By Bryan Tan
This recap contains spoilers and covers episodes 9-10 of Start-up, which is currently available on Netflix.
The emotions flow intensely as deceptions are uncovered and feelings are revealed in the latest episodes of Start-up. We find out that Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk), our supposed child genius, sort of cheated in the Math Olympiad that he won, as he inadvertently saw the answer to the last question he was stuck on when another student’s paper flew to the ground in front of him.
This feeling of inadequacy and insecurity would continue to haunt him throughout his adulthood, especially with his own start-up, Samsan Tech, and his relationship with Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy). Dal Mi’s older sister Won In Jae (Kang Han Na) has an egg thrown at her in the office by an irate former security guard; her company is accused of taking away jobs of hardworking security guards through her start-up AI tech’s unmanned security surveillance system.
Ironically, the organiser of the protesting security guards is also Do San’s father (Kim Won Hae), who suddenly finds himself in a dilemma, as his son’s AI technology also causes the loss of blue-collared jobs.
Do San’s parents fly into a rage when they realise that Dal Mi was named the CEO of Samsan Tech instead of Do San. The accumulated guilt brings Do San to drink himself senseless, and Dal Mi has to rescue him and even take him home (her home!). The reversal of roles is uproarious; it’s usually the men in K-dramas that have to rescue the ditzy and slovenly female lead that has drunk herself into insensibility.
The cat is finally out of the bag
Do San brings Dal Mi and granny (Kim Hae Sook) on a trip to the mudflats, knowing that granny’s debilitating eye sickness will eventually render her unable to see the striking colours of the beach or a sunset. Unfortunately, disaster strikes right after this beautiful moment. Dal Mi finally finds out that Do San was not the boy who wrote her the childhood letters that she’s cherished all this while.
Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Sun Ho) is yelled at for being an accomplice and lying to her all this while. Do San manages to track Dal Mi down and gets on his knees apologising to her, pleading with her not to cry, regret and fear streaming down his face. A disconsolate Dal Mi just stares back at him blankly. He rambles on, face contorting in grief, explaining to her that he didn’t reveal the truth because he wanted to make her dreams come true – that he put off telling her because their days together were beautiful and he didn’t want them to end, and that he’s sorry.
Dal Mi stands up abruptly and tells him he shouldn’t be apologising. That he should tell her she’s mistaken, and that Do San has actually been writing the letters; that he’s the Do San she’s known all this while.
Demo Day (D-Day) in Sandbox arrives, along with a hint of reconciliation
This whole thing was a landmine just waiting to explode. Both our leads wanted to stay in their fantasy worlds, and reality just popped their balloons. Speaking of reality, Demo Day in the company accelerator Sandbox approaches, and the Samsan Tech team scrambles to cobble together a presentation to secure an investment. Very randomly, Ji Pyeong makes a very offhanded confession to Dal Mi, which gets zero reaction from her (and from me as well; I don’t really care for his attitude or fancy cars).
Do San does his creepy nerd thing as he stalks Dal Mi while she wanders listlessly around town, playing random claw games and getting drunk at a bar. He even returns the favour, sending her drunken ass home, knowing that she won’t remember anything while drunk.
The two force themselves to work together in spite of the emotional break-up. Although Dal Mi has misgivings, she obviously still has strong feelings for Do San. Just before they present on Demo Day, the nerd cutely requests that she forget everything that she thought he represented and accept him for who he is; the letters that he didn’t write, the fact that she’s only known him for a few months, and the shabby way he dresses.
It was a rocky and nerve-wracking two episodes, but I sense serious romantic vibes between our two lead actors. Will Start-up be a repeat of when Nam Joo Hyuk dated his co-star Lee Sung Kyung earlier this year? My spider senses are tingling!
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