The fourth episode continues the impressive storytelling; “the lie” is weakening and the story is starting to pit characters against each other in this increasingly competitive world.
This recap of Netflix K-drama series Start-Up episode 4 contains significant spoilers.
We will be recapping this weekly — check out the archive.
Episode 4 starts with Do-san having to make a choice, and it is a very difficult one — he compares it to a bug in a software system. We then experience a flashback of Dal-mi’s father thinking of a new delivery mobile app and the struggle the father/daughter went through. In the present day, Dal-mi expresses her ideas to grandma Ms Choi. Her grandma is concerned about the dream of running a business due to family history.
Ms Choi has plenty of obvious facial expressions in episode 4 — she knows that Dal-mi can potentially be very hurt by keeping up with the lie and allowing her to try and build a business.
Won In-jae and her mother are still clashing
Won In-jae has resigned from her father’s company and by doing so, she’s brought employees with her who has also resigned. She’s starting again and is using her mother’s hotel room as an office. Won In-jae and her mother argue afterwards about the situation.
The divide between the sisters is a heated rivalry — the mother remains in the middle, and it’s causing a bigger rift. Will the sisters join up eventually and be a team?
Introducing a new character
Episode 4 introduces Jung Sa-ha, who seems to have a rivalry with Dal-mi immediately as they both try to grab the same business book by Sand Box. Do-san and his business partners also bump into Jung Sa-ha and bargain over the same book.
Jung Sa-ha is in the background of episode 4 and her role in this story is relatively unknown at this point.
Keeping up with appearances
In the library, Dal-mi bumps into Do-san, and they immediately hide from each other to tidy their appearances. Do-san explains his casual outfit and the reason why he doesn’t have his car — it’s a struggle maintaining the lie. It’s also his fake birthday the next day which Dal-mi brings up. She also brings up his “one wish” which she explains she will make happen. Do-san joins Dal-mi on the bus, and they hold hands.
With each chapter passing, the lie that Do-san is trying to maintain is getting weaker and weaker — mostly because the letters that Dal-mi received were incredibly sentimental and important to her.
Samsan Tech has plenty of investor meetings but not smoke
Due to their recent hype, Samsan Tech has plenty of investors lining up for meetings. The main point of contention is a revenue model which they struggle to convince investors of a solution. Han Ji-pyeong walks into one of the investor meetings and suspects they are trying to steal their technology. He then tells Do-san and co that they are naive.
Do-san raises about “the wish” Dal-mi brought up, but Han Ji-pyeong does not seem to remember.
Episode 4 is forming this narrative that Do-san is out of depth when it comes to the running of a business, and slowly it comes to fruition by the end of the chapter.
Han Ji-pyeong teaches Do-san dinner etiquette; from smelling wine and finding the salad fork — he’s preparing him for a meal with Dal-mi. Do-san’s friends tell Han Ji-pyeong how terrible Do-san used to be with women when younger and drove them away.
It’s a strange story watching fully grown men having no idea how to talk to and engage with women — it works as it is written well, but it could easily be seen as oddly immature.
Arranging the office again
As Do-san meets Dal-mi for their date, Han Ji-pyeong is giving him orders using an earpiece. Dal-mi tells him his wish was to play Go-Stop. They agree to go to the office near Han River — Han Ji-pyeong has to organise the office space again to make it look like Samsan Tech has a luxury place.
Han Ji-pyeong suddenly remembers why he wanted to play Go-Stop — he wanted an experience of a family game; something that was missing in his life — family togetherness. The group play the game together.
Lack of family togetherness seems to be a common trend between all the lead characters; all of them have got into business due to their upbringing and having to fight for something — this is probably why Start-Up works and it comes across strongly in episode 4.
Do-san asks Dal-mi a list of reasons to why she likes him
Afterwards, Do-san takes Dal-mi home. She invites him inside, but he declines on this occasion. He asks her what she likes about him. — Dal-mi tells him that he is her first love and that the letters comforted for her a long time. Do-san is downbeat as he narrates that all of the reasons are nothing to do with him. The only point she made that’s to do with him is his big hands, which reminds us of that moment with Ross in Friends getting bigheaded about his own hands. Afterwards, Dal-mi gets good news — she’s passed the first screening for Sand Box. Do-san gets the same email.
Episode 4 is slowing combining everyone’s path to success, and it feels like it is going to get ugly.
Han Ji-pyeong gives Do-san a big tip
Do-san is impacted by recent events and asks Han Ji-pyeong for tips, not charity. Han Ji-pyeong tells him to recruit a CEO position for his company as he’s not cut for it. Do-san is upset that Han Ji-pyeong does not think he can take that role — it’s a “be careful what you wish for” moment; he did ask for tips.
At this moment, Do-san is starting to sense how out of his depth he is and that he may need to reevaluate his strengths if he is going to make it.
Do-san’s father still disapproves
And talking of “making it big”, Do-san also has his father to compete with who appears to be a constant put-down in his life.
Do-san tells his parents that he’s passed the first screening at Sand Box, and the next step is the Hackathon. His father tells him he is sick of empty promises and only wants updates when he actually gets accepted by Sand Box.
Becoming a Sand Box CEO
The Hackathon begins, which means CEOs have to pick teams. They are put through a series of tests which includes wordplays. Han Ji-pyeong notices that Dal-mi is there and he is surprised. The results are in, and Do-san does not move to CEO status. The 40 CEOs then have to pick their teams; Do-san remembers Han Ji-pyeong telling him that he cannot be a CEO, and then he sees Dal-mi on stage. Won In-jae is also on stage as a CEO that surprises Dal-mi. Jung Sa-ha also sees Dal-mi; there are a lot of shocked characters as they begin to interlink.
CEOs pick their teams
Start-Up episode 4 sees the lie starting to break on its own foundations, which is predictable, but it makes for refreshing drama.
It’s time for the CEOs to pick their teams. Dal-mi asks Do-san why he’s at the event when he has an investor — Won In-jae turns up and cruelly reveals that Do-san’s only achievement is the CODA Competition. Do-san apologises for deceiving her. Dal-mi sees it as an opportunity to find a companion for her journey — she asks if she can be the CEO of Samsan Tech. Won In-jae intervenes and also asks Do-san if she can be the CEO.
Do-san’s friends pull him aside — they ask him to pick his “head over his heart”, but Do-san highlights the difference; Won In-jae is asking to recruit them while Dal-mi is asking to be recruited. Do-san picks Dal-mi and asks her to be the CEO of Samsan Tech.
The epilogue shows Han Ji-pyeong, Dal-mi, Do-san and co playing Go-Stop. Meanwhile, one of the leaders of Sand Box notices Won In-jae’s application because she knew her birth father.
The fourth episode continues the impressive storytelling; “the lie” is weakening, and the story is starting to pit characters against each other in this increasingly competitive world. It seems that while the sisters are competing with each other, Do-san is competing with himself internally about his feelings for Dal-mi while also questioning his abilities. As we pass the quarter mark of the K-Drama series, many questions remain to be answered.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.