I’m Not a Robot: Episodes 3-4
Hi, Yoo Seung-ho. Aside from the honest joy of a show where the name of the game is not to break the cuties, I’m really enjoying its happy energy. Isn’t it so fun to see a smirky wicked Yoo Seung-ho, emotionally hapless (and non-psychopathic) yet still enigmatic Eom Ki-joon, and dual-identity Chae Soo-bin as inventor-slash-fauxbot? I mean, why would you not watch this?
EPISODE 3: “I can do many things for you”
The Santa Maria teammates snap nervously at each other while they connect to Jia’s wifi. Meanwhile, Min-kyu greets his new arrival: “Hi, Aji-3.”
Jia opens her eyes and begins her scripted greeting, “I love you, Master,” but leaps back screaming when she recognizes him as the guy who ripped her off, much to Min-kyu’s own shock.
Eyeing her warily, he phones Baek-gyun and reports Jia’s rude exclamations. Thanks to quick-thinking Pi, Baek-gyun spins it as an operational glitch, “friend mode,” and advises a reboot.
The rest of the team is convinced that Min-kyu’s too smart to buy it, but what he’s really outraged at is the robot’s presumption to friendship. Jia only manages to master her own temper by reminding herself of the money.
Pressing the power button at the back of her neck, Min-kyu starts again: “Hi, Aji-3.” This time, she responds according to script, but he deducts points for her faulty startup. In the van, Hok-tal and Ssan-ip are amazed that Min-kyu bought their deception, but Baek-gyun explains that it would simply not occur to him that the robot wasn’t a robot.
Oh no, the electricity suddenly cuts out, severing their connection with Jia. She’s left in confusion as her retina display disappears. To make matters worse, Min-kyu decides to administer a test of her hardware abilities and issues increasingly complex commands.
Jia struggles to keep up. She totters on one foot, sure that any second he’ll realize the ruse. But Min-kyu only announces his disappointment and deducts more points. As soon as his back turns, Jia snarls silently at him, ha.
Baek-gyun despairs over the fact that their fate rests in the hands of someone with an IQ of 94, which makes Pi wince. Okay geniuses, enough IQ hate.
Min-kyu next gives her three minutes to complete a bunch of complicated calculations which will tell her the combination code to unlock a box. After a moment of panic, Jia smashes through the box with her bare hands and proudly presents him with the egg she finds inside. Ha!
He marvels at her direct problem-solving ability and is even more impressed when she cracks it on her head and hands it to him all peeled. Jia laments inside that the first person who ever called her smart is such a lunatic.
With an hour to go, the team frets about what’s going on inside. Luckily, Jia was already coached for the foreign language test earlier, and she cheerfully explains that there’s currently an error in that part of her software.
Unimpressed, he next tests her internet search skills by asking her for the serial number of one of his collected action figures. Recognizing it immediately as the one she secured for him the day before, she’s able to rattle off its details to an impressive degree, while inwardly cursing him for not paying her for it. Lol, how she keeps scowling at him when he’s not looking.
Min-kyu concedes her searching ability is top-notch, then starts to eye her suspiciously. Jia’s outraged to find him staring at her chest, which he notes is bigger than it was the day before. He wants to open her up to check the battery pack, and extends his hand to her chest…
At the warehouse, Baek-gyun sags in relief as Pi gets the electricity back. They go live again—right in time to hear Jia release a volley of creative curses at Min-kyu, who’s shocked speechless. Baek-gyun drops to his knees in horror, and is barely able to answer when Min-kyu phones.
“Who are you trying to deceive right now?” Min-kyu demands. But they’re surprised when he accuses Baek-gyun of using cheap batteries, making Aji-3’s chest swell up. Min-kyu yells that she might even explode.
Thanks to Pi, Baek-gyun manages to stutter out that he upgraded Aji-3’s battery pack, and warns Min-kyu not to touch her chest. Jia watches incredulously as Min-kyu also complains about the robot switching back to Friend Mode. Baek-gyun tells him a voice command to return to Operation Mode is sufficient at this point.
Hanging up, Min-kyu wonders aloud why being cursed out by a robot felt kind of stimulating. It’s because you’re such a moron, Jia thinks. He orders her back to Operation Mode, but is interrupted by a call from Jin-bae (aka Jia’s brother), the manager of KM Financial’s research team.
Jin-bae reports that he’s discovered the head of the Social Contribution Team embezzling company funds. Min-kyu demands the embezzler’s resignation, threatening lawsuit otherwise. There’s one more person he wants to sue, he adds fiercely—the scammer who stole his necklace.
Jia freezes on hearing that. Still muttering angrily, Min-kyu turns his attention back to her, this time with an “ethics test.” He describes a thief who stole his necklace and asks if he should throw her in jail or forgive her once he gets his necklace back.
The real Aji-3 feeds Jia a law-code-based answer that favors Min-kyu, but Jia overrides the cue and says the thief should be given the benefit of the doubt. Startled, Min-kyu argues that the robot should be taking her master’s side.
“But my master could be wrong. Isn’t that so, Master?” she asks brightly. Scowling, he swallows a handful of pills, but suddenly starts choking on them. His struggles to clear his airways are futile, and he drops to the floor.
Jia runs to him even as Baek-gyun tells her to stay out of it. She thumps Min-kyu on the back until he coughs up the offending pills. Genuinely concerned, she asks if he’s okay, stroking his back soothingly.
Still on his knees, he looks at her with astonishment. Via Jia’s retina display, Aji-3 fails to decipher Min-kyu’s expression, but Jia is able to pass her action off as a learned emergency medical response. If trained well, she promises, she can do many things for him.
Wordlessly, he extends a single finger towards her, ET-like… and with a smile, Jia claps both her hands around his, skin to skin. He stares in wonder at their touching hands.
Jia and the mobile team return to the warehouse lab, where the others review her offline footage with a collective wince and Baek-gyun upbraids her about how she handled everything. Pretty damn well, if you ask me.
But his rain of criticism goes on and he accuses her of being empty-headed and thoughtless. Hurt crosses Jia’s face, and she recalls a similar scolding from him in the past. Rising, she says a cheerful goodbye to the team, and coldly tells Baek-gyun to change the robot’s face immediately. He snipes childishly back, but she leaves without a backward glance.
On her way home, she tells herself it’s worth it for the ten million won.
Baek-gyun fumes to himself that she’s exactly the same, always leaving after provoking him. He remembers their break-up: Over sandwiches, she’d simply said, “Let’s break up,” and left. It’s clear she’s upset, but it looks like he never noticed that. All IQ, no EQ, it seems. He sighs heavily.
The next day, KM Financial CEO Yoo-chul meets the foreign buyer for the Santa Maria team and tells him the contract’s ready. But Min-kyu calls to tell him he’s nixing the sale, deriding Yoo-chul’s ability to handle the matter.
Jia treats her niece and sister-in-law to a dinner of prime beef, explaining that she came into some money and can pay back her loan, too. Her sister-in-law suddenly remembers a necklace she found in Jia’s laundry, and Jia grabs it, horrified that she had it after all. Ha!
Min-kyu continues marveling over his unmarked hand. His reverie is broken by a video message sent by Jia, which shows a hammer poised above his necklace.
For all her threatening video, Jia’s carefully packing the necklace up to send him. When he calls, she haughtily tells him to apologize for how he treated her if he wants it back. He scoffs that she even lied about stealing it, and says that if she destroys it, he’ll go to the ends of the earth to make her pay.
Jia unleashes another string of curses, calling him noodle-brained and mistrustful. She scorns him for twisting the situation, clarifying that she didn’t realize she had it, but now she’s contacting him to return it. But… you sent him a threatening video? Can’t blame the boy for misunderstanding, lols.
She snipes that he must not have friends, and he shoots back that he prefers robots to people—which she totally takes personally. “What can that robot do that I can’t?” she yells, before catching herself. Ha! She quickly covers by telling him to send her his address, and Min-kyu’s left fuming.
At the lighting workshop, Jia tests out her heart-lamps, and as she lays her hands on one lamp, the second lights up. Success! She squeals with joy about finally being able to submit her invention in the competition.
Min-kyu thinks of his brush with death earlier. “Is a robot my lifesaver now?” he asks, laughing to himself a little. As he scratches his back, he’s struck by a fantasy of Aji-3 being his personal backscratcher. In fact, everywhere he looks, he blissfully imagines the smiling robot, and remembers her promise that she could do many things for him.
“That’s right. Training a robot… shall I give it a shot?” he asks himself, grin widening.
EPISODE 4: “Welcome to my home”
Baek-gyun is alarmed to hear that the special part they’d ordered for Aji-3 was mistakenly sent to Africa and is now at least five days away. At that inopportune moment, Min-kyu calls him. Impressed with the robot, he proposes taking Aji-3 for the month of “deep learning” that Baek-gyun said was required to fully train the robot; he’ll put off making a decision about Daeyang Shipbuilding and the Santa Maria team’s fate until then.
He wants the robot delivered the next day, but Baek-gyun comes up with various excuses, all of which Min-kyu offers immediate solutions for. Asserting his right as co-owner, Baek-gyun offers to send her in a week’s time.
Min-kyu receives a reply to his email from “Madame X” containing files about Daeyang’s late chairman, someone called Park Sung-jin.
Elsewhere, Jin-bae accepts the embezzling manager’s resignation. The manager warns Jin-bae to watch his own back and pick his side carefully: Min-kyu is the son of the late first chairman of KM Financial, while Yoo-chul is the son of the current one and thus bound to prevail in the end.
Jin-bae certainly looks like he’s having second thoughts, especially when Min-kyu intercepts him on his way home and summons him into the back of his car (where a divider protects him from human contact).
Jin-bae updates him on Embezzling Manager’s resignation, and Min-kyu tells him to suspend all of that team’s projects. Min-kyu also shows Jin-bae the files he received from Madame X, which are detailed plans of robotic parts.
He explains that Daeyang’s late chairman was secretly in partnership with Baek-gyun to develop advanced robots, and they escaped detection by lying low after his death. Swearing him to secrecy, Min-kyu assigns Jin-bae to find out if anyone else in KM Financial knows the truth about the Santa Maria team, especially CEO Yoo-chul or his father.
Jin-bae meets with the Santa Maria team to tell them Min-kyu wants them to move in to his estate. He advises them to accept whatever Min-kyu says, since their fate is in his hands.
Min-kyu visits his parents’ grave, where the headstone shows they died on the same day fifteen years ago. If Dad had been alive, he would’ve turned 60 today, Min-kyu tells him. His solitude is interrupted by the arrival of Yoo-chul’s father, CHAIRMAN HWANG, who’s also there to pay his respects.
The chairman tells Min-kyu to go easy on Yoo-chul and bolster his position—they’re old friends, after all. With barely veiled antipathy, Min-kyu says he has no such influence before dismissing himself. Once back in his car, though, emotion boils out of him and he pounds the wheel, holding back tears.
Jia and bestie Sun-hye get giddy over the working heart-lamps, but their glee is cut short when Jia gets the news that the competition has been postponed indefinitely by the top dog himself, the chairman of the board of directors.
Jia gets an idea to send him a groveling letter to ask him to reconsider. Thanks to one of Sun-hye’s computery ex-boyfriends, the girls acquire his address. Of course, they have no idea that the Chairman Kim Min-kyu of KM Financial and Jia’s robot overlord are one and the same.
Intimidated by the huge estate (Jia: “But I can’t see any house!”), they’re lost for where to post the letter when the gates suddenly open for an arriving car: Min-kyu’s. Jia’s shocked to catch a glimpse of the familiar face, and quickly hides her own. Lost in his own grim thoughts, he doesn’t notice her.
At home, Jia despairs over her misfortune. She asks Sun-hye if she can hold the fact that she saved his life over his head, but Sun-hye reminds her that was the robot. Jia recognizes that her letter wouldn’t have convinced someone like Min-kyu anyway, so she was doomed from the start.
Oppa Jin-bae calls her out of her room and demands to know where she got all that money to repay him. He accuses her of taking out illegal loans, not believing that she earned it from a job, and searches her room for clues.
His attention is drawn to the heart lamps she tries to shield from his view. She begs him to leave them alone, but he angrily smashes one of them to pieces and tells her to leave the house.
Clutching the broken lamp, she tells him she never once did anything untoward, but her brother immediately counters that she never did anything worthy either. In tears, she asks why he could never accept her, but he tells her to get out of his sight if she wants to live how she wants to.
Nodding, she agrees: “I can’t live with you anymore, either.” She heads for Sun-hye’s, but it’s more bad news as Workshop Ajusshi calls her to say that she has to take away her leftover inventory from past inventions.
He advises her to sell them for whatever she can get. She sets up a stall, but nobody’s interested in her floor-cleaning body suit or backpack with a furry cup-holding arm, even when she drops the price to peanuts. One woman even tells her that her items are only good for trash.
A child passes with a toy car, which takes her back to a memory of her childhood, where she used to tinker with tools in her mechanic father’s workshop. She’d told Dad about a classmate on crutches who had trouble getting around.
Together, father and daughter devised a wheeled shoe for the little girl’s injured foot, much to the friend’s delight. Proud of her, Dad had said, “Just like I fix cars, you’ll definitely become someone who does things to help people. I believe in you.”
She spends the night alone, huddling over the remaining lamp. “Are you there?” she asks it sadly. Elsewhere, Min-kyu’s lamp switches on. He, too, can’t sleep, though his sad face says that it’s not because of work.
Morning finds Jia still sleepless. She gets a pleading message from Ssan-ip, asking her if she can be the robot for just a few more days. She decides to do it, and explains to Sun-hye that she really believes her lamp invention is something the world needs. She plans to convince Min-kyu to change his mind about the contest.
The Santa Maria team gives up on Jia coming, and they scowl at Baek-gyun for how mean he was to her last time. Just as they plan extreme measures, she arrives, coolly agreeing to take the job. All she requires in exchange is to be fed and housed. Noting the the suitcase she has with her, Baek-gyun tells her that they’re about to move.
No sooner do they clear out of the warehouse when another van arrives with a couple of men in black. One of the directors reports to Chairman Hwang that the Santa Maria team has vanished, which is clearly very bad news for him.
Chairman Hwang holds a secret meeting with the foreign buyer Yoo-chul met earlier. The buyer knows that Santa Maria is a robot development team, and is furious that the sale has been canceled. Chairman Hwang insists nobody else knew, not even his son Yoo-chul, and promises to deliver Aji-3 to him asap.
Meanwhile, the Santa Maria team arrives at Min-kyu’s estate. They gape at the mansion and grounds in awe. Haha, me too. Min-kyu watches them from inside with binoculars. “Welcome to my home,” he says, smiling faintly.
The team is housed in a rundown outbuilding, where Butler Sung gives them the house rules, like not wandering the grounds or ordering delivery. Their faces fall further with each successive stricture.
Oh no, Butler Sung notices a strangely shifting bag, which has got to contain Jia. They distract him and heave sighs of relief when he finally leaves. Jia climbs out of the bag gasping, but her surroundings leave her less than impressed, considering Min-kyu’s wealth.
Baek-gyun sets his team to various tasks but Jia demands food first. Over ramyun, Ssan-ip enthusiastically introduces the little robot (“Beetle”) as their team maknae, and Jia learns about everyone’s nicknames. She reveals Baek-gyun’s Fungus Guy nickname, much to everyone’s amusement but his. Haha, ouch.
Min-kyu calls Baek-gyun out and asks him how to train Aji-3. Baek-gyun explains that if she’s focused on one person, she can input all the data about him and become extremely accurate in reading and communicating with him.
“So I have to input myself into Aji-3?” Min-kyu asks. He’s concerned about his privacy, so Baek-gyun says he can password-protect his private area in Aji-3’s “mind,” which Min-kyu finds quite thrilling.
Boy and robot (fauxbot?) meet again. “Hi, Aji-3,” he says. Jia smiles and replies, on-script, “I love you, Master. What can I do for you?”
Min-kyu picks the word “sandwich” as his password. Hilariously, that’s one word Baek-gyun has banned because of his negative associations with it after Jia broke up with him. To Baek-gyun’s dismay, Jia rolls her eyes and overrides the ban.
Min-kyu recognises that she saved his life yesterday, while Jia thinks in reply, If you’re grateful, give me money! He promises to reward her, and stepping closer, he points at her chest and says he’ll make his own “room” inside her.
“Don’t let anyone else in,” he says, “Only I can enter.”
Closing the last of the distance between them, he tells her that he’s going to train her: “From now on, look only at me, look after me, and follow only me.”
It seems like Aji-3 is working just fine right now, so I admit I don’t understand why Jia has to go back in. But I’m not one to turn my nose up to delicious things, so I’ll just leave that thought here.
“Hi, Aji-3.” Does anyone else a little stab in their heart every time Min-kyu says it? I feel like those three words are loaded with all of his hope and vulnerability, and each time he says it, it’s a little more meaningful. After all, Min-kyu’s the human, not the robot, so he’s not following a script. This is what I love about Yoo Seung-ho: No matter the role he’s in, he’s able to bring a sense of unscripted rawness. Even though this is not a melo (it had better not be!), there’s a visible but not overpowering touch of tragedy to his character. For example, there’s clearly something big and bad between him and Chairman Hwang, and I’m willing to bet his parents’ deaths have something to do with it.
I’d also guess his “allergy” must stem from the time of his parents’ death. My theory is that he alone survived whatever accident (or accident, if you know what I mean) that killed his parents, though it’s hard figuring him out yet with so little to go on. But one thing is absolutely clear: He doesn’t desire his condition, nor does he take refuge in it. If there’s anything obvious about his character, it’s that he’s desperate for connection. Since it can’t be a human, surely a humanoid robot is the next best thing? Just look at the speed and eagerness with which he embraced the idea. The thought of him really falling for Jia while believing she’s a robot is a little mindblowing and I badly want to see it.
But there’s another aspect of his isolation I also find interesting. He has to eschew physical contact, understood, but there’s no barrier preventing him from having emotional closeness, so why does he trust almost no one, and have not a single friend? I suspect the answer lies in the nature of his relationship with Yoo-chul. There’s closeness there, but also bad blood, and I expect that why that onetime friendship turned sour will be an important thread in the story to come. After seeing Kang Ki-young play a creepy kitten-killer, I’m trying to guess whether his character is headed for an ever-darkening trajectory, or if the boys’ friendship will be salvaged. Okay, probably not the latter! Sigh!
For a rom-com, that’s a lot of heavy emotion, and I’m glad we have Chae Soo-bin’s character to balance the darkness. I like that Jia is neither happy-go-lucky, nor a downtrodden Candy; she has her own problems, but she’s also her own woman. Refreshingly for a dramaland heroine, she’s an inventor and entrepreneur, blessed with ordinary intelligence. You can see what might have brought her together with Baek-gyun, who would have shared her way of looking at the world—with curiosity and possibility.
It’s a very different picture—a whole different book, even—from the strictures of Jin-bae’s world, which is dominated by hierarchy, duty, and the desperate pursuit to survive corporate waters. It seems to me that Jia’s crushed between those two extremes, the driven geniuses and the driven salarymen, struggling to create a space of her own. I’m not sure if it’s made clear, but I’m getting the idea that the competition she’s trying to enter is to win an investment for the commercial production of her lamps (I could be wrong). But I love that that her mission is so clearly about achieving success as a result of effort, will and passion—she’s going to succeed, and she doesn’t need to be a genius for it.