Ugly Duckling Series— Perfect Match: episode two

Our first episode was quirky and comical, barely undercutting the sting and stigma of rejection. This show isn’t perfect but even with all it’s cute moments, it still manages to bring home some major points of acceptance, understanding and friendship, while also highlighting the limitations of people.

Juu is at her new school just beginning to enjoy her new life, but within a few hours she’s humiliated and isolated once again. Now that her face has been exposed will she have the strength to defend herself among these strangers or will she high tail it and run?

*for gifs and additional pics

udpm02mockThe crowd murmurs their disgust and Juu turns back to Suea with tears in her eyes. Prez Tui points at her face, mocking she looks like a ghost, and leads the other seniors in the chant “Junita ghost face.” At this, Suea is fed up and stops the commotion, wondering who among them is perfect and beautiful? He takes a look around questioning what symbolizes attractiveness, pointing out that no one should be overly confident. He believes they should all be ashamed and demands an apology from them all, including Prez Tui.

Then he returns to Juu and looks in her face asking her to scare him— “Aren’t you a ghost? Haunt me.” The thing is, he’s never encountered a ghost, so when she admits she’s not one, he admonishes her to stop crying and forget about what the people around her think. But, the damage is done and Juu excuses herself embarrassed. Looking on from stands, Bee gushes at how manly Suea is, while Nui gives him side-eye for being so boy crazy.

udpm02promiseJuu is crying alone when Suea finds her, extending a handkerchief but she declines citing her face as “unclean.” But luckily for her, so is the cloth (he hasn’t washed it for weeks). Humiliated, she thinks she made a mistake for coming and wants to go home. And when he’s surprised to hear this, she continues he couldn’t possibly understand being ugly, because he’s so good-looking. However, Suea doesn’t see anything innately wrong with her; she only has pimples and asks her to think it over again. —- “What will you get by going home?” He rattles off all the perks of staying; travel, friends, learning and support; all things she has right where she is. Then to sweeten the deal, he promises to always have her back if anyone is rude to her. And when she smiles, he nods her head in agreement.

At opening ceremony, there’s face painting, games, balloons, dancing, loser shirtless penalties and an upperclassmen spy reveal. And Bee, Nui and Juu are completely shocked when know-it-all Nungning steps out to join the other sunbaes. Then Prez Tui announces the final portion is to find your personal mentor through a written description on a slip of paper. Suea passes out the slips and the search commences. Bee lands on Ning as his mentor but when Juu walks up to Prez Tui and Suea and timidly wonders if perhaps Suea matches her list, he reminds she has to dance for answers.

udpm02mentorWhen she’s finished, she pulls out her list and asks if this is him: extremely handsome, extremely hip, extremely harsh, extremely bad-mouthed, extremely funny and …extremely poor. He listens gingerly until her last statement and his face drops, but she looks to him expectantly and when he shakes his head, she sighs that she knew he couldn’t be. But then he turns to Prez Tui and gives chase for putting his business on blast. Then he confirms he is her mentor and welcomes her to the university, adding he’s glad to have her as his little sister.

Afterward, Bee coos his jealousy that Suea is Juu’s mentor, while he has Ning and they both agree the name “Tiger” suits him. Juu is surprised he’s poor but Bee thinks anything is possible, commenting however, it would be odd if their mentors were dating. Juu agrees but just ahead, their assumptions are shattered when they come upon the two cuddling and giggling together. Juu asks if Ning is still living with her at the dorm but Suea interjects he can’t be without her another night for his “heart is empty without her” and Bee scowls at his sugary display. Suea makes an excuse to leave and Ning tries to invite their mentees along but he hints they need alone time, grabs her hand and they all wave “Goodbye.” Once they’re gone, Bee pouts in envy over Ning enjoying Suea’s six packs and Juu looks after them beaming— “They make a lovely couple.”

udpm02marketudpm02class01Over the next few weeks, Juu adjusts to provincial campus life— learning to ride motorbikes, haggle at open markets and surprisingly satisfying her sweet tooth. But her largest challenge comes in her Intro to Tourism class, for when she’s asked to give a presentation on her favorite place to visit (to entice others to go as well), she chooses a mall in Bangkok and bombs. Professor Amorn uses her blunder as an example that tourism can’t be approached selfishly, nor is it an easy program. For, guiding, takes research and thoughtfulness and should be viewed with the listeners in mind. He gives Juu the chance to try again next class, leaving her feeling rather bummed.

Later, Suea finds her on a bench and laments he’s just learned it’s possible for someone to move their butt to their face and asks what has her so upset. She shares what happened in class and he chuckles but encourages, her Professor wants her learn and take her assignments seriously. He hands her his drink to help her calm down but when she sips, jokes they’ve shared an indirect kiss. However, his teasing doesn’t take her mind off the fact she has to redo her presentation and is still at a loss what to do. She remarks she hasn’t been anywhere but home and Pitsanulok, then brightens that maybe she could just pick a place from a guide. Suea pops her and reminds it must be from her own experiences, then suggests to choose Pitsanulok — “Take a look around. Surroundings are nice, things are cheap and the people are good looking.” He gets a call from Ning whose ready to eat, but when he invites Juu along, she passes so he takes off, leaving Juu to mull a little while longer.

udpm02morJuu has her check-up with Mor (Dr.) Sakda who tells her things are coming along well and warns her against beauty products and to remain careful cleaning her face. But with her supplements and saline injections weekly, she should recover nicely. Juu wants to speed up the process (of course), complaining she hates her face and wishes there was something he could apply for a quick fix but he advises these things take time, fostering that when something happens, it’s better to not be upset but find a way to accept it and live well— “Everything will be better from on. Trust me.”

There’s a horrible storm and the lights in Juu’s dorm go out. She and the girls sit in the dark and Nui tells a ghost story about a girl who becomes estranged from her parents after failing her classes and one a rainy night (like this one), roamed the streets and eventually hung herself in their dorm. Joy chimes in that every time it rains, people hear her crying. Nui continues that a tale-tell sign she’s been around is drops of water from her dripping apparition. And just as Nui finishes their story, thunder claps outside and a drop of water falls on Juu’s sleeve. She shares that she feels wet and they look to the ceiling and realize it’s about to collapse.

With that, the girls wail and scurry downstairs to safety, hoping to change rooms, but everything is full and Nui and Joy wonder what Juu will do for the night since they have can both crash with a mutual friend. Juu dials up Ning, who is happy to come get her, but when she and Suea show up on his bike, Juu is hesitant and confesses she’s not the best passenger. Ning tells her not to worry, her place is close but when Juu is still worried, Suea balks she’s acting spoiled and threatens to leave without her, until she puffs, she isn’t that picky at all and hops on.udpm02closet

When he finally comes to a stop, Juu slides off grumbling he should have pulled over sooner. With the way he drives she almost crapped her pants and would rather walk. But they’re at their destination and Ning ushers her in, while Suea parks his bike. They all dry off and Ning informs Suea he’s sleeping on the floor tonight and when Juu offers instead, which Suea would prefer, Ning reminds them both that Juu is a guest, besides he has work. Juu wonders what type of work he could be doing at night (it’s 10pm), then assumes he must be some type of security guard and Suea notes her smart tongue. He tries to get in a few kisses before he leaves, which sends Juu popping her head in the nearest closest, feeling intrusive on their private couple stuff. Suea questions her, then takes the opportunity to pretend with Ning for a moment. Intrigued, he tips over to Juu to inform her they’ve finished, then rubs her head cajoling she’s not only naiive but innocent as well, which makes her adorable. Ning rushes him out to work but he snuggles once more for a smoochy send-off, then with another Juu head rub departs for his shift.udpm02blanket

The next morning, Juu wakes to Suea curled on the floor and drapes her blanket on him. But before she walks away, he grabs her and pulls her down to lay with him in a bear hug. Shocked, she stills for a moment, trying not to wake him then unwraps him arms and gets up to leave. However, he pulls her down again nuzzling her, murmuring for Ning to keep him warm. She waits for him to settle down, then creeps away. Behind her, Suea cracks his eyes and smiles.

Juu has her presentation redux and and it’s a big hit! While she mentions the grassy knolls and sweet treats, she intimates what has impressed her the most is the people and her new friendships. Their smiling faces have welcomed her and made her feel at home. After class, Bee praises her on how impressive  and inventive she is for choosing their town. Saying with her perfect marks, she’ll soon surpass him as class president. She nudges that he’s exaggerating and confides she had a little help, to which Bee immediately assumes was a boy, accusing her of dating behind his back and tries to gauge who it might be. But Juu corrects there is no such guy — “Who
would like me with this face?” And Bee is glad, cause he’d rather her stay single with him so they can flirt with all the eligible bachelors.

Suea hears them from across the way and drops by to find out what all the cackling is about. Bee brags that Juu used Pitsanulok as her dream spot and had the entire class mesmerized, even their Professor. Suea gives Juu a knowing glance, who responds with a bashful nod and he rubs her head in congratulations, remarking that would be just like his little sister to do well. He invites them both for a celebratory meal and Bee perks up ready to spend time flirting with P’Suea, until the latter’s call to Ning deflates his hopes.

The four try to decide on a place to eat but Ning proposes Juu have the honors since the meal is about her achievement. Juu says she’s up for anything, but when she suggests Japanese, the boys shut it down as too expensive and Ning’s face sours. Juu tells Suea to choose and he and Bee rattle off local dishes and she picks larb. On the way, Suea’s bike stalls and while Ning suggests he call for help, Suea says it’s no big deal. But when he jumps off to assess the problem, his shoe strap separates and he hops to the side to repair it. While Juu and Bee joke about Suea and his shoe maker skills, Ning is embarrassed and irritated, exclaiming he should just buy new shoes. Suea dismisses it as an easily fixable strap but Ning nags that people are staring, snatches his flop and throws it into the grass.udpm02ning

Miffed, Suea looks up at Ning who argues she doesn’t understand his need to hang on to things, calling him mad for fixing and fixing, instead of rebuying. Suea counters he isn’t crazy, it’s just a strap and wonders if she isn’t the one whose mind is wrong.  But when Ning yells she just doesn’t understand why he has to be so frugal, bruised, Suea responds that he doesn’t have money, therefore they have to be careful with it— “Which you know damn well!”

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

Uh oh! How awkward must it be for Juu and Bee right now? I mean, I suppose the argument escalation was fairly inevitable because Ning certainly wasn’t backing down but geez! Just imagine two people you look up to fighting about a flip flop… Of course, there’s much more to their disagreement than that, for what happened here is a symptom to a larger problem but as on-lookers and especially young people with little life experience, surface level understanding is probably all they comprehend.

And I think that is what makes Suea’s last statement so important, because Ning does know things their listeners don’t know. I’m not sure how long they’ve dated but her insistence that she doesn’t understand, sounded more to me like she refuses to accept his choices and his status. A few of Ning’s other statements stuck out to me as well, like: Why do you have to feel bad for an old shoe?  or Why must you always hold on to things? because even though we know by this point this issue isn’t just about him sticking a strap in a hole, those statements seem to hint beyond tangible, monetary things. It makes me very curious about Suea’s past and what may linger underneath his pretty face. It clearly pained him to hear those things from Ning (and here she was griping about embarrassment), therefore money is certainly a sensitive topic and while that is generally the case for everyone, I wonder what the specifics are in theirs. Suea being poor is no joking matter because even when he speaks on the matter,even in a matter-of-fact way, his demeanor changes from ginger to prickly. He darkens and enters a more defensive stance, even when he’s not being attacked and that makes my brows peak.Suea definitely has a temper but it doesn’t seem to surface unless there’s a valid reason which is nice to see. Juu and Bee brought up that he lives up to his name and I can’t wait to see more of that as the show continues. I suppose however, he is similar to a big mischievous cat and if he lives up to Tui’s description, well, his name is absolutely perfect. In episode one, we knew so little about this guy and though even now we don’t know tons, he comes across rather consistent in that he’s a welcoming, kind and caring guy. He loves his girlfriend and makes friends all over the place, but not just because he’s good-looking—- He’s genuine. 

Right now, he’s Juu’s hero, and it’s adorable the way she looks at him. I can’t wait to watch those stars in her eyes transition to hearts, but for now, it’s the cutest thing in the world he’s her campus hero. For, unlike, lusty Bee (whom I absolutely adore by the way), her interest in him is first and foremost as this senior she idolizes. She recognizes he’s attractive (no one has forgotten their first meeting) but what makes her so relieved to have him as her mentor is the fact he stood up for her and didn’t treat her poorly because of her looks. He’s honestly the perfect guy to crush on because he encourages her to be better, corrects her, pushes her to think for herself and trusts she can accomplish her goals, all the while treating her like a friend and little sister. Sure, he could just be exercising his nice guy muscle, but I’d like to believe him when he says he thinks there’s nothing “wrong” with Juu. The two of them have something, something I can’t quite put my finger on, but she interests him enough to want to know what she’s thinking and why she does the things she does. Even if it’s just plain curiosity. And I like that. His willingness to bicker with her makes me smile. And the fact he can’t stop touching her gives me a giggle, for it’s more like a little boy who can’t stop playing with his Christmas puppy.

But even with all of Suea’s great qualities, the person I love the most has to be Ying Bee. That kid is the B.E.S.T! And truly the best thing that ever happened to Juu. From day one, he’s been supportive and understanding and in this episode has been there to help make her adjustment to rural living smoother.  It’s true he doesn’t know about her background but regardless of her wealth, it is a fact she’s been sheltered and anything she’s exposed to in Pitsanluk is a completely new experience. He warmed my heart bragging on Juu’s presentation, for he truly wanted her to succeed and do well and when she did, he rejoiced and told the world unabashedly. He was happy for her unconditionally, which leads me to believe, he’s definitely the kind of person Juu has been searching for and I absolutely adore their budding friendship. I truly can’t get enough of them!

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