EPISODE 381. Broadcast on April 8, 2012.
girlfriday: The members start to arrive one by one, and the PDs give them numbers, in the order they came. Immediately red flags go up, as they eye the numbers suspiciously: “Is this a good thing?” “What happens when I put this on?” “Am I late?” “Do I get something tasty?”
javabeans: I love it when the production keeps them on their toes first thing. No time to ease into the thing. Aside from just being plain funnier that way, it has to do with that thing we talked about last week, about this cast still not quite there with the “variety means you’re always performing” mentality. Probably since there are so many actors this time around, who are used to showing up to set, waiting around, getting ready, and then turning it on at go-time.
girlfriday: Yeah I think it’s important to actively break that down.
javabeans: Through fear, hopefully. (What, it’s just funny.)
girlfriday: Worked for Na PD. So did a healthy punishment/reward system.
javabeans: Although this may require a liberal interpretation of the word healthy.
girlfriday: Semantics. So Joo-won is second, Tae-woong third, and Tae-hyun fourth place.
javabeans: Dude, I love that Tae-hyun arrives and all the PD does is give him a number, and that sets off this whole long litany of complaining-worrying-speculating. This man, I swear, he should just do one-man shows. He’s all, I’m number four? Is that bad? Am I late? Maybe I should’ve come earlier. I was gonna come earlier. I feel nervous. Why are we given numbers? What do the other numbers get? You give the man a NUMBER and he attaches it all these hilarious value judgments.
girlfriday: He’s like an eight-year old with the neuroses of a 45-year old. The big question that everyone has: who was first? Flashback to earlier that morning, when Jong-min was first on the scene. Bird PD hands him a car key and a mission card. Wut? Are we on Running Man? I know you’re new, Bird, but uh, wrong show.
javabeans: At least this has Jong-min just as off-kilter as us, and the rest. His mission is to travel to their destination and take photos at five locations. Solo. And the rest… will be sent to hunt him down. HAHA.
girlfriday: Hee. And apparently being “caught” means being caught on camera–if any of the members can take a recognizable photograph of him before 1pm, he loses the game.
javabeans: If he can stick it out till 1pm without his face being caught in a photo, he wins. If he loses, “an enormous punishment” awaits him. Jong-min’s loving this mission though, and sets off with a spring in his step.
girlfriday: This is perfect for him, because he’s already giddy at all the ways he can mess with them.
javabeans: The rest of the guys trickle in, with Shi-kyung fifth. I love how nervous they all are to hear their number, and he starts to make his own explanation of why he’s here fifth, how he actually arrived a little while ago, how he was doing his radio show just before, how arriving later doesn’t mean he’s not working hard…. haha. Dude, I’m pretty sure it just denotes which team you’re on.
girlfriday: A PD asks if Shi-kyung thinks being first is best, and he so earnestly says, “Well first place will probably get the most love.” Aw, do you need a hug?
javabeans: I like how the members each seem to be working hard for the show, though they express it differently. Shi-kyung spouts off a few facts about their destination, having studied in advance. While the others joke about Jong-min being first, saying, “Well you know, he just sleeps here overnight” — so he can be prepared bright and early, of course. Su-geun arrives sixth, then Seung-woo last. You know, I’m starting to love Seung-woo’s indefatigable optimistic streak. Everybody else is analyzing their placements to death (Tae-woong: “I know! The early arrivers get the good cars, and the last one gets a really weird car!”), but Seung-woo smiles and says he feels good, since 7 is a lucky number. I notice he does this all the time, giving everything a positive spin.
girlfriday: I love people like that.
javabeans: Yeah, the littlest thing can make them happy. In contrast to the Debbie Downer, of course, who thinks the world is out to get her.
girlfriday: Jong-min starts to develop a paranoia about everyone on the road following him, and he starts to realize the downsides of being the hunted one. At first he was just excited to be first, but now he’s looking over his shoulder like a fugitive.
javabeans: It’s so funny. Like he’s loving the cat ‘n’ mouse game, until he realizes the endgame. The cat might end up hungry if it fails, but the mouse gets eaten.
girlfriday: The rest of the boys gather for the opening, and that’s when they realize that Jong-min isn’t there. I love that it even takes them a minute to notice. Bird PD tells them that he already left on his own trip, and Tae-hyun laughs, “So it’s NOT a good thing to be first!”
javabeans: (Can I just add that I love that Bird PD also means New PD? Hee.) And to add to the Ways The Cast Prepares list, there’s Tae-woong with his super corny jokes. I want to groan, and also marvel at how proud he is of his puns and gags, which HE thinks are the wittiest things ever. The funny thing is, jokes have a rhythm, right? Setup, punchline. But Tae-woong’s jokes are the clumsiest things ever so that it’s no context, just punchline.
girlfriday: It’s more like mumble-punchline-crickets.
javabeans: Don’t forget the expectant giggle before the crickets. Ooh, so Jong-min pulls out his map to strategize his mission, and he pulls out a classic maneuver: lie in wait for your pursuer, then let them bypass you and become the pursuer.
girlfriday: I love that he’s embracing his Kim Sunbae concept with such gusto: “I will show them what variety is!”
javabeans: It’s brilliant, if he can manage not to tip his hand. They’ll be looking everywhere for him, and he’ll just be watching THEM.
girlfriday: The rest of the boys get divided into two teams–Joo-won/Tae-woong/Tae-hyun, and Shi-kyung/Su-geun/Seung-woo. That makes the game more fun, because now they’re competing with each other, on top of trying to catch Jong-min. It’s like letting two cats loose for the one mouse.
javabeans: There’s also the possibility for the two cats to fight each other, because only the winning team gets the prize. So it’s in their best interests to sabotage the other team, right? This may not come into play, but I sure hope it does.
girlfriday: They also have a few advantages — they get a picture of Jong-min’s car, and every time he sends a photo of a completed mission, the PD will send the photo and location to the other guys five minutes later.
javabeans: That seems too biased for the cats. ‘Cause then they know which places Jong-min has yet to see, and can just camp out there.
girlfriday: Unless he sticks with his chase-the-chaser scheme and no photos get sent.
javabeans: If Jong-min manages NOT to get caught, but fails to get five photos, is that a success or a failure?
girlfriday: Oh right, then he still fails. Drat. This game IS skewed toward the cats!
javabeans: Cats rule the world, yo. Heh, this whole episode is a parody on Chuno, which means slave hunter and has the requisite fugitives-on-the-run theme. In this case, the show’s calling theirs the Chun-ho Special, which is a homophone that means good spring.
girlfriday: I love that Su-geun guesses the two things that are true of Jong-min: that his route will go from top to bottom on the map, and that he’s just as likely hiding in the parking lot and waiting for them. Scary. Guess all those years together are useful when you’re tracking your buddy’s every possible move.
javabeans: Jong-min’s first task takes him to the former home of famous Joseon scholar-philosopher Jung Yak-yong (a popular figure in sageuks), and requires him to order three teas and photograph himself with them.
girlfriday: The two teams get in their cars and start talking strategy, and it cracks me up that Su-geun asks Seung-woo hyung what cops do when they’re staking someone out, which you know is because he’s played so many cops and agents and such.
javabeans: He seems the obvious choice, until you think about why that is, and then you’re like, huh. I know you’re not a cop, but you seem like a cop!
girlfriday: Then they’re really even matched, because Tae-woong’s played his fair share of cops, and he and Joo-won even did a cop movie together.
javabeans: Okay, Joo-won doesn’t count. Right? I mean, look at him with his cartoon-character hat and his video-game voice starting the car ignition. He’s like a five-year-old with advanced motor skills.
girlfriday: Makes all his cop roles seem strange in retrospect.
javabeans: Shi-kyung takes the super-analytical route by suggesting that they stake out a location, picking a spot on the map that must be passed. The other two are happy to jump on that bandwagon, which makes me want to joke that the ajusshis just want to stay put and laze away the mission.
girlfriday: Tae-woong decides to call Jong-min directly and just sweet-talk his location out of him, all “I missed you! Just tell me where you are!” Jong-min “acts” like he’s at a busy market and hangs up in a fit of giggles, sure that they bought it. But as soon as he hangs up, Joo-won super-sleuths: “He’s indoors.” He says he could hear the indoor echo. Guess some of those detective roles rubbed off after all.
javabeans: Seung-woo tries the same tactic, calling next. Seung-woo (like Tae-woong) is willing to take Jong-min’s words at face value about being in a crowded place, but Shi-kyung (like Joo-won) sharply guesses that it’s a misdirect. He finally finishes his three teas (struggling with the super-sour one) and takes his shot with the empty cups. He literally contorts himself over and around, trying to get himself in the frame with the cups… Really, is that the only way you can imagine getting that shot, Jong-min?
girlfriday: Well, he’s definitely more Pinky than Brain, that’s for sure.
javabeans: Jong-min’s so cute as he tries his acting skills again — he’s being bombarded with phone calls from both sides, most of which he’s ignoring — by picking up the call as he’s supposedly mid-conversation with a market ajumma, saying, “Hello? Wait, hold on, no ma’am I have to go to the rest of the market first, hyung I’ll call back later!” He’s really proud of himself, and the PD says dryly, “I think they’re all going to head over here.”
girlfriday: It’s so cute how happy he is to be the center of attention, and so popular with the hyungs, even though it’s because they’re chasing him.
javabeans: I’m glad he gets to be the center of attention for an episode, because he’s learning to be better in this new season and I think he manages being entertaining while on his own pretty well. Like, just purely trying to do a straight introduction of a place can be hilarious with his fumbles, and he’ll have funny non sequiturs. Last season he got overshadowed by the other personalities, and maybe having them around allowed him to step back. On his own he has to step it up.
girlfriday: Yeah he’ll let himself be outshined when he’s with the others so it’s nice to give him an episode where he has room to be funny without the pressure. It turns out he’s smarter than we think too, because he does that horrible acting job like he’s at the market, and then guesses that the hyungs didn’t buy the act, and then heads straight for the market. Ha.
javabeans: I like that he turns his bad acting to his advantage. If you can’t use it to fool them, then use that expectation to fool them the opposite way! He has a brief moment of confusion when he Christopher Nolans himself, twisting the twist: “But if they know that I’m doing it [bad acting on purpose] to lead them away from the market, they might go to the market.” Thankfully he lets that rest and heads for the market.
girlfriday: Whew, because I had this vision of him doing that endlessly, until they just catch him, sitting in the car, stuck in his revolving door of second-guesses. The boys get the text that Jong-min completed his first mission and they guess where he’s going next.
javabeans: Yay for Jong-min, in that his strategy of psyching out his pursuers means it’s not geographically motivated. He started at the northernmost location (#1 on the map), and his second location, the market, is the southernmost (#5). So everyone assumes he’ll go to the next place on the map (#2 or #3), while he’s actually taking the inefficient, unexpected route.
girlfriday: Yeah his anti-logic is working, except I worry because there’s only one main road, apparently, and Su-geun’s team is getting ready to turn around on that road so they can catch him going south out of his latest destination.
javabeans: Tae-hyun calls Shi-kyung on the other team to try to get info. It’s sort of a collaborative suggestion, sort of a sneak-mission to glean strategy from the other team. So he says his car thinks Jong-min’s headed to one of the two obvious places. Shi-kyung totally lies, saying they’re going to the market, only Tae-hyun has seen their car in their rearview and is like, “Dude, you’re following us, whaddaya mean, market?”
girlfriday: Hahahaha. So funny. Shi-kyung tries his damnedest to make him believe it, but Tae-hyun’s like, I still see you, RIGHT NOW.
javabeans: I’m cracking up. The thing is, the cars aren’t that noteworthy, but they’re trailed by the production bus, so you really can’t miss ‘em. Ooh, but while everyone else is talking strategy and stakeouts, Tae-woong muses, “If I were Jong-min, I’d go straight to the market!”
girlfriday: Tae-hyun calls Jong-min and does something smart–he warns him not to go to the soybean village, because that’s where Su-geun’s team is headed. Might as well help out the mouse if it keeps the other cat from getting to him first.
javabeans: Jong-min: “Ah, so you’re saying don’t get caught by Su-geun hyung, get caught by you?” Tae-hyun: “Exactly.”
girlfriday: Meanwhile Su-geun’s team has been driving north on the main road for a while, and they keep debating about where they should make a u-turn (so that they’re on the same side of the road as Jong-min when he’s coming down). They keep going a little farther, and a little farther, and they miss a chance to turn around before a divided mountain pass… which is exactly when Jong-min passes right by them.
javabeans: Hahahahaha. On the upside, now they know where Jong-min is. On the downside, they’ve missed their chance to surprise him. Wait, does Jong-min actually MISS seeing the other team? You’re all paranoid all morning long, and NOW you miss the real deal?
girlfriday: Oh noes. Su-geun’s team finally turns around and chases after him belatedly, joking that it would be really aggravating if Jong-min doubled back on them. That’d be great, had he seen you.
javabeans: Jong-min makes his head hurt with all the second-guessing, since clearly we’re into the psychological fake-out part of the mission. He says his heart is racing and now he knows why criminals turn themselves in. Now Team Tae-woong says that Jong-min has been scared off of the locations near his first task, and will probably go all the way down to the market after all. So they put in a call to Team Su-geun to throw them off the scent, saying they’re staking things out near the north, then head south. But everyone’s operating on the same level of mindfuckery (as in, a slight twist, but not too much) so Shi-kyung says Jong-min must be at the southernmost market after all. So their best bet is to stake him out near there.
girlfriday: It’s so funny how they all end up headed to the same place, after all that back and forth.
javabeans: It occurs to me that everybody would have a better shot at their respective missions if there were no phones involved. But then where would the fun be?
girlfriday: Yeah the mindgames are the point.
javabeans: Jong-min figures that Shi-kyung’s the Brain, and therefore he will most definitely try to psych him out. So he calls him to try to work that to his advantage.
girlfriday: Ack! But he pulls over? If Su-geun’s team turned around quickly enough, they probably aren’t that far behind.
javabeans: No they are not! In fact, Su-geun catches sight of Jong-min pulled over and Shi-kyung keeps him talking while they pull up beside him, then in front to cut off his avenue of escape. Ahhhh! Omg, this is hilarious and freaky. Jong-min’s talking on his phone when his PD suddenly taps him on the shoulder, and suddenly we see hands madly wiping at his front window, to clear the glass for a photo. Eeeeep!
girlfriday: Aaaaaaack! From his perspective, they just show up out of nowhere.
javabeans: Even when you know exactly who it is and what’s going on, that’s still freaky.
girlfriday: Thankfully the windows are so fogged up that they can’t get a clear shot, and Jong-min just locks his doors and refuses to come out. The mouse is cornered.
javabeans: The pursuers insist that their cameras are put away and ask him to lower his window “to talk,” while Shi-kyung hides his phone behind his back. Jong-min’s not having it, even when Seung-woo makes a show of shoving his phone in his pocket. They both yell through the glass at each other, “Act like a man!” except that for one side that means “Act like a man and be honorable” and for the other team it means, “Act like a man… and come out so we can trick you.”
girlfriday: Don’t fall for it!
javabeans: I know, right? You know this show, there is no “putting the game aside to be honorable”! Finally Jong-min makes them step away from the car and tells the guys to put their hands on their heads. Seung-woo: “Are WE the criminals in this scenario?”
javabeans: But they all do it! Jong-min keeps telling them to go farther away, and Shi-kyung retorts, “This is why in those movies the criminals always get themselves beat up!”
girlfriday: And THEN! Tae-woong’s team pulls up right behind them! This is awesome.
javabeans: This is total stalemate, like a hostage standoff. Tae-woong steps up as hostage negotiator, and Jong-min starts talking sense: If he stays in his car till 1pm, nobody wins. “Let’s negotiate.” Hee.
girlfriday: They’re like a pack of hyenas, just waiting for their prey to come out of the tin can. Tae-woong offers that he’ll let Jong-min complete four missions and just catch him on the last one, but Jong-min decides he’s got a better idea: “Pass me six cell phones!” Haha, he’s really getting good at this.
javabeans: Jong-min yells, “I GOT HERE FIRST THIS MORNING! WHY AM I THE CRIMINAL.” Aw, haha. I love that Tae-woong’s getting hot-headed (at one point he warns, “Imma break this window in”) so Seung-woo steps in, going, “Detective Uhm! Call him and say you’ll agree. Listen to his demands.” Thus spake the police chief.
girlfriday: Omg, those two together really are like police chief and detective.
javabeans: I’m dying laughing at how naturally this is falling into the movie-cop pattern. I’m sure they’re all having fun, but it just fits so easily into this scenario. Tae-woong even starts speaking jondaemal to Jong-min, like he’s trying to appease the hostage-taker. Police Chief Seung-woo collects phones to hand over, offering to give them up if Jong-min steps out of the car. No, don’t do it, Jong-min! What do you have to gain by leaving your haven? They can just overpower you! Have you never seen a cop movie ever?
girlfriday: He gets all six phones passed to him through a tiny crack in the window (so funny) and they start getting really rowdy, demanding that he get out of the friggin’ car already.
javabeans: Can he just drive off now?
girlfriday: Right? Jong-min prepares to exit the car, and yells: “If anyone! Lays! A finger! On Me! … Don’t…” Pfffft.
javabeans: But surprise surprise! Su-geun shouts, “Okay!” He got a clear shot… how? Is there a dinky camera on the friggin’ car key? But I don’t think Jong-min hears this, or maybe he’s not sure if he’s caught or not… because he makes a break for it, with all seven cell phones in his keeping. Muahaha.
girlfriday: Whoooo~! And the mouse lives to see another day! For now…