We’re approaching the end, but our introvert-extrovert couple seem further apart than before and are unable to be together despite mutual feelings. Their past seems to get in the way of their present, and doors that were once open have closed shut. But luckily, there’s someone courageous enough to knock, ready to return the favor and draw out the lady who cracked open his shell.
EPISODE 15: “A Reason Greater Than 99 Other Reasons”
Ro-woon brightly serves her father a home-cooked breakfast. Judging from his stumped expression, Ro-woon’s clearly no chef, but he tells her the food tastes delicious anyway. Then Ro-woon tastes it and cringes.
He asks if she plans on continuing to work since she began with bad intentions, and Ro-woon replies that Ji-hye led her to a place where people finally recognize her worth. Ji-hye may not have left behind the necklace, but Ro-woon says she got a prettier one from Hwan-ki instead.
Cut to Hwan-ki scrubbing meal trays at the orphanage with Woo-il, who knows Hwan-ki didn’t come here to do dishes, but because he needed someone to talk to. Woo-il urges him to speak, reminding him that his silence can be alienating and that he wants to understand him, too.
Hwan-ki says he was wrong in thinking he can see through and understand people, and that he now recognizes how dangerous that notion is. Woo-il doesn’t understand, and Hwan-ki discloses that Ji-hye’s death occurred because of him.
Ro-woon waits for Hwan-ki inside his office. She moves to the windows, and the view surprises her. Just then, Hwan-ki arrives looking sad, and he wordlessly embraces Ro-woon; he wonders why more reasons they shouldn’t be together continue to arise.
We go back to Valentine’s Day evening with Hwan-ki leaving Ro-woon’s place with a big smile on his face. Reporter Woo suddenly appeared and reminded Hwan-ki that he doesn’t have the right to smile so freely since there’s something he doesn’t know about.
“Ji-hye was watching you, not Woo-il,” Reporter Woo divulged to Hwan-ki. He added that Ji-hye’s unfortunate entanglement with Woo-il came about because of Hwan-ki.
We flash back even further to Ji-hye holding onto her drawing and wondering if she should ask Woo-il to give it to Hwan-ki in her stead. Then we see her grab drinks with Reporter Woo and lament how she ultimately wasn’t able to give Hwan-ki the drawing. She felt inferior to Yeon-jung since she dealt with real art, but she didn’t hate her because it was thanks to her that she was able to go on a date with Hwan-ki.
She smiled, explaining how excited and nervous she felt even though it was a practice date, and we see that she had looked longingly at Hwan-ki when he left to meet with Yeon-jung. Reporter Woo chided her for falling for bad boys, but Ji-hye contended that Hwan-ki was actually a warm person.
Ji-hye laughed, admitting that she’s not very bright, since she still liked and watched Hwan-ki despite the despair and the knowledge that they could never be. Reporter Woo had urged her to confess already, but Ji-hye said that if she did, she couldn’t see him anymore.
Ji-hye then answered a call from Woo-il and left to see him despite Reporter Woo’s insistence to stay. He sheepishly took out a box from his pocket, and in it was a shiny ring. He sighed and lamented his missed opportunity.
Back to Valentine’s night. Reporter Woo said Hwan-ki should’ve given Ji-hye a glance and listened to her at least once, since she only had eyes for him — how could he be so cruel and ignore her? Reporter Woo stated that Hwan-ki, more than anyone, hurt Ji-hye the most and was therefore the most reprehensible: “So how can you be beside her sister?”
Back to the present. Ro-woon’s stunned by what Hwan-ki recounted, since Reporter Woo had never shared this with her. Ro-woon then realizes that Ji-hye didn’t die because of shame from abandonment by Woo-il, but rather the thought that she wouldn’t be able to face Hwan-ki again. Umm, what?
We flash back to that night three years ago. Ji-hye called Hwan-ki, desperately hoping he’d pick up, but he didn’t. She cried and stood by the windows in his office and imagined Hwan-ki standing next to her. She reached for him, but retracted after picturing his disapproval and anger. Then, she stepped onto the ledge.
Back in the present, Hwan-ki and Ro-woon stand before the same window. She states that Ji-hye’s view was not of Woo-il’s, but of Hwan-ki’s. In a flashback, we see that Hwan-ki was engrossed in looking out his window. Ji-hye had taken note of this, and while he was away, she had checked out his view and jotted down all the businesses outside his window.
Back in the present, Ro-woon hands Hwan-ki Ji-hye’s drawing and says that Ji-hye had filled the concrete building with people — Hwan-ki’s alone all the time, and Ji-hye hoped he’d always be surrounded by warm people. Tears fall from Hwan-ki’s eyes as Ro-woon describes Ji-hye’s thought process. She puts on a brave front and sets the drawing on his desk, saying that it’s finally found its original owner.
Hwan-ki follows Ro-woon outside, keeping a short distance between them, but Ro-woon never turns around despite sensing his presence. She continues forward, fighting back tears, and Hwan-ki silently trails her.
The next day, Woo-il sits on a swing waiting for Yi-soo. She’s dressed casually, and Woo-il notes that she looks relaxed. Yi-soo explains that there’s no need to dress up for anyone since her parents ordered her to stay at home, probably because they’re embarrassed.
Woo-il admits that he’s thought about her a lot and realized that he took her for granted because he assumed she had everything and that there was nothing he could do for her; he had no idea he was hurting her so much. Yi-soo says it’s not his fault, and Woo-il catches her acting on his behalf again. He encourages her to say what she wants and not hold back now, adding that she looks more beautiful than ever now that she’s comfortable being herself.
Yi-soo proceeds to blame him for everything, but Woo-il says she can do better than that, so she calls him a jerk and starts hitting him. Woo-il finally approves and hugs Yi-soo, who starts to cry, relieved that he didn’t run away once he saw who she truly was.
At the office, Sun-bong approaches Kyo-ri in the kitchen. He asks her who she’s trying to impress by taking diet pills, and Kyo-ri answers that she’s working on improving herself so she can love herself more. He asks her to attend a concert with him that Brain is promoting, assuming she doesn’t have plans, but she declines; she has a PR lecture to attend as part of her personal growth mission.
After she leaves, Yoo-hee pops out from behind the counter and startles a dejected Sun-bong. She offers him some advice — being manly comes across as being cold, so he should be kinder to softhearted Kyo-ri.
Sun-bong pokes out of the kitchen and spots Kyo-ri and Se-jong together. Se-jong asks if he can attend the lecture with her, adding that he’ll treat her to dinner, and Kyo-ri says yes. Sun-bong looks disappointed, and Yoo-hee frightens him again with an I-told-you-so. She stuffs chocolate in his mouth and instructs him not to lose Kyo-ri again.
That night, Se-jong thanks her for letting him attend, but Kyo-ri replies that he was asleep during the whole lecture. Se-jong laments that everyone seems to be progressing except for him. Kyo-ri reminds him that he has a different dream — to be a celebrity — but Se-jong still feels left out, noting that even she has matured.
She says that once he starts pursuing his dream, he’ll change too. He jokingly wonders if she’s trying to send him away, and Kyo-ri surprises him when she confesses that she liked him and asks if he’d like to see where she lives.
Se-jong stands around Kyo-ri’s humble rooftop abode, a new experience for a rich kid like him. Kyo-ri tells him that she couldn’t tell him how she felt, since she was too fearful that he’d pity her. She adds that she regrets developing feelings for him when he asked her to pretend-date him.
She returns all the clothes he bought for her and determines that it’s really over now. She sincerely thanks him for the fake relationship and gives him a farewell hug, which ruffles Se-jong.
The next day, Yi-soo helps Woo-il hang the laundry at the orphanage. She clarifies that she’s not here for him, but to volunteer and overcome her heartache. Woo-il’s worried about Hwan-ki, but Yi-soo says that he’ll be fine since he has someone next to him who’ll knock on his door and drag him out. But Woo-il says that won’t be so easy anymore.
After updating her, Yi-soo remarks that they were all fools for failing to properly confess their feelings. She teases Woo-il for having it the worst, since he wasted his time on Ji-hye when she was looking at someone else. Then she calls Woo-il a dummy, and they share a laugh.
Hwan-ki’s father receives the 411 on Reporter Woo, who was close to Ji-hye and has been targeting him relentlessly. But the real shocker is the fact that Ji-hye’s sister is a Brain employee.
Next, we see Hwan-ki leave two potted flower plants outside Ro-woon’s home. He continues to bring two more on every visit, growing a beautiful collection of flowers. Ro-woon beams as she waters all of them.
One day, Hwan-ki’s setting down the flowers when the gate opens. He sees Ro-woon’s startled face behind it, and the two lock eyes for a beat until she turns away. Hwan-ki’s eyes brim with pain as he looks at her, but neither is able to cross the threshold.
The next time Hwan-ki stops by with flowers, Ro-woon’s father requests he stop since there’s no more space for them, and Ro-woon’s unlikely to change her mind. He invites Hwan-ki inside and says he’ll be closing the barbershop — the landlord’s changed and rent’s been increased.
Plus, there haven’t been many customers despite being in business for thirty years. He’s not sure why Ro-woon closed herself off, but he advises Hwan-ki to move on, figuring the two weren’t meant to be.
Hwan-ki meets with his father, who’s finally clued in on who Ro-woon is. He’s distressed to learn that his father is the one who took over Ro-woon’s father’s barbershop, but his father is remorseless as he merely says that he’ll have to find Hwan-ki’s partner himself.
Just then, Yeon-jung arrives. She’s shocked that Hwan-ki didn’t get the memo about her being here. Hwan-ki’s father loves that she’s known and liked Hwan-ki since college and asks if she’d like to marry him. Yeon-jung answers that she likes the notion, but Hwan-ki’s father isn’t exactly her type, which properly offends him.
She explains that she likes how careful and considerate Hwan-ki is, but that his father is the opposite; since she’s outgoing and impatient like him, those qualities don’t appeal to her. She thanks Hwan-ki’s father for thinking so highly of her, even though she thought he’d give Hwan-ki a heads up at the very least.
Her bluntness prompts Hwan-ki’s father to angrily leave. Although she may have been too harsh, she says this meeting didn’t feel right. Hwan-ki apologizes, but Yeon-jung is unfazed and wonders if this is the start of a sad love story.
Ro-woon’s father sadly looks around his barbershop. His daughter enters with a huge stack of promotional flyers and says they should try and revive the business and protect the memories of Mom and Ji-hye.
Ro-woon hands out flyers to passersby, but they mostly toss it on the ground. She hears a commotion and is surprised to see the return of the familiar Christmas panda, who’s attracted the attention of all the ladies with his cute dance moves. Ro-woon wonders if it’s Hwan-ki in the getup.
Ro-woon urges him to leave, thinking it’s Hwan-ki, but the panda motions that he’s actually Se-jong. We see that it’s Hwan-ki underneath the costume, and he takes it upon himself to act silly without feeling inhibited.
Ro-woon knows Hwan-ki’s the panda and urges him to drop the act. She tussles with him trying to get the head off, so he bearhugs her to make her stop. Hwan-ki asks if she can just pretend he’s someone else, since he just wanted to see her.
She grows teary and asks him to let her see his face. Then a little girl spots Ro-woon in an embrace with the panda and asks her family if a hero will be born when a bear falls in love with a human, heh.
The two relocate, and Hwan-ki finally has his panda head off. She thanks him for her help, but asks him to leave after finishing his snack. He says she shouldn’t thank him and admits that the barbershop is suffering because of his father, sadly noting yet another reason why he can’t be the one for Ro-woon.
But Hwan-ki says that he’s here anyway and will push forward — until now, she’s always been the one to run to him. He tells her she can close her door, because he’ll knock and pull her out from now on. Ro-woon says they shouldn’t do this, thinking of Ji-hye, but Hwan-ki reiterates that he’ll be doing it, and asks that she let him help out the barbershop since it’s his father’s fault.
They pick up the trampled flyers outside the barbershop, which reminds Ro-woon of three years ago, when no one listened to her cries about Ji-hye’s death. But Hwan-ki reminds her that this time, she’s not alone.
Hwan-ki nods behind her, and Yoo-hee, Se-jong, Sun-bong, and Kyo-ri all appear, much to Ro-woon’s delight. She’s touched that they’re here to help, and they scold her for leaving the company.
Kyo-ri and Yoo-hee take photos of the barbershop. Hwan-ki narrates that because the world is dominated by hair salons, simply begging customers to visit won’t work. Sun-bong narrates that instead of blaming the world for not changing, it’s easier and more effective to change yourself.
Yoo-hee and Kyo-ri pass out questionnaires at various hair salons for market research while Sun-bong and Se-jong pick out a new outfit for Ro-woon’s father. At the office, the Silent Monster crew applauds his new look, but he’s visibly discomfited. He’s grateful for their efforts, but admits that their new ideas for changing the barbershop don’t feel right to him.
Ro-woon tells him people need to change in order to be loved, but her father wonders what the point is if he’s just going to be staying in one place. Hwan-ki appears to understand the sentiment.
Ro-woon’s frustrated by her father, but Hwan-ki says that they shouldn’t have forced him to change against his will — they’ll need to find a way so that he can stay the way he is. Hwan-ki reminds her that she was the one who told him this in Malaysia, and says he’ll figure it out.
Hwan-ki seeks Yeon-jung for a favor: He wants to have her announcer friend (Han Suk-joon in a cameo) feature the barbershop on his show. Yeon-jung asks for a favor in return — to pretend to be her boyfriend just once — since Suk-joon was her first love and she wants to show him that she’s a changed woman.
Sensing his reluctance, she returns the barbershop deck to him, heh. But he stammers that he’ll help her, so she takes it back. It’s a deal!
Next, we see the two dressed up and outside the restaurant where Suk-joon waits. Hwan-ki asks if they can make it quick, and Yeon-jung okays this, but requests a farewell kiss, too.
Hwan-ki hesitates, but eventually concedes to a kiss on the cheek even though she asked for one on the lips, and they head inside. Yeon-jung introduces him to Suk-joon as the CEO of Silent Monster and her boyfriend.
She then says Hwan-ki can leave now and sticks her cheek out. Hwan-ki moves in to kiss, but Yeon-jung turns her head so they kiss on the lips, shocking Suk-joon. Hwan-ki’s eyes widen in surprise, and Yeon-jung smiles sweetly as he staggers out.
Next, we see Suk-joon getting a trim at Ro-woon’s father’s barbershop and praising the old establishment on camera for thirty years of quality cuts. Ro-woon and Yeon-jung exchange smiles during the shoot. They step outside, and Ro-woon thanks Yeon-jung for her help, but she’s sad to hear that she’s leaving for the U.S. tonight and will be gone for a while.
She extends her hand, asking Ro-woon to take good care of Hwan-ki. But Ro-woon hesitates, so Yeon-jung just hugs her, understanding her uncertainty. Later, a long line forms outside the barbershop, and Ro-woon’s father finds himself suddenly busy.
Ro-woon happily counts the thick stack of cash. But then she answers a call from Yoo-hee, and her smile drops. Turns out Reporter Woo had aired some compromising news regarding Silent Monster — a Silent Monster client, Mr. Park of Rose Airlines, holds a key vote in Hwan-ki’s father’s upcoming election for congress.
Reporter Woo had also mentioned that the suicide of a secretary was covered up, as was Hwan-ki’s power abuse. He ended on this note — as a congressman, Hwan-ki’s father would prioritize issues that are advantageous to him, namely those having to do with Brain and Silent Monster. Hwan-ki listens to Reporter Woo’s words with concern while his father’s anger intensifies.
Ro-woon angrily calls Reporter Woo, wondering how he could do something like this. She says that Hwan-ki and Silent Monster are separate from Hwan-ki’s father, but Reporter Woo cuts her off and says the truth is relative. She’s about to step outside when the sight of Ji-hye’s heels stops her.
Her father asks her why she’s hesitating, and she tearfully informs him that Ji-hye liked Hwan-ki and that she suffered because she couldn’t tell him how she truly felt. She wonders how she can possibly accept Hwan-ki’s feelings knowing this.
Hwan-ki meets with his father again, who says that there’s only one way out of this — to say that Woo-il orchestrated everything due to his unwavering loyalty and that they fired him once they found out. But this is too much for Hwan-ki, and he shouts at his father to stop.
Well, that’s an odd and abrupt way to end the penultimate episode. But I guess I’m not surprised by anything anymore, because there’s still so much about this series that doesn’t quite add up. This episode was certainly an improvement from last week’s dull filler episodes — not that that’s saying much — but I’m so dissatisfied and baffled by some of the developments.
The sporadic appearances of Reporter Woo, Ji-hye’s not so mysterious death… I’m so over it all, yet the show’s still trying to hammer me over the head with how “important” her death is and the ludicrous notion that her death can be attributed to Hwan-ki. What?! Why does Woo-il get away scot-free for drunkenly forcing himself on Ji-hye? And since when did he become the trusty confidant that Hwan-ki turns to whenever he’s got something on his mind? I think the show wanted Reporter Woo’s “bombshell” of a revelation to Hwan-ki to seem like a curveball, but Ji-hye’s suicide made little sense then, and Reporter Woo’s random tidbit doesn’t change that now. Am I really supposed to believe that Ji-hye committed suicide because she couldn’t divulge her feelings for Hwan-ki? It seems the show has forgotten that Woo-il’s cowardice and severe lapse in judgment played a huge role in her death.
It bothers me that Yi-soo for some reason still meets up with Woo-il and is able to enjoy his company when she should really be receiving psychological help. And the way she joked about how Woo-il misunderstood Ji-hye and “wasted his time” on her rubbed me the wrong way. Did she just make light of his one night stand? I mentioned this before, but Woo-il seems way too hunky dory, but I guess he no longer feels culpable now that Hwan-ki’s responsible for Ji-hye’s death. It must be nice to get away with bad decisions and to have a best friend who believes beyond logical reason that somehow not recognizing a woman’s feelings for him resulted in her suicide.
The writing has consistently been problematic and inconsistent, and I can’t even recall if Ro-woon was ever told exactly what Woo-il did to Ji-hye, because I’m guessing if Ro-woon did know about what transpired that night three years ago, revenge would be back on her mind. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m utterly perplexed by all the main characters except for the Silent Monster crew and Yeon-jung. Bless Yeon-jung, ever the coolest cucumber. I’m annoyed at Hwan-ki and Ro-woon for being so easily persuaded. I’m glad Hwan-ki has the courage to stay by Ro-woon’s side, but his sudden burst of confidence originated from nowhere, and his transition from cripplingly shy to assured and fearless was not steady nor rewarding to watch. There was no semblance of a natural progression, and I think this can be said for the entire series as a whole; the central narratives and characters did not progress in a manner that made much sense.
The only conflict that’s left, really, is whether or not Hwan-ki and Ro-woon can be together. And we know they can, because this show is incapable of twists. It’s a pity that Introverted Boss didn’t live up to the hype or the fun teasers and posters. The rewrite solved very little, but I think this show was doomed from the start by opening with an unexpectedly dark and gruesome suicide and not knowing what to do with it afterward.
To end on a positive note, I love that Kyo-ri neatly ended her relationship with Se-jong, and that she has this newfound desire to love herself more. It was also nice to see the Silent Monster crew back in action again, and I wish we had more heartwarming moments of levity with them. I’m so fond of Yeon-jung’s candidness — girl got that kiss! — that I’m starting to think she’s too good for Hwan-ki and Ro-woon. Seriously, they don’t deserve her. With one episode remaining and knowing it’s going to be a filler finale, I’d love to see her pop up and steal more scenes. Hwan-ki and Ro-woon make a cute couple, but they’re awfully tedious when they’re sorting out their “issues.”