Side dish: Much humble pie was passed around this episode, and I do love pie. Admittedly, I even enjoy the house brand apple pie from Metro, but the supermarket chain offers its own recipe. Could it be the same recipe for their commercial apple pie?! Only one way to find out: buy one, make the other, then shove both down my pie hole.
Shin Joo Yeon (Kim So Yeon) is holding hands at the movies with her boss and new boyfriend, Kang Tae Yoon (Namgung Min), but she is worrying about how much he saw of her hug with her housemate and former ward, Joo Wan (Sung Joon). Tae Yoon is not asking for an explanation, and it’s for the best, because Joo Yeon can’t explain the kissing, hugging and snuggling that she and Wan engage in. Even if she considers it all platonic.
When Joo Yeon finally brings the hug up over coffee afterwards, Tae Yoon is all smiles. True, he finds her living situation with Wan troubling, but he stamped down his robot anger, and now, he’ll wait until she figures things out. The robot seems reasonable in this scenario.
Joo Yeon realizes as she arrives home how much she has come to depend on Wan for comfortable skinship. She finds Wan asleep in bed, lovingly touches his hair then slaps him awake to set boundaries on his affection. Tae Yoon is her last chance at love, so she wants their relationship to work out. When Wan points to himself as a candidate for future love, Joo Yeon repeats that she doesn’t see him as a man.
Joo Yeon goes back to her room, and engages in text flirting with Tae Yoon. She sends him photos of her living room and plants, and takes credit for Wan’s housework and green thumb. After watching Joo Yeon pour water over his delicate plants for a photo op, Wan angrily grabs her phone and discovers her fibbing ways. Tae Yoon even compliments Joo Yeon for her soup, which Wan had made for her. Wan has a fit over Joo Yeon’s shamelessness.
Wan is cooking in a huff when Joo Yeon meanders over and latches onto his arm in a bid to win him over. He accuses her of being a tease in repeatedly instigating skinship while telling him to get over her. After listing all her questionable actions, Wan suddenly brightens up and wonders if it all points to her liking him. And, she doesn’t even realize it, because she is as emotionally stunted as ever. Joo Yeon insists that she likes Tae Yoon, then runs away to her room. Joo Yeon and Wan then debate the matter with each other’s proxy in their respective bedrooms; Joo Yeon’s stand-in is her childhood photo, and Wan’s stand-in is the stuffed giraffe he bought her.
Lee Min Jung (Park Hyo Joo) runs into her baby daddy at their apartment recycling area. He tries to sort her recycling for her, then when she refuses, he takes issue with her nutritional choices, and her impractical footwear. Min Jung tells him to mind his own business, since he has decided not to be an active participant in her and their baby’s lives.
Yet, the encounter with baby daddy has Min Jung debating his possible involvement in the future. She complains to Joo Yeon how undependable the men in her life have been, so how could her baby daddy be any better. This prompts Joo Yeon to remember Wan’s assertion that her experiences in the past 17 years have made her cynical about true love. Thanks to Wan, Joo Yeon is slowly becoming a dreamy-eyed romantic. However, Min Jun does not have the luxury of a fairy tale, and is ready to accept the reality of her single parent situation.
Back at the office, Jung Hee Jae (Yoon Seung Ah) is hiccuping when her colleague and new boyfriend, Lee Woo Young (Park Yoo Hwan) suggests kissing as a way to get rid of the hiccups. After dropping her cup on the floor, they are crouched around the broken shards when Woo Young promises to give her a quick cure. However, the kiss is prolonged enough for Joo Yeon and Min Jung to enter the office discussing the latter’s maternity leave, unaware of Hee Jae and Woo Young’s presence.
Min Jung promises Joo Yeon that she’ll only take a month off after giving birth, and she is currently interviewing nannies. It turns out that kisses do not cure hiccups, because Hee Jae gives away their presence. Tae Yoon, who has been lurking in the shadows, chooses this moment to walk in, startling everyone. He tells Joo Yeon to come see him in his office, leaving everyone guessing how much he overheard.
Tae Yoon advises Joo Yeon that Min Jung’s pregnancy outside of marriage will reflect badly on Joo Yeon, because the company has never hired an unwed mother. Joo Yeon insists that she can take on Min Jung’s workload during her maternity leave, and that Min Jung is subject to the same rights and privileges as any other employee. However, it appears that the company will disapprove of Joo Yeon’s inability to manage her employees with chastity belts.
Tae Yoon tells Joo Yeon to help fabricate a marriage for Min Jung. Joo Yeon objects to having Min Jung live a sham for the rest of her career at the company. Tae Yoon then turns his laser stare to icy, as he coldly tells her that such unpleasantness is the responsibility of a director. His definition of leadership is squashing his employees for the good of the company.
Joo Yeon steps out of the evil robot’s office and says nothing as she and Min Jung stare at each other. She feels her acid reflux coming on, and goes to be alone. She instantly calls Wan, but hangs up on him, wondering why she depends on him so heavily. Of course, Wan calls her back, and she pretends that it was an accidental dial. Wan tell her that she loves him, and Joo Yeon makes vague noises before hanging up.
Joo Yeon texts Tae Yoon, asking him why he couldn’t be less of an officious robot towards his girlfriend. At that moment, Tae Yoon appears with coffee and a smile. He is about to check his messages, when Joo Yeon tells him not to bother reading it since she’s already forgiven him.
Tae Yoon continues the charm offensive by offering to take her out that night, then rescinding the offer, claiming he has to work overtime, because of an up-and-coming department (Joo Yeon’s) that is giving strong competition to his. He then blames work for preventing him from dating and forcing him to say harsh words to his girlfriend. Luckily for Tae Yoon, Joo Yeon is ready to forgive as long as he apologizes after acting like a emotionless robot.
Min Jung’s baby daddy is grocery shopping when he spies baby formula. He sighs, obviously thinking of Min Jung and their fetus, but walks on. It’s the strawberries that drive him over the edge as he has a breakdown over whether to purchase multiple boxes for Min Jung or none at all. He slumps down and whacks himself with a box of strawberries in despair.
In the aftermath of Joo Yeon calling her rival, Oh Se Ryeong’s (Wang Ji Won) bluff, and letting her quit the home shopping network, Joo Yeon is forced to admit to her team that they no longer have a creative director and no candidate to replace her. Se Ryeong is no better off, because her firm is broke. However, pride prevents her from borrowing money, and she continues to hold out for Joo Yeon to beg her to return. Wan points out that both women could get what they want if Se Ryeong would simply accept a loss this time.
By her own admission, Se Ryeong is an emotional mess thanks to Tae Yoon. She hates Joo Yeon all the more as a result, and refuses to make herself vulnerable to Joo Yeon, who she perceives as a predator. Se Ryeong would rather see them both go down in flames.
Wan reveals to Joo Yeon that Se Ryeong cried today. Joo Yeon takes no pleasure from this, but is as stubborn as Se Ryeong in refusing to bend when her frenemy is also in a tight spot, and liable to humiliate herself at any moment. Joo Yeon is about to walk off in a huff over being painted as the villain, when Wan points out that she has everything, including Tae Yoon, whereas Se Ryeong has nothing. Joo Yeon only uses her position of power to reinstate her belief that Se Ryeong should submit since she is the weaker party.
Joo Yeon holes herself up in her room and pouts. When Wan enters her room, she is pissy and grabs the stuffed giraffe from him so that he can’t play with it. Wan calls her cute and pinches her cheek. Remember, Joo Yeon is a 33 year old woman.
This babysitting moment is interrupted by a call from Tae Yoon who is sitting in his car outside. He wants to see her briefly. Joo Yeon gussies herself up as best she can, bitching the whole time about having to do so on such short notice. Wan stops her from leaving, telling her that her relationship with Tae Yoon is one built on deceit and repression, and therefore, hardly a real relationship.
Joo Yeon pulls away, but gets the wrist grab from Wan who is unusually aggressive. Wan finally give her an ultimatum: Tae Yoon or him. Who would she rather see disappear? Joo Yeon pauses only momentarily before sneering at the idea that she can’t live without Wan since she has been doing fine all these years.
Joo Yeon leaves the house with conviction, but pauses outside, before spotting Tae Yoon and flashing a smile at him. Tae Yoon invites her back to his place, which Joo Yeon turns down right away. She points to work as the reason to cover the sting of her quick refusal. Of course, Tae Yoon accepts work as a viable alternative to love and suggests they get some fresh air instead.
Min Jung receives another last visit from her baby daddy. He has brought healthier food, vitamins, and a natal yoga book. because, as he sees it, Min Jung is not taking care of herself and the baby. Min Jung looks a little verklempt then offers to show him the baby’s ultrasound photos. Baby daddy pauses before stuttering a refusal, saying that he cannot do anything more right now, and leaves. Min Jung sheds a few tears, then smiles sadly.
Tae Yoon has taken Joo Yeon to a coffee shop, which Joo Yeon is a little disappointed with. She suggests a walk instead, but Tae Yoon tells her that Wan had asked him not to walk her outside in the cold. Tae Yoon then asks when Wan will be leaving. Even as she replays Wan’s ultimatum in her mind, Joo Yeon tells Tae Yoon that, regardless of how uncomfortable he feels about the living arrangement, it’s only for a year. Tae Yoon then tells her that she’s a good listener at work, but not as a girlfriend, because he is incapable of separating work from personal.
As Tae Yoon drops Joo Yeon off at home, he repeats his offer to stay at his place, suggesting she bring her work with her. Again, Joo Yeon turns him down claiming that she’ll never get any work done while they’re alone together. They’re about to kiss goodnight when Wan comes out of the house and spots them.
Wan calls Joo Yeon by name and comes storming over. He repeats his ultimatum in front of Tae Yoon, who is silent, training his robot stare at Wan. Joo Yeon initially tries to neuter Wan again by accusing him of crazy talk while beating his chest. Wan, fed up with being abused by a weakling, grabs her wrist.
Wan challenges Tae Yoon to admit that he can live without Joo Yeon, because Wan cannot live without her. Tae Yoon smirks, then suggests to Joo Yeon that she kick Wan out of her house to see whether he lives or dies. Wan’s unrequited love is proof enough for Tae Yoon that Wan is a pathetic child, because an adult can live alone. Tae Yoon then bids Joo Yeon goodnight with a smile and walks off. Creepy robot.
Back in the house, Joo Yeon complains about Wan’s mixed message of telling her to follow her heart then making things difficult. Wan’s retort is that she shouldn’t have listened to him since he was wrong (WTF?). Joo Yeon threatens to kick him out the next time he steps out of line or attempts skinship with her.
Alone in his room, Wan has lost faith that the young, perfect version of Joo Yeon ever existed.
On a happier note, Hee Jae and Woo Young are busy discussing fashion trends while doing some scouting in the retail stores. Hee Jae picks up a bag that catches her eye, but puts it down, insisting that it is too trendy to buy. Woo Young encourages her to buy what she wants in order to know herself better, then points out that she can afford the bag since it’s not too expensive. “I Need Romance 3” would clearly be less frustrating and more empowering as “I Need Shopping”.
Joo Yeon has received a call from Se Ryeong to meet, and Min Jung volunteers to come along. Having Se Ryeong make first contact and Min Jung along as backup could be construed as advantages, but Joo Yeon runs into the network director who makes it clear that Se Ryeong is irreplaceable.
At the meeting, Joo Yeon and Se Ryeong are playing hardball with each other, neither ready to back down. Min Jung shocks both women when she volunteers to do the begging, then demonstrates how to get down on one’s knees. However, it’s Min Jung doing the shaming, asking both of them what is so hard about debasing oneself, since Min Jung has been doing it at her job for years. Min Jung adds the cherry on top of the humble pie by revealing to Se Ryeong that she is pregnant.
Thanks to Min Jung’s actions, Se Ryeong feels comfortable announcing that she has broken up with Tae Yoon, and that Joo Yeon is the one dating him. Joo Yeon is ready to put an end to the confessions without having offered one up herself, but both Min Jung and Se Ryeong pressure Joo Yeon to reveal a secret of her own. Joo Yeon can only admit that she is actually enjoying her evening with Min Jung and Se Ryeong. They all bond over how awful Joo Yeon is.
Wan is in the studio recording a song, then back at the house cleaning up while having some deep thoughts. Finally, he packs away Joo Yeon’s childhood photo, and leaves a CD of his recording behind.
Joo Yeon shows up just as Wan closes the trunk of his car, having placed all his belongings inside. She reports that she and Se Ryeong have patched things up sufficiently to work together again, then asks if Wan is coming or going, unaware of Wan’s plans. Wan steps forward to say goodbye, but Joo Yeon orders him to stop coming any closer with her ultimatum. However, Wan is clearly ready to make good on her threat, having packed his bags. Wan forcibly draws her in and lands a kiss. Of course, Joo Yeon resorts to her usual weak slapping before giving up as the kiss progresses. When they breathlessly pull apart, Wan bids her goodbye.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. And for the most part, I was indifferent to the shenanigans of Tae Yoon, Joo Yeon, Wan and Se Ryeong. It was more of the same: Tae Yoon alternating between cold robot and faux easy charm, Joo Yeon on pins and needles with Tae Yoon then inappropriately comfortable with Wan, Wan acting like a chump then blowing up when he can’t take any more, and Se Ryeong alternating between sad and bitchy.
The only thing that made this episode bearable was Wan finally refusing to be used at Joo Yeon’s convenience, and leaving. In all likelihood, we’re going to watch Joo Yeon collapse without her Sweet Potato providing the support she has come to depend on, but failed to acknowledge. Even if that never happens, Wan’s withdrawal feels fantastic, because his selfless act was becoming as stressful to watch as the psychopathic behaviour of the robotic duo of Tae Yoon and Joo Yeon.
Only three more episodes left! Now that Wan has regained his dignity, the remaining time can be spent helping Joo Yeon grow a soul. If the show could dedicate 30 seconds to Tae Yoon’s skin melting off to reveal the robot within, all previous writing transgressions will be forgiven.
I Need Romance 3 (로맨스가 필요해 3)