My Secret Terrius: Episodes 1-2

So Ji-sub is back with some spy hijinks in MBC’s latest Wednesday-Thursday drama, My Secret Terrius. A series of coincidences that would drive any ex-spy mad keeps a hard-working housewife circling her ex-spy neighbor’s orbit. Though their lives may look like two different worlds, the two seem destined to bumble into one another, especially as his enemies draw nearer to the plucky housewife and her family.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Blurry flashes of scenes from the past—a man, a woman, a gunshot, and a promise. The man and woman’s voices intertwine, until the man is standing over a body on the ground, ready to shoot, until a shot from behind strikes the man in the back.

An alarm clock blares, and the nightmare is revealed to belong to KIM BON (So Ji-sub). He sits up in bed, the scar on his back confirming that his dreams were memories, and begins to move through what seems to be a regular routine: he grabs a milk, scopes the neighborhood with a high-tech telescope, places a piece of tape over the edge of his door to warn him in case anyone enters without his knowledge, and heads out for a morning run along the river.

In voiceover, a woman’s voice says, “Some people start their morning with order and discipline…”

The voice belongs to a busy mother, GO AE-RIN (Jung In-sun), whose morning is decidedly less orderly. Covered in flour, she busts up an argument between her spirited twins, Joon-soo and Joon-hee, before sending them off to brush their teeth.

Ae-rin opens her door to grab the delivery milk. She’s got her hands full of cartons as she digs for the yogurt drinks. As she does so, her mischievous children decide now is the perfect time to give her a poke in the butt.

Of course, their attack is also perfectly timed for Kim Bon’s return home. Ae-rin fumbles the yogurt and it rolls across the hallway until it’s stopped by Bon’s foot. As their eyes meet, Ae-rin’s children attack and send her crashing into him.

Both crumpled on the floor, Ae-rin wipes at Bon’s nose, which has started bleeding. Bon pushes away her efforts and tries to escape, but not before Ae-rin presses a yogurt into his hand as an apology. Once Ae-rin shuts her door, Bon notes that the drink has popped open and is leaking into his hand.

A crowd of mothers (and one father) from the apartment has gathered to see their kids onto the school bus. They’re all waiting on Ae-rin to arrive, and they sigh as they spot her struggling down the street with Joon-soo and Joon-hee in tow.

Waving the kids off, Ae-rin’s friend BONG SUN-MI ( Jung Si-ah) removes the pink tiara Ae-rin’s been wearing all morning while SHIM EUN-HA (Kim Yeo-jin) brushes at Ae-rin’s messy hair.

As the crowd disperses, KIM SANG-RYUL (Kang Ki-young) and Sun-mi trade the latest neighborhood gossip: The Bonjour Bakery has an anniversary deal today, and there’s an online deal for the snack set. Oh, parenting.

Ae-rin’s voiceover reflects, “Even in the midst of chaos, a lot of information was still shared.”

Ae-rin consults with Eun-ha about a job interview she’s going on later today. Eun-ha tried to research, but couldn’t find any information on J International. She does recommend that Ae-rin wear a suit to the interview, since it’s for a secretary position.

Ae-rin tries on her old suit, one she hasn’t worn since she got married. She struggles, but manages to zip the skirt up. She fluffs her slightly-less-messy hair and heads for the elevator. Just before leaving though, she checks her horoscope. She smiles to see the Magician tarot card and the promise that she will achieve all her goals today.

Bon’s voiceover fades in as we transition to his dark apartment, where he sits with a hard-core security laptop in his lap and looks at the same horoscope.

“An online tarot card reading may seem trivial to some…”

“It’s him,” he thinks, and his thoughts bring up images of a man in a dark suit and sunglasses. Bon zooms in on the Magician tarot card, where he finds coordinates hidden in the image. He throws those into GPS and leaves for Star Tower.

“But to some, the same tarot reading can provide crucial information,” Ae-rin’s voiceover completes his thought.

Ae-rin stops the elevator for Bon as they both head out, and she apologizes again for the morning encounter. She also reveals just how much she knows about her reclusive neighbor.

“You never leave your house.” “I know you love to buy bread.” The more that Ae-rin speaks to him, the more paranoid Bon gets. Ae-rin tells him she has a gift for him, and while he tries to rush out of the elevator before she digs it out of her purse, she locks onto it at last and runs after him.

She places something small into his hand and bounces away, slipping on her unpracticed heels. Bon opens his hand to find a candy. The text on the wrapper reads, “I’m watching you.” Ha.

Bon’s voiceover intones, “We were two people, living two entirely different lives, in the same space and time.” A title card flashes across the screen, with the words “the witness.”

A shady-looking exchange is going down at the station as Moon Sung-soo, head of national security, approaches a bay of lockers. He opens his briefcase, where the tag inside tells him which locker to open and its combination. From it, he withdraws a large bag (probably full of money).

As he does so, another man lurks in the shadows and watches him. The lurker makes a phone call to confirm to his boss that Chief Moon has made the exchange.

His boss, the CEO of J International, JIN YONG-TAE (Sohn Ho-joon), mocks the supposedly righteous Moon for his hypocrisy. After hanging up, Yong-tae calls for the candidate interviewing as his new secretary.

That candidate is, of course, Ae-rin. As she heads into the office, Ae-rin asks the current secretary why she is leaving the position, and the woman responds that she was fired after she sent an invitation to the CEO for her wedding. Uh oh.

Yong-tae’s first questions to Ae-rin are about whether she is married with kids. She says yes to both, and he tries to wave her away, accusing her of not reading the ad, which said clearly he wanted someone who was unmarried.

Ae-rin corrects him that, in fact, the ad said the exact opposite. It requested someone specifically who was married and with kids, and it was these requests that attracted her to the job. Yong-tae shoots a look to the door, understanding the revenge his former secretary has exacted.

Yong-tae dismisses Ae-rin for wasting his time. Ae-rin won’t have any of that. She tells Yong-tae that he’s wasted her time too with the false job ad, and that she deserves an apology.

Yong-tae asks her to sit and starts the interview over again in earnest, though somewhat cruelly. He asks her what professional accomplishments she has from the last six months and Ae-rin stutters, knowing that she doesn’t have any recent work experience.

With that demonstrated, Yong-tae dismisses her again. Ae-rin has one last question: she wasn’t able to figure out what the company does. Yong-tae laughs and tells her that they import handbags. Yeah, sure you do.

Ae-rin bumps into Chief Moon on her way out. They share an awkward apology before he slips into J International.

Chief Moon returns the bag of money to Yong-tae and tells him that he’s not interested in the bribe. Yong-tae mocks the man for his integrity, and tells him that now is the perfect time to investigate other arenas of weapon sales. Ah, so “handbags” is code for weapons.

Chief Moon tells Yong-tae he won’t waste the nation’s security budget on his schemes. As he turns to go, Chief Moon lets loose a threat that Yong-tae will pay for asking this of him. Yong-tae calls over his should like a mafia boss with a threat of his own. “Take care of your health.” This gives Chief Moon pause, but he still turns and leaves.

Yong-tae makes a phone call, and sets into motion Plan B.

The man from Bon’s earlier thoughts is the one who receives the command. Killer K goes to work, heading into Star Tower.

Bon is also there, tracking K from the rooftop of the opposite building. He follows him into the building, but halts when his ears catch a familiar phrase.

Ae-rin is still at the tower, and Bon hears her say, “When you come to Seoul, I promise to buy you a mojito from Namsan Tower.”

Bon’s memories race to a moment, when the woman from his dreams made that same request. Is it a code word? Bon staggers in the direction of Ae-rin’s voice, and realizes who is speaking as Ae-rin ends the phone call with her mother.

Ae-rin is as surprised to see him and Bon is to see her. She asks if it’s possible that he followed her here, and he stiffly assures her that isn’t the case and walks away.

In the distraction though, Killer K has gotten away to his visit with Yong-tae. Yong-tae hands over a syringe and injectable to K for Plan B.

The apartment moms (and dad) have made it to the bakery. They’re all talking about Ae-rin’s job interview. They’re surprised to hear that she’s applying for a secretary position, considering Ae-rin studied computer science in school. Oh, she’s competent with computers, is she?

Sang-ryul apparently studied engineering, and he nods that it’s difficult to return to those types of fields when you’ve been unemployed for so long. He smiles that his wife makes good money, so he’s happy to stay at home with the kids.

Sun-mi asks why Ae-rin is even looking for employment, and Eun-ha shares that she needs the money for mortgage payments. Sun-mi points out how frugal Ae-rin is. Eun-ha praises Ae-rin for being pretty, self-sufficient, and uncomplaining. The praise seems to raise Sun-mi’s jealousy hackles.

Ae-rin joins them then with the Joon-Joon twins in tow, who head off to look at the pastry window. Ae-rin reports that she bombed the interview, and Sun-mi immediately pipes up to say that of course they wouldn’t offer a job to a housewife.

Ae-rin can’t help but agree, even as Sang-ryul clamps his hands over Sun-mi’s mouth to stop her insensitive comments. Unfortunately, Sun-mi is the only one with a clear view of Ae-rin’s kids, who are reaching for the decorations in the cakes on display.

Sun-mi finally manages to shout, “Your kids!” But it’s too late. The twins have already picked off the decorations on four cakes. Ae-rin rushes to stop them from doing further damage, while the shop staff look at her expectantly.

Ae-rin’s husband CHA JUNG-IL receives text notifications for the large bakery purchases while at his publishing job. He immediately calls Ae-rin to demand an explanation.

Ae-rin and the twins are making their way home with their four cakes when the call comes in. Ae-rin hangs up on her husband when he won’t listen to her.

Jung-il moves to call her back, but his boss asks for him. His boss admonishes him for not aggressively following up with one of their authors with a book due soon.

Jung-il says that he was just planning on visiting the author that week (though it’s pretty obviously a lie), and his boss tells him to pick up some pastries from the great place in the author’s building before he pays the visit.

At home, the twins are feasting on their cakes. At first it seems like a reward, until they realize that Ae-rin plans to feed them nothing but cake until all four are gone. Ae-rin makes them promise never to do something like that again, and they nod vigorously.

Across the hall in his dark apartment, Bon still wrestles with the strange run-ins with Ae-rin throughout the day. He recognizes that his paranoia seems ridiculous though, so he returns his focus to the case he’s working on.

At the Blue House, Chief Moon begins to suspect his secretary of accepting a bribe of his own as he questions the chief about the J International offer.

Back to Bon, he studies his murder board of the case: Operation Candy. He knows K has targeted three other men, but he hasn’t identified who gives K his orders. Each time the Magician tarot card pops up on the horoscope website, someone dies, but Bon hasn’t determined the latest target.

Bon reaches into his fridge and pulls out a loaf of bread. He sits in the dark, eating hunks of bread and brooding.

EPISODE 2

Ae-rin’s husband Jung-il arrives home, stepping on toys all the way to the couch. Ae-rin greets him, and is admonished for not cleaning. Jung-il scolds her for sitting around all day and buying cake, and then lies down to watch some TV with no offer of help with the kids or the cleaning.

Ae-rin turns off the TV and lets Jung-il know how hard it is to be a housewife. Jung-il’s response is to tell her to go get a job, and Ae-rin laments that being a housewife puts her at a disadvantage.

Jung-il’s solution? Become a milk delivery person, so that she can make money and lose weight. Ae-rin’s eyes fill with tears. She shoots back that she only diets because she can’t buy new clothes, so she has to fit into the clothes she had before having kids.

Jung-il seems a little chastened at that, but Ae-rin is done. She pulls an already-packed suitcase out of the closet and walks out.

As she leaves the apartment, Bon returns home. He stops as she passes, though he doesn’t say anything to her. But once he enters the lobby, he spots Ae-rin’s wallet on the floor.

Rain begins to fall on Ae-rin, who has not packed an umbrella. She discovers her lost wallet and forgotten phone once she gets to the bus stop. As she looks for them, she learns that she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase, and this one is just full of toys. Things are not looking up. And then, she hears a strange voice, calling out to her.

A flash of familiar sneakers splash in a puddle, as a figure approaches. Ae-rin assumes the worst, and pulls out a toy gun from her suitcase.

Bon calls Ae-rin by her name, so now Ae-rin is convinced he’s some kind of stalker. Bon has similar feelings, and so he asks her who she’s working for.

Ae-rin takes that as a personal strike, since she’s currently unemployed. She waves the toy gun in his face, and pulls the trigger.

As she does, Bon naturally flies backwards to dodge. He hits the ground and prepares to expertly roll away… except that all that has happened is that a little red flag that says “Bang!” has shot out of the gun.

Ae-rin begins to laugh. “You thought this was a real gun? Who would carry a real gun around?”

Bon recovers quickly. He hands over her wallet, and Ae-rin shares that she was trying to walk out on her life. Bon asks about her kids, and then tells her to go home. Ae-rin stops, as though she suspects he means for her to return to her family, but he just says that she’ll obviously need to return to get the right suitcase.

Bon hands her his umbrella and takes off towards their building with her luggage. Ae-rin jogs after him to catch up.

Once home, Ae-rin hesitates at the door. Bon watches through his door peephole, and then peeks out to ask her when exactly she’s going inside, ha.

The apartment she returns to is not as she left it. Her husband has cleaned everything up in her absence. Ae-rin nods at the bedroom door: “I’ll let you off the hook this time.” Now it’s Ae-rin’s turn to settle into the couch after a long day.

By morning, the apartment has returned to chaos, as if the whole thing had been a dream. Ae-rin finds an envelope in the kitchen from her husband. He apologizes for the argument, and tells her to go buy new clothes with the money inside.

Ae-rin takes Eun-ha with her to shop for new clothes. Even with the packet of money, Ae-rin can’t help but remain frugal and only purchases a few things. Eun-ha sarcastically calls her wife of the year, but Ae-rin is sticking to her budget. She has plans to make Jung-il’s favorite stew as a peace offering that evening.

Meanwhile, Chief Moon heads to his car in a parking garage. Inside his car, K leaps from the backseat and plunges the syringe into the chairman’s neck.

Jung-il arrives at the same garage to make the author visit he scheduled, tarts in hand. However, he makes the bad decision to park next to Chief Moon’s car.

Jung-il opens his door into the other vehicle. As he looks for damage to the paint, he instead notices the murder occurring inside.

Jung-il tries to pretend he’s seen nothing and drives home. But there can be no loose ends. K follows him and jams the syringe into his neck in Jung-il’s parking garage. Jung-il drops to the ground in the stairwell.

It’s getting late, so Ae-rin calls to check in on Jung-il. The ringing attracts a garage attendant, who answers and tells Ae-rin to call for an ambulance.

At the hospital, Ae-rin watches as the doctor attempts to save her husband. But in the end, the doctor meets her to report the time of death. Ae-rin rushes into the operating room, certain it’s a mistake. Her cries can be heard outside the operating room doors as she sobs.

K reports that he’s deleted all building security footage and hands off the car black box to Yong-tae. Yong-tae is ready to send K out of the country and hands over a plane ticket, but K reports the little snag in the plan, the man he killed. He asks Yong-tae to research the license plate he pulled from Jung-il’s car.

Ae-rin sits on a park bench alone, her husband’s cause of death echoing in her mind. According to the doctor, it was a sudden heart attack due to a pre-existing heart arrhythmia.

The next morning, Bon does push-ups as he watches the news. He stops when he hears of Chief Moon’s death, which is reported as a heart attack. He checks the horoscope website where a new tarot card, Death, is posted. It’s clear who K’s target was.

At the NIS offices, Agent YOO JI-YEON (Im Se-mi) insists to her director, Shim Woo-cheol, that Chief Moon’s death was not of natural causes. Ji-yeon says that the chief had no shortage of enemies, especially after he refused to authorize some fighter jets.

Director Shim doesn’t believe it was foul play, but he tells eager Ji-yeon that she can investigate if she wants.

Out in the hall, Ji-yeon runs into deputy chief Kwon Young-shil. Chief Kwon asks what Ji-yeon why she met with Director Shim, but Ji-yeon says it was just a friendly hello.

In her office, Ji-yeon relaxes on the couch until fellow agent RA DO-WOO (Sung Joo) slides over. He creeps in a little too close for comfort, and then pulls out Ji-yeon’s phone. A tiny red sticker that he gave her turns out to be an experimental wire tap.

Bon dons a pair of glasses and heads out to spy during Chief Moon’s funeral. He discovers that the chief has a reputation for being too self-righteous and against a new defense weapons proposal.

Another funeral is proceeding nearby. Ae-rin’s friends sit outside with the kids and lament their friend’s early passing and the financial hardship he’s left his wife.

Bon passes the rooms in the funeral home, but stops when he recognizes Ae-rin’s name. Ae-rin cries at her husband’s funeral, her friends and family consoling her.

Outside, Sang-ryul watches the kids. His boy has to go to the bathroom, so he tells Joon-soo and Joon-hee to stay put on the swings. As he walks away though, K creeps closer, a photo of the kids on his phone for reference.

Inside, Bon has lingered long enough for Chief Kwon to recognize him. “It’s Terrius,” she says, and sends her legion of agents after him.

Chief Kwon sends video footage into the agency, and Do-woo runs facial recognition to confirm that it is indeed Terrius. At the mention of Terrius’s name, Ji-yeon’s eyes widen.

In voiceover, Ji-yeon asks, “Is it really Bon?” as Bon races through the halls of the funeral home.

By the time Sang-ryul comes back, the twins are gone. Urgently, he calls Ae-rin, who begins to panic.

COMMENTS

Before I started watching, I was worried that I wasn’t going to like Bon. I know, with So Ji-sub at the helm, how could I have doubts? And yet, I just felt a little tired of cold men with a past who required warming, and I wasn’t sure I could get invested in yet another one.

But Bon isn’t that at all. He’s a little stoic, and he obviously has a tragic past, but instead of turning away from the world, he seems to be actively pursuing justice. He’s isolated himself because he has a job to do, not because he’s turned misanthropic. You can see this in the way that he doesn’t hesitate to return Ae-rin’s wallet to her in person, and help her return home.

And so it’s not so much about warming him up as much as it is reminding him that he can enjoy the company of others and bring down the bad guys all at the same time. What I’m trying to say is, I was worried for nothing. I like him.

Ae-rin feels like a great balance to Bon already. She stands up for herself, but she’s forgiving. Her kids drive her nuts, but she’s fair and even-tempered with them. Even with her busy life, she’s noticed Bon around the neighborhood. I love all the early hints that suggest that Ae-rin is more than she appears. I need her to be a super hacker and join Bon’s team. He may think his paranoia is uncalled for, but I’m not so sure. She may not be working for the bad guys, but I suspect that Ae-rin is a badass in disguise just waiting for her chance to show off.

I wasn’t sure how this show was going to use Kang Ki-young, but now I’m excited to see him as the stay-at-home dad, especially one with some engineering skills. If Ae-rin turns hacker, perhaps she could use an engineer to back her up? We can turn the entire stay-at-home mom/dad club into an awesome spy agency. As with most dramas with some sort of crime angle, I got a little bored as I watched all the mechanics of laying out the crime, the villains, etc. Is it a bad thing that I’ve signed up for a spy drama? Maybe, but if the show delivers more on cute scenes like Ae-rin and Bon in the rain than any of the evil machinations, I think I’ll be okay.

I’d like to reserve judgment for Sohn Ho-joon’s villain for a little later when I’ve seen more of him. Maybe it’s that all I can picture is his character from Go Back Spouses, but I’m just not buying the evil act from him yet. The misogyny, oh yeah, I buy that. Sohn Ho-joon has really mastered the careless jerk smirk that makes his character’s disrespect of women believable. But someone trying to influence national security? We’ll see.

I went in knowing that Ae-rin’s husband would be dead before too long, but I was still surprised by the way that he ended up involved in this conspiracy. From the previews and teasers, I expected him to have some sort of secret life of crime, but it seems that he just stumbled into things, the poor guy. The way he bumbled into his death almost felt like dark comedy than a big emotional beat, but I do think that the moment of his death got the point across that this will result in a huge life change for Ae-rin. Ae-rin has been dreaming of returning to the workforce, but now that she’ll be forced to do so with no support at home anymore, it’s going to be hard.

I’m glad that the husband wasn’t the complete jerk I imagined him to be, though. Ae-rin has shown already that she isn’t a pushover; I think you can see that in her relationships with everyone she encounters. While we didn’t see much of the relationship between Ae-rin and her husband, you get the feeling that she isn’t a wilting housewife who goes along with everything he told her to do. She had agency in that relationship, and she’ll continue to exercise that agency as her world expands with the coming changes.

I’m not sure our killer K’s justification for stalking Ae-rin (and her kids) makes sense. If they expected everyone would assume that the death of Chief Moon, an important person to national security, was a heart attack, why would anyone suspect foul play for the death of a completely unrelated man? Maybe it’ll just be a fake out, and the kids will run out from under the slide to Sang-ryul in the next episode.

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