Liar Game: Episode 9
A hero without confidence is a scary, scary thing, especially when he’s the only one even remotely capable of stopping a villain that’s as deviously bent on spreading anarchy and chaos as Kang Do-young. At least our heroine does an admirable job at filling the void left by Woo-jin’s wounded pride, but soon it’ll be her turn to play the game after her confidence in her fellow man has been shattered, ground into a pulp, and used as starch for Do-young’s suits. How else is he to keep them so perfectly pressed? Orphan’s tears are so last year.
SONG OF THE DAY
CNBLUE – “Come On” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “Smuggling Game I”
We rewind a bit to PD Lee’s conversation with Da-jung’s drunken father, who expressed his reluctance to meet his daughter when it’d just be fodder for PD Lee’s broadcast.
She tried to ease him down by assuring him that it wouldn’t be for the show, but for Da-jung: “She’ll be happy if she just knows you’re okay.”
Meanwhile, Woo-jin and Reporter Gu meet about the records he asked her to pull on Do-young—his immigration records, past residences, family—only for her to confess that she couldn’t find a single slip of paper.
When she asks what exactly happened during the Walden Two Experiment that Do-young may have been a part of, Woo-jin can only explain the little he knows, which is that it was involved highly secret and illegal psychological experiments on children.
To find out more about Do-young’s past, Woo-jin enlists the help of master hacker and fellow contestant Sung-joon. (How did they ditch the cameras?)
PD Lee takes Da-jung’s father out to hear his story. Dad admits that he’d tried to commit suicide by hanging himself with his own necktie after L Company went down, only to be stopped when Da-jung unexpectedly came home.
She had no idea what he’d been trying to do and tied his necktie for him, breaking his heart in the process. In the present, PD Lee’s eyes water at the story, as she all but pleads with Dad to just give Da-jung a call if nothing else.
Director Jang seems suspicious of where PD Lee has been running off too lately, but the suspicion on the forefront of his mind is Do-young. If the rumors about Do-young’s finances being not-so-great, then maybe it wasn’t pure happenstance that Do-young became a participant.
So it becomes clear that Director Jang thinks Do-young created the show just so he could join to win the ten million dollar/ten million won prize, but he doesn’t have enough evidence to support his theory. Yet.
Since Do-young is still a contestant, Director Jang has to keep playing MC as he interviews both him and Dal-goo for the broadcast. When asked whether he’ll be looking out for Woo-jin the next round, Do-young says he’s more wary of Da-jung, because he can at least predict Woo-jin’s actions. Da-jung is another story.
But there’s got to be a reason Dal-goo is the only one sitting next to him, and Do-young reveals it when he announces who he’ll pick as his teammates (since winning the last round affords him that luxury): Da-jung and Dal-goo.
Dal-goo is in shock while Do-young explains that his “noble” reasoning for taking Da-jung from Woo-jin’s team is because he thinks Woo-jin is using her. Why else would a genius swindler like him participate in the game, even if he promised to give Da-jung all his earnings?
In an effort to corner Do-young, Director Jang asks how he’d spend the prize money if he won it. Do-young thinks for a second before replying that he’d dump the bills over Seoul from a helicopter.
“Imagine it,” he says. “Thousands upon thousands of golden bills fluttering in the wind, falling from the sky. What a grand spectacle it would be, everyone running into the streets for money, their hands stretching up to the heavens, their faces turned up to the sky. I want to see those faces from far above.” Of course you do, Crazypants McGee. Of course you do.
Even though Director Jang and Dal-goo bring up the myriad reasons why that would be a baad idea, Do-young just jokes that he’d pay whatever fines he’d incur if his stunt were to shut the city down.
Dal-goo watches the broadcast with his two favorite buddies as Do-young looks into the camera to address Woo-jin: “You said you would give all the prize money to Da-jung if you win. Will that be possible?” Is that a challenge?
He’s worried for Da-jung, and tells her that she should forfeit the game. Da-jung’s done the math and knows that she’d be out two hundred fifty thousand dollars—and besides, she promised to share her prize money with everyone, so she can’t very well back out now.
But if they’re worried she’ll lose and want her to quit, then she’ll do it… only if they agree to quit too. They won’t have as high of a forfeiture fee as her anyway, considering they haven’t won any money yet.
I’m guessing that they don’t agree, since Woo-jin and Dal-goo leave her apartment together as Dal-goo asks him why he didn’t push Da-jung to forfeit. Woo-jin, who was very quiet the whole conversation, just says that Do-young was right about focusing on Da-jung instead of him.
After sending an eye roll Da-jung’s way for not knowing her way around a makeup brush, Jaime is dragged aside by Director Jang despite her attempts to ignore him. He wants her to play both sides of the Woo-jin/Do-young rivalry so that she can betray both of them when the time comes. Isn’t that what she’s best at?
Jaime knows he must be desperate when he offers to split the prize money in half if she were to win, even though he tells her to be prepared in case she loses and takes them both down. “Don’t worry,” she assures him. “I’ll win even if I have to betray you.”
During the broadcast, Director Jang addresses the eight remaining contestants as he tells them that this is the penultimate round—if they survive, they’ll be able to compete for the ten million dollar prize.
For this round, they’ll be split into two teams, East and West. They’ll each act like two halves of a country and can only win by smuggling money across their fictional (but guarded) borders. Do-young gets to pick his team for the East, and chooses Actor Gu, Bulldog, and not Jaime (aka Sung-joon).
Which means Jaime has to reluctantly go to the West, with Woo-jin, Dal-goo, and Da-jung. Do-young manages to get Woo-jin’s attention when he embraces Sung-joon as a team member and mentions his superior hacking skills—yikes, he must know all about what Woo-jin asked Sung-joon to do.
But before the round actually begins, Sung-joon sneaks Woo-jin a USB drive. He must’ve gotten some dirt on Do-young, then.
They move to the playing field which has been divided into East and West with a physical border line standing between the two nations’ territories.
And, as fate would have it, a war is set to break out between the two countries, which would put them on lockdown—though each nation has the other’s treasury of five hundred million won. If they want to get their money back, they’ll have to smuggle it across the border using briefcases that can only hold one hundred million won/one hundred thousand dollars.
To demonstrate how the border will be run, Director Jang uses Da-jung and Woo-jin to act as citizen and border guard, respectively. Each citizen has a bank card that will only open the opposing nation’s bank, located in separate rooms across a hallway. Whatever they fail to smuggle by the end of the round will be distributed amongst the opposing teammembers.
Once they’ve obtained the amount of money they want to smuggle up to the maximum of one hundred thousand dollars, they have to face the border inspector. The inspector can choose to stop them and check their briefcase or let them pass, and in the event they’re stopped, the inspector must guess the amount being smuggled.
If what the inspector guesses is equal to the amount the smuggler has, then the smuggler fails and the money goes to the inspector as a prize. If the inspector guesses an amount greater than what the smuggler is carrying, the smuggler gets to keep whatever money they were smuggling along with half the amount they were accused of.
They’ll have thirty turns to play, and the final winner will be decided by whichever team has the largest sum leftover, whether that be from what they’ve smuggled across and/or what they’ve kept from being smuggled out of their country. The prize money will be deposited on bank cards they all receive, which will not be replaced if lost during the course of the game.
Jaime is the odd man out on her team, and blames Do-young for banishing her to the losing team. Dal-goo takes offense to that, but Woo-jin warns them to stay calm since the other team can see them from their vantage point.
Sung-joon doesn’t belong with his team either, even with Do-young’s assurance that if they just trust him and do what he says, they’ll win the round.
Meanwhile, Da-jung tells her teammates how they’ll win: if they don’t smuggle any money, they’ll only gain compensation money if they’re stopped by the inspector. Woo-jin says nothing about the plan, which can only mean he has another he’s not sharing.
Da-jung represents her team for the first round, and does a bad job of making it seem like she’s hauling a briefcase full of money (when she’s withdrawn none) to the East’s inspector, Actor Gu. He seems to be on to her when he warns her not to put on an act, and passes her without inspection.
Though Jaime wasn’t included when Da-jung revealed her plan she figures it out when Da-jung returns empty-handed, and warns her teammates that the strategy is doomed to fail since they wouldn’t be gaining any money by refraining from smuggling.
Claiming to have a plan that will actually work, Jaime is the next one to try smuggling, and is passed by the East’s inspector while carrying zero dollars. (Meaning that she successfully smuggled nothing.) The same happens for Dal-goo. So… how was this plan different from Da-jung’s, again?
Now that it’s their turn to play inspector, they send Dal-goo. He passes Sung-joon who then successfully smuggles one hundred thousand dollars across the border. Dal-goo has to answer to Jaime, since she told him to call the smuggler out for the maximum amount. “Why can’t you trust me?!” she screeches.
“How can I trust you?” Dal-goo answers. He claims he had no way of knowing whether she was just trying to help Do-young, and Jaime’s track record doesn’t exactly give her a good defense. So she just storms off to be the next inspector. Once again, Woo-jin doesn’t interfere.
The smuggler Jaime faces is none other than Do-young, and he’s very open about his strategy to make Jaime’s teammates suspect her by using up all ten minutes they have to make it look like they’re talking. That way, Jaime won’t be able to convince her team she’s sincere even if she actually is. Genius.
After the ten minutes have passed, Jaime makes the call and passes Do-young. He gives her his best shit-eating grin as he reveals his briefcase packed to the brim with one hundred thousand (now successfully smuggled) dollars.
As Do-young predicted/wanted, Dal-goo thinks Jaime lost to Do-young on purpose and won’t hear any arguments to the contrary. Da-jung is the only one who believes Jaime tried, but she isn’t the only one to see that their infighting was Do-young’s plan.
Woo-jin finally steps in to back Da-jung up, and locks gazes with Do-young from across the way as he tells his teammates that they have to stop the East team from smuggling any more money out. You don’t say.
He takes over as inspector and gets the East team rattled enough to fight with each other about who will do the smuggling, since whoever it is will have to face Woo-jin. Actor Gu takes the challenge, proclaiming that he’ll defeat Woo-jin. Feeling a little too full of ourselves after Woo-jin’s one and only loss, aren’t we?
In the inspection room, Woo-jin leaves a stack of cash on the ground he can point to while claiming that Actor Gu dropped some. In that way he’s able to quickly figure out that Actor Gu is carrying money when the older has-been scrambles to figure out if the fallen cash actually came from his briefcase.
Woo-jin correctly calls out Actor Gu for smuggling the max amount, which means all that money goes to the West team and has the exact effect Woo-jin intended by reminding them that they’re not cowards.
Having missed the exchange because he was playing Creepy Faces with the bathroom mirror, Do-young returns to find his team out a grand and scolds them for making a move without him—and for underestimating Woo-jin. As recompense, he confiscates his team’s bank cards so that he’ll be the only one smuggling and facing off against Woo-jin.
When Sung-joon questions whether that’s even allowed, Do-young tells them that he already checked with the staff. Besides, they broke their word to do as he said by acting without him, so having their bank cards confiscated is only fair. According to Do-young, anyway.
Sung-joon is the only one reluctant to hand over his card, but relents when he’s given no other choice. Do-young takes control like a true
dictator leader by rallying his troops under one flag—they’re at war, and they’ll only survive if they give Do-young the power to decide for them.
Since Do-young will be leaving them to their own devices, he sets up a system to catch any would-be betrayer amongst them by promising to reward the spy with the betrayer’s bank card (and prize money) if a betrayal is successfully reported to him.
“I’ll handle the Smuggling Game from now on,” Do-young tells his underlings. “You can play the Betrayal Game.”
On the other side, Jaime tries to gain Dal-goo’s trust by promising to relinquish her bank card if they find that she’s betrayed them. It doesn’t work, prompting Da-jung to ask Woo-jin to make a decision they can follow so that no side can accuse the other of rigging the game.
He pretty much lets them do whatever they want, and leaves Dal-goo to try and smuggle the full amount past Inspector Do-young. Using the full ten minutes, Dal-goo brings up Do-young’s past as a financial analyst on Wall Street, and calls him on his bullshit when he claims that he left the job because of people like Woo-jin manipulating the stock market.
Do-young chuckles as he gives him that point, but his explanation for why he left the job is far stranger: “When you consider money, it’s fascinating. It’s like a living thing, as though it’s acting of its own volition.” I love how Dal-goo asks if Do-young has a telepathic link to money the way someone would ask a crazy person to translate what their imaginary friend is saying.
“It seems like people move money, doesn’t it?” Do-young asks. “Not so. Money moves people.” Having seen millionaires and paupers as an analyst, Do-young says they were all wrong in thinking that they owned the money. They were all moving as the money told them to.
And he could always tell just by looking at someone how much money it would take to move them. Dal-goo starts sweating as Do-young looks straight through his eyes and into his soul before calling out the exact amount Dal-goo was smuggling. Do-young wins.
Dal-goo reports to his teammates that Do-young can figure out the amount they took by just looking at them, which has everyone unsettled except for Woo-jin. At least on the outside.
Da-jung volunteers to go against Do-young next with a sum of fifty-five thousand dollars/fifty-five million won which Jaime thinks is too specific for Do-young to guess. If Do-young passes them or guesses less than the amount Da-jung is carrying, they win.
She steels herself against her face-off with Do-young, but is remarkably brave when she looks him square in the eyes and tells him to guess how much she has if he’s got such a knack for it.
Do-young doesn’t even hesitate before announcing, “Stop. Fifty-five million won.” WHOA. Did he just…? No way.
Even Woo-jin is caught off-guard, because as far as he could pick up, Do-young was skilled in hiding a lie but not in reading the cliffnotes written on people’s faces. He (finally!) offers to represent his team against Do-young, and follows his teammates’ advice to smuggle zero dollars—the only way they could lose is if Do-young passed them without inspection.
Woo-jin’s meeting with Do-young doesn’t last long though, since Do-young passes him. Yikes. Jaime: “He’s an upgraded version of Ha Woo-jin!” If that’s true, then they’ve already lost.
Now that it’s Woo-jin’s turn to play inspector, Do-young faces him in every round thanks to that loophole he found with his team’s bank cards. And Woo-jin gets it wrong THREE TIMES in a row, meaning three solid wins for Do-young. Okay, now I’m starting to sweat a little. Get your shit together, Woo-jin! You’re better than this! (…Aren’t you?)
But again, the West loses in all three rounds when they’re smuggling against Inspector Do-young, who correctly guesses exactly how much they are or aren’t smuggling each and every time. His accuracy is so eerily spot on that Director Jang asks PD Lee if she’s secretly helping him, only for her to direct him to the footage that’ll answer his questions.
Woo-jin may not know how Do-young’s x-ray vision works, but he does know that Do-young gets to play all the rounds because he’s confiscated his team’s bank cards. He seems to be counting on what happens next when the East team lowers their guard at the announcement that Dal-goo will be the border inspector.
Whether Do-young is letting his guard down or just allowing others to think so is up for grabs, but he agrees to take a break for this mini-round by letting his underlings handle it. They all think Dal-goo will be an easy opponent.
Thank goodness for the West when Dal-goo correctly guesses the amount Bulldog was trying to smuggle across. He claims he was using a method like Do-young’s “sense” for money but not quite as accurate, and wants another round to prove it.
It is kind of funny to watch Dal-goo use his sixth sense in the next round, but you can’t argue with results: Dal-goo guesses correctly again, netting another win for the West. Then he goes back in for the third round and wins again.
Since they can’t ever get any money past Do-young when it comes to the East playing inspector, they keep taking empty briefcases for Do-young to pass—in that way, the West team can prevent Do-young from gaining any more money even if it means they’re not winning any either.
Jaime’s stake in this is becoming more suspicious by the second as Woo-jin sends Da-jung as their team’s smuggler with written instructions (for her eyes only) on how to figure out how Do-young is reading people, even if she loses in the round.
Da-jung reads what he wrote once she gets to the bank, her eyes widening instantly. Methinks those aren’t instructions on how to throw Do-young off the scent.
When she faces Do-young, he already knows that Woo-jin tried teaching her how to fool him. “How much do you trust Ha Woo-jin?” Do-young asks. “Haven’t you ever thought of suspecting him?”
“Why would I suspect him?” Da-jung asks defiantly. Do-young acts nonchalant about the possibility that she may be eliminated this round, and uses that as a reason to tell her the bit of info he’s been sitting on: Did she know that Woo-jin is responsible for her father’s debt?
Director Jang hears this in the control room and asks PD Lee if she’s heard this rumor, to which she unconvincingly stammers a “No.”
But Da-jung isn’t one to take Do-young’s words to heart as she tells him, “You’re a really bad person, trying to make us suspicious of each other with that kind of nonsense. Do you want to win that badly?”
Do-young just laughs, because this is all a game to him. Then he calls her out for fifty thousand won—the amount Jaime told her to carry—only for her to reveal a briefcase filled with twice that.
Since the microphone is turned on only when the inspector presses the button, Da-jung jumps for the mic so she can address the citizens of the East as she tells them that Do-young’s supposed x-ray vision was a trick.
“If you give up your cards and let Kang Do-young do as he wants, do you think he’ll take care of you? A person like him wouldn’t do that, and you all know it! We’re being tricked! Fight! We’ll help you!” I love that this is like a call to arms, in keeping with the round’s theme.
Both sides are left with silence when Da-jung is forcibly dragged from the mic, leaving Jaime to wonder what happened—wasn’t Da-jung supposed to take fifty thousand with her?
“She was,” Woo-jin says as he approaches Jaime. “Why did you do it? Why did you do it… Jo Dal-goo?”
Wait, WHAT?!?! Nooooooooo! I refuse to believe that’s true. Please let it not be true. It can’t be true… right? It better not be. *panics*
Setting aside how Dal-goo’s betrayal would change everything if it were true (which it most definitely is not), it was an intense hour for Team Woo-jin after his crushing defeat in the last round. I get the feeling that no one was more aware of that than Woo-jin, though it would’ve been nice to take a peek into his skull meat during the long silences where he was just watching his teammates make questionable decisions.
Then again, I can’t speak to whether that internal war even existed, since we weren’t given (m)any clues from Woo-jin to know if he was taking more of a backseat approach to the round because he’d been chastened by his loss. There were definitely times where I was frustrated with him sending his teammates into a losing battle because it seemed like he would’ve figured out that Do-young had outside help by then, but I switched gears to being anxiously concerned for him once he tried and failed to bypass Do-young himself.
But it was interesting that Woo-jin’s first reaction wasn’t to doubt the authenticity of Do-young’s x-ray vision, but to try and find ways to circumvent it. It meant he wouldn’t leave anything out of the realm of possibility when it came to Do-young, and I’d like to think that losing to him last round worked in making Woo-jin more gun-shy in general, or at least when it comes to Do-young. There’s a person he can’t read, not just in one millisecond but in multiple face-to-face conversations. For a guy who’s used to figuring people out without a second glance, it’s got to be hard to face someone who’s impervious to his genius, even if that’s where the fun comes in as far as being an audience member goes.
I do love how Liar Game employs red herrings so well that its use of red herrings has become something of a red herring—I admit to thinking that Jaime being the group’s betrayer would be too easy, even though I couldn’t begin to imagine who else could be behind Do-young’s uncannily accurate psychic readings. So then I circled back around to thinking the show was merely trying to divert attention away from Jaime when it was really Jaime, which could very well be the case come next episode, but for now I have to give credit where credit is due, because I didn’t suspect a thing when it came to Dal-goo. And while I hope he will be cleared of any and all suspicions tomorrow, for now I gotta hand it to the show: You got me. You really, really got me. (But you leave Dal-goo Ajusshi alone, you hear?)