04 November, 2014

Love Cells Episode 1 Recap: Discovering Love Cells

The first episode of Love Cells is off to it's quirky and off-beat start introducing us to our main lead and his romantic woes. The drama has sort of been on my radar and I was curious to check it out, but hadn't really given it much thought (and here I am recapping it). At only 6 minutes and change, it's a quick watch, and probably doesn't need much explaining, but I figured I may as well try my hand at recapping it for those of you who can't find it with English subs. This Dramabeans post has a little more on the low-down of who's involved etc. if you want to know more about the premise etc. So let's get started shall we. If you want to watch it on Naver, just click here. That's where people are watching it here in Korea, but I am not sure if the Naver link will work in your country. Give it a try and let me know.

Kim Woo Bin's face fills the screen, in what feels rather like he must be the villain, as the camera pans out to a dark and deserted warehouse and a man begging for his life at the suited man's (Kim Woo Bin) feet. It seems that the suited man has given him plenty of chances, but still the man begs the suited man to save him. The suited man, who we still don't know who he is, doesn't seem to think that the begging man has really convinced him he wanted to live anyway, so he's not going to show any mercy.

The King of Romance (though the drama hasn't told us that yet), lifts and cocks his pistol while the man begging for his life (Park Sun Ho) looks on in horror, his face all tear-stained.

The King of Romance shoots and the victim wakes up with a start and a pain-filled grimace on his face. Either the dream shot is real, or he's got some pretty bad heart burn. Heart burn doesn't seem far from the truth what with falling asleep on his rooftop bench, surrounded by beer cans and junk food leftovers. And are those pieces of squid littered around him too?

He inspects his chest to see if there really is a bullet hole, as a pepto-pink jello ball floats out from his chest into the atmosphere. At least, I think that's where it came from. It seems that he's had this same nightmare before, so he's not too surprised and rolls over to chew on some squid while he introduces himself to us.

His name is Ma Dae Choong (and the screensaver on his laptop says he loves Seo Rin). He's 27 and has been living a meaningless life for all those 27 years. Jeepers, who's depressed over here! No job. No friends. No girlfriend. Maybe that has something to do with the terrible hygiene and fashion that Pepto-Pink floats around and confirms for us via text and helpful hovering. Of course this leads him to question his very existence. So major existential crisis here à la late twenties breakdown.

Navi, his roommate and a very curious cat, also gets her introduction made (and Dae Choong asks her to not abandon him), which is right when Pepto-Pink decides that now is the time to let Dae Choong know she's not just a glowing ball of goop by telling him to get a grip. He asks what she is and she explains that she's a love cell made from his body and that she escaped because she didn't want to die.

He decides that he's tired and this must be nonsense, and tries to close his eyes to get rid of her, but of course Pepto-Pink is having none of that. Navi though is interested and licks her chops in anticipation of a new and exciting meal while Pepto-Pink frantically tries to figure out what this black-n-white fuzzy creature is that is about to chase and eat her.

A hop, skip, and a jump over Dae Choong and Navi captures the glowing ball of goop. Dae Choong follows the Pepto-Pink blood trail to where an unrepentant Navi is chowing down on the delicious goop that exclaims it's not supposed to be eaten and that it hurts to be eaten. Dae Choong asks Navi what she's eating. She looks up, smiles a human like smile and lightning flashes across the Seoul skyline.

Dae Choong jumps back as a girl materializes where Navi was sitting a moment before. It's Kim Yoo Jung! She's one of my K-drama faves! Dae Choong is starting to think that this dream is seeming rather real. Cut to the web-drama name: Love Cells: A dating virgin seducing an idol star and the Episode 1 title: Encounter - Discovering Love Cells.

Jang Hyuk, our resident Jeet Kune Do (it's a hybrid martial arts form created by Bruce Lee - I learn something new every day) instructor and neighbour, looks on while Pepto-Pink tries to convince Dae Choong that she is in fact real, and sort of how she is also his cat. She tells him not to think too hard about it and that even though his cat is her, she's also still his love cell. Did that make sense? I'm stil trying to wrap my head around it. Of course he's not buying it and she asks what will make him believe her. He demands that if she is, that she turn back into Navi as proof, which she promptly does all in a poof of sparkly, pepto-pink dust.

It's all too much for him and he passes out with JKD neighbour looking rather impressed. Pepto-Pink (I promise I'll start calling her Navi soon) thinks he's weird and then proceeds to slap him silly to the seaside - because, hey, why not when you're a love cell. There's no need to explain what's up on the rooftop - a nice oceanside is much better. And yes, telling him to wake up while slapping him is certainly going to work at some point.

Once he finally regains consciousness, he tells her he was fine living by himself and he would rather she leave him alone. She says nope, he has to date! If he doesn't date within a month, then she dies. So she has rather a lot invested in whether he has a love life or not, which is all confusing because she is part of him. Is this like some sort of Eve from the rib of Adam thing? Eek! Is she going to fall for him!?! That would be weird though because she is one of his cells. Okay, I am totally getting ahead of myself. I have no idea if they are the pairing in the show or not. He doesn't seem to care though and calls her a measly love cell. Needless to say, she's not so happy about that description.

And so Dae Choong gets a Love Cell lecture on the three stages of Love Cell Death.

Stage 1: the year period of time following a break-up where you don't notice time passing because it's all too painful. Stage 2: When you're still single for a few years after the break-up and you start to become worried and then start to blame others for your miserable state. Stage 3: Love Cell Death. You become emotionless and desensitized to everything around you. And then the final nail in the coffin - if you lose the emotion love, you won't be able to love yourself. Eek! This is not good here buddy! We can't let you get to Love Cell Death stage!

His response: "Huh?" It seems that Dae Choong can't quite grasp the crisis Love Cell Death brings. Navi explains he won't be able to communicate with the world, and will pretty much just become an emotionless, shriveled up squid. And he's only got a month to rectify this situation.

In a chipmunk-squid voice (and form), Dae Choong starts to acquiesce that hypothetically she might be right, and agrees to think about it. He's aware though that he's not exactly dateable right now and asks who would want to date him. She seems to think he's rather adorable as a squid. She mentions that despite his looks, he is dirty and unkempt, but she's an ace and has saved 99 other people just like him. Yes! But wait, she's one of his cells?! I am so confused about where love cells come from. Is she a part of him or not? And what does she get out of this? If she saves his love cells, she becomes a star, just like the one the aeroplane conveniently flies past (and pauses in front of). Or wait, she says, that exact star. So there's a star with her name on it apparently. He's a little disparaging of how much effort she's willing to put in just to become a star, and gets a cat glare in return.

The cat glare is enough to motivate Dae Choong to think about what he needs to do. Navi tells him he has to date the person he likes the most. The catch: that means he has to date Seo Rin, as in star and famous enough to be on a billboard Seo Rin. She can't just be his screensaver, but Seo Rin is supposed to become his girlfriend now! This gets tricksier and tricksier! He thinks she's crazy and brattily says if Navi calls her, does she think she'll fall out of the sky? All that does is results in a billboard, with Seo Rin on it, falling on top of Dae Choong.

When is he going to learn that Navi is not just his cat anymore!

The preview lets us know we'll get to know more of Dae Choong's experience with women, which Navi wonders if he's actually ever talked to them before. Cue awkward aegyo from Dae Choong. We'll also meet Seo Rin, who is supposed to be a goddess, but who is maybe not so fairylike, and her manager certainly seems to think she's not exactly holding up her end of the image. We also hear Dae Choong say that no matter how hard she tries to help, he just can't do it. Navi also reveals the tricks of her trade to convert nerdy guys like him into dating experts. She is pretty confident she can save him.

We also get a nice little snippet of post episode interview with the neighbour. Our JKD instructor is doing some reading up from his teacher, Bruce Lee, when Navi interrupts him and asks him to say something to everyone in the world out there not dating anyone. He leans in, closes his book, thinks a minute, and then waves his fists in a martial arts flourish. I suspect Jang Hyuk might not have any lines to say the whole drama.

Comments: I think it's really interesting that we have a female character leading a man into love. She's the guide teaching the man how to navigate the world of love, and too often in drama land, the male lead is rather too didactic (though not always) and is the one teaching the women the art of love. I already love Miss Pepto-Pink and her sass and that she's completely invested in helping him. Sure, it's motivated by some pretty serious self-interest, but she seems rather nice. I'm really curious to see how love cells interact with the King of Romance and how he's going to lord it over everyone. And I'm also curious as to how our resident JKD neighbour is going to play into all of this. Perhaps he's just some pretty side comic candy for us to enjoy. I'm certainly not complaining. Leave your thoughts, ideas, and speculations in the comments below.

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  1. Tnx for the recap. I really would like to watch the show but unfortunately it was not available in our country yet.

  2. Here in Korea, it's online on Naver. I'm not sure if it would work in your country, but you could try and watch it here. It's not subbed though, but maybe together with the recaps, you could make it work. Let me know if the Naver link works in your country. Just click on the episode numbers to watch each episode: http://search.naver.com/search.naver?where=nexearch&query=%EC%97%B0%EC%95%A0%EC%84%B8%ED%8F%AC&sm=top_hty&fbm=0&ie=utf8

  3. For its measly little 6-minute length, Love Cells sure packs a whole lot of intensity & complexity. I'm shocked and confused and puzzled and bewildered and befuddled and even somewhat flabbergasted. I consider you a genius for being able to recap it and translate the strange statements the characters seem to be saying. I see why it took you so long to write this! ;)

    And it does look like Oppa will not be speaking a word at all. Which would be so cool. Cause everything Oppa does is cool. I know it's a silly bias but what can I do.

    Really happy to see that this made you do a little research on JKD which is a fascinating human creation.

    Thank you so much D! I loved reading it. & your sense of humour and amusement at the strangeness of this show is certainly evident. Thanks!

  4. My pleasure! ^^ I'm sorry I didn't get the other two episodes up today. Actually it might be more than that. Work keeps me super busy. I will try tomorrow to get some more recaps up. And I'm not really translating as I get to watch a subbed version as well as being able to watch it raw. So don't give me too much credit. It's really the screencapping that takes up the most time and that and watching it a few times so I can make sure I catch all the meaning. I'm trying to get faster...so we'll see. Have you tried watching it on Naver? Wait...you already saw it raw. Nevermind then. I put a link to the Naver site that is streaming it here in Korea.

  5. Tnx for this. 😃😊 i'll definitely try it.

  6. I love ur recap for episode 1, however i couldn't find any recap for the other episodes :( The video with eng sub is not available in my country.

    I found a blog with the other episode recaps . If anyone is in the same situation as me then go to

  7. Thank you for commenting! I'm sorry I haven't recapped any of the other episodes yet! I am working on it! Life has been a little busy ^^

  8. try using dramacool.com...it works almost anywhere nd it's free

  9. Quick question, do they do their own subbing, or do they rip subs from other places? Sometimes there are websites that rip subs from other websites and often don't give them credit. I don't really know much about DramaCool though.

  10. From what I know they do their own subs and they only sub in English

  11. Thanks for the quick reply! ^^ That sounds like a good option for people then without access to Viki or DF.