So ends another year with our lovable Running Man cast who send off 2012 with a bang. If you were wondering if the games got any easier… they didn’t. Instead, we get more laughs, more betrayal, and more deception and that’s always a good thing in my book. Who will come out as 2012’s final victor?
EPISODE 126. Broadcast on December 30, 2012.
Somewhere in Busan, our cast arrives on the red carpet to toast the end of the year with… grape juice. What – you expected something else?
We were last here when a group of hyungnims paid a visit to our cast members and some of them note that there’s an extra plate setting for a special guest. Just then, a white stretch limo rolls towards them.
And we only need to hear the Stairway to Heaven soundtrack to guess who today’s guest is. Gary doubles back when he comes face-to-face with actress Choi Ji-woo (Can’t Lose, Winter Sonata).
Haha on the other hand, is in awe with Ji-woo’s tall stature, so he steps towards her, giving us a hilarious sight gag. HA.
What concerns me, however, is that Ji-woo is sans a jacket and then I have to recall that it’s freezing in Korea these days. Even Ji-hyo has a coat!
Ji-woo politely refuses Suk-jin’s would-be chivalrous gesture with her hands (Jae-suk: “One hand means, ‘No, thanks.’ Both hands mean, ‘Definitely no.'”)
But on with today’s mission! Entitled “Star Wars,” it’s every man or woman for themselves, and the winner at each mission station will earn a star. The person who gathers seven stars at the final mission location will be declared the winner.
But… why do you look all shifty-eyed, Ji-woo?
Sure enough, one hour earlier, Ji-woo nervously picks up the mission card and gasps, “1:7?!” Today she’s a spy and her mission is to eliminate the Running Man members with the help of her partner-in-crime.
Squirming in her chair, she whines, “How am I to eliminate Spartakooks?” And if that wasn’t enough pressure already, Mr. PD explains that should her identity be compromised, that’ll be the end of the show. Ji-woo: “Just like that? But I came all the way down here!”
With a hearty cry from Ji-woo, they’re off!
… or so we think. Another flashback teaches us that the cast has seen and heard every word of this ‘secret meeting.’ After playing around with the notion of Gary as her accomplice (he protests), they decide on Haha.
Man, I love me some reversal, but what’s in it for these guys, Mr. PD?
Everyone piles on the double-decker bus and they all brace themselves against the bitter winter cold. Haha gathers up the confidence to ask if he can speak in banmal with Ji-woo (who allows it) and Gary blushes that he could never bring himself to do so ’cause he’s a fanboy. So cute.
Jae-suk teases the ex-Monday Couple for sitting next to each other and Ji-hyo barks in a half-exasperated tone, It’s Monday, whatcanyado?. Gary turns to her, shocked, “So we’re gonna [be together] if it’s Monday? Should I log back in?” HAHA.
Their first mission takes them to a beach obstacle course and the cast avert their eyes to avoid notice. Jong-kook and Kwang-soo are up first and the Tiger drags the Giraffe back to the right lane before squeezing into the first obstacle. Then he finds Kwang-soo trying to block the exit with sand.
Things only start spiraling out of control from there as they push and pull each other as Kwang-soo’s pants continue to go south. By the time he grabs the flag to clinch his victory, he’s given everyone a viewing of his blue briefs.
When Jae-suk and Ji-hyo face off, we get a reversal of the move Haha pulled Hyo-joo a few weeks ago… ’cause it’s Ji-hyo who sends Jae-suk to the ground. Twice.
Seeing Ji-woo’s fierce competitive spirit tells me that actresses should always be in variety. I mean, she’s trying to lift a tire to trap Suk-jin for cryin’ out loud!
Then I find it adorably hilarious that a forward roll baffles her, but after some more pushing and shoving Big Nose Hyung out of the way, she wins the match.
I cannot believe what I’m seeing. Kwang-soo is still pantsless so he affixes a makeshift pair out of a bathroom robe. But count on Kwang-soo to work it.
They’re off after a false start and it looks like Kwang-soo didn’t take Jae-suk’s words of wisdom about how beautiful actresses have a bit of a temper. It’s too bad we couldn’t see Ji-woo’s death glare ourselves, but it’s enough to shake up the Giraffe (and maybe his pants-not-pants).
She borders on exhaustion after she wins and gapes when she has to go up against Haha to win a star. We learn that the stars contain clues to her spy accomplice, but it’s the cast’s job to stop her.
So we shouldn’t really be that surprised to see Haha’s shed his former playboy persona now that he’s a married man. He pulls his now signature ankle attack on Ji-woo but can’t manage a repeated attempt, no thanks to his short legs.
Ji-woo charges at Haha to wrench the fishing pole away from him but it’s too late. He resorts to piggybacking Ji-woo near the finish line, the pole still around his chest. In the end, he wins it and revels in victory.
Back on the bus, Ji-woo expresses her concern for Kwang-soo who replies that she speak comfortably with him. He blushes a fierce red when she calls him, “Kwang-soo ya,” and then sweetly adds that she knows the ‘shy’ persona is an act, so he can drop it. HA.
Ji-woo: “I’ve seen you do it to all the actresses [older than you].” Jae-suk praises her for her spot-on observation and when Kwang-soo sours after being called ‘ugly’, he comforts him: “It’s a trend lately!”
Then Gary pipes in: “No it’s not!”
That starts a discussion about who she thinks is the best looking cast member and complain when she chooses Jong-kook and Suk-jin respectively for first and second place. She names Haha as third, and the rest? Ji-woo: “Eh, they’re all the same from there.”
Jae-suk points to Kwang-soo as dead last and Kwang-soo defends that he’s heard plenty of people call him handsome. Ji-woo’s eyes widen: “Really? Where?”
Their second mission is a quiz game and Haha immediately cries, “You know we’re not good at that!” But the twist we’ve come to expect is that the cast are already aware of the questions and answers. Suk-jin astutely points out, “If we get the difficult questions right, she’s going to find it absurd.”
HA – turns out the questions are strangely specific in regards to Ji-woo. (Q: What were Yu-jin’s first words when she met Joon-sang [in Winter Sonata]?) Back in the present, the cast pretends to gripe about how it’ll be easy peasy for Ji-woo herself. Jae-suk: “There’s a chance Ji-woo doesn’t remember either!”
Everyone starts jumping up, claiming that they’re huge fans of Ji-woo (she beams). Haha: “I even know what her first CF is!” When pressed, he replies, “I’m not gonna say! It could be a question!”
I see you taking out your cheat sheet there, Haha!
The first question asks where Ji-woo and Lee Byung-heon’s characters in Beautiful Days had their first kiss. Ooh, I know, I know! Pick me, pick me!
Jae-suk gets there first and after he cracks a gourd over his head (ow!), answers, “Inside a car by the seashore!” Ji-woo cries that it’s wrong. Uhh.. it’s not a good sign when the actress says that you’re wrong.
In her memory, it was at the record shop. Did the staff not do their research? (Don’t worry – they did.)
Haha presses his luck to ask him about the storyline (Jae-suk: “They met and fell in love! I’m sure things didn’t work out!” Ji-woo: “It was a happy ending.”) which earns him a stern stare from Jae-suk.
Gary correctly answers a Winter Sonata trivia question, and by now Ji-woo’s thoroughly confused. She calls him on his “huge Winter Sonata fan” bluff and instructs him to sing it then and there. Gulp.
A few questions later, Ji-woo remains with two other cast members. Upset and frustrated, she finally bursts, “I don’t remember what happened [in those dramas]! How am I supposed to remember stuff from 10 years ago!”
She may not remember what happened in those dramas, but she certainly remembers her character names. The cast grows nervous as she starts to list them off… and then Haha cracks the gourd on his head, “You didn’t do this first!”
He gets them wrong, but count on our resident actress, Ji-hyo to list them off in the correct order. Whew.
Ji-hyo panics when she’s asked to repeat the names and she blurts, “You know that feeling after you memorize something…” She finishes, “… you forget it right away?” Still in shock, Ji-woo just nods along. Double whew.
Problem is, the cast is in hot water again when a Stairway to Heaven question is posed and Ji-woo gets there first. Worst yet, she spits out the right answer.
Thankfully (for the cast), she gets caught on a technicality and Haha answers correctly, making this victory Strike 2 against Ji-woo.
Everyone except for Ji-woo earns Running balls (another Running Man classic!) and it’s Gary who comes out with a star.
The cast gathers at the final mission location and Ji-woo lights up when she’s allowed to enter first. Once out of earshot, the members start to strategize: how do they deliberately let Ji-woo win without getting caught?
Those without stars are in the most danger since once they’re out – it’s game over and Ji-woo wins. (Explanation: Just like how Ji-woo has a ‘spy’ nametag, theirs disclose how they’re tricking Ji-woo.) Moreover, Haha’s role as her “spy partner” will be crucial in order to win it for the Running Man cast.
Ji-woo searches for her spy partner and approaches Jae-suk. It’s hard to tell if she’s more embarrassed before, during, or after she tries the hint (a wink and the frog dance) out on him. They separate for now, but Jae-suk astutely criticizes the staff that the hint is way too obvious.
Dang – the staff sure are making the cast members jump through hoops to acquire stars. Suk-jin finds an envelope instructs him to squat-walk 100 steps and from this angle, it looks like Coach Kookie is scolding him. HAHA.
Suk-jin checks his pedometer too early and has to start over again, much to his displeasure. Which is when Coach Kookie orders him to get going… but nearly get caught by Ji-woo.
Enter Haha who now assumes his spy partner role with great ease and Ji-woo breathes a sigh of relief.
They spot Gary in the distance and lead him to an empty hallway and Ji-woo rips off his name tag. Gary acts surprised… until he’s out of sight and bursts in laughter. The others hear the announcement and smile.
Meanwhile, Suk-jin still hasn’t been able to complete his mission, and when he checks again, it reads: 93. Close but no cigar.
Kwang-soo’s practically ecstatic when he realizes that his tall height comes in handy for his mini-mission. He jumps and places one, two…. and finally five post-its onto the ceiling. This finally allows him to be eliminated without worry.
Ji-hyo’s mission sounds virtually impossible – how is she going to get close enough to change Ji-woo’s name tag to read as ‘Ja-woo’?
Right now, Haha’s got a bigger problem on his hands – Ji-woo wants to eliminate Suk-jin, who doesn’t have a star yet. So he suggests an alliance between the three of them, to which Ji-woo’s like, Nuh-uh. Take him out..
Oof – that’s gotta be a blow to the man’s pride, for sure.
Ji-hyo joins them and panics over her mission. As she whispers to Haha ’round the corner, Ji-woo targets the Ace… who turns her back to the wall just in time. To the cast’s luck, Ji-woo doesn’t suspect Haha’s suddenly strange behavior in the slightest.
Now joined by Kwang-soo, the four circle each other and stop to assess the situation. They decide to ally together and target Jong-kook who’s still without a star. Ji-woo is rightfully reluctant about this arrangement since she’s seen how these alliances have turned out before.
Kwang-soo defends, “The three most trustworthy people are before you.” Ji-woo: “I can’t trust YOU the most!”
Cut to: Suk-jin who’s still squat-walking. At least you’re getting a decent workout out of it? He gets caught by Ji-woo and his odd gait has piqued Ji-woo’s suspicions. But thankfully, she jumps to the wrong conclusion and leaves.
Haha suggests that they make a mark on their name tags to indicate their alliance. Ingenious. Both Ji-hyo and Kwang-soo have to turn away so that Ji-woo doesn’t catch them laughing.
So they slip away to write on each other’s name tags (which indirectly also helps Ji-hyo) and once alone, Ji-hyo apologizes to the camera, “Sunbaenim, I’m sorry I turned your name into ‘Ja-woo’!”
Then finally, Kwang-soo sets himself up to be eliminated with ease and stifles his laughter as he’s dragged away.
Elsewhere, Jae-suk has finally found his mini-mission: shout Ji-woo’s name and hit at least 125 decibels. So he shouts her name over and over and now I’m dying.
Ji-woo walks over, having heard her name, and coolly admits that she eliminated Kwang-soo. Jae-suk shouts her name, looking directly at her… and completely unaware, she’s like, “Yes?”
Jae-suk tries again once she’s gone but his repeated attempts now grates on her nerves. She tells Haha that she wants to eliminate Jae-suk because, “He’s so noisy!”
And then just when he hits the right pitch, Ji-woo’s right behind him… he whirls around just in time.
Jong-kook’s task (the Pepero game) is by far, the most hilarious mission I’ve seen today. He pulls a reluctant Jae-suk aside and looks at him with this face that says, Hey, don’t get mad at ME! It’s a mission!
Jae-suk notes how the health fanatic has bit the cracker end and Jong-kook jokes that he’s none too pleased about this task either, “Do you know how ugly you look up close?!”
They fail their first try (though the screencap can inspire a fanfic), but there’s no time to bicker ’cause Ji-woo’s on her way. So the boys grit their teeth and Jae-suk starts eating the Pepero like a chipmunk. Alas, it’s no good.
It takes a few more attempts because Jong-kook keeps cracking up at the last second but they manage to succeed. And as soon as they do, they start bickering again. HA.
Ji-woo hangs back as the cast pins Jong-kook to the ground. Then Ji-woo strikes and rips off Jong-kook’s name tag. Two seconds later, she reaches for Ji-hyo’s name tag and tears that one off before slipping away.
Finally, Haha holds Jae-suk just long enough for Ji-woo to acquire the last needed star.
Aw, it’s kinda nice to see the sign light up as Ji-woo places each star. Meanwhile, the cast looks on through the window with sympathy, “She looks so happy…”
Ji-woo places the final star and suddenly, a parade of fireworks burst into the night sky, startling her. She jumps in celebration… and the banner rolls down, revealing: Trick Choi Ji-woo.
It’s only when they show her the mini name-tag beneath hers (which says the same thing) does it dawn on her. She gapes, “Why would Running Man trick people?!”
The cast pockets their prizes (digital cameras) and send their New Years Greetings to the audience. But if the preview is any indication, Ji-woo’s revenge war path is going to mean a rough start to 2013.