Red With Envy
Episode 1 of Penthouse Season 2 begins with the 28th annual Cheong-A Arts Festival. A shiny gold statue stands in the main atrium as Seo-Jin announces the winner of the Arts Prize. Only, just before she reads the winner’s name, a shrill scream pierces the air. A woman (or girl, it’s not initially clear) tumbles down the stairs, blood-stained and seemingly dead. As Dan-Tae looks at the girl, he stares at the others in shock.
We then cut back four months to New York. Seo-Jin Cheon is the star of the show in her own opera as she entertains her guests. Her performance garners applause and lavish praise from all in attendance. The Korean-Americans congratulate her, until she’s called away by Dan-Tae asking how things are going on the phone. He’s in the process of building the perfect opera house for her, eagerly awaiting Seo-Jin returning to Korea.
As Seo-Jin heads up the stairs, she runs into Yoon-Cheol who happens to be in New York on business. She tells him he looks good and claims it’s been two years since they last saw one another. This gives us a good time frame since the previous season, although it does leave numerous questions unanswered.
Anyway, he takes a drunk Seo-Jin back to her hotel room where she starts kissing him. After they sleep together, she leaves hastily as goons suddenly show up and knock Yoon-Cheol out. They drag him down to the docks and begin beating him with lead pipes.
This English-speaking gang smash his arm and eventually dump the man in the water. These men were unfortunately hired by Dan-Tae, who learns what’s happened and smiles smugly at this turn of events.
Seo-Jin returns home but Eun-Byeol is still standoffish with her, especially after the events at the end of the previous season. Seo-Jin brushes this aside though and heads up to the penthouse and opens a gift. Inside though happens to be a blood-spattered portrait of her and the words “Die, Just die!” on the back. Apparently this is not the first time it’s happened, and she’s convinced that Yoon-Hee is behind this.
When Dan-Tae finds out, he tells Seo-Jin not to worry .Yoon-Hee went missing a year back and with the police after her, there’s no way she’d be able to orchestrate something like this.
Meanwhile, Kyu-Jin is out on a hunger strike but he passes out while enacting this, as numerous officials rush him inside a tent. Lots of food is strung out on the table as he starts to eat some noodles. He’s an assemblyman now, and of course completely corrupt. While he bemoans his situation, he checks the news and notices that Seo-Jin and Dan-Tae are due to be engaged. This means their companies are going to merge and will inevitably skyrocket their stock price.
At school, Eun-Byeol arrives and is surrounded by boys and girls doing her every bidding. She even uses the staff restroom too. When she hears news of the engagement, she confronts Seok-Kyung and Seok-Hoon.
While their fortunes have changed, Ro-Na has unfortunately slipped further down the social ladder, bullied by all the other students. She works part-time in a convenience store too, but when news of Ro-Na’s relationship to Yoon-Hee breaks, she’s kicked out and fired.
Back at the Penthouse, Seo-Jin notices something is up and checks the walls. Shocked, she sees more red writing scrawled across posters, telling her to die and berating her for being happy. As we soon see, someone wearing white trainers is watching from afar. However, the security footage hasn’t picked anything up. Seo-Jin inevitably blames Dan-Tae for this, who in turn takes his frustrations out on the hired help.
With a swollen face, Mi-Ok confronts Ro-Na, promising to kill her. As we soon find out, Mi-Ok Yang the one responsible for all this hostility against Seo-Jin, wanting the Chairman for herself. Seo-Jin catches her red-handed though and promises to fire her once she’s married to Dan-Tae. Well, Dan-Tae notices and eventually confronts the maid as she pleads for her livelihood. Instead, he has his men beat her down and dump her back in her apartment.
After this inconvenience, Dan-Tae sets up a lavish proposal for Seo-Jin in his penthouse, complete with a sign saying “Will You Marry Me?” and all their friends applauding. Just before he puts a ring on Seo-Jin’s finger, police show up and arrest him for Su-Ryeon’s murder.
With handcuffs on, he’s taken away as the officers claim a report was made by Yang Mi-Ok to this murder. After confessing this, she was found dead in her apartment, with a note claiming if she can’t have Dan-Tae, then she’ll destroy him instead. She also apologizes to Yoon-Hee in her note too.
Everything changes though when Yoon-Hee shows up at the police station in handcuffs. A wry smile crosses her lips as she walks away, having willingly handed herself in to officers. She claims she didn’t kill Su-Ryeon and bets her daughter’s life on this.
This changes everything, as Dan-Tae and Seo-Jin’s cozy life is turned upside down. The former’s lawyer claims that the police may well re-open the case too, so they come up with a plan to try and steer this around to their own liking.
This story is then concocted that Mi-Ok was the one responsible for the murder and not actually Yoon-Hee. Seo-Jin is not happy that they’ve framed her instead, as Dan-Tae shifts the blame away from himself.
This allows us to cut back in time and see Yoon-Hee back in town and watching Ro-Na from afar. Quite how she’s not being checked by police however, remains a niggling annoyance that’s not easily explained.
Anyway, as we soon see, Ro-Na visited Ms Yang’s house but was blind-sided by her she yanked the girl inside and began choking her out. Thankfully Yeon-Hee stopped her… as does Logan who watched as Mi-Ok gobbled up a whole stack of pills and promised to wait for her Chairman.
Logan helped to formulate the framed note while he told Yoon-Hee to hand herself in to the police. This explains what’s happened… but not how Yoon-Hee survived the seemingly fatal neck wound last season.
Anyway, there’s no time for that as we jump forward 3 months. Seo-Jin and Dan-Tae prepare for their wedding day. Only, Seo-Jin tells her friends in confidence that she may not even get married, she may just lead Dan-Tae along. She doesn’t realize though that he happens to be listening from afar.
The pair continue their celebrations but just before cutting the cake, a helicopter suddenly shows up and begins blowing everything over. The ceremony is ruined, as all those in attendance drop to the ground. The helicopter finally lands next to where they are and out steps… Yoon-Cheol and his wife Yoon-Hee. Sporting purple hair, she congratulates Seo-Jin for her engagement as our characters stare one another down.
The Episode Review
Penthouse is back – finally! Yes it doesn’t make much sense, yes there are loads of plot holes and big questions but my gosh this show is a big guilty pleasure!
The second season completely skips over a lot of the cliffhangers at the end of the previous season too, instead showing that Yoon-Hee is absolutely fine and she’s still working with Logan. Quite how these two ended up on the same page together remains to be seen but I’m sure we’ll find out in the coming episodes.
Meanwhile, Seo-Jin and Dan-Tae are the focal point for much of this premiere as the pair continue to schmooze and grow closer together. The reveal with Mi-Ok was pretty decent, although again the slightly contrived way this all came about betrayed her character arc from the first season. After all, we never saw her exhibit this level of obsession toward Dan-Tae – at least not that I remember anyway.
Despite all that though, Penthouse gets off to a good start. With Yoon-Cheol and Yoon-Hee quite literally crashing the party and looking set to cause trouble, it’ll be interesting to see where this one goes next.
Su-Ryeon’s death is still a big talking point though, at least for those outside the drama itself, and given she’s listed on the credits for this season, we still don’t know what sort of role she’ll play going forward.
And what of the girl pushed/falling down the stairs at the start of the episode? At a guess, this seems like it may either be Ro-Na or Eun-Byeol but that’s pure speculation at this point. For now, there’s another murder ready to be solved and plenty of makjang madness between now and then. Roll on tomorrow’s episode!