I’m Not a Robot: Episodes 23-24
Forced proximity is always the revealer of hearts, and though Jia and Min-kyu’s long night shines a light on their feelings, will it change their choices? Will Jia stop running away, and will Min-kyu realize the truth about the girl he really loves? With secrets left to spill, we can only comfort ourselves by remembering that it’s always darkest before the dawn…
Episode 23: “The truth”
Jia calls out as she discovers that they’re locked in the boathouse, but the captain can’t hear her over his earmuffs. She promises Min-kyu that she’ll get them out of there right away, but is dismayed to find that she can’t get any cell reception. Just as she assures him that he can count on her, a mouse-like squeak sends her hopping fearfully into the cart.
Embarrassed, she pretends she got on to turn on the headlights. Min-kyu can’t help a smile, even as she tells him not to be afraid. Aww. But he cuts her heart right in half when he tells her he’s fine, since he’s used to being locked up and cold. Oof.
A stomach rumbles, and Jia blames it on Min-kyu until a second rumble makes her realize that it’s her. Ha! She explains apologetically that she pretty much hasn’t eaten all day.
Pi has no luck reaching Jia, and the snow falls steadily while Baek-gyun tries to fix the engine. He tries to send Pi back into the van so she doesn’t catch cold, adding that he can’t concentrate while she’s next to him. Pi retorts that he can’t concentrate because he’s tired, and says it wouldn’t kill him to take a break, but driving tired just might. Laughing, he concedes. Oh, you two.
Min-kyu follows Jia around the boathouse, carrying a torch for her (hee) while she looks for something to keep them warm. He balks at the pile of straw she finds, but he’s all concern when she gets a splinter in her finger. He holds her hand and slowly works it out, smiling as he finishes. Well now you’ve done it. If Jia weren’t already 600% in love with you, she definitely would be now.
Baek-gyun kips in the van as the snow continues around them. Pi quietly asks if he’s okay after finding out that Jia and Min-kyu have feelings for each other. He likens his feelings to how he thinks Min-kyu must have felt when he couldn’t find his Aji-3 again.
“I came to know why we broke up, and I wanted to make up for my past mistakes, but Jia is no longer who she was back then. And I’m no longer who I was then, either,” he reflects, adding that it’s something irrevocably over. Pi finds it a sad story, and Baek-gyun admits that it’s painful, “But it can’t compare to the pain the two of them are feeling.”
Pi turns on the radio to a song whose lyrics aptly urge them to look at the person right beside them. Baek-gyun eventually falls asleep, and Pi slips outside to work on fixing the engine herself, though her injured wrist makes it hard.
Meanwhile, Jia’s prepared a bed of straw for Min-kyu on a truck-bed. Still calling Jia “Hong-joo,” he notes there’s only room for one, and she thinks to herself that if she lies next to him, she’ll die because her heart will explode. Amen. But moments later, Min-kyu discovers a gas heater, along with a box of makgeolli and ramyun.
They set up a cozy table and Min-kyu teases Jia about her rumbling stomach. As she eats the dry ramyun and drinks the makgeolli, he gazes at her with soft eyes.
She asks him not to stare, and he explains that it’s amazing to him to see her feeling cold and hungry, and for them to be eating and drinking together, “Because right now, you’re doing everything I wanted to hear and see from Aji-3.”
Momentarily bereft of words, Jia finally says, “It’s because I’m a person.”
He’s thrilled to find out that they’re the same age and eagerly says that they should be friends. Jia tartly refuses (“Would you, if you were me?”) and also doesn’t want to know his name, but he tells her anyway (she’s been addressing him as “guest” so far). Aw, can we have this version of Min-kyu forever please?
He confesses that he likes everything about their current situation, once again leaving Jia lost for words. She figures his girlfriend wouldn’t be happy with what he just said, and he just gives her this long look. “I don’t have a girlfriend,” he replies, and Jia does everything in her power not to melt. I feel you, sister.
You’re everything I wanted in Aji-3
The cart’s headlights go out, and Min-kyu marvels at how much the sea sounds like rain. He disarms Jia all over again when he tells her he has an unforgettable memory of his first kiss in the rain. Hugging his knees, he asks tentatively if he can talk to her a bit about Aji-3.
“I can’t really talk to anyone properly about her,” he tells her, “But I want to, with you…but if you don’t want me to, I won’t.”
After a long pause, she says that she’ll listen only if he promises to leave her alone after this night. He agrees.
She asks when Aji-3 started being special to him, and he tells her that it was from the very first day she arrived at his house. Animated, he recounts her reaction on first seeing him, and begins to unwind the whole story to Jia.
What would’ve happened if they’d confessed everything honestly then? asks Sun-hye in voiceover. We cut to her in the lab with Hok-tal and Ssan-ip, all of them a little drunk.
Ssan-ip argues that their bro Min-kyu could’ve died, but Sun-hye replies, “Isn’t it that you already decided that Min-kyu’s love for Jia and his affection for the Santa Maria team weren’t enough for him to have faith in your confession?”
She says that doctors operate even when there’s just a one percent chance of survival. “But not the family members,” says Hok-tal; no one can send their loved ones to a surgery with a one percent survival rate. “Our brother is family to us now,” he tells her.
An anxious call from Dr. Oh rouses Baek-gyun from his nap. He then notices that Pi’s gone and finds her outside, finishing up the repair job. Reproaching her for doing it herself, he gently wipes the grease clean from her hands.
He apologizes for not listening to her, but says he doesn’t regret staying at Min-kyu’s side. “You did the best you could, too,” she assures him.
Min-kyu finishes his story, right up to the reset and his final goodbye. Jia asks how he’s been doing since then, insisting that the story is incomplete otherwise.
Thinking, he replies that it was really hard at first, but then he started going clocking in and out of work every day “like a normal person.” He describes going to the movies and bookstores on his own, and Jia smiles to listen to him.
She tells him that if Aji-3 could see him now, she would tell him he how great he was doing. But Min-kyu, recalling what she said when she was comforting him after his dinner disaster, demurs: “This is what she would have said: ‘You tried your hardest.'”
Struggling to contain her feelings, Jia asks why he called himself a fool for resetting Aji-3. Min-kyu says that’s a secret but he’ll tell her if she’ll be his friend. “Because secrets between friends are bad,” he says, once again echoing what she said to him before as Aji-3.
Torn, she makes no reply, and he laughs because he finds her so cute. But he quickly catches himself and apologizes. “If you’re sorry, then tell me,” Jia says, seizing on the chance. Just then, the gas heater gives out, leaving them in semi-darkness.
He slowly tells her about trying to re-input everything into Aji-3 again after the reset, and how he failed to bring back the Aji-3 he knew: “My heart kept telling me, ‘Everything you feel is real.’ Afraid, I ignored those words, and so in the end, I’m receiving my punishment, right?”
Thanks to the darkness, he can’t see the tears that track down Jia’s face.
“After time passes, would those two people be able to go back to how they were?” Pi asks Baek-gyun. But Baek-gyun says that if there’s no way back now, it’ll be the same even after time passes. After Min-kyu trusted them all so implicitly, how could they untangle the situation now, he asks.
Changing the subject, he asks Pi about her great teaching offer, saying she should take it. But she’s happy where she is now, and cuts over him to say she’ll take care of it on her own and go when it’s time. He sighs over her stubbornness. Aww, Pi.
Dawn arrives and Min-kyu rues how fast the time passed. He realizes he’s been doing all the talking, and now asks Jia about herself and her family. He then asks who she misses the most, and Jia says it’s her father.
She describes her childhood of running around his garage, and his magic touch for fixing cars. She wanted to be just like him, doing what she was best at. Min-kyu smiles and says he can see it clearly, but Jia tells him regretfully that she didn’t have the talent to match her ideals.
She says began to feel like she had no purpose in living—until one person made her feel like she shouldn’t give up after all, thinking of Min-kyu’s wonder over her umbrella.
He tells her that she should say that to the person the next time she sees them, since they’d be heartened to know they’d inspired someone. Smiling, she agrees to do so.
Growing serious, she reminds him to keep his promise. She says that as time passes, it will all become fond memories: “I hope you will be happy, Kim Min-kyu-sshi. Sincerely.”
The captain finally unlocks the boathouse, and he’s shocked to find people inside. But the two of them are asleep at last, resting against each other.
Episode 24: “You promised”
At the lab, the computer flashes and an alert that the Monami folder was leaked. The hacker lost most of the contents but managed to salvage a short video file, which he hands over to Yoo-chul’s man.
Another man slips into the hackers’ lair and delivers a memory stick to Director Yoon, while Yoo-chul receives the first. What, what’s going on here?
Yoo-chul watches the clip—which shows Jia recoiling the first time she was delivered to Min-kyu as Aji-3—and sneers at Min-kyu for being taken in by the “friend mode” ruse.
Ri-el meets her father. She tells him how much she loves him, and he says he loves her, too. “Then let me go now,” she says, explaining that she wants to live now according to her own values. She confesses that she has someone she likes, and she won’t be marrying Min-kyu.
His face hardens on hearing that, and he says that it must be Min-kyu. But Ri-el leaves him with the plea not to make her lose her respect for him.
To Jia’s relief, Baek-gyun and Pi finally arrive. She reassures them that she wasn’t discovered, and tells them that he promised not to bother her again. Upstairs, Min-kyu wishes to himself that he hadn’t made that promise with Jia.
Grandma asks Jia if she and Min-kyu figured out their misunderstanding, but she’s suddenly called out on an emergency. She cancels her lunch reservation and tells Jia to close up after her friends leave.
Pi notes that Jia’s lost weight, and Jia cheerfully replies that there’s no better diet than emotional pain. Upstairs, Min-kyu tells Baek-gyun that he’s okay, and ready to go back to Seoul. They say their farewells to “Hong-joo” and Baek-gyun promises that Min-kyu won’t seek her out again.
“I believe you won’t, because you promised,” Jia says to Min-kyu. He holds out his hand, and she clasps it briefly. But as they leave, Min-kyu looks back as a big group of sailors pour into the restaurant.
It’s the cancelled lunch reservation, but they didn’t get the message. Jia tries to explain to them that Grandma’s not here and there’s no food, but they tell her just to give them anything, which leaves her at a loss because there’s no cook.
“We can do sashimi, seafood stew and seafood pancake,” announces Min-kyu at the door. Jia follows him into the kitchen and he promises to leave right after doing this, pointing out matter-of-factly that she can’t cook these dishes and he can.
Pi and Baek-gyun follow a moment later, Pi almost slipping up with her name. Min-kyu assigns the scientists as servers, and Jia as his assistant. While they work, Min-kyu notices Jia darting looks at the stack of plates where she hid the necklace.
Yoo-chul meets with Jin-bae and tells him that he found out that his sister looks just like Aji-3. Jin-bae says that Baek-gyun modeled the robot on her as they used to be close, but she has nothing to do with the team now. “You don’t know your sister very well, it seems,” Yoo-chul says, grinning slyly.
While they serve, Baek-gyun notices Pi wavering with her injured wrist, and quickly relieves her of heavy trays. In the kitchen, Min-kyu and Jia both react when their hands graze each other while transferring a plate, and she quickly runs out. Min-kyu reaches for the stack of plates where the necklace is hidden…
…and on the other side of the wall, Jia cups it in her hand in relief.
They see off the lunch group, and in the kitchen, Min-kyu smiles to himself in happy satisfaction.
He’s prepared a special meal for the four of them, and fills a plate for Jia, telling her to eat up for the first and last time she can experience his cooking. She finds everything delicious, and he eagerly adds more items to her plate for her to try.
Jin-bae determines to tell Min-kyu right away that the robot was modelled on his sister, and that she’s Baek-gyun’s ex-girlfriend, before the misunderstanding gets out of hand. He makes the call but Min-kyu says he’ll call him back since he’s eating right now.
Watching Jia eat with such enjoyment, Min-kyu tells her that he thinks this is how it would’ve felt to cook for Aji-3. Baek-gyun tells him to stop saying stuff like that, but Jia says it’s fine, since this is their last time.
Martin is running out of patience with Chairman Hwang, who begs for a little more time. Yoo-chul drops by and tells his dad to call a meeting of the board again, revealing that Min-kyu’s been taken for a ride by the Santa Maria team. Yoo-chul is certain this will topple Min-kyu and allow him to take over his position.
Back at the lab, Sun-hye and the boys notice the “Monami” (“my friend” in French) folder again, which Ssan-ip rebukes Hok-tal for not deleting. But Hok-tal knows nothing about it. They look at each other in dawning shock, and race to Aji-3.
They recall one time the robot made a backup by herself. Ssan-ip asks her if she made the Monami folder, and she confirms that she did. She clarifies that it was saved before the reset, and we flash back to Jia telling Min-kyu that she would remember everything he did without forgetting. Woah, I just got goosebumps.
Aji-3 interpreted that as a backup command, and the Monami folder was created, saving every moment of their interactions. The scientists are horrified to realize that the leaked data was all of Min-kyu’s deep-learning input. “I kept my promise with a friend,” Aji-3 says.
Elsewhere, Curly daydreams about Aji-3, telling his uncle that it was the first time anyone ever said they wanted to get to know him. Aw.
With nothing left but empty plates, their impending departure has Min-kyu in a low mood. To delay it a little longer, he says they should at least have the manners to do the dishes (once again echoing Aji-3).
He grumbles when he ends up doing them with Baek-gyun, ha, since he wanted to do them with Jia. Baek-gyun points out that he probably would’ve just stared at her the whole time, which would make her uncomfortable.
Min-kyu sighs and says that whenever he looks at “Hong-joo,” it makes his heart race the way it did with (his) Aji-3. “What’s stranger is that somehow I don’t think my fate with that woman ends here,” he says, thinking there’ll be a next time, and more after that.
Out on the pier, Jia tells Pi that though she was terrified of being found out, she was happy while she was with Min-kyu, and began to think that maybe he liked her enough to forgive her if she came clean to him. “Because I got greedy, it got a bit hard at the end,” she admits.
The men emerge, and Jia figures it’s really time to say goodbye now. She tells Min-kyu that the meal was delicious. “If it was delicious, be my friend,” he replies. Instead, Jia asks him to keep his promise not to turn up again. He feels like he’ll see her again, but she says that won’t happen, ever.
She heads inside and he lingers a moment alone. He finally boards the van which takes him away, but her final goodbye weighs heavily on him.
As they stop off at a service station, Baek-gyun hears from Hok-tal about Aji-3’s self-initiated backup and the subsequent leak. He and Pi rush back to the van, but find Min-kyu gone.
Director Yoon hands over his memory stick to Chairman Hwang. Not a good guy then, sigh. He tells him one more interesting thing about Min-kyu: that he has some kind of illness which he’s certain makes him unqualified for his position, and all the better to push him out with.
Min-kyu hops out of a cab at Grandma’s B&B, but is dismayed to hear that Jia’s packed up and gone—but luckily not five minutes ago. He rushes off in her direction. Baek-gyun also turns the van around, certain that Min-kyu’s gone back there.
Min-kyu races down a pier, and heaves a sigh of relief when he catches sight of Jia on the seashore. But with her back to him, she’s busy crying her heart out to the sea.
Min-kyu stops a short distance from her. “Ah, I finally found you,” he says to himself, huge grin on his face.
Unaware of his arrival, she gathers herself up and turns back to land. But at the sight of him, she steps back, hand flying a moment too late to his necklace hanging in plain sight around her neck.
“Th-that’s… the necklace… I g-gave… Aji-3,” Min-kyu stutters. Every memory of Aji-3 acting like a human flashes through his mind, and shocked understanding finally dawns. Jia says she can explain, and reaches for him, but he recoils from her.
“Did you deceive me… all this time?” he whispers. He lets out a broken sob, and his wrist monitor starts to beep wildly. “I think I’m going to be sick,” he gasps, breath jagged, as his allergic reaction takes over.
The telltale necklace
Don’t just stand there, Jia, get his epi-pens! All of them!!! Saaaaave hiiiiiiim! *Sob*
Wow, that ending was horrible to watch even when I knew exactly what was coming. What I hate about this show is that the weekly cliffhangers are always such game-changers that it’s hard to make the emotional trip back to everything that happened before it. Our hearts are already broken! How can I talk like the last five minutes didn’t happen?? I guess with our meta-knowledge, we all should have known this is exactly when the climax was due (episode 12 by the normal count, guys—it’s always episode 12). But I’m a credulous viewer, and was lulled into a false sense of security with the fizzy romcom feels this week’s episodes otherwise dispensed.
I know the locked-up-together-for-the-night device is a convenient one, but it’s also direct and effective. With Jia constantly running away, and Min-kyu in danger of coming off as a creepy stalker who can’t distinguish between robot and reality any other way, I’m not sure there was really another way for them meaningfully spend time together. Despite Jia not giving him her real name (and hiding her true feelings), I think she did act according to her real personality, and it allows Min-kyu to see Jia as she is, not in snatches and glimpses, but in actual conversation, which is particularly lovely when she finally begins to open up to him. As omniscient viewers, we know that Min-kyu already loves, relates to, likes and admires the real Jia across her multiple identities, but to see the slow moments of him falling for her in person as herself? I’m sure there’s a coherent sentence rolling around in my head somewhere for how that makes me feel, but I can’t find it right now.
It breaks me up a little bit inside every time he repeats something he heard from fauxbot-Jia. He’s clearly internalized every word she’s said to him, and her “teachings” even in the most trivial things are providing an internal scaffolding for him as he makes his way further and further into the world. The way he hangs on real-Jia’s every word is particularly painful, and it makes me appreciate how well this show has depicted heartbreak. No matter how charmed and beguiled Min-kyu is by Jia, in the moments between, he’s still always left with the desolation of his feelings for Aji-3, which accept no substitute… yet. But I also love that Min-kyu does feel that sense of possibility in his heart with Jia, especially given his perspective, because although we know his Aji-3 and Jia are one and the same, as far he knows, Jia is somebody totally different.
It chokes me up how much he wants Jia to know him, and how vulnerable that makes him. He’s more afraid that he’ll lose the people he loves (or could love) than that they won’t love him back. I find the transparence and clarity of his character so compelling, and he has this extraordinary willingness to pour his whole heart into the people he cares about. And that’s why betrayal cuts him so deeply that he almost can’t recover from it, because he holds nothing back. I don’t see this as a failure of his judgement regarding who to trust, though. His affections still have to be earned justly, and aren’t on-tap for every fool that asks—this is just how he loves, without measure or limitation. That it turns out to be a double-edged sword for him is a part of the package.
I admit I kept forgetting just why they couldn’t tell him the truth (curse you, Tilda!). Nevertheless, I see this present crisis as one of their own making. Though they obviously don’t realize it—and perhaps without the benefit of dramatic irony, they can’t—it’s their secrets and lies that brought them to this point. I get that the stakes were always high with Min-kyu’s life in the balance, but at the same time, Min-kyu isn’t Johnny, and I wish they would recognize that and give him the credit he deserves.
Over the course of the show, Min-kyu’s faced harsh truths without looking away, and he’s refused to take refuge in lies once the truth became clear. Despite his traumatized childhood and subsequent allergy, his recent development has proven that he has the ability to grow and endure, and the way he dealt with his feelings for Aji-3 and all its aftermath is nothing short of astonishing. He doesn’t need cosseting, he needs room to grow, and for his friends to trust him.
Though (now) well-meaning, they’ve handicapped him by creating a fake narrative for him to inhabit, which has the effect of taking away his choices. I’ve been getting frequent Truman Show flashbacks watching this show from the start, which is pretty much the level of wtf-ery we’re talking about, even if it’s unintentional. Still, they really do care about him, and that counts in the end, but now I’m scared that Min-kyu’s most private moments will be exposed to his enemies. That’s too sad.
With just two weeks left, our various plotlines are beginning to converge, and I think we can expect more company machinations next week. I’m not sure how to read Yoo-chul anymore, now that he’s actively setting out to harm Min-kyu. But that’s another thing they brought onto themselves—if they hadn’t got grabby, Yoo-chul would still have his job, right? Ri-el is the only reason I haven’t written him off, because I don’t think she could like him if he were irredeemable. On that note, how awesome is she? Straight as an arrow and always classy, she has poise and dignity no matter what. Aren’t the women in this show really fantastically drawn? They’re all so different, yet I want to be besties with every one of them.
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