The Mystery Companion
Episode 2 of Start-Up begins with Ji-Pyeong sitting with Won-Deok, boasting about the money he’s made. Only, she catches him out by asking about his love life.
He quickly changes the subject (after telling her he’s not married) and promises to pay her back with interest. Handing over a business card, she simply rips it up and tells Ji-Pyeong to leave, happy that he’s doing well.
Interestingly, Dal-Mi remains fixated on trying to find Do-San. She sifts through various newspapers but her Grandmother tries to dissuade the girl, telling her that Do-San may have just lost interest. Given the sibling rivalry going on, Dal-Mi is determined not to lose to In-Jae – and to make her Dad happy too. Even just for one day – she wants to show In-Jae she can be a success.
Meanwhile, Dong-Cheon is berated at work by Ji-Pyeong until Won-Deok shows up at work. With a carrier bag full of corn dogs, she has a favour to ask him.
She wants to find Do-San – the real Do-San – so Dal-Mi can show him off at the upcoming meeting. Even worse, Dal-Mi has never had a boyfriend thanks to her obsession with Do-San over the years. Eventually Ji-Pyeong caves and promises to look into it. Only, he’s given little time to do so – 5 days to be precise.
As the days tick by, we receive a lovely juxtaposing split-screen shot. On the one hand, In-Jae goes about her day of luxury while Dal-Mi does the best she can – washing her hair with a bucket and fixing up her broken shoes.
In-Jae attends a luxurious restaurant where the waiter tends to them. There, In-Jae asks her Mother, A-Hyun, to attend the meeting on Friday with her. After some time she eventually agrees to go with her.
Dal-Mi by comparison starts working at a busy coffee shop. In order to quell the crowd and their insistence to be served, Dal-Mi puts on some K-Pop and asks them all to line up.
Organizing the rest of the workers, she sorts out all the orders while winning over the crowd. They also break the sales record too, bagging 10 million won in one day.
Elsewhere, Ji-Pyeong tasks Dong-Cheon to find Do-San. Eventually he tracks down a phone number, prompting Ji-Pyeong to rush out to try and find him. Do-San, as it turns out, happens to be with the Samsan Tech boys who are holding out in a makeshift office after-hours.
Clearly, they’re not supposed to be there and Do-San’s parents eventually find them. The trio then have to explain their actions and how they’ve spent their investment. With a lavish coffee machine and not much progress, Do-San is forced into a difficult position.
Chul-San excitedly mentions how they’ve entered a CODA competition, which is basically like the AI of Olympics. This appears to match up to the moments we saw at the end of last episode featuring the image recognition software.
Do-San’s parents are clearly impressed… until Do-San’s father registers as a toilet according to the AI. Even worse he chases Do-San outside until they circle Ji-Pyeong’s car. He’s bemused over exactly what’s going on with this start-up company. Ji-Pyeong has seen enough and feeds back what he’s found to Won-Deok.
Interestingly, Dal-Mi manages to track down Do-San thanks to a posting online about him selling a baseball. As she cheers her success, she phones Won-Deok and reveals she’s meeting Do-San later that day. When Ji-Pyeong finds out, he’s shocked.
Given the back and forth messages, Dal-Mi tells him she’s missed him and Do-San is understandably confused. Eventually he makes it to the meet point, where the boys quickly disperse so Do-San can make the exchange.
Dal-Mi is understandably nervous and as she locks eyes with Do-San, he walks toward her. Only… Ji-Pyeong shows up and drags him away, explaining everything to him.
Opening the glove box in his car, Ji-Pyeong explains the deal with the letters and tasks him with reading the various notes.
While he does, Dal-Mi approaches her boss and learns she’s not being made a permanent employee. Despite proving herself (the highest selling day is rewarded with a 30,000 won gift voucher), she doesn’t have the right qualifications and they’re not going to take her on. Hearing this, right on the back of Do-San not meeting on the eve of the big day, is enough for her feel completely crushed.
Elsewhere, Ji-Pyeong tries to convince Do-San to pretend being in love and interested in Dal-Mi. In order to do that though, Do-San drives a hard bargain and asks him to invest in them.
Ji-Pyeong reminds them he’s not there as an investor but offers them 2 million won to do this. Do-San is not satisfied though and also asks to be part of Sand Box. More than the money, he wants to be taken seriously.
Unfortunately Ji-Pyeong hits them with the hard facts about start-up companies and reveals how very few are successful. It’s a horrid hammer blow but one that Do-San does his best to push out of his mind for now.
As Dal-Mi and Do-San both head home for now, the pair do their best to get over the disappointment they’re feeling. The big day arrives and with no Do-San in sight, Dal-Mi tries to remain positive and decides to show up in her elegant suit. Won-Deok smiles, telling her granddaughter that she’s a cosmos flower and to be patient.
Meanwhile, Do-San decides to meet Dal-Mi after all and gets himself dolled up in a suit and sporting a lavish hair cut. Ji-Pyeong also shows up too, dressed in a white suit. From across the room, he spies Dal-Mi at the table.
As the lights go out, Do-San shows up just in time looking pretty suave. He greets Dal-Mi and tries to act calm, asking if she’s been waiting long. “I missed you,” She says, as Ji-Pyeong watches from afar.
As the episode closes out, we see the guys at the CODA company discussing the Samsan Tech boys and how they’re going to win the competition. Given they have the highest score, their life is about to change forever.
The Episode Review
Ji-Pyeong has clearly forgotten where he started from, making his interactions with Do-San and the boys all the more fascinating. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely and that seems to be the case for him. His affection for Dal-Mi is obvious but will Do-San being there be enough for him to face his true feelings?
Yoo Su-Bin was great in Crash Landing On You and here he’s just as good. His comedic timing is excellent and the moments featuring that AI companion were hilarious too.
With a second episode focusing more on comedy than outright melodrama, this changed focus to Do-San is a good one as we see his past – which juxtaposes beautifully with Ji-Pyeong. These boys are also down on their luck and struggling for a breakthrough – which they don’t get from Ji-Pyeong. This contrasts him given a chance by Won-Deok which is pretty poetic.
Quite how he’s going to react to Dal-Mi and Do-San getting closer remains to be seen, but I’d imagine the truth about the letters wil be revealed at some point. For now though, Start-Up gets off to a very strong start.