Spoiler Alert! Beyond this disclaimer lies a spoiler-heavy recap of episodes 11 and 12 of 'Start-Up.' Keep reading to find out what went down in the latest episodes!
Episode 11 carries forward the tense note of the previous episode with Nam Do San asking Alex if his offer for him still stands valid. With a positive affirmation, Nam Do San takes a chance and suggests that 2STO buy out Samsan Tech. However, Alex is hesitant, informing him that he's also equally interested in Injae Company's developers, who approached him earlier in the day, seeking to take up Alex on his big Silicon Valley opportunity even at the cost of their company. This, in particular, becomes an important foreshadowing for the future that falls upon Samsan Tech.
Elsewhere in his older brother resorting to taking his own life. Yong San is unwaveringly against Han Ji Pyeong regardless of how much his professional advice may have helped the company. A flashback to the exact day that broke Yong San's brother, as well as one where he can be seen radiating with aspiration is heartbreaking, to say the least. His aversion to Ji Pyeong, although understandable, ends up bringing a storm in their lives.
At the dawn of demo day, two things are clear - Seo Dal Mi is not quite sure about who she holds in her heart, or so she thinks and Ji Pyeong's offer of a Plan B where he is willing to personally invest in Samsan Tech for the sake of Seo Dal Mi is not the answer Samsan Tech is looking for when it comes to their future. Either way, Demo Day is going to make a lot of things very clear. Won In Jae brings anxiety medicine for Dal Mi, having noticed her nervousness before, but Dal Mi asserts that she is confident this time and suggests In Jae take it instead when her hands start visibly shaking at the thought of going first. However, In Jae is a thorough professional on stage until Do San's father announces his concern as well as those of the workers he represents from the back of the auditorium. Having recognized his father's voice and worried for him, Do San runs to the scene and gets teary-eyed at seeing his father put forward his argument, especially in light of the conversation the father-son duo shared earlier. In response to a question as to why In Jae is doing what she's doing, she replies with the assertion that she wants to change the world into a better place. When In Jae chooses to make a personal attack towards Do San's father by bringing his son's AI solution up, his father holds his ground by saying that he and his son are separate individuals with different paths. His son marches to the future while he fully intends to protect his present and the livelihood of those who will be the most adversely affected by In Jae's downsizing solution. Progress is necessary and inevitable, but the pace must be controlled. In Jae pitches directly to 2STO, denying investments from her step-father, but Alex defers his final decision.
The Big Win
Intimidated by the high accuracy rate of Injae Company, Samsan Tech mull over whether they should tweak their accuracy rate by a small percentage with full faith in Do San being able to increase the accuracy later on. We soon find out that Do San decided against this, keeping in mind that a lie, no matter how small, can never take one far, learning from his own experience with Dal Mi. Alex brings up Injae Company's higher accuracy rate, to which do San responds by saying that the app size had to be reduced in order to ensure that the visually impaired could use it for longer periods of time throughout their day. As a result, they had to compromise on the accuracy rate. Alex suggests a direct face-off between the two companies by setting their apps on a single board computer, running them under similar conditions on a very low spec system, which will thereby determine the practical usability of both the AI solutions. Everyone seems to think that neither of their algorithms will be able to run on such a system and the test was suggested in order to debunk Do San's argument about battery usage and accuracy but surprisingly, Injae Company's app glitches out. At the same time, Samsan Tech is able to run their app smoothly. Ji Pyeong is too traumatized by his revelations about Yong San's brother and is unable to make it to Demo Day as he beats himself up in retrospection of his dismissive behavior towards Samsan Tech. However, he does watch them take the big win on television. The next day, 2STO brings forth the official contract acquiring Samsan Tech for 3 billion KRW with the team working at Silicon Valley for 3 years. Dal Mi receives the contract and barely looks it through before responding that they'll be in touch. However, as soon as the meeting is over, the team is way too ecstatic to actually read the contract's terms and conditions. That night, Do San offers to show Dal Mi his humble beginnings, offering to take her on a tour of his real office. While they're there, in an unexpected turn of events, Chul San and Sa Ha also seem to be behind closed doors in the office and upon discovery, they present an explanation which neither of them are buying. In a fortunate coincidence, Yong San also shows up with food and drinks and the team spends the rest of the night discussing their future business idea, self-driving cars.
A Family Reunion
Back at home on Demo Day, Dal Mi is beaming from ear to ear with happiness as she relays the big news. Grandma seems to be overly indulgent and cloyingly sweet, prompting Dal Mi to quickly catch on to the fact that something must be up. Soon it is revealed that she has brought Dal Mi's mother home to live with them, for she has nowhere to go and evidently enough, her life hasn't been as easy as it seemed.
At the dawn of D-Day, Dal mi wakes up next to Do San, albeit on different bean bags, and looks over at him with loving eyes before placing a small kiss on his cheek, although indirectly. Her hand, covered in ink, touches her lips as she kisses them before transferring it onto Do San's cheek, also smearing the ink on his face in the process. Later, Do San wakes up and looks over at her sleeping, admiring her like she's the love of his life, moves her hair away from her eyes, and rubs off the ink on her chin. The scene changes to the 2STO office building where Dal Mi and Do San are ready to sign the contract. Ji Pyeong, on hearing news of this big acquisition, rushes over to the team, warning them that the contract seems to have an ulterior motive. He eventually reveals that 2STO is actually "acqhiring" or, in other words, it is acquiring the company on paper only to recruit the engineers for their own purposes. This would essentially mean that as soon as the contract is signed, the team would be disbanded. He suggests that their meeting be stopped as soon as possible, but Yong San intervenes at a critical moment and disallows Ji Pyeong from making any decisions for Samsan Tech because he originally did not believe in them in the first place. With the lack of this important information, Dal Mi and Do San sign the official contract.
Ready for San Francisco?
Back home, the good news brings some obvious concerns. Dal Mi's grandma seems understandably worried, but her mother pushes her to chase her dream without worries because she'll be here to take care of Grandma. Dal Mi lets her know that she is even more worried for that exact reason. She tries to explain her medicines to her before her mother takes over, telling her not to worry. However, she also gets the order of the medicines wrong, not being able to recognize which is which, which prompts Dal Mi to think of a solution. At Do San's place, mother and son are busy figuring out what clothes to pack for San Francisco. She asks him whether Dal Mi would be going with them and if she also has feelings for Do San. Do San tells her that he doesn't know because he hasn't asked her, to which his mother responds by saying that he can be quite slow sometimes and proceeds to give him some statistics as to how he could ascertain whether Dal Mi had feelings for him based on how she behaves with respect to his birthday. Dal Mi messages him to ask if he's up and Do San begins to type a response stating the exact time when he goes to sleep on weekdays and weekends. His mother smacks him on the back and tells him to call her back, frustrated with his unawareness. She calls up Do San asking whether NoonGil can be updated in order to be able to recognize medicines. Surely enough, Do San knows what to do and assures Dal Mi that it can be done. The two speak over the phone until Dal Mi falls asleep. On the way to work the next day, Dal Mi and Do San walk to work together and happen to come across Sa Ha, who is carrying two vanilla lattes, one for herself and another, evidently, for Chul San. However, she hides the fact by saying that she was going to give it away to anyone who wanted it. Do San steps in, taking the extra vanilla latte but not before teasing her. At work, Dal Mi wants to show off her success to her older sister, but she warns her that her celebration is baseless and that what she perceives as her sister's jealousy is actually business advice.
The Big Shock
Soon, Alex reveals the contract's real terms, firing Dal Mi and Sa Ha, only to take the trio of engineers to San Francisco. The process of NoonGil being further developed is also up in the air, unlike what was initially promised. Do San announces that he is going to cancel the contract, but Alex reminds him that the contract has already been signed. As such, it can be nullified only by paying a penalty of double the takeover amount. In Jae's team is overjoyed at their Samsan Tech's downfall but In Jae shuts it down immediately. Ji Pyeong shows up at Samsan Tech's office, where the team is seemingly in a heated argument about not having listened to Ji Pyeong's advice. Yong San reveals that he did not want to give in to Ji Pyeong's speculations because of what happened to his brother. Ji Pyeong enters and asserts that he was only doing his job before harshly reminding the team of their reality at the moment. Do San is furious at how Ji Pyeong spoke to Dal Mi and carries the argument outside, where it turns into a bloody fistfight. However, by the end of it, Do San humbly requests Ji Pyeong to help them as NoonGil was originally created for Dal Mi's grandmother. Ji Pyeong's world comes crashing down on him as he hears about her worsening eyesight and he rushed over to see her. The two share a moment of complete vulnerability before Grandma embraces him despite his resistance and Ji Pyeong can't hold his tears back anymore. Dal Mi returns home from work and sees Ji Pyeong leaving. She asks him about his bruises and he says that he had fallen down. Ji Pyeong is about to leave when she stops him and asks him to dinner instead. Over a bowl of noodles again, Dal Mi asks Ji Pyeong what she should do now. From a rational point of view, he tells her that they should just go through with the contract they signed. Do San returns home feeling dejected as he thinks back to the time baseball star Park Chan Ho signed his baseball and encouraged him to follow his own dream, not anyone else's.
Do San's Birthday
Do San's mother had previously taught him that if Dal Mi knows his birthday, wants to spend it together with him and looks exceptionally pretty on the day, that would mean that there are high chances of her having feelings for him. The day arrives, but Do San is way too out of it to remember that it is his birthday. Dal Mi shows up in front of his house, but Do San doesn't seem to notice why. She reminds him that she's here for his birthday and he tells her that he is definitely going to sue 2STO and do whatever he can to keep the team together. Dal Mi takes him to a fancy French restaurant, but the only thing on Do San's mind is 2STO. Dal Mi dismisses his end of the conversation and proceeds to assert that he should not miss this opportunity to work with Alex in Silicon Valley.
Do San continuously protests against it, but Dal Mi has already made up her mind. Finally, not being able to get her point across politely, Dal Mi tells Do San that she feels humiliated about not being chosen and that he should go while he can. This culminates into Do San asking her if this is her breaking up with him and she confirms his suspicions, adding that he isn't the same Do San who wrote her the letters. Do San asks if this was all she had to tell him on his birthday, and as much as it hurts her, she says yes. Dal Mi walks away, the clouds darken and rain pours; Dal Mi sits alone at a bus stop, crying. Do San goes back to his old office, where he finds Yong San leaning against the edge of the rooftop parapet. Worried that he might be trying to jump off, he pulls him back in tears. Yong San assures him that he was just looking down because he dropped his coffee. Do San breaks down again, now in a full-throated cry before finally calming down. The two have a conversation where Yong San admits to his mistake and suggests that they should go through with the contract at least so that they don't look like a failure in front of Ji Pyeong.
The next day, Dal Mi admits to feeling down as, unlike the cosmos flower that her grandmother said she was, she was falling even before she could bloom. Chul San asks Sa Ha if they can keep in touch and Sa Ha says that there's no reason to anymore. However, she doesn't leave before wishing everyone good luck and especially asking him to take care. In Jae admits to the CEO of Sandbox that the child on the swing is actually Seo Dal Mi, having promised to return her precious memory to her. The CEO tells Dal Mi about her father's last greeting, asking about chicken and Dal Mi bids an emotional goodbye to Sandbox. Sa Ha receives a message from Chul San containing a video where he recites the numbers in pi through ASMR to help her sleep. Needless to say, she is touched. Do San waits for Alex outside his office and asks him for a favor. Alex tells him that he isn't the only person to ask for a favor. He brings him to his office, where Ji Pyeong is already seated with the same proposal that Do San was going to put forward. They both request NoonGil to be discontinued and from the looks, Alex is not going to deny them this favor. Back home, Sa Ha is soundly asleep as Chul San's video plays in the background and the camera pans to her bedside table where she has kept their team photo from the office. Do San, Chul San and Yong San board their flight to San Francisco and Chul San ends up asking for a vanilla latte from the hostess even though it's not available. However, this farewell isn't a final goodbye. Dal Mi shows up at an interview for the position of a member in the Strategic Planning Team of Injae Company. While the rest of her team is appalled, In Jae resumes the interview process, ready to give it a shot.