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Friday, 29 July 2011

Running Man: Episode 52

Watch your backs Running Men – someone’s hot on your trail. It’s the Hunter vs. the Hunted and the cast is picked off one by one. Who is this mysterious hunter and what does he want with the Running Men? Who will be the victor of this epic battle of agility, speed, and wit?

[Note: It turns out that this week's episode is the 1 year anniversary episode. Oh well. I was misinformed. In any case, it doesn't take away any of the AWESOME that was this episode.]

Episode 52. Broadcast July 17, 2011

We’re back with a traditional opening with the entire cast at Seoul Station. They reminisce about their recent trip to Thailand, still awed by their massive popularity overseas. Kwang-soo mentions the fan who donned his signature mustache, and Gary has a new haircut to match his newly found Hallyu fame.
It’s time to hear about today’s mission: Race to Kyungjoo and find the 7 gold crowns. Find the most and you win! Hold up there Mr. PD, isn’t there a catch? Of course there is. The cast will roll a die at every station and its outcome determines whether they’ll keep going to Kwangjoo with everyone else or find their own way.

The cast relies on rock-paper-scissors to determine who rolls first. Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up when you classically see one member fall so short. And that unfortunate member is Ji Suk-jin. He loses out on rock-paper-scissors and rolls a “fail,” which forces him to find alternative transportation.

The other members joke that it would be hilarious (and awkward) if their top star, Jong-kook and their worst, Suk-jin, were eliminated together. It’s as if the variety gods heard their cries and what do you know… Jong-kook loses on another round of rock-paper-scissors and the die. Man can’t catch a break from last week huh?


Everyone else is off to Kyungjoo by train and Jae-suk suggests a game to pass the time. They previously picked up a box of sweets, and their roll order depends on which one they pick. It’s enough to set off some anxiety as some members reveal their number and others’ sweets are blank. Finally, it’s between Jae-suk and Ji-hyo and when they pick, it’s Jae-suk who must roll first. Aww, it’s always the person who suggests the game!


They’ve got no time to dilly dally at the next stop and Jae-suk reminds the others that no matter who is eliminated, the remaining members will pile back into train without any qualms. Jae-suk throws the die into the air…and the others zoom back into the train car faster than you can say “fail.” LOL. Jae-suk is eliminated third, sulking along the Sandglass soundtrack, and a sweet in his hand.

Haha suggests that they choose the next order by voting on who they’d like to see eliminated. With these four, you’re bound to get some irregular answers: “Haha. Because it’s Haha,” “Gary. Because he’s ugly,” and finally (the best, I think), “A bad personality, scolds (me) all the time, and a sharp stare…Chun Sung-im (Ji-hyo’s real name).” You can guess whose is whose.

The eliminated think of ways to get to Kyungjoo. Jong-kook and Suk-jin decide to arrive in style by plane and Jae-suk opts for a later train. Slick, slick Running Men.


Back to the remaining four, Ji-hyo rolls safe from elimination and in pure glee Kwang-soo rolls…a “fail.” Just like before, the others zip back towards the train without looking back. His elimination is like the shot heard ’round the world. Poor puppy. It only gets worse when someone recognizes Jae-suk, asks to take a picture with him, and hands the phone to Kwang-soo. Get this boy a teddy bear!

Everyone is racing to Kyungjoo and it’s Ji-hyo’s turn to spin again. But of course Gary slips in before she rolls, “(Haha) get lost if Ji-hyo’s safe (from elimination).” Ji-hyo rolls safely and jumps into Gary’s arms. Long live the Monday Couple! Alas, Haha is eliminated fifth and the corresponding number is placed on his back. Hmm, something’s afoot, methinks.

Who makes it to the Kyungjoo amusement park first? It’s Jong-kook and Suk-jin who traveled by plane. The other members follow in after them: it’s time to look for the crowns! The Monday Couple look mighty happy to be searching for the crowns together. Gary attempts to scare Ji-hyo to poke a little fun, but he spots the crown before he gets the chance, much to Ji-hyo’s chagrin.

But there’s something, or rather someone, lurking in the amusement park, carefully tracking their every move. Leave it to the Capable One Jong-kook to notice that the scenery is eerie, as if people will disappear one by one. Well now that you mention it…

It’s Sukjin who’s afraid of roaming alone and calls Jong-kook but doesn’t notice the lingering shadow behind him. It’s the hunter! Suk-jin is no match for the hunter aka guest, actor Choi Min-soo (Warrior Baek Dong Soo, Father’s House). Choi Min-soo says: “You were the first…” and we flash back to the very beginning, when Sukjin rolled his fate and when Choi Min-soo received his mission: take the members out in order. Now the pieces are starting to come together…

How is it this man is so nimble and agile? Choi Min-soo is just climbing over gates and traverses through tall grass as if they were annoying little obstacles in his path. He’s a man on a mission and his next target is Jong-kook. The captions play up their potentially epic battle: It’s Hunter versus Spartakooks and Min-soo’s voiceover narrates that between beasts, there exists a different language…


Which is why I love Jong-kook’s transformation from a manly man from one second, to an obedient puppy the next. Jong-kook catches on fairly quickly and sans an epic battle, is taken away by men in black. Thus is the swift and quick end to Jong-kook.

This man must have keen hunter instincts or something because he spots Ji-hyo dragging two scaredy cats, Haha and Kwang-soo, to an amusement park ride in the distance. Min-soo: “The scared stick together.” True that, brother. Then suddenly, insight. Haha figures out that Min-soo must eliminate them in accordance to the order on their t-shirts. He doesn’t worry since Jong-kook is tough to catch. Oh, how little you know, Haroro!

It takes a dangerous close call for everyone to refocus on the mission at hand: Find the seven gold crowns. Come on, time’s a-tickin’! Jae-suk gets to work but he walks right up to where Min-soo is hiding. Yooruce Willis is an easy catch for Min-soo. A terrified Jae-suk asks to confirm if his mission is to hunt down the Running Men. Min-soo: “What number are you?” Jae-suk: “3.” Min-soo. “Then you’re right…”

In jail, Choi Min-soo takes a breather with the eliminated, educating them about all things Hunter. He chastises Jae-suk that he talks too much, calling him “5 mm deep,” as in, shallow. Oof. Min-soo mentions that fish that swim in shallow water move rather carelessly whereas deep-sea fish move in swift, calculated movements. When Suk-jin mentions, “Doesn’t it differ on the species of fish?” he’s met with a sharp smack to his thigh. HA.

It’s Jong-kook’s uncomfortable and awkward sitting position in this entire conversation that has me in a fit of giggles. Never has a man so dominating look so timid.


Haha did you really think a snailing train ride would save you from the Hunter’s grasp? It’s easy pickings for Min-soo to hop across the wall and capture Haha – for fun. Oh my god, dear man, you’re giving ME a heart attack! Evidently, they’re neighbors and it looks like Min-soo harbored some resent towards Haha for not greeting him properly. To remedy this social sin, Min-soo employs Haha to bring him Kwang-soo instead.

Kwang-soo is hiding in a corner, hoping to remain alive. He heads towards the carousel, and just when he turns the corner, something scares the living daylights out of him. It’s Min-soo, who has been patiently waiting inside the booth. Min-soo even offers that they “ride the carousel for a minute,” even breaking out into a smile before he rips off Kwang-soo’s nametag. I can’t tell if you’re being cute or scary anymore Choi Min-soo…

Okay, this man is not someone to be trifled with. Haha comes back, confident that he’ll take his elimination like a man, and Min-soo offers him a last chance to run for it. The offer shakes up his confidence and Min-soo taunts, “If I chase you…who do you think will win?”


That’s enough for Haha to run away and after some time, a noise in the darkness jostles him and he screams, “Just take my nametag!” Min-soo hunts him down a second time just as easily as the first. Two
 Running Men left and just one crown…

Gary realizes that they haven’t checked inside anywhere. Hand-in-hand, Gary and Ji-hyo enter the haunted house. Slowly they make their way through and BAM! Min-soo jumps out in front of them, capturing Gary, and Ji-hyo evades the attack. Some creepy lines later, a smiling Min-soo says that he’s fond of the Monday Couple. Heh, cute.

It’s now Ji-hyo versus Min-soo in a last stand and Ji-hyo’s heart is racing – and points to her belly. Oh Ji-hyo. Keke. She continues to search all over the park for the remaining crown, all the while, we hear Min-soo’s booming voice calling out her name.

Aha! Now this is Ace Ji-hyo as she removes the last crown from its hiding place. Now it’s a matter of just setting it down with the others…

Ace Ji-hyo darts across the park, slinking her way through openings, setting a false trail for Min-soo. Will she get there first? Will she be caught by Min-soo? We see her running as fast as she can and sets down the last crown, sealing the victory for the Running Men! Yes, Ace Ji-hyo! This is why we love you!

Running Man: Episode 51

We’re back for another day of adventure in Bangkok. The money’s been swiped and it’s up to the Running Men to chase down the thief. This episode has so many twists and turns it’s hard for me to wrap my head around it! Tensions run high and it’s anyone’s game. The chase is on!

Episode 51. Broadcast July 10, 2011

Min-jung’s team relishes in their Bangkok Race victory and wonders what to do with the loot. Jong-kook offers to hold on to it until Min-jung pops that she’ll take it instead thankyouverymuch (Jae-suk: “She is filming tomorrow, right?”) and everyone heads off to bed.

But deep in the night…
Na PD’s protégé
the RM PD makes a late night visit to one member and delivers the mission to the “criminal”: Steal the cash, stash it away. Survive to the end and the moolah is yours. Ooh, very interesting RM! I’m a personal fan of these little arcs and the unknown culprit angle is far more intriguing than knowing who it is from the onset.

It’s morning and the staff makes their first morning call into Jong-kook’s room. He heads out to wake the other members in order, and some are easier to wake than others, to say the least. Haha’s grogginess is to be expected whereas Jae-suk is already awake and they proceed to…put him back into bed. HA. For the sake of variety, of course.

The boys head over to wake up Kwang-soo, who awakens like an Avatar from deep slumber. But it doesn’t take them very long to start on their parade of scolding him and each other, so much that Gwangsoo exclaims, “If you’re going to fight…take it outside!”

Oh snap, this is PG right? Looks like our boy Gary likes to sleep…closer to nature and the boys step in for the shocked VJs so they can do some proper damage control. They throw him a robe and Gary properly greets everyone else. The cast jokes that he looks like he hails from a chaebol (rich man) family and he plays the part to a T, stretching out on the veranda.

Breakfast time. But this ain’t your ordinary sit-down, five star hotel buffet – this is Running Man! The cast pile as much food as they can onto three plates and everyone digs in, enjoying the food. That is, apart from the one who whisks away the cash bags sitting in Min-jung’s room with the help of the maknae FD.
They’re off to their next destination to Pattaya, via bus. When they arrive at Pattaya, they’re not pleased to hear that their bus ride was a mission. The previous announcement was made in Thai, and Nichkhun conveniently left out that the first two people who fell asleep receive a penalty in his loose translation.
Oh ho, Nichkhun, you sly dog. The frequent RM visits taught you something or two about how to play the game huh? Thus, Jae-suk and Min-jung are stuck with the short end of the stick.

It’s every member for themselves as they each find out a criminal has stolen the cash and it’s up to them to track down and eliminate the offender before they complete a given mission. If they do, the money is theirs for the keeping. The same question is running through everyone’s minds: Who could it be?

OH. MY. GOD. HAHAHA. THIS is the penalty? I’m dying in a corner laughing at the absurdly large nametag that’s plastered across Jae-suk’s back. He’s more interested at the food (as am I) than the mission at hand, leisurely making his rounds around the various vendors. Not without some good ol’ fun of course
as he meets a cheeky ice cream seller who pokes a bit of fun with Jae-suk.

But there’s no time for games as tension runs high and all the members are suspicious of each other. Jong-kook and Jae-suk run into each other and hypothesize their theories about who the criminal is.

Nichkhun? Kwang-soo? Jong-kook resists Jae-suk’s attempts to ally together saying, “Hyung, right now, you’re too weak!” Jae-suk: “So take care of me.” Meaning: Be my bodyguard. LOL.

They decide to hang together for now and Jae-suk uses the opportunity to his advantage, asking Jong-kook to buy him things. That is, until Jong-kook comes up short on cash and threatens to rip off Jae-suk’s name-tag. Jae-suk then reluctantly pays for his own purchase. Fear of Spartakooks? Check.

The captions indicate possible reasons one of the members could be the culprit: Haha hangs around avoiding eye contact, Gary seems to be searching for something, Ace Ji-hyo is rifling through some items. Gary and Min-jung cross paths and Gary’s suspicious. The money was last seen in Min-jung’s room. Does she know where it is?

She replies innocently that she doesn’t and she’s also victim to the crime. She pinky promises and reaches over to hold Gary’s hands. Don’t let Ji-hyo see you Min-jung or you’re in for a world of pain.
Meanwhile, Kwang-soo is busy brushing up on his Thai. Just then, Ji-hyo slinks through the crowd and rips off his name-tag. It’s clean and Kwang-soo is rightly upset over his early elimination sans an interrogation. Ji-hyo apologizes: he was the first person she saw so she pounced before thinking. Kwang-soo: “Do you think ‘sorry’ is enough!?…I haven’t done anything yet!” Ji-hyo: “Just head off to jail, already.”

The speakers blare Kwang-soo’s elimination and an idea pops into Min-jung’s head…and she tears off Gary’s nametag. A shocked Gary shouts at her, “YAH (Hey!)” It’s pretty rude to yell at someone, especially a guest, so informally and Gary explains that he hopes she understand how upset he was to be eliminated that he forgot himself in the moment.

Min-jung accompanies Gary towards jail and they run into Ji-hyo who warily raises her eyebrows at the sight of them together. Haha jumps in and offers to create an alliance. All the members were previously asked what they wanted when they got to Thailand. Haroro pulls out a drink and asks to see the other members’ items. He reasons that the person who asked for money is the wanted thief. Nice deduction there – a gold star for your work today!

Back to the two fighting team leaders as Jae-suk and Jong-kook climb into a boat to prevent anyone from eliminating them. It’s not long before Nichkhun catches up to them, cautious towards the two leaders. He climbs into the following boat shouting, “I’ve been by myself for 30 minutes! I’m so lonely!” Poor puppy.

He continues that Jong-kook’s leaving for the States the next day, so he could probably use the cash and Jong-kook retaliates that the first clue to sniff out a criminal is to raise distrust in others. They meet up with the others and they shout reasons of suspicion towards each other. Min-jung explains her alliance as,

“We’re three nice people who trust each other!” Hehe.

Everyone splits off for the time being, but Haha can’t seem to shake off knowing that Jong-kook’s item is money. He pipes that they should eliminate him and the ladies add that Jong-kook will eliminate them before they get the chance. Haha then wonders if there’s more than one criminal and turns his suspicions towards Nichkhun. It’s a Thailand special, so why not him? I’m not so sure, Haroro…you sure have a lot of theories today.

Jong-kook and Jae-suk are yet again arguing over who the criminal is. Jae-suk wonders if their alliance another tactic for Jong-kook to wait until he’s the last one left. Jong-kook replies that he’s left Jae-suk to live for a while now because he’s easy to catch. Haven’t you seen Yoo-ruce Willis run before? He’s no easy target! Instead, they decide to search for the other easy target: Suk-jin.

This race sure is making everyone jumpy because even the slightest breeze perks up Haha’s fear of someone eliminating him. He explains that Jong-kook runs like the wind, sneaking up and catching them without alarm. A new alliance is formed of four as the “Nice Team.”

 Jae-suk spots eliminated Gary in the distance and heads over to meet up with him…but walks right past him. Hahaha. They’re interrupted by Kwang-soo shouting phrases in Thai, “Song Ji-hyo bbaekaboy (criminal)!” Jae-suk suspects that Ji-hyo is their alleged criminal and the Monday Couple boyfriend thinks that it’s Jae-suk. Why, he’s been a spy before in a previous episode! And then Kwang-soo changes his chant to, “Yoo Jae-suk bbaekaboy!” which the surrounding crowd parrots back to Jae-suk.

Jae-suk’s peaceful roaming time doesn’t last very long as the Nice Team recognizes him and hunts him down. Jae-suk raises both hands in the air, asking them to look into his eyes for the truth – he’s innocent! Ji-hyo looks at him…and then rips off his nametag that proves he was telling the truth.

Rounding out the Jail Regulars Trio, Suk-jin is also eliminated (The Jail Regulars Trio refers to Jae-suk, Kwang-soo, and Suk-jin, who are usually among the first to be eliminated in Hide-and-Seek and wait for the others to join them).

The Jail Regulars Trio and Gary toss out hypotheses of who the thief is. The others dismiss Jae-suk’s theory that the staff played up Min-jung’s innocence and she’s the criminal they want. He defends that those who haven’t been the hero before couldn’t possibly understand. He continues that it’s between Nichkhun, Ji-hyo, or Min-jung since Haha was a spy in a previous episode.

The others guess the possibility of Jong-kook. Jae-suk: “He doesn’t have to (do anything) to be the hero every week!”

Speaking of whom, Haha and Ji-hyo have Jong-kook cornered; listing off reasons that he might be the criminal: the item he wanted was money and the things he bought are pretty random and strange. Jong-kook asks if they’re 100% positive it’s him and they reply that it’s more like 80%. Heh. Ji-hyo bravely says that Jong-kook can even tear off her nametag to find out if she’s the thief. Oh ho…

Holy crap, look at that face. That’s the devilish grin of a man on a mission. Jong-kook easily tears off Ji-hyo’s nametag in mid-sentence. This means…that Jong-kook is the criminal! Along with a horrified Haha, we see a montage of how the PD came to visit him in the dead of the night, how he slipped in and swiped the cash, and how he’s been searching for the bags around Pattaya.

Haha and Ji-hyo are both eliminated, much to the shock of the rest of the cast. In jail, Jae-suk reflects on his own stupidity, allying and running around with the one he was supposed to catch. And then there were three…

Nichkhun and Min-jung deduce that the criminal must be Jong-kook after all and they begin searching for him high and low. Jong-kook has one final bag to deliver and just as he finds it, crosses paths with the other two. He’s not called the Capable One for nothing and Jong-kook makes a run for it, bag in tow.

But Nichkhun’s speedy too and he quickly catches Jong-kook. In a tussle, Jong-kook loses his grasp on the bag and Min-jung’s getting closer…

It’s 2 against 1 and it’s no use. Jong-kook slips and Min-jung tears off the nametag, making her and Nichkhun the winners! Kim Jong-kook actually lost?! Ah…that’ll sting his pride for a few weeks.