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The Spies Who Loved Me: Episode 7

It’s time to get inside the head of our second spy husband and see what makes him tick. Surprisingly, he may not be as malicious as we’ve assumed and does indeed hold some affection for his wife. But it’s whether that affection is healthy, or a symptom of a major personality issue, that’s the problem.

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

One morning, as he watches Ah-reum make breakfast, Derek thinks about how he started telling lies at a young age because he enjoyed fooling people. “The lies I fabricated were for my own satisfaction and enjoyment. But after meeting my wife, I learned that my lies could give satisfaction to someone other than myself. In fact, it was even more satisfying.”

He tells Ah-reum that she’s not gaining weight, it’s just that her dress shrunk, and that a pimple makes her look like Marilyn Monroe. He admits to himself that he’s sometimes tempted to tell her who he really is, and he even calls out, “I’m a spy,” as she’s running the blender, though she doesn’t hear.

He knows she’ll eventually find out the truth, but he’s always told himself that by then, she’ll love him enough to forgive him. However, watching Tinker confronting Ah-reum at the garage, Derek realizes for the first time that his secret could endanger Ah-reum, and he’s scared.

He interrupts and notes the relief on Ah-reum’s face when Tinker moves away. He tries to get Ah-reum out of there, but she insists on looking around first since she hasn’t been in the garage in a while. Tinker pulls the curtain hiding a separate room, and Derek tells Ah-reum that seeing a car before it’s restored is bad luck, like a groom seeing his bride in her wedding dress.

Derek finally gets Ah-reum out of the garage and while he’s on a call, she thinks that she needs to tell Ji-hoon that Tinker may be the man who attacked her at Sophie’s funeral. If he is, and he works with Derek, it’s a big clue that Derek may be involved in Sophie’s death.

Meanwhile, Ji-hoon checks the dashcam photos from the carnival where Sophie was murdered. There’s Derek, plain as day, but Ji-hoon tells Jin-min that he didn’t find anything on the footage.

Young-gu is in a van outside Dongpoomloo, running surveillance for Seo-ra, who’s upstairs playing mahjong with Doo-bong and Peter. Seo-ra recognizes the brand of Peter’s fountain pen, and Peter visibly stiffens ad Doo-bong explains that it’s broken but the manufacturer isn’t taking repairs.

Seo-ra claims to have an in with the manufacturer and starts to give her number to Peter, but Doo-bong quickly stops her and offers to be a go-between. Seo-ra ‘accidentally” wins the game, while outside, Young-gu is having technical issues and can’t hear their conversation.

He sends Seo-ra a coded text so she excuses herself, and while she’s gone, Peter tells Doo-bong not to date her. Doo-bong asks if Peter sees any legal issues with “Jenny,” but Peter says it’s because she’s the type to live outside the law, and dating her will end in blood.

Before Peter leaves, Doo-bong tells Peter that he doesn’t like his arrogant boss with the English name — Derek. He informs Peter that on the night before Sophie’s murder, Derek sent someone to him to pick up a gun, and Peter nearly crushes his mahjong tiles with his bare hand.

Young-gu uses the excuse of needing the restroom to meet up with Seo-ra and let her know he can’t hear anything. They hide from Doo-bong’s suspicious lackey under a table, and Seo-ra spells out “later” on Young-gu’s hand, which awww, makes him so happy.

Doo-bong stops Seo-ra from following Peter out, but luckily Ji-hoon shows up in time to tail Peter on his motorcycle. Peter grows suspicious when Ji-hoon follows him all the way home, so Ji-hoon pretends to be delivering food to his neighbor.

Unable to sleep, Ah-reum gets up in the middle of the night and flips through pictures on her tablet. She gets to one with Derek and Tinker by one of their cars, and she notices that Tinker is looking at Derek. She remembers when she first met Tinker — Derek had introduced him as practically family. Tinker had smiled brightly at her, but Ah-reum had caught him in the reflection of a car window, looking at Derek in that same serious way.

Now Ah-reum thinks to herself that their relationship feels more like Derek is the boss than friends or brothers. She flips to the next photo, which is a profile of Tinker at the garage. Again she’s reminded of the man she saw at Sophie’s funeral.

At the same time, Derek makes a call to Tinker to ask what was going on with Ah-reum earlier. After they hang up, Tinker visits a secret room full of high-tech equipment where he communicates with someone that he’s concerned about Ah-reum.

Young-gu pulls Peter’s fingerprint from one of his mahjong tiles, and the team get together to review his background. Ji-hoon notices that Peter and Sophie both received scholarships from the Pieta Foundation, so Jin-min tells Seo-ra to look into it. He asks Young-gu if he’s found Sophie’s killer, and Ji-hoon says that he gave the dashcam footage to Young-gu.

Ji-hoon dresses in his courier outfit and heads to Areumdan Dress, where he spots Ah-reum trying to aegyo Mr. Ma into letting her borrow his precious car. Ji-hoon calls her, and he watches as she declines his call. He follows Ah-reum to the garage, where she witnesses Tinker take delivery of some boxes and wonders what’s in them.

At the same time, Derek poses as a polar bear activist (PFFT) which gives him an excuse to place a stuffed polar bear, fitted with a surveillance camera (double PFFT), inside a meeting room. A while later, Sophie’s old boss talks with two experts, angry that they haven’t gotten him the password to Sophie’s research.

They explain that Sophie configured the password program herself, and that it uses biometrics. Her boss argues that if they don’t get her research, the Americans will beat them to it. One of the experts says that he’s trying to contact a North Korean hacker who managed to plant a virus in the White House computer system.

Ah-reum sits outside the garage for so long that she starts to nod off, and she whines that she understands why American cops eat donuts on stakeout. Cut to: Ji-hoon a block away, chowing down on a donut. HAHA.

Tinker finally leaves the garage so Ah-reum follows him, with Ji-hoon not far behind her. They all end up at a junkyard, where Tinker seems to be looking at parts. Ah-reum recognizes a sports car on the lot — it’s the same one that nearly ran her over at Sophie’s funeral.

She climbs into the passenger seat to look around, and while she’s not paying attention, Tinker approaches the car. Just as Ji-hoon is about to blow his cover to protect her, the lot owner calls out and Tinker walks away. WHEW.

Ji-hoon and Ah-reum meet in her secret room at Areumdan Dress, where Ah-reum claims to have been all day. Ji-hoon lets it slide and asks her to identify someone on the dashcam footage from the murder scene. They hear Du-rae calling Ah-reum, so they hurry to close the secret door, and when Du-rae calls Ah-reum and her phone buzzes, they both grab for it and end up clasping hands.

As they wait for Du-rae to leave, Ji-hoon looks at Ah-reum and thinks Why aren’t you telling me the truth? Tell me what you’ve found out. Ah-reum silently answers, I can’t. Ji-hoon: Is it because of your husband? I can only help you if you tell me what you know. What have you found out? Ah-reum: It scares me. I’m afraid of finding out more truths. What will I end up discovering?

When the coast is clear, Ah-reum leaves the secret room, telling Ji-hoon to exit later. He tells her to call him if anything happens or she thinks she’s in danger, and that he’ll be nearby.

Young-gu finally gets to watch the dashcam footage, but he tells Seo-ra that it appears to be edited.

After switching the bugged polar bear for an innocent one, Derek returns home and listens to the audio recording. In particular, the part about the North Korean hacker seems to interest him.

Meanwhile, Ji-hoon goes to the garage, so Tinker texts Derek, who rushes there immediately. He stops to calm himself, then goes inside to find Ji-hoon and Tinker seeming to get along pretty well, ha. Ji-hoon tells Derek that he’s been thinking of buying a car, and again Tinker makes a friendly comment that earns him the stink-eye from Derek.

Ji-hoon notices a car under a tarp, which Derek warns him not to touch. Ji-hoon asks what happens if he does, and Derek growls that it will end in pain. Ji-hoon whisks the tarp off the car, then notices the vanity plate with Ah-reum’s name. He quips that Derek doesn’t even know what color his wife likes, ha.

He reaches out to touch the car, but Derek quickly grabs his wrist and snarls, “Don’t touch it, you bastard.” He asks why Ji-hoon is here, so Ji-hoon says it’s to see this car. Just as they’re about to come to blows, Dong-taek shows up, excited to see a fight.

Dong-taek is surprised that Ji-hoon knows who he is, so Ji-hoon chuckles that he’s always in the news. Dong-taek insists that Derek introduce them, and he gets irritated when Derek refuses to say how he knows Ji-hoon. Dong-taek not-so-jokingly asks if they’re dating, so Tinker steps up to say that Ji-hoon is Ah-reum’s first husband.

Ji-hoon observes how Derek lets Dong-taek get away with a lot and concludes that Dong-taek has some sort of power over Derek. He thinks to himself that a drug addict and a suspicious jerk make an odd team and vows to discover what they’re up to.

After Ji-hoon leaves, Dong-taek reveals why he’s here — he’s upset that South Korea is claiming to have developed a new nuclear fusion energy testing device, when he was planning to own the technology himself. Tinker says that with Sophie’s death, several countries are claiming to own the leading technology. Dong-taek tells Derek to get rid of his half-sister Dong-ran before her wedding in a month, or get him in the news with some fancy new technology.

Speaking of Dong-ran, she looks at the painting Dong-taek bought at the auction (the one he donated, then bought back, hee) and orders an underling to put a bug in it. When he comes to pick it up, Dong-ran tears off the paper and takes pictures of Dong-taek frantically trying to hide the fact that he bought his own painting for publicity.

In retaliation, Dong-taek reveals that he told their father that Dong-ran invited her mother (their father’s mistress) to her wedding, so Daddy Dearest is sending her mother out of the country. They end up in a childish slap-fight, which Dong-ran hilariously wins.

When Ah-reum gets home, she finds the stuffed polar bear on Derek’s desk and sees that its belly has been torn open. The trail of stuffing leads her to Derek’s computer, and she starts to listen to the recording just as Derek arrives home.

He looks suspicious to find her in his office, and stiffly asks her to leave. Ah-reum finds his cold demeanor and the feeling of a wall between them familiar — she felt it in her first marriage. “A marital issue forces you to live with the problem while you’re together,” she thinks.

The next day is the photo shoot, in which Ah-reum and Derek pose as a happy couple on their wedding day. During a break, Ah-reum asks if Derek was upset yesterday, but he says, not-at-all convincingly, that he wasn’t. They’re asked what they would write on an anniversary cake, and Derek’s answer is, “I will always love you.” Unsettled, Ah-reum answers, “Let’s be a truthful couple.”

Ji-hoon researches Dong-taek, whose mother is the only daughter of a Japanese millionaire who owns a steel company called JHNK. The company invests in nuclear fusion every year. Ji-hoon concludes that Dong-taek is the investor, Tinker is the operations guy, which means Derek is… what?

As Ah-reum watches Derek smile for the camera, she thinks for the first time that he’s only pretending to be sweet, and that she doesn’t know what he’s truly like under his sweet outer layer. As a test, she squirts some icing on Derek’s nose, then in his hair. He finally drops the nice act and flails at her, knocking over the cake they’re been decorating for the shoot.

When he turns to look at Ah-reum, there’s fury in Derek’s eyes. But before she reacts, she learns that her mother collapsed from overwork and is in the hospital. Derek is back to his familiar cheerful and helpful self by the time they all get to the hospital, and his mother-in-law simpers under his attention.

Ah-reum sends Derek to work, then heads home to get some things for her mother. She sees Derek driving away from the house and wonders why he was there, so she follows him. He heads to a park and gets out to walk, as if he’s planning to meet someone.

Ji-hoon and Young-gu are on a stakeout outside Peter’s home. When Young-gu goes to get something to eat, Peter leaves, and Ji-hoon has to follow him alone. Peter heads to the same park where Derek went, and they end up standing by the water, side by side, as Ah-reum and Ji-hoon watch from a distance.

 
COMMENTS

My first reaction to Derek saying that he lies to Ah-reum to make her feel good, and that he thinks she’ll forgive him when she finds out he’s a spy, was, “Well that’s kind of dysfunctional, but at least he does care about her.” But then I listened to his words again and got a cold chill, because what he’s doing isn’t caring, it’s downright terrifying. Now, you could argue that Ji-hoon lied to Ah-reum too, so what’s the difference, and I have an answer for that because I think Ah-reum’s husbands lied to her for very different reasons.

Ji-hoon lied to Ah-reum while they were married in an attempt to protect her, and to protect his contacts. he didn’t do it for any personal satisfaction, and in fact hated that it was necessary, and he was willing to let her go when it became clear that his lies were only hurting her. But Derek lies because he likes lying, because it gives him a thrill to fool people. And he’s telling himself that when Ah-reum does eventually find out the truth, he’ll have manipulated her enough at that point that she’ll stay with him. I’m not condoning lying, and neither of Ah-reum’s marriages has been healthy in that regard, but only one of her husbands has lied to her for the “right” reasons.

Now, that’s not to say that Derek’s feelings (that he claims to have) for Ah-reum are worthless… on the contrary, if he’s realizing that his lies could harm her, and that’s scaring him, then he’ll take steps to protect her. What that will entail is still up in the air, but right now, Derek’s schemes present the most immediate danger to Ah-reum and his protection could be even more effective than Ji-hoon’s. Unfortunately, Derek’s feelings could also put her in even more danger if his enemies figure out that Derek’s marriage isn’t just one of convenience but actual affection, so in that case I’m glad that Ji-hoon is keeping tabs on Derek himself. Especially now that Ah-reum seems determined to get a close look at Derek’s true self — I don’t think she’s prepared for what she’s going to find.

On that note, I feel so bad for Ah-reum, who doesn’t know who she can trust right now. She’s getting along with Ji-hoon better lately, but she knows he lied to her about something very serious while they were married, so she doesn’t fully trust him. And she thought she knew and could trust Derek, but now she’s finding out that he’s involved with some extremely shady and dangerous people, so she certainly can’t trust him. It’s a good thing Ah-reum is so intelligent and resourceful on her own, because she’s been plunged into a world she knows nothing about, and if she were just slightly less capable, she’d already be dead or very close to it.

This whole conundrum is actually one of the things I really like about The Spies Who Loved Me… so far, there are very few completely good or completely evil characters. There are times when I disagree with Ji-hoon or Seo-ra’s actions, for example, and there are moments when I find Tinker and Doo-bong very likable. Even Derek got to me at the beginning of the episode with the way he looked at Ah-reum so lovingly, and how he does want to tell her the truth about himself, even though he’s still my number one suspect for Sophie’s killer. It just makes a drama so much more interesting to watch when the characters are complex and layered, and while I wouldn’t call this a particularly serious spy drama, I find it that much more engaging than shows who takes themselves more seriously just because the characters aren’t so predictable.

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I am of the mind that Derek is Sophie's killer. At this point there are no other suspects. The fact that he was at the carnival with no valid reason make him the most likely suspect. And if that is true then it will surely break Ahreum's heart.
I do agree that JiHoon's reason for lying is more understandable than Derek's. I am with Ahreum that there is more to Derek than what the show has shown so far and I am not completely convinced that his feelings for his wife is real, his jealousy feels more like possessiveness than love.

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I'm enjoying the unpredictability of the characters and their unfolding complexity, especially with Derek. It suddenly hit me after the last episode that the title, The Spies who Loved Me is literal. I'm ready to say that they both loved her. What happens in the end is anybody's guess though. This episode, I particularly loved how Ah-reum tested Derek by so deliberately squirting the cream all over him. It was so calculated and so open. Her character is satisfyingly intelligent and competent in what seems to me to be a very natural way.

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I loved the cake scene, too, because she wasn't just going to passively submit to what she is afraid is just the pretense of love. Instead, she deliberately shattered the facade to see what he would reveal. Gutsy, and inventive.

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" Her character is satisfyingly intelligent and competent in what seems to me to be a very natural way." Yes this. Ah Reum isn't super badass like they shown in other dramas (who honestly also get a little bitch vibe, for no reason). But she's smart, calculative and isn't submissive. She feels like any person I would actually know. My favorite female lead for the year.

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I think Derek loves Ah-Reum but in his own twisted way.

This drama is very interesting to picture relationships : two husbands, the same job and wife but two completely different relationships.

Any of them are really honest and they can't count on someone else, it make them pretty lonely.

Ji-Hoon is hidding Derek's involvement to his team. He didn't tell all the truth to Ah-Reum too. He wants to find Sophie's muredered and protect Ah-Reum.

Ah-Reum can't trust her ex and actual husband and doesn't want to put in danger her friend.

Derek realized that his job is mixing with his personal life and he can't share this with anybody.

I love to watch JH pushing every Derek's buttons :D

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Thanks for the recap, @lollypip! This drama is light on the scenes but still maintains the mystery within. Even though Ji-hoon has revealed who he is to Ah-reum, neither of them gives full information to each other - which could possibly help in the investigation.

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To me this show is very light and frothy on the surface, like one of those 1950's and 60's spy capers, but underneath it's got some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of relationships. No one is all-good or all-bad, they all have secrets they want to keep and pasts they would rather not think about, much less reveal. In this sort of realistic presentation, an idealized romance isn't possible; instead, you get the messy entanglements and cross purposes that are anything but light and frothy. I love it.

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I love the gray ness of relationships and character purposes in this show. We don't usually get that in kdramas.

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