Start-Up: Episodes 5-6 Open Thread
With our team assembled at Sandbox for the hackathon, it’s time to see what they’re made of — and how they stack up against the competition. Our band of wonderful misfits have to face some hurdles this week, and while they’re not always graceful about it, their hearts are in the right place. And they’re going to need all the trust in each other that they can muster, because there are start-up mountains (and a big bug) ahead!
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
So much goodness to unpack this in this week’s episodes! We ended on a great high note last week, with the Do-san, CHUL-SAN (Yoo Soo-bin), and YONG-SAN (Kim Do-wan) agreeing to recruit Dal-mi as their CEO. We celebrate this high with the team, and it’s as if we step onto the start-up rollercoaster with them as well.
With 48 hours to put together a team, and then create a business model, a working prototype, and convincing pitch — well, let’s just say there’s not a lot of sleeping at the Sandbox hackathon. The team decides to go with Dal-mi’s idea of leveraging a bank’s handwriting data set, and the flannel trio quickly put their programming skills to work.
At the neighboring table, In-jae’s got her top-class team of fashionista AI programmers that are infamous to our flannel trio for their “dine and dash” approach to their work. We know our team is different, and that there are more blood, sweat, and tears in Samsan Tech than anyone can count — and they’ve only just begun.
The competition is tight, but it also pushes them to succeed. But, outside competition isn’t all they have to deal with, and during the hackathon we see the beginnings of dissatisfaction in the team — namely, why Dal-mi is the CEO when she can barely define machine learning. It sets up the internal struggles our team will face later, but in a way I’m glad to see them getting all this out of the way now.
Dal-mi’s pitch at the close of the Hackathon is fabulous, and I’ll admit I was just as nervous as she was as I watched her walk out on the stage. What fun to see her overcome her nerves and nail the presentation. It all but guarantees them a spot in the Sandbox residency program… until In-jae and her “Injae Company” (puh-lease) rock the boat for Samsan by “outsmarting” Do-san’s algo.
It’s a humiliating moment, but our team still makes it into the program thanks to their sheer talent, and a mysterious Korean-American investor ALEX KWON (Cho Tae-kwan) that we’ve been seeing glimpses of. Trust him or mistrust him, the dude rides around on an electric unicycle, champions Samsan Tech, and is not shy about his interest in Do-san’s genius skills.
Samsan as a part of Sandbox means a whole lot of geeking out, rejoicing, snack-snatching, air-bound hugs, and all sorts of delightful things. While the team is going through their emotional high, though, we’ve got Ji-pyeong.
He’s been lurking (quite literally) during the entire hackathon, and his level of emotional investment in Samsan and its players is probably my favorite thing about this drama. I love everyone, but there’s something about Ji-pyeong and his outsider stance that grabs me. He’s so curt and rough with our little newbies, but you can see how much he cares about them, their success, and of course about Dal-mi and her happiness. Gahhh.
With a successful hackathon under their belts, now it’s time to focus on a bit of business strategy — viz., Samsan’s need for a majority-holding “key man” — and Ji-pyeong plays his hardass role here again. He puts them through the ringer, but I was so glad when Dal-mi chose him as their mentor. They need this sherpa guide.
Our team has only been at Sandbox a few days and already we’ve seen them undergo a lot of growth — and growing pains. Setting up their business plan turns into a major disaster when no one wants to give up their shares for the benefit of the company, and it turns into a huge fight for the flannel trio, and a dose of introspection for Dal-mi (and 461 text messages to Ji-pyeong) around what it means to be a leader.
With a little bit of guidance from Ji-pyeong, and a lot of courage, Dal-mi does what it takes to make a firm decision for the business. And for the flannel trio, they might have been squabbling like school boys, but they reconcile in the end, after crying over some spilled milk. Lots of spilled milk, actually.
We watch Dal-mi take charge this week and fill in the CEO shoes for real, so it’s interesting that what we learn about Do-san is less about his abilities and more about his earnest and kind heart. We hear from his parents how much Do-san gives up so others don’t have to lose, and it was such a nice way to show how his actions are always led by empathy.
We’ve seen how sensitive he is, and how the criticism he’s endured hit him quite hard. We also get a close look at how the lie he’s continuing to spin is weighing him down. Do-san might knit out his feelings into adorable scrubbies, but I wish he didn’t have so much internal conflict getting in the way of him enjoying all his recent success.
Do-san is anxious to tell the truth about Dal-mi’s penpal and thus get rid of the potential danger, or “bug,” in their company (I love that these boys think in code). However, our drama finds a convincing way to keep the thing perpetuated, even though we were this close to it getting out.
While at the eye doctor with the boys, Do-san witnessed halmoni’s secret visit to the doctor, and it creates just enough of a reason for him to keep his mouth shut. While I wanted the truth out in the open, I also like the total believability of this: there’s no way Do-san would step on someone else just for his own peace of mind. And so, he takes halmoni’s cue and says nothing.
Every conflict in this drama is so rich, you wouldn’t think we’d need more, but we also have In-jae cementing herself as Dal-mi’s swing-stealing nemesis. Not only is In-jae willing to hit below the belt and position herself as a direct competitor during the hackathon, but we find out how she’s even willing to steal her father’s legacy to be successful. Yeesh.
The confusion around which little girl Dal-mi’s father was talking about — who was playing on the swing and became the metaphor for Sandbox — well, that was intentional. It’s confirmed that it was indeed Dal-mi… and then we see In-jae stealing that story, and all of its meaning, for an in with Director Yoon (A.K.A. neck pillow CEO).
Finally, a further wrinkle emerges in our tale when we see Director Yoon having witnessed a suicide, and then see that the writer of the infamous “I want revenge” message on the Sandbox wall is closely connected to the suicide… and to Samsan Tech. I have no idea where this is going, or why we even need it, but I’m game to see where it takes us. There’s a lot of story here, that’s for sure.
As ever, each episode of Start-Up has a million details and touches that make it a joy to watch. Whether it was Dal-mi grabbing snacks with the boys instead of ridiculing them, or Dal-mi putting Jung Sa-ha in her place, or my favorite moment of all — Ji-pyeong opening the water bottle for a shaky Dal-mi — I’m here for the bigger story as much as I am for the wonderful moments this drama delivers.
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