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14

Player: Episode 3

Even with criminals practically being delivered to the feet of the prosecutors, all kinds of systemic corruption are blocking effective punishment. The only course of action that might yield real results may be the unthinkable: teaming up with our group of con artists to do what the law refuses to do.

 
EPISODE 3: “Let’s get ready to rumble”

In the prosecutor’s office, an irate Prosecutor Jang blasts his superior for covering up evidence from Chairman Ji’s case, and promises to root out and expose the corrupt prosecutors for their misdeeds.

Afterwards, Prosecutor Jang drives to an abandoned warehouse, where he finds four people tied up with bags over their heads waiting for him. Unfortunately for him, though, it’s not Ha-ri and his team tied up, but Prosecutor Jang’s own team instead.

Once Prosecutor Jang frees them, they explain how Ha-ri’s gang escaped. Ah-ryung swiped the key for their handcuffs and allowed them to quickly dispatch their own bindings. As Prosecutor Jang’s number two, Chief Maeng, was distracted, the gang easily overtook the prosecutors and confined them instead.

A frustrated Prosecutor Jang sends his men back out to gather more information, as nothing seems to be going his way.

The next day, Prosecutor Jang instructs Chief Maeng to follow Byung-min to see if he’ll lead the prosecutors to the rest of the team. Unbeknownst to Prosecutor Jang though, Ha-ri is sitting in the office after infiltrating under the guise of a deliveryman.

When Prosecutor Jang aggressively starts to threaten Ha-ri, the conman confidently rattles off the list of illegal ways Prosecutor Jang intended to corner Ha-ri and company, and flips the pressure onto Prosecutor Jang.

Ha-ri offers to do the dirty work for the prosecutors, like he did when he handed over the USB on Chairman Ji and his son. There’s one catch, though: Ha-ri’s team gets to keep all the cash they come across in the process.

Prosecutor Jang balks at the notion that the prosecution should look the other way when Ha-ri is committing a crime too, but Ha-ri argues that his own crimes are relatively small in comparison to the people he wants to go after.

Still Prosecutor Jang holds firm, and tells Ha-ri that he intends to play it by the book. Ha-ri tries one last time to persuade Prosecutor Jang, and points out that unlike the prosecutors, the elite criminals don’t follow ethics, so they’ll keep running people over as long as they can get away with it.

“Aren’t laws supposed to punish the guilty and protect the innocent? Then why is it that the guilty are always the ones winning?” Ha-ri leaves that question up in the air and implores Prosecutor Jang to reconsider. Ha-ri leaves his business card for when such a time might come.

Meanwhile, news breaks that several high-profile elites were recently released with minimal punishment for their crimes, much to the disgust of Prosecutor Jang.

The next day, Byung-min tries unsuccessfully to pitch new targets to Ha-ri, who instead focuses on another news report, this time on a case of suspected bribery by a wealthy chaebol known as President Na, which the prosecution recently dismissed.

The aforementioned President Na turns out to be a real prick, degrading his subordinates and acting like a real piece of work as soon as he is released.

Back at the prosecutor’s office, Prosecutor Jang lays into his superior again, this time for the President Na case, with the higher-ups ignoring key evidence to sweep the case under the rug.

In turn, the superior calls Prosecutor Jang out as being the lackey of a disgraced former prosecutor, Director Choi, and Prosecutor Jang loses his temper again, only stopping himself from striking the superior when another director turns up on the scene and pulls Prosecutor Jang away.

In private, the director seems sympathetic with Prosecutor Jang’s cause, but he cautions that Prosecutor Jang needs concrete evidence to take down the elites. Teary-eyed, Prosecutor Jang promises to find such evidence by any means necessary.

Prosecutor Jang storms out of the office and immediately calls Ha-ri to take up the offer he gave earlier. Prosecutor Jang even agrees to let the team take all the money they want in exchange.

Elsewhere, Jin-woong visits his brother, who participates in a protest to stop the redevelopment of an area of the city. Jin-woong’s brother thoughtfully notes that while he could afford to let the redevelopment occur, by doing so he’d be abandoning all the other tenants who are less fortunate.

Meanwhile Ah-ryung finds some loan sharks waiting outside her place who pressure her into giving them funds for their business.

Though Ah-ryung looks like she can handle the gangsters on her own, Ha-ri turns up to escort her back to their headquarters, and quickly runs the punks off by pulling out a fake gun.

With the team all gathered back at the office, Ha-ri cryptically notes that someone else will be coming to brief them, and the team jokes that a prosecutor might show up if they start randomly inviting outsiders in.

Much to their surprise and horror, that’s just what happens, as Prosecutor Jang and Chief Maeng turn up to do the briefing. When Prosecutor Jang wonders about the frosty reaction, Ha-ri quips that he thought it would be more dramatic if he left his team in the dark about the prosecutors coming. Ha.

After some brief objections from the team, Prosecutor Jang gets down to business and hands over a list of all the elites he wants the team to target. He emphasizes that the goal is to ensure the elites meet the same standards of justice as ordinary citizens.

Their first target is President Na, and Prosecutor Jang reiterates that the team can keep all of the money they come across. When asked why the team should trust Prosecutor Jang, he pulls out his phone, which recorded their entire conversation, and hands it over to Ha-ri for safekeeping.

Outside, Chief Maeng wonders if the prosecutors should do their own investigation, but Prosecutor Jang wants to see if the con artists can do it on their own.

The pitch works to convince the team to help out. Byung-min acts as though he’s on the fence in order to fish out compliments from the other members regarding his usefulness, but they all just playfully ignore him until he finally joins them.

Elsewhere, President Na attends an underground fighting ring where he and several other elites make bets on the illegal fighting matches.

President Na is on a losing streak, and when his fighter loses again, he takes out his frustration on the fight’s broker by viciously attacking him.

Meanwhile, the team digs into President Na’s past, and they soon discover that he owns the illegal fighting ring. Ha-ri decides they should infiltrate it with their own fighter, and who could be better than Jin-woong for that task?

President Na, as it turns out, seems to be on the outs with his father-in-law, who is trying to push his son-in-law out of the company. Furthermore, major projects that the company is trying to secure are being declined due to his previous transgressions.

And since Prosecutor Jang keeps digging around President Na, it is becoming increasingly harder for him to bribe people to push his projects through as he normally does.

Furious, President Na openly rants about how unfairly he is being treated. After all, he thinks, he is way more important than all the inferior people around him, and he doesn’t deserve to live like them.

Elsewhere, Ha-ri introduces himself to a female agent, whom he quickly charms by using information that Byung-min pulled from her social media profile.

Ha-ri smoothly transitions into business chat with the agent, and it turns out that she manages martial artists. By amazing coincidence, Ha-ri tells her that he is in the same field, and the business card Byung-min whipped up for him earlier confirms it.

Ha-ri and the agent head to a party together and, not long after they arrive, President Na saunters over to speak with the agent.

Ha-ri introduces himself, under an alias, to President Na, and claims to be a hoobae from school. Not buying it, President Na calls over another alumnus to confirm the story, and shockingly the man recognizes Ha-ri as a former law student.

Apparently Ha-ri even famously passed the bar exam in his freshman year. This story seems to pique President Na’s curiosity, and across the room, the alumnus informs his other classmates that he just met Ha-ri, who he refers to as Choi Shi-hyuk, almost in disbelief at the encounter.

President Na pesters the agent for a new fighter, but she suggest he ask Ha-ri, who also happens to be an agent.

On a rooftop, Jin-woong and Ha-ri wait alongside another fighter for President Na to arrive and decide which fighter to recruit. To make his decision, President Na tosses a brick of cash between the two fighters and tells them to fight over it.

Jin-woong is apprehensive at first, but the other fighter comes out swinging, so there’s no choice. Jin-woong expertly evades the other fighter’s attacks and eventually retaliates with a single punch of his own, which connects squarely and ends the fight in one shot.

Afterward, President Na takes it upon himself to kick the now-grounded fighter while he is down, and Ha-ri has to hold Jin-woong back from intervening.

Satisfied with Jin-woong as his fighter, President Na leaves, and Jin-woong hands the brick of cash over to the bloodied fighter with an apology for putting him through President Na’s brutality.

Outside, President Na’s secretary informs him that their deal is settled with the apartment authorities, and also offers a backup plan in case Jin-woong loses his fight, though we don’t hear the details.

At the apartment complex where Jin-woong’s brother is protesting, a group of masked thugs show up and start beating protesters with bats. Since the group is mostly older women, they’re quickly overtaken, and Jin-woong’s brother suffers a brutal head wound at the hands of the thugs.

At the underground fighting club, Ha-ri helps Jin-woong prepare for the match, and Byung-min seems to be preparing for some other operation while the rest of the team is inside the club.

Ha-ri brings Ah-ryung to the betting area, and they place a duffel bag full of cash on a fighter, though we never see if they chose Jin-woong or his opponent. Ah-ryung and Ha-ri carefully track the cash through the club to see where it gets taken.

Meanwhile Jin-woong psyches himself up, reminiscing about his brother’s genuine concern over his well-being. When he gets up to head to the ring, he doesn’t see his phone going off behind him as his niece tries to get a hold of him.

As the fight is about to begin, President Na’s secretary confirms that their secret plan is ready, and President Na says to just watch carefully to see what happens in the match.

Jin-woong enters the ring with determination in his eyes. At the same time, Ha-ri and Ah-ryung make their way through the back hallways, and Ha-ri announces that it’s time for them have their own fun.

 
COMMENTS

One thing this show is doing an excellent job of is portraying the villains to be the absolute most contemptible scumbags on the planet. It’s pretty easy to root against both Ji Seong-gu and now President Na just based on their crimes alone, but couple it with some really abhorrent personalities and you almost feel like scamming them out of all their money isn’t enough of a punishment for them. Lock them alone in a room with Jin-woong for an hour and see what happens.

I guess that’s where Prosecutor Jang comes in, to make sure that there are greater consequences for them beyond financial ones, but I would like it if we got to see those extra consequences first-hand, instead of just rushing off to the next case with almost no mention of them again. There’s not really a sufficient amount of closure for these cases to make up for the intense feeling of dislike that each villain manages to foster for being an absolutely terrible person.

It’s especially bad when there is a more personal connection to the case, as we have now with Jin-woong’s brother being taken out for protesting (though I suppose we technically don’t know for certain that President Na is the one who ordered the attack, although it’s strongly hinted).

Jin-woong’s brother seems like the quintessential ideal that Prosecutor Jang wants to protect. An innocent man who puts himself on the line not for his own benefit, but because others would suffer if he took the easy way out. That’s the kind of moral character that should be rewarded in society but instead he received a bludgeoning.

It does seem that the main drive of both Prosecutor Jang and Ha-ri’s team is focused on this same principle, and that the main purpose of their alignment is to actually make that ideal possible. It’s interesting, though, that we got a snippet of back-story from Ha-ri’s past in law school. I wonder if Choi Shi-hyuk, the name Ha-ri went by back then, is related to Prosecutor Jang’s mentor Director Choi. Could that be an actual relation to Ha-ri himself and perhaps both men are being driven by a sense of justice which ultimately seems to have forsaken Director Choi?

It’s something to keep an eye on in the future as more details about both Ha-ri and Prosecutor Jang’s past emerge, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the two men are linked a lot more closely than just being means for each other to achieve their own goals. For now, their partnership seems like a win-win, and though Prosecutor Jang probably hates that he has to go this far to get justice, sometimes the best ally is the person you least expect it to be.

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Love the plot thickening - eps3 and 4 were much better imo.

And is the Hand Towel gang disbanded? 3 recaps and no Hand Towel references in the comments.

At least the head tilting is kept to a minimum in Player so far. :D

And major LOL at the lighter gun. 😂😂😂

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Song Seung-heon performance in BLACK was so good that I suspect his old moniker has been hung up to dry. ;-)

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I think he found what he's good at. If he was playing a melodramatic romantic lead, I suspect Hand Towel would reappear.

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@blnmom,

I think you're right, and I'm glad SSH has found his niche. I thought he did well in SAIMDANG, LIGHT'S DIARY in the Joseon timeline, so I would like to see him take another whack at a sageuk.

My first Kdrama was DR. JIN, but since I didn't know beans about beans back then, it didn't turn me off of Kdramas or sageuks. I still have a warm spot in my heart for my introductory Kdrama, I just cannot bear watching it again. I've been scarred for life by the gummi brain fetus and my first encounter with the Truck Of Doom. Hmmm. Now that I've seen every trope under the sun, however, it might be a bit of masochistic fun to revisit it. ;-)

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Hahaha! Seriously, OCN is saving his career. Why does he choose the most horrific scripts for himself?

He is good in Player as well. Seems as cheeky as his real self.

I am currently watching When a Man Loves (because I have run out of SSH shows to watch) and noticing the head tilts.

He is too old to waste his remaining years of handsomeness on bad scripts. :P

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@bykaraanne BKA,

Methinks SSH's crystal ball has been getting better reception of late when selecting scripts. Or maybe the celestial bodies are now in optimal alignment for him to land roles in genres that play to his strengths. Whatever the case, I agree that he should make hay while the sun shines. I was truly impressed and happy with his performance in BLACK, and I'm enjoying his turn in PLAYER, too. Hwaiting, Song Seung-heon!

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Thank you for the recap! I love this kind of story but the actual drama is a bit to violent for me to watch. I'll watch it now and skip the beating parts you mentioned.

I hope Jinwoong's brother is OK. And I'm curious to see Hari's full backstory, see what makes him tick. It's obviously not just the money.

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I hate violence, especially the violence of chaebols abusing the "inferior". I think I'll just read the recaps for this drama because my weekend time is just too full (I love the characters so much though *sob*). I would really like to see the story of Jin-woong's relationship with his brother, as well as Ha-jin's short lived law career. It's obvious that the law treated him unfairly at one point (thus his outburst at Prosecutor Jang accusing him), and maybe that's why he gave justice up and decided to be a con-man just for the irony .

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Thank you for your recap, Regals. I'm with you when it comes to the odiousness of the high-level crooks and the heinousness of their crimes in this show -- and this is only the second week. I, too, hope we get more closure, and see more than just the baddies' walk of shame surrounded by a phalanx of reporters as they're being arraigned at the precinct. 20 years to life would be good for starters.

President Na is such a sadistic piece of work that he seems to be a steroid abuser. He also seems to fancy himself a pugilist -- but of the armchair wannabe variety. Why am I reminded of the fall of Rome, but with corrupt caesars and their cronies presiding over gladiatorial circuses while raking in the bread instead of buying votes?

I'm not surprised by the revelation that Ha-ri was a hot-shot law student who even passed the bar exam at a tender age. All good white-hat bands of Hong Gil-dong-esque crooks preying on corrupt chaebols and their crooked collaborators in the court system have former legal and law-enforcement specialists on the team nowadays. His hinted relationship to Prosecutor Jang's superior Choi is provocative. I wonder if Ha-ri's own career was blighted because of Choi's actions. It would be refreshing if Choi had been compelled into such a role because Ha-ri was used as leverage by even higher superiors.

We still haven't seen Jin-woong's back story as a boxer. Dollars to doughnuts he was too honest for his own good and was framed and banned from the sport. Or maybe he was blacklisted and never got a fair shake.

I'm glad to see Kim Won-hae as Prosecutor Jang. He was great in CHIEF KIM in cahoots with Namgoon Min. I tried watching CRIMINAL MINDS, but had to drop it because his serial killer was too distressing. I'm much happier seeing him play a good guy.

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This show is so much fluffy fun. I enjoy the cast chemistry. I really like that Krystal's character is not a damsel in distress or the sexy one. Drive girl, drive.

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I start to like the team assembled by Ha-ri and hopefully in the upcoming episodes we will get more insides on the Hacker-with-pants-fetish dude, the Driver who pickpocket, the WWF sweet guy and Ha-ri himself.

I love how they play around with these crooks before putting them into the position where they belonged and even giving the victims themselves the opportunity to do the revenge indirectly.

I have seen enough blood, death and everything gore in Mr Sunshine so a little bit of violence here is too small for a reason not watching this action drama with a little bit comedy from the Player themselves.

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Thanks @regals. I teetering between skip watching and reading recaps or just reading recaps. In the end, I found that I do have time while waiting for the Wed shows to watch this one, although it is/was not high on my 'currently watching' list.

I believe this show is picking up... not pace because it has so much of that, but more character moments. The second the good characters are more like likable 'people', I get more invested. The one-note villains though ... yes, it makes them easy to hate and also for us to glory in their finally being taken down, as far (or as low) as possible. I don't think show has time to develop any other characters except our 4-5 good guys, nor perhaps should it, because the premise of the show requires that we get the best sense that justice has been served, by crooks taking down the worst criminals.

I'm glad to see that Ha Ri's team has started coming together nicely and am relieved that I don't dislike Krystal here as I did elsewhere. It's the kind of role most suitable for her. As the sole female, I'm pleased to see her holding her own in the intelligence and action caper.

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I do hope Jin-woong's brother recovers from what appears to be a serious injury.

President Na ---- bad things can't happen to him fast enough.

While I don't doubt that Ah-ryung can get herself out of tough situations, I'm a little bit concerned about those questionable loan sharks paying her a visit again.

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Meant to post yesterday, but the DF news just floored me.

I didn't much care for the villain here, as he seemed like a caricature for every other rich person that does wrong with their money. Really hope they can do better with the next one.

I really like Prosecutor Jang, so I'm really looking forward to what's going to happen next!

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