Good Casting: Episode 6
Every career comes with its challenges, but retrieving the stolen data proves to be just the tip of the iceberg for our intrepid spies as they now turn their attention to the people behind the theft and start to realize things may be more complicated than they anticipated.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
After the chaos in coach – where the team managed to retrieve the watch from Cheol-woong but lost Chief Tak – Ye-eun returns to Woo-won at the end of the flight to find his face ravaged by his nut allergy. He insists he didn’t eat peanuts, not realizing the pistachios in the cookies are also a tree nut he should avoid. Ye-eun gently slides sunglasses and a mask over his face and takes his hand, telling him to just follow her.
In the airport, Chan-mi and Gwan-soo sit on either side of the still unconscious Cheol-woong, bickering over who will take charge of the investigation upon returning to Korea. Their fussing wakes Cheol-woong in time to hear the announcement of their return flight, but the pair knock him out before he can run. Meanwhile, Ye-eun reports the incident with Woo-won’s allergy to her cranky superior, Hyo-jin – taking the blame for his mistake – and is ordered back, as well.
Hanging up, Ye-eun scurries back to where Woo-won is snapping his fingers in a massage chair. He demands water and she dutifully pulls a bottle from her bag complete with a bendy straw. Taking a sip, Woo-won spits it back out, snapping this isn’t his preferred brand. Ye-eun explains the lounge doesn’t carry it but Woo-won insists she should be able to find it somewhere in the airport.
Annoyed, Ye-eun barely resists smacking him… and jumps when Woo-won announces he can see her. Hilariously, he thinks she’s simply admiring his face and holds out a hand for a portrait fee. Ye-eun storms off and Woo-won gleefully snuggles into the massage chair. Meanwhile, Chief Tak throws water on his face and fumes over his failed mission.
Back in Seoul, Chan-mi, Mi-soon, and Gwan-soo drag Cheol-woong into the van. As they drive away, Gwan-soo instructs Moo-hyuk to go to a different location than HQ, ignoring a call from Kook-hwan. Unbuckling a garter, Mi-soon whines at Gwan-soo not to make her wear uniforms again. He suggests she lose weight instead, and Mi-soon grumbles this is her style. Turning back, she sees Chan-mi’s bloody leg but Chan-mi waves it off and asks about Ye-eun.
Woo-won struggles blindly after Ye-eun as she leads him through the airport. He finally barks at her to slow down but Ye-eun isn’t moving. Woo-won looks down and sees they’re standing on a moving walkway. Ye-eun tries to take her hand back because it’s sweaty but Woo-won holds her tighter, ordering her not to let go even for a second. “You have trouble trusting people and get scared so easily,” Ye-eun tuts, “How could you think of going to an overseas event with no one else but me?”
She points out this wouldn’t have happened if he’d had his manager with him, thinking he just wanted to bully her. Woo-won confesses his agency only likes him as a celebrity… not as a person. As they exit the walkway, Woo-won falls and immediately accuses Ye-eun of doing it on purpose, killing the glimmer of sympathy he’d earned. Sighing, she mutters it’s no wonder people hate him and gives him the strap of her bag, leading him out like a dog.
A woman passing by snaps a discreet selfie, excitedly posting she saw Woo-won in the airport. His fans rush the lobby as Ye-eun and Woo-won enter. In the frenzy, the fans knock the glasses and mask from his face and Woo-won drops to the ground to cover the rash. Like a romantic hero, Ye-eun rushes over and sweeps her jacket over his head, urging him to stay beside her. Woo-won stares up at her in awe as they race through the crowd, a budding crush taking hold.
At an NIS safehouse, Cheol-woong wakes up to find himself bound to a chair with Chan-mi, Mi-soon, and Gwan-soo looming over him. Gwan-soo asks about Cheol-woong’s burner phone and is met with angry demands to be released. Moo-hyuk brings in a large toolbox and when that doesn’t intimidate Cheol-woong, they bring in a large canister. The team don safety goggles and gloves and smoke pours over the opening when they remove the lid.
Gwan-soo tsks he hates the mess of regular torture, so they brought liquid nitrogen. He steps back and Mi-soon drops her gummy worm inside the canister. Fishing it out with a hammer, Gwan-soo tells Cheol-woong to watch closely and drops the frozen candy on the table… and shatters it with the hammer. Properly spooked, Cheol-woong politely stammers out, “Why are you doing this to me?”
Ignoring the question, Gwan-soo continues that even inhaling the smoke from the liquid nitrogen can kill a person. Growing bored of the demonstration, Chan-mi reaches for Cheol-woong and dips his hand in the canister. He falls back, squealing in terror as Mi-soon sighs they need to keep it in there at least five minutes to get it good and crunchy. Chan-mi starts to yank his arm back towards the canister and Cheol-woong finally screams: “Wang Kai!”
Through sobs, Cheol-woong explains he was supposed to meet Wang Kai in Taipei to deliver the data chip. He says the burner phone is for Wang Kai to call him but he can’t identify who gave it to him. Satisfied, Gwan-soo orders Moo-hyuk to flush the dry ice and Cheol-woong snivels in embarrassment to realize it was all a ruse while the team snickers over ice cream.
Having finally arrived back home, Woo-won whines at Ye-eun for wanting to leave after all the trouble he’s gone through today. She agrees it’ll be tough for him without her and Woo-won immediately denies it, insisting she’s a nuisance and he’s perfectly fine on his own. Only slightly put out by his overly enthusiastic criticisms, Ye-eun points out she’s placed his preferred water and snacks next to the couch. Confirming she can go, Ye-eun skips out before Woo-won can change his mind and he pouts she really left after he said so. Oh honey…
Reconvening with the team, Gwan-soo says that now they have the data, they can use it to trap Wang Kai, the unknown buyer, and the broker, Michael. He’s confident Wang Kai will come to them and Mi-soon marvels at the tiny tracker in the fake watch. Chan-mi asks why theirs are so much bigger and Gwan-soo snaps at her to stop complaining. He puts Moo-hyuk in charge of watching Cheol-woong and the package while everyone else is released until Wang Kai calls.
Watching Ye-eun and Mi-soon call their manager and husband, respectively, to disastrous results, Chan-mi smugly ignores her aunt’s call… only for her to immediately call the agency phone. Heh. Ye-eun returns home and relieves Tae-hee from babysitting duty, assuring her she’s looking for a proper caretaker. Tae-hee tells her to just catch Michael in exchange and Ye-eun wonders aloud if Michael even exists.
Tae-hee blinks back and Ye-eun admits she finds it odd no one has been able to even catch sight of Michael in all these years. Tae-hee starts to say Chan-mi did on the mission three years ago but clams up after accidentally mentioning the death of an agent (Min-seok). Ye-eun asks how to gain access to information she doesn’t have clearance to and Tae-hee quips she needs to gain clearance – or ask someone who does.
The next morning, Chief Tak kneels while Director Myeong fusses over his garden, grumbling about pests. He points to two bottles, one of natural pest repellent and the other chemical, saying both kill insects but only one is safe to be used on food. Director Myeong continues some people prefer organic and don’t mind a few bug bites, but he despises anything trying to ruin his food. Snatching up the chemical pesticide, he jams the nozzle in Chief Tak’s mouth.
After watching Chief Tak gag for a few beats, Director Myeong removes the pesticide and declares Chief Tak off the project. Chief Tak slinks away and Director Myeong calls Ok Cheol, placing him in charge now. Ok Cheol giddily accepts while Woo-seok reports the sudden transfer of Chief Tak to Malaysia to Seok-ho. Since Chief Tak left Taipei as soon as he arrived, Seok-ho guesses his transfer is linked to the trip.
Seok-ho wonders if it’s a good sign or a bad one and when the driver breaks to avoid a collision with another car, one of the toys in the back window falls to the floor. Picking up the stuffed turtle, Woo-seok declares it a good sign as turtles are good luck in China. He notices one of the toys is missing and pouts when Seok-ho nonchalantly replies he gifted it to someone. Woo-seok asks what happens if it’s a bad omen and when Seok-ho answers he’ll start acting in the open, Woo-seok worries something will happen to him… just like his father.
Back in the office, Woo-seok looks at the keychain on Chan-mi’s purse (that she’d received from Seok-ho) and tells her it looks very familiar. He waves it off, but mutters loudly Seok-ho never gave him a doll, so there’s no way he’d gift one to an employee who’s been there less than a month. As he grumbles angrily to himself, Chan-mi unclips the doll from her bag.
Seok-ho pulls the rabbit doll from his desk and flashes back to running in the rain with Chan-mi as it bounced on her backpack. He’d left her at the bus stop and held up the doll, promising to return it next time he saw her… and frowns at it in the present, clearly never having gotten the chance. He puts it away when Chan-mi enters the office and she asks to leave early for an important appointment.
He releases her but worries whether it’s something bad. Chan-mi simply replies it’s personal and when she leaves, he looks down at his notes attempting to puzzle out whether the secretary is really his first love or not. Flashing back again, Seok-ho runs through the snow, holding a note from Chan-mi apologizing for leaving without a goodbye and wishing him luck on his SAT and entrance into university.
Looking up, Seok-ho is heartbroken to see Chan-mi chatting with another guy. She and the guy walk off, unaware of Seok-ho following behind. They end up in a bookstore, and when Chan-mi looks up, Seok-ho hides poorly behind a record. She leaves with the guy and Seok-ho is stopped by a clerk to pay for the record before he can follow. By the time he makes it outside, they’re long gone and he wanders the streets.
He paces outside a building, a pair of mittens in his hand, likely intended as a gift for Chan-mi. His phone rings and one of the mittens is abandoned in the snow as Seok-ho races to the hospital, entering the ICU just as his mother flatlines. He sobs at her bedside while Chan-mi returns home and finds the mitten, looking around frantically for Seok-ho… but the street is empty.
After analyzing the chip, Ye-eun tells Gwan-soo it’s the most advanced biometric password system available and it’s linked to Cheol-woo. If he’s away from the chip for more than an hour, the data will be erased. The same happens if they try to copy the contents. While they talk, Cheol-woong wriggles to a cabinet and tries to saw through the ropes using the leg… only to knock himself out when a lamp topples over and hits his head.
Gwan-soo orders Moo-hyuk to keep an eye on Cheol-woong at all times. Moo-hyuk wonders if Wang Kai could be Michael and Gwan-soo says they’ll know once they arrest him, unaware Ye-eun is jotting down his login information as he types. Meanwhile, Woo-won and his manager watch a report on him being ushered out of the airport. Thanks to Ye-eun, no one caught sight of his face and the report only vaguely mentions his sudden return was medically related.
Woo-won smiles at Ye-eun’s heroism but the CEO cackles at the unflattering photo of Ye-eun displayed on the screen. Growing defensive, Woo-won demands why he’s laughing at Ye-eun’s efforts to protect the image of the agency’s top star. The CEO doesn’t understand why he’s so upset, and Woo-won angrily storms out of the room.
Ok Cheol couldn’t be more thrilled at his promotion and dances around his base. Another man worries the NIS is onto them, but Ok Cheol is unconcerned. He learns Wang Kai has already arrived at the airport and then the man (with an “M” tattoo like Chief Tak) opens a case, revealing bombs. Ok Cheol grins they can now get rid of the NIS, musing he needs to do well so Director Myeong doesn’t go back to Chief Tak.
The call from Wang Kai finally arrives while Moo-hyuk is on the toilet. He frantically finishes his business and brings the phone to Gwan-soo. They put Cheol-woong on the line and he confirms to Wang Kai the data is safe. Wang Kai gives him a time and a place to meet and hangs up. After Cheol-woong relays the message, Moo-hyuk expresses unease with the speed of the deal. Gwan-soo points out their line of work is never safe.
Moo-hyuk wants to tell Kook-hwan, thinking they’ll need backup. Gwan-soo reluctantly does so, but Kook-hwan is furious with Gwan-soo’s conduct. Warning Gwan-soo he’ll be held responsible if things go south, Kook-hwan authorizes backup. As they speed towards the rendezvous, Gwan-soo warns the spy trio Wang Kai is a complete unknown so they need to be extra careful. He quickly runs down the plan to send Cheol-woong in and sneak in behind.
Arriving at the location, Ye-eun volunteers to go with them but is shot down. Chan-mi is concerned it’s too dangerous and Ye-eun says it’s their job: “No one recognizes our service, but it still must be done.” Her words echo what Min-seok told Chan-mi before the fatal mission. She’d argued he had special plans that evening and Min-seok had replied it was all the more reason to do the mission.
Chan-mi had given in and looking fondly at his ring, Min-seok said he had something to tell her once the mission was over. She’d asked if he was retiring and he’d teased she’d be lost without him. In the present, Ye-eun insists she’s practiced everything Chan-mi taught her and spent her free time at the firing range. She promises she can take care of herself and Chan-mi leaves without another word.
Disheartened, Ye-eun perks up when Mi-soon motions for her to follow them. Gwan-soo hands her a Kevlar vest and Ye-eun happily joins her teammates. She offers to carry Chan-mi’s bag, hurt when Chan-mi shrugs her off. Mi-soon explains Chan-mi is always tense before a mission and Ye-eun clasps her couple’s ring from Min-seok before following behind.
Gwan-soo puts an earpiece in Cheol-woong’s ear and suggests they wrap things up neatly. Cheol-woong says he has nothing to lose and Gwan-soo agrees there’s no point running since they have his recorded confession and a Korean court is better than being dragged off to China. He sends Cheol-woong in and tells the rest of the team to move out.
The women sneak in after Cheol-woong while the backup team arrives. Gwan-soo warns everyone not to shoot until given an order. Chan-mi sees Cheol-woong led into another room and once they hear via earpiece the transaction has been completed, the women burst into the room… and find themselves severely outnumbered. To make matters worse, the thugs part to show Cheol-woong strapped in a bomb vest.
The tattooed man steps out holding the detonator and orders them not to move. Gwan-soo demands what’s happening and, upon learning there’s a bomb, orders Moo-hyuk to call in the bomb squad. Cheol-woong whimpers for the women to save him as that tattooed man orders them to drop their weapons. The women drop their guns and another thug collects them. He then takes Chan-mi’s second gun (which she’d snagged from Gwan-soo so he didn’t get shot again).
The thug waves the watch in their faces and sashays out with his men, leaving only the tattooed man, Cheol-woong, and the women. The tattooed man whispers into Chan-mi’s earpiece, warning Gwan-soo not to follow his men or he’d hit the detonator. Gwan-soo lets them pass but orders HQ to track the license plates. Unfortunately, the plates are fake, and the men abandoned the cars in a tunnel.
The tattooed man laughs they only have an hour, but that only confirms he has no intention of detonating now and Chan-mi attacks, ordering the other two to diffuse the bomb. Ye-eun only has experience with small bombs, so Mi-soon takes a picture and calls HQ. An agent walks Ye-eun through diffusing the device while Chan-mi continues to grapple with the tattooed man.
He tells Ye-eun to cut a red wire, but she hesitates, doubting a bomb-maker would make it so complicated. She instead poises the clippers around a yellow wire as Cheol-woong screams for her to cut the red. Mi-soon asks if she’s sure and Ye-eun cuts the cord. Cheol-woong wets himself again… but the bomb doesn’t react. Ye-eun carefully reaches for the next wire as Ok Cheol watches Wang Kai’s men inspect the data chip.
Noticing Ye-eun’s trembling hands, Mi-soon takes the clippers from her and moves to cut the wire, herself. The tattooed man retrieves the detonator Chan-mi sent flying and triumphantly holds it over his head and clicks the button… but nothing happens – Mi-soon already cut the wire. They collapse in relief and Chan-mi takes advantage of tattooed man’s bewilderment to subdue him.
Chan-me demands if he’s Michael, but the tattooed man only laughs: “Did you really believe you were in the clear?” The vest lights up again and Ye-eun realizes there’s a second bomb. The tattooed man wastes no time bolting from the building as the NIS agent shouts at the team to run as well. The women look at each other but the clock quickly runs down and just as Gwan-soo commands everyone to duck, there’s an explosion in the building.
Epilogue — 15 years ago. Seok-ho sits at hist kitchen table, writing a note to Chan-mi: “Do you know why first loves never have happy endings? It’s because we don’t know how much we should love the other. But how can we measure one’s love… for another person when it’s not visible? A love that can be measured…is no longer love in the purest sense. Even though you don’t love me at all, I can love you 100. No, wait. Is it 1,000? Not even that seems enough. Let’s make it 3,000. I love you 3,000.”
He then takes a couple’s ring and drops it into one of the mittens. He imagines giving them to her and as she excitedly tries it on, she feels something inside and pulls her hand out to reveal the ring on her finger. Smiling, Seok-ho leans in for a kiss and Chan-mi does the same, even kicking up her foot like a fairy tale. Seok-ho giggles to himself and we fade to the present where Chan-mi keeps the mitten she’d found hanging in her kitchen with flowers tucked inside.
Oof, my heart. Seok-ho is the most precious man and I vote to protect him at all costs. I hadn’t realized just how extensive his past with Chan-mi had been, but each flashback peels back another layer of what I’d first written off as an unrequited boyhood crush to a complicated mess of emotions that has left our puppy CEO in the lurch for 15 years. I almost wish his story with Chan-mi had been a separate drama altogether because I find myself completely drawn into their story despite the fact that it doesn’t quite seem to fit with the spy plotline… in large part because Seok-ho’s story is almost told separately from the espionage plot. I’m sure it’ll become more interwoven when Chan-mi returns to the office and Seok-ho becomes an active participant in the power struggle. As he said, right now he’s largely acting in the background so I’ll be interested to see him play on the field with everyone else.
Speaking of the spy stuff, I’m leaning towards “Michael” being an organization, rather than a person. A single identity that various individuals act under. That’s pretty genius, really, and fits with how no one can ever catch him or know what he looks like. In many ways… he doesn’t exist. Ye-eun posed the question under the suspicion “Michael” was fabricated in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of her lover… and while she’s not entirely wrong in her theories, she still doesn’t have the whole picture. I do hope that she doesn’t hold Chan-mi accountable for what happened to Min-seok. True, Chan-mi dropped the ball in chasing the shooter when she should’ve stayed and applied pressure to Min-seok’s wound… but she’s a hothead and it’s in her character to be blinded by rage at seeing someone dear to her hurt – especially now that we see she’d been reluctant to let him participate in the first place. It was Chan-mi’s decision to accept Min-seok’s request to be there and as we saw with her reaction to Ye-eun’s similar request, she’s haunted by it. I would venture her lack of response was her defense mechanism kicking in, to not make herself responsible for Ye-eun’s choice.
The bomb incident… well that was an escalation. I love that Ok Cheol is thoroughly unhinged. He’s far more interesting to watch with his maniacal laughter and neurotic behavior than Chief Tak. I am curious what his backstory is, since he seems to have motivations separate of Director Myeong. Honestly, no one’s motivations are entirely clear and I’m almost wishing for a villain’s monologue to explain some things because there are so many moving parts and while some of their goals seem to line up (for now) it’s clear that even those working together aren’t really working together. Sometimes it feels a bit convoluted, but I’m trying not to think too hard because this show shines best when it’s not taking itself seriously. I was thrilled so much of the first half focused on Ye-eun and Woo-won because their dynamic is so entertaining. He’s prickly, but I did feel for him when he confessed he knew the people around him didn’t really care. It doesn’t excuse his behavior… but it somewhat explains why he’s such a brat. He doesn’t think they care about him, so he makes sure they know he doesn’t care either. Ye-eun is different, though, and he’ll have to watch his tongue if he wants her to stick around. This show was not advertised as a rom-com and yet I find the plot lines holding my attention best are the ships… and I guess I’m okay with that.