Search Query: WWW: Episode 4
Our favorite grumpy heroine continues to waffle over her feelings for a certain persistent suitor, and her confusion results in his finally showing her his more vulnerable side. Meanwhile, the debate over whether real-time rankings should be tampered with rages on at both search engine companies, but nobody realizes how important the issue really is until the very real results of their decisions hit close to home.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Feeling guilty for getting him fired, Ta-mi agrees to grant Mo-gun’s request to answer his calls and texts, and see him when he asks. He tells her, “This is how it is when you’re twenty-eight. My passion is limitless, and my passion is fueled by me.”
The next day at work at work, Ta-mi learns that Bong-ki is the same age as Mo-gun, and she wonders why the two seem so different. She asks Bong-ki if she’s pretty, but he says professionally that he respects her, and again she wonders why Bong-ki is age-appropriately adorable while Mo-gun seems more mature.
The most-searched keyword of the day is the name of a missing boy, and the team debates the usefulness of the real-time rankings when many of the search results are comments about the mother’s looks. They look to Ta-mi for her opinion, and she says that she hates the real-time rankings.
She explains that web portals have too much power to decide which results stay in the rankings and which get deleted, when the users should decide on the rankings. She says that they don’t have perfect standards, and when Hyun says there’s no such thing, Ta-mi snaps that that’s why she hates them.
Ah-ra is surprised to hear that there are no regulations or punishments for manipulating real-time rankings. Hyun says that’s because the rankings are only thought of as income for web portals, and they have a right to conduct their business. Ta-mi clarifies that hating it doesn’t mean she wants it gone.
She goes to a coffee shop to work alone, and while she’s on a business call, she looks down to see Mo-gun crouched by her chair, using a marker to draw on her leg to hide a run in her hose. She yelps and asks why he did that, and he says with a cheeky grin, “So you’ll think of me when you take them off.” Well RAWR to you, too, sir.
He says he has a meeting nearby and Ta-mi accidentally gives away her disappointment that he’s leaving already. She asks for some time to find him another project to take the place of the one Ga-kyung fired him from, but Mo-gun says not to bother, because the firing wasn’t her doing anyway. He warns Ta-mi that he’s going to text her a lot then walks back to her, and she braces herself, but he just leans down to re-color in the run (I love how she rolls her eyes, ha) now that she’s standing and it’s in a different place.
Later she finds a restaurant for lunch, but Hyun is already there, and they end up sitting awkwardly at adjacent tables. Ta-mi asks why Hyun doesn’t go to team dinners, so Hyun says she doesn’t drink, and she dislikes being the only sober person among drunk people.
Ta-mi points out that Hyun drank with Ga-kyung, and Hyun says that when they’re together, Ga-kyung is the one who doesn’t drink. She refuses to answer any more questions about Ga-kyung, snapping that they don’t know each other that well, and Ta-mi admits that she’s notoriously impatient.
She remembers once when she poured sauce on food that was still covered, and her boyfriend at the time… and she suddenly recalls someone named Joon-soo and cringes hard. Hyun’s curiosity is piqued, but Ta-mi parrots back her comment that they aren’t that close.
Ta-mi heads back to Barro after lunch to find the overly-familiar guy from the other day waiting for her in the lobby — it’s Joon-soo, her ex, and he can tell by her face that she remembers him now. She reminds him that they only dated for a month, sixteen years ago, and says he made so little impression that she barely even remembers him.
She’s unimpressed by his attempt to charm her and reminds him of her temper, but he just chuckles that she hasn’t changed. Ta-mi says she’s thankful that their work paths will rarely cross, but she stops herself mid-flounce when she realizes that he’s Director of Gaming. She does a one-eighty and accepts his dinner invitation.
Until now, Unicon seems to have gotten off scott-free regarding their ranking manipulations. But a visit from the global head office lets them know that they’re in serious danger of a complete management overhaul if they don’t show a serious effort to fix their problems. Ga-kyung curses under her breath and retorts that it’s stupid to actively go up against Barro right now.
After the meeting, Ga-kyung finds Mo-gun waiting in her office to discuss his dismissal. Ga-kyung claims that it’s due to long-existing communication problems, but Mo-gun interrupts to say that he’s not recording this, so she can be honest. Ga-kyung admits that she assumed he was looking for a reason to sue, gaining enough respect for him to make her willing to listen.
Mo-gun says he knows Ga-kyung is using him to get at Ta-mi, but he doesn’t care and doesn’t want to get involved, so he’d like to get back to work on the game. He points out that with the launch date looming, Ga-kyung has no time to replace him, and even if she could, their work would be rushed, and she admits that he’s good at this.
Over dinner with Joon-soo, Ta-mi mentions a new game his department is working on, and she wilts when Joon-soo says it’s nearly finished. He pinches her cheek and she swats at him, but he just says she’s adorable when she’s mad. She asks flat-out if he has a musical director, and he says he doesn’t, then asks her if she’s single.
She snaps that she is, then gives him a sample of Mo-gun’s work. Joon-soo tosses it aside, preferring to discuss Ta-mi’s personal life, and Ta-mi grips her fork like she’s feeling particularly stabby. When she finally gets free, she finds a text from Mo-gun on her phone asking if she’s still at work. As promised, she replies and agrees to meet with him.
While he waits, Mo-gun sees Joon-soo, hugging some other woman with enthusiasm. Mo-gun is startled to hear Ta-mi’s incredulous, “That crazy bastard!” right behind him, but she side-steps his questions by suggesting they go eat. He still figures out that Ta-mi was with Joon-soo earlier, and he asks if she’s eating with him now because she feels guilty.
She admits that she does feel guilty — for getting him fired. Mo-gun asks who Joon-soo is, saying that he plans to exploit her guilt, so she tells him the truth. Doing the math, Mo-gun figures out that he was twelve when Ta-mi and Joon-soo dated, and asks with narrowed eyes if he and Joon-soo are in the same “fishtank.”
After dinner, Mo-gun says he’s waffling over whether to tell Ta-mi the thing he wanted to tell her tonight. He decides to be petty and not tell her, saying that she’ll have to forgive him when she finds out later.
As they’re both driving away, Mo-gun pulls up beside Ta-mi and tosses something into her car. LOL, it’s a new pair of hose, and Ta-mi looks pretty damn charmed. At home, though, the marks he drew on her ankle won’t come off, making Ta-mi growl in frustration.
Hyun sits in her (surprisingly pastel) apartment, absolutely riveted to her favorite makjang drama. She’s impressed by the horrible villain and looks the actor, Seol Ji-hwan, up on Barro, only to find that he’s a newer actor with very little online presence.
At work later, Ta-mi notices Hyun sneakily using her phone again. Hyun abruptly leaves the office, and Ta-mi follows her to the stairwell, where she meets with Joon-soo. She asks how Joon-soo knows Ta-mi, and he lies nervously that they were in the same study group in college. Wait, are they dating??
Later, Ta-mi barges into Joon-soo’s office and orders him to break up with Hyun. Whoa, they are dating. Ta-mi snaps that she knows about his girlfriend, so he admits everything and begs Ta-mi not to tell Hyun and get him killed. Ta-mi gives him a week to break up with Hyun or she’ll tell her the truth.
Ta-mi has a piano lesson with Da-in, her pianist friend, that night. Da-in notices that Ta-mi is distracted, and Ta-mi asks if Da-in has ever dated a younger man. DI says she’s not attracted to younger guys, and Ta-mi sighs that she wishes she weren’t. She says she’s having a fling but trying to end it, then practically leaps at the phone when Mo-gun calls, hee.
He invites her to come play with him, and she’s eager for the chance to win back her gaming honor. She accepts his challenge as DI smiles knowingly and mutters that she doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to end it.
Ta-mi and Mo-gun end up playing darts, and Mo-gun suggests they bet a wish on the outcome. Ta-mi turns out to be pretty good at darts (and I love the triumph shot of her with the wings perfectly placed in the background), but Mo-gun is even better. Mo-gun eventually wins, and Ta-mi pouts that she got hustled, though he reminds her that she picked the game.
Mo-gun notices that there’s still marker on Ta-mi’s ankle (I love that he checked) and laughs as she stammers that it won’t wash off. Ta-mi accuses him of using permanent marker on purpose, but Mo-gun smoothly retorts that the only thing he does on purpose is liking her.
He asks her out for drinks next time, and Ta-mi accepts since she promised. Looking a bit disappointed, Mo-gun asks if she only came today out of guilt, and whether she’ll stop once she quits feeling guilty. She doesn’t answer, so he decides to cash in his wish. He takes his pen out again, grabs her ankle, and connects the dots — by drawing a heart. This kid is killing me.
After she’s home, Ta-mi gets a text from Mo-gun asking her not to wash off the heart. She finally changes her contact to his real name, saying to herself that they’re not strangers anymore. Seconds later she gets a message from Joon-soo saying that he’s promoting Mo-gun for a job and reminding her of her promise not to tell Hyun of his two-timing.
At work the next morning, Ah-ra notices that an ex of hers found her social media page, while his is labeled private. Alex says that Jenny knows how to hack, and in fact was busted as a teenager for locking down the entire Inju traffic system just so her crush would have to walk home with her, HA.
CEO Min calls the team to his office — the model they tried to hire for their ad, Han Min-kyu, was filmed in a host bar, and he’s rapidly climbing the real-time rankings. They discuss whether to delete it from their rankings, and Hyun says that Han Min-kyu is a former host himself, which is harmful to youngsters.
But Ta-mi says that being a host isn’t illegal, and his agency will deny it anyway. Hyun argues that the public has no right to his personal life, but Ta-mi says that deleting a ranking risks Barro being criticized for censorship and corruption, since the public doesn’t know their reasons.
She says that Unicon wouldn’t take it down, and when Hyun says that Barro has different standards, Ta-mi points out that it’s worse to be the only site to take something down. She sticks to her belief that the public is entitled to guide its own interests, and that it’s not Barro’s job to protect a celebrity from their own bad decisions. When time runs out, CEO Min decides to leave it on the rankings.
Mo-gun shows up for a meeting about a game, having been unexpectedly hired, though he doesn’t realize it’s Barro’s game until Joon-soo arrives. Awk-waaard. MS asks why his company was chosen for this project, but the developer just says vaguely that he likes Mo-gun’s work. Mo-gun asks, between two games, which style they think would fit this game better.
Joon-soo blurts out one of the names, so Mo-gun says that if they like the music in that game so much, they should have called the company who made it. Oh, ouch. He says that he knows Joon-soo dropped the original sound team to hire him, and walks out.
Ta-mi and Ga-kyung end up at the same coffee shop, and Ga-kyung says that when someone looks up something on Barro, a large percentage of the results come directly from Unicon. She makes a not-so-veiled threat to block Unicon’s sources against Barro, but Ta-mi says that Barro could do the same, then they’d both fail.
Ga-kyung admits that she’d rather both sites fail than let Barro win, but Ta-mi says that’s her mother-in-law’s call. Ga-kyung says she still has the power to rehire a certain interesting someone, then tells Ta-mi that she already has, and even plans to offer Mo-gun an exclusive contract if his project goes well.
Ga-kyung watches Ta-mi’s stunned reaction and concedes that she was telling the truth when she said she has nothing to do with Mo-gun. Ta-mi asks why Ga-kyung hired him back, and she says almost wistfully, “The flowerpot.” We see a flashback of her conversation with Mo-gun, and at the end as he was leaving, he’d moved a nearly dead potted plant from a dark corner to the sunny windowsill.
He’d said that as a tropical plant, it needed sunlight to flourish, but Ga-kyung had admitted that she left it in the dark to avoid the bother of caring for it. Mo-gun had countered that she wouldn’t be bothered if it was healthy either. Ga-kyung had told him that she’d just found a reason to rehire him — the pot the plant is in is her favorite.
Mo-gun ignores a call from Ta-mi, only to find her waiting at his office. She says he shouldn’t have accepted Ga-kyung’s offer of his job back, because they’re only using him to get to her. She says he should have at least discussed it with her first, but he throws that back at her, saying she should have discussed her pulling strings on his behalf with him first.
He tells her that he turned the job down because someone else got fired to make a place for him, and when Ta-mi argues that he could get fired again, he says that he won’t do it to someone else just because it was done to him. He apologizes for not telling her he got rehired at Unicon, but adds that he’s not thankful for the way she let him be blindsided.
Ta-mi says he would have declined if she’d told him, so Mo-gun asks why she did it if she knew that, and she admits that it was guilt again. Mo-gun says he hates that everything she’s doing for him is from guilt, because he’s scared that when her guilt dissipates she’ll stop seeing him. He asks her softly to understand that she’s not just a sunbae to him, and he doesn’t want help from a man who dated the woman he likes.
Model Han Min-kyu is being absolutely roasted online, and when Ga-kyung ignores his calls, he corners her in the parking garage after work. He kneels and begs her to remove him from the real-time keyword list, reminding her that he risked his reputation by blowing off Barro to sign with Unicon.
Ga-kyung says that removing him won’t fix his problem, but he says he’s scared. Ga-kyung retorts that if he’s so scared then he never should have worked as a host, and she tells him to get a grip and leaves him kneeling alone.
Ta-mi looks up the rankings, and Han Min-kyu’s name occupies the top two slots. She looks up to see her whole team looking shocked and sneaking glances at her, and on the television she can see the breaking headlines: Han Min-kyu has committed suicide. Oh no…
As articles start to flood the internet, most of them just copies of one original article, Hyun grows angry. She stomps to the media department and orders them to find any and all articles about Min-kyu’s suicide that are overly descriptive or cruel and delete them. Alone, Ta-mi looks up Min-kyu’s profile on Unicon and sees that they’ve edited it to include his death.
Ga-kyung is in her car when she hears of Min-kyu’s suicide on the radio, and she just sits, stunned, in the middle of traffic. She goes to the hospital, and she calls Unicon to berate them for updating Min-kyu’s profile before he’s been officially pronounced deceased by a doctor.
In the ER, the doctors are still trying to revive Min-kyu, and miraculously, they’re able to get his heart going again. Ga-kyung nearly collapses with relief, and before long, the news is reporting that Min-kyu actually survived his suicide attempt.
Hyun sees the news as she’s filling up her car at a gas station on her way home. She pulls out, and the driver who pulls in behind her gets out to use the restroom. While he’s gone, the attendant notices a small child sleeping in the backseat.
CEO Min finds Ta-mi, who asks despondently if she was wrong to decide not to take Min-kyu off the rankings, but CEO Min says that he made the final decision. Ta-mi tells him that she always thought she’d know all the answers by her age, and make all the right decisions, but now she knows that even if her decision is right, the result may not always be good.
CEO Min says that at his age, he’s realized that right and wrong aren’t the same for everyone. Ta-mi admits that she wants to be right all the time, and CEO Min tells her that that attitude will take her places.
Joining them, Bong-ki says that Kim Han-sol, the missing boy, was found because his name was high on the rankings and a gas station attendant recognized him and called the police. CEO Min and Bong-ki head home feeling a little better, but Ta-mi stays to reads a thank you letter online from Kim Han-sol’s mother, which makes her smile.
Suddenly, Ta-mi’s phone starts blowing up with messages. She looks and her eyes go wide, then she checks Barro’s real-time rankings… and her name is at number one. Stunned and shaking, and feeling as if there’s a spotlight on her, she stands stock-still in the middle of the room as everyone stares at her, and she drops her phone when Ah-ra tries to call.
Someone picks up her phone — it’s Mo-gun. He hides her face with his hat and picks up her laptop, then laces their fingers together. He tells Ta-mi not to let go, and leads her outside.
What was that?? You all probably know already, since I’m still a bit behind, so please don’t drop any spoilers in the Comments — but my guess is that this is some sort of personal attack by someone from either Barro or Unicon. Given that this entire episode is about the ethics of editing real-time rankings, I’m thinking that someone is either trying to make a point, or get Ta-mi fired.
I can’t help but wonder how everyone’s opinions on deleting real-time rankings may change now that they’ve seen how one decision can have tragic, permanent results or positive ones. I tend to feel the way Ta-mi feels about them — as long as they exist, they should go unchanged, because nobody has the right to tamper with the truth. On the other hand, if Ga-kyung had removed Min-kyu’s name from Unicon’s rankings, would it have stopped Min-kyu from trying to take his own life? Ga-kyung especially seemed shaken by his suicide attempt, and from things that were said between them, it’s obvious that their relationship is more than just professional.
For a while there (mostly during Episode 3) I was feeling a little resentful towards Mo-gun, as much as I wanted to like him, because he just wasn’t listening to Ta-mi’s repeatedly telling him that she wasn’t interested in dating him. Then I realized two subtle but important details — first, Mo-gun never, ever got in Ta-mi’s personal space or tried to physically intimidate her (in fact he usually made his arguments from a pretty respectful distance) and second, Ta-mi’s reason were always because of age or work, or fear of starting something that would most likely end, but she never once said she didn’t like him. On the contrary, she made several admissions that she did like him, and I’m sure that Mo-gun picked up on that.
Yes, Mo-gun pushed himself at Ta-mi after being told to stop, and that’s not okay, and I’m not excusing it. He should have stopped after the first time Ta-mi told him she wasn’t interested in dating him. But I tend to watch the lady in these scenarios, and if she’s not angry about the guy’s behavior, I accept her feelings on the issue (regardless of what my own response would be). Ta-mi did have regrets for pushing Mo-gun away, then when he came back, she almost jumped at the excuse to start accepting his advances. And I do think that as persistent male drama leads go, Mo-gun was relatively respectful of Ta-mi’s boundaries. He used his words and only his words, and once Ta-mi clearly said, “I don’t want to see you again,” he fully intended to give her what she wanted. It wasn’t his fault that they met again under different circumstances and I don’t blame him for giving it one more try, and I like that he’s showing some vulnerability to Ta-mi now, and even getting angry at her, because it shows that he’s not going to let her off the hook for bad behavior just because he likes her.
I wasn’t very interested by Ga-kyung for the first few episodes — I found her stilted and boring, and irretrievably tainted by her years focusing on the bottom line rather than what’s right. But her conversation with Mo-gun about the plant got my attention because it showed a deeper side to her, and now I want to know more. I’m still not exactly sure what she meant by the pot being her favorite, but I think that she was saying that while she’s restrained in ways that make it impossible for her to act for obvious reasons (put the plant in the sun so it will live), she can be convinced to do the right thing if the reason isn’t so predictable (she likes the pot). Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I believe that Ga-kyung was trying to pass on a message to Ta-mi through Mo-gun, that the old friend Ta-mi remembers is unable to show herself because of the pressures around her, but that she’s still in there if Ta-mi can find a way to reach her.
I just can’t get over how awesome it is that all of the women in Search Query: WWW are basically the typical male drama archetypes that we’re so used to seeing, just in fierce heels, and how much I love them for their unapologetic ambition and strength. Almost every single position of corporate power is occupied by a woman, and the few men are relatively meek and generally defer to the women. None of the three leading ladies are what I’d call likable, but how many dramas have we all seen where the male lead started out as a huge jerk to the sweet, forgiving girl who falls for him anyway? In Search, it’s Ta-mi who’s the tsundere workaholic that’s uninterested in romance, and Mo-gun is the one who falls in love on first meeting and follows the object of his affections around until she gets so used to him that she can’t imagine him not being around. It’s so familiar, but it looks and feels so different when the genders are flipped, and I’m just tickled to see it playing out.
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