City Hunter: Episode 18
Woo, final stretch ahead! Yoon-sung says it in this episode, and as I viewer I can feel it: The end is in sight. The romance is a little less prevalent, but for the best possible reason, which is a return of our crusading hero and his action-packed missions to take down baddies. Phew. For some reason it feels like it’s been a while since we had that satisfaction — there’s plenty of other payoffs the drama has delivered regularly (and thanks for that), but I’ve been champing at the bit for some Bad Guy Takedowns.
So, what this episode gives us is a wrap-up of some of the looser threads, to propel us toward the final conflict. I can’t wait.
SONG OF THE DAY
Nell – “Afterglow” [ Download ]
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Jin-pyo gets ambushed at home by eight of Chun’s minions, a number too large to fend off single-handedly even for a man of his badassery.
As girlfriday noted, there’s something so strangely sad about seeing Jin-pyo knocked to the ground, fumbling for his cane, and having it kicked out of his hand. He’s Bad Daddy! He’s the all-knowing, ten-steps-ahead-of-everybody mastermind! It’s dissonant and weird, like coming to the moment in your adulthood when you realize your parents are just people, flawed and fallible.
Yoon-sung quickly fights his way to Dad’s side, and the men stand back-to-back as the gang encircles them. (Ack! It’s a pose that kills me, every single time — so symbolic, so us-versus-the-world.) Dad growls, “Why did you come?” Yoon-sung points out, “This isn’t the time to say that.”
McCreepy takes in the scene and deduces, “So you were the City Hunter.”
What ensues is a knock-down drag-out fight between the ten men, with Team City Hunter holding their own, but just barely. A minion takes hold of Jin-pyo’s sword-cane — just a sword now — and comes at him with it, and Jin-pyo actually stops the blade between the pages of a book. Gives new meaning to the saying, The pen is mightier than the sword.
He loses ground, though, and is in imminent danger of getting an eye poked out when Yoon-sung races to Dad’s aid. The sword glances off Dad’s arm rather than his face, and now McCreepy calls in his boys for a quick retreat.
McCreepy tries to contact McBossy with his news about the City Hunter’s true identity, but Chun Jae-man is tied up at the moment with his financial concerns, so the phone call doesn’t get through. Chun is desperately trying to convince the bank that Haewon is still afloat despite the amount Jin-pyo pulled, but hears to his shock that they’re at a 500% debt ratio. Meaning, they owe waaaaay more than they’re worth.
At work, a very confused Eun-ah and Ki-joon puzzle over Yoon-sung’s overnight mastery of judo. Nana tries to cover for him, saying he’s actually a fast learner, and he had a great teacher… which unfortunately insults Eun-ah, who pouts, “Then am I incompetent, that my student is how he is?” with a pointed look at Ki-joon.
That makes Ki-joon hurriedly suggest that perhaps Yoon-sung took his time off to enroll in some fighting classes, and grumbles about Yoon-sung’s “lack of loyalty” for not taking him along. Hee!
The reason I love these Blue House scenes is because there’s always about a half-dozen conversations happening within one conversation, and it’s hilarious. Nana’s covering up for Yoon-sung’s secret identity, Eun-ah’s taking this as an affront to her pride and professionalism, and Ki-joon is trying to smooth over her ruffled feathers while also excusing his own poor skills.
Nana goes home worrying about Yoon-sung and is attacked by McCreepy, who has been lying in wait for her.
Yoon-sung gets a call from Nana’s phone while he’s with Dad in the hospital — Jin-pyo’s injured and bruised, but not in life-threatening shape. He hears Creepster on the line, saying that Nana sure put up a struggle and that he’s mighty tempted to just kill her now. He’s got her tied up at Haewon Sea World, and suggests that Yoon-sung show up to say his last goodbye. Nana yells for him not to come, but that’s a futile request and Yoon-sung goes speeding to the aquarium.
Nana floats in a large tank, hands and feet bound, her body tied to weights. A rope holds her up to keep her head above the waterline, but it’s only a matter of time before she, uh, swims with the fishies.
Mr. Creepy arrives and shows Yoon-sung a remote trigger, which will drop Nana into the water the second he presses it. He orders Yoon-sung to slap on a pair of handcuffs, and Yoon-sung complies readily. Thus bound, Creepy starts to beat him, and Yoon-sung just takes it.
Creepy holds trigger in one hand, switchblade in other, and strikes — just as Yoon-sung lunges for him and knocks them both down, but Creepy grabs the remote and hits the trigger. Nana drops into the tank, which is just about my worst nightmare. Deep water, darkness, oversize fish swimming all around. Gulp.
This puts Yoon-sung in that classic hero dilemma: Save the girl, or defeat the bad guy? Or, in his case, how to do them both, and quickly? Clock’s ticking and Nana’s sinking. Arms still restrained, he kicks McCreepy to the ground hard enough to knock him out, then unlocks his cuffs and races upstairs to pull her out of the tank.
In the aftermath, Yoon-sung worries over her condition, but she tells him curtly that she’s fine, and rejects his touch. Aw, you didn’t even know what you were asking when you told her to reject you even if you came begging later, did you?
Nana tells him he shouldn’t have come, but that’s just the hurt talking; she adds, “Do you think that because you won’t answer, I won’t wait? I’ll wait — I’ll wait for you for the rest of my life.”
Yoon-sung puts up a (weak) protest, but she entreats, “Let’s do this together. I don’t know where the end is, but if we do this together, it won’t be lonely. I won’t leave you to be lonely anymore. I don’t think there’s anyone for me but you.”
He finally says, “Just a little — wait for me just a little while. I see the end now.”
At home alone, Nana tells herself, “I’ll wait. Because he said he’d come back — he said he’d come back after it’s all over.”
Yoon-sung tells himself that he’ll survive and make it back to her, a marked turnaround from his resigned-to-die attitude of late. And thank heavens for that. I like my heroes badass, hot, and most of all alive.
Yoon-sung arrives home with a little extra something in tow: Mr. Creepy, whom he entrusts to Shik-joong’s care. It’s not a task that the timid ajusshi looks forward to, but is made more palatable by the promise to unfreeze his credit cards asap. Heh. He is so easily bribed with pretty things.
Chun Jae-man’s call comes through on the henchman’s phone, and Yoo-sung picks up to assure him he’ll take good care of his little minion. But Chun has no use for the guy, and in fact would prefer if City Hunter killed him for him, to keep that mouth forever shut.
McCreepy hears this, and Yoon-sung makes the point that if evil incarnate Chun were so quick to turn on his friends of 30 years, what chance stood he?
Hilariously, Shik-joong asks their hostage what kind of food he likes, so he can prepare it for him. Oh, you are so in the wrong line of work, Mr. Softy.
Shik-joong also hands Yoon-sung the embroidered handkerchief from his mother, and agrees to check in on Dad in the hospital. Again Shik-joong’s initial reaction is to wonder about what to cook him — ha, he is such a mom.
Yoon-sung deduces that Chun must have cottoned on to Jin-pyo’s real plan, and a review of Haewon Construction’s accounts confirms his suspicions.
Young-ju returns to his office and tells his assistant Pil-jae that he lost track of Yoon-sung. Pil-jae: “Again? Again, again, again?” Young-ju glares.
Young-ju reviews the list of Haewon Chemical employees who’ve given up their claim to sue the company, and notes a connection: They’re all in the hospital.
He finds one woman on her way out: Choi Myung-sook, the mother of the boy Yoon-shik who was coerced into signing that contract. She explains that she’s being kicked out of her hospital room because she changed her mind and returned her settlement money. After hearing about how the City Hunter came to the aid of the protesters, she became determined to fight and win the suit. Better yet, she’d thought to record McCreepy’s threats on her cell phone, giving them evidence of Haewon’s underhanded tactics.
Yoon-shik asks how he can meet his “City Hunter hyung,” because he wants the City Hunter to help his mom, just like he helped all those people at the company protest. He gives one of his precious 100 won coins to Young-ju, asking him to give it to the City Hunter when he meets him, along with his request to help Mom.
Young-ju puts in another request to issue an arrest warrant for Chun Jae-man, but his boss refuses, knowing the possible blowback of going after someone that powerful. He tells our hotheaded DA that he needs to learn how to wait for the right moment, which is advice sorely needed. I actually really love Young-ju’s intensity and single-minded doggedness — it’s a consistent part of his character — but it’s both his asset and his liability.
Young-ju says he’s sick of seeing the weak law wilt under those in power, a feeling that only intensifies when he hears that the Haewon Chemical employees lost their suit, even with Myung-sook’s evidence. Adding to their concerns is that if the City Hunter once again shows up and metes out his brand of vigilante justice, the prosecutors (and the law) will look even more ineffectual. Their already battered reputation would take yet another beating.
Young-ju vows that he won’t lose to the City Hunter this time. He’ll achieve their goal — winning that lawsuit, capturing Chun — and do it legally, dammit.
Jin-pyo attempts to get back to work, despite his injuries. Sang-gook holds him back, urging him to let Yoon-sung take care of Target No. 4, reminding him that he has to recover if he wants to fulfill his revenge. Jin-pyo sees his point and relents, though he keeps a close watch on Haewon Group, which is well on its way to ruin. They’ve already done a good job of paralyzing the corporation’s finances, and now Jin-pyo orders Sang-gook to contact all the players — bank employees, senators, businessmen.
As a result, Haewon falls into initial bankruptcy, with all its smaller subsidiaries on the brink of failure as well, just as Young-ju had predicted with the tower of stacked blocks. Chun plays the avoidance game and books a plane ticket to LA.
Eun-ah worries about her brother, who works for Haewon and is about to be married, since it would be quite the trial to find yourself newlywed and unemployed. Ki-joon speaks up, accidentally using the word meaning “wife’s brother” (hee — that’s counting chickens before you even have the eggs), and asserts that the Blue House is a stable, secure employer. Perhaps Eun-ah ought to look close by when seeking a marriage partner. Which, sadly for him, results in another crossed wire since she’s thinking of another co-worker.
Speak of the devil: Yoon-sung’s arrival at work that morning is greeted with lots of curious questions about his fighting skills and relationship with that prosecutor. To distract Eun-ah from examining his fighting technique too closely, Yoon-sung asks her about the green tea he (Shik-joong, really) had sent her, and she preens. Ki-joon jealously blurts out that it makes her face bloat, ha.
In the hallway, Yoon-sung is stopped by Nana’s boss, the supervisor on the bodyguard team, who tells him pointedly that they can’t let the Blue House be rocked by someone operating on ulterior motives.
Yoon-sung plays dumb, but the bodyguard has sharp eyes — unlike the bumbling IT crew — and has clued in to the oddities surrounding Yoon-sung. He leaves with a warning alluding to a hypothetical situation where a person might gain entree into the Blue House using a false identity.
Chun Jae-man tries to rustle up the necessary funds to stop the bankruptcy, which he must secure by the end of the workday. The amount isn’t very much in the big scheme of things — approximately $25 million USD — but given Haewon’s inflated value and its amount of debt, this is a daunting task. Made worse, of course, by the fact that Jin-pyo gets to all Chun’s contacts first.
By now, Haewon’s name is thoroughly mud, and Chun is stonewalled at every turn. Finally, he gets through to a dinner gathering where Jin-pyo entertains all their powerful business contacts.
Chun actually falls to his knees and begs for rescue, offering up the confidential book he’d stolen from Jin-pyo in exchange. But that has no effect; Jin-pyo plays ignorant and has Chun thrown out.
As a thank-you gesture, President Choi takes Yoon-sung fishing, explaining that his father taught him how as a child. He’d wanted to take his son fishing, but he’s currently serving in the military, and thanks Yoon-sung for making the trip with him. Aw, the dramatic irony in this scene — palpable and sad. Okay, also a little heavy-handed, but no less moving for all that.
The president takes a call from Chun Jae-man, who begs him to help stop the bankruptcy. The president tells him calmly that he can’t help. His reasoning is one more demonstration of his idealistic beliefs, as he says that numerous companies go bankrupt every day in this country, and it isn’t fair that one would collapse while another survives merely because of a connection to the president.
Chun actually uses the “Countless people will lose jobs!” line — a desperate grab if there ever was one, since we know that the only way he’d care about those people is if they came to him with money stapled to their foreheads. And even then, he’d probably just take the money and toss ’em back to the wolves.
President Choi knows this, and reminds Chun that that’s why he advised him to acknowledge the hazardous factory. He ends the call and sighs to himself, “Jae-man, why were you so greedy?”
Yoon-sung offers to buy beverages, and while he’s away, Nana’s bodyguard boss senses potential threat in the air. Tensing, he reaches slowly for his gun, then whirls around and levels it…at Yoon-sung.
Everyone looks at him in puzzlement, and he puts the gun away, feeling rattled. Nana tells him that he’s wound up tight today, and the boss mumbles to himself, “I couldn’t hear his footsteps.” Ah, he’s a smart cookie, that one. He’s not quite sure of Yoon-sung’s caped crusader routine, but he’s wary enough to realize that things don’t add up.
Haewon Group misses its deadline, and bankruptcy is declared. Yoon-sung decides that since Dad’s plan has been completed, it’s time for him to step in. Shik-joong worries for the numerous employees now out of jobs, and Yoon-sung agrees, “That can’t happen.”
Another downside to the bankruptcy is the plight of Haewon Chemical, the next subsidiary to be facing collapse. The workers’ bitter fight for legal recognition of their working conditions all becomes moot if the company dies.
Young-ju anticipates the flight risk and orders a flight ban put on Chun Jae-man. Since the easiest way to get an arrest is on tax evasion charges, he decides to go for that.
He then tracks down Yoon-sung — so good at finding him, less good at keeping him — and acknowledges Jin-pyo’s clever plan to undermine Chun. But what about the workers? He’s pretty sure that the City Hunter would share his concern for their futures. Yoon-sung comments, “How would I know? I’m not him.”
Young-ju pulls out Yoon-shik’s 100 won coin and gives it to Yoon-sung, asking him to pass it along to the City Hunter. He says that it’s from a young boy who’d asked the City Hunter for help, then vows that he’ll help those people using the law. What, are you going to tie up the villains in miles of red tape? ‘Cause, really, that’s the most I think the law can do for you at this point.
In his hour of need, Chun Jae-man is visited by a fund manager from New York — a dorked-up and metrosexualized Yoon-sung, presenting himself under a different name. I suppose he ought to be grateful that the ditzy secretary doesn’t recognize him after their almost-one-night-stand, although she does look at him curiously.
Yoon-sung (or “Ha Tae-sung”) says he’s thinking of acquiring Haewon Chemical, although he’s wary of its debts. He lays out enough facts of Haewon’s seedy underbelly — its illegal loans, misappropriation of funds, and other shady practices that make Chun fidget uneasily in his seat. So: If Chun wants to lessen his burden as he faces possible prison time, he’d best unload some of that debt. Sell Haewon Chemical.
The price? Yoon-sung pulls out Yoon-shik’s dime and places it on the table.
Booyah! I love that. In response to Chun’s sputtering outrage, he says, “Given your tremendous debts, shouldn’t you be thankful that we’re willing to assume them?” Yoon-sung shrugs, saying he can forget the deal if he wants, and gets up to go — and Chun hastily declares, “Let’s do it.”
Ahhh, sweet justice. Not just making Chun face the indignity of being brought thus low, but that it should be Yoon-shik’s 100 won coin to seal this deal.
And so, 51% of Haewon Chemical’s shares are transferred to its employees. In exchange, the employees are responsible for paying back the debt with a portion of its revenues. The company acknowledges its hazardous working conditions and agrees to foot the bill for all medical and insurance related claims.
Team Bad Daddy watches the news, knowing that Yoon-sung’s behind it. Bloodthirsty still, Jin-pyo declares that these guys deserve far more justice than the law can mete: “They must die.”
Yoon-sung and Young-ju both see that Chun is scheduled for a flight out of the country, and some pulling of strings has kept the flight ban from being issued. Young-ju orders his team to call the airport and ground the flight, while Yoon-sung arrives in person. He calls in a message to Young-ju to be at the front of his office by 4pm.
Yoon-sung follows Chun through the terminal and into an elevator, waiting till the glass box is between levels to knock them all out. By the time the elevator reaches the destination, all the men are unconscious, and Yoon-sung drives away with Chun.
Young-ju calls in the SWAT team to anticipate the City Hunter’s 4pm drop. Spotting the black-clad, masked man climbing the steps to the building, they rush him — only to find a stranger, who explains nervously that the City Hunter had sent a message saying that if he wanted to meet him, he was to arrive here at 4pm wearing a black mask. Hee! Clever boy.
The SWAT members spot another arrival and turn their guns that-away… only to find more black-masked looky-loos making the approach, eager to meet their hero. HA!
In fact, Shik-joong had posted a message onto the internet issuing the offer/challenge to meet the City Hunter in person. From the turnout, it looks like our crime-fighting hero has amassed quite the fanbase of young adolescents, with some elderly folks sprinkled therein. Aw. You’re never too old to love Lee Min-ho.
Mightily frustrated, Young-ju orders all the masked fans apprehended, but thankfully for the innocent netizens (who ever thought those words would go together?), a figure is spotted off in the distance. It’s a body, tied up and slumped on the ground.
Chun Jae-man lies unconscious, wearing yet more dog tags and the banner that reads sarcastically, “In Korea I trust.”
Yoon-sung is already zooming off in his car, but the determined prosecutor rides his tail. And why oh WHY is there a handgun in your passenger’s seat? Gulp.
After a brief back-and-forth race, where the two cars zoom in front of each other and cut the other car off, Young-ju pulls ahead and screeches to a stop. Yoon-sung is forced to halt to avoid collision, then quickly backs up to turn around — and Young-ju pulls out the gun and shoots his tire flat. Ooh. Bad. Ass.
Go, Yoon-sung, go! You can still drive a car with a flat! I’ve seen the high-speed chases on the evening news!
But no, Yoon-sung steps out of the car and coolly faces Young-ju, who levels his gun at him. With his cat-like reflexes, Yoon-sung grabs the gun out of Young-ju’s hand, and whirls it right back on the prosecutor.
Separated by a car’s length, Young-ju steps forward slowly, gradually, and Yoon-sung keeps the handgun fixed at him, not advancing or retreating.
Young-ju comes practically eye-to-barrel with the gun, and reaches up slowly — and whips off the mask.
More interesting than the reveal — since we’ve been flirting with that for weeks — is Yoon-sung’s stoic reaction to it. At this point, they both know, and they both know that the other knows that they know… The only thing they lack is a direct, caught-in-the-act confirmation. And it’s almost like Yoon-sung is challenging Young-ju to do it, because if he’d wanted he could’ve been off like a shot. Or knocked Young-ju unconscious. Or resisted in the least.
I’ve read some comments that questioned why Young-ju is so intent on apprehending the City Hunter when he should be working on catching the bad guys. Just for clarification: The City Hunter is, technically, also one of the bad guys — at least in the eyes of the law. We know what motivates him, and the public loves him for rooting out corrupt officials where nobody else can, but there’s a reason vigilantism is illegal. You may trust the guy to break laws when he’s helping out, but it’s an all-too-slippery slope once you start asking what exactly constitutes help, what’s a justifiable breach of laws, and what’s going too far.
Plus, there’s the whole “He’s making us look bad” argument for the prosecutors wanting City Hunter gone. But Young-ju’s not that petty, and I give him more credit than that, because he’s the kind of guy who wants to win the “right” way — using the law, as he vowed in this episode — rather than just getting to the goal through any means necessary. It’s what separates him from Yoon-sung, and what makes him admirable yet also aggravating, and is why he’s not our hero. Yoon-sung is not above the law, but the City Hunter operates as though he is. Of course the lawman’s gonna be peeved to have his precious law treated like an etiquette guideline.
You know, I think the drama has faltered a bit in the last couple episodes, in that it spent too much time on Target No. 4 and drew out that conflict a bit too long. (Hey, I can be in love with a drama and find it magical and acknowledge that it has flaws. Really.)
I’ve still loved every episode and found gripping moments in each one, but the Chun Jae-man stuff, in my opinion, seemed like a collection of technicalities obscuring the stuff we love about this show — the badass conflicts, the punch-me-in-the-gut reversals and thrills. For a guy whose perfidy operates on a mostly cerebral level — no heart-twisting or gut-wrenching involved — Chun got a lot of screentime compared to opponents with more emotional weight — Kim Jong-shik and President Choi, namely.
That said, the last part of this episode brought back some of that early excitement, with the delivery (and wrap-up, thankfully) of the target and the Young-ju-versus-Yoon-sung standoff. When that gun came out, I was surprised (and worried — had Young-ju finally let his frustration drive him over the brink?), but excited at where the scene went. Not so much about the unmasking itself, as I said, but in the way these two guys reacted to it. Where do they go from here?
So I’m glad we’re finally at the last target now, and hope the finale episodes amp up the tension from here on out. I think the last two episodes sort of labored over the plot and forgot the Joss Whedon mantra for storytelling: Moments, not moves. It’s why Joss Whedon rocks — because while his plots are tight, the core of the story is always rooted in an emotional moment, rather than a lot of fancy moves on a chessboard. I want — I hope — the finale to bring those moments back. I think it will. *crosses fingers*
- City Hunter: Episode 17
- City Hunter: Episode 16
- City Hunter: Episode 15
- City Hunter: Episode 14
- City Hunter: Episode 13
- City Hunter: Episode 12
- City Hunter: Episode 11
- City Hunter: Episode 10
- City Hunter: Episode 9
- City Hunter: Episode 8
- City Hunter: Episode 7
- Lee Min-ho gets into a car accident, escapes injury
- City Hunter: Episode 6
- City Hunter: Episode 5
- Lee Jun-hyuk for Bazaar
- Behind the scenes with City Hunter
- City Hunter: Episode 4
- City Hunter: Episode 3
- City Hunter: Episode 2
- City Hunter: Episode 1