Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Misaeng: on episode 17~18

Misaeng ends this week! So i’ll sum up the penultimate week quickly before the finale is here.

I’ve noticed the show’s medium-to-slow pacing right from the beginning and it stays consistent(ly contemplative) throughout. It takes time to present case of the day/week and builds the mood through lingering, silent shots. Naturally, Misaeng also has its ups and downs. Like typical workday: yesterday everything was smooth and under control, but today can be a total mess.

We’re two episodes away from the finale, i wanted things to keep going up, culminating till the last one. I even expected another time jump because, heck, if we want to catch up to badass Geu-rae in Jordan, another fast forward may be necessary. But now, i am not sure we’re getting there…

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The penultimate week’s pair episodes are the weaker in the bunch. Episode 17 in particular feels really slow and drawn out despite the feel-good nature. Yes, blabbermouth Seok-yul replete with his trademark middle part hair is back (big fat thumbs up for that!); yes, there are bonding moments of different batches — the chajangs, the daeris, and the sawons; yes, for once none of four newbies is in the slump plus i get my dream team together on something… But the main issue, i wish they sped up the decision making rather than dwelling on it throughout the minutes and not even telling us what it is until the next installment. ‘Cuz honestly, the lengthy pondering is anticlimactic; i knew which choice (Senior) Manager Oh would make about 30 minutes in.

It is about the two projects handed to Sales Team 3 from the executive director. Coming from him is already suspicious, but why them when the projects has been approved and just need to be acted upon? One of them is worth $500 million and of course comes with as high the stakes. It could mean a leap for the whole team or bottomless pit. No pain no gain.

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Manager Oh is hesitating but then Dong-shik doesn’t hide his disappointment of not getting the promotion again, and then he overhears the other daeris talking about why so — they deduce it’s due to Manager Oh’s propensity for taking on difficult projects without strong results that eventually reflect badly on the members. Yes, they get along, but it means little when they can’t climb the corporate ladder.

Still he hesitates Senior Manager Sun has to lay it out for him — he would get more power should the deal go through. If he’s promoted to dept head position, as per company’s manual, he can choose his people. That means Geu-rae can be converted to permanent employee status (and Dong-shik can get promoted).

As per previous projects, the hardest decision isn’t about whether or not to take the project. It is about what decision to make once they’re already knee-deep into it and smell something fishy out of it. First they need to use guanxi or connections to smoothen the business proceedings in China. Then they need to use a certain agent which charges unusually high commission margin that eats up most of One International’s profit margin that has been reduced to accommodate guanxi arrangement. Plus the partner company Poshin has no middle manager. It is shady but the dept head presses Manager Oh to move on with it anyway. Hmm, why does it remind me of Manager Park’s corruption case?

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Manager Oh puts off the project for now and asks the team to record all calls and get one of their contacts in China to dig more information on Poshin. The findings add fuel to the fire: it is a relatively new company and never requires to use another agent before; the commission margin is usually 1% (instead of 2.5%) and One International could actually get away with higher margin. Regardless, Manager Oh is reluctant to drop the project even if the executive director is likely to get a kickback from it. This is the perfect yet last chance to save Geu-rae and Manager Oh is determined to make it work without harming anybody.

Speaking of the devil, Geu-rae senses something is amiss too but can’t put a finger on what it is. Baek-ki who usually looks on breaks it to him, that Manager Oh is probably doing it to save him. He is not sure what’s bothering Geu-rae but hopes it will work out. Geu-rae confronts Manager Oh about it but the latter’s not backing down due to the above reasons. Geu-rae realizes this is neither empty hope nor irresponsible consolation, but just the thoughts of wanting to save him is enough. He doesn’t want his beloved team to suffer if the project goes south. So when the China contact calls again, he answers the phone, confirms the deal’s shadiness, and records all confirmations. Which is when Manager Oh bellows at him.

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Let’s just say both of them act on what they think is right, which is saving each other’s asses, only now they are, for once, not on the same page. It looks like Geu-rae is overstepping, but i also wonder why Manager Oh is willing to risk it all just to save Geu-rae, a newbie who isn’t that resourceful yet. Is this a way for him to redeem his past grave mistake of not standing up for Eun-ji? Because even if this case is similar in many ways to Manager Park’s, his mindset is now different. I am not sure where the path will lead them to, since there’s no baduk strategies to base their moves on…

Where did those calculated moves go? The strategies are hard to follow and understand sometimes, although the lessons given to little Geu-rae by the teacher are way easier to grasp, but i think i’m missing those now.

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It’s easy to focus on Sales Team 3 and overlook the other characters. Now that perky Seok-yul has returned, the war between him and his senior resumes. He also in a situation where he suspects Sung daeri receives a kickback since the latter insists on using the subcontractor with bad reputation of late deliveries and was sued for that. The manager is either blind or too trusting to brush the matter off. Baek-ki is still caught paying too much attention to his project until he adorkably admits he isn’t a good multitasker lol.

Episode 18 also sheds light on Young-yi’s dysfunctional family and the deal with that team leader. It isn’t as dramatic as anticipated, but still sad. She’s tried all her life to be the child her father is proud to have. Her father wanted a boy she even sported boy cut and dressed tomboyishly. It was her former superior who made her feel good and value herself as a woman. Maybe it’s about time that she finally opens up? She is surrounded by fellow newbies who see her as an equal and has been treated nicely by her team, who’s happy for her when her project is revived as the dept head’s didn’t make the cut.

Does that mean, more happy times for our foursome? Well, that if Geu-rae and Manager Oh manage to bridge the gap in the next episode.

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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