Returning for its next set of episodes, Dinner Mate continues to deliver the goods as it captures the drama and romance our two protagonists have shared over the weeks. There’s a good amount of plot progression here too and the foundations are certainly set for the second half of this season to really grow into something that utilizes the supporting characters a lot more.
Episodes 11 and 12 of Dinner mate begins at the restaurant as Hae-Kyung tries to juggle moving a drunk Do-Hee and her giant penguin back to his car. As he leaves, Hae-Kyung calls her his girlfriend as she introduces herself as Lee Mun-Jyong…to the author of that book standing right infront of her.
After this awkward encounter, Do-Hee heads home as Hae-Kyung watches her leave. In the morning, the memories from the previous night start coming back through her hazy hangover and Do-Hee buries her head in the penguin, shaking her head as she remembers some of the embarrassing details.
At work, Do-Hee continues to suffer from an almighty hangover but is snapped out of her trance by Jae-Hyeok arriving with coffee. As he takes her aside, he introduces her to No-Eul and they talk business – in particular filming the videos together for 2N Box. No-Eul agrees to do so but only if she ends up on screen with Hae-Kyung. At the same time, a former idol with an eating disorder, Park Sandara, arrives in Hae-Kyung’s office and they discuss the reasons she’s not able to eat. After tackling some very important themes regarding social media and bullying, Hae-Kyung has just the solution – surgery. Prepping himself with scrubs and a mask, he heads into the kitchen and prepares a beautiful meal for her.
While A-Young tries giving Hae-Kyung the same book we saw earlier in the episode, Hae-Kyung deliberates over the writer and in particular, moments in the past where he asked if she was okay.
Do-Hee sits in her office reading but falls asleep, instead having a dream about her and Hae-Kyung’s dinner turning into something more than friends. As she pushes those thoughts out of her head (and physically paws the thought bubble away later), Hae-Kyung invites her to dinner and they sit together, awkwardly trying to connect. Eventually they do though and after some rice wine, they finally loosen up and rekindle what they had before.
Do-Hee’s good vibes the next day are shattered when they catch wind of No-Eul’s debt scandal and realize they need to visit her to get to bottom of what happened. Jae-Hyeok decides to take the imitative and joins Do-Hee on the way there. After talking to her, Do-Hee promises A-Young that she’ll reach 1 million hearts with No-Eul no matter what.
While she leaves, No-Eul pleads with Hae-Kyung to join her on-air but he refuses, calling her shameless and leaving after shouting at her. It’s a pretty profound moment – especially given he’s never done that before even when she cheated on him.
That evening, Keanu sits drinking coffee out in the open and as A-Young passes, he invites her to join him. She’s impressed by the coffee and realizes just how smart Keanu really is. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Keanu encounter without his trademark evil-sounding laugh and she awkwardly returns the favour, heading home after a fruitless search for Do-Hee.
Meanwhile, Do-Hee decides to go camping but out in the open she runs into Hae-Kyung who happens to have been invited by her friend So-Ra, who sneakily used her phone in the restaurant earlier to invite him along. Before she can confront her, Do-Hee realizes So-Ra has swiftly left the two alone. After inviting him to dinner, the two start to prepare food but Do-Hee’s dress gets stuck in the barbeque and it prompts him to stifle the fire, pushing her down to the ground to extinguish the flames.
Desperate to find Do-Hee, Jae-Hyeok hears from So-Ra that she’s out and heads to her apartment in a bid to find her. Only, Keanu happens to still be there outside and he seems to recognize him, turning his chair away. What connection do these two have together?
Oblivious to Jae-Hyeok’s calls, Hae-Kyung and Do-Hee continue to connect and share their meal and wine under the night sky. As they keep talking, she suggests they should stop being dinner mates and talks about her feelings – telling him she’s crossed the line, which is where the episode ends.
With Hae-Kyung seemingly aware that she’s crossed the line and now has feelings for him, what will his reaction be back? It’s been obvious now for a few episodes that these two clearly have more than friend vibes and they have really great chemistry on-screen too. Their encounters are easily the highlight of the entire series and the different meals they’ve had over the course of the season have been unique and different enough to reflect their own individual journeys.
Of course, with food such a big cultural event in Korea, the duo have shared some of their best moments together over food and it seems only natural that they’ll end up together by the end. Then again, the subject of both their ex-partners looming in the shadows is an ever-present issue that I’m sure will become more prominent over the weeks to come. For now though, Dinner Mate bows out with another strong set of episodes.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!