Familiar Wife: Episode 4
Joo-hyuk’s new life isn’t turning out to be as rosy as he expected, which has the interesting effect of making him remember the good times from his old life. He’s feeling pulled in several uncomfortable directions as he learns that Hye-won isn’t as perfect as she seems on the outside. And as he’s forced to spend time around Woo-jin at work, Joo-hyuk is seeing a side of her that he hasn’t seen in many years — the side he fell in love with.
EPISODE 4: “Who are you?”
Woo-jin advances on Joo-hyuk, giving him a strange look, and he seems both afraid that she’ll recognize him, and fearful that she won’t. She asks, “By any chance… did you lose your phone recently?” Whew.
She asks if the woman on his phone’s wallpaper is his girlfriend, or maybe his wife, and Joo-hyuk hesitates. Finally he stammers, “Wi-wife,” so Woo-jin puts him firmly in the “married and unavailable” category.
Joo-hyuk can’t stop staring at Woo-jin and comparing her to how she was as his wife, like how she wears her hair down now, which she never did before even though he expressed a preference for it. But every time he notices something positive about her now, he remembers a time she yelled at him or hit him, reminding him that this isn’t the same Woo-jin.
Hye-won is particularly dressed up for classes today, wearing a fancy skirt and extra makeup as she thinks about the cute student she saw yesterday and how he offered to buy her lunch as thanks for borrowing her umbrella. She’s drawn to the last place she saw him, and sure enough, he soon exits the building and makes a beeline for her.
She pretends not to recognize him right away, and when he mentions lunch, she sneakily removes her wedding ring and starts to accept. But he’s joined by a cute little coed who chirps that she wants pizza for lunch, so Hye-won declines.
She hurries away, ignoring him calling out to her, and he looks genuinely sorry to see her go. His friend tells him that Hye-won is a chaebol daughter who only works here as a hobby, which seems to intrigue him.
Woo-jin’s encounter with a difficult customer goes downhill fast — he’s there to withdraw money from his daughter’s account, but his PIN is wrong, and he locks himself out of the account. Woo-jin tells him that he’ll have to show proof of family relationship before he’s allowed to reset the PIN, and the customer blows his top.
He demands to be allowed to try again, but Woo-jin politely but firmly tells him that he can’t, and calls her next customer. He yells and threatens her until security gets involved, but Woo-jin coolly ignores his tirade. It’s pretty impressive, to be honest.
Branch Manager Cha offers to buy everyone coffee at the end of the day, since they’ll be working late. Woo-jin is in the back room when Hyang-sook from Direct Banking takes everyone’s orders, and without thinking, Joo-hyuk thoughtlessly blurts out that Woo-jin doesn’t drink coffee and will want a strawberry shake. Whoops.
He shakes as Woo-jin returns and Hyang-sook tells her that Joo-hyuk says she prefers strawberry shakes to coffee. Woo-jin gives Joo-hyuk a strange look, wondering how he knows that, so he ad-libs that he never saw her drink coffee all day and everyone likes strawberries. Luckily, it works.
Later, Branch Manager Cha asks Woo-jin how her first day went. She says she found it interesting and energizing. Team Leader Jang mentions the difficult customer from earlier and how they suspect he’s addicted to online gambling. The Direct Banking team tell Woo-jin about several more “famous” customers, like the guy who constantly changes his password because he thinks there’s a bug planted in his body, and one customer who even stealth-poops on the lobby floor.
As they talk, Woo-jin starts stretching, explaining that she’s not used to sitting all day. Branch Manager Cha thinks that stretching sounds like a good idea, and soon the men are all getting into it. But the women gossip about Woo-jin later, complaining that she’s too flirtatious and seems like someone who’s nice to your face, but mean behind your back. Well, takes one to know one…
They decide to put her in her place a little, so when she comes to get her things and go home, Team Leader Jang asks her to tie her hair back from now on, because she’s not here to show off her looks. Woo-jin says that she has an unsightly scar on the back of her neck that she hides with her hair, making Team Leader Jang feel bad, but Woo-jin immediately says it’s just a joke and happily agrees to tie her hair back.
As she bikes home, Woo-jin accidentally runs smack into a pedestrian, who turns out to be Joo-eun. They argue over whose fault it was, each taking the blame, so finally Woo-jin just offers to bandage Joo-eun’s scraped hands. They like each other immediately, so Joo-eun invites Woo-jin to visit her bar often.
Both ladies feel like they’ve met before, but although they figure out that they were born the same year, they didn’t go to school together. They decide that it’s just friend-chemistry, agree to speak banmal together, and shake on it.
Woo-jin gets home just in time to find Mom trying to sneak out. Mom makes a run for it and leads Woo-jin on a merry chase through the neighborhood. Woo-jin resorts to shouting that Dad is behind her, making Mom stop and shuffle in her direction so Woo-jin can catch her.
Joo-hyuk has dinner at Sang-shik’s bar, where he’s so distracted that Sang-shik asks if something is wrong in his marriage. Instead of answering, Joo-hyuk poses a question: What would Sang-shik do if an ex-girlfriend came to work at the bar? He’s all wide-eyed innocence when Sang-shik asks if an ex is working at the bank, saying that this is about a friend, obviously.
Sang-shik says that it would be difficult, especially if the ex is still pretty, and asks if one of them could transfer to another branch. Joo-hyuk latches onto that idea, but Sang-shik’s comment reminds him of how pretty Woo-jin was when they first met, how much she changed, and how beautiful she looks in this new timeline.
He calls Human Resources the next day to ask if any other branches are looking for an assistant manager, but there are no openings. However, he does learn that there are opening in Direct Banking elsewhere, so he asks Woo-jin to help him move some boxes, and while they’re working he talks about how hard it is to work at this branch.
Unfortunately, Woo-jin says that she likes the hard work because she learns faster. Joo-hyuk lies that Team Leader Jang is a sociopath, which is why people keep quitting her team, lol. He tells her about an opening at a rival bank, but Woo-jin just says that there are difficult supervisors everywhere, and anyway she likes it here.
Joo-hyuk tries a new tactic, yelling at Woo-jin for little things in an attempt to make her want to quit. Everyone stares to see him acting so out-of-character, and on their break, Jong-hoo asks Joo-hyuk why he’s being so hard on Woo-jin. Something about the way he defends her makes Joo-hyuk look at him sideways.
He warns Jong-hoo not to judge Woo-jin so quickly, because for all he knows she might be a psycho. LOL, she pops up right under their noses, having come to get the keys from Jong-hoo. But if she heard anything, she doesn’t give it away.
Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo get back downstairs to find Branch Manager Cha reading a negative (and not entirely factual) comment about Woo-jin left by her difficult customer. Team Leader Jang says that they know she didn’t do anything wrong, but she needs to be extra careful with the more angry customers.
Joo-hyuk takes this opportunity to berate Woo-jin again, making everyone feel super awkward, until Jong-hoo finally drags him back to his desk. Woo-jin apologizes, and Team Leader Jang promises to smooth things over with the customer.
They call him in and offer him several VVIP gifts, and the customer snarls that he’s not a beggar then demands different gifts. Woo-jin apologizes but he says that she sounds insincere, then starts yelling again when Manager Byun and Team Leader Jang both say she sounded very sorry to them.
Woo-jin apologizes again and asks if she should kneel, but he even manages to take offense to that (“You’ll be the person willing to kneel down for your bank, and I’ll be the crazy person!”). He demands a formal deep bow and triple apology, threatening to keep posting negative reviews if she doesn’t. It looks like Branch Manager Cha is going to defend her, but Woo-jin gives the jerk the apology he wants.
The Direct Banking ladies eavesdrop and report back to the others about what’s happening. Hwan is incensed that Woo-jin was forced to bow to such an ass, but Jong-hoo says that Woo-jin must feel the worst of them all. Joo-hyuk grins at the idea that she might transfer back to headquarters.
Jong-hoo heads to the break room and finds Woo-jin sitting alone, shoulders shaking. He goes over to console her, but HA, she’s perfectly fine — she’s just stuffing her face since she missed lunch in all the commotion. Jong-hoo backs out of the room slowly, and he’s giggling by the time he tells Joo-hyuk that she’s not upset, just eating.
When Woo-jin makes her way back to her desk, Jong-hoo moons at her like he’s already half in love. Joo-hyuk is disappointed, having hoped that she’d be so distraught that she’d quit.
Woo-jin walks with Joo-hyuk to the parking lot after work to ask about customer complaints, but Joo-hyuk just snaps at her for asking so many questions. She asks if she annoys him, confessing that she heard what he said on the roof. She says that she prefers straightforward people and invites him to meet with her on the roof if he has anything bothersome to talk to her about.
Joo-hyuk bounces in place, anxious to get away from her, but she disarms him by telling him, “My first impression of you was very good. I thought you were friendly, and you felt familiar. I’m not trying to gain your favor, I really mean it.”
Joo-hyuk notices the direction Woo-jin bikes home, making him wonder if she still lives in the same house she grew up in. He impulsively follows her, and he recognizes the alley she turns into and thinks wistfully that it’s been a long time since he was there.
His mother calls, surprising him that she and his father are in town. He convinces them to stay at his place for the night, and he enjoys seeing his parents relaxing in his nice home, probably because he’s never been able to do this before.
Hye-won is not so happy to see her in-laws, however. Joo-hyuk’s mom doesn’t help by commenting on Hye-won’s shopping habits and the fact that she has a maid clean weekly, and Hye-won then makes it a lot worse by chirping that her mother pays for everything.
She assumes they’re staying in a hotel, and the look Joo-hyuk gives her is just brimming with disappointment. He follows her to the bedroom and says she’s being rude to her in-laws, but she retorts that it’s rude of them to show up unannounced.
Joo-hyuk reminds her that he invited them, but Hye-won complains that it’s inconvenient for her to host strangers in her house. She realizes how that sounded and says that a hotel would be nicer, but Joo-hyuk points out that she’s not offering a hotel for them, but for her own comfort.
He runs downstairs when he hears the front door slam and finds his parents in the street. His mom says they can either stay with Joo-eun or her sister, and Dad snaps that Hye-won has never treated them like in-laws.
They leave, and Joo-hyuk goes back to the house to find Hye-won looking contrite. She claims to feel bad, though she immediately says that his parents made her look like the bad guy. She offers to start sending them allowance money, but Joo-hyuk says that money isn’t the issue — it’s her unwelcoming behavior.
Hye-won says that his mother always criticizes her way of life, but Joo-hyuk replies that his mother isn’t wrong about her lavish spending. Hye-won whines that she’s lived this way her whole life, but Joo-hyuk counters that living opulently is difficult for him because of his humble upbringing.
He mentions how even expected to see her parents all the time while his can’t even spend one night in their home. Hye-won points out that he made that promise before they were married, and challenges him to give back everything her father has given him if he doesn’t like it.
She storms out of the house, leaving Joo-hyuk to call Joo-eun to ask her to console their parents for him. He stays up late playing video games, eventually getting a text notification that she’s booked a room at an expensive hotel.
As soon as Jong-hoo sees Joo-hyuk’s face in the morning, he guesses that he fought with his wife. Jong-hoo spots Woo-jin and calls her over, and she decides to have one of the breakfast sandwiches they’re eating.
Jong-hoo asks her about herself, and she tells him that she graduated college two years late because her father died when she was in high school, so she had to work part-time jobs for two years to make money for school. She says she’s an only child, so she always wanted to get married and have a lot of kids for her mom to enjoy.
She reveals that her mother is unwell, which snaps Joo-hyuk out of his pout, and he asks worriedly in banmal, “How is Mother unwell?” making Woo-jin and Jong-hoo blink at him. Woo-jin says that she’s only a bit ill, and that she’s happy.
Still in her hotel room, Hye-won stews angrily that Joo-hyuk hasn’t tried to call her. She finally calls him to order him to call her, since it hurts her pride that she had to call first. He does, though he’s annoyed about it.
He asks when she’s coming home, and when she says that it depends on whether he begs, he says the words dutifully. Hye-won accepts it, and she coos that she’s going to the hotel spa before heading home.
The jerk customer saunters back into the bank later and plunks himself down at Woo-jin’s counter. Obviously drunk (and now sitting on the counter), he announces that he’s had a celebratory drink after hitting it big, but he’s still thirsty.
Manager Byun gets a cup of water for him, surreptitiously spits in it, then hands it off. The customer cheerfully complains about Woo-jin’s attitude, then offers her a pile of bills as “pocket money,” which she refuses to take. It makes him mad, so Woo-jin reaches up to scratch her forehead — with her middle finger. MWAHAHA.
She uses that same middle finger to push the money back towards the customer, and he finally notices that she’s insulting him. He grabs her hand, which has Joo-hyuk lurching to his feet, but Jong-hoo pushes him back down as he rounds the counter himself.
He yanks the customer away and invites him outside for a little chat, but the customer shoves him violently to the floor. Suddenly, Woo-jin appears out of nowhere and twists the customer’s arm, them flips him onto his back. That. Was. Awesome. Everyone freezes in shock, including Woo-jin herself.
They all go out after work, where Manager Byun can’t stop talking about how amazing Woo-jin was. She apologizes, but Branch Manager Cha says that she did the right thing — they should treat customers politely, but violent, drunk customers are another thing.
Woo-jin says that before she worked for the bank, she was a bodyguard at the National Intelligence Service. Jong-hoo remembers seeing her on television, and they both marvel at the coincidence… until Woo-jin admits that it’s just a joke. LOL. She and Jong-hoo high-five as everyone says they’d make a great couple, making Joo-hyuk seethe.
Jong-hoo muses that attraction can happen in just a couple of days, and later when he runs across Woo-jin in the hall, they bond over their similar offbeat sense of humor. Joo-hyuk runs across them laughing and borderline flirting, but he keeps his distance.
Later, Woo-jin impresses everyone with her drinking ability. It reminds Joo-hyuk of a time when she got drunk and complained about her horrible life, sobbing that she wanted her life back. Joo-hyuk realizes that he forgot how much she used to smile when they first met.
He recalls one day after her father’s death when he’d been tutoring her, and she’d talked him into taking a kimbap break. She’d told him that zero is her favorite number because it holds absolute power in multiplication, but none in addition. She’s said that zero loves addition the most, so it’s weak to it, which reminds her of her mother’s steadfast love for her father.
She’d thanked Joo-hyuk for tutoring her even though they couldn’t pay him anymore, and he’d claimed it was just out of loyalty. Woo-jin had gotten right up close and asked if it was only loyalty, and Joo-hyuk had poked her face and asked what else it would be.
She’d said it could be love, and asked if she could be his girlfriend once she became an adult. Joo-hyuk told her gently that she wasn’t his type, making her pout, until he called her “Woo-jin-ah” and cheered her up again.
Joo-hyuk nods off while remembering their past, and when the team leaves the bar, Woo-jin hangs back to wake him. He stares at her and asks, “Who are you?” He follows her outside, where watches in horror as Woo-jin steps right into the path of a motorcycle.
He runs and grabs her out of the way, yelling, “Woo-jin-ah!” as he pulls her into his arms. His voice calling her name resonates in Woo-jin’s mind, and she stares at him in shock until he lets her go.
When she gets home, she tells her mother that when Joo-hyuk called her name, she actually cried a bit. She wonders why it felt so sad, but she snaps out of it to tease her mom about wanting more ice cream when she just polished off a whole pint.
On his way home, Joo-hyuk remembers another day with Woo-jin when she was older, and their study sessions had started looking more like dates. He’d stopped hiding that he was falling for her, and seeing her smile had helped him make it through the difficult days. He’d walked her home and they’d had a hard time leaving each other, so they’d just walked each other back and forth between her door and the end of the alley. So cute.
Back in the present, Joo-hyuk stops his taxi at Woo-jin’s alley and walks to her house, then turns to go. But he runs into Woo-jin, who’s surprised that he knows where she lives, so he pretends he got lost looking for a friend’s house. He seems strangely happy to see her, and when he tries to leave, Woo-jin stops him.
She says she knows it will sound strange, and asks if they’ve met before. Before Joo-hyuk can answer, her mom comes outside, and with a huge grin, she says, “Son-in-Law Cha!”
Well, that’s going to take some fancy explaining. And how intriguing, if Mom’s dementia allows her to remember the old timeline. I can see some pretty fun shenanigans resulting from Mom’s insistence that Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin are married, while Woo-jin is experiencing her own confusing dreams and vague memories. Obviously this little time-trip hasn’t erased the old timeline completely, which makes me feel a lot better (especially about the four children, Joo-hyuk’s and Jong-hoo’s, who were casualties of Joo-hyuk’s bad decision).
I can so relate to Woo-jin’s difficulty in fitting in at her new job, because I know how it feels to have a quirky personality and want to be accepted for it, only to have everyone think you’re a weirdo. It says a lot about her “new” easygoing personality that she takes the snide comments and outright meanness from Joo-hyuk in stride and doesn’t let it get to her. It also highlights how truly awful those years married to Joo-hyuk must have been to have changed her so drastically, because she started out so unusually resilient and accepting of her own “extra” behavior (and it’s not just the stress of the kids, who came along later in their marriage). It’s interesting that the show has chosen not to give us more than glimpses of what happened between Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin to cause her to change, but lets the contrast between her old-timeline self and new-timeline self do the talking.
Speaking of which, the drama is doing the same thing with Hye-won — not openly telling us about her personality, but letting us infer the type of person she is by her actions. On the surface she seems perfect (rich, beautiful, sweet) which is no doubt why Joo-hyuk held her on such a pedestal for all those years. But in reality, she seems quite nasty — she spends astronomical amounts of money to console her jealousy of a friend, she monopolizes Joo-hyuk’s time for her own family and acts like a complete spoiled brat (and that’s me being nice) when he wants to spend time with his parents, and worst, at the slightest show of interest from a handsome man, she hides her wedding ring.
It’s possible, even probable, that Hye-won is acting out in her own way to life with Joo-hyuk — after all, he has most likely been the same husband in both timelines. They won’t have had the money problems he and Woo-jin had, though they obviously still have some money problems, just of a different kind. But Jh has almost certainly been the same thoughtless, selfish, careless person he was before. We do know that Hye-won’s life is very different, since she’s just a cello teacher now instead of a world-renowned artist, and even with her parents’ money, she can’t be happy or feel like she contributes much. No doubt that’s taken a toll on Hye-won like it did on Woo-jin, but her reactions are just different.
It’s going to be such poetic justice if Jong-hoo decides that Woo-jin is his “The One” and starts pursuing her right under Joo-hyuk’s nose. He obviously finds her very attractive, and Joo-hyuk has definitely noticed Jong-hoo’s interest, and it’s clear he doesn’t like it. Even if he was sick and tired of the way Woo-jin treated him, she was still his lady for twelve years, so it’s natural for Joo-hyuk to feel possessive. But I think he also feels jealous — which is very different — because this timeline’s Woo-jin is so much more likable, and Joo-hyuk would have to be a rock not to find her attractive when she looks and acts so much like the woman he fell in love with again.
I’m very curious about how the time travel mechanism works, especially since Joo-hyuk has used up both of the coins that enabled him to go back in time. Even if he wants to change things back, he can’t, at least not the same way. It’s interesting that this timeline begins three months before he left the old one, so I’m guessing he’ll have to make a decision when the three months are up — stay in this reality, or go back to the old one. I hope that staying but trying to be with the new Woo-jin isn’t an option, because Joo-hyuk has a lot of wrongs to right with the original Woo-jin, and getting together with the “good” Woo-jin would be a cop-out. It may not even take three months though, because he’s only been in this timeline for a few days and he’s already learning that Hye-won isn’t as perfect as he thought, and that he may be responsible for the way Woo-jin changed. He’s already feeling wistful for the Woo-jin he met years ago, so I’m hoping that he chooses to go back and do whatever he can to make things right, and make her happy again.