Good Casting: Episode 15
As the number of individual threats begins to dwindle, the remaining antagonists decide to step up their game. Time is running out and the spies scramble to complete their mission before the final phase of the tech is leaked and catch the man (or organization) responsible in the process.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
After murdering Kook-hwan, Ok Cheol’s triumphant singing is interrupted by a call from his shady Russian organization warning he has three days to get phase 3 and get out of Korea without blowing his cover. Ok Cheol mutters to himself there’s just one more left and cackles at a picture of Chan-mi with Seok-ho, remembering he’d met her before. News of Kook-hwan’s death reaches Gwan-soo and he calls Chan-mi to tell her they identified “Michael” and fill her in on his way to verify the body.
As the body was found at the airport, Chan-mi worries Ok Cheol fled but Gwan-soo has already put out an alert and thinks Ok Cheol will try to remain in Korea to handle phase 3. Having arrived, he verifies the body is Kook-hwan and tells the officers not to mention anything about the data leak at Il Kwang. Back at HQ, the team listens to Kook-hwan’s 911 call. Through his choking, Chan-mi hears a whisper and when Moo-hyuk isolates the audio, they identify “Hong Kong.”
With less than an hour before they must release Director Myeong, the others puzzle whether Kook-hwan had hidden his blackmail on Director Myeong in Hong Kong, or just planned to flee there. Chan-mi flicks through a mental image of Kook-hwan’s office and focuses on a potted plant: Hong Kong palm. Unfortunately, the plant isn’t with the rest of the things cleared out of the office, and when the spy trio track it down to fellow agent Tae-hee, she tells them it was dying so she was going to throw it out…
Except she didn’t and points to the corner where the plant sits. Chan-mi runs over and dumps out the pot to find Michael’s phone, recognizing it as evidence that went missing 3 years ago. She flips it open and plays the audio of Director Myeong’s call with Michael. Mi-soon gapes at a full log of other recorded calls and Ye-eun says Michael bankrupt at least eight small companies. Chan-mi asks how much time is left, and we cut to Director Myeong sitting smugly in interrogation.
With only 5 minutes left, Director Myeong suggests they leave. Mi-soon greets him on his way out, reciting anyone guilty of leaking industrial technology must serve either a max jail sentence of 15 years or pay a 1.5 million dollar fine, Director Myeong freezes when Mi-soon holds out the pen and plays the recovered audio. “I clearly gave you a chance,” Mi-soon tsks. An agent steps forward but Director Myeong holds up a hand, declaring he can go himself… and starts walking in the wrong direction. Mi-soon order the agents to escort him and waves cheerfully as Director Myeong fumes back to interrogation.
Chan-mi and Ye-eun return the plant to its pot and Chan-mi comments that despite looking fine on the outside, the dirt was all dry. Ye-eun wonders if they could’ve done something if they’d known sooner and Chan-mi realizes she’s talking about Kook-hwan. “It was rotten from its roots,” Chan-mi replies gently, “so we wouldn’t be able to save it anyway.” Ye-eun wants reassurance it isn’t their fault and Chan-mi says there are things that can’t be prevented no matter how hard you try: “What matters is that we did our best. And it’s not over yet.” She stands and holds her hand out to help Ye-eun up, giving her a small determined smile.
While out drinking with friends, Mi-soon’s husband, Bong-man, grows agitated when they bring up a coworker whose wife cheated and left. Bong-man insists the wife would never, but his friend tuts there were signs: “business trips” where she’d vacation with her boyfriend, locking her phone and calling the man in secret, never at home on the weekends, and finally caught sneaking out in the middle of the night. Bong-man anxiously recalls similar scenarios with Mi-soon and looks miserable.
Apparently, he called Mi-soon’s mother because she soon gets a call from Mom. Mi-soon gripes at her for indulging his worries and calls “My Darn Husband.” Someone else answers and Mi-soon finds Bong-man passed out in a private room of a bar with bottles littered all over the table. Her attempts to wake him fail, so she hoists him up to leave. She’s stopped by the owner and balks at the bill for roughly $3,700.
The owner cheerfully says she can pay in installments and Mi-soon drops Bong-man. She hands over her credit card and takes a swig of a half-filled glass on the table. Spitting it back out, Mi-soon’s face hardens and she declares this a scam. She suggests they discuss it with the cops and the owner grabs her wrist to stop her from calling. Throwing him off, Mi-soon says Bong-man can’t handle a beer cocktail, let alone drain six bottles of high-end liquor.
Growing irate, the owner demands if she’s accusing him of fraud and Mi-soon glances around, asking if there’s security cameras. The owner snorts of course not and Mi-soon grins. She dares the man to come at her and he scoffs, drawing back for a punch… only to end up cowering behind the desk, nursing a bloody nose as he charges Mi-soon for 10% of his original claim. She hands over her card and asks him to call a taxi. He assures her he did, flinching when she reaches for a candy. Heh.
On the ride home, Mi-soon wonders what’s gotten into Bong-man. He snaps up and drunkenly declares he knows everything. Mi-soon stares at him in confusion and he passes out again. She suddenly calls the driver to stop and leans out to watch a newsbreak of the data leak, resulting in Il Kwang’s stock plummeting. At NIS HQ, Deputy Head Geum cuts off Gwan-soo’s briefing with an order to stop phase 3, declaring catching Michael pointless if the tech is leaked.
Woo-seok reports to Seok-ho that an emergency meeting has been scheduled to discuss his dismissal. Seok-ho sighs it’s Hwa-ran’s doing and there’s not much to be done as she’ll have planned this well in advance and secured the needed board votes. Woo-seok desperately suggests revealing Director Myeong’s involvement and the NIS investigation, but Seok-ho shakes his head. Woo-seok sighs now isn’t the time to worry about Chan-mi.
Flashing back, Seok-ho had met with Gwan-soo and learned they’d secured the evidence against Director Myeong. Seok-ho asked to meet with Myeong before the prosecutors took him but Gwan-soo rejected his request, warning that if the operation fails, Chan-mi will go down before Il Kwang does. He’d said Chan-mi suffered after the botched mission 3 years ago, doubting she’ll recover another failure.
Seok-ho tells Woo-seok he won’t act until they catch Michael. Leaving the office, Woo-seok fumes at Chan-mi, revealing Seok-ho relinquished the NAND Flash project to Director Myeong when she was caught in Myeong’s office, making him take full responsibility if things went south. Chan-mi asks what’ll happen now and Woo-seok says the board will make Seok-ho take the fall. Just as Woo-seok feared, that evening the board thrusts all blame on Seok-ho and Hwa-ran suggests they take a vote.
By morning, news breaks of Seok-ho’s dismissal with Hwa-ran assuming his position. Seok-ho is granted a meeting with Director Myeong, asking him to confess if he feels a shred of guilt. Director Myeong snorts Seok-ho’s father should feel guilty, explaining he’d started out passionately believing research could change the world. “Do you know what it feels like,” Myeong asks, “to watch the fruit of your lifelong labor being sold for a pittance?”
Myeong realized money makes the world go around and resolved to have that instead. Seok-ho thanks him for confirming his suspicion Myeong killed Dad but Myeong says while he certainly wished Dad gone… someone else did the deed first. He doesn’t know who’s responsible, only that they wanted Dad dead a long time. Myeong sighs his only fault is not being clean enough with his own crimes that Seok-ho came in, spouting nonsense.
Outside, Seok-ho repeats the conversation to Woo-seok, who mutters, “White Collar.” He explains receiving a murder charge when he’d protected Dad against an attack in Russia. During the investigation, he’d heard that once White Collar targets you, there’s no way out. White Collar killed Dad because he wouldn’t give them what they want and Woo-seok worries they’ll target Seok-ho if he knows too much, vowing not to let him face the same fate. Seok-ho tells him to notify the prosecutors he’ll come in voluntarily and walks off, leaving Woo-seok to chase after him.
At home, Ye-eun receives a call from Woo-won, demanding she come immediately. Arriving, she follows a candlelit path leading inside where Woo-won is waiting at the piano. When he sees her, he smiles and starts singing a love song. As he sings, Ye-eun flashes through their relationship and tears prick her eyes. The song ends and Woo-won walks towards her with a cake, announcing he’s ready for her love confession.
Ye-eun blinks as Woo-won says the candle indicates their first day as a couple. Growing distressed, Ye-eun points out she never indicated she wanted to ask him out. Woo-won offers to confess first but Ye-eun says she has no intention of making nor accepting a confession. Woo-won reels from the rejection and Ye-eun says since he didn’t actually ask, he didn’t get rejected. Woo-won whines about all the trouble he went through to set up the event, demanding why she doesn’t like him.
Clarifying it’s not that she doesn’t like him, Ye-eun says dating would damage his reputation further and he doesn’t know her very well, anyway. Woo-won insists he knows she’s dumb, scary when she’s angry, hates when he snoops into her phone, and works for the NIS. Sighing, Ye-eun says that’s not all and Woo-won worries she’s married. Ye-eun says he’s only feeling pity and shouldn’t sway her because of that. She leaves and Woo-won drops his cake to the floor.
Outside, Ye-eun comforts herself she did the right thing. Woo-won chases after her and apologizes: “I’m sorry for whatever I may have done. So please stay.” Ye-eun cries she preferred when he mistreated her, thinking to herself that if he keeps on, she’ll fall in love with him too. Woo-won says it’s her fault he’s in love with her, wondering what he’s supposed to do now. Ye-eun tells him to figure out and Woo-won asks if she really has no feelings for him. Although she denies it, Ye-eun can’t meet his eyes and when Woo-won insists she does, he kisses her.
Shocked, Ye-eun doesn’t move as her heart pounds in her chest. Deciding she does have feelings for him, Woo-won kisses her again. Ye-eun finally closes her eyes, but after a moment pushes away. Apologizing, she runs off. Woo-won shuffles back inside and surveys his elaborate set up. The rice cooker goes off and he laments he’d cooked and planned to sing a song he’d written, as well as save her a front-row seat at his concert. Reaching the bust stop, Ye-eun tearfully promises her daughter she loves her most. She sees Woo-won’s picture has been graffitied and wipes it off, hoping Woo-won meets someone better.
The next day, Joo-yeon is alarmed when the girl bullies sidle up to her. The leader awkwardly asks if Joo-yeon wants to go to the convenience store. The leader panics when Joo-yeon reaches for her pocket, thinking she’s calling Chan-mi, but Joo-yeon’s only checking how much money is in her wallet (assuming they’ll make her pay). Waving her off, the leader coyly asks if she can post a photo to social media of them enjoying snacks. Confused, Joo-yeon says she can do as she pleases, and the girls cheerfully guide her to the store.
Chan-mi smiles at the Instagram post of the girls with Joo-yeon and returns her attention to the meeting just as Ye-eun finds tickets to Jeju under Ok Cheol’s dead subordinate’s name. Mi-soon’s also been tracking Chinese nationals headed through Jeju and found Wang Kai will arrive tomorrow. Gwan-soo orders a trip and Mi-soon grumbles, telling a curious Chan-mi she’ll understand once she’s married. At home, she fibs she’s visiting Mom. Bong-man insists on going with her but Mi-soon argues someone needs to look after Joo-yeon.
Bong-man pouts and Mi-soon promises to be home before the day ends. Shuffling off to their room, he asks the internet what to do about his wife going away with her boyfriend. The netizens advise him to catch her in the act, give up, or divorce her. Sniffling, Bong-man says with a child, divorce isn’t an option. Someone else tells him to bear it: “An old man with no money won’t be welcomed anywhere.” Bong-man dissolves into sobs as we pan back to Mi-soon to see she was the divorce commenter, tsking the OP’s wife is clearly having an affair. She calls her husband back to eat more fried chicken, unaware he’s having a crisis.
Seok-ho holds the album he’d been forced to purchase when he’d tailed Chan-mi 15 years ago and looks up to see Chan-mi enter with a vase of flowers. He asks if she remembers the day his bookshelf got stuck and Chan-mi admits she’d been holding it closed from the other side. Smiling, Seok-ho confesses since that day he stopped dreading coming to the office. Before, only Woo-seok was on his side, but when Chan-mi came, he felt he could breathe again.
“When I look at you through my window,” Seok-ho continues, “I’m brought back to the time when I was happy.” He says that was the time when his mom, his dad, and Chan-mi were all in his life. He announces he’ll be questioned by the prosecutors tomorrow, thinking it better to go by choice. Chan-mi walks towards him and Seok-ho wonders if she’ll hold his hand (to comfort him). Chan-mi apologizes this is all she can do but Seok-ho assures her she’s done enough just by being with him.
Chan-mi says she can’t go with him tomorrow, so Seok-ho asks her to promise to be here when he gets back. Holding his hand, Chan-mi promises. The next day, Woo-seok sees him off and Seok-ho smirks Woo-seok seems more nervous. Looking at Woo-seok’s suit, Seok-ho says it’s time he threw it out. Woo-seok proudly announces it’s the suit Seok-ho bought him on his first day of work and has been taking good care of it.
Seok-ho promises to buy him a new one after he’s finished with questioning. Seok-ho’s lawyer appears and as Woo-seok bids him goodbye, Seok-ho is suddenly nervous Woo-seok plans to run off while he’s inside. Woo-seok promises to wait for his new suit. The men smile and Seok-ho heads inside. Woo-seok watches tearfully and then his phone buzzes. The caller confirms White Collar is interested in the NAND Flash tech and warns Woo-seok to back off. Woo-seok says knowing what their capable of is exactly why he can’t.
Inside, the prosecutor questions how Seok-ho wasn’t aware of the data leak. Seok-ho’s lawyer stops him from answering, but Seok-ho announces they’ll speak alone, smirking he has nothing to hide. Outside, Woo-seok recalls his conversation with Chan-mi – she’d promised to do anything to prove Seok-ho’s innocence but was unable to come up with how. Woo-seok said if the NIS couldn’t protect Seok-ho, he would. Woo-seok calls someone to ask a favor, agreeing to join “us” again after solving Seok-ho’s problem.
The prosecutor is unconvinced of Seok-ho’s story. “How much did Director Myeong pay you?” Seok-ho wonders coolly, confident the investigation will prove his innocence. He offers to double Director Myeong’s bribe and the prosecutor gets up to leave, spitting Seok-ho is messing with the wrong person. Seok-ho says he should’ve crafted a better scenario in order to frame him and the prosecutor pauses. Flashing back, we see Seok-ho’d had Woo-seok investigate the prosecutor and found he didn’t appear on Director Myeong’s ledger nor was there evidence of dealings with dirty politicians.
In the present, Seok-ho offers to give the prosecutor evidence of bribery of an assemblyman currently in office. Meanwhile, Woo-seok is at the airport headed to Jeju. Walking back, the prosecutor asks for evidence of Seok-ho’s claim. Seok-ho holds out a list of transactions he’s made to Hwa-ran’s father, warning the prosecutor to back off if he can’t handle it. At the same time, Gwan-soo briefs the team on the mission and they head to Jeju. Mi-soon and Ye-eun arrive at Wang Kai’s hotel in a white stretch limo, posing as rich and vacuous Japanese mother-daughter tourists.
Gwan-soo had explained Wang Kai is fluent in Japanese and Wang Kai eyes the women as they bustle over to his table in the casino and plop down a duffle of cash. As they start to play, Mi-soon nervously whispers into her mic and Gwan-soo (posing as Dong Casso, ha!) frantically taps into the hotel security. Using CCTV, he feeds Wang Kai’s cards to Mi-soon while Chan-mi, posing as a maid, infiltrates Wang Kai’s room to hack his laptop.
Mi-soon easily wins at the card game, while Chan-mi searches the suite, unaware she’s narrowly avoided being spotted by a drone flying outside the windows. She finds the safe as Mi-soon wins another hand, but the laptop isn’t inside. Wang Kai calls for more money after losing to Mi-soon again and Chan-mi finds a briefcase under a chair. She manages to open it as well to find the laptop.
Unfortunately, the drone catches her and a pair of men watching on their phone run off. Mi-soon and Ye-eun try to leave the table but the men show Wang Kai the footage of his room. The women are surrounded, and Wang Kai orders the staff out as another man heads up to his room. Crushing Mi-soon’s earpiece, Wang Kai demands who they are. Gwan-soo warns Chan-mi he’s lost contact just as she finishes with the laptop and there’s a knock on the door.
Epilogue 5 Years Ago. Seok-ho strains to keep his mouth shut as he and Woo-seok – dressed in a flashy floral shirt and gold chain – report for their first day at Il Kwang. In the elevator, Woo-seok preens himself in his reflection, cheerfully saying he tried to look his best. Seok-ho nods he tried a little too much. Woo-seok wonders what’s wrong with his outfit and Seok-ho glares.
Cut to a menswear department with Woo-seok parading around in various ridiculous suits as Seok-ho struggles to contain is growing annoyance. Finally, he calls for an attendant and Woo-seok shuffles out of the dressing room in a plain black suit and white dress shirt, grumbling it’s a bit bland. “Make yourself known through your competence, not your clothes,” Seok-ho says. Woo-seok points out he’s not just any assistant.
Seok-ho agrees, wondering why as his personal assistant, Woo-seok would wear the other gaudy ensembles. Woo-seok argues the first suit looked best and Seok-ho hisses at him to agree to this suit before he strips him. The attendant brings a necktie and Woo-seok whines as Seok-ho ties it for him. Softening, he admits he knows this isn’t Woo-seok’s style and feels guilty, but grateful to Woo-seok for letting go of who he is to stay with Seok-ho.
Y’all, if anything happens to Woo-seok, I will riot. Whether he survives his showdown with White Collar or not, he’s already resolved to leave Seok-ho and that hurts my heart more than Chan-mi’s departure 15 years ago (which I hope is explained, or should we just chalk it up to classic chaebol restrictions?). Seok-ho’s relationship with Chan-mi is sweet but lacks the emotional punch of Seok-ho and Woo-seok’s bromantic bond. That’s largely due to the unbalanced nature of Seok-ho’s and Chan-mi’s feelings – he’s harbored an unabashed one-sided love for 15 years while Chan-mi is more reserved and therefore harder to read. Without much insight into her feelings towards Seok-ho – aside from the crippling guilt and light admission to Gwan-soo she feels something – I find myself struggling to have as strong of an investment in their romance compared to the men.
Woo-won and Ye-eun, on the other hand, completely baffle me. I understand him falling for her, I understand her being flustered as someone who’s only been with one man… I don’t really buy her liking him back. As she said, he’s awful to her most of the time, throwing childish tantrums and keeping her away from her daughter with threats. His apology was the first mature thing I’ve seen him do… even though he didn’t know what he was apologizing for. Their romance could’ve been a cute side plot but the poor execution taints the results.
I think this show had a lot of ideas and just not enough time to fully flesh them out and address them properly. The bully incident, for example, was hastily introduced and then (questionably) resolved. On the bright side, putting the fear of Chan-mi in the bullies may be enough for them to turn a leaf and genuinely befriend Joo-yeon, so I call that a win. However, there’s still so much left to sort out, I’m anxious how we’ll unravel the mystery of Seok-ho’s father, reverse the ex-wife’s corporate takeover, catch Michael, save Woo-seok and bring down White Collar, and allow for satisfying individual sendoffs. It’s ambitious, but if there were ever a word for this drama it would be “ambitious,” so bring it on!