Everyone deals with the fallout from Woo-il’s confession, which propels a few main players to face some harsh truths about their own shortcomings. Sticking to the themes of honesty and accountability, long overdue conversations and confrontations are finally had. While Woo-il and Yi-soo find a kind of peace in their truths, Hwan-ki and Ro-woon weigh the guilt of the past against the need to be close to each other in the present.
EPISODE 14: “My Funny Valentine”
On the rooftop, Yi-soo tells Ro-woon that she killed Ji-hye. Snatching the necklace from Ro-woon’s hand, she steps up to the ledge, intending to end her life. Ro-woon grabs her and tries to pull her to safety, even as Yi-soo yells that she should die the way she killed Ji-hye.
Hwan-ki arrives at the nick of time and pulls both women to the ground. Ro-woon sits up looking stunned as Yi-soo cries hysterically in Hwan-ki’s arms.
Later, after putting an unconscious Yi-soo to bed, Hwan-ki walks out of his room to find Ro-woon waiting for answers. She asks if Yi-soo really killed her sister. Hwan-ki admits that he should have been the one to save Ji-hye.
Flashback to the fateful night three years ago: Ji-hye stands outside Hwan-ki’s office repeatedly calling his number and pleading for him to pick up through her tears. Unfortunately, Hwan-ki is at the hospital, having rushed his sister there to get help for the bleeding gash on her wrist.
He does read a message from Ji-hye, where she says she’ll wait for him in his office. Then he calls Woo-il to tell him about Yi-soo. But just as the call goes through, Yi-soo tearfully stops him from telling Woo-il anything. Nothing he says convinces her to admit her attempted suicide to Woo-il.
He gets one more message from Ji-hye: “I really wanted to see you one last time… I’m sorry.” This one gives him a bad feeling, and he runs back to the office. We see him rush up the corridor to his office and burst into the penthouse, only to find the windows ajar and the shoes left perfectly aligned by the sill.
In the present, he mourns that if he had listened to Ji-hye, if he had told her the truth about Woo-il instead of just stopping her from going to Ro-woon’s show, he may have been able to save her. He brings out the shoes he’d kept carefully all these years and hands them to Ro-woon.
Hwan-ki tells her that they were his gift to Ji-hye, and that he believed the reason she left them for Hwan-ki to find was because he was the person she resented the most at the end. As Ro-woon weeps over the shoes — her last connection to her sister — Hwan-ki walks away, wiping away his own tears.
Ro-woon gets home with the shoes and puts them inside the doorstep. To her father, she says: “Now, I finally feel like she’s home.”
Back at the penthouse, Hwan-ki’s parents arrive to bluster at him. His father tells him that he’s more disappointed in him than Woo-il for not telling him what happened three years ago. When Hwan-ki says that he had everything buried, all he has to say is that Hwan-ki should have made sure nothing leaked.
His mother, who was looking at Yi-soo’s sleeping form, turns to them with anger and says that his father isn’t angry that he was fooled, he’s just worried about his elections. She yells at Hwan-ki for ignoring Woo-il’s infidelity, while his father blames Ji-hye for everything.
Hwan-ki finally speaks up and asks them not to speak so carelessly, since Yi-soo had also attempted to commit suicide three years ago. He tells them how she had slit her wrist in front of Ji-hye, which had pushed Ji-hye to end her own life. His parents gasp in disbelief, and Assemblyman Eun immediately starts blaming Woo-il.
Yi-soo walks out of the bedroom just then and says that it was not Woo-il’s fault. She looks at Hwan-ki and then admits that at first, it began with cutting herself or spilling hot soup whenever her father started yelling at Hwan-ki. Over time, she found that this stopped the shouting.
Her father looks at her with tears in his angry eyes. He says that he was proud of her, could only smile because of her, even when Hwan-ki disappointed him. Yi-soo says that that’s why she smiled. Through hurt and sadness, she kept smiling for her parents, until her face stopped reflecting her true feelings.
Her mother asks her if she is truly her daughter, Yi-soo, to which Yi-soo says, “Yes, this is the real me.” Her parents break down while she apologizes in her mother’s arms.
The Brain staff find out about Woo-il’s affair with Hwan-ki’s old secretary and her subsequent death. They are torn between disappointment in their charming boss and worrying that there will be no one as competent as him, now that he’s been kicked out of the company. The Silent Monster team turns up to gloat about how amazing Hwan-ki is, and for once, everyone has to admit that they had chosen the winning side.
Hwan-ki walks in with Team Leader Park to make an announcement. It takes him a while to get it out, but with silent encouragement from his team, he finally tells everyone that Woo-il will return, but that they should be responsible for their own work until that time.
He leaves the employees confused and disappointed at that short speech, but Yoo-hee defends him by saying that he surely has a plan, and that even that brief speech probably has some deep meaning hidden in it. But when the team leader asks what that could be, she can’t come up with anything.
The Silent Monster staff realizes that though Hwan-ki is comfortable around them, he still gets nervous around employees he’s not familiar with. They sigh that though his shy leadership will make an impact some day, it’ll take way too long till that happens.
Yeon-jung has taken Ro-woon to a pastry shop, where she tells Ro-woon to pick chocolates that she’ll buy as Ro-woon’s first valentine’s gift for Hwan-ki. Over coffee, Yeon-jung asks Ro-woon if she’s going to leave Hwan-ki just when he’s faced with the challenge of handling the company alone.
Ro-woon admits that she’s forgiven Hwan-ki already, but that he has someone he needs to protect, so she can’t go to him yet. Yeon-jung sighs that they’ve been friendly enough for one day and invites Ro-woon to look at her paintings.
At the gallery, Ro-woon wanders around by herself wondering where Yeon-jung went, when she suddenly spots Hwan-ki coming up the stairs. She hides behind a wall, then gets a message from Yeon-jung telling her to enjoy the painting she just acquired.
Ro-woon watches Hwan-ki from a distance, wishing he would turn around. But Hwan-ki has spotted her already and stares at her reflection in the glass of the painting in front of him. They look at each other longingly, but neither approaches the other.
Woo-il is volunteering at a children’s shelter, which is where Hwan-ki finds him cleaning the window of a classroom. Woo-il asks Hwan-ki if he’s run away from Brain after one day of leading the company alone, and Hwan-ki admits that it’s difficult to fill his shoes.
In a roundabout way, Hwan-ki thanks Woo-il for understanding him, listening to someone as stubborn as him, and then standing before the staff while protecting him. Woo-il points out that it is the first time Hwan-ki has thanked him and wonders what was so hard about it that he couldn’t do it before.
They argue about how moved Woo-il is by Hwan-ki’s gratitude, then Woo-il laughs and says that he still can’t come back to the company. Hwan-ki asks him to come outside, since there is someone else who wants to see him.
It’s Yi-soo, who smiles to see him. They sit in the playground beside each other, and Woo-il admits that he likes his new life. Yi-soo asks if she was a burden to him, and before he can deny it, she says that she’s beginning to have the courage to see herself clearly now.
She confesses to telling Ji-hye that she’ll die if she loses Woo-il. Woo-il realizes then that her wrist injury from that time wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate attempt to hurt herself. About Ji-hye’s death, Yi-soo says: “You might have pulled out the gun, but I was the one to pull the trigger.”
Woo-il finds it hard to believe, but Yi-soo tells him to stop feeling guilty and apologizes for silently watching him suffer for the last three years. He wonders if Yi-soo cut herself because of him, but Yi-soo tells him to free himself of her and become the person he really is.
Outside, her calm facade crumples, and she runs to her waiting brother and hugs him. She tells him that confessing everything has lifted a weight off her, and she feels relieved now.
Ro-woon gets home that night to find her father drinking. He asks if she’s eaten and she says, “No. Do you want to eat dinner with me?” At his stare, she smiles and tells him that she’ll cook. As she washes the rice in the kitchen, Hwan-ki comes in and kneels before Dad. Dad pats the seat beside him and pours Hwan-ki a drink.
Dad tells him that after Ji-hye’s death, he had believed that she committed suicide because of work pressure. He had thought that she should have endured through it, and then later told his younger daughter the same. He now thinks that if he’d only found out what really happened, if only he’d asked Ji-hye to express her feelings, she might have lived. He thanks Hwan-ki for telling them the truth now, and then the two men share a quiet drink.
Brain faces its first crisis when a beer company they represent has a lawsuit filed against it for an injury caused by an exploding bottle. They had recycled the bottle a few too many times, and it turns out that these kind of cases get filed every few years against them.
Team Leader Park suggests paying off the victim quickly like Woo-il has always done, but Hwan-ki wants the company to take responsibility and end the cycle of injury and compensation. Clearly disapproving, Team Leader Park informs him that the client company only wants to deal with Woo-il.
Hwan-ki is back in his hoodie as Brain’s employees start thinking of changing jobs, since the company is clearly headed towards trouble. The Silent Monster team watches him pace in his room and wonder how they can help him. Yoo-hee tells the rest that she’s already called for the miracle cure, and she should be arriving soon.
Hwan-ki sends them off to gather all employees in the meeting room. He plans to speak to them, but he doesn’t look too confident about it. Alone, he stews in nervousness until he gets Ro-woon’s messages. It’s a string of images with Ro-woon making faces, and it immediately cracks Hwan-ki up.
Then Ro-woon herself appears behind him and yanks the hoodie off. She tells him not to wear it when he’s with her, unless he plans on being Yeon-jung’s personal rapper. He smiles as she tells him that it makes her jealous.
Ro-woon asks about the meeting he’s arranged and wonders if in an effort to reassure his employees, he’s planning to try to emulate Woo-il. She advises that he communicate with his employees in his own way, but first, she makes him take off the offending hoodie.
When he tries to bring up their own issue, she tells him to focus on his employees first. Hwan-ki takes her advice and sends everyone in Brain a memo outlining a different way of conducting meetings with him. It can be over a meal (that he cooks) or a drink (that he pours), and he will only see up to three people at a time.
This format clearly works for Hwan-ki, since he’s easy with people in small settings, and his employees begin to see the real Hwan-ki. And just as Yoo-hee had predicted, his earlier brief speech about taking care of themselves did have a deeper meaning.
He explains over food and drinks that he wants his employees to be self-motivated and generate ideas by themselves, so Brain becomes a company that doesn’t need a boss. His employees leave his office impressed and wondering how anyone thought he was quiet when he never stops talking. Heh.
Hwan-ki meets Team Leader Park over coffee, and it’s clear that she’s unimpressed with how well he’s getting along with the rest of the staff. He puts down his coffee and apologizes, which takes her aback. Knowing that her coldness towards him is because of his treatment of Woo-il, he admits that it was irresponsible of him to put all the work of communication on Woo-il.
He likens his own attempts to hide his flaws to the beer company’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their mistake. He says that he wants to change himself before trying to persuade their client to change as well. For this, he asks for Team Leader Park’s help, who finally melts and agrees to accompany him to the meeting with the client.
The meeting goes successfully, and the beer company decides to discard and replace all their old bottles. This results in a jump in their stock prices, and Hwan-ki is toasted for his excellent crisis management skills. As the Silent Monster team drinks to him, Ro-woon quietly slips out of the office.
Hwan-ki follows her out and asks if she will come back the next day. She says that she will, but then reminds him that on the day he told her everything, he said his piece and then shut the door, so she couldn’t say what she wanted to. She asks why he did that after three years of keeping his doors painfully closed.
She requests an employee’s one-on-one meeting with him for the next evening, then leaves after mentioning that it just happens to be Valentine’s Day tomorrow. A small smile appears on Hwan-ki’s face.
The next evening, Ro-woon takes Hwan-ki to an expensive restaurant, but they are told the waiting time is about two hours. Hwan-ki then takes her to another joint, where they are surrounded by so much cutesy decor that even Ro-woon is compelled to comment on the sheer pink of it.
Hwan-ki asks why she wanted to meet on a day like this, and Ro-woon points out that they never ate together or watched a movie. Hwan-ki protests the second. Even though Ro-woon never saw him, Hwan-ki had only been a few seats away while Ro-woon watched a movie in the theater they were relaunching. Ro-woon laughs at the realization now.
Hwan-ki wonders if it’s all right for them to meet like this, but Ro-woon has some things to say. She tells him that her sister didn’t leave her shoes behind because she resented Hwan-ki, but because she felt sorry for hurting his sister.
Ro-woon points out that they still have many obstacles to face in the future, but asks that they face them together from now on. She tells him that he’s not allowed to watch her from a distance or shut her out again.
An announcer walks between their tables just then and tells everyone that they have arranged for a kissing event. Ro-woon immediately perks up, but at Hwan-ki’s reluctance, she agrees to leave the restaurant. Only, the lights go out as the event begins and the two stumble about in the dark looking for each other, while everyone around them kisses. (Is this a metaphor for their relationship?)
When the lights come up again, Hwan-ki is holding the announcer’s hand, while Ro-woon is on the ground, having tripped on something. The two run out of the place laughing, until Hwan-ki notices that Ro-woon hurt her ankle. She says she’s fine, but Hwan-ki asks for a moment and crouches down.
Ro-woon is touched that he wants to offer her a piggyback ride, but Hwan-ki is just tying his shoelaces. Muahaha. (Okay, this is the real metaphor for their relationship!) Ro-woon puts her arms around him before noticing the laces in his hands. She tries to laugh off the misunderstanding, but Hwan-ki — after grinning to himself — keeps her arms around him and pulls her on his back.
Ro-woon unconvincingly asks him to put her down, saying that she’s all right. Hwan-ki tells her to pretend that she’s hurt so he can keep doing this, since it’s too soon for them to be this close otherwise.
Close to Ro-woon’s house, Hwan-ki is finally stumped as he faces an intimidating number of steps up the hill to her house. He puts her down to warm up for the upcoming exertion, but Ro-woon just starts to limp up the stairs after chuckling at him. He tells her not to look down on him, adding that he’s carried her up the same steps once before.
She asks to hold his hand instead, but Hwan-ki just extends his arm for her to hold on to. He asks if he’s going to get chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and Ro-woon scoffs that they can’t even hold hands, and that earlier, he acted like he’d never kissed her before. Hwan-ki asks if she wants a kiss, and then starts to lean closer.
Ro-woon shuts her eyes while Hwan-ki draws near, putting his arms around her. But instead of a kiss, he hugs her. Then he slowly draws back, and we see that he’s put a necklace around her neck. Ro-woon pouts in disappointment until she realizes what he’s done. Hwan-ki tells her that it’s not a Valentine’s Day gift while smiling sweetly at her.
As he starts to leave, she stops him, then walks close and kisses him. “This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you,” she says. Then, smiling shyly, she runs into her house.
Hwan-ki walks away with his own smile until Reporter Woo appears before him. He asks if he’s CEO Eun Hwan-ki, then says that it’s too bad that he’s happy next to Ro-woon, when there are some things he still doesn’t know. Back inside the house, Ro-woon touches the moon and stars necklace while smiling at her own reflection.
For a good chunk of this episode, I was convinced that the show was airing its finale, and I almost felt grateful. This usually fast-paced show had suddenly become unbearably plodding. Whatever the flaws of Introverted Boss, it has always moved quickly from plot point to plot point, keeping us engaged and entertained with funny shenanigans and adorable bonding moments. This is the first time that I actually felt the crawling passage of the hour while watching Hwan-ki and Ro-woon make moon eyes at each other. Aside from Yi-soo’s sudden and miraculous self-realization, and Hwan-ki’s employees finding out how talkative he is, nothing of note really happened. It was, ultimately, a filler episode and a wasted hour.
Ignoring years of manipulation and toxicity, the show continues to push for a bromance between Hwan-ki and Woo-il. While no friendship is one-dimensional, and Woo-il likely deserved Hwan-ki’s gratitude, I didn’t see any hint of remorse in Woo-il for how he’s treated Hwan-ki until now. Where is his earnest apology to his old friend? I’m also ridiculously disappointed in Ro-woon’s placid acceptance of the reasons given to her for her sister’s suicide, and long for the old Ro-woon to make an appearance.
With her suspicious nature and intrusive tendencies, pre-edit Ro-woon would never sit back while Hwan-ki handed her answers in bite-sized pieces. Her easy forgiveness of Hwan-ki puts the lie in her need to find out the truth behind her sister’s death. While the edits were meant to soften Ro-woon, they seem to have ended up creating an inconsistent heroine whose passionate quest for answers has been derailed by her need to be the emotional tech support for the hero of the story.
It’s incredibly frustrating to watch the show trying to brush aside the fact that Hwan-ki covered up the involvement — no matter how tangential — of those he cared about in the death of Ro-woon’s sister. It had the setup of a proper romantic conflict, but all we got in the aftermath of the last episode’s confessions is an hour of faux distance, with no real impediment or hesitation between the protagonists. I blame this entirely on the show’s determination to sing Hwan-ki’s hymns at this point. I love Hwan-ki, but now that he’s beloved by all and easily forgiven by the people who should have made him squirm more, my pompoms are leaden in my hands.
And now we’ll have to wait and see if Incredibly Convenient Plot Device, aka Reporter Woo, can inject new life into the final week of the show. Fingers crossed.