After a quick three-year jump, and a lot of successful careers in between, we reconnect with our main players. While situations and bank accounts and resumes have changed, a lot has stayed the same — pesky little things like dreams, longing, and love.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
Oh, Dramaland, I love how you use hairdos to signify the passage of time — it’s a little more subtle in Start-Up, but it’s still there. Parts and bangs are different, but really what we’re meant to learn is this: though three years have passed and all of our characters have been working really hard, they are pretty much exactly where they were three years ago when it comes to their emotions.
What did we miss during those three years? First, we learn that Dal-mi worked for In-jae Company and soon after became CEO of their subsidiary company that’s creating Tarzan, a self-driving and AI-powered car. Dal-mi is still the same: hard-working, big-dreaming, and a little desperate.
The Samsan Tech boys seem to have taken the biggest leap. They are the hotshots of 2STO, have been leading much of the development, and now they’ve earned a much-deserved vacation. I love that these three are nerds till the end — rather than lose sight of themselves, they are still this gang of three that are just the same as ever. Even a private yacht can’t change their pure-hearted and engineer-brained selves. The boys head back to Seoul for their vacation, and this is where we pick up our story.
One might argue that this time jump is entirely unnecessary. All that it has done is set some time and space in between everyone — only to have them boomerang back just as fast as you can expect. Dal-mi and Do-san have been busy pretending to be over each other, but they haven’t progressed even a step. Do-san secretly watches her Tarzan ads; Dal-mi secretly watches Chul-san’s vlog for snippets with Do-san. They’re clearly not over each other.
Another relationship that hasn’t changed much is the Dal-mi/Ji-pyeong dynamic. Ji-pyeong still hasn’t made a move in those entire three years. We know that Ji-pyeong is often with her family (yay, he now has a real family to play Go Stop with!), but everything has stayed entirely platonic. Yet, why does it feel so different? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m suddenly feeling some chemistry between them, and this, in fact, is the only thing that feels different after the time jump.
My timing on getting behind this love triangle is just about as bad as Ji-pyeong’s. With a little help from Yeong-sil, and some hand measuring, he finally decides to make a move on Dal-mi. However, Ji-pyeong’s advancement comes literally at the same time Do-san and crew return.
And they don’t just return like normal folks — they return in a blaze of glory. Dal-mi’s company has been hacked by ransomware, and they’re about to go belly-up (those fancy AI developers are really so feckless!). But with some serious fanfare, Chul-san, Yong-san, and Do-san fly onto the scene and save the day. It’s satisfying and fun to see the team together again… but it also feels like a bit of a stretch. However, I’ll forgive them, because what the story really wants is for Do-san and Dal-mi to be forced to interact again — and for Dal-mi to be at her most vulnerable (so she can’t put up a front again), and for Do-san to see her at her most vulnerable (so he can see through her front).
While our couple continues to dance around each other, some other things happen: the boys decide not to renew their 2STO contract and to move back to Korea to start something new. Chul-san continues his puppy dog pursuit of Sa-ha. Yong-san shows a lot of character growth and actually seeks out the counsel of both Director Yoon and Ji-pyeong (!) to help them decide what business move to make next. (It was particularly nice to see the friction between these two finally resolved.)
The friction that one feels the most, though, is the resurgence of the love triangle. Ji-pyeong reacts to Do-san’s reappearance on the scene with an almost harried aggression — he literally stops him from meeting Dal-mi early on, and white lies that they are seeing each other. Oh no, it’s this sort of thing that creates waves and waves of misunderstanding and drama. Thankfully, Ji-pyeong is a mature adult, catches himself, and admits his lie to Dal-mi right away. It’s important, though, that Do-san still thinks they’re together. He must mourn her anew.
This mourning sends him on a wild
goose chase bike ride to try to get his head on straight. It doesn’t work, since he’s followed by Dal-mi — and she’s determined to recruit the Samsan boys for her company (on the pains of getting fired). Meaningful piggyback rides also make it difficult to forget someone.
Though there is clearly a lot of affection still between them, there is also a lot that needs clearing up. I have no doubt we will get there in our final week, but for now, we leave off at a pretty satisfying point. Dal-mi has successfully recruited the boys (and even Ji-pyeong thinks it’s a really good partnership).
Their self-driving car is pitted against Morning Group’s competing model, and this seems to act as our final battle of the drama: Seo sisters versus Director Won. He’s taken personal and professional jabs at them for a while now, and having both girls determined to beat him should be fun.
Speaking of In-jae, though her personality remains as cold as ever, I like seeing the two sisters working together. We even get to see a touch more of In-jae’s heart when we see her shed a tear over her now-blind grandmother, and decide to take back her father’s name (yassss!).
In conclusion, while I didn’t find the time jump and situational changes all that compelling, it did successfully deliver the driving emotion we are meant to feel: that warm, fuzzy feeling when the team is reunited. Woot! With so much experience and success under their belts, they are in an entirely different league now — and they’re free to ideate and create like the passionate entrepreneurs and engineers that they are.
With one week left, we’ve got some final battles and misunderstandings to clear away before everyone can live happily ever after, and I’m here for it. While I can’t help but feel this story is being a little more cruel than necessary towards Ji-pyeong, I’ll hold off on that rant until we see how everything shakes out in our final week.
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