Drama Recaps
ATHENA: Episode 11
by | February 11, 2011 | 24 Comments

After quite a bitter response to the last episode, I’m in terms with this drama’s pace and tone (at least for now?). Not that there’s too much here that screams QUALITY, but there are some reversals that were rather interesting to see. At last, the political mumbo jumbo is finding a clearer way than “now we have the doctor! – now we don’t!” and the intertwining between the three teams (Teams NTS, Team Athena and Team North Korea) was more efficiently constructed as a domino effect that could end tragically.

Episode 11 recap

Just after his meeting with Joon Ho, Jung Woo goes directly to Ki Soo for help in this tricky decoding thing. Surprised, Ki Soo affirms that the code is one used by high North Korean officials, but he’ll be able to decipher it. And that’s exactly the moment when Hye In makes her Judas move.

Ki Soo notes the bright smile in Jung Woo’s face as he talks with Hye In, and wonders if a relationship between them would be accepted within the NTS. Jung Woo shushes him, while at the same time finally getting the logic behind the code (and quite faster than Ki Soo, who bragged about being an expert LOL).

That night, our ill-fated lovers can’t sleep a wink, for different reasons: Hye In’s conscience is killing her, while Jung Woo’s excitement over the code is still on fire. Eventually, he succeeds: it consists of a routing number (for a bank and its location) and a safety deposit box (number + code). Ki Soo is like a kid who’s found the map to a secret treasure, but Jung Woo calms him down – from now on, it’s his business only.

Once again, our ditz makes us wonder how he got a job in the NTS in the first place, since he makes a mistake not even a beginner would make – he takes the code in a memory stick but leaves the computer with it at Ki Soo’s mercy. No matter how funny and lovable the guy is, he shouldn’t trust so much in other people’s good faith.

On his road to perdition, Jung Woo calls Kwon to make him know about his recent victory. He also tells Joon Ho about this, and I guess he cross-posted it as his Facebook and Twitter status “I decoded Dr. Kim’s code! WHO’S THE BOSS?!”

Finally, we get to last episode’s cliffhanger, where a blinded-by-rage Son Hyuk is more than ready to send his rival to hell forever. Too bad Hye In saves his life placing herself right in front of Jung Woo. She looks back where she knows Son Hyuk is, and he’s like what-the-frak-damn-traitor.

Oh, I absolutely loved Son Hyuk’s despair. I think it was actually the first time he expressed something more than a blank stare; there was a deep disbelief in his eyes that lead to a few seconds of awesomeness from him. Now that he’s starting to fail, his spinning out-of-control persona is shining more than the manipulative freak.

Meanwhile, Hye In has to invent an excuse for them to meet, since “I had to kill you but repented” is not going to leave a strong impression on him. So, she simply says that they’re not going to work, not in this line of work. The problem is, his idea wasn’t that of a classic relationship, but something more free and unattached like a strong friendship with some benefits, was that too hard for her?

Hye In, understandably tired of lying, answers with her trade mark deadpan face. Having learned from his past experiences, Jung Woo doesn’t push her to pursue happiness with him, but asks her to find happiness nevertheless – even if she has to do it alone. He offers to wait for her, just a little more, however she’s not interested.

Not even a minute passes after they separate, and she’s already missing him like crazy, crying over their happy memories together.

Ki Soo, worried over Jung Woo’s behavior, calls Sung Chul and slides the code deciphering issue. It shocks me that, apparently, everything that Ki Soo wants is some credit for breaking the code and not something juicier. He seems to be a faithful buddy after all…

At the Blue House, the President is informed of Son Hyuk’s impeding imprisonment. The Secretary guesses that he must be an Athena agent, considering that they’re not just summoning him, but taking him to prison. If that’s the case (Kwon confirms her suspicions), this is a matter of Korean national security and they should handle it, according to the President.

This brief reunion is quite shocking for Director Han, who immediately calls Son Hyuk to convey the news. Oh, we get some more of Son Hyuk’s blood thirsty persona, and it’s his best mask. Alongside Andy (formerly Randy, formerly Sean Richard), they gather all important information, and open their ways shooting whoever stands in their road to freedom.

Oh-My-Gawd. The body count is simply mind-boggling. They’re just two guys against the whole NTS, but they make heads explode with well aimed shots as if they were in some cheap country fair. At last, one of them shoots Son Hyuk in his stomach area, raising a bit their efficiency rank but not so much. Luckily for our Athena boy, Andy picks him up and they escape in a car.

This tragic getaway puts the NTS in red alert – their new top priority is to catch Son Hyuk, who no longer has privileges of any kind and is referred to as a “criminal on the run”. These words have a particular heavy meaning in Jae Hee’s mind; she was starting to develop a soft spot for him when suddenly BAM! He’s a traitor.

(It’s too bad that Lee Ji Ah’s eyes have the same expression as a dead fish’s, because it was her moment to shine, and express through her eyes how conflicted she was after falling for his trap.)

Jung Woo asks for Sung Chul’s help to open the security box.

What’s in there, what’s in there?

*drum rolls*

Nothing flashy, nothing visibly important. Just a pair of glasses, with two thingies attached. Sung Chul tries them on, only to accidentally let one of the thingies drop – they were hiding something more important: chips with North Korean information about their nuclear development.

The NTS releases an alert to hospitals that can handle gunshot wounds, while Hye In rushes to find her boss. Unknown to her, as she leaves the facility, Jung Woo arrives to update his report on Dr. Kim’s secret message. After handing the chips, he takes the regained good concept that Kwon has of him to ask for his reincorporation to the field.

Meanwhile, Andy is improvising medical skills to save Son Hyuk.

The newly found intel on North Korea proves to be a possible game changer in regards to the whole peninsula’s position in the world. The data they had was radically different, but the supposedly real scenario is a fertile ground for other nations to try and bomb the north (according to it, North Korea is more powerful than expected.)

The situation is indeed delicate.

At the mahjong place, Mr. Chang is doing some major mess that led him to almost lose his hand. He has to thank Ki Soo for saving his skin, who in return only wants information about Jung Woo. As per Mr. Chang’s words, they met when he worked in the Private Investigator’s field. They can’t continue their chat due to an unexpected guest.

This guest is the Lieutenant General’s special envoy, warning him of the Lieutenant’s upcoming arrival and mandatory visit to him. Ki Soo is not particularly glad to hear this.

The NTS welcomes Jung Woo after his brief involuntary vacations, with his first assignment being Son Hyuk’s car (which was just found). When he arrives, Jae Hee is already there, aware of the car switch that’ll make it impossible for them to track the traitor. As a cherry on top of this damn situation, the place where they had the replace car has no CCTV or security, so well, good luck trying to find any clues.

Unless… There’s one last resource worth checking.

Jung Woo instructs the NTS guys to collect the black boxes memory chips from all the cars in the building (apparently, every car has one and record whether the car is being driven or not) and turn them to the Lab. Thankfully for them, one caught the car used by Andy and Son Hyuk and it license plate number is quite clear too. The chase is on now.

Jae Hee gets Director Han’s call while skimming through some DIS files, and both of them look gloomy regarding Son Hyuk’s status (he’s still MIA).

Not being able to let it go, Ki Soo keeps on pushing Jung Woo in order to get some extra data on what was in the box. For once, Jung Woo is intelligent enough not to tell him any details and hangs up.

In a hurry, Hye In goes to the baddies’ secret shack where Son Hyuk is nearer to death than ever. Touched by the view of her dear leader agonizing, her eyes get wet while she grabs his hand tightly. Isolated by the headquarters, she’ll have to find way to cure him without reporting the wound.

Wearing a surgical mask, Hye In enters Hangang Hospital looking for some nurse clothes to change into. Her goal is to get a doctor to accompany her to where Son Hyuk is fighting for his life.

Contrary to what Andy thought (that the car she used was safe), some cops at the entrance recognize the license plate number and report it to NTS quarters. The team arrives, but looking for a guy, not the sweet killing machine Hye In, so she slips through their fingers without them even noticing.

However efficient her work seems at first, the truth is that the CCTV system catches her while she’s leading the doctor (at gunpoint) to the medicine supply room. The guys don’t see her face, but Jung Woo orders a fingerprint analysis instead.

At the Blue House, the President is meeting for the first time with Kim Ho Gyun, North Korea’s Army Major-General, who comes alongside Chul Young. Diplomacy is fairly used, only to be undiplomatic, if that makes any sense at all – no one is completely comfortable, and they don’t want their rivals to be at ease either. In conclusion, the atmosphere is as dense as it could be.

The situation is as follows: North Korea is indignant after knowing that not only Dr. Kim was under South Korea’s protection (after denying any connection to his disappearance), but also that said doctor is dead. If all that turned out to be true, their fragile peace could be at risk.

The President is in a risky position, attempting to resolve matters by lightly apologizing for not letting the North Koreans know about Dr. Kim’s work. Ho Gyun can’t help emphasizing the irony that statement brings – since Dr. Kim was their asset from the get-go, they didn’t want to share a South Korean investigation, but to have the rightful ownership over those nuclear discoveries.

Kwon then plays the peace card, saying that if North Korea should’ve kept him, they would’ve used him only in a dangerous nuclear proliferation that would’ve only led to war. The President agrees to what he said, and the meeting concludes with a relationship between both sides that’s far worse than before.

Both North Korean envoys are fuming, although Chul Young is leaning towards a prudent approach. His counterpart, on the contrary, is utterly against the idea of that kind of reaction.

As expected, Ki Soo delivers the secret code to Chul Young – his new mission is to find out what it is asap. If he does what he’s been asked, he could stop beng the faithful buddy I was hoping. However, we can add his name to the long list of conflicted characters around here.

While Hye In is soaking some clothes in acid, the NTS guys have identified the missing doctor car’s location thanks to its Lo Jack and go for it.

Son Hyuk has been cured by the doctor, but his wound needs to be taken care of. Now that his consciousness has returned, Hye In wants to apologize for her weak behavior that led her to disobey his direct order and save Jung Woo instead. Looking at her with puppy eyes, he presents her with the keys to her freedom – no more orders from him, she’ll have to follow her own path (something tells us that he’ll regret this in the future…)

This beautiful moment between two cute little blood-thirsty psychopaths is sadly interrupted by Jung Woo & Co, who after one intense shooting with Andy (he finally gets shot, for Christ’s sake!), are welcome by a surprise.

In the shack, Son Hyuk surrenders to his sudden but inevitable fate. Hye In receives NTS’ message directing her to, well, where she is, in order to help the good guys. At first, she’s against the idea of leaving her tutor, but then, a better idea pops up in her mind.

*dun dun dun*

She’ll be the one responsible for his detention.

Personal Comments

I know I’m contradicting myself when I say that this drama works at its best when the romance bits are reduced to the minimum required.

When it premiered, the sensation I got from Athena was that Jung Woo’s character had a bright future ahead, and that his childish behavior would be a funny feature compared to how kickass he was professionally. His crush prevented him from going to better places, not because of it within the drama’s reality but of the writers’ inability to develop both sides at the same time (obviously emphasizing the romantic plot line). In conclusion, we got a whiney big baby that lacked lots of common sense or the ability to go beyond Hye In’s pretty face, leading to plot/character inconsistencies (and viewers’ eye rolls). Seeing an episode not entirely focused on them as a romantic pair was a breath of fresh air, because it was reaching a peak of ridiculousness that was unbearable to even watch.

The love triangle was finally dissolved. Son Hyuk’s reaction was the weirdest (letting her go so easily?), so I’m kind of waiting for his next step once he’s done with the “I’m about to die” epiphany. The action was well paced in this one too. We could be nitpicky (especially with the gunshots), but as I’ve said before, I’m not here for realism.

Most importantly, the plot seems to be moving somewhereeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Hm, sorry for the sudden emotional outburst, it was getting asphyxiating around here. While South Korea’s President’s reaction was really lol-worthy and so standard good-vs.-bad-classic-cold-war stuff (WE TOOK YOUR SCIENTIST BECAUSE WE HAVE ARE USING NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY FOR GOOD DEEDS WHILE YOU ARE VICIOUS GUYS WHO’LL TRY TO KILL US ALL – all in bold and underlined), within the drama it worked because of the updated nuclear situation in North Korea and such (and because this drama is all about the theatricality). Also, Athena is in the open now, no more broken necks after mentioning it, so the table is set for a ruthless fight between the three teams.

Now please stop it with the mushyness and let’s get to the blood bath and suspense. It got us 11 episodes to reach this point, make it worth it!


24 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. MJP

    In response to: “Now please stop it with the mushyness and let’s get to the blood bath and suspense. It got us 11 episodes to reach this point, make it worth it!”

    Yes, let’s get it moving!!!

  2. Schmazel

    Lol. JS makes me feels like I could be an NTS agent. I’m a million times more paranoid when handling my final projects than he is with national secrets.

    • 2.1 Schmazel

      Eep! I meant Jung Woo. haha.

    • 2.2 estel

      I’m a million times more paranoid when handling my final projects than he is with national secrets.

      Haha, that is so true! Seriously. Don’t they teach this a spy/special agent school???

  3. indigowine

    i think u mistype the WE HAVE ARE USING NUCLEAR…


    nonetheless.. Athena is still fun to watch

    • 3.1 aX

      … yes, it has it’s fun but you’re still left a little dissappointed in the end. Oh well. Thankfully, it picks up after episode 12-13.

    • 3.2 aberdeen_angus

      LOL. Yeah, I must have tried to correct that sentence and left the “have” there by mistake.


  4. omo

    Thanks aberdeen for your time and effort. Phew, at least there is more excitement in concurring with so many Athena watchers here.

    Totally agreed. Playing down the mushy and romantic stuff brings more credibility to this drama. After that ridiculous fantasy sequence in Ep 2, I was hoping Team Athena would just shoot the writer. The writer thought he was being clever by pulling that trick but I think it backfired. One has to wonder if at the end of Ep 20, this entire drama was a figment of someone’s imagination.

  5. aX

    (It’s too bad that Lee Ji Ah’s eyes have the same expression as a dead fish’s…)

    hahahahah HILARIOUS!

    Honestly, I don’t mind the love story but what I do NOT like is how it was developed. It didn’t go anywhere and then when it did, it takes a halt then it’s on overdrive again. Maybe if it was better developed, I would’ve liked it more–then again, I’m already onto episode 17 (watched up to Episode 15 with Eng subs). Jung Woo & Hye In DOES get better, somewhat anyway.

    Again, I just have to say that ATHENA has the ‘guns & ammunition’ but is somehow missing its aim or simply just shooting blanks. A little discouraging but you watch it anyway hoping it’ll hit a mark sooner than later.

    They definitely did with Sun Hwa back on episode 17! I just wished she came sooner… like in episode 12. It’d be great to have her have her own spinoff. 😀

  6. notoriousnoona

    They named Athena after the wrong goddess. Alls I can say. !

  7. mary

    Can someone please explain the last screencap..? 🙂 Thanks!

    • 7.1 aberdeen_angus

      When Jung Woo and Ki Soo were trying to decipher the code, Jung Woo spent the whole night working while Ki Soo went to sleep (he’ll later say that HE worked all night, but we all know that’s bs; Jung Woo cracked the code). The following morning, Jung Woo suddenly went all “EUREKA, I FOUND IT!”, waking Ki Soo up…

      And that’s the origin of that screencap (I thought it was both cute within the drama and accurate regarding my viewing experience [falling asleep, waking up only to fall asleep again, etc].


      • 7.1.1 kaedejun

        hahah -its the cutest screencap ever. i loved that moment. plus, i was very tempted to get my big pillow when watching the episode.

        i do agree with some others that it picks up. there’s a bit of an ebb and flow in terms of pacing, but it totally picks up.

        once my “favorite character” finally died, the drama got better.

  8. 1aco

    I stop watching Athena after all that dream sequence.. I don’t know what is with this show but the flow or the pace of it somehow is off… But thanks for the recap..

  9. Antonia

    t y a_a !.

    Jung Woo and Hye In have common traits with their spying gadgets, – that is the masks and also the spectacles.

    The stomach is the main target for shootings in athena possibly slightly bulging I guess !!.

    2nd lead is not allowed to express more then the first lead ?., that is what I noticed in kdramas.

  10. 10 dany

    I stopped watching this …. when…. I don’t remember… well, now I think I can go back and see the episodes with subs plus your recap and your comments. Thank you for your hard work.

  11. 11 pumpkinattack

    It’s so random, I had to share.
    I saw the picture for this recap, and it made me think of the taste of string cheese.

    • 11.1 tb

      string cheese? what is that?

      • 11.1.1 Mariah

        I think it should be is stink or sting cheese ? (typo error ?)

      • 11.1.2 floralnori

        it’s a cheese you can pull apart and it looks like pieces of string


        • pumpkinattack

          Hahaha. Yes… thank you!
          As wikipedia says….
          In the United States, “string cheese” generally refers to snack-sized servings of low-moisture mozzarella.

  12. 12 Pat

    Isn’t it a requirement in spy dramas that the hero be a really
    smart agent whoever he is? Not slower than the viewer?

  13. 13 Asa

    It’s really hard to take this show seriously when the protagonist is more unlikeable than a pair of stinky socks. Still sort of skimming through the episodes to see if it’s worth a bag but doesn’t look like it.

  14. 14 jeijei

    i love this drama is better with time. i cry in ep 15 trhu 17 it was very good ….

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