Numbers: Episodes 7-8
With a long-awaited showdown between brothers looming ahead, old alliances are starting to dissolve. Alas, our heroes are slow to learn the value of teamwork. With our young hero courting some unlikely allies, things are about to get convoluted… but can they untangle on time for the extraordinary board meeting?
Yeon-ah’s offer of support fails to impress Jang “married to my murderboard” Ho-woo. Instead, it’s met with instant suspicion. How is this so easy for her? How can she trivialize this? Yeon-ah, understandably put out at being called “easy,” grumbles that she was only trying to help. True, she doesn’t know exactly what he needs help with — just that she’s prepared to lend financially savvy moral support!
They’re interrupted by a pair of Taeil’s snobbier accountants, who’ve come to indulge in their favorite hobby: snickering relentlessly about Ho-woo and his high school diploma. Ho-woo’s first impulse is to squash behind the bookshelves and hide. But Yeon-ah’s got other ideas. Her colleagues gape as she comes bounding out of nowhere, demanding to know what they’ve got against high school grads! They blink. She deflates. Uh… not that she cares, or anything. Ho-woo, skulking unseen, can’t help but grin.
Still, he’s got bigger fish to fry: after his stunt at the airport, Vice President Han has him in his sharklike sights. Mess with me again, he warns Ho-woo, and you can forget civility or HR compliance. I’ll show you how nasty a loser I am. Indeed, he’s already made with the pettiness: Ho-woo has been removed from all major assignments. Good thing our guy has eleventy-billion plans for this eventuality! The Cake Bean debacle granted him an unlikely ally: the ever-abrasive Chairman Lee Chan-joo. With Sanga’s support, Ho-woo just got a whole lot harder to victimize.
But as ever, this puts him in an awkward position with Seung-jo. Chan-joo’s scheming brother, Lee Sung-joo, has come to collect on that favor. After all, Vice President Han was the one who cast him out of Sanga. It’s only fitting, he reflects, that Seung-jo will restore him to power. When brother meets brother in the lobby, things get ugly. Chan-joo loudly calls Sung-joo a loan shark. And so, in perfectly rational retribution, Sung-joo… ambushes Chan-joo in the bathroom and shoves his head in a urinal. I kid you not. Fuming, Chan-joo revs up his car and slams it full force into Sung-joo’s, landing both in hospital — and underlining, once again, this show’s moral that rich people should never drive. (Sorry, Yeon-ah.)
Speaking of Yeon-ah — she’s determined to support Ho-woo whether he likes it or not! Every time his back is turned, she dumps a passive-aggressively annotated research binder on his desk. Never has having a crush on a coworker been quite this labor-intensive. Eventually, Ho-woo demands to know her exact motivations for being so helpful. She looks at him, reproachfully. Does she need a reason? Ho-woo, quite understandably, melts in the face of this. They reconnect over drinks at the bar, resolving to take Vice President Han down together.
Later, our heroes toil over piles of Sanga paperwork, in search of dodgy numbers. If someone from Sanga created a slush fund for HK Equity, it must have left a paper trail, however discreet. Finally, Ho-woo finds exactly that. A while back, Sanga purchased a ship in Hong Kong, under suspicious circumstances… for exactly the price of the transfer Ji-soo discovered.
Ho-woo barrels into Seung-jo’s office, eager to inform him of this development. He’s even got a suspect: Vice President Ahn was the case supervisor during the ship sale. Could she be the mysterious “AN”? Seung-jo’s response is like a kindergarten teacher whose student just handed him an earthworm. He knows her — Vice President Ahn would never help HK Equity. Stung, Ho-woo goes for the low blow: you never thought your father would betray Haebit, either.
Like enemy spies, Vice President Ahn and Ho-woo meet under cover of darkness. In France, says Vice President Ahn, this time is called “the hour between dog and wolf.” Which, she asks coolly, are you? Not, replies Ho-woo, the dog. I intend to find the hidden manager of HK Equity — then bite them to pieces. Vice President Ahn’s poker face is immaculate; she confesses nothing. It’s only later that Ho-woo gets a flash of inspiration. Bursting back into Vice President Ahn’s office, he hits her with the billion won question: if Sanga bought a ship in Hong Kong, then where’s the customs record? Fine, admits Vice President Ahn. I let a slush fund slip past the radar. But I’m not the person you’re looking for. At this point, Ho-woo holds up his phone: Seung-jo’s been listening this entire time.
As Seung-jo weathers yet another grueling betrayal, Ho-woo slinks away to the archive room, where he slumps down, head in hands. Enter Yeon-ah, with a beer! She is not, of course, encouraging him to drink at work; she’s administering first aid. It’s sound medical advice — never has a man been in direr need of a drink. The two rest companionably against the shelves. But someone should have stern words with Taeil’s building administrator: as Yeon-ah leans back, the shoddily-made shelf judders. Inevitably, a box falls — and, in strict accordance with the laws of romantic gravity, she and Ho-woo are pressed nose to nose.
She gets to enjoy it for about three seconds before a plot development quite literally drops at their feet. It’s a report for a private tunnel construction business in Mujin. Recognizing the name from the Sanga patent list, Ho-woo scrambles to open it. Yeon-ah is incensed by a glaring error: the minimum revenue guarantee is at 15%. Where a private investor is hired for government work, the MRG ought to be lower, to prevent costs to the taxpayer. Suddenly, Ho-woo remembers what Vice President Ahn said at the cafe. If she really was “AN,” she’d need a long-lasting, secret source of income. The report wasn’t a mistake, he realizes. The private investor must have been HK.
When you run the numbers, there’s only one suspect who makes sense. Ho-woo dials Seung-jo to tell him the inevitable news. The secret managers of HK Equity, “AN,” is his father, Vice President Han. As ever, they’re on the same wavelength; Seung-ho has made the same realization — and he’s determined to be the one to tell Ji-soo. When he explains that the one who ruined her life was his father, her stoic expression crumples. I promise, says Seung-jo, to put a stop to him this time.
Elsewhere, Ho-woo and Vice President Ahn have a heart to heart. When I found out about the Sanga slush fund, she confesses, we’d already issued an unqualified opinion. I should have come clean about my mistake. But it wasn’t easy — Hyun did what I could never do. Ho-woo isn’t interested in judging her. All he wants is a favor. Lend me your power, he urges, so I can take down Vice President Han.
Meanwhile, he’s been assigned a small but significant case. Ilseong is a company owned by the father of SOHN HYE-WON (Park Hwan-hee), an accountant at Taeil. It’s the only place in the country producing milk formula for lactose intolerant babies — and due to tiny demand, it’s struggling to survive. Seung-jo is remorseless: the numbers say that Ilseong should drop it. Screw saving babies. To compound matters, Hye-won’s husband, YANG JAE-HWAN (Choi Jung-woo) — another accountant — has devastating news. He’s sustained methanol poisoning from working a case in a molding factory, which will soon leave him blind.
Hye-won is adamant they’ll survive, but Jae-hwan is inclined to get creative. He announces to Vice President Han that he knows all his dirty secrets… including what happened with Haebit. It’s a desperate bid for hush money, but he’s picked the wrong day to get cute. Vice President Han immediately suspends Hye-won. Jae-hwan returns on his knees. With the air of a bored monarch bestowing clemency, Vice President Han announces that not only will Jae-hwan keep his mouth shut — he’ll handle the cover-up.
Thankfully, it’s not too late to save Ilseong. Enter Ho-woo, with a brainwave! Cats and dogs suffer lactose intolerance, and with the pet market expanding, Ilseong can step up production. This is met with delight from all. Well, okay, it’s met with poker-faced neutrality from Seung-jo, but — as Suk-min cheerfully translates — this also means delight. He never relished being the spokesperson for Team Baby Torture. Meanwhile, Ho-woo receives awkward thanks from an unexpected quarter: Jae-hwan. He’s ashamed of his former prejudice, and determined to repay him. It’s both a gesture of forgiveness and a gorgeously in-character move when Ho-woo smiles and says… please do. I’ll be waiting.
Seung-jo scans the list of Ilseong supporters in disbelief. There, in black and white, is Jang Ji-soo. He confirms it with Hye-son: Ji-soo has a six-year-old-child. Soon, he’s knocking on her door, puppy-dog eyes in full glare, asking about the baby’s health. I was so careful, says Ji-soo, ruefully. Don’t worry — my child is fine. Forget this war with my father, Seung-jo urges. Go back to Hong Kong and live in peace. But Ji-soo won’t budge: there’s something she has to do first. Still — there’s an obvious question Seung-jo hasn’t broached. Seung-jo hangs his head. I think I already know, he murmurs. And considering what my father did, there’s nothing I can say.
Seung-jo’s utterly terrible week continues: he’s been set up by Lee Sung-joo. Sung-joo has been secretly purchasing Sanga stocks — now, he’s a majority shareholder. Vice President Han can see which way the wind’s blowing: abandoning the volatile Chan-joo, he’s siding with the smarter brother. Meanwhile, he’s strong-armed Ji-soo into signing over power of attorney for HK Equity. The stage is set for an extraordinary shareholders meeting… where Sung-joo will be crowned chairman of Sanga.
Fortunately, our heroes have never let a meeting run smoothly yet — and they’re not about to start! Ho-woo and Seung-jo gather friendly shares for Chan-joo, on the basis that the ally-turned-enemy of their enemy is better than the nemesis-turned-frenemy of their nemesis. Shareholders are shocked, thrilled, and entertained, as the votes are tied at 31%! But it’s Ji-soo who deals the finishing blow. Consigning caution to the winds, she places her faith — and power of attorney — in Seung-jo. HK’s shares go to Chan-joo, securing his chairmanship and thwarting the outraged Sung-joo.
Next, we turn to the one accountant alive having a worse time than Seung-jo: Hyeong-woo, the severely overtaxed sidekick. A mixture of guilt and fear has seen him turn spy for Ji-soo: between his regular duties of kicking puppies and swiping candy from children, he’s been snooping at his boss’ safe. Alas, Vice President Han’s is well aware, and has devised a test of loyalty. Hyeong-woo will oversee the burning of bad inventory — a well-worn piece of fraud he’s performed countless times. But if he wants to make partner, there’s one more thing he needs to burn. Vice President Han’s gaze slides to Jae-hwan.
Hyeong-woo stays out all night — shaken, sickened, and having alienated all his allies. Finally, he arrives at the door of his old mentor: Kang Hyun. Unable to meet his eyes, he hands him a file. The next day, he’s in a van with Jae-hwan and a team of henchmen, driving to a far-off warehouse. He texts Ho-woo the location. Numbly, he watches as the inventory is doused with gasoline — and as the henchmen bring out bats. Hyeong-woo tries to shield Jae-hwan, but to no avail: both are remorselessly beaten.
By the time Ho-woo and Seung-jo arrive, the building is ablaze — with Hyeong-woo and Jae-hwan inside. Beset by dozens of suited thugs with bats, they struggle with the locks. When Ho-woo bursts through, Hyeong-woo is sprawled on the floor. Weakly, he pleads to save Jae-hwan first. Ho-woo obeys, dragging him from the inferno. Meanwhile, Seung-jo fights to make it to Hyeong-woo in time — but before he can make it in, a bust of fire sends him reeling from the building. Seconds later, the entire warehouse explodes into flame.
A moment of silence for Hyeong-woo, yet another of my favorite mini-villains to be doomed by the narrative! I really liked the build-up to his death: the creeping unease, the moral turmoil, the last-ditch turn to Hyun… it spells interesting things to come. I’m a little less convinced by the foray into thriller territory — it seems a shame to bring in murder when they were doing so well with that “accountancy is a battlefield” metaphor. Literal killing makes the numbers less dramatic! Still, when this show plays to its strengths — quirky character interactions, unlikely alliances, spreadsheets wielded like weapons, and board meetings turned theater — it’s absolute dynamite.
Vice President Han is an immensely fun villain — I live for his smug half-smiles, his casual nastiness, and the way he exudes quiet menace. Even his office, with its iconic chiaroscuro lighting, has a character of its own — like an evil corporate lair. I wish Ji-soo had gotten more of a spotlight this week; whenever she’s onscreen, she has such presence, but we only get her story in fragments. Still, I love the tangled web of vulnerability and tension we get whenever she and Seung-jo are flung together. I’m hoping to see her ramp up the ruthlessness next week. I want to see Seung-jo recognize the person she is now — convoluted revenge plots and all — and still love her. I also can’t wait for our two male leads to bite the bullet and admit they might actually be friends. Slowly but surely, they’re beginning to communicate… bring on the fire-forged teamwork!
- Premiere Watch: Numbers
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- Welcome to the concrete jungle of Numbers
- Let the bromance begin in Numbers’ new teaser
- L calculates his revenge in Numbers
- L and Choi Jin-hyuk partner up for Numbers
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