quite startling, actually, since this is a situation which is antagonistic in its nature. With that gentleness in his voice, it almost feels like Pil Joo’s a little bit sorry for Grandpa.
The way Mal Ran seeks Pil Joo’s approval for the reward that she’s giving him to celebrate Boo Cheon being appointed Vice Chairman, reeks of desperation. Putting aside the actual words spoken, the scene between them vibes like a woman tearfully putting in a last ditch effort to persuade her man to stay, even though she knows that it is mostly likely futile.
Speaking of desperation, we do get some insight into why Boo Cheon’s so determined to get rid of Pil Joo. In his conversation with Secretary Oh, he talks about how Pil Joo’s probably biding his time, and waiting for Boo Cheon to become Chairman, which is when he will likely push Boo Cheon out, and reveal Boo Cheon’s birth secret, in one fell swoop.
However, Boo Cheon’s efforts to try and send Pil Joo to New York, are so obviously loaded with agenda. I’m surprised that Pil Joo’s able to keep a straight face, when Boo Cheon broaches the idea, with loads of fake enthusiasm. Honestly, the more desperate Boo Cheon becomes, the more pathetic he comes across.
Ooh, Pil Joo’s unpacking of the situation with Grandpa for Mo Hyun, is so shrewd, and makes so much sense. Mo Hyun’s all ready to report Grandpa to the police, with the recording as evidence, but it never occurs to her that it won’t get her very far.
“Since Congressman Na is alive, you can only report it as attempted instigation to commit suicide. If you do, you will be revealing to the public… that Congressman Na is alive. It’s possible that Chairman Jang could have taken everything into account and told you on purpose to take it to the police.”
Pil Joo is such a discerning thinker! And this does add weight to the theory that whoever is possibly snooping around Mo Hyun’s family home, is actually sent by Grandpa Chairman. Could it be Secretary Ahn? She’s certainly behaving suspiciously, swopping out what looks to be a recording pen from Mal Ran’s office, with a presumably fresh one. Hmm. 🤔
Also, Grandpa Chairman really is turning out to be a force to be reckoned with. Even though our Pil Joo has proven to be formidable on multiple occasions, his planned consequences for Grandpa Chairman not meeting the bank deadline, fails completely. Not only that, Grandpa casually reveals that he knows that Pil Joo is the one who took Congressman Na from the hospital. Oooh. A worthy opponent indeed. I wonder what Pil Joo’s Plan B is, that he speaks of?
I doubt that it’s the divorce between Boo Cheon and Mo Hyun, though that is the main arc of this episode’s final minutes. Mo Hyun hears the full truth from Aide Yang, and realizes that her father had agreed to the marriage of convenience, and had even discussed the details with Mal Ran, long before Mo Hyun had even met Boo Cheon. Oof. That’s got to hurt, and I’m sure it shatters any lingering hope that Mo Hyun has, that her father was an innocent party in all of this.
This is the truth that she’s been looking for, all this time that she’s insisted on staying on at Mooshimwon, despite everyone else telling her that it’s better for her to leave. To her credit, Mo Hyun wastes no time in preparing to leave, now that she’s gotten what she’d come for.
She tells Boo Cheon about what she’s learned, and broaches the subject of divorce, before letting Boo Cheon listen to the recording of Grandpa’s conversation with Congressman Na. Even though it’s clear that Boo Cheon is devastated, and wants nothing more than for Mo Hyun to stay with him, I’m glad that he grasps the significance of the recording, and realizes that nothing he can ever do, will make that go away.
This is a shred of decency that I appreciate from Boo Cheon. Despite being a pretty shoddy husband, in this moment at least, he’s able to put himself in Mo Hyun’s shoes and understand that it would be impossible for her to stay on in the Jang family, given the circumstances. And I’m glad that he sincerely apologizes to her, even there is nothing that he can do, to make things right.
The final scene, when Mo Hyun seeks out Pil Joo in his quarters, is so compelling. After getting the surface formalities out of the way, of informing him of her divorce, and reminding him of his promise to be her divorce lawyer, if she should need one, she looks him in the eye, and tells him, in measured, considered tones:
“I know you took advantage of me to get revenge for your brother whom you lost in the water. I might not be able to forgive you even after many years. No matter how hard you try to deny, I know how much you love me. So I want to say, ‘Pil Joo, forget everything here and just leave with me.’ However, I cannot fully understand the dire time and pain the boy who walked into the water had, so I couldn’t dare to tell you to give up on your revenge and leave with me. So I’m leaving you behind at Mooshimwon.”
Augh. There’s so much honesty, empathy and compassion, in those words. She doesn’t shy away from speaking the truth – that she knows he loves her – and she doesn’t pretend to understand how he feels. And yet, she demonstrates respect for how he feels, and what he believes he needs to do. At the same time, she does not even attempt to compromise what she feels she herself needs to do. It’s all very painful and poignant.
In this rare moment of unembellished honesty, it seems fitting that Mo Hyun demonstrate her reciprocation of Pil Joo’s feelings, by kissing him; a move which he accepts with an expression of sad wonder, but which he does not return – until she starts to move away, which is when he reaches for her hand.
Ahhh. That look that he gives her, for the long second that he holds onto her hand, seems to say so much; I’m sorry; I wish things didn’t have to be this way; I do love you. And then, as he lets go of her hand, his expression changes to one of tearful gratitude, like he’s saying, “Thank you. This much.. is enough for me.”
AUGH. The heartache of this handhold, and this silent, pregnant moment of honesty. It’s so little, and so much, at the same time. 💔
Guh. What. An. Episode. 🤯🤯 Even though this is my second watch, the feels still hit me hard enough to knock my jaw to the floor.
Before we get to the bigger events of this episode, I just wanted to say that Boo Cheon is a selfish prick after all. After all of his tears and compassion for Mo Hyun last episode, when she’d just told him that she wants a divorce and why, he backpedals this episode, and tells her that he can’t divorce her right now. Clearly, his reasons are self-centered. He doesn’t lay it out so specifically, but it’s obvious that it’s because his reputation is at stake, and this is all just bad timing, for him. Wow. It looks like whatever selflessness Boo Cheon manages to muster up, his self-interest is always greater. 🙄
How shrewd of Pil Joo, to accelerate the plans for Boo Cheon’s chairmanship, in response to Boo Cheon’s efforts to pack him off to New York. Not only does this drive home how much Pil Joo is needed here in Korea rather than in New York, and therefore put a stop to any talk of transferring him to New York, it also speeds up Pil Joo’s own revenge plans.
The milestone signaling Pil Joo’s time to act, had always been Boo Cheon being appointed Chairman. Bringing that milestone forward naturally brings forward the peak of Pil Joo’s plans: to reveal himself to Mal Ran, even as he reveals Boo Cheon’s birth secret to Grandpa.
And, how fascinating is it, that as Pil Joo assists in making Cheong A Bio the holding company with one hand, he continues to submit evidence against Grandpa Chairman to the prosecution, with the other.
Even though Grandpa Chairman tries to fight back by having masked men knock out poor Yong Goo (thank goodness he’s ok!) and steal all the files from Pil Joo’s secret stash, it isn’t long before Pil Joo impresses on Grandpa Chairman that he has many, many copies of the evidence that’s been stolen, and has Grandpa dutifully on the phone with the bank CEO, to arrange the loan that Pil Joo’s requested.
We see how much Mal Ran trusts Pil Joo as well. When ex-President Jang approaches her with information on this loan, and warns her not to let Pil Joo know that she knows, she instead goes right to Pil Joo, to ask him what the loan is for. This demonstrates that she trusts Pil Joo implicitly; even when the evidence is stacked against him, she believes that Pil Joo must have a reason for it, and gives Pil Joo the chance to tell her that reason.
This time, though, Mal Ran does give Pil Joo an explicit warning, that if he betrays her, he will have to pay an unimaginable price. She says that she’s saying this because so many different people keep talking to her about him, and she claims that saying it out loud makes her feel better. But the expression on her face indicates that she feels anything but better. Her laugh feels hollows, and her eyes are red with tears; it seems that she is more uneasy than anything.
Mal Ran’s distracted soon enough, though, with Mo Hyun visiting her to inform her of her decision to divorce Boo Cheon. She puts her foot down and tells Mo Hyun to spend some time at her mother’s instead, but agrees to give Mo Hyun her share of property, saying that it’ll help her feel better.
I’m glad that Mo Hyun fights back, by reminding Mal Ran – oh so politely – that she is still keeping Boo Cheon’s secret, and therefore Mal Ran should also keep her manners towards Mo Hyun. Ooh. Burnn. I love it when Mo Hyun manages to stop Mal Ran in her tracks, while playing Mal Ran’s game, using Mal Ran’s rules.
We get a quick glimpse of Grandpa Chairman deep in thought in his study, and in voiceover, he admits to his son Soo Man, that he’s afraid of what Pil Joo might do. This is the first time we’ve seen Grandpa Chairman actually feel intimidated by Pil Joo, and so I find this quick scene significant. It definitely seems to foreshadow things to come.
The most shocking arc this episode, though, has to be Mal Ran sending Secretary Oh to his death. Ugh. The whole thing is appalling, really. When she first starts crying in the car, it feels like she’s genuinely sorry to see him go, after all these years, but really, she’s just sent him off to die. It’s so messed up, I can’t even.
Like, if you’re so sad to see him go, then maybe don’t kill him? But no, she sends him off with poisoned coffee, and a suicide note in his pocket dressed as a letter from her. Plus, she sends thugs to make sure that he drinks the coffee too, because, as it’s clear from the way one of the thugs waves his knife at Secretary Oh, that they will finish the job for him, if he doesn’t comply.
Which means that Secretary Oh drinks that coffee, knowing full well that it’s poisoned. Ack. I feel so bad for him. He’s worked with Mal Ran for literal decades, and therefore knows her ways all too well. I have a gut feeling that even when she’d first handed him that flask of coffee, he’d probably known that it was his death sentence. And yet, he’d taken it and thanked her for it. 😭 Poor, sad Secretary Oh. He’d loved Mal Ran to his own detriment, and now, she’s literally killed him. 💔
The only silver lining to this, is that his final message, which he’d meant for Boo Cheon, actually gets sent, even though he’d died before managing to hit the send button, and even though Boo Cheon doesn’t even seem to think anything of the seemingly innocuous message, asking him to stay warm. We do see Boo Cheon shed a few tears, though, when he hears of Secretary Oh’s supposed suicide note, which I’m sure would comfort Secretary Oh, if he knew.
Ahh. So the recording pens that Secretary Ahn’s been secretly swopping out of Mal Ran’s study, are for Pil Joo. Oooh. He’d probably bugged her study for a long time, waiting for just the right piece of evidence to show up, and now, it has.
Now, Boo Cheon’s conversation with Mal Ran, mentioning that he has two fathers, is just the thing for Pil Joo to serve up to Grandpa, to further tilt his world. The grandson to whom he’s entrusted Cheong A, isn’t even his real grandson. Yikes. First, the DNA test proving that Pil Joo is Soo Man’s son, and then this recording proving that Boo Cheon isn’t? Talk about a one-two punch. I hope Grandpa’s got a strong heart. 😜
And then, we have That Scene, where Pil Joo reveals his identity to Mal Ran; a moment that he’s been planning for, all these years.
It’s all so very deliberate, really. Pil Joo even dresses up in a tux for the special occasion. Also, when Mal Ran says with happy expectancy that whenever Pil Joo had invited her to have champagne with him, it’d always been very good news, I realize that Pil Joo’s been grooming Mal Ran for this moment, for a long time. He’s trained her to expect good news when drinking champagne with him, so that he can bring her down from her highest high, to the lowest low. 🤯 Woah. That’s cold. But also, shrewd, no?
The entire scene is so very sensual and intoxicating, honestly. If you guys will indulge me, I just want to finish these episode notes by quoting what I wrote about this scene, in my Money Flower review:
The scene starts with her happy expectancy, met with his cordial welcome, and that soon evolves into a completely sensual sort of dance, where Pil Joo takes Mal Ran in his arms, and growl-whispers each slow syllable next to her ear, from what feels like the deepest recesses of his throat. He takes his time with each slow caress of his arms, and each languid phrase he exhales from his lips, and the entire vibe is that of a man getting ready to make love to a woman.
All of her senses must feel tantalizingly awakened yet altogether drunk at the same time, from the seduction of his embrace – only for the entire moment to culminate, not in a sensuous kiss, but in the savored moment of his murmured reveal: he is the very Jang Eun Cheon that she’d been trying to get rid of all these years. The scene peaks, with her drowning intoxicated senses struggling to wake up to and comprehend the horror of his words, while he continues to languidly smirk into her eyes.
Oh. My. Word. What a languid yet electric rollercoaster of a scene. It’s completely brilliant, and utterly immersive.
I felt thoroughly vicariously hypnotized by the slow seduction of Pil Joo’s softly lethal confession. Daze.