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Bent on vengeance, Hye Rim (Han Ye Seul) sets out to turn Soo Hyun (Sung Joon) into her guinea pig, and the first step is to force him to undergo the same fMRI testing that she did. She pressures him by questioning his commitment to her, after he fails to serenade her over the phone past 3am, was tardy in replying to her text, and did not lick the plate of cookies she baked.
The fMRI test backfires on Hye Rim when she receives a lowly 11% score. Unbeknownst to her. Soo Hyun was distracted from her photo by the photo of his mentor, Mi Ran (Jang Mi Hee) that immediately preceded it. Worrying about Mi Ran’s cancer treatment, it is no wonder that passionate brain activity failed to materialize. Soo Hyun chases after Hye Rim and attempts to explain, but Hye Rim refuses to listen, and resorts to passive aggression.
Hye Rim asks her sister, Yoo Rim (Hwang Seung Eon) if she has a refined and pretty friend who she can enlist to test Soo Hyun’s fidelity. If he falls for the bait, she will dump him. However, when Yoo Rim offers up candidates, Hye Rim either says they are not up to standard, or too tempting for him. What Hye Rim wants is a guaranteed ego boost from being chosen by Soo Hyun over someone better than her.
Hye Rim meets with Yoo Rim’s friend, Ji Soo and is dismayed by how young and attractive she is, and a fan of Soo Hyun, to boot. Hye Rim reluctantly agrees to enlist Ji Soo to seduce Soo Hyun.
Soo Hyun attends the wedding of a high school friend, Tae Hwa, who collapses at the altar after seeing a man in sunglasses use his hand to emulate the firing of a gun. Tae Hwa ends up going into Soo Hyun’s office for a session, and reveals symptoms that sound like a panic disorder. He is stressed by work, and does not have time to exercise. While Soo Hyun is fetching water for Tae Hwa, Tae Hwa surreptitiously takes photos of documents on his desk and even his diploma.
Robotic Ji Ho (Lee Joo Hyung) interrupts Yoo Rim in the middle of filming to ask to be reinstated in her documentary. He offers to show interest in her from now on, but she tells him to piss off. Ji Ho tries desperately to propose a date, then waits for Yoo Rim to return while practicing martial arts. However, Yoo Rim sees Ji Ho’s actions as a desire for what is no longer freely available to him, which Ji Ho does not deny. Yoo Rim refuses to forgive him, claiming to have moved on to an older man.
Hye Rim watches Ji Soo meet with Soo Hyun on a monitor. With coaching from Hye Rim, Ji Soo says all the right things to appear simpatico with Soo Hyun. When Ji Soo asks for Soo Hyun’s phone number, he refuses, but does provide some contact information when she asks for his email address. Hye Rim is infuriated.
When Soo Hyun comes around asking for coffee, Hye Rim lets her anger fly while refusing to acknowledge that she is angry. She blames him for provoking her in the very scenarios that she concocted and brought about. Soo Hyun quietly declares that he will do the fMRI again, but Hye Rim loudly protests.
Soo Hyun goes to visit the Chairman (Byun Hee Bong) and notices that he exhibits obsessive compulsive tendencies, though the old man denies that he is suffering any mental illness. Soo Hyun announces that he is ceasing his experiment, and stays firm in his decision despite the pressure to provide results to the Chairman, as an investor in the study.
The Chairman contacts Hye Rim to arrange a face-to-face session with his daughter, Yeon Woo. However, Hye Rim ends up asking Soo Hyun to work with Yeon Woo, because she does not think her fortune telling act will suffice. Feeling indebted to the Chairman, Hye Rim falls back on reminding Soo Hyun about her 11% score, and a rueful Soo Hyun agrees to help out.
Yeon Woo turns out to be hostile towards both Soo Hyun and Hye Rim, seeing them as her father’s lackeys. However, she ends up revealing that she is constantly trying to run away from the Chairman’s home, and forgets everything while she is escaping. Yeon Woo tells Soo Hyun that the only way to help her is to get the Chairman to agree to let her get married, so that she can escape his home. Soo Hyun and Hye Rim are shocked when Yeon Woo claims that the Chairman killed her mother, her older brother, and even his own sister.
Soo Hyun cannot say for sure whether the Chairman did kill three of his family members, but the stress of their deaths caused Yeon Woo to enter a disassociative fugue. The Chairman appears to be aware of Yeon Woo’s illness, but has not sought treatment. Soo Hyun cannot simply treat Yeon Woo so he directs an anxious Hye Rim to convince the Chairman.
Soo Hyun attempts to reach Tae Hwa at work, and finds out that no one by his name works at the company. When Soo Hyun brings this up with another former classmate, the man claims that he recently learned that Tae Hwa is an agent of the National Intelligence Service. Meanwhile, Tae Hwa stays up late using Photoshop to insert his name into Soo Hyun’s diploma, then shows up at a meeting with two academics while claiming to be Soo Hyun.
Hye Rim learns from Ji Soo that Soo Hyun continues to stay professional in his interactions with her, and Hye Rim pretends to be disappointed. She directs Ji Soo to send a text from outside the building asking Soo Hyun to come out. Soo Hyun brusquely says he is busy, and Hye Rim directs Ji Soo to be persistent. Soo Hyun eventually does comes out, but only to reject Ji Soo, which thrills Hye Rim. Little does she know, Soo Hyun knows that she is the puppet master after directing Ji Ho to check for him.
Hye Rim witnesses Mi Ran’s obvious crush on Soo Hyun’s brother, Seung Chan (Jinwoon), and feels the need to share this secret with Yoo Rim. Yoo Rim is shocked by the age gap, and not in favour of helping them get together. They decide to stay silent about Mi Ran’s feelings, but the news is already spreading as Ji Ho stands around the corner eavesdropping after arriving unannounced with a gift for Yoo Rim.
Ji Ho quickly tells Soo Hyun about Mi Ran’s attraction for Seung Chan, but thinking of Mi Ran’s cancer, Soo Hyun is approving of her passion and tells him to keep it a secret. Later, when he runs into Seung Chan on his way to exercise with Mi Ran, he gives him money to take her out for a healthier meal than instant ramen and onigiri.
Mi Ran feels bad and puzzled by Soo Hyun’s financial contribution, then taken aback when Hye Rim cheers her on after she and Seung Chan return from their meal. Ji Ho does his part in typical fashion by plainly stating that Mi Ran and Seung Chan look good together. Mi Ran looks embarrassed, but Seung Chan takes it all in stride.
Over dinner, Hye Rim is trying to encourage Seung Chan to develop romantic feelings for Mi Ran when Soo Hyun calls asking her to join him for dinner. She flippantly rejects him, still feeling vengeful, but is aghast when Soo Hyun walks in on her and Seung Chan dining. Hye Rim chases after Soo Hyun and attempts to frame the situation as an innocent one, but Soo Hyun is incensed at having to beg for her attention. She calls him petty, and Soo Hyun finally blows his stack over her recent erratic behaviour.
Soo Hyun soon discovers that someone has committed identity theft on him when he is repeatedly contacted about lapsed agreements. Tae Hwa continues to make promises in Soo Hyun’s name that he cannot keep while collecting the corresponding advance payments.
Soo Hyun confronts Hye Rim about her constant demands for proof of his feelings while she fails to provide him with the same. He asks her to submit a diary to him as he has done for her. Hye Rim initially rejects the idea outright then when she asks Ji Ho how much time Soo Hyun spends on his diary entries, he inadvertently reveals that Soo Hyun continues to keep a professional journal. Hye Rim breaks into Soo Hyun’s safe, and learns that Soo Hyun’s feelings for her are genuine.
A pleased Hye Rim decides to fulfill Soo Hyun’s request and reads aloud her gushy diary entry before launching into a cheer leading routine. She is back to being flirty and affectionate, and the couple kiss.
Soo Hyun’s 3:00 appointment is the woman who had arrived asking about him earlier (episode 10). She reveals that she lives in the US, and is only visiting Korea. She suffers from insomnia and indigestion, because she went through a bad divorce, and feels that it negatively affected her son. The woman becomes teary as it is revealed that she lost custody of the boy, then she apologizes to Soo Hyun without explanation. It seems pretty obvious that this is Soo Hyun’s long lost biological mother, though he appears to have no inkling.
Later, the woman requests a reading from Hye Rim, but what she really wants to learn is more about Soo Hyun. The woman correctly guesses that Hye Rim and Soo Hyun are dating, and gives her approval. When the woman asks about Soo Hyun’s mother, Hye Rim is taken aback by the question, and the older woman withdraws her question.
Ji Ho comes looking for Yoo Rim with another gift for her. Hye Rim notes that he has been seeking her sister out a lot lately, before questioning him about the status of Soo Hyun’s phase two experiment. When she learns that writing a diary is one of the activities in phase two, Hye Rim angrily demands that Ji Ho list all the phase two activities.
Hye Rim goes to find Soo Hyun in his office, and slyly asks for him to say he loves her. Soo Hyun is about to comply when she adds the requirement of a flower in his hair as he makes his confession of love. Soo Hyun’s eyes widen as he recognizes this act as one of the hallmarks of phase two.
I was amazed at how loathesome Hye Rim has become, even in comparison to Soo Hyun who conducts experiments that play with people’s emotions. Her vindictive games to manipulate Soo Hyun coupled with her desperate need to be validated by him are just offensive.
In fact, just about everything else in this series has faded into a sideshow to Hye Rim’s outrageous schemes and behaviour. This is unfortunate, because Hye Rim only becomes less grating in the side stories: her support for Mi Ran dating Seung Chan, and her concern for the Chairman’s daughter.
I was starting to pity poor Soo Hyun, though by the end, these feelings abruptly ceased. I was convinced that his patience with Hye Rim’s shenanigans and his announcement to the Chairman that he was no longer conducting his experiment were proof of his commitment to her. Then, in the final scene, when it would appear that Soo Hyun is making journal entries regarding phase two of the experiment, I wondered why he continues to do exactly what Hye Rim has asked him not to. She can’t be honest with him, and he can’t keep his promises – perhaps, this couple deserves each other, after all.
If I am to end this on a positive note, I will say that “Madame Antoine” does not bore me. The feelings of disbelief and revulsion keep me fully engaged.
Madame Antoine (마담 앙트완)