Shark: Episode 2
Wow. Shark really proves its worth this episode, delivering a much darker, much more intense experience that fires on all cylinders and then some. It almost borders on chaotic, since we’re getting so many faces and so many interconnecting stories all at once (worse yet, they all matter), but if the last episode didn’t sell you on the fact that we’re in the hands of a ridiculously capable team, then this one will. All that’s left is to see how well the show transitions into its adult cast.
Ratings-wise, there was a decent drop from 8.2% to 6.7% this round, which is a bit of a shame since this was a better episode than we started with. The ratings pie went instead to Gu Family Book with 18.2%, and to a lesser extent Jang Ok-jung with 10.5%. Shark, fighting!
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Before we pick up with Yi-soo and Hae-woo, a quick cut shows his father putting a sketchy envelope into a sketchy locker. Not good.
This ill will spreads to our young couple, even though they’ve made it back to shelter from the storm—the groundskeeper who’d spotted Yi-soo heading into the forest now returns with two suited thugs to haul them away.
The mysterious man we’d seen reading the headlines about Hae-woo’s father introduces himself to Grandpa Jo as YOSHIMURA JUNICHIRO, a man of Korean and Japanese descent with fluency in both languages.
Like Grandpa Jo, he’s also a hotel owner, though this isn’t a common business meeting. He asks if Grandpa Jo remembers a man by the name of Kim Yoon-shik, and Grandpa nervously stutters that they were childhood friends.
“That man was my father,” Junichiro replies, and the shocked look on Grandpa Jo’s face tells me that they might not have been on great terms.
The thugs bring Yi-soo and Hae-woo to the main house on Daddy Jo’s request, and it’s probably not just because he’s dead drunk that he slaps Yi-soo, claiming, “I never liked you from the start.”
Hae-woo intervenes, even though Yi-soo’s dad arrives in time to watch the whole thing. Surprisingly, Yi-soo doesn’t just take the hit quietly, and fires back that he and Hae-woo have done nothing wrong, so he doesn’t deserve Daddy Jo’s treatment. Go you, kid. It’s about time someone in dramaland said something after being slapped by an elder.
Of course, Yi-soo’s dad is much more humble, and intervenes to apologize for his son. Daddy Jo is in a rage and orders Yi-soo and his family to move out immediately, since he doesn’t want Hae-woo to ever see him again.
But Yi-soo fights back, fire in his eyes: “I will keep seeing Hae-woo. Hae-woo is my friend, and whether I meet up with my friends is my choice.” Oooh. Daddy Jo doesn’t take too kindly to this, but luckily, Grandpa Jo emerges from his meeting with Junichiro to rein his errant son in.
Junichiro, for his part, watches the drama unfolding curiously, as though he’s taking mental notes. He finds Yi-soo outside and urges him not to blame his father for being cowardly, since he’s just powerless and has no other way to protect his son other than to bow to their masters.
Yi-soo isn’t interested to hear more, but that doesn’t stop Junichiro from introducing himself before he adds forebodingly, “We will meet again.”
Things between Yi-soo and his father are strained, especially since Dad plans to move them out as ordered. Yi-soo opens his mouth to speak, but the words die on his lips.
Meanwhile, Grandpa Jo meets with a passive aggressive man who seems intent on bringing some skeletons in Grandpa’s closet to light—but we don’t get much more info than that, other than that the man is off to find someone who should know the truth.
Yi-soo’s dad leaves for work that night, but not without apologizing to his son: “I know you did nothing wrong, but I couldn’t defend you.”
His job is to chauffeur the man who’d subtly threatened Grandpa Jo, all while the chairman sits in darkness and silence… before coming to a decision that has him reaching for the phone. Any decision made in a dark room can’t be a good one.
The man asks Dad odd questions in the car, like whether he thinks Grandpa Jo is worthy of the respect he widely receives. In his hand is a suspicious envelope he’d brought before Grandpa Jo, as he notes that there are types of con men who can fool an entire nation and get away with it, and it’s not a far stretch to guess who he’s talking about.
Hae-woo finds Yi-soo staring at a starless sky and apologizes for what happened, even though she’s thankful that he wouldn’t stop seeing her. He shares another of his introspective moments with her as he claims he’s looking for the North Star, the guiding light to lost travelers.
She claims that he’s like the North Star to her, even though the true North Star is nowhere to be found: “Tonight, whoever’s lost won’t be able to find their way.”
Dad drops the man off and notices that he left the envelope in the car, while Daddy Jo insists on driving drunk. Envelope Man has no idea that there’s a man lying in wait to attack at his apartment, and is momentarily spared when Dad draws him outside to return the envelope.
It’s only when he looks at Dad’s face directly that he seems to recognize him… and then that faint light of recognition turns into wide-eyed horror as he stutters out a name for Dad: “Shadow.” The name strikes terror into him, though Dad doesn’t seem to understand as he stumbles backward, all while Envelope Man hysterically accuses him of being some kind of boogie man.
Daddy Jo’s car lurches dangerously on the road as he drunk dials his wife, who refuses to return to Korea or grant him a divorce so she can continue tormenting him.
Then, suddenly, he crashes into a man with his car.
Yi-soo’s dad stumbles back to the car, envelope in hand. He fumbles with the keys, clearly shaken by Envelope Man’s accusations. We see why as memories flash through Dad’s mind—a dark basement, bloody instruments, a man being tortured and electrocuted.
And the man rolling up his sleeves to perform the grim tasks… was Dad. Holy.
Daddy Jo stumbles out of his car to see the man he just hit lying lifeless on the pavement. He’s too drunk or scared to notice that his prized gold Rolex slips off his wrist, or that he leaves it there when he drives away—but a little boy has seen everything.
We’re cutting between two equally intense driving scenes now: Daddy Jo as he drives away from the scene of the crime, and Yi-soo’s dad as he drives away with the envelope, his face a mask of guilt and sorrow. (Is he sad that he did all these terrible things, or because someone reminded him?)
Meanwhile, Envelope Man is murdered by the assassin who’d been lying in wait at Grandpa Jo’s request. We don’t see the killer’s face, but we do see that he has a (poisoned?) needle that looks like a ballpoint pen. Or maybe it just is a pen.
Daddy Jo somehow makes it home in time to sob about the guy he just killed. He notices his missing watch just as it’s picked up (without gloves!) at the crime scene by a detective, who pockets it before anyone can see so that he can give a prosecutor by the name of OH HYUN-SHIK a choice on whether he should do his job.
By the looks of it, Prosecutor Oh is controlled by Grandpa Jo, which is why he takes the evidence incriminating Daddy Jo to him first. Grandpa Jo calmly gives Prosecutor Oh the go-ahead to handle this like he would a normal case, with no special favors, and Prosecutor Oh obeys, because Grandpa Jo holds his career future in the balance.
Yi-soo’s dad, still barely able to hold back tears, decides to read the contents of the envelope. We don’t see what’s inside, but his eyes grow wider and wider as he flips through each page, which takes us back to the cold open where Dad hid the envelope in a locker. Now we know why.
When he’s called by Grandpa Jo, he’s honest about what was said, making it seem like Grandpa Jo already knew about that inexplicably dark chapter of his past. Dad is so consumed with guilt that he wants to turn himself in, but Grandpa Jo calmly advises him to think of his children—and besides, he’s sure Dad has atoned for his sins, since there’s no greater punishment for a sinner than living every day knowing that there’s nothing they can do to change the past.
So Grandpa Jo offers him a deal that Dad eventually takes, though we don’t hear what it is.
He asks about the envelope, and Dad isn’t a good enough liar to mask the fact that he’s read it. Grandpa Jo remains calm, but we see tiny tells—like the impatient tapping of his finger—to remind us that he’s a sinister man with sinister thoughts. It makes me worry for Dad, even though he says all the right things to restore Grandpa Jo’s faith in him. Or so I hope.
Dad comes home in the wee hours to find Yi-soo still studying, and it’s over a few shots of soju that he muses regretfully to his son: “When I think about it, all the major incidents in my life snuck up on me.” He specifically mentions the cancer that killed Yi-soo’s mother, and how it came and went without a warning.
And how, on her deathbed, she’d made him promise to live the rest of his life happily, regardless of how he’d lived until then (so maybe she knew about his past). Dad had been looking forward to keeping that promise, but he breaks down crying in front of his son now that he realizes he’ll have to break it.
Daddy Jo goes sniveling to his father about how he won’t make a mistake like he did again, which is kind of an easy promise to make considering that this mistake lead to someone’s untimely death. Either way, Grandpa Jo starts to beat him.
Yi-soo is confronted by the police, and it’s not until they tell him that Dad already turned himself in that the realization hits: The deal Dad made with Grandpa Jo… was for him to take the fall for Daddy Jo’s hit-and-run. And the police know exactly what’s up.
Yi-soo can’t believe what he’s hearing, and to the detective’s chagrin, he catches a gaping hole in the fabricated story—the car responsible for the hit was an import, which Daddy Jo drives, and his father only drives Grandpa Jo’s domestic car. Plus, he saw Daddy Jo stumble into the house the night before from his parked car.
The detective knows that Yi-soo is right, and attempts to get him off the scent by reminding him that Dad called himself to report the accident AND gave himself up. What other evidence do they need?
Another task force is working on the case of the dead Envelope Man, revealed to be a professor who’d told one of his students to meet him for a big reveal: “He said that the world was going to turn upside down, that the goliath would fall, and David would claim victory.”
The detective on this case is DETECTIVE BYUN, who seems to be a more honest public servant than the only other cop we’ve seen in this show. When he asks the student about the content of the meetings his late professor would hold, the student replies that the aim was to collect research that would correct the injustices of the past. (As in, their collective past as a nation, which is a leettle intense.)
Dad has yet to physically turn himself in, but he’d asked for the time from Grandpa Jo to meet someone. We see Dad holding funeral flowers at the edge of a lake, and can presume that this is where his wife’s ashes were scattered. Yi-soo looks for Dad there, but arrives too late.
Something’s changed in Dad, and he calls Grandpa Jo to apologize since he changed his mind about the deal. He can’t live with a guilty conscience and pledges to tell the truth to the police, even though he promises to keep the contents of the envelope a secret.
Grandpa Jo acts like this is all no skin off his nose, and even dismisses the documents as a flight of fancy by a historian obsessed with heroism. Somehow I doubt that.
Dad calls Yi-soo from the same phone booth, and Yi-soo already knows enough to guess that his dad is covering up for a crime Daddy Jo committed. Dad speaks cryptically about having received forgiveness, and promises to tell Yi-soo everything later. (Which would be fine, except that never happens.)
He’s planning to turn himself in and tell the truth at last, but what Yi-soo doesn’t know is that Dad plans to tell the truth about his dark past. “I want to become a father who is less shameful,” Dad says resolutely. “Take care of Yi-hyun.” Click.
Detective Byun goes knocking on Grandpa Jo’s door, since the last call the dead Envelope Professor received was from him. He wants to meet with the driver who dropped him off, which flusters Grandpa Jo just a bit before he claims that Dad took a personal vacation.
Speaking of, Dad begins to cross the intersection toward the police station, though a shadowy man in the crowd coming toward him clicks the same acupuncture needle pen—it’s Grandpa Jo’s assassin. He passes Dad in the crowd, and in that small amount of time, stabs him with the poisoned needle.
Dad keeps walking at first, because the pain doesn’t fully register. It’s only when he reaches the other side that his body starts failing, and he still doesn’t seem to comprehend what’s happened even as he falls over on the sidewalk.
His eyes stay open long enough to recognize Yi-soo as he comes running to the rescue, but there’s no saving him. He dies.
Yi-soo spreads his father’s ashes at the same lake as his mother, in a small service attended by Hae-woo, Dong-soo, and Joon-young. His face remains eerily still… until he begins walking into the lake to drown.
His friends jump in to pull him back, which is when Yi-soo just starts to scream and scream. Dad’s death didn’t get me like I thought it would, but Yi-soo’s grief is pretty gutting.
He collects himself just enough, but he starts to lose it all over again when Y-hyun hands him a box of dad’s things the police gave them. The sight of the last box of cigarettes his father kept sends him spiraling back out of control.
He shuts himself away to spare his sister, and sobs.
Detective Byun is acquainted with Grandpa Jo’s crooked cop, who also happens to be the lead investigator. He must have gotten the job with Grandpa Jo’s help, since he sucks at creating a cover story—first it was Yi-soo to poke holes in the fabricated hit-and-run case against Dad, and now it’s Detective Byun. At least we know one cop is good.
Bad Cop tries to pull seniority, but Detective Byun wants to go over Dad’s autopsy records and files again, since he was the last man to see Envelope Professor alive. Basically, their cases got intertwined since Dad is a factor in both of them.
Grandpa and Daddy Jo sit Yi-soo down to make sure he knows he still has a home with them, and you wonder if Grandpa Jo feels even the tiniest twinge of remorse for taking Yi-soo’s father away. Probably not.
Yi-soo doesn’t hesitate to stand up for what he believes in, and stares pointedly at Daddy Jo when he mentions how his father was being framed for a hit-and-run. He also refuses to accept their hospitality and plans to move out as soon as possible.
You know, Grandpa Jo would probably be the nicest and most understanding grandfather ever if he weren’t so EVIL, considering how he fakes being so super supportive of Yi-soo. But Daddy Jo takes the first opportunity to try and put Yi-soo in his place, which doesn’t really pan out. As usual.
Yi-soo promises that he’ll do anything and everything within his power to do what he can for his father, a notion that Daddy Jo scoffs at while Hae-woo overhears. She doesn’t miss the part where Yi-soo declares: “From now on, I have no intention of being threatened or belittled by anyone.”
Later, Yi-soo struggles to hang a sign at the scene of the hit-and-run asking for witnesses, only for Joon-young to lend a helping hand. Awww. I wish the story would stay with these kids.
The sole witness from the accident—the little boy—watches silently as the sign goes up.
Yi-soo finds Hae-woo in front of Chagall’s “Orpheus,” a painting depicting the sad myth of Orpheus (where he travels to the underworld to save his wife, only to lose her in the end because he looks back before they’ve both reached the upper world) in bright, vivid colors. She likes the painting because of that exact dichotomy.
He’s clearly trying to prepare her for the eventuality that whatever truth he finds about his father might point to her family, but in the end he just tells her that he’s going to law school to become a prosecutor so he can find his father’s killer and fight crime in general.
To this end, she gives him a shark pendant made of wood that she carved herself, with all the cuts on her fingers to prove it. Aw.
Finally, as Yi-soo is taking the hit-and-run sign down, the little boy who witnessed the scene approaches him with his grandfather: “I saw it.”
Yi-soo hears the boy’s testimony, which proves that it wasn’t his father but a man who dropped a shiny watch, and goes to Detective Jung, aka Bad Cop to get him to investigate. Of course, Detective Jung can’t investigate since that’d expose his flimsy cover, so he tries to dismiss Yi-soo.
“Are you really a detective?” Yi-soo all but growls, as hye goes on to say that a real detective would do his job. Detective Jung tries to shoo him away, so Yi-soo reacts by vaulting at him in rage. The honest cop, Detective Byun, watches the heated exchange.
Meanwhile, Grandpa Jo channels Colonel Sanders as he gives a lecture on justice to the Young People Of Korea, charging them to take justice by the horns: “When you are just, our society can become just.”
Yi-hyun keeps winding the last gift her father gave her—a Hello Kitty music box— but discovers something hidden inside, blocking the gears…
It’s Dad’s locker key.
In the first episode, we got warm lighting, sunny days, new friendships, and blossoming love. In this episode, everything went to hell in the best way possible. (Which is possible, as it so happens.)
There’s a technical harmony to this show that’s worth praising, if only because I found myself gripped with the fear that all these things I love will disappear if/when the show starts live-shooting. The magic stems from a lot of little things that start to add up, some of them harder to pin down than others, but the sum of the parts is that the show runs like a supremely well-oiled machine and plays like a movie.
I was reminded a little of IRIS 2 during the dramatic first half of this episode, and how that show also had quickly-intercutting scenes paced with dramatic music in an effect to make things exciting—but somehow, it all rang false. The shots could be dynamic and the subject matter theoretically exciting, but it seemed to be missing a pulse it was only trying to replicate. By comparison (and in a much shorter amount of time), Shark proved that it not only has a pulse, but that it’ll elevate yours and come off as effortless. That’s a talent.
I also loved the lighting in this episode, which took us from the happiness of youth to the dark and twisted world of adulthood in the blink of an eye. Coupled with masterful quick cuts, jumps in the timeline, great performances, and dynamic shots (notice how things never got boring in Grandpa Jo’s office of death? If the camera wasn’t actively moving, then we’d get seamless edits of every different perspective the scene was shot from), the show built up tension in a way I didn’t know I was missing in my dramas. More than any of the other mystery threads, I’m curious to know more about Dad’s secret torturer past, though I found that the addition of that bit—and okay, maybe all the dead bodies—lent the show a horror-like quality that made some of the scenes downright frightening at times.
The only thing that bothers me going forward is that we’ll eventually lose the engaging young cast we’ve grown fond of, since there were multiple times during the episode that I found myself wishing that this was already our story and that these were the characters we’d stay with. One of my favorite character traits in Yi-soo—his righteous disregard for seniority and authority—is one that only packs its intended punch when he’s young, idealistic, and headstrong. I’m sure the trait will somehow morph and inform who he becomes as an adult, so on and so forth [insert positive thinking here], but darn it, I like this Yi-soo. Why dramaland pulls this stunt almost every single time, I’ll never know.