“Marriage Without Love” Week Seven Recap: Dating, Not Marriage

The show finally returned to good form this week as we got exactly what we want – characters being funny and doing cute things with a tiny sprinkling of Pride and Prejudice.

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The episode begins with Jang Mi and Gi Tae looking for and not finding each other.

Yeo Reum – who was apparently at the wedding – spots Jang Mi looking forlorn and we get a flashback of her giving him her $5,000 severance pay. He’s been working at a construction site to repay Gi Tae because he wants to be able to hold his head up high in front of her. She apologizes for hurting him and insists that he take the money because she dropped the truffles.

In the present, he walks up to her and tells her that it’s time for them to find their happiness. While he didn’t return a millionaire, he got an investor and will be opening his own restaurant (this kid has an easy life). She declines his offer to run it… which means she will soon change her mind.

She walks away from him as she finally understands why casual relationships are so popular. Time passes, she cuts her hair and continues her journey of self discovery but even when she does everyday things like purchase a new phone, she thinks of Gi Tae. She can’t find a new job because the fight is a huge blemish on her record and ends up working at her parents’.

Meanwhile, Gi Tae’s latest client is a plastic surgery addict. She gets mad and calls him a quack when he suggests she wait a few years before getting additional work which pisses him off and results in him recommending she visit a shrink. Having a short temper often has consequences and this time, he’s pissed off a popular blogger.

Hyun Hee fills Gi Tae in on how Jang Mi’s life is in shambles. He wants to take responsibility so he stops by her empty restaurant and as expected, they fight. He figures that they can leave to talk and even offers to pay when she mentions that she needs to stay for potential customers. She accuses him of being insensitive because he has no idea what it feels like to struggle.

The clinic loses patients after the blogger writes a scathing review. However, I would think that her words would carry more weight if she were a dissatisfied patient and not someone who hadn’t even gotten any work done there.

Anyway, now that Gi Tae has tons of free time, he uses it to secretly (using an altered voice and a decoy) order 10 servings of chicken at a time both to help Jang Mi and see her.  He eats some then distributes rest out as gifts. LOL

Meanwhile, Gi Tae’s mom continues to lay down the law at home, preventing her husband from seeing his mistress. The crazy thing is he’s not the least bit apologetic and even suggests that his wife take a trip away just so that he can be with his woman.

Jang Mi learns of Gi Tae’s predicament and teams up with Yeo Reum to help him out. As does Se Ah who’s disappointed that he’s not fighting hard enough for his clinic. She tells him to sue the plastic surgery monster for defamation. He refuses and credits the downtime for forcing him to reflect and bringing clarity. He’s always worked hard and been very competitive; constantly striving to be better in every way. However, being forced to stop made him realize those things aren’t really that important and he now feels at peace.

Yeo Reum and Jang Mi go to a restaurant they know the blogger will be at. Just as they are about to approach her, Se Ah cuts ahead of them. She hands her an envelope with money and orders her to stop writing defamatory articles. The blogger rejects it and tells her that those articles are meant to save others from suffering similar emotional distress. Se Ah reveals herself as a plastic surgeon and points out that the girl’s face is disintegrating. She, too, has had surgery but the difference is she loves herself while the blogger hates herself and is trying to erase all traces of her true self.  The blogger retaliates by tossing hot coffee on Se Ah’s face. Ouch.

Yeo Reum and Jang Mi quickly rush to her side are told not to let the girl get away. Jang Mi chases after her in her bicycle and manages to get into her car at a stoplight. The girl is in tears and they go to Jang Mi’s restaurant to talk. She has low self esteem as perceived and as they get drunk, Jang Mi consoles her by saying that Gi Tae is an insensitive jerk who doesn’t understand a woman’s feelings. Instead of telling her to see a shrink, shouldn’t he have just told her that she’s pretty as she is? Wouldn’t that close down a plastic surgery clinic in its first month?

Gi Tae’s mom walks in and on seeing them, adds 2 and 2 and gets 22. She doesn’t hide her disdain when she speaks to Jang Mi and explains her visit. She came to apologize for embarrassing her and her mother and claims it stemmed from her disappointment in the woman she’d expected much from. She’d come to beg her to undo the spell she’d cast on her son but never in her wildest dreams would she have guessed that she was out for revenge. She regrets not ending it with money. Damn.

Umma immediately marches over to her son’s house and demands that he get over the scheming, backstabbing girl who is behind his clinic’s collapse which clues him in on Jang Mi’s feelings. When I saw Gi Tae’s mom at Jang Mi’s, I yelled “Pride and Prejudice!” This is so Lady Catherine’s visit to Darcy after seeing Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, Gi Tae’s mother’s words touch Jang Mi in a different way. She now realizes that if nothing changes, she will always be thought of as a gold digger so she closes up shop and agrees to work with Yeo Reum. She takes her final batch of chicken to the man who’d been placing huge orders in the last few days. The decoy feels guilty and reveals the truth to her just as Gi Tae jumps into his car to find her. He calls her and she responds, mad that he’s been interfering in her life and he asks her to stay put and wait for him.

When he gets there, he demands to know if what his mother said is true at which she replies that it has to be otherwise, why would a poor girl care for a rich man? They fight about their respective mistakes in their past relationship and he reminds her that their act is over so she should stay out of his business if she doesn’t want awful things to keep happening like how she got misunderstood by his mom. Tears fall as she realizes that he knows her better than she realized. He needs her to stop as she keeps getting hurt because of him plus he’s sick of seeing the girl he likes get hurt. Awww.

Then he screams out that he likes her.  He likes her, goddammit! FINALLY! That only took forever*2.

Instead of melting into his arms, Jang Mi backs away and starts to run. LOL. He chases after her. What the hell?

She explains that she doesn’t want to be with him because it makes her feel ashamed of herself, something he admits to relating to because he never doubted himself before her. Hmm… I understand the sentiment but this is kinda not very romantic, guys.

He still wants to be with her even if he hates himself and she replies that it can’t happen because it’s over. Yes, the fake dating is over but he wants them to be together for real. Then he hugs her and they kiss –  they’ve finally both admitted to their feelings.

After a romantic walk, they arrive at his place. She’s shocked by how messy it is and worse –  he stinks. She makes him shower and since his mind is in the gutter, he hilariously cleans every nook and cranny. But while yes, she wants them to get down and dirty, it’s in a literal sense because it’s time to clean the house which they do in a fun and romantic way.

They end the evening with a bottle of wine and she tells him that given her track record, she would like to do things differently this time. How so? Instead of being in a serious relationship, they should casually date. In other words, dating without marriage.

Gi Tae isn’t quite happy with it and teases that she’s getting ahead of herself but what Jang Mi wants, Jang Mi gets and he agrees to being in a “cool relationship” with her.

The next day, Gi Tae is filled with so much joy that he can’t stop dancing. Jang Mi is an “all-in” type of girl so she asks our resident cool cat, Yeo Reum, how she could be more like him. She confesses that she’s seeing Gi Tae and wonders how he would take the news that she’s working with an ex. Will he take it coolly in keeping with their cool relationship? Yeo Reum thinks it’s uncool to pretend to be cool and it’s only cool when one is true to one’s self. I’m glad that Yeo Reum is exactly the guy I thought he was (I’m ignoring last week’s brain fart).

Yeo Reum’s investor shows up and it’s none other than Hyun Hee. She poured her entire savings into the restaurant (which is dumb given their high failure rate + how many scenes did these two even have?) but is keeping it from her husband. She would need to bring in her own money to avoid kowtowing in her marriage.

Jang Mi has second thoughts about working with Yeo Reum but it’s a done deal because they have already put her name on the establishment.

Gi Tae goes to his family home and clears up the misunderstanding with his mom. They want to know if he’s dating Jang Mi but as they agreed to keep it from them, he lies that they aren’t and insists that she’s a great woman and his feelings are one-sided.

Gi Tae passes by his father who’s on the phone with his girlfriend. Father calls him for a chat where he tells him that he should marry a girl like Se Ah while maintaining a relationship with Jang Mi because love should be exciting and make your heart tremble while marriage requires stability. His son is disgusted and says that in the past, he wondered why his mom didn’t leave him but he now realizes that it was his father who refused to let go.

Jang Mi takes home some treats from her restaurant to help break the news to Gi Tae. He is not happy about it and she reassures him that she’s got no feelings for Yeo Reum but that she will quit the restaurant if he doesn’t approve. He thinks back to how his parents view her and realizes that it’s something she must do.

He goes to the restaurant opening the next day with Hoon Dong in tow. He’d bragged about how it was run by a beautiful woman he was dating thus his friend is understandably disappointed by the truth. On the plus side, his wife’s secret is uncovered. It’s quite illogical of Hyun Hee to try to keep her involvement in the restaurant a secret while working there especially as they all invited their previous coworkers. Speaking of which, why is the jerk chef suddenly so friendly with Yeo Reum? He punched the guy for goodness sake! And while they are no longer competing in the same kitchen, they are now legitimately rivals.

Majority of rest of the episode consists of Jang Mi and Gi Tae working on their cool relationship. Gi Tae invites Se Ah to the opening, irking Jang Mi while he’s not quite happy to see how well she works with Yeo Reum. Speaking of which, given that we’re at the end, I don’t know if there will be a love line between the rejected second leads but what was that look Yeo Reum gave Se Ah when she walked in? Was it supposed to mean something?

Gi Tae and Jang Mi’s ride home is silent. Their cool relationship coupled with their desire to put their best foot forward has made them self conscious. Which means that they talk less and are not as open as they were when they didn’t care what the other thought.  She tells him to drive her to his house which both shocks and delights him. But unfortunately for him, this sleepover only consists of sleeping.  The next morning, she declares it the best sleep she’s had in years and from then on, does it over and over and over again.  Her restaurant is a hit so she needs all the downtime she can get.

If I were him, I would begin to think I’m a lot more boring than I realized.

Gi Tae’s clinic is still in jeopardy despite the blogger taking her negative articles down so Se Ah offers him a job at her father’s hospital and attempts to entice him with a newly purchased 3D printer. Hoon Dong witnesses this and blabs to Jang Mi who doesn’t understand why he would jump ship when he’s running his own hospital fine. This is when she learns that he is yet to recover.

Meanwhile, Umma overhears Auntie tell Grandma about Jang Mi’s new place and who her partner is so she pays it a visit. She compliments the food, apologizes for misunderstanding the situation with the blogger then tells her to stay away from Gi Tae if she’s got no feelings for him. What exactly does this woman think she can do about her son’s crush? Jang Mi puts on a happy face and reassures her that she’s got no interest in hurting her son and that she can’t remember a time she was so fulfilled and happy. Mom is left feeling that she’s moved on while Gi Tae has been left in the dust with a broken heart.

After a long day at work, Jang Mi goes to Gi Tae’s to spend time with him but he’s completely immersed in his work. After some time, she hints that she’s sleepy to get him to stop but he just tells her to go to the bedroom. Obviously, the cool relationship isn’t working and they are less together now that they are together.

The next day, Se Ah and Gi Tae have a business meeting with a foreigner about the 3D printer. They speak in English which makes Jang Mi feel even more disconnected from her man. It’s kinda funny because Han Groo once lived in the U.S. and is probably the most fluent speaker there (not counting Julien Kang).

Yeo Reum stops by Gi Tae’s place to return the $5,ooo and explains that Jang Mi telling him that she wants to be independent to be with him also means that he should let her know that he’s strong enough to carry her if she leans on him. I suppose that makes sense but one can’t blame Gi Tae for his interpretation of her request. He’s just being supportive and not trying to burden her.

On the Joo family front, Appa has a hard time taking off his ring and sends his wife postcards with insults he usually tosses her way. I suppose this is how this immature couple will reconcile. And who else is surprised that this unhealthy relationship is romanticized as quirky love?  Jang Mi urges her mom to write back and asks when they stopped talking. Mom doesn’t quite remember but all that she’s sure of is that once they stopped talking, they couldn’t start again. That triggers something in Jang Mi and she immediately rushes off to Gi Tae’s.

Gi Tae is n the middle of an interview where he talked about how his house provided solace to him as a child but now someone keeps coming in and messing it up and he no longer wants to live there alone. Jang Mi arrives and frantically rings the doorbell and bangs on the door. He quickly answers and tries to convince her to return later but what she has to say can’t wait!  And why is he hiding things from her after she’s told him everything?

Then she sees a woman’s shoes, his get-up and pushes her way through and sees what’s going on. He explains that he’s conducting an interview to improve his clinic’s image and was too embarrassed to tell her. The interviewer walks over to them and asks if Jang Mi is his girl but since he’s selling himself as a handsome bachelor, she quickly denies it. But he immediately cops to their relationship and Jang Mi is pleased to learn that he’d spoken about her.

Our couple ends the evening with some alcohol. Jang Mi confesses that things have gotten harder now that they aren’t being upfront with each other at which Gi Tae says it’s best to give it a rest as he’s already seen all her ugly sides.  Most Korean dramas have the theme of the leads falling in love knowing each other’s flaws but rarely show how people change once they begin relationships. It’s true that there’s usually the “honeymoon period” where we are our best selves because we desperately want to keep the other person interested but it’s not till we show our true colors that we know that the love is real.

They finally tell each other how they really feel. Gi Tae didn’t let on about how bad things were going for him because he also wanted to look good to her. He tells her to lean on him and not Yeo Reum. She explains that he might not have realized it but she didn’t sleep on his shoulder all those times because he was boring but because she slept so well that she had energy to work hard the following day. She confesses that she’s not okay with him working for Se Ah and he reveals that he has no intention of doing so which is why he’s revved up his studying and publicity.

She suggests that they end their cool relationship because being honest – even if it’s petty – works better for them and he agrees. But he’s got one request: while it’s awesome sleeping together, he wants their next sleepover to involve less sleep. It’s a somewhat strange way to put it but it’s all about honesty, right? She blushes and they flirt with each other. I guess she’ll feel refreshed the following morning for a different reason.

They wake up the next morning in each other’s arms.

Dang! Why can’t this be a Taiwanese drama or I Need Romance 4? Would it have hurt to show a little bit of action?

A few feet away, Umma punches in the door code and walks in to find clothes strewn all over the living room. She looks up to see a groggy Jang Mi walk towards her in her son’s t-shirt. I guess she now has confirmation that her baby is not a virgin. But Umma, it could have been a lot worse – you could have walked in during morning nookie.

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I don’t have much to say other than I’m so glad that the show is back on track because it’s weird for a very bright, cheery romantic comedy to suddenly turn melo. Not that there still aren’t many flaws such as how almost all the supporting characters are not consistent at all – their actions are almost entirely plot-driven.

I think this week’s episodes proved that the writer knows how to construct a low conflict yet interesting story line for a happy couple (which is hard) which makes it more regrettable that she went with the cliche, senseless angst of last week. However, nothing’s to be gained crying over spilled milk.

With two episodes left, JangTae will have to find a way to get both sets of parents back on board, supporting their relationship. Will the result be a marriage with love? Your guess is as good as mine. Sometimes, marriage-themed dramas ditch the wedding at the end but given that Gi Tae no longer wants to live alone, the jury is still out.

Till then!

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