It feels like the close of another chapter. I feel us being propelled towards the final stretch.
episode 23 recaps
We may have fastforwarded to the evaluation competition in the last episode, but there are still a couple of backstories to tell. Like for instance, how did Tak Gu end up being the representative for Pal Bong bakery?
Tak Gu had volunteered himself. Head Baker tells him that there is no need for him to put himself out there just because he was the one who signed the dispute petition. Tak Gu tells him that it’s not that. Tak Gu has identified the best starter culture. Does that mean…? Yes, Tak Gu has his smell and taste back.
And when he got his senses back, Tak Gu immediately realized that he’s eaten the Bong bread previously. Recall when he met Grandpa 14 years ago, Grandpa had given Tak Gu some bread to eat? That was the Bong bread. Tak Gu remembers the smell and taste well, and he is confident that he is the best person to demonstrate the making of the Bong bread.
The evaluation panel begins with the checking of the starter culture. Each side hands over a sample of their starter (it’s thick, unlike the thin runny thing that we saw in previous episodes), and the panel of seven judges take turns to sniff at it. And the baking kicks off.
Tak Gu and Ma Jun work at the same pace, mixing the dough and placing it in the fermenter at the same time. They must be using some special fermenting chamber because the dough proofs in an hour even though it’s a slow fermenting bread. Ma Jun takes his dough out of the fermenter and proceeds with shaping. Tak Gu takes his dough out and sniffs it, and decides to put it back into the fermenter for a while longer. This deviation from the protocol gets the other bakers nervous, and gets the judges talking.
Ma Jun notices Tak Gu taking extra time with his dough, but ignores it, working quickly. The truth is, he doesn’t care if Tak Gu makes better bread. He’s told Manager Han to take care of things. Elder Chun Bae, on the other hand, looks disturbed by Tak Gu’s change of plans. And we know he’s got a good nose too.
Tak Gu lets the dough ferment for an extra 15 minutes, and he’s ready to move on. Tak Gu is just taking his time to get everything right. He’s not there to beat anyone, but to repay the kindness that the Pal Bong family has shown him. From where he sits, Chun Bae can smell Tak Gu’s dough and he looks really afraid now.
The guys fill the dough with red bean, put on the finishing touches and put the trays in to bake. 15 minutes later, the competition enters the judging phase. The judges are given two plates, each with one bread, and they get to push forward the one they think is the real Bong bread.
The first few judges choose Tak Gu’s bread, but the next few judges pick Ma Jun’s bread. From flashbacks, we see that the ones who pick Ma Jun’s bread have all received envelopes of money. The score is a tie, and the last judge needs to cast the deciding vote. We see from the flashback that he was also approached by one of Manager Han’s men, but he seems to have been a little slower about picking up the envelope. He chooses Tak Gu’s bread.
Ma Jun looks furious. Chun Bae looks defeated. The bakery gang spring up in joy, and everyone takes turns to hug Tak Gu. As we saw in the flashbacks, it is really a team victory even though Tak Gu was representative. Chun Bae helps himself to one of Tak Gu’s bread.
Ma Jun confronts the last judge on his way out, demanding to know what is going on. The judge says that he did accept the money, but the bread made him change his mind; As a baker, he can’t deny the true Bong bread. He returns the envelope to Ma Jun.
Everyone heads back to the bakery to report the good news to Grandpa. Tak Gu notices Elder Chun Bae lingering outside the bakery and invites him in. Chun Bae asks if Tak Gu wants him to apologize to Grandpa. Tak Gu says that Grandpa is actually very sick and asks if they could make up. Chun Bae doesn’t answer the question. Instead, he asks Tak Gu what he put in the bread. He admits to Tak Gu that the moment Tak Gu took the bread out of the fermenter, he knew that he’d lost. There is something more to Grandpa’s bread. What is it?
Tak Gu tells him that it’s rice flour. We see a flashback — Grandpa actually woke up while they were busy preparing the Bong bread, and had told Tak Gu that he uses rice flour. Chun Bae finally understands why Grandpa’s bread always took extra long. He laments that the slowly-moving Pal Bong eventually won, while he with the genius nose and greed raced ahead and lost. He’ll take having eaten Grandpa’s Bong Bread earlier as his final farewell.
Going back to the bakery, Tak Gu bumps into a man carrying a lot of bags of bread. He apologizes, but the guy still seems annoyed. Furthermore, the man is acting strangely, glancing behind him as he walks. Tak Gu doesn’t know what to make of it.
Ma Jun shows up at home with his bag without warning. In Sook happily rushes to greet him, and asks if he’s staying for good. Ma Jun nods. In Sook tells him to go greet his father. Ma Jun looks slightly hesitant, but enters Il Jung’s study.
He announces that he’s back, and Il Jung asks if it’s for good. Ma Jun apologizes for failing in the competition, and Il Jung doesn’t look too disturbed. Ma Jun offers as amends the Bong bread recipe. He says he got the recipe from one of Grandpa’s friends. He also has the fermentation journal, which he offers for use for the company. I know…I went “what?” as well. What is he now? An industrial spy?
Il Jung says that if the recipe is from Elder Chun Bae, he has no need for it. He won’t make such bread in his factory. Ma Jun looks up in surprise. Il Jung takes it a step further — he never told Ma Jun to get a certificate. He wishes that Ma Jun would hurry up and realize that.
He heads up to his room, looking very frustrated. In Sook comes to look for him, and tells him that he doesn’t need to worry about anything. He just needs to be ready to enter the company quickly. Also, he should get ready for marriage, and break things off with Yu Kyung. Ma Jun doesn’t like the sound of that. He reminds In Sook that he is sincere and serious about Yu Kyung.
In Sook tells him that marriage is about politics and business. He needs a strong family to back him so that Ma Jun will be untouchable if Il Jung gets Tak Gu into the company. Ma Jun is surprised by the news of Tak Gu potentially joining the company.
Not so long later, a crowd of angry people are blocking the bakery’s entrance, demanding compensation for what they claim is bad bread. In the center of the crowd is the man from before. They claim that there is iron powder in the bread, and demand compensation at 100,000 won a person. The bakery doesn’t have the kind of money to pay all ten of them off. Head Baker tells everyone to keep the news from Grandpa.
Tak Gu is suspicious, having recognized the man from before, but he doesn’t say anything. He trails the man to the market, and catches him talking to someone in a black car. Tak Gu approaches them, calling out, and the man and the car hurry off. That was silly on Tak Gu’s part, and he looks frustrated that his leads have run off.
Windmill man catches up with Tak Gu and tells him not to bother chasing the car. He’s memorized the licence plate number, and he’ll get the car traced through a friend who works in the police station.
In Sook and Manager Han have a quick chat as he delivers her to a shopping date. She tells him that they should install Ma Jun during the board meeting the following week. A young lady greets In Sook as she approaches. Manager Han asks In Sook if that’s the girl she’s picked out for Ma Jun. In Sook says yes. She’s the only daughter of a big produce company worth a lot of money, so she’ll make a suitable match.
Na Jin and In Sook barely exchange words before they are approached by Kim Mi Sun. In Sook’s mood immediately darkens as Mi Sun casually greets them. In Sook excuses herself, saying that she’s run into a friend. Na Jin looks curiously at Mi Sun.
In Sook goes over to Kim Mi Sun and asks her what she wants. Mi Sun says she’s just shopping. She asks who the girl is, and notes it doesn’t look like Ja Kyung or Ja Rim. Could it be a prospective daughter-in-law for Ma Jun? She remembers that there is a son the same age as Tak Gu.
In Sook gets upset but Mi Sun changes the topic. She hands In Sook the tie that Il Jung left behind, flaunting the fact that he spent two nights at her place after the accident. She just wanted to return it. As expected, In Sook gets upset about Mi Sun meeting Il Jung. Upset enough that when she gets back to Na Jin, it’s to say that she’s not feeling well and needs to leave.
Over dinner, In Sook asks Il Jung when he’ll place Ma Jun in the company. The mood goes from bad to worse. Deliberately oblivious, In Sook suggests the programming department. Il Jung tells her that company matters will be decided in the company. Rebuffed, she asks what Tak Gu’s position will be.
Changing the subject, she tells everyone that they are meeting with the produce conglomerate family that weekend. Ma Jun says that he has other plans. In Sook tells him to cancel them, but he says he won’t cancel a date with Yu Kyung. Il Jung looks curious — is this the Shin Yu Kyung who was in the assistants’ office?
Ma Jun says yes. He also tells Il Jung that if he has to marry someone, that someone will be Yu Kyung. Il Jung looks at Ma Jun intently. In Sook tells Ma Jun that it’s not going to happen and looks to Il Jung for support. However, Il Jung tells him to introduce Yu Kyung some time. In Sook gets annoyed, and Il Jung excuses himself from the table.
In Sook gets upset, and follows Il Jung to the room, demanding to know what to do about the plans with the produce company. Il Jung says that Ma Jun doesn’t want the marriage and tells In Sook to let him be. For the first time since he was twelve, Ma Jun has finally decided on something for himself. As his father, Il Jung cannot ignore it. He won’t force Ma Jun into a marriage that he will regret.
That hits a sore spot for In Sook. She demands to know if he’s unhappy with his marriage. In fact, has he decided to go back to Mi Sun? She finally confronts him about his meeting with Mi Sun.
Il Jung asks In Sook what she is so afraid of. In Sook admits that she’s afraid that he will leave her.
Things escalate quickly and the bakery gets suspended. News reports are all over, and other bakers are gossiping about Pal Bong bringing their trade down. The bakers bang on doors, probably trying to talk to the people who complained.
It took forever, but Windmill man finally gets the information on the car. He hands the piece of paper to Tak Gu, who gets upset when he sees that the car is owned by Geo Seung. Does this mean that everyone’s suffering is because of him? Windmill man tells him that it probably is.
Il Jung meets with Yu Kyung. He tells her that he’s heard from Ma Jun, and Yu Kyung apologizes for the trouble that she’s caused. Il Jung tells her that he’s happy. He assumes that things are sincere from both sides. Yu Kyung says that she’s trying to be sincere. Il Jung asks Yu Kyung to take care of Ma Jun. He tells her that Ma Jun is a lonely person. He confesses that he’s been lacking as a father, and says he’ll be happy if she could give Ma Jun what he couldn’t.
Yu Kyung apologizes for her poor family background, and tells him that she’ll try her best. Il Jung tells her that he only needs her to be sincere. Il Jung hands her an envelope, and tells her that she can return to her old job in the assistant’s office if she wants.
Downstairs, Ma Jun is pacing, waiting for the meeting between Yu Kyung and Il Jung to end. When she finally comes down, Ma Jun asks how it went. Yu Kyung says that Il Jung is going to come down shortly to join them for dinner. Ma Jun is pleased with the development.
Tak Gu is heading to Geo Seung at this very moment, and sees Ma Jun and Yu Kyung in the building lobby. It’s awkward as Yu Kyung averts her eyes, and Tak Gu tries to ignore them. Ma Jun however meets the awkwardness face on. He asks Tak Gu what brings him to Geo Seung. Tak Gu says it’s not to meet Ma Jun, but Il Jung. Ma Jun asks if it’s something urgent, in a taunting way, and Tak Gu says that the bakery’s business has been suspended.
Ma Jun laughs and says he’s seen the news. What does the bakery have to do with Geo Seung? Tak Gu says it’s none of his business. Ma Jun tells him not to bother Il Jung over little things. Tak Gu reminds Ma Jun that he used to live at the bakery, and that Grandpa is his teacher. Ma Jun says it’s all in the past for him. Yu Kyung looks pained at Ma Jun’s petty behavior.
Tak Gu asks if Ma Jun is behind everything. Ma Jun asks what if he is. Tak Gu gets enraged, and clenches his fist in anger. He can’t hold himself back this time, and he has a go at Ma Jun. The moment the first punch lands, the security at Geo Seung are all over Tak Gu. Ma Jun screams at the men to let them be, and the guys get a real fist fight. Actually, it’s mostly Tak Gu beating the crap out of Ma Jun.
Yu Kyung tries to separate the guys, and she screams at Tak Gu to stop hitting Ma Jun. The drama ends when Il Jung shouts for them to stop. He asks what is going on, and demands an explanation from Tak Gu.
Tak Gu gives him the facts and nothing more. There have been problems at Pal Bong and Tak Gu has traced the source of the problems to the person who drives a Geo Seung car. He would like Il Jung to investigate the matter. Il Jung looks gravely at the piece of paper.
When Tak Gu gets back to Incheon, Mi Sun and Windmill man are waiting outside the house for him. Mi Sun runs up to him when she sees him coming, and asks him where he’s been. She starts to tell him that they were worried, but stops when she notices his bloodied knuckles. Tak Gu tells her that he’s sorry, but he couldn’t hold back this time. Mi Sun doesn’t shout at him. Tak gu apologizes for getting everyone into trouble. Mi Sun holds his hand, leans against him, and cries. Does this mean she guesses where he went and what he did?
Manager Han is returning to his office. Il Jung and the driver of the car are already there. Il Jung asks Manager Han if he did it, and Manager Han says there’s been a misunderstanding. Is it because of Tak Gu? Il Jung berates him for harming first his son, and now his teacher. He gives Manager Han a week to clear out. Il Jung also decides to make a trip to Incheon.
Later that night, Grandpa wakes up and works on his calligraphy. Is he writing the topic for the third round of the competition? Tak Gu is asleep, but Grandpa wakes him up and tells him to get into his baking clothes. The men head over to the kitchen, and Grandpa asks for the dough. He is itching to make some bread.
For the first time, Tak Gu gets to observe Grandpa make bread and is awed by the sight of the old man working the dough. Grandpa asks Tak Gu why he likes bread, and Tak Gu says it’s because it’s warm. Grandpa says for him, it’s because it feeds people. When it’s all done, Tak Gu pulls a chair for Grandpa.
Grandpa notices the bandage covering Tak Gu’s knuckles, and tells Tak Gu that life is for experiencing everything, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad. He tells Tak Gu that he needs to take care of his younger brother, Tae Jo/Ma Jun. He has heard everything from Il Jung. He regrets having chased his friend, Chun Bae, out so cruelly years ago, and it is his only regret. This is why he doesn’t make the Bong bread anymore. He doesn’t want Tak Gu to feel that way.
He asks Tak Gu if he knows what to do, and Tak Gu says yes. Tak Gu inserts the trays into the oven, and waits for the bread to be ready. He’ll wait for the bread to bake. (A reference to an episode from a long time ago.) Grandpa breathes slowly in his chair, and thinks about how Tak Gu has finally become an adult. Grandpa’s eyes seem a little teary, then closes.
The bread is done, and Tak Gu takes them out and places everything in a basket. He takes the bread to Grandpa, but Grandpa doesn’t respond. Tak Gu touches Grandpa’s arm to wake up, but the arm drops lifelessly to the side. Realizing what is happening, Tak Gu takes hold of Grandpa’s hand and kneels.
In the house, Mi Sun has noticed that Grandpa is not in his room. The other bakers report that Tak Gu is not in his room either, and they head over to the most probable place to find them.
Outside, they run into Il Jung who has just pulled in. Head Baker greets him, and explains that Grandpa has been very ill, and is not in his room. They are heading to the bakery’s kitchen to see if he is there with Tak Gu.
Everyone heads to the kitchen, and upon entering, they are greeted by the sight of Tak Gu kneeling in front of a seated Grandpa. Everyone stands silently for a while, and Mi Sun finally breaks the silence. Tak Gu tells her to keep quiet because Grandpa is sleeping.
They all stand quietly for a while, and one by one, everyone realizes that Grandpa is not sleeping. From in his dreams, Grandpa waves goodbye to Tak Gu, and goes on a long walk with his signature umbrella and traditional robe.
So many comments…let’s take them one at a time in no particular order.
1. I still don’t buy that the evaluation proved that Grandpa’s Bong bread is the real thing. It proved that Grandpa’s version is better. After all, we know that Chun Bae is the “bad guy” here.
2. If there are seven judges, the minimum number of judges you have to bribe is four. Yes, Manager Han got that right. But if money is not a problem, why don’t you just bribe them all? Saves a lot of accidents from happening.
3. Elder Chun Bae is the cautionary tale of a genius nose gone wrong because he was greedy. He could have been someone, but because he was greedy, he never went anywhere. This drama is like a children’s story, very precise about what is good and bad, and what is sufficient. I like the balance.
4. I get that Il Jung follows in the footsteps of Grandpa and Grandma (grand people not related) in believing in having people reflect and learn through mistakes. Grandma’s version didn’t work for Ma Jun, and we can all say something about how she preached too much. Grandpa didn’t preach at all, and didn’t punish either, but Ma Jun didn’t learn anyway. Il Jung just lets Ma Jun be, hoping he’ll figure out what he wants in life. If a guy did not get the message the first 12 years, maybe it would be more effective if you just told him what you want from him.
Are we supposed to make something of the fact that Ma Jun has strayed even though his sisters and Tak Gu turned out fine?
5. I don’t get what Kim Mi Sun is playing at. It seems to me that she’s just trying to irritate In Sook at this point. Kinda pointless. It’s been a long time, and I am still waiting for her big revenge move. All the preparation, the threatening letters and all, mean nothing until we see what the big plan is. I hope I get blown away, coz I don’t see myself being blown away.
6. Why was Grandpa focused on only Tak Gu at his last moments? I feel like Mi Sun, Head Baker and his daughter deserved some attention too.