One of the tried and true ways to barrel through a drama with some pretty big gaping holes in acting, script, or direction is if the OTP has insane chemistry and both actors are bring it in terms of the performance. Some of the recent dramas I’ve liked fell into that category of bad drama, great OTP with some solid acting. Four episodes in, I don’t think Spy Myung Wol has even that to rely on.
Eric is kinda sleepwalking through his role, Han Ye Seul is back to wide-eyed all the time acting, and the secondary leads resemble a Terra Cotta Warrior and a bitchy mannequin, respectively. I really want to like this drama, but I’m finding myself wavering as to whether I want to continue recapping it. SMW’s ratings have been really low, and rumors have arisen that one of the two writers might bow out soon. I’ll continue watching, but will let everyone know if I elect to stop recapping it. It’s still entertaining but my interest isn’t really engaged anymore.
Episode 4 recap:
Kang Woo stops In Ah from striking Myung Wol, telling In Ah not to touch her (Myung Wol). He explains to In Ah that Myung Wol is insane, she has been driven insane by love, so In Ah should just leave her be. Kang Woo walks away.
In Ah tells Myung Wol that she shouldn’t try to climb a tree that she isn’t able to climb, otherwise she’ll just fall flat on her ass. Myung Wol tosses it back at In Ah, to take care not fall on her ass. In Ah gets angry and tries to strike Myung Wol again, but this time Myung Wol grabs her arm and reminds her that Kang Woo says she’s not to be touched. In Ah walks away saying Myung Wol is crazy.
Agent Kyung finds Dae Kang washing Kang Woo’s van and asks who he is? Dae Kang says he’s Kang Woo’s fan. Agent Kyung hires him to be Kang Woo’s new assistant (after firing the former guy for being lazy and inept), to which Kang Woo wonders why they keep hiring crazy people with unknown backgrounds. Yes, I am also confused. Dae Kang promises to work hard.
Choi Ryu is moving out and tells Ok Soon and Hee Bok to run the Myung Wol assignment while he’s going undercover. Myung Wol brings Kang Woo a cup of tea, explaining that the housekeeper isn’t here and Dae Kang is studying up on his new job. Myung Wol asks Kang Woo to stop broadcasting to everyone that she’s crazy.
Kang Woo asks if she’s embarrassed. She says it’s nothing to be proud of. Kang Woo tells her to stop living that way then. She says she can’t help it. Choi Ryu moves into Chairman Joo’s mansion to begin his authentication work for him.
The agents of the NSA are analyzing intelligence on Chairman Joo. Agent Ryu comes over and asks what new intel is available. They discuss that the North apparently sent agents to Singapore as well when Chairman Joo was there for the exchange. Plus Hallyu star Kang Woo attended a secret auction in Singapore. Agent Ryu is curious about why Kang Woo would be at the auction.
Choi Ryu walks through the house and looks around. He looks way too shifty, shouldn’t a top spy be less obvious in his lurking? Choi Ryu finds a room that is locked. He picks the lock and walks inside to discover there is another room that is protected by an electronic lock system. He walks out of the room and runs into In Ah in the living room.
She asks what he is doing, and informs him there is a room down that hall where her grandfather keeps locked and even she can’t go in. She asks if Choi Ryu likes her which is why he’s found an excuse to be near her? This girl isn’t just annoying, she’s borderline delusionally self-absorbed. She tells him not to like her since she’s not interested in him since he’s not a name brand (guy). I’m not interested in you either, In Ah, so please go away.
Chairman Joo comes out and In Ah tattles that Choi Ryu was just poking around, isn’t that weird. Chairman Joo says curiosity about a new place isn’t a bad thing. In Ah wonders if Choi Ryu is trustworthy enough to live in their house? The Chairman laughs and says that’ll have to be seen. In Ah warns Choi Ryu that if she dislikes him, it’s just a matter of time before she gets him fired.
Myung Wol is practicing her OPW, using the most disgusting of cute voices to say “oppa” over and over again. She gets grossed out and frustrated with herself, cursing at this seduction business. Kang Woo walks down the stairs and she runs over, asking him if he needs anything, and adding “oppa” at the end of her question. She asks again “do you want coffee, oppa?” Kang Woo tells her to stop the nasty oppa business or else she’s dead.
Myung Wol meets with Ok Soon later that night and informs her that Kang Woo hated the oppa line. Ok Soon is shocked, all men love being called oppa, and this is from her personal experience. Myung Wol feels like their plan is going off the tracks. Ok Soon is befuddled – Kang Woo doesn’t like the strong warrior type, the not-too-sexual type, or the aegyo (cutesy) type. What is Kang Woo’s real interest (i.e. does he like guys)? Myung Wol says that Kang Woo is like…..crazy.
Myung Wol walks back to Kang Woo’s house, where Agent Ryu is parked outside doing surveillance. She sees Myung Wol and wonders who she is since Kang Woo has no sisters. Is Myung Wol the girlfriend? Director Ryu calls his daughter asking where she is but Agent Ryu just blows her dad off with an “I’m busy working.”
Kang Woo is walking on the treadmill. Myung Wol asks if he wants to take a break. He tells her to stop bugging him, but she says it’s her job to stay beside him at all times. He tells her to join him in jogging then. We see Myung Wol calmly jogging on the treadmill besides Kang Woo. They both eye each other and begin to increase the speed as they compete. Finally Kang Woo goes too fast he almost falls off the treadmill, which he blames on Myung Wol making too much noise and distracting him. Heh.
Dae Kang tells Myung Wol that there is something going on with Kang Woo and In Ah, as a way to get Myung Wol to stop being interested in Kang Woo. Myung Wol processes this information and realizes that is why In Ah doesn’t like her. Dae Kang asks Myung Wol to put her hand in his. He then pulls her close and then asks her to push him away.
He pushes and pulls Myung Wol to demonstrate that Kang Woo and In Ah have this push and pull relationship that means Kang Woo is pushing her away in order to land her in the end. Myung Wol is upset that she hasn’t even landed Kang Woo, but now she has to contend with another rival, In Ah.
Choi Ryu sits down to dinner with the Chairman. In Ah sits down at the table and continues to deride and insult Choi Ryu. Doesn’t the girl have anything decent to say? She asks Choi Ryu what his real purpose is here? Is he looking to be a male Cinderella? Choi Ryu says he has no such intent. Chairman Joo asks Choi Ryu to forgive In Ah’s bad manners, she’s been spoiled her entire life and suffers from a princess syndrome. Chairman calls In Ah someone with a sharp tongue but a softy inside.
Choi Ryu sits in his room and views files. He goes to the locked room and manages to crack the electronic code and enters the hidden basement room where the Chairman has locked away many valuable antiques. Choi Ryu looks for a hidden panel and finds it behind a hanging painting.
Myung Wol goes to wake Kang Woo up and finds his room empty. She sees the closet ajar and opens it. A baseball glove and ball falls out. She picks it up and sees that the ball has the name Lee Kang Woo written on it. Kang Woo comes and yells at her to never touch his stuff again. She peeks back inside and sees Kang Woo carefully putting the ball and glove back. He takes out a picture of a young boy (likely himself) with an older man (probably his dad).
Dae Kang gives Kang Woo his itinerary for the day while Kang Woo eats breakfast. Kang Woo is in a bad mood and just walks away in the middle of Dae Kang’s recitation. Myung Wol protects Kang Woo as they walk through the studio. Outside the studio they are mobbed by school girl fans, one of whom grabs Kang Woo’s hair to scream that they love him.
After Kang Woo is safe, Myung Wol confronts the girls, who are snarky and rude with her. Myung Wol tells the girls to bring it, the first to attack will die in her hands. All the school girls get ready to fight, and Myung Wol realizes how many there are, and how fierce they look.
Kang Woo climbs into the van where Dae Kang worriedly asks where Myung Wol is? They see a messed up Myung Wol walking back to the van, and she’s even got a nosebleed. Dae Kang asks if she wants to go to the hospital but Myung Wol says it’s not necessary. Kang Woo says they need to bring Myung Wol to a beauty salon since she can’t go with him to the jewelry party he’s headed to tonight looking like that.
Chairman Joo and Choi Ryu arrive at the party. Myung Wol is in the bathroom getting ready. She looks at herself in the mirror and sees her bloody nose and messy hair. She thinks she looks like a total freak. Kang Woo is at the party and In Ah walks up to remind him that her grandfather is coming today and ask Kang Woo to please behave today.
Chairman Joo and Choi Ryu walk up and greets Kang Woo. In Ah immediately sidles up to Kang Woo and grabs his arm. Kang Woo and Choi Ryu give each other pointed looks. Choi Ryu runs into Myung Wol outside the bathroom, surprising both of them. Choi Ryu says he hardly recognized her, but reminds her that she’s in the middle of an assignment.
The party starts to welcome a famous jewelry designer Suame to Korea. Myung Wol walks into the party but a waiter bumps into her. He drops his tray which makes a huge clang and everyone looks in her direction. She continues walking and all the men at the party are totally gaping at her hotness. Even In Ah looks envious. I’m not a big fan of these miraculously looking hot by virtue of a dress change scenes, which are pretty heavy-handed to me.
Kang Woo stares and stares at Myung Wol some more. The Chairman introduces In Ah to Suame, who then sees Myung Wol and walks over to ask if she’s an actress. Myung Wol says she’s not an actress, she’s just Kang Woo’s personal bodyguard. She loves Myung Wol’s neckline and wants her to model some jewelry for her. In Ah is so angry she tears off the Suame jewelry she was wearing.
A man comes up to ask Myung Wol to dance. She declines because she’s in the middle of working. But the guy grabs her and drags her on the dance floor. Myung Wol tries to resist but the guy is totally grabby. Kang Woo steps forward and asks the guy to let him have this dance. The grabby guy stalks off and Kang Woo and Myung Wol start to dance.
Kang Woo asks her where she learned her English. She says she learned it herself. Myung Wol keeps treading on Kang Woo’s toes, and he asks her why she didn’t teach herself how to dance. He warns her that if she steps on his toes one more time, she’s fired. He dips her and says that if she embarrasses him (on the dance floor), then she’s fired as well.
He tells her to stop trying to lead and just follow his lead. They start dancing smoothly and it’s quite lovely. Suddenly Kang Woo gets a phone call and he rushes off. Myung Wol runs after him but In Ah purposes steps on her train so it rips. Myung Wol jerks the entire train off and continues to chase after Kang Woo. She loses him outside after he hops in a car.
Kang Woo rushes to meet with Hee Bok, who confirms that he’s found leads on Dok Ge Bi (aka Goblin), the mystery man Kang Woo is searching for. Hee Bok shows Kang Woo a hand drawn picture of the Goblin, which is like a kid’s sketch and could be half the men in Korea. Hee Bok says he’s getting closer but needs more money to continue the search. Kang Woo hands him some cash.
Suddenly the TV shows news reports on Kang Woo and In Ah attending tonight’s party. Hee Bok says he’s curious if Kang Woo is going to marry In Ah? He asks what type of girls Kang Woo likes? Kang Woo says he’s not interested in women and leaves.
Myung Wol goes back to Kang Woo’s house. She sees his picture on the wall and she flashes back to dancing with him tonight, and how he got rid of the grabby guy. She looks at her hand and remembers how they held hands as they danced. She looks confused and wonders what is happening with her?
She hears a noise and turns around to see Kang Woo coming home. She asks where he went and he tells her it’s none of her business. He tells her to not think that anything happened between them simply because they held hands (and danced) tonight. He notices her ripped dress and is upset because he paid for it. He tells her that he’ll deduct the price of the dress from her wages. Myung Wol mutters that he’s a jerk under his breath.
Hee Bok tells Ok Soon that Kang Woo confirmed today that he’s not interested in women. Ok Soon says they have to use their brains then. Myung Wol is doing pull ups at the playground when Ok Soon arrives. Ok Soon wants Myung Wol to use her great reflexes on Kang Woo. Ok Soon says rather than training her body, Myung Wol has more important things to do.
Ok Soon says that based on Kang Woo being gay, Myung Wol’s feminine talents isn’t enough. She wants Myung Wol to find what Kang Woo’s weakness is as a person, and attack that way. Myung Wol thinks that might be a cowardly thing to do. Ok Sook says there is no other way, but reminds Myung Wol to simply find the weakness and then let Kang Woo know she’s the only person in the world that knows his weakness.
Myung Wol walks home to find the leader of the school girls nodding off outside Kang Woo’s house. The girl confirms that she’s been here for three days now, wanting to just be close to Kang Woo’s house. Myung Wol tells her to go home since her parents will be worried. She just wants a signature and she’ll be satisfied.
Myung Wol goes inside and finds Kang Woo working at his desk. She tries to get a signature for the fan, telling him the girl has been sitting there for three nights straight now. Kang Woo reminds Myung Wol that he doesn’t give out autographs and he has too many such fans to think about just one. He never gives out autographs because valuable things like his signature can’t be owned by anyone.
He tells Myung Wol that if she’s worried, she can give the girl her own signature. He dismisses Myung Wol, who mutters that a guy like that can’t have any weaknesses. Myung Wol goes outside and hands the girl an old t-shirt of Kang Woo’s, lying that Kang Woo wanted to give it to her. The girl says Kang Woo is an angel, to which Myung Wol says he’s a devil inside angel’s clothing. We see Kang Woo watching from the window, and holding a CD of his which he has signed. What a softie.
In Ah asks her grandpa to make Choi Ryu her bodyguard, since he possess skills. Her assistant asks why In Ah wants to switch bodyguards? In Ah says Choi Ryu appears to know her worth (and Kang Woo doesn’t is the implication), plus having Choi Ryu around has other uses. In Ah says a man’s jealousy can be quite strong, wanting to use Choi Ryu to make Kang Woo jealous.
Myung Wol brings Kang Woo his tray of morning vitamins and he nitpicks that she didn’t bring the correct items or the correct bottled water. He asks for a napkin and she gives him a roll of toilet paper. He tosses it and says he only uses a special brand. After Kang Woo leaves, Myung Wol mutters that he sure treats her like a slave, and she would love to pound his face into a pulp.
Kang Woo stands at the bottom of the driveway and berates Myung Wol for doing a shoddy job since the car is covered in fan graffiti. Kang Woo tells her to clean it all up. Myung Wol mutters that she’s a North Korean agent and she can’t believe she’s resorted to getting ordered around by Kang Woo and doing gopher work.
Myung Wol opens the trunk to look for cleaning supplies and finds a box containing CDs signed by Kang Woo for kids at a hospital. Myung Wol reports to Ok Soon that Kang Woo seems like a good guy. Ok Soon tells her to just do her job and find his weakness, a scar or a pain he’s concealed.
Kang Woo sits and watches his own interview on TV. He passes out on the couch. Myung Wol comes by and mutters that Kang Woo can’t possibly have any hidden pain since he doesn’t appear to have suffered at all in his life. Suddenly Kang Woo cries out in his sleep. He says “no” and we have a flashback with young Kang Woo looking for his father in a forest area. He keeps saying “don’t go, don’t go.”
Myung Wol wakes Kang Woo up from his nightmare. Kang Woo pushes her aside and stumbles off to his bedroom. Myung Wol thinks back to what Ok Soon said, that everyone has pain, but we only conceal it. Myung Wol thinks someone Kang Woo loved must have left him. She wonders if perhaps it’s Kang Woo’s first love?
Ok Soon meets with Hee Bok, who asks if she’s eaten? She tells him not to wait for her in the future and just eat on his own. Ok Soon looks tired and Hee Bok offers to massage her feet. She pushes him away. He says they are a married couple, and she threatens to divorce him immediately if he keeps bothering her. She stalks off and Hee Bok giggles that her grumpiness is so cute.
Kang Woo and Myung Wol arrive at the studio only to run into In Ah and Choi Ryu. Kang Woo has no reaction to seeing another man around In Ah, which doesn’t make her happy. Kang Woo is told that the stuntwoman for today’s scene is injured and they can’t film. But Kang Woo has a CF shoot tomorrow so it has to be today. They decide to ask Myung Wol to pinch hit.
In Ah and Choi Ryu walk onto the set just as Myung Wol, wearing a domino, is strung up on wires and prepares to shoot the scene. The filming begins with Kang Woo and In Ah running away from assailants while Myung Wol dangles from the roof and shoots at the gunmen. Suddenly her wired get tangled and then she falls.
Kang Woo is the quickest to react, as he runs towards the rapidly falling Myung Wol and catches her in his arm before she hits the ground. He looks into her eyes, covered by the domino, and finally appears to make the connection that she’s the masked woman in Singapore that saved him on the balcony.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’m really curious to hear from folks on why you really love SMW so far, or why it’s only so-so for you. I doubt you’re reading my recaps if you don’t like it. I’m wondering if I’m just missing something, or perhaps distracted by other stuff. Unlike Heartstrings, which actively annoyed me with the two episodes I watched, nothing about SMW really bugs me, with the exception of the non-character that is In Ah and the bad acting from the two second leads. But these are quibbles that I’ve accepted with many a drama, so I’m just treading water trying to see if my decreasing level of interest SMW is more me or more the drama. Or maybe a combination of both.
Most of my drama friends either checked out SMW and then promptly checked right out of it, or aren’t even interested in watching at all. It’s sorta flying under the radar right now, which isn’t a bad thing. I found episode 4 once again slightly choppy (but not as bad as episode 3), but what also surprised me is how slow going the plot is now after the quick speed out the gate in the first two episodes. Maybe because this drama reminds me of the mad-cap antics of the Hong Sisters, I was thinking the plot would be a series of events that keep moving the story forward. But instead episode 4 introduced one new revelation about Kang Woo’s backstory, and the rest of time it was rather meandering.
I’ll adjust my expectations on the pace and see if allowing this story to unfurl at a much slower beat is the way to go. I genuinely like the concept of the OTP – cloistered North Korean spy with emotional buttons missing and self-absorbed but secretly kind Hallyu star with childhood trauma. Plus I still think Eric and Han Ye Seul have good (not great) chemistry. Part of me thinks this drama just has a pretty long set up phase and will take off once all the mystery pieces are in place. I’m cool with that. 49 Days took 10 episodes before I fell in love with it, so I understand that the switch can flip at anytime for a drama. Hoping that happens with SMW for me.