“With Those Hands Alone, You Beat Our Memories”
Episode 15 of Start-Up begins with Do San and Dal Mi beginning their self-driving test while In-Jae and the others watch on nervously. Well, Morning Group also happen to be there too and both teams are fighting for the permit system. Only, Chul-San and Yong-San are both confident their system will work given how they redesigned it and built on what was already implemented.
It works an absolute treat too, even going beyond the test parameters to stop when a cat pops out in the middle of the road. It’s a rousing success and the team all celebrate when Dal-Mi and Do-San get back to the main centre again. As they all chant Dal-Mi’s name, pictures are taken and the temporary permit is granted for CheongMyeong Group.
Hot off their success, In-Jae and Dal-Mi discuss the future, with the former pushing Dal-Mi to try and strive higher. She’s confident in their technology but Dal-Mi knows what a reckless decision bidding on this Smart Project will be, especially given she almost lost her entire team last time she tried something like this.
Meanwhile, Sa-Ha does her best to take her mind off Chul-San whom she starts to take a liking to.
Cheon-Ho (“MONEY!”) shows up at the office with a video of their time on the track circuit together. However, he also shows them a fortune telling app and encourages them all to try it given it’s extremely accurate.
After Do-San’s question, Sa-Ha takes Chul-San aside and asks him to stop vlogging. The reason? He doesn’t want anyone to know they’re dating. Believing it’s another prank, Sa-Ha suddenly leans forward and kisses him, going on to tell Chul-San to stay quiet about this.
Dal-Mi meets Ji-Pyeong in the main atrium and asks him whether they should bid on the project. He too echoes her sentiments and tells her it’s a complete waste of time. Their conversation inevitably turns to that of Won-Deok and specifically the way she fattens him up with food.
As they laugh at the elevator, things take a turn for the awkward when Do-San happens to be in there. He’s silent and sulking as Ji-Pyeong mentions Won-Deok’s cooking. As fate would have it, the elevator breaks down and leaves all three of them inside together.
There, he and Do-San butt heads again over the project. Ji-Pyeong sees it as a complete waste of time and calls Do-San out for his recklessness while Do-San believes it’s a good idea…even though he’s fully aware of the fact they probably won’t win.
However, because they’re “sailing off without a map”, then it’ll make them feel alive. Using that same analogy, let’s remember that a ship sailing off without a map gets lost at sea and will probably sink.
Anyway Dal-Mi and Do-San talk when the elevator doors open, with the former telling him she’s far less reckless now than she was before. Dal-Mi deliberates over whether to go ahead with the bidding and even uses the fortune telling app which continues to tell her she needs to be careful.
The next day, Ji-Pyeong catches up with Do-San and asks for his letters back. In exchange though, Do-San asks for the money tree back which she gave him. Eventually they agree to their swap but things are frosty between them.
At Minha Real Estate Office, A-Hyun signs the paperwork for a commercial lease. At the same time, Doo-Jung and In-Jae both receive their documents regarding the dissolved adoption. Back with Won-Deok, she decides against using the Noongil app to read the documents in her hands, listening as A-Hyun feeds back to her Mother that she’s got them a corndog shop together.
Speaking of letters, Do-San heads back and reads a letter about the music box – the one addressed to Ji-Pyeong and not him. Reading the letter, he instead changes his mind and decides not to swap back and to keep them for himself. Those letters – bear in mind – don’t belong to him. When Ji-Pyeong finds out, he races up to Do-San’s house.
Ji-Pyeong hands over the money tree and puts Do-San on the spot in front of his parents. Do-San is incredibly rude of course but Ji-Pyeong plays him at his own game and begins firing back insults of his own. Soon those insults turn to drinking as the two sit together.
Ji-Pyeong continues to ask for the letter back throughout the evening. Eventually, he goes on to admit he used Do-San’s name because he envied his perfect life. As the truth comes spilling out, Do-San fires back and tells him he’s envious of Ji-Pyeong too. The reason why is because Dal-Mi told him the letters made him her first love. He refuses to give up and claims that he’ll love her forever even if it’s not reciprocated.
In the morning, a very hungover Ji-Pyeong awakens to find himself in Do-San’s room in checkered pajamas. He remembers fragments of what happened the night before and as he heads out, he overhears Do-San talking to his Mum about cooking soup for his hangover.
Now it’s Ji-Pyeong’s turn to feel bitter. He’s decided to take the money tree and the letter, telling Do-San that because Dal-Mi likes big hands then he’s going to give up the pursuit. He tells Do-San to work on his self esteem and if he does then his hands will conquer their memories together. Haha, wait what?!
Do-San races up and finds Dal-Mi, telling her that they’re going to bid on the Project. He even admits that Ji-Pyeong is her first love and asks what the reason is that she likes him. Dal-Mi simply tells him there is no reason and she just likes him.
Anyway, after the two kiss they head back to the office. As they do, Morning Group decide to work against Dal-Mi on the back of what happened. Doo-Jung tells his son to contact reporters and come down hard on Dal-Mi and their company.
Ji-Pyeong continues to avoid Dal-Mi, calling himself a loser but falling straight into Dal-Mi’s arms when she opens the door. He again calls himself a loser to his face and knows what she’s going to say. She apologizes before admitting to him that she’s going to bid on the Project with Do-San
Doo-Jung and Sang-Su speak to Hyungju reporters about Dal-Mi’s start-up group and their ransomware attack that’s been kept very quiet. Given they’re about to bid, this puts them in a tricky position. That materializes itself in the form of the reporter himself showing up at their office and scribbling down details of what happened. With a headline already written, the group have no idea what trouble they’re getting themselves into. Again.
The epilogue cuts us back in time with Dal-Mi and Do-San back at Sand Box. It turns out Dal-Mi-s dream was to take the upper-floor elevator. It also turns out Do-San volunteered to do the self-driving project with him as he wanted to be her trophy and dream. Dal-Mi was the one who decided to bid on the project after going over all the variables…except for the one with the reporter of course.
The Episode Review
Start-Up could be on course to be one of the most disappointing Korean dramas of the year. The opening few episodes were beautiful, almost picturesque in the way they told this story and I teared up a lot when Dal-Mi’s father died. The whole idea of a first love not being the right love for Dal-Mi is absolutely fine if the execution is there to back it up but this is where the drama comes unstuck.
Given these episodes have been rewritten several times, it’s obvious that the writing has taken a serious battering in the process. The idea that Ji-Pyeong just “gives up” and calls himself a loser is completely out of character to the guy we first met who went through such a hard time in the past and made a name for himself through hard work, blood, sweat and years.
All of this has been ignored in favour of Do-San for the sole reason that he has big hands. This feels incredibly stupid and completely out of character whereas a more logical explanation would have been better. While I understand Ji-Pyeong and Dal-Mi may not be compatible and she and Do-San suit each other more for other reasons, it still feels like a sloppily written segment.
Even worse, Do-San just comes across as bitter, twisted and envious. I know that’s not supposed to be the intention here but Do-San deciding to keep the letters for himself because he’s petty is incredibly insensitive and really unfair. That’s before mentioning him striking Ji-Pyeong several times and refusing Dal-Mi’s business proposal because he’s holding a grudge.
Those letters are not his to keep and Ji-Pyeong originally gave him those to get to know Dal-Mi. If it wasn’t for him then Do-San would never have met her in the first place. While he did eventually give them back, Do-San’s character just has not grown across this season beyond being more bold and resentful in his pursuit of Dal-Mi.
And that’s before mentioning the lack of character growth here for everyone else involved. This is perhaps the most frustrating and annoying part of this drama. Dal-Mi and Do-San’s sheer recklessness and inability to think things through logically is the reason they’ve ended up in such hot water all this time – and that doesn’t look like changing.
Throwing themselves into the Sand Box group without being fully prepared, needing to be steered by Ji-Pyeong with the speech, the Morning Group incident (which is coming back to bite them now), the ransomware attack and now this project bidding. Dal-Mi just throws herself into these situations and hopes for the best and every single time Ji-Pyeong or someone close by has been there to throw a lifeline.
This is only made worse by her nonchalant attitude toward the letters. It’s obvious that they helped her through such tough times and the fact she didn’t interject when Ji-Pyeong called himself a loser is certainly telling.
I still think it would have made more sense to have Ji-Pyeong and Dal-Mi together for those 3 years during the time jump that Do-San wasn’t in the picture. They could easily have written a montage of sorts to show their relationship turn from idealistic to incompatible and cold. It may not have been as smooth for the final episodes but it would certainly be better than what we’ve got here.
Still, our “happily ever after” finale is on the way with a potential wedding between Do-San and Dal-Mi while Ji-Pyeong presumably sails off without a map. After all, not having a map definitely gets you where you need to go.
So how about you guys? How did you find this penultimate episode? Do let us know in the comments below as we love reading your thoughts!