Familiar Wife: Episode 3
Our dubious hero has managed to change his life, and at first, the changes seem awesome and exactly what he’d hoped for. But reality eventually steps in, and he finds that his choice hasn’t just affected his own life, but the lives of a lot of people around him. He’s about to realize that “prettier” doesn’t necessarily mean “better,” in a lot of unexpected ways.
EPISODE 3: “The swapping of two women.”
Joo-hyuk goes back to the past with the goal of changing his life. He deliberately doesn’t help Woo-jin on the bus on the day they met, wishes her a good life, then meets his old flame, Hye-won, for their originally ill-fated date. This time when Joo-hyuk wakes back in the present (though nearly three months before he left) he finds himself in bed beside Hye-won — it worked.
He does a celebratory happy dance then climbs back into bed beside her. She wakes and snuggles up to him sleepily, making his eyes go wide, and he barely manages to relax enough to touch her.
When he finally gets out of bed, he gapes to see that they live in a huge house with beautiful furnishings. LOL, he’s even got a brand-new state-of-the-art gaming console with all the latest games, and a dedicated chair and television just for gaming.
Hye-won amazes him again by making him a gorgeous breakfast, and as he eats, he thinks to himself, “Yes, this is a blessing. It means I deserve to be happy for once. I have the right, like I’ve been given a bonus. Thank you!”
He wilts a bit to learn that he’s still a banker, but he cheers up again when Hye-won follows him out the door pouting that he forgot his “vitamin,” and she kisses his cheek. He cheerfully offers to take the day off, hee, but Hye-won sends him off to work — in his very own flashy new car.
He walks into the bank to the sound of Manager Byun yelling at newbie employee Hwan for being late. Joo-hyuk runs over to apologize for also being late due to an accident on the highway, but instead of being angry, Manager Byun fawns all over him asking if he got hurt.
Branch Manager Cha arrives, complaining of a hangover and making dumb jokes, and the team laughs dutifully. Joo-hyuk’s friend Jong-hoo mutters that he envies Joo-hyuk for not being obligated to kiss up to the boss, since his father-in-law is the bank’s biggest VVIP. Wait, what?
Joo-hyuk learns that said father-in-law is CEO Lee of JK Group, which explains his and Hye-won’s opulent life. This is cause for even more celebration, and he’s so happy that he volunteers to buy coffee for the whole office.
Joo-hyuk smiles all day, and as the bank is closing, Hye-won sends him a text urging him to come home soon. He’s surprised to see Jong-hoo flirting outrageously with one of the cash team ladies, and while they’re flirting, they accidentally knock some loan applications that Manager Byun gave Jong-hoo to finish before the end of the day behind a desk.
Joo-hyuk asks Jong-hoo when he got to be so flirtatious, warning that he’ll get in trouble, but Jong-hoo mutters that it’s fine because they’re all single. He takes Joo-hyuk’s surprise for jealousy, but Joo-hyuk just laughs and asks about Sang-shik, who’s single in the first timeline.
They head to Sang-shik’s bar after work, and Joo-hyuk gets a huge kick out of watching Sang-shik working with a baby strapped to his back. He stops laughing abruptly when he meets Sang-shik’s wife — his sister, Joo-eun. Joo-hyuk nearly beats Sang-shik to a pulp for defiling his baby sister, and Joo-eun nearly beats Joo-hyuk up for attacking her husband.
When he calms down, Joo-hyuk asks Joo-eun why she married Sang-shik (“this guy who’s like a consolation prize,” ha). Sang-shik says it was obviously his sex appeal, but Joo-eun sighs that it was food. She reminds her brother how she was always on a diet, even at his wedding to Hye-won, and says that after the wedding she and Sang-shik went to eat together.
They ate enough food for ten people, and afterward Joo-eun saw Sang-shik go to a pharmacy for medicine for his upset stomach. Realizing that he made himself sick so that she wouldn’t feel bad for how much she’d consumed made her fall for him right then and there.
Joo-hyuk asks Jong-hoo why he’s still single, and he says he just hasn’t met The One. Joo-hyuk asks if he’s ever met a woman he’d wanted to marry, and Jong-hoo tells them that he dated a girl for three years. They fought and broke up, and two months later he learned she was leaving to study abroad.
He tried to chase her to the airport, but some jerk stole his taxi, so he missed his girl’s flight. HA, that was the taxi that Joo-hyuk stole to make it to his date with Hye-won in time, but he doesn’t realize it, and he tells Jong-hoo that if that jerk hadn’t done that, he’d be married with twins now.
Sang-shik runs upstairs to check on the baby, which reminds Joo-hyuk about his kids. He pulls out his phone, and he finally notices that instead of the picture of his babies as his wallpaper, it’s a picture of him and Hye-won. It just now hits him that his children no longer exist, and he collapses to the floor, wracked with guilt.
He staggers out to the street, crying miserably as he begs his babies never to forgive him. Thunder cracks, snapping him out of his despair, as woman jogs past him. She reminds him of Woo-jin, but he guesses that he must though the saw her because he was so upset. He doesn’t know that it really was Woo-jin.
When Joo-hyuk finally gets back to the spacious home he shares with Hye-won, he’s stunned when she steps out of the bathroom in only her robe. Later, in bed, he flinches whenever she touches him and tries valiantly not to stare at her chest, which is right in his face — from his angle, they’ve only shared one kiss.
Hye-won tells Joo-hyuk about their summer vacation plans with her parents. She thanks him for keeping his promise to her parents to live near them, eat with them on weekends, go on vacations with them, and visit them first on holidays. She takes his face in her hands and he jumps again, and she asks why he’s so tense today.
Fortunately for Joo-hyuk, Hye-won finds his cute, nervous behavior a turn-on, and she jumps him. He’s in a great mood the next morning on his way to work, until a clap of thunder scares him so badly that he slams on the brakes. The thunder booms again, so he stops at a pharmacy for something to calm his nerves, wondering what’s with all the thunder lately.
Woo-jin is in the same store, though they don’t see each other. When Woo-jin checks out, she finds Joo-hyuk’s phone which he left on the counter, so she takes the phone with her.
On the subway, a man sidles up behind Woo-jin so that the swaying of the train has him rubbing up against her. Woo-jin accidentally-on-purpose crushes his toes with her high heel, and she fake apologizes loudly until that he moves away. At her stop, she pauses to murmur to him sweetly, “Don’t live that way, you bastard.” I already love this timeline’s Woo-jin.
Joo-hyuk doesn’t realize that his phone is missing until he gets to the bank, and he borrows Jong-hoo’s phone to call his phone in case someone picked it up. Woo-jin answers breathlessly, and they make arrangements to meet at lunchtime. Joo-hyuk thinks her voice sounds strange (the way she’s panting sounds pretty suggestive), but mostly he’s just happy to be getting his phone back.
Woo-jin was only breathing heavily because she was talking to Joo-hyuk while running up the stairs in her office building — she seems very health-conscious. She takes a break and looks at the screensaver on Joo-hyuk’s phone, a picture of him and Hye-won being cute, and she tells her friend that Joo-hyuk is totally her type. They wonder who the woman is, and Woo-jin thinks it’s just his sister, but says that there’s still hope even if it’s his girlfriend.
Manager Byun realizes that one of the loan applications he gave Jong-hoo to finish is missing, and Jong-hoo belatedly remembers his flirting session and realizes that one application must have fallen. He spots it… just as Hwan is putting it in the shredder. Nooo!
Jong-hoo, Manager Byun, and Branch Manager Cha all race for the shredder, but it’s too late. The application was for a huge VIP client, so they spend the morning trying to piece the shreds back together. As lunch time approaches, Joo-hyuk works up the nerve to ask to leave, and Branch Manager Cha lets him go.
He runs to the coffee shop Woo-jin told him about, and on the way, he stops to retrieve something a schoolgirl dropped. At the same time, Woo-jin gets a call from her aunt and has to leave, and they come within inches without seeing each other. Joo-hyuk goes inside to find that the woman he’s meeting left his phone with an employee, and he seems a bit disappointed that he didn’t get to thank her.
The bank’s VVIP client is incensed when he learns that his loan application wasn’t processed and vows to take his business to Garam Bank. Manager Byun is furious with Jong-hoo, having worked weekends and gone on multiple camping trips (which he hates) with the client in order to land that account.
Jong-hoo is still downcast after work, and he wonders if he should resign over this mistake. Joo-hyuk gets an idea — he’d overheard the client talking about an executives’ meeting, and he realizes that the client works for Hye-won’s father.
He calls Hye-won and learns that the meeting already started. Joo-hyuk hurries there but when the executives’ meeting ends, Joo-hyuk’s father-in-law doesn’t see him. Rather than give up, Joo-hyuk takes a chance and shouts, “FATHER!” Joo-hyuk has never met this man in his memory, but he seems happy to see Joo-hyuk.
In the morning, Joo-hyuk is the hero of the bank, having talked his father-in-law into giving them one more chance with the loan. In the men’s room, he teases Jong-hoo that he saved his life, happy to have been able to help his friend (who then wipes pee on his jacket, because boys are weird).
Manager Byun holds a meeting, having decided that they’re making mistakes because they’re shorthanded and tired. Branch Manager Cha laments that he’s been told by the head office that it’s hard to transfer Loans employees, so Joo-hyuk suggests they hire Hwan into Loans, then hiring a new person to take Hwan’s probationary job in Direct Banking.
Ha, Manager Byun balks at the idea, but Team Leader Jang, the Direct Banking manager, thinks it sounds fantastic since it gets Hwan off her hands. Hwan is all, “Uh, I’m right here,” so Branch Manager Cha asks him which department he was planning to choose. Hwan says haughtily that he didn’t care until just now, but now he wants to work for Loans because he likes Jong-hoo (the only one who said something supportive to him).
That afternoon, Joo-hyuk gets a sudden flurry of notifications that his credit card is being used at a department store. Hye-won tells him that night that she went shopping because an old school rival won some award, and it depressed her.
She shows Joo-hyuk one dress she bought on sale for a still-astronomical price, and Joo-hyuk looks shocked but wisely just says it’s pretty. He goes to put away the groceries and finds older, unopened packages that have gone moldy, and it reminds him how Woo-jin would insist they eat up expired food before it went bad. But he sighs that nobody is perfect, explaining away Hye-won’s wasteful spending to her rich family.
Joo-hyuk gets a call from his mom asking when he’s going to visit. He promises to come soon, and she complains she feels like her son was stolen, then hangs up. A little saddened, he goes to visit Joo-eun and Sang-shik at the bar, though Sang-shik has gone to drop off their son, Joon, with his grandmother.
Joo-hyuk tells Joo-eun that their mom didn’t sound good, and he asks if she’s angry with him for something. Joo-eun says it’s more like disappointed, and that she and their parents often get the vague feeling that Hye-won looks down on them. She points out that they always travel instead of visiting on holidays, and that Hye-won rarely calls their mother.
Thoughtful, Joo-hyuk asks Joo-eun if she’s happy with Sang-shik. She answers that she’s happy compared to some people, adding that Sang-shik is a great husband and father. She tells Joo-hyuk that Sang-shik always gets up in the middle of the night to take care of Joon so she can sleep, and that he’s the kind of man who makes her a better person.
In the morning, Hye-won asks Joo-hyuk if he wants to go home together after her class this afternoon, surprising him that she teaches cello. He suggests they visit his parents this weekend, and Hye-won gets fidgety and says she’s uncomfortable there because their house is so small and only has one bathroom.
She reminds him that they promised to have dinner with her parents anyway, and he starts to argue, but says they’ll discuss it later. He heads off to work, and the scornful face Hye-won makes behind is back is… not pretty.
While on their rooftop break, Jong-hoo muses that the loan incident made him decide to wait as long as possible to get married. He says that if he was married with kids and got in big trouble at work, he’d be forced to stay at the job. Joo-hyuk sighs that he’s immature and needs to meet a smart woman.
The arrive back downstairs to find everyone crowded around the new Direct Banking employee, a transfer from the head office — Woo-jin. Joo-hyuk stares when he finds himself face-to-face with this happier, healthier-looking Woo-jin, who looks nothing like the screaming, miserable Woo-jin he left behind in his old timeline. He has a flashback to her attacking him and screams bloody murder, accidentally setting off his handheld tear gas gun.
Joo-hyuk’s screaming triggers everyone else, and soon the entire team is running and yelling. Joo-hyuk trips and falls, and Woo-jin, blinded by all the tear gas, also trips and almost lands on him, traumatizing him even further. He jumps up and escapes out the back door, leaving the rest of the team behind, ha.
Hye-won walks through campus in the rain after her class, and she suddenly finds her umbrella occupied by a handsome young student, who explains that he has a class presentation and doesn’t want to show up with wet clothes. He disarms her with a shy smile and takes her umbrella handle, promising to buy her lunch later in the cafeteria. I don’t care for the besotted way Hye-won watches him.
When things calm down at the bank, the teams look like they’ve been through a war, ha. Woo-jin takes it in stride, joking that she feels like they had a special event to welcome her. Joo-hyuk is hiding in the break room, shaking and wondering what to do, until he’s summoned back so they can properly welcome Woo-jin.
She introduces herself as someone that’s pretty easygoing, but that can have a short fuse on occasion. Everyone is introduced to her, and she earns Hwan’s loyalty when he’s introduced as the group troublemaker and she whispers that she likes rebels better than nerds.
Joo-hyuk steels himself for his own introduction, and he manages to say a polite greeting and look Woo-jin in the eye. She finally leaves, and when she arrives home, she finds her aunt in a panic — her mother has wandered off again. Woo-jin looks for her mom in the usual places, and finally finds her at the hairdresser.
Woo-jin walks Mom home after her appointment, and she gently tells Mom not to go out alone again. She puts Mom’s tracker watch back on (she’d taken it off) and gets snapped at for nagging, but Woo-jin seems to know exactly how to handle her, and she just apologizes and compliments Mom’s hair.
That evening, Joo-hyuk sits in the bathtub musing whether there’s some power or force that controls everything in the world. He decides that whatever it is must be messing with him, and wonders how the Woo-jin he met today could be the same harpy he wanted so badly to escape. There was a moment when she’d looked at him almost as if she knew him, but he tells himself it’s impossible.
Hye-won is busy thinking about that cute student, who’d been surprised to learn she’s a teacher. She smiles and tells herself that he has great taste in women.
Woo-jin has a soju before bed and makes her mom a glass of milk, and they sit to talk. She tells Mom that her new coworkers seem nice, and that she’ll be close enough to come home quickly if Mom needs anything. She promises to marry a man who lives a long life, because she can’t imagine not having someone by her side, and that he’ll be someone who can handle her cheeky personality.
Mom grows sleepy and threatens to fall asleep on the table, so Woo-jin pretends to carry her to bed. They end up giggling wildly, and after Mom is asleep, Woo-jin rubs her feet and tells her how pretty she looks when she’s sleeping.
She complains that her dad was a bad man to leave them so soon. She herself dreams of meeting a man when she was young, falling in love, and getting married, but she can never see his face. She wakes and wonders why she’s been having such a vivid dream for so long, and why it doesn’t feel like a dream.
In the morning, Joo-hyuk arrives at work first to air out the room and get everything ready for the day. Woo-jin arrives next, and she cheerfully offers to help Joo-hyuk, who can barely look her in the eye.
He tries to start working but he gets a weird feeling, and turns to see Woo-jin pointing one of those tear gas guns at him. It scares him half to death, but she points it at him again, and this time she gives him an odd look.
She steps closer, and Joo-hyuk tenses up, scared that she recognizes him. Woo-jin slowly asks him, “By any chance… “
Last week, Joo-hyuk made a pretty bad first impression on me for not only throwing away the life he had with Woo-jin, which may not have been happy but was a decent life, but also for obliterating the lives of their two small children without even a thought. Joo-hyuk had some legitimate complaints about the way Woo-jin treated him, but he was far from perfect, and he didn’t even try to work on his relationship with the woman he must have loved at least enough to marry her (and I hope we get to see more of their original relationship).
I don’t begrudge him the money he spent on the new gaming system — he did save his own spending money for years for it, and as an avid gamer myself, I believe that everyone deserves a tension-reliever. Joo-hyuk’s wrong was in hiding the money he was saving from Woo-jin, hiding the new console from her when he knew she resented it, and in not helping her enough that she could develop a tension-relieving hobby of her own. I also think that Woo-jin was equally wrong to destroy the console in a fit of anger. But all of these things are really just symptoms of a bigger problem — Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin had long since stopped talking, and were just seething in a stew of resentment on a daily basis and making no effort to change the situation in any way.
It really bothered me how entitled Joo-hyuk was when he first woke up to his life with Hye-won. He never gave Woo-jin and his children a thought for over a day — not to wonder if the kids even existed anymore, much less to worry about what kind of situation this change may have put Woo-jin in. He was better off after his time-travel adventure, but he had no guarantee that Woo-jin was, too, and it never even occurred to him to check on her. So I was gratified when the weight of what he’d done finally hit him, and he realized that he had erased his children out of existence. Not that it makes it okay, but I can see how Joo-hyuk just got so caught up in the possibility of changing his life that he just acted impulsively, and I bet that he wouldn’t have done it if he’d thought of the kids first — in other words, I don’t think he purposely erased his children, or even did it passively. I think it just genuinely didn’t occur to him. I’m actually glad that Joo-hyuk was devastated by their loss, because I see it as the first change that will make him decide he wants his old life back… there will be more clues that this life isn’t perfect or even better than what he had before, and they’re already starting to creep in, but it’s fitting that it’s Joo-hyuk’s babies that were the first tragic casualty that will lead to a change of heart.
It’s interesting how it only took two days for the bloom to start coming off the Hye-won rose for Joo-hyuk. Having lived with Woo-jin for so long, even things he didn’t like — like having to eat old food — now seem preferable to throwing out food that never even got opened, or buying an $800 dress just because it’s “on sale.” I like that Joo-hyuk is already developing reasons that he misses Woo-jin, and it’s poetic justice that those reasons are things he previously saw as annoying or even personality faults, because he’s realizing that the other side of the coin isn’t necessarily better. I think he’s about to learn that while Woo-jin changed for the worse because of their situation, that she’s fundamentally a good person, while Hye-won…. well, isn’t.
Speaking of Woo-jin, I loved seeing how carefree and capable she is in this new timeline — she’s even learned to handle gropers all on her own, hee. She has the same fiery personality in both timelines, but in the original, she was so beaten down by married life that all of her energy just burst out as screaming and physical violence, but left to mature on her own, she’s quite an impressive woman. Her healthy relationship with her mother and the competent way she handles her mom’s dementia is lovely, because it shows that the screeching, resentful Woo-jin of the original timeline isn’t who she really is, and that under better emotional circumstances, she’s actually very compassionate and patient. I even like that she developed a little crush on Joo-hyuk from his cell phone picture, because it’s exactly what happened in the original timeline — she saw him and decided that was her man, and that was that — so it’s very in-character for her. Of course she’s going to find him attractive even in the new timeline! It will be interesting to see how her come-ons have matured, and how much the new Woo-jin impresses Joo-hyuk, once he gets over being freaked out about working with her.