Familiar Wife: Episode 2
Joo-hyuk is having a very interesting day, as he finds himself twelve years in the past, on the most crucial day of his life. He’s realizing that his life isn’t anything like he expected to be, and that he’s not happy. So when he sees an opportunity to change all that, it’s no surprise that he jumps at it. If you could go back and change your biggest regret, wouldn’t you want to see what lies down the road not traveled?
EPISODE 2: “Life is a maze full of choices.”
Joo-hyuk uses one of the coins the doomsayer from the train gave him at a tollbooth, and the next thing he knows, his car goes out of control and he wakes up in 2006, back in college. He recognizes the date as the day that his crush, Hye-won, asked him out, and although he leaves his room a bit more cautiously than last time, he still gets hit by a bowl of wash water the same as he did in 2006.
He wonders if he’s dreaming, but everything feels too realistic. He stubs his toe on a newsstand and overhears a couple of teenage girls complaining about Brad and Angelina’s marriage being too perfect, remembering that all this happened before. He knows when he’s about to run into Hye-won, and he’s struck dumb by the sight of his old flame, looking exactly as she did ten years ago. She invites him to the concert just as he expects, and he accepts like before.
But then, instead of swerving to miss the scooter that nearly hit him the first time around, Joo-hyuk forgets to move and is knocked unconscious. He wakes in his own bed back in the present, and when his wife Woo-jin comes in, he asks her what day it is. She tells him it’s August 29, 2018, and Joo-hyuk is surprised that it’s Wednesday, and not Friday like it should be.
Joo-hyuk waves it off and assumes that what just happened must have been a dream after all. Woo-jin tells Joo-hyuk that he got himself home just fine last time, but after she leaves for work, he wonders why he doesn’t remember anything after losing control of the car. Flustered, he doesn’t notice the small scar that suddenly appears on his right wrist.
Joo-hyuk heads to work, meeting his friend Jong-hoo on the way for a food cart breakfast sandwich. He asks Jong-hoo if he’s ever had a dream so vivid that it felt real, so Jong-hoo says he once dreamed he was dating Han Hyo-joo, and afterward her kissing scenes made him angry, hee.
He tells Joo-hyuk that he’s just stressed lately and invites him to play video games after work, but Joo-hyuk pouts that his game system broke. He suddenly notices his new scar, but Joo-hyuk says that he’s had that ever since he’s known him. Weird.
On the way into the office, a pair of female employees say they’re going on a coffee run, and Jong-hoo hilariously fakes a call from his wife and abandons Joo-hyuk to pay. He reluctantly hands over his credit card, and they end up buying coffee for the whole office on him. But they forget to get one for Branch Manager Cha, forcing Joo-hyuk to hand his over.
Joo-hyuk goes to fill the ATMs for the day, and while he’s there, someone answers his ad looking for a used game system. It’s a good price, so Joo-hyuk rushes to close up the ATM so he can show Jong-hoo the amazing deal, and he makes arrangements to meet with the seller after work.
At her job as an aesthetician, Woo-jin deals with a spoiled, demanding customer (“I’m so exhausted from my trip to Bali!” Barf). The customer snaps at her for obviously upselling when she mentions a new skincare line, cooing condescendingly that she guesses Woo-jin has to sell something, either cosmetics or her conscience.
Joo-hyuk is anxious to leave at the end of the day, but his last customer forgot her ID and asks him to wait while she goes home for it. Knowing that he’ll miss the meeting time with the game console seller, Joo-hyuk offers to push her loan through without the ID, getting her promise to bring her ID in tomorrow.
Joo-hyuk goes looking for Branch Manager Cha to ask permission, but he’s out of the office, so Joo-hyuk logs into the computer with Branch Manager Cha’s password. He overrides the loan approval without authorization, then asks Manager Byun if he can leave for the day. He gets permission, and heads out to meet the console seller.
Meanwhile, Woo-jin gets a call from her mother’s landlord, who’s upset at the junk piling up outside her mother’s apartment door. Woo-jin’s mom appears to have early dementia which has led to some hoarding behavior, and Woo-jin yells that she can’t just let unusable things pile up.
While Woo-jin is still there, Mom calls out to her husband, and before Woo-jin can remind her that her father died years ago, she asks when Woo-jin got there. Oof. The landlord tells Woo-jin that her mother is getting worse and needs to be in a nursing home.
Joo-hyuk meets the console seller and carefully checks the machine, which he learns is for sale because the owner’s wife told him to get rid of it the day he bought it. The seller is pretty upset, but he whines that he values his life, and Joo-hyuk promises to cherish the console.
Sang-shik wilts when a lottery ticket turns out to be a dud, and Joo-hyuk’s sister Joo-eun says he may as well donate his money for the good karma. They bicker over Joo-eun’s tendency to work at her part-time convenience store job, study, and work out at the same time.
Woo-jin arrives, so Sang-shik nervously sidles out of the store. Joo-eun asks if Joo-hyuk is busy lately, since she never sees him, and Woo-jin nods vaguely. She asks about a friend of Joo-eun’s who works at a nursing home, wondering how much it costs, and the amount makes her cringe.
Unaware, Joo-eun says that the children usually split the costs, but as she’s already complained that she barely has any money, Woo-jin’s mood sinks even lower. Joo-eun tries to tease Woo-jin out of her funk by joking that she’ll never find a boyfriend if she doesn’t wear makeup, but it doesn’t work.
No fool, Joo-hyuk covers his new game console with a trash bag to smuggle it into the spare room and successfully hides it. That night in bed, Woo-jin starts to tell Joo-hyuk something, but she changes her mind. Instead, she asks if he thinks he’ll be getting a promotion soon, but he just stammers that he’s not sure.
Joo-hyuk asks why Woo-jin hasn’t visited her mother lately, and why her mom never makes the kimchi he likes anymore. Instead of telling him about her mom’s decline, Woo-jin snaps at him to make the kimchi himself if he wants it.
Joo-hyuk pretends to go to the bathroom and heads to the spare room to fire up his new game console. He shuts it off and hides it again when he hears the baby cry.
In the morning, Joo-hyuk gets a call from Hwan, who’s already at the bank and scared — the audit team is there. Joo-hyuk worries that it’s about the loan he approved with Branch Manager Cha’s log-in and without ID, so he calls the customer and impersonates Branch Manager Cha, saying that he needs her ID right away.
Over at the bank, the audit team leader tells Branch Manager Cha that this audit is because some personal information was leaked from their branch. They find that the leak originated from Hwan’s desk, while Joo-hyuk, still thinking this is because of him, calls Jong-hoo to have him stall for time until he gets there.
He goes to the customer’s workplace, but she’s in the middle of a presentation, which will take about an hour. So Joo-hyuk crashes the presentation, pretending to be bringing drinks and ending up in front of the customer, looking at her expectantly.
Jong-hoo attempts to slow down the audit by asking the team leader if they went to the same school, failing spectacularly. He’s forced to tell Manager Byun what’s happening, so Manager Byun gets in on the stall tactics by pretending to trip and drop the vault keys, which Jong-hoo then kicks under the copier. They pretend that it’s going to be sooo hard to get the keys out, until Hwan is all, “Here they are.” Brat.
Joo-hyuk gets the copy of the customer’s ID and takes a taxi to the bank, only to find the entire office staring at him accusingly. Busted. Manager Byun chastises him in front of everyone, informing him that he even got Branch Manager Cha in trouble, and that there’s no way he’s getting that promotion to team leader.
Jong-hoo finds Joo-hyuk on the roof, ready to throw himself off out of guilt. He rants that he’s been depressed, and the idea of the new game console got him so excited that he lost his mind. Jong-hoo promises magnanimously that when he’s made team leader, he’ll look the other way whenever Joo-hyuk is late, but that just makes Joo-hyuk feel worse.
He asks if he should quit, but Jong-hoo cutely reminds him that he doesn’t own land or buildings, so he can’t afford to quit. They scream over the building edge at the hypothetical owners of the nearby buildings that life is unfair: “Enjoy your wealth! I want a comfortable, fabulous life, too!”
At home, Woo-jin gets the kids to sleep then surveys their messy apartment. She cleans up as best she can, and as she’s putting things way in the spare room, she finds Joo-hyuk’s contraband game console (he wasn’t very smart to hide it behind the diapers). When Joo-hyuk gets home, he goes to the spare room to see the trash bag his console was in on the floor, empty.
He goes looking for Woo-jin and finds her in the bathroom with his console in the bathtub, covered with water. He tries to rescue it as she reminds him that his dead console was supposed to be his last, since they can’t afford to spend money on games.
She cuts him off every time he tries to speak, and eventually he yells at her to stop interrupting him, and to listen to him sometimes before going off. He defends that he didn’t use their living expenses to buy the console, but his own money that he saved for years.
Woo-jin growls that he doesn’t understand her, but Joo-hyuk complains that he always has to be the understanding one. He says that he just wants to be able to rest at home, but he’s more exhausted at home than at work because his wife is more difficult than his customers.
He storms out, but only gets as far as the building steps before he starts to feel bad about his outburst. He heads to Sang-shik’s bar, but it’s closed because his friend has a cold. Jong-hoo is out running errands, leaving Joo-hyuk with nobody to talk to, so he scrolls through his contact list and runs across Hye-won’s number.
Wisely, he scrolls past it and instead calls his colleague whose mom recently passed. He goes over to visit, but the guy’s mom is there, shocking Joo-hyuk, since he very clearly remembers going to her funeral. The strange part is that she supposedly died in an accident while on her way to her son’s place to bring food, yet she’s here now on that very same errand. On his way home Joo-hyuk wonders how the woman could be dead one day and alive the next.
Suddenly, he remembers his ultra-vivid dream and how when he woke, he was shocked to find that it’s Wednesday and not Friday. Not to mention his mysterious new scar and the crazy out-of-control car. He thinks that maybe it wasn’t a dream after all, and decides to try to recreate the events that led to the strange flashback.
He finds the billboard he saw that night, but the tollbooth isn’t where he expects it to be. He backtracks, then goes to look for the tollbooth again, and this time it’s there. Creepy. He flips the second coin from the train doomsayer into the basket, then continues on expectantly.
Soon he sees the same strange purple glow in the sky, and his GPS starts to malfunction just like before. The car takes over, and after reaching a frightening speed, it disappears.
Joo-hyuk wakes up in bed in his dorm room with Joo-eun knocking on his door. He pops up happily, realizing that it worked, and he’s back at the day in 2006 when Hye-won asked him out. He lets Joo-eun in, kicks Sang-shik to get up, then runs to cover up the porn before Joo-eun sees it.
He heads out to campus, and this time he stops the neighbor before she throws water on him and avoids tripping over the newsstand he usually bangs his toes on. He tells the teenage girls who are always whining about Brad and Angelina getting married, “They get divorced later, so just focus on studying.” LOL.
Joo-hyuk makes sure he’s in place for Hye-won’s arrival and grins to himself when she calls out his name. He waits for her invitation to the concert and accepts happily, then deftly sidesteps the scooter deliveryman who usually mows him down. Later he gets ready for his date and goes to catch his bus.
He’s momentarily frozen when he sees young Woo-jin at the bus stop. He can’t help but notice how happy she looks, and wonders why that happy expression looks so unfamiliar. He even checks out her legs in her short skirt, making her frown at him.
This time, when the groper grabs Woo-jin, Joo-hyuk wants to speak up but stops himself. Eventually another woman says that she saw the guy grabbing Woo-jin, and when the cops come to take the guy away and Woo-jin gets in the cop car, Joo-hyuk thinks, “Goodbye, Seo Woo-jin. And have a good life.”
He realizes that he’s running late and steals someone’s taxi, and this time around, he finds Hye-won still waiting for him at the concert hall. During the concert, he badly wants to hold Hye-won’s hand, and she notices and teases to focus on the music.
After the show and dinner, Hye-won tells Joo-hyuk that she hates men who use money to charm women, and prefers sincere men. She says shyly that he’s that sort of man, then gives him a sweet little kiss. Joo-hyuk moves in and kisses Hye-won again, then everything fades away.
He wakes up in the present again, and he jumps out of bed, gasping for air. He turns to the woman in the bed, wondering if it’s Hye-won or Woo-jin. He slowly reaches out to her, and she turns in her sleep to face him… and it’s Hye-won.
Joo-hyuk is so happy he nearly cries, as his old bedroom transforms into a larger, fancier one. The calendar shows that he’s woken up on Friday , June 1st instead of Wednesday, August 30th, as he does a quiet little happy dance on the bed, thrilled that his plan worked.
Elsewhere in the city, Woo-jin jogs on a bridge over the Han River, looking relaxed and happy.
Interesting. It figures there would be some time travel back-and-forth as Joo-hyuk tried to fix his mistakes, but I didn’t anticipate Joo-hyuk to figure out what happened and deliberately set out to change his life so soon. But I got my wish, that Joo-hyuk ends up with Hye-won in this new timeline, so I’m very eager to see where the story goes next. It was interesting that Joo-hyuk struggled for a moment when it was time to ignore Woo-jin on the bus, and that his internal goodbye seemed so sad. It wasn’t as easy for Joo-hyuk to give up the life he knows as I thought it would be, and he really did seem to feel the weight of what he was letting go. It was a taste of the regret he’s going to feel later when he decides to try to get his wife, and life, back, and made me feel like this story is going to take us to some really interesting places.
I realize that I was a little focused on Joo-hyuk’s wrongdoing in his marriage in the first recap, so I want to clarify that that’s not because I’m on Woo-jin’s side or think she hasn’t done some wrong of her own. But since the first episode focused on Joo-hyuk (and it’s really his story, after all), I kept most of my comments limited to him. Woo-jin is certainly no saint — her anger may be justified, but she’s definitely out of control, and it’s never okay to scream in someone’s face or throw things at them. She gets angry in situations that don’t call for such an extreme reaction, and treats Joo-hyuk terribly in public. But I also notice that she used to be bright, cheerful, and happy, and while Joo-hyuk hasn’t changed much since college, Woo-jin is practically a different person.
She doesn’t even tell him about her mother’s mental illness, which tells me that whatever is wrong in their marriage, it’s been wrong for quite some time if she feels she can’t lean on her husband. Maybe I identify with Woo-jin a little too much because I’ve been where she is (in my case it was a mountain bike, not a game console), but I definitely don’t agree with her destroying Joo-hyuk’s console. First of all, it was just cruel, and second, it was stupid to ruin it when her complaint was the money it cost — she could have just had him sell it like the first owner.
I do think Woo-jin was unfair to be so angry with Joo-hyuk over buying the console without even asking him about it, and I felt he was justified in telling her to stop talking over him all the time and let him explain. Like he said, he saved for it for years, and it’s not like Woo-jin has been honest with him about their expenses… she must have been aware for quite some time that her mother would need a nursing home eventually, but she hasn’t even told Joo-hyuk about her mom’s illness, much less her looming financial needs. But Woo-jin is already worried about money and her mother’s mental decline, and she’s so conditioned to fly into a rage at everything Joo-hyuk does, that she goes too far.
At this point in their marriage I think that divorce isn’t too drastic of a solution, so I’m very curious to see how Joo-hyuk’s apparent good fortune at landing Hye-won as his new-timeline wife changes things. I anticipate the answer to that to be: not much. Having a different wife won’t change Joo-hyuk’s fundamental nature, and although it looks like they have a slightly nicer home and likely no children, that doesn’t mean that Joo-hyuk’s irresponsible nature and unrealistic “man of the house” expectations will be any different. But for now, everyone seems happy — Joo-hyuk has the wife he wants and what appears to be a beautiful home, while Woo-jin looks healthy and contented. Right now the switch seems like it’s put everyone in a better place, so I’m very eager to see the truth that makes Joo-hyuk change his mind and wish for his old life back.