Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 9
No, these buffoons don’t really have much of a role in today’s episode — which is kind of awesomely convoluted — but I couldn’t leave that screencap out.
And by awesomely convoluted, I mean that there are multiple parties all doing their own thing but involved in the same incident, each taking on the problem from different angles. That leads to major intermixing and confusion (for the characters, that is, not us) and a whole lotta running around wondering who’s who and what’s what. Always fun.
SONG OF THE DAY
Brown Eyes – “Let’s Get Down” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
With his unit poised to barge into the Assassin Request Booth, Chil Woo sweats nervously. But everything turns out okay when he leads the charge inside and everyone stops abruptly, registering that it’s empty. Chil Woo “wonders” what’s going on, faking innocence as if to say, “Oh. My. Gee, whatever could have happened?”
His boss is aggravated and blames Chil Woo’s mother and grandmother for giving false information. Which is partly true; convinced they must protect their dear heroes, Mom and Grandma indicated the other building as the meeting place. (These policemen aren’t the brightest bulbs, are they? They traipse through the forest and into a secluded area with TWO seemingly abandoned buildings, and only check one of them?)
Meanwhile, Min and Jaja rush to get Dad out (in the shed next door), who’s just accepted the request of the young girl who wants justice for the assassins who raped her mother. After having her jewelry stolen, the mother was violated by the faux assassins and subsequently thrown out of the house by her husband. What a loving hubby. Well, I suppose he sees no need to hang on to ruined possessions, eh?
Mom and Granny are punished for supplying false info. In a hilarious (and unexpected) cut, we hear Chil Woo and Dad shouting their cries of sympathy before we pan over to see THEIR punishments as well. (This scene is such bad acting — but intentionally bad, with lots of wailing and moaning but no actual “tears” to accompany the crying — that it’s a hoot.)
Afterward, Chil Woo and Dad support the injured ladies outside, as Mom and Grandma hobble along in pain… for a few steps. They then trade conspiratorial looks…
… and straighten out their walks, smiling in satisfaction over their own cleverness. They had prepared for the occasion and padded their butts to soften the blows!
This “twist” echoes Chil Woo’s in the episode where he faked being beaten up as a cover-up — now we know where he gets it from. Chil Woo even says as much, marveling at his mother and grandmother: “Wow, we really ARE family.”
I like Gu Hye-sun, but they’d better start amping up her character more because all she has done so far is represent the Frail Flower Buffeted About By The Cruel Winds of Fate. In Constant Need of Rescuing. She is prepared to be sent off again as a bride against her wishes, to Chil Woo’s horror. He begs (in vain) with his boss not to send So Yoon, which only gets him into trouble.
Thankfully, at just this moment, Heuk San/Orroz arrives, supercilious nose firmly pointed in the air, and intercedes. Having sized up the situation on his way in, he invents an excuse to free So Yoon: He has heard that she is well-educated and skilled in Chinese. He requests — demands, rather — her assistance immediately, and she is released from the marriage to aid Heuk San.
(Orroz actually gets yet another name, as his current identity goes by the name KIM HYUK. And… I think I’m just gonna call him Orroz (when be-hatted and dressed in black) or Heuk San, because damned if I’m going to change his name three times.)
Chil Woo is once again grateful for Heuk San’s help (although his earnest thanks are received coldly). Heuk San asks So Yoon what her relationship to Chil Woo is, and while she stammers to gloss it over, Chil Woo speaks up and says he likes her.
Heuk San asks for Chil Woo’s name and hears it with surprise, thinking back to the boy he’d known in his childhood. He wonders over the coincidence, but keeps his suspicions to himself.
So here are the main parties involved in today’s episode, each with different agendas but all linked to the same issue. Heuk San looks over his notes about the recently killed noblemen (victims of the A-Team’s vengeance), noting the correlations of their death wounds to the A-Team’s weapons.
The A-Team puzzle over their impostors and try to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, the fake assassins continue their havoc-wreaking with another rape and burglary. By this time, the rumors linking these crimes to the Assassin Trio have spread. Stalwart supporters like Mom and Grandma refuse to believe this is the work of their heroes, but most of the information looks bad for them.
The situation even has the king worried, who tells his advisor that he wants this settled immediately. The king is very aware of how bad this looks — particularly with court historians like Min recording every detail of this sordid business for posterity.
Flyers bearing sketches of the three villains are posted. Unfortunately, they look more like the A-Team guys than the real culprits, although to be fair, I’m sure nobody is on alert for makeup-peddling transvestite rapists. Chil Woo encounters the young girl who’d requested the assassins’ help, who is now in mourning because her mother killed herself. Feeling her pain, Chil Woo promises to catch the culprits and make them pay.
Pressure from the king’s advisor trickles down to the officers’ unit, who devise a scheme using the slave girls as bait — they are swapped out for noblemen’s daughters and instructed to “call for help” if they run across into trouble. Gee, what care for their safety. I’m sure the officers will be really helpful when they’re called in after the girls are raped. This puts So Yoon at direct risk, and she’s the first fake noblewoman to be visited by the Drag Rapists disguised as cosmetics merchants.
Chil Woo’s dad, who’s watching the house, follows the merchants out and spies, realizing that the ladies are, in fact, men. He listens as they look forward to their nighttime raid gleefully, with particular interest in deflowering the pretty girl. Ugh, sometimes I wish men could just cool their libidos. (Yes, I realize not all men are like this. But it’s still fucking depressing to see how much damage the ones who can’t control their lower halves can cause.)
Dad reports the situation to the group, and then, it’s that Very Special Time, only today it’s even MORE special because it’s Double Magical Suit-Up Hour.
“비상” (bi-sang/emergency) [ Download ] ::
Real Group and Fake Group get ready for their big night out, with one group setting out to have some “fun,” and the other trio intent on stopping them.
And just to add a little kick, we also get THIS!
Orroz hears that So Yoon has been set up as bait, and his “Oh noes!” reaction suggests that he may perhaps be a big ol’ softie where she’s concerned despite his cool exterior. He races, with two of his men, to the house where So Yoon is posing as the daughter.
Bad Trio gets there first. They fling open drawers and chests, only to find them all completely empty. At first angry to be thus denied, the Fake-Zorro-Chil-Woo guy leers that So Yoon was his real prize, anyway. The other two hold her down as she struggles against them.
She is saved (sigh, will this damsel ever be out of distress?) by the entrance of Orroz, who quickly asserts his superiority over the thieves. Preferring to escape than continue getting their asses whooped, the three villains run away, leaving a silent Orroz to face a shaking, terrified So Yoon. She’s shocked that the assassin would save her; they stare at each other for a while before Orroz turns and leaves, not having said a word.
Now, here’s where it gets a little (more) convoluted, so I’ll try to be as clear as possible.
The A-Team arrive at the house and jump over the wall onto the property, just as the fleeing villains jump over the opposite way. Both costumed trios fly past each other in the air, landing on opposite sides of the wall. Our heroes look backwards (“Uh, was that what I think it was?”), with Jaja ready to pursue them. But Chil Woo insists So Yoon is their priority, so they turn back to the house.
They’re interrupted by the emergence from the house of another trio — Orroz and his two men — who are leaving to ostensibly pursue the Drag Villains. But since these new guys look just like the old guys, Chil Woo and Orroz engage in a fight. Both fight well and hold their own, but Orroz manages to slice Chil Woo’s right arm (where he already sports two scars).
The scene is interrupted by yet more arrivals, this time the rest of Chil Woo’s unit. Orroz exits immediately, but the A-Team is left behind and surrounded by government officers. Methinks this place is getting really crowded, really quickly. Chil Woo’s concern for So Yoon is assuaged when he spies her in the crowd with his father (Dad shoots him a quick thumbs-up sign to assure him, which So Yoon notices — I suspect this will become a key point later on).
Thankfully, Chil Woo’s quick thinking (which amounts to him pointing in the air, as if to say, “What’s that?”) diverts their attention long enough so that he, Jaja and Min run away. As we have already established, the policemen are essentially bumbling idiots, which is why it’s no surprise Chil Woo’s diversionary tactic works.
The Real Assassin Trio runs; Orroz’s trio runs; the Fake Assassin Trio runs. There’s a lot of running. And a lot of trios. Real Dudes encounter Fake Dudes in the street and brace for a fight. But before they engage, the government posse comes running in, and both costume parties make the decision to save themselves first and flee.
Chil Woo and friends part ways with the impostors, who then run right into Orroz (also running away. Did I mention there’s a lot of running?). Orroz quickly dispatches the villains and cuts them all down dead. He kneels down by Fake Chil Woo intending to check his arm for a scar, but the officers race on the scene. Orroz pulls back and makes his getaway, and the officers puzzle over the three dead bodies.
(Despite Yoo Ah-in’s baby face, I have to say he’s rocking the black-hatted mystique pretty well. He pulls off Cool and Mysterious in a way I don’t think Jang Geun-seok ever did in Hong Gil Dong (oops, just mistyped that as Hong Gil Don’t — wonder if that’s some kind of Freudian slip?). In any case, I still can’t get over how Orroz is supposed to be older than Chil Woo, but I like how he’s working the character.)
The officers may not know how they caught their villains, but they’re happy to claim credit and announce this whole rogue assassin incident closed. The bodies are left where they fell, in plain sight for the people to see the next day, while the officers congratulate themselves on a job well done. (I suppose it WAS well done — just not by them.)
Heuk San (who’s there with his father) takes a closer look at Fake Chil Woo’s right arm — which is uninjured. The sleeve is intact and the arm unhurt (aside from the whole being dead part). Heuk San realizes that this was an impostor group, and reports this finding to his father. Chil Woo notices the man’s interest in the dead guy’s arm, and clutches his own (injured) arm in alarm. The men narrow their eyes, suspenseful music plays, and the three look on in shock/dismay/bemusement.
As regards the crime: Chil Woo once again highlights an issue that, while not explicitly feminist, showcases the unfair plight of women in its storylines. It doesn’t really go so far as to lay out a message, but I appreciate the non-preachy way the issue of women’s (nonexistent) rights is addressed. The injustices served to women are framed as tragic and wrong, but Chil Woo refrains from bombastic moral lessons. In a goofy drama like this, I appreciate seeing little things like this peppered throughout in a way that isn’t heavy-handed, but given enough prominence to tickle our thought processes, even if just a little.
It’s too bad the impostors are dead, because I really enjoyed how the plot lines all collided with each other in that last section. You’ll get more of that sense by watching than reading the recap, I’m sure, but hopefully some of the conflicting agendas and jumble of mistaken identities came through here. For instance: Chil Woo wants to take down the villains and Orroz, but can’t do both at the same time, and has the added complication of trying to hide his own identity and escape capture by his own police unit. Likewise, each party is trying to juggle multiple tasks, running into one group and then the other, trying to both fight and flee at the same time. Way to layer conflicting goals and motivations. What a big ol’ wonderfully frenetic mess.