Cheese in the Trap has never made better use of the unreliable narrator that it did in today’s episode. I was so disgusted with Jung by the end of Inho’s flashback that I wondered how on earth I was supposed to watch the rest of the show, unless they decided to pull a lead switcheroo on us. Thankfully, the last ten minutes of the episode saved the show, Jung’s character and his relationship with Seol.
I focused on numerous relationship in episode 11’s review but I’ll stick to just three this time around. First off the Jung family.
Jung – his father
I’m constantly reminded of I Remember You in Jung’s father’s treatment of his son. Is it nature that creates or nurture that twists? In Yoo Jung’s case, it appears to have been the latter. Having to grow up under constant surveillance and under the burden of numerous expectations has led Yoo Jung to perfecting an outer mask while leaving him with no space but his own head to retreat to if he wants a breather. That his father kept insisting that his son is strange to that doctor, simply due to a lack of skill in forming interpersonal relationships, is particularly disgusting because he only cares about this for one reason (in my opinion). Jung’s future position as CEO will require him to network and rub shoulders with others and his father wants to ensure that he will be able to do this perfectly. This is just a theory but I seriously think it’s the case, given that we have yet to see any real paternal affection his father holds towards Jung. Plus Jung himself mentions that his father has said nothing but stuff like “always concede to others”. He isn’t raising a son here but the perfect heir. Inho and Inha on the other hand are allowed to be as imperfect and selfish as they like. It’s no wonder that Jung seemed a little robot-like and strange (playing with insects anyone?) at the start, and that he dislikes Inho and Inha. He clearly liked them a lot before, but overhearing Inho ruined their friendship, because he realized that not only do the Baek siblings get the freedom to be who they are, be wealthy, receive his father’s affection, and be an official part of their family but they get it all at his expense. He’s in an iron cage and this episode has never illustrated how suffocating it’s been. Especially when there’s no one on his side.
Something that struck me during their flashbacks was that Jung and Inho sort of swapped personalities later in life. Jung was the quiet, genial rich kid who got taken advantage of, while Inho was his larger than life protector of sorts, who looked down his nose at others. But there’s something that stayed the same throughout their maturation: Inho can be taken at face-value (for the most part), while Jung keeps everything inside. Curiously, this is why their relationship broke in the past and why it remains broken in the present. Previous flashbacks have made clear that Inho was not the nicest person back in middle school, the sort of condescending arrogant oaf that you just want to punch in the face sometimes (as his hoobae in piano certainly did) and it’s good to see that Inho doesn’t gloss over these parts of himself during his period of reminiscence. What’s interesting is that he completely skips what he said to his hoobae after the concert (I noticed a lot of people thought that it was out of character for Inho to have been so cruel but that’s present Inho, the Inho 5 years ago was another story). Never mind that he didn’t know Jung was there, this was what Inho thought of Jung and his father and surely merited inclusion in his flashback. Given the amount of time he’s had to reflect on the incident, surely Inho could have at least thought that perhaps his hoobae said something about it to Yoo Jung hence why Jung suddenly turned cold and was so friendly with said hoobae right after. He’s just drawn zero correlation between him basically serving as a spy for Jung’s father and Jung’s changed behaviour which is quite surprising given how good their relationship was. I’m not sure if it’s because Inho’s never tried to see Yoo Jung’s side of it or because he’s simply been too focused on how badly his world shattered that day.
Jung may have been quiet back in middle school but he was always intelligent. This was the first time he put that brain to such vindictive use though. He punished both the hoobae seeking to suck up to him for monetary reasons and Inho for having betrayed his trust in such an awful way, and is 50% responsible for Inho’s hand while Inho himself is responsible for the other 50% by having goaded that hoobae one time too many. Inho isn’t the only one who had his world shattered.
And as much as I want to hate Jung for what happened to Inho’s hand, it’s painfully clear that the situation ballooned out of control in a manner that Jung hadn’t predicted, just as what happened with setting Young Gon on Seol at the start. The boy’s brilliant at orchestrating revenge but not very good at ensuring that it only goes so far. I can’t even dislike Jung for not having jumped into the fray once he saw what happened and pulled Inho loose because from his perspective, he and Inho are strangers now, and perhaps have always been. Curse this show and it’s all-too-understandable characters. It’s impossible not to swerve back onto Jung’s ship after that, and like Seol our worries just melt away after hearing Jung’s side of the story as opposed to half a million warning from other people about him. I really wish both men would talk things out though instead of beating the crap out of each other.
(He’s got a point) And this is a whole nother (unnecessary) can of worms. Seol needs to sit the boys down and have them explain their POV to the other. Otherwise, not only will their enmity never end (and make things uncomfortable for Seol who’s friends with both of them) but they’ll never figure out what exactly happened that day. Did Inho truly see Jung as a pitiful fellow he had to spy on? Because these two need to get their facts straight to get their relationship straight and regardless of whether they choose to hate each other or finally put an end to their enmity, talking comes first. Thankfully Seol’s realized this with regards to her and Jung’s relationship and went after her own answers.
No one would just sit put while their girlfriend/boyfriend was being stalked, and for that reason I completely forgive Yoo Jung for breaking his promise to not go behind Seol’s back and orchestrate things. Young Gon is dangerous as we saw this episode, and needs to be kept in check. But how frustrating was it when everything was finally out in the open and Seol made the first step by going to him for answers to everything from Inho to Young Gon and Jung just clammed up? Seol was so wonderfully honest about her own lack of honesty as well and how brilliant is it to see a heroine straightforwardly confront the dark side of her significant other’s character without making excuses for him.
She’s trying so hard but nope, Jung clams up. I seriously wondered if they planned to drag this out for another couple episodes (they’ve been on the outs since ep 8? 9?) It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it took getting the lights punched out of him to make Jung finally reveal every last bit of his ‘true’ nature to Seol. And as expected, he wasn’t fascinatingly psychotic (Lee Min anyone? <3) but emotionally stifled and lonely. And I found it sort of heartbreaking that his father was somewhat right in that Jung really doesn’t know too much about interpersonal relationships. He hung out with a group of people that at best can be described as ‘flawed’, people that were easily manipulable, for the most part frankly quite awful, and wouldn’t see his machinations for what they were. People like Seol on the other hand, or even Bora and Euntaek if they spent enough time around him, would have seen through him pretty soon. And Jung knows this to the point where he admits to taking cues from her as to what was and wasn’t socially acceptable.
You could even put some of his initial curiosity about Seol down the fact that he wondered how someone so similar to him, navigated the world so differently. After Seol’s emotional breakdown yesterday I wonder if this is Jung’s equivalent. Harsh and angry with Inho and muted, and quiet with Seol, not too unlike how she was with her family and him.
But Seol’s response doesn’t disappoint. I like that she acknowledges how similar they are while showing how different they were at the same time. They’re both not what society expects but not all social oddballs are the same. However, that’s precisely what’s magical about two such people finding each other, and it’s no wonder what both have no intention of letting go, come what may.
Sorry Inho, you’ve no hope to speak of.
Aw, poor thing. Now how about you come over here so I can bandage you up?