Saying goodbye is never easy, but how lucky we’ve been to have known someone for so long that bidding him farewell would be this hard. Our cast will come together for a last hoorah and laughs as a memorable chapter closes in their lives and in ours. Tears will be shed, emotions shared, and memories will never be forgotten because they will always be in our hearts.
EPISODE 324. Broadcast on November 6, 2016.
Right off the bat, today’s preview reminds us of what we already know: today is Gary’s final day of filming. But if you thought that the crew would prepare a lavish send-off, you’d be wrong because leaving this show won’t be that easy.
It’s a solemn opening with six seats instead of the usual seven. Jae-suk explains how Gary spoke to them all individually weeks ahead of the press announcement. He understands this wasn’t an easy decision for him and believes that they should respect Gary’s wishes.
And then Haha asks: “Does this mean Gary’s VJ is leaving with him?”
Kwang-soo feels bad because he still hasn’t given the VJ a monetary wedding gift, at which point Jae-suk reminds him how belated he actually is because the VJ has a two-year-old.
But back to the task on hand: today’s race is entitled “Running Man Who Can’t Break Up, Gary Who Can’t Leave” (a spin-off of the LeeSsang hit single “Girl Who Can’t Break Up, Guy Who Can’t Leave”).
There’s a hidden mission for our remaining Running Man members to complete: Each of them must steal one memorabilia from Gary without his knowledge. He’s currently working in his studio nearby and has been led to think the official opening is in an hour’s time. Kwang-soo: “Are you asking us to commit robbery?” PD: “Yes.”
Here’s the catch: the item they steal must be larger than the one stolen before them. Additionally, if Gary catches them stealing red-handed, the culprit must pay twice the amount of the cost of said item. Haha: “We really might end up in prison for the closing.”
But that’s not all: Should anyone fail to steal an item, that person will face punishment. Gah, to steal or not steal?
The group heads over to Gary’s studio which is located on the fifth floor of a nearby building. Gary is surprised to see everyone here so early (“I was planning on crying for half an hour!”) but he steps away to change… and the others immediately start pocketing a few items here or there.
A little later, the entire cast gets to sit down together and Ji-hyo, whose eyes already look like they’re welling up with tears, sits next to the Monday Boyfriend. Jae-suk tries uplifting the mood with a joke about how her character is currently suspected of having an affair on her drama This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair, and it works.
Hearing that the total distance the cast has run is 77,093 km around the world, Jae-suk wonders how much of that was from running away from Jong-kook.
Today’s race requires the cast members to collect that total distance of 77,000 km by completing games worth a varied amount of distance. Only when the group collects the entire distance can today’s game end.
Gary will be eligible for a better parting gift the quicker the group completes their missions. For instance, if they get 77,000 km in one try, Gary will be sent on a trip to Europe. Right below that will qualify him for a brand-new laptop followed by prime beef.
But Jong-kook has his eye on the gift(?) he gets if today’s race takes fifteen or more attempts to complete: Gary giving 100 staff members a gift.
Gary says they should just go big, and Haha makes sure that their hidden mission is in full swing. The first one’s a biggie: Endure 10 seconds of a sport massage in silence. The staff has brought back the master massage therapist, though Gary immediately tenses when he places a forearm (instead of his fingers) on his shoulders.
With that, the longest ten seconds of silence begins. Gary grimaces immediately but he gets through it. Jae-suk squirms like an eel and yelps with a few seconds left on the clock. So much for Europe.
Jae-suk points out that his legs are uneven, so the master straightens them out for him, albeit painfully. Hehe. Since they’ve failed, one person needs to take a forehead slap for the team. Jae-suk’s name comes up first, but then they decide that Gary should take the brunt.
Gary asks that Ji-hyo deliver the slap, only to shrink when she pulls back without warning. While that’s going on, Jae-suk calls out to Jong-kook, who’s trying to pocket a fan. Jong-kook retaliates by knocking his head into the wall just a tadddd too hard.
Ji-hyo surpasses everyone’s expectations with a hard slap to Gary’s forehead. Even though it stings, Gary rests in the idea that he gets to pick whoever gets slapped next.
Everyone decides to keep going for the high stakes challenges, but the “Mascot” challenge is the exact same game cloaked under a different name. Jong-kook undergoes the short painful massage session first and runs out… with one of Gary’s things. Lol.
Haha tries the same tactic, only to learn that Jong-kook brought down a figurine. No good. Meanwhile, Ji-hyo lays on the ground and taps her hip. She just wants a reason to slip out too despite the unintentional suggestive position.
Suk-jin volunteers to go next but immediately regrets his decision even before the clock starts. He lets out a small yelp, but that’s enough for Gary to lose the laptop.
They may as well exhaust all the 77,000 km challenges and look hopeful when they learn the third one is entitled “Writer.” But then, the PD says, “The sport masseuse whom the writer invited…” Oh no. Gary: “Can’t you just give me a nice send-off?”
Suk-jin points out that no one got a forehead slap, so Gary chooses Ji-hyo. Kwang-soo gulps when the others choose him to do the slapping, but he’s more resolved once she warns him that he’ll be next and she’ll do the slapping then.
Kwang-soo apologizes before his hand smacks her forehead.
Haha snuggles up to a large teddy bear before sitting down for his massage. It gets taken away soon enough though, and then Kwang-soo offers himself as a human teddy bear. So Haha takes the pain out on him with a firm hold on his hair, but they fail anyway.
This means Ji-hyo gets to exact her revenge on Kwang-soo, and she comes through with an audible smack. Now the cast has learned their lesson and decides to go with a challenge worth 50,000 km instead.
Jae-suk tries to slip away while the staff sets up the food game of chance. He works up an excuse when the others notice, then manages to crawl out with a picture frame that’s larger than the figurine.
Here the cast must all choose the actual food time. We speed ahead to the fourth item as Jong-kook complains he usually hates yogurt drinks because of the sugar content. He ends up going with Kwang-soo’s suggestion and remarks that it’s delicious. Ji-hyo cries out, “Smells like vinegar!”
While Haha and Suk-jin try to pilfer some items, Gary comments on the huge dollop of wasabi in the Chocopie. Haha finds an opportune moment to slip out and gawks at the picture frame Jae-suk somehow brought. Thankfully for him, his choice is even larger.
Suk-jin manages to sneak out during some downtime and presents a huge decorative mask. Just as his choice gets analyzed, Kwang-soo shows up with a huge metal skull. Now that Kwang-soo has upped the stakes considerably, Ji-hyo and Suk-jin need to step up.
When the PD reminds them that they must deliver the forehead smack before moving on, Kwang-soo chooses Jong-kook. While the guys deliberate on the consequences of hitting Jong-kook, Ji-hyo slips through with a huge potted plant.
The guys decide that the honor should go to the loser of a rock-paper-scissors match. That’s Haha, who mentions how he and Jong-kook have a concert in Las Vegas coming up. Jong-kook braces himself, but then Haha hits him more in the eyes versus the forehead. Ouuuccccch.
We skip ahead to Suk-jin messing up the Pop-Up Pirate game, which means he’s subject to the forehead smack. When Suk-jin says Haha was the one who hurt him, Jong-kook uses that opportunity to again promote their joint concert. So when Suk-jin correctly identifies the date of the concert, Jong-kook spares him.
Jong-kook puts Jae-suk in the hotseat instead, and Jae-suk adds, “I heard you have guests too. Turbo and Skull, was it?” That does the trick, which means it’s Kwang-soo’s turn.
Kwang-soo starts singing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” because Gary whispered the name in his ear. Jong-kook responds: “Come here.” Kwang-soo gets upset when Jae-suk says he looks like the baseball team Nexen Heroes’ mascot: “I’m a fan of a different team!” Jae-suk: “You could get a chance to throw the first pitch!”
And sure enough, the slap is accompanied by a loud smack and some redness.
Their next 50,000 km challenge is a three-person relay: three representatives from the cast will run a leg from the fifth floor to the first floor. If they complete the race before their respective VJs, they win.
Ji-hyo suggests that Gary wait downstairs (so she can steal an item in his absence). She slaps Suk-jin when he tries to take her potted plant. She lifts it to take, completely unaware that Gary is doing a test run up the stairs.
She and Kwang-soo bring down the plant as Gary runs up the flight of stairs… and to her luck, she slips in the fourth floor before Gary runs past them. So Suk-jin lifts up a couch and struggles with it while the VJ team starts running up the stairs.
VJ Kwon-ryul takes the baton at the 37-second mark and completes the relay with a time of 54.25 seconds. Suk-jin takes a bicycle right before Jong-kook starts running, though he thinks it’s Gary.
He starts taking it down again once he’s told that he’s in the clear, but then he has to wait for the crew to clear away the hidden entrance on the fourth floor. Uh oh.
Gary runs right into him, but Suk-jin heads inside anyway. Unfortunately for him, the bicycle is too short. The Running Man Team loses the race by four seconds, and Gary is still wondering what Suk-jin was doing with the bicycle.
Suk-jin starts to sweat when Gary confronts him, and everyone else hops on the suspicion train, asking if he’s a spy. Suk-jin is designated as the next forehead smack victim, and he lies that he really wanted the bike. Gary: “Did you load it into your car?”
Jae-suk smacks Suk-jin’s forehead, but notes the latter’s belated reaction. He keeps talking while Gary suspects that Suk-jin may have a secret mission. But they move on to a 30,000 km challenge: Wrong Multiplication Table.
Here, everyone will be asked a multiplication question. However, while they must give the correct tens place, the ones place must be incorrect. They start off with Haha, who does it right, but then Gary mumbles his next answer to six times four as “thirty-something.”
He messes up the second time around too, at which point Haha says this is just as suspicious as Suk-jin stealing his bike. Haha: “How did you live your life with a brain like yours?” Gary: “I managed just fine!”
But then in the third round, his answer to two times four is: “Jjook.” Pffft, what number is that?
Gary’s prizes have now dwindled to a Running Man flag and sticker set which is still nostalgic. Their next game requires everyone to throw the same number of points on a yut-stick.
Haha, Gary, and Ji-hyo’s yut-sticks all fall on the same face. Jong-kook gets dangerously close to a different face but his yut-stick lands true. Now it’s up to the Unlucky Trio to see things through.
Suk-jin gets through his turn, then Kwang-soo’s yut-stuck falls on the wrong side first… but then flips over. It’s all down to Jae-suk now… and his lands on the right side too. Ah, the cast always comes through when it counts.
The cast attempts another 30,000 km challenge next: Mini Nametag Hunt. They have five minutes to track down all seven ant-sized nametags. Everyone starts looking apart from one: Suk-jin, who rolls up the large rug in the living area.
Gary heads out into the living area just as Suk-jin lugs the rug toward the door. But Suk-jin manages to get it downstairs and mark his task as complete.
We abruptly cut to the end of the Mini Nametag Hunt as the cast succeeds with seconds to spare. Jae-suk points out the absence of the rug, and Suk-jin lies that the staff took it away because of the dust. Gary wonders if Suk-jin took that to his car too, and Suk-jin protests that he did no such thing.
The cast has collected 60,000 km thus far so they go for another 30,000 km challenge. This one’s tough: an arm wrestling match with the camera operators. There will be three representatives from each team and the first to win two matches, wins.
They all hope the Jimmy Jib crane operator doesn’t show up, but the hulkish man does. The cast is a bit happier when they hear the other representatives, and Gary faces Director Kang Chang-hee first.
Gary seems nervous at first, but he gets an easy win. Kwang-soo has to face the Jimmy Jib operator, and it looks like he has a bit of an edge as the operator’s face reddens. In the end, Kwang-soo takes down the camera operator.
That victory covers the rest of the distance, and with eight attempts in total, Gary gets the Running Man gift set. The staff has prepared more gifts for Gary, including a photo mosaic from the past six-and-a-half years, and a gold nametag.
The somber mood settles in again, so Jong-kook jokes that Ji-hyo will have to find a new man next week. The tears she’s been holding back today finally escape, and she says she and Gary had their emotional farewell and bids him well.
Since she can’t bring herself to say the words, Jong-kook shares them on her behalf: “‘Mondays will be so empty now without you!’” Jae-suk jokes that he heard something different: “‘Is Gary out of his freaking mind?’”
Gary does the slate for the last time, then the entire cast and crew head out for a farewell dinner. Afterward, Gary asks the camera crew why they’re still following him, and they tell him it’s because they want a final video message at his studio.
And when he returns, he finds everything his fellow members have “stolen” from him. His final mission is to put those items back in their rightful places. But when he goes to put them back, he discovers personal gifts from the other members in those spots.
Kwang-soo has given him a speaker a heart-filled letter where he writes that Gary is like family and hopes they’ll meet up even more frequently if not on Mondays. The next one is from Jong-kook, and goddamnit, I’m crying.
Suk-jin has left behind a red ginseng set, which looks an awful lot like the one he won in the Chuseok special. Suk-jin writes that he was torn at first and angry at the idea of Gary leaving. But he continues that he needs to respect Gary’s wishes and says he will always love him.
Gary remembers the day he told Haha about how he was first invited to become part of Running Man. He’d been reluctant about appearing in variety, but it was Haha who told him that he shouldn’t shy away from being in a variety show if that happened to be one of his many talents.
And what did Haha get to pair that wonderful memory? Dried squid.
Jae-suk has left behind a pair of sneakers, and writes that everyone will be rooting for him in his future endeavors. If for any reason, Gary wants to return to variety, the door will always be open for him.
Gary sees that Ji-hyo has left him a massager because she knows about his herniated disc, and would then massage his back for him. Her second present is a photo album of their Monday Couple moments.
In her letter, Ji-hyo writes that she was initially shocked because she believed they would stick together to the end. However angry and sad she was at first is now replaced with understanding toward the difficult decision he had to make. He will forever be, irreplaceable.
Gary gives his final video message to the viewers, thanking them for loving him when no one knew his face as a musician. He hopes that everyone will still continue to support the staff and crew, and bids farewell…
…Or so we’re led to think because we get slapped with a “To Be Continued” caption and Gary crying, “Stop! Leave me alone! You’re being too mean!” I’m already crying buckets here!
But all good things must come to an end, and Gary’s departure marks my final recap for Running Man. It’s been a long ride with ups and down over the years, but damn if I didn’t cherish every minute of it. 7012.