Sometimes, in order to move forward, you first need to return to your starting position. Eat 2‘s characters do exactly that with their personal story arcs. Eps12 to 16 have been all about stripping away the characters’ false sense of “progression”, leaving our penultimate ep to be all about “regression”. But it is a good form of regression — by going back to their own roots, our characters conquer their inner fears, learn to accept their warts — and we are rewarded with a mild yet very marked forward movement in the end.
And who better to exemplify this backward-forward movement then Eat 2‘s central character: Baek Soo-ji. Soo-ji thinks she has became more confident, more sassy after shaking off her fats, but in actuality, that fatty Baek-Pig is still very much lurking in there. Her low self-esteem may stem from being overweight, and being the butt of cruel jokes during her childhood. Or it could be part of her character make-up: Soo-ji is an introvert, she doesn’t make friends that easily and her hobbies are typical of introverts — reading, writing. If it hasn’t been for Dae-young, she probably won’t be comfortable taking the first step to befriend Granny Lee and the other neighbours living in her apartment.
Soo-ji acknowledges her falsified sense of confidence after her failed relationship with Sang-woo. Being an introvert has an advantage — she can be very connected with her inner self when she chooses to listen (as compared to say, the extraverted In-ah…who needs a kick in the ass to wake her up). She owns up to Sang-woo that their relationship sank because she hasn’t been honest with herself, and has assumed a different personality which is tiring to upkeep.
Thus, not so amazingly, once Soo-ji confesses (not to Sang-woo, but herself) about her issues, her growth spurt starts in earnest. She bunks in with an extravert — Hye-rim, and becomes buddies with another — In-ah. I love the new synergy between the three girls. Hye-rim learns much about grounding herself from Soo-ji. Instead of the flighty, flirty girl who takes a light view of all her relationships, Hye-rim wants to settle down for one guy now. (sorry, he is not Joo-seung/ Chan-soo) And In-ah learns some sensitivity from Soo-ji. She may still be a blabber mouth, but In-ah has become more empathetic. She immediately offers in her breezy way to pay for spa sessions in exchange for more tete-a-tetes with Soo-ji, when she guesses (correctly) Soo-ji’s financial situation from her facial expressions.
While the girls make marked progress, the guys’ move a little bit slower. With the exception of Sang-woo. He manages to befriend his fellow civil servants colleagues — and they turn out to be like him, Prim on the outside, Slob on the inside. Sang-woo is no longer that zombie worker, who comes home to his empty apartment (save for his “welcoming” robot vacuum). And finally, he makes amends with Dae-young when he bumps into him in Seoul.
Taek-soo…regresses to the peeing and drunk ahjusshi, with the exception that he has a quasi family in the form of Granny Lee (“Mom”) and two “sisters” (Hye-rim and Soo-ji), looking out after his welfare. They nag and rag at him all day (and in Granny’s case, she cooks for him), and I think he enjoys that attention.
As for Joo-seung/ Chan-soo, he goes back to wherever he comes from. Quite a pity that Eat 2 doesn’t tell us exactly what happened to him. But in his last conversation with Granny Lee in the reformative centre, he did say he will return home.
And Dae-young? Well, he’s the Constant…so Constants don’t change, do they. Eat 2 ends off with Dae-young + Soo-ji walking away hand-in-hand in a football patch, reminding us simultaneously of their childhood friendship in the past (“regression”), and their new romantic relationship now (“progression”).