Familiar Wife: Episode 13
This is the episode I’ve been waiting for since the drama began! Woo-jin takes her life and her future into her own hands, and I love her complete disregard for the continuity of the timeline as she fights to keep her man and save her marriage. Nothing matters but their future together — until some unexpected results of Woo-jin’s time travel make it impossible for her to change her own life without condemning others to a lifetime of unhappiness.
EPISODE 13: “Reset”
When Joo-hyuk refuses to put things back the way they were, Woo-jin decides to take matters into her own hands. She uses the coin she got from her mother in the mysterious tollbooth, and when Joo-hyuk tries to stop her, they’re both sucked back to June, 2006.
Joo-hyuk wakes up to the now-familiar sound of Joo-eun banging on his apartment door, while Woo-jin also finds herself in her teenage body, Mom nagging her not to be late to school. The first thing she does is ask Mom where her dad is, and Mom says that he had a work trip pop up suddenly, which means he’s missing his physical yet again.
Woo-jin insists that Dad has to have that physical today no matter what, and she runs to the airport to stop him from getting on his plane. When she sees her father alive, she flings herself into his arms and sobs tearfully that he can’t leave without getting that physical. She’s so earnest that he postpones his departure and calls his boss.
While he’s on the phone, Woo-jin sees a man nearby, begging his girlfriend not to leave. Awww, it’s Jong-hoo, and Woo-jin listens surreptitiously as he apologizes for not calling his girl for two months after they broke up. She doesn’t accept his apology and starts to walk off, so Woo-jin accidentally-on-purpose runs into her suitcase.
As she’s helping the woman pick up her things, she frantically blinks at Jong-hoo, who picks up what she’s putting down and gets on his knees. He blurts out, “Let’s get married!” and turns on the big sad puppydog eyes, and Woo-jin smiles when his girl gives him a solid “maybe,” which he takes as a yes.
Joo-hyuk, meanwhile, hides in bed, scared to go to class in case Woo-jin comes looking for him, telling himself that he just has to avoid her today. He’s right about Woo-jin, who realizes that Joo-hyuk won’t take that bus since he knows she’s here and decides to go to him. Luckily, he conveniently showed her where he went to college, and she giggles at the outdated fashions as she strolls through the campus looking for him.
She runs across Sang-shik, who has no clue who she is, but he tells her that “Joo-hyuk oppa” cut class today. He’s reluctant to show her where they live, but she talks him into it, and as they walk she tells him that he’ll grow into his old-looking face, HA.
Unfortunately, they run into Hye-won, who’s also looking for Joo-hyuk. Woo-jin looks her up and down and grumbles that she’s not all that, and thankfully, Hye-won doesn’t follow them to the apartment.
Sang-shik calls Joo-hyuk to warn him that he’s with a pretty girl who’s been looking for him. Joo-hyuk tells him not to bring her to the apartment, but it’s too late, so he runs off, leaving Joo-eun to explain. Woo-jin takes off after Joo-hyuk, and she catches up when he stops to rest, but he just takes off running again when he sees her. LOL, this is hilarious.
Joo-hyuk tries to escape in a taxi, but Woo-jin shoves in after him and tells the driver to go, trapping Joo-hyuk in with her. She cheekily calls him “Ssaem” and agrees with his arguments that they’ll regret this, but she refuses to avoid him just because she’s scared.
She says that she wants to continue their original path, promising that she’ll be different this time. Joo-hyuk urges her to reconsider, because he’s not someone who can make her or anyone else happy. He jumps out of the taxi when it stops for a light, and Woo-jin gets out to chase him again.
But Joo-hyuk sees a scooter heading right for her, and he turns back to shove her out of its path. They fall to the ground together, knocking them both unconscious.
Woo-jin wakes up back in August, 2018, at her mother’s house. But something is different… Mom looks freaking fantastic, and she tells Woo-jin that she’s about to leave for a meeting. Whoa. Woo-jin is over the moon to see that her mother is of perfectly sound mind, but sadly, she also learns that her father passed away three years ago.
But Mom seems perfectly at peace with this, saying that she’s comforted by the fact that Dad died gently in his sleep. Still, she gets teary-eyed as she says she wishes he’d lived to see Woo-jin married.
Mom dons a pair of unneeded glasses, bragging that they’re part of her “sales queen” image. Woo-jin asks what she means, and Mom laughs that Woo-jin is responsible for half of her success selling home appliances. Woo-jin is scared Mom is involved in a pyramid scheme, but mom pops her in the mouth and says it’s a legit business, whew.
In this timeline, Woo-jin still works for the bank’s headquarters, and she invites her old boss, Team Leader Yang, to have a talk. She mentions that she’s been wanting to work at a local branch bank, and that she’s heard that the bank near her home is a particularly nice place to work.
She asks if Cha Joo-hyuk still works there, and Team Leader Yang says that he’s taking some time off work right now, though she’s not sure why. Apparently nobody knows why, and his absence has the whole team moping around the bank, worried since Joo-hyuk won’t even contact them except to say that he’s alive.
They all frown at Jong-hoo, who seems terribly upset over Joo-hyuk until his twins call and he coos happily to them. Then he completely changes mood again when Sang-shik calls him, worried for Joo-hyuk all over again.
Sang-shik and Joo-eun are together in this timeline too, but only dating, and instead of owning a bar, they run a food truck (Common Sense Food Truck, ha). Joo-eun complains that her mom is driving her crazy talking about shamans and talismans for Joo-hyuk, so that she can’t even talk to her mother about her own life. Sang-shik says that Joo-hyuk has been like this since college, disappearing for weeks at a time then popping back up like nothing happened.
Joo-hyuk is currently sacked out on a bench in the middle of a remote field, and he wakes up looking like nine miles of bad road. He’d already woken up earlier in the night and been surprised to find himself sleeping in a tent, and had found multiple messages on his phone from everyone, asking him to let them know he’s alright.
That evening, Woo-jin goes to what used to be Sang-shik and Joo-eun’s bar, only to find that they don’t own it in this timeline. She heads home, and when she sees Mom on the way, she mischievously sneaks up behind her and scares ten years off her life. They head home arm in arm, teasing and laughing.
Joo-hyuk spends his day walking, and when he stops for the night, he listens to his messages. There are voicemails from Joo-eun and Jong-hoo begging him to come home, but he just lies down in his sleeping bag without calling them back.
Once he gets back to town, however, he shows up at the bank ready to resume his job. They’re all happy to see him, and Jong-hoo even greets him with a tearful hug. Joo-hyuk smiles to see a picture of Jong-hoo’s family on his desk, satisfied that at least this one thing has been set right.
After a good day at work, Jong-hoo takes Joo-hyuk to see Sang-shik and Joo-eun at their food truck. Sang-shik acts like he hasn’t seen Joo-hyuk in years, while Joo-eun just offers him a grumpy “welcome back.” The three friends sit for a drink together, and they ask Joo-hyuk where he’s been.
He says he’s just been walking, and they say that with his looks and good job he should be married with a family by now. Jong-hoo even wonders if Joo-hyuk likes women since he’s never dated ever since college. Sang-shik jokes that Joo-hyuk would have hit on him if he were into men, ha, leading to teasing speculation about Joo-hyuk’s manhood. But he says he just prefers being alone because he doesn’t want to make anyone unhappy.
Joo-hyuk grabs a taxi and heads for home, and he’s surprised to see that the taxi driver is a nicely cleaned-up Doomsayer, who gives him a cheery hello. Joo-hyuk asks Doomsayer, “Why… why me? Why did you give me that chance?” Doomsayer says vaguely that Joo-hyuk looked desperate, which made it seem like he and Woo-jin were both miserable.
He continues, “Getting used to something is like two sides of a blade. It lets you give up and go on, but it punishes you by making you miserable. Humans are born foolish. We don’t get enlightened until we experience it, whatever that may be.”
He tells Joo-hyuk that he used to be a hot shot doctor in Gangnam, but he made a mistake with a patient. He went back to the past to undo it, but when he did, he got greedy about money and ended up hitting rock bottom. Joo-hyuk asks how he found him, and Doomsayer says that it’s a sort of debt payoff, and that he’s like a messenger between human and higher beings.
He says that the world is full of people walking paths they’ve never walked before, and they get to make their own choices. He looks down at the console, which Joo-hyuk sees is full of coins, and Doomsayer adds, “why don’t you stop pushing yourself and become happy?” Joo-hyuk sighs that he’s not ready, and Doomsayer asks if he knows how his ex-wife is doing.
Joo-hyuk doesn’t answer, but he can’t shake the question. Even though it’s late, he calls the bank headquarters just to confirm that Woo-jin works there. He happens to see her getting off the bus and impulsively follows her home, keeping hidden when she seems to sense someone behind her.
She notes that the light over her gate is out, so once she’s inside, Joo-hyuk replaces the bulb. But he forgot about Mom, who catches him outside the gate and startles him silly. Once he catches his breath, he stares at mom closely, noticing that she seems perfectly healthy. He tries to excuse himself, but Mom literally grabs him.
She takes him to a coffee shop… to give him a sales pitch for her skincare products (and LOL, they even make a pun about his jisung/oily skin). Mom is delighted when Joo-hyuk buys everything she has, and she runs home yelling about her awesome new customer. She tells Woo-jin that he’s a little weird, but it’s fine since it’s not like he’s going to be her son-in-law, hee.
The next day at the bank, Joo-hyuk ends up with a difficult customer, Park Yoo-shik (cameo by Kang Ki-young, with the same name as his character from What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, ha!) who wants to increase his credit line. He seems anxious, and keeps telling Joo-hyuk to hurry.
he’s turned down for the loan, so he asks that his accounts be merged instead. Manager Byun interrupts and says that Branch Manager Cha wants to see Joo-hyuk, so he sends Yoo-shik over to Jong-hoo’s window. Yoo-shik rushes Jong-hoo, too, and as soon as it’s done, he jumps up and leaves. Well, that was weird.
Branch Manager Cha sends Joo-hyuk to bank headquarters for reinstatement training. He hides when he nearly runs into Woo-jin, then almost literally crashes into her a few seconds later, though she doesn’t notice. He’s twitchy the entire time he’s applying for reinstatement, and eventually, Woo-jin finds him.
She’s definitely annoyed with him, but she tells him that she hasn’t given up. She steps right into his face and whispers ominously, like the Terminator, “I will be back.” She saunters off and makes a call about that transfer she’s been considering.
Joo-hyuk gets back to the bank to find the direct banking team being taken to task for merging a customer’s account with the account of a different person with the same name. Uh-oh. But when they hear that the name of the customer was Park Yoo-shik, Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo realize that it was their guy from earlier. They take their scolding and promise to fix the mistake.
Joo-hyuk calls the Yoo-shik who was in the bank earlier to explain, but Yoo-shik says he’s too busy to come back to the bank now to return the money. Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo decide to go to his workplace, where they find him playing games with his coworkers. They tell him to just enter his passcode on their tablet and it’s done, but Yoo-shik pretends to have an urgent meeting right now and runs off.
They chase him all over the building, even following him into the men’s room to offer him the tablet (and toilet paper, ew). By nightfall they’re staking out Yoo-shik’s house, cranky from their exhausting day and taking it out on each other.
Yoo-shik finally leaves to run to the store, and he gets a creepy feeling on his way home. He screams and collapses when he sees Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo standing in front of him, the light from the tablet reflecting on their faces like a horror film, and he finally gives over his passcode.
Woo-jin is excited when she runs into Joo-eun on her way home, forgetting that in this timeline, Joo-eun doesn’t know her. She fibs that she used to live in Joo-eun’s old neighborhood, and they end up stopping at a convenience store for a drink and snacks.
Woo-jin says she remembers Joo-eun’s brother too, mining for information, which is how she learns that Joo-hyuk periodically disappears and has vowed never to marry for fear he’ll make his wife miserable. Joo-eun suddenly grows nauseous, though Woo-jin declares the food fine.
Manager Byun decides that they need more manpower to avoid any more mistakes being made. The bank employees repeat the same conversation from the last timeline about moving Hwan to the Loans team (Joo-hyuk’s team) and hiring someone for the Direct Banking team, which Joo-hyuk knows resulted in Woo-jin being hired on last time around.
So this time he objects, saying that Hwan can’t handle the work in Loans, and Branch Manager Cha agrees. Since Loans requires someone more experienced, Woo-jin doesn’t get the transfer, and she’s told that the Loans department strongly requested this solution.
Unwilling to give up, Woo-jin finds an opportunity to help Branch Manager Cha when he struggles with a drink vending machine (and he thanks her with a familiar “Thank you very kamsa!”). She says that she really wanted to transfer to his bank because she heard he’s so wonderful to work for, but was told she has the wrong training. Branch Manager Cha is charmed, and tells her that it’s not necessarily been decided.
Joo-eun nervously fidgets, trying to get up the nerve to tell Sang-shik some news. She asks if her belly seems bigger, and gets mad when he says it’s always been big. She sighs that it will get even bigger, and it dawns on him… she’s pregnant.
She shows him the pregnancy test as proof, and he whines, “I told you I was tired that night!” HAHA. Joo-eun asks when they should have the wedding, but Sang-shik pouts that he didn’t even get to propose. Joo-eun smiles and says that all that’s important is that they’ll be parents, but Sang-shik can barely wrap his head around the idea of being a dad.
They leap apart when Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo run up, shrieking that they’re hungry like a couple of kids. Joo-eun nods to Sang-shik to tell them the news, but he chickens out and runs to make them dinner instead.
Woo-jin massages Mom’s legs while they share a soju, and Woo-jin asks if Mom likes her job. Mom says she doesn’t work for fun, but that it energizes her and gave her something to focus on after Woo-jin’s dad died.
Woo-jin asks her if she knew Dad was the one for her from the beginning, but Mom says that she didn’t even like him at first. She gets worried when Woo-jin says it must have been destiny, and asks if she’s seeing someone. Woo-jin just gives a vague answer and changes the subject.
Branch Manager Cha tells Manager Byun and Team Leader Jang that he tried to get someone for the Loans team, but headquarters said they only had people trained for Direct Banking. He claims that he has no choice but to move Hwan to Loans and take whatever help they can get. Team Leader Jang is thrilled, but poor Manager Byun looks like he wants to cry.
While on the roof replacing the tear gas canisters, Jong-hoo horses around too much and accidentally knocks over and smashes his drink. It gives Joo-hyuk an eery chill, and he looks around wondering why he feels unsettled.
Downstairs, Woo-jin approaches the bank, ready to begin her first day.
This show continues to surprise me, because every time I think I know where it’s going, it takes a left turn and heads somewhere I never expected. It’s been Joo-hyuk’s story for so long, but all of a sudden Woo-jin is muscling in and taking the reins, and I love it. The change in emphasis on characters mirrors the trajectory of the show itself really well — when Joo-hyuk was the one who wanted to change his life, we saw everything from his point of view, but now he’s given up and Woo-jin is in charge so we’re seeing it all from her perspective.
This episode is the proof that Familiar Wife has known all along exactly where it’s going and exactly the story it wants to tell. I love dramas that are so assured in their storytelling (rather than changing direction halfway through for whatever reason), because it’s fun to look back and see the bread crumbs left in earlier episodes that show the story’s intent. There have been a lot of instances of this, but the best example is this episode’s repeat of the discussion about where Hwan should be placed and which team should get the new employee — without the setup of that scene many episodes ago, we still could have gotten to this point of Woo-jin getting the job at the bank again, but it wouldn’t be nearly as clever or fun to watch. These sorts of scenes elevate a drama, for me, because it proves that the writer is thinking ahead from the beginning and doesn’t forget what’s happened in the past, and is able to weave both together to make the story more robust and intricate.
The best part about Woo-jin’s determination to change the past and save her and Joo-hyuk’s marriage is that this Woo-jin didn’t live through the original timeline, so she has no memory of her life with Woo-jin and is just acting on faith. She’s so sure that she and Joo-hyuk are meant to be together that she’s willing to go in blind and make it happen anyway. And she has a much harder job, because unlike Joo-hyuk, Woo-jin isn’t trying to escape anything – she’s trying to restore things to their rightful place. It’s more proof of her strength and bravery that she’s taking such a leap, when all she knows about the original timeline is that it was such a disaster that Joo-hyuk wanted to erase their relationship from existence. All Woo-jin knows is that she loves him, and the timeline she lived through feels wrong, so she’s willing to risk recreating a possibly miserable married life with Joo-hyuk for the change that they can do better this time around.
It’s not going to be easy, because in the timeline where they are now, there are a lot of things that have changed for the better. Jong-hoo has his wife and twins back, which is great, but there are some new changes that Woo-jin isn’t going to want to lose. Joo-eun and Sang-shik don’t have their bar or their child from the second timeline, but they’re in love and planning a family. Woo-jin’s mother is happy and healthy since Woo-jin saved her father from dying too early, so she never had to try to change the past herself and fail, resulting in her mental deterioration. And even though Woo-jin’s father didn’t live for her to see him again, he got to live almost a decade longer and pass away peacefully instead of traumatically, leaving Woo-jin and her mother without the burden of Mom’s mental illness. I’m hoping that Woo-jin can restore her relationship with Joo-hyuk without upsetting the positive changes in the timeline, but it’s not going to be easy and she’s going to have to convince Joo-hyuk that he’s not a curse who makes people unhappy.
Early on, I wanted Joo-hyuk to learn a valuable lesson from his mistake, and to go back to his original timeline to make things right with the version of Woo-jin that he left behind. But I wasn’t counting on Woo-jin herself getting involved in the time travel, and changing her own life path independent of Joo-hyuk by saving her father’s life. Now I doubt it’s even possible to return to the first timeline, and even if it was, it would have to involve erasing all of Woo-jin’s memories as well as sentencing her father to an early death and Mom to a life of forgetful misery again, and I definitely don’t want to see that happen. But now that Woo-jin is aware and actively working to change things, I’m okay with letting the original miserable Woo-jin fade away and become an unhappy memory. Now I want to see her and Joo-hyuk create a brand-new timeline where everyone gets their happy ending.