By Bryan Tan
This recap, which contains spoilers, covers episodes 11-12 of Start-up, which is currently available on Netflix.
A whirlwind of emotions swirls as Start-up’s engine goes into overdrive in these two episodes. Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk) approaches Alex Kwon (Cho Tae Kwan) from investor firm 2STO to ask if his funding offer is still on the table. Naturally, he does not want Han Ji Pyeong’s (Kim Sun Ho) funding for a Plan B if they don’t get funding from Demo Day; he thinks Ji Pyeong is only investing because he likes Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy).
We finally learn that Samsan Tech’s Kim Yong San (Kim Do Wan) has a huge grudge against Ji Pyeong, because he thinks that Ji Pyeong’s cruel remarks during Yong San’s brother’s Demo Day led him to commit suicide. I wouldn’t be surprised – investors can be very harsh on start-ups when there are so many out there begging for funding; they need to know the company they’re investing in will turn a profit.
Samsan Tech emerges victorious on Demo Day
Do San’s father (Kim Won Hae) crashes Sandbox’s Demo Day and yells at Dal Mi’s sister Won In Jae (Kang Han Na) for creating the unmanned security AI system that put him and his colleagues out of work. He is grudgingly satisfied after hearing In Jae out, but says that he is responsible for slowing down the tide of innovation so people have time to re-skill and pivot to new jobs. In the process, he makes peace with his son who is also working on a similar AI solution and In Jae finds the reason for her start-up’s creation.
The AI recognition systems of Samsan Tech and In Jae company are pit against each other again, but Samsan Tech comes out victorious this time, winning an incredible investment of 3 billion won (S$3.6 million). Their mentor Ji Pyeong has to eat humble pie after telling them they would not succeed, and sulks at home.
Dal Mi discovers that her mother (Song Seon Mi) who abandoned her father for a rich stepfather (Eom Hyo Seop) has been allowed by granny (Kim Hae Sook) to live with them again. She flies into a temper, but granny tells her that if you cut people out of your life all the time, you will be left alone. Granny’s big heart really has no end to giving and forgiveness!
The battle is won, but the war is lost
Do San and Dal Mi sign a 3 billion won contract for 2STO’s Alex Kwon to acquire Samsan Tech, not realising that it is actually an ‘acqhire’, where 2STO just wants to hire Do San and his team of coders. Ji Pyeong was busy sulking and warns the team too late; the contract is signed, and ‘Ursula the Sea Witch’ Alex Kwon reveals his true colours.
Meanwhile, Do San’s mother (Kim Hee Jung) offers her clueless son some romantic advice on how to snag Dal Mi on his birthday. Dal Mi and Do San talk about their next business together into the wee hours, while planning for their life in the US, not knowing that their team is about to be disbanded. They even take turns falling asleep with their phones on their faces, continuing the conversation while half asleep. So cute!
All hell breaks loose as Alex Kwon notifies Samsan Tech that their team will be disbanded, and the only people who will go to Silicon Valley, where 2STO is headquartered, will be Do San and his two engineer friends. Dal Mi and designer Jung Sa Ha (Stephanie Lee) are left in the lurch.
When the chips are down, we will fight till the end
Do San and Ji Pyeong blame each other and scuffle in a bloody fistfight on Sandbox’s campus grounds, literally beating the crap out of each other. Ji Pyeong never stood a chance in this triangle, but he remains the one left standing; a metaphor for him saving Samsan Tech in spite of all the disagreements he has with them. Dal Mi acknowledges that she doesn’t hold a grudge against his cutting remarks, but admits that she has been demoralised a time or two.
Dal Mi celebrates Do San’s birthday in a very muted and downcast fashion at a French restaurant, where the two end up breaking up. But you know what they say when you’ve hit rock bottom: the only way to go is up.
Do San decides not to contest the contract and goes to the US for 3 years to work for 2STO, and Dal Mi girds her loins and applies to work for her arrogant sister’s company. Can’t wait to see what happens to them after a fast-forward of 3 years!
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