Oh man, what an unexpectedly awesome episode. The boys complete their mission (well, some do), eat dinner (part of it), and then…the tables turn in a marvelous way. And Na PD maybe goes a little insane. It’s GREAT.
(Remember how I said this show is all about the hoisting of one’s self by one’s own petard? It’s like the great big meta version of that. Even evil geniuses have their off days.)
EPISODE 331. Broadcast on April 24, 2011.
girlfriday: Ji-won finally finds an arcade with Tetris, and he has to do the thing that I do when I encounter large numbers: count backwards “one, ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand…” He’s gotta beat the top score of 20,861 to win the big-ticket item: rice. But immediately there’s another hitch… the game is so old that the blocks are glitchy, and parts of them are blacked out. Panic.
javabeans: I wonder if Na PD knew the Tetris was messed-up when he created the mission. If he did, he gets his evil genius hat back. Ji-won is not happy; it’s like playing a fighting game on XBox, only your baby sister keeps walking in front of your view of the TV. But not in front of the other guy. And the other guy is withholding dinner. And is Na PD.
girlfriday: Su-geun isn’t doing any better at his noraebang (which isn’t at the same arcade where Ji-won is, drat). He sings, but the machine refuses to give him a score. A few minutes later, he’s on the phone with someone about how to change the settings on the machine, and it turns out he’s calling the manufacturer of the karaoke machine. LOL.
javabeans: He’s going through the whole absurd song and dance (har) of selecting so-and-so menu, pushing the cancel button twice, scrolling up, activating so-and-so option, do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around…
girlfriday: He picks a children’s song, “Let’s Catch Fish,” but replaces “fish” with “Na PD.” I died.
javabeans: Omg. So epic. So appropriate.
girlfriday: “Should we go to the studio to catch Na Young-seok
Or should we go to the river to catch Young-seok-ee
Six of us gather and put him in the center
Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya (*kicking feet*)
We hit him”
javabeans: The kicky feet are the (har har) kicker. I think Su-geun is putting some actual feeling behind it — these aren’t mere jokey kicks. Some psychological role playing may be involved.
girlfriday: Seung-gi has to relocate yet again for his Isolated-Creep-With-a-Snack-Food-Fetish mission, and he sets up by the ocean, between two big rocks. Even he feels the weirdness, asking, “This mission is SUPPOSED to feel this way, right?”
javabeans: He is LITERALLY between a rock and a hard place! HA.
girlfriday: Buh-dum-ching! He actually manages to eat them all under five seconds this time, but drops one in the process, and Na PD calls it no good. Seung-gi, mouth full of chips, with the caption: %$#%@^!%!
javabeans: So close, but no dice. He ate all ten, but in the confusion one of them didn’t go directly from fingertip to mouth.
girlfriday: I love Na PD’s so-called reasoning behind it too: “Why is it cone-hat-shaped? To put on your fingers. That’s why it’s cone-hat-shaped.”
javabeans: On to the mountainside, where Tae-woong is slowly amassing a curious crowd of onlookers. He’s been recognized, so many of them know some 1N2D shenaniganery is going on.
girlfriday: Tae-woong starts his 108 bows, set to dramatic music. I love that there’s always a different flavor with him; if it were any of the other guys, this mission would’ve seemed less dramatic, less man-on-a-mission.
javabeans: They definitely allow Tae-woong to be “cool” more than the other guys. I guess it’s because he already has such an established cool image, that it’s funnier when you get a glimpse of that alongside the usual absurd 1N2D antics. It mixes things up a little, too, since we have enough goofballs and straight comedians. His awkward brand of unintentional comedy is refreshing.
javabeans: I’m gonna be the killjoy here because as much as I love the hilarity of these jokes, a part of me was uncomfortable with the whole spiritual aspect of this one. Particularly when they juxtapose his bowing (alongside an actual devotee) with the pictures of his food prize (bom-dong mu-chim, a type of marinated salad) with the caption “This is what is on the line…” and the funny-dramatic music… Doesn’t that make it feel sorta…cheap?
girlfriday: I think that’s kinda the point, though I’m not sure it’s entirely played for comedy.
javabeans: Yes, but I felt weird about it. Like, it wasn’t funny enough or satirical enough to counter the awkwardness. It just seemed…thoughtless. I dunno. And I say this as someone who’s not at all religious.
girlfriday: I actually felt weird about the task in a different way — I thought it was weird to assume that anyone who got the challenge would be comfortable bowing at a buddhist temple. ‘Cause what if they’re not?
javabeans: Statistically, it was probably a good bet? Numbers-wise, a majority of Koreans self-identify with Buddhist principles, despite the Korean-American contingent which skews overwhelmingly Christian. I always thought Koreans were raised to be familiar with basic Buddhist rites.
girlfriday: Well, mostly, they see it culturally rather than religiously, per se.
javabeans: Right. Buddhism seems to me a personal spiritual issue more than an institutional one. But I still didn’t like the jokefying of the food-drama alongside the bowing. Call me a fuddy-duddy! I can live with that.
girlfriday: Heh. Also, I think it wasn’t really intending to be funny. Maybe it’s food-as-survival in the 1N2D mentality, but the segment seemed to be edited for drama rather than comedy.
javabeans: I’m pretty sure it’s comedy — it’s a spoof of drama, rather than straight drama. Like, just when you think they might be treating it seriously, they pull back and show the crowd watching Tae-woong, and the caption reads: “A task difficult to see on variety television…these people gather to watch him bowing 108 times… so he can eat bom-dong mu-chim.”
girlfriday: I guess tonally they’re trying to do two things at once, and mincing both as a result.
javabeans: What amuses me about this mission is that the guys each start picking up tips and tricks as they go along. Like, Ho-dong and his gluing technique, and Seung-gi with his speed-eating and how there’s a way to do it to avoid stabbing himself in the mouth.
girlfriday: It’s the lesson of the day: There’s always a learning curve. I think Ho-dong says it while he’s gluing the eyes, that people really can get good at anything.
javabeans: Seung-gi’s caption as he fine-tunes his snacking process: “The Birth of Cone Chip Professor, Dr. Lee.”
girlfriday: Jong-min finds Chul-soo’s house and waits for the jajangmyun delivery. The PD tells him that he has to eat it all before 3pm, and he worries that he can’t eat jajangmyun because he’s been working on his abs. I actually start to believe him, what with his new album coming out and stuff, until he lifts his shirt.
javabeans: They’re like my abs! I have the abs of a kpop star?
girlfriday: LOL. Me too! Me too! Though, sadly, not all kpop singers are created equal, I’m afraid. I love when Ji-won starts getting good at Tetris — his idol dancing comes out. Oops, 200 points shy. So close.
javabeans: OMG, Seung-gi sucking on his chips. Hilarity. (His speed is impaired by his fear of stabbing himself, so he asks for our understanding as he goes about softening them up.) As if he didn’t already look like a kooky food fetishist out in the middle of nowhere.
girlfriday: I was on the floor laughing. I dunno what’s funnier — his fear of being stabbed by chips, or his question, “Can I be a little dirty?”
javabeans: Or the very informative, serious way he explains the problem to us? “You see, the speed of my eating is partially hindered by the pointiness of the chips…”
girlfriday: It’s food-fetishist-meets-national-geographic-narrator. This task isn’t supposed to be this weird, I think, but it’s become extra hilarious because Seung-gi is a neat freak and an over-explainer. So it’s taking on a life of its own.
javabeans: Plus you can’t discount the unfortunate new haircut that makes him look a little unhinged.
girlfriday: Creepy guy with unfortunate haircut hides where nobody can see him, puts snack chips on fingers, and then says, “Can I be a little dirty?” What’s wrong with that?
javabeans: HAHA Team Babo proves itself again. Seung-gi joins Ho-dong with ten minutes left on the clock, and watches him glue eyes, one by one. Ho-dong asks tiredly, “How can I possibly go any faster? I’m already at maximum speed.” And Seung-gi watches him for a minute, then points out, “Hyung, can’t you just add the glue for both eyes, then attach both eyes?” (Ho-dong is doing glue, eye, glue, eye.) And Ho-dong realizes this just as his VJ cracks up, saying, “Now you figure it out, 55 minutes in!”
girlfriday: I LOVE the look on Ho-dong’s face. It’s immediate, the recognition. The Oh, shit. You are so smarter than me. Sigh.
javabeans: Aw, Tae-woong was actually praying while he bowed. Question: “What were you praying for?” Tae-woong: “Just, you know, the health of my friends and our 1N2D team… and that I’d be able to speak better!”
girlfriday: He is such a soon-doong, per his nickname. I thought he was going to approach it more like a workout, but it’s sweet that he was thinking good thoughts.
javabeans: He is drenched in sweat, literally head to toe. That IS a workout, albeit an inadvertent one. He says he wasn’t that worried about not finishing, but it’s a pretty physically taxing challenge — he’s lucky he got this task, which plays to his forte.
girlfriday: Jong-min finally gets his jajangmyun, with TWO MINUTES to spare. Can a person (not Ho-dong) eat a bowl of noodles in two minutes?
javabeans: His expression says it all. That is the face of despair, y’all.
girlfriday: Meanwhile, Ji-won has two minutes left, and the power goes out at the arcade. Pffft. Was he playing Tetris so hard that he blew a fuse? But the funny thing is, once the power comes back, he can finally see the blocks the way they’re supposed to look.
javabeans: For about two blissful seconds. Aw, Ho-dong ran out of time and they start taking out his bears to count ’em. Teddy bear army: Cute or scary?
girlfriday: Cute, but only because they’re not eyeless.
javabeans: The guys start arriving at basecamp, some of them happily, some less so, and they greet each other and assess their situation. Are Ji-won’s first words after “Hello” always “What are you eating?” It’s like he’s afraid he’ll be left out. Then again, he WAS just left out of the tasting game…
girlfriday: It’s Ji-won’s modus operandi: Trust No One.
javabeans: Now the unveiling begins: Which ingredients have been successfully won?
girlfriday: Seung-gi is the first to win an ingredient. Ji-won points out with aplomb that he’s never seen Seung-gi fail. Oh, if you only knew what he had to do today to get this chili paste.
javabeans: That, like the challenge, sounds a lot wronger than it should. The rice is the big get, the Tetris prize, saved for last. The guys are waiting in nervous anticipation. Ji-won has poker face. Ho-dong gets ready to uncover the dish. His last words: “If the rice is there, we laugh because we’re happy. If the rice isn’t there, you can laugh once before you die.”
girlfriday: Ha, that’s such a familiar Korean way of joking, like, “Do you wanna tell me, or do you wanna get hit, and then tell me?” This was the brand of humor in my household. It explains a lot, eh?
javabeans: Keh. Them’s be words of truth. I mean, if you’re gonna talk anyway…
javabeans: The air turns tense when Ji-won explains his shoddy game-playing conditions, which are frankly pretty bad — the glitchy machine, the electricity outage. The guys grumble, and Na PD smells mutiny in the wind.
girlfriday: All they need is an inch. Ho-dong is the master of this. If Na PD looks like he might give in, Ho-dong turns it around to make it seem like THEY’RE doing HIM a favor. It cracks me up every time.
javabeans: Na PD gives them a chance to win some rice back. All Ji-won has to do is scoop as much rice out of the cooker as he can…using a tiny bowl…in 10 seconds.
girlfriday: I guarantee he’s gonna end up with the entire contents of that rice cooker in that small bowl, somehow.
javabeans: What he does…is pretty amazing. I love the looks of wonder on everyone’s faces, because they went from worried to giddy in about two seconds flat. The chun-jae strikes again! (I thought he was gonna go for speed, but he went for sheer volume.) Seung-gi: “I think he got more than they were going to give us in the first place.”
girlfriday: Hahaha. The caption says it all: Jjang.
javabeans: Ohhhh, so I wasn’t wrong about mutiny in the air! The boys are placid for about two minutes while they start eating. And then they run out of food and the complaints begin.
girlfriday: This time Na PD pushed them a little too far. Normally, they’d be content to complain and whine until they got a second chance to win some more food or something. But THIS TIME, they want the entire staff to know what it’s like to be them… and starve.
javabeans: This whole show requires that perfect balance between suffering and comedy, and methinks Na PD let his pride (re: Jeju) tilt it too far in one direction.
girlfriday: It all began in Jeju. Now his attempt to regain control has backfired on him. The boys bait him with the fate of the entire staff…
javabeans: You see Na PD get that serious look on his face, which I’m guessing isn’t too common.
girlfriday: I love that his face is very readable that way. You can literally see the wheels turning in his head.
javabeans: It’s like he’s fine playing God to the cast, but he’s totally not ready to take responsibility for the hunger of his entire crew. That’s…like…FOR SERIOUS YO.
girlfriday: He tries to reason, “But they have jobs to do…” The boys just shoot back Then what the fuck are WE doing, playing? looks, like duh, did you think that line of reasoning would take?
javabeans: No kidding. I think he realized it halfway through his sentence, actually. So now they agree to a sort of double-or-nothing challenge for more food. Only the stakes are way more than doubled.
girlfriday: The game: Soccer, six-on-six. The prize: Food Truck, all-you-can-eat, while the losing team starves. It’s 6 vs. 80.
javabeans: Both sides get down to strategizing. The cast feels good with this task, while the staffers go around asking for the best players. There’s this meta hilarity of watching a crew member react to the scenario as he’s told, “We’ve bet our entire staff’s dinner on a soccer game.” And he’s like, “…the fuck?” It’s like they’re shocked: Wait, has the game become real? For US? But…we’re protected by the fourth wall! What happened to the fourth wall?!
girlfriday: This is such a new level of crazy, because they’ve done a lot of staff/cast games before, but Na PD has never flown off the handle like this, and made the bet without, yunno, consulting people, or letting them know that they might starve.
javabeans: I feel honored to witness this.
girlfriday: So funny when the younger PDs start prepping for the game and take out a chalk-liner to draw the field, and Na PD’s like, “We have one of those? I didn’t even know…” What crew that carries around a chalk-liner at all times in case of spontaneous games?
javabeans: I’m kinda worried for our boys. The PD tells the staff confidently they don’t have to worry, and that their dinnertime will be at 7, expecting they’ll win.
girlfriday: He’s blowing smoke, ‘cause he’s a variety PD, after all.
javabeans: But right off the bat, Jong-min falls over, just running. Er…
girlfriday: Sigh. That kid is his own worst enemy.
girlfriday: Are we sports commentators now? He shoots! He scores!
javabeans: Really, really bad ones. I know none of the terms. “He kicks, does a round-spinny thingy, and runs toward the other side of that line area!”
girlfriday: Goooooooooooo Seung-gi!
javabeans: OH MAN they have a near miss. Phew! The ball shoots off the goalpost, but it really looked like the Bad News Bears were gonna be one down.
girlfriday: Have they gotten better? I remember once they played a women’s college soccer team, and got their asses handed to them.
javabeans: This is really just a two-man game, isn’t it? Seung-gi and Su-geun versus the zillion crew members?
girlfriday: Yeah, maybe back then it was the same too, just the opponents were much better. This time Seung-gi and Su-geun own the field.
javabeans: You don’t even know how excited I am when they score. DIIIINNNNER! Go Su-geun! Goal Number 2 is scored!
girlfriday: And meanwhile, Tae-woong is surprisingly TERRIBLE. He’s got a new nickname: Dog Feet.
javabeans: He even warned his team early on: “You’re going to have to guard me.”
girlfriday: That was adorable, when he was like, protect me!
javabeans: It’s kind of awesome that our boys’ bad players — like, half the team — don’t have to worry so much because all they need are Seung-gi and Su-geun out in front, and Ho-dong doing decent goalie work. Ji-won’s done…like…what? And oops, there goes Tae-woong, tripping over himself. Man, he is cracking me UP! It’s like he’s in a movie. About a guy who can’t play soccer.
girlfriday: And the staff’s first goal is through his legs! HA, at halftime, the sound of Na PD’s voice… it crackles with displeasure.
javabeans: More than displeasure! It was tinged with desperation, which is FANTASTIC. And he even lets the goalie have it. The halftime huddle on the staff side is way fierce this time.
girlfriday: The fear of starvation will do that to you.
javabeans: Hee. The lighting director: “Tackle him! It doesn’t matter if he’s a celebrity!”
girlfriday: It turns out that Tae-woong’s manager is way better at soccer than he is. He scores the staff’s second goal. It looks like it might be close for a while, but Seung-gi and Su-geun strike again, and the camera director sprays them with water. The caption: “This is Kang Cho-ding.”
javabeans: 4-2! I’m all wound up right now.
girlfriday: I KNOW, RIGHT? I don’t even like sports.
javabeans: Me neither. But there’s FOOD on the line! Oh, also pride. Ho-dong’s happy again, and Tae-woong looks relieved just to have made it this far. Na PD, on the other hand….
girlfriday: He looks like he wants to eat his words for dinner.
javabeans: It’ll be more than his staff gets. This totally reminds me of the Fresh Prince episode where Will is on the basketball team, and Carlton sucks, and the entire team strategy is: “Give the ball to Will.” …anybody? Anybody?
girlfriday: Now, this is the story all about how / My life got flipped-turned upside down / And I’d like to take a minute / Just sit right there / I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air
javabeans: Yay, I’m not alone! Also, the boys win! And now the staff is like, “Uh, is this for reals? Do we really not get to eat?”
girlfriday: I love when Ho-dong sets up Na PD to announce the winner: “Today’s winner is….” … … Na PD: “Why are you asking me??” Hahaha. Who’s the sore loser now?
javabeans: He can’t even bring himself to say it. I LOVE IT. Just deserts, karma, what goes around, booyah!
girlfriday: O…M…G… What happens next is… I can’t even describe how awesome this is. Is Na PD drunk?
javabeans: I think this is him drunk on desperation.
girlfriday: Which is BETTER.
javabeans: HOW AMAZING IS THIS. So basically, he gets served humble pie, only he can’t even eat it, he just has to look at it and sigh since he’s lost dinner for himself and the whole crew. The boys are feeling great, and Na PD actually supplicates with them, because now he’s in the odd position of proposing a game, which they can then reject if they wish.
girlfriday: He FOLDS HIS HANDS. So regretfully.
javabeans: I know. It’s so satisfying to watch how hard this is for him to do. He proposes another chance for the staff to at least win back the leftover dinner — there are 80 servings prepared in the food truck, and the boys can only eat so much. However, if the crew loses a second round…all 80 of them will immerse themselves in water, head to toe.
girlfriday: The staff FREAKS out, dragging Na PD back and literally covering his mouth to shut his trap.
javabeans: They shout, “I’d rather starve!” Let it be noted that half of them are still wearing their padded winter jackets. And they haven’t prepared a change of clothing.
girlfriday: It’s gotten so bad that now his staff is about to mutiny too!
javabeans: And to think, if only he had learned how to be a gracious loser…
girlfriday: SO not the 1N2D way. Man, I always love Na PD, but him going off the rails is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. You can actually see his eyes change, like a gambling addict.
javabeans: In a way, that’s what is. Gambling with his staff. Stakes too high. Can’t lose now. Just one more bet, luck’s gonna change, man, I can just feel it!
girlfriday: Totally. It’s like watching Na PD on a Vegas bender, but with footleyball instead of roulette.
javabeans: Now the staff has to find players for the rematch of jokgu (like a cross between soccer, tennis, and volleyball), but they’re either exhausted from soccer or scared to bear the burden of Na PD’s insanity. One PD: “If I lose, I won’t get paid!”
girlfriday: The staff is more confident with this game, because they’ve almost always won when playing footleyball against the boys in the past. But the pressure of an all-crew-immersion is getting to them.
javabeans: Uh-oh, the boys get boo’ed by the staff when they score their second point. Will this battle cause a rift between cast and crew? And it occurs to me that they’re not gonna show us the result in this episode, are they? ARE THEY?
girlfriday: Not unless you use your 4th-dimension one-week-forward button, they won’t.
javabeans: Omg. Next week: A love duet between Tae-woong and Seung-gi? And I’m not even euphemizing here.
girlfriday: I WANT IT TO BE NEXT WEEK NOOOOOOOOW. Use the button! Use it!
javabeans: But it only works on me. Muahahahahaha. It is SO GOOD. Just wait and see!
girlfriday: Hate you.