Spy: Episode 5
While being a spy comes with its own set of responsibilities and dangers, it’s a whole other thing when an entire operation rides on our young secret agent’s shoulders. In all of his experience in the field, Sun-woo learns that keeping secrets is nothing compared to the difficulties of keeping a promise. Thank goodness then that there’s at least one person who’s got his back and whom he can rely on, because the guy could use a few people on his side who don’t have it out for him.
SONG OF THE DAY
Buzz – “Hero” for the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
At the National Intelligence Service headquarters, Sun-woo is questioned about the failed operation while the rest of the analytics team looks on from the other side of the two-way mirror. Interestingly, there’s a report in Chief Song’s hands listing all the IT companies that failed in their contract bids of a codebreaking program for the Ministry of National Defense. Hmm, is Dad’s company listed among them?
Sun-woo is then ordered to explain his whereabouts to after their informant Soo-yeon’s death, reminded that he abandoned his post. Yikes. But Sun-woo is still choked up by the entire situation, his eyes on the verge of tears.
We rewind back to that fateful day, as Sun-woo is left in a daze recalling Soo-yeon’s final moments followed by her passing. Eun-ah offers him a towel to wipe off the blood, but that’s when Chief Song comes storming in, demanding to know where the suspect is.
Chief Song couldn’t care less about a casualty in the face of losing their suspect. He has to be dragged out by Hyun-tae before tearing into Sun-woo further about their failure. Sun-woo rises from his seat, not answering when Eun-ah asks where he’s going. He walks outside in his benumbed state of mind.
Aha, so Dad’s company Hedge Technet is one of the companies listed on that Ministry of National Defense report we saw earlier. He’s still very much worried about Mom, whom we see go looking for Ki-chul.
Her explanation that she’d meant to report back to Ki-chul afterwards is met with a hard slap to the face, as well as her follow-up excuse that she thought it had nothing to do with him. His eyes unflinching, Ki-chul demands to know the real reason for her presence at the drop-off today.
“I was worried about Sun-woo,” Mom concedes. “Worried that he’d run into you. Because he could be hurt if something went wrong.” She says Ki-chul is smart enough to make a getaway, but Ki-chul throws back that she likely would’ve wanted him to die by the hands of the NIS.
There’s a hint of scorn as he adds that she’d probably hope to return to that lovely family life she’d been living if he were out of the picture. At Mom’s defense that Ki-chul can’t afford to let Sun-woo die, Ki-chul explains that it isn’t Sun-woo whom he needs, but an instrument to infiltrate the NIS. A mere tool… just like she once was.
Sun-woo belongs to him now, words that has Mom fall to her knees. She pleads with him for another chance, willing to do anything. Ki-chul smirks, amused, then tosses a pocket knife to the ground. He’s willing to test her obedience and asks if she’d die at his command.
She asks if Ki-chul will leave Sun-woo alone if she dies. Ki-chul agrees, so Mom grabs the knife and aims for the jugular, but Ki-chul grabs her wrist, stopping the knife just in time. A tense moment passes, then Ki-chul takes the knife from her hand. He seems both amused and impressed and hands her a photo of Chief Song, encouraging her not to forget how she feels right now.
Sun-woo wanders the streets alone, barely aware of his bloodied appearance until a small girl points it out. His futile attempt to rub off the dried blood on his hand is sad to watch. He does his best to sound unaffected when Yoon-jin calls, lying that everything went well and that they caught the bad guy.
Yoon-jin is relieved to hear it, and Sun-woo insists that he’s fine. He heads over to her house to clean the blood from his hand and clothes in an almost furious manner.
Meanwhile Ki-chul speaks with his superior in the North, asking for more time because he knows that neither torture nor threats are methods that work on Mom. We don’t get to hear who’s on the other end, but Ki-chul’s expressions are enough for us to fathom that whoever it is isn’t happy. Watching Mom leave, Ki-chul assures them that he’ll take responsibility if their plans go south.
Dad rushes over to meet Mom at an overpass, drawing her into his arms. Aw. Handing over Chief Song’s photo, Mom believes that this is Ki-chul’s true target and wanted to use Sun-woo to get access to his boss. Dad wonders how they’ll be able to plant a bug on an NIS employee’s phone, but Mom says they must.
Speaking of bugs, Mom also starts searching the rented car for a planted bug, convinced that’s how Ki-chul knew that they were trying to trick him. Er, maybe he’s (rightly) distrustful like that? You are his target’s mother, after all.
But nothing turns up, and Dad offers that perhaps Ki-chul had an informant of his own. If that were true, then Ki-chul would never have approached Sun-woo nor been desperate enough to enlist them to do his bidding, Mom argues. And then it occurs to her that there’s one other place that their enemy could’ve bugged.
That place is Yoon-jin’s apartment, where Sun-woo speaks with Hyun-tae, who tells him that it’s better to turn up sooner than later since all responsibility will fall upon Sun-woo anyway. Hyun-tae tells him to tune into the news, since they need to know how the higher-ups are handling the situation.
So Sun-woo turns on the TV, which glosses over Soo-yeon’s death as a young woman who was caught up in a financial conflict. Seeing that has Sun-woo wrestle with himself about his promise to save Soo-yeon’s family should their mission go awry.
He’s surprised when Yoon-jin comes home early from work, but slaps on a smile so not to worry her. Just as he’s about to head out, Yoon-jin holds onto him, telling him not to do anything dangerous. Sun-woo assures her that he won’t do anything of the sort—he’s just heading back into the office.
Little does Sun-woo know that his parents catch him leaving Yoon-jin’s place. Mom looks like she’s on the verge of tears while Dad tightly holds her hand. Determined to keep his promise, Sun-woo gets on the phone with a contact, asking him how much it’ll cost to smuggle three people out of North Korea.
Back at the cafe, Chief Song tries to mollify his superiors on the phone while Eun-ah examines the CCTV footage. Hyun-tae covers up for Sun-woo’s absence, saying that he sent him away to recuperate from his shock. That is NOT the answer Chief Song wants to hear, and demands that Sun-woo be called back right now.
With that, Chief Song calls Hyun-tae aside for a chat, though the latter narrows his eyes in suspicion. Still, Hyun-tae follows him to the stairwell, where Chief Song tries to justify his anger—it’s not because he hates Sun-woo, but someone has to assume responsibility for what happened today.
Hyun-tae knows the protocol well enough, but no one could have foreseen that their enemy would kill an unarmed woman in broad daylight. He thinks shifting all the blame on the young agent is going too far, but Chief Song says their superiors will look for someone to blame. If Sun-woo doesn’t, who will it be—Hyun-tae? Or him then?
Helping him will ultimately help Sun-woo, Chief Song argues. He tasks Hyun-tae to track down the baddies and only report to him. If that wasn’t suspicious enough, Chief Song is asking this of Hyun-tae as an old friend. Hyun-tae nods in agreement, though he can’t shake off the feeling that something’s off.
Sun-woo’s contact is a middleman when it comes to smuggling people out the North. Sneaking out a family whose daughter was on the news makes the job highly more difficult—who knows, perhaps the family members are already detained in prison camps as they speak.
But Sun-woo knows that his contact’s reach extends to those prison camps too, which calls for an even higher price. Sun-woo writes down an amount, telling him it’s his entire life’s savings. Can’t they figure something out?
Unfortunately, that amount can barely rescue two out of the three people Sun-woo’s looking to smuggle out. His contact is disappointed to see that the once razor-sharp agent has gone soft now, wondering if his fellow agent’s death has something to do with it.
That’s where Sun-woo’s patience ends, tossing the food to the window. He doesn’t have the time to be playing games anymore and dangles the threatening carrot that he’ll expose his contact’s illegal practice of employing North Korean refugees to sell used cars and trucks. His contact scoffs in disbelief that Sun-woo has that much power, but Sun-woo doesn’t back down. He stares down his contact, who reluctantly agrees to the task.
Over at the National Intelligence Service headquarters, Chief Song approaches a code-breaker who’s been unable to crack a code that automatically shuts him out after five attempts. Neither we nor the hacker are privy to know why this is important since it’s classified information.
Bringing up the subject of how the Ministry of National Defense put out a government contract bid looking for IT companies that could crack the code they put out, the hacker mentions that only one of those organizations came pretty close with their unfinished product.
He suggests that they enlist that company’s help, and Chief Song agrees to consider it. Uh oh, so is Dad going to get involved in other kinds of suspicious activities, too?
Chief Song is approached by Sun-woo soon afterwards, and gives Sun-woo the heads-up that he’ll be questioned. Sun-woo mentions that he made a promise to save Soo-yeon’s family, but Chief Song is hardly fazed.
Sun-woo is prepared to accept the consequences and entreats his boss for some financial support. When Chief Song is told that Soo-yeon’s family will surely die if they do nothing, Chief Song matter-of-factly tosses back: “Everyone dies.”
He doesn’t see the point of wasting hard-working taxpayers’ dollars on an operation like that, but Sun-woo presses that Soo-yeon died on their watch. Chief Song tells him to worry about himself with the added reminder to turn a blind eye to this idea.
Mom waits outside to greet a weary Sun-woo when he finally comes home. She takes a moment to lovingly gaze at her son’s face before sending him to his room to rest. Sun-woo sits in the darkness, finally taking a moment from his very long day.
Mom, on the other hand, scrubs out the blood still on Sun-woo’s shirt. She rushes over towards Sun-woo’s room when she hears him yell in his sleep. She places a hand on the handle, but doesn’t go inside, where Sun-woo wakes in a cold sweat.
Dad is still stuck at work when Mom calls, still trying to figure out that software program he’s working on. She asks about a wiretapping device that his company has made, adding this is the only way they can protect Sun-woo.
Sun-woo runs into Hyun-tae when he shows up for work the next morning. Hyun-tae advises him to keep his head down when being questioned and he’ll do his best to take care of the rest.
So that brings us back to the cold open, as Sun-woo is questioned from an agent in the Inspection Division. Sun-woo acknowledges that the chances of success in this mission were low, and when asked why he left on his own afterwards, Sun-woo answers that there was nothing left for him to do.
Asked what other business he had to attend to then, Sun-woo replies, “I… had a promise to keep.” Chief Song chuckles at that response knowingly, then looks down at the report listing Hedge Technet as the top candidate. He recalls that Sun-woo’s father works as an IT executive there.
Elsewhere, Mom heads out and sneaks into Yoon-jin’s apartment while she’s away. Using the device from Dad’s company, Mom searches the place top to bottom trying to sniff out a bug. Back in the interrogation room, Hyun-tae scoffs when he hears that Sun-woo will likely face a suspension or worse, fired.
He mutters that this entire thing was a set-up to have Sun-woo take the fall and then dismisses the inspection agents for never stepping out to the field before. Hyun-tae isn’t fazed by the scornful remark that he’s still with the analytics team, telling the inspector that he remembers his face, too.
Chief Song pulls the inspector aside, trying to act like the diplomat and saying there’s no need to make this a big deal. The sudden change of heart leaves Eun-ah confused and Hyun-tae more suspicious. On the other side of the mirror, Sun-woo gets an urgent call—the contact, perhaps?
Back at Yoon-jin’s place, Mom notes that Yoon-jin has few personal possessions for a girl who lives alone. But then she discovers a cell phone hidden in a drawer with one listed contact: “Mom.” Recalling how Yoon-jin had told her that both of her parents were deceased, Mo tries calling the number. It rings a few times, but then Mom hears footsteps approaching.
We cut away to Sun-woo again, who’s told that smuggling that family out will be harder than expected, meaning more money. He’s given a last chance to bail out, but Sun-woo gives the green light to proceed.
Spotting Yoon-jin just outside, Mom quickly deletes the call history and puts the phone back. Mom looks for a place to hide, as the sound of footsteps grows louder.
As we begin to see more of the overarching mystery in Spy, I love that this show continues to keep us grounded in our family unit. The love, support, and the extent to which they’ll protect one another is what drives these characters, and while they might not have the peaceful and happy family life they’ve worked so hard to build anymore (although right now, Mom, Dad, and Sun-woo are doing their best to pretend that it still is) you can tell that they’ll make damn well sure to make sure no harm comes to one another.
It’s unspoken in the way that Mom looks lovingly at her son, the way that Dad worries about Mom, and how Sun-woo is a loving son to his parents. There is of course, the whole lying by omission going on between them, and although the things left unsaid are sure to come back to bite them later, there’s so much danger looming over them that another day of happiness seems like a small price to pay.
Speaking of costs, it was sad to see Soo-yeon go, and I appreciated that we could see how much Sun-woo was affected by her death. Even if he weren’t made out to be the scapegoat for this failed operation, he has a sense of responsibility that I find admirable (although Hyun-tae will yell at him when that nobility makes him sound like a righteous fool, ha). Up to this point, Sun-woo’s character has been more like a ragdoll being thrown around by others and targeted by, well, everyone, so I’m glad that we could spend some time to see him process this outcome. Additionally, I wanted to see more of an emotional range in Jaejoong’s acting with Sun-woo and loved seeing the subtlety of his grief in his expressive eyes. Bravo.
But what I love more is how Hyun-tae is slowly warming up to the young agent. He’s sharp enough to notice when a young’un is being thrown under the bus to cover up a mess, and I can’t wait to see how he’ll react when he figures out that his old buddy Chief Song had a hand in that. Chief Song’s intentions has always been a bit suspicious when it came to Sun-woo, as I didn’t understand why he’d want Sun-woo to join his team and then throw him out the first chance he could get.
I suppose the key to figuring him out lies in that super-secret classified code he’s having that hacker look into. I don’t like the idea that Dad will get wrangled into this mess, since I sort of like him being Mom’s spy partner and assuring her that everything will be okay. But if putting him behind a desk to crack a code that’s somehow related to a greater political conspiracy lowers his chances of death, then I’m all for it. The first reason being that we’ve seen so many good fathers die early in dramaland, and the second because then Dad could maybe bring down the whole conspiracy with a few keystrokes and come out as the hero in all this. Super Dad: IT exec by day, super hacker by night. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?