With her life in such turmoil, Hye-soo struggles to decide what’s the right thing to do regarding Ji-hoon’s insane proposal. It’s not an easy decision, and she has her pride to consider, but new information may just force her hand. When you’re backed up against a wall with no other way out, even the impossible can start to sound possible.
Bear with us while we play catch-up — we’ll have the backlogged Marriage Contract episode recaps to you as soon as we can!
EPISODE 2 RECAP
A little out of her mind at the thought of earning so much money, Hye-soo tells Ji-hoon that she’ll marry him. He’s so surprised he can’t speak, until Ho-joon arrives and Ji-hoon learns that Hye-soo actually works for him. But now that the spell is broken, Ji-hoon grows angry and Hye-soo backtracks, telling him to forget what she said.
After she’s gone, it’s Ho-joon who’s surprised — he had no idea that he accidentally hired the “swindler,” the same woman who they think is trying to fake injury from the non-existent car accident. While he doesn’t order her fired, Ji-hoon does demand a full background check on Hye-soo. He also tells Ho-joon to make sure Hye-soo doesn’t repeat what she heard them discussing tonight.
Ho-joon is firmly against Ji-hoon’s plan to find a fake wife who can donate part of her liver to his mother, but Ji-hoon tells him to find someone, no matter what it takes. There must be illegal brokers for this sort of thing.
The coast is finally clear when Hye-soo piggybacks the sleeping Eun-sung home, and she tucks her tiny daughter into bed. She thinks again about what she overheard tonight, and smiles at the thought of so much money, then calls herself crazy for even thinking about it.
Ji-hoon’s mother — her name is OH MI-RAN (Lee Hwi-hyang) — goes missing from her hospital bed, and she dresses to the nines and takes herself back to President Han’s house. He’s not pleased to see her, and he hasn’t been well lately, but she’s brought him his birthday present, some porridge that she made herself.
President Han demands to know what Mi-ran wants, but she says she doesn’t want anything from him anymore. She bows to him and says that she’s here to say her final goodbye. President Han scoffs that she’s said her “final goodbye” to him so many times, but Mi-ran promises that this is really the last time he’ll ever see her.
She asks bitterly how precious she was to him, revealing the real reason for this visit. But just when it seems that he might answer her, his wife bursts into the room. She angrily kicks Mi-ran out, and Mi-ran spits at her that she should hate her husband, instead of defending him so fiercely.
The president’s wife shoves Mi-ran so hard that she falls to the floor, right at Ji-hoon’s feet as he enters the house. She drops the crock of porridge so that it shatters, and this finally seems to upset Mi-ran. She cries, “What did I do wrong? It’s your husband’s fault. Tell him to compensate me for my life!!”
Ji-hoon takes his mother back to the hospital, fussing at her for putting her health in danger. She’s feeling the closeness of her death and says that she just wanted to say goodbye to his father, and he sits with her while she calms down. She apologizes for sending him to his father’s house so young — she was scared, and didn’t have confidence she could raise him herself.
She says that he was always a good boy, kind and nice… but for someone like her, that niceness was too hard to handle. She knows she’s a bad person, and selfish for begging him to save her. But she hopes that he doesn’t hate her too much, and will think of her after she’s gone.
I honestly can’t tell if she’s being sincere, or laying it on thick to guilt Ji-hoon even further. But either way, Ji-hoon falls for it, and promises that he won’t let her die that easily.
The next morning, Ji-hoon asks Ho-joon if he’s found any brokers, and Ho-joon reluctantly hands over a list of candidates. This whole thing makes him nervous, and he makes his feelings known.
Hye-soo is praised for her sauce-making skills by the gruff head chef Soo-chang, and he growls that Ho-joon finally hired the right person. I’m beginning to suspect Soo-chang is just a big marshmallow.
Ho-joon pulls Hye-soo aside to ask her about the conversation she overheard last night, but she claims she heard nothing. They go back down to the restaurant to find a commotion — the loan shark has found where Hye-soo works, and he pushes her down when she tries to pull him outside. Seung-joo jumps to her defense and fists fly, while Ji-hoon watches calmly from the sidelines.
He finally asks the loan shark to talk to him outside, but that’s when chef Soo-chang arrives to loom over the loan shark threateningly. The shark smashes a vase in his face, but Soo-chang doesn’t even flinch (okay so he’s a tough marshmallow), and he finally intimidates the loan shark into leaving. For now.
As they clean up the mess, Seung-joo asks why Hye-soo didn’t tell him she was in debt. She assures him that she’s paying it back and asks him not to tell her former mother-in-law.
She goes to Ji-hoon’s office to apologize and offer to repay him for the damage, and she knows that this has cost her her job. She also gives him back the money that he pushed on her at the hospital, explaining that he misunderstood her. He snidely asks if she can afford to give the money back, but Hye-soo replies that she’ll handle her own personal issues.
It’s time for Ji-hoon to meet a prospective bride, and yeesh, she’s a hot mess. She’s obviously much older than they expected, using makeup and overly-cute mannerisms to try and appear younger. Ji-hoon tells Ho-joon to find someone else.
Hye-soo gets her deposit back from her landlord, and panics for a moment when she can’t find Eun-sung. The girl is hiding in the closet with a choco-pie with a paper candle in it, to congratulate her mother on getting a job. Awww, she’s just the best. Hye-soo doesn’t tell her she lost her job, but pretends to blow out the “candle” and shares the choco-pie with her daughter, fighting off tears.
Ji-hoon can’t get Hye-soo off his mind, and the way she offered to marry him. He meets with his brother Jung-hoon for dinner, who brings his fiancee Na-yoon to meet Ji-hoon. While Jung-hoon goes to the restroom, we learn that Ji-hoon and Na-yoon do know each other from their music school days, and used to date, but things are now awkward and strained between them.
Ji-hoon pokes at the wound a little, asking why her father is marrying her off to a divorced man — what does her family get out of the match with his brother? Na-yoon reminds him that he broke up with her, sp he has no right to be mean about this marriage.
Jung-hoon rejoins them, and invites Ji-hoon to Na-yoon’s recital later in the week and telling him to bring a girlfriend. Jung-hoon claims to love his brother, but he tells Na-yoon how he came to live with them at the age of twelve, and used to cry all the time, and that he only studies music to meet women. I don’t think I like this guy.
The next morning, Ji-hoon goes to Hye-soo’s place, having gotten her address off of her job application. The landlord thinks he’s another loan shark and chases him off, telling him that Hye-soo moved already. But he only gets to the end of the street before he sees her, working at the corner grocery store.
He takes her to a nearby hotel to talk. He asks if she would still be willing to consider marrying him, and lays out the details: his mother needs a liver transplant, and he needs someone who can donate part of their liver to save her life. Whoever it is will be his fake wife, and it’s illegal and dangerous, so could she do it?
He basically tells Hye-soo to name her price, but she wants time to think about it. Ji-hoon handles it all wrong, mentioning her debt and telling her not to try to play games to get more money, since he’ll pay whatever she wants. But that hurts Hye-soo’s pride, especially when he mentions Eun-sung and the fact that he saw Hye-soo eyeing a job advertisement for a nightclub.
When he pretty much calls her stupid for cosigning for her dead husband’s debt, Hye-soo has had enough. She tells him that she won’t help him, and leaves. Ji-hoon chases her to the lobby, but his brother and a business acquaintance sees them there, and he has to let her go.
They’re staying with Joo-yeon for now, and Joo-yeon is sleeping with Eun-sung when Hye-soo gets home. She sends everyone back to sleep, and wonders if she’s crazy for even considering this plan. The next night, the loan sharks find Hye-soo at her new job, but she’s made a payment so they don’t cause any trouble. they pretend to be cheerful and friendly, but the threat is clear — they’ll find her wherever she goes.
Hye-soo takes a day off and makes lunch for Joo-yeon, and she decides to relax and have a beer for the first time in a long time. But when the tab breaks so it won’t open, it’s just the final straw, and Hye-soo bursts into giggles which soon turn to helpless tears. “Even the can ignores me. Isn’t it too cruel?” Poor thing, she’s just barely holding on.
She goes to Eun-sung’s school during recess just to get a look at her daughter’s face, which cheers her up. Next she heads to the hospital for the results of her physical, and is called in to speak with the doctor.
She’s told that there’s a tumor in her brain, though she claims she’s never felt sick or anything. It’s not operable, so the doctor wants to do radiation therapy, telling Hye-soo that the survival rate for this kind of tumor is low.
Hye-soo shuffles through the hospital lobby in a daze, only snapping out of it when a little girl falls nearby and cries out for her mother. For a moment, Hye-soo sees the little girl as Eun-sung, crying for her, and the crushing weight of the news she’s just gotten hits her.
Eun-sung goes to Promise after school to see her mom, not knowing that Hye-soo doesn’t work there anymore. Seung-joo finds her and realizes that this is his cousin’s daughter, and brings her inside for ice cream.
Ji-hoon is still trying to reach Hye-soo, but she’s not answering her phone. He sees Eun-sung, and they hilariously bristle at each other. Eun-sung tips her stool over and Ji-hoon falls trying to catch it, which just makes the little imp laugh at him. I’m gonna fall in love with these two together, aren’t I?
At dinner, Eun-sung tells her mom that she went by the restaurant, and Hye-soo makes her promise not to go there again. But she tells Hye-soo about the handsome ajusshi who gave her ice cream, and Hye-soo figures she met Seung-joo. She catches Eun-sung putting aside some fish for the stray kitten at the restaurant, and feeling bad that she can’t even give her daughter something so normal as a pet, she helps her.
Ji-hoon grows so frustrated at not being able to reach Hye-soo that he kicks his drum set over, and Ho-joon has to physically restrain him. Ji-hoon finally gasps to just find another woman, though they both lunge for his phone when it rings, hoping it’s Hye-soo calling back. But it’s the hospital — Mi-ran has taken a turn for the worse.
That night after Joo-yeon and Eun-sung fall asleep, Hye-soo can’t sleep for all the thoughts rushing around in her head. She dusts off an old photo album, and looks through the pictures of Eun-sung taken as she grew from babyhood to now. When she reaches a picture of herself with her husband, Hye-soo speaks to his photo:
“Da-en oppa, I hate you. Today, I hate you even more. Can’t you help me from there?” She finally lets herself cry, whimpering in her attempt to keep her daughter from hearing. Oh, this just breaks my heart.
The next day, Hye-soo runs into Ji-hoon at the hospital, where he’s waiting for news on his mother and holding in his own tears. She approaches him with determination, and tells him that she’s changed her mind. She asks what they should do first, and he says they have to sign a contract.
When he asks how much money she wants, Hye-soo looks him right in the eyes: “Give me a lot. Until my daughter grows up, until she can live on her own — the amount I will need until then.”
This show is not going to be an easy watch, though I mean that in the very best way. I simply cannot imagine what it must be like to be in Hye-soo’s situation. Widowed at a young age, left with a crushing debt she can never hope to repay, uneducated and unskilled (except for her cooking ability) and with a small child to raise. Any one of those things would be enough to break a person, yet she’s so strong, and she’s willing to do whatever she has to to provide for her daughter. And I love that she’s not fiercely proud or anything — in fact her strength and determination are so tranquil and personal, yet you can see it almost like an aura around her. She’s not aggressive about it, she just has her own set of moral values, and she upholds them quietly and firmly.
But then to find out that she’s got a brain tumor, and one with a low survival rate even with treatment, which Hye-soo can’t possible afford… well, that’s the point at which most people would break. I can’t believe she hasn’t completely checked out. But it’s that strength and love for Eun-sung which gets her back up every time, and it’s what will push her to accept Ji-hoon’s insane proposal. And it’s totally in line with her character that what has pushed her to make this decision is not money, or her own comfort, but the need to find a way to take care of Eun-sung after she’s gone. Her life revolves around her baby girl, and now so will her death. (And I must mention how impressed I am with UEE in this role — I’ve always liked her well enough, but she’s playing Hye-soo with a maturity I’ve never seen from her before. I love it.)
I’m really starting to suspect that my favorite relationship in this show is going to be Ji-hoon and Eun-sung. She doesn’t care one whit about his attempt to stay super dignified, and even seem to enjoy getting his goat. She’s so lively and adorable, even with her way of taking every opportunity to tease him, because it’s not malicious, just a little girl having a bit of fun at his expense. Add to that her talent with insight, and the ability to see right through the adults’ white lies to the truth, and Ji-hoon doesn’t stand a chance. He’s not going to be able to hold out against the force of her charm for long.
I touched on this before, but I really just absolutely love how the show never exposits at us, but lets the characters tell you about themselves in their own time. It’s as if we’ve truly just dropped in on their lives in progress, and are learning about them a little at a time. What seem like throwaway comments are really wonderful nuggets of information, such as how Ji-hoon’s mother said that he was so nice and kind when he was young… it seems out of character for him now, but gives the viewers an idea of who he really is on the inside (and backs up my theory that his gruff exterior is a necessary coat of armor he’s developed to survive in a house where he was an imposter to at least two of the three living there). Another good example is how Hye-soo said in the first episode that her husband was just too trusting, so we know that she didn’t marry a bad man who took out loans all the time, but someone who probably was just gullible and an easy mark for loan sharks.
Now that all of the information is in place and Hye-soo has made a definite decision, I’m looking forward to the plot moving just a bit faster. Not that I mind the leisurely pace of the first two episodes, not one bit, it’s just that I love these characters so much already that I’m dying to see them start to open up to each other. It certainly won’t be easy for them, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be wildly entertaining to watch.