Angry Mom: Episode 5

Angry Mom: Episode 5

onto Angry Mom

Mother-daughter hijinks! Angry Mom has set up the cover story and forced the daughter into going with it, true, but nobody said the daughter couldn’t throw a few wrenches into the works or make Mom’s job harder. It’s a hoot to see that while Kang-ja rules the school and has even the bullies’ bullies trembling in fear, the one person who won’t be cowed or pushed around is the most bullied outcast of them all. That’s just satisfying in a poetic sort of way.

SONG OF THE DAY
Ashbun – “Sunny Side Up” from the Angry Mom OST [ Download ]
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 EPISODE 5 RECAP

At Yi-kyung’s funeral, Ah-ran accuses teacher Jung-woo of killing her friend, her loud exclamations quickly drawing a crowd. Kang-ja hurries to her daughter’s side, shocked that she can speak again, but Ah-ran’s fixated on the teacher, convinced he’s behind this.
Unfortunately, her heightened emotions and hospital gown make her look like a hysterical patient, so the classmates and faculty in the hall assume Ah-ran has simply lost her hold on reality, eyeing her with pity.
Ah-ran belatedly registers her mother next to her, and her eyes widen to take in the high school uniform. She doesn’t say anything, however, and Kang-ja does her best to comfort her.

That means that for now, Jung-woo has escaped suspicion—but he’s not going to rest easy until all his loose ends are tied. I think we can count on that.
Later that night, he has a clandestine meeting (by the river, natch) with his henchman Ahn Dong-chil, and says that he had no idea Yi-kyung had been pregnant, though now her cryptic statement about being his Achilles’ heel makes sense. He tells Dong-chil to prevent news of the pregnancy from leaking, suggesting that they provide other juicy information to keep them occupied.
Jung-woo recalls Yi-kyung’s threat to spill everything, and thinks back to the last night of her life, when he’d caught her trying to find a way into his secret library room. Scenes from that night and the chase on the rooftop were captured on her cell phone, which he now possesses. He deletes the video and tosses the phone out the window and drives over it.

The media has a field day with Bok-dong, since he was named in Yi-kyung’s (forged) note as the reason for her suicide. The public goes wild speculating, wondering whether Bok-dong raped her, or if they were dating and he wanted her to abort. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than the comments that Yi-kyung was slutty for dating a teacher, as though that mitigates anything.
It’s Noah’s father, Judge Park, who sentences Bok-dong in the case. As Dong-chil predicted, it’s a light sentence—probation and community service—because he’s still a minor; this angers the public and spurs protests.
Jung-woo insists on his innocence to his father, the stern education minister, who is upset at the extent of this scandal. Jung-woo tells his father none of this will affect him or his presidential aspirations.

The doctor checks on Ah-ran’s condition, attributing her outburst to shock and stress. Both teachers are in the room and wondering how Kang-ja knows her, and she says vaguely that they grew up in the same neighborhood. Ah-ran pretends to sleep as Jung-woo asks if Ah-ran ever mentioned any “strange” stories she’d heard from Yi-kyung, but finally sits up in anger. Eyes blazing, she repeats her accusation that Jung-woo killed her friend.
But then she recalls Bok-dong’s threat about endangering her mother, so when Noah steps in to calm her, she accuses him too. She screams at him to save Yi-kyung, and Jung-woo relaxes at the false alarm. Just to make sure, Ah-ran then goes around accusing random people, and the doctor interprets it as a response to the trauma. It’s even likely that she’s erased or repressed some of her recent memories that relate to her victimization.

Kang-ja pulls Ah-ran aside, and is stunned when Ah-ran is completely back to herself. Ah-ran thinks her mother’s crazy for masquerading as a high schooler, especially since there’s nothing Mom could do even if she found out who’d been harassing her. But Kang-ja assures her that it’s all over now that Bok-dong has been caught, and she’ll be leaving school.
Kang-ja deflects Noah’s suggestion to call Ah-ran’s parents by saying they’re overseas, and Jung-woo has been reassured enough by Ah-ran’s display to leave, asking to be notified when her memory returns fully.
Ah-ran is released from the hospital, and the family sits down to celebrate both her return home and Dad’s promotion—at that job run by Ahn Dong-chil. On Jung-woo’s orders, Dad is called in to school the next day. Some kind of plan is in motion.

Kang-ja is thrown when Ah-ran expresses her intention to attend school as normal. Kang-ja argues all the reasons why she needs to transfer, barking, “Your mom says to go [transfer], so you’d better go!” Just then, Noah happens by and wonders what Mom means, catching them off-guard and quelling the debate for now.
To Kang-ja’s disgruntlement, Noah backs Ah-ran’s desire to return to school; he supposes it’ll be good for retrieving her lost memories. Kang-ja can only speak for Mom by proxy, and can’t argue as she wants to when Noah assures them that he’ll protect Ah-ran at school.
Ah-ran takes the chance to get back at Mom, saying that “Bang-wool” can’t come to school anymore because her family is moving abroad. Kang-ja shoots her a “you’ll pay for this” glare and retorts that she can’t move away. She slaps an arm around Ah-ran’s shoulder and says, “If you’re going to school, I have to too! We’re friends, aren’t we?”

So the next morning, both ladies stubbornly head to school. There are a lot of sidelong glances since news of Ah-ran’s funeral outburst has spread, but Kang-ja trails behind to keep everyone in check. Students take advantage of the so-called amnesia to bend the truth, such as the mean girls saying that they were super-tight friends with Ah-ran.
Sang-tae tries to get Ah-ran’s attention, and she says darkly that she remembers him, clearly insinuating that those memories aren’t favorable. But when Noah says obliviously that Ah-ran only forgot bad things and must therefore think fondly of Sang-tae, Sang-tae actually cheers up—it’s cute, except it makes me feel conflicted because he’s such an ass.
Ah-ran freezes up when Jung-woo approaches, but manages to smile and thank him when he promises to watch over her and make sure she won’t be victimized.

Ah-ran finds her locker marked with a disturbing message: “Mental patient Oh Ah-ran! You killed Jin Yi-kyung, didn’t you? How could you do it, then blame Teacher Do?” She demands to know who did this, and Sang-tae steps up to read the note. He asks the class who’s responsible, but Ah-ran tells him to cut the act—she knows he’s the one telling all the other kids to do this to her.
Sang-tae is insulted at the accusation, but when Kang-ja arrives and reads the note, she grabs him and drags him out of the room. Students race out to watch as Kang-ja delivers a mighty ass-kicking. Sang-tae thunders that he could ruin things for her and her parents, but it’s not exactly threatening when you’re sprawled on your rear and still shaking from the beatdown.

Ah-ran tries unsuccessfully to stop her mother, but it’s Noah who stops the fight and calls Kang-ja into the office. He tries again to reach her, saying he believes she’s a good kid underneath it all, but she tells him to stop interfering, because teachers can’t do anything and kids will retaliate amongst themselves.
Noah surprises her by insisting that he won’t leave her alone, though, because he won’t have more violence in his class, or any more Yi-kyungs. So he’s taking special interest in her, and she can expect that he’ll be watching her closely.

Kang-ja and Ah-ran remain at odds, since Mom can’t stand to watch her daughter being outcast and harassed, while Ah-ran finds Mom’s charade mortifying. She adds that school was like this well before Kang-ja arrived, and that she can’t do anything to change it. Furthermore, Mom could end up hurt too. It’s a curious thing to say and Kang-ja asks about it, but Ah-ran covers up the slip by saying that she meant the other kids could hurt her.
Just then, Dad Jin-sang shows up on campus—the school is building an annex, and he works for Dong-chil’s construction company. Kang-ja has to dash off before he can see her, but there’s no good place for her to hide, so she has to settle for sticking her head through a window and trying to act casual with her lower half sticking out the other end.

Jin-sang gets called away to greet his boss—and seeing him with Dong-chil sends shivers down Kang-ja’s spine.
Jin-sang remains clueless as he meets with Jung-woo, who keeps up the super-solicitous front while asking after his daughter—in particular, how her memory is after her accident.
Kang-ja ditches school by hopping a fence, to the dismay of both Ah-ran and Noah. Ah-ran is shocked that her mother is acting so differently these days, but Mom assures her that it’s just that Ah-ran doesn’t know everything about her, just like Mom didn’t know everything about Ah-ran and school.

She talks things out with Gong-joo, worrying about her husband working for Dong-chil—could that be coincidence, or does it mean something? Gong-joo speculates that Dong-chil may be connected to Yi-kyung’s death, but has no explanation for how or why. She starts to wonder about Yi-kyung’s pregnancy—specifically, that her case could be similar to Kang-ja’s (as in, rape)—but as ever, Kang-ja shuts her friend down when talk turns to what happened to her.
Ae-yeon drops in to see Jung-woo unannounced, testing their relationship; if they’re going to be teaming up, she wants to scope out where they stand with each other. Using an apple metaphor, she says one looks spoiled but is edible while the other looks delicious but could kill. Which apple will they choose?
Jung-woo replies that you’ll always regret something, so it’s better to choose the thing you want more, in order to mitigate the level of regret. Then he grabs her into a kiss.

Kang-ja is heading out of Gong-joo’s nightclub when Noah heads in, having followed the address listed on her student file. He runs into the ladies in the lobby, leaving them no choice but to sit down for a chat.
This isn’t at all what Noah expected of Kang-ja’s “family” life, but he says he now understands why Kang-ja turned out the way she did, with the constant fighting and swearing. He even gets worked up in indignation on Kang-ja’s behalf, telling “Mom” that it’s not right to raise a child in such an environment.
Gong-joo bursts into sobs, playing the part of the mortified mother to the hilt, wailing that it’s all her fault for being such a bad parent. When her minions see that their guest has upset their boss, they rise up on her behalf and surround Noah threateningly, cutely defending noonim’s honor.

Kang-ja pulls him outta there, and explains that although he thinks she and her “mother” live badly, once kids have to face cold, harsh world. In fact, she thinks he’s more of a child than her, growing up in a sheltered greenhouse and knowing nothing of the real world, even as he calls her the problem child.
Noah doesn’t argue, and ruefully even agrees—Yi-kyung had said similar things to him. He says she’s right about him growing up in a greenhouse, but still, he wants her to live in a warmer place, to open up her balled-up fists and live without worry. He couldn’t do that for Yi-kyung, Noah explains, but he’d like to be that person for her. And despite Kang-ja’s resistance, it looks like those words do affect her, even though she keeps her emotion to herself.

Ae-yeon hands over the list of Chairman Hong’s opponents to Jung-woo, thinking that seals their deal. But he says that’s not all he needs—there’s another list (a “black file”) that the chairman will have in his personal safe.
Ae-yeon looks affronted to be tested further, but Jung-woo says that trust is like dust—nothing on its own until you collect it together. She has 48 hours until the chairman returns to Korea from his trip abroad.
In the morning, Kang-ja receives a massive string of message via Kakao—so many that her phone dings relentlessly. Ah-ran takes the phone and makes an excuse to the rest of the family, understanding that Mom has just been Kakao-bombed.

The mean girls explain to Kang-ja what happened: Under Sang-tae’s direction, students coordinated chat invites to hit her simultaneously. Kang-ja confirms that Ah-ran was also on the receiving end of similar attacks, and wonders why they don’t quit Kakao. A prospect that horrifies the students; that would make you even more of a social outcast.
Ae-yeon tests out all possible number combinations on the chairman’s personal safe, trying to get at his black file. To her surprise, the code turns out to be Sang-tae’s birthday (the chairman’s never been the paternal type, she scoffs) and finds the list. But while she’s copying the files, the chairman returns home a day early, and he’s curious to check in with all he’s missed while he was away.

For a moment it looks like Ae-yeon is about to get caught red-handed, but Dong-chil steps in to give her a warning. For all his evils (of which there are many), he does help her out regularly, and she manages to stuff the papers out of sight before the chairman arrives.
At home, Kang-ja asks her husband Jin-sang about his boss, trying to see why he might be working for Dong-chil. Jin-sang doesn’t know much about him, but says that his boss’s boss actually took a liking to him and is just the bestest person ever—so good, so considerate! And while Kang-ja had the same impression herself, seeing Ah-ran’s reaction to him has her doubting the initial assessment.

For instance, when she and Ah-ran run into Jung-woo at school, she eyes him a little differently—suspiciously, perhaps. That’s a relief.
Jung-woo asks to speak with Ah-ran, and asks light questions to probe how much she knows and what Yi-kyung told her. He deliberately takes her to the back corridor of the library where the hidden door lies, makes a meaningful comment about finding interesting books in this section, then leaves. He watches to see what she does, and is reassured when Ah-ran doesn’t react in any particular way.

But after he’s gone, Ah-ran finds a dropped cell phone charm in a bookcase—it’s part of the matching pair she had with Yi-kyung. She doesn’t have a chance to look around because of passing students, but this is definitely suspicious.
Gong-joo tells Kang-ja that she’s been looking into Ae-yeon’s whereabouts—apparently they lost track of her after all of that badness went down with Kang-ja seventeen years ago. Kang-ja is exasperated with her friend for dredging up the past, but Gong-joo can’t shake her feeling that nothing adds up with Ae-yeon.
For instance, even if they ignored the fact that it was Ae-yeon’s blabbering that got Kang-ja in that mess with Dong-chil in the first place, they can’t ignore that Ae-yeon testified against her in court—she’d said that the stabbing was an accident, but that it was Kang-ja who knifed Bum. Shortly thereafter, Ae-yeon moved abroad with a load of money she couldn’t have come up with on her own. But Kang-ja just wants to put the past behind her.

Ae-yeon hands off the black list to Jung-woo, who declares them officially on the same boat now. With this mark of trust, he promises to help her out of hell. Ae-yeon replies, “I don’t trust myself sometimes. I’m not trusting in you, I’m choosing you. And risking my life for it.”
Kang-ja heads to school to pick up Ah-ran, only to find that she’s not there and hasn’t been seen for a little while. Noah confirms that when he calls hoping that the two are together, and Kang-ja lights into him for being negligent and then scours the town trying to track her down.
Ah-ran has been at the library all afternoon, huddled under a desk and waiting till it’s after hours. Once the coast is clear, she emerges and heads back to that corridor in the back, looking for some kind of clue.

But she has to duck into hiding when Jung-woo and Ae-yeon arrive together, and watches wide-eyed as they open that secret room. In her surprise she knocks over a book, and while Jung-woo doesn’t hear it, Ae-yeon turns back at the noise.
Nervousness mounting, Ah-ran tries to keep out of sight as Ae-yeon approaches her aisle. But when she rounds the corner, it’s Kang-ja she sees, and the ladies freeze, face-to-face, recognizing each other.
Jung-woo turns back curiously, wondering at the holdup. Ae-yeon is so shocked she doesn’t know how to reply, just staring at her old friend.

 COMMENTS
I’ve been curious about Ae-yeon since the beginning, and wondered where she fit into the big picture. Clearly she’s a traitor of some sort, but the question for me is how much of that (if any) was forgivable—was she pushed into a corner, or was she actively destructive? If she acted in self-preservation, she’d be a weak but human character whose behavior might be understandable. Kang-ja would never have done it if she were in that position—Kang-ja would have stood her ground till she couldn’t stand anymore—but I could sympathize for someone who felt she had no choice. But there are hints that Ae-yeon may have been jealous and/or malicious, and in that case I have to wash my hands of her. I’m just not sure yet which one she is… or maybe there’s a Door Number 3 with a better explanation.
The story remains sharply written and well-plotted, so I’m glad to have the show zipping along briskly and keeping suspense up, but also really happy that we’re allowed to pause for comedy. Especially now that mother and daughter are both at school and snapping at each other in annoyance. I love that Kang-ja gets to surprise her daughter by being the rebel and the delinquent—Ah-ran is the model student who’d never cut class or blithely blow off school, so she’s got the more traditional mom line on that front. But then Ah-ran gets to needle Mom right back by adding lies to contradict Mom’s lies, and it’s just so cute.
Add to that Gong-joo’s hilarious cover story as the princess noonim and Noah’s incredulous double takes, and we’re pretty much assured that no dip into darkness will be too lasting or oppressive. I enjoy that the show doesn’t detract from its own seriousness by peppering things with the funny; that’s just icing on the cake.

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Tags: Angry Mom, featured, Ji Hyun-woo, Kim Hee-sun, Kim Yoo-jung