Running Man: Episode 177
Our resident rapper has been kidnapped turning this year’s festive Christmas schedule to a Christmas nightmare. It’s Operation Rescue: Gary as our cast must track down the perpetrator with barely a lead to guide them. Will they be able to find in him time or is there more to this situation than meets the eye?
EPISODE 177. Broadcast on December 22, 2013.
On this rainy wintry morning, we meet up with each of our cast members who are told to gather (as couples!) at a bakery in Gangnam. Time to pair up, though, Jae-suk bitterly recalls being betrayed by Haha two years ago.
Nature calls for Gary, who’s told to keep his phone on him in case he gets a call. Did Jo PD also tell him to try and keep filming? While he’s on the john? Are things about to get real on this show for the holidays?
Someone calls just then—it’s Ji-hyo, and Gary’s voice immediately softens. At the question of whom he’ll pair up with today, he answers: “Let’s just assume that we’ll be coupled on Mondays for the rest of our lives. Even when you’re married, come sleep at my place on Mondays!” Hahaha.
There’s no time for such sweet talk, so they promise to meet at the same cafe from two years ago. Aw, I forgot how cute that meeting was, though Ji-hyo reminds us that this was the same place where she also betrayed him.
She picks up snacks and texts him to hurry as she waits. Ack, there are so many delectable Monday Couple moments in the first five minutes, and yes, I am totally eating them up.
LOL, Gary picks up Kwang-soo’s call while he’s in the bathroom. I love that two-shot that shows a plain wall against Kwang-soo’s aghast reactions: “You’re pooing? Where? What bathroom?!”
But there’s something wrong, because Ji-hyo’s calls to Gary suddenly go unanswered. Uh oh.
Meanwhile the Jailhouse Trio (Suk-jin, Jae-suk, and Kwang-soo) arrives at the bakery as a unit, but only pairs can enter and none of them are willing to be the third wheel.
Jong-kook and Haha arrive together a minute later, and in another struggle, the mat hyungs pull ahead, leaving Kwang-soo as the odd man out. Luckily, Ji-hyo arrives soon afterwards to pair up with him, and walks in griping, “Gary cheated on me!”
But that makes them all wonder where Gary is, since he isn’t answering any of their calls. That’s when the TV flickers on to reveal Gary tied up, pleading with his unseen captor. Oh noes!
You would think that the cast would be sorta panicked, but instead they take the kidnapping in stride: “I guess we’ll just go on without him!” “We’re all coupled then!”
Still, they’re worried about one of their own, and thankfully are in possession of Gary’s phone. So they check the call log, and aside from a number he called most frequently (Ji-hyo’s), there is one other suspicious number…
The receiver’s voice sounds oddly familiar—it’s Gil aka the other half of hip-hop duo Leessang, whom Gary had made a personal call to. When Kwang-soo tries to say hello, Gil snaps back at him: “Stay out of it!”
The cast suggests that they meet up, to which Gil requests that some people stay behind, namely Jong-kook and Kwang-soo. Haha tosses out an initial speculation that Gil could be jealous of Gary’s popularity, but what’s certain is that our dear Gary is missing.
Finally, Jo PD properly introduces today’s theme as Operation Rescue: Gary. They must find where Gary is held captive within the time limit sans any hints. The team who rescues him will receive gold as their reward.
Everyone decides to go see Gil first, and Ji-hyo calls him up in the car. She pretends to be travelling alone, but Kwang-soo keeps interrupting next to her, and she quickly lies that the voice belongs to a PD. Her attempts to shush Kwang-soo (who wonders what kind of unknown beef he’s got with Gil) ultimately fail, and Gil hangs up on them.
But then something awesome happens: Kwang-soo uses his phone to call Gil back, and gets hilariously mistaken for Jong-kook. So Kwang-soo totally runs with it, speaking in banmal, and makes Gil swear never to reveal his location even if “he” calls again. As in, the real Jong-kook. Puhahaha.
After they hang up, Kwang-soo gapes in amazement: “I can do a Jong-kook impression!” Hee, either that or Gil is super gullible.
So Gil is understandably confused when the real Jong-kook calls later and threatens him in his haste: “You wanna live past today, right?” Gil hangs up. Ha.
When they call back, Jong-kook and Haha are directed to rendezvous point pretty far from their current location, only to run into Gil minutes later on their way over. Heh, what are the chances?
Seeing as how Gil is dressed in sweats, he really must have just walked out the door under the assumption that he’d meet up with Gary at the cafe. He honestly hasn’t the faintest idea of what’s going on either, but he isn’t happy to hear that he’d been considered a possible suspect. Jong-kook defends: “That was Jae-suk!”
Jong-kook deduces that Gary must have been kidnapped on his way here, which would explain why he never showed up. Haha is amazed when the staff finally hook Gil up with a microphone, the realization that there were no cameras previously set up at this location only now settling in.
To that, Haha turns to say to Gil: “You must have been really lonely [up to now]!” Gil exclaims: “I got 3000 unknown calls today!”
The others are filled in once they arrive, and then Gil asks what he’s doing here on the show. Jae-suk: “That’s what we want to know.” Then they freely pat him down for hints, but he’s clean.
It’s oddly refreshing to see the cast in a bewildered state, as it allows for more ad-lib dialogue to take place (versus the scripted interactions that highlight their variety personas). They finally address Gil’s beef with Kwang-soo once and for all: he had asked Kwang-soo for a ride, but then was told to cross the bridge himself.
Kwang-soo gets kicked out before he can explain himself, but he soon returns with a headband to place on Gil’s bald head. That immediately puts Gil on edge, but Ji-hyo diffuses the situation by bringing him a glass of water.
Suddenly Gil receives a package, and he really must be the super-sensitive type seeing as how he clams up when Suk-jin comments on his pronounciation.
At the moment, Gil does hold some power over the cast with his box of clues, and when Kwang-soo annoys him again by speaking up, the cast gangs up on the maknae. Ji-hyo bursts in an jokingly-irritated voice: “Go home and I’ll call you [about what happens]!”
Gil drags out some time by switching up the team order (and changing it whenever he feels offended or Kwang-soo talks), and then decides to share all three clues among everyone. Now that his job here is basically done, Gil is told that he can go home now. HA.
Gil: “So I just get cast aside like this?” Kwang-soo: “It’s usually like that.” Oh man, that shot of everyone else hovering around the clues while Gil tries to look on from the sidelines is both funny and sad.
The video tape shows Gary being kidnapped and promptly stuffed into a van playing an A Pink song. What the cast hones in on is Gary’s surprised reaction of “What are you doing here?” to his unknown kidnapper.
Ji-hyo mentions that Gary was teamed up with A Pink members when they came on the show, then another text informs them that the perpetrator can be found in their clues: an A Pink CD and a wedding photo.
When Gil tries to peer over their shoulders to get a closer look, Jae-suk jokes, “I’m sorry, but this is Running Man. Can you step outside?” And then he follows it up with: “Let’s see each other on Saturday.” (To clarify, Jae-suk and Gil are castmates on Infinity Challenge, which airs on Saturdays.)
I love how Jae-suk turns the Running Man versus Infinity Challenge difference into a string of jokes (“From this point, it’s Sunday.” “I’ll work with my Sunday castmates today!”). If there’s an “X” over Gil’s face, can we safely strike him off the suspect list?
Meanwhile Kwang-soo and Ji-hyo follow up on their A Pink hunch by calling Jung Eun-ji. They ask whether she’s had any recent connection to Gary, to which she answers that there was a package that came… Bingo.
Each team heads out to a different location, and we first check in with Jong-kook and Haha, who visit Dynamic Duo (Choiza and Gaeko). They cut right to the chase to pump the hip-hop duo for information about Gary’s whereabouts, but don’t get a straight answer.
Around the same time, the mat hyungs drop in to see singers and newlyweds Jung In and Jo Jung-chi, who claim that they were in the area for a date.
But the mat hyungs are highly suspicious, and when Jae-suk asks them directly if they’re the kidnappers, Jung-chi quips, “Let’s just say yes, and be done with it.” Ha, I missed those zippy one-liners of yours.
When Jae-suk says he’ll have to drag them out by force, Jung-chi points out: “I told you! I told you Jae-suk hyung would resort to violence!” And when Jae-suk bluffs that he’ll use a lie detector test on them, Jung In asks if they can’t just answer questions about whether they’re in love or not. Lol.
Kwang-soo and Ji-hyo drop by to see A Pink, who greet them behind a mountain of boxes. Er, are these all the packages you received? It’s a bit suspicious that the idol girls have already heard of Gary’s disappearance, and Kwang-soo orders the staff to close all the doors.
Then Kwang-soo and Ji-hyo sit down to sift through the massive pile (while the girls eat the waffles they brought, ha), and at one point, Kwang-soo sits among a number of boxes that get progressively smaller like Russian nesting dolls.
Jae-suk and Suk-jin, meanwhile, search the cafe top to bottom, calling themselves a forensics team, to which Jung-chi points out that they’re just rifling through stuff. Jung In: “They must be doing a Dumb and Dumber concept today.” Haha.
It is strange that the newlyweds won’t provide any straight answers either, but then Suk-jin discovers a hidden phone. Now it’s a matter of figuring out the passcode, and when their initial attempts don’t work, Jae-suk wonders if he has to rely on his hacking skills. The ones we didn’t know about until now?
The mat hyungs decide to keep moving, and oh—we see the couple hide the phone just an hour earlier. And back at the dance room, Kwang-soo and Ji-hyo discover puzzle pieces, and they work as a team to piece them together.
Each team speculate who they can cross off their suspect list, and generally agree that A Pink aren’t the kidnappers. But then Jong-kook makes a fair point that they shouldn’t pigeon hole themselves into thinking that there’s just ONE team of kidnappers. Oh, that’s actually pretty smart.
Just then, everyone receives a frantic video call from Gary whose binds prevent him from uttering anything coherent before abruptly cutting off.
Jae-suk and Suk-jin then swing by to see Dynamic Duo, who claim that they haven’t seen Gary for a week. But Suk-jin doesn’t let up on his interrogation despite the duo’s insistence that the mat hyungs are wasting their time here (“Do you have a search warrant?”). But then Gaeko takes out two hint envelopes from his pocket.
Acquiring a hint will come at a price, and when they’re told that they have to pass a rap skills test, Suk-jin lays down a freestyle beat then and there. Jae-suk: “This hyung’s a rap machine.” HA.
So Suk-jin turns his interrogation into a rap battle, which is just downright hilarious: “What color is your car!” “I don’t know!” It really does look like Suk-jin’s having a helluva time until he’s told that he’s better off just asking the questions normally.
Not that Jae-suk’s rapping skills is better of course, and then the mat hyungs resort to pushing Dynamic Duo as if trying to physically engage them in battle. Pfft.
The others drill Jung In and Jo Jung-chi with questions, as Jong-kook wonders if the couple is holding onto an old grudge against Gary. They deny it, but Jung In does mention that the mat hyungs discovered something while they were here.
They immediately rise to search the place at that, and both teams discover a hidden phone. Jong-kook wonders if they have to pry the passcode out of the other team while Kwang-soo and Ji-hyo wonder if the puzzle has something to do with it.
We then cut away to a daytime shot that’s slightly jarring (since it was just night before. An editing slip, methinks), and Jae-suk entertains the hip-hop duo with a rap performance while lying on the floor.
It earns them the worst hint, and Jae-suk says it’s too bad that he couldn’t get to show them his new rap style: “Cicada [Memi] Rap,” which can also be Cicada Wrap because Jae-suk proceeds to wrap himself around a table leg. HAHAHA.
He even has a rapper name to go with it: “You know Eminem, right? I’m Memi-nem!” Dynamic Duo offers him a better hint if he can perform with that new stage name. I love the beat where they show off the pages of handwritten rap lyrics.
Jae-suk starts writing while Suk-jin spits lines next to him, and the first few lines alone hilarious: “The rap god of America is Eminem / The rap god of Running Man is Memi-nem!”
After their performance, Jae-suk tells them: “Call us if you need some rap lyrics!” The hyungs review their hints in the car, and are alarmed at the description that the kidnapper loves wigs. Jae-suk: “Wait… that’s Gil!”
Now we see that the puzzle formed into a picture of Gil, and another hint spelled out his name… and then we see Gil, dressed in black, strut out to the streets like a boss.
The cast needs to break into their respective phones to be sure. Turns out the passcode is Gil’s name, and their phones have a GPS lock on Gil’s movements. Speaking of whom, Gil seems pretty confident that he won’t get caught any time soon, so when the mat hyungs call to ask where he’s going, he answers: “Into your heart!”
But he’s legitimately surprised when the hyungs pinpoint his location, and realizes that the others must know where he is, too. Unbeknownst to him, Gil is heading towards Jong-kook and Haha… and drives past them.
Jong-kook and Haha call to tell Gil that they’re on his tail, and Spartakooks adds that his actions are stronger than his words. When he’s told that he won’t get any info that way, Jong-kook isn’t the least bit worried because he’ll just force it out of Gil. Gulp.
Thinking that the GPS lock is on his car, Gil decides to drive into a parking garage (“That will confuse them, right?”) to abandon it, though, the captions tell us that his phone is the one being tracked.
He gets a call once he’s parked…. and it’s Gary, not so tied up and bound after all. What in the what? Now that’s a nice twist.
We roll the clocks back to this morning as both Gary and Gil sit down with Jo PD and told of today’s Christmas Nightmare special. So then when Gary worried that Ji-hyo would end up waiting for him to show up all night (ha), Gil clucked disapprovingly beside him: “I think you’re the one who’s crazy.”
Then when Gary took Kwang-soo’s call, Gil was then instructed to pass a microphone to the bathroom. Ha and ew.
They had planned everything from the beginning: it was Gil whom Gary saw in the black van when he was “kidnapped,” and deliberately sent Gil out as bait to the cast while Gary met with the other three teams of guests to buy as much time as they could. In order for Leessang to win, they must stand together before time runs out.
They’ve got forty-five minutes left, and Gary instructs his teammate to buy some time while he hides. But with all three teams closing in on Gil’s location, the battle has only just begun.
Gil is on edge and jumps at the slightest movement, but just when he’s about to change disguises with the staff, the hyungs recognize him from across the street. Time to run!
He seeks temporary refuge in a nearby building to call Gary before running outside in his wig disguise. Gary can observe the situation from his current hiding place and sends a warning text to Gil that the others the close.
Good timing, too, since Suk-jin is just around the corner, and Gil runs to escape notice. He’s safe for a few brief seconds when he turns to see Jae-suk give chase. Jae-suk manages to catch him, and Gil utters Gary’s name (to warn his teammate that he’s been caught) before abruptly hanging up.
Gil leads the cast down to the basement where Gary was previously held captive. The now empty chair throws them off, but Gil pretends that he doesn’t know a thing.
They’re running out of time with less than nineteen minutes remaining, and their suspicion radars piqued, the cast urges Gil to come clean or “we’ll have to strip you down.” Problem is, they’re at the same floor Gary is currently hiding in, and now there’s less than eight minutes left.
That’s when Jae-suk discovers Gary from behind the wall. The mat hyungs still don’t know that the Leessang duo are working together, and readily believe Gary’s explanation that he escaped by his own means. Getting in contact with Gil isn’t an option either since any attempt to do so draws suspicion.
The others wait outside the designated location (an octagon) with Gil as the timer ticks down. Then Ji-hyo has a thought—what if Leessang were to enter the ring together and be declared the winners? Aha, how keen of you.
What I’m most impressed with is Gary’s acting as he pretends to know of nothing outside of his own kidnapping. Now I have newfound respect for his Tru-Gary episode when he once deceived the entire cast.
The mat hyungs enters the final mission location with Gary with less than ten seconds on the lock. The octagon is unlocked when the timer runs out, and now they’ve got a ten-minute window to enter the ring.
The cast engages in a struggle, but then Leessang pushes through to try to step onto the platform together. The collective looks of betrayal and awe are priceless.
So the cast fights to pry them off of the platform, but Leessang stands their ground and are declared the winners. Happy Gary Christmas, folks!