Man to Man: Episode 11
This episode made me a happy camper. I like this show best when it can successfully balance all the pieces it has in play. It’s no secret that all of us are in this because of the winning main trio, and so I’m excited to report that there are some great interactions (and actual progress!) between them today. Here we go!
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Do-ha pulls away from their lover’s tactic kiss and asks Seol-woo what step two of their strategy should be. Seol-woo answers suavely that since they’ve now kissed in the alleyway near her house, the next step should be obvious. She nearly groans, wondering if she has to do something as cliché as asking him in for some ramyun.
He agrees immediately as if she’s actually asked him instead of merely floating the idea. She doesn’t believe he’s being serious so he puts his arm around her and leads her to… a ramyun shop. Wow.
He claims that ramyun is tastier if it’s cooked by an expert, and she answers back a bit disappointed (and in an Eeyore voice). However, Seol-woo has not forgotten that they actually are on a mission and motions to NIS agent outside in the cold. He explains that watching people eat a warm bowl of ramyun on a night like this is enough to mess with anyone’s psyche.
She seems surprised that he’s thought things through to this extent and asks pointedly if everything he does is part of a larger strategy, even among friends and family. He says that a secret agent never clocks out, and that no one can be trusted. She asks if he can’t even trust the people he works with, but he throws the question back at her and asks if she trusts him.
Do-ha isn’t prepared for him to cut to the heart of their complicated relationship so easily, and she walks herself truthfully through her answer, replying that she knows everything is a lie. She thinks back to the fight in the warehouse where he risked his life to save her, and admits that she thought there was sincerity in his actions, but then he disappeared, claiming that it would be too dangerous to be together.
And then, she says that Seol-woo appeared again “like a lie,” asking for an absurd amount of money on behalf of the country, only to later save her father. Now, she says, they’re even working together on another mission.
Do-ha runs her various memories of Seol-woo over in her head, trying to parse through what’s real and what was part of the mission, and ends up frustrated and confused. She decides not to stress about it and instead trust her heart, just as their food arrives.
She eyes the noodles and says that she’s willing to help out with his ramyun “taunting tactic,” as a colleague. Seol-woo watches her eat as if there’s so much he wants to say and no right words to say it. Soon, he reaches over to tuck some hair behind her ear.
Alarmed, Do-ha looks up, and so he explains that a lovers tactic should be “open and blatant.” She confesses to feeling uncomfortable, but also to enjoying it.
Department Head Jang tells Seung-jae that he’s positively considering the latter’s offer. He confirms that Seung-jae will deliver Congressman Baek and the Baek Infantry to him in exchange for the two keys from the wood carvings (Blast! He knows about those). They’ll also need to acquire the third wood carving in order to complete the transaction.
Department Head Jang understands the precariousness of their arrangement and tells Seung-jae to release Dong-hyun, and then he’ll accept the deal.
Meanwhile, Seol-woo and Do-ha reveal their lovers tactic to Woon-kwang and exchange nervous glances after Woon-kwang asks what the new mission is.
The details aren’t concrete because Seol-woo still needs to discuss things with Department Head Jang, but Do-ha helpfully explains that Seol-woo needs a perfect disguise to fool the NIS agent tailing him. Seol-woo is certain that pretending to be lovers will be an effective tactic in mystifying the enemy.
After hearing them out, Woon-kwang accepts the idea, then says to their confusion, “I have no prejudice against roles like this.” He tells Seol-woo (calling him “Brother”) that he’ll give it a shot, then pauses to correct himself and amends to, “Honey.” Holy crap! I just shot up in my seat.
Seol-woo looks back at Woon-kwang, horrified by his conclusion, while Do-ha tries to clarify. Woon-kwang silences her and says that since he’s an actor, this role will be easy, but he’s concerned that Seol-woo might have difficulties with the character. Woon-kwang tenderly takes Seol-woo by the hand, then strokes it with his other hand.
Seol-woo awkwardly tells Woon-kwang that he’s isn’t up for the part of the lover, since it makes more sense if it’s Do-ha, and so Woon-kwang dramatically throws away Seol-woo’s hand. Haha.
Suddenly, Woon-kwang gets serious and points an intimidating finger at each of his employees as he warns that they are only to act like lovers in his presence. Specifically, no kissing in other places. Merp! Too late.
Do-ha happily assures Woon-kwang that they will, and Seol-woo panics, since she’s pretty much confirmed that they’ve kissed before. She realizes her mistake and hurriedly specifies that she was talking about the acting part and not the kissing part. But Woon-kwang is onto them and studies both their faces suspiciously.
At home, Seung-jae informs Mi-eun of his conversation with Department Head Jang. He’s annoyed because Department Head Jang added a condition to their deal, and in order to release Dong-hyun, he’ll need to cross Assemblyman Baek first. Seung-jae is starting to question the alliance, since he doesn’t really want to make Assemblyman Baek his enemy.
Mi-eun counters that during the elections, Assemblyman Baek will need to be on his best behavior, whereas Seung-jae can use Department Head Jang freely and decide later if he’s a worthy ally.
On the set of Last Love, the NIS agent watches Seol-woo and Do-ha in plain sight. Seol-woo explains that agents use this overt method of surveillance for intimidation. Do-ha grumbles about the underhanded tactic, and Seol-woo distracts her by cupping his warmed hands over her cheeks. She returns the favor just as the rest of the Chewing staff walks by.
Sang-shik theorizes to the others that Do-ha might be pregnant, which earns him a deft whack to the head from Woon-kwang. He clears out the staffers after scolding them for gossiping, then once he’s alone, he observes the fake lovers, clearly troubled.
Okay, whoa. Seol-woo and Do-ha relocate to the car, and the NIS agent witnesses them recline their chairs and cover the windows. A truck drives by, blocking the NIS agent’s view of the car, which allows for Seol-woo to sneak out unnoticed.
He meets with Department Head Jang, who tells him of Director Im’s failure in Myanmar. Apparently, the third wood carving is now in Russia. Seol-woo offers to retrieve it, but Department Head Jang rejects his help.
Seol-woo senses that something is amiss with his superior and asks bluntly if Robert Yoon’s cover was blown because of Department Head Jang. He’s alarmed by the accusal, but then concedes that he isn’t blameless in the incident, since he was Robert Yoon’s handler after all.
Department Head Jang vows that at least for Robert Yoon’s sake, he will ensure that this mission is completed, but Seol-woo narrows his eyes, looking unconvinced.
Later, Woon-kwang warns Do-ha to be careful of the rumors spreading about her and Seol-woo. She assures him that it’s fine, since it’s actually beneficial for them if word gets around. Woon-kwang studies her for a beat, then questions if they are pretending to be lovers for a tactic, or if they’re real lovers using a tactic to disguise their relationship. She denies it, but she can’t look him in the eyes as she does.
Woon-kwang clocks her reactions and warns that he only approved the tactic, then adds that if he sees her cry again, Seol-woo is a dead man. Thankfully for Do-ha, she gets called away because of some trouble on set.
Oh no, looks like the owner of the cafe they’re filming at is suddenly demanding that they leave the premises. CEO Ji threatens that the owner will have to pay double for his breach of contract, but he doesn’t care and orders them out.
On the campaign trail, Assemblyman Baek receives a report about successfully blocking all of Last Love’s filming locations. He asks for news on Seol-woo, but the spy hasn’t done anything of significance. What they’re trying to do is tie Dong-hyun and Seol-woo together in order to reveal the ghost agent program to the public.
In his hideout, Seol-woo updates Woon-kwang and Do-ha on the third wood carving situation, and betrays a look of suspicion when he explains how he’s currently on standby. Woon-kwang theorizes that the NIS might throw Seol-woo away and renege on paying him back the five million dollars. Seol-woo guarantees that that won’t happen on his watch.
As he talks, he takes a photo of a barcode on a package and sends a text requesting information about the wood carving in Russia. His Russian source is Petrov, and he immediately gets to work on the request.
Before Seol-woo decides what he’ll do about the third wood carving, he first needs to find out who blew Robert Yoon’s cover. He has in his possession Robert Yoon’s log, a secret report kept by ghost agents. On the pages are a series of numbers which Do-ha claims look like dates.
Seol-woo hasn’t decoded the numbers fully yet, but he knows that Robert Yoon habitually went to the same place on Mondays. To find out where, he’ll need to confer with the one person that might know: Do-ha’s dad.
The problem is that Dad is still smarting from Seol-woo’s outburst a while back. Do-ha offers to act as a buffer, but once Dad walks into the restaurant, Seol-woo beelines for him. He bows first, then proposes they go for some soju.
Dad glares at Seol-woo, rips off his apron, and orders Seol-woo to follow him. Do-ha watches them leave, worried, and when she puts her hands over her stomach, Song-yi clutches her forehead in dismay.
Over some dakgalbi, Seol-woo apologizes immediately for being rude before. He offers to pour Dad a drink, but curiously, Dad takes the bottle and pours Seol-woo one instead, commenting on how much of a handful Do-ha is and calling him son-in-law again.
Dad acknowledges that he was hurt by Seol-woo words, but he thinks Do-ha needs a manly man, and he approves of the pairing. They raise their glasses, and then Dad gravely divulges that the reason he’s so crazy about get-rich-quick schemes is because he may not have much longer to live. According to Dad, the members of his family tend to alternate between living short or long lives, and if the pattern is correct, then he’s up next for the short life.
He knows it sounds superstitious, but on the bright side, Do-ha will have a long life, so Seol-woo needn’t worry. Dad wants to leave something for Do-ha, and once he starts asking Seol-woo for some insider tips, Seol-woo pivots back to his mission and asks to know where Robert Yoon went each Monday.
Dad says “Annam Cathedral” without thinking, then gripes at Seol-woo for mentioning Robert Yoon, since it’s a sore spot for Dad.
Now that he’s got the intel he wanted, Seol-woo explains to us that the Robert Yoon log was right next to the Bible on the bookshelf, and the last date listed was Monday, October 3, 2016. Written beside the date is “Rev 127,” which Seol-woo deduces equates to 12:7 in the book of Revelation.
Elsewhere, Department Head Jang receives a set of photos from Seung-jae, which he can use to get Dong-hyun released. Oh, it’s a photo of Congressman Baek and Ki-chul conferring at the park.
Back at Song-yi’s restaurant, Song-yi grills Do-ha on the constantly changing status between her and Seol-woo. Do-ha is ashamed to admit that things are back on, but is shocked to hear this rumor about her and Seol-woo going to a hotel.
Do-ha offers to tell Song-yi the whole truth over some beer, and Song-yi calls her crazy for wanting alcohol, given her current state. Do-ha is confused, but then Sang-shik hurries in to stop Song-yi from yelling at Do-ha, since she might miscarry, and then the pieces click together. Do-ha barks at Sang-shik for writing a smutty novel.
Later, after Seol-woo delivers a very drunk Dad back to Do-ha’s, he visits Woon-kwang, who is carefully cleaning his wood carvings/collateral and tells him about Annam Cathedral. Woon-kwang insists he isn’t trying to make Seol-woo guilty by constantly talking about his money, but after Seol-woo confirms that he doesn’t feel guilty, he’s amazed, since the spy should feel a tinge of it.
Woon-kwang’s kidding, and he reiterates that even if the country throws Seol-woo away, he won’t. He winks, and Seol-woo can’t help but smile to himself. I need a Woon-kwang in my life.
Feeling sentimental, Seol-woo asks why Woon-kwang trusted him so much to lend him all that money. Woon-kwang unexpectedly says that it was Seol-woo’s eyes—as an actor, he can just tell who’s acting and who’s being sincere. The words hit Seol-woo hard, and he’s speechless. He watches Woon-kwang head upstairs with an almost vulnerable gaze.
Late in the night, Seol-woo stares at the blinking red light on his phone, tracking Do-ha’s location. She calls to discuss the plan for the cathedral tomorrow, then relays Woon-kwang’s suggestion to act like they are inquiring about filming at the cathedral.
She remarks about on the simplicity of Seol-woo’s plan to extract information out of Dad by getting him drunk, and is surprised he didn’t have something more complicated up his sleeve. Seol-woo refutes her, and says that drunk people tend to speak nonsense more than the truth.
Do-ha asks what strategy he used then, and abruptly, he attacks her with a racy question, asking what color her underwear was today. She answers automatically and shocks herself. He explains that the best way is to ask a question unexpectedly.
She’s impressed by the tactic, and then launches into a million questions about the different things he’s done on missions, like parachuting and flying airplanes. She asks if there’s something he hasn’t done before, but then hears Song-yi stir and hurries to end their call.
He doesn’t want to go, but reluctantly, they do so. After they hang up, Do-ha cradles the coin against her chest, and Seol-woo stares at the red dot affectionately.
At another hearing, Assemblyman Baek questions Department Head Jang on the supposed list of ghost agents that Department Head Jang still hasn’t acknowledged the existence of. This time, Department Head Jang is ready and posts the image of Assemblyman Baek meeting with Ki-chul, the former agent they’ve confirmed to be involved in the attack at the investment forum.
Department Head Jang turns the tables and questions Assemblyman Baek on what his meeting with Ki-chul was about. Assemblyman Baek declares the photos to be fake and calls them a smear campaign against his candidacy.
The meeting is adjourned without any repercussions to Assemblyman Baek, even though Department Head Jang confirms the authenticity of the photos. Afterward, Assemblyman Baek approaches Department Head Jang and chides him for thinking that he can take him down with just a few images, since most of the councillors on the committee are on his side.
Department Head Jang warns cryptically, “This is probably all I can do myself. But it will be different once it is in someone else’s hands.” Cue Assemblyman Baek’s mayoral election opponent making an uproar about the photos to the public.
Seung-jae watches the news from his office, and just then, Assemblyman Baek enters to reassure Seung-jae that the election is still a sure thing. Assemblyman Baek brings up the third wood carving, and is intrigued that Seung-jae dealt with the issue personally this time instead of using him. Assemblyman Baek acts like it’s no big deal, but then confirms that he’ll be taking over Seoul shortly, and Seung-jae just encourages him to do so.
At Annam Cathedral, our main trio prep for their mission just as the NIS tail arrives. Woon-kwang’s job is to distract the agent and give Seol-woo and Do-ha time to snoop around. The director arrives, and after some initial resistance, eventually he starts envisioning the cathedral as part of the movie. Meanwhile, Do-ha and Seol-woo head off to start their mission.
They enter the building and look for a person named Father Michael, as per Robert Yoon’s hint from Revelation. Father Michael (cameo by Lee Jae-yong) is blind, and Seol-woo guesses that Robert Yoon met with his handler, Department Head Jang, at the cathedral.
Father Michael plays dumb until Seol-woo reveals that Robert Yoon was betrayed and killed. He quotes a phrase from the book of Revelation, and Father Michael finishes the quote. Do-ha is confused, so Seol-woo explains that the verse is a code between the two men. Finally, Father Michael asks Seol-woo what he wants to know.
Inside, Father Michael confirms Seol-woo theory about the secret meetings. Seol-woo asks about October 3rd, and Father Michael says on that day, Department Head Jang was accompanied by another agent, or as he puts it, “A shadow that was hurt.” Omg, it’s Dong-hyun. Say it isn’t so.
Outside, Woon-kwang runs interference when the NIS agent marches toward the cathedral. Though he puts forth his best effort, eventually the agent forces his way through. Woon-kwang warns his team, and so the agent enters the cathedral and sees Do-ha and Seol-woo kneeling on the floor in front of the altar. Once he’s gone, Seol-woo begins to get up, but Do-ha proposes they give a little prayer first. Seol-woo looks at her curiously as she does.
Department Head Jang visits Seung-jae at Songsan, and he’s finally invited into Seung-jae’s secret lair where he makes all his under the table deals. Seung-jae wonders aloud if they’re on the same team now, but Department Head Jang deflects the suggestion and merely thanks him for the photos.
Looks like Dong-hyun will be getting out of detention soon, after a little help from Seung-jae. Seung-jae calls the act a gift of goodwill, and so, Department Head Jang agrees to transfer the keys.
However, now that Department Head Jang has signed onto Team Evil, Seung-jae has a condition: What he wants is for Seol-woo to be handed over to him.
Elsewhere, CEO Ji sits down with Mi-eun for a chat. She’s surprised to hear from him after he cut ties with her, but immediately, he accuses her of blocking the filming venues. It’s the first she’s hearing of it, but she doesn’t confirm or deny anything. She asks about Seol-woo briefly, then tells CEO Ji vaguely that everything will be resolved soon, so all he needs to do is focus making the movie successful.
In an empty movie theater, Seol-woo asks about the source for the incriminating Assemblyman Baek photos, but Department Head Jang lies that it was from another ghost agent. Then Seol-woo confronts Department Head Jang about bringing Dong-hyun to his meeting with Robert Yoon.
He replies that the prosecutor’s office would handle the investigation after they obtained the key, and so Seol-woo asks why Robert Yoon didn’t give him the key in the first place. (Oooh, good question.) Department Head Jang replies that Robert Yoon wanted to check something first and intended to hand it over at their next meeting, but he disappeared before then. Department Head Jang doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable with Seol-woo’s many questions before ordering the spy to turn over the keys.
Right afterward, Department Head Jang visits Dong-hyun with some soju. Dong-hyun asks about the third wood carving and is told that they’ll definitely get it, but after Department Head Jang answers, he swallows hard.
CEO Ji relays what he heard from Mi-eun to Woon-kwang, who immediately calls Seol-woo about it. The trio discuss the complicated baddies’ alliance, wondering why Songsan and the evil NIS agents wouldn’t be working together to shut down the movie. Woon-kwang and Do-ha are confused about whether their side is going to get the wood carving soon, but it’s something Mi-eun seems to know about, and if she’s on Songsan’s side, then…
Seol-woo offers helpfully that things may be a little simpler than they appear and adds, “Our side isn’t always on our side.” He explains that if they are to believe Father Michael and that Dong-hyun showed up that day, then he’s the chief suspect for betraying Robert Yoon.
Woon-kwang points out that if he’s working for the baddies, then why is he in jail? Seol-woo theorizes that it could be a cover to confuse them. However, if they are to believe Mi-eun, then Department Head Jang is the suspicious one, but Seol-woo isn’t sure of anything.
At his hideout, Seol-woo receives a package with an important barcode. He scans the code and receives a message from Petrov about the third statue being in Chairman Victor’s possession under Songsan’s instructions. That’s when Seol-woo realizes that Department Head Jang has joined hands with Songsan.
On the set of a mixed nuts commercial, Dark Death makes a reappearance. He and Do-ha snigger when they see Seol-woo dressed in an adorable monkey costume for the commercial.
Seol-woo acts all formal and serious as he carries around his giant monkey head while also sporting a furry potbelly. He’s adorably grumpy about his situation, and he glares at his companions when neither can stop laughing.
Of course, the monkey thing is a disguise to throw off the NIS agent, but later, when Do-ha meets up with a now normally dressed Seol-woo, she can’t help complimenting him on how cute he looked. He just harrumphs. Hehe.
She asks why he wanted to meet, and so he hands over a ring for her to wear—it’s part of a pair that he’s already wearing. He smiles after seeing how much she likes the gift and starts to say something, but she jumps in to guess that he’s figured out who the mole is. He chuckles a little and says he thought of something he’s never done before: “Eating, watching a movie, and having tea. Let’s do that when I get back.”
She looks back at him meaningfully as he grows insecure, wondering if his list was too boring. She takes him up on the offer, and they sweetly make plans. Gah! Now I’m nervous for you guys!
Dong-hyun leaves prison and goes straight to Seol-woo’s. He sees a card on the desk that only says, “K.” At that moment, Seol-woo meets with Department Head Jang on a bridge and slowly walks toward him.
Seol-woo gives his superior the keys, and Department Head Jang announces the end of the wood carving mission. Seol-woo says directly that he’s aware that Seung-jae has the third one, and that Department Head Jang made a deal. Knowing that, Department Head Jang wonders why Seol-woo would relinquish the keys.
Seol-woo says, “Because this is the quickest way to get all three keys together.” He asks if Department Head Jang will be able to use the two keys he has to get the third one, or if Seung-jae end up with them all. Seol-woo then asks whose side Department Head Jang is on, but just then, a fleet of cars surround them on all sides. Crap.
In his secret lair, Seung-jae greets Chairman Victor warmly and tells him that Seol-woo will be delivered to him very soon. Meanwhile, Dong-hyun develops the card left by Seol-woo and finds something there, but we don’t see it.
Seol-woo knows he’s been had, but Department Head Jang repeats that the wood carving mission is over. Seol-woo replies that he can’t let it end this way, so Department Head Jang answers that it’s time for him to rest before shooting him in the stomach. Seol-woo staggers backwards, then falls off the bridge and into the water below.
Finally! I’ve been pulling on my hair trying to will this behavior out of Seol-woo for so long, and I’m just relieved we’ve finally reached this point emotionally. To be fair, there is a certain logic to having Seol-woo wait until he felt vulnerable enough to feel this way, since now he can’t trust anyone except for Do-ha and Woon-kwang. Witnessing Seol-woo be moved by Woon-kwang’s continued commitment to him was very rewarding. I love that his relationship with Do-ha is concurrently progressing with his friendship with Woon-kwang, because both relationships are important, and the two are truly a packaged deal.
Woon-kwang misunderstanding that he was being asked to be Seol-woo’s lover was the highlight of this episode for me, and I was jokingly disappointed that they didn’t go through with it. But ultimately I’m happy it was just for a brief chuckle, because from a plot point of view, it would only keeps things stagnant. Also, I’m worried that the jokes may end up being insensitive.
It’s kind of cool that Seol-woo had all those mundane things that he wanted to do in the same episode that he had his secret meeting with Department Head Jang in the movie theater. I like the idea of him realizing how he’s been to all these places so often, but never as himself, since he always acted as Ghost Agent K. It’s sweet.
I think I was so contented with the romance aspect in this episode that even though I kind of knew where the episode was going as far as Department Head Jang’s plan went, I still felt lurched back into the spy part of the show toward the end. As soon as Seol-woo and Do-ha started make plans of things to do in the future I got that very familiar sinking feeling, but overall, I do think this episode blended the plot lines/genres together much more effectively than before.
Also, it only occurred to me in this episode, but I think Seung-jae… is a bro. In my mind, my image of Yeon Jung-hoon as an actor has prevented me from seeing this, but after hearing Seung-jae talk about “fighting spirit” for the eightieth time, now I can’t unsee it.
As far as character motivations, this is what I think/hope is happening: Mi-eun pushed Seung-jae toward Department Head Jang so that her husband could be manipulated for the good guys, and so that he could personally collapse the corrupt house he made. She and Department Head Jang are probably still working together on this. I mean, based on their behavior, the actors and script leave room for that ambiguity, and I like it. I hope it’s all a very long and elaborate trap to ensnare Seung-jae in the end, because I think that swiping motion Dong-hyun did on the table a couple of episodes ago is a hint for us. But we have five more episodes left, so I’m not sure what else we’re going to do if this betrayal isn’t the real thing.
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