Yong-pal: Episode 5
The Sleeping Beauty awakens thanks to our hero, and while he may not be a storybook prince, he still manages to charm his way into the princess’ good graces. What starts out as a shaky alliance turns into an unlikely friendship between two people who, despite their differing social status, find out they have a lot more in common than anyone would’ve thought. It’s an episode that pushes all the right buttons and establishes character dynamics, making for a show that’s worthy of all the buzz surrounding it.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
As Yeo-jin hears Tae-hyun fret about his loan from the prison of her mind, she thinks to herself, “I have an additional guard now. And that person possesses a soul that can be bought with money.”
Tae-hyun freezes when he hears the words behind him, “Should I… give you that money?” While in her prison, Yeo-jin thinks, Now, my time is approaching.
While Chae-young’s father and other members of the board conspire to use the courts to break the ban that prevents them from visiting Yeo-jin, Tae-hyun is taken to her room by Chief Lee, who explains that she sometimes has convulsions in the night.
Tae-hyun knows it’s not a convulsion, it’s her building up a resistance to the coma-inducing drug, which takes him into a flashback of how the rest of their conversation had gone.
Clear as a bell and with her eyes wide open, Yeo-jin had asked Tae-hyun if she should give him the money he needs, or whether she should save his sister—making it clear that she’s overheard everything he’s ever said in that room.
Unsure of how to react, Tae-hyun pulled out his phone to dial Chief Lee, but her words stopped him: “If you dial that number, you won’t be able to get the money or save your sister. Think it over carefully and wake me up.” Then she’d gone still and fallen back into her deep sleep.
In the present, Tae-hyun thinks to himself that it’s too risky as he leans over to go through the motions of checking her eyes…
…Only for them to open wide again as she fixes her stare straight on him: “Don’t fight it. In the end, you will wake me.” Tae-hyun reels back, but he must’ve just imagined her speaking, since neither Chief Lee nor Nurse Hwang pick up on it.
Gangster hyungnim Doo-chul shows a surprising amount of restraint when it comes to the nurse who keeps poking him with a needle when she can’t find a viable vein, even though he worries later that she’ll be the reason he dies in this hospital.
When Tae-hyun comes in to confront him over the state of the nurse who just left, Doo-chul acts like it’s totally normal for young nurses to get flustered at the sight of his sexy body, which, hah. But even Tae-hyun points out that Doo-chul doesn’t need to keep staying here—he’s not even sick.
Doo-chul argues to the contrary, though it seems like this hospital stay is more like a retreat for him, since he’s under a lot of stress with so many of his underlings getting arrested. Besides, he has good news for Tae-hyun, and shows him the front-page news story of the Hallyu star who beat his girlfriend getting arrested for gambling.
Tae-hyun wonders why he wants to frame the story and put it on the wall, until he puts two and two together. Doo-chul was behind bringing this kid to justice, which is oddly sweet. I like this ahjusshi.
An urgent text sends Tae-hyun rushing to the ER, where his sister has been brought in. Her doctor tells him that were it not for her father bringing her in quickly, she could’ve succumbed to uremia (urine in the bloodstream), which means her kidneys are failing.
But she’s not out of the woods or ever going to be, since her doctor explains that even if she keeps up with regular dialysis, she can maybe keep going one or two months at the most. Tae-hyun is devastated.
Dad is no help, since he calls Tae-hyun out for looking healthy while his sister is dying. Tae-hyun dispassionately refers to him as “the patient’s guardian” instead of his father and orders him to leave him and his sister in the ward.
In a weak voice, So-hyun asks her oppa to resolve his differences with Dad, since he’ll be his only family after she dies. Tae-hyun won’t stand for her talking like death is a certainty, but both of them know the truth. He has to obey her dying wish, at least.
Tae-hyun has to turn away from her to hide his emotion, though he can’t stop the tears that start streaming down his cheeks as his sister says lovingly, “I was so happy because I met you in this life, Oppa. In the next life, I’ll be born as your noona. I’ll take good care of you then. I’m sorry I couldn’t this time.”
Then, “You did as much as you could. You can stop now.” Oof, it’s just heartbreaking to see Tae-hyun trying so hard not to cry and failing. Even So-hyun has to turn her face away and cry, neither of them wanting to show the other their weakness or pain.
Outside, Dad tells his son that matters of life and death are beyond their control as humans. Tae-hyun tells his father that he sounds like he’s trying to absolve himself of responsibility for his mother’s death.
“I am different from you,” he adds. “I don’t avoid responsibility like a coward. I’m never going to let go of So-hyun.”
Without telling her who the patient is, Tae-hyun put Cynthia in charge of finding out about alternative treatment methods in the United States. She reads an e-mail reply she received in his office, telling him that the patient now has a chance—there’s a surgical procedure that can be done to allow her immune system to accept a transplant.
Plus, they already have a liver which matches her blood type ready there too. “Who am I? I’m Cynthia,” she says proudly. But she’s wholly unprepared when Tae-hyun pulls her into a sudden embrace, so thankful is he that she’s unknowingly given his sister a new lease on life.
She pulls away a little awkwardly after he says thank you over and over again, wondering how much the patient is worth for him to be reacting this way. Of course she sees everything in dollar signs, and to her, the 1.5 million dollars needed just for the initial surgery is a fair price.
But to Tae-hyun, that’s an unattainable sum of money, especially for how much time his sister has left.
Chae-young continues to play her role as Do-joon’s bimbo wife, and because of it, she’s able to overhear that a petition has been filed to grant the board members access to Yeo-jin’s room.
Her husband is not happy to hear about this, and despite his secretary’s best efforts to soothe him by saying that they’ll make sure no judge grants the request, he wants him to tell the hospital director to kill his darling little sister.
His secretary argues that doing so would undo three years of work, and Do-joon responds by throwing a glass at him, which shatters against his forehead. Ouch. He gives his secretary forty-eight hours to make the petition disappear, or he’ll be buried alongside Yeo-jin.
Tae-hyun thinks back to the daring stunts he’s had to pull as Yong-pal, and muses ruefully that even risking his life to save Doo-chul barely paid him anything. He has no way to get the money he needs to keep his sister alive, which is making Yeo-jin’s offer sound more and more impossible to refuse.
In her prison, Yeo-jin hears footsteps approaching and knows that it’s Tae-hyun coming to wake her. Slowly but purposefully, he stems the flow of the coma-inducing medication into her IV.
“It’s been 1,172 days since I’ve been trapped in a glass bottle,” Yeo-jin thinks. “Finally, the moment I’ve been waiting for is near.” As her physical body starts to twitch, the motion sensors are triggered, but Tae-hyun disables them. The blip on her monitor is enough to make Nurse Hwang suspicious, and she starts for Yeo-jin’s room.
But Yeo-jin starts convulsing uncontrollably to the point where Tae-hyun grabs her by the shoulders and yells for her to open her eyes. The moment her eyelids flutter open, the shaking stops, and all goes still.
Nurse Hwang is momentarily delayed from opening the door by a sales call, and it’s weirdly hilarious that she responds to the caller’s “We love you, valued customer” by yelling, “Please, stop loving me!”
But by the time she enters Yeo-jin’s room, the Sleeping Beauty looks as though she hasn’t been disturbed. Nurse Hwang finds Tae-hyun in the corner feigning as though he came into her room just to catch some z’s. He plays it cool, and stops her from reporting him by threatening to do the same with her—Yeo-jin’s most recent suicide attempt happened on her watch, after all.
“You’re pretty good,” Yeo-jin comments after Nurse Hwang storms out. She’s only sad that she couldn’t see the evil woman’s expression because she was feigning sleep. After adjusting her bed so that she’s propped up into a sitting position, Tae-hyun asks, “What do you want from me?”
Yeo-jin sassily returns that she should be asking him that question, seeing as how he spent a week worrying before he granted her request. She can solve his sister’s medical expenses with a cell phone, but she can’t even muster up the strength to lift her hand. Tae-hyun slips it into her fingers instead.
Technology’s changed a lot in three years, and it’s with gritted teeth that Yeo-jin has to ask him how the phone works. Tae-hyun takes it from her to demonstrate and she chastises him for it immediately: “When I ask you something verbally, you answer me verbally.” O-kay, boss lady.
She puts a call in to one of her offshore bank accounts in Switzerland, using French to converse with the banker and access her account. A verbal password is used to verify her identity.
After the transfer is completed, Yeo-jin shows Tae-hyun the certificate of deposit for two million dollars. But he can’t access the funds without a passcode, which she promises to give the day she gets out of the hospital. “Thats fair, isn’t it?” she asks. Tae-hyun nods.
“Keep this in mind,” she advises. “As long as I’m sleeping in here, your sister can’t get treated.” Tae-hyun is at her service.
Nurse Hwang bursts into Chief Lee’s office to complain about Tae-hyun, which results in him getting called in. Chief Lee is surprised when Tae-hyun reveals that he’s known Yeo-jin was in a medically induced coma since he saw her in the OR that fateful night.
However, Chief Lee isn’t mad at him—just the opposite, actually. He hates Nurse Hwang, and is happy that Tae-hyun knocked her down a peg. But he should still be careful around her, Chief Lee warns: “She’s a dangerous woman.”
Nurse Hwang decides to take out her crazy on Yeo-jin instead, and slaps her hard across the cheek. “You sly bitch!” she snarls. “You came onto him first, didn’t you?”
And, like a true psychopath, she immediately acts contrite for hurting her precious living doll by doing her makeup and hair in the most unstable way possible—like she’s just one breath away from putting down that lipstick and smothering Yeo-jin to death.
Chae-young walks in on one of the board members’ meetings, a dangerous move since she’s working as a spy, but one she sees as necessary. She tells them to cancel the injunction they’ve filed, or else Do-joon will have Yeo-jin killed.
President Go finds it unlikely that Do-joon would do that and throw Yeo-jin’s stocks away in the process, but Chae-young suspects that there has to be a reason superseding that for Do-joon to take the risk even if she doesn’t know what it is.
Chae-young dismisses everyone else, even her father, so she can have a private (and tense) talk with President Go. It’s clear that neither likes the other since Chae-young knows President Go has his own agenda, but she won’t tolerate him pursuing it if it puts them and Yeo-jin in danger.
Per Yeo-jin’s orders, Tae-hyun has secretly halved the dosage of her coma-inducing medication. She’ll be more aware now, but she has to be careful not to get caught.
Yeo-jin has to work really hard just to be able to move even one hand, which sets off the motion sensors. Nurse Hwang gets the alert and goes in to check, finding nothing.
Every time she returns to her desk the alert goes off again, but every time she checks on Yeo-jin, she’s still. Hah. I kind of hope she’s doing this just to make Nurse Hwang’s life miserable.
Once she’s alone with her father, Chae-young tells him that they should strike first against the other board members, who likely won’t cancel the injunction. Her father is hesitant about becoming enemies with President Go, but Chae-young is sure that if they can just get their hands on Yeo-jin…
Her father points out that she’s talking about Yeo-jin like she’s a thing. And even if they got her, why would she cooperate with them? Chae-young plans on using her the same way Do-joon has been using her, but her father doesn’t know anything about Yeo-jin’s coma.
President Go has already got Chae-young’s number though, and hires a scar-faced gangster to hunt her down and get rid of her. Uh oh.
Yeo-jin continues to work on building just enough muscle strength to move her hand, and this time, the alert comes to an already frazzled Nurse Hwang while she’s on the toilet.
It’s darkly funny that this is finally what breaks her, as she marches into Yeo-jin’s room and starts smashing things, accusing Yeo-jin of messing with her on purpose. Tae-hyun physically restrains her before Chief Lee can restore order to the situation.
Nurse Hwang claims something’s wrong with the monitoring system, but Chief Lee still orders her to switch shifts with Tae-hyun so he’ll take night duty. Tae-hyun looks intently at Yeo-jin as Nurse Hwang storms out angrily, and sees the ghost of a smile tug at her lips.
In private, Tae-hyun seems dismissive of Yeo-jin’s claims that Nurse Hwang is an actual crazy person, since it’s because of her extensive care that Yeo-jin is free from bedsores. She took better care of Yeo-jin than she did for herself.
“Like her doll,” Yeo-jin adds bitterly. “If you knew what kind of things that woman did to me, you would faint.” Tae-hyun doesn’t believe her, which rankles her—she’s never had anyone talk to her in the cavalier tone he uses. I love that Tae-hyun’s all, Get used to it, this is just how I talk.
She accuses him of having no manners, and they go back and forth like that until Yeo-jin reminds him, “Don’t forget the fact that I am the only person who can save your sister.”
Tae-hyun nods, but adds, “You also shouldn’t forget that I’m the only boat that can take you to the outside world. And this boat is not a cruise ship.” Haha. That’s possibly one of the greatest lines of kdrama dialogue ever.
While Nurse Hwang starts tweaking outside the hospital, Tae-hyun relays the rest of what he knows to Yeo-jin, like how Chae-young wants to meet with her. When all that’s done he gets up to leave, only for Yeo-jin to ask him not to leave.
Since she can’t give him a reason to stay, Tae-hyun proceeds to turn off the lights, which she also seems desperate to stop. She doesn’t want to be left in the dark—she’s been there long enough.
He takes pity on her and parks himself on the side of her bed to keep her company, unaware that Nurse Hwang is literally losing her mind outside. It’s almost as though she senses something wrong with Yeo-jin, which is what strengthens her resolve to go back in.
They talk more casually now, with Tae-hyun reading into her reaction and guessing that she doesn’t like Chae-young. It’s not that, Yeo-jin says, and at least she’s figured out that Chae-young’s not on her brother’s side because she wouldn’t be looking for her if she was.
But Chae-young’s father, who was once loyal to her father, is too weak to oppose Do-joon alone. So she guesses that Chae-young wants to see her because living with someone she doesn’t love isn’t enough to fulfill her greed.
Remembering how Do-joon talked about the people lined up to see her, Yeo-jin tasks Tae-hyun with finding them, since they can become allies in the fight against her brother. Tae-hyun remembers that her brother sent some would-be visitors away, but he doesn’t know who they were.
Yeo-jin uses his phone to pull up a picture of President Go, but since she fussed at him for taking the phone last time, Tae-hyun leans over her to take a look at the picture. She becomes acutely aware of the close proximity, and when it becomes too much, she tells him to hold it himself.
But Tae-hyun just turns his head up to her, his face inches from hers. He seems unaware of the tension as he says matter-of-factly that she’ll get mad if he takes it from her, before saying he does recognize the man in the picture.
Yeo-jin guesses that President Go must have been trying to see her this whole time, and remembers that he and her brother have an acrimonious relationship at best. Tae-hyun remembers them saying something about filing an injunction to be able to come see her, but Yeo-jin doubts that they actually went through with it.
“If they did… I wouldn’t be alive right now,” she says ominously. Tae-hyun tries to lighten the mood by asking if there’s anyone else she misses that he can bring to her, only for her to drag it back down: “They’re all dead. Everyone I loved. Because they loved me.”
He tries again, asking instead what she wants to do when she gets out of here. Again she answers darkly, “I will destroy this place. Along with the people who locked me up.” Well, there has to be something she wants to eat that he can get her, right?
With tears in her eyes, Yeo-jin says the only thing she wants to eat is her mother’s fermented soybean stew. That actually gets past Tae-hyun’s devil-may-care veneer, since he says that’s a dead (sorry) giveaway that she lost her mother.
His own eyes get glassy as he says this, because in his dream, his mother made him soybean stew too, and that’s why he knows she’s the same as him. Yeo-jin, similarly, says he’s given away that he doesn’t have a mother either.
Tae-hyun then asks if she has any friends, and quickly surmises from Yeo-jin giving a very diplomatic and long answer that she has none. She bristles and says she does too, but when she tries to list business associates and old school buddies, Tae-hyun chokes back a well-meaning laugh.
If she could move, she would probably be smoothing her clothes indignantly as she fires back, “So you have lots of friends then?” He says he has none, since growing up dirt poor only garnered pity. He’s not torn up about it or anything, and asks her if she’ll grand him another wish.
She practically huffs as she says they’ve already made their deal, but Tae-hyun says that in the stories, the person who releases the genie gets three wishes. When he finally convinces her to just hear him out, he tells her his wish in banmal: “Let’s be friends.” Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
I love how she’s all, “What? Friends?” And he’s just like, “Yeah, friends. Neither of us have any.” Well, if she’s going to agree, she has to know how old he is to decide their hierarchy, right? Wrong. He claims age is just a number—and besides, he’s naturally predisposed to like rich and powerful people. “So let’s be friends!”
Yeo-jin scoffs at his shamelessness, and makes sure to mention how lucky he is to land a rich friend like her. “Okay, then, we’re friends now,” she declares.
Neither of them notice that Nurse Hwang has snuck into the entranceway, and she stays out of sight as she watches Yeo-jin up and talking with Tae-hyun in horror.
He wants to start rehabilitation work with her, which she initially says no to—she can do all of that when she’s restored to her rightful place. “If you can’t walk up to the throne, you can’t sit there either,” Tae-hyun notes sagely.
Then he smiles down at her, “Today, I found a reason to return you to the throne.”
I can’t remember the last time an on-screen friendship was this exciting and electric, and while we can point to chemistry or actor likability as intangible factors, the show actually engineered the episode to get us on board with these characters. And man, does it do its job when it comes to showing us—not telling, which is a huge problem for most dramas—who these people are as people. Even if some of those people, like Nurse Hwang, are certifiable lunatics.
It would’ve been easy for Yeo-jin to be just be a
walking talking trope with clear-cut character attributes practically written on her forehead, but it’s so much more satisfying as a viewer to watch how Tae-hyun’s perception of her morphed and changed through this episode as he got to know her better. It’s so rare to see two characters spend this much time just talking to each other for such an extended period of time, because it affords us a chance to form and change our own perceptions of them as well.
Which all goes to say that it was actually a lot of fun watching Tae-hyun ask Yeo-jin whatever popped into his mind, and to watch her ice princess veneer melt in the face of him just being his earnest and slightly (but lovably) derpy self. I especially loved how he evened the scales pretty quickly between them, since hearing Yeo-jin mention how she’s the only thing
standing lying between his sister and certain death would’ve gotten old quickly. Yes, she’s got the money to lord over him, but without him, she’d still be locked in that water well of imagination. I’d call it a pretty even trade for now.
And what’s great about it is that Tae-hyun, who never opens up to anybody, actually seemed to enjoy the time he spent with her as it wore on. He already got what he wanted out of the deal, and could’ve just kept his distance until Yeo-jin was freed, which makes his friendship wish that much more adorable and sincere. I guess there could be a hidden motive somewhere in there, but I would honestly be surprised if that turned out to be the case—Tae-hyun’s a quick thinker, but he’s not some money-hungry manipulator. Yeo-jin has enough of those in her life already.
Plus, it’s kind of fun watching a girl who’s used to only hearing yes-men come up against someone who treats her as an equal. I like that Tae-hyun didn’t even let her use the age crutch to define their friendship, preferring to keep them on more even terms instead. But being friends instead of begrudging business partners carries with it a lot of responsibilities, and methinks Yeo-jin is going to find herself grateful for a friend like Tae-hyun when the shit Nurse Hwang didn’t get to take because of her really hits the fan.