We start out with a Gaksital scene—1930's, Japanese occupation, a geisha performance. The geisha, our heroine, who in this incarnation is named Sayuri, asks her client about the Japanese viceroy. We next see her meeting with the original Gaksital—er, a reporter, who is our male lead. She hands him a slip of paper with info about the viceroy's arrival, and they kiss.
The next day, he runs to the train station and joins the crowd of press and officials. He hands a wrapped something to a co-conspirator and the viceroy exits the station, and is greeted by an American. The conspirator throws a grenade, which explodes in the midst of the crowd of Japanese military.
Sayuri is visited by a Japanese official and asks for a moment to change before she's arrested. She pulls out a letter that says "We came into this world separately, but let's leave it together. In the next life, let's be husband and wife." She sheds a tear and tucks it back into her kimono.
The reporter runs to the geisha house and finds a dead Sayuri, who stabbed herself. He clutches her body and screams her name to the heavens. "SAYURI!!"
Present day, Go Soo Nam turns off his alarm and goes back to sleep. His wife Na Yeo Ok runs in and entreats him to get up. She asks him to make the bed, but he insists that it's her job. When she complains, he tells her to shut up and reminds her that this is a household chore. Okay, so we have a very traditional couple here—the wife does all the housework (and I'm pretty sure it's all the housework), and the husband brings home the bacon.
When he leaves, Yeo Ok complains to herself, muttering about falling for him in one fell swoop, how it was her big mistake, etc. She goes back to the living area, and her mother-in-law runs out asking about her dry cleaning, cursing Yeo Ok when she tells her it will be delivered in the morning. Soo Nam's sister Il Ran comes out and gets in the way. Yeo Ok asks her to help set the table (calling her agasshi, which indicates their less-than-close relationship), but she says she's too busy. Yeo Ok's son Ki Chan yells for his mom to find his shoes, and complaining that they're wet.
A wealthy middle-aged woman show up at the hotel and heads for the reception desk, where we meet Victoria Kim (aka Ueno Rie in Gaksital). I'm going to call this customer Pearls in Denial, (her name is Han Mal Sook, if you really want to know). She demands that they call Soo Nam, and Victoria sees in the computer that she's a VVIP. She sends Pearls in Denial to the bar to wait.
Soo Nam complains to the chef about Yeo Ok going on strike, mentioning that she's never even complained before. He says that he's been especially nice to her, since she's been taking care of his mother, so she doesn't even know what a bad husband is like. He gets a text from Victoria about Pearls in Denial, complete with 3 hearts at the end. He realizes that Pearls in Denial must have had a big fight with her husband if she's here so early in the day.
He runs to the front desk, and Victoria smiles excitedly to see him, but he's cold and reserved. He shuffles accommodations so PiD can have room 307, and runs off to get things ready for her, leaving Victoria deflated. She has this expression that just perfectly shows her giddiness at seeing him and her disappointment that he doesn't show any reaction to her.
Soo Nam shows PiD to her newly vacated room and she's impressed by his attention to every little detail, like roses and her favorite wine. She complains about her husband, and explains that since he made all his money since they were married, she can get half of all his assets. She just needs to keep calm and wait. Soo Nam is bored by all her talk, but patiently waits. She asks if he's as nice to his wife as he is to her. (She said some really important things in her one-sided conversation, but I doubt he heard any of them.)
Yeo Ok complains to her friend Na Ae Sook about her family, but her friend obviously has something else on her mind. Ae Sook finally tells her that her husband is having an affair. Yeo Ok asks what kind of woman the mistress is, and Ae Sook says she's a former employee of her husband's and that she's a not-pretty spinster.
Yeo Ok asks point blank if Ae Sook is going to divorce her husband. It's the first step to finding a solution. Ae Sook says there's no way she's getting divorced, and Yeo Ok goes into problem-solving mode—they'll make sure that woman never comes near Lawyer Lee again. She asks if her friend knows when a woman sharpens her knife, and answers that it's when her husband cheats. They need to take care of this right now.
Yeo Ok waits outside an elevator, and is stunned when she sees the young and beautiful woman who steps off. (It's Nam Gyu Ri, who plays Se Na in Haeundae Lovers!) She says she was referred to the young woman by Lawyer Lee.
Soo Nam is in a meeting with his boss, John, and his rival, Kang Jin Goo. John is also the American who greeted the Japanese viceroy (who is Kang Jin Goo) in their past life. (A nice touch, IMHO.) John tells the others that he'll be leaving in a month and is planning to make one of them the General Manager of the hotel when he goes. Soo Nam and Jin Goo eye one another defiantly, and Soo Nam makes the first move by stating that he's taken care of the reservations for some important guests—an assignment which was under Jin Goo's purview.
Out in the hall, Jin Goo slams Soo Nam against the wall and curses him out, but Soo Nam stays cool and calm, making little jabs about his breath, etc. throughout. He wipes his face from all the spit Jin Goo sprayed in his outburst.
At a cafe, with "I Will Survive" playing in the background, Yeo Ok leads Mistress by the arm to the table where Ae Sook is sitting. Mistress suddenly realizes something is amiss, and assumes Yeo Ok is Lawyer Lee's wife. Yeo Ok doesn't correct her and crosses her arms and legs in a confrontational way. Ae Sook follows suit. Mistress says she wanted to see her once, and says that "Oppa is having a hard time."
Yeo Ok takes umbrage at the use of the term oppa. Mistress says that she knows she's the woman of his youth, that she put Lawyer Lee through school and saw him through the bar exam, but that's why he's having such a hard time. He wants to leave his wife and be with her, but feels burdened by their shared past.
Mistress says they should rationally talk and solve the problem, but Yeo Ok says she can't be so calm. Mistress asks if she's going to throw water in her face and pull her hair like the ahjummas do, and Ae Sook proceeds to do just that. Hahaha! She throws Mistress to the floor, and the women are forced to admit that Ae Sook is Lawyer Lee's wife. Mistress says that this turned out well for her, because now Lawyer Lee won't have to worry so much about leaving his wife. She snatches the glass and drinks the two drops of water left, with a look that dares them to stop her.
Ae Sook says they'll take things all the way to the bitter end, then, and pulls out something wrapped in newspaper. Mistress unwraps it and finds a huge knife (which is blurred, heh), which she holds up in front of her face. Yeo Ok snaps a photo of Mistress with the knife, and Ae Sook grabs it and stabs it into the table, making both Mistress and Yeo Ok scream. She says they have to resolve this, and one of them will have to die.
Mistress grabs her hands and begs her not to do anything. She promises to never see Lawyer Lee again, and swears it over and over again. Yeo Ok warns her that if she does see him again, she'll post the photo she took all over the office with the word adulteress on it. Mistress swears to keep her word and runs out terrified.
Lawyer Lee tries to call Mistress, but her phone is turned off. He tries texting her, and we see her sobbing in the bathroom. (Btw, Lawyer Lee is the Conspirator from the past life. He's also the actor who played the looks-so-much-older-than-he-is friend in Playful Kiss.)
Yeo Ok gloats over their victory, but Ae Sook is worried that it's not over. Yeo Ok reassures her that she has other tricks up her sleeve if they need them. Ae Sook worries how Yeo Ok will deal with her strike, but she says she's going to take this opportunity to find her niche. She's not just going to give in so easily.
At the hotel, Soo Nam gets a text from Victoria telling him she's preparing him dinner and she has something important to tell him. He smiles and goes to meet Pearls in Denial at the bar. She tells him that she's going to cut her husband out of her life, and says she has no one else to talk to. He suggests a lawyer, but she already has one.
She flirts with him, and he tells her that he's read that 7 out of 10 couples who divorce regret it. She asks if she should really share a blanket with her husband, but he reminds her that husbands and wives don't just share a blanket, they care for each other's wounds and cover one another's flaws. She says she needs a man like Soo Nam, and eyes him suggestively. She tells him that her husband didn't just make a mistake, he planned—and her husband interrupts saying it was just a mistake. She asks if having photos of him leaving a motel with a woman is a mistake, and he sits to talk things out. Soo Nam leaves so they can reconcile.
Soo Nam has to cancel his plans with Victoria to try and fix things at home. She pouts that she started making dinner already and he wouldn't even make eye contact with her at work. He explains that they have to be careful so that nobody suspects. He promises to go home with her tomorrow.
He gets home to find his family eating takeout. His mom suggests that he try to reconcile with Yeo Ok. What will they do about breakfast if she's still upset? (Um, make it yourselves?) Il Ran says he shouldn't back down, but should force Yeo Ok to be compliant.
Yeo Ok hears him calling her an old woman and this starts another fight. She asks who is more important, her or his precious hotel guests. MIL interrupts to say that she's "10 times—no 100 times, 1000 times more important." Soo Nam says it's because of the hotel guests that he's able to put food on the table.
Yeo Ok decides that she needs to make Soo Nam change, so they'll move out. MIL almost has an aneurysm at the thought. She brings up the apartment they bought 5 years ago, but Soo Nam says he's not going. Yeo Ok tells MIL that no matter what, she'll move out, even if MIL becomes ill again, which is what stopped them from moving before. She storms out.
At a food stand by the Han river, a man chops vegetables while some floating cherry blossoms materialize into a woman, Moo San, the goddess of love. The old man, aka the matchmaker of fate, yells at her for her sudden appearances, but she aegyo whines that it's fun. Moo San points out Yeo Ok, who sits down and asks for udon. The old man is stunned to see her, and Moo San asks if that's Sayuri.
We see a flashback of Sayuri in a funeral barge loaded with flowers. Soo Nam's doppelganger pushes her out to sea, apologizing for not going with her. As he sobs over her body, he begs that they live as husband and wife in their next life.
Matchmaker yells at Moo San for interfering, since it took him so much work to get those two together. Moo San insists that she didn't do anything.
Yeo Ok heads out to see the apartment and ask the current tenant to leave. MIL begs her not to go, but she reassures her that it's only for two years. She's convinced she can fix her husband and son in that time. And while she's gone, she suggests that MIL fix "agasshi," since she's a princess who doesn't do anything for herself. For good measure, she mentions Il Ran's divorce.
Yeo Ok shows up at the apartment, but nobody's home. She tries their old code, and is surprised when it unlocks the door. She tells herself she can't go in, but eventually does anyway. She has a quick look around, then decides to leave, only to see Soo Nam coming arm-in-arm with Victoria. They're too wrapped up in each other to notice anything else, and Yeo Ok has no place to go but back inside, where she hides in the bathroom. Soo Nam asks Victoria why she hasn't changed the code, and she tells him it's because it's his birth date.
Victoria convinces him it was nothing and they kiss passionately again, while mere feet away Yeo Ok struggles to breathe. Shots of Yeo Ok stumbling to the elevator, collapsing, and stumbling to the street are intercut with moments of blissfully unaware tenderness between Soo Nam and Victoria. (It's an amazing and extremely painful contrast—in short, it's really beautiful directing.)
Yeo Ok runs in front of a passing car and then jumps in when the man gets out to ask what she's doing. She finally gasps out the word pharmacy, and they speed off. They manage to get an inhaler, and in the moment she can finally breathe, her tears start falling.
She sits by the river and a spectral version of her asks what she's going to do. Will she get a divorce? "That's how you said it to Ae Sook, right? You should decide whether or not to get a divorce, so you can decide on a course of action. Right?" Yeo Ok asks what she should do, and her other self says that normally, she'd just say to end things. But it's not so easy when you're facing this yourself. It's not such a simple matter. She could try the knife trick. But doesn't she feel sick and rotten, so betrayed she's shaking? It's his first time cheating, so she could just close her eyes and ignore it.
Yeo Ok replies that it may not be his first time. They've even set up house. But her other self says that it's probably just a fling. But Yeo Ok knows better, because that apartment is a big deal to them, and he's established his mistress there. Her other self asks what she's going to do about her son. She needs to think of his needs at this crucial time of his life. She should just stab a table, forgive, and move on. Yeo Ok says that she might have been able to do that if she hadn't seen it herself. She can't just forget that.
Her conscience asks if she's just going to "smash all her clay pots at once," and she answers that she just can't live like that. The other Yeo Ok says that if she's going to get a divorce, she needs to be smart about it. She needs to put the apartment in her name only, hoard some savings, and get evidence. She agrees that she needs to make her case air tight.
Yeo Ok comes home to find MIL watching tv and apologizes for not making dinner. MIL says that she and Il Ran made it already, and Il Ran runs out to excitedly announce that she even did the dishes. She does the little dance and promises to help out with the chores from now on. Yeo Ok starts to laugh, with tears streaming down her face. Really, it's the laugh of borderline hysteria, and she continues to laugh as she explains that she's back to normal and won't be moving out.
She collapses in her room and thinks back to witnessing Soo Nam and Victoria together. This brings on her asthma again, but also helps cement her resolve.
Soo Nam comes home and is furious when Il Ran tells him the news about the strike being over. He starts yelling in the direction of their room, and MIL tells him to watch how he speaks to Yeo Ok. He disagrees and says he needs to see this through.
He storms into the bedroom and flings his clothes at Yeo Ok as he changes, peppering her also with questions and taunts about quitting the strike. He tells her it's time to decide who is the sky and who is the ground, and she pauses to collect herself before answering "Of course you're the sky. I was wrong." He looks behind him to make sure she's really talking to him, then asks why she pulled out her sword if she wasn't even going to use it.
She chants to herself that she needs to endure, but he keeps hounding her, telling her she has one yellow card. One more, and she'll be out of the game and out of the house.
She yells back that she has asked him to watch what he says. His words hurt even more than him having an affair. They both stare, shocked at what she just said, and he splutters "Affair?! What do you take me for?!"
Instead of answering, she just starts in on her unnerving laugh/cry and apologizes, asking him to watch his speech. He's flustered by this and asks if she's mentally stable. She apologizes again and leaves, laughing. As soon as she's gone he breathes a sigh, relieved that he didn't get caught.
Soo Nam relaxes at his love nest, and Victoria comes in and takes a pill. She snuggles up next to him and tells about Pippi Longstocking, and how she has always felt kinship with her, since she grew up near where Astrid Lindgren (the author) lived. He asks if that's why she's so optimistic in her struggles. He reassures her that he'll take care of her.
She kisses him, and the scene freezes, now on a computer screen, which Yeo Ok has just shown Soo Nam. Caught!
First of all, this isn't a forum for my thoughts and feelings about cheating. I'll put it out there that I think it's wrong. Period. I think the majority of people feel that way. If you feel otherwise, that's fine, and I'm sure you have reasons for feeling that way. I'm not here to judge you.
Having said that, these recaps are about this show. My opinions will be colored by my view on cheating, but I hope to steer things away from the moral issue there and keep to how it is treated in this show. It's a sensitive issue, and not one with any right or wrong solution.
And that's what I love about this episode. We see how Ae Sook handles her husband's cheating—she doesn't want to end her marriage, but she wants it to stop. Pearls in Denial just pretends everything is normal, but fantasizes about divorce. But that's not the right approach for Yeo Ok, either.
I love the whole conversation with herself. I feel it's a very realistic reaction for many people to try to justify their significant other's infidelity at first. Some are able to forgive from that point on and work to rebuild their lives and relationships. Some people move to the next step of acceptance, but he/she has to change if they're going to get past this. And others, like Yeo Ok, feel that the only solution is to end things. There are many many other solutions out there, and each person and couple has to decide how they'll deal with it, but I like that Yeo Ok explores the options she sees.
I also love how her other self sometimes plays devil's advocate, but also is the voice of reason in the end. "If you're going to get a divorce, do it right, and make sure you protect yourself."
I'm so curious to see how Yeo Ok and Soo Nam came together in the first place. Obviously the Matchmaker of Fate had a heavy hand in their getting together, but there are other things there too. I'd say there's not a depth of love in their relationship at this point. There may have been once, but it's mostly gone. They have a 12 year history, but it's obviously not enough to keep them together.
I also want to see how the past relationships pan out. I love that all our major players had a role in the Occupation-era scenes, and I think that those roles and their relationships with one another are important in the present.