31 May 2016


Thumping Spike - Episode 2 (A Squeecap)

Posted by trot wood on May 31, 2016
Trotwood: I have to say that this is exactly the kind of episode that I usually skip and/or only read recaps of because the embarrassment factor rises so much. I have a high tolerance for my own embarrassment. Someday, I may share with the tlist about the time I fell in the middle of teaching my class or how I crashed into a door so hard that my keys got embedded in the wood or when I was stuck face first on a steep snowy hill with all my hockey gear, but now is not that time.
JoAnne: When you do I will tell you about the time I accidentally launched myself from the edge of a stage I'd been sitting on, hit the gym floor on my stomach, and bounced/twisted onto my back. In front of my 10 year old, most of her classmates, and most of their dads. I insisted I was fine (which I was) but mortifying, yeah. I flew, Trot. I FLEW.
kakashi: Ouch. Hm. I have no such stories to share - my life is sooo boring. But I did cringe a few times during this episode at least. 
Suffice it to say, I usually squirm too much to bear such exposition and just want to get to the rising action part of the narrative (I can so imagine what Jo is going to say about that imagery), but I sacrificed and actually rewatched again—getting some of the more interesting details (and burning calories from all of my squirming from discomfort).
There's so much pressure!
It took a lot of time until Rim appeared, that's all I remember. And then I had to laugh really hard about his outfit. They're trying so hard to make him look young! 
I hate those long shorts on everyone. They make even basketball players' legs look short. We demand views of Rim's legs!

Episode 2: Reunion

We open with a review of the ending scene of the last episode with a little more detail. Se Ra is still in the stall trying to hide while our giant puppy love, Woo Jin, tentatively knocks on the door asking, “Are you Kang Se Ra? The legendary #2? I’m such a fan.” Really he is practically shaking with excitement. Well, until she pushes the stall door open right into his head. Poor thing.
She should have yelled 'I'm DOING number two! Go away!'
*Is just happy JoAnne is her friend*
She tries to run away, but the string on her coat gets caught in the door. She thinks that he is holding on to her and is outraged. He is just grinning at her like the fan fool he is. We think he’s adorable and climb worthy. She thinks he’s some crazy stalker. She asks if he is a pervert or something. She’s freaking out, but he doesn’t say anything—only goes to fix the string. Unfortunately, from her perspective, it looks like he is coming to grab her or something. She attacks—like a small fire of fury. This is literally the last straw of a really bad day for her. You got to admire how well she takes him out even if you feel bad for him.
He's just making himself really small and protecting the soft spots, I couldn't stop laughing.
Me neither and I'm pretty sure this would happen in real life with many, many men
This entire time, there has been a drunk guy trying to take a piss in the bathroom. He starts yelling about Kang Se Ra beating up this guy and takes his phone out to film. Our adorable giant puppy reaches out his hand from under the flurry of Se Ra punches, jabs, and kicks to grab at the phone. True fan until the end.
Woo Jin is the best, isn't he? Such a doll!
I'm trying to remember where I have seen this drunk guy before... it's bugging me. Was he in episode 1? Am I having a strange déjà-vu?  
You saw him in episode 1, yes.

Next we see them both at the police station. Woo Jin is busy rubbing his face and wiggling his jaw while looking in a mirror (do the police provide these things, Shuk? Just polished steel ones in our jail cells. We wouldn't give them anything that can be used as a weapon or a self-damage tool.) while Se Ra sits looking at her hands in embarrassment. The cop is clearly a fan but also looking to try to get both of them out of this embarrassing situation. He initially yells at Woo Jin for being in the women’s bathroom but has to change tack once he finds out that Se Ra was in the men’s room. He tells her to deny everything and to compensate him for his injuries quietly. They actually agree to it all. Woo Jin is a fan, and Se Ra is really sorry. Unfortunately, right when the cop turns to get the paperwork, Representative Kim Gi-joon (Se Ra’s manager) comes in, livid. Without any provocation he punches Woo Jin in the face, assuming he must have attacked Se Ra. This made me wonder right then about his relationship is with Se Ra.
Yeah, he gives off a lot of mixed signals throughout, doesn't he? Looking back, I have to give the actor credit.
Oh. Do I have to pay particular attention to this drama?! I didn't notice anything strange, I just thought he was an idiot again. I thoroughly don't like him.  
Of course, it’s now press conference time. They are standing in front of the press beaming and smiling like they are all best friends. Woo Jin’s smile is genuine though. Why, you ask? Because Se Ra has agreed to coach his team. How do we know this? Because we get Exposition reporter 1 tell this to Exposition reporter 2, who is late and can’t figure out why she is going to coach when she was supposed to be going pro after graduation. Exposition reporter says he knows the real story of the fight in bathroom, but that Representative Gi-joon can cover up news because of his power. If they told the real story, he would block their paper from interviews with all his clients.
Thank goodness for expository dialogue, but this was still an awkward transition between scenes, don't you think? Not even a moment of Gi Joon or the cop saying well hey, what about...and fade away, then pop to this.
The exposition reporters were really useful and when I watched, I didn't even notice they were just exposition reporters. Granted, it was midnight and I was so tired I almost fainted. 
Our representative Gi-joon runs hot and cold. On the one hand he loses his temper at the sight of Woo Jin, but on the other he berates Se Ra when she is shocked that she’ll have to go coach a last place team. They are ranked last in the entire country. Yet, he wonders how she can think like this when she herself has been dropped from all the pro teams. Wow, guy. You are not motivational at all.
Harsh, dude. Way too harsh. At this moment I was thinking he didn't like her at all and only cared about her as a source of income and prestige.
I hate his nose. And his mouth. And the combination of mouth and nose
*Is just happy Kakashi is her friend*
He’s also mad that she doesn’t pick up her phone, which seems an odd thing to bring up at this point, making me wonder about his relationships with his clients really is. Manager/client? Owner/slave? She tells him that she left it with someone and thinks it’s broken, too. He calls the secretary to purchase a new phone, and while he is doing this, we get a shot of her clearly injured ankle.
See now, here his anger seemed more of the 'I was worried about you!' type, to me.
I'm impressed about how much you guys think about things. I was just picturing sticking needles into this dude.
*extremely happy that Kakashi is her friend*
Secretary Kim brings her a new phone and also some new sponsorship items. Secretary Kim is practically seething with sarcasm, and she snarkily slides over the items to Se Ra. She is another character who I can’t figure out right away. I can see feeling like this if I had to constantly chase after spoiled sports stars, but Se Ra’s attitude doesn't seem to warrant the snark.
Secretary Kim. At first she seemed sort of nondescript but here I did begin to wonder about her, too.   How did Se Ra behave in the past, because right now she doesn't seem to deserve the attitude - I'm with you on that. Is she upset with Se Ra over this episode, but normally friendly? But it also did cross my mind here to wonder how Secretary Kim feels about Gi Joon, and how Gi Joon feels about Se Ra.
And I was wondering about her glasses. That is all. Oh, and why she is doing this job when she clearly doesn't like it! 
Se Ra goes home immediately trying to call her old phone and getting more and more upset that “that guy” is not picking up. She works herself up so much that when she does get a call, she starts yelling at the person only to find out it’s her mother. Her mom, who is calling from the US, sounds sincerely worried about her, and Se Ra goes all soft immediately, asking how her mom is and lying and telling her mom she is fine. We get this parallel conversation going on in her mind: She talks to herself about her injury and the surgery and the idea that if she has to get surgery again she may never play again. The fear she has that she isn’t anything but volleyball. But on the outside, she puts on a happy face for her mother. Jo’s right. A lot of her life is loneliness and sadness. This is a big burden that she doesn’t seem to be able to share.
I knew it would happen at least one time this week. Huzzah!
Iz saaaad :( The poor girl! 
We get to the school, where Se Ra gets out of the van to a crowd of fans and reporters. Secretary Kim gives her a nudge, and she remembers to drink her sponsored power drink (with her picture on the side) right then. The team is practicing in the gym when she, Secretary Kim, and Representative Gi-joon show up (I’m just going to call him rep Gi-joon even though I know it isn’t proper; I need to make distinction between him and Secretary Kim, and since we don’t know her first name yet—or I don’t remember . . .).
I am getting increasingly angry at how they push the clearly very unhappy and unstable Se Ra around
Representative Gi-joon goes up and eagerly introduces himself to a person he thinks is the coach. But it’s really freshmen Jin-Ah who looks like he’s in his 40s (and not a good looking 40s either).
He grows on you, but it's hilariously weird to see that face and have it pout and whine like a kid. I just followed Bae Jin Woong on Instagram (@82woong), he looks like a fun guy. And brand new, apparently - I found four credits, but they were all from 2015. I predict a Kwangsoo-like following for him.
This was funny and the right bit of weird. It's my favorite scene from this episode.
While this is going on, Se Ra is looking around the gym. She isn’t impressed and neither was I. Only a few players were actually practicing. A bunch are sitting around looking and laughing at one of their phones. The ones who were practicing stop to ogle her because she’s pretty, except Woo Jin. He most undoubtedly thinks she’s pretty, but to him, she is the glorious #2 Se Ra. He grins at her like she just brought him his favorite cake and it’s not even his birthday. She thinks they are losers. She really doesn’t want to coach these lecherous highschool boy losers now, but Secretary Kim warns her about her reputation and the ruin this could cause.
And she's not wrong, Se Ra. Listen to her. Be a grown up.
Does this make sense to anyone? Cause... not to me. Nowhere in the world (and almost certainly not on other worlds either) would such a star end up coaching a completely run down school volleyball team
I had the same impression as she did. None of my coaches would have let people sit around looking at our phones. We would have running up and down stairs to build endurance. We would have been watching videos and learning plays. There are loads of things to be doing when you are on the court.
Jae Woong and the real Coach (Song Byung Joo played by Kim Byeong Chun, another one of those actors who seems to be in everything - I have problems seeing him as good guy! Especially after Pied Piper) show up now to do formal greetings. He introduces her to the team and introduces or re-introduces Jae Woong to the team. Jae Woong looks annoyed—not at all the same mood as the person we saw at the amusement park or at the drinks place but much more like a traditional male lead. He’s cold and clearly implies that he does not like Jo’s climbing tree. I remember immediately thinking, “what’s not to like?” Se Ra clearly recognizes him, but denies it when her manager asks. He doesn’t seem to have recognized her yet or is pretending not to.
The lead is the good guy. If he doesn't like the second lead, who is currently 'in power' - then the second lead is a bad guy. This is KDrama Law. But no, don't let it be so! Let it be the less often chosen path of 'second lead action in past was misunderstood by first lead, all will be revealed, cue eventual bromance.'
Right?! I was immediately feeling protective of JoAnne's tree, whom I totally want to be happy and lovable. Rim is a bit of an ass (and has a nice ass), of course, but not mean. I guess he's going through a phase. 
In the car on the way home, Se Ra looks pissed while Representative Gi-Joon tries to make it seem not so bad. He even brings the two-week agreement down to one week. He drops her off at her house, but before she even gets to the gate, Coach calls her. She goes to meet him (I initially wrote "meat him" because I remembered being distracted by watching her cook the meat in this scene) at a restaurant. She is covered up with her scarf trying to hide, which is most probably caused by the fact that she is sitting in front of one her advertisements. He offers her soju, but she says she can’t drink. He’s called her here to plead with her to really coach this team and it’s need to win the President’s Cup. She is shocked that he would even consider it, but she tries to be nice.
She doesn't seem like a bad kid, really. I expected her to play 'the star' for a long time, but so often she's just not acting that way, it makes me wonder.
Very meta: the restaurant is plastered with advertisements of her.
He clearly is about that tournament all because of one player who he thinks has the chance to be great. He starts going on and on about his player. He is a bit small for a volleyball player but has an unbelievable (Thumping?) spike. Said player turns up. Guess who it is. RIM BUTT!! (cough) I mean Jae Woong. He looks as displeased to see her as she is chagrined to see him. She gets even more upset when the coach offers him some soju. He’s a kid in high school for goodness sakes! And a minor, too! Yup. Keep saying that to yourself sweetie because you know he’s hot.
The universe knows he's hot. He carries multitudes within, and we love them allllllll.
The way he walks and the way he is dressed.... loooool
Jae Woong is even more annoyed, rolls his eyes and tells her he’s not a minor (and we all heave a sigh of relief as visions of arrest warrants fade). After Coach berates him for talking to her like that when she can help make him a star, he says he’s going to go outside for air.
I don't even mind that he's playing 10+ years younger.
This leaves Se Ra mad and flustered which means she starts drinking. The next thing we know, Jae Woong is trying to get both his drunk coaches home. He gets Coach Song in a cab only to turn and find Se Ra lost in her own scarf. I don’t usually find drunk people funny, but this was funny.
I was definitely laughing.
I was too, even though I was thinking: "Not another pissed-drunk scene in a Korean drama, it's not funny to get that drunk".
She doesn’t want a cab because she lives close enough to walk, so Jae Woong follows her teetering along talking about how she’s a volleyball goddess. Episode closes with her cheering upon arrival to her front gate, nearly falling over, and being caught by our Rimmy, who does the stare and multiple swallow thing while holding her as if he's Fred Astaire dipping Ginger Rogers.
They look good together.
That fall-and-catch didn't look very good though. I cringed a lot. 


Se Ra is definitely NOT a diva, so I'm not getting the way either her manager or Secretary Kim treat her. She seems to be genuinely nice and going through a hard time. It makes me wonder what kind of manager Gi-joon is. On the one hand, he has a reputation with all the reporters for being so powerful that he can cover up the bathroom fight scandal, but then on the other hand, he doesn't seem to know how fragile emotionally one of his star clients really is. She is so scared and trying so hard to be brave. How does he not see that? Or does he and he just wants . . . What? I don't know.
I feel genuinely protective of Se-ra at this point. It feels exploitative, the way they treat her. Like she's just a money cow to them and they don't care at all about her as a person
It does feel that way.  And she seems like such a nice person, really - any off-putting behavior is self-protection, clearly. But he doesn't ALWAYS act like it's about the money - watch him.  It seems more personal, and I feel like Kim's resentment of Se Ra is tied into that.

Once again, despite some awkward transitions, we have lots of character development for such a short episode. We get introduced to the team members. I didn't realize it until later, but all the guys who end up being the real team get lines or actions this episode--a great way to distinguish them from the extras playing the other extra players.
Ah, so I really should pay more attention to what's going on, you mean. 
There's very little wasted here, let's just say.  Pretty much everything is deliberate and feeds into the story.

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