ATHENA: Episode 4
Finally, something interesting is beginning to unfold in Athena. Episode 4 is eventful and mysterious, and the circle of acquaintances is closing with enemies, ex-lovers, multiple faced impostors and long time nemesis together pretending to fight for the same cause. Truth is, all of them have their own personal agendas that go way past simple patriotism.
The game has just started, and I can’t wait for future unexpected twists and betrayals amongst seemingly loyal teams, so let’s sit with some popcorn and enjoy!
Episode 4 recap
Jung Woo after shooting the car and failing to stop it, is in such a complete state of shock that he can’t get to pull himself together and faints. Way to finish your overseas assignment, I say. Meanwhile, the kidnapping reports have arrived to the Blue House and an emergency meeting is arranged immediately.
Our local Two Face, Son Hyuk, receives a call apparently informing that everything went exactly as planned, and a few seconds later a secretary comes to tell him that all the intelligence agencies are in alert state – she still doesn’t know why, he turns his face and does the classic evil smirk.
At an Italian hospital, Jung Woo has recovered consciousness while Ki Soo tries to woo a nurse, faking a neck pain. After receiving an obvious nope as an answer, he starts complaining about this mission, impatient to go back to Korea. Jung Woo just listens, obviously thinking in more urgent matters – he’s planning to take full responsibility for the girl’s kidnapping. Just as Ki Soo is expressing his worries, an unexpected visit arrives: Jae Hee (LOL at Ki Soo putting on the orthopedic neck, to try his wounded guy strategy to hit on her). She goes directly to Jung Woo, asking whether he’s okay and informing that the team is about to arrive, utterly ignoring his buddy.
Meanwhile, in some dark, wooden, barely sun-lighted classic creepy house, the presidential daughter is kept. Her first survival instinct is to continue her “ordinary student” farce, but her eyes can’t help expressing surprise at her captor’s knowledge of her status. She tries to seem tough and not worried; too bad those criminals have strict orders and the usefulness of this whole operation is about to be found out.
At the Blue House, a dark cloud of general ignorance of the situation is placed over the intelligence heads meeting. Therefore, in order to get more information, Kwon will head to Vicenza as soon as possible.
Italy Team is being gathered by Jae Hee at the NTS’s quarters, giving them instructions to join forces with Italian intelligence agencies. Jung Woo arrives just in time to receive his – he must speak to the local officials about Soo Young’s guards. Adding to the family reunion, NTS’s backup has just arrived and it includes a certain person’s presence, one that makes Jung Woo’s eyes wide in surprise: Hye In’s (under the codename Juliette). Kwon gives his orders quickly, after noting a bit of incompetence in Jung Woo’s work, and walks away. Jae Hee asks who Hye In is, where does she belong to, only to be answered that it’s not of her business. She can sense that Jung Woo knows her, but his information is lacking here too – there’s no way a simple NIS attendant is here on a top secret mission.
Jung Woo can’t cope with his curiosity, so he runs after her, wondering whether she’s a Black agent (NIS agents who perform ops by themselves). Too bad her aura of mystery is thick and unbreakable, leading her to say sorry and keep her silence. He won’t have too much time to cry over this – the kidnappers have contacted them.
Hye In is in charge of communication with the kidnappers, and when I say in charge, I’m not only referring to her in charge of just talking with them – she wants to be in charge of the negotiation too, wanting to communicate her demands first. She wants to be sure of Soo Young’s safety, and, after receiving a no as an answer, she hangs up.
As expected (by her), they call again. Her confidence when telling them that she knows who they are astounds the kidnapper. As informed to the President later on, they seem to have promised to keep her safe until they get what they want.
The operation has begun. Hye In and Jae Hee, plus two snipers and observers here and there, are placed all around some kind of medieval fest. The contact is made, but the kidnapper’s not happy with the amount of people Hye In has taken there – she was supposed to be alone. She removes her tracking devices as requested and gets lost in the crowd, while the kidnapper urges her to look for a white van. The NTS agents try to follow her, to no avail – she’s quicker, as in smarter, and loses them easily.
Hye In finally runs away in the van, and, due to it being driven through a tunnel, tracking it becomes impossible. Jae Hee is apologetic after losing Hye In, but Kwon is forgiving – Hye In’s mission was to be sure of Soo Young’s safety, she’ll return later.
Ki Soo is suspicious since it’s obvious that Juliette lost them on purpose, but Jung Woo, worried, tells him that if Hye In did that, it’s because the kidnappers saw directly through their plan. Busted! Jung Woo’s previous encounter with the mysterious girl is revealed, but he walks away before he can answer any of Ki Soo’s questions.
Hye In, meanwhile, has already checked Soo Young’s condition and asked for their demands. They leave her somewhere by a road and put a cell phone in her hands. She informs that they have 48 hours to do what these guys are asking for – handing over Dr. Kim – and if they don’t, the girl will die.
Kwon’s call puts the President in a difficult predicament – he has to either give up on his daughter’s life or Dr. Kim’s vital nuclear research. He seems to take this matter pretty cold-headedly, putting his country’s future as a priority, even if it means leaving Soo Young behind.
At US DIS, Son Hyuk receives the visit from a researcher in an undercover unit in Japan. He has to gather information and investigate, and he has something he needs to report to the Director only. Son Hyuk dismisses him, but his interest is awakened when the guy asks him about Athena (and I say, at last!). The researcher hands him what he’s found until now, while defining Athena as an organization that controls the world’s resources market.
Everything, from South America, to Africa, to Iraq, is connected to Athena, choosing whatever means necessary to achieve their goals. Son Hyuk tries to seem skeptic, but his interlocutor is deeply worried over South Korea’s new nuclear development and the changes it’ll bring over modern technology, making it the perfect subject to Athena’s terrorist attacks.
He even knows that the DIS has been infiltrated with Athena’s agents. Son Hyuk, faking concern, goes straightly to what’s more important for him – who else knows about this? Well, it’s still a personal investigation and only he knows about that (REALLY?! NO BACKUP?! OR PLAN B?! Talk about dumb investigation).
After handing a folder with Son Hyuk’s assistant’s profile, he leaves, relieved. I’m so sorry to say this, love, but you’ve just dug your own grave.
While walking back home, Son Hyuk’s assistant’s shadow appears in front of him. Terrified, the researcher runs in the opposite direction only to find Son Hyuk with his gun pointing directly at his chest.
Under the pressure of an impossible situation, the Secretary of the Blue House agrees with Kwon to contact the US Embassy in order to get help regarding the kidnapping. And the great circle of intelligence and counter-intelligence closes as Son Hyuk himself is appointed as the Director of the rescuing operations by the Pentagon. This bomb could detonate in his hands, but Son Hyuk is sure he can be the extreme puppet master reloaded and control both his undercover terrorist activities and governmental position.
So, the DIS’ team will be in charge of all the operations now, banning any Korean activities unless thus specifically stated. Everyone’s between outraged and confused; Jae Hee even tries to get some details but is ignored as if she was an insignificant insect – Son Hyuk belittles her by asking for a coffee.
As a preemptive measure, Son Hyuk asks his assistant to be especially careful with Jung Woo.
At the same time, Jung Woo is telling the Director how shocking and inappropriate this US invasion over their mission is. Nothing is answered (he doesn’t even know the kidnappers’ requests), he’s just told to follow his orders in order to rescue Soo Young.
Son Hyuk and Jung Woo go to the place where the latter lost his targets. Jung Woo points out that this problem has nothing to do with politics, showing a naiveté that Son Hyuk finds hilarious – everything is related to politics, and on a larger scale than he can imagine thus warning him against meddling as he’s used to.
The Vicenza’s NTS Headquarters can change names now, Son Hyuk is forcing them to leave since the DIS will take over this operation. After conveying his orders, he asks for a meeting with the person in charge of communications. And who’s that? Ta-da, Hye In.
Now alone, Hye In and Son Hyuk can talk more freely. She’s weary of the whole rescuing mission, but he’s confident they can carry it on in order to get Dr. Kim’s whereabouts. She’s perfectly aware of the kidnapper’s identity – Suh Min Hyuk – but she didn’t reveal herself to avoid possible complications. He commands her to give the picture data she’s gathered at the place where they’re holding Soo Young captive to the NTS. That way, she’ll earn the Director’s trust.
While the DIS heads are in a meeting trying to locate the kidnappers, Jung Woo’s patience finally reaches the limit between tolerable and unacceptable. Alongside a reluctant Ki Soo and an always ready Jae Hee, they’ll use Sung Cheol’s help from the headquarters to lead a parallel rescue mission. Sung Cheol won’t accept at first, but Joon Ho takes this as a chance to defend Korea’s pride and convinces him.
Kwon invites Son Hyuk to a fancy restaurant where he’s having lunch. Three years ago, Son Hyuk spared him, so now he’s curious as to why he did that. The answer he gets is highly disappointing – Son Hyuk was merciful for a winning opponent. Since Kwon took it as a loser’s scar, he can notice the irony of being taken as a winner by his enemy. Either way, next time they fight, he’ll use Son Hyuk’s dead body to cure his wounds.
Now, onto more urgent matters, Son Hyuk makes a rather (un)expected request: he’ll need Dr. Kim temporarily to negotiate with the kidnappers. Much to his disappointment, that’s not a decision Kwon can make.
Finally, the target’s location has been found, but this won’t make Son Hyuk happy for long. It seems that the government isn’t intending to hand over Dr. Kim, no matter how Son Hyuk had personally checked that he had left for China. At the moment, Dr. Kim is missing.
Oh, lordy, Mr. Quadruple Agent is now angry, so he changes his operation to a Silent Storm type. And from his agents’ grave faces, that’s really not cool.
Kwon is listening to their meeting, thanks to a well placed device in the room, so he hears when it’s said that they’ll pin down the enemy, putting the VIP in danger. He doesn’t care, the hostages might be lost, but they have to destroy the enemy. Those words resonate in Kwon’s ears and now I’m lost as to who knows who’s spying on whom.
At this crucial hour, when the operation is about to unfold, Jung Woo pays a visit to Son Hyuk. He’s still indignant over these outsiders’ intervention and asks for explanations or some excuse that states clearly why them Koreans can’t handle their own problems. Son Hyuk has no time for this, he compares the mission to a doctor who can’t perform his own children’s surgery.
Okay, then, that was his last chance to convince Jung Woo.
The Director finally calls the Three Musketeers, knowing exactly what they intend to do. He simply hands them the target’s location, as if it had always been in his mind to do that. They have to safely rescue the VIP, given that the Silent Storm type is all about disregarding the hostages’ safety.
Now, both teams are on the road. On one side, double-faced Son Hyuk has a huge group of armed men ready to shoot at his command. On the other, two highly trained agents plus an ex-North Korean agent have to split up to cover the whole village.
After shooting the guards outside the place where Soo Young is kept, Son Hyuk’s men officially are told to go there.
As of this moment, everyone on both sides is playing safe and quiet, until Ki Soo accidentally fires his gun alerting literally everyone including the kidnappers.
The operation suddenly changes to Blade Storm and now, more than ever, nothing’s sure anymore.
Once again, I don’t really find anything to say about this because, while the entertaining factor has honestly improved, there’s no depth out there to analyze or even criticize. Therefore, I’ll point out some pros and cons of the series up until this point.
Cons: We’re still dealing with the quintessential spy drama, and in some aspects, there are characters with no background information thus leaving the impression that we’re still in the “opening” part of the drama. I’m okay with that, really, hinting small character traits here and there like raindrops is ok if you handle your story accordingly.
I mean, I know this sounds confusing, but some of them (Jae Hee, Hye In, Son Hyuk) lack the passion I was expecting to get from a hotness level A+ casting in an action drama. They look robotic and unnatural (and from time to time, predictable and bored), and I wouldn’t go to the lenghts of saying they’re bad actors because, while I’m not a fan of either of them, they can do better than this.
Also, they must fire the person who edits the endings. My Lord, how anticlimactic was that? Several WTF faces by a lot of people, and Son Hyuk bladestorming his team – it was plain awful.
Pros: As stated before, the series seem to be improving its pace from episode to episode.
Jung-frakking-goddamn-Woo-Sung. ‘Nuff said. I love his character and I love how he delivers his lines in a teenager-y tone – he wants his candy and he’ll get it (with some little help from Kwon, who seems to be manipulating his previously stated work-better-only-if-feeling-underused). Also, Kim Min Jong is doing a great job as the comic relief and buddy.
The badassery of the girls. Yes, they’re robotic, but they’re not simple puppets of the male characters. They have their goals and they fight for them; and I’m pretty sure they’d do anything if they felt threatened.
What I’m saying, in conclusion, is that they can do better. Maybe that’s why I’m expecting so much from this. They have the cast, they have gorgeous locations, an impressive budget and good camerawork, so what’s keeping them from doing the perfect twists and turns drama that makes our full-of-excitement hearts pound?