We kick off episode 3 of Live On with So-Hyun missing her bus and a flashback to chasing a bus in middle school with Ho-Rang. They attach matching friendship charms to their school bags but then other girls show up and shun So-Hyun, so Ho-Rang does the same. Later, she accuses So-Hyun of having slept with a guy.
Flash forward to where we left off last week, Ho-Rang asks So-Hyun if she’s involved with harassing her. So-Hyun denies it and suggests they don’t speak ever again.
At lunch Ho-Rang gets a text that indicates to her the bully is in the room watching. She tries to get the person to reveal him/herself but doesn’t get anywhere.
At the studio So-Hyun asks Eun-Taek to take over training Ho-Rang, saying it’s uncomfortable because of a past experience. Eun-Taek agrees.
Woo-Jae sees Jae-Yi with a classmate and threatens the guy off but it seems unnecessary. Ah-ha! So maybe this is part of the break-up mix? Jae-Yi shows Woo-Jae a schedule for their impending study date on the weekend where 30 minutes are designated for studying.
In class, Ho-Rang gets a message telling her not to be scared, which she confronts head-on. The bully taunts her that a new story is on its way to the broadcast inbox. Eun-Taek invites her to the studio for training after school.
Ho-Rang gets to the studio early, intending to relax a few minutes before they begin. Eun-Taek sets a timer. Then he explains that she’ll have to take notes during training as she’ll be tested on the soundboard later. He’s not kidding. There’s timed testing, of course and more threatening texts too.
After several tests and re-tests, Ho-Rang seems to finally be getting it. She’s asleep at the desk when Eun-Taek returns and he takes the opportunity to observe her. She wakes to find Eun-Taek has blocked the sun from her eyes. She takes the test again, finally getting them all right. High-five. She wins her club button.
They run for home together in the rain and straight into Eun-Taek’s father. There’s awkwardness as father and son barely acknowledge each other. At the house, Eun-Taek’s father asks about his mother, noting she’d given up custody. They argue uncomfortably and Eun-Taek says he’s having dinner out.
Yoo-Sin invites the guys out for the next day. Eun-Taek recalls Yoo-Sin’s assuming friendship but goes along anyway, with Woo-Jae acting as a wingman. As they lunch silently, Yoo-Sin questions their social etiquette. The talk about So-Hyun and Eun-Taek says he doesn’t think she’s into the cute type.
Afterwards, on their picnic date, Woo-Jae is freezing but goes along with Jae-Yi’s plan. Yoo-Sin texts Jae-Yi to see how things are going and she realises that Woo-Jae isn’t having fun. They argue, agreeing they don’t understand each other. Jae-Yi takes off.
At home, Ho-Rang finds the friendship charm. She texts with Yoo-Sin about to get together until she realises that he’s with So-Hyun. Eun-Taek is there too. When he hears that Ho-Rang is home alone, he recalls her encouraging message about his dad and decides to head home for a dinner break.
Near the riverside, Eun-Taek meets up with Ho-Rang for a sushi picnic. They listen to music together and he tells her to call him whenever she has to eat alone. But she claims to prefer it. Eun-Taek admits he was suspicious when she first joined the broadcast club but then compliments her on her work.
As he walks off, she gets more bullying texts, asking if other kids know what she’s done. She runs after Eun-Taek, saying they need to talk. But facing him, she decides not to share and instead thanks him for dinner.
At home, Jae-Yi is still annoyed at Woo-Jae. Eun-Taek heads back to the library and So-Hyun notes that he’s 15 minutes late. He laughs it off, thinking of Ho-Rang. This feels like big news in the strict world of Eun-Taek.
The next morning, Ho-Rang’s parents celebrate her birthday but she doesn’t look happy. She tells her parents she has something to say, but her Mother takes a call and both parents head out.
On the bus, some kids are talking about So-Hyun but Ho-Rang tells them off for gossiping. So-Hyun ignores Ho-Rang and sits alone.
The team attends a meeting with the student council about the festival. Jung-Bin, the student council president, mocks their efforts and Ho-Rang takes him on, saying the festival booth is her domain. Afterwards, Eun-Taek is pleased that she’s now agreed to managed their bit at the festival.
Are you thinking about that first scene in episode 1? When she’s attacked via social during the festival? Me neither.
In class, the teacher is doing a lesson on blessings in disguise and mutual aversion – opposites that have a hard time co-existing. Woo-Jae has an epiphany.
In music class, Jae-Yi takes out her annoyance on the drums. Ho-Rang gets more texts but goes on the attack, saying she won’t go down alone. The bully mentions Ho-Rang’s broadcast slot at the festival. She observes that the bully must have been at the meeting and the bully goes offline. Victory!
At the booth, Ho-Rang gets ready for her first show. She reads a story that sounds like Jae-Yi complaining about her date with Woo-Jae but Jae-Yi looks surprised to hear it. Ho-Rang immediately goes off-script, dispensing advice to the horror of the rest of the studio. Students, however, appreciate her candid thoughts aloud and over the school social account.
After the show, Jae-Yi digs in with Ho-Rang and So-Hyun, thanking them but also defending herself. So-Hyun talks about Woo-Jae’s silence being the issue, but she’s clearly speaking to Ho-Rang. Ho-Rang takes the other side, defending her past self.
In the hallway, Eun-Taek receives compliments on the show, even from a teacher. It seems Ho-Rang was a hit. He texts regarding a broadcast meeting for after school.
At the studio, it’s just Eun-Taek and Ho-Rang preparing for the festival remote. She asks why he didn’t get upset about her going off-script during the broadcast. He’s cool with it and she agrees to let him know in advance next time. He closes with kudos. Queue sweet music.
Jae-Yi and Woo-Jae meet after school and reminisce about the beginning of their relationship. Woo-Jae says he liked her originally because of their differences, but that those differences have made it hard too. Jae-Yi sees where this is going and tries to walk away but Woo-Jae breaks up with her first.
At the studio, Eun-Taek leaves a birthday gift for Ho-rang to find. She opens it to a rush of middle school memories that leave her gasping.
The Episode Review
The gang continues to wander their way through this story, leading up to the big festival and Ho-Rang’s spectacle. Is Eun-Taek in on the bullying too? Or is it circumstantial that he seems to be everywhere the bully just happens to be hiding too?
With a total of eight episodes, we’re not quite halfway yet and already Jae-Yi and Woo-Jae have broken up. I suspect that storyline will continue to on-again/off-again until the end. From a romance perspective, there’s some obvious pairing up of So-Hyun and Yoo-Sin and Ho-Rang and Eun-Taek – if he’s not the bully, that is.
Ho-Rang carried this episode as she gets fed up with being threatened. I’m still waiting for some real urgency and so far, it feels a bit ordinary – not bad, just lacking impact. Perhaps the pairs will make it more interesting as the show continues.
It makes me miss Korean classics like The Heirs/Inheritors, Dream High, School 2013, or the wonderful Japanese Scum’s Wish, L-DK, or even Hot Gimmick, which managed to tell stories of school-aged pending couples or bullying with a bit more flair.
Let’s hope there’s more chemistry among any of the characters in the coming episodes as the story gets going. Bring it on, Live On – we’re waiting for you.