Spy: Episodes 11-12
Love and truth don’t quite go hand in hand as everyone seems to get a gun and a little extra motivation this week, leading to a few confrontations that end with more than just empty threats and dark promises. Blood is shed, hearts are broken, and Sun-woo gains some clarity of focus he didn’t even know he was missing before everything in his life got turned upside down. Now that he’s no longer wandering in the dark and this is what we can expect from him, this show just got a whole lot more interesting.
As for the recap double header, I’m just filling in for gummimochi this round, and we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming
next week the week after next, due to Lunar New Year pre-emptions.
SONG OF THE DAY
WINNER – “척 (Love Is A Lie)” [ Download ]
Sun-woo’s hand drops from the grip of his gun when Ki-chul asks if he’s made his decision, since he has: He’ll do whatever Ki-chul wants, on the condition that he delete all the incriminating spy data he’s collected on Mom and Dad.
While Comrade Oh gets the message that Sun-woo’s come over to the dark side, Mom grabs a knife at home when one of the North’s cronies tries and fails to break in to her house.
Sun-woo is alerted to the attempted breach via the wonders of technology, but Ki-chul passes it off, claiming that his decision has saved his family. Yoon-jin also gets let off the hook for her treasonous decision to save Young-seo, since the mission to kidnap her gets aborted anyway.
Ki-chul’s first mission for Sun-woo is to steal that hard drive, which he claims was brought in by a North Korean defector. If he pulls it off successfully, no one—including his family—will get hurt.
Too bad Sun-woo’s not feeling as chummy as Ki-chul is when he offers to get rid of the location tracker Mom planted in his phone, and returns the older man’s “We’re on the same side now!” smile with a look of scorn. He also refuses to shake Comrade Oh’s welcoming hand on his way out.
Sun-woo returns home after Mom belatedly realizes he knows her secret, since he’s found not only the bugs in his room but her written confession as well.
Things are tense between them at first, but Mom finally breaks the ice when she says she has something to tell him. Sun-woo interrupts to say that he’s always been afraid to be brutally honest with her ever since he was young, since he never wanted to worry her.
But because he loves her and knows she feels the same, he doesn’t sugarcoat what comes out next: She can step aside now. He’ll handle Ki-chul from here.
Mom’s eyes go wide as saucers as she shakes her head adamantly, claiming that she can fix this whole mess. Sun-woo throws that back at her by asking how she plans to do that—by spying on him like she’s been doing?
He tells her she’s deluded if she thinks she can fix everything by turning herself in, since nothing would change. Besides, he knows more about spying in the modern age than she does, and his way would spare their family.
He challenges her as to whether she’s ever thought of Young-seo and what turning herself in would do to her, causing Mom to answer back unconvincingly, “I’ll protect her. Our family… I’ll protect all of us—“
“If you wanted to protect us,” Sun-woo cuts in, his tone biting and his eyes gleaming with unshed tears. “If you really wanted to protect us, you should have told me everything from the start. If you had…”
Mom grips his arm to stop him from walking away, having to speak to his turned back as she cries that she’s never had a moment’s peace since she had him, since she was always worried about doing the right thing by him.
But what Sun-woo says next stops her dead in her tracks, his words coming like a punch to the gut: “Then you shouldn’t have had me. If you didn’t, none of this wouldn’t happen.”
Only when he’s turned away from her does he let his own tears fall, knowing how much he must be hurting her. He attempts to make a getaway only for Mom to jump in front of his car, crying that she has more to say. He drives away anyway.
He has a much more levelheaded phone confrontation with Dad, and even discusses strategy with him after they clear the air of secrets between them. He’s planning to involve Chief Song, since he can make the records on Mom disappear if he agrees to catch Ki-chul for him.
Besides, Dad’s company has the only software capable of cracking that hard drive for him, so they’ll have some leverage. Dad says he’ll do whatever he can to help before apologizing again, prompting Sun-woo to recall something he’d said once about doing something wholeheartedly to avoid having regrets in the future.
Now, he says, he understands what Dad meant. He’s going to see this through till the bitter end.
Later that night, Young-seo has her own blowout fight with Mom when proof of her rising grade point average gets met with distracted apathy. She doesn’t understand why Mom won’t stop calling Sun-woo and finally blurts out that she knows Mom likes him better than her, even if Sun-woo is getting tired of Mom.
Mom finally breaks down in tears as she cries that she’s acting out of fear that Sun-woo and Young-seo might get hurt, an outburst which only makes her daughter angrier since she doesn’t know what’s going on.
Afterward, Mom continues calling an unresponsive Sun-woo, finally leaving him a damning message with the truth about Yoon-jin being a spy for Ki-chul. Yikes.
He clearly doesn’t check that message before he goes to Yoon-jin to tell her that he won’t be able to see her for a little while while he’s off doing dangerous work for the good of his family.
He pulls her into a tight embrace. “When I’m with you, I’m happy and comfortable. I understand why now. It’s because I don’t have to hide my true self when I’m with you. When this ends, I’ll live only for you. I promise.”
Yoon-jin reports Sun-woo’s strange behavior to Comrade Oh, but is surprised when he appears right outside her door. He’s got another mission for her, but it involves him taking a picture of his lackeys restraining her for Sun-woo…
Mom has Dad believing that she agrees with his stance to let Sun-woo handle this from here on out, when in reality she’s preparing to go into battle alone.
She leaves Young-seo some allowance money and apologizes to her sleeping form: “I’m not doing this because I don’t love you. One day you’ll come to understand a mother’s heart.” Young-seo only reveals she wasn’t asleep after Mom’s gone.
While Mom follows old intel to buy a gun from Chinese peddlers, Eun-ah gives Sun-woo an antidote kit for the North’s infamous poison pens. It’ll only work if injected within three minutes of being poisoned, though.
Sun-woo gets Chief Song’s attention when he reveals that he knows that the Supervisor came to the South with the hard drive, though their meeting is cut short when Director Jung interrupts with an urgent matter.
He doesn’t have time to wait around for him to return when Comrade Oh sends him a video of Yoon-jin being gagged and tied, telling him he has one hour to deliver the hard drive if he wants to save her.
Sun-woo jumps behind Chief Song’s desk and calls Comrade Oh to warn him that he’ll get nothing if he doesn’t let Yoon-jin go. Oh just threatens back that he’ll start chopping off her fingers if he doesn’t change his mind, prompting Sun-woo to ask that they just kill him instead—Yoon-jin has nothing to do with any of this. How very wrong he is.
While Hyun-tae belatedly figures out that Sun-woo just walked out of the office with the hard drive, Mom marches into Ki-chul’s office and points her gun straight at his forehead.
Another quick cut shows Hyun-tae pulling a gun on Sun-woo in the parking garage before we cut back to Comrade Oh leaving Yoon-jin a Chinese passport—they’ll all be leaving for China after this mission ends.
Ki-chul won’t be invited though, since Comrade Oh plans to kill him. He trusts Yoon-jin now that he believes she’s not working for Ki-chul, and spouts some nonsense about how he’ll be giving the orders from now on.
Hyun-tae isn’t happy about pointing a gun at Sun-woo, but admits that things haven’t been adding up recently—especially since he did some research on Mom and found no records on her before the age of twenty. Does he think Sun-woo is a double agent?
Even though Sun-woo says he has to deliver the hard drive in order to save his girlfriend, Hyun-tae says that’s not the solution despite the fact that he doesn’t have a better one.
He’s got his own self interests to protect too, since he’s only in this to catch the Supervisor, which Chief Song promised he could do. Sun-woo asks if he could recognize the Supervisor, and Hyun-tae says he can, since he’s missing two fingers.
But he’s stopped right before he slaps handcuffs on his wrists when Sun-woo says that Chief Song knows where the Supervisor is, because he’s in the country seeking asylum.
Sun-woo uses the momentary lapse to whip around on Hyun-tae, throwing him against the car. He tries to convince him that Chief Song has been lying to him, but Hyun-tae doesn’t buy it and lunges at him instead.
They exchange words and blows, neither man willing to give up and relent. It’s actually a pretty neat fight scene, until it ends with Sun-woo giving Hyun-tae a firm kick to the solar plexus.
He’s apologetic for it as well as the handcuffs he uses to keep Hyun-tae in place for now, though he leaves him with the listening device Ki-chul gave him so he can make his own decisions about Chief Song.
Ki-chul calls Mom out on her flimsy reasoning for wanting to kill him, since she somehow thinks that doing so would erase any reasons for the North to want Sun-woo. But he bursts her bubble when he tells her that Sun-woo’s already working for them.
She calls Sun-woo in a panic, but he ignores her calls as he prepares to take the hard drive into Yoon-jin’s apartment… but not before replacing the core with the fake Ki-chul gave him.
Ki-chul is aware that he’s been left out of Comrade Oh’s reindeer games, and all but yawns at Mom’s threats to apprehend them all so that she can take the blame for being a spy instead of Sun-woo.
He tells her that’s not possible, since they’re damned to be exposed as a family of spies if Sun-woo gives that hard drive over to Comrade Oh. Mom only grows more agitated, causing Ki-chul to ask if she still hates him so much she wants to kill him, both thirty years ago and now.
She says yes, only for him to ask if it counts at all that he never revealed she was alive. The only reason she’s been able to live free up until now is because of his sacrifice, but Mom doesn’t respond to his kicked puppy routine with gratitude.
Ki-chul presents her with a proposition: If she can save her family by disappearing and he can’t return to the North anyway, what if they were to ride off into the sunset together? They could just make a deal with Chief Song using the hard drive.
But Mom again levels the gun at his forehead: “Both of us should have died back then. Then none of this would have happened.” You know what else wouldn’t have happened? This show. Let’s stop with the coulda woulda shoulda, people.
Meanwhile, Sun-woo cocks his gun and walks into Yoon-jin’s apartment where Comrade Oh and his lackeys are waiting…
When Episode 12 begins, we rewind a bit to the moments before Sun-woo’s grand entrance, with Yoon-jin and Comrade Oh discussing his fate. Oh is one of those explanation-happy villains, and goes into detail about his exact reasoning behind his plan to kill Sun-woo. As usual in spy dramas, it’s because He Knows Too Much.
But Yoon-jin makes a case for him while making it seem like she’s just being pragmatic, since they’ll draw the attention of the NIS if they were to kill the person they’re now chasing (because he stole the hard drive).
She denies having any feelings for him when she asks for Sun-woo’s life, and whether Comrade Oh actually buys it is up for debate. For now, he claims he does, and agrees to spare Sun-woo as long as he keeps to himself.
Sun-woo makes his appearance soon enough, and holds a gun to their tech’s head while Comrade Oh keeps his gun trained on Yoon-jin’s. The hard drive tests positive for authenticity, leading Oh to believe Sun-woo delivered on his promise.
Tensions are high, but Comrade Oh talks everyone down with that tiring grin of his before he and his lackeys leave. Sun-woo grabs Yoon-jin in an embrace, but she pushes him away just as fast, claiming she feels suffocated.
Then, unexpectedly, she suddenly blurts the truth: She works as a spy for the North, for Ki-chul. Sun-woo’s mouth opens, but he can’t find any words.
Cut to: Mom still holding a gun to Ki-chul’s head as he receives a text that Comrade Oh acquired the hard drive. It’s now or never.
Cut back to: Sun-woo reacting with disbelief, at least until Yoon-jin tells him that he was her mission all along. Even their first meeting was a plan hatched by Ki-chul.
He’s heartbroken, but that’s the point—Yoon-jin wants to hurt him, to make him feel like she never even liked him at all. Uh oh. Someone’s going noble idiot?
Sun-woo doesn’t want to believe her, but she gives him no choice when she claims responsibility for Soo-yeon’s death. She’d ratted about the operation he told her about in confidence. But more importantly, if he doesn’t leave now to protect Mom, both she and Ki-chul will be killed.
That’s the last straw, and Sun-woo’s desperate hold on her shoulders turns to a chokehold on her neck in the blink of an eye. They fall onto the couch with him on top, his hands still locked on her throat and eyes brimming with unshed tears.
She doesn’t try to defend herself, and Sun-woo finally lets go. Gasping, she tells him where he can find Mom, and he climbs off her numbly.
Before he goes, he asks if she lied when she said she loved him. Tears fill her eyes as she replies, “I never loved you.”
While Ki-chul commends Yoon-jin for reporting to him, Sun-woo listens belatedly to Mom’s voicemail outing her as a spy. He feels betrayed—who hasn’t been keeping secrets from him at this point?
Mom’s arms haven’t gotten tired of holding that gun, giving Ki-chul enough time to hold another conversation about running away together. But to save her family, they’ll need that hard drive.
Hyun-tae enlists Eun-ah’s help in searching for the handcuff keys Sun-woo threw in the garage, and even faced with that, she has a hard time believing Sun-woo is the bad guy Chief Song has everyone chasing.
Comrade Oh saunters back into the office with the hard drive, ready to get rid of Ki-chul once and for all. Mom pulls a gun on Oh, only for Comrade Hong to put a gun to her head and take her weapon. And the Worst Spy Ever award goes to…
To make matters worse, Comrade Oh gives Mom another gun along with the option of killing Ki-chul to spare herself. Mom just points it back at Comrade Oh and demands the hard drive, and pulls the trigger when he hesitates.
…But nothing happens. The gun is blank. Comrade Oh tells his lackeys to finish them off, only to have one of his lackeys turn the gun on him. Ki-chul’s bought their loyalty.
Now it’s Comrade Oh’s turn to panic, though he doesn’t for long—when Ki-chul realizes he doesn’t have the hard drive’s password, he shoots him through a pillow. Oh, finally. Thank you.
After killing any lackeys still loyal to Comrade Oh, Ki-chul calls the police to report a murder. He’s counting on Sun-woo to be there when they arrive, and forces Mom to go with him.
Chief Song calls Sun-woo to threaten him into returning the hard drive he stole lest his whole family be outed for espionage, but Sun-woo buys himself a little more time by threatening him back—it’s not like Song is innocent in all this anyway.
He tries calling Mom after escaping police notice, but has no luck in reaching her or Ki-chul. The only other person who could possibly know about their whereabouts is Yoon-jin.
Chief Song can’t use official manpower to catch Sun-woo without exposing the hard drive they’re not even supposed to have. Hyun-tae uses the device Sun-woo gave him to listen in on his conversation, which also proves that both Song and Director Jung know where the Supervisor is.
Unaware that Chief Song has put out an order to kill him and retrieve the hard drive, Sun-woo confronts Yoon-jin in an airport bathroom. He demands she tell him where Ki-chul has taken his mother, and loses his cool when she refuses, yelling, “People have died!”
He’s referring to the bloodbath he found at Ki-chul’s HQ, but Yoon-jin isn’t about to put his family over hers and tries getting past him. He won’t let her, and a fight ensues—he blocks most of her blows, finally having to restrain her against the wall.
He tells her he doesn’t hate her even with the way things have turned out, but begs her to be truthful with him just this once. “Would you believe me if I told you? Would you trust me after I deceived you all this time?” she asks.
“No, I can’t trust you,” Sun-woo replies, just as he cuffs one of her wrists to his. I love his reaction to her claim that she didn’t know he’d stoop so low just to find out where Ki-chul is: “I guess you don’t know me that well.”
While Hyun-tae tries to locate the Supervisor, Yoon-jin reluctantly helps Sun-woo figure out where Ki-chul has taken Mom—if he needs the hard drive password cracked, and there’s only one person capable of cracking it…
Ki-chul calls ahead to let Dad know he’s got Mom on ice before they arrive at his office, leaving Dad too stricken with concern to answer Sun-woo’s call.
So Sun-woo calls Eun-ah to tell her to divert the team tracking him to his father’s company, where they’ll be able to find Ki-chul soon. If all the office fuss has caused her any doubts about him, she doesn’t let them stop her from following his request.
Hyun-tae tracks down hospital room 502 supposedly containing the Supervisor only to come up empty, until he realizes that there’s a fifth floor in the underground morgue, too. That’s where he finds the body of the Supervisor, missing fingers and all.
Sun-woo has to drag Yoon-jin out of the car just in time to see Ki-chul heading for his father’s office, sans Mom. Does that mean she’s still in the van?
Dad immediately asks about Mom when Ki-chul brings the hard drive to him, even though he claims Mom will be returned to him as soon as he cracks the password.
Gripping Yoon-jin’s hand to hide the handcuffs binding them, Sun-woo bursts down the office door, pistol whips the guard, and finally aims the gun right at Ki-chul’s head.
“Kim Sun-woo,” Ki-chul acknowledges, as everyone else in the room—including Dad—freezes. Sun-woo says nothing, his finger tightening on the trigger…
I swear I’m not just saying this because I wasn’t Yoon-jin’s biggest fan, but I hope those two never reconcile. Honestly, I was half-expecting Sun-woo to throw himself the biggest pity party ever after finding out he was only ever just a mission for Yoon-jin, but he totally surprised me by going in the complete opposite direction.
And wouldn’t you know it, it made his scenes with Yoon-jin about a hundred times more interesting. Doe-eyed puppy dog Sun-woo gave way to Pissed Off With A Purpose Sun-woo, which is probably my favorite Sun-woo of the series. It’s like a switch got flipped to turn the show into overdrive, and not a moment too soon either. Turns out you can control the pace when you give your hero a real and pressing job to do. Who knew?
Past a few tears, it’s hard to tell if Yoon-jin felt much of anything for Sun-woo. Her contradictory actions don’t help to clear things up, and while they’d seem to hint at noble idiocy at first glance, her willingness to flee the country without turning back seems to indicate otherwise. I can’t figure out if she’s just a half-decent person who also happens to be a spy or a crappy person who tries to be decent only when it suits her—or maybe it’s a little bit of both. What matters most is that we have no way of telling based on what she’s giving us through silence, as opposed to Sun-woo, whose face is always an open book of varying emotions.
That’s why it was so fun to see him interacting with Yoon-jin post-reveal, because he was no longer being called upon to just stare at her lovingly and repeat mushy lines. The catch is that he didn’t just get a free pass to hate her either, which would’ve been too easy and much more radical a shift. Instead he landed somewhere in the middle, which lent instant complexity and nuance to the way he reacted to her in every scene that followed. Love.
But on the other hand: Oh, Mom. This is the kind of typical behavior you’d expect from any mother out to protect her son, but asking us to buy that she was ever a super spy is like asking us to try nailing jello to a tree. It’s not possible. I buy that she has nothing but the best of intentions, and I felt immensely sorry for her when she was suffering in silence while both of her children scorned her, but she is the worst spy. You just can’t hold a gun to someone’s head and wallow in indecision for half an hour and still expect to be taken seriously.
Just look at how Ki-chul, brutal as he may be, still gets things done even if he loves a long and languid chat now and then. Whatever problems I may have with him and his ever murky motivations, I can’t help but like him for putting Comrade Oh down. Granted, neither Ki-chul or Comrade Oh would make a blip on any good villain’s radar, but at least Ki-chul has some motivation we can understand, what with his residual feelings for Mom and his traumatizing past as a prisoner. Comrade Oh, by comparison, was a characterless dweeb with a permanent grin. I’ll take Ki-chul’s scar-scratching, angry-uncle-at-the-dinner-table act any day as long as we never have to see Mr. Laughsalot again.