Shark: Episode 3
We get a taste of past and present in an episode that serves up darkness by the truckload with a taste of vengeance for dessert. Even though we’ve barely begun it feels like so many of our characters have already passed various points of no return, and all of it over one man’s greed and complete lack of conscience. So of course I’m rooting for Yi-soo to prevail, but I’m also wondering how much scorched earth will be left when this is all over.
Ratings are still pitiful, though at least Episode 3 didn’t drop in numbers and stayed at 6.7%. Just keep swimming.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Yi-soo rushes into a phone booth with his father’s envelope in hand and hesitates on whether to call the police. When he works up the nerve, he clutches the envelope and key… only the locker key number isn’t the same as Dad’s.
He readies to make the call, but a truck comes rushing toward the booth. Powerless, Yi-soo is caught inside as the truck crashes into it.
After the cold open, we rewind to find Young Yi-soo sitting in a jail cell for attacking the corrupt police officer. Detective Byun approaches and gains his attention: “Your belief that your father wasn’t responsible for the hit-and-run might be right.”
Oh, this is creepy. Right after Yi-hyun finds the locker key in her music box, Grandpa Jo appears out of nowhere to “kindly” ask her to dinner. (I’m all for respecting elders, but I can give him a few pointers on where to shove that meal of his.) She hides the key in her pocket.
Detective Byun tries to win Yi-soo’s trust, which is a hard thing considering how he’s the only honest cop out of the bunch. He genuinely wants to find the man who killed Yi-soo’s father and insists that he’s paid taxes for that job, to which Yi-soo smartly replies that if someone else paid him more, his job description might change.
Their exchange is touching, in that Detective Byun truly seems to understand Yi-soo and talks to him like a partner, letting him know about as much as he does. After giving his card (the one we saw Yi-soo holding in the phone booth), he shows a picture of the Envelope Professor, but Yi-soo doesn’t recognize him.
It’s then that he tells Yi-soo the man was murdered, and that his father was the last person to see him before he died—and now his father is dead. There could be a relation, but he’s prevented from divulging more when the corrupt Detective Jung arrives to free Yi-soo on Grandpa Jo’s orders.
Hae-woo waits outside the station for Yi-soo, since she was the one who asked Grandpa to get him out. For reasons she’s unaware of, this doesn’t make Yi-soo happy, and after they leave the two detectives go back and forth over investigating the case. For obvious reasons, Detective Jung wants his hoobae to stop sniffing around.
Yi-soo suddenly remembers Daddy Jo stumbling home drunk the night of the accident, along with his gold Rolex, which fits in with the young boy’s testimony of a watch left at the crime scene.
He asks Hae-woo if she’s seen the watch lately, but she’s more confused that Yi-soo is asking about it, and comes to the mistaken conclusion that her dad is pinning his missing watch on Yi-soo. He can’t bear to tell her the truth, so he leaves it at that.
While Grandpa Jo distracts Yi-hyun with dinner, he sends his trusty assassin to search the house for the envelope. Luckily she kept the key on her.
Hae-woo confronts Yi-soo about how distant he’s been, asking for him to let her in so she can be of some comfort. He knows he can’t because it’s her family behind the ugly truth, so he’s forced to keep distancing her even though he’s hurting her by doing so.
Yi-hyun hands her older brother the locker key when he gets home, and Grandpa Jo continues his search by trying to track down the person Yi-soo’s dad met that day.
The locker key has the name of a massage parlor but parts of the phone number are worn away, so Yi-soo sets to writing down different number combinations to fill in the gaps. (If he’s got the name of the place, why doesn’t he just try a phonebook?)
Meanwhile, Daddy Jo hands Detective Jung bribe money to get his incriminating watch back just so he can throw it in the Han River. Evidence-B-Gone!
While Yi-soo works down the phone list and eventually finds the massage parlor, Detective Byun becomes aware that Envelope Professor had—wait for it—a mysterious envelope two days before he died, the contents of which he’d said would turn the world upside down.
Yi-soo waits outside the house for Daddy Jo to return, and in his usual fearless fashion, confronts him about his conspicuously missing watch. It doesn’t take long for Daddy Jo to realize that Yi-soo is pegging him as the culprit, but his usual “be afraid of your elders” tactic doesn’t work on Yi-soo.
“I have nothing to be afraid of,” Yi-soo replies, looking Daddy Jo square in the eye. “Whoever made my father like that, no matter how much money or power he has, he can never defeat the truth.”
Hae-woo confronts her dad at home over framing Yi-soo for his missing watch—but of course, he has no earthly idea what she’s talking about. Points for effort, Hae-woo.
Yi-soo finds Yi-hyun crying alone in her room, because she just wants to see her daddy. He wraps her in his arms like a good brother and gently reminds her, “You still have me, Yi-hyun-ah.”
Hae-woo tries to be cheery as she invites Yi-soo to her family’s summer home, but she’s confused when he refuses so quickly. She just wants to know where he plans on going instead: “Why can’t you tell me? Why do you keep hiding things from me?”
She proves she’s not your usual drama heroine as she reaches out to him, claiming that she understands how he must feel, “But you’re not alone. You have Yi-hyun, me, and Grandfather.” Eek. Not the right choice there.
She doesn’t understand why he won’t accept her grandfather’s help, so Yi-soo snaps just a little: “I don’t need any help from a family like yours.” It’s an insult, but Hae-woo still tries to take it in stride, wanting to understand him. But he knows that she can’t, and tells her so.
This is what finally breaks her down, though she thinks he won’t tell her because she means nothing to him. And poor Yi-soo can’t explain himself to correct her misunderstanding.
Joon-young sees Hae-woo crying afterward and gets ready to tear into Yi-soo about it, asking what could be more important than her. “Nothing is more important than Hae-woo,” Yi-soo reaffirms to his friend, but he still has somewhere to be.
Junichiro runs into Daddy Jo in the lobby of the Jo family hotel where he’s been staying, and curiously asks after Yi-soo, the boy Grandpa Jo claimed was like his own grandson.
The question makes Daddy Jo visibly uncomfortable, which seems to be the exact reaction Junichiro was going for. It’s pretty clear by now that Junichiro has no love for the Jo family.
Yi-soo finds the shady massage/sex parlor, unaware that he’s being tailed by Daddy/Grandpa Jo’s men. He goes from there to the train station where the locker is, only to open the locker and find nothing inside.
Luckily, the lockers were cleared out by the staff, and Yi-soo finds the envelope. He pores over the contents until he’s just left sitting for a while, thinking over what he just read. Whatever it is must be bad enough for Grandpa Jo to kill for.
Now we see the scene from the cold open, only Yi-soo does get a call through to Detective Byun, his voice urgent and even a little scared as he asks, “Can I trust you?” again and again.
Once he’s assured that Detective Byun is on his side, he explains that he knows the reason why his father was killed now that he found the document he left behind. That’s reason enough for our good detective to rush to meet him.
Hae-woo is still taking care of Yi-hyun despite her fight with Yi-soo, but you can tell she’s all bluster. Yi-soo calls while they’re having dinner, and his words to his sister sound suspiciously like his last before he asks to talk to Hae-woo.
At first, he can’t even speak. He just breathes heavily as he fights valiantly to keep himself from completely breaking down. Hae-woo’s anger dissipates completely when he shakily admits that he’s having a hard time. Poor thing.
He asks her if she remembers what he told her at the lake, about how there are certain moments where one can only do what they’re capable of, and nothing more. He warns her that she might have to face difficulties (so he’s preparing her for the truth), but he’s telling her so she can stay strong.
“Just remember this,” he says, his voice growing urgent. “No matter what happens, you and I are together.” She interjects worriedly, but he continues: “Don’t forget what I just said. Never forget what I said, Hae-woo. No matter what happens, we’ll always be together. We’ll always be-…”
He’s still on the line when the truck comes crashing into the phone booth, and the last thing he hears before the glass starts flying is her voice calling his name.
After the crash, Yi-soo lies on the asphalt in a bloody heap, while the driver/assassin carelessly steps over him in order to retrieve the envelope.
By the time Detective Byun arrives, all he finds is blood and rubble. There’s no sign of Yi-soo. But in the rubble, he finds the new locker key Yi-soo had—so maybe he was smart enough to hide the real envelope. Go Yi-soo! (It’s okay, he’s not dead.)
Yi-soo leaves while Hae-woo is still enjoying her post-wedding party, but he stops short in the lobby at the sight of a familiar face—Detective Byun. They even make eye contact, but no recognition passes on the older man’s face.
In a surprising turn, adult Yi-hyun (Nam Bo-ra) emerges into the lobby with Hae-woo and calls Detective Byun “father.” Aww, did he adopt her? What a nice ajusshi.
They clearly all know each other since Hae-woo and Yi-hyun have remained friends, and Hae-woo jokes that she’s never seen Detective Byun in a suit. He’s come to collect his daughter, and the pair couldn’t be sweeter as he mentions her mother waiting at home. Yi-hyun got a brand new family.
Hae-woo stares wistfully after them, but remembers Detective Byun’s words from so long ago—that it was Yi-soo’s blood at the scene of the accident.
We flash back to the past when Hae-woo first heard this news in her grandfather’s house, where Detective Byun delivered it. Because they weren’t able to find the body, Hae-woo desperately declares: “He’s not dead. Why would he die? He isn’t dead. There’s no way he’s dead!”
She implores Grandpa Jo to use all his vast resources to find Yi-soo, completely unaware that she’s asking the very man who tried to kill the boy she loves to help her. She refuses to believe anyone’s words to the contrary and vows to find him, even if she has to do it herself.
Mrs. Park comforts a sobbing Yi-hyun at home, who’s been told that her brother is dead. Hae-woo tries to convince her that he’s alive, but she can’t offer a reason as to why he hasn’t come home.
It’s a heartbreaking moment when she gathers Yi-hyun into her arms to urge her not to cry, which only ends in the both of them breaking down. This is when Detective Byun walks in.
And that’s what brings us back to the present day, as Hae-woo pulls herself from her nightmarish memory. Then we reach the point in the timeline where we last left them as adults, when Yi-soo and Hae-woo met on the hotel balcony.
Yi-soo introduces himself with his Japanese name, Jun Yoshimura, and his handshake with Hae-woo goes on a little too long. She’s still willing to entertain this total stranger and small talks him to high heaven, about his time abroad and how much Seoul has changed since he was last in Korea.
“It seems the same to me, in my eyes,” Yi-soo says, even though he’s looking straight at her. Who wants to bet he isn’t talking about Seoul anymore?
He comments on the full moon, a favorite of theirs since they were young, and this immediately sparks Hae-woo’s interest. She talks about the Korean custom of making wishes to the full moon, while he counters that the moon is seen in a much more sinister light where he came from.
She sees it much more positively, an he agrees, even adding that the moon is like the North Star. This sets of a flurry of memories for her, considering how she once named Yi-soo as her own North Star, and she unknowingly starts to cry in front of him in the present.
I know he’s really Yi-soo, but she doesn’t know it, so it’s a little odd that she lets him pull her into a comforting embrace. It’s hard to read him, but he seems to be holding his emotions in check. Did he mean to stir up these memories with her?
Hae-woo pulls away right before Joon-young comes to find her, and Yi-soo simply congratulates them on their wedding before he’s off.
Joon-young is sweet to her, and she’s the same in return. It’s nice to see that they are very much in love as he tells her just how happy he is to be with her—after all, he waited ten years. She gladly hugs him back, her worries temporarily forgotten.
Daddy Jo has to leave the table at a congratulatory dinner for Grandpa Jo because he gets a call from a man asking for more blackmail money to keep his mouth shut. This seems like a common refrain between them, so Daddy Jo (or Prosecutor Oh) decides to end it by having a thug deliver a hard blow to the guy’s head.
We cut immediately to a sinister-looking shot of Yi-soo as he holds a necklace with a metal shark pendant, much like the one Hae-woo made out of wood for him, while she looks out at the city from the same hotel on her wedding night.
When Joon-young looks at her, he’s reminded of when she’d fallen into depression after Yi-soo’s death and how hard he tried to snap her out of it. It all culminated in an attempt on her part to drown herself in her special lake, but he’d been there to drag her back, shake her by the shoulders, and tell her to live if only so she could find out why Yi-soo died.
“I’ll help you,” Joon-young promised. “I’ll be beside you. I’ll be your strength.”
In the present, the terrible memory fades away, and Joon-young musters a bright smile when Hae-woo turns around. Then it’s business time.
Electronic rock synthesizers threaten to turn the scene comical as we intercut between Yi-soo being intense and Hae-woo’s wedding night, but thankfully the music calms down into a ballad after a while.
The following montage-length scene can be described as such: Hae-woo and Joon-young are having sex, and Yi-soo is not having a good time imagining the sex they’re having.
Later, Yi-soo gets an update from his secretary, JANG YOUNG-HEE (Honey Lee), about some upcoming meetings with big-name hotel CEOs. They have a friendly rapport with each other, but some dark instrumentals and her suspicious look to the camera seem to hint that all is not what it seems.
Hae-woo gets a call in the wee hours of the morning by a man who knows her name, and the fact that she’s a prosecutor: “I know why Han Yi-soo died twelve years ago.”
This gets her attention, and the man gives her an address. It’s revealed that this is the man who was beaten for blackmailing Daddy Jo, though he’s currently tied up and being forced to set the trap for Hae-woo by a mysterious captor.
One captor gives way to another as a shadowy figure approaches the prone man… and it’s Yi-soo, decked out in black, looking almost devilishly excited. The man stutters out that he didn’t kill Yi-soo, unaware that it’s Yi-soo standing in front of him.
But Yi-soo just smiles in a very disconcerting way as he reassures the man, more or less, that he’ll have to suffer for the suffering he caused—twelve years ago, he had a chance to tell the truth about what happened to Yi-soo, but he didn’t.
Now, Yi-soo plans to even out the karmic score, but he gives the man one last chance to tell the truth all while clearly enjoying the fact that he’s making him squirm.
The man spills what he knows as Joon-young drives a nervous Hae-woo to the address. He ends a story we don’t hear by reaffirming that he didn’t kill Yi-soo or his dad in an effort to get Yi-soo to believe him.
Yi-soo offers him a false sense of security by patting him on the shoulder and all but cooing “I believe you.” Why is this so creepy?
But as he leaves, giving way for his much-less-kind mystery friend to enter, he grins. The man’s face morphs into a mask of terror.
And as the screen goes black, all you hear are screams.
The transition into adulthood was surprisingly seamless, though I’m not sure we’re quite done with the young members of the cast when there are so many gaps to fill in—like how Yi-soo survived, why no one can recognize him, what took him so long, and pretty much everything else. It’d be nice if we graduated to flashbacks from here on out instead of complete jumps back in time for such long stretches, just because it’ll make the separation easier. But who knows.
I’m really liking the way Shark is differentiating itself from its revenge drama predecessors (and dramas in general, really). It’s a show that’s tangling itself on purpose for greater dramatic effect in such a way that you’re curious as to how it’ll untangle itself later down the line, if at all. The very fact that Hae-woo is now married is already rife with possibilities, especially since Yi-soo was THERE, in the flesh, and he could have stopped it if he wanted to. It’s not a case of him returning too late to do anything, because he made sure to be there just in time.
Obviously, his revenge plan amounts to more than romance (so in that vein, it shows a greater level of commitment on his part that he’d knowingly let her go), and it sets him up as a more dangerous hero than what we’re normally accustomed to. You know, one who may not love the idea of clutching a metal shark while his first love gives herself to someone else in the same building, but one who grits his teeth and bears with it because he’s got bigger fish to fry. I can respect that.
That being said, it still came as a surprise to see Yi-soo in Revenge Mode, even though we hadn’t seen all that much of him as an adult to form a solid opinion. At the wedding he was nothing but quiet reserve and repressed outbreaks of emotion, and then in that warehouse it was like he was finally in his element. It’d be different if he was still sullen and serious while taking revenge, but that wasn’t the case—he was smiling, even grinning at times, and very much enjoying the emotional torture he was inflicting.
It was a complete change from what we’d expect of Yi-soo, but that’s what makes him all the more compelling. Bring on the flaws, bring on the hero that isn’t hopelessly lovelorn, bring on the guy who grins in the shadows while another one screams. If one thing’s guaranteed, it’s that we’re in for one hell of a ride.