My Strange Hero: Episodes 15-16
Love is truly in the air this episode, with our main couple practically showing their hearts on their sleeves. They’ll have to keep their hearts hidden, though, if they want this relationship to survive the dangers of Seolsong High. Within these halls, there are students ready to gossip, teachers ready to pry, and a certain director ready to do everything in his power to tear them apart.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Having lost Bok-soo and Soo-jung, Min-ji drags Gyung-hyun all over to search for them. She finally spots them and is heartbroken to realize that they’re kissing. Also seeing this, Gyung-hyun whips her around and brings her into an embrace, surprising her.
Min-ji is even more surprised when he sits her down, encourages her to cry, and wraps his own scarf around her neck. He leaves to get some tissues, and she just looks after him, wondering why her heart is suddenly acting up.
After lots (and lots) of kissing, Bok-soo and Soo-jung sit awkwardly in the car. They’re so nervous that they don’t know what to do with themselves, but once they hit the road and Bok-soo braves holding her hand, they’re easily smiling again.
The couple arrive at Soo-jung’s home, and Bok-soo asks if today marks their first day of dating. Soo-jung starts to say that they’re still teacher and student, but Bok-soo surprises her with a peck on the cheek. “Good night, Teacher,” he says. “Make sure you dream of me.” She laughs and smacks him, making him scurry off.
From afar, Se-ho (who had come to deliver some of Soo-jung’s favorite snacks) watches the whole thing. He falls into an old high school memory of Bok-soo showing him a ring that he’d gotten for Soo-jung.
Later that day, Se-ho had found Soo-jung studying alone and offered up some notes from his private tutor. He figured that this way, they could have a fair competition for first place. Then hearing her belly grumble, he hurried out to buy some snacks. But when he returned, he stopped short at seeing her eat with Bok-soo.
The huge smile on her face made Se-ho’s own smile disappear. He dropped the bag of food and walked away, just as present-day Se-ho does.
Inside, Soo-jung worries about messing around with a student. She seems to forget all about that, though, when the kiss from earlier comes to mind.
And meanwhile, at the Kang home, In-ho laughs at a webtoon instead of studying. His mom bursts in, and he reflexively hides his phone. So-jung beams with pride to see her son working so late, which only makes In-ho feel worse.
The next day, Bok-soo is practically walking on sunshine as he heads to school. He sees Teacher Park up ahead and attacks him with a back hug (cuuuuute). Park is scared to have Bok-soo act this way but smiles when Bok-soo thanks him for being “sick” last night.
Soo-jung is feeling pretty giddy herself, up until Se-ho walks up to her and notes that she looks tired. Bok-soo sees this exchange and wonders what’s going on between the two.
So-ra sees the exchange as well and gossips to classmate Do-hyun about their teacher and director dating. According to legend, the two were high school sweethearts, with Se-ho giving Soo-jung first place out of love. Bok-soo angrily interrupts the story, insisting that Soo-jung is dating someone else.
When his classmates ask who that person is, Bok-soo merely delves into one of his quotes and says that truth is closer than they think. Soo-jung walks in, and So-ra immediately accuses her of dating Se-ho, which she scoffs at. She tells So-ra to stop spreading false rumors, earning a smile and wink from Bok-soo.
Later, Bok-soo gets Soo-jung alone in the infirmary and demands to know what Se-ho said to her that morning. She asks if she seriously has to report to him, and he nods, reminding her that they kissed. But she argues that a simple kiss doesn’t solidify their relationship; he needs to ask her to make it official. Before they can argue any further, they hear the nurse approaching and quickly come up with a cover.
When Nurse Park comes in, she finds Soo-jung unknowingly rubbing liquid pain reliever on Bok-soo’s eye. Soo-jung panics and runs out, leaving Bok-soo in Nurse Park’s care. But as Nurse Park helps him out, she gets distracted by how handsome he is. Pffft, this joke never gets old.
Afterwards, Teacher Park finds a dejected Bok-soo by the stairs. Knowing the situation all too well, Park suggests that Bok-soo date Soo-jung after he graduates. But Bok-soo thinks it shouldn’t matter since they’re both adults. “I’ve wasted enough time,” he says. “From now on, I’m not going to hesitate.”
During Soo-jung’s lecture, Bok-soo (ever the man of subtlety) drops a note by her feet. She snatches it up, while Bok-soo giggles to himself. He then realizes that Young-min saw and stammers a weak excuse. After class, Soo-jung excitedly reads the note–a map to the Your Favors office, followed by the words “Let’s have date!!”
Meanwhile, So-jung gives herself a makeover so she can join in on the honors class moms’ meetings. At the meeting place, the moms laugh over the fact that So-jung has no idea that In-ho is in the lower-level class. They think it’d be more fun not to tell her.
Speaking of whom, So-jung struts in wearing her finest clothes and takes a seat. The moms ask what her major was, and she explains the sport sepak takraw (kick volleyball). She even stands to demonstrate, kicking in her heels.
The group then discuss the upcoming exams, and So-jung pays extra close attention.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Soo-jung follows the map to the Your Favors office and gasps to find the room full of lit candles. She starts blowing them out, afraid the room will catch on fire, and Bok-soo jumps out of hiding to explain it’s supposed to be romantic.
He hands her a ring box, and she jokes that he’s so predictable–that is, until she takes the ring out and sees the engraving “2009, SJ & BS.” He tells her that it’s the ring he meant to give to her back then.
“My heart is like that ring,” he says. “It’s nothing special and pretty average-looking.” But he’s kept it close to him all this time, just as he’s kept Soo-jung in his heart all this time.
With that said, he asks if she’ll make his dream come true and let him become her boyfriend. Speechless, Soo-jung just smiles and nods. Bok-soo smiles too and offers to put the ring on her finger.
The ring doesn’t quite fit, though, so Soo-jung slides it onto her pinky instead. She looks up at him and promises to never lose this heart that he’s given her.
Bok-soo gives her a huge bouquet of flowers as well, and the two go out to continue their date. But Soo-jung freaks out to see So-ra and Do-hyun coming their way and drags Bok-soo into hiding.
Once the coast is clear, Bok-soo jokes that he loves the thrill of all this. Though Soo-jung laughs, she tells him not to wear his uniform on dates and to keep his distance at school. Across the street, an unknown person snaps pictures of the couple. Ah, crap.
Exams begin the following day, and So-jung comes to school all dressed up again to see In-ho. She enters the honors class and is confused when the teacher informs her that her son is in the Wildflower Class.
She finds the right class and looks through the window, utterly destroyed to see In-ho circling random answers before lying his head on his desk. Furious, she bursts into the classroom and smacks him. “How could you do this?” she cries as Bok-soo and Soo-jung rush to their side. “How long were you going to fool me?!”
So-jung becomes hysterical, shouting that she worked so hard to raise him and that they both ought to just die. Bok-soo tells his sister to calm down, holding her back as In-ho runs out.
Hearing Bok-soo say “Noona,” the other students realize that he and In-ho are uncle and nephew.
At home, So-jung takes down all of In-ho’s forged awards and falls to the floor sobbing. Mom comes in and asks what’s wrong, but So-jung can’t stop crying, so she just brings her into a hug.
Meanwhile, Gyung-hyun and Min-ji are out looking for a restaurant when they see In-ho sitting out in the cold. They take him to their office and call Bok-soo and Soo-jung over.
In-ho refuses to go home, afraid of all the damage his years of lying have done, but Soo-jung won’t take no for an answer. She shoves him out of the room, Bok-soo right behind them.
The three of them enter the Kang home and find So-jung drinking alone. She looks up at In-ho and starts hitting him, until Soo-jung steps forward and grabs her wrist. Soo-jung asks that she listen to In-ho’s reason for lying.
So-jung argues that there are no good reasons for lying, making In-ho finally speak up. “You smiled,” he says simply, confusing her. So he explains that after seeing some kids fake their report cards, he impulsively did the same. He’d brought his fake grades home, and she’d smiled so widely that day.
Now crying, In-ho says that he wanted to be a good son and that he really did try. But he gave up when his real grades continued to disappoint. He isn’t good at studying, and with no skills or dreams, he concludes that he’s just trash. In-ho runs up to his room, while So-jung, who’s crying too, runs out the front door.
Bok-soo walks Soo-jung home, stopping to stare at her hand and marvel in her strength; even he can’t take on his sister. Soo-jung admits that she sees a lot of herself in In-ho. People assumed she was better than them, so she felt like she was hiding her true self.
Bok-soo tells her to go ahead and hide, because he knows who she is, and he knows that she’s a good person. They smile sweetly at each other as they continue to hold hands.
The next morning, So-jung stops In-ho and urges him to drink his usual herbal medicine before leaving. As he does, she tells him, “You’re not trash.” She’s always treasured him and she always will, so she wants him to march to school with confidence. In-ho smiles, tears in his eyes. Bok-soo then walks in, and lunges for the herbal medicine. So-jung snatches it away and snaps to get some from his own mom. Bok-soo smirks, glad to see that everything’s back to normal.
Bok-soo and In-ho walk into class together, and to In-ho’s surprise, the kids don’t give him a hard time. His former bullies even praise his mom for her impressive strength. In-ho reveals that his mom won a gold medal for sepak takraw, and Bok-soo smiles from his desk.
Se-ho takes Soo-jung out to talk, determined to get something off his chest. “I see your loneliness,” he says, jumping right into it. He knows what that’s like, so he wants to be with her and make her happy. Soo-jung stops him right there and firmly states that she’s not like him. Se-ho sadly watches her touch her ring as she continues that she isn’t lonely. And she’s not the one who can help his loneliness, so she’s rejecting him.
Knowing this is because of Bok-soo, Se-ho loses his cool and asks why she would choose that good-for-nothing ring over him. She reminds him that he used to like Bok-soo just as much, but he refuses to remember. He warns her that she’s going to regret this decision, that she and Bok-soo will have a difficult time.
She tells him not mess with Bok-soo; he went through enough because of them. Furthermore, she doesn’t understand why he’s acting this way. So he leans in and says that he can’t have her looking at him like a former classmate or a boss. He stands to leave, saying she’s welcome to come to him at any time.
At home, Se-ho flinches to find his mother waiting for him. Mom asks if he really wants “that girl” so badly, and his eyes widen. He tells her not to mess with Soo-jung. Mom raises a hand to hit him, but he blocks it and continues to say that if anyone will destroy Soo-jung, it’ll be him.
Se-ho heads to his room, where he gets a phone call from his secretary. He tells him to go as planned and that he’ll take responsibility for it.
The next day, the faculty is shocked to have none other than Kim Myung-ho reinstated to the administration office. Teacher Ma comments that Kim has been known to scam contracted teachers, and Soo-jung tenses up. And curiously, she’s not the only one in the room who looks guilty.
Soo-jung finds Kim Myung-ho and asks why someone like him is back. But the guy just smiles and says they should get along, especially since one word from him could get her fired. He walks off, only to bump into Bok-soo. He doesn’t have to say much for Bok-soo to realize that this is Se-ho’s doing.
Bok-soo turns and marches straight into Se-ho’s office to ask about Kim Myung-ho. However, Se-ho thinks the person Bok-soo should be worrying about is himself–what would happen if people found out he was dating a teacher? Is he really going to keep seeing her?
Bok-soo’s face falls, but he quickly recomposes himself and says, “I’m going to continue dating her.” He knows what game Se-ho is trying to play and he’s not going to fall for it. More importantly, he knows that Se-ho wasn’t like this before. He asks if he unintentionally wronged him, just as he did with Soo-jung.
To Bok-soo’s surprise, Se-ho’s eyes fill with tears as he angrily states that he doesn’t know him. He doesn’t know how miserable he’s made him. And he thinks it’s just like Bok-soo to go around acting self-righteous. Either way, Se-ho concludes, Bok-soo and Soo-jung will never be able to be happy.
We’ve reached the halfway mark, and I am just in love with this show as I was at the beginning. When I watch a high school drama, all I want are insightful themes and relatable characters that I can root for. And with My Strange Hero, it feels like a bonus to have all of that and a despicable villain that I’m tempted to hug. And then slap. And then hug again. Every scene between our two male leads is like fire–it’s intense and unbelievably frightening, but at the same time, it’s mesmerizing. And while I am digging the forbidden school romance, this tragic fight between the three friends is what I find gripping. In fact, it’s this fight and the dangerous effect it has on the romance that has me the most on edge.
The ending surprised me because it was the first time that Se-ho somewhat opened up to Bok-soo since the day of the roof incident. Like Bok-soo, I wanted to know why Se-ho was so negatively fixated on him. Like Bok-soo, I was surprised that the answer was pretty much “Because you made my life miserable.” Se-ho’s response was so raw and pained that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. But again, he’s just making things worse for himself. He’s pushing Soo-jung away when he could still have her as a good friend. And he’s pushing Bok-soo away when he could still have him as, I would argue, a vital friend. If Bok-soo gave Se-ho the same speech he’d given Young-min in his broken glass booth, maybe things would be different. If only Se-ho could see that the majority of his suffering is self-inflicted.
But no matter how hard Bok-soo, or even Soo-jung, try, there’s no convincing Se-ho. And these are probably the only two people who genuinely care about him, despite all that he’s done. Hell, even Teacher Park still cares about him. It’s like they’re talking to a brick wall that only hurts them when they try to get through. At this point, I don’t know what will get him to listen. If he can’t even accept a clear-as-day rejection from Soo-jung, then it’ll be hard for him to accept much else.
Main conflict aside, we did have one family issue resolved. I didn’t think that In-ho’s lies would blow up in his face as much as they did, but in retrospect, it had to happen. Both In-ho and his mom had to be that upset to show how they truly felt about the situation. And I’m glad that So-jung was so quick to support him again, even though he’s struggling in school. Bok-soo has received the same support from his own mom all his life, but I don’t think he’s ever really needed it. Bok-soo knows who he is, he knows what he wants, and he has the confidence to deal with any consequences. Kids like In-ho aren’t necessarily like that, though; they don’t know how to deal with the pressures of grades and colleges and jobs. I think it’s great that the show is taking characters that would typically be written off as slackers and actually giving them more depth.
Bok-soo has made a place for himself at Seolsong High–in the Wildflower Class and in Soo-jung’s heart. And that’s all at stake now that Se-ho has decided to use his friends’ secrets to his advantage. Bok-soo and Soo-jung are officially a couple, and that scumbag Kim Myung-ho is officially back in their lives, so the high school might as well be a ticking bomb ready to go off. Luckily, Bok-soo knows that Se-ho has a few secrets himself. This is a fight that neither are going to back down from, and it could very well hurt them both. But if In-ho and his mom were able to recover from their fight, then I have to believe that Bok-soo and Se-ho can recover from theirs. Sometimes confrontations require a little crying and screaming before reaching the right dialogue.