Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 15
We’ve got a bit more action than we’re used to as the final plot gets underway and lives are put on the line. It’s not just our kidnapping victim who suffers but also her two heroes, who have to confront some old demons in order to rise to the occasion and help her out. So inasmuch as I hate the damsel in distress routine, at least it serves a purpose here and sets us up for the big resolution. I guess. Grumble grumble.
SONG OF THE DAY
Mary Story – “It’s You” [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Min-young wakes up in a strange room to find her hands and feet tied with rope. The walls are lined will photos and notes of the Cyrano members, all serial-killer-like. Aw man, so the kidnapping was straight-up and real? I was hoping for a twist, since, blah.
Given that it’s real, it makes sense for the Hawaiian shirt man to be behind it, and he chats on the phone about preparations for “showtime.” He sees that Min-young is awake, and she asks why he’s doing this. All he says if for her to ask Byung-hoon, and gags her mouth.
Then the photo text message gets sent to Byung-hoon, with the message “Are you looking for Gong Min-young?” and a photo of her in hostage mode. Just gonna say, if you wanna look scary, maybe you don’t decorate your threatening texts with cutesy bopping skulls?
Then comes a call from the kidnapper, whose voice is garbled electronically to sound gruff and unrecognizable. Through a few chuckles and taunts, he issues Byung-hoon directions on how to locate a bus seat, under which his next message will be taped. Hello, goose chase.
Byung-hoon growls that he’d better not touch a hair on her head, but Kidnapper Batman warns him to do as he says, and also to move solo. The boys are to remain put at the theater.
Byung-hoon thinks fast and issues instructions on leads for them to follow. But he doesn’t have a lot of time, and has to get moving asap to catch that bus in time.
This requires him to take the wheel, which is no easy feat. His hand shakes and he reels in the driver’s seat—no go. He gives up and opts for a taxi instead, managing to catch up to the bus just as it pulls in to the stop.
He jumps onboard, scrambles around and gets mistaken for a pervert, and finally pulls a bulky package from under a seat. Everyone freaks out, asking if it’s a bomb, and he assures them that it’s not. And as he gets off with the package, an obscured face takes note of his actions and puts in a phone call. Hye-ri?
It’s just a huge stack of photos—of Min-young, of himself, of the agency. In the follow-up call, he barks that there’s no info here on where to find her, and Hawaiian Shirt laughs that he was dumber than he gave him credit for. Also: “After interfering with other people’s lives so much, you should pay the price.” He instructs Byung-hoon to head back to the theater to figure out the clue.
The three boys pore over CCTV footage of Min-young getting into an unregistered car, as well as the stack of photos, which include snapshots taken during missions. It’s curious; how did he get access to their surveillance van, for instance? Byung-hoon figures that Min-young is safe, because she’s not the target—they are.
Since Hawaiian Shirt specified the bus by route and license number, those must be clues. They get to work narrowing down their former targets and clients, but the numbers don’t turn up. So the kidnapper isn’t a client or target, but has been watching them consistently.
An address search using those numbers turns up a certain vault, though, of the kind housing ashes and urns. The man housed there was a former racecar-driver client, and while he left behind no relatives, there’s a curious echo of the word “friends” that gives Byung-hoon the tip-off that Hawaiian Shirt is their culprit.
Byung-hoon thinks back to his last confrontation with Min-young, when she’d agreed to disappear from his life. Now he mutters his hopes to himself that she’ll remain safe—a scene that Hawaiian Shirt gets to witness in real time because of the tiny camera he slipped into the agency during his last visit. Time for the next phase, he decides.
And then they’re joined by a third person, whose arrival has Min-young gaping in shock. It’s a woman, and although we don’t see her face, we all know who this is, right? I do wish the show was handling this reveal quicker, since it’s not really much of a secret.
Arang drops by the restaurant to see if Hawaiian Shirt is here today, and asks the loan sharks for their help (since, as debt collectors, they’re pretty good at tracking down people who are trying to hide). He tells them of Min-young’s kidnapping, and Seung-pyo orders him to relay the story, details and all.
Moo-jin reviews old tapes of their ex-client, one which was shot at a hospital, presumably in his last days. The client cuts the video short to avoid his little sister seeing, and the camera catches her face: Hye-ri.
So it’s Hye-ri who joins Min-young now, explaining that she won’t be harmed. This is all to show the Cyrano members what they’d done: She promised her dying brother to get payback on the people responsible for making his last days lonely.
Moo-jin hides the Hye-ri connection for the time being, and then the three guys get simultaneous text messages. It’s a riddle of sorts, containing veiled directional clues and also famous quotes. The clues shake out to: library, cul-de-sac, Cyrano. All references to their prior cases.
Another call comes in, and based on his comments they realize he’s watching them. He gives them an hour to come find Min-young: “And don’t forget, what I want is the truth.”
Wearing his grim face, Seung-pyo decides to go “there,” which is enough to get his two goons crying that he can’t, not there. Uh-oh. Is he revisiting his shadowy past?
Sure enough, he turns up at a den of gangsters, making his way to the head boss. He asks for his help finding someone, and while the boss isn’t all that inclined to help, he is curious enough to go with it. What could make Seung-pyo come back for the first time in two years?
To their shark, one of the gangsters recognizes Hawaiian Shirt immediately—it’s Detective Jung. Or rather, just Jung now, and “a total psycho.”
The boss isn’t about to let a golden opportunity pass him by, and before he gives up any info, he offers up a trade: He’ll talk, if Seung-pyo comes to work for him again.
The agency guys split up to get to work on meeting their targets, as indicated by the clues. On his way out, Moo-jin runs into Hye-ri outside the restaurant, who feigns ignorance of everything and pretends it’s a normal day at work. He approaches with a stone face and tells her he has someplace to take her.
Arang races to the alleyway where they’d staged the teenage idol romance, and to his surprise the girl arrives too—she’d been called here by fake Arang. A text arrives to inform Arang what he is to do: Admit that they’d contrived the whole situation.
Moo-jin takes Hye-ri with him to the library, where he gets the same text. She’s still pretending to go along with it, but he asks her outright, “Do you have to go this far? Do you want to ruin things for everyone we’ve helped together?”
Hye-ri nervously tries to leave and act confused, and he guesses, “So you’re just going to pretend you don’t know.” So he catches her the other way: By pointing out that she can’t know the librarian’s name or case, because it happened before she started working at the restaurant.
Seung-pyo tells his ex-boss that he made a promise not to return to this life (to his hyung, perhaps?), and doesn’t want to break it. The boss sneers, but Seung-pyo kneels before him and asks again for the favor.
Idol girlfriend slaps Arang when she hears his confession. He explains that it wasn’t all fake; the idol boy’s feelings and words were all real, and they just helped him express them. She isn’t exactly comforted by that, since it means idol boy deceived her.
Byung-hoon’s clue takes him to Yi-seol’s workshop… where he admits to his very first Cyrano gig. Omo wut. Was he playing Cupid for his best friend all those years ago, then? Byung-hoon admits to regretting it later, not having fully understood his feelings for her at the time he agreed to help Do-il.
But Yi-seol hardly seems shocked, and asks if he really thinks she fell in love with Do-il because of some letter: “I knew you were the one who wrote that letter.” Ah, so his first mission really was Cyrano de Bergerac, down to the (sorry) letter.
Turns out Do-il told her years ago. He was always open and honest with her, and that’s probably why she fell for him. She wonders what prompted him to come here today, and urges him to stop running away. Instead, think about the person who forced him to confront his feelings—a scene that Min-young watches with shiny eyes from her hostage lair.
Mob Boss offers up the perp’s home address, which Seung-pyo accepts gratefully. Only, it doesn’t come free, the boss reminds him. He burns the photo of Min-young, and then as he starts to burn the address, he tells Seung-pyo, “There’s no such thing as an unbreakable promise.” Gulp.
Back to Moo-jin, who guesses that Hye-ri’s motivation was her brother. She finally admits to it, then accuses him of making her dying brother lonely in his last days—didn’t they know that the target already had a boyfriend? Or did they not care because he was dying?
Moo-jin tells her she’s the one who has it backwards: “Your brother was the client.” He requested that the agency set up his girlfriend with his colleague.
She calls him a liar, but he has video proof. He hands over his phone, and she watches as her brother pleads with Byung-hoon to take the case, not wanting to leave his girlfriend behind alone. Furthermore, the couple knew that her brother was the one pushing them together.
She struggles with denial, but Moo-jin tells her, “I don’t lie to the person I like.” He holds her as she starts to break down, realizing, “If you’re telling the truth, then everything I’ve been doing…” He assures her that it’s okay, and that she can still reverse things.
Hawaiian Shirt watches on his screen, not entirely pleased with the way things are shaking out but laughing in his creepy serial killer way nonetheless. He sympathizes with Min-young for being another of the agency’s victims, even though she defends their work as helping people show their honest emotions. So she hazards a guess: Is the agency working on a case involving a woman he’s in love with?
It’s close enough to get him in a rage, and he orders her to shut up.
Moo-jin calls Byung-hoon to let him know where the hostage lair is, but by the time they arrive, it’s empty. Hawaiian Shirt is making his getaway in a car when he calls again, this time with a demand to set up a meeting with a woman named So-yeon: “You guys messed around with my woman.”
Byung-hoon demands to talk to Min-young, and tells her he’ll come get her soon. With that, Hawaiian Shirt sets the time and place for their next meeting, two hours hence. He hums to himself cheerily about getting them good. And from the backseat, Min-young’s eyes widen to read something—a clue about what’s next, which we don’t get to see.
Seung-pyo and his two goons make it to the hostage lair, thanks to the boss’s address (oh no, he took the deal?), and find the serial killer wall of photos. They rifle through his notes, and among his papers is a letter written to Yi-seol, from Do-il. Seung-pyo furrows his brow—why is that part of this case? He connects the dots: Then did Byung-hoon play matchmaker for his brother?
A note scrawled on a page identifies the the plan’s last stage: Cyrano Theater. And then on the wall, the goons find plans for a familiar-looking “final stage” scenario. The diagrams include a theater stage, and a bomb.
Then Minion Two opens up a cabinet, which explodes in his face and sends him flying with a bloody arm. Eeeek. The boys urge Seung-pyo to hurry to the agency asap and put a stop to the crazy man.
Byung-hoon arrives at the address indicated, but hears from the woman living there that the person in question has been living abroad for over a year. That’s strange, and Byung-hoon deduces the rest: The crazy man sent him on a wild goose chase to get him away from the theater. (Note: Byung-hoon’s deduction is correct, but the logical is totally nonexistent. But this is drama climax. Who cares about logic. Let’s get to the boom.)
So everyone’s arriving at the conclusion at about the same time, and Seung-pyo calls Byung-hoon to warn him. Byung-hoon makes a desperate request of the lady to use her car. Ready to confront our fears, are we?
Hawaiian Shirt takes Min-young back to the theater and tells her to take a good look around since it’ll be its last day. “You know why I’m doing this to you and not Seo Byung-hoon?” he asks her. “Because they have to feel for themselves what it’s like to lose everything. Somebody who toys with other people should’ve been prepared for this.”
Min-young makes an attempt to knock him aside and make a run for it, but he grabs her and shoves her head-first into a metal locker. Yeeeouch. She goes out cold.
Byung-hoon struggles behind the wheel, but manages to get it turned on. He chants to himself to think of Min-young, and powers through.
I have a giant pile of MEH for this episode, although I recognize that it’s not quite a mess. It’s not a slapdash collection of makjang twists, and it’s not random or last-minute. The plot feels like it was planned in advance, and it brings together overarching themes in a nicely roundabout way, and as an added bonus, the characters’ emotions rise and fall with the dramatic events.
It’s just that I can’t be moved to really care about it. Maybe because it feels maneuvered, like the contents of one of Cyrano Agency’s missions—everyone says and does the right things, but it’s lacking that last 2 percent to make it feel whole.
On a purely intellectual level, I think it works just fine. Let’s look at it from a narrative-building perspective. Byung-hoon’s trajectory of personal growth has been leading to this point, where he’s been pushed out of his emotional comfort zone all series long, and now the reason for that growth is also the one thing to spur him into action. He’s gonna face his stubbornness and fears and Just Do It to save her life, because he can’t be the coward when something this important is on the line.
That dovetails nicely with Seung-pyo’s arc as well, because he’s carved out a slice of comfort for himself with the shady past firmly behind him, and thinks of just moving forward with his new career and new love interest. And then the past rears its ugly head, and it’s love of the girl that pushes him to action. (Although I have to admit I was dismayed at the idea of his hard work taking a big step back if he were forced to work for the boss again, especially since we know that Min-young’s gonna get saved without his help. But he doesn’t know that, and I suppose that’s why the sacrifice hurts.)
Hye-ri’s misunderstanding and the Crazy Kidnapper’s plot aren’t terrible in the scope of things. I like that they challenge the agency on their fundamental principles, and point out the downside to their work, albeit one seen through a twisted and incomplete lens. But since the question of manipulating emotions is a valid one, good on the show for bringing it up itself, rather than ignoring it in favor of the fantasy.
What makes it fall flat, though, is perhaps because the show is so light and feel-good that I don’t believe any of the dire consequences. The kidnapping scenes start feeling laughable rather than menacing, and it’s not the fault of the acting or even the directing—but taken in context of the show as a whole, it’s a jarring contrast and I don’t buy it. But we’re heading into the final stretch now, so thankfully this disbelief need not remain suspended for too much longer.
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 14
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 13
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 12
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 11
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 10
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 9
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 8
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 7
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 6
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 5
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 4
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 3
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 2
- Dating Agency Cyrano: Episode 1