Rescue Me: Episode 3
The focus shifts from our insidious cult toward our band of friends and their own problems in this hour. As it turns out, there is just as much corruption and moral bankruptcy in the world outside of the cult, and the deciding factor comes down to what each of our heroes are willing to do in the face of injustice—will they stand by to save face, or will they stand up for what’s right?
EPISODE 3 RECAP
At Sang-jin’s funeral, Sang-mi offers a cup of water to her mother, who angrily rejects it as she asks how anyone can continue on after what happened to Sang-jin. Dad soothes his wife, telling her not to take out her grief on Sang-mi, and she apologizes to Sang-mi for the outburst.
Mom laments over not being able to protect her own child, and she is overcome with grief, so much so that Dad tells Sang-mi to get some fresh air while he consoles Mom.
Meanwhile, Sang-hwan arrives at the funeral and runs into Sang-mi as he enters. Outside, he apologizes for abandoning Sang-jin, but Sang-mi asks why Sang-hwan approached her first if he was just going to act like this.
We flash back to an earlier P.E. Class, where we see Sang-mi without a partner as the rest of her classmates play volleyball around her. Sang-hwan approaches her then, properly introducing himself and Dong-chul before asking if she wants to partner with them. Though, he does ask playfully if kids from Seoul even know how to play volleyball.
Cut to: Sang-mi expertly spiking the ball at Sang-hwan over and over again as he flinches away from each solid hit. Ha. Sang-hwan tells Dong-chul (who’d been watching the spectacle with his mouth agape) to take over, but one spike from Sang-mi is enough to send Dong-chul sprawling backward as the rest of the class watches on in awe.
Sang-mi goes to spike the ball again, but Sang-hwan yells for her to stop, and she giggles to herself briefly. Sang-hwan notes this is the first time he’s seen her smile.
He remarks to Dong-chul that she is cute when she smiles. But this comment causes her to go back to her typical stoic state, and she quickly spikes the ball at them again. Ha.
Afterward, Sang-hwan offers her a sports drink, saying that spiking the ball with her small hands must be tiring. She counters that she was on the volleyball team with those hands before telling him to drink it, since getting hit by all those spikes must have been tiring.
Flustered, Sang-hwan tells her that he didn’t get hit by the spikes—instead, he claims he let her hit him. Sang-mi is unmoved, and questions why Sang-hwan is treating her like this. “Is it because I’m new here and alone all the time? Are you pitying me?” she asks flatly.
“We’re friends. Why does there have to be a reason?” Sang-hwan counters. “We’re in the same class, which means we’re friends. Do people in Seoul need a reason for befriending someone?”
Back in the present and with that memory fresh in her mind, Sang-mi tells Sang-hwan to stay out of her sight, and he looks remorseful as she turns her back and leaves.
Still at the police station, Dong-chul wipes his hand over his face as he remembers seeing Sang-jin lying dead. Lee Kang-soo, the detective who interviewed Dong-chul, tries to report his findings to his seemingly corrupt colleague as he claims that there was violence involved, but his colleague interrupts him to say that Sang-jin was mentally troubled and attempted suicide in the past. The colleague confirms that Sang-jin fell on his own accord, and tells Detective Lee to send the kids home.
Besides, the corrupt colleague says, the school called and told them not to make a fuss about the case, adding that if they close the case quietly, “those kids” can still have a bright future. Just then, the father of one of the bullies barges in to complain about how his son is being treated. He claims that Dong-chul assaulted his son, but the corrupt detective placates him with news that his son is being released while Detective Lee rolls his eyes.
Detective Lee leads the group of bullies out of the station with their parents, and the parents complain at the detective about how unfair this situation is for their children. The detective mollifies them, but once they drive off, he grumbles about their awful parenting.
Sang-hwan and gang arrive just in time to see the bullies driving away, and they ask why they all got released while Dong-chul is still stuck in the station. Detective Lee angrily yells at the gang that it’s not their business, but he changes his tone when he learns that Sang-hwan is the governor’s son.
Detective Lee tells them that the bullies charged Dong-chul with assault, so they still have to investigate that, which means that they can’t release Dong-chul until that case is settled.
Back at the funeral, Mom screams in grief and agony as Sang-jin is cremated. Dad cries silently as he helps support Mom, but the grief is too much for Sang-mi, who bolts out of the building, crying. She nearly runs into Disciple Jo, who jokes with another (mute?) disciple that Sang-mi just needs to relieve herself in the wilderness to feel better.
Sang-mi stumbles to a nearby cliff, crying, “Oppa, I’m sorry. I should’ve protected you.” She keeps taking small steps toward the edge as she adds, “Oppa, to be honest, it was so difficult to be with you. So… so sometimes I wished that… I sometimes wished that…”
Overcome, Sang-mi continues to inch forward until she’s about to plummet over… only for an arm to suddenly reach out and pull her back to safety.
It’s Disciple Jo, who pulls her close and wipes away her tears while he tells her menacingly, “You should be more careful. You have a bright future ahead of you.” Sang-mi can only tremble and utter a half-scream as she stares back at him.
In his holding cell, Dong-chul awakens from his slumber and sees a boy curled up in a ball outside the cell, crying to himself. Upon closer inspection, Dong-chul sees that it’s Sang-jin staring back at him pitifully before he’s jarred awake from his nightmare by Detective Lee, who tells him that he’s free to go since the assault charges were dropped.
The flowerbed Sang-jin landed in is replaced with fresh flowers as news reaches the classroom that Dong-chul has been expelled. Sang-hwan gets up to find him, only for Dong-chul to barge into the classroom and grumpily take his normal seat.
The teacher chides Dong-chul for still coming to class and ignoring the principal’s instruction to stay home. Unable to take it any longer, Sang-hwan stands up and confronts the teacher about the injustice of Dong-chul being expelled instead of the bullies.
The teacher tells Sang-hwan that she’s only holding back from yelling at him because his father is the governor, and this finally makes Dong-chul get up and leave. Sang-hwan follows and implores him to fight back, but Dong-chul knows it’s useless.
Dong-chul calmly points out that all anyone thinks about when they look at Sang-hwan is his father, the governor. But for him, he says, all people see is his roughneck, alcoholic father. “From the principal to the police, no one listens to me no matter how hard I try to explain. You know that too. So don’t waste your energy like this,” Dong-chul says.
Dong-chul turns to leave a momentarily stunned Sang-hwan, who calls out, “Seok Dong-chul! No one else can define who you are! I never thought of your father when I looked at you.” Sang-hwan encourages Dong-chul to keep his head held high, and Dong-chul returns the same encouragement to Sang-hwan.
Later that night, Sang-hwan’s crew goes out drinking as they wait for Sang-hwan to finish helping with his father’s campaign. Dong-chul leaves for a cigarette, but sees the group of bullies out in the street enjoying themselves and takes off after them.
Sang-hwan arrives and hears about the situation from Jung-hoon and Man-hee, and the three of them run through the streets to find Dong-chul.
After cornering the leader of the bullies alone, Dong-chul attacks him, quickly gaining the upper hand. “Scum,” Dong-chul says. “Someone died because of you. How can you laugh?” When the bully refuses to repent, Dong-chul beats him into submission after taking a few good hits himself.
Crying, the leader agrees to confess everything to the police, claiming that he’s sorry for Sang-jin’s suicide and the fact that Dong-chul got expelled. Placated, Dong-chul begins to lead the bully to the police station, but gets distracted when he hears Sang-hwan calling out his name.
The bully uses this opportunity to grab a discarded umbrella and stab Dong-chul in the chest with it, grinding it in as Dong-chul screams in pain. Sang-hwan intervenes by smashing a bottle over the bully’s head and attempts to lead a bleeding Dong-chul to safety, but the bully lunges at Dong-chul, and the two tumble down an embankment together.
Dong-chul comes up no worse for wear, but he sees with horror that the bully landed directly on a rock, and now lies unnaturally contorted on top of it.
At the Im home, a wild-eyed Mom urges Sang-mi to open the door, hysterically believing that Sang-jin is outside and can’t get in. Dad tries to shake her into the reality that Sang-jin is no longer here, but she just lashes out at both Dad and Sang-mi that it’s their fault before running to open the door herself, claiming that she can see Sang-jin shivering just outside.
At the hospital, the bully is out of surgery, but though the doctors saved his life, they inform his father that his spine is severely damaged, and he likely won’t walk again.
Yong-min’s campaign manager briefs him on Sang-hwan’s situation: The police are only revealing Dong-chul’s involvement so far, and Yong-min must ensure that Dong-chul takes all of the blame. She tells Yong-min that they can get Dong-chul out after the election, and he reluctantly agrees.
At home, Sang-mi goes through Sang-jin’s drawers and finds the church pamphlet. It reminds her of Sang-jin’s last words (“I don’t think anyone will listen to my prayers”), and she quickly recoils.
Elsewhere, Yong-min meets with Detective Lee and pointedly takes a call from a police chief, telling the chief that he knows an officer who is fit to fill an open team leader position in the force.
With the bribery out of the way, Yong-min tells Detective Lee that his son is too shocked to testify in person, and Detective Lee offers to accept a written statement instead.
They share a meal together, and Yong-min asks if he can consider Detective Lee to be family now that they’ve shared a meal together. Overwhelmed by what this means, Detective Lee responds by offering his complete loyalty to Yong-min.
Back at Guseonwon, Disciple Jo catches Father Baek heading out and tries to strike up a conversation as he wonders if Father Baek is nostalgic for “the old days.” Father Baek lets out a short chuckle and replies, “I was a sinner in the past, but I’m a new man now.”
Father Baek takes his leave, but Disciple Jo interrupts to question why Father Baek is taking care of the Im family. Father Baek responds that it’s because of a revelation from New Heaven’s God, but Disciple Jo laughs it off and tells him to be honest.
Wiggling his pinky at Father Baek, Disciple Jo seems to insinuate that Baek has seduction on his mind when it comes to Sang-mi, but Father Baek just gives him a long-suffering sigh and explains that while he left Guseonwon’s affairs up to Disciple Jo, he is the one in charge of saving souls.
“Sang-mi is the most chaste of maidens who will allow us to board the ship of salvation,” Father Baek adds before reminding Disciple Jo that he should look at the situation through the eyes of the soul, rather than through the eyes of the world. He levels Jo with an intense stare as he says this, then leaves.
At the police station, Detective Lee arrives from his meeting with Yong-min to find Sang-hwan there, asking why the police won’t take his testimony. Detective Lee offers an excuse that the testimony isn’t credible because Sang-hwan knows the perpetrator.
Sang-hwan asks if the police would be doing this if Dong-chul’s parents were more powerful, and Detective Lee warns that the best thing for Dong-chul right now is for Sang-hwan to stay out of it.
Meanwhile, Father Baek calls Disciple Kang Eun-shil and tells her to take extra care of Sang-mi and her family while he is out of town.
The next day, Disciples Kang and Jo visit the Im household, and Disciple Kang leads a prayer for Mom, who’s now bedridden with grief. The disciples claim that New Heaven’s God must have a plan for them and that this ordeal must be preparation for that.
Outside his mother’s hospital, Sang-hwan reveals to his father that he plans to testify at Dong-chul’s trial. Yong-min rebuts that he will get Dong-chul out after the election, so he wants Sang-hwan to refrain from testifying, admitting that he could lose the election if Sang-hwan goes to court. If he wins, his father claims, he can make Sang-hwan’s mother healthy again.
They head into her hospital room to find a cluster of reporters waiting. It’s a carefully constructed campaign publicity stunt so that Yong-min can show how he supports his wife through her poor health, and he takes full advantage of the opportunity for some good press.
At the cattle farm where Dad works, the farmer tells Dad that all of the bullies involved in Sang-jin’s death were released without any punishment. Dad doesn’t believe the farmer at first, but when he hears that the kids all had powerful parents who were able to influence the community, he’s stunned into silence as he registers the truth.
In jail, Jung-hoon and Man-hee visit Dong-chul to assure him that Sang-hwan will be at the trial tomorrow as a witness on his behalf. Meanwhile, Sang-hwan sits alone, contemplating whether or not he should appear.
Dad wanders the streets of Muji in search of the bullies, and finds them exiting a noraebang laughing and enjoying themselves. With a large hammer in hand, he follows them.
At the trial, Dong-chul anxiously awaits Sang-hwan’s arrival, but Sang-hwan is nowhere to be found and won’t pick up his phone.
Elsewhere, Dad falls to the ground, covered in blood. It turns out that the bullies thwarted his attack and retaliated with their own. As they mercilessly kick and beat him, Dad’s eyes roll back into his head as he lies on the ground, which prompts the bullies to stop and flee before they accidentally kill him.
Sang-hwan fails to show up to Dong-chul’s trial, and instead drives past a bloodied and disoriented Dad, who collapses in the street. Sang-hwan turns around to help him.
Sang-mi arrives at the hospital to find her father in awful shape. He apologizes for being an incapable father, but she tells him not to blame himself and fall apart like this, holding back tears of her own.
Sang-hwan catches up to the bus carrying Dong-chul back to prison and stops it by parking his bike in the middle of the road. He runs up to Dong-chul’s window and tries to get his attention, but Dong-chul intentionally ignores him.
Through the window, Sang-hwan provides the same advice he gave Dong-chul when he was expelled from the school, telling Dong-chul to hold his head up high. Only this time, Dong-chul doesn’t respond.
As the poliecemen pull Sang-hwan away from the bus, he blusters tearful apologies to Dong-chul, who continues to look ahead unflinchingly.
Poor Dong-chul. He’s taking the brunt of the injustice in this episode (at least in terms of being actively penalized, while the Im Family might be more aggrieved in the overall sense). We’re seeing all kinds of corruption from the adults in this world, and one of the most consistent themes thus far is the effect of influential parents on the outcomes of their children’s wrongdoings.
The bullies got off without incident despite being a big factor in Sang-jin’s death, while at the same time, they ruined Dong-chul’s life because he fought to protect Sang-jin from them, all because their parents are influential while Dong-chul’s dad is a drunkard. Meanwhile, Sang-hwan is able to reap the benefits of his father’s influence as well by avoiding prosecution, and whether he knows it or not, he’s complicit because he let his father talk him out of helping Dong-chul get out of his charges.
We also saw that Yong-min himself was corrupt by bribing the detective with a promotion and manipulating the press to gain positive momentum for his campaign, all in the name of securing more power for himself. I feel that all of this is very likely to weigh heavily on Sang-hwan’s conscience, and I’m hoping that he’ll make sure to rectify the injustices he’s so far been unable to (or unwilling to) do something about.
While the show is taking its time to setup the full extent of the cult and the damsel who will need to be rescued from it, it’s interesting to get to explore the rest of the show’s world a bit more first. We get to see that there are a lot more evils out there than just this cult and, importantly, that these evils are prevalent enough that they can drive people to the point where a fanatical cult might be able to infiltrate their lives, which is a significant step in establishing the believability of the cult in the first place.
The Im Family are essentially primed at this point to allow Guseonwon into their lives: The grief of dealing with Sang-jin’s suicide drove Dad to attempt to assault the culprits, which he couldn’t even manage to do. Mom is legitimately losing her mind, and Sang-mi was one step away from following Sang-jin to the grave before Disciple Jo stepped in.
I’ll be interested to see how much Sang-mi will resist the pull toward Guseonwon, though. She knows from her initial encounter with Father Baek that something is not right, and Disciple Jo also seems to view her as an object of sexual interest more than anything else.
As for Father Baek, I found him to be more predatory in the first two episodes than outright creepy, but the way he talked about Sang-mi in this episode elevated him to maximum creep factor for me. Actually referring to her chastity and how she’ll lead the congregation to salvation is enough to make you wonder what exactly he has in store for Sang-mi, and whatever it is, it can’t be good.
Still, everything seems set up now for the full indoctrination to commence, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the cult is able to engulf all three of them with little effort in the very near future. The question then becomes: How far are Sang-hwan and gang willing to go to right the injustices of the world and help save a family on the brink?
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