Ji-Pyeong begins episode 14 of Start-Up talking to Dal-Mi about the ransomware attack. She remains fixated on the problem and how pathetic she was in dealing with this.
Ji-Pyeong however reminds her she’s not pathetic at all but it doesn’t help that Do-San has returned to see her in this state, which has made her even more upset. As he watches her cry, Ji-Pyeong quickly grabs her and pulls Dal-Mi under the table to prevent people seeing her cry. He helps her out, smiling as she says thank you, and leaves her in the dark with Do-San’s jacket.
This catches us up to the end of the previous episode as Ji-Pyeong tells Do-San they need to talk. He tells Do-San not to see Dal-Mi right now and lies in order to dissuade him from seeing the girl, telling him – in no uncertain terms – that they’re a couple. When he leaves the elevator, Ji-Pyeong realizes what he’s done and phones Dal-Mi, quickly explaining what happened and apologizes.
Afterward, Dal-Mi ignores a call from Do-San and switches off her phone. Do-San meanwhile, tellingly takes the baseball that has “follow your dream” written on and throws it in the bin.
Unbeknownst to Dal-Mi though, the San boys are obviously all staying in Korea. First port of call, they need to do some advertising for their return. This sees them head in to do a shoot with Cheon-Ho.
Once there, Do-San notices a magazine with an article featuring Ji-Pyeong in the centre-cover with a big article. It turns out the San boys are a big deal, especially after quitting 2STO and the editor wants to interview them.
Ever the opportunist and with an upcoming business venture too, Cheon-Ho goes out of his way to ask for 1% of the company beforehand. That interview happens to take the place of Shin Hyeon and Shin Jeong, who are none too happy about being replaced.
Their replacements make quite the impression though, as In-Jae happens to be reading their article at Sand Box some time later.
Downstairs, Dal-Mi prepares the Tarzan company for launch. Only, it turns out Shin Jeong and Shin Hyeon have joined Morning Group and completely undermined In-Jae.
Furious, she heads up to confront her Father at Morning Group. It’s petty, pinching (what In-Jae calls) mediocre developers and promises that it’ll come back to bite them.
Back at Sandbox, In-Jae tasks Dal-Mi to recruit developers to help them in their project. Specifically, the San boys. Given their recent interviews about staying in Korea, it seems the obvious choice.
Dal-Mi however becomes conflicted given this means becoming entangled in all this messy drama again. In-Jae has spoken though and as she’s a major shareholder, she’s had her say on this.
It’s up to Dal-Mi what she does but to be honest, there isn’t much of a choice. Even Won-Deok agrees, telling Dal-Mi that if she was In-Jae she too would fire her for being a bad CEO.
Eventually Dal-Mi comes to the obvious decision and decides to act professionally. Driving up to the familiar setting of the San office, Dal-Mi joins numerous other investors as they prepare to make their bids.
Midway through this afternoon, Dal-Mi messages and eventually show up in their office ready to make her case. Handing out her business card for Tarzan. Yong-San reminds her that their situation has changed. Just before the pitch, Do-San interjects and mentions he’s already seen it and wants a quiet word with Dal-Mi.
The two Sans leave and reminisce on the great times they’ve had and how successful they are now. Back inside, Do-San meanwhile, brings up the moments from the past and how hurtful Dal-Mi’s words were toward him.
He admits that the person he loved wasn’t her and because of that, he doesn’t want to see her again. She apologizes to him for what happened and walks away, eventually driving back home.
Meanwhile, In-Jae has coffee with her Mother and tries to convince her to move away. However, the conversation soon turns to Dal-Mi nd her Grandmother, with the truth revealed about Won-Deok’s deteriorating eyesight prompting In-Jae’s face to drop.
Back at Sand Box, Yong-San shows up and greets Ji-Pyeong warmly. He asks to rent a new office as he’s looking to start a business with the other San boys. Ji-Pyeong congratulates him while Yong-San comments how nice he is now.
Ji-Pyeong claims he’s not, going on to use a car analogy to explain how he’s only overly critical surrounding things he’s serious about.
In the parking lot, Ji-Pyeong notices Dal-Mi banging her head repeatedly and heads up to check on her. He comments on the state of her hair, chuckling that it “looks like a bird nest.”
With Morning AI pinching their developers and the situation with Do-San fractured, Ji-Pyeong tells her he wants to get involved but not only is he quite petty, he’s also too personally involved so he’s going to keep quiet.
Back home, Do-San’s Father brings his son the baseball back after he threw it in the trash. Taking his Father’s advice, Do-San heads out for a bike ride to try and clear his mind.
Only, that hardly goes to plan given he falls off the path and lands head over heels on the ground. After finding a place to rest, he eventually falls asleep and awakens stiff and hanging off a bench.
Of all the people to find him, Dal-Mi shows up after his parents told her he’d be there. She came to return his jacket and to talk. He berates her for showing up so easily when for Do-San he fell constantly.
This seems to be a constant metaphor for these two, as Dal-Mi tells him it hasn’t been easy and she too had a difficult journey. The difference here is that Do-San sees himself as a victim and blames himself for everything that’s happened. Instead of taking ownership for his problems, of course.
Anyway, Dal-Mi eventually convinces him to talk. It turns out, courtesy of some flashbacks, that the name “Tarzan” was actually chosen because of Do-San’s story in the past.
When she asks about self-driving cars, he tells her he was forced into doing this by 2STO. Only, the truth is he was actually intrigued and fascinated by the idea after she presented it at Sand Box. While she sleeps, Do-San looks over Dal-Mi’s Tarzan presentation.
Meanwhile, Won-Deok’s eyesight continues to get worse, with her struggling to pick up her visor from the ground. In-Jae however, happens to be there to help. As she helps her Grandmother to the bench, In-Jae struggles to hold back tears and walks away. On the back of this, she speaks to Mr. Son and wants to dissolve her adoption.
Elsewhere, Chul-San finds out where Sa-Ha is working and finds an excuse to “walk past” just as she comes out. As they sit and talk to each other, she calls him out for his good English and eventually Chul-San asks if she wants to work with him.
At Sand Box, Yong-San heads in to speak to Sun-Hak about the number of investors they have in the pipeline. She’s concerned that a lot of them aren’t credible and encourages him to throw them all away and wait for the right ones to come along.
When he leaves, Yong-San walks past Ji-Pyeong and asks outright for the bad points relating to their company. As they talk, Yong-San comes out and apologizes to him for what happened with his brother.
In a nice touch, Ji-Pyeong too apologizes for being far too harsh and the pair share a nice moment. Eventually willing to hear the bad with the good, Ji-Pyeong talks about their business and gives them some pretty good advice.
When Yong-San mentions the potential team-up with Dal-Mi’s company, he admits he doesn’t like the idea and wants to stop him. Only, as an investor he believes they’ll be great partners.
It’s a completely selfless statement from Ji-Pyeong and one that shows that he’s willing to separate the business and personal sides of his personality. Can Do-San say the same?
As the episode closes out, Do-San and Dal-Mi prepare their business venture as the self-driving car test begins.
During the epilogue, we cut back in time to see Dal-Mi showing up at the door ready to find Do-San. They agree to let her in but go over the different percentages of success she has of getting up to the cabin in one piece.
As we see, Do-San carries Dal-Mi back on her back. However, he wants to acquire shares in the company if he’s getting involved.
The Episode Review
If we’re going the route of Dal-Mi and Do-San getting together at the end, Start-Up is doing a really lousy job of showing them as a credible and compatible couple.
Ji-Pyeong can separate the professional and personal part of his life despite his clear affection for Dal-Mi. By comparison, Do-San is so bitter and hurt over his break-up with Dal-Mi that he’s not even willing to listen to her proposal until she comes up and finds him sulking at the cabin.
And that’s exactly what he’s doing there. Sulking. The conversation between the pair is telling here – with Do-San moaning and complaining about how hard everything has been during the bike ride.
Dal-Mi by comparison sports a cut leg and limps up the hill, but she’s willing to knuckle down and work. Even if she is a poor CEO, as agreed by many people around them, she has that raw tenacity to try and make things a success.
It’s good to see the Yong-San situation resolved with Ji-Pyeong though and these segments were a nice inclusion, showing how far his character has grown.
Wanting constructive criticism from Ji-Pyeong is good too and seeing the San boys back together with Sa-Ha there too, is a nice blast from the past. The solitary scene with Won-Deok and In-Jae is nice but to be honest, it would have been better to see more of this – and with Ji-Pyeong getting more involved too and helping her.
Still, Start-Up isn’t quite as strong as it was during the first half but it’s still a very watchable drama. Unfortunately it does look like we’re gearing up for a Do-San/Dal-Mi romance by the end. Will this be to everyone’s taste? It remains to be seen.