Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 16
Illustration by Ally
Dude, someone pop the champagne. Our spies actually FIGURE STUFF OUT. For realsies. Connecting dots and everything. Okay, so maybe it’s eons too late and we’ve been twiddling our thumbs wondering why they don’t know stuff that we’ve known for weeks, but hey, not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
In the aftermath of confronting his father about possibly being the villain of this story, Gil-ro cries into Seo-won’s lap.
What they don’t know is that JJ is being released from NIS custody at the same time, because now Director Oh is acting under Mi-rae’s orders. I don’t even remember what their primary objective was, but having the director of the NIS under your thumb seems like a better one, as far as evil plans go.
Seo-won takes Gil-ro to a Love exhibit at a museum to lift his spirits. If this is for you two to learn about how kisses work, I’m all for it. Do they teach classes too? He tries a kiss and gets his arm twisted behind his back (Why, Seo-won, WHY?) but he manages to kiss her anyway, like a pretzel with lips.
He asks what she’s going to do with his father’s secret files, and asks her not to hand them over to the team yet. She agrees to wait until they figure more out on their own. At least you’re sharing intel now? It seems a step up from the haywire ski junket.
He tells her about the shell corporation behind Mi-rae that he found during his investigation. Seo-won doesn’t understand why it’s important, but Gil-ro explains that the CEO of said company is Choi Woo-hyuk’s father.
Her eyes grow wide—Gil-ro’s just cracked this case wide open. I’d cheer if it wasn’t stuff we’ve already known for weeks. Just sayin’. He sighs that the worst part is, he’s also gotten confirmation from Dad that he made a deal with Choi Woo-hyuk. (And as a side note, putting your characters in front of other movie/drama characters kissing is just aggravating if they’re not going to follow suit!)
Mi-rae meets Director Oh in broad daylight which seems risky, but then again, with Team Pew Pew on the job, I wouldn’t be worried about anyone following me either. He tells her that her accomplice has been freed, and she hands over one of the promised files.
He gets the other file along with Choi Woo-hyuk when he sends Won-seok to the location of her choice, to be killed.
At headquarters, Seo-won tells Young-soon that she has the Dad File in her possession now, but promised Gil-ro that she wouldn’t give it over to the agency quite yet. Then why are you telling her you have it? She asks for a few days, reminding Young-soon that she was the one who advised her to do her best as an agent, and as a person.
Bathroom break so soon? We check in with Seo-won’s parents, who worry about their village project.
Gil-ro tells Seo-won about his failed attempt to hack the NIS server (Should I be comforted or worried that you failed?) so they decide to try using contacts instead to get at the classified files. They take their spy academy buddies out to dinner to butter them up.
Won-seok fiiinally sits down to tell his wife that they’re not going to the States after all, and she lets out a defeated sigh, knowing that he won’t tell her why. She says that she’s lived twenty years this way and knows now: “The country might need you, but I don’t need you.” Can’t say I’m surprised.
All day Seo-won’s been getting nonstop texts and calls, and Gil-ro laser-eyes her ringing phone while she’s away from the table, tempted to check it. He can barely stop himself, but she returns with coffee so he’s forced to ask her outright.
She says they’re credit card alerts, which he brushes off as an excuse. He doesn’t see why she can’t just tell him who keeps calling if it really is nothing, and she laughs that he’d be trying to crack her password if she didn’t tell him. He says they could just tell each other: “Mine’s 007-bang [zero]!” Ha. Of course it is.
She says there’s no need to know each other’s passwords, so then he launches into another elaborate hypothetical scenario wherein they’d need it to call for help in an emergency. She deflates his theory by reminding him that you can dial 119 without a password on any phone. Commence pouting.
She tells him that interest is nice but possessiveness isn’t, and wonders what’s bringing this on. He asks if she handed his father’s file over, and she tells him that she reported that she has it, but hasn’t handed it over, as promised.
He asks if it’s really not Young-soon or Won-seok texting her, and now she understands what he’s worried about—that they’re basically coaching her through this and pulling all the strings, still using Gil-ro for information.
She says he’s the bad guy if he really suspects that of her, so he backs down and says that he’ll choose to trust her, and they leave it at that. Somehow that does not feel like the end of that conversation.
JJ greets Mi-rae with a hug, and asks how she freed him. She shows him a picture of Director Oh unconscious and bleeding, and says that she killed him once JJ was free. What? Why are you lying? Huh? SHOW, help a sister out.
Mi-rae tells him that they need to stop going for the soft apology and just kill their targets. But… you’re the one who didn’t kill Director Oh.
She tells him that he needs to know so that there’s no confusion—she doesn’t love him, and she’s only protecting him because of his hyung’s dying request. So, I have no idea why, but Mi-rae is now running her own side operation, apparently.
Gil-ro is still pouting by the time he drops Seo-won off, so she takes him out for a drink to clear the air. She gets another text during dinner so this time she shows him. His jaw drops—they really are credit card alerts alllll the way down.
She lists the number of things that have to be paid for in her family, and how each payday her phone rings nonstop. He can’t believe she has to pay for all of those bills, and she says she’s never thought of her family as a burden, but does admit that sometimes the weight does feel heavy.
He suggests that she spend a little on herself once in a while, and they both lament how difficult it is to save money. She tells Gil-ro that he really should save if he doesn’t want to inherit Dad’s company. He says he can’t anyway—he couldn’t take a company built on dirty money, and sighs that they’re both dirt poor now.
Sun-mi visits Do-ha at work with a sunny smile, acting in her usual Do-ha-obsessed way. At least she has a believable cover for being all up in his grill. He’s implacable as ever, even as she says things like, “You’d be great if you weren’t a bad guy.”
She tries calling him oppa and that finally gets a reaction out of him (choking, so maybe not the reaction she wanted) and asks if he’s really capable of doing anything for his country, just like he said in spy school.
He tells her that they’re both people who act on orders, and she asks hopefully if maybe he’s doing something right now that he doesn’t like doing. No answer. She gives him a present, and then apologizes without an explanation. And while he steps out, she goes to his computer to spy on the mole.
Another bathroom break! More worrying from Seo-won’s parents.
Gil-ro’s dad thinks over his son’s question asking if he’s a bad person, and makes a decision. He puts on the watch Gil-ro gave him and tells Mom that he might be a while. And then he goes to the police station and turns himself in. Aw.
Problem is, Director Oh has already cleaned up everything having to do with the case, so Dad gets told that there is no such crime to confess being an accessory to. Well way to take the steam out of his big heroic moment. Poor Dad. I hope Gil-ro finds out about him trying to do the right thing.
Gil-ro presents Seo-won with a couple savings account that he opened under both their names. He suggests that they each put in a little each month, and then once a year they can go on a vacation, like she always wanted. Okay, that’s sweet.
For once, she doesn’t complain or argue (that much), and agrees that it’s a good idea. She wonders what happens if they break up, and he says that’s impossible. Says the guy who just yesterday suggested they break up?
She pockets the bank book, and he balks, wanting to be the Keeper of the Money, and tries to win it back with rock-paper-scissors. If you two were 16, you’d be an adorable couple.
Young-soon gets offered a blind date with a guy seven years younger than her, and she’s on cloud nine until Seo-won sees the picture and says that her nephew is good-looking. Ouch.
Sun-mi comes to work and sees that Do-ha never even opened the present she gave him. At this point, I don’t even know why you like the guy.
Seo-won and Gil-ro get more pieces of the puzzle, and things FINALLY start to form a picture—the kids of the two informants Choi and Kim who were presumed dead, Won-seok’s story about those families and the NIS choosing to betray them.
It took them forever, but they finally wonder if maybe the guy they have in custody (er, had, but they don’t know that yet) is Choi Woo-jin, the younger son, and younger brother to Choi Woo-hyuk. Ding ding ding! A cookie for the spies.
The only way to be sure would be a DNA test, and they wonder how they’ll get a sample. Well isn’t it convenient that Won-seok happens to have a handful of the guy’s hair somewhere. They don’t know that yet, and Gil-ro worries about trusting Won-seok, for good reason.
Seo-won tells him the story about the botched mission years ago, and how the three children were presumed dead. But what if they’re not, and the kids are actually Woo-hyuk, his little bro, and Mi-rae? Then they’re looking at a revenge mission, for the agents responsible for using their fathers and leaving them for dead. Gil-ro can hardly believe Won-seok would make such a cruel choice to let those kids die, and Seo-won says that it’s not an excuse, but he does seem to regret it.
Seo-won asks Young-soon for a sample of JJ’s DNA, but this time Young-soon gets fed up with Seo-won running her own investigation and withholding evidence. She demands the Dad File right now, and Seo-won protests that she promised Gil-ro.
That just incenses Young-soon even more, and she tells Seo-won to choose right now. Thankfully Gil-ro interrupts to say that they’ll hand over the file, and asks if she knows who Chairman Choi is.
Mi-rae tells JJ that Won-seok is headed to their rendezvous spot tonight, and orders him to kill on sight.
Won-seok takes a detour that night when his wife calls him out to the river. Uh-oh, prepare for bad news. She asks him a nonsensical question on purpose—if they fell into the river, would he save her or his country first? But Won-seok being Won-seok can’t even manage to just lie and say he’d save her first. Dolt.
She asks for a divorce, which he doesn’t take very seriously at first, but she tells him that all she wanted was for him to be a husband who consulted her before making huge life decisions, but he’s turned her into the woman who resents the country he’s loyal to before her. She asks again for a divorce, and he leaves for his next appointment, saying they’ll discuss it later.
He’s on his way to meet Director Oh of course, only Director Oh is sitting at his desk nervously. He does seem a little sad about sending his friend to his death, not that it makes him any less of a murderous bastard.
Meanwhile, Seo-won and Gil-ro run the DNA test, and because this writer can’t figure out a better way to write this exposition, Young-soon has a moment of utter stupidity and asks them to explain the giant screen that says 100% MATCH between Choi Woo-hyuk and Choi Woo-jin.
They’re like, “THEY’RE BROTHERS.” Young-soon: “THEY’RE BROTHERS??” Lawd, this show.
Now she’s even more pissed off that they withheld this information, when Gil-ro gets a panicked call from NIS headquarters alerting him to the fact that JJ was released. They decide not to tell Young-soon that Won-seok’s life is in danger, which seems to be a glaring omission, but whatever.
They trace his cell phone and race over to the park to find him.
Won-seok is busy talking to Director Oh, who’s still in his office, pretending like he’s on his way. He says in vague terms that he’s sorry and to think of it like a sacrifice for his country, and Won-seok smiles and chats with him, not knowing how gravely he means those words.
JJ has Won-seok in his sights, and puts a silencer on his gun. He approaches…
Young-soon bursts into Director Oh’s office to ask why they let JJ go, and tells him that he’s Choi Woo-hyuk’s brother. (They’re calling Woo-hyuk JJ, even though every single show website/chart/article calls Little Bro JJ, but whatever, at this point it doesn’t matter. They’re brothers and interchangeable in the story.)
Director Oh’s eyes widen, but I have no idea why it should make a difference, since being killed by him for revenge or being killed by Mi-rae in exchange for intel still ends with Won-seok dead.
Seo-won finally gets through to Won-seok, and manages to tell him that Choi Woo-jin is the man they captured, and he’s been freed… and he’s coming after Won-seok right now.
Seconds later, Woo-jin is standing there with a gun pointed at his head. Won-seok rises slowly, and asks tenderly, “Choi Woo-jin? You’re alive.” A tear falls as he remembers young Woo-jin crying in his arms, asking Won-seok to save his father.
Won-seok looks at him with such heartbreaking relief. It’s the opposite of what Woo-jin expected, and it shakes him. His hand starts to tremble, and he thinks back to what hyung had said about agents spilling false tears. He had warned Little Bro not to fall for such lies.
He steels himself and says that he lived so he could kill Won-seok, and takes a step closer. Won-seok doesn’t move and doesn’t give excuses, almost as if he’s relieved to finally pay for that mistake that he regrets so much.
Seo-won and Gil-ro finally arrive and call out to Won-seok. Woo-jin turns to see them and acts quickly, firing off two shots into Won-seok’s chest.
Gil-ro fires at him but he gets away, and they run over to Won-seok, who’s lying on the ground, his blood splattered over the family picture on his phone. Gil-ro calls out to him over and over, but he doesn’t move.
Judging from the Won-seok-centric montage we get at the end, I’m guessing he’s really dead? The sadder part is that this show is so whackadoo that I don’t really care one way or the other. It literally has no bearing on whether or not the show will make any more or less sense, and I fully expect the story to go on with more of the same. I suppose it at least takes Mi-rae and JJ one step closer to being done with their mission, even with her running her own side deal with Director Oh.
I did like the scene with Won-seok finally coming face to face with JJ, Woo-jin, or whatever the hell his name is. It’s been hard to trust him, with his flip-flopping and his lies to Gil-ro, not to mention the fact that he’s kind of a terrible do-as-I-say boss and husband. But it was nice to see that he really does have a heart and regret his actions all those years ago. Because for all the faith Seo-won had in him, he didn’t seem so remorseful until now. I suppose it’s too little too late in his case, but then, with this show, I half expect him to pop up in the next episode and say: “I didn’t teach you how to go rogue so you could go rogue!”
It’s getting painful to play Coulda Woulda Shoulda with this show, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had a fun spy story where agents were smart and figured stuff out before we did? This show has a strange way of either being so slow on the uptake that we can’t believe they don’t know things we’ve known for centuries, or leaving us completely behind so that we’re scratching our heads and going, What just happened? It’d be one thing if the dumb moments were played for comedic effect. That would be a different show entirely. And who knows, maybe that’s what this show intended to be at the outset? If so, someone got some wires severely crossed.
The strange thing is, string-cheese logic aside, it wouldn’t have mattered as much if the central spy vs. spy story had remained, well, central. But the romance now has zero tension, with both leads working together on the same side, and now all they do is repeat variations of the same argument about trusting each other. And to top it off, the heroine has some aversion to kisses. TO KISSES. *gives up trying to understand*
Illustration by Ally
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 15
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 14
- Update: Screencaps, recaps, and Joo-won
- Announcement: Level 7 Civil Servant recaps now with less Joo-won
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 13
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 12
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 11
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 10
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 9
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 8
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 7
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 6
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 5
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 4
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 3
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 2
- Level 7 Civil Servant: Episode 1