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Memorials: Episode 4

She may have won the battle, but our heroine soon discovers her fight is far from over. Gathering the support of the citizens proves to be child’s play compared to gaining the respect of her coworkers. As she attempts to navigate the shark-filled environment, our hero also finds himself in hot water.

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

Following the election, Gong-myung and Dae-cheol stare at a reassignment notice placing Gong-myung on the Council Secretariat. Dae-cheol tuts pityingly he’d thought they’d be able to rest now that Se-ra’s out of their hair, but Gong-myung is now essentially the District Council’s errand boy. He offers to walk Gong-myung over, pushing him along like a child.

While Woo-young shows Se-ra’s inaugural selfies to her infant daughter and Han-bi hangs up a placard declaring the bar Se-ra’s office, Se-ra excitedly arrives at work. Gong-myung calls to ask if Chairman Jo ordered his reassignment, but his father denies involvement. When they hang up, Chairman Jo says he wants Min-jae to do something.

Dae-cheol chats with Yong-kyu about Se-ra’s improbably election, quickly backpedaling when she appears behind them. They give her a stack of business cards and Se-ra beams at her official pin. Se-ra asks a few questions about the job and then lowers her voice to ask when her paycheck will be issued. Matching her volume, the men whisper the 20th of each month – same as them. They’re interrupted as Min-jae arrives to give Se-ra a tour.

The tension is palpable as Min-jae rattles off the locations of various offices and scoffs when Se-ra asks if he volunteered. She agrees someone probably ordered him to do it and Min-jae stops short, warning her eyes and ears are everywhere. Se-ra childishly points out there’s no one around and Min-jae sighs he can’t understand how she was elected. Declaring it the wise choice of the people, Se-ra walks ahead.

Finally, Min-jae shows Se-ra her desk – formerly Assemblyman Yang’s. Se-ra dismisses him, saying they should treat each other professionally at the office. Taking a deep breath, Min-jae bows and leaves. Se-ra dances around in annoyance, worrying she’ll bump into Min-jae often. Plopping into her seat, she snoops through the box of Assemblyman Yang’s things and, musing she didn’t receive training from her predecessor, starts flipping through his journal.

Reporting to his new office, Gong-mung is assigned to work under maknae Yong-kyu, who awkwardly announces they should go set up for the meeting. Se-ra is already waiting inside and thinks back to the fateful meeting that brought her here. She wonders how Gong-myung is doing and is about to text him to have lunch together when he walks into the room with Yong-kyu. Gong-myung avoids eye contact as he places water and documents on each desk.

Se-ra stares at him openly and when Gong-myung reaches her desk, he hisses at her to stop. “Did you get kicked out again?” Se-ra asks and Gong-myung growls at her to stop asking questions, too. She smirks as he rejoins Yong-kyu, who wonders if Se-ra will be okay. Gong-myung asks what he means and Yong-kyu points out it won’t be easy to adapt to the other assemblymen.

Se-ra brightens when Chairman Jo walks in… but he breezes right past her and greets the others. Yong-kyu explains to Gong-myung he stepped down as chairman (as he’d promised when he took credit for stopping the distribution center) but retained his power. Next is a trio of Chairman Jo’s lackeys, followed by Vice Chairman, Go Dong-chan, who took over after his father. Hee-soo arrives and Yong-kyu moons that she’s the prettiest lawyer and youth mentor.

Gong-myung recognizes Assemblyman Bong as an elite politician, but Yong-kyu says he’s lost his sway and has practically become an outcast. Finally, Assemblyman Heo enters and he exchanges glares with Se-ra as Yong-kyu explains he’s Chief Won’s mole and essentially useless. Seeing Hee-soo approach, Se-ra jumps up and excitedly extends her hand… only for Hee-soo to haughtily walk away. Yikes.

Snubbed, Se-ra looks around at the other representatives schmoozing and her face falls. Across the room, Yong-kyu pityingly labels her another outcast and Gong-myung watches as she dejectedly sinks back into her seat. Vice Chairman Dong-chan calls the meeting to order and calls on Se-ra to introduce herself. She greets the room brightly and the silences stretches until Chairman Jo tells Dong-chan to start the meeting.

Afterwards, Min-jae asks if Chairman Jo had anything to do with Gong-myung’s reassignment. Chairman Jo jokes says all he did was tell Chief Won to send more Council Secretariats. Sobering, he adds his son should do more than menial tasks and Min-jae’s expression tenses up.

Ironically, Gong-myung is currently being assigned dish duty. He balks, but Yong-kyu explains that as a support team, their duties are to PMSW – print, make copies, serve, and wash dishes. Yong-kyu adds at least they get off work earlier than at the service desk and Gong-myung grimaces at the sink. Returning home that evening, Gong-myung greets an empty apartment and flops onto his bed, exhausted. He thinks of Se-ra being labeled an outcast and runs a hand over his face, groaning it stinks like cleaning gloves.

In her own room, Se-ra comforts herself she didn’t take the job to make friends. She flashes back to leaving the meeting in disappointment and stopping short when she saw Gong-myung washing dishes. Shaking it off, Se-ra thinks she should worry about herself and researches her position. Seeing reps propose and average of 0.9 ordinances a year, Se-ra smiles she’ll easily meet that.

As the other attendees file out of the meeting room the next day, a mischievous smile spreads across Se-ra’s face as she muses she’ll need allies. Bustling up to Dong-chan, she asks if there will be a welcome party for her. Swallowing his initial surprise, Dong-chan agrees. At lunchtime, Se-ra receives a text scheduling it for tonight and looks up just as Gong-myung enters the restaurant.

Ignoring her greeting, Gong-myung sits at a separate table. The owner comes out and asks him to share a table with Se-ra since it’s the lunch rush. He insists he wants to sit alone, but Se-ra volunteers to come to him. Hee. She teases he doesn’t have anyone else to eat with and Gong-myung retorts no one shook her hand today, either. Se-ra proudly announces her welcome party is tonight.

Turning serious, she asks if he’s okay constantly crossing paths with Chairman Jo. Gong-chan firmly replies Chairman Jo has no influence over him and Se-ra coyly asks if she does. She suggests they rekindle their friendship, pointing out they joined at the same time. Gong-myung says she’s the only one that finds comradery in that but Se-ra insists they could eat together.

She starts to say more but Gong-myung cuts her off with a curt refusal. He declares this their first and last meal together and Se-ra sing-songs, “I don’t think so.” Turning to her food, Se-ra says she’ll have a light lunch since her welcome dinner is later… and shovels a large spoonful of rice into her mouth. Hee.

That evening, Se-ra fidgets alone in the reserved room, assuring herself grown men wouldn’t pull a childish prank like standing her up. After an hour, she’s still alone and eventually she calls Dong-chan. He’s in the middle of a hot yoga class with Jo’s trio and tuts that Se-ra is slow on the uptake. The other men agree this will put her in her place but worry whether anyone showed up.

Dong-chan assures them it’s impossible, adding he didn’t even mention the dinner to Chairman Jo or Assemblyman Bong. Giving up, Se-ra goes to pay and her eyes bulge at the 1,170 dollar bill. She weakly tells the cashier to put it on a six-month payment plan. Chugging a beer at the bus stop, Se-ra sighs at another failed social interaction. Gong-myung gets off the bus and Se-ra drags him onto the bench beside her.

She wishes aloud that life came in installments, thinking if emotions were distributed a little at a time, she could be prepared. Gong-myung scoffs the total is the same, but noticing Se-ra’s slumped shoulders, asks if something happened at the dinner. She hands him a package of top grade Korean beef from her doggy bag, and Gong-myung gapes at the expense.

Se-ra quips life doesn’t have installments, but meat does. Smirking, Se-ra asks if he’ll buy some. Gong-myung’s phone buzzes and he tosses the meat back. Se-ra packs it away and starts to leave, but Gong-myung pulls her back saying there’s somewhere they need to go.

Outside a funeral, Se-ra fiddles with an ATM while Gong-myung repacks her doggy bag of beef. Se-ra barks at him to be careful with her 1,170 dollars and then asks if he’ll buy one for the special price of 100 dollars. After a quick calculation, Gong-myung accuses Se-ra of trying to fleece him (as it was only 90 dollars a package) and Se-ra wonders how much she should give at the funeral of a predecessor she’s never met.

Chairman Jo is greeting the widow when the pair walk in and he looks at them oddly before stepping aside. Min-jae watches with a tense expression as Gong-myung guides Se-ra forward and they pay their respects. When the pair turn to the widow, her expression sours when Chairman Jo introduces Se-ra as Assemblyman Yang’s replacement.

In the dining room, Se-ra confronts the other assemblyman and Dong-chan lies he was too preoccupied to contact her. Jo’s trio wonder why she’s here when she’s not welcome, saying the family wouldn’t feel comfortable with the deceased replacement there. One of them starts to mention Assemblyman Yang’s bribery charges and across the room, Yang’s brother drunkenly grabs him by the collar, shouting Yang was a cop for 20 years and someone framed him.

A crowd gathers as men try to break up the fight, pushing Se-ra against a wall and blocking her from the exit. She calls for Gong-myung and they reach for each other through the fray. The struggling men knock everyone to the ground and Gong-myung’s hand finds Se-ra’s.

He hauls her up and over to the door… only to finally turn and see Hee-soo staring back at him, instead. Immediately releasing her, Gong-myung apologizes and asks if she’s okay as he looks over her shoulder to find Se-ra glaring at him from the heap on the floor and nursing a bruised forehead. Heh.

At home, Se-ra throws herself onto her bed and tosses around in frustration.

PART 2

Chief Won explodes when her team tells her she’ll have to petition the district assembly – just as Gong-myung had warned her before she demoted him. Regardless, she immediately sends a proposal to Chairman Jo to use municipal bonds to fund new city development and labor costs. He presents it later that day at the assembly meeting and Se-ra only half listens until he says the amount needed is 30 million dollars.

Assemblyman Bong argues Mawon’s finances have gone to pot after Chief Won took office. He barks temporary measures won’t solve the problem and Chairman Jo snaps that every decision has gone through the district assembly. Assemblyman Bong shouts the assembly just does what the Administrative Division wants and Chairman Jo fires back, demanding what Assemblyman Bong did to prevent this situation.

Dong-chan calls for a recess before the argument escalates and the men glare at each other as the room clears out. Chairman Jo tells the Aeguk Conservative Party members they’ll vote for to use the bonds while Assemblyman Bong warns the Progressive Party, issuing bonds isn’t the solution. Both sides realize they’re evenly split, and the decision falls to the final voter – Se-ra. She’s still sitting in the assembly hall and perks up when she gets a text labeled “urgent.”

By the time the meeting resumes, Se-ra is gone and the room quickly clears as people rush to find her. Meanwhile, Se-ra blinks down at a group of school children who explain they figured the “Queen of Complaints” was the best person to handle their problem… and point Se-ra towards a pumpkin growing dangerously through the roof of the fenced walkway. The kids cheer her on as she climbs up to get the offending gourd.

Back at work, Gong-myung frowns at a chart of the reps’ snack preferences. Peeling an apple badly, Yong-kyu explains an urgent session was called and they’ll serve the conservative party, followed by the progressive party. Gong-myung is appalled they do this too and Yong-kyu pouts if he’d known he’d be peeling fruit after graduating university, he would’ve focused on home economics. He suddenly freezes and rushes over to add Se-ra’s name to the list in marker.

Min-jae reports to Chairman Jo that Se-ra has no party affiliation and the rest of the party criticizes Se-ra’s resume, wondering if they were hoodwinked by a progressive party scheme. One of the Idiot Trio confidently announces to the others he knows what women Se-ra’s age like.

Se-ra smiles at the photos she took with the kids, thinking that making complaints is fulfilling, but so is solving them. “I wasn’t so useless today,” Se-ra tells herself, “I earned my keep today.” She calls for Han-bi, announcing today’s the day they eat her special beef, unaware Dong-chan is calling. Hee-soo doubts Se-ra will answer, chiding Dong-chan for his cruel joke. She says she couldn’t go because she had a prior appointment and Assemblyman Bong orders Dong-chan to sincerely apologize.

They’re interrupted by Gong-myung’s arrival with snacks. Hee-soo loudly declares Se-ra is likely upset over the party prank, meaning both sides are starting from scratch. Looking at Gong-myung, she pointedly adds she knows someone who can help her meet with Se-ra. Cut to Hee-soo using Gong-myung’s phone to call Se-ra. They agree to meet and Gong-myung grumbles at her for rummaging through his contacts.

Hee-soo points out Se-ra is listed at the top of his contacts list, and conveniently under her full name. She takes the phone back and makes a second call… this time to her own phone and says this is her number. Gong-myung nods and Hee-soo sashays off with a satisfied smile as it occurs to Gong-myung to be confused. Heh.

The women meet and Hee-soo asks if Se-ra heard the agenda before she left to pick a pumpkin. Se-ra nods she remembers something about 30 million dollars and Hee-soo says they’ll vote in 2 days and the progressive party hopes she’ll either disagree or abstain so the issuance of municipal bonds will be rejected. She says Se-ra is a representative of ordinary residents and the bonds are a debt that will be repaid through resident taxes. Se-ra agrees debt is bad and Hee-soo leaves, satisfied Se-ra won’t approve the bill.

Mom calls to say a bunch of gifts were delivered (from the conservative party) and urges Se-ra to get home. Se-ra tells her friends about the fight at the meeting and now both sides are vying for her favor. Ja-ryong pipes up that she’s a swing vote and realization dawns on Se-ra. The next day, she eats with the Idiot Trio and when they finish pitching their stance, Se-ra asks what they can do for her.

Her phone gives her an alert and Se-ra takes her leave… and goes two doors down to meet Hee-soo and Dong-chan. He masks an insincere apology with coughs and Hee-soo offers to apologize on his behalf. Hee-soo asks if she’s decided and Se-ra asks what they’ll do for her if she votes their way. They only stare and Se-ra chirps they can think while she orders.

Word of Se-ra’s ploy reaches Chairman Jo and he orders Min-jae to release an article about Mawon’s possible bankruptcy. Min-jae argues that will only emphasize Se-ra’s vote more and Chairman Jo says that’s the point, insisting that the outcome is already decided.

Sick with a stomachache, Se-ra receives texts from both parties: the conservative party offers her various positions while the progressive party promises full support on Se-ra’s ordinances helping children and women. Groaning over her stomach, she pops into a pharmacy and finds Gong-myung already inside getting medicine for chronic gastritis (due to diet and stress). After getting her own medicine, Se-ra chides Gong-myung for not eating well and he retorts overeating will mess up her bowels.

Gong-myung knows what she’s doing and tuts he’d thought she had a conscience when she returned Chairman Jo’s ginseng bribe. Se-ra admits she wanted to mock the reps by making them fight for her and promises to reflect after the vote. The leave together and when they reach a crosswalk, Se-ra announces she crosses here. Gong-myung starts to leave and Se-ra holds him back, asking him to explain municipal bonds.

After scolding her for not knowing, Gong-myung says Mawon district Office has no money and wants to issue promissory notes for a loan. He mutters he’d thought they’d last three months and admits this is why he was kicked out of Planning and Budgeting. A flashback to the fateful meeting shows he’d paused on his way out to warn Chief Won that if things continued, she wouldn’t be able to pay her staff in three months’ time.

Se-ra cries out in disbelief and Gong-myung pulls up the article announcing Mawon’s potential bankruptcy. Se-ra stumbles back and Gong-myung catches her from falling. Tears stream from her eyes and she wonders if it’s raining. Gong-myung frowns that she’s crying and Se-ra rounds on him for not telling her sooner. Gong-myung points out he’d tried talking her out of it and Se-ra cries he just told her to quit without explanation and storms off.

At home, she angrily kicks the crane game gifted by the conservative party. She turns to see Dad drinking with Chairman Jo. Dad drunkenly plops Se-ra on the couch with them and asks Chairman Jo to take care of her. Chairman Jo suggests she buy her parents something with her first paycheck, pointedly adding if she can’t go back for sideways, she must go forward.

In his own apartment, Gong-myung cooks one of Se-ra’s steaks, grimacing over the price but reasoning at least he didn’t let her overcharge him. Sighing, he wonders if Se-ra understood what he’d told her.

The next morning, Assemblyman Bong approaches Se-ra at her desk to ask if she’s made up her mind. Se-ra shakes her head and Assemblyman Bong asks if she knows how much her vote is worth. Se-ra throws out a few guesses like her salary or 1/13 of 30 million dollars… but Bong says her vote is the deciding vote and therefore worth the full 30 million dollars. He says he trusts she’ll pick the tough road that will benefit the majority over a small profit – just as she did with the distribution center.

At the meeting, there’s a line of people trying to shake Se-ra’s hand, so she folds them together. The voting begins and Gong-myung looks meaningfully at her before she goes in… but we don’t get to see what Se-ra choses. When the vote is tallied, 6 voted yes, 6 voted no, and 1 was invalid. Chairman Jo turns to look at Se-ra and the rest of the assembly mutters as Se-ra wonders why there was a void vote. Huh?? Before Dong-chan can end the meeting, Chairman Jo takes the floor and proposes they assembly set an example by forfeiting their pay until the finances are back on track.

Epilogue Gong-myung caught Se-ra after she stormed away from him and confessed the reason he wanted to return to Planning and Budgeting is because it’s the most political place as it decides where the taxpayer’s money is spent: “Money is politics. And tomorrow it’s your call.” Se-ra quivers that such a big responsibility is hers… before deadpanning she’s only had one goal since running for office: “Cash. Money. My pay!”

 
COMMENTS

This episode was slightly less fun than the previous three, but I won’t hold it against the show as we had to set up the next batch of hurdles for our favorite bickering not-a-couple (yet). I love every interaction between them and did anyone else squeal with delight that Gong-myung actually bought Se-ra’s beef? That and him going back for her when the fight broke out at the funeral is proof enough for me that whether he admits it or not, he’s smitten… even if he grabbed the wrong hand on accident. I hate to say it, but I really don’t like Hee-soo so far. I find her snooty and immature in a way that lacks Se-ra’s endearing charm. Part of my distaste might be an overprotectiveness towards Gong-myung – who is clearly oblivious to her interest – but I found her snubbing of Se-ra deeply irritating. She’s entitled to feel upset over her candidate quitting the election, but she takes it a step further by just being rude. I’m hoping she’ll pull through but so far, she’s not impressing me much.

I find it funny no one considered trying to make nice with Se-ra before it came time to vote on something. With the parties split down the middle, Se-ra, as an independent, was clearly going to be a swing vote during any disagreements. I do appreciate the opportunity for her to get some petty revenge, but I wanted her to take the actual voting seriously. She still lacks the political jargon to be an effective rep, but that’s what Gong-myung is for! I wish she’d asked him sooner to explain the situation, but regardless, she did. My only complaint is I wanted him to detail each party’s stance so she could make an informed decision… and not just focus on the fact that her paycheck is in jeopardy.

I’m a little annoyed we didn’t get to see her vote but based on that – and the fact she seem confused by the voided vote – There’s a chance she voted with the conservative party (to save her paycheck) and Chairman Jo invalidated his vote. It would be disappointing, but we’re only in episode 4, so Se-ra still has plenty of time to grow. And the opposite could be true, but that would mean someone from the progressive party sacrificed their vote. Regardless, Chairman Jo is scheming something – as we saw with his releasing the article to emphasize Se-ra’s role in the decision – and I feel his proposal to give up their salaries until the budget stabilizes was a punishment meant for Se-ra. Perhaps he’s hoping she’ll quit – she’s too much of a loose cannon and her strong moral compass makes her hard to manipulate. Ironically, the more he pushes her, the more I suspect Se-ra will push back.

There’s a nice tension building with Min-jae, as well. He’s been tirelessly serving Chairman Jo for years at the expense of his relationship with Se-ra, all on the promise Chairman Jo will return the favor. And yet, he’s starting to see Chairman Jo still favors his biological son over the assistant he claims to view as one. After failing to nominate Min-jae for the District Rep. by-election, Chairman Jo suggested Min-jae would take his place once he moved up the ladder… and yet he’s stilly trying to groom Gong-myung to follow in his footsteps. Add in what might have been a sprinkling of romantic jealousy (or perhaps just possessiveness) at seeing Gong-myung with Se-ra, and we have a ticking timebomb on our hands. Whether he’ll lash out at Chairman Jo or our heroes, though, is debatable.

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