Poor Hana is have a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day — in fact, it’s just an awful day for everyone. Even their usual solitary drinking coping mechanisms can’t help, when a drink isn’t what they really need. Drinking alone is fine when you just want to wind down, but there’s nothing worse than being alone when what you really need is a comforting shoulder.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
While Jung-seok is enjoying his meal and tequila, a drunk woman approaches him to ask if he wants to drink with her. He turns her down flat, and thinks to himself that he hates women who get clingy when they drink. He frowns when Hana comments on his Instagram for him not to drink too much, calling her tacky.
Hana is savoring her own “dinner” of bacon chips and apple juice, and she worries that Jung-seok is drinking too much the night before their joint class begins. A sudden clap of thunder startles her, and she hopes that the rain doesn’t keep the students away tomorrow.
She focuses on prepping for her class, but soon she’s nodding off over her book. She decides to go to bed, but another loud thunderclap feels like a sign from the Universe, and she goes back to preparing.
It’s still pouring the next morning, and Hana struggles with her umbrella in the high winds. At the subway station she sees a huge poster for the joint class, and she simpers at Jung-seok’s picture, remembering how he insisted she stand directly behind him and still assuming that it means he likes her.
Hana is nervous for her first large class, but Jin-yi is an old hand at this. Hana notices that Jin-yi has today marked on her calendar, but Jin-yi says it’s for something else — she plans to try to get pregnant again tonight. Her boyfriend wants to wait until his business is stable to get married, but Jin-yi is ready now, and she figures that getting pregnant will get her what she wants.
Jin-woong’s impression of the day is a possessed character from The Wailing, ha. Jin-yi finds him super annoying and yells at him to knock it off, but he stays enthusiastic, as usual.
Hana gets excited when she sees Jung-seok in his office, but he just shuts the blinds when he catches her looking. He wonders why she’s staring and smiling, but he grins at the idea, then has to actually wipe the smile off his face. Cute.
Dong-young sees Chae-yeon in the gosiwon kitchen and asks if he can finish her breakfast. She thinks he’s gross, but he explains that he’s broke, and it would be a shame to waste the leftover food.
Ki-bum enters the kitchen looking mighty spiffy in a fancy suit (Dong-young quips that he looks like an idol headed to an awards ceremony, hee). It’s his grandmother’s birthday, and he’s headed to her party, though his mother told him to stay home and study instead. But he loves his grandma, who raised him while his parents worked, and he’s determined to go.
Ki-bum catches Chae-yeon sneering at him, and he mocks her as she says her usual, “If you came to study, then study,” line. He tells her to freshen up her comebacks, so she kicks him in the shin. HA.
Hana peeks into the classroom while Jung-seok is teaching, and thinks how good he looks in front of a class. He catches her eye and pauses, and she ducks, heh. She heads to the stairwell to talk to her phone, telling it that she wants to show Jung-seok that she’s a good teacher.
She says it would be nice if he praised her, and the phone misunderstands her words and asks if she likes him. She tells her phone that she just respects him a lot, but her protest seems a little overly-adamant.
Director Kim invites the teachers out for lunch, but Hana hangs back, too nervous to eat. They go without her, and Jin-woong leaves her an herbal medicine pack to help bolster her energy. She eats it right away, thankful for his thoughtfulness.
Over at Jung-seok’s house, Gong-myung is skipping class because of the rain. He has ramyun for lunch and eyeballs his brother’s wine stash. He knows it’s forbidden but takes a bottle anyway, then nearly has a heart attack when his phone rings. It’s Ki-bum, asking for a ride to his grandmother’s birthday party since it’s raining.
Hana doesn’t feel so well when it’s time for her class, but she assumes it’s nerves. She lasts about one minute in front of the students before she starts feeling dizzy, then her eyes roll back and she faints right on stage.
Jung-seok is in the elevator, and he wonders how Hana is doing in her first class. Then he frowns, confused why he’s worried about her, and he tells himself that he’s only worried about his own class. Sure you are — I saw you smile at her poster.
Dong-young runs up to help Hana, and he piggybacks her unconscious body to the elevator, right past a confused Jung-seok. He watches while Director Kim sends them off, and his eyes pop open wide when he hears that Hana passed out.
In the car, Gong-myung commends Ki-bum for his faithfulness to his grandmother, going out on a rainy day like this. Ki-bum obviously loves his grandma, and talks about how she used to buy him special food, and even threw her hip out cleaning his room.
Gong-myung points out the tiny present Ki-bum is carrying, asking if it’s not too small for all the work his grandma did to raise him. Ki-bum counters that he worked on this gift all day — it’s all of his grandma’s favorite songs on an mp3 player. Okay, that’s sweet.
Ki-bum suddenly remembers his laundry is on the roof, and calls Dong-young to get them. But Dong-young is at the hospital with Hana, and this news alarms Gong-myung.
Hana wakes to find herself hooked up to an IV, and Dong-young tells her that she passed out and class was canceled. The doctor tells her that she may have had an allergic reaction to something she ate, but all she had was that herbal medicine.
She asks Dong-young to forget she heard that, and heads back to the academy. Dong-young eyeballs her remaining IV and asks a nurse if he can be injected with the rest of it, since it would be wasteful otherwise. Okay, yuck.
Hana’s coworkers assume that she passed out because she stayed up all night preparing, and was too nervous to eat. Director Kim is beside himself to have Jung-seok’s very first class day ruined, and Jin-woong does another ghost impression, which makes Director Kim even angrier.
They don’t notice Jung-seok listening from the doorway of his office, and later as he’s walking through the building he overhears a trio of teachers gossiping about why Hana passed out. They conjecture on whether she was nervous, and wonder why Jung-seok let her in his class in the first place. He breaks up their cat-session, snapping that they should say such things to his face, or at least make sure he can’t hear.
Hana finds Director Kim and nervously apologizes, and he asks how a healthy person could just faint for no reason. He accuses her of hiding an illness, and makes her feel even worse by yelling that students could drop the class because of her, and regretting his hiring of her. He orders her to schedule a make-up class, and bring in a health certificate.
Hana cheers herself up by promising herself she’ll do well at the make-up class, but she wilts again when Jung-seok approaches her. She apologizes, thanking him for giving her a chance, but he interrupts and says that only prepared people can take advantage of chances.
He fusses at her for not eating or sleeping before the class, but his words ring more of concern than censure. Still, he sighs that he’s a terrible judge of character, and that he thought too highly of her.
In the stairwell, Hana mopes over blowing her once-in-a-lifetime chance. She’s disappointed that she let Jung-seok down, and sad because she just wanted to be praised. Her phone pipes up to say that she likes him, but Hana denies it and says that he was right to yell at her.
Ki-bum is entering the party hall when he overhears a conversation between his grandmother and his mother, who told him to stay home and study. His grandmother sweetly says that she hopes her puppy studies hard and passes the test this time, but his mother is harsher, calling him an embarrassment.
She complains that all her friends’ kids went to college and have jobs, but Ki-bum is still studying and failing the test. Grandma defends him, saying that he stayed home and studied instead of coming to her party, so clearly he’s committed. She assures Ki-bum’s mom that her puppy will pass this time, but their words hit Ki-bum hard.
He watches his grandmother smiling and clapping while everyone dances, remembering how his grandmother loves to see him dance. He calls himself crazy for worrying about that now, and leaves: “Let’s go study.” It sounds good, but he’s barely holding back his tears.
Gong-myung waits in the car, trying to figure out how to contact Hana about her fainting spell. Instead he calls Dong-young and asks after her, and hears that she’s already back at school, and that it was an allergic reaction to herbal medicine.
Jin-yi is fixing her face for her date with her boyfriend, when he calls to cancel. She loses her temper at him, and he hangs up on her, so Jin-woong invites her out for a drink with him instead. They invite Hana as well, but she decides to head home instead, and turns down another herbal medicine from Jin-woong.
Jin-woong doesn’t seem all that upset to be going out for drinks alone with Jin-yi, and asks her to take him for chicken soup with medicinal herbs. Jin-yi snaps for his wife to look after his health — why should she?
Director Kim texts Hana a video of her fainting in class, which smartass students have photoshopped so it looks like she’s fainting in front of a bear, and President Obama, and even Do-kyung and Hae-young’s kiss, hee. Students are complaining and asking for refunds, and Hana feels horribly embarrassed.
She stares up at the rain, feeling at her lowest point, wishing the water would wash her away. She never notices Jung-seok driving past, but he sees her standing there, looking bereft. He wonders if his words are what made her upset, and he seems to feel bad about it, but then reminds himself that it’s not his fault and not to lower himself to her level.
He looks as if he may stop to offer her a ride, and sure enough, a car horn honks Hana out of her funk. But instead of Jung-seok, it’s Gong-myung urging her into his car, saying that there’s an urgent problem. Puppy to the rescue!
Of course, the urgent problem is that he lied that there was an urgent problem. When Hana seems nervous that he may have heard about her fainting, Gong-myung admits that he saw the video, and complains that kids are too mean. He says that he knows why she really fainted and asks why she didn’t tell the truth. That’s what I’m saying.
Hana says that she didn’t want to get Jin-woong in trouble, but Gong-myung points out that she’s in even bigger trouble because she wasn’t honest. He sighs at her, saying that she’s either too nice or too naïve, and he seems genuinely worried for her.
He drops her off at her apartment building, and asks which unit she lives in. She vaguely nods at a window, embarrassed about where she lives, but he just grins and says her curtains are cute. She’s caught out in her lie when a neighbor tells her that he basement unit has flooded from all the rain. She runs in to find her whole place under six inches of water, and starts futilely trying to save her school materials.
Gon-myung wades in, shoes in hand and pants rolled up (how does he look so silly and so swoony all at once?), and refuses to let Hana shoo him out again. He insists on staying to help, and the two of them get to work cleaning up.
Ki-bum gets drunk on the gosiwon roof, still sad about missing his grandmother’s birthday party. He opens her gift and listens to the trot music he put on the mp3 player for her, and imagines dancing with his grandmother to her favorite song. He gets up and dances in the rain, until he tips over a drying rack and goes down in a heap.
Chae-yeon witnesses this last part, which just confirms her conviction that Ki-bum is crazy, but she grows worried when Ki-bum makes no move to get up. She crouches next to him and realizes that he’s crying, and tells him again to stop messing around and study more.
Ki-bum just cries harder, but he says that she’s right — he should be studying. “If I’d passed the exam, I would have been so proud to dance for her at her party today.” Awww, sweet thing.
He tells Chae-yeon that he went to his grandmother’s party, but he couldn’t bring himself to show his face. Surprisingly, Chae-yeon agrees that they’re not really in a position to show themselves proudly, and admits that she feels guilty if she even watches a few minutes of television or buys a simple shirt. She even feels like she doesn’t deserve to eat or sleep.
She tells Ki-bum to stop crying, but her understanding makes him sob harder, and he cries on her knee while she pats his back comfortingly. But he makes her feel weird when he clutches her leg, and she shoves him and leaves him there, wailing in the rain.
Hana takes Gong-myung to dinner as thanks for his help, though she feels bad for taking away from his study time. He insists he doesn’t study much, and she asks why. Then she feels bad for asking, when she couldn’t even teach today.
Her drinking worries Gong-myung, but she assures him she’s fine now. He also worries about her sleeping in a damp basement but she says it’s okay, and he complains that she says everything is okay. Using his status as her favorite student, he invites her to tell him when she’s not okay.
That disarms Hana, and she puts her face in her hands and starts to sob. She tearfully admits that she’s not okay — she worked so hard for that chance, and she ruined it. Gong-myung encourages her not to give up, and Hana perks herself up and they both have a laugh. Then she bursts into tears again.
In another restaurant, Jin-woong tells Jin-yi that he noticed how upset she was, not to be able to see her boyfriend tonight. He asks, if she really still loves him that much after five years, and she gives a vague affirmative answer.
She asks how long he dated his wife before they married, and if they had everything financially sorted before they tied the knot. Jin-woong says they had nothing, just an apartment, and he’d just started teaching.
His alarm goes off then — time to go home to the wifey. But Jin-yi attacks, grabbing his collar and saying that she won’t let him go today. Jin-woong says he has to go or his wife will kill him, and shoves her away and runs. Jin-yi calls after him that she wants to be important to someone, too.
Jung-seok enjoys his solo drinks even more when it’s raining, but he seems to be the only one. Both Jin-yi and Hana down shots alone, both crying and miserable. Jin-yi watches longingly as a husband at a nearby table pats his pregnant wife’s belly, and watches the rain fall outside.
Jung-seok narrates that even when he cries, it comforts him to know the rain is crying with him. Tomorrow the rain will stop, and things will be better. Ki-bum sits on the roof, looking at pictures of himself with his grandmother on his phone.
Jin-woong arrives home, and calls out to his wife. She comes around the corner, happy to see him — a tiny, fluffy white dog named “Wife.” Aww, I had a feeling he’s not really married. He takes a beer from his mostly-empty fridge, and stares at the rain.
Gong-myung brings Hana some medicine, and finds her with her head on the table, half-passed-out. He shakes her awake and she fusses at him for not going home, then starts to tip over so that he has to catch her face in his hand. He lays her head on the back of the booth, and smiles at her.
Meanwhile, Jung-seok watches his Instagram account, wondering why Hana isn’t commenting tonight. He thinks of calling her, assuming she’s angry with him for what he said, convincing himself that he’s only doing it for his class. Right. He starts to call but chickens out, then freaks when his phone dials her number anyway.
Hana is still asleep on the table, and Gong-myung sees a call from “High-Quality Trash” pop up on her phone. He answers, and on the other end, Jung-seok hangs up in a panic when he hears a man’s voice. LOL. He grouches that she would go out with a man when she just trashed the quality of his class, complaining that she doesn’t know her place.
Gong-myung manages to wake Hana, and he promises to go home if she does. That gets her sitting up, but only for a second before she tips back over. He catches her head and lays it on his shoulder, looking mighty pleased with himself. He tells her that she should have a boyfriend, and asks if she’ll be his girlfriend.
One of the best things about the Let’s Eat franchise is it’s ability to make you care deeply about very real, very flawed characters, and Drinking Solo is no exception. This episode just tugged my heartstrings in all the right ways, for every single character, even Jin-yi (who I had just decided I didn’t like. So much for that). This show has a way of making you change your mind about its characters, sometimes liking and sometimes disliking them, the same way you do with the real people in your life. Because real people aren’t static and one-note, they have layers and complexities, and are never all bad or all good.
I particularly felt bad for Ki-bum in this episode, because as we know, despite his prickly exterior, he’s really just a big squishy ball of emotions. To hear his family calling him an embarrassment hit him hard, and even though his grandmother stood up for him, he still felt like he was letting her down. What makes it even worse is that that every word was true — he doesn’t apply himself, and he even said to Gong-myung in the first episode that he’s got two more years to coast before anyone expects him to pass the test. It’s hard to hear someone saying something hurtful about you, but even harder to realize that they’re absolutely right.
I do think it’s interesting that he found a (temporary) ally in Chae-yeon, who seems like the last person to care if anyone’s feelings are hurt, much less Ki-bum’s. But she seemed to genuinely be worried about him, and understand how he was feeling, and I hope that continues. I kind of like them together — wouldn’t they make the cutest grouchy bickering couple ever?
I felt terrible for Jin-yi as well, because while I strongly disagree with her methods of planning to trap her boyfriend into marriage, I also understand her feelings of loneliness, and her fear that she’ll never get the family she wants. She’s peppy and fun and attractive, but she also has few friends, and the man who should love her seems to love his job more. Frankly, I hope she ends up with Jin-woong — and I have to say it, but I’ve suspected for several episodes now that he wasn’t really married. He never talks about a wife except when it’s time to go home, and I was only the tiniest bit surprised to find out that “Wife” was an adorable little dog. He seems too desperate for attention to be happily married, and I think he and Jin-yi would be perfect together. She instantly gets every one if his impressions, and he seems to genuinely like her even when she yells at him. They would be an adorable couple, and he could let her be the alpha and just enjoy adoring her.
On the other hand, I’m so ready for Hana to start sticking up for herself at work. I understand she’s the newcomer and the maknae, and she’s very uncertain of herself because of her unimpressive credentials. But even when she has every right to defend herself, such as when Director Kim yelled at her for passing out, she doesn’t say a word. She could have said it was an allergic reaction, she could have mentioned the herbal medicine Jin-woong gave her, hell, she could have just told him that she didn’t faint on purpose! But instead she just curls up and takes it.
It’s so frustrating, because I can only be proud of her little, “I can do this!” pep talks for so long before I start getting angry with her for never saying any of that positive, strong stuff to anyone else. Even Jung-seok knows that there’s more to her than this timid little mouse. But if she’s not willing to pick her head up, look people in the eye, and say, “Shit happened, but it’s over now, and I’m going to go in there and totally rock this class, just watch me prove you wrong,” then it becomes just a pep talk and not something Hana can actually do. I want to see her actually do something, and not just tell her phone she can.