Start-Up: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread
It’s a week for painful truths, big reveals, and broken hearts. But, in the middle of all of these huge moments is also a lot of insight into each of our characters. We get a deep look inside our main players, and a good dose of rich, emotional complexity (A.K.A. the sort of thing that makes good drama).
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
Oof, who had it worse this week? I don’t think there’s a metric to decide which of our main players had to deal with a deeper emotional gash. Maybe the question isn’t who is hurting more, but rather what is causing that hurt, and how the storytelling makes it all so incredibly real.
Last week we ended with Dal-mi’s handwriting suspicion, and though it’s just a suspicion at this point, it’s enough to keep her on her toes, and this will lead to our big reveal later on. But first, for much of Episode 9, we focus on Do-san. He’s always seemed like a sweet, bashful nerd, and lately we’ve seen him deal with this imposter syndrome, since he knows he’s not the Do-san Dal-mi thinks he is. But this week, what we learn about his past makes so much sense in shedding light on why Do-san is who he is.
The reveals haven’t even happened and already Do-san is completely shaken up — he seems to know the ruse is nearing an end. His sad and desperate drinking spree might lead to more hilarity and competition at Dal-mi and halmoni’s house, but really, Do-san is a centimeter away from breaking down.
When we learn that the math competition he won as a kid was because he cheated on one of the questions, it’s as if everything we have seen and heard about Do-san lines up. He’s taken that moment to heart, and never forgiven himself for it, and the guilt and inferiority and self-hatred, even, that have come from it, define who he is.
This is why Do-san always apologizing, never feeling like he measures up, and why each of his much-deserved successes are hijacked — he doesn’t feel like he earned them. “I made a wrong turn and stumbled,” he keeps saying. It’s such a great play on the quintessential idea of hamartia, or a hero’s tragic flaw, and I love the drama for digging so deep.
While we’re learning about Do-san’s inner workings, we also see inside Ji-pyeong as well. He’s no longer denying his feelings, and admits to halmoni that he likes Dal-mi. It’s such a painful, yet lovely moment. There is so much truth-dropping and truth-revealing going on as we reach the end of Episode 9! The drama pulls our three characters together for The Big Reveal with some well-written drama convergence, and a symbolic downpour of rain.
Ji-pyeong agrees to help halmoni continue the white lie, and goes to the old birdhouse to retreive Dal-mi’s most recent letter and sneak it to Do-san. Do-san, meanwhile, is waiting for Dal-mi at the subway station. But Dal-mi’s phone got switched with her grandmother’s and she sees a strange text message that sends her to the birdhouse mailbox, too. Ah, it’s so well done. Sure, it would have been kinder for one of our boys to tell her the truth first, but drama is drama, after all.
We’ve been expecting the three-sided heartbreak that results from this reveal, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less heavy, and the drama did a great job showing the ripple effect that these lies have on each of them.
I found Dal-mi’s emotions to be so authentic — this feeling of being played, hoodwinked, and made a fool of. From her difficulty in making eye contact with Do-san after, to her crisis of confidence and how it causes her to doubt herself as a CEO… it’s sad to watch, but it’s exactly what it should be. And it’s interesting, too, that both Dal-mi and Do-san’s heartbreak and upsetness both manifest by attacking their confidence and self-worth. To use Dal-mi’s terms, “Now that everything is fake, I feel like I’m fake too.”
How are our CEO and CTO going to continue their uphill battle? When we leave them at the end of this week’s episodes, they have even more to deal with than the emotions that are dragging them down. They have demo day, with its sky-high stakes, and it’s heart-wrenching to watch everyone struggle to either fake confidence, or instill confidence, while no one really feels it.
Dal-mi also learns that In-jae has stolen her swing story, which is the icing on the pain cake. I’m patiently waiting for In-jae’s wake-up call and for her to act out of love for Dal-mi, the same way we’ve seen Dal-mi do that reflexively. Come on, Show, I’d love to see more about these sisters and how they’re going to reconcile their differences.
Speaking of differences, we also hit on a final twist as our episodes close, when Yong-san confronts Ji-pyeong as his hyung’s “killer.” Okay, I suspected this individual seeking revenge was going to be Yong-san (they didn’t make it hard to guess), but I’m slightly concerned. Why did he wait till right now? Why don’t his friends know his tale? Also, hasn’t Ji-pyeong dealt with enough?
Our big reveal might be out in the open, but Start-Up still has plenty of plot to sink its teeth into, since it captures our characters in all their emotional complexity. I don’t think any of it will be a quick solve (maybe that’s why we’re still not in our current-day storyline yet?) — but I also don’t think it should be a quick solve. The foundations of each of our main relationships have been totally upended, and there’s no undo button that will work.
Where do we go from here? It’s clear Do-san wants to fight for Samsan Tech and for Dal-mi, and we see him willing to explore Alex’s offer rather than rely on Ji-pyeong’s lifeline as their Plan B. It seems that now that the playing field is (somewhat) level, there might actually be some real rivalry ahead.
While there is a lot of sweetness — and even moments of silliness — to balance out all the heavy emotions this week (including Lee Bo-young’s fantastic cameo!), I must admit I’m caught up in the sadness. But I’m not actually sad over the truth coming out (it needed to). I’m actually more sad just because the humiliation, regret over hurting people, and the desire to be legitimately loved for who you truly are, all feel so very real.
Editor’s Note: Please don’t discuss spoilers because we’d hate to delete your comment! This includes anything shown in previews. Also, let’s keep things civil, even when we disagree on character and plot points. Dramabeans is a safe place for drama fans to geek out: let’s keep it that way.
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