Man to Man: Episode 13
Sometimes I really think this show is a test of patience. And if I can endure the things I don’t care about it, then the show rewards me with things that I love. Because honestly speaking, when it’s funny I cackle quite loudly, but when it’s not, my interest level takes a tumble. That said, there really is a lot to cover in this episode, plot-wise, and maybe a couple of verrrrrry interesting reveals.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
In the Songsan Sanctum of Evil, Seol-woo and Seung-jae face off. Seung-jae smirks and asks what business the spy has with him. He searches for his gun hidden in a briefcase, but it’s missing. Seol-woo plays with the missing gun in his hands, then aims it at the chaebol… and finally lets out a raspberry, poorly mimicking the sound of gunfire.
Seol-woo grins, watching Seung-jae’s fearful reaction, then explains that if he truly had the desire to kill Seung-jae, then he would do so more discreetly. The reason Seol-woo has come is to offer his services.
Seung-jae promptly refuses, citing the illegality of the deal; he explains that now that he’s cooperating with the NIS, he doesn’t want any skeletons in his closet.
Seol-woo tells Seung-jae that Department Head Jang would never fully be loyal to him, as evidenced by his inability to kill Seol-woo. He brings up the missing tapes of Assemblyman Baek, and surmises that things will heat up between the two baddies. Seol-woo adds that using Department Head Jang “in a dark fight where there are no rules,” isn’t a winning strategy.
Seol-woo promises to get the job done so long as he’s paid for his work, and Seung-jae seems to be seriously considering it, but he doesn’t agree just yet, so Seol-woo designs a test to prove his claims about Department Head Jang. He asks Seung-jae to wait and see what Department Head Jang does after learning that Seol-woo survived.
Later, back at his hideout, Seol-woo and Dong-hyun discuss his meeting with Seung-jae. According to the blueprints Robert Yoon left behind, there’s a clue they must find on the 58th floor of Songsan.
Before Seung-jae arrived, Seol-woo did some snooping around and can confirm that the tapes aren’t in Seung-jae’s office. Seol-woo states that the one person who knows for sure what happened to the tapes is the deceased Chairman Mo (Seung-jae’s grandfather), and by carefully examining the things he left behind, they can find some clues.
Dong-hyun is skeptical of the plan, commenting that it won’t be easy to profile a dead person, but Seol-woo is optimistic because “dead people don’t lie.” And the biggest clue the chairman left behind is: Seung-jae.
Meanwhile, Seung-jae meets with Department Head Jang to express his disappointment about Seol-woo’s aliveness. Department Head Jang promises to take care of it, so Seung-jae then asks for an update on his search for the missing tapes.
However, that investigation isn’t going so well, and for now they are still interrogating the Baek Infantry for leads. Seung-jae rages that if Department Head Jang was going to wage a war against Assemblyman Baek then he should have found conclusive evidence to end the assemblyman first. Department Head Jang vows to take Assemblyman Baek down no matter what it takes.
Seol-woo shows Woon-kwang the text message he received from Robert Yoon, and he tells Woon-kwang that they’re looking into who could have sent the message, since Robert Yoon is dead.
Woon-kwang guesses that the “weakness” referenced in the message is Seol-woo’s, and Seol-woo confirms it, adding that he must see this mission to the end, otherwise everyone will be in danger. To do that, he’s decided to return to his Guard Kim identity and use it as his cover.
Woon-kwang points out that Department Head Jang instructed him to disappear, so Seol-woo responds that pretending to adopt his Guard Kim identity completely is his way of “disappearing.” He asks that Woon-kwang keep his intentions a secret from Do-ha since he doesn’t want her to worry. Woon-kwang wonders if Seol-woo wants him to worry instead, and so Seol-woo explains that they promised not to keep secrets from each other. Woon-kwang grins and they fist bump.
He hasn’t forgotten about his other promise, and says that after this mission is over they’ll discuss Seol-woo’s complete retirement from the NIS. That sounds agreeable to Woon-kwang and he uses the opportunity to bring up his money issue, but is literally shushed by Seol-woo after he hears Do-ha coming through the door.
Seol-woo and Do-ha relocate to their favorite ramyun shop, where he tells her about his intentions to return to his bodyguard position, but not the other stuff. She bombards him with questions, and even guesses that he might be on another mission, but he says that since he was told to disappear, he’ll now live as Guard Kim.
Ever astute, Do-ha eyes him suspiciously, so he adds that until Woon-kwang gets his money back, he’ll only be working on their lovers’ tactic. She’s not totally convinced, but leaves it at that.
Seung-jae watches the news of Assemblyman Baek’s recovering approval ratings, and complains to his wife about wishing they had the tapes to end the politician for good. Mi-eun tries to make him see the positives since there are tapes on the Baek Infantry, which they can try to tie back to Assembly Baek, so all is not lost.
However, Seung-jae can’t escape feeling like he was used to reform the NIS, so Mi-eun encourages him to give Department Head Jang a little longer to prove himself. He nods, but then his mind flashes back to Seol-woo’s offer, and he thinks it over again.
In the kitchen, Sang-shik prepares instant Jongno coffee for Woon-kwang and is caught red-handed by Seol-woo. Bwahaha! Sang-shik tries to butter Seol-woo up, but he merely takes the coffee cup and tastes its contents before saying, “As long as it isn’t poisoned.” Hehe.
Dong-hyun calls at that moment to update Seol-woo on Assemblyman Baek who is currently putting on a big display for the media and apologizing to the nation for his involvement in “Songsan-gate.”
The reason he’s tailing Assemblyman Baek is because he’s one of the people they suspect sent the text message as Robert Yoon. Assemblyman Baek’s apology performance is suddenly interrupted by Do-ha’s father who races into the shot (wrapped in two Korean flags) and declares that Assemblyman Baek is innocent from blame.
Assemblyman Baek thanks him for his support and as his men remove Dad from the shot, he whispers to one of them to double Dad’s pay. He then returns to his apology, but he isn’t free of interruptions just yet.
Dong-hyun comes onto the scene and tells Assemblyman Baek in front of all the press that he sent him a summons and is asking for his statement on Songsan-gate. Assemblyman Baek argues that he needs solid evidence, not hearsay from the Baek Infantry.
He whispers only for Dong-hyun’s ears that he knows they haven’t found the tapes yet, and so Dong-hyun tries to test out his theory and calls Assemblyman Baek “Y.” Assemblyman Baek is confused, but he doesn’t really care about that, and says if they had the tapes, Dong-hyun would have come with an arrest warrant instead of a measly summons.
Having heard all that he needed to know, Dong-hyun retreats, then flashes back to his conversation with Seol-woo about the text message. Seol-woo asserted that there are several things they can glean from the text by examining each line.
The first stated: “Find the missing tapes of Assemblyman Baek.” Based on this, the mysterious sender wanted the tapes, and knew they were missing, which narrowed their field of potential suspects. The second: “The traitor knows your weakness,” which they concluded means the sender knew Seol-woo and also the traitor. But the last sentence, “If you’re curious, come to me,” had them stumped.
Woon-kwang is hard at work at a fan-signing event. Seol-woo tells him later that he has spy stuff later that evening, and Woon-kwang sweetly asks if it’ll be dangerous and if he’ll need his brother. Seol-woo rejects the offer and is given permission to leave. He looks across the room and his eyes harden at the sight of Department Head Jang.
The two meet privately, and Department Head Jang hisses at Seol-woo, demanding to know what he’s doing. Seol-woo plays dumb and asks who he is, since he’s only Guard Kim and no one else. Department Head Jang doesn’t think Seol-woo’s game is cute and asks if he doesn’t understand the significance of being “not fatally” shot. Seol-woo replies that Ghost Agent K is dead and if Department Head Jang wanted him gone for good, then he should have killed him.
Department Head Jang angrily asks if Seol-woo is trying to ruin “this mission” after he gave Seol-woo the chance to live quietly. Seol-woo zeroes in on Department Head Jang’s words to asks what mission he’s referring to, and Department Head Jang doesn’t reply, so Seol-woo reiterates that K is dead.
Department Head Jang warns that if Seol-woo gets in his way, then he’ll have to put Seol-woo down for good. Seol-woo replies that he “won’t take it twice,” then excuses himself.
Do-ha chases Department Head Jang down in the parking lot and takes several assurance photos of the man’s face. She accuses Department Head Jang of illegally surveilling Seol-woo. Instead of answering he just takes off, so Do-ha takes photos of his license plate.
Seol-woo snatches her camera away, then proceeds to delete all the photos she just took. She asks what he’s doing, certain there’s something going on, but he just snaps that if she really cares for him, then she shouldn’t act so recklessly again because it’s none of her business. Ouch.
In the night, Dong-hyun tails Dad, his second suspect in his search for the fake Y, but is caught easily by Dad. Of course, they already know each other so they sit down for some dinner where Dong-hyun tells Dad that Assemblyman Baek is the one who framed him for the murder of Robert Yoon. Dad is flabbergasted given his recent declaration of loyalty and asks how he can help take Assemblyman Baek down.
Do-ha opens a box from Seol-woo and is confused to find a pretty purse inside. She thinks it’s some sort of spy contraption to help with their lovers’ tactic, but is told that it’s an ordinary bag. He then apologizes for getting angry with her earlier.
She says it’s fine since she understands things can be stressful during missions, and so he tries to assure her that nothing is going on and that she should just focus on being his girlfriend and being pretty. He says it to sound romantic, but she looks unsure. Good girl, this all feels wrong.
At Seol-woo’s hideout, Dong-hyun is surprised when Woon-kwang enters. He’s also taken aback when he learns that Woon-kwang knows about the bodyguard thing being a cover.
Woon-kwang explains that he and Seol-woo have no secrets, and Dong-hyun makes a face as if to indicate that he’s skeptical of Seol-woo’s decision. (Please be jealous of each other.) Woon-kwang brought some chicken and beer to share with Seol-woo, but offers it to Dong-hyun instead, and the latter excitedly accepts. Why didn’t you two meet sooner?
Woon-kwang catches Dong-hyun up on all the Black Auction stuff, and wonders if he was born to be a spy because of his top-notch fighting, acting abilities, and good looks. But when he suggests retiring from acting and becoming a spy full-time, Dong-hyun discourages him, saying that it isn’t as easy as he thinks since sometimes spies have to shoot their own colleagues.
The information is sobering for Woon-kwang, who asks if Seol-woo would do something like that. Dong-hyun praises Seol-woo, calling him the best there is. He says that usually Seol-woo looks completely emotionless outside of a mission, but curiously for this mission he’s acting a little weird, since the guy he knows would have gotten revenge for being shot, then disappeared without a trace. But this time he’s sticking with it to the end.
After hearing about a side of Seol-woo he didn’t know, Woon-kwang asks if Seol-woo could be staying because of his “weakness,” and Dong-hyun supposes it could be so. And Woon-kwang realizes that he and those around Seol-woo could be his weakness.
Seol-woo briefs Seung-jae on his meeting with Department Head Jang and points out that he hasn’t been killed yet. Seung-jae realizes that Department Head Jang is only loyal to the NIS.
Seung-jae questions Seol-woo on his loyalty and wonders how he can trust the spy. Seol-woo scoffs and says they don’t need trust to execute a deal. He offers to get rid of Assemblyman Baek, but Seung-jae acts like he doesn’t feel threatened by the assemblyman. Seol-woo warns that he can become anyone’s “shadow” and not just Seung-jae’s, so he should call if he changes his mind.
Afterwards, Seol-woo goes back to Annam Cathedral in search of Father Michael, but is instead given a message in braille from the father. The message says he has told Seol-woo all he knows and then adds: “But I must warn you. You shouldn’t touch the item that led Agent Y to his death. It is far beyond what you imagine. The darkest shadow’s abyss. Disappear while you can. Don’t trust anyone.”
At home, Do-ha and Song-yi are also getting their beer on. Song-yi compliments Seol-woo on his good taste in handbags and asks Do-ha how things are going. She admits that things are going well, but that when she’s together with Seol-woo sometimes he feels estranged, scary, and cold.
Song-yi offers helpfully that just because you love someone doesn’t mean you understand everything about them, but in time the person won’t seem as mysterious and she’ll wonder why she ever felt this way. Song-yi encourages Do-ha not to make things complicated, and the words seem to reach Do-ha, who immediately changes to a more positive tune.
Do-ha brags about Seol-woo’s skinship skills and his fighting abilities. Song-yi says that being a good fighter isn’t something to be happy about, and in a softer voice Do-ha insists it is, because Seol-woo has to be.
Dong-hyun gives Seol-woo the lowdown on the two suspects he investigated as being the Y impersonators, but neither Assemblyman Baek nor Dad check out. And based on the letter Seol-woo got, he doesn’t think it was Father Michael either. Dong-hyun asks about Seung-jae, and Seol-woo expects him to bite on his bait soon.
They look over to Woon-kwang passed out on the couch, and Dong-hyun is shocked when Seol-woo allows Woon-kwang to sleep over for the night. Dong-hyun gripes about him being a nuisance.
Late into the night, Assemblyman Baek has kidnapped the finance director of Songsan and demands to know where the missing tapes are, but the director doesn’t know anything, and though he handled the accounting for the slush fund, he was mostly in the dark about the specifics.
Assemblyman Baek tells the finance director that he knows that he embezzled millions of dollars from Songsan, so he should repent by making a public confession.
The next morning, Seung-jae announces a Songsan scholarship fund (which is being used to safeguard their son’s inheritance and will be headed by Mi-eun) and with Assemblyman Baek standing beside him, the finance director holds his own press conference to reveal to the world that the slush fund still exists under Seung-jae. Assemblyman Baek goes in for the kill and demands that Seung-jae also be investigated for his crimes.
Seung-jae orders Department Head Jang to deal with the situation quickly and bring him the traitorous director using whatever means are necessary. After he leaves, he and Mi-eun exchange loaded glances.
Without missing a beat, Seung-jae calls Seol-woo to make a deal. Seol-woo’s price? 5 million dollars. Seung-jae agrees and warns that he expects to see results. Seol-woo hangs up and Do-ha, who is about two feet away from him, asks what the call was about. He lies that it was Dong-hyun who called to meet, but she doesn’t look convinced.
Alone, Mi-eun asks Department Head Jang pointedly if they are now on the same side again. She guesses not and asks if he is working on another mission. He excuses himself without answering and so she offers him some advice, “If you’ve decided to join our side, get your head on straight. Now, it’s live or die, protect or lose, that is all. Don’t rule out any method and fix the Assemblyman Baek problem.”
At the Chewing office, the production team for Last Love discusses logistics. The film’s director can’t forget the beauty of Annam Cathedral and suggests it for their wedding scene. It’s the first CEO Ji is hearing of it and he gets nostalgic as he recalls going there every week when he was working as Mi-eun’s manager. WHAT?
Do-ha and Woon-kwang’s ears perk up, especially at the part where CEO Ji says that Mi-eun only went on Mondays.
Stage Two of Seol-woo’s plan involves going after Assemblyman Baek, which Seung-jae agreed to pay for. The next morning, Department Head Jang tries to get the traitorous finance director, but he slips through his fingers.
The finance director gets in his car to head to the prosecutor’s office to be investigated by a prosecutor on Assemblyman Baek’s side. After he ends the call, the finance director looks out the window and realizes they are going the wrong way. That’s when his driver is revealed to be Seol-woo, who advises him to sit tight and not do anything stupid, while cheekily waving a gun in the air.
He transports the finance director to a prosecutor whose morals have not been compromised, Dong-hyun, for questioning. They get down to business and the finance director hands over the documents related to Seung-jae’s slush fund.
Dong-hyun begins his questioning and asks if the man has ever seen a safe of some kind on the 58th floor of the Songsan building, but we don’t hear an answer.
Department Head Jang calls Seol-woo out for another one of their secret meetings, and confronts him with kidnapping the finance director. Seol-woo plays coy and says that a skilled ghost agent “doesn’t leave a trail like somebody.” Department Head Jang concludes that Seol-woo made a deal with Seung-jae and Seol-woo shoots back that he knows that Department Head Jang wasn’t going to hand the finance director over to Seung-jae anyway.
Seol-woo also knows that Department Head Jang was actually trying to protect the finance director from Seung-jae, and Department Head Jang doesn’t deny it. Seol-woo sighs and proclaims Department Head Jang unfit for this shifting alliances game.
Department Head Jang asks Seol-woo what he’s been up to, and Seol-woo replies back cryptically that Department Head Jang knows very well how he operates. Something occurs to Department Head Jang and he starts to ask if Seol-woo is working on a mission, but he’s already gone.
On the campaign trail, Assemblyman Baek shakes hands with supporters, but drops his politician act when he sees ghost agent Ki-chul and is secretly handed a flash drive. They exchange barbs before Ki-chul tells him to look carefully at his gift and withdraw from the race quietly.
Later in the interrogation room at the prosecutor’s office, the finance director declares that Seung-jae never ordered him to maintain the slush fund, thus contradicting his earlier announcement to the public. The corrupt prosecutor loyal to Assemblyman Baek asks if he’s denying everything now, and the finance director confirms it.
Assemblyman Baek listens to the voice file on the flash drive, which plays his own voice ordering the murder of Robert Yoon. He knows he’s been cornered and unleashes his rage on his laptop. The next day, he announces his withdrawal from the mayoral race, and takes responsibility for the recent corruption scandal.
Seung-jae praises Seol-woo for his work, and the spy hands over the ledgers from the finance director. Seung-jae makes good on his end of the deal and hands over a suitcase with 5 million dollars in it. He’s so pleased with the transaction that he wonders if Seol-woo will disappear for good, so Seol-woo says he’ll return at the right price.
At home, Woon-kwang cleans his wood carvings (pfft), and Do-ha questions him on what mission Seol-woo is working on now. He tries to throw her off the scent, but she’s locked on, and figures out his reasonings for keeping her out of the loop.
Thanks to Dong-hyun, Woon-kwang has some new insights on what life is like for a secret agent, and tells Do-ha that the people around Seol-woo can serve as his weaknesses. Woon-kwang requests that she feign ignorance, so that at least Seol-woo can be put at ease.
Meanwhile, Seol-woo looks at the suitcase full of Woon-kwang’s money and mulls over his options to stay beside Do-ha and Woon-kwang or to disappear from their lives. He looks conflicted since he’s never had to make that decision before.
Do-ha finds him at home, and they catch up while playing video games. She tells him about Mi-eun and Annam Cathedral, as she whoops him in their virtual fighting match. He cutely pleads for one more round, but she thinks he’s lost enough. HA. Seol-woo claims to have been going easy on her because he’s too much of a gentleman to hit a woman, even in a video game.
She looks at him meaningfully, and says finally, “I believe you.” He’s uncomfortable with her willful gullibility, but she adds that she’ll believe his lies too, because she just wants to be happy when they’re together. He lets out a small smile, then manages to lure her into one more match.
Department Head Jang invites Sharon out for an unexpected date, and she’s a bit miffed to be ignored for so long. He apologizes for his lack of contact, but she’s still annoyed and asks if he’ll act like this even after they’re married. Aw. She barks that she doesn’t drink soju but softens and says that she’ll stay with him.
Soon after, Department Head Jang submits his resignation to Director Im at the NIS. The director is stunned and asks how he can quit in the middle of a mission, but Department Head Jang replies that Seol-woo will see this one through.
At the hideout, Dong-hyun tells Seol-woo about his meeting with the finance director where he learned that the late Chairman Mo designed the 58th floor personally, so the exact layout is unknown. Dong-hyun also looked into the person who was in charge of construction, but that person suspiciously died in a car accident.
Seol-woo looks over the blueprints they have and remembers Father Michael’s words about the important verses in the book of Revelation. Specifically the words “For God does speak—now one way, now another, though no one perceives it.” Then Seol-woo eyes the VIP lounge on the 58th floor.
When Seung-jae is out, Seol-woo goes to Songsan and scans the 58th floor again. This time his device tells him, “Cannot scan with radio interference.” Mi-eun suddenly enters the room while on the phone with Seung-jae, but doesn’t say anything to her husband about the intruder.
Seol-woo introduces himself as Guard Kim, but is aware that Mi-eun knows he’s an agent. He says plainly that he’s looking for the missing tapes under Y’s instructions. He states that they were under her orders, and calls her by name, then corrects himself and says, “Ghost Sunbaenim.”
This twist pleases me greatly because Mi-eun is a character that always hinted at having a lot more to give in this story, and hasn’t yet. I was scared that the show wouldn’t allow Mi-eun to go full-blown ghost agent, but I’m excited that it has. In terms of ghost agents, Mi-eun seems like she’s even a level above Seol-woo when it comes to immersion, since she even had a baby with the target of her mission. I don’t think the kid is actually Seung-jae’s, though if it isn’t, it’s terrible that the kid became an accessory to his mother’s mission, but if it is, then whoa, she’s a total badass.
Narratively, this story doesn’t really dig as deeply as we could go on this topic of what’s real and what’s a mission, but I expect us to get a good amount of time on the Mi-eun, Woon-kwang, and Seung-jae triangle. It really is quite a compelling setup; I just hope the show doesn’t simplify everything too much. There’s still the question of if she actually cut ties with Department Head Jang, and decided to live fully in her Song Mi-eun identity like Seol-woo was going to do with his Guard Kim one.
I think Department Head Jang is being kept in the dark regarding her motives, but I also think she told him off so aggressively in Seung-jae’s office because she knows they’re being recorded, and it was part of her larger performance as his loyal wife. Then again, if she were really on the side of the good guys and wanted to take Songsan/Seung-jae down, and there’s a camera in the room, then wouldn’t she only need to leak one of his meetings with Assemblyman Baek, which would bury them both? So maybe she did really defect for the sake of her kid. In any case, lots of secrets.
Sharon’s marriage proposal to Department Head Jang was super cute, and I liked that they let this relationship last even with all the chaos happening. On another note, I believe Seol-woo really cares about Do-ha, but the fact that he isn’t being truthful to her kind of dredges up all the confusing feelings I felt before about this romance, and I’m getting a bad feeling. I just don’t like that he’s always the one that gets to decide what’s a lie and what’s true for them, because I feel like he owes it to her at this point to come clean about everything. Maybe I don’t like the imbalance of having Woon-kwang in the know and Do-ha on the outs, because I just don’t buy Seol-woo’s reasonings. She’s going to worry either way so at least let her worry about the truth!
On the other end, I’m also not into Do-ha’s tendency to brush things under the rug, because the show does a good job of showing how astute she is and in tune with Seol-woo emotionally. I think it’s that ability that allows her to forgive everything Seol-woo does, but I would argue that Seol-woo is the kind of person who needs someone to tell him that not everything he does is right. He can’t always be defining the relationship on his terms just because he’s always done so in the past with his fake ones. That’s not a healthy relationship!
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