Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 8
The bad news: No Magical Hour today.
The good news: Still, we get horse chases, whip action, matching Scars of Childhood Trauma, a near face-shooting (insert your own Dick Cheney joke here), impostor assassins, and, oh yeah, DRAG QUEENS.
(I should’ve known Chil Woo wouldn’t be complete without drag queens.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Riri Band (리리밴드) – “슈퍼에 갔어” (I Went to the Supermarket) [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Their informant is killed before he can identify who he’s working for. Our threesome look up to see Orroz standing at a distance, and stare him down. It’s assassin versus assassin. Black hat versus black mask (unworn at the moment). Hair extensions versus hair extensions.
Orroz makes his getaway by racing to jump onto his horse. Not to be outdone, Chil Woo whistles for HIS horse and catapults himself into the saddle to chase after. (Best-trained horse ever.) Left behind on the ground as the other two gallop away, Jaja and Min look at each other as if to say, “Dude, I’ve gotta get me one of those.”
Chil Woo catches up to his quarry in the village, where he and Orroz fight it out on the ground. Well, when they’re not flying in the air or jumping up walls, that is. Chil Woo blocks Orroz’s sword with his forearm guards, but isn’t able to escape being cut in the upper arm. (I wonder if Chil Woo will take that as a cue to invent upper-arm guards and perhaps appear, eventually, wearing full body armor.) Chil Woo retaliates and draws blood on Orroz’s upper arm using his whip.
Orroz escapes and sneaks back to his own home, where he tends to his wound. Chil Woo and Orroz now have matching fresh injuries — right next to their matching old scars, which spins us back to a flashback to Episode 1, when both were children.
Orroz was in fact the same little poor boy who’d been with Chil Woo when their settlement was ambushed. If you recall, Orroz — or HEUK SAN, his birth name — had seen that the traitor who turned on Chil Woo’s father was his own peasant father. Traitor Dad had seen the boys hiding and stabbed at Chil Woo with his sword, but Heuk San rushed to deflect the blade, and instead of stabbing Chil Woo through the chest, the sword cut both boys on the arm.
As Young Chil Woo was leaving with Woo Young, he’d stopped to thank Heuk San for saving his life: “We’re brothers now.” Which is (1) really kind of touching, and (2) unbelievable to consider that Chil Woo is supposed to be younger than Heuk San. Let’s face it, Eric may be sexy but he looks like a pretty rough 30, while Yoo Ah-in barely looks legal at his oldest (and like a schoolboy at his youngest).
Heuk San was taken in by this man, currently the Prime Minister, who back at the time of the ambush was one of the head guys leading the charge. He put Young Heuk San through rigorous — torturous — training, telling him that he must atone for the sins of his father, who was responsible for the slaughter of so many men. He lays on the guilt, and thus it appears that Heuk San may consider his life as Orroz to be not his own but one he owes to his adoptive father. That also explains why he’s so robotic and methodical in his killing, since he’s essentially the Prime Minister’s puppet, indentured by guilt.
The Prime Minister is still after the historical documents, and we can presume that his position of power was gained through some kind of treacherous conspiracy. The document is probably incriminating for his situation.
After fighting Orroz face-to-face, Chil Woo recognizes him as the man who’d been in So Yoon’s neighborhood and asks if she knows him. So Yoon denies it but Chil Woo doesn’t believe her, and prods for more information — he can sense she’s holding back, but doesn’t know why.
This spins us back to another flashback to the Jeju Island massacre, where So Yoon had lived with others in exile until Heuk San’s ninjas wiped out the settlement.
So Yoon had fired the gun, but thanks to Heuk San’s super-speedy reflexes, he was able to dodge the bullet (um, at point-blank range, wouldn’t he have still been hit with scatter shot?) and knock the gun to the ground. She’d cowered over the young boy and begged for mercy, asking Heuk San to spare the child’s life — she swore to raise the boy (I believe he’s the son of the dead prince) as a nobody, a peasant, someone who would never know the legacy of his life if only he would be allowed to live.
Heuk San isn’t completely heartless, and her plea had reminded him of the attack he witnessed as a child. He recalls Chil Woo’s father entreating Chil Woo with his dying wish to look after Woo Young (perhaps feeling that he should let So Yoon keep her promise to protect this child, remembering when he was in a similar situation). So Heuk San had asked her name, and told her ominously, “If the boy ever comes forward [i.e., publicly to claim his identity], I’ll kill you.”
News spreads of the A-Team’s involvement in subduing the unruly gangsters in the previous episode, but Chil Woo’s police boss takes credit. The king’s minister commends the officers for a job well done and announces that the chief will be receiving an award for his good work. Chil Woo and his father find the whole thing amusing, content to let the unit take credit although they know that their assassin team really deserves the honors.
Unfortunately, with the A-Team’s growing notoriety, they’re also becoming a target for identity theft. Villagers are aware of all the good deeds the A-Team has done, but mixed in are a few stories where they’re described as behaving badly. Chil Woo’s mother and grandmother (fully enamored of the mysterious heroes) defend them, but they’ve got no proof either.
The new villains involve these girls. I mean guys. Er, rather, she-males. (Who would mistake them as ladies? Look at those broad shoulders and nonexistent hips, and OH YEAH, their manly faces.)
Chil Woo and friends retrace the steps of their Orroz chase the night before, arriving in front of the house of the Prime Minister. (They don’t suspect that Orroz is related to that household; they merely note that he disappeared in this residential area.)
Min pays a visit to the Prime Minister, and in another flashback, we see that this was the man Min had talked to about the historical record back before his colleagues were all murdered. Min had trusted the PM with the dilemma, not suspecting that the PM might have had anything to do with all the murders. The PM lists the names of the men who have died in the interim, and the other scholars who have recently gone missing (one of whom was the one buried recently).
Perhaps thinking the best way to dispel suspicion is to address it head-on, the prime minister says that Min must have been suspicious of him for the murders. He adds that he’d suspected Min as well. After all, he reminds him, the two of them were the only ones to know about the document. Min is suspicious enough that when the PM asks if he knew about the disappeared scholars, Min answers that he hasn’t kept in contact with any of his former colleagues.
While waiting outside, Chil Woo notices Heuk San walking by in his noblemen’s clothing, and remembers him as the guy who’d helped So Yoon. He files that bit of information away for future use.
Now for our drag queens. Posing as cosmetics merchants, the two queens gain entrée into a noble household by displaying their wares to the lady of the house and treating her to a facial. The men are actually really good at acting feminine — in fact, the guy on the left (oh hey, is that the prince from Legend?) speaks and moves like a real woman, if only he didn’t look so ugly in drag. And despite his clever mannerisms, a feminine voice doesn’t hide a five o’ clock shadow.
While one man-lady massages the woman (who’s lying down for her facial), the other takes the opportunity to case the joint. S/he looks around and notes where the woman keeps her jewels and valuables.
With Lee Tae-soo killed by Orroz, the assassins must try other ways to find out who hired the thugs to bury the scholar’s body. Chil Woo asks a member of Lee Tae-soo’s gang, and finds out that there are people asking very detailed, pressing questions about the A-Team. Hearing this, they decide they should be more careful until they can find out who’s trying to find them.
That night, our three heroes strut through the village… just before another trio of identical assassins walk by in a different direction. The second group sneaks into a house, where the cosmetics-buying woman lies sleeping. They’re dressed just like our A-Team, but the camera makes sure not to give us a clear shot of their faces so it’s pretty obvious that this is a fakeout. The guys roughly subdue the woman, grab the same jewelry that the drag queens had seen earlier, and leave a note pinned on the wall identifying themselves as the assassins.
Naturally, such a violation of a noble family cannot go overlooked, so the police drag in their main leads in tracking the assassins: Chil Woo’s mother and grandmother.
They’re dragged in for interrogation because they were the ones who hired the assassins to handle the gangsters. Amusingly, they display very little fear, even when the police chief shouts that they had no business going to the assassins. When he insists that they should have reported it to the police, they defend their actions by grumbling that the police would’ve been useless to them.
Chil Woo hears of the interrogation belatedly, and isn’t able to intervene. But a greater problem arises when he hears that the officers are going to raid the A-Team’s secret Hire-An-Assassin Booth, having found out the location from Mom and Granny. The same booth where his father happens to be right now.
Chil Woo races away to warn his father of the impending raid, but isn’t able to get very far, because his boss sees him and tells him to stay put. Meanwhile, Yeon Doo has received a new client — the little girl whose mother was attacked and robbed — and guides her to the remote shack where Chil Woo’s dad receives requests.
Luckily, Yeon Doo is back at her stall in the marketplace when Chil Woo’s unit troops by, and Chil Woo tries to send her a message. He talks extra-loudly, asking his fellow officer (apropos of nothing), “Where did you say we were going again? That shed in the forest? WHERE THE ASSASSINS ARE?”
Yeon Doo gets the message and tells Jaja, who races through the forest to the Assassin Shack. Meanwhile, Chul Seok relays the information to Min, who likewise runs as fast as he can to try to arrive before the officers do.
Unfortunately, Jaja and Min are too late. They arrive almost at the same time as the officers, and are unable to slip inside before the officers gather just outside the shack.
Inside, Chil Woo’s dad is in the middle of listening to the girl’s appeal — she doesn’t know who the intruders are, but she got a good look at all three of them — unaware that he’s being surrounded.
And just as the officers ready to open the door and charge in… we end Episode 8.
I love that we got drag queens. We can add that to our running List of Hilarity, after the murderous elephant, the flaming whip, horse acrobatics, wishing-well gods, horse-drawn dirt-boarding, tree fighting, and Magical Hour hero transformations… I’m thinking if I come up with a wish list now, chances are pretty good I’ll get to see at least ONE of my scenarios in action, right?
Let’s see: I think I’d like to see some Big, Ridiculous Weaponry. Like a human catapult, or a wooden tank (powered by monkeys!). And as much as I like our assassins in battle costume, I’d like to see them in some more costumes while we’re at it. Like a two-man horse. (Obvs Jaja must be the butt. Chil Woo can be the front end. And Min… I guess he gets to be in the saddle.) On top of that, the more outrageous tasks to which we can subject our heroes, the better. Say, for instance, hula-hooping. Maybe in competition. Or… a relay race involving hurdles. And LIMBO!
Plus, if two guest actors get to dress in drag, I had better see Eric in a filmy gisaeng outfit before the series is over. Hopefully while belly dancing. With ribbons.
Furthermore, since Chil Woo and Min are always at odds and bickering over ideals and principles and all that shiz, I do not think it would be unreasonable to demand more homoeroticism already. Lots of it.