Level Up Episode 11
An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) Dan Te’s step brother, Kang Hoon, and Sang Mi, are thrilled their joint YouTube channel is building the subscriber base daily.
Ready to confess his feelings, Kwak Han Cheol (Baro) is shocked to see Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) hugging his boss An Dan Te (Sung Hoon). He drops the keychain he caved for Yeon Hwa and leaves dejected.
Inside Joybuster, Yeon Hwa asks if Dan Te is okay. She understands that his deceased pet turtle Monkey was important to him. Dan Te shares that Monkey took care of him not the other way around. Dan Te admits he talked to Monkey and he was a good listener. Yeon Hwa asks what they talked about but pulls back the question, not wanting to pry. Dan Te offers her a ride home.
Monkey’s death is the emotional touchstone of this series. I loved it when Dan Te said Monkey took care of him.
Yeon Hwa thinks she spots Han Cheol walking home but tells herself it can’t be, it’s too late and Seoul is too far to walk. Dan Tea admits he talked to Monkey about her. He asked for advice on how to stop making things harder for her. Yeon Hwa asks what Monkey’s advice was.
Dan Te’s step brother, Kang Hoon, is putting away Monkey’s aquarium, but Dan Te isn’t ready and snaps at him to stop. Dan Te returns everything to its former place. Kang Hoon declares that Dan Te had more feelings for Monkey that he did for the humans in his family. Tears fill his eyes as he tells Dan Te not to be like this. Kang Hoon shares he’s a loner too. He cries he’s lonely too. He walks away overcome by emotion. Dan Te says nothing.
Han Cheol’s mother who is visiting from Busan texts her son when he’ll return home. Han Cheol tells her to go to bed and he’ll be home shortly. He wants to text Yeon Hwa but can’t. He calls himself a fool.
Yeon Hwa texts Dan Te a supportive text and tells him not to hide his feelings. Dan Te starts to text her to stay out of his life. Instead he texts that he’ll try. Yeon Hwa smiles.
Another nice moment.
Dan Te finds Kang Hoon eating ramen outside the convenience store. Dan Te sits at the table with his own food and gives Kang Hoon rice to eat. Kang Hoon pushes the rice to Dan Te. Undeterred, Dan Te tells him to eat so he can grow strong. He pushes the rice to his step brother. Kang Hoon asks why Dan Te is there. Dan Te admits he’ll regret it if he doesn’t apologize. That gets Kang Hoon’s attention. Dan Te shares that Monkey’s death was another in a line of deaths that has hurt him. Dan Te admits he considered Monkey family but knows he cares and worries about Kang Hoon. Dan Te admits he was angry with his father and never admitted his second wife (Kang Hoon’s mother (now dead)) was family too. Dan Te says that Kang Hoon may be a pain, but he’s family too. Dan Te apologizes for his mindset that didn’t allow him to see Kang Hoon as family before now. Kang Hoon looks into Dan Te’s eyes and sees the genuineness of his words. Dan Te starts to eat. Kang Hoon eats and takes some of the rice. He pushes the rest to Dan Te telling his step brother he needs to grow strong too. Kang Hoon says they should eat together. Both men eat with each other knowing they are family.
Writer Kim hit a home run with that touching scene.
The next day at Joybuster, everyone gets ready for the beta testers to get access to their newest game. Yeon Hwa is disappointed they won’t have the best celebrity VJ’s but is ready to go with plan B. Dan Te tells his guests to enter. Kang Hoon and Sang Mi (the biggest VJs) enter. Yeon Hwa is thrilled. Everyone claps declaring Dan Te cool for snagging the hottest VJs. Han Cheol watches grim faced as Manager Park declares that Dan Te always works his magic and wins.
As they listen to Dan Te talk to the Joybuster team, Sang Mi tells Kang Hoon that Dan Te is impressive. Kang Hoon says his family is all that. Sang Mi is surprised to hear the word family. Yeon Hwa takes Kang Hoon and Sang Mi aside to train them on how to test. Dan Te teases it make several iterations before Kang Hoon understands. His smile takes away any sting.
Dan Te is surprised to find the NexViper CEO and his assistant outside. The CEO of NexViper (rival) tells Dan Te he’s there not as a CEO but as head of the gaming development association. He informs Dan Te that the new game has been flagged as a risk for gambling. Dan Te is unaware of this. He assured that an official letter was sent.
Dan Te asks his management team about the letter from the gaming development association. Han Cheol processes incoming mail and is surprised to find the letter inside a biweekly newsletter. He hands the letter to Dan Te who reads it grim faced. Dan Te steps outside.
The NexViper CEO feigns surprise that Dan Te found the letter in the newsletter. He explains the gaming development association must evaluate the new game to ensure the rating Joybuster assigned is correct. Dan Te points out that many of his testers are in the age range of concern. The NexViper CEO states Dan Te must comply. Dan Te asks if this attack is personal. The Nexviper CEO claims he’s treating Joybuster like other companies. He recommends Joybuster delays the release of the game. Dan Te accuses him of using his position to thwart a rival.
Yeon Hwa tells Sang Mi and Kang Hoon the game will be available at 12 noon. They leave to get ready for the broadcast.
Han Cheol’s coworker on the management team recognizes the NexViper assistant, Mr. Jeong. They went to college together. The Joybuster manager accuses that this visit is to stir up trouble. Things get heated between the two men. The CEO and Dan Te arrive which ends the fight. Dan Te tells the NexViper CEO he’ll inform him of his decision soon.
Dan Te isn’t happy. The NexViper CEO chortle believing Joybuster will have to comply.
Dan Te asks Yeon Hwa if they can test without the teen testers and VJs. She isn’t happy, that’s the target audience for the game. Dan Te counters the gaming development association has stated they can’t test with minors. Yeon Hwa suggests they withdraw from the gaming associate so they don’t have to comply.
The NexViper CEO hopes Joybuster withdraws from the gaming associate. The ripple effect will not be pleasant for them.
Dan Te asks Yeon Hwa to invent a server issue to gain him one hour to figure out what to do.
Dan Te ponders.
Dan Te gathers the Joybuster team. He tells them they cannot test with minors. He stuns them with the news they won’t wait to test then release, they’ll release this week. He makes his points. Everyone starts to prepare to launch the new game. Yeon Hwa tells Dan Te if the launch doesn’t go well, she’ll be accountable just as he will be. That surprises and pleases him.
But the next problem arises. The gaming development association must evaluate their code before release.
The NexViper CEO and his associate are impressed that Joybuster is taking the risk to release the game without testing. The CEO tells his associate their counter (rip-off) game must be ready 1 day before Joybuster’s release date. The associate promises no matter what the counter game will be ready.
But the NexViper development team has had enough forced overtime and threaten to quit. The NexViper CEO changes their mind with big bonuses if they meet the timeline.
CEO Bae Ya Chae (Kang Byul) stares at photos of herself and Dan Te and struggles to delete them from her phone.
Yeon Hwa tells Dan Te she’s made a reservation for the launch party venue. They go to the venue to check it out. Han Cheol grimly watches Yeon Hwa walk away with Dan Te. He asks his coworker to go drinking.
Han Cheol’s coworker asks him what’s wrong. Han Cheol hesitates to tell the truth when the NexViper assistant arrives. He cajoles them into letting him join them. Han Cheol gets drunk. He’s openly negative about Dan Te.
Dan Te and Yeon Hwa arrive at the launch party venue. She admits her behavior in Busan wasn’t stellar. She thanks him for making her life better. He smiles.
But the sweet moment ends when the NexViper CEO with CEO Bae in tow informs them because they didn’t put a deposit down, NexViper has secured the venue. CEO Bae steps away. Yeon Hwa accuses the NexViper CEO of thwarting Joybuster. Dan Te calms her down. He looks at CEO Bae who doesn’t return his look.
Dan Te promises Yeon Hwa he’ll make this game launch a winner.
Han Cheol’s coworker tries to put in him a cab to go home. But Han Cheol, fully drunk, wants to drink more. The NexViper associate offers to continue as his drinking buddy. Han Cheol’s coworkers leaves them.
The NexViper CEO thanks CEO Bae for providing PR for his company. She points out they have a contract. He promises to sign a follow-on contract after the game launch. He questions her loyalty to CEO Ahn versus himself. She keeps her cool at the impertinent question and states there is no issue.
Dan Te approaches Ya Chae. He surprises her by thanking her for the clear boundary and distance she’s keeping. He apologizes for hurting her. She gets in her car and drives away without saying a word.
Han Cheol calls Yeon Hwa but doesn’t realize he’s talking to her ringing phone. He claims to know how she feels and wishes her good night.
Manager Park calls every 5 minutes for a decision from the gaming development association. The NexViper assistant assures the CEO he met an inside man in Joybuster that will help them if they need it.
Han Cheol and Yeon Hwa are talking when Dan Te interrupts to ask about a new venue. Yeon Hwa tells Dan Te they are struggling to find a new launch party venue. Han Cheol watches her walk away toward Dan Te.
Dan Te suggests they use their warehouse office as the launch party venue. With little time and no other options, Yeon Hwa agrees.
But the next problem arises. Manager Park states the gaming development association has decided their new game has gambling. Dan Te calls the CEO of NexViper. The only way they can prove it doesn’t it to turn over proprietary source code. The development team and Yeon Hwa are horrified at the suggestion. Dan Te states if they don’t concede, the game won’t launch and Joybuster will fail. He orders their server disconnected from the outside so their source code cannot be hacked. The key to server is given to Han Cheol. He stares at the key.
A single flash drive of the games’ source code is created for the gaming development association. Unfortunately that is NexViper. The code is handed over to the NexViper development team leader with the assignment to make the game nonfunctional. Once that is accomplished the NexViper assistant states their Joybuster inside man will load the altered code onto the Joybuster server.
The game development association gives Joybuster the green light and approves their code is clean of gambling. Manager Park is surprised. Han Cheol suggests the Joybuster may simply be unlucky.
Joybuster preps their space for the game launch party. Everyone is set and psyched. They go home knowing tomorrow is the big day.
It’s late. Dan Te watches Kang Hoon sleep. Yeon Hwa texts and admits she’s worries and unable to sleep. Dan Te surprises her by calling. He wants to see her. Yeon Hwa surprised again.
Han Cheol arrives at Joybuster. Does he have the flash drive of altered source code?
Game espionage by NexViper was the name of the game. Writer Kim Dong Kyu began the episode with touching moments between Dan Te and Kang Hoon. They worked out they ARE family. I loved seeing Dan Te grow and see that Kang Hoon IS family. For his part, Kang Hoon was honest about being lonely and hurt that Dan Te had more feelings for his pet turtle. After that, NexViper entered the picture with the purpose to thwart Joybuster’s new game. The NexViper CEO used all angles to defeat Joybuster – he wielded the gaming development associate as a whip to get Dan Te to agree to stopping the testing with teens AND hand over source code. Proprietary data is a big deal. Then Han Cheol was groomed to betray Joybuster. While Han Cheol’s frustration with the god-like status of Dan Te makes sense on one level, he’s still employed by Dan Te and that’s were his loyalty should lie.
An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) recognized his step brother was family. Dan Te’s evolution has been the most satisfactory story line of this series. He apologized to Kang Hoon and declared them family in a touching scene. He apologized to Ya Chae for hurting her with total sincerity. He reached out to Yeon Hwa via text early in the episode and via voice at the end.
Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) is loyal to Dan Te. She doesn’t seem to see him romantically like he appears to consider her. But they are no longer negative with each other. They discuss options. She lets him explain. She trusts his decisions.
One more episode, what’s my wish list for the final episode?
* Han Cheol doesn’t betray Joybuster. He’s a nice guy. His moral code shouldn’t let him commit corporate espionage.
* Joybuster succeeds. The game launches and it is a hit.
* Dan Te and Yeon Hwa step toward each other. I’ve been wondering if romance is a possibility between these two. Dan Te isn’t the issue, it is clueless Yeon Hwa. I’d like her to see the possibility. If it isn’t to be, then friends would suffice.
* Dan Te and Kang Hoon end up solid. They are in a good place now. The final episode should solidify this.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as good. My rating chart is below: