Episode 5 of Live On picks up at the festival before Ho-Rang starts her segment just as she receives a text from her bully. Hui-Su recalls her series of messages about Ho-Rang with a malicious smile. Zip to the moment all students receive the incriminating text followed by So-Hyun and Eun-Taek rescuing Ho-Rang.
In the auditorium, the team is trying to figure out what happened and what they should do next. Eun-Taek arrives to get everyone on track, as the broadcast segment is still running.
He remembers helping Ho-Rang escape the auditorium, that he’d tried to accompany her but she sent him back in to cover her dignity. In a taxi home, Ho-Rang can’t take her eyes off her phone as SM posts keep coming. She recalls her panic on stage.
The next day at school, Ho-Rang is all anyone can talk about. Jae-Yi and Yoo-Sin defend her to the other kids. Ho-Rang shows up late, surprising everyone that she’s there at all, saying her bus was in an accident. Heading to her broadcast team meeting, she dives straight in, ready for a live lunchtime broadcast.
When she begins her show the school erupts with gossip, rehashing the same comments. After the segment, the team is assigned festival follow up tasks. Ho-Rang volunteers to clean the auditorium as she’d left early the previous day.
Outside, Yoo-Sin asks Jae-Yi where she’d disappeared to the previous day. She claims boredom sent her home early, not mentioning Woo-Jae’s admirers. As they’re chatting Woo-Sol appears. After Yoo-Sin exits, Jae-Yi asks Woo-Sol not to mention Woo-Jae’s name. They agree to refer to him as ‘that jerk’ when necessary.
In class, Ho-Rang recalls her morning. Turns out she was late having first met with Lee Seon-Ju, who’s summoned her, complaining that her information was made public because of Ho-Rang being outed.
Seon-Ju says that if people find out that she bullied Ho-Rang in middle school, she looks bad for a time, then it goes away. But Ho-Rang will always be the loser who got beaten up. Threatening much? Now we’re getting some clarity and a hint that there’s more to come.
So-Hyun suggests to Eun-Taek that someone else should help Ho-Rang with the auditorium cleanup, as she wouldn’t be welcomed. So-Hyun heads to the broadcast room to find Hui-Su editing festival video. Another student arrives saying he’d been assigned to work on that same footage. Hm…
In the auditorium, kids are still talking about Ho-Rang, even as she’s walking by. She confronts more students about making presumptions based on a single photo and caption, creating more commotion. She does make a good case.
Eun-Taek walks in to more gossiping and takes them on. He follows Ho-Rang outside to find her in tears. Surprised, he doesn’t interrupt but gets a measure. Meanwhile, So-Hyun reviews the social posts about Ho-Rang, starting to mark out clues on the culprit.
Woo-Sol hits her brother up for spending money and notes he bought a drink that only Jae-Yi likes. He plays it off as a mistake. Woo-Sol points out how boring he’s become without Jae-Yi. That’s what little sisters are for.
Ho-Rang is paging through social at home and spots comments indicating that Seon-Ju has posted. Seon-Ju’s message makes it look like Seon-Ju and Ho-Rang were bullying someone else together.
When her parents come home with lively guests, Ho-Rang heads to bed early. But Eun-Taek calls to awkwardly chat, continuing his distraction strategy. She teases him but he remains unfazed and invites her to watch a movie.
They head to the broadcast room to use the projector. The two chat about sad endings in movies but end up discussing Ho-Rang’s situation. He says he’ll wait for her to trust him enough with the whole story.
Ho-Rang wakes to find Eun-Taek asleep with his back to the screen, facing her. She blocks the sun from his face but he wakes and grabs her hand. As ever, she looks like a deer in headlights, jumping when her phone rings. She fibs to her Mom about her whereabouts and Eun-Taek notes she’s a good liar.
They head for home and run into Yoo-Sin and Woo-Jae. Ho-Rang makes up a random story about why they’re together. Yoo-Sin suggests they all go to eat. Jae-Yi calls Ho-Rang and she lists the group having breakfast. Yoo-Sin asks to whom she was speaking and Woo-Jae chokes on his drink.
Afterwards, Ho-Rang heads home and the guys go to the library. Woo-Jae asks Eun-Taek if he likes Ho-Rang. He immediately says yes, shocking Yoo-Sin. Eun-Taek asks if it’s obvious and Woo-Jae confirms that it is, then they keep on walking. Yoo-Sin is flabbergasted.
Jae-Yi visits Ho-Rang at home with a selection of cakes, saying she’s worried about her. They take photos of the cakes, of course.
So-Hyun is studying at a café and overhears more girls, including Hye-Rim talking about Ho-Rang. She joins them implying she’d received similar texts.
Jae-Yi won’t let Ho-Rang check her phone, saving her from the drama. She starts to ask about Ho-Rang’s meetup with Woo-Jae and the guys but stops herself.
They talk a bit about the breakup and Ho-Rang defends Woo-Jae, saying everyone has their own way. She asks how they met and hears a list of things Jae-Yi likes about him. It brings Eun-Taek to Ho-Rang’s mind, but when Jae-Yi asks if she’s into anyone, she declines to share.
On a break from studying, the guys ask Eun-Taek about Ho-Rang. Yoo-Sin says they’re the two least likely people to date. Eun-Taek notes that she didn’t pick up his call because she’s with Jae-Yi. That perks up Woo-Jae. Yoo-Sin notes that Jae-Yi and Woo-Jae still seem to have feelings for each other.
At the café, So-Hyun asks to compare the messages about Ho-Rang on Hye-Rim’s phone. Then she accuses her of stealing Ho-Rang’s identity (as per episode 1) and tells her she should admit to it.
As Jae-Yi leaves, Eun-Taek immediately text chats with Ho-Rang, continuing the social media diversion. This guy is on a mission.
At the station, the team is talking about the volume of Ho-Rang hate comments but stop as she walks in. Eun-Taek shows up shortly after and, business-as-usual, assigns tasks. One of the team asks about the projector remote which gives away that Ho-Rang and Eun-Taek had been there over the weekend. Ho-Rang looks traumatized.
After the meeting, So-Hyun asks Ho-Rang about the photo situation and whether she’d distanced herself back then because of what happened. Ho-Rang is consumed by middle school flashbacks. Then tells So-Hyun to back off.
In class, Hui-Su keeps an eye on social posts and spots comments saying no one has come forward about being bullied by Ho-Rang and maybe the photo is fake. She writes that she’s a victim to keep the furor going. But maybe she is.
Yoo-Sin stacks a pile of ‘backlogged’ snacks on So-Hyun’s desk. He asks if she’s studying today and when she says she’ll be editing festival video; he offers his backstage logs.
On the roof, Ho-Rang thanks Eun-Taek for showing up at just the right time every time, suitably averting her. She says it feels like he’s part of her life now but notes the idea of revealing herself to him is scary. He tells her to take her time, indicating he’s in for the long haul.
While editing video, So-Hyun spots footage of Hui-Su hiding the USB that Ho-Rang was meant to maintain during the festival. And Eun-Taek scolding her for losing it. Now the pennies are dropping. Hui-Su walks in followed by Ho-Rang as the episode wraps.
The Episode Review
Many revelations in this episode, including a reveal of the perp who’s been harassing Ho-Rang and more on the situation that happened in middle school. This gives us a pile of insight into Ho-Rang’s closed-in character as well as an idea of what’s to come – more sly bullying I suspect.
The introduction of Seon-Ju puts Ho-Rang potentially into more peril. What’s Seon-Ju’s link to Hui-Su? Relatives? Friends? Allies of opportunity? Chancers? And what did Ho-Rang do to annoy them both? Seon-Ju suggests that it’s merely Ho-Rang’s existence, but there’s likely more to it.
As So-Hyun secretly works on the mystery, we see too that however her friendship with Ho-Rang ended in middle school, she still cares enough to keep digging for evidence. Or is she just curious? A monument to justice? She’s got some conflicting characteristics, as she’s been burned before, but there’s a glimmer of realization that perhaps Ho-Rang ditched her back then for her own good.
With Eun-Taek prepared to admit his feelings for Ho-Rang to anyone who asks, Ho-Rang has a lot to think about. A loner, probably because of the incident and exacerbated by her family situation, she’s going to have to make choices, even as Eun-Taek assures he’ll hang around. I’m suddenly reminded of the ring Eun-Taek had been wearing in earlier episodes. A ruse to avoid relationships?
Woo-Jae and Jae-Yi – no, not saying anything more. I’m in danger of repeating myself.
The alternately bouncy and pouty Yoo-Sin is still my favourite character to watch, as he’s just silly, fun and perpetually well-meaning, bringing needed sunlight to so many dour classmates.
Overall, it feels like they’re getting a hair closer to the fabulous Veronica Mars (Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max) vibe if on a milder scale, with malevolent characters making themselves known and starting to close in. The bulk of the story has been laid out now, but I’m still hoping for a few clever surprises. We wait and see.