Chicago Typewriter: Episode 7
Absence may make the heart grow fonder for most people, but Se-joo isn’t like most when it comes to much of anything. Everything about his own reality will come into question this hour when the boundaries between the past and present blur, making it that much harder to discern the truth. But there’s so much more to learn about the past than we may have ever thought possible, and that’s a mystery worth unraveling.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
In the 1930s, Soo-hyun is bewildered upon hearing that Hwi-young won’t be publishing his novel. She believes she has a say as one of the main characters, though Hwi-young disagrees, and Jin-oh nips this latest bickering match between them in the bud, adding that it wasn’t like the two were enemies their past lives or anything.
He instructs Hwi-young to properly treat Soo-hyun’s injured arm, pointing out that their aspiring writer is a pharmacist’s son and a former medical student. When both Hwi-young and Soo-hyun balk at the idea, he roars at them to get out of his club then.
Once they’re alone, Hwi-young orders Soo-hyun to take off her clothes so he can examine the wound. He reassures her that he doesn’t see her as a woman, but he stops her from escaping. She responds by striking his face.
He then chases her around the club, warning her that they cannot let her gunshot wound fester. She refuses to be treated by a quack, and he snarls back that he can give her ten stitches versus one. She runs for the exit, but he beats her to the door. She finally relents and lets him treat her wound.
Hwi-young hands her a handkerchief to bite down on, and says she can scream in pain since he’ll be cutting into her sans anesthesia. He’s impressed when Soo-hyun doesn’t squeak at all, to which she says she wouldn’t dare shed a tear when there are so many other helpless voices in their homeland.
She watches him wrap her up, looking away when he meets her gaze. She’s surprised to hear that Hwi-young was disowned by his prestigious family, though he says no wealthy family would approve of their only son quitting medical school to pursue writing instead.
Still, his medical background came in handy in treating their fellow independence fighters, and she points out that a gun isn’t the only thing that can save the world. She thinks his novel is absolutely amazing; she could tell from the very first page that he’d become a phenomenal writer.
She encourages him to keep writing and treat their comrades, believing that those things are important contributions to freedom.
In the present, Ghost Jin-oh echoes Soo-hyun’s hopes that Hwi-young’s novel would be completed one day, adding, “Aren’t you curious about how we met and how we became friends? Why Soo-hyun had to disguise herself as a man, why she had to hold a gun, how we lived that time together, what our last moments looked like?”
“No,” Se-joo breathes, “Why should I be curious about those things?” Even if Jin-oh’s words are true, he says, living in the present is already hard enough that he needn’t concern himself about the past. How would knowing the past benefit his life right now?
Those are harsh words for Jin-oh to hear, as he asks if Se-joo can’t grant a favor for an old friend. But Se-joo believes that friendship is always tied to betrayal, and doing one favor opens the door to many more. Jin-oh utters, “You’ve changed… a great deal.”
Se-joo replies that it’s hard to survive in these times without being cutthroat, and that’s enough for Jin-oh to back down. Se-joo asks for his name, but he’s already gone.
While Jin-oh swings by to thank his furry host body for his help, Seol is busy complaining about Se-joo’s angry and violent tendencies to Bang-jin inside a pojangmacha. Bang-jin is nice enough to badmouth him with her, but then Seol says that he isn’t all bad, and Bang-jin tells her to choose a side—is she Se-joo’s fan or anti-fan?
She then zips out to use the bathroom and runs into Jin-oh, but before he can say much, she tells him to stay put because nature calls. Watching Seol pound one drink after another, he tells her not to drink so much because it makes saying goodbye that much harder.
As if she heard him, Seol sets down her glass and muses aloud, “Why is Han Se-joo so selfish and unable to trust others?” Jin-oh agrees with her, saying that he wasn’t like that in the past. Looking at her, he wonders, “If I had found you first, would you have believed what I said?”
Seol sighs and Jin-oh continues, “If you had seen me first, if you had… would you have been happy to see me like you were in the past?” And much to his shock, Seol turns her head in his direction and smiles, as if she can see him. She leans toward him… and collapses into his chest.
Bang-jin returns to find Jin-oh gone and Seol passed out. She calls upon Dae-han to carry their friend home, and he thinks Seol got drunk because she felt sorry towards him. Aw, buddy. Seol dreams of her past life, where Soo-hyun calls out for her parents in her sleep.
Hwi-young sits on the bed and delicately places a comforting, calming hand on her forehead. Seol wakes up in her own bed, still reeling from her dream. Se-joo suffers from a fitful sleep in his own bed, and a hand rests on his forehead. It’s Soo-hyun, and the words from Seol’s book about working hard to survive echo in his head as Se-joo calms down.
When the publishing team worries that Se-joo will be absent from an upcoming writer’s camp, Ji-seok checks in with Secretary Kang, who reports that Se-joo has been enjoying a variety of hobbies from cooking to legos to growing blueberries—everything except writing.
So when Ji-seok drops by the house, he finds Se-joo gardening and living by the new motto “carpe diem.” He takes Se-joo out to a book-themed restaurant that night, not believing that Se-joo has fallen into another slump.
He brings up how he and Se-joo first met eight years ago on a bright spring day where he approached him wearing a sharp suit… though Se-joo counters that it was cloudy that day and Ji-seok was in a tracksuit. LOL.
Still, the point was that Ji-seok wanted to make him into a famous author, getting his attention by promising to pull him out of Tae-min’s shadow. Ji-seok claimed that Se-joo had it all—talent, potential, and good looks—and could envision a rich future for them. To his surprise, Se-joo readily agreed, saying that he liked Ji-seok’s immaturity and blatant thirst for money.
Ji-seok wonders why Se-joo has drastically changed since then, only to hear that Se-joo no longer has a clear motive in mind. He’s willing to help Se-joo find a reason to write and to live, but Se-joo says what’s most important is that he finds no joy in writing anymore.
Se-joo is tired of putting his career on the line, and has another reason too, which we only hear after he leaves Ji-seok behind and walks to the animal clinic. He thinks, I get so confused between my past and present lives, whether what’s been written was actually me or not.
Standing outside the window, he continues that thought of whether he still feels sluggish because of Soo-hyun or Seol, who sees him there. Her attention is pulled away for a moment, but when she looks back, he’s gone. She heads outside to check, unaware that he’s standing right around the corner.
Seol and Bang-jin head home with Gyeon-woo because the clinic can’t afford to let people think they will take care of stray animals indefinitely. She feels bad for being a freeloader and bringing an animal home, but she can’t bring herself to turn Gyeon-woo away.
It was Bang-jin’s mother who took her in after her father died, and those childhood memories bring Bang-jin to tears because Seol was her only true and loyal friend. They both cry in each other’s arms, shedding tears of gratitude, and that’s when Bang-jin’s mother appears.
Cut to: Bang-jin and Seol swearing that Gyeon-woo is just a harmless English sheepdog. Seol claims that Gyeon-woo is too sheepish to drive out any spirits and impede the fortune-telling business. Bang-jin’s mother allows the dog to stay in the hopes that it does actually ward off ghosts (since she’s more worried about her daughter’s ability to see ghosts).
Unfortunately, Gyeon-woo’s constant barking keeps everyone up at night, so Seol has to take him away the next day. When Gyeon-woo stops walking, she wonders if he’s afraid of being abandoned and encourages him to keep his head up.
While Se-joo chucks away an invitation to the upcoming writer’s camp which features Tae-min and himself, Seol calls Tae-min, who agrees to adopt Gyeon-woo in exchange for coffee. That’s where she runs into Se-joo, who tries to angle for a conversation.
But she ignores him until he confronts her about it. Noting his use of banmal, she agrees to follow his lead—if he speaks respectfully, so will she, and vice versa. So he addresses her with respect and that gets her to sit down with him.
She can barely hide a smile when he apologizes for what happened when they last met, though that quickly fades when he evades responsibility for being a potential pet abuser and damaging her bag. She asks who was responsible for all of those incidents then, encouraging him to come clean.
But when Se-joo asks if she believes in ghosts, Seol slams her hands on the table, outraged that he’d resort to such a flimsy excuse when she was prepared to hear him out. She was even willing to wait when he swung by the animal clinic, but now she wonders if he finds making apologies too damn hard.
Se-joo tries to keep his frustration in check while walking her through what happened that night at his dining table. He reminds her that he was too far away to grab her bag, arguing that there must’ve been a third party present.
She sighs, remarking that she doesn’t even want to see his face anymore. Getting up from her seat, she orders Se-joo to leave. So he does, and upon seeing Gyeon-woo waiting outside, Se-joo addresses him as Jin-oh. Lol.
He asks Jin-oh to appear and blames him for throwing his life into disarray. Behind him, Seol rolls her eyes, listening to Se-joo as he promises to work with Jin-oh to make himself visible. When she interrupts them, Se-joo swears that this is no ordinary dog, but Seol will hear none of it and walks away.
Se-joo chases them down and asks for Gyeon-woo. She matter-of-factly tells him that it’s too late, and when he earnestly vows to raise the dog, she reminds him that he’s supposed to be allergic.
Tae-min shows up at that very moment, surprised to hear about Se-joo’s dog fur allergy. Seol glares back at him, and Se-joo explains that he needed an excuse to prevent fans from sending pets to him as gifts.
He swears that he’ll never abandon this dog, but when Seol doesn’t see why she should entrust him with Gyeon-woo, he cites that his large estate and willingness to feed the dog with only the best should be more than enough. Tae-min relents, saying that he can’t compete with that, coming off like a chivalrous knight while Se-joo takes Gyeon-woo away.
Se-joo takes Gyeon-woo back to his study, where he swears they won’t be interrupted here. He invites Jin-oh to appear before him, but nothing happens, and Se-joo wonders if Gyeon-woo is just a dog.
Secretary Kang is shocked that he’d bring a dog home and gapes as he starts building a doghouse. He doesn’t get very far before he accidentally hammers his finger and then stares up at the sky, thinking of how both Soo-hyun and Seol expressed their belief that he’d become a great writer. His thoughts slip into Seol’s hopes that he’ll continue writing and Jin-oh asking him to complete the serial novel.
At his workspace, Tae-min notices Seol looking distracted which prompts him to tease if his manuscript is boring. She says she’s worried about Gyeon-woo, and Tae-min replies that Se-joo would’ve done anything to take the dog with him because the moment he finds interest in something, Se-joo always wants it for himself.
It’s then that Seol remembers that he and Se-joo once lived under the same roof, and that the two made headlines once for possibly being related. Tae-min gets straight to the point, asking her what sort of relationship she and Se-joo actually share: Is it romance like the scandal claims or is she just a devoted reader?
Pleased to hear that it’s the latter, he changes the subject to the manuscript, pointing out the areas that require her expertise. A thunderstorm brews outside, and Se-joo’s eyes once again fall upon the antique typewriter.
He tells Jin-oh to come out of the typewriter, calling him a coward when nothing happens. He screams at him for messing up his life, then concedes to start writing again if it means that Jin-oh will show up.
Just then, everything goes black, and Se-joo turns to see Jin-oh looking out the window. Once the lights come back on, Jin-oh is staring right at him, looking pleased. “Did you mean that?” Jin-oh ventures, “What you said about continuing to write the novel.”
Se-joo says he’s a man of his word and agrees to continue writing Chicago Typewriter together. He hasn’t changed his mind about his past life not mattering much to his present life, and he still refuses to acknowledge that he and Jin-oh are friends.
Asked why agreed to keep writing then, Se-joo answers that it’s because completing this “assignment” is the only way to go back to the way things were, where there is no chaos and he can go back to his life as a writer.
He figures that the answers will come to him if he starts writing again, and it’s possible that Jin-oh can help him overcome this career slump. Jin-oh warns him that this is the point of no return—once Se-joo agrees, there’s no going back: “You must see this to the end, no matter how this novel ends and whatever truth you may discover. Will you still draw a contract with me?”
Se-joo repeats that he will, so Jin-oh agrees to help him… on one condition, which we don’t get to hear.
Seol finishes Tae-min’s manuscript and is momentarily surprised to find him standing behind her. He invites her to the writers’ workshop, and upon hearing that she failed to get in because the competition was too fierce, he guesses that she’d tried to be a part of Se-joo’s team.
She declines a ride home, which he finds slightly infuriating. Stay away from her! But he follows her outside and discovers her struggling to find her umbrella. He offers to give her a ride again, but Seol declines again, having found her umbrella.
She steps out into the street just as a scooter zooms past, and Tae-min pulls her out of the way just in time. He still has a strong hold on her while insisting on taking her home… when Se-joo swoops in to release her from his grip.
It’s at that moment we hear what Jin-oh’s stipulation was in this deal: “Get rid of all of the men hanging around Seol. All of them. I’m asking you to prevent my woman from dating anyone else.”
Se-joo was astounded that Jin-oh would ask for something that petty and childish, but we can see that he’s agreed anyway. Tae-min laughs and darkly asks, “What are you doing?”
Se-joo says he’s upholding his promise to never let Tae-min steal something away from him again. With that, he leads Seol away with a satisfied grin.
Yesss, get her away from that creepy pet-abusing-envy-hungry-monster! Ever since we were shown Tae-min’s darker colors, I watch his scenes with a feeling of apprehension and fear, since we don’t necessarily know what word or action might push him over the edge at any given moment. There’s a part of me that wishes we could do without his character in the present narrative, given that on paper, Tae-min is someone who suffers from an inferiority complex who resorts to scathing remarks and spewing skewed truths. Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if he too is a reincarnation of someone from the past, and ultimately responsible for Soo-hyun being driven to shooting someone dead.
It’s hard to say for sure, since that means Jin-oh would’ve recognized him (unless Tae-min wore a different face back then as the devil incarnate), though the number of his interactions with Tae-min himself are so few to draw a solid conclusion there. Still, there’s no doubt that I fear for Seol’s life whenever he’s around, and I held my breath when he offered to take Gyeon-woo in again. I do get the sense that Seol does find being around him uncomfortable and is treading carefully as a result, though I doubt that will stop Tae-min from exhibiting more behavior that crosses the line.
I love how much time we spent in the 1930s today in order to flesh out our characters’ past lives even more. While Jin-oh is still very much a question mark in both time periods, I appreciate that we learned more about Hwi-young’s background and how he left that behind to pursue his own dreams. We can see where he and Se-joo’s personalities overlap, mostly in how they both write like mad men, and we’re told that Se-joo differs in other ways. There is no doubt that Se-joo has a polarizing personality and often reacts to situations in extreme ways (with Seol being on the receiving end), but as much as she’s puzzled by the glimpses of her past life, so is he, as he finds it increasingly difficult to discern his two lives and his own consciousness. I still want to know what Jin-oh means by half the vague statements he says, especially when he asks Seol questions like if her opinion of him would’ve changed if he had been there first. Even if he doesn’t know how the final moments of his previous life ended, he still knows a great deal of information we haven’t been told yet.
Se-joo had to do without Jin-oh’s presence for most of this hour, which led to a number of both sad and hilarious moments. My heart still breaks for Jin-oh, however, who knew that Seol wouldn’t be able to see him. Even so, I loved how Seol fell against his chest and seeing how much that meant to him. His stipulation that he wanted Se-joo to get rid of all of her other suitors may be childish and overly possessive given that he is an apparition (well, for now anyway), and things are bound to get more complicated once Se-joo realizes his own feelings for Seol, but for the time being, let’s just let the phantom seize the day.