Hero: Episode 6
For the first time in this series, I felt a teensy weensy bit of heart for Mayor Kim. I mean teensy. Mainly it’s because Mayor Kim was actually showing some fatherly wisdom for once in this episode. But Mayor Kim is still a corrupt politician, and so I still want to see him go down. Here’s episode 6: Hidden Card, with the ever reliably-sleazy Ahn Suk Hwan as a corrupt politician.
Poker. A highly addictive game where the stakes are high, and it’s illegal in Muyeong. Heuk Chul finds himself going up against Chairman Hwang Jae Sung (Ahn Suk Hwan), and he goes all in. Not quite what Hwang was expecting…
A few days earlier, a man in a dark outfit enters Muyeong University computer lab and steals a laptop. He’s caught on the video cameras, and so Yi On and Young Joon are tasked with catching the suspect. Yi On does think it’s weird why the suspect would be stealing from the school if he were a student there.
A couple of gangsters are assaulting a poor, nerdy-looking guy in the middle of the street, holding up the traffic. It’s amazing how everyone – including Heuk Chul in his own car – is honking to get through, but not stepping out to stop the fight. The gangsters drag the nerdy guy down an alleyway, and finally Heuk Chul stops his car and grabs his costume from the trunk. Now he’s holding up traffic, but he doesn’t care.
He follows as the gangsters beat up the poor guy – Professor Yang Jin Oh – and demand he hand over the files in his bag. Yang Jin Oh isn’t a fighter, and so he watches helplessly as the gangsters take the files and burn them in front of his eyes. Heuk Chul, all covered up in his vigilante outfit, runs up to meet the gangsters. But first! Some stretching. And then! Some punching. A kick here, and a back spin there. All of the gangsters run off, sorely beaten.
Meanwhile Yi On and Young Joon are doing a stakeout in front of Muyeong University, waiting for the suspect to come back and steal more of the college’s property. As expected, he does show up. Young Joon chooses to stay near the exit, as he will “wait for the suspect” while Yi On goes in and fights him. Pfff – coward. Yi On catches the suspect in the act of stealing a computer. The suspect tries to run, but Yi On is too quick for him. Unmasked, the suspect really is a student.
Heuk Chul catches up to Jin Oh, though the files have already burned away, wondering why he was targeted. Jin Oh is no longer a “professor” though – he was fired from Muyeong University because he was trying to catch “a snake,” but got bit instead. Back at the station, Yi On questions the suspect on his motives. He admits that he needed money for his tuition. Though Muyeong University supposedly gives out scholarships, they suddenly cut down funding and so many students were saddled with debt as they struggled to pay the high tuition.
This is also what Jin Oh had discovered. The chairman of Muyeong University Hwang Jae Sung is currently nominated to be the education superintendent, but he’s so corrupt that he shouldn’t even be a chairman. He’s been embezzling thousands of dollars from the school, and Jin Oh had made a copy of those records. But he was fired because on Chairman Hwang’s birthday, he didn’t give him “cake” – or, bribe money – to keep his position. It was only later that it was discovered that he had a copy of the embezzlement records.
Pathetically, Jin Oh leaves with his bag and a bloodied nose. At least Heuk Chul knows who his next target is.
Dong Min also knows of Hwang Jae Sung, as he is an alumni of Muyeong University. Hwang is infamous for saying, “If they don’t have the money, don’t go to college.” He’s made tuition very high for the school, and because he has a powerful background, he can flat out tell potential professors to give him 200 million Won to get hired. He doesn’t hide his bad habits of spending frivolously and his addiction to gambling is well known. Hwang was under arrest for embezzlement, and fired, but his books were always clean and so no one could ever prove his crimes. But to support his bad habits, he raises the tuition every so often.
It’s news to Dong Min that Hwang is nominated for superintendent, but what’s even more exciting is that his opponent is Yoon Dong Joon, the temporary chairman of Muyeong University when Hwang was fired. Yoon is actually a good guy, having lowered the college tuition and not being corrupt.
Heuk Chul tails his target for a day. At the lobby of the university, he watches a student hold a placard in protest, calling for Hwang’s resignation. He then follows Hwang as he visits Mayor Kim with a gift, hoping that he could get the mayor’s favor to be the next education superintendent. Mayor Kim makes no promises, saying that he’s heard some bad rumors surrounding Hwang. Of course, Hwang denies them.
That’s when Heuk Chul makes a disturbing entrance into Mayor Kim’s office – heh. With a small grimance, the mayor introduces his son to Hwang, who proceeds to flatter Heuk Chul. Ew – Hwang is so freaking oily.
Back at the bat cave, Dong Min has been tracking Hwang, but the chairman’s been keeping on the down-low lately. He even hacked into Hwang’s records and they are all clean. There is only one way they can draw Hwang out and catch him doing something illegal – gambling. It’s an addiction, and Hwang is going to want to get high from it sooner or later. If only Heuk Chul could go in and clean Hwang out at the poker table…
Yeah, if only. Heuk Chul doesn’t know how to play poker. That one time he lost his money in Vegas? Yeah, it was through playing slots. I’m literally squeeing over how lame our hero looks now in front of Dong Min.
Dong Min tries to teach Heuk Chul the game of poker, but quickly realizes it’s like teaching a wall how to play.So he tells Heuk Chul to remember one thing: 4 Aces means a 99% chance of winning. The 1% chance of losing is due to a straight flush. OK – got that. Heuk Chul presents the money he’ll be betting with – he stole it from his father’s safe.
At the same time, there are more protesters who greet Mayor Kim when he exits a meeting, calling for his resignation. Hyuk Kyu deftly blocks a flying egg, and the protesters get arrested for Yi On and Young Joon to take care of. The protesters have no remorse for their crime, even though Young Joon is trying to help them get out. One of them doesn’t mind getting arrested – he’ll be given free food and shelter in jail, and then sent to the army. For his bravado, Myung Chul wants to grant his wish. The protester is not afraid, knowing that Myung Chul and Mayor Kim are corrupt as hell.
Yi On doesn’t want to send the student to jail and then army camp for a long time, and thus ruin the kid’s future. She chases after Myung Chul, saying the kid is just being immature. But immaturity was never a get-out-of-jail-free card, nor should attacking a mayor be considered a “mistake.” If Yi On utters one more word of defense in the kid’s favor, Myung Chul just may “mistakenly” fire her.
Surprisingly though, Mayor Kim later orders Myung Chul to let the kid go. If there’s one thing that can soften a leader’s determination, it’s the hearts of the people. Hmm…
One of Hwang’s gambling buddies baits him into coming out for a high stakes game one night, and Hwang can’t resist the urge. It just works out that his dinner meeting has been postponed, so Hwang heads over to an exclusive club that doubles as an underground gambling den.
Heuk Chul goes in and greets one of the female hostesses, carrying his backpack of money. She leads him to the gambling room, where Hwang has just cleaned out one of his friends. Hwang and Heuk Chul are shocked to see each other – or, for Heuk Chul more like, “shocked” – and they promise each other to keep it a secret from Mayor Kim.
The games begin, and suddenly, Dong Min’s voice comes in from an ear piece. Knowing that Heuk Chul can’t play poker on his own, they had sneaked into the club much earlier and installed a camera in the eye of a mural on the wall. Then with Heuk Chul’s diamond stud doubling as an ear piece, Dong Min can give Heuk Chul directions on what to do and see what Hwang’s cards are. He does warn Heuk Chul to not get too excited, lest they be found out.
In the first round, Hwang has only a pair of 9’s, so Dong Min advises Heuk Chul to raise. Hwang is reluctant to fold, so Heuk Chul teases, “Why not fold if all you have is a pair? Pair of… 9’s?” Dude is totally skating on thin ice, but Hwang thinks Heuk Chul is some kind of genius and so he folds, unable to hold a poker face. The games continue and Heuk Chul proves to be a risky bettor. Everyone is stunned by the stakes at which Heuk Chul plays – none more so than Hwang, who’s lost for the first time in a long time.
When Heuk Chul leaves for the night, Hyuk Kyu pops up beside his car. He wants to know why Heuk Chul had to steal the money from his father, concerned about what would happen if Heuk Chul lost all that money.
Meanwhile, Hwang is freaking out to his assistant over the fact that he lost so much money to the mayor’s son, while his assistant suggests they stop playing. It could be dangerous if the mayor finds out. But Hwang is looking for vengeance – he’s going to keep playing until he beats Heuk Chul, even if it means going into his own personal safe for money.
Yi On releases the protester, who tells her that it’s unfortunate that Hwang will be superintendent when he’s been embezzling money from the school to feed his gambling addiction. This is news to Yi On, and now she’s going to investigate. She and Young Joon stake out in front of the exclusive gambling club. Good thing Heuk Chul recognizes her car before he gets any nearer. He pays off a homeless guy to throw a brick into the car window so that once she is distracted, Heuk Chul can sneak right in.
In this night’s game, Heuk Chul cleans out Hwang once again. It’s pure luck that the cards just happen to be on Heuk Chul’s side tonight. Of course, this also means Hwang is screaming like a little kid in the privacy of his car. Dong Min is slightly worried that Heuk Chul will get found out, but they continue – just one more game and they could end Hwang for good.
Hwang starts taking the money from his personal safe for the next game. His assistant begs him not to use their last resources but Hwang is adamant about winning. When the next game starts, Heuk Chul cleans out everyone else so that it’s down to him versus Hwang only. They raise the ante, and their bets. Heuk Chul’s arrogance gets on Hwang’s nerves, and it’s mainly because Dong Min is telling him what cards Hwang has. At one point, the chairman pauses to think, and Heuk Chul wonders if it’s because Hwang has an Ace.
That raises Hwang’s suspicions. How does Heuk Chul know about his cards? And why does Heuk Chul keep touching his ear? He asks the bar hostess for a drink, and when she returns with it, he gives her a meaningful glance. She sends another hostess to come in and spill a drink on Heuk Chul. While he’s cleaning his pants, she deftly steals his earring.
The next round begins, and they start placing their bets. Heuk Chul and Hwang get their cards, and though Heuk Chul has three aces, Hwang is starting to form a straight flush in spades. Dong Min advises Heuk Chul to just call the bets, instead of raising; though Heuk Chul doesn’t hear that, it’s a good thing he’s not betting any higher. Heuk Chul gets his next card – it’s a 9 of diamonds, while Hwang gets a 6 of spades, continuing his straight flush.
They now look at their own cards; Heuk Chul has the fourth Ace hidden on his pile, while Hwang has a card that makes Dong Min gasp in horror. Heuk Chul casually touches his ear, but starts looking around frantically when he realizes that his earring is gone. Hwang laughs – it’s like a puppet with no master now, eh? We’re back to the beginning of the episode, where Heuk Chul goes all in, banking on his 4 Aces. Dong Min cries out in horror.
Hwang goes all in too, which is not quite what Heuk Chul was expecting. They reveal their cards. Heuk Chul shows his 4 Aces. Hwang shows his last card, where he forms a straight flush, 2-3-4-5-6. Heuk Chul is absolutely cleaned out, and Hwang gleefully takes all the money away.
Except, Yi On and Young Joon come rushing in. Yi On: “You are under arrest for illegal gambling.” They handcuff Hwang, and Yi On has mixed emotions when she sees the other player is Heuk Chul.
Turns out that when Heuk Chul and Dong Min were initially planning how to take down Hwang, they had a plan B in case Heuk Chul lost. Dong Min would call up Yi On and tell her where Heuk Chul was. Hwang would be arrested, and Heuk Chul…would find himself a way out. So Yi On knew she’d find Heuk Chul at the gambling den, but it doesn’t stop her from frowning in disapproval and frustration.
Hwang’s arrest is all over the news, and now there’s evidence of his embezzling so that he can properly be sent to jail. However, Heuk Chul ends up on the news too, as he was one of the players arrested. It’s great timing that as Mayor Kim and Hyuk Kyu hear this on the TV, Heuk Chul comes strolling in to the house, hoping to go unnoticed. Mayor Kim is beyond furious that this time his son is involved in gambling.
Mayor Kim: Do you really want to ruin my reputation this time?
Heuk Chul: No… I was just having fun.
SLAP! Right across the face.
Mayor Kim: You’re a public figure. Don’t you know that your actions can affect thousands of people? How much longer do your brother and I have to cover up for your misbehavior?
Heuk Chul: I never asked for a cover-up.
The Mayor’s about to slap him again, but Hyuk Kyu stops it. Mayor Kim enters his office, and that’s when Heuk Chul rubs his cheek. He claims it doesn’t hurt, but I’m pretty sure it’s more painful than any gunshot wound in his heart.
The last scene is what made this episode so worthwhile for me. It was a fairly basic and straightforward episode, and Heuk Chul succeeded in getting the baddie. But this time he did so without a disguise, and so we see the consequences of his actions. It drives home the point on why he must be the masked vigilante. His face is much too well-known, and once seen, everyone knows how powerful he is – or at least, how powerful his family is. I personally enjoyed that Heuk Chul’s plan B was to contact Yi On. Though she’s not completely on Heuk Chul’s side, it’s clear he trusts her and is involving her bit by bit into his plans.
The reason why I liked Mayor Kim a bit more in this episode was because he showed that he was not completely unreasonable. He knows that a harsh punishment for a student protester would lead to greater backlash. Myung Chul just wants to rule with an iron fist; Mayor Kim just wants to be feared. One or two dissidents is not going to bother Mayor Kim, because there’s always going to be some unease or unrest. I bet if it were more people, he would have cracked down and found a ruthless, but “legal” way to oust them all. The other thing is, he was also angry at his son for losing all of his own personal money and bringing shame to his name. That’s the most fatherly thing I saw him do all series so far; even if Mayor Kim weren’t the mayor, Heuk Chul’s actions were still shameful and he still would probably have slapped his son. I don’t count saving Heuk Chul’s life very fatherly, because I still have this feeling that Mayor Kim did it for a greater purpose. And – I bet that serum is slowly killing Heuk Chul in some way… But my sympathy for him ends there. Mayor Kim wanted to cover up the entire situation in the first place because he and Myung Chul need that cover-up. If the police or reporters dig too deep, they’ll discover Mayor Kim’s off-the-books dealings.
On another note, it was kind of funny to see the student-thief wear a get-up similar to Heuk Chul’s. To me, it indicates that he as a masked figure is starting to become a legend among the people.