tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

[Review] Coffee Prince, Episode Two

And it's time for episode two, where the comedy couple has Amazing Fake Gay Boyfriend Adventures and the drama couple triggers a whole slew of Advice Columns. Also noted: some plot stuff.

Comments you should definitely read from the last post: [ profile] via_ostiense on gender pronouns and stuff I'm not getting from the subtitles, fragilistikal (whole thread!) on manly junk, subtitle problems, and Korean cultural stuff I didn't get, and [ profile] ranalore on pooping, peeing, and piggy back rides. (Beware mild spoilers.)

A Further Note on Bodily Secretions

[ profile] ranalore's comment made me remember my first time reading, I think it was, Franny and Zooey, when I was 13, which is, for the record, exactly the right age for first reading all of Salinger in one glorious weeklong orgy. At one point, one of the kids describes their mother as looking satisfied in a way that could only mean she'd been talking to her oldest son or had learned that everyone in her family was going to be regular for 24 hours.

I still remember that because it made me blink - like, how would their mother even know if they were regular or not? Did they, like, talk about pooping or something? By then, though, I was an old pro at recognizing cultural gaps - this is what happens when you spend your childhood reading books written in another country long before you were born - and I just figured, okay, mind the gap. But Franny and Zooey was written in the US in 1961. (By, I might add, someone from roughly the same cultural subset as I am, as far as I can tell.) So apparently the monumental level of delicacy we have achieved with respect to bodily functions in the US is not only not shared by every single country out there, it also wasn't shared by our own country fifty years ago.

In other words, we're probably the weird ones, which is something I will try to keep in mind as I watch future episodes.

Episode 2

1: The Comedy Couple Hatches a Plot

We pick up exactly where episode 1 left off, with: "Hey, do you want to be my lover?" Han Kyul then checks out Eun Chan like she's a suit he's planning on buying, but actually it turns out that she is a beard he's planning on buying. Well, wait - she's supposed to help him pretend to be gay, not straight. Does that make her a reverse beard? Would that be - like, a hairpiece? A soul patch? A very close shave? Whatever the term is.

Eun Chan, to judge by her general attitude, is still very much stuck on, "WTF, dude? What the fucking fuck is even wrong with you?"

Han Kyul writes up a contract - presumably he found a Fake Gay Boyfriend sample contract online. (I can only hope it included a section on Unplanned Genuine Romantic Feelings and an option for Fake Gay Marriage. People never really plan adequately for their fake gay relationships.) She says she won't be his fake gay boyfriend unless he apologizes for insulting her father and family. I love this sequence, because it shows why Eun Chan is perfect for (and maybe too good for) Han Kyul: she is the very first person in his life - like, his entire life to date, one suspects - who will not put up with his bullshit. She actually makes him come through. She rejects his insincere apologies until he gets it right. It's fabulous.

They negotiate terms and eventually come to an agreement, although not before he uses his phone to snap a picture of her. "If anything happens," he tells her, "this will be your mug shot." Oh, Han Kyul.

Then they go out his car, which is DOUBLE-PARKED. That bastard. I knew I was right to name him Jerkface!

Eun Chan is still fairly dubious about Han Kyul, but she really likes his car. I mean really. She feels it up for quite a prolonged period, and then she morphs into a kid who is getting to sit in the front of the car for the VERY FIRST TIME. Poke! Bounce! Spring! Play with the radio! I wait patiently for her to start putting the windows up and down over and over until he engages the window lock. (I am not saying I do this, mind you. I am just saying it is the most fun you can have as the passenger in a car, provided you are with someone who is required for reasons of blood ties to forgive you for this behavior. Or someone you hate, I guess.)

She opens the convertible roof. AND THEN SHE STANDS UP. I am deeply appalled. She sings a song and does a little dance, and really she looks very happy, but I cannot enjoy it or even really watch, because EVERY BONE IN MY BODY IS SHRIKEING ABOUT DARWIN AWARDS.

Han Kyul, by the way, looks amused by all this. After he drops her off, he says to himself, "He's a monster." To judge by his expression and tone, that is a very good thing to be.

Meanwhile, at Eun Chan's house, her mother is busy writing on sticky notes, and I quote directly from the subtitles:
  1. Leather shoes are my enemy
  2. Branded goods are a short cut to bankruptcy
  3. Pink is an angel from hell
I read the last one and immediately consider changing my user name. (Note, by the way, that she is writing this on pink, angel-from-hell sticky notes.)

Her mother is experiencing guilt for being a spendthrift, and after we get some numerical details, we feel that her guilt is not nearly enough. We have to pause for an interlude of seriously worrying over the Go family's budget. It is stressful.

2: The Drama Couple Makes a Scene

Yoo Ju and Han Kyul meet in a park, where Yoo Ju is emphasizing her femininity by doing art with little kids. (I suspect part of Yoo Ju's plot purpose is to provide a foil for Eun Chan by being a very girly girl.) Han Kyul has one of his noble moments, here, realizing that even though he's dating her (and, also, he's supposed to be in love with her, although frankly I am not buying this so much), she really wants Han Seong. There is a meatball metaphor involved, but trust me: the meatballs are the essence of nobility. Han Kyul takes her off to Han Seong's house to wait for him.

But Han Seong is not home when they get there, because he has run into Eun Chan near a convenience store. He has alcohol, she has ice cream; they share it and have a chat. I would recount the conversation, but I couldn't take notes because of the horror. I really wish she would not eat like that. Oh god. I am not going into it. I am not that strong, frankly.

Back at Han Seong's house, Han Kyul and Yoo Ju are waiting outside his gate. Han Kyul, who cannot have a moment of nobility without a commensurate relapse (otherwise people might start thinking he's a decent guy, after all), says, "Yoo Ju, you've become pitiful. Is Choi Han Seong really that good?"

We pause for another round of TFV and BB's Advice Column: Coffee Prince Edition:

TFV: If you want someone to love you, maybe don't describe her as pitiful.
BB: It suggests you don't actually want her to love you.
TFV: YES. Also, it makes you look like a total asshole.
BB: Looks like? IS.

But then Han Seong shows up and Han Kyul walks nobly off, looking wistfully back just to emphasize that they are so in love and he is not a part of it. Instead of a gorgeous artist girlfriend, he has a hired boyfriend. Annnnd it's back to BB and TFV's Advice Column: Coffee Prince Edition:

TFV: Look at your life choices, Jerkface! Maybe they are responsible for this tragic state of affairs!
BB: You really can't expect us to feel sorry for you when you made it this way.

Back with at the gate, Yoo Ju says she'd like to start over. Han Seong walks off. He goes into his house and sits on the floor in the dark. I want to give him a stern talking-to, and also remind him that emo is a whole other variety of music than the one he produces.

Yoo Ju is still outside. Which is not a surprise; she doesn't have a ride home. There is sadness everywhere. I find myself wondering what Eun Chan and Han Kyul are up to.

Annnnnd then Han Seong comes back out and they go back in together. The music swells! Passionate kissing! Tears! Confessions and apologies and then slow motion as Han Seong scoops Yoo Ju up and carries her off to the bedroom. My reactions are:
  1. Oh, please. This is the second episode of a seventeen-episode series. If you think your problems are solved, you are WRONG.
  2. Can we please go back to Eun Chan and Han Kyul now? PLEASE?
And we do! Specifically, we go back to Han Kyul, who is angsting to the same music Han Seong and Yoo Ju are banging to, which, ouch. Not on, musical director. Not. On. The classy choice here would be to give him different music to be angsty to.

Han Kyul gives good angst, though. He throws rocks in his rock garden and then flops down dramatically. I would maybe feel worse for him if I was not distracted by his gorgeous, gorgeous home. This is what it means to be old, people: you're more interested in the hero's real estate than his pain. Don't let this happen to you!

3: The Recapping Couple Mouths Off

A new day dawns with the drama couple, outdoors in yet more beautiful real estate. They do romantic foot touching and woeful staring, and I want them to just pick one, damn it.

Han Seong is ANGRY. He asks Yoo Ju what kind of person she thinks he is. Is he just easy? She says no, which seems like a gimme answer, but then he tells her to just go, and that they should not see each other again.

The Advice Column returns:

BB: I want to be on your side. I like you. And you have a great dog!
TFV: But this is a conversation you needed to have BEFORE the sex.
BB: If you keep this up, you're going to be the jerk. You are on thin ice here. You can do this once. Once. And then you have to grow up.
TFV: See, Han Seong, you can have the moral high ground, or you can have Yoo Ju. If you keep trying to have both, you're going to end up crying in the shower while you jerk off to the last voicemail she left you.
BB: ...Wouldn't he get electrocuted?

We sigh and return to the scene. Han Seong continues to cede moral high ground like he works on Wall Street. Eventually, Yoo Ju leaves. Han Seong hurls himself down and says, in tones of Most Extreme Anguish, "I told you to go and you really went." We have to pause again for more Advice Column:

TFV: You absolutely can't.
TFV: See, Han Seong, there is a time in your life for telling people you want things and then sulking when they don't magically divine that you want the opposite thing. That time is when you're FIFTEEN.
BB: Thirty-one is MUCH TOO LATE.
TFV: Say what you want and see if you get it. Or don't say what you want and accept the consequences. Saying what you really don't want and testing people to see if they love you enough not to give you what you claim you want? NO.
BB: Unless you want to make everyone crazy and end up alone.

Seriously, in this one short scene Han Seong has plunged maybe fifty points in our personal estimations.

We are both very relieved to switch to Eun Chan. After she meets Han Kyul - late, of course, but trying hard - he disapproves of her clothes. Any boyfriend of his is damn well going to dress better than this.

There is a dressing sequence that is seriously fun, largely because Han Kyul is more careful with suits than I have seen him be with anything so far, including Yoo Ju. He selects several thousand (off the rack, but mostly nice, except for the one that makes her look like she got dressed out of the parts they cut off the fabric to make the other suits) outfits for her and demands she try them all on. He rejects outfit after outfit until at last she is dressed exactly like him. (Except with a different color tie.) Then he approves. And by "approves," I mean he checks her and the suit out with incredible lasciviousness. Maybe he's clothesexual? Or maybe he just seriously loves himself a lot. He is his own masculine ideal!

What follows is a sequence of such profound awesomeness that it is worth seeing the entire series to this point just for this. They walk to Han Kyul's matchmaking dates - and it is quite the walk, down streets, through parks, all kinds of stuff - and Eun Chan is learning to imitate Han Kyul's every mannerism and gesture. She is so happy to be getting some hands on experience with being a dude! And while this is happening, we learn that such is their combined hotness that they control the weather. Wherever they pass by, there is a small localized tornado. Car doors pop open! (And their lights flash, so we can see that parked cars appreciate hotness, at least if it comes in a black suit.) Fruit and pancakes fly about! Laundry takes an unexpected excursion! Cotton candy and hats go on an airborne field trip! (Except Eun Chan ends up with two sticks of cotton candy, because she loves food. A lot. She does share with Han Kyul, though.)

Also, there is a leap that they do together that has us dying. It may actually be the best thing ever broadcast on television.

Even a sequence of absolute glee cannot last forever, though. Eventually, they arrive at the matchmaking dates. Han Kyul is insufferable with the first girl, and calls in the fake gay boyfriend after about five minutes. ("Show time," he says in English over the phone to Eun Chan, looking happier than he has in the entire series so far.)

I cannot describe what happens next in any kind of detail. It's a fake kissing sequence, I got that much, but the awkwardness is too much for me. I end up accidentally punching myself in the eye as I flinch away from the screen - GRACE I HAS IT - and as a result I miss some stuff. Apparently there are neck closeups and stuff. Can't say; busy hoping I won't bruise.

When I manage to return my attention to the screen, the matchmaking girl is beating the crap out of Han Kyul with her handbag. It is, frankly, awesome; I mean, I like Han Kyul, but I also like seeing him cowering away from a girl with a handbag.

4: The Canon Writers Are Familiar with All Fan Fiction Tropes and Memes

When we pick back up, Han Kyul's mother and grandmother are conversing. "I hear he kissed a guy and got beaten up by a girl," the mother says. I tell you what: that is a plot I would read again and again.

"That lad is full of so many tricks," the grandmother responds. I find myself wondering what she'd say if Han Kyul were arrested for murder. "Oh, he'll do anything to get out of a meeting," perhaps.

Back with the comedy couple, we get to see a montage of ruined matchmaking dates. After each one, Han Kyul and Eun Chan engage in a more complicated and involved celebratory handshake; the sequence begins with a simple fistpump and ends with something resembling dudebro ballet. In their moment of ultimate triumph, Han Kyul, extremely excited over the fact that he no longer has to pretend to date girls, kisses his fake gay boyfriend on the mouth.

At this point, I am not as sold on Han Kyul's heterosexuality as he is.

Eun Chan responds by gagging and running to rinse her mouth out. When he complains that she's over-reacting - what's a kiss on the mouth between fake gay boyfriends? - she says that was her first kiss. I feel really sorry for her. I mean, fine, if you get to 24 and just haven't wanted to kiss anyone yet, but in her case I suspect that it's more that she has not had time, what with taking care of everything and working four jobs. My new motto is "People should at least have time for a kiss before they turn 24. Even if they choose not to have the kiss, there should still be a spare moment somewhere in their lives for it."

I make a mental note to tell the earthling this motto. When he's older. Like, 20.

Han Kyul says it was his first kiss, too. With a guy. He buys back her affection with lots and lots of food, proving that Han Kyul already knows exactly where Eun Chan's buttons are.

We have a brief interlude with the grandmother and mother, during which:
  1. Grandma dismisses Han Kyul's mother's worries about his burgeoning homosexuality by saying, "Just relax and eat some cake." This is excellent advice, and I would adopt it as my new life plan if it did not make me think unfortunate thoughts about Portal crossovers.
  2. Grandma hatches her plan about forcing Han Kyul to take over a failing coffee shop, which is presumably where the, um, remainder of the plot will come from. I am sad it won't be all Eun Chan and Han Kyul's Fake Gay Boyfriend Adventures, but I guess you can't spend all your time that way. Although, to be honest, I am not sure why not.
And then it's back to Han Kyul and Eun Chan, who are eating the extremely large amount of food he bought for her. He adds up all the money he owes her, for the dates plus each time they touched. And, yes, he instantly knows exactly how many times he touched her, and where. He was keeping track, apparently. As you do! When you are just casually touching someone and really it has no significance to you! Then, because he has to be a dick whenever he thinks someone might be taking him seriously, he takes back a watch he gave her.

She drinks a worrying amount of alcohol. We cringe, anticipating that there will soon be a scene where she gets hideously drunk and probably embarrassing and then maybe he has to take care of her, but in fact, no. That is not how Coffee Prince works. Han Kyul just shakes his head as he watches her fill a water cup with liquor and says, "Wild. Totally wild." He does not say this judgmentally, exactly; it's more in the tone you would use while speaking of someone who is much better at Guitar Hero than you are.

What comes next is one of those bizarre interludes we have come to expect and indeed look forward to. Eun Chan starts sniffing really, really hard, and insists that there is a distinct smell of coffee. It turns out that she's smelling coffee a woman outside the restaurant has spilled on herself. Eun Chan says very proudly that her nickname is Dog Nose.

We pause so I can do some character math in my notes.

Always hungry
+ Ridiculous sense of smell
+ Nickname of Dog Nose

= WEREWOLF. Eun Chan is clearly a WEREWOLF. This explains so much!

I spend some time being pleased with the result of my calculation, which fortunately allows me to mostly ignore the part where she talks about other things she smells. Although I do have to note that one of the guys at a table near them is relating a story about how he peed behind a dumpster that morning. What the actual fuck? Am I going to spend my life pursued by dumpster peeing?

BB and I pause to try to figure out why this scene is even IN here, but unless there's a werewolf transformation coming up, we can't figure it out. We conclude we are missing something major, culturally speaking. When we hit play again, we see Han Kyul accidentally drinking Eun Chan's full glass of alcohol. Whoops. Especially given that he is a documented lightweight; he passed out from one glass of red wine in the first episode. So it's going to be Han Kyul passing out! Way to foil our expectations in the best possible way, Coffee Prince!

5: All the Couples Get Crazy

And it's back to the Two Emo Lovers. At this point, I believe that they are in here to prove that no matter how pathetic Eun Chan and Han Kyul get, they are healthy and sane and so much better than Han Seong and Yoo Ju.

Han Seong is being an ass to his employees; it's ten at night and he hasn't let them take lunch or dinner yet. Aaaaaadvice Column!

TFV: You cannot deal with the problem of having been a jerk by being even more of a jerk.
BB: That is a really good way to make everyone hate you, though.
TFV: Including us.

So, Eun Chan has to carry Han Kyul home, because he is, as we expected, passed out drunk. And I do mean carry - like, on her back. She even has super strength. (Also, note [ profile] ranalore's comment about piggy back rides. She's once again taking a masculine role, although admittedly because Han Kyul is unconscious.) I am so right; OBVIOUSLY she is a werewolf. And then she carries him to her dojo, because she can't get him into his house.

The next morning, she brings him soup and goes off to deal with an Evil Sister crisis, leaving Han Kyul in the unfortunate custody of the cutest little kids in the world. Seriously, there is something about tiny people in uniforms that is so cute I think I'm going to have to enroll the earthling in martial arts, just for the adorableness factor.

Of course, just because you're cute, that doesn't mean you can't also be evil. (See also: Eun Sae.) The kids tie Han Kyul up and gag him with their belts. (You know, I never see martial arts studios advertising that - self-confidence, sure, goal-setting, sure, but where is the mention of BONDAGE SKILLS?) I am all tense; it's like the pictures you see on failblog where the passed-out drunk guy is, like, entirely covered in duct tape. I never laugh at those; I am too busy worrying he's going to DIE. The way the kids are jumping on Han Kyul does not ease my worries any.

Fortunately, Eun Chan comes back and saves him, and she conducts her class while he watches. It is so cute, right up until the poop jokes start again. For the record, tiny children doing martial arts are less cute when they are yelling about poop. Although they are still some cute.

Han Kyul is apparently not a fan of poop, which makes me like him even more, damn it; he pukes, although we THANK GOD do not actually see it. (I am guessing he gets to puke off camera because he's the romantic lead.) Eun Chan takes him to her apartment to find him clothes and get him cleaned up. She has to leave him there, and he wanders around judging the apartment - no style! So cheap! And I want to hate him for it. But then he sees Eun Chan's daily schedule, which is a horror; it's like if you were simultaneously doing law school and medical school, basically, and also had two small children.

Han Kyul realizes he's a jerkface who has it easy. He gives Eun Chan the full amount of money she needs (for the moment) - part of it is payment for services rendered, the rest is a loan. He leaves her a note and a watch, and she smiles, reading it. Awwwww. I love you, comedy couple!

I remain much less enthused about drama couple, though. We switch back to Han Seong, who is angsting while watching small windup figurines sing and dance. I am not even going to talk about how horrifying and awful the figurines are; I'm just going to say that this guy needs some new angsting triggers. Or less angst. I would vote for less angst, actually.

But, WOE, once again Han Seong is remembering Yoo Ju and being so very sad, and frankly I would feel worse for him except:
  1. If hadn't been a jerk to her, she'd BE THERE.
  2. His flashback of Extreme and Total Sorrow Oh God I Hate My Life Whyyyyy Did She Leave Me Whyyyyyy Am I So Alone Oh God WHY? once again includes flirtatious nose picking.
At this point, I am rooting for an amnesia plotline for Han Seong. We'd still get his voice and his personality, but we wouldn't get his angst and flashbacks. WIN.

Instead of hitting himself hard on the head, though, Han Seong goes off to see Yoo Ju, for another round of miserable staring and horrible speeches. This particular horrible speech begins with Han Seong explaining that he is wretched and can't work, but she is just fine. Not said but clearly implied: "You heartless bitch." Annnnnnd it's Advice Column Time!

BB: No. That is not how it goes.
TFV: You start off with, "I'm sorry. I was a jerk. I won't do that again."
BB: And you mean it. Or you don't bother coming.

Instead of taking our - I think you will agree - extremely excellent advice, Han Seong cries and lectures her about ignoring him. Yoo Ju says, "No matter what I say, you won't like it." We award her seven thousand Maturity Points. Han Seong, unimpressed, talks about how much his heart hurt when she left him. I swear, there's an Advice Column every minute with these two.

TFV: Um, see, I would have sympathy, except for the part where you slept with her. In a way that indicated that you had gotten over it.
BB: You needed to deal with your issues first.
TFV: Yes. THEN you fuck. That is how you do that.

Han Seong apparently drove down here to announce, again, that he can't be with her anymore, which would be more believable if he didn't come down here to be with her. She hugs him and thanks him (for WHAT?), and he responds with one of the All Time Worst Ever Lines: "I want to hurt you."

TFV: Yoo Ju, if someone says he wants to hurt you, believe him.

She does not run. I don't know why we bother telling these people anything.

It is an intense relief to return to Eun Chan, who is worrying about money, and Han Kyul, who is having a prolonged fantasy wedding dream involving bubbles and Eun Chan in a suit and veil. Then the real Eun Chan wakes him up with a phone call, and he yells at her for not letting him finish his dream. His gay wedding dream.

After they hang up, he rolls around in bed with his pillow and says, "Rascal," in a tone that strongly suggests that he is about to beat off thinking about Eun Chan. And given what else they've shown on this show, I am actually expecting them to show it. Frankly, I think I am owed a tasteful masturbation sequence, given all the bodily secretions I have had to put up with, but no. Instead, Han Kyul's grandmother shows up and drags him off to the coffee shop.

We learn that Han Kyul will be managing this shop. And that Eun Chan has lost her dojo job; the owner packed up in the night and disappeared without paying her. We strongly suspect that in future episodes, these two things will turn out to be related to each other.

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