Hormones Episode 2: Dopamine aka ‘The Relationship’
Posted on November 17, 2013
You know you’ve taken too long of a break from this recapping business when you return to a series, and forgot everyone’s name. But here’s to refreshing the memory (clinks glass) and let’s proceed with Hormones.
Episode 2 centers on Tar, a teenager who aspires to be a musician, but also to be noticed as someone cool.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Tar recruits Win to help him film a video clip, since he’s the popular guy and will ensure more than 5 views. Win smiles at the remark and concedes, after all, the last shenanigan he pulled did accrue him several thousand hits on Facebook. Before they can start though, Tar’s mom pops into the room and invites Win and Mok to dinner, shaming Tar at the same time. His friends chastise him that there is nothing to be embarrassed about- it appears Tar is ashamed of the things she says in the company of his friends. So Tar bribes his friends to a nice beef grilled lunch in order to avoid a meal at home.
We notice that during his family dinner, he is the baby in the family. He begs and pouts to his parents for a motorcycle he saw on TV. If I were he, I would be more embarrassed at the condition my friends would see me in, rather than ashamed of what my mother would spout. As he drinks his milk that night though- prepared by his mother of course- he notices that the video clip has over one thousand hits. He is over the moon. This has never happened to him before.
That morning the girls on campus fangirl over Win instead though, whom they think was just so cute singing the song. The excitement that Tar just had over feeling popular for once immediately deflated. What makes it worse is that the girls don’t even remember his name, the guy who played the guitar, not to mention the person who uploaded the video! Not to fear, a senior approaches them and praises Tar for his guitar playing skills. He invites Tar to audition for his band “SeeScape.” Suddenly being invisible among the girls is the least of his worries now, since SeeScape is only the most popular band in school.
Tar arrives at the audition, mentally prepared to becoming the band’s guitarist. But much to his chagrin, another classman “Pae” has also received an invitation. And the competition is on! Pae and Tar take turn rocking the electric guitar to a cover of ‘Wat Jai’ (Measuring one’s willingness) by Silly Fools, as the lead singer belts out the tune. Both appear equally skilled.
We cut to Tar coming home after school with a friend, Phai. He warns his friend to decline any offer to dine with them. Ha. Once in his room, he inserts a dvd of the Silly Fools performing Wat Jai in a concert. He and Phai watch with praise as the original band shows a thing or two on how to be a true rock star. Not surprising, Mom pops in to invite Phai for dinner, she tells him that if he doesn’t have dinner with them, he won’t be able to visit Tar at home again. Oh mom! Phai glances at Tar with distress and immediately agrees to dinner. Hee.
We start to see why Tar is reticent about having friends over for dinner. Mom immediately unleashes her one million comparison of his taller or better-looking friend to her much shorter, and smaller son. Phai chuckles because well, he’s getting praised while Tar is getting shacked. But even that can’t sullen his mood when he receives a phone call indicating he’s been accepted as a band member for SeeScape. They will practice a cover to “Yang Noi” (At Least) by a band called Big Ass. Unfazed, Momma says she’ll crack open a big bottle of milk to celebrate- it’ll help him grow taller. Phai observes with a smile, as the whole family chuckles at Tar’s behalf. And he notices that Tar doesn’t mind it over much either. In his world however, Phai arrives home to a disapproving father.
The next day at school, Toei joins Tar in the classroom as he practices his guitar during lunch. She buys him a sandwich to celebrate his newly minted position in the band. But she masks away the fact that she didn’t want to eat alone, having been jilted by her gossipy girlfriends, who’d all conveniently forgot to tell her that they have other things to tend to. Tar lends her his favorite toy that he attaches to his bag every day. He advises her to take it out and play when she’s lonely, it’s the best, because if you’ve played with the toy for so long, then it bypasses the whole growing up thing.
SeeScape practice Yang Noi and plaster their banner across the school. They are the best and most popular band in school, so the schoolmates stop each of the members for a photo op. Tar unfortunately stands by the sidelines and watch them receive their notoriety.
At the school Marching Band’s summit, where you spend all day everyday practicing, two band mates bicker like old friends in the restroom. They must be real tight if one asks to borrow the other’s boxer, and the other teases that he may even borrow his underwear next time (as if that is not the same thing.) It’s something straight men may not think to say in a normal friendship. This gets one of them to thinking that night, as the other throws a leg over his body.
Meanwhile Sprite makes eyes with another student in a bookstore. The student asks for her number nonchalantly (as he’s thinking that since she made eyes at him, he could get lucky.) Unfortunately her boyfriend arrives and sets him straight. His lackeys surround the student and bully him. Don’t mess with our bro again, got it? Sprite peers regretfully over her boyfriend’s shoulder.
Tar is developing a crush on Toei, she sits next to him everyday, she’s a super nice girl, and even compliments him that although it’s difficult to find his charming quality, he certainly has some. And to put icing on the cake, she invites him to her house because her mother just baked 5 batches of cupcakes.
Tar learns that Toei loves roses, because roses are embedded everywhere in her house. Toei relents that her mom seems to love them and since she grew up with them, she automatically and is conditioned to love them. Mom teases that she almost named Toei “Rose” but she lost to her dad in a rock paper scissor contest. Toei asks rhetorically what she would be like if her name is Rose, but Tar chimes in that if her name is Rose, then his would be Jack. A comment that could go over as romantic or corny, goes well over her head. Toei admits that she has never seen Titantic, she was too young. Omg. The epitome of the 1990s babies! [Insert personal flabbergast!]
Doesn’t matter, Tar is still into her. He finds an excuse to call her at night, asking her if there is homework due tomorrow, he couldn’t remember. Wink wink. Toei tells him that they are having an activity day at school, so no, but he must be nervous because it’s his first performance in front of the entire school with the band. Tar says that he’s excited because it’s something he has never done before. He segues into a more personal question, have she ever wanted to do something for someone? Toei is shy as she twirls her hair between her finger and says that she finds it a strange question. But she answers it anyway, she goes to school for her mom even on the days that she doesn’t want to. Tar doesn’t get a chance to tell her that he wants to play guitar for someone (namely her) because Toei is on a roll and asks him if he has heard of the song “Bork Ter” (Tell You). She loves it and wants him to play it for her.
Activity day for the school commences, it’s a significant day because each school club would have an opportunity to recruit new members or show everyone what they’re all about. KhongKwan is leading the “Journal Club” for any and all book writer and newspaper enthusiasts. The gossipers are in charge of the “the Cover Dance Club” for those who want to be “cool” or “trendy.” (Or perhaps lose their hearing.) Thee also appears, advertising for the school marching band. A flurry of activities surrounds the school break room and hallways. The school administrator is sure to patrol the grounds to make sure that students adhere to the school’s policies.
Dao decides right off the bat that she will join the Journal Club with Khongkwan, who is pleased with the decision, since she has an assignment for Dao. The younger lady would be responsible in writing an article from a 10th grader’s perspective. Dao immediately thinks of a premise, the idea that 10th grader’s life is all about the friendships and dreams that come into play with one another. Khongkwan is impressed. And just as Dao peers over to the Marching Band club, she sees Thee wrapped in the arms of another boy in one of their activities. Dao is mesmerized and envisions those two boys running through the rain with a newspaper over their heads.
Khongkwan starts a game with the curious minds. They would have to answer what (if any) gives them the ‘guidance light’ in their lives. Win steps forward and has an answer: he says that his guiding light is someone who understands him. He smartly puts her on the spot next. Kwan is unfazed though and retorts that her guiding light is her consciousness. When you have the mental awareness before doing anything then only good things will come into your life. The crowd applauds her answer.
Phoo gets an admirer who fumbles along her confession as she hands a box of cookies that she made for him. As he turns the box around, there is a price tag attached. Haha. Thee plops down on the bench next to him with a smile. But in comes Dao who asks to take a picture of the two of them, but Phoo misunderstands thinking she wants a picture with him. Dao watches them put their head together for a pose, and she spies Phoo’s hand on Thee’s shoulder. She practically gets the chills. Ha. As she walks away, Phoo takes a bite of Thee’s food while Thee teases him about his fanclub. Phoo admits that he doesn’t quite like his admirer’s character, to which, Thee asks what kind of a person does he like then? Which of course propels Phoo into thought and he replies that he quite likes Thee’s attributes.
In an empty classroom, Sprite is about to get it on with a lower classman. Unfortunately the fool doesn’t have a condom and she refuses to have anything to do with that kind of irresponsibility. She leaves the room in a huff- but runs into Dao and Khongkwan. They observe her disheveled look and then spot a guy running after her, buttoning up his shirt. Kwan doesn’t say a word but as they walk away from the duo, she tells Dao not to tell anyone what they just saw. (If you remember, Kwan and Sprite used to be besties.)
The activity day continues and it’s almost concert time. Tar’s parents made their appearances, which flusters Tar to no end. But the band plays the song, enthralling the crowd. Mok is in a pink elephant costume, and being someone else even for a bit was quite interesting for him. Kwan makes all sorts of girlie awed faces at him, and he even got picture clips of Tar and Toei together. Also during the concert, Toei takes a video of Tar and the band, while Dao whispers to her friends that she’s got something to tell them. Hm. I think we know the topic of that discussion. Sprite looks on with indifference.
As Toei takes a video of the band, she overhears the females’ chattering about how the new member is over acting. Ah, girls are so mean. Mok finally takes off his elephant costume for a break and spies Tar and Toei chatting. Toei says that she doesn’t like Tar’s performance today, which saddens him. In all honesty she couldn’t really hear whether he played well or not. What she knows is that when he looked more serious (while he was practicing in the classroom) he looked a whole lot better than the performance he put on today. Tar confesses that he’s doing all of this for her, that he likes her. Toei is surprised and tells him not to be ridiculous. Ouch. She tries to change the subject by telling him to forget what she said earlier, she was only kidding. Then in all seriousness, Toei says that if today’s performance is for her, she is disappointed.
What makes the whole matter worse is when Tar replays the video in the car and he can hear the girls in the background complaining about his performance. Momma doesn’t notice his deflated mood, she’s excited about his first performance and wants to celebrate it at Shabu Shabu. She tells him to drink a bottle of milk, because if he were just a bit taller, he would look so cool on stage. Tar turns to his Momma and questions her whether being short is his fault. Why is it that people have to be tall in order to garner attention? Why can’t they blame themselves for making him so short? He unbuckles his seatbelt and walks out, it was the last straw for him. Momma watches on with sadness.
But then, as he makes his way home, he sees a motorcycle in the driveway, the exact same model he had asked his parents for. He kneels down and caresses the motorcycle as tears roll down his face.
Oh, Tar breaks my heart. He wants to be seen as cool and popular and talented so badly that he ends up trying so hard- overcompensating. His height is his crutch and he feels that being short holds him back, or at least he is made to feel that way. But could you blame him? His Momma constantly brings it up and forces him to drink milk every time. I love the last rhetorical question he threw at her, ‘does one have to be tall in order to garner attention?’ Because we all know that is not true, and I can’t wait to see Tar prove it.
Starting Tar in such a low state offers a grand build up for the moment when Tar finally and inevitably receives his notoriety. Who doesn’t like to root for the underdog? Especially for one who isn’t afraid to tell the girl that he likes her, and isn’t afraid to feel like a jerk for being harsh to his Momma.
But I know there’s going to be more teenage angst in store for us- and I love how the director’s taking his time with each character’s story. It helps us stay invested and curious to see how things pan out.