Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 7
Most of the time when music is used to tell you how to react to a scene, I find it annoying and a mark of poor writing, or poor music direction, or both. Because while music enhances a scene, the moment shouldn’t NEED a song to tell me when to smile or to feel pathos for a character, and when something relies on its music to do the emotional storytelling, it’s not doing its job well.
On the other hand, in cases like Chil Woo, I find that half the time the musical cues are necessary, otherwise I’d be cracking up when I’m supposed to be feeling sad. Well, more than I already do, anyway. So, there is that.
SONG OF THE DAY
Outsider – “우리형” (Our brother) [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
I wonder if Chil Woo is making an attempt to grab newer viewers because we’ve got an extended “Previously on…” introduction sequence, as well as some unnecessarily long flashback montages later on. Since Gourmet is going strong, perhaps they’re trying to pick up defectors from When Night Comes?
Chil Woo returns from his elephant adventure and beelines for So Yoon’s, crossing paths with the mysterious Orroz on his way. (Orroz had been poised to enter — intrude? attack? romantically serenade? — So Yoon’s quarters, but at the sound of Chil Woo’s approach, he withdraws.) Chil Woo and Orroz make brief contact as they pass each other, and Chil Woo picks up Orroz’s fallen sword. There a moment of tension as he holds the sword up as though to strike, but then Chil Woo merely flips it around and offers it back to Orroz. Neither assassin recognizes the other (is Chil Woo blind? Evil Black Hatted Lurker practically screams “assassin”!), and they continue in silence.
So Yoon, meanwhile, has seen Orroz’s shadow and trembles as she holds her musket, ready to fire. But she relaxes when she hears Chil Woo’s voice calling out in greeting.
Chil Woo asks about the mysterious stranger, noting his unusual sword and wondering if he’d approached So Yoon. She nervously answers that she doesn’t know the guy — he must’ve been coming down the mountain road. Chil Woo tries to convince her to move out of her remote home to a safer location — or better yet, with his own family. But just as he mentions his house, he stops himself, embarrassed.
Min exhibits a curious lack of shock when an arrow comes sailing into his home, bearing a note wrapped around the shaft. What, is this how he gets all his mail? It’s a message from a former colleague instructing him to meet him in a remote warehouse.
On his way through the forest to the meeting locale, Min passes by black-hatted Orroz. Come on guys, when is our A-Team finally going to start correlating Black Hat sightings with bad news? He’s like a flesh-and-blood omen signaling “HELLOOO, SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS JUST DIED. PROBABLY BY MY HAND.” When Min arrives, his colleague is dead.
Belatedly, Min recalls the man in black and rushes outside. When he comes back, he finds the body gone. It’s been taken by these guys above.
They are our guest players for today’s episode, a ragtag gang of ruffians, kind of like old-fashioned mobsters. But this is a special group of mobsters, because the boss is described as a good, fair leader. They’ve been hired to bury the body, which they do.
As they finish the task, they are met with betrayal in the form of the Boss’s second-in-command, Lee Tae-soo. He kills his boss, and the rest of his teammates are killed by the thugs in purple clothing, a different (and less scrupulous) band of thugs. Then, Tae-soo returns to his gang to pretend to grieve, prodding his followers to avenge the death of their Boss. What he’s really trying to do is deliberately get them killed and then take his place in the other gang, but nobody knows his intent — but one of the elderly members eyes Tae-soo with suspicion.
Sensing something fishy, the elderly man makes a request at the Assassin Booth, telling Chil Woo’s father that Tae-soo is up to no good.
Min and Chil Woo disagree (again) on how to handle the claim. Min thinks in black and white terms, and to him there’s no such thing as a good gang. Everyone else sees the group in more forgiving terms, because they do a lot to help the people. Even the merchants in the marketplace rely on their assistance to keep things running smoothly. (Yes, they pay for their trouble, but they feel it’s worth the cost, because they’re more useful to them than the government officials.)
Chil Woo tells Min that these people were driven to their lifestyle because their country failed them. Even Jaja understands this (making Min the dumbest of them all, Chil Woo says).
Again, Min decides that he wants nothing to do with this case. He tells Chil Woo of the murdered scholar and asks for the historical document so he can reveal the truth of Prince So Hyun’s murder. Chil Woo argues that the revelation of the document will result in more killings, including innocent people. Therefore he lies that he’s already destroyed the document. (In truth, it remains buried under a rock by the wishing pond.)
Taking advantage of Min’s absence, Yeon Doo asks Chil Woo to teach her how to be an assassin. She’s confident she can learn, and isn’t swayed by Chil Woo’s dismissal. She cheerfully gives him two options: train her to be an assassin or marry her. After all, she’s already started working on swaying his mother and grandma to her side.
True to her word, Mom and Granny waste no time nagging Chil Woo to hook up with Yeon Doo, to his irritation. I love her.
The death of the gang boss means that the ragtag gang has weakened, and now the purple guys take over their reign of terror. They’re bad-tempered and rude, harassing the townspeople mercilessly. The people would dearly love for their former good-natured thugs to return and chase away these horrors, but because Tae-soo is undermining his old gang from within, he’s purposely sending his men to fight the more powerful Purple Gang, hastening their decline.
Chil Woo pays Tae-soo a visit, acting on their contact’s information that Tae-soo is a traitor. Chil Woo questions him, and the man nervously attempts to keep his story straight explaining what happened to the boss. Chil Woo doesn’t believe him and his questions unnerve Tae-soo, particularly when he asks, “Why’d you kill him?”
Tae-soo bursts out his denial, defending himself and asking wildly, “Why would I kill him?” Chil Woo innocently returns, “I asked, why was he killed?” (The two phrases sound nearly identical.) Chil Woo comes away convinced he’s hiding something.
Another white-versus-purple rumble in the streets of the village (does that make the white team the Jets, and the purple the Sharks?) results in another damsel-in-distress moment for So Yoon (sigh). The purple gang’s leader leers menacingly, ready to drag her off, when he’s stopped by a stranger — a young nobleman.
It’s Orroz! Only now he’s out of his assassin gear and looks about fifteen years old. The thug fights back, Nobleman Orroz counters. The thug’s backup henchman draw their swords and prepare to advance, so Orroz draws out a weapon of his own: A DECORATIVE FAN!
Using the sheer quickness of his reflexes, Orroz dodges multiple thrusts and slices, jabbing back with sharp punches and fan-enhanced blocks. And of course, he wins. Arriving late are the squad of officers, led by Chil Woo, who rushes to So Yoon’s side and thanks the nobleman for all his help. Orroz coolly wonders why Chil Woo should thank him (challenging his claim on the lady). So Chil Woo grabs So Yoon’s arm (his relief giving way to male ego) and jealously drags her away.
Orroz flashes back to his previous encounter with gun-wielding So Yoon eight years ago. It seems she was going to take his advice to run away, but when his attention strayed to the boy she was protecting (ostensibly Chul Seok, who may or may not be her blood brother), she fired in a panic to keep him safe. Orroz wonders if this reunion is fate — and if so, if it’s the good kind or bad.
Although the officers’ presence scatters the thugs, it’s a case of too little too late, and the villagers grumble at their slow response. The marketplace is in shambles.
The villagers wonder about a recently circulating rumor that a team of assassins are available to right people’s wrongs. They’ve heard that the assassins will listen to people suffering injustices, and Chil Woo’s own mother and grandmother take to the idea eagerly.
Chil Woo tells Min that he should take this opportunity to leave their assassin group — he doesn’t fit with them anyway. They’ve got different backgrounds and aren’t suited to working together. Chil Woo tells Min he’s a good guy, and that he trusts him to keep their secret.
That night, Chil Woo’s dad gets a surprise when his shift in the Assassin Booth yields visitors in the form of his wife and mother-in-law. They beg for his aid in handling the thugs, persisting even when Dad tries to reject their offer (silently, so they don’t recognize his voice). He barely manages to escape without being recognized, and heads back to A-Team headquarters to inform them of the recent request.
Chil Woo tells his team that Min is no longer with them, but is contradicted when Min arrives to tell him that when he leaves the group, he’ll decide the terms. It’s not yet time for him to quit.
Thus the three assassins head over to Tae-soo’s home that night. Recognizing his no-win plight, Tae-soo immediately grovels at their feet and insists that he was coerced into cooperation. (It’s pretty clear to the amigos that this guy’s excuses are full of BS — earlier, his kid brother was sick. This time, he was kidnapped!) But they sober up when Tae-soo blubbers about the corpse they were hired to bury.
They tie him up and make him draw a map to the location, not trusting him to accompany them. The next day, Min and Chil Woo head out to find the burial site.
But it’s a trap, because Tae-soo leads them right into the lair of the rival thugs, who are instructed to shoot arrows at any intruders. Min is shot in the chest once and stumbles to the ground. Chil Woo finds shelter behind a tree, then whistles for his trusty horse, who is such a well-trained steed that it gallops right into the midst of flying arrows to Chil Woo, who launches himself into the saddle. He grabs Min, who climbs up behind him, only to be shot a second time in the back.
Min falls to the ground, and Chil Woo tries to rescue him once more. Only, this time a group of bandits has arrived and is closing in fast — so Min slaps the horse to spur it to race off without him.
Meanwhile, back at A-Team HQ, Tae-soo manages to work his way free of the ropes tying him to a post. Sorry A-Team, but for tying such a wussy knot, you DESERVE to have your captive escape.
So Tae-soo lords it over Min, who is brought to bandit central and tied up. He refuses to identify his accomplices, which earns him a nice round of torture.
And you know what this means!:
“비상” (bi-sang/emergency) [ Download ] ::
Chil Woo and Jaja return home and suit up (sadly, offscreen). Amidst a long, mostly pointless flashback — really, is the recap montage necessary here in Episode 7? — they trudge through the forest. While I know they’ve got to look cool and rock the slow-mo swagger, for two guys who are in a hurry to rescue their tortured friend, they sure are taking their time with their hero strut.
Chil Woo and Jaja breach the bandits’ headquarters fairly easily, probably aided by the fact that the thugs are lolling around lazily and being pretty lax about their security. And then when Chil Woo announces his arrival — did he never learn about the element of surprise? — they all turn and gape. But instead of scrambling to attack, they all stand stock-still as Chil Woo grabs a jar of liquor, as though thinking, “Well, I’m supposed to kill this guy, but I’d really like to know what he’s going to do first.”
Chil Woo pours the liquor over his whip, igniting the end by dipping it into the fire, and snaps it wildly around. It keeps the thugs at a distance and knocks them down one by one, at which point Jaja charges in with his dual axes.
The actual fight scenes are pretty short since our assassins are such superior warriors, and in no time the ground is littered with unconscious or dead bandits. In a meaningful gesture, Chil Woo extends his hand to Min, rebridging the ever-so-brief gap between them.
And so, order is restored, and the tables completely turned with the bandits now meekly doing chores for the merchants, rebuilding what they ruined and begging for mercy.
The assassin trio listens with amusement as their mysterious alter egos are credited with this turnaround. Chil Woo’s mother and grandmother even go so far as to say that although their two men are government officials, those assassin dudes are even cooler.
Min has one last task to take care of, and that is uncovering the mystery of his scholar friend’s murder. They force Tae-soo to divulge the location of the burial ground and dig him up, noting with shock that the man bears a backward Z on his chest.
Min demands to know who hired them to bury the man, but before Tae-soo can answer, he’s struck in the chest with a dagger, thrown from a distance.
Who could it be?
In the scheme of things, it was a pretty low-key episode. Some funny moments, but it wasn’t as outrageous (or as serious) as previous stories have been, which means it was a pleasant, easy hour, but not particularly outstanding. The Tuesday episodes tend to be more interesting, however, so I’m expecting better from tomorrow’s installment.
Plot-wise, I like that the identity of Orroz remains a mystery, and that we’re getting to see him in small, controlled doses. Personally, I don’t know if the actor would be able to convey such menace if he weren’t kept offscreen most of the time. It’s nothing against Yoo Ah-in himself, but just that he looks like such a little kid that it’s hard to believe that he’s old enough to have been an assassin for at least eight years. He looks particularly baby-faced in his nobleman clothing, so if they do decide to draw out romantic undercurrents between him and So Yoon, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep watching with a straight face.
On the other hand, Chil Woo is better without a straight face. Hm…