Unicorn: Episodes 7-8
Things get a bit serious this week as secrets are uncovered, pasts are revealed, and old wounds resurface. However, the show still has plenty of jokes as the crew is forced to spend the weekend together thanks to another convoluted plan by their CEO. With this crazy cast of characters, hijinks are bound to happen.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
This week is all about flashbacks, specifically Steve’s past and the mistakes he has made. Seven years ago, his downfall started with the betrayal of his trusted friend and partner, and after a string of failures, his wife divorced him as well. However, as the story unfolds, we learn that the past is more complicated than that.
Much to his employees’ disgruntlement, Steve forces everyone to attend a weekend membership training (MT), but to his credit, he offers them overtime pay for this trip as well as additional paid time off. The mood shifts after the announcement of these additional benefits, and the others actually have fun playing dodgeball and role-playing card games. On paper, the purpose of the MT is to foster camaraderie, but in reality, Steve has an ulterior motive.
One week ago, Steve ran into Root at the golf course — this being the first time they met since Root betrayed him. Root asked about Steve’s new app and warned him to be careful of ranking his users. Steve scrunched his face at the last comment since that was never mentioned to the public, and he put the pieces together: there is a spy in his company!
Steve sets up a series of games to unearth the spy, but everyone else is only interested in romance. The biggest secrets Steve discovers is that Jesse unfollowed him on Instagram and, apparently, everyone at Maccom keeps a secret from him. Heh.
During one game, Steve receives a notification concerning an old photo of his ex-wife, and a memory from his past — the moment she asked for a divorce — overwhelms him. As Steve barges out of the room to compose himself, Jay follows after him and keeps him company. He explains to Steve that he probably experienced a flashback, and we learn that Jay struggles with trauma, too.
Six years ago, Jay founded his own start-up but failed to secure funding. As his company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, Root appeared and offered to buy the majority of the shares. Though Jay knew that this was a deal with the devil, turning Root away meant the end of his company, so in a desperate attempt to at least give his friends a second chance, Jay accepted.
Though Steve’s investigation seems to have failed, the MT ends on a high note when he receives a message that Maccom has secured its series B investors. That night, the whole crew parties, and Jay takes this moment to chat with Ashley. He tells her that he does not have a girlfriend, and his deliberate clarification has her flustered. Building up her courage, she asks him when he will bring her a packed lunch, so Jay takes it a step further and asks her on a date tomorrow.
The next morning, Steve asks Jay to help him find his second phone and gives him a number to call. As Jay inputs it, he realizes the trap a step too late, and Steve smiles triumphantly at him — he caught the spy.
At a cafe, Jay explains everything, and Steve listens with the biggest grin plastered on his face. Rather than feel indignant at the underhanded scheme, the idea of Root being afraid of his little start-up makes Steve thrilled. With Jay in tow, Steve arrives at Root’s house unannounced to mock him, but as Steve drones on about Root still feeling inferior to him, his old friend bursts into laughter. He gives Steve a reality check and tells him that no one wants him. Oof.
Back in the office, Carol scolds Philip for listing a MacBook as the prize for a reading event on their app rather than a Big Mac set. As she goes to upload an apology on their site, she notices that first place has read over 300 books in one month. Suspicious of the number, Carol invites the winner to their office in hopes to prove that she lied about her total.
Monica goes in first to discredit the winner, but the young woman says that she used her grandma’s account to read free books and deftly answers all of Monica’s probing questions. After her defeat, the development team goes in next with a good cop/bad cop routine, but they both end up playing good cop, hahaha!
Frustrated with the lack of progress, Carol decides to face the young woman head-on, but Charles interrupts, asking if he can talk with her. Unlike the others, Charles goes in believing the young woman, and because of that, he is able to see the truth. Looking at the scars on her arms, he advises her to take good care of her grandma who has dementia and not give up.
While the rest of the team busies themselves with Carol’s mission, Ashley joins them late and asks about Jay’s whereabouts. Carol and Jesse tell her that he was a spy sent by Magenta and warn her to keep away from jerks like him. Making her already terrible day worse, Ashley answers a call from her mom who asks about her older sister (the aspiring actor), and as they converse, she realizes that her mom only saw her as an obedient child without her own convictions. Welp, that’s an awful thing to say to your daughter.
Rather than wallow in self-pity, Ashley’s newfound awareness propels her to take action. Ignoring the others’ advice, she arrives at Jay’s apartment and demands an apology from him. Though taken aback by her sudden appearance, he complies to her wishes, but Ashley is not satisfied with just that. She orders him to confess his feelings and ask her on a date as well, and Jay pauses for a moment before asking her out. Without even the slightest hesitation, she agrees.
It’s interesting to see Ashley’s backstory unfold because she has the trappings of a typical drama heroine (poor and plucky — the quintessential starter pack for every Candy), yet diverges from the beloved trope in unique ways that make her a lovable oddball. By deliberately setting up familiar plot points, the show plays with the viewers’ expectations and creates humor through this subversion. Ashley is a good example of this tactic, and her relationship with Jay perfectly captures what happens if you give Candy enough agency to wreak havoc.
Returning to Steve, Root tells his delusional ex-partner that he sent Jay to retrieve the password to their bitcoin wallet. Ten years ago, Steve convinced Root to quit his dessert business to join his start-up, and Root spent a year going around gathering investors. On one of his outings, Root received bitcoins instead of cash as payment, and at the time, Steve pulled rank and berated him for acting on his own without permission.
Presently, Root has tried to login seven times, and now, they only have three tries left before their $50 million cryptocurrency is lost. Steve is just as surprised to hear about the bitcoins since he forgot about their existence until now, but this also means that he does not remember the password, either. With $50 million on the line, Steve turns to hypnosis to recall the password, but all he gets instead is an unhealthy reminder of his ex-wife.
Six years ago, Steve stood outside his apartment door, unable to recall the passcode. He called his then-wife to let him in, and she angrily told him that the code was their wedding anniversary. She asked him if he remembered anything about her and their relationship, and Steve kept repeating that things would change after he got funding.
Meeting up with Root again, Steve claims to remember the password now and inputs the date of Magenta’s founding. The incorrect sign pops up, and Root spews a string of profanity at him. Unperturbed, Steve says that he always has a plan b, and goes to type in another password but accidentally hits enter too soon. Hahahaha!
While Root gets creative with his curses, Steve recalls his wife’s last words, and it finally clicks: the password is “moonriver,” the name of their song. As Root jumps around and hugs him, the smile on Steve’s face disappears as he thinks back to the time he was once happy.
This week ended on a somewhat bittersweet note. As the show reveals more of Steve, he grows into an increasingly sympathetic character, and what the show once used as jokes turns out to be something much more poignant about our crazy CEO. While his ex-wife still remains a mystery, the premise of his marital status was a constant fodder for gags from the very beginning. By withholding certain key information, the show was able to build a humorous narrative surrounding Steve, which made the impact of his flashbacks hit harder. Steve might be a wacky CEO who employs drinking games to catch spies, but he’s also a broken man dealing with trauma and guilt. While Root is the cause of his woes, ultimately, Steve lost his wife and his happiness because of his own preoccupation with success.
Despite some of the heavier scenes, there were also a lot of funny moments this week. I love how the show uses every chance it has to make a joke, and since the runtime is on the shorter end, the episodes feel fast-paced as well. The development team is slowly turning into scene-stealers, and the good cop/good cop gag had me rolling. I especially liked their reactions afterwards, and Sung-beom’s reasoning was the cherry on top (“I can’t criticize; it’s scary”). The MT scenes were all hilarious, too, and overall, Episode 7 is definitely one of my favorites so far. The timing of the jokes was perfect, and I really liked the energy of the whole cast playing off of each other. If I had to pick favorites, I loved Ashley’s reaction to Philip saving Carol who was on the opposing team during dodgeball, and I was cackling during the drinking game when no one wanted to answer to being called Sung-beom’s girlfriend. However, these scenes worked because the whole cast was acting in every shot, and the fun came from seeing all their expressions from exasperation to utter delight.