Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 7
Things are heating up rather nicely. When the mission is in danger of failing, it forces everyone’s feelings to the surface, and suddenly confessions come tumbling out left and right. The question is, who’s lying, who’s telling the truth, and who can even believe anyone who’s trained to beat a polygraph? Spies. Yeesh.
New Wednesday-Thursday shows premiered today, and we have a new leader: spy action sequel IRIS 2 led the pack at 14.4%, Level 7 Civil Servant took second with 12.7%, and the new Noh Hee-kyung melodrama That Winter, The Wind Blows brought in the rear at 11.3%. Guess it’s going to be a spytastic drama season after all.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Hee, I can’t wait to find out how the scene that ended last week’s episode pans out. So Gil-ro and Seo-won get caught bed-wrestling by Mom and Dad, who has Gil-ro by the hair when Do-ha comes tumbling out of the closet. Good times.
So now we catch up to Dad who’s got each boy by the scruff (not easy, considering their height), and Mom drags Seo-won around her apartment, checking places like the refrigerator and tiny cupboards, in case she’s hidden away more men. Ha.
While Dad’s screaming and ranting, Gil-ro throws deathglares at Do-ha, demanding to know what he’s doing here. But Dad doesn’t like Gil-ro’s attitude—Do-ha stays silent, which is at least basic punishment-receiving behavior, but Gil-ro argues back, using clipped words.
Dad ditches Do-ha to grab Gil-ro with both hands, and Seo-won signals to Do-ha to get the hell out while he can. He starts tiptoeing past the group, when suddenly Gil-ro’s leg shoots out behind him and kicks Do-ha right in the ass. Pffft.
He wriggles away from Dad and then the two boys start fighting with each other, which hilariously devolves into this demented game of London Bridge, with Seo-won standing in the middle and fingers on the verge of breaking.
I paused and laughed for a minute straight, first at Gil-ro’s hair, and then at the bizarre configuration they end up in, like they’re holding hands and playing a game.
So then Dad gets even more pissed that they’re throwing fists instead of receiving punishment like well-mannered children, and rolls up a magazine to hit them over the head. (Like father like daughter?)
Gil-ro swerves out of the way over and over, raising Dad’s blood pressure. He finally starts to say that his daughter isn’t someone they can mess with, and he’s totally about to say that she’s a civil servant…
But Seo-won screeeeeeeeams at him to stop just in time, scaring everybody half to death. Whew, well one crisis averted. Now for the other 999…
They all calm down and sit, but of course Gil-ro is seated with his legs crossed, while Seo-won and Do-ha know to sit on their knees. Mom and Dad get all If this were Joseon, and Seo-won has to nudge him to kneel. The fact that he has to be taught that says everything about his upbringing, doesn’t it?
Mom goes off on a woe-is-me tangent about how she’s never heard of a daughter with two husbands, and where it all went wrong. She and Dad pass blame back and forth all the way to her conception, where Dad insists Mom was the one who nudged him awake for some nookie. Do-ha can’t hold in his laughter and gets a thwack on the head from Dad.
Do-ha tries to say calmly that it’s not what it looks like, and they’re just Seo-won’s college friends. Well that immediately sounds false to Mom and Dad, who ask, “You’re her friends but you don’t even know her name? Who’s Seo-won?” Oh crap.
Seo-won just jumps up and starts ranting loudly so they can’t get a word in edgewise, while she backs the boys up toward the door. She signals for them to leave, so Do-ha sneaks out, but Gil-ro refuses to go until she answers his questions.
She finally promises to meet him downstairs and kicks him in the family jewels to get him to go, and he tumbles out wincing in pain. Do-ha is standing in the hall waiting for him, and tells him to follow if he’s curious about why he’s here.
Meanwhile, Seo-won tells her parents the truth, and they’re suddenly very sheepish and sorry. I’m more worried about the fact that they now know you’re an undercover agent, which seems like a bad idea.
Down below, Do-ha says with a smile that he always wanted Gil-ro to finish training with them, so that he could show him he’d never win. Do-ha admits he likes Seo-won and kept contacting her even after she left the program, and Gil-ro immediately takes a swing.
Do-ha dodges a few punches, and then pulls out a gun. Not one to back down, Gil-ro tries to take it away, and their fight echoes the one in training.
Do-ha gains the upper hand, with the gun at Gil-ro’s chest. He declares the win, just like Won-seok would’ve done in front of the class, and Gil-ro asks for a rematch right away. Ha. But Do-ha stops, and says that he told Seo-won he liked her today. “But she told me… she likes you.” Oooooh. Smart.
He says he hid because he didn’t think Gil-ro would find him, and asks not to run into each other ever again. He walks away like the guy who just lost the girl. It’s brilliant—it plays into Gil-ro’s competitive streak against Do-ha and makes him believe that Seo-won really likes him. The sad part is, Do-ha doesn’t know how true his words actually are.
Won-seok calls Gil-ro to make sure he’s on Dad-watch, and acts surprised to hear that he’s with Seo-won, calling them a destined match. Gil-ro chooses not to say anything about her snooping around, and instead whines for a gun. Heh. You can’t ever lose to Do-ha, can you?
After the call, Won-seok says that Seo-won must’ve gotten her act together, and Young-soon says she knew all along she’d be the person for the job. She worries now though that Seo-won will actually end up falling for Gil-ro.
Won-seok says she’s not really agent material if that’s the case, and then Young-soon worries that Gil-ro will find out… that he’s not really an agent and that his father is the bad guy. Knew it. AUGH, Won-seok, you terrible man!
Young-soon says Gil-ro could report them, but Won-seok says that’ll never happen: “I will never again use someone and throw him away.” Hm. Well that tells us about your past, but not about how you plan to NOT throw Gil-ro out with the bath water.
Mi-rae and JJ argue as always, on the merits of slow-and-steady vs. kill-threaten-kill. He shows her a picture of Gil-ro with Seo-won and asks who she is, deciding that if she’s the girlfriend, she’ll prove to be just as useful as Gil-ro when it comes to bait.
Seo-won waits till her parents are asleep before sneaking out. She checks Do-ha’s message, saying that he told Gil-ro she likes him. He urges her to hurry up with the mission instead of dragging it out, and hurry back: “I don’t want to see you with Gil-ro for too long.”
She goes out to meet Gil-ro, who asks why she sneaked into his office when he wasn’t there. She stupidly denies it, which I don’t understand. If he’s asking you directly, doesn’t that mean he knows?
She denies it again, and his face falls. He says that if she had told him the truth today, it wouldn’t have been the end for them, and tells her he’ll show her tomorrow what kind of person she really is.
She’s on pins and needles when Gil-ro walks into work the next morning, but Mi-rae follows him in and purposely asks Seo-won to bring them coffee, smugly speaking down to her in banmal.
It’s a ploy, of course, to get a reaction out of Gil-ro. And it works, enough to make her suspect that they really are dating.
The NIS team uses the profile of Mi-rae to dig into her background, but find that she suspiciously didn’t exist until a few years ago.
Gil-ro finally confronts her about the snooping, and just hands her the video footage to watch. He discovered it was Mi-rae’s profile she took a picture of that day, and jumps to the most logical conclusion: that she’s using the skills she learned at NIS to be a corporate spy.
He erases the video and tells her not to live that way. She says it’s not what he thinks, but he remains unmoved. Gil-ro: “When you learned my name, I should’ve learned yours. I always find out who you are one step too late. So I’m always disappointed and hurt. I’m not going to do that anymore.”
He asks her one last thing: “Did you ever really like me?” She asks if he’ll believe her answer, and he says no. He doesn’t even wait for her to say anything, and tells her not to come back to work, and to change her address and phone number so that he can’t find her even if he’s drunk. Aw, Gil-ro.
He says the same thing that Do-ha said to him: “So that we never run into each other again…” and walks away coldly without looking back.
Seo-won packs up her desk and walks out, and Gil-ro doesn’t look up from his desk once. It’s only after she’s gone that he starts angsting over it.
She meets with Won-seok, who tells her to keep going. She says she can’t do it anymore—look Gil-ro in the eye and lie, knowing that his feelings are true, knowing how much pain she’s going to cause him.
Won-seok says he knows exactly what that’s like, and tells her a story. He says that once he had a mission to capture an arms dealer, and they used two men to do it. But the baddies found out and kidnapped those informants’ children—two sons of a man named Choi and one daughter of a man named Kim. Ah, so this is Woo-hyuk, Mi-rae and JJ.
He says the children escaped and came to them, pleading with Won-seok and the rest of the team to save their parents. This is the scene we’ve seen before in flashback, and Won-seok says they had to make a choice, between capturing the one man who helped to kill over twenty thousand people, or saving their informants.
We know what choice they made, of course, and Seo-won gapes that he let them die (he assumes the children died as well). He says he lived every day after that regretting his choice, but adds that if the same question were posed to him today, “I’d make the same choice.” Damn.
She can’t believe he’d betray his countrymen in the name of protecting country, while he thinks that choice is an agent’s fate. Seo-won: “That’s not fate; it’s an excuse.” He insists it’s her fate, and if she can’t handle it, to give it up. She declares that he’s changed her mind—she does want to do it, but not his way.
Gil-ro heads to the hospital to see Dad (with Mi-rae on his tail and JJ still posing as a doctor) but happens to arrive just in time to overhear Mom and Dad arguing over whether or not to call him there. He hears Dad insisting she not call, and he stops at the door, face falling. Poor puppy.
Seo-won gets ready the next morning with new determination, and changes Monkey’s position from punishment push-ups to tucked in bed all snuggly. She heads to work and Gil-ro reminds her that she’s fired, but she tells him what she’s here to say.
She admits to looking at Mi-rae’s file, and says that she was curious about what kind of woman he was rumored to marry, and more curious because he never spoke about her. He doesn’t believe her, and she tells him matter-of-factly that it’s okay and she might be lying anyway.
She asks him to believe one thing though, and we see in flashback that she told Won-seok she was going to be honest with Gil-ro about one thing.
Seo-won: “I think I like you. No matter what wrong I might do, the fact that I like you isn’t a lie. No matter what happens, my feelings are real. Even if you get hurt later on, I’ll stay with you till the end.”
Gil-ro: “We’re already over. I thought it would hurt, but it doesn’t hurt at all. I wondered how I’d live without you, but I feel relieved. Now, I’ve come to dislike you.” Sadness, after she just realized her feelings too. But I can’t say I blame him for feeling betrayed.
JJ finally makes his move and goes in to see Gil-ro’s dad and threatens him in plain sight, knowing that he recognizes his attacker. He just smiles and makes mention of his son like he’s being polite, and tells him to take care. Dad flips out and scrambles to leave the hospital right away.
Gil-ro arrives just as JJ is leaving, and he’s eagle-eyed enough to recognize JJ with one passing glance. He follows, and when JJ realizes he’s been made, he darts off. Chase!
He makes it down to the parking garage before Gil-ro catches up and they fight pretty viciously. They throw punches back and forth, and Gil-ro gets the upper hand, but JJ doesn’t seem very worried about it. He threatens that the people around him will get hurt—his parents, his girlfriend.
Gil-ro scoffs that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, when suddenly a car comes up from behind and HITS HIM dead on. Ack. It’s Mi-rae behind the wheel, and JJ smirks before climbing in for his getaway.
Gil-ro is left bleeding on the ground and writhing in pain. He manages to get up and finds JJ’s phone lying on the ground, and searches it frantically. There’s nothing there, except a few photos of him, and one with Seo-won.
He gets up and starts hobbling, and calls his parents to make sure they’re okay. He calls Seo-won and panics when she doesn’t answer.
She’s back at basecamp, where Do-ha asks if she worked things out with Gil-ro. She sighs that he doesn’t like her anymore, and says that it’s only because it was Gil-ro that he even put up with her vagueness and lies for this long.
She admits that she’s relieved not to have to lie anymore though, if the mission is a bust, and says she’s glad to have told the truth about one thing. Do-ha asks what that was, but she doesn’t say.
She’s shocked to hear Do-ha say the same thing that Won-seok did, about sacrificing the few for the many, and says that Gil-ro might in fact already be their enemy.
As he says that, we see Gil-ro call Seo-won desperately over and over and drive over to her apartment, limping and bloody. He bangs on the door and frightens her mom to death, and tells her to lock the door behind her as he leaves to continue his search.
Seo-won screams at Do-ha: “Gil-ro is not our enemy!” She turns away to hide the tears pooling in her eyes, and Do-ha says that if she fails in this mission, she’ll be put back on her last team, and he wants her to stay here. “Because I like you.”
She actually looks surprised at that, which is a little hard to believe, given how obvious he’s been about his crush from the start. In any case, she says the last thing he wants to hear—that he’s her best friend, her comrade, the person she trusts the most.
He asks her not to make decisions so hastily: “You don’t know yet… how much I like you.” Aw. She gets up to leave and he stops her with a wrist grab. She pulls her hand away and turns it into a handshake, making it clear that’s where she wants their relationship to stay.
She heads out, when Gil-ro arrives just outside, hobbling and still bleeding. He calls out her name and she panics when she sees his condition. Gil-ro: “Why aren’t you answering your phone? Why do you worry someone like that?!”
Augh, there’s just something you can’t beat, about a guy standing there bleeding half to death, worried about her.
By now she’s crying and screaming back, “Let’s go to the hospital! Let’s go to the hospital!” Instead he just pulls her in for a hug. He’s still mad, wondering (as if he’s talking to himself) who she thinks she is, muttering about not paying him back for the money she owes him.
From inside, Do-ha gets ready to leave when he looks up at the monitor and sees their embrace, caught on the security camera. Sun-mi sees it and laughs happily that Seo-won succeeded on her mission, but Do-ha isn’t as thrilled.
Gil-ro just holds her closer, saying with tears in his eyes: “I was wrong. Don’t change your number, and don’t move.”
She starts to cry, and slowly raises her hands. She hugs him back, and they just stand there in the snow, holding onto each other.
Aw, I liked that ending. This episode was bookended with great scenes—first with the not-a-threesome fallout with Mom and Dad which milked the comedy, and then with Gil-ro’s reckless but really sweet concern for Seo-won over his own welfare after being hit by a freaking car. It was a nice way to confirm their feelings for the first time, stripped of all the anger and pride and lies that normally stand in the way. For one minute, it’s just concern and honesty in the face of danger. I don’t doubt that we’ll be back to spy hijinks and lies in no time, but at least it’s like Seo-won says—they’re honest about that one thing, just once.
I’m glad that feelings are out in the open, and that Do-ha confessed his own as well. I find it hard to believe given his personality that he’d have waited this long to confess in the first place (and just as strange that Seo-won wouldn’t have known he liked her all this time), but at least he isn’t the type to be quietly suffering without ever having told her. I don’t necessarily think he’s wrong for thinking very coldly about the mission at hand—he’s a company man who does exactly as he’s told, so he’s in no way a bad person for thinking of Gil-ro as an extension of his father and a mission to complete, rather than their friend.
But seeing them fight and then call the win like a sparring match, or Gil-ro asking Do-ha to go again because the didn’t like the result—that actually wrung my heart a little, and I thought it was a good way to remind us that they’re rivals, and yet really still two guys fighting on the same side, wanting to beat the other to be the cooler one. I hope that their relationship gets more attention, because it’s nicely layered and I want a friendship out of that, as begrudging and petty as it’ll be.
Now that we have confirmation that Gil-ro is being used after all, I just feel so bad for him—he’s like an abandoned puppy, rejected by his father, and then by the NIS. I don’t know if I can handle the inevitable double whammy of his betrayal by Won-seok, and then Seo-won. He’ll just break. For now I’ll have to go with the hope that Won-seok isn’t as terrible a human being as he seems right now, and that there’s another reversal down the road. Because otherwise it’s too painful to watch Gil-ro live out his dream of being Bond (though it cracks me up that Won-seok refuses to give him a gun), knowing that he’s risking his life in service of lies. Thematically, of course, it’s interesting to walk the line: If Won-seok (and NIS) in essence created Uhmforce the Revengey Terrorist by their choices, is history doomed to repeat itself with Gil-ro?