Side dish: What’s cuter than a crappy giant teddy bear? My vote goes to okonomiyaki pasta. This week I hope to go to Shiso Tree Café in Markham to try it, so wish me luck! Fighting!
Phillip (Phillip Choi) and Soo Kyung (Lee Soo Kyung) continue to try to save their ailing relationship with cuteness. Phillip waits for Soo Kyung with a giant white teddy bear, imagining that she will react happily upon sight. When Soo Kyung actually shows up, she’s so embarrassed by the teddy bear that she runs away. She finally turns back to take Phillip’s gift, but finds that he has disappeared.
Phillip gets sick from walking home with the teddy bear in the rain and demands that an unsympathetic Soo Kyung come over with porridge. She does, but they end up fighting over the fact that she brought instant porridge rather than make it for him. When she finds out he locked the puppy in the bathroom, Soo Kyung storms out in a huff. Phillip ends up calling Min Ae for some sympathy, but Soo Kyung calls in the middle of his call, and he ends up making suspicious excuses as to why he didn’t pick up the phone.
The next day, Soo Kyung speculates on what’s going on with Mi Jin (Kim Min Jin) and Yu Jin (Sa Kang), who inform her that Phillip must have another woman. They go on to instruct her in the fine art of decoding the various kinds of missed phone calls. Yu Jin offers Soo Kyung the book of love advice, but Mi Jin grabs it and checks how to test if your man still loves you. Soo Kyung decides against pouring coffee on him or pretending to be hurt, because Phillip is too moral to cheat on her.
Phillip meanwhile, plays up his cold to Min Ae, who feeds him homemade pumpkin soup, made from her boyfriend, Ryohei’s (Otani Ryohei) ingredients. One of the other students comes up and hits on Min Ae, and drinks the pumpkin soup, much to Phillip’s annoyance.
On the subway home, Soo Kyung reads the book of love advice, while watching a drunk yell at someone over the phone. When the drunk starts spouting romantic words to the person on the other end of the line, Soo Kyung starts reminiscing about the past. In her first memory, Phillip drunkenly proposed they go out if he could swallow a disgusting concoction of Coke and something I can’t identify without burping. The second memory is of an occasion where Phillip jumped into a pond to catch a fish for her. Soo Kyung was apparently more receptive to his cheesy romantic gestures back in the day, because she gets misty-eyed about it. Unfortunately, Soo Kyung’s imagination is interrupted by the drunk screaming at the person on the other end not to call him in case the old ball and chain finds out. Horrified, Soo Kyung resolves to test Phillip’s love.
On her next date with Phillip, Soo Kyung runs through each of the tests, with Yu Jin giving the score in voiceover. She starts out by pretending to be sick. Instead of carrying her on his back, Phillip goes to get her medicine, and wonders if she has worms. Finding the first test inconclusive, she goes on to pour coffee on his pants. Phillip gets upset, accusing her of doing it on purpose, but calls her back when she storms off in a huff.
Soo Kyung finally tries her last test, which is to suggest breaking up. After a long pause, Phillip agrees to think about it, and sends her home alone in a cab. Devastated, she stares into the distance as her cab passes by Dong Wook (Shin Dong Wook) on the street. We’re left with some kind of final message that I missed, because I was mesmerized by Dong Wook’s bad pants. Just kidding! It’s about how affirmations of love can go wrong. Well, so can pants.
I actually laughed out loud a couple of times this episode, and not at anyone’s clothes. For some reason, though, my main enjoyment came from either flashbacks or fantasy sequences, since the real meat of the show still seems to be taken up by Phillip and Soo Kyung’s ailing relationship.
While “Soulmate” is heavily hinting at a connection between Dong Woo and Soo Kyung, it’s kind of hard to watch Soo Kyung try to make it work with Phillip; sort of like watching a dying horse run a race. Soo Kyung’s attempt to get Phillip to affirm his love by pouring hot coffee on his pants seems borderline insane. I mean, desperation puppies are one thing, but desperation second degree burns are another. Phillip’s not much better, especially when he yells at Soo Kyung for not bringing him homemade porridge, and then happily receives it from Min Ae. Rather than admit that their own feelings are wavering, the two of them are more interested in testing how the other feels, like they’re looking for reasons to stay together, or excuses to break up.
I don’t want to harp on about my basic problem with this show, but I can’t help it: I still find it odd that a show that purports to be about modern dating falls back on the trope that men and women are basically aliens to each other, and therefore impossible to understand. Unless you have Yu Jin’s magical dating guidebook, that is.