Beauty Inside: Episode 9

Our protagonist spends some unexpected quality time with her mom during a transformation, allowing her to reflect on what Mom means to her. She also uses the transformation as an opportunity to provide solace for another mother in the hopes of alleviating some suffering and self-resentment. Quality time also means quality hijinks to protect her secret, and luckily, she has a special someone who’s eager to drop everything to help.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Se-kye narrates that her groundless suffering made her desperate to find a reason anywhere, and we see her searching for answers from a doctor, a shaman, at a church and a temple. She continues, “The longer my groundless suffering continued, the more I wanted to resent something without reason — like fate, a god, my wrongdoings, or someone who loves me.”

Se-kye’s mother wakes up to the sound of her daughter whimpering in pain from exercise, and Se-kye wakes up to her mother massaging her legs. Se-kye annoyingly tells her mother to stop, but Mom says that her daughter’s pain feels like her fault, that Se-kye is receiving punishment in her place. As Se-kye silently cries, we hear her narrate: “That night, I vowed to never make myself Mom’s punishment, to never disclose my dreadful condition.”

Picking up where we left off, Mom enters Se-kye’s house unannounced during Se-kye’s transformation cycle as a little boy. Woo-mi clumsily explains that lil’ Se-kye is her “nephew” — the son an ex-unni friend (a term to describe a gangster-like woman), who’s in the hospital and also happens to be a single mother. As a single mother herself, Mom tells lil’ Se-kye to grow up well and get revenge on his father. In her head, Se-kye amusingly notes her mother’s confrontational nature.

Woo-mi tells Mom that she’s heading out to Se-kye’s filming location with her nephew, but Mom offers to take care of kid. They reluctantly agree, and Woo-mi tightly hugs lil’ Se-kye as they part, promising to save her soon.

Mom cooks food for lil’ Se-kye and asks for his name. Lil’ Se-kye almost says her real name before claiming his name as Woo-ju (another word for “world,” heh). As Mom gives him a patty, she says that her daughter liked this at his age and admits that it weighs on her heart that she couldn’t afford these foods. Mom marvels at lil’ Se-kye looking at her with sympathetic eyes, and Se-kye admits to herself that she may be enjoying this covert reveal to Mom.

Do-jae suddenly calls, and lil’ Se-kye runs to the bathroom to address him via text. Se-kye tells him that it’s that time of the month, and Do-jae offers to come to her because he’ll recognize her regardless. That’s exactly what she fears, and she reminds him of the clause in their contract to help the other protect their secret. She asks him to be on standby and abandons their conversation to respond to Mom calling for her.

Do-jae wonders aloud if he’s just been dumped, and Secretary Jung comments that it’s good news for him. He orders Do-jae to complete his fish-naming exercise, and Do-jae says that he’s decided on a name for the new fish from Sa-ra. Secretary Jung rolls his eyes and says that it’s obvious what Do-jae would name this new fish.

Do-jae’s employees place bets on whether Do-jae will recognize their male colleague’s new ear piercings, and the team leader doesn’t believe that Do-jae would be so observant. When Do-jae greets the team members, it doesn’t seem like he notices the change, but he turns around to comment on the piercings. Team Leader 0 — 1 Do-jae.

Under Mom’s watch, lil’ Se-kye watches cartoons with a kiddie drink in hand, and she complains internally about her enjoyment with Mom only lasting for a day. But Se-kye seems to enjoy the drink and starts to get into the suspense of the cartoons.

By the third day, Se-kye comments that she wants to be alone. Lil’ Se-kye lies awake in bed with Mom, and Se-kye thinks about how strange it feels to be sleeping next to her mother after so long. Mom sings lil’ Se-kye a lullaby, and Se-kye notes that Mom’s lullaby repertoire hasn’t changed. But slowly, her eyes weigh heavy as she falls asleep to Mom’s voice.

Eun-ho returns home and shares a quiet meal with his family. His father and sister try to break the tension between mother and son, and they silently rejoice when Mom accepts Eun-ho’s offer to wash the dishes. At his desk, Eun-ho finds his seminary application documents and bank book that his mother so vehemently rejected.

Lil’ Se-kye continues to sleep while Mom vacuums the house in the morning. Lil’ Se-kye wakes up to the sound of her dog barking and jerks up in realization that Mom will discover her photo room and closet while vacuuming.

As Do-jae waits for a call from Se-kye, he tells Secretary Jung to continue working at his desk and doing his job for him. Secretary Jung rejects the offer and shares his plan to steal Do-jae’s job once he inherits Sunho Group by exposing how useless Do-jae becomes when dating.

Do-jae finally receives a call from Se-kye urgently summoning him to her house, and he notes that she’s transformed into a kid. As he heads out, Do-jae wonders why Secretary Jung isn’t asking where he’s going, and Secretary Jung sighs that it’s obvious where Do-jae’s headed.

Lil’ Se-kye spills the yellow kiddie drink on the sheets to mimic wetting the bed and cries to grab Mom’s attention before she enters the restricted rooms. Mom cleans the sheets, and lil’ Se-kye messages Do-jae, demanding him to distract her mom by any means.

The doorbell rings, and lil’ Se-kye and Mom greet Do-jae at the door. Do-jae identifies lil’ Se-kye with her necklace, and Mom recognizes Do-jae as Se-kye’s ex-boyfriend. He begs on his knees to see Se-kye, claiming that he can’t give up on her. He looks to lil’ Se-kye, who throws him a thumbs up in approval and signals him to take Mom out of the house.

When Do-jae asks to meet with Mom instead, she says that she can’t leave because lil’ Se-kye just wet the bed. Lil’ Se-kye desperately signs that it isn’t true, and Do-jae fights to hold in his laughter as he insists on speaking with Mom. Eventually, Mom agrees, and Do-jae teases lil’ Se-kye about wetting the bed as lil’ Se-kye continues to deny the allegations. After they leave, lil’ Se-kye calls Woo-mi for her rescue.

Mom cuts to the chase and tells Do-jae to marry Se-kye within the next month. She means this as a warning to Do-jae not to date Se-kye as a joke. Mom wants someone who will be by Se-kye’s side for a long time, without dying or disappearing, and she admits her unhappiness in loving a man who wasn’t with her for long. She knows that Se-kye needs someone who’s like a home she can return to and asks if Do-jae can be that person.

Do-jae commits to being that person if Se-kye remains unchanging, and Mom assures him Se-kye is a consistent person. Do-jae comments that Se-kye is like her mother in many ways, and when Mom jokes that she’s prettier than Se-kye, he notes that she’s even more like Se-kye.

Woo-mi and Eun-ho help lil’ Se-kye load boxes into the car, and Eun-ho doubts that Woo-mi actually has a boyfriend to help in situations like this. Lil’ Se-kye pays Eun-ho to act as her guardian while she’s a little boy, and Eun-ho tries to negotiate for higher pay, since childcare is more expensive than dog care. In response, Lil’ Se-kye tries to beat him, and Woo-mi hits Eun-ho instead, as punishment for doubting she has a boyfriend.

When Mom returns to the house, Woo-mi explains that she took her nephew to his mother at the mother’s request upon waking up at the hospital. Mom understands this and continues to vacuum the house into the photo room. But the room’s walls are now bare, and Woo-mi exuberantly explains that this is Se-kye’s exercise room. Aha, so this is what they were loading into the car.

Under Eun-ho’s watch, lil’ Se-kye meets with Do-jae and admits that she’s too mortified to stay with Do-jae during this transformation. Eun-ho notices a camera poke out from behind a rock, and he runs over the tackle the culprit.

It’s Secretary Jung, who asks if this is Do-jae’s hidden son. Do-jae denies this, but Secretary Jung approaches lil’ Se-kye suspiciously. He reaches into his pocket and then offers a lollipop, much to Eun-ho’s relief.

Walking behind Do-jae and lil’ Se-kye, Secretary Jung wonders why Do-jae would suddenly sponsor this child and asks Eun-ho if the kid is his. Eun-ho says that he’s a bachelor, and Secretary Jung says that it’s prejudiced to assume that bachelors can’t have children. Eun-ho assumes that this means that Secretary Jung has children, which Secretary Jung denies, much to Eun-ho’s confusion.

Lil’ Se-kye receives a call from an unknown number, but Do-jae recognizes it as Gramps. When Do-jae picks up Se-kye’s phone, Gramps wonders if Do-jae is dating Se-kye again, but he denies this and lies that they’re meeting for work. Do-jae plays messenger and relays the offer from Gramps to get Se-kye anything. Initially, Se-kye can’t think of anything, but when she spots the young mother from the welfare center, she changes her mind.

At a kids’ play center, Secretary Jung and Eun-ho complain about keeping watch while lil’ Se-kye asks Do-jae for the offered favor. Lil’ Se-kye asks to find the child who received the heart transplant to show the young mother that her son’s heart is still alive, but Do-jae shares that the child died during surgery. Do-jae says, “Because fate is playful and god is cruel, it seems that some lives exist for inevitable self-resentment.”

Lil’ Se-kye asks Do-jae to take them to the young mother immediately, and they find her crouching in her usual spot on the side of the road where her son died. Lil’ Se-kye approaches the young mother and tells her that he was gifted with her son’s heart. Lil’ Se-kye offers to let her hear her son’s heartbeat, and the mother gently leans her ear against lil’ Se-kye’s heart.

The mother sobs as she listens to the beating heart, and lil’ Se-kye tells the mother that her son is with them. Lil’ Se-kye promises to live diligently with her son’s heart, and the mother tightly holds lil’ Se-kye’s hand as she cries. Collecting her emotions, the mother smiles at lil’ Se-kye and asks if he’s eaten.

At a restaurant, the mother puts an egg roll on lil’ Se-kye’s rice and says that her son liked these. She wonders if her son would have continued to like egg rolls as he grew up. She’s sorrowful that she’ll never know and says that she’ll remember her son whenever she sees this. Though this elicits a heartbreaking memory, she admits that it also brings her joy.

Se-kye wonders what she could do to console a mother who’s lost her young child, and she decides that the most she can do is this: Lil’ Se-kye eats the egg roll and tells the mother that right now, the egg roll tastes good to him. The mother smiles at him in gratitude.

The mother waves to lil’ Se-kye as they part and takes one more look at him with a smile before going on her way. Then, lil’ Se-kye turns to Do-jae and proposes that they see each other later, since she’s about to be released from her spell. Do-jae says that he’s only been seeing the real Se-kye, and as a bus passes by, lil’ Se-kye changes to original Se-kye as if we’re seeing her through Do-jae’s eyes.

Se-kye apologizes for being a difficult girlfriend, and Do-jae complains that she tires him out with her kindness. Se-kye just shrugs and claims that as her unflagging charm. Do-jae admits that he wants to give up work so that he can follow her around everywhere, and even though she knows he’s exaggerating, she likes what she hears.

A deliveryman brings a basket of flowers for Sa-ra, and her eager anticipation for Eun-ho as the deliveryman is short-lived as the man reveals his face. She accepts the delivery from her father and reads the birthday card that explains that the marigold flowers remind him of Sa-ra because they can flourish anywhere.

In the card, he further explains that the meaning of marigolds is incoming happiness and wishes her that happiness. Sa-ra sighs in realization that it’s her birthday.

At the church, the priest approaches Eun-ho and offers to pray for Eun-ho, as his chosen path won’t be easy. Once the priest leaves, Eun-ho prays that God protect his heartbroken parents, heal Se-kye’s illness, allow Woo-mi to love a good person, and make sure that lonely Sa-ra eats three meals a day. Amen.

Lil’ Se-kye sits in the driver’s seat of her car and waits for her transformation. Soon enough, she feels the pang and opens her eyes to find herself back in her original body. Se-kye drives home and greets her mom with a tight hug, saying that she missed her.

As they eat, Mom nags Se-kye about marriage and having children. Se-kye doesn’t want to have kids because she doesn’t want to take responsibility for giving her child an illness. Mom scolds her for the pessimism and insists that Se-kye needs someone to come home to, but Se-kye reasons that she has Mom.

In bed, Se-kye asks about Mom’s thoughts if her appearance changed. Assuming it’s about her controversies, Mom advises Se-kye not to pay attention the nonsense and live as herself. Mom says that as long as she can recognize Se-kye and Se-kye can recognize herself, everything is fine. She encourages Se-kye to love herself, and Se-kye looks comforted by those words.

Mom wonders why Se-kye doesn’t want to get married to Do-jae, and Se-kye says that she dumped him because he distracts her. She claims that he’s too kind, pitiful, and good for her.

With her motherly instincts, Mom suspects that Se-kye is actually dating Do-jae, but Se-kye continues to deny this. She claims that marriage will harm her career as an actress. Mom wonders why she works so hard, and Se-kye says that it’s just in case she disappears forever one day, so that Mom will have plenty of footage of her.

Before she leaves the next morning, Mom nags Se-kye about eating the food in the fridge and taking care of herself, and Se-kye tells her to stay longer if she’s so worried. But Mom rejects the offer because she needs to water her thirsty plants at home. Se-kye is high-key offended that her plants take priority but sends her off because she has somewhere to be anyway.

Se-kye and Do-jae visit the young mother’s spot at the side of the road, but they don’t find her there. Se-kye wonders if she did the right thing by lying, and Do-jae assures her that her actions likely allowed the mother to live on. Finding comfort in those words, Se-kye says that she really likes Do-jae, which makes him smile.

Se-kye leaves to attend a very important event, which happens to be Do-jae’s family gathering. When they arrive, Do-jae and Sa-ra look surprised to find Se-kye there, and Gramps explains that it was his daughter’s wish to have a meal with Se-kye. Do-jae’s mother compliments how Se-kye and Do-jae look good together, and Gramps agrees with whatever she says.

Do-jae’s stepfather announces that it was Sa-ra’s birthday recently, and Do-jae’s mother apologizes for forgetting. Do-jae didn’t forget and hands her a gift, to her surprise. Sa-ra opens it to find a book titled “How to Get Angry with a Smile at the World’s Idiots” (also known as “How to Travel with Salmon & Other Essays” by Umberto Eco) and seems to like it, as Do-jae expected.

The tender moment is cut short by Sa-ra commenting on Se-kye and Do-jae’s relationship and the risk of appearing frivolous if they got back together too quickly. Do-jae thanks her for the premature concern, and Se-kye takes the opportunity to strike back with her observation on the growing number of male housekeepers nowadays. Shots fired.

Before Se-kye leaves, Sa-ra confronts her for playing dirty, and Se-kye accepts that she takes an eye for an eye. Se-kye warns Sa-ra not to play with innocent Eun-ho and reminds her that he’s becoming a priest. Once Se-kye leaves, Sa-ra immediately calls Eun-ho and demands to meet him right away. He can’t follow her request because he’s working at the café, so Sa-ra hangs up and makes another call.

In the car, Se-kye shares her intention to pleasantly surprise Do-jae at his family gathering, but she worries that she complicated matters. To simplify things, Do-jae suggests that they publicly date again, but Se-kye refuses because she knows her mother will seriously prepare a marriage by the end of the month.

Do-jae isn’t bothered by that idea, but Se-kye won’t allow it because of her upcoming movie. He seems offended that her movie is more important than him, and Se-kye reciprocates the question by asking if she’s more important than his company. Touché.

Se-kye says that more importantly, them getting back together publicly will make Do-jae appear ludicrous. Following their staple logic, Do-jae adds that him appearing ludicrous will consequently make Se-kye appear ludicrous. Se-kye smiles and asks if they’re working today, and Do-jae responds to her that they’re dating today.

A woman approaches Eun-ho at the café to escort him to Sa-ra, and she explains that Sa-ra rented out the whole café for the rest of the day. Eun-ho accompanies Sa-ra for a meal and presumes that she couldn’t eat properly again. She says that it was because of her family this time — she wrongly assumed that they were gathering for her birthday.

Eun-ho notes that her birthday wasn’t around this time on her ID, and Sa-ra explains that her real birthday differs from the one on her birth certificate. Eun-ho calls over the waiter and insists on paying despite Sa-ra’s offer to pay, since she called him. He congratulates Sa-ra on her birthday, and she looks moved by Eun-ho’s gesture. Behind Eun-ho, Sa-ra spots a vase of marigold flowers and looks ambivalent by what this could mean.

As Se-kye prints the photo of lil’ Se-kye and Do-jae taken by Secretary Jung, she comments that it’s the first time she’s taken a transformation photo with someone else. Do-jae doesn’t feel that same novelty after learning that he wasn’t the only one who knew her secret. Se-key shares that Eun-ho and Woo-mi know, and when Do-jae points to himself next, she playfully says that it’s her dog next.

Do-jae changes into comfy clothes from Se-kye’s multi-purpose closet, and over a glass of wine, he comments that the availability of clothes is a nice perk to dating Se-kye. She asks if Do-jae likes her hair up or down, and Do-jae says that he likes them both because he can see the real her regardless. Se-kye notes that this is a nice perk to dating Do-jae.

As she stands up to get a refill on food, Se-kye spills wine on Do-jae’s shirt and frantically tries to clean his sweater. Do-jae looks at her intently and accuses her of spilling the wine on purpose so that she can touch him. Se-kye scoffs in denial, but Do-jae pulls her onto her lap anyway and kisses her. They make out in the dark and whoo it’s getting hot in here!

Then suddenly, the lights turn on, and Se-kye’s mom walks into the house. Still on Do-jae’s lap, Se-kye’s eyes widen at the sight of Mom, and she reminds us in a narration of her vow to never become her mother’s punishment, to never disclose her condition.

Mom smiles at the couple and says that she knew it. Stunned by this reveal, Se-kye narrates that she never expected that this would be the secret — not her dreadful condition – to be discovered by her mom.

 
COMMENTS

Whoo, I’m fanning myself because these two have some toasty chemistry. I love Mom’s cheeky reaction to discovering the secret couple mid-make-out as well as her insistence on Se-kye getting married to Do-jae. Something about her impatience signals some red flags, and I just hope Mom isn’t in a hurry to leave Se-kye’s side any time soon. Even though the show could really capitalize on the cracking chemistry of our leads, I enjoy how the romance isn’t always at the center of these episodes. The themes of self-love and family add a layer of poignance to this story, which I find to be most charming asset of the show.

I appreciate how the transformations are utilized as opportunities to develop relationships and watch Se-kye’s recklessly compassionate tendencies unfold. I did ponder the legal and moral consequences of lying to a mourning mother, but moral ambiguity aside, I thought the heartbeat scene was amazing and almost moved me to tears. The pure compassion and sympathy portrayed in the scene made my nose tingle with emotions, and I loved how the child actor balanced that innocence and maturity. This child actor (Moon Woo-jin) already boasts an impressive resume, and I’m excited to see him live out his potential onscreen in the future.

Of course, with the highlights, there are some lowlights, which for me was the development of the Sa-ra/Eun-ho relationship. I really want to like Sa-ra and relate to her, but I don’t find her fully fleshed out as a character yet. I think the more vulnerable moments are diluted by comedy, and I’d prefer to see more drawn out emotions from Sa-ra and Eun-ho in the way that seen with Se-kye and Do-jae. The relationship still remains a vague cloud of misunderstandings to me, but I’m hopeful that the charms of their unlikely friendship/relationship will bloom soon. Hopefully.

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