Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 13
Finally the big hootenanny starts to swing into motion… albeit at a snail’s pace. Our major players all convene in on The Deal, which admittedly I still don’t understand but which is just that big MacGuffin we need to swallow for this show to make sense. Inasmuch as it makes any, that is.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
At the agents’ overnight camping trip, Seo-won heads to her car to leave, not seeing that Gil-ro notices her exit. He thinks back to the conversation he overheard last night, with her admitting to Mom that it hurts too much to like Gil-ro.
So when he sees her driving away, he runs after her car. She looks back in her rearview mirror right at him and yet seems not to see him. So either she’s blind or she’s ignoring him. Or this drama is directed badly. That’s also an option. Seo-won thinks back to his words last night, when he’d broken things off for good and said, “It’s been tiresome knowing you.” He stops running and she keeps driving.
They return home and pack up their keepsakes — Monkey Gil-ro goes into a box with the couple photos, and Seo-won’s textbook goes into the trash.
Mi-rae meets with President Han to finalize the plans for their deal two days hence. She hands over a phone to be given to Director Park — all he has to do is follow her instructions when she calls. She tells him baldly that she’s only going to pay him half the agreed-upon price, which he doesn’t argue because he’s more concerned with getting across that this is their last deal together. Also, don’t lay a hand on his son.
Gil-ro calls to say he’ll be taking off on a trip, which Dad approves. He asks if Dad was ever proud of him, and the gruff answer he gets back is, I suppose, a tiny concession: “You weren’t that shameful.” Aw, gee, thanks.
Promising to be a son Dad won’t be ashamed off, Gil-ro adds the request that Dad not do anything shameful either.
Gil-ro meets with Director Oh regarding an assignment in Busan, which I guess means he really is an agent after all. Huh. Although something tells me that if Director Oh had it his way, Gil-ro would be outta here on his ass. The director seems to enjoy informing Gil-ro of his dad’s illegal dealings, which include being in cahoots with a guy who killed two of their agents.
Gil-ro replies that he’s aware that Dad is suspected of crimes, but points out that there’s been no proof. It wipes the smug look from the director’s face — and when told to produce those documents to prove that they contain nothing suspect, Gil-ro lies that he destroyed since they seemed irrelevant.
Director Oh calls him on it and hooks him up to a lie detector, but the interrogation goes nowhere because Gil-ro has suddenly mastered the art of controlling his emotions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we understood why? When asked if he’s ever broken rules while on the job, he lies that he’s not a spy.
Gil-ro maintains his composure even when Director Oh informs him that Won-seok’s best agent friend was one of those dead agents, and that Won-seok is only using him to get back at his father. Gil-ro takes a deep breath and says evenly, “I am not an agent. Of course I did not know that.”
While it’s impressive that Gil-ro has managed to learn to lie so well, I can’t help but think he’s going about this all wrong — shouldn’t he go with the questions normally, and then only lie about the stuff he’s trying to hide? He’s making his own life harder by basically flipping off the director and warning him that everything he just said is a lie. Ya gotta lie strategically, yunno!
But perhaps Gil-ro doesn’t care that he’s making an outright enemy of his boss. When the director asks if Gil-ro wants to punch him in the face (’cause that’s a question people ask), Gil-ro answers, “Yes, I want to.” O…kay.
Director Oh tells him he’ll keep him stationed nearby, so he can keep his eye on him. Thus Gil-ro makes his way to headquarters… realizing with chagrin that it’s the cosmetics office. Moreover, Seo-won’s the agent who greets him and hands over his cover ID. HAHA. And now she’s his sunbae. Okay, that’s pretty funny.
She leads him to the secret sliding passageway to NIS headquarters, and Gil-ro’s eyes widen like a little boy on Christmas. The Bond dream is still alive. Cute.
Upon reporting to Won-seok, the first thing Gil-ro does is ask whether his friend was really that agent who died. Won-seok declines to answer and sends him to his first briefing meeting.
Young-soon overrides his protest at being teamed with Seo-won, who is tasked with filling him in on the mission thus far. Not surprisingly, Gil-ro reels a bit at this flood of information about his father’s dealings, as well as Mi-rae’s involvement. He also realizes that Seo-won knew all this, and she tells him to hand over those documents from Dad’s safe in order to stop JJ.
Gil-ro flat-out balks, though, saying that he won’t because everybody here at this agency scares him; she could encounter something hugely disturbing and then show up the next day unruffled. She reminds them of their training, which emphasized the need to keep one’s emotions under wraps, but adds, “I thought you’d know, though, that my face wasn’t really smiling.”
He asks how they came to this point. She answers unenlighteningly, “it’s because of me. And because of you.” YOU DON’T SAY.
At lunch, Sun-mi once again brings up the topic of Do-ha’s crush on Seo-won, which he denies. So then she asks what he thinks of her. One-track mind, this girl. So Do-ha gets up and puts his arms around her to prove a point I can’t for the life of me figure out, and asks whether she’s feeling butterflies. Sun-mi lies and says no, and he says that he sees them all as merely colleagues.
Do-ha resumes eating lunch as calm as you please, as though that totally just made sense, what he did. Sun-mi’s feeling breathless, even though she sticks to the line that she feels nothing, and then demands another demonstration to prove (again) that she feels nothing.
Gil-ro gets on the NIS network and from the shifty looks he’s sending around, I’m guessing he’s doing some unauthorized research about his father’s case. He gets stymied by a “classed file” (is that our Konglish version of classified?) with no hint at the password.
Just then, the agency is alerted to movement on technology-thieving Director Park’s movements. The agents are given their tasks and scatter, while Gil-ro’s put on coffee duty, heh.
Mi-rae and JJ pull up to a ski resort for their deal, and as they take a gondola up the mountainside Mi-rae looks wistfully at the normalcy around. JJ assures her that they can have that life when this is all done, but she says they’ve come too far to live as people.
Seo-won leads the meeting as she explains likely scenarios of the baddies’ mountaintop excursion, with a map of the ski trails and dots indicating potential sniper hiding spots. JJ is in fact scoping out his target from a distance, while Mi-rae leaves him with the instructions to shoot as soon as the NIS agents make their appearance.
Gil-ro stops mid-coffee-delivery to argue a few points with her about her assumptions, and then Young-soon asks if they can ski. Gil-ro can, but Seo-won offers that “people our age don’t ski, we board.” Not gonna lie, I actually thought she meant that the older generation boards, because what else could she mean by “our age”? HA, and then Sun-mi clarifies that it’s “young people who snowboard.” Literal double-take moment.
Afterward, Gil-ro asks Won-seok about a name he’s come across, Choi Heung-soo. Mere mention of him (I assume he’s the Choi sunbae who died in Won-seok’s flashback) gets Won-seok suspicious, and he shuts down that line of questioning, even though Gil-ro seems to be on the right track in asking if Choi Heung-soo is really the crux of this mission — not his father. Perhaps he needs Gil-ro’s dad to take the fall to cover something else up.
The NIS team makes their way to the ski resort, where Mi-rae and JJ are already scoping out the location for their deal later. The plan is for Mi-rae to be present for the hand-off, while JJ snipes from a distance to kill their two targets (Won-seok and Director Oh). She’s ready to be arrested in the process, which has JJ vaguely uneasy, though she assures him that the info swap will be of dummy materials so she won’t be incriminated by it anyway. Still, she repeats her unsettling refrain: “If you’re safe, that’s enough.”
As the NIS agents drive up to the mountainside (with a silly detour about bra sizes, of all things), Seo-won’s parents start planning Seo-won’s marriage, assuming she and Gil-ro are going to tie the knot. Out come the calculators to tally all the costs involved with marrying a daughter off.
Gil-ro enters his hotel room to find Seo-won already there and orders her to leave — she may have a robot-like off switch for her emotions, but the mere sight of her makes him angry.
She suggests they play for it, and despite an attempt at a mid-game cheat, Seo-won loses. She heaves a sigh and heads for the door… only to find that this isn’t their room after all, ha. It’s basecamp.
Young-soon assumes the lead in assigning everyone’s roles, with Seo-won and Do-ha to go undercover as a couple in the room next door to Director Park’s. This, naturally, does not go over well with either Gil-ro or Sun-mi. Adding salt to the wound is Young-soon’s order for Gil-ro not to take one step outside the room, as he is to facilitate communications between agents.
Do-ha and Seo-won settle into their room, with him deciding to take a shower. So when Gil-ro calls Seo-won to demand a report, antsy about leaving her alone with The Other Guy, he freaks out to hear that Do-ha’s taking a shower, because that fires his overactive imagination into wondering what he needs a shower for. Apparently cleanliness is not high on the list of possibilities.
Gil-ro pesters Seo-won with multiple calls, and when she hangs up on him he storms over to see for himself. It’s Do-ha who opens the door in his bathrobe, and Gil-ro barges in and looks all over for Seo-won, though he refuses to admit that’s why.
Seo-won appears and satisfies his suspicions (for now), but he barks at them to report to HQ every five minutes. And if there’s nothing to report, they’re to report that. Aren’t you glad to know your tax dollars are so efficiently spent?
Sun-mi is dispatched as a hotel employee and works the rental counter, though she takes the time to call Do-ha and basically ask, Whatcha doin’? DOES NOBODY DO THEIR JOB AROUND HERE. Also, does nobody shower in this mystical dramaland reality where the thought of a guy taking a shower is so alarming?
Back at NIS headquarters, Director Oh hears word that the deal is confirmed to be taking place at the ski resort, but he’s not getting his information through official channels because Won-seok looks chagrined to realize Director Oh knows about the operation. I don’t really know why he should be unaware since the whole goddamned team is on that mountain, but maybe Won-seok was gonna write it off as another team bonding experience? Who knows with this show. Director Oh has decided to go out to observe the deal himself, and he goes with Won-seok, who’s unable to shake him off.
It’s D-1 for the baddies, who await Director Park’s arrival that evening and expect that he’ll have agents on his tail. They’re right, but I’m wondering why they’re so certain this was the best way to drag out their targets. Was it really worth all this elaborate scheming?
She says she used to have hopes for a marriage and a family, thinking she could have those things after the revenge. But once oppa died, she gave up those dreams. JJ, poor little bro forever to be in his hyung’s shadow, asks whether she’ll come looking for him after the dust settles. She just tells him to be happy wherever he goes in the future, as though she expects tomorrow to be goodbye.
Seo-won looks out at the snow and sighs that it would be nice to go snowboarding. The mission won’t leave time for that, so Do-ha suggests a snowfight instead, which they can do as part of their couple cover. He takes her hand, which he totally enjoys too much despite telling her that it’s just for couple “practice.”
Gil-ro pesters them with another call and gets shut down again. Frustrated and powerless, he complains to himself — if he can’t like Seo-won at will, shouldn’t he at least be able to hate her at will? Sadly, that’s not how life works, buddy.
JJ heads out to get his sniping equipment in place for tomorrow, but as he’s heading over to the slopes he spots Director Park arriving, with none other than their two targets on his tail. This is too good an opening to pass up, so he calls in to MI-rae who directs him to begin the plan immediately.
Mi-rae calls Director Park and begins issuing her instructions, and his movements attract the notice of the many agents on alert. Everybody swings into action, with Seo-won and Do-ha heading out in their romantic disguise. Gil-ro watches the monitors back at basecamp and relays what he sees over the comm.
Mi-rae watches from her room as well, and although our fake couple are clearly in her sights, for now she doesn’t seem to suspect them of tailing Director Park up the mountain. Just to make sure, Do-ha and Seo-won launch into a snowfight, to the jealousy of Gil-ro, who can only fume impotently from afar. He takes a long moment to breathe and get his emotions under control as the agents keep following the trail. Uh, shouldn’t you be watching the monitors?
JJ is also on Director Park’s tail, following at a bit of a distance, also unaware of the agents there on the ground. Mi-rae directs Director Park into the men’s sauna to the lockers, so Do-ha follows alone while Seo-won waits outside.
But all of a sudden, a shrill squawk bursts on over the comm, blasting the eardrums of every agent wearing an earpiece. Do-ha gets the worst of it; his ear is bleeding and he loses his equilibrium, swaying woozily as he resumes the pursuit.
By the time he gets up, however, Seo-won has already left to continue following Director Park. The comms are just static now, so everyone’s starting to ad-lib the plans, though this doesn’t appear to worry Won-seok (who by now has arrived at basecamp with the director). He figures the agents are trained to know how to respond in emergencies. Well, glad HE has more faith in their abilities than I do.
Young-soon bugs the director’s hotel room. Mi-rae basically sends Director Park up the mountain and around in circles. Is anyone else getting the sense that this is a really stupidly convoluted plan?
Back in Seoul, Gil-ro’s father heads back to his safe to smile fondly at the watch Gil-ro bought him, and remembers his son asking him not to do anything he’d be ashamed of. But now that he’s in his safe, he realizes his documents are missing, and that sends him into a panic. He thinks Mi-rae’s next move is to hurt Gil-ro, and orders his wife to call him asap.
Gil-ro, meanwhile, locates Seo-won trailing Director Park (again, and still)… but this time he also spots JJ behind them. Recognizing his face, he realizes the danger and darts out of the room.
Out on the slopes, he hijacks a snowmobile and races up the hill, riding it like a jet ski. (Which would be cooler in a wedding dress, just sayin’.)
Director Park finally makes it to the top of the mountain, and Seo-won keeps a safe distance from him, pretending to be just another guest. Ohmagahhhh, this is the longest slow-speed chase ever.
JJ arrives soon thereafter, but he something about the situation makes him back up and turn away. I’ll guess it’s because Won-seok and Director Oh aren’t there and therefore the revenge is moot. Although… he’s got a sniper rifle on him. Was he going to just snipe at them up close?
Gil-ro’s snowmobile putters to a stop, and in frustration he ditches it on the hill and starts running.
Wait, that’s it?
For some reason the cliffhangers in the last week have been sort of terrible, haven’t they? I mean, I was itching for this hour to end and still I was left feeling like there should’ve been more.
I’m glad this episode finally got the show on the road, in that our players all came together for the same mission and the lines are finally crystallized about who is doing what and for whom. Gil-ro joins his fellow teammates and the baddies line up their targets.
Of course, I’m pretty sure that the actual baddies’ plan is the terriblest Evil Plot ever in the history of dramaland, and I will include the original Level 7 movie in this, which is saying something. It’s needlessly complicated and redundant and totally circles in on itself, much like that SUPER LONG and tiresome chase scene with Director Park. Seriously, has a chase ever been so meandering? If Mi-rae & Co. could somehow pull together this super elaborate con, steal highly secret technological secrets, engage a corporate spy, set up a false bank account and cover corporation, and don false identities — then surely they could have looked up Won-seok and Director Oh’s names in the address book and maybe not deal with this whole runaround? I know, I know, Mi-rae said (or was it JJ?) that the point of their revenge wasn’t mere killing but for the offenders to realize what they were being avenged for… but how on earth does sniping at them from a distance during a trumped up fake mission involving technology secrets you don’t even want make them realize that this was really about that thing twenty years ago? How about some logic up in this hizzy? Is that too much to ask for?
Here’s one problem (just one!) with the writing of this show: It’s superficial on all levels. I’ve heard television writers explain that in scripting a medical scene or a technical scene, sometimes they’ll insert a note saying simply “MEDICAL” or “TECH” to serve as a placeholder until an expert fills in the appropriate text. Well, it feels like this writer peppers his scripts with “SPY” — only he never gets that expert material. Instead, things remain super simplistic, which makes the show feel shallow.
For instance, I’ve noticed that all throughout the series the baddies’ conversations are laughably void of meaning. Mi-rae and JJ talk about this elusive “deal” using the same word over and over, with no explanation for what the deal actually is or how it will transpire.
It’s the same thing with the character scenes — we get all the cues that this is “SAD REFLECTION” time, but none of the detail work to support that claim. I know that sad reflection time often comes with melancholy music and long, wistful glances, but that can’t be all we get. You can’t give us only the trappings and expect us to react as though you’d put all the proper build-up and contextualizing and story work into it. This is a drama of shortcuts, and as a result my emotions feel cut short.
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 12
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 11
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 10
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 9
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 8
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 7
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 6
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 5
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 4
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 3
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 2
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 1