Vagabond: Episode 5
Vagabond is absolutely ridiculous, and I’m down for every insane moment of it. The show manages to strike this perfect balance of over-the-top action and heart-wrenching drama, and does it in such a way that even as I watch the hero escape certain death for the umpteenth time, I’m still gripped and fully along for the ride. This drama requires that its viewers suspend their disbelief quite a bit, but if you can accept the craziness, it’s an exciting ride.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
After Lily hacks Kwang-deok’s car and nearly kills him and Dal-geon, Dal-geon has the car towed to the hospital where Jessica is attending a charity event. Kwang-deok tells the reporters on the scene about what happened, while Dal-geon and Jessica speak privately.
Jessica asks how much Dynamic Systems is paying Dal-geon, saying that money is power and power crafts the truth. She warns him to stay out of this, but Dal-geon just asks incredulously if she killed all those innocent people just for money and power.
He names Michael and Reporter Jo as two of her victims, but Jessica laughs and says that Dal-geon needs professional help. Dal-geon says calmly that you have to be smart to have a conscience, and that Jessica messed with the wrong guy. She says she pities Dal-geon, and he growls, “Bring my Hoon back to life.”
He leaves and Jessica asks Lawyer Hong what happened to Reporter Jo, angry that Lawyer Hong acted without telling her, but he assures her that everything was taken care of. Jessica insists on leaving through the front doors, snapping that avoiding the lawyers looks suspicious.
Dal-geon is out there telling the reporters that John & Mark is responsible for Flight B357’s crash, and that the NIS has proof. Jessica calls out that they should check with the NIS because none of the accusations have been deemed true. She makes herself look good by asking the reporters not to be cruel when they report about Dal-geon’s error, making him appear unstable from grief.
The NIS is inundated with calls from reporters, which gets Hae-ri in trouble with Chief Min for not keeping Dal-geon quiet. She argues that Dal-geon is telling the truth, and that they should re-open the investigation now that it’s out. Chief Min gets a call from the director to deal with the reporters, and he angrily orders Hae-ri to resign.
In his office, Chief Kang flips through photos of Michael’s body at the scene of his “suicide” and notices something strange. The gun was found in Michael’s right hand, but Chief Kang was friends with Michael and knows that he was left-handed.
Hae-ri tells Chief Kang that she believes Michael’s death is related to the plane crash. He shoos her away, saying that this isn’t a case she can solve. Hae-ri yells that he’s being a coward, which isn’t like him, and Hwa-sook has to drag her out of his office.
When they’re gone, Chief Kang looks at the crime scene photos again, then makes a call from a burner phone. He tells the person on the other end of the line, “Michael was murdered. A left-handed person wouldn’t use his right hand when committing suicide. Look into Michael’s schedule in Portugal.”
Kwang-deok tells Dal-geon that a few representatives for the bereaved families of Flight B357 have been invited to the Blue House to meet the president. He says he’s going, but if he’d known then what he knows now, he’d have nominated Dal-geon.
Dal-geon is frustrated that there are no new articles after he talked to the reporters, but Hae-ri is avoiding his calls, scared to tell him that the NIS has dropped the case. She does take a call from her younger brother, who says that their mother needs money… again. Hae-ri snaps that she’s broke, hangs up, and flops forward on her desk in frustration.
In an attempt to get the video file of Hoon back, Hwa-sook takes Se-hoon from Security out and gets him drunk. When he steps into the men’s room, Hwa-sook swipes his ID and hands it off to Hae-ri, who then sneaks back into the NIS building.
She gets caught by Chief Min, who wants to know what she’s doing there so late. She says she came to write her resignation letter and he grumbles that he doesn’t really want her to quit. He tells her that she doesn’t have to work so hard, she only needs to mind her own business and get paid to do nothing and she won’t get hurt.
Hae-ri eventually makes her way to the evidence room and uses Se-hoon’s ID to get in. She finds the right USB, but when she tries to pull up the video, she just gets a flood of error messages. She calls Tae-woong, who’s actually watching her on the CCTV feed, and he agrees to meet with her. When they hang up, Tae-woong deletes the footage of Hae-ri in the evidence room.
He waits for her at a library, and she demands to know how the USB became infected with a virus. Tae-woong only says that they have to follow Director General Ahn’s orders, and that he doesn’t believe she’s capable of exposing this herself. Hae-ri tells him to just watch and storms off, and Tae-woong retrieves the hidden camera he set up to record their conversation.
He picks up Se-hoon, who was only pretending to be drunk and let Hwa-sook take his ID. Tae-woong gives him a chip to deliver to Assemblyman Lee Sang-bok. Assemblyman Lee is out of town for a few days, so Se-hoon asks what happens if Hae-ri leaks this to the media first. Tae-woong says she doesn’t have the guts, but that if she does, they’ll just deny it.
Hae-ri is smarter than Tae-woong gives her credit for — she also recorded the audio of her conversation with Tae-woong on her phone. She finally answers a call from Dal-geon and agrees to see him, and she confesses that the USB with the only copy of Hoon’s video was destroyed by a virus.
Dal-geon doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence, especially after his own life was threatened, and tells Hae-ri that there’s a John & Mark mole working for the NIS. Hae-ri agrees, but she’s feeling beat down and with no power to do anything. Dal-geon asks who’s investigating Oh Sang-mi, the co-pilot’s wife, and Hae-ri mutters that there’s no investigation at all.
Dal-geon blows up, furious and feeling like Hae-ri lied when she told him to trust her. She yells back that she’s done what she can but her bosses are covering it up. Dal-geon accuses her of quitting because she can’t get a promotion with this case, and he asks if she has no sense of duty.
She says that her father lost his life saving eight people in the military, which made him a hero but was hard on the rest of her family. She says she doesn’t care about duty — as the family breadwinner, can’t afford to lose her job.
Later, at home, he finds some of Hoon’s clothes in a pile of laundry and presses them to his face as he cries. Hae-ri sits in her living room, contemplating whether she should just delete the recording of Tae-woong. She doesn’t, but she sees a photo of her father on a shelf, and she can’t look him in the eye.
In the morning, Hae-ri wakes up as the news reports that the victims’ family members are meeting with the president today. She calls Dal-geon and says she’s on her way to his place, but when his doorbell rings, Dal-geon doesn’t recognize the woman who says she’s his new neighbor.
It’s Lily, and as soon as Dal-geon opens the door, she sprays something in his face. He grabs her by the throat and asks if John & Mark sent her, but he falls unconscious. Lily calls her minions, who show up with an ambulance and carry Dal-geon out just as Hae-ri arrives.
Hae-ri lets herself in through the still-open front door, and when Dal-geon isn’t there, she realizes that he must have been the body on the stretcher. The ambulance is already leaving the parking lot, so Hae-ri calls the police and reports a kidnapping.
In the ambulance, Lily’s minion prepares a syringe with potassium chloride, but just as he’s about to inject Dal-geon with it, the ambulance driver slams on the brakes. Dal-geon rouses and quickly assesses the situation, then pretends to still be knocked out.
Hae-ri has caught up to the ambulance in her car and pulled out front, deliberately blocking it from moving too fast. The ambulance driver swerves into oncoming traffic to pass her and runs a red light, so Hae-ri takes a detour.
Dal-geon flies into action when Lily’s minion tries to inject him again. Lily wraps a stethoscope around Dal-geon’s neck, but he whips her over his head and unties his restraints. The driver grabs Dal-geon’s jacket, but Dal-geon pulls it off, picks up the syringe, and jams it into the driver’s neck.
As the driver dies, he swerves and the ambulance flips, landing on its side. Lily and her minion crawl out of the ambulance, and the minion picks up an oxygen tank, planning to smash Dal-geon’s head in. Lily slaps him and reminds him that it can’t look like a murder, and they leave with another minion in a car, taking the empty syringe from the scene.
Dal-geon finally hauls himself from the ambulance as a police car arrives at the scene. Hae-ri pulls up and asks if he’s okay, and he shakes off the police and goes with her. She plays him the recording of her conversation with Tae-woong, and tells him to go to the Blue House with the other families and tell the president what he just heard.
He says she could be fired, but Hae-ri says firmly, “I’m the daughter of Colonel Go Gang-cheol, Chief of the First Division, and a marine hero.” But when they arrive at the Blue House, Dal-geon is denied entry since he’s not on the guest list. On to Plan B — Dal-geon gets on a Blue House tour bus by picking up a frazzled mother’s stray toddler and using his pass.
President Jung is as sympathetic about the plane crash as he was when it first happened… which is to say, not at all. He’s more interested in whether his tie matches his shirt than preparing to meet the victims’ families. He hugs each family member just long enough for the press to get photos, completely impervious to their tears.
Meanwhile Dal-geon finds a restroom, and by the time it’s noticed that he’s missing, he’s slipped out the window and is making his way to the building where the press conference is being held. The security office spots him on CCTV, but he hauls himself up the side of the building and slips inside.
He’s surrounded on the staircase by security agents, who arrest him and put him in handcuffs, but Prime Minister Hong hears the commotion and tells them to let Dal-geon inside. The captain tries to refuse, but Prime Minister Hong yells that this is why the people accuse them of being authoritative, so Dal-geon is released and led in to see the president.
President Jung is told that another bereaved family member is waiting to meet him, so he stops in the middle of a formal apology speech to invite him in. Dal-geon blurts out that the co-pilot of the plane worked with terrorists to crash the plane, so President Jung warns him that he’ll he held responsible for making false statements in front of reporters.
Dal-geon insists that it’s true and continues that a video file showing the terrorist’s face was ruined while in NIS custody. Director General Ahn is there, and President Jung asks him if this is true. Before Director General Ahn can stammer an excuse, Dal-geon pulls out Hae-ri’s phone and plays the conversation between Hae-ri and Tae-woong.
The entire room listens to Tae-woong confirm that the video file was corrupted, and that Director General Ahn ordered the case dropped. The family members start wailing and reporters clamor to get pictures, but Dal-geon ignores everything to approach Oh Sang-mi and ask her where her husband is right now. Pandemonium erupts as Oh Sang-mi collapses dramatically.
At the NIS building, Se-hoon tells Tae-woong that Hae-ri “loaded her gun and pulled the trigger,” seeming oddly thrilled at the recent developments. Meanwhile Jessica watches the press conference on the news, and she screams at Lawyer Hong to call Shadow.
Chief Park also watches the news, but he’s pleased with what’s happening, and his assistant, Micki, says he did well choosing Dal-geon. He simply says that lobbying isn’t about weapons, it’s about people.
As for co-pilot Kim Woo-gi, he is alive just as Dal-geon suspects. He’s holed up in a filthy room somewhere, following the news and strung out on drugs.
Hae-ri runs into Tae-woong at work and brandishes her resignation letter at him, saying that she doesn’t regret what she did. Tae-woong wants to talk to her, but Chief Min gets to her first and says that resigning won’t get her off the hook for leaking confidential information. He tears up the letter and tells her to pretend she never met Dal-geon or gave him the recording.
She says she doesn’t mind lying low for herself, but then Dal-geon will take all the blame. Chief Min whines that if she tells the truth he’ll lose his job, and Hae-ri looks unsure of what to do.
Dal-geon is still at the Blue House, and President Jung speaks to him without all the press around. Dal-geon tells him and Prime Minister Hong that the co-pilot worked for John & Mark until a year ago, and that they’ve been trying to kill him since Morocco. President Jung interrupts to say that he’s impressed by Dal-geon’s courage and asks Dal-geon to wait while he determines the truth.
Dal-geon asks him not to fire the NIS agents on the recording he played, and Prime Minister Hong agrees, since the whole country is watching the NIS right now. President Jung gives his word, then Dal-geon is introduced to presidential secretary YOON HAN-GI (Kim Min-jong, finally!), who’s taking him to a safehouse where the NIS will guard him.
President Jung meets privately with Director General Ahn, and tells him to resign his position. He asks Prime Minister Hong what they should do next, and Prime Minister Hong thinks it’s better to let Director General Ahn deal with it rather than get the police or prosecutors involved. President Jung allows it and orders Director General Ahn not to fire Tae-woong and Hae-ri.
After Director General Ahn leaves, President Jung sighs that John & Mark will go to waste. Prime Minister Hong says that just because Director General Ahn is handling the problem doesn’t mean they can’t reveal the truth however they want, which gives President Jung something to think about.
Chief Min and Hae-ri are raked across the coals by the NIS higher-ups, including Tae-woong. Chief Min says that Hae-ri never even met Dal-geon and didn’t release the recording. Tae-woong speaks up and says that he recorded their conversation and gave it to Dal-geon, but Hae-ri blurts out that it was her.
Chief Kang says that they’re focusing on the wrong things when two hundred people just died. Sick of it all, he says that they all know the video file was corrupted on purpose, but they’re pretending otherwise.
Chief Min asks Tae-woong if there was any sign of hacking from outside the NIS. He says there wasn’t, which proves that someone on the inside ruined the video, and even the CCTV recordings for that day were intentionally deleted. Chief Kang asks if Chief Min did it, and Chief Min counterattacks, saying that Chief Kang probably did it to get him in trouble.
They’re about to come to blows, but Director General Ahn calls them all to the auditorium. While they wait, Hae-ri sneaks looks at Tae-woong, and simpers when he looks back at her (she’s still got that crush, I see). Director General Ahn announces that President Jung has given them one last chance, and that they’re to do their best on the B357 case from here on out.
After the meeting, Hwa-sook and Hae-ri run into Tae-woong, and Hae-ri drops the files she was carrying. He helps her pick them up and she apologizes that he got the blame for leaking the audio file, but Tae-woong just says, “Well done,” and pats her shoulder.
Hae-ri is left nearly crying at having been praised by Tae-woong. Hwa-sook tells her that Se-hoon said Hae-ri wasn’t the only one with a copy of Hoon’s video, and she whispers something in Hae-ri’s ear that makes Hae-ri smile after Tae-woong again.
Jessica paces nervously, waiting for Shadow, and Lawyer Hong calls Lily and tells her that they’re calling in another team to take care of Dal-geon. She’s not happy, and she asks Lawyer Hong if they’ve stopped trusting her. Lawyer Hong tells her that Dal-geon is being moved to a safehouse, and that taking him out while he’s in protective custody is a lot more difficult.
She asks who stole her client, as we see Shadow arriving to meet with Jessica. Lawyer Hong says that Shadow is extremely deadly, and when Jessica sees his face, her smile drops as she recognizes him.
On the way to the safehouse, Secretary Yoon offers Dal-geon a piece of gum, watching him with an odd expression. We hear a voice say, “Go get the empty plates — with Dal-geon’s head on them.”
ACK!!! Who’s Shadow? And who’s the NIS mole? Can Secretary Yoon be trusted?? Right now I can think of reasons to suspect literally everyone except Dal-geon and Hae-ri, and I’m terrified for what they’re about to face. When even Jessica looks shocked to learn the identity of the mysterious assassin, you know things are about to get very, very bad.
I’m right there with @Regals when he says that he can’t bring himself to trust Tae-woong. It’s true that Shin Sung-rok is just too good at playing the villain (plus his features just look sinister), which makes it difficult to tell what he’s up to when he’s being so secretive. I believe that Tae-woong has a strong sense of righteousness and justice, and he seemed genuinely horrified with Director General Ahn ordered him and Chief Min to drop the Flight B357 investigation. But he also has good reason to resent the NIS (his former partner’s unfair death), and I think he’s got a personal agenda.
At this point it’s hard to determine what side Tae-woong is on because his actions are so vague and inconsistent. He appeared to be helping Hae-ri by having Se-hoon pretend to let her steal his ID then hiding the fact that she was in the evidence room, but then he secretly recorded their conversation in the library. He gave Se-hoon that chip, but what was on it? His conversation with Hae-ri? Another copy of Hoon’s video? Who is Assemblyman Lee and why was Tae-woong sending him the chip anyway? Was Tae-woong planning to leak the information in case Hae-ri chickened out, which is a good thing, or was he covering his ass for some nefarious reason? My head is just swimming and I’m impressed with the way the show keeps us guessing without being too confusing. Very slickly done, Show.
I mean, let’s be honest — this drama is batcrap crazy. I would say that Vagabond has jumped the shark, except that I think we passed “jumped the shark” in the very first episode. There are so many times when Dal-geon should have died — jumping from a three-story building to land on a car then flying through a windshield in Morocco, escaping several assassination attempts, fighting off something like thirty presidential security agents, experiencing two flipped vehicles in as many days — and yet he continues to walk away from these situations with barely a scratch. And then there are weird moments like how there were so many cars on the road when the ambulance was weaving through traffic, yet after it flips, suddenly the road is completely clear. Not one single person stopped to see if a flipped ambulance needed assistance?!
This show is asking the audience to believe the most ridiculous scenarios, yet it’s so much fun to watch (and I’m so invested in Dal-geon and his driving need to avenge Hoon’s death) that I don’t even care. It’s completely bananapants, but it’s also very well produced, so at this point I’m watching Vagabond like I would watch a well-made fantasy – the characters will do things that make no sense and survive the most deadly enemies who ever existed, but I’m giving up logic and just enjoying it for what it is. A lot of my willingness to suspend disbelief is because the characters themselves are so committed… this is their world, and to them it’s real and true, and they’re asking me to believe in that truth for two hours a week. As long as the show continues to deliver this same level of excitement and emotional intensity, I’m willing to do that for Dal-geon and Hae-ri.
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