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Myung-wol the Spy: Episode 14

Yay, better episodes! I’ll admit last week’s kind of sucked the joy out of this drama for me, but today’s episode was surprisingly better. Lots of forward momentum, and revealing of secrets. It couldn’t have come a moment too soon. Well, actually, it could have, and yeah, that’s one of my complaints. But now that truths are exposed and decisions are made, I’m just happy to look forward.

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The One – “그랬음 좋겠다” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 14 RECAP

Kang-woo confronts Myung-wol with his investigator’s report confirming that she has fabricated every aspect of her identity. Moreover, he’s figured out that she approached him from the outset because of that book and asks how she could do that, when she knew what it represents for him.

He says he’d been racking his brains for explanations, and even now he tells her that if she just owns up to the truth, he’ll still forgive her. He urges her to come clean, but she stays mum, which just drives me nuts. Speak! Lie, invent wild stories, tell the truth, I almost don’t care — it’s her continual meek silence that drives me to the edge. And Kang-woo too, from the looks of it.

Realizing she’s not going to say anything, his face drops and he turns away, telling her to leave before he has her dragged off by police, saying, “I mean it.”

They separate, both in tears. While Kang-woo parties and drinks to numb the pain, Myung-wol arrives at her apartment to find Ryu waiting for her.

She informs him that her cover’s been blown — Kang-woo knows she’s got a faked identity, though not about the spy part. Since her goal has now become impossible, Myung-wol pleads with Ryu to call an end to the mission, which angers him. He tells her that there’s no such thing as quitting, and that they’ll take him back to the North by force if necessary.

Ryu gives the book to the spy parents for safekeeping. Are you wearing your bad idea pants today, Ryu? Have these two ever accomplished anything competently? And no, becoming full-fledged internet anti-fans doesn’t count in my book. He calls the book their last card, because even if they fail, they can use the book as leverage to lessen their punishment.

Hee-bok and Ok-soon look for places to hide the book, ruling out the sofa and in a hole in the yard. (Hee-bok argues against the burial method, saying they might forget where it was hidden. Ok-soon says they can mark the spot with a plant or a flag. He says that’s too obvious. She counters that they can bury it a certain number of steps away from the marker. He argues that they’ll forget that, too. Ha. Ok-soon says what I’m thinking, that it’s a marvel he ever got to be a spy with a soul that timid.)

Myung-wol arrives as Hee-bok is trying to decide upon a hiding spot, hearing them refer to it as their last hope.

Ryu takes a secret meeting with Chairman Joo to report that he hasn’t yet been able to find the real book, the one Kang-woo swapped out for the fake. He points out that this new problem is Chairman Joo’s fault, because forcing Myung-wol to steal the book made Kang-woo suspicious, and now he’s probably moved it to a safer location.

Kang-woo, meanwhile, is still lovelorn and distracted despite his attempts to forget Myung-wol, and envisions her all around him. During a producing session for the Rocket Girls, for instance, he zones out and imagines producing a song for Myung-wol instead.

Then during a shoot, he imagines that he’s acting with Myung-wol rather than In-ah, hearing the dialogue in Myung-wol’s earnest voice: “Don’t you understand how I feel? I love you. How many times do I have to say so for you to believe me?” Well, maybe if you didn’t run around stealing from him and lying about your identity…

In-ah guesses they broke up and gloats, suggesting he go public with the breakup and turn Myung-wol into the bad guy, earning some sympathy points along the way. He turns her down flat, so she turns to Dae-kang instead, wanting to leak rumors at least.

As a result, President Kyung fields rumors about the breakup and assures the media that Kang-woo and Myung-wol are very happy together and in no danger of splitting.

That night, Myung-wol sneaks into Spy Central and swipes the book from the office safe, where Hee-bok finally decided to stow it. She’s stopped by Ryu, who engages her in a fight on the roof, which ends up slamming her into some broken glass.

He recognizes her just as she wrests free and runs off with the book, leaving Ryu furious and incredulous.

Myung-wol takes the book to Kang-woo, who is dismissive until she holds it out to him, saying she’s returning it. (To be honest, I’m losing track of how many books there are floating around and who has what, but I’m thinking this one must be one of the real ones — Chairman Joo has the one Kang-woo faked — which means Kang-woo now has two real books. I think. It’s possible they’re spawning.)

That mollifies Kang-woo against his wishes, although he keeps telling her gruffly that this doesn’t change things, and that returning the book won’t return his broken heart to her. But he sees her injury and insists on tending to the bloody cuts on her back.

He falls asleep on the couch, and Myung-wol stops by to murmur an apology to him before leaving. His eyes open as soon as she’s gone, his attempt to remain indifferent taking another hit at her regretful words.

Ryu confronts Myung-wol about the theft, asking if she loves Kang-woo so much that she’d place him above her comrades. Myung-wol reminds him that that’s why she asked him to put an end to the mission, anger sparking at last. (Finally she speaks! It’s such a relief, after feeling so frustrated by her constant silence.) Myung-wol says bitterly that she’d rather Ryu just killed her now.

That sparks his temper, and his hand shoots up to grab her throat, although he keeps his hand from clenching. Fighting his own anger, he tells her not to say that again, and not to push him any further — or he might just act against Kang-woo.

Ryu fumes to himself that she’s given away their last hope, although she doesn’t yet know that. He’s been keeping one of his orders a secret from his team, because he doesn’t want to be forced to obey: That if Mission Steal Kang-woo For The North fails, Ryu has to kill his teammates.

Hee-bok reports a development on the Goblin front: Apparently he’s a famous presence in the antiques and artifacts trade. The reason he’s called Goblin is because of the monster-like face that represents his personal seal — an image that captures Ryu’s interest.

Upon discovery of the stolen book, Spy Mom and Dad turn on each other, beginning with Hee-bok’s suspicions that Ok-soon took it to save herself — after all, she’s the only other person who knew it was in the safe. She takes offense and grabs him by the throat, warning him to check himself, lest he wreck himself.

Kang-woo informs President Kyung about the breakup, and she calls the ex-couple in for a chat. She reminds Myung-wol that Kang-woo’s career is in a precarious place right now, with his comeback so recent and his Hollywood future on the verge. Another huge scandal right now could do him in for good this time, so President Kyung has decided that the couple should remain together, at least officially.

Myung-wol tells Kang-woo that if he objects, she won’t go along with it, but he tells her that he’ll do it. After all, she’d used him for the book — he can return the favor and use her for his career.

He takes them on a public date, in front of excited fans who hover around and ooh and ahh at all the appropriate moments. Myung-wol is uncomfortable and tells him repeatedly that he doesn’t have to dote on her with such affection, but he tells her that he’s not doing this for his own enjoyment — and it’s funny how for once the fake-couple trope isn’t trotted out to play up the couple’s romance. Instead, it’s all rather sad as Kang-woo fakes a gentle smile while cold words issue from his mouth.

Ryu sneaks onto the Joo property that night and makes it past the minions in front, but In-ah finds him and nearly blows his hiding spot, so he grabs her and hushes her.

He keeps her with him as he infiltrates the chairman’s secret artifact room and opens the safe, taking out a file folder containing documents pertaining to various antique artifacts. And just as he suspected, they all bear the telltale red stamp — proving that Chairman Joo is the Goblin.

Confused, In-ah slips away from Ryu and runs screaming for Grandpa, taking him to his antiques room. Ryu is too quick for them, though, and has hightailed it out of there, so they find the room empty.

Since Chairman Joo’s own book is safe — it had been moved out of that room previously — he doesn’t yet suspect that Ryu is on to his Goblin identity.

At the end of their awkward fake-date, Myung-wol asks Kang-woo to let her out of the car, preferring to go on her own. He complies and pulls over, telling her that they won’t be going on any more pretend dates, so she needn’t worry.

He zooms away, but keeps an eye on his rearview mirror. Almost against his will he pulls over, perhaps thinking to go back for her, but is interrupted by a text bearing an intriguing message: An unknown number states that he has information on his father’s death.

Kang-woo heads to an abandoned warehouse to meet the mysterious informant, who turns out to be Ryu. He’s immediately suspicious and frustrated, thinking it’s nonsense, until Ryu relays details about that hit and run accident that wasn’t actually a hit and run.

Ryu offers to reveal all that he knows, in exchange for Kang-woo’s book. Immediately Kang-woo’s back to distrusting, and he draws back a fist to take a swing at Ryu’s face, but he stops short when Ryu points out that if Kang-woo finds out the truth about the Goblin, he no longer needs the book.

Kang-woo contemplates this dilemma, wondering if he should trust Ryu and wanting to know the truth about his father’s killer.

The next day, Myung-wol hears the latest news about the chairman being the Goblin. She’s shocked, thinking of what this means for Kang-woo. She races to Kang-woo’s house to see him, but arrives just as he’s heading off to meet Ryu.

Kang-woo pulls up to the warehouse for his rendezvous with Ryu, only to be ambushed by thugs. Chairman Joo’s minions knock him out and drag him off in their car, just as Ryu arrives and witnesses the attack.

He follows closely, ignoring Myung-wol’s worried phone call as he drives, arriving at yet another abandoned warehouse where they tie up Kang-woo. What, that other warehouse wasn’t good enough for your shady deals? Is there some sort of warehouse hierarchy now?

Ryu sneaks inside to free Kang-woo, but they’re soon surrounded by minions and a self-satisfied Chairman Joo, who orders both of them tied up.

Beatin’ time. Kang-woo’s real book is now in the hands of Chairman Joo, who smugly informs him that Ryu was actually under his orders to steal the book from Kang-woo. Alas, Ryu turned out to be untrustworthy, so he ordered Myung-wol to do so as well, only the book she gave him turned out to be a fake.

Ryu breaks in to tell Chairman Joo to be a little more honest: “Tell him you’re the Goblin.”

Joo is startled that he knows, but chuckles and congratulates him sarcastically for figuring it out. Kang-woo eyes him with fury and demands to know why he killed his father. Joo says that he didn’t mean to kill him, but that “it just happened that way.” Like murder was an oopsie equivalent to breaking a toy.

Chairman Joo tells both men they’re about to meet their deaths, once sunrise comes. What, you can’t just do it now? You’re just a softy who wants to give them time for a rescue, aren’tcha?

Back at home, Myung-wol’s worry grows upon hearing that nobody can get in touch with either Kang-woo or Ryu. Furthermore, Spy Mom and Dad drop their recently discovered bomb: That Ryu has orders to kill them if they fail the mission.

Now Ryu’s singleminded devotion to this mission becomes clear, as Myung-wol realizes that Ryu has been trying to do everything in his power to prevent failure, so that they won’t have to die. And that they’d drag Kang-woo with them forcibly if necessary. Furthermore, Ryu told Spy Mom and Dad not to talk about the stolen book in front of Myung-wol, because it would worry her. Aww, that’s sweet and heartbreaking — that he’s angry at her for thwarting him, yet still loves her enough that he doesn’t want to use it to hurt her.

Now she’s guilt-ridden, realizing that she’s been making this difficult for Ryu, and wonders how she can fix her mistake.

As the boys sit in the warehouse, Kang-woo tells Ryu that he ought to know the truth now. Ryu just says he’s sorry, because he meant to keep Kang-woo out of everything, and doesn’t answer Kang-woo’s question of what Joo wants from him, and what he and Myung-wol are all about.

However, he does assure Kang-woo that no matter what their true identities are, he can vouch that Myung-wol wasn’t acting based on her own choice: “Even if you say everything about her was a lie, her feelings for you were real.”

Ryu means this as a warning: “If you hurt her again, I’ll kill you.”

Desperate, Myung-wol goes to In-ah for help, since she’s her only way to find out information on Chairman Joo. She asks In-ha to ask her grandfather where they are, saying that she thinks Kang-woo’s in trouble, and that Ryu is with him.

In-ah has no desire to help, and snits, “Why should I?” Myung-wol: “Because you love Kang-woo.”

In-ah goes home and pouts, but she can’t shake Myung-wol’s worries, or deny that she doesn’t want Kang-woo hurt. Finally, she goes to a minion to get the necessary information.

The mood is dark as Kang-woo thinks of happier times with Myung-wol, and with death looming over his head, he admits, “I miss her, that crazy girl.”

He makes a promise to Ryu, that if they live and he’s able to see Myung-wol again, he won’t lose Myung-wol to anybody ever again. No matter who tries to interfere.

When morning comes, the boys are roused by the minions, to be moved to the killing place. Only, before that can happen, a motorcycle comes roaring up and the lone rider comes in to confront the thugs.

Myung-wol faces off against the half-dozen minions, fighting efficiently, receiving a few hits but landing more than she takes. One particularly hard blow sends her to the ground, though, leaving her vulnerable.

The boys take advantage of the distraction to free each other from their ropes, then join the fray. Kang-woo beelines for Myung-wol, and takes a pipe to the back that was meant for her.

Pretty soon the fight is over, and Ryu turns away as Kang-woo faces Myung-wol, the air between them taut with emotion.

He seems to be ready to embrace her or at least greet her warmly — but he stops in his tracks when she lifts a gun and points it straight at him.

Suddenly he’s confused, and Ryu shocked to see her cocking the hammer. She tells him, “We’ll go together. Come with me, Comrade Kang-woo.”

 
COMMENTS

I don’t mean to stir the pot, but I thought I’d weigh in on last week’s controversy (with the bed scene in Episode 13), in the interest of offering a different opinion:

I don’t see rape in this scenario, which is generally about sexual gratification or power, more often power. I don’t see coercion or opportunism, either. I wasn’t upset by the scene (and actually was taken aback at the uproar) because Kang-woo wasn’t trying to assert dominance over Myung-wol, or manipulate the situation for his own gratification. I have found Kang-woo to be assy at times, but I don’t think he was demanding sex as proof of love, either.

The bed scene to me wasn’t about power, or aggression, or sex, or love. What I see in that scene is Kang-woo trying to make sense of Myung-wol’s suspicious behavior, and trying to find an explanation despite all the mismatched facts. He’d been trying to get her to own up to the truth all episode long, knowing that she’s lying to his face, and has been offering her multiple opportunities to ‘fess up. It seems a lot of people interpreted his meaning as “Give me sex = proof of love.” I saw it an entirely different way, as in, “You say you love me but you pull away from me. People in love don’t shrink away from each other. Therefore, prove to me that you mean what you say. Give me an explanation that fits your behavior.” Myung-wol, despite being driven by military orders, actually does love him — ergo bed scene. My two cents.

As for this episode:

I’m glad the focus is back on the spy/intrigue plot — and that we get some major forward motion, at last — because I’ve always found the spy stuff more interesting than the romance, frankly. The thing is, spy stuff can be outrageous and wacky, but the romance needs roots in reality, which isn’t exactly this drama’s forte. But after holding that plot point of “Force Kang-woo to defect” over these characters’ heads for so long, at least now it becomes something real. For a while there, it was feeling like one of those “Don’t make me come over there…I mean it…I really really mean it” sort of ineffectual threats. At least now they’re addressing the ticking clock and moving us toward that consequence.

I am also relieved that Myung-wol finally acted, after being frozen in place for a number of episodes, just dragged along by forces greater than her. So exasperating. Now the whole truth is out there, and she actually makes a choice — and it’s not the one we might’ve expected. After realizing how hard Ryu’s been working to save them, she chooses to forgo the love thing and fulfill the mission — just as Kang-woo was ready to accept it, it seems. But that’s always the kicker, right? The timing that kicks the characters in the gut?

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