A Painful Past
As we cross the halfway point of this baseball drama, Hot Stove League delivers a reflective episode that dives deeper into Seung-Soo’s persona and shows just how much weight this man has been carrying around over the years. With a few more hints around the direction this one will take for the rest of the season and a couple of interesting dynamic shifts as Se-Young takes the reigns of the club temporarily, Hot Stove League promises to increase the tension from here on out as we gear up for the business end of the season.
Episode 9 of Hot Stove league begins with the Junior Managing Director arriving and briefing the team, telling them Seung-Soo has now left the company. While the others shake their head in dismay, given he brings up Chang-Ju as the reason for this, Se-Young confronts him afterward and tries to get some answers. Instead, he makes her the temporary General Manager. She’s having none of it though, and addresses the rest of the team and tells them she’s going to fight against this injustice.
Seung-Soo packs up his things and leaves the office, telling Se-Young he wants her to be the temporary manager. He turns heads as he walks through the office, head held high, as Jae-Hee runs after him and wishes him well. With Seung-Soo gone, the players and coaches start to rebel against the upper-management. Chang-Ju learns what happened too and immediately rushes off to try and speak to the CEO about this. Instead, he just misses his car and instead, finds himself talking to the Junior Managing Director in his car. He tells him to focus on playing good baseball and to forget about Seung-Soo as he won’t be returning again.
Thankfully, Seung-Soo leaves Se-Young a USB stick full of detailed plans on the team’s championship bid. At work the next day, the Promotions Manager hands over a file for Se-Young as she continues to work but with things becoming tense with the team, Young-Soo steps up during a meeting with the coaches and suggests some trades to strengthen Dreams’ roster. The day of the draft arrives and Se-Young heads in with the management team, where they win and make headline news in the sports world.
As they head out for dinner afterward to celebrate, Young-Soo tells them that Seung-Soo sends pictures of food to his Mother, before going on to spill more details about their family history. While he does, Seung-Soo heads to the hospital to visit his Father and it’s here we learn more about his family, including snippets of his past.
The next day, Se-Young holds a press conference and reveals the truth about Young-Soo’s hiring, revealing to the reporters the exact scores each of them gave. This obviously angers the CEO who immediately calls them in and demands answers over what they’ve done. The press conference works a treat though, as the news reports on Chang-Ju and Young-Soo’s previous article is further strengthened by Chang-Ju going live on the news and announcing he’s going to enlist in the military after this season at Dreams. He publicly thanks Seung-Soo for his help and this causes a wave to ripple across the club as the Chairman rings the Junior Managing Director and Seung-Soo phones Se-Young, asking just what’s happening.
After talking together, Seung-Soo speaks to the Junior Managing Director. It turns out the Chairman actually wants him back and as he walks back into the office, re-hired again, the others celebrate his return with a cake but he simply stares at them, blowing the candle out and walking away silently.
It turns out the contract he signed is a different one, something that will see him retire voluntarily when the season begins officially. To close out the episode, Seung-Soo visits Chang-Ju and questions just why he decided to enlist. As they talk, Chang shows him his child and hands him over, prompting the General Manager to begin crying as flashbacks to his past show something dark and painful there.
Hot Stove League returns with another good episode here, one that paints a portrait of our troubled General Manager and the baggage he’s been carrying around all these years. Seeing the reveal that he’s been taking pictures of food for his Mum is a really nice touch and this combined nicely with the flashbacks of his past to show the cool, tough front he’s been putting on is hiding a soft, painful core behind it.
Seeing Se-Young step up to take the reigns of the club is a nice touch too but quite what the rest of the season has in store for us remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though – the Junior Managing Director is not going to be make things easy for Seung-Soo for the remainder of time he’s at the club. For now though, this week bows out with another strong episode.
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