The Broken Pen
Episode 5 of Start-Up begins with Chul-San desperate to find out what happened the previous night with Do-San and Dal-Mi’s date. Do-San sighs, telling him to speak to Dal-Mi about it. Her comments about him being her “first love” have clearly hit home.
While he’s stuck thinking the worst about what happened, Dal-mi by comparison is invigorated by their encounter and remembers how cool Do-San was. This gives her hope – and confidence – going forward.
The next day the Samsan kids arrive at Sand Box and begin stuffing their bags full of treats. Ji-Pyeong takes Do-San aside though and asks how much Dal-Mi knows about the truth.
After getting him up to scratch, Do-San tells him he’s done enough but Ji-Pyeong is only getting started. Do-San claims to be able to handle this himself but things are clearly awkward when Dal-Mi shows up and bumps into the pair. It’s a really tense encounter but one that eventually sees Ji-Pyeong take Dong-Chun aside as a distraction
Outside, Yong-San and Dol-San bump into fellow Sand Box contestant Hyeon who discusses their changing fortunes. Hyeon claims to have the best team, prompting the duo to laugh nervous – especially given the duo are experts in their field and teaming up with In-Jae.
It turns out they’re only after the winnings and don’t actually care for a future at Sand Box. Upon hearing this, Dal-Mi decides she needs to find someone with high credentials to help with her team. The prime suspect happens to be Sa-Ha – the same lady she tricked at the library. She gets down on her knees and pleads with the girl to join their team.
While she’s gone, the boys learn that Dal-Mi doesn’t even have a college degree. Despite that though, they watch in shock as she shows up with Sa-Ha – who completely rips the boys apart, including the “horrible” name for Samsan.
Time runs out for choosing their teams and the hackathon officially begins. With 48 hours to play with, they’re able to use any tools at their disposal. The winners after this time will be judged on two defining criteria – the first is a feasible and practical business venture. The other is the ability to pitch that in a 3 minute time-frame.
As the teams get started, Sansan come up with an idea of using the machine learning algorithm to check forged handwriting against the real thing. When Ji-Pyeong finds out she came up with this idea, he’s pretty impressed.
Meanwhile, In-Jae intends to usurp her sister’s idea right out from under her. Hyeon and his twin decide to use their expertise to outwit and outsmart the Samsan guys. Given the power they have at their fingertips, they manage to crack the algorithm first and collect the data effectively. In-Jae’s team are intending to use the same data-set but in a slightly different way.
Long hours pass and the Samsan team continue to hit roadblocks. Eventually they decide to drastically change things up and use a slimmer network structure. Given video data and handwriting are different beasts, if they narrow down the parameters that could work.
Meanwhile, Alex from San Francisco arrives at Do-San’s house and meets his parents. After getting off his Segway, he asks where he can find their son. At the same time, Won-Deok and A-Hyun bump into each other at Sand Box. Things are tense, to say the least, but they’re not the only ones who experience some tension.
In the bathroom, In-Jae and Dal-Mi continue to compete, with the former remembering her bet for 10,000 won. In-Jae mocks her sister but Dal-Mi has had enough. She tells her sister to be quiet until In-Jae admits that she too is using the handwriting data set.
When she leaves the bathroom, Dal-Mi runs into Do-San who confirms that their results have come back and the accuracy is over 99.8% accurate.
Won-Deok and A-Hyun have a heart to heart about their changing fortunes, including A-Hyun telling a heartwarming story about Dal-Mi-‘s past and how much they struggled financially. Ji-Pyeong happens to be listening to the entire conversation unfold.
As Won-Deok heads outside for some air, she bends down to tie her shoes until Ji-Pyeong shows up and helps. She admits that she never regretted helping Ji-Pyeong and looked at him like a son of her own. It’s a really heartwarming moment and one that sees Ji-Pyeong holding back tears as he walks away.
With the programming side done, the boys confront Do-San outside and tell him that they should be the ones to pitch the idea. When Ji-Pyeong shows up, he tells them it would lead to disaster. He agrees to invest in their company if their Sand Box venture fails if they can prevent that from happening, giving them a Plan B.
Backstage, Do-San and In-Jae both prepare to head out and pitch their ideas. While they do, someone messes up on-stage and it forces Do-San out into the hallway to collect her thoughts and control her nerves. There, Ji-Pyeong shows up and gives her key pieces of advice for pitching in the right way.
The big moment arrives and all eyes are on Dal-Mi. She takes an age to speak, controlling her nerves and clenching her fist before beginning. Her plan is genius, using a slew of slick slideshows to show exactly how to pitch and market this idea to investors.
Both Chul-San and Yong-San are ecstatic in the crowd with how well she’s doing but Do-San is disappointed. Remembering the words Ji-Pyeong told him about being a competent CEO, he realizes he lacks all the credentials that she exudes so effortlessly.
It’s a really impressive showcase and one that has a big impression on the judges and other contestants – including In-Jae and Ji-Pyeong.
Next up though is In-Jae who immediately pitches the same idea with the handwriting. Only, as her eyes drift to the front she notices her father-in-law as one of the judges and pauses.
Eventually she continues and reveals they’re intending to use 100 handwriting sets at the bank to create a whole slew of new fonts in record time. It’s incredibly impressive but one that’s immediately stopped by Chairman Won, who interjects and asks where the previous team are.
he pitches the idea of both companies working together. Specifically, he wants In-Jae’s company to create a new handwriting font and then run it through Samsan’s forgery detection to see if it flags up or not. It’s actually a pretty intriguing idea and one that sees both teams up on stage to see that play out.
Unfortunately the Samsan guys fail to detect the forgery which only strengthens In-Jae’s claim. However, there’s something he didn’t account for – Alex is on the panel of judges.
Still, Sa-Ha believes it’s game over and packs her things ready to leave. Before she does though, she confirms to Do-San the reason she agreed to Dal-Mi’s claim. She told her about a talented developer (Do-San) being on the team. She praised him up so much that Sa-Ha had to see what he was all about – and he didn’t impress her.
Meanwhile, Ji-Pyeong catches up with Dal-Mi after the devastating event on the stage. Just before he spills the truth about everything, Do-San hurries down to the main atrium and reveals the good news -they got in to the next stage!
As Dal-Mi throws her arms around Do-San, Ji-Pyeong is forced to swallow his pride and walk away as the duo hug it out.
During the epilogue, we cut to Do-San’s parents’ house where they learn just how lucrative Alex’s credentials are. After getting drunk together, Do-San’s father calls his son a fool.
The reason why is because he was selfless, always backing down and letting others use him as a stepping stone and settling in the middle, preferring to lose while being coined the nickname “Living Buddha.” They claim Do-San is without ambition but Alex is the one who had a hand in changing Do-San’s destiny – putting his faith in the boy and believing great things are in his future.
The Episode Review
The Samsan boys are clearly intending to channel those Duckling vibes from Crash Landing On You and their comedy works well against the more melodramatic Do-San.
Do-San clearly isn’t happy about his lack of ability in being a CEO and doesn’t appear to be willing to work harder to try and change that perception. The way he was upset and disappointed in Dal-Mi on stage is pretty telling. He should have been happy and even more so, looked at her as an inspiration to being a better CEO himself.
However, the epilogue does go some way to explain this behaviour and hopefully we’ll start to see a big shift as he becomes hungry to fulfill the potential he has to be great. However, that stepping stone remark is pretty ironic given that’s what Ji-Pyeong is being used as with Dal-Mi.
Speaking of which, the rivalry between In-Jae and Dal-Mi continues to dominate this drama and unlike Itaewon Class earlier this year, Start-Up has both of them on level-playing field, meaning it feels a lot more urgent and tense when they’re vowing for the same prize.
Meanwhile, Ji-Pyeong continues to hit that second lead syndrome and I really hope he ends up with Dal-Mi at the end. The only reason Do-San has managed to get this far is because of Ji-Pyeong’s influence (hence the stepping stone comment earlier).
Still, the ending leaves the door wide open and with the preview for tomorrow’s episode looking like Do-San is willing to reveal all, what does this mean for the future of our characters? We’ll have to wait and see!